Desktop anti-virus is an absolute necessity, with an unprotected machine online lasting only a few minutes before becoming infected. So how about our data-powered mobile devices of today, do they too need AV protection ? Today arrives a Windows Phone application from security company AVG, it serves two main functions.
The AVG WP7 app allows you to scan files stored on your device for infections. Strangely it seems only audio and image files are scanned, with videos and documents being missed out, at least according to the report. AVG’s inability to scan documents created, is likely a result of the sandboxed nature of application storage. Typically desktop AV sits at a lower level of the OS, allowing it to access all parts of the disk.
The other feature of the app is a ‘secure’ browser. This works by checking links on request, before visiting the site. Should the site be known to be malicious, the user will be prevented from visiting the site, with a warning displayed. While you may be ‘safer’ you are actually giving up some functionality of the IE browser built into WP7. Particularly to those devices running Mango and IE9.
While mobile platforms are experiencing exponential growth, in reality malicious sites and software is still, on a whole, targeting Windows. It’s a similar situation to MacOSX, AV providers will try and sell us on the idea of the need for security everywhere, but the reality is, right now, there’s very little need. There’s certainly a case for this to change at some point in the future, but the protection needs to be automatic and transparent to the user.
The user-initiated scanning provided in this app, really isn’t the solution. Security vendors need to work with Microsoft to get lower-level access, while being acutely aware of the performance impact on lower-powered mobile devices.
The AVG app is available in the WP7 Marketplace now.