McAfee Mobile Security Adds Free App, New Privacy Features

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McAfee announced on Tuesday a free version of its McAfee Mobile Security (MMS) app for Android, along with a new premium edition that brings a redesigned user interface (UI) and new privacy features.

In a briefing for TabletPCReview, Lianne Caetano, director of Mobility Product Marketing. noted that MMS provides protections across four main areas: anti-malware security, Web security, anti-theft, and privacy. Some, but not all, features are also available for BlackBerry devices.

MMS scans installed apps, inspects for malware, and ranks apps by level of privacy sensitivity. Users can choose to remove apps that seem suspicious to them through a one-click uninstall process, she said.

Privacy: Different Strokes for Different Folks

In consumer testing, she observed, McAfee has found that people have varying notions about privacy protection and app acceptability. Some users simply want to “ensure that apps are no more intrusive than I expect them to be,” according to the McAfee exec.

Other frequently cited privacy concerns range from identity protection and cybercrime prevention to safeguards against the theft of devices and onboard data.

In analyzing privacy risks, McAfee considers factors like permissions, embedded ad libraries, URLs, developer reputation, maturity of the app, and specific behaviors of an app, such as whether it is accessing the contact list and calendar.

“Newer apps can be riskier,” Caetano contended. Games, utilities, and porn apps can also be particularly hazardous.

Through a feature in MMS called “check data exposure,” users can look at how much personal info their apps are able to access and share.

Web Security and Anti-Theft

MMS also includes Web security features such as blocking of malicious websites and risky links within SMS messages, emails, and social networking sites, along with safeguards against potential phishing sites, browser exploits, and malicious quick response (QR) codes.

Anti-theft measures encompass GPS- and satellite-based device tracking and location services with Web-enabled management, device alarm/scream, remote lock and wipe, and backup and restore.

McAfee’s recently released crossplatform suite, LiveSafe Cloud Security, contains the same mobile protections for Androive devices as those in MMS.

Unlike Symantec’s competing Norton Mobile Security (NMS),  the latest edition of MMS does not include protections for Apple iPhones and iPads.

Symantec, though, is “still catching up to McAfee” around privacy safeguards, Caetano maintained.

New UI and Privacy Features

In the latest update to MMS, McAfee has revamped the UI so that users can check the status of malware and privacy threats, data backup, Web security, and the “find my device” feature all in a single glance.

Also new in the update are enhancements to McAfee’s mobile Global Threat Intelligence (GTI) protections, along with new multi-user app profiles. McAfee has added “several new data points to GUI for reporting on apps trust and privacy reputation scores,” according to Caetano.

With the new app profiles, you can restrict access to the apps on your device by creating “safe zones for your kids, friends, family, and even strangers,” she elaborated.

“You control what apps others see on your device. You wouldn’t want a four-year-old child to post their status on Facebook,” she illustrated.

Caetano also told TabletPCReview that McAfee decided to provide “portions of our solution at no charge.”

Features of the free or “basic” edition of MMS include locate and alarm; backup/restore contacts; remote mobile device management; and 24/7 free tech support.

McAfee is offering a free two-week trial of the premium edition on Google Play. When the trial expires, you’ll be able to choose between using the basic version at no cost or purchasing the premium version at $2.99 per month for a monthly subscription or $29.99 per month for a yearly subscription.



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