Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

8/5/2011
09:00 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
50%
50%

Android Malware On The Rise

The unvetted Android app marketplace is a major cause of the escalating attacks on the platform.

All platforms, mobile or otherwise, are subject to malware. The bigger platforms, though, are the juicer target for criminals simply because the numbers are larger. After all, why go after a platform with 1% share?

Windows is the top desktop platform and a target-rich environment for criminals. It doesn't necessarily mean the operating system is any less secure than the competition. It's just getting attacked in far greater quantities. Android is king of the hill when it comes to mobility and it may be suffering a bit of the same fate.

With Android, though, it isn't just about market share. It is also how apps are loaded on the platform. With a model like Apple has with iOS and Microsoft has with Windows Phone 7, it is very difficult to get apps on the device without the app going through an audit to ensure it: does what it claims; doesn't violate a set of rules designed to protect the device, network, and user data; and most of all, doesn't contain malware. No process is perfect and surely somewhere in the 300,000-plus apps in the App Store there is some code that was written to cause some sort of mischief, but should that happen, Apple will just flip the kill switch and remove the app from your phone.

Android doesn't have those protections. First of all, the Android Market doesn't subject apps to the scrutiny that Apple does, and that has caused more than one app in the Market to be a source of infection. Just two months ago Google removed 26 malicious apps.

Secondly, even if Google tightened its application approval process, you aren't forced to use the Android Market exclusively. If you want an app on your iPhone, you are locked into the App Store. (This ignores those that jailbreak their devices. I ignore that group of people when it comes to security because they are deliberately bypassing built-in security features, so they're on your own there.) With Android, you can choose from a variety of markets, none of which are approved by Google, so who knows what you risk when downloading from those?

According to Lookout Mobile Security, half a million Android users were affected by malware in the first six months of this year.

If you are an IT manager, this should give you pause. It is one more thing to worry about when deploying devices. Educate your users on downloading from trusted sources and consider the various antivirus products for Android. Having a phone that is infected is a hassle and can cause data loss; having it cause the loss or theft of corporate data can be catastrophic.

Google should step up here and at least provide a marketplace that is as tightly run as the App Store is. That would give users a lot of comfort that, when downloading from the main source of Android apps, there should be very little to worry about.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
FluBot Malware's Rapid Spread May Soon Hit US Phones
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/28/2021
Slideshows
7 Modern-Day Cybersecurity Realities
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  4/30/2021
Commentary
How to Secure Employees' Home Wi-Fi Networks
Bert Kashyap, CEO and Co-Founder at SecureW2,  4/28/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-24259
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “Elementor Addon Elements� WordPress Plugin before 1.11.2 has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by lower-privileged users such as contributors, all via a similar method.
CVE-2021-24260
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “Livemesh Addons for Elementor� WordPress Plugin before 6.8 has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by lower-privileged users such as contributors, all via a similar method.
CVE-2021-24261
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “HT Mega – Absolute Addons for Elementor Page Builder� WordPress Plugin before 1.5.7 has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by ...
CVE-2021-24262
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “WooLentor – WooCommerce Elementor Addons + Builder� WordPress Plugin before 1.8.6 has a widget that is vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) by lower-priv...
CVE-2021-24263
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-05
The “Elementor Addons – PowerPack Addons for Elementor� WordPress Plugin before 2.3.2 for WordPress has several widgets that are vulnerable to stored Cross-Site Scriptin...