Ad Detector – a Helpful app to Detect potential adware of other Android apps
Mar 13, 2012 11:34 AM –
Ad Detector is a little app from TrustGo labs which helps you identify apps which have the potential to take liberties with your privacy and push ads on you in various ways. It offers a quick means to remove offending apps and reduce your exposure to possibly harmful malware. While I think there needs to be a level of sensibility, and I think there is always a case that security companies are keen on breeding fear among Android users, this remains a helpful little tool for identifying iffy apps and games.
Tested on: HTC Desire HD
Pros & Cons:
- Effective identification of apps and games which have perhaps unwarranted access to personal information!
- Simple to use!
- Easy removal tool!
- Caution required, some of the language used in the app is perhaps a little fear-mongery.
- No explanation of threats and what it actually means, or their implication.
Ad Detector is a handy and simple tool to add to your mobile security arsenal. It quickly scans you device and lets you know if there are any potentially harmful apps or games on your Android. The app can identify apps and games which can:
- Display push notification ads
- Create a shortcut on your home screen
- Modify browser homepage
- Modify browser bookmarks
- Leak phone number
- Write SMS to message inbox
- Send SMS on ad click
- Send email on ad click
- Make phone call on ad click
- Download files on ad click
Now, while I do not disbelieve these kind of apps and games exist, I think they are perhaps rarer than Android security companies would like you to think. As a reviewer I download more apps and games than perhaps the average Android user and I have never experienced any apps that are really malicious. I personally think there’s reason to consider quite carefully about what you find by using the app. My experience of using it was relatively mundane- I didn’t find anything too scary and I had suspicions about the alleged ‘threats’ purported by the app.
After running this scan, I had three apps come up, all labelled as being able to display push notification ads. Upon closer inspection, and prolonged usage of these apps, I know full well their ‘push notifications’ are not harmful. One was Tiny Tower, this is a game we reviewed recently which very occasionally will remind me I need to do something in my sim-tower. It also tells me when someone adds me as a friend on the Mobage social network. It doesn’t push unwanted adverts on me. Another app was SoundTracking. This uses push notifications to suggest I share a track I’ve just played on my device. It doesn’t send unrelated adverts to my notification bar.
Therefore, while I think the app performs a useful function, I would suggest folks use some caution and read some of the small print before thinking apps are necessarily bad or harmful. Perhaps more harmful are the ones that can send SMS, Email or dial numbers on the press of an ad, and I think a common-sense approach is required. I was reading recently an article which suggested that there are quite a few relatively ineffectual security apps on Android, so I genuinely think users need to be wary about the language some security companies use. There is a lot of fear-mongering out there and threats are perhaps not as prolific as security companies would let you think.
If you do find iffy apps on your device, Ad Detector lets you easily delete them. Touch the trash can icon and you are immediately taken to the application management screen to delete the offending app. It’s very easy to use and the UI is very simple and intuitive. I think everyone could use a little spring clean from time to time and, if you do occasionally have a session of downloading only to find one of the apps pesters you with spam notification, this is useful in identifying the offending app and remove it.
Ad Detector – Front screen
Ad Detector – Search results
Ad Detector – Search results, in ad-type
Ad Detector – Auto option to uninstall
If you get dodgy pushed ads, or are concerned about your privacy- Ad Detector is a great solution for identifying potentially harmful apps and games. I think the app uses perhaps overly scary language, without really explaining why some apps have certain permissions, but it makes you aware of possible issues. I would suggest some caution is used if you decided to delete apps- check whether their activity is genuinely malicious or unwanted.
Ease of Use:
Using the app is childs play. Simply click the blue button to begin analysing your content. The list then appears with yellow banners explaining what apps might demonstrate certain harmful behaviours. Next to each app there is a trash icon which shortcuts to removing the app from your device.
I wish there was more explanation as to what these apps can do and why it is a threat.
Definitely worth running a scan once or twice a week if you download a lot of applications and games. Perhaps less often if you only download software occasionally.
The interface is bright, but very basic. There are only a few screens and, while nicely designed, are very simplistic.
Tags: Ad blocker
, Ad detector
, Airpush detector
, Android App
, Android Apps
, Android Security
, AndroidTapp.com App Review
, Privacy leaks
, Push notification
Categorised in: Tools