Dec 21, 2012

Get Help with Madware from Norton Spot

We all know that we have to protect our PC's from viruses and malware but is your smartphone protected?  Recently my boss and I were chatting about this exact issue.  Ironically the very next day I got an email about Norton Spot and madware.

Norton Spot will help you find and remove madware from your Android phone (Madware only affects Android phones).  So I got right on downloading Norton Spot to each of my Android phones.

This is what it should look like within the PlayStore.

 This is what you'll get once you open the app.  Hit "Spot Them!" to get started.


Here's what Norton Spot found on my phone.

Just one of the many popular apps that Norton Spot found to be of medium potential annoyance.

If you regularly download apps, especially free apps, you'll be familiar with madware (aggressive mobile adware).  For the most part it is just a mild annoyance from things like pop up ads.  But depending on the app it may be collecting information as well.  For me the biggest issue I've personally had with madware is when ads popup while my kids are using my phone.  These ads often have a way to close them but its not always very obvious.  This can lead to whining or frustration.  But I had never considered that the apps were also collecting personal information including location info.  This doesn't make me quite so nervous for me as it would if my kids were using android based smart phones.  For now I've decided that some of the apps I have are worth keeping despite their mild 'annoyance' level.  But I did remove several that I hadn't been using anyway or didn't like.  It definitely doesn't hurt to check and see what kind of apps you have in your Android smart phone!  Its as easy as downloading Norton Spot now!

Thanks to Norton Spot I have included a ton of great info on madware in case you were as uninformed as I was!  

What is madware?
· Madware, or aggressive mobile adware, uses aggressive techniques to place advertising in your Android device’s photo albums, calendar entries and push messages to your notification bar. Madware can even go so far as to replace your ringtone with an ad.

· The percentage of apps containing madware has exploded. Norton recently
analyzed 1.5 million apps and saw a 210 percent increase in the number of apps including madware.

· Some of the most unsuspecting popular apps are known to include madware, such as:
○ Brightest Flashlight Free is an ultra-bright app that allows you to use your
phone as a flashlight. However, the app pushes alerts for things like dating
sites to your notification bar – which can be annoying and potentially
○ Zedge offers free ringtones, themes and wallpaper. Similar to Brightest
Flashlight Free, it pushes alerts to your notification bar.
○ Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space from Rovio are two of the top ten
madware offenders.

Why should you care?
· More and more kids are using smartphones and, as a result, at increased risk for encountering madware. According to a recent article from the Harvard Business Review as well as the PEW Research Center:
○ 6 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds have their own smartphone
○ 50 percent of 11 year olds have own cell phone
○ 23 percent of teens have smartphone
· PEW Research Center also found that parents of teen smartphone owners are no more or less likely than other parents to use parental controls to manage their child’s mobile use and mobile internet use, increasing the likelihood that teens are downloading apps infected with madware.

What can I do?
· Norton Spot is Norton’s app solution for madware. Norton Spot is an ad detector and scanner of advertising networks that can spam your device via apps you install.

○ The app is free to download and is available in the Google Play app store for
Android devices.
○ Norton Spot helps you identify apps that don’t respect your privacy and
remove them. If you think an app is asking for suspicious permissions, it’s
always best to do some quick research on your own online to see if this app
has had other privacy concerns, has been associated with madware.


Other Tips
· When installing new mobile apps, it’s important to always read the “fine-print” to make sure you know exactly what app will have access to on your smartphone to make an informed decision about downloading it.
· Norton created as a brand-agnostic website designed to be a resource for consumers to learn about the latest trends and resources in mobile security.

Interesting Statistics
· According to Norton research, 24 percent of all free apps make money by
displaying ads, an increase of 31 percent from nine months ago.
· Forty-nine percent of all free apps that display ads within the app use madware.
· Apps that include madware grew by 210 percent from nine months ago.
· Norton noticed a 50 percent increase in total permissions required by free gaming apps over the past year. This means, for example, that apps are more frequently collecting location coordinates, allowing SMS messages to be sent without consent and installing desktop shortcuts.
· The average app contains two ad networks but some contain as many as 17.
· Lesser known apps can bring big madware annoyances. Less popular apps (less than 250,000 installs) are 135 percent more likely to contain the worst forms of madware.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Norton. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.


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