Android Security Problems Growing More Grave

Carl Weinschenk

The anxiety about Android almost certainly is growing among observers. The bottom line is that the model that the company uses seems to make it an inviting target for hackers and crackers. That's been the common wisdom for years. Increasingly, it seems that the bad guys and gals have jumped on the bandwagon and are making what was feared into a reality.

There are several recent examples. For instance, The Register relays details from TrustGo on the MMarketPay.A Trojan. The story says that the malware has infected nine app stores in China. MMarketPay.A, the story said, purchases apps and content from China’s Mobile’s Mobile Market. The story has a nice explanation of how the Trojan does this.

A second example is a man-in-the-middle-type of attack. PCMag’s Security Watch reports that SpyEye in the Mobile (SPITMO) focuses on putting the criminals between the user and his or her bank. If successful, the cracker is able to collect authorization codes that facilitate access to victims’ accounts.

Finally, attention has been paid during the past week on what Microsoft researcher Terry Zink initially said was a botnet that was using Android devices to attack Yahoo mail servers. The situation is explained at The Droid Guy. The bottom line is that the situation is unclear, and Zink may have jumped to conclusions.

Unfortunately, the rise in Android security news isn’t due to observers looking more closely. It seems that it is due to the fact that the operating system indeed is under attack. Zack Whittaker at CNET reported on unnerving analysis from Trend Micro:

The security firm said at the start of the year, it had found more than 5,000 malicious applications designed to target Google's Android mobile operating system, but the figure has since risen to about 20,000 in recent months.

The report said that there will be about 38,000 samples by the third quarter and 130,000 in the fourth.

This could be a real differentiator for Apple, though that company is not without its security concerns: A few days ago I posted on Find and Call, malware that impacts both Apple and Android. It seems clear, however, that Apple is better positioned for the long run. Its vetting process is deeper and its control far more complete. Forget about competition from iOS, Windows and the rest — security may be the most serious challenge that Android faces.



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