Android Malware/Malicious Apps PDF Print E-mail

Convenience comes at a high price and the Smartphone has brought with it a fair share of malware attacks on the mobile device that were earlier non-existent, more so in the last two years. Although not as widespread and persistent as the desktop malware, they have raised enough panic in the industry for mobile companies respond to the growing menace. At present, majority of mobile apps downloaded from the internet are at risk of malware attack. The extent of the threat may be as mild enough to ignore, but some that lead to serious consequences are the ones that extract financial or personal information for criminal activities, despite the act being strictly punishable by law.

Android apps are high on the list comprising possibly the highest number of malicious apps. Mobile analysts believe the main contributing factor to this may be due to the numerous apps that Google Play has allowed into their market through their open source platform of Linux and Webkit servers designed to cater to the mass market.

What is malware?

Short for malicious software, malware is defined as software that is designed to engage in malicious behavior on a device, according to mobile security system providers, Lookout. Malware tends to attack undetected by the user.

Some types of mobile malware that exist are:

  • Trojan
  • Botnet
  • Virus
  • Worm (Bluetooth)
  • Rogue apps
  • Rootkits

Jailbreaking increases risks of malware entry; therefore it is advisable to download mobile apps from centralized stores. This however, is not malware free either, but at least the company is willing to take responsibility enough to remove when detected.

Malware motives

The reasons are varied. Majority of android apps attempt to track user's location and other personal information such as obtain contact and addresses list for financial gain. A report published by the University of Berkeley, 'A survey of mobile malware in the wild' mentions 4 more major reasons as: 'novelty and amusement, exfiltrates user credentials, SEO and ransom.'

Malware impact on business

The wariness can be observed at the macro as well as micro levels. For instance, LA Times recently reported the current predicament being faced between the worlds's largest selling mobile company who wishes to have an independent network within the US. The latter is understandably worried about information exfiltration.

Malware is the main hurdle to e-business. One review stated how certain apps that appear malicious are 'aggressive advertising' that make one wary. Malwares resort to extortion and corporate warfare to fleece the customers. Consequently, genuine marketing campaigns are also pushed out by the end user and intermediaries, who becomes biased against all advertisements as phishing spam or due to one negative experience.

Mobile app developers can protect their code through the code signing certificate.

Google has recently taken some measures to counter the issue, such as providing a security service called 'Bouncer.' In addition, they incorporated the 'sandboxing' technique which serves as a barrier against threats.

Other steps include checking for permissions prior to installation and reading reviews from authentic sources.


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