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.
Believe it or not, there’s more to life than what’s happening online! In its beginnings, technology was intended to make our lives simpler and more convenient. When technology becomes an addiction, however, it can become dangerous to our mental and physical health, not to mention our personal lives.
The most popular mobile security product in the world is Avast Mobile Security.
In their annual IT Security Survey, AV – Comparatives asked, Which mobile anti-malware security solution do you primarily use on your smartphone?
Avast took 1st or 2nd place on four continents: Europe, North America, Asia, and South/Central America.
How great is the risk of infection on an Android smartphone?
The risk of your Android smartphone becoming infected depends on several factors. In the US and Europe most people use official stores such as Google Play for installing apps. The risk is much lower than in many Asian countries, especially China, where app stores are not subject to stricter controls. Because of these unofficial app stores, along with numerous rooted phones, the chance of installing a dangerous app is highly increased.
In Asia, the smartphone is often used as an alternative to the PC. People frequently use it for online banking which make them vulnerable to Zeus Trojan malware. Zeus is commonly delivered via a link or an attachment in a phishing message or through a text message via WhatsApp, SMS, or Twitter. This threat will similarly increase in Europe and the US as banking apps get more popular.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
The Avast Virus Lab has more than one million samples of mobile malware in its database, and reports that 2,850 new mobile threats are created every day by hackers. The threat situation can change quickly and dramatically so it is best to use preventative protection and install security software on your smartphone. At this point though, protecting important data in the event that your phone is lost or stolen is more critical than malware protection.
The AV-Comparatives survey says that Android users in North America protect their phones more than anywhere else in the world with 31 percent of respondents reporting they have protection. South America, Asia, and Europe are much lower at 17 percent.
Protect your Android smartphone and tablet with Avast Mobile Security and Avast Anti-Theft: Free from the Google Play store.
After a long winter, it’s time to throw open the windows and let the fresh air in. But first, you need to do a good Spring Cleaning to wash away the grime that has accumulated. Here’s our favorite tips that go beyond the ordinary vacuum and dust routine. Choose the ones you want to do, and don’t forget that your mobile devices can use a good cleaning too (see tip #10)!
Starting from the top down:
- 1. Dim light fixtures and dull lamps. See the gleam again from your light fixtures. Get a soft microfiber cloth or duster and wipe away dust from ceiling lights, fans, and table lamps. I even use a vacuum attachment on lamp shades.
- 2. Greasy window treatments. Dirt, dust, grease, and bacteria collect on draperies, blinds, verticals, and shades. It is recommended to have your fabric window treatments dry-cleaned every 5-7 years. For metal or plastic blinds, you can take them down and wash them with dishwashing soap in a bucket of water or a solution of half water, half vinegar. Clean wooden blinds with a soft dry cloth wear a pair of cotton gloves or old socks and wipe the slats down.
- 3. Dusty bookshelves. A dusty old library sounds like a romantic notion, but it’s not good in your own home.Working from the top down, remove books and decorative objects from one shelf at a time, dust and return. Maybe you’ll find some old books that are ready to donate while you’re at it.
You walk by it every day:
- 4. Grimy doors, knobs, and handles. Grubby hands and jumping dogs can make your doors pretty awful looking, but because you are walking in and out, you don’t even see the grime. Give knobs and handles a quick wipe down with your favorite cleaner and some paper towels. Make your front door welcoming again by cleaning it inside and out with warm, soapy water. Dry it with a soft cloth.
How does that get there?!
- 5. Crumby kitchen drawers. I can’t ever figure out how the crumbs get in there; but spring cleaning is a good time to remove everything, wipe out the drawers and return only the items you still use.
- 6. Upholstered furniture. After a season of snuggling on the sofa with the dog and a good movie, stick your hand between the cushion and you’ll find old popcorn and plenty of dirt, sticks and leaves. I even found a dead lizard! Get out the vacuum attachments and vacuum upholstered furniture, including under and between cushions. Fluff and rotate cushions and pillows.
- 7. Underneath the rugs. You’ll be surprised what’s under there, so move the furniture off the rug and vacuum underneath. You may want to take your rug outside and give it a good old-fashioned beating too.
- 8. Underneath beds and behind furniture. Dust bunnies as big as the cat are hidden away, so make an extra effort to get the vacuum way up under there. Allergy sufferers have enough to deal with when the pollen comes, so help them out by minimizing dust.
You will feel cleaner, too. Trust me.
- 9. Scummy shower and tub walls. Soap scum builds up after a season of long, hot showers. Choose your favorite cleaning product and leave it on for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing down the tiles.
This is the easiest one!
- 10. Spring Clean your Mobile Devices. We may not be great at washing windows and cleaning floors, but we know how to Spring Clean you Android device! Over time, unnecessary data, system caches, gallery thumbnails, installation files, and residual files can accumulate on your smartphone and tablet. You can regain performance and speed when you clean away all the grime with our free app, Avast GrimeFighter Safe Clean for Android. Install Avast GrimeFighter free from Google Play.
Not too many years ago we had phones that only made calls. Smartphones are the newest generation of phones that bring a lot of possibilities right to our fingers through the apps specifically designed for them. We all got used to the Windows (or Mac) world, but now we are witnessing a revolution from “standard” programs and some specialized tools to a world where every common thing can be done by our smartphones. Sometimes it seems, that the device is smarter than we are!
But can it protect itself from the increasing number of threats?
You’ll find a lot of articles on the Internet which state that security companies exaggerate the need for mobile security and antivirus protection. You’ll read that Google Play and the new security technologies of Android Lollipop are the only things necessary for security. I could post many examples of such (bad) tips, but I don’t want to waste your time or mine.
Do you use only Google Play as your app source?
A common (and wise) security tip is to stick with Google Play for downloading apps. This is good advice despite the fact that we see here in the Avast blog that Google Play fails to detect some apps as malware. Look for our mobile malware senior virus analyst Filip Chytry’s articles. He continuously discovers holes in Google Play security.
However, what if you want apps that have been banned from Google Play? No, I’m not talking about (just) adult apps. Google banned anti-ad apps, for instance. So where is a safe place to get them? The answer is simple: outside of Google Play. The Amazon Appstore for Android is quickly increasing the possibilities.
Do you think that clean apps can’t become bad ones?
Clean apps can become bad ones, and with the new Google Play permission scheme, you may not even notice. This makes updating your apps (another very common and wise hint) an additional complication.
As the apps we love can turn against us, the best tip of all is that you install a mobile security app that helps you know what it being added to your phone. Avast Mobile Security updates its virus database very often to detect the latest threats and allows you to install securely all the apps you love.
This makes you smarter than your smartphone!
Have you ever snooped on your partner’s smartphone?
People expect that they are being watched online in cyberspace, but who would expect to be spied on by the people closest to them? You better watch out – your partner may be spying on you more than the NSA: One in five men and one in four women admitted to checking their partner’s smartphone in a survey with 13,132 respondents conducted by Avast in the United States.
The survey found that while the majority of women check their partner’s device because they are nosy, a quarter of married women suspect their spouse is cheating on them and want to find evidence.
Married women are not the only ones who suspect their partner is cheating on them. The reason why most men pry on their partner is because they too are afraid their better half is being unfaithful and want to confirm their suspicions – especially if the relationship is fresh.
One may think that people who snoop on their significant other to find evidence of cheating or lying are being paranoid. Unfortunately, the majority of them are not paranoid–their gut feeling is often correct. Read more…
I bet you would be lost without your smartphone. It’s your lifeline to contacts, emails, and personal information, not to mention all those apps that you use for fun, entertainment, and business. You probably have bought something using your phone, so your credit card information is there, as well as your account log ins. In other words, it would be disastrous to lose it to a thief or be infected with a data-stealing app.
Keep reading for some solid tips that will help you secure your Android smartphones and tablets.
1. Install security software
Protect your smartphone or tablet from malicious attacks. Malware targeted at Android devices is increasing daily, and we project that it will be at PC levels in the next 4 years. Even though malware is not likely to affect you (yet), avast! Mobile Security & Anti-theft protects your device , plus it helps you locate your device if it is lost or stolen.
TIP: When you upgrade to avast! Mobile Premium you get a feature called Password Check. This feature keeps nosy people and data thieves from snooping around your messages or emails. After 3 wrong attempts to break in, your phone is locked.
2. Use trusted stores to install apps
Malware may not be a huge threat yet, but cybercrooks are using apps in subtle ways, so you need to be aware of what you’re downloading onto your device. The major app stores like Google Play and Amazon are the safest places to go for apps. These have rigorous vetting procedures, so they are reliable sources. The ones you need to watch out for are the unregulated third party app stores predominantly from the Asia or the Middle East.
TIP: For an extra safeguard on your Android device, stop the installation of apps from unknown sources. Go to Settings>Security and uncheck the Unknown Sources option. Check the Verify Apps option to block or warn you before installing apps that may cause harm.
3. Use a PIN or password and lock your apps
Your Android phone has its own security settings, so we recommend that you set a PIN number with a strong number code to the lock screen. To set your PIN go to Settings>Lock screen to set a pattern or passcode.
TIP: Use avast! Mobile Security App Lock to set a PIN for apps you want to keep private, like online shopping and banking apps. You can lock any two apps with a PIN/gesture using our free product; get unlimited app locking with the Premium product.
How to save a wet smartphone
It happened with me, I jumped in the swimming pool with my phone in the pocket. Unfortunately, it was not the first time my phone was drenched. Some years ago, the villain was the rain. I was using a smartphone app to monitor my running pace and it started to rain. Not a light refreshing rain – no, a deluge, a Heavy rain. My phone was protected, but that was just too much rain.
At that time, I didn’t know what to do and made the wrong decisions. Some modern phones are waterproof, but others aren’t, and an accident involving water can be fatal. I’d like to share these hints with you on what to do if your phone decides to take a bath.
- The first thing you should do NOW is a backup! You’ve heard this before, but have you done anything about it? It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Your photos, videos and musics, your apps and game data – everything could literally sink in water. We offer a simple, yet easy solution: Avast Mobile Backup protects your data against such accidents. Try the free basic version from Google Play Store.
- TURN YOUR PHONE OFF If your phone was dropped into water, the first thing to do is TURN IT OFF. And not only press the on/off button, but also remove the battery and cards completely. It’s a race against time. Each second is vital to avoid an electric shock and motherboard crash.
Smartphone owners are careless about security, says survey.
Guys are more likely to get a virus on their smartphone than girls (36% vs 32%), and more than one third (34%) of survey respondents don’t have any anti-theft or antivirus security on their smartphones. Add to that nearly half of the people AVAST polled in the US said they did not back up their data or know if they did on their mobile devices. This is despite nearly one in ten saying they had lost their phone or it was stolen in the last 12 months. These results are from a recent smartphone survey conducted for antivirus software company, AVAST.
AVAST surveyed 9,060 people earlier this year in the US about smartphone ownership and use and have released the results today. Read more…