McAfee offers free protection scan against mobile apps that overshare

McAfee, part of Intel Security, has announced that the latest version of McAfee Mobile Security enables users to run free privacy and security scans. McAfee Mobile Security for Android is designed to prevent privacy invasions, data loss, identity theft and lost or stolen devices. It includes anti-theft, antivirus, app protection, Web and Wi-Fi protection, along with call and SMS filtering.

“Smartphone users download apps so regularly that it is easy to forget how these apps collect information – at times even putting users at risk,” said David Freer, Vice President, Consumer – APAC at McAfee.

Mobile security apps are more well known for scanning for and removing malware and looking for security threats, than for privacy scans, which help users to identify apps that are oversharing personal information.

McAfee Mobile Security’s new privacy scan feature provides key intelligence about the apps users have installed on a smartphone or tablet. The scan determines how much information each app is able to access and share, then ranks them by level of privacy sensitivity, while also checking for risky URL associations. When an app behaves significantly different than others in its category, the level of risk is raised and reflected in its privacy sharing score. At the conclusion of the privacy scan the user can uninstall suspicious apps with a single click.

The most worrisome permissions are apps that read users’ subscriber ID from their smartphones and tablets, anything that gets users’ precise location (as opposed to Wi-Fi network or cell tower), and anything that reads or tracks text messages that can contain private messages and information like online banking transaction authorisations.

To provide a deeper level of protection, the new version of McAfee Mobile Security instantly scans Android apps, files, SD cards and Internet downloads for malware using a method optimised for mobile so as not to impact resources and battery life significantly.

According to McAfee’s Consumer Mobile Security Report, 80% of mobile apps today collect location information about users, 82% know the device ID, and 57% track when people use their phones. Additionally, the apps that aggressively and often unnecessarily collect data leverage potentially dangerous ad libraries, and 35% of these apps contain malware.

In AV-Test’s most recent effectiveness test for mobile security products, McAfee Mobile Security received a 100% detection score for the second time this year and was given a top ranking among the 30 vendors that participated in the independent test. McAfee Mobile Security can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.