Today, there is an unprecedented increase in the number of malware programs that are infecting the Android Operating System. Unscrupulous people are creating malware that is designed to steal important information from you mobile devices, but thankfully, Avast has come up with an application that you can download to your device to protect you from such attacks.
Avast has a free antivirus, which has top-notch malware protection, has a high number of customizable options and has anti-theft and privacy tools. There is only one downside to the software; some of its features are provided as separate applications, and there is not enough documentation for some of them. Not all the features in this suite are free.
Interface and Setup
It only takes a few minutes to install the application on your mobile device. All you have to do is go to the Google Play Store application on your device, and look for the app. Once you have entered an email address and password, you get an Avast account, and the application will be downloaded and set up on your device.
Upgrading to a premium account can be needlessly confusing. If you tap the Go Premium button you will be sent to the Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus Premium subscription page. At this point, you should not tap the button at the bottom of the page that asks whether you have a license. Instead, you should tap on the Use Voucher button which is found at the top right of the page; this can be very confusing for people who are not tech-savvy.
Another user downside to this application is the fact that some of its features are broken into separate applications. In order to be fully protected, you need to have the Avast Mobile Backup and Restore and the Avast Anti-Theft applications; note that they are both free. Once you have installed them, they will work seamlessly with one another, and one wonders why they were not included as a single app in the first place.
The user interface of the application is straightforward making it easy to use. At the top of the Home Screen, you will be able to see whether the suite has all its features active (green), if some are disabled (Orange), or if all are disabled (Red). You will get access to App Shield, File Shield, Message Shield and Web Shield, when you tap on the indicator, and you can customize the settings that appear.
Just below the status indicator, you will find links that open the Anti-Theft, Virus Scanner, App Locking and More Tools. When you go to More Tools, you will find links to App Management, SMS and Call filter, Network Meter, Firewall, and Privacy Advisor. By clicking on the links you will be able to access the customization options.
When you want to see your recent activity on the app, you simply glance at the Event Log at the bottom of the screen. If you want a detailed report, simply click on the Show Activity button to see which apps and files were scanned, protective features that are on or off, and which permissions were granted.
There is a button with three dots at the top right of the home screen, which when activated will give you access to Updates, Account, Settings and Rate Us; this button takes you to the Google Play app, which will allow you to rate Avast.
Use the settings menu to manage automatic updates, change the PIN, and allow the detection of Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). You can also allow the CPU to keep running as Avast detects infections when the device is in Sleep Mode by activating the CPU WakeLock.
When you tap on the Run Scan button, the application will first go through all installed applications looking for odd activity. Then it will start scanning all the files on the device; you can customize the files scan, saying which folders should be scanned. It is best to leave the application in the default mode since it scans each and every file on the device. It is also possible to schedule scans according to time and day.
The App Shield feature scabs all applications as they are installed and launched; it is a real-time feature that secures your phone against applications that may have malware embedded in them. The File Shield also does the same, whenever you read or write a file. The Web Shield runs whenever you are browsing the Internet, and the Message Shield scans all incoming SMS messages. The Web Shield will work on Google Chrome, Boat Browser Mini, Boat Browser, Amazon Silk, and the Android Browser. The application, when tested was able to detect 99.9% of a sample that had 2,928 malware infections; quite impressive.
Data Protection and Anti-Theft
Avast, like many antivirus applications that run on Android allows you to use text or web commands to send anti-theft commands to a device, when it is stolen or lost. However, unlike the other applications, Avast has so much more, in terms of features, for this purpose. You can wipe the data of a phone, get it through GPS, or make it scream that it has been lost or stolen, letting people around the thief to take the necessary action.
The extra features found on Avast will allow you to make the lost device to reboot constantly, making it a nuisance to the thief, display any popup message that you may like, Initiate, in secret, a call to the number you texted from, allowing the mobile carrier to triangulate the location of the phone, forward calls and text messages, making the device useless to the thief, or turn off the mobile data of the device.
The commands are activated through sending a text message that has your PIN, to the device; you choose this PIN when you install the application. You then send the command to either lock the phone or locate it. You can choose the trusted numbers that can be used for this purpose to avoid accidentally locking your device.
You can also enter your account at my.avast.com and send the same commands. From here, you can make the device to turn on the front camera of the phone and take a picture of the thief which you can give to the police. You can also record conversations that the thief may make. You can also deny access to the Android Program Manager, or turn off all Android phone settings, rendering the device useless to the thief.
When you have Avast installed with root access, you can stop the thief from debugging the phone through the USB port, or force the connection to remain on, thereby allowing for GPS tracking of the device. The lockscreen is very important since if the code is entered wrongly for three tries, then Avast automatically marls the device as lost and initiates all the protecting actions mentioned above.
Geofencing is, perhaps, one of the most promising features of Avast, since it locks the phone when it moves beyond a certain radius from where you are located. You can make this just a few meters, and the phone will emit a siren, alerting you when it is stolen. If you suddenly hear the alarm, you can get up quickly and apprehend the thief.
When the phone is stolen, you can use the Backup feature to recover most of your data. You can store phone numbers, SMS messages, videos and pictures, audio files amongst many others. It is advisable that you do this regularly, storing them on Google Drive. You can allow the backup to happen at scheduled times of the week, which will include all calls, applications, and SMS messages.
Avast gives you a comprehensive set of tools through its Privacy Protection feature. There is a locker that denies access to some of the applications on the phone without first inputting the PIN. You can decide at what time of day the app should be activated, so that children will not access some of the applications, say during the evening. This is the only application locker that offers this type of customization amongst all other antivirus apps.
Similarly, there is no other Android antivirus application that allows you to have the type of call and SMS filters like Avast does. You can now create filters for groups on incoming and outgoing calls and SMS Messages. You can customize any or all of these features. This application, once again, allows you to schedule the time and day of the week, when it will automatically be activated. The application should also have created the ability to form a white list, which allows only certain calls to come through. For example, only calls from important colleagues, friends or family should come through at certain times of the night; this is the only downside of this feature.
The privacy adviser allows you to get information on the in-app advertisements, applications behavior, device behavior, and location. You can get further information by taping on individual apps to see the ad-network add-ons used by each and every app on the device, and also the permissions allowed.
The Web Console
When you access your web console at my.avast.com, you can have full control of all the subscriptions that you have signed up for, on all the devices that you own. On the top right hand corner of the dashboard, you will be able to see a list of all the devices, and when you click on one, you are presented with a new window that has all the information about that particular device. You can also see the status of the protection of the device on left side of the screen; you also have a list of all the anti-theft commands that you have set up, at the bottom of the screen. When you want to see the pictures or audio that have been captured using the front-facing camera of a stolen device, you simply click on the “info” button at the top right hand corner of the window.
Lite vs. Premium
You can purchase a one-year subscription of the Premium version of Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus, on Google Play, for only $14.99. You cam alternatively get a monthly subscription at $1.99. The free version of this antivirus allows you to have most of the features that you will get on the premium version; the only features that you cannot access are the Backing up of Video, Audio and applications; Geofencing and Ad Detector. The free version of the antivirus will also not allow you to take pictures using the front-facing camera, send text messages from the stolen device or retrieve data from it.
Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus, is a great application for the protection of an Android Mobile Device; it gives complete control of many features which gives most owners some peace of mind. This is an application that comes with a wide variety of privacy-protection and anti-theft features, and the fact that each and every tool is customizable makes it more flexible; you can set them to automatically launch at any time or day. The most wonderful aspect of this antivirus is the fact that most of these features, particularly the fantastic malware protection, comes at absolutely no price to the user. Given that it only comes at a subscription fee of $14.99 a year, the premium version is probably the most affordable antivirus application that you can find on Google Play.
For those who are not tech-savvy, this wide array of features may be mind-boggling, and this is the reason why the developer needs to come up with adequate documentation for each of these features. It is frustrating that the two main feature which are Backup and Anti-Theft, come as two separate applications, and yet they are supposed to work in sync with each other. However, these seem to be minor dents in the software, give all the protection that one gets even if you have to download two different applications. The protection tools offered by this application are outstanding.