Android taking over as the malware author target-of-choice

A couple of weeks ago, Der Westen, a German online news magazine, published an articled entitled Android is a virus writer’s favorite target.  In it, the author (and if you don’t speak German, you’ll need to translate with your browser) talks about how we used to have lots of problems with PCs and eventually everyone started running A/V software.  However, now we have smart phones and Android is open – and therefore vulnerable to infection.

For some time now hardly dares even to PC users without the protection of an anti-virus program online. Almost everyone has there been captured viruses, Trojan horses or other malicious programs. Increasingly it looks as if conservation programs for users of mobile devices is indispensable. At least if the smartphone or tablet with the Google Android operating system is running. With its growing popularity is Android on its way to become the Windows of smartphones.

Computer users with Macs or Linux systems for a long time had nothing to worry about viruses. For criminals, it was worth not to write malicious code for these systems, when working on anyway, the vast majority of private computers, the Microsoft operating system.

The number of malicious programs on the various marketplaces for Android apps in recent years grown rapidly. In August 2010, reported that specializes in computer security company Kaspersky has found a first malicious program for Android. In the third quarter of 2011 they made up 40 percent of the already discovered this year by Kaspersky malware for mobile devices. In November the company had over 1,000 with malware provided Android apps.Meanwhile, there are nearly 2,000.

I don’t have that much experience with open source OS and Android, but for years I used to hear that open source on computers was waaaaaay more secure than Windows even though Windows is closed.  This is because the open source community would regularly patch vulnerabilities because lots of people were looking at it.

The OS itself in Android is not insecure, but rather, because Android is open and anyone can make an app, people get these apps from uncontrolled places (unlike Apple’s central app store). These uncontrolled places are where rogue apps live, although sometimes they show up in the Android marketplace.  Unlike Apple’s apps, Android apps do not go through a rigorous review cycle and that’s how malicious apps show up.  Google then catches and removes them after-the-fact.  While they do a good job of shutting them down, they are playing catch-up like all A/V companies do.

I’ve got myself a Windows Phone and I don’t worry about malware.  My wife wants to get a smart phone but doesn’t want a Windows Phone (she doesn’t know how to use it but blames the phone and not the user), but doesn’t want to pay for the higher costs of an iPhone.  That leaves Android.  But given my paranoia about Android, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

You can see my dilemma.

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