March 23, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The Android Market has more than 150,000 apps. That means it also has thousands of possible distribution points for phone viruses and malware hidden within Android apps. While we’ve covered how some common sense may limit the risk of a corrupted device, AVG has announced a new tool that adds an additional layer of security.
AVG Mobilation (ANTIVIRUSFree and ANTIVIRUS Pro) now protect Android tablets from viruses, text message phishing scams, and helps locate or control a phone that is lost or stolen. Both versions of AVG – compatible with every Android phone with 1.5 or higher – scans apps, incoming texts, and websites to assure that there are no threats. (Many of the reported Android malware issues spread through SMS text messages.)
Protection is good, but is AVG really necessary considering that Google scans the Market to remove rogue apps? Google does scan the Market, but it’s after the fact, so you can still have a virus spread through the official Android Market. AVG scans apps as they are installed and searches for suspicious activity, which is more effective than relying on the luck of the draw of the open Android Market.
At the Pepcom Mobile Focus event here at CTIA, Omri Sigelman, co-founder of AVG subsidiary Droidsecurity, argued that the volume of threats is reason enough to install virus protection on an Android phone. He claims that his company counts more than 100,000 phishing attempts through SMS messages each day and notes that the recent DroidDream scare was distributed through the default Android Market. I wouldn’t go so far as to call a virus scanning app necessary, but I will concede that there is great value in putting up an additional wall from the many Android attacks that are sure to come.
AVG Mobilation is available for free with advertisements or $9.99 with no ad banners. Here are a few more features offered other than smartphone anti-virus protection.
- Locate lost or stolen phones. AVG can use the phone’s GPS to find a missing phone, send a message that appears on-screen with instructions for how it can be returned, and remotely locate or wipe a device to protect your locally-stored information.
- App security. Aside from scanning for viruses, it can also protect your privacy from prying eyes with selective password protections. Users can set certain apps to require a password before they can be opened, so let your kids play Angry Birds but keep them out of YouTube or your email app.
- Backup content. In case the phone is lost or stolen, use AVG to make a backup of your call logs, contacts, bookmarks, messages, and apps installed on the phone.