Microsoft investigating AVG antivirus Windows Phone app

By Tom Warren, on 8th Sep 11 9:58 pm with 26 Comments

AVG Windows Phone 7 scanner

Microsoft has confirmed it is investigating a recently approved antivirus application for Windows Phone 7.

The AVG virus scanning application was made available earlier this week and has generated a great deal of questions and controversy. Justin Angel, a former Microsoft employee, took the application apart after questions were raised about its validity and use. Angel found that the application is improperly using 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.

Windows hacker Rafael Rivera also questioned the use of the application after discovering it only scans for an EICAR test string and the word עברית (Hebrew). The application is loaded with adverts and can be set to automatically download virus definition updates. WPCentral points out that the application may send the data back to AVG for the following reasons:

  • Quality assurance
  • Info is sent to their Android app
  • Geo info is used for location based search
  • Collected data is used for marketing purposes

Microsoft revealed on Thursday that it is investigating the application. Microsoft’s Brandon Watson said he was “looking into” the app following concerns from users on Twitter. WinRumors reached out to Microsoft and a spokesperson confirmed the company is assessing the application. “We are investigating the behavior of the AVG antivirus app and will provide an update when we have more to share,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. At the time of writing the application is still available in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

  • J A

    My question remains; how did this app make it past the marketplace app verification process only for users to find out what app evaluators should have so it does not even make it into the marketplace in the furst place?

    • Anonymous

      Yeah. This application is obviously a scam. Windows Phone can’t get viruses. Sounds like a ploy to collect marketing information. However, I hear that Android could really use some good antivirus apps. AVG should focus their efforts there.

    • http://twitter.com/RogueCode Matt

      Which rule does it break exactly?
      Off-hand I can’t think of anything. It says it will scan you pictures and audio, and it does. Yeah, it’s totally useless, and the developers should go burn in android hell, but I don’t see why this is MS’s fault.

    • http://twitter.com/RogueCode Matt

      Which rule does it break exactly?
      Off-hand I can’t think of anything. It says it will scan you pictures and audio, and it does. Yeah, it’s totally useless, and the developers should go burn in android hell, but I don’t see why this is MS’s fault.

  • http://twitter.com/RogueCode Matt

    One valid use for those identifiers is analytics. Almost every analytic provider requires owner identity permission. However, I had no clue it was even possible to get their email address programatically.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andreirlopes Andrei R. Lopes

    What about Microsoft Security Essentials? MSE is the best. #FACT

    • http://twitter.com/RogueCode Matt

      Off-topic, but if anyone was wondering, MSE detects the EICAR string :P

  • OMG55

    Whoever downlaods antivirus software on a cell phone deserves whatever happens as a result. Sideloaded apps are the only threat to cell phones. And beside AVG is a has been and is know to have malware embedded in it, try loading it on your desktop/laptop and removing it. It’s garbage

    • Anonymous

      Try telling Android users they shouldn’t use AV software…

    • http://twitter.com/furdworetzky Fur Dworetzky

      There have been viruses published to the Android Market before.

      I don’t really ever see this becoming a problem with Windows Phone though because of the way that apps are sandboxed. Even if I wanted to, without using p/Invoke or some other method that is banned from the marketplace (and I can’t even use that in Mango anymore) there really isn’t any way to do any kind of damage.

  • Delta470

    What on earth does AVG need location based search for?

  • Delta470

    What on earth does AVG need location based search for?

  • Anonymous

    I always thought that WP7 couldn’t get viruses if you only download via the marketplace because all apps are checked my MS before approval.

    Clearly they are not, so maybe we do need a virus scanner, but preferably not AVG which is complete crap and causes more damage than it prevents.

    • Anonymous

      viruses are prevented as 3rd party applications aren’t given the permission they need to view files deep in the OS or are part of another app. Each app is sandboxed. Only very close partners (such as OEMs) are given the deep access for their applications

    • Anonymous

      you dont get virus… did you read the article at least??, did you see something that says “wp7 got virus” NO, its because AVG is a scam in wp7. if you care to read at least what rafael rivera, yeah if you CARE to read instead of commenting stupid stuff… then you would see how its a lie, avg doesn’t scan anything, special, its there so silly users think you need it… and then they get money from ads.

  • Guest

    They’re just trying to hide the fact that Winblows is the biggest virus magnet on the palnet! Unlike my iPad which remains virus free! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    • matts

      iTool – I wouldn’t be so sure for what i’ve read…

    • Anonymous

      Shut up, Guest, you’re out of your element.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1618268197 Timothy Neinheart

      Too many trolls these days. This one is an iDiot.

    • Mytechutopia

      This is getting embarrassing for you.

    • Anonymous

      “virus magnet”… hahaha yeah because it has sold more than 400 million windows 7, alot of vista users and xp users which is really alot of millions?… i would rather be a virus magnet than being an almost non important marketshare like your idildo products ;). maybe you were the ones that click on “you click here and get virus” and you blame the OS

    • Anonymous

      I like my iPad too, but please go away.

    • Anonymous

      Ifool.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm. How did this app get past the vetting process? The problems mentioned seem like really glaring oversights by the apps inspectors.

  • Mister Twister

    The app has just been removed from the marketplace while they investigate and confirm its functionality, tweeted by Brandon Watson.

  • http://www.facebook.com/manuel.a.aquino Manuel Aquino

    Why do all the Apple fanboys always come out whenever the topic is about viruses and Windows? The reason there are so many viruses on Windows is because it is the most widely used OS in the world right now. If course there are going to be people left and right writing viruses for it, but let me guess: Apple weenies think that they don’t do it because the Mac OS is bulletproof. Give me a break. 
    Many Apple users don’t install an anti-virus because of this and are at the biggest risk by carelessly browsing and downloading. Seems like the whole “only gay people get AIDS” thought that used to exist until proven otherwise. 
    Apple does many things well and has great PCs but I am just not sold enough on it to switch just because an iDrone thinks they are the best.