Avast Mobile AntiVirus – A Mobile AntiVirus That Isn’t Completely Crap

So as you may or may not know Android has attracted a lot of attention from the antivirus industry, there are now at least a dozen antivirus apps. What you probably didn’t know is that the capabilities afforded applications on Android really didn’t allow any of those antivirus programs to work at all, they could keep a local database of hashes and that’s it. File analysis was not possible.

So for the most part they were all crap and they were trying to scare as many people into installing them as possible even though they did nothing (and in the beginning they did worse than nothing).

I haven’t bothered keeping up because seeing article after article of “Android malware explosion!” hyping a situation that doesn’t exist was pretty depressing. But I’d heard that Avast included some features that required root and that definitely got me interested.

Avast on the desktop is alright. If I were into that sort of thing I’d probably pick it, Panda Cloud, or Microsoft Security Essentials. But I’m not so I don’t.

On mobile though it has quite a few features that make it worthwhile. The antivirus component itself may not be on par with desktop versions but I don’t really care about that anyways.

What interests me the most is the Firewall and the AntiTheft. Being able to control internet access on a per-app basis is a great way to restrict them. If you do it on a whitelist basis you can make life harder for an attacker.

The AntiTheft is also nice – it hides itself in the app drawer and allows you to remote lock the device or get its GPS coordinates. It’s similar to WheresMyDroid but with more features such as being able to wipe the entire SD card (requires root) or force the GPS to turn on and send the signal (requires root) among others.

There’s a Web Guard (similar to the desktop version), which I’ve yet to try out but I haven’t noticed any impact on browsing speed so either it’s not doing anything or it’s doing it quickly.

Avast! Mobile also includes what they call Privacy Advisor, which creates an aggregate list of the permissions apps have been assigned on the system. This was actually really useful – I had no idea that Angry Birds had requested the permission to track my location (among other things).

In short, Avast Mobile is a nice security program for Android and the firewall as well as other root features are what make it so.

What I’d like to see is a permission removal system. The example of Angry Birds is appropriate – Angry Birds has a permission that allows it to track my location. I can throw birds at pig houses all day without that permission, I’d like to take it away. This is possible with root and I’d love to see that implemented in Avast!.