avast! Free Antivirus has long been recognized as one of the top free antivirus applications for PC, and now they’ve entered the mobile security arena with avast! Free Mobile Security. Highlights of this full-featured security suite include Antivirus, Privacy report, Web shield, Call/SMS filtering, Anti-Theft, Application Manager, and a Firewall (for rooted phones only). The checklist below compares their features against 3 of the top mobile antivirus providers.
Time and space prohibit adequate coverage of all the features, so whether you want to learn more in advance of installation or–as I did–install avast! first, and read about it later, I recommend downloading the User Guide.
The app can be found here.
Following the license agreement, an option is presented to set up Anti-Theft. While this is a key avast! mobile element, the story of this useful–but complex–feature justifies an article all its own (coming soon to a newsletter near you).
Tap Virus Scanner in the main menu.
In the Virus Scanner dialog, determine what to scan (apps, SD card), set up a scanning schedule (Sunday is scheduled below), and/or manually run a scan by tapping the Scan now button.
To set up scheduled scans, select a day (or multiple days), and press the time field. In the Set time dialog box, adjust time with the up and down arrows and press Set.
As well as scanning applications when they’re installed, the avast! virus scanner can scan system content on demand, including the memory card (optional).
Suspicious files or applications bring up the screen below. Press the red button for details, or press Resolve all to uninstall or delete all suspicious files or apps.
From the Virus Scanner Settings menu, virus definitions can be set to automatically update, the connection type can be determined, and there is an option to do a manual check for updates.
The Privacy Advisor lists the permissions of installed apps. Tap an item on the list to see which apps have those rights (for example–as seen below–11 busybody apps installed on my phone track my location).
Application Management is similar to the Windows Task Manager, in that it lists running apps, displays their size and their CPU and memory usage. It also includes the options to Force Close and provides access to System Information. You can either choose to view just the Running Apps, or All Applications.
Press an app name to view the details.
The Web Shield scans for malware as you browse the Internet.
To set up the SMS and Call Filter, tap the Create a new group button.
Name the group and make selections (who and what to block, and when to block them).
Tap Group members (shown above) to bring up the Add to group dialog.
The Firewall feature only works on rooted phones. Rooting an Android phone requires customization that offers a benefit similar to running programs as an administrator in Windows. This process may or may not be safe (depending on whom you listen to), and may also void the warranty on the phone.
Once you have everything set up, spend some time in Settings. The breadth and depth of features and settings in this app is astonishing, and there wasn’t nearly enough time here to cover it all.