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May 15th, 2013

Loosing your mobile device does not mean it’s lost – install avast! Anti-Theft to become protected!

In 2011, we at AVAST released our mobile device theft protection tool, avast! Anti-Theft, we wanted to change the way mobile devices are being protected from being stolen or abused. We did not know if people would like it, we did not know how well avast! Anti-Theft would perform in actually protecting mobile device owners from the bad guys.

Now, 1 1/2 years after release, we receive tons of feedback from users around the globe. Every day we hear of several customers who were able to recover their phone or their tablet by using our solution. Honestly, this makes us happy, more than you could imagine. We see that our tool actually makes sense and gives REAL value to our users. Which is the dream for every developer.

Of course, sometimes phones just got lost and were easily recovered. But sometimes we really hear nice recovery stories that could be described as almost or real adventures. As is the story of our user FridgeWheeL who managed to recover his device even from a foreign country. We decided that the story needs to be shared, so thanks for FridgeWheeL to give us a summary. Enjoy:

 

To the Avast Team

I believe to give credit where credit is due, and due to this belief I want to give a big thanks to the Avast team for their assistance in recovering my stolen mobile handset.

I live in South Africa & if your phone is stolen and you do not have insurance, the chance of seeing your phone ever again is very grim. Stolen phones here get exported or sold to foreigners since you are able to black list your phone to prevent any further use of the phone on our local networks.

With the above in mind & since I did not have insurance on my mobile phone due to high costs at the time when I bought my Samsung Galaxy S3 on a two year contract, I installed the free version of Avast Mobile Security and ran through the Anti-theft setup as a precaution should my phone get stolen.

On the 2nd of March 2013 I was at a Samsung Galaxy World Tour music festival where my phone was pick pocketed amongst the crowed. This was honestly a very bad experience for me since I did not have insurance and still have to pay a hefty monthly payment up until December 2014.

Having completely forgotten that I installed Avast Anti-Theft on my mobile, I tried finding my phone via the stock tracking applications and tools that came with my mobile but all of these were dependant on an active internet connection on my stolen mobile phone. These tools could not assist me in any way and I made peace with the fact that my phone was lost forever.

On the 1st of May 2013, my fiancé at the time (my wife now :-)) received an SMS that a SIM card change was detected on my phone and another SMS followed with a link on the approximate location based on the mobile network service of the new SIM card in my phone. With this information it clearly showed that my phone was in Lusaka Zambia. I then got a hold of the Police in Lusaka Zambia and explained to them the whole situation. Within 45 minutes after speaking to the Zambian Police, they located my phone and opened a case and followed procedures to ensure that the phone was indeed mine.

I provided all necessary information to the Police as well as the tracking SMS’s from Avast and the Police confirmed that the phone was indeed legally mine. They happily couriered my phone back to South Africa and my mobile is due for collection tomorrow from my local post office.

Special thanks to Avast & the professional service from the Lusaka Zambian Police.

- FridgeWheeL

 

FridgeWheeL, thanks for your message and your permission to publish it! Such news always encourage us to develop even more great stuff to get it our to our millions of users. Now, we hope you’ll never loose your phone again. But if it happens at least you know you’re protected :-).

The avast! Anti-Theft development team.

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December 13th, 2012

Is Google Protecting Me After All?

The latest version of Android 4.2, code-named “Jelly Bean” has been released some time ago. While being just an incremental update to the major 4.0 release “Ice Cream Sandwich”, Google introduced some major new features within that update. While offering multi-user support and improved notifications, a new feature which is being promoted heavily, is the built-in app scanner which should protect Android devices from being infected by malware.

The client side app scanner of Android 4.2 is the next step in Google’s attempts to protect their Android ecosystem from malware threats, after introducing Bouncer, a server-side malware scanner used by Google to analyze apps that are being uploaded to Google Play Store. Bouncer was announced in February 2012 and is Google’s approach to prevent malware from being uploaded to the Google Play store as a first line of defense.

Now, some authors claim that third party mobile security tools are most likely not needed anymore, because Google now already pre-checks all mobile apps. I’ve been closely monitoring all those changes and improvements because I wanted to make my own mind on how successful these attempts by Google would be and to find out how our Android antivirus scanner delivered within our free avast! Mobile Security suite (http://www.avast.com/free-mobile-security) would stack up to what the operating system vendor itself would be able to provide.

Since months before the release of avast! Mobile Security in December 2011, our virus lab was working on setting up the initial state of our Android malware database. The database contains signatures of all the malicious files our virus lab guys find over time and is being extended day-by-day to contain definitions of the newest threats in real-time. Currently, tens of millions of Android devices owned by our users download those definitions every day to their avast! client side scanners. So I just went to our virus lab and asked the guys there to provide me with some statistics on the growth of our Android malware database.

As I already stated, Bouncer was thought to be the first line of defense, and tries to protect the main source of app downloads from malicious offerings. Could it be that as a result of introducing Bouncer, our malware database stopped growing or started to decline in size when Bouncer was introduced? Has Google been successful? See for yourself:

Android Malware Database History (Source: AVAST)

Android Malware Database History (Click to enlarge)

Obviously, since February 2012, our Android malware growth has not started to decline; it has not even stalled its growth, but has been continuously growing since that point in time. Read more…