Along with a review for Norton Internet Security 2012, evebugs also asked me to review the Norton Mobile Security for Android App.
Initially, I installed the App to the SDCard, which is only possible if you have a rooted phone to begin with. I was surprised that the App detects that and gives out a warning that it must be moved to the phone memory. After moving the App, it started without any problems and asked me for my Norton Account and licence key. Once that is entered, the app offers Anti-Theft, Anti-Malware, Call & SMS Blocking and Web Protection.
The Anti-Theft module works by setting an unlock keyword and then setting up a buddy list that can actually use the keyword. It allows anyone that is on that list and has the password to remote wipe, lock or locate your phone. It will also trigger a password promt screen everytime the sim card is changed.
The remote locate feature will send back 2 sms, the first only containing the GPS coords and accuracy, the second containing a link to google maps. I tested this with GPS off and got a completely wrong result, several kilometers away where my wifi used to be a year ago (SSID never changed). I don’t know if it’s Googles’ fault or Nortons’ but it’s extremely misleading to report an accuracy of 60 meters on a completely wrong location.
The remote lock worked good, sending back an SMS that it succeeded. However, with the taskswitcher and home button I could catch quick glances on other apps content, like the messages. It was not possible to remove the lockscreen without the password.
The malware Scan runs extremely fast, even when scanning the SSD along with it. I do not know about the quality, but I guess Norton knows how to find malware.
The call and SMS blocking works reliable as well. If called by a blocked number, the incoming call will appear for less than a second in the notification area and then be denied with a “busy” message. It did trigger my Tasker script for incoming calls, so it is not completely blocking everything. Still does an OK job tho.
The Web Protection should block fraudulent sites in the browser, but only works for the standard Android Browser. In my tests with Cyanogen Mod 7.0, I saw absolutely no evidence of the app doing anything in the browser. The Web Protection also proclaims it needs a “stable network connection to effectively block fraudulent Web sites” which makes me belive that the app either proxies all traffic through a Norton service, which would be a HUGE privacy problem, or it checks each Web request in paralell to my browsing, which will make browsing alot slower. Also, in the context of a mobile phone, how do you determine if you have a stable connectoin? When on EDGE/2/3/4G? WLAN? This feature has too many unknown implications for my taste.
I could not see any impact on my battery life while having it running, which is a very good thing since my battery is rather old and only lives for about 15 hours to begin with. In contrast to the desktop software, the interface of the Android App is clean and easy to use and generally does not leave any unanswered questions apart from the mentioned questions about web protection.
I personally will keep the app on my device, but for most of the features there are free alternatives around. I hope for some updates in the future that provide more features, like automatically enabling GPS when I want to locate my phone, making it ring and vibrate on a keyword or enabling me to locate the phone from a web browser instead of a 2nd cellphone.