Anti-Theft (with Root Features)
Now this is where the fun begins. With avast!’s acquisition of Theft Aware, its anti-theft services have been taken to a whole new level. Odds are you won’t get any viruses on your phone. But how many of us have lost a device in the past? Many.
These devices hold our life. From social networks and contacts to bank and credit card information. You definitely don’t want anyone having power over such private details.
After testing avast!’s anti-theft solution, I can honestly say that this app offers the most full-featured service available. It is a whole other application by itself (literally). Remote actions include lock, wipe and siren, as well as an abundance of remote text commands. (You can see them at their website).
Remote text commands are an amazing addition to this mobile security app. Yes, you can locate, lock/unlock, turn on the siren, and wipe a device, but that’s not where it ends. You can access all types of information, apps and settings. The list includes accessing your contacts, changing all settings within the avast! app, and even initiating a remote call (letting you listen to the thief). All you need to do is send a text message to the lost device, starting with the password (selected after installation), and then write the remote command code (listed in the website).
After installation, the user is prompted to choose two “friend numbers.” You can set these text commands to only be available via the specified phone numbers. This will stop any user with access to your password from controlling your device.
Avast! also features SIM card change notifications. If the thief happens to change the SIM card, you will be notified of such action. If this action occurs, you can set the phone to be locked, the siren to be activated, or even have message sent to you with the new number, as well as the location. Multiple account users can also set up a “white list” of SIM cards to be used with the device.
The reason I say this is “literally” a whole application is because it really is. The anti-theft portion of avast! Free Mobile Security is another .apk file, which can be named whatever you wish it to show up as, and has an unrecognizable icon (stealth).
After installation you will be asked to download a separate package for the anti-theft features. Both of these apps work completely parallel to each other, but separately. You can uninstall the avast! main app, and the anti-theft app works perfectly on its own. Add root access to the equation, and you can even install anti-theft straight to the system files. This will allow you to keep tracking and controlling a device even after a factory data reset (does not bypass a ROM flash – not like most people even know how to do this, though). Now that is impressive.
It is important to note that auto-GPS can only be set with root access. Google has blocked automatic access to GPS within Android 2.3 Gingerbread. This means that it is only possible to activate GPS through direct interaction. But if this is nothing that “superuser” powers can’t take care of.
After testing all these features, no problem was found. The only downside (for now) is that there is no website portal for this, like there is for competing products. It would be much easier to do all of these tasks through a website, instead of having to rely on texts for location data, as well as all the other services. The avast! team has given us word that this part of the service is under development, though, and it should be released sometime in Q1 2012.
This may be a bit of a downside, but we will be getting the website soon enough. When it is released, avast! will be even more amazing. In a private demonstration, we were able to send texts straight from the Theft Aware site, and using all the available anti-theft services was a breeze. The interface was very well organized, and it was definitely much simpler than the text commands.
The anti-theft team (formerly Theft Aware) highly emphasized the importance of stealth when I attended their presentation. While some thieves may not think as far, many of them may have a bit of knowledge in smartphone technology. In which case, they would try to get rid of any type of tracking software installed in the device.
For the avast! team, it was vital to make these apps hard to uninstall (hence why they made them separate apps). They have used a few techniques to give the bad guys a hard time.
First, the anti-theft app can be named whatever you prefer, and the icon is not recognizable (default system icon). You can call this app “Notes,” or even something that will disguise it more, like “binaries,” or “cache.” Anything that does not grab get the thief’s attention will work.
After anti-theft is enabled, the app goes on “Stealth Mode.” This means that it disappears from your app drawer, and is much harder for someone to find it.
You can also get rid of the avast! notification, which is pretty flashy. And the GPS icon does not show up in the notification bar when being tracked.
All of these in conjunction allow you to stay in control of your device for a longer period of time. The chances of protecting your information, and even getting the device back, are much higher.
avast! Free Mobile Security is one of the most (if not the most) full-featured security apps out there, with anti-theft solutions that blow the competition out of the water. The team has done a tremendous job protecting your PCs, and seeing them jump into the mobile world is exciting, as well as expected by all avast! users. Whether you believe anti-virus apps are a scam or not, there is at least one thing in this app you will probably want to take advantage of.
We highly recommend that you try this app. After all, it won’t cost you a penny. Its profusion of security features and amazing anti-theft services are nothing to scoff at. Not to mention avast!’s ingenious use of root access, which makes your device much more secure.
As a loyal Lookout user, I can say that it was very hard to get me to change. I even stopped using anti-virus for some time. But avast! Free Mobile Security is hard to pass by. If the developers get that anti-theft web portal released soon, and keep working as hard as they have been, the future will be bright. With a bit more polishing, no Android security app will be able to compete against avast!, especially if it continues to be free.