The Android platform is growing in popularity because of its diversity, flexibility, openness, and ease of adoption. Android is one of the fastest growing mobile operating systems around these days and it is quickly becoming the most widely used on phones and tablets today. That is great news for us consumers but it is also a draw to malicious hackers with the intention to exploit this operating system by utilizing malware that can steal users data and harm their devices. Unfortunately, with any technology this is a risk and these hackers aren’t dummies; they know that to get the most out of their exploits they need to spread them where they will make the largest impact in the shortest period if time. For many years that place was the Windows OS because of its vast adoption and flexible architecture but with the wide adoption of mobile technology things have changed and so have the hackers. Now they are focusing a lot of energy on Android because of how quickly it is being adopted by consumers and businesses alike and because of all the good things Android offers to consumers it is also a draw for hackers who are looking to spread their pervasive malware into the population. A study done by Trend Micro shows that in 2012 Android malware detections rose over 350,000.
The increase in the number of detections in the latter
part of 2012 was due to the rise of high-risk apps. (Trend Micro)
The security firm Trend Micro 2013 predictions have one very concerning trend and that is the quick increase of mobile malware affecting the Android operating system. It shows that mobile malware has come into full swing and we are quickly moving into an era where mobile security should be on the forefront of everyone’s mind. The main things that the report touched on was the growing threat in the malware space, in which Trend Micro said that they had detected 350,000 threats with a growth ratio of 14:3 vs. the PC. If we look at this, it shows that it has taken Android only 3 years to reach the level of Malware that took the PC 14 years to accrue. Trend Micro has since made the prediction that Android malware could reach 1,000,000 threats detected by the end of this year, a staggering number to say the least.
All of this said their are ways to protect your Android device and they should be implemented as quickly as possible, even if it is just for peace of mind. There are tons of “antivirus” programs on the Google Play Store that will help scan incoming app downloads, will watch for malicious code on webpages and will even scan phone numbers before dialing. I personally use Avast (and I am in no way affiliated with them), which I find has a ton of protection features and is free on the Play store. Other people may recommend other apps, such as Sophos, Lookout Mobile Security, Norton, or others but I always suggest do your research and see what best fits your needs. Another way you can protect your device is to also make sure that any app you install on your phone is rated and has reviews from users; chances are if it is hurting people’s devices you can find out all you need to know from the user comments. Most apps (not all) found in the Google Play store are relatively safe but some can fall through the cracks, the main thing to watch is downloading apps off the internet or from third party stores because their is no sure way in knowing those downloads are safe.
Through all of this we need to consider that a lot of this may be exaggerated but you can never be too careful and with the amount of personal information we put on our devices it is more important than ever to take the steps necessary to protect it. I always suggest to friends and family they do a thorough check to make sure that they cycle their passwords, ensure they have proper antivirus and malware protection and ensure due diligence before downloading apps or opening links. If we all take small steps we can help protect ourselves from the malware monster that is growing on the web.