Twenty Android mobile phones were intentionally lost in The Lost Phones social experiment that Avast security analysts ran for 5 months.
The story is about how Avast Anti-Theft was able to track the phones and follow the journey that some of them took after being found. But four of those phones were returned to Avast because of good Samaritans who didn’t feel it was right to keep them.
We spoke to two of them; Quiana W., who found a phone on a park bench in Harlem, New York City and to Michael D. who found one in a public restroom in San Francisco. We asked what they thought when they first spotted the phones.
Quiana: I wanted to check it to see if it was on and see if I would be able to contact someone to return their phone. I know what it feels like to lose things, wallet or a phone, so I was just trying to pay it forward. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen back to me in this way, but it was just something that kind of took my heart.
Michael: My initial reaction was to leave the phone where it was. It seemed a little suspicious – how could someone not hear the phone drop onto the floor? I also thought that someone might mistake me for a thief if I walked out with the phone. But then, partially out of boredom and partially out of honesty, I decided to play detective and find the phone’s owner.
We trust our free app Avast Anti-Theft to track down lost phones, but we wanted to put it to the test in a real-world situation. So five months ago, we bought 20 Android smartphones and installed three security apps on all the phones: Our free Avast Anti-Theft app, Lookout Mobile Security, and Clean Master. Each phone was marked with contact information on where to return the device if found. After all was prepared, Avast security analysts traveled to New York City and San Francisco to randomly “lose” them in public places.
Here’s a video that shows what happened.
Over the months, the analysts used the Avast Anti-Theft app to track the lost devices and observed the following:
- 15 phones were wiped clean using the factory reset feature
- 11 phones stayed online for more than 24 hours after losing them
- 7 phones we were able to track for several months
- 4 phones were returned
- 4 phones are currently online and used
- 2 phones ended up abroad
- 1 phone was never factory data reset
The majority of lost devices were wiped clean using the factory reset feature, but only the Avast Anti-Theft app survived the factory reset.
You can track your missing mobile phones and tablets with Avast Anti-Theft. Get it for free from the Google Play Store.
After a while, your phones and tablets accumulate obsolete files and superfluous data, system caches, gallery thumbnails, and programs. This ‘junk’ slows down your device and eats up precious storage space.
Avast Cleanup identifies and cleans unwanted files from your Android device so it will run like a champ again.
Our new free app, Avast Cleanup & Boost for Android, cleans away all the unwanted files and programs so that your device is running smoothly and quickly with storage space to spare. But don’t take our word for it.
Today is Earth Day. It’s a day that people, organizations, corporations, and governments around the world demonstrate their commitment to protect the Earth and help advance a sustainable future. Every action, no matter how small, counts - from eating less meat to recycling or composting to reducing your energy footprint; it all contributes to a cleaner, greener world now and in the future.
Avast users do their part to save the Earth
Since our minds are on all things green this Earth Day, we want to highlight a particular bunch of Avast customers. These Android users simply came to Avast to find a way to save some of their smartphone’s battery power. Little did they realize when they installed Avast Battery Saver on their Android device that together they were making a difference that even we were surprised about.
In the first month that Avast Battery Saver was available, 200,000 customers downloaded and actively used it on their Android phone or tablet. This infographic shows how that cumulative use added up to real energy savings.
Do your part for Earth Day, and save up to 20% battery power everyday! Install Avast Battery Saver for free from Google Play.
Avast Anti-Theft is a free app designed for Android smart phones and tablets. It’s main purpose is to help you locate your lost or stolen mobile device, allowing you to track it on a map and control it remotely. You recover your phone by controlling it remotely with SMS commands or via the internet by logging in to your My Avast account.
If your phone is lost or stolen, here are some things you can control remotely:
- 1. Locate your device on a map – Whether you misplaced your phone, left on the bus, or a thief grabbed it and ran, the GPS on your phone can be enabled so you can receive continuous GPS location updates.
Avast Anti-Theft user Ducky Boy wrote about his experience finding his phone that he dropped on the highway while riding his motorcycle using the GPS feature. Read about it in On the road with avast! Mobile Security.
- 2. SIM card change notification – Thieves usually change the SIM card after stealing a phone. Anti-Theft recognizes when this happens and notifies you of the new number and geo-location so you can maintain contact with your phone.
Partier and Avast user Andreas lost his phone during a particularly fun party. The next morning he remembered he had installed Avast Anti-Theft. Here’s how he got his phone back, Don’t be sorry for party rocking – install Avast Anti-Theft! Read more…
avast! Ransomware Removal app eliminates Android ransomware and unlocks encrypted files, for free!
Ransomware, the terror of Windows that locks computers, encrypts the files, then demands a hefty payment to unlock them, has made its way to Android smartphones.
“The ransomware problem is growing like hell – and it’s no longer just threatening users – the new versions actually do encrypt your files,” said Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operating Officer at AVAST Software.
AVAST Software just released a new app called avast! Ransomware Removal that will eliminate the malware from an infected device. Get it free for your Android smartphone and tablet from the Google Play Store.
avast! Ransomware Removal will tell you if your phone has ransomware on it. If you are infected, it will eliminate the malware. Android users who are clean, can use the free app to prevent an infection from happening.
This short video shows you what actually happens when ransomware infects your Android smartphone.
The next wave of attacks
Savvy malware writers know where the next round of victims can be found. With Android at a whopping 80% worldwide market share, as well as “billions” of remaining mobile subscribers ready to upgrade to smartphones, the targets are numerous.
After detecting the massive growth of ransomware on PCs, this spring AVAST Virus Lab researchers saw the malware migrating to the Android platform. Analysts identified fake government mobile malware, and early this month a new ransomware called SimplLocker proved to be successful. This proof-of-concept worked so well encrypting photos, videos, and documents stored on smartphones and tablets, that the Virus Lab immediately ordered a tool from our mobile development team to combat it - avast! Ransomware Removal.
“SimplLocker blocks access to files contained on mobile devices. Without our free ransomware-removal tool, infected users have to pay $21 to regain access to their personal files,” said Vlcek. “SimplLocker is the first ransomware that actually encrypts these files, so we developed a free tool for people to restore them.”
Find. Kill. Prevent.
Install avast! Ransomware Removal to find out if your Android devices are infected and to get rid of an infection. Anyone infected by SimplLocker, Cryptolocker, or any other type of ransomware can download the free avast! Ransomware Removal tool, and then install the app remotely on the infected device. Once installed, you can easily launch the app to scan the device, remove the virus, and then decrypt your hijacked files.
To keep your devices protected from Cryptolocker, SimplLocker, and other ransomware, make sure to also install avast! Free Mobile Security & Antivirus from the Google Play store. It can detect and remove the malware before it is deployed.
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