ROMANIAN SECURITY FIRM Bitdefender has launched a stand-alone anti-theft software product for mobile devices running the Android operating system (OS).
Intended to track the whereabouts of lost or stolen Android devices, the product not only allows users to connect remotely and use a variety of controls such as "lock", "locate" or "wipe" from a web profile via the internet, but enables users to activate those commands with text messages.
Speaking at a conference in Bucharest, Bitdefender senior product manager Alex Balan told The INQUIRER of the importance of the software's text message capability due to the increasing skill of thieves that are now more aware of mobile security software.
"Traditionally anti-theft systems have a web console which allows you to do several things with it such as lock [the device], track it, and so on," Balan said.
"We have discovered that this particular approach gets results but isn't necessarily fool-proof. Thieves will disconnect the phone from the internet, remove the SIM card, and try to uninstall the solution if they see it is there."
"This is why we have implemented a new component that also allows it to remotely control your device via text message as well as GPS and WiFi."
The SMS service works the same way as a web console, in that it allows the user to control the stolen device and see where it is located - but does so via a 'trusted number' nominated by the user when the software is installed.
One of the first steps the user will do during the initial software installation is input a telephone number of a trusted friend or relative. This will ensure that the stolen device can be controlled or located via SMS from the trusted user's phone if no internet connections can be established.
Bitdefender also said that its product has the ability to read new SIM card information and send this on to the trusted number, so a thief's contact details will be revealed upon entry of the newly inserted SIM. This could allow the user to call the crook, get angry at them, and probably still be a without their phone as a result. But at least it might make them feel better.
With another feature dubbed "scream", the trusted number can also send an SMS to set off an alarm on the phone, showing the thief up good and proper, and locking them out of the device.
When installed, Balan said that the anti-theft software is well hidden from 'installed programs' lists and requires a PIN code to access, thus preventing uninstallation by pesky pickpockets. It also includes protection from phishing, viruses and Trojans.
The software is an updated version of the product that was originally bundled with earlier editions of the firm's mobile security software. Bitdefender highlighted that its stand-alone debut is due to the increase in security threats and the increase in thefts of mobile devices.
Pricing for Bitdefender's Anti-theft product will be $24.99 for the full product or $4.99 for the strictly Android version. µ