Android News – Malicious apps

Juniper Networks’ Mobile Malicious Threats report is out, and findings show that since the summer of 2010, the volume of attacks targeting the Android platform has increased by over 400%. While Google is understandably overjoyed at the stunning rate of adoption of Android, it would have to admit these latest figures of malicious growth is like a fast-worsening cancer in a rapidly burgeoning ecosystem.

The most common type of malicious apps on the phone are SMS Trojans hidden within authentic looking apps, making up 17% of the malicious pie. Spyware and other malware are also common. Experts from Juniper Networks stressed the vulnerability of mobile platforms as a whole, as most mobile user do not bother to install anti-virus or security tools.

“You don’t have to be extraordinarily smart to write mobile malware these days because most devices don’t have any security tools to stop the malware.”

Many users perform financial and other sensitive transactions on their mobile, and most of these, despite the risks of spyware and other harmful apps, still don’t feel the need to protect their devices with after-market applications. An older statistic, from 2010, showed that only 15% of smartphone users actually employed any kind of security or anti-virus applications.

While enterprise users currently make up more than half of the mobile anti-virus market, Infonetics Research estimates that by 2015, consumers will replace them as the majority users. Currently, major antivirus companies such as Symantec and McAfee, are making a beeline for mobile security technology, acquiring smaller specialized companies wherever you look. Both Kaspersky and PC Tools have launched mobile security tools recently, with the former including both enterprise and consumer based features. However, the adoption so far by end users has been meagre.

While it is a simple matter to avoid third-party app stores and therefore largely avoid the risk of downloading a malicious application, the original Android Market too faces a problem, with Google having to manually zap plenty of apps often, apps that somehow made it to their store with the malicious code intact. It’s no longer a question that Google has to become a more efficient verifier of the apps it makes available on the Android Market, more like Apple – however, without going that far in terms of selection and curation. So, even if the rest of the world is sleeping with malicious mobile apps raining down on them, you should really listen up, and buy yourself a bunch of mobile security tools, if not a nice comprehensive one.

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