AVG responds to Microsoft’s Windows Phone antivirus app removal

By Tom Warren, on 9th Sep 11 1:28 pm with 37 Comments

AVG has responded to the vast criticism of its recently released antivirus application for Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft took the unusual step on Friday of pulling a Windows Phone 7 application from its Marketplace. AVG’s antivirus scanner for Windows Phone 7 was removed after a number of criticisms from Windows Phone users. The application, made available earlier this week, has been found to improperly use the Geo Location (GeoCoordinateWatcher) API to track a device and send a number of key identifying data to AVGs servers. AVG appears to collect the phone make, model, a users email address and their location.

AVG responded to the claims on Friday in a company blog post. Chief technology officer for AVG, Yuval Ben-Itzhak explained that the company “worked closely with Microsoft on the development of this product.” Addressing concerns about the amount of data transmitted by the app, Ben-Itzhak claims it’s for the good of the end user. “All of the data we collect is used solely to offer users an exceptional security service with state-of-the-art GPS tracking,” he said. AVG promises the following:

  • We will not sell your data to anyone.
  • We do not share or otherwise disclose your data to anyone without your permission.
  • We do not mine your data for patterns.
  • We do not use your data to target ads.
  • We do not access your location data without your permission.

Ben-Itzhak also reveals that AVG’s team were trained by Microsoft. AVG implemented some changes recommended by Microsoft according to Ben-Itzhak. Explaining the reasoning behind an antivirus application for a platform with no known threats, AVG says it believes Windows Phone 7 will become a target soon. “AVG believes that the Windows Phone 7 OS will continue to increase in popularity and, as it does, it will become a high value target for thieves and hackers,” says Ben-Itzhak. Microsoft is currently investigating the application.

  • Frylockns86

    “Ben-Itzhak claims it’s for the good of the end user.”

    We don’t need your service. What good does it do when it only scans for EICAR strings and a Hebrew word? Go lay out your BS to someone else. 

    • Anonymous

      He is named Ben-Itzhak…of course he searches for Hebrew words.

  • Ironnmetal

    I’m skeptical about their team having been trained by Microsoft. He’s right about one thing though, the OS will increase in popularity :)

    • Jinge

      Trained = they followed a training program… 2 x 2hours is enough to have been trained…

    • Guester

      I did a wcf course by Microsoft on learning.microsoft.com. I’ve also completed the WCF cert by Microsoft. On top of that, I’ve had lots of help by Microsoft employees on the MSDN forums. Hence, I’m also trained by Microsoft
      .
      Therefore, anything I develop, is automatically sanctioned and approved by Microsoft.

      including this utility that remotely capture screenshots of a target machine, and to send logged keystrokes (Thanks MSDN forums!) to me via wcf.

  • Ironnmetal

    I’m skeptical about their team having been trained by Microsoft. He’s right about one thing though, the OS will increase in popularity :)

  • http://twitter.com/Johannespreekt Johannespreekt

    What a bullshit response!!!

    If you look to the way WP architecture there is no reason to have an anti-virus packet installed! And there is no reason to collect all that data, no way they have an advantage with it! They should really got banned from the platform!

  • http://twitter.com/richfrombechtle Rich Gibbons

    Jsut because the location tracking is “state of the art” doesn’t make it any better! He hasn’t addressed the concerns at all…

  • Jinge

    Don’t like this company… But anyway, people don’t HAVE TO download this app, so there is no reason to remove it IF it follows MS rules… You can also remove it whenever you want, so no pb…

    • Ironnmetal

      It got removed so it can be investigated. It’s much more prudent to remove it and add it back later (if it doesn’t violate any rules), versus leaving it up and later discovering that it is malicious.

      But you’re right, people could easily avoid this app, and most WP7 users seem to be pretty savvy already.

  • http://twitter.com/starksimon Stark

    Dear AVG, go back to Android and sell you bullshit there. You are not welcome here in the WP world. 

  • Anonymous

    I installed the app to see what it was and I think this is an overreaction

    As with all apps marketplace warns you of the access the app requires and there is an option to disable it from settings.

    The user’s email address. Its made to be as if the app hacks your phone to find it without permission. There is a field to enter your email in the settings, its not required and the app doesnt ask it. I have a filling this could even be part of some sort of anti theft feature they may want to implement once mango comes along

    The other 2 features of the app, is search and browsing and these 2 often require location. AVG’s link scanner for the PC is actually quite good, so I think that feature is a plus for windows phone.

    If they broke the rules their app should be taken down and fixed but I think is silly to think that AVG made an app to spy on users.

  • Simplycani

    “AVG says it believes Windows Phone 7 will become a target soon ”

    WTF is AVG warning MS that WP will be infected .. _|_ for AVG .

    • Hawkins

      I believe the world will be destroyed one day.
      I provide a simple service of strangling you to death so you wouldn’t have to experience such a day.
      All I ask for, is the affordable price of all your worldly belongings. 

  • Anonymous

    “AVG believes that the Windows Phone 7 OS will continue to increase in popularity and, as it does, it will become a high value target for thieves and hackers. However, in the meantime, here’s some malware for you :)”

    • http://www.facebook.com/xtonyprince Antoine Prince

      hahaha good one.

  • http://twitter.com/jimmyfal Jimmy Fallon

    Can someone tell me, if the ONLY way to get apps onto the phone is from the Marketplace, do ya THINK MS will be SO stupid as to let anything in the marketplace that is a virus? Where will this first infection happen? A drive by on the browser? Probably…

    • Anonymous

      The funny thing is: It already happened. The first anti-virus app was also the first “virus”. Maybe they really wanted to point out how easy it is to get into the marketplace with such crap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11814278 Chris Woelfel

    So I’m going to have an antivirus application that’s only going to see if I have a virus if I go through their browser?

    I know sandboxing and all that jazz, I’m just saying because of the sandboxing, it could only REALLY  find potentially harmful stuff if I’m in the application…lol.

  • J A

    “We will not sell your data to anyone.
    We do not share or otherwise disclose your data to anyone without your permission.
    We do not mine your data for patterns.
    We do not use your data to target ads.
    We do not access your location data without your permission.”

    Seriously? I don’t care what they will not do with my data AFTER they harvest it, they just should not be getting my data in the first place at all. I thought these guys were wupposed to deliver anti-malware but what are they doing with harvesting data at all? How do these two very different things come together under one app? If they want to harvest data then why not create an app suitably named for that instead of hiding that feature in what is supposed to be an anti-malware?

    • https://profiles.google.com/christopher.gull/ CG

      Exactly what I thought… that “exceptional security service” has nothing to do with the collection of PERSONAL information. What the crap AVG, you don’t need the heck know where I am to do your bloody work. And neither my Live ID, my unique device ID, device type, region, operator, user email and product license.

  • Anonymous

    “AVG says it believes Windows Phone 7 will become a target soon. “AVG believes that the Windows Phone 7 OS will continue to increase in popularity and, as it does, it will become a high value target for thieves and hackers”

    Seems I keep hearing that crap from AV makers… We’ll see if there’s anything to it.

  • Anonymous

    why would a av need your location? The GPS is state of the art, but shouldn’t be used by an av program. How does getting your location help in the removal of a virus? Since this program displays ads, who believes your information won’t be used to target the ads?

    • Anonymous

      Exactly this.  What a bunch of scumbags and liars.  Seriously hope Microsoft doesn’t let AVG back into the marketplace.

      Anyone using AVG on the desktop should seriously reevaluate using this company’s products.  Hey everyone, Microsoft Security Essentials is free, light, and unintrusive.  And you don’t need bullshit AV on Windows Phone 7.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly this.  What a bunch of scumbags and liars.  Seriously hope Microsoft doesn’t let AVG back into the marketplace.

      Anyone using AVG on the desktop should seriously reevaluate using this company’s products.  Hey everyone, Microsoft Security Essentials is free, light, and unintrusive.  And you don’t need bullshit AV on Windows Phone 7.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly this.  What a bunch of scumbags and liars.  Seriously hope Microsoft doesn’t let AVG back into the marketplace.

      Anyone using AVG on the desktop should seriously reevaluate using this company’s products.  Hey everyone, Microsoft Security Essentials is free, light, and unintrusive.  And you don’t need bullshit AV on Windows Phone 7.

    • Guest

      You don’t get it, do you? Depending on where you are in the world, the virus will be stored in different directory paths. Hence, AVG needs your exact GPS location to find and remove them viruses!

  • Morgan

    My question is how in the hell did this app make it through in the first place? I know this has happened to Apple too but are these apps approved by robots? Who in MS actually thought this was a great idea and approved it. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • Frylockns86

    “AVG believes that the Windows Phone 7 OS will continue to increase in
    popularity and, as it does, it will become a high value target for
    thieves and hackers.”

    Your app doesn’t even scan for malware, so why does it exist? Also, AV apps CAN’T detect hackers. Hackers =/= viruses or malware. Are you really that stupid, and worse, do you think WE’RE really that stupid?

  • Harrybarracuda

    AVG have shot themselves in the foot with this one.

  • http://twitter.com/APSN910 Aaron Stark

    Hey AVG your AV software has become a bloated PoS and no intelligent user would ever consider your garbage.  Please stay away from WP7, for one it’s not needed and number 2 your software sucks.

  • Anonymous

    We have the “spyware pretending to be anti-virus” problem  on WP7 already?

    And Microsoft trained them to do it?
    Why???*starts crying*

  • Tim Chard

    and lets not forget the avg safe search app aswell.
    its pointless and shouldnt have passed certifcation because it does not have a splash screen.( well it does have a splash screen its just the default splash screen that is set as a place holder when you create a new project in visual studio)

  • http://www.facebook.com/xtonyprince Antoine Prince

    no one gives a shit about u avg.  we don’t need anti-virus apps.  phones are phones, not PC’s like androids and iphones.  OOH snap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xtonyprince Antoine Prince

    no one gives a shit about u avg.  we don’t need anti-virus apps.  phones are phones, not PC’s like androids and iphones.  OOH snap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.winkel Phil Winkel

    I have two things i would like to share. 1) AVG is garbage, and 2) http://memerial.net/1937-welcome-to-the-internet

  • Quickdick2000

    They’re doing the same thing in Android.