After my last Lookout review I had a hard time trying to find another Android security suite that performs that well in terms of all-around protection. Like I pointed out the last time – nowadays our mobile safeguards should go even further. While Android antiviruses still rely on signature based technologies, Avast! Mobile does much more than that when it comes to antitheft or firewall protection. What’s so special about this free suite? Find out reading our review!
avast! Mobile security in the Google Play store
Full-featured Antivirus and Anti-Theft security for your Android phone.
Protect personal data with automatic virus scans and infected-URL alerts. Stop hackers by adding a firewall (rooted phones). Control anti-theft features with remote SMS commands for: history wipe, phone lock, siren activation, GPS tracking, audio monitoring, and many other useful tools. Your ‘invisible’ app hides itself, making it extremely hard for thieves to find and disable. A standalone yet tightly integrated component of avast! Mobile Security, avast! Anti-Theft is the slyest component on the market. Formerly known as Theft Aware, the Anti-Theft portion of avast! Mobile Security has been recommended by leading industry experts that include T-Mobile, N-TV, AndroidPIT, and Android Police.
avast! Mobile Security
Performs on-demand scans of all installed apps and memory card content, as well as on-access scans of apps upon first execution. Options for scheduling scans, virus definition updates, uninstalling apps, deleting files, or reporting a false-positive to our virus lab.
Scans and displays (grid) access rights and intents of installed apps, identifying potential privacy risks, so you know how much info you are really providing to each app.
Filter calls and/or messages from contact list using set parameters based on day(s) of the week, start time, and end time. Blocked calls redirect to voicemail, while blocked messages are stored via filter log. Also possible to block outgoing calls.
Similar to Windows Task Manager, it shows a list of running apps and their size (MB), CPU load, used memory, and number of threads and services – with an option to stop or uninstall.
Part of the avast! WebRep cloud, the avast! Web Shield for Android scans each URL that loads and warns you if the browser loads a malware-infected URL.
Add a firewall to stop hackers. Disable an app’s internet access when on WiFi and 3G and roaming mobile networks. (Works only on rooted phones.)
After downloading avast! Anti-Theft, user can choose a custom name that disguises the app (e.g. call it “Pinocchio game”) so that it is even harder for thieves to find and remove.
Once anti-theft is enabled, the app icon is hidden in the app tray, leaving no audio or other trace on the target phone – the app is ‘invisible’, making it difficult for thieves to detect or remove.
Extremely difficult for thieves to remove (especially on rooted phones), Anti-Theft protects itself from uninstall by disguising its components with various self-preservation techniques. On rooted phones it is able to survive hard-resets and can even disable the phone’s USB port.
Anti-Theft only launches itself and runs when it needs to perform tasks. This preserves battery life and makes it very difficult for thieves to shut it down.
If stolen and a different (unauthorized) SIM card inserted, the phone can lock, activate siren, and send you notification (to remote device) of the phone’s new number and geo-location.
Trusted SIM Cards List
Establish a ‘white list’ of approved SIM cards that can be used in the phone without triggering a theft alert. You can also easily clear the trusted SIM cards list, to leave the one present in the phone as the only trusted one.
Remote Settings Change
A setup wizard guides the user through the installation process on rooted phones. No command-line knowledge is necessary to install Anti-Theft rooted. Also supports upgrading.
SMS commands provide you the following REMOTE options for your ‘lost’ (or stolen) phone:
Siren, Lock, custom Display properties, Locate, Memory Wipe, covert Calling, Forwarding, “Lost” Notification, SMS Sending, History, Restart, and more.
Ease of use
The main screen is divided into 8 buttons, each for a different part of the program. It goes from Virus Scanner through Web Shield down to Settings. We had no problems in navigating between windows, it was designed quite well. Although the main interface was easy to use, we had some trouble trying to figure out how the firewall works. There are 3 buttons for each application to enable or disable internet connection, but we couldn’t find out if the button does actually disable or enable the connection. There was no description in the program itself, but it’s worth to be mentioned that AVAST Software has got a great manual at their website. Also, the avast! Notification Manager isn’t really helpful. Basically it doubles the functionality of the Android taskbar resulting in an idiotic double-tap feature that irritates the user every time he wants to get into his security suite as fast as possible. It gets even worse if you try to protect your antivirus with a password. Not to mention that we were able to “kill” the application using standard HTC Task Manager. One tap and bum: You’re not protected at all. Only the main part is designed as it should – the application fails in any other scenario. Settings are packed up with different switches that should satisfy any advanced user. We rate the app 2 out of 5 when it comes to ease of use.
- Pure security
We tossed a few malware samples to ensure the program is working. There was no need to make detailed tests, because other independent companies already tested avast!. The security suite scored great, it has got one of the best detection rates out there. Here is one of the test made by AV-Test.org. On the other hand the scanner does not detect unwanted ad app nor patches, and cracks. From what we know mobile antiviruses still do not use advanced technologies like heuristics or HIPS. Avast! Mobile got over 600 virus definitions – the program states. Here comes something interesting, because the company PR department told us about over 6000 signatures. They even send us a chart that confirms that theory. Avast is believed to have its signatures updated with an average 4 per day. We’re attaching a chart in the gallery for those who are interested how the signature database is growing every day. According to the company, if polymorphing will become an issue – no doubt it will – it will also be necessary for the antivirus to include more advanced scanning methods. Comparing to other security suites we cannot rate the app other than a 2.5 out of 5. If you want a best-in-class antivirus for your Android you cannot go wrong with this app. While the application does protect us from trojans, viruses, and spyware; cracks, phishing sites (assuming a vast majority of users don’t use the default browser), and memory patchers will feel like they are in paradise on our beloved Android devices.
Avast software has named this as a firewall, but to be honest it isn’t what you’d expect it to be. Firewall turned out to be just a application connection disabler. Good to have it, but seriously: it shouldn’t be called that way. It doesn’t protect us from threats, nor crackers, or even basic port scanners.
- Web shield
Web Shield integrates with the default Android browser and alerts the user if he navigates to a phishing or malicious website. Once again it’s disappointing that it doesn’t protect other browsers.
- SMS and Call Filter
You are able to block incoming calls and sms messages. Also, there is a possibility to block outgoing calls. The module is based on rules, so you have to create them in order to get started. You are able to filter calls and messages based on time rules, and personalized contact groups.
Unfortunately avast! does not support any kind of backup. If your phone gets stolen you might lose your precious data. According to avast! PR a backup solution is already preset in their development roadmap. We’re looking forward to it.
- Lost phone
The suite has got a very strong anti-theft protection built-in already and part of it is also tracking and location. We heard from Avast that an on-line portal to extend the functionality is on its way. Avast! Antitheft is probably the most reliabe solution in case your phone has been stolen. Together with ROM integration (root needed) it’s even able to survive a hard reset. Something innovative, indeed. We’re surprised not to see a standalone app.
- Features sum up
Best in-class antivirus boosted with a brilliant antitheft solution and web shield – those are the highlights. Together with app management and firewall that allows you to manage your connections for predefined apps and a bunch of other endless futures makes our rating easy. Only 3 out of 5, because it doesn’t detect unwanted apps, web shield works only for the default browser, and the suite lacks a firewall.
The security solution allows us to scan both device memory and (Micro)SD card. Depending on the load you should be finished in a few minutes or even seconds (if you’re scanning only in-build memory). Nothing really special to mention here, the app works as it should. There were not any noticeable slowdowns.
Install or Not
If you want a best in-class antivirus that is pretty configurable you can’t go wrong with avast. It’s one of the best mobile scanners out there. It’s a pity that the security solution fails in many other basic aspects. It’s a promising beginning though. It’s good to see other functionality included, but is this really enough to advertise this free product as a 360 degree security? In my opinion it’s not, but still worth to have a look while you’re browsing the Android Play Store. For example if you need a great scanner or bullet proof anti-theft solution.
- Best in-class antivirus scanner that ensures that you’re protected from recently discovered threats
- Battery-saving, reliable phone locating, locking, and wiping
- Bullet proof antitheft
- Included Application Management, Firewall (connection manager), SMS and Call Filter
- Lacks on-line portal
- Annoying user interface
- No manual inside the program
- Misleading firewall
- Bad detection rates when it comes to unwanted programs, cracks, and patches