Monday, 20 August 2012
Avast anti-theft goes online
Catches viruses and thieves
Opinions on the usefulness of antivirus apps for Android are as fragmented as Android itself, but most people agree that the extra features of these apps are useful even if you don't use the anti-virus part.
Virus killer avast comes with a firewall that knows the difference between home networks and roaming, an app permissions scanner, a call filter, and much more. Its anti-theft system can find, lock, and block your phone to keep the thieves out, or make it scream so you can retrieve it from under the couch. If your phone is rooted you can make the anti-theft function survive a factory reset.
The anti-theft functions could be activated by SMS only, but avast promised that web-based remote control would be ready in early 2012. They're six months late, but it's finally there.
Make an avast account and you can log into avast.com to do all sorts of things from their web portal. Lock your phone to keep the thieves out. Force the data connection on to help your missing phone keep in touch with you. Block access to the settings menus. And if your phone won't come back you can send a remote wipe command to keep the bad guys out of your private data. Too bad avast won't send a backup to your Dropbox account before it wipes your phone. Maybe in the next version?
Bonus feature: you can send out a command to turn USB debugging off. That may sound like a useless feature for geeks, but it can stop thieves from hooking your phone to a computer to bypass your lock pattern or pin code.
Where's my phone?
Of course avast can make your phone send out its coordinates to find it on the map. The locate command activates your GPS, and if your phone is out of satellite range it will use WiFi and mobile data for a location estimate.
Unfortunately GPS-less location requires that the network location service is already running, because avast can't switch it on for you. Avast anti-theft would improve a lot if it can bypass Androids network location lock. Avast knows how to take advantage of root access, so this shouldn't be too hard to add.
• avast! (Google Play Store)