Android Malware: The Problem Is Getting Worse

Whenever there is a popular software platform that comes onto the market there will be people trying to take advantage of it. There are so many examples of this theory that it is no longer a theory and it should be considered fact. When Windows became the dominant platform in the 90’s we saw black hat hackers attack it with reckless abandon. When Windows was first introduced to the world security was not a primary concern. But it became so much of a problem that it had to become a concern for Microsoft. So much so that in their latest release of Windows they said specifically that security was the first consideration.

We have also seen the same problem when it comes to the IPhone. While Apple computers have never had much a problem with malware because of the low market penetration, the IPhone has been a different story. The IPhone is one of the fastest growing devices in history. The IPhone was a phone that changed how the whole industry made cell phones and it continues to be revolutionary in each iteration. But we saw that the more popular the IPhone became, the more that it attracted both black hat and white hat hackers to attack the devices. There was a curiosity about the device and because of the popularity there was money to be made in being able to attack the devices.

But now we see that Android based phones are rising in popularity as well. And with that rise in popularity we are starting to see more and more malware in the apps that are for the device. Android based phones are very popular because they give people an interface similar to the IPhone while also have a large diverse amount of apps. Also on average the phones are cheaper than an IPhone. But price is only a partial reason why people like the phone so much. The fact that there are so many different versions of the phone also helps with its popularity. But because there are so many different versions of the phone and also with the open platform, it means that the bad guys have an easier time of discovering the bugs that are inside.

And they are really taking advantage of this fact. Malware has risen to new heights when it comes to Android phones and the Android apps in the market. There are several reasons for this and it is something that Google is going to have to look into quickly.

The type of malware on Android based phones

In this day and age of computers most people are used to the word malware. If not the specific word “malware” then they call it something different such as a virus. This is because they are used to the internet and the malware that it pertains. But when we are talking about cell phones such as Android phones, we are talking about something a little bit different. Android malware is more like traditional malware that hits your computer. With web based malware, most of the infection comes from a remote provider that you have to click on a link to let in your system. With Android apps and your normal computer applications that you install on a desktop you can let an infection on the system with just a normal install. The affects of the malware can be similar to the affects that you get with web based malware. Since your phone has an internet connection it may be able to call a remote server to either monitor your activities or call something worse. Or it can make your phone perform an action that you do not want it to. Either way it can become a problem.

F-Secure mobile security

So what can you do to protect your Android phone?

The first line of defense when it comes to protecting your Android based phone is to not let just any program become installed on it. While the Google app store is not as heavily regulated as the Apple app store, you will see recommendations by other users that will warn you against an app. Trust those warnings because they can possibly save your phone. There are also apps that will allow you to provide security on your phone just like the antivirus software does on your laptop. Use those to make sure that you are protected. While some people feel that method is overkill, it most likely will not be in the future. And best of all, just make sure that you use common sense when dealing with adding software to your phone. If the app seems weird or off do not trust it.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. Reviews, common sense and a knowledge of the permissions apps request would restrict the spread significantly. I have a feeling most people click through the permission request stage without thinking though.

    • You know what Mike. I think you could be right!

      I wrote a post some time ago about how the biggest threat to security was the user and nothing has changed my mind since.

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