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MWC 2013: We meet AVG as security firm releases new Android solution

AVG has today released new versions of its Android security solutions, AVG Antivirus Free and Antivirus Pro, and ITProPortal caught up with the firm at MWC to hear about the new products and current threats attacking our mobiles.

The latest update - compatible with both phones and tablets - brings the app to version 3.1, which now sports a resigned interface for simpler navigation. With many consumers reluctant to add antivirus software to their device or baffled by its presence once installed, AVG’s Senior Mobile Security Evangelist, Omri Sigelman, said it was important to maintain the basic four-pillar structure of its app despite the changes.

The pillars consist of protection, performance, anti-theft, and privacy, which act as gateways to settings pages where the solution can be optimised to the user’s preferences, and where data consumption, power usage, and dangerous activity can be monitored, among a host of other details.

Sigelman also demoed the app’s new call and SMS blocker which lets the user filter unwanted calls and texts by building their own ‘black and white’ phone lists. Using these lists, the user can set their mobile device to automatically reject incoming calls and text messages from certain numbers. Instead of ringing through, calls will be rejected, sent an SMS auto reply or switched to silent.

The AVG exec explained how the presence of AV solutions on smartphones is now more important than ever, because of the covert nature of modern threats that can exist on a phone for months without the user noticing.

Security breaches in the past typically consisted of vicious worms that would restart your computer, close prgrams and generally act conspicuously, and as a result “you could, be damn sure that you’d know about it,” Sigelman said. “The shift means that these days the hackers and malware writers have different toolkits for developing harmful code, and they’re saying something different.”

“They’re saying ‘we’re not going to break your device down, we’re not going to reboot it…actually we’re going to become your best friend. We’re going to be silent, we’re going to stay stored on the device once you have installed us’”. After a month or so, he explained, the threat takes small payments off the victim’s phone bill that they are unlikely to even notice, and the attacker then has a route into the account that pays the contract.

Similar warnings recently came our way when we spoke to security group Team Cymru about the major threats in the current mobile landscape.