I have never been a great fan of Apple’s closed garden approach thinking it to be a symptom of Apple’s anally retentive control freakery but I am beginning to think that the Big A may have a point.
All of the iPhone and iPad apps, for example are given a thorough vetting before being released to the faithful in a pure and pristine condition. Android, on the other hand, operates a far more libetarian attitude to its apps and that attitude has come back to bite it on the ass.
The number of Android apps containing malware has doubled to 1,000 in the last six months, according to mobile security firm Lookout.
The company’s recently released report “Malwarenomics: 2012 Mobile Malware Predictions” stated: “2011 has seen the emergence of a credible field of Android malware with a 4 per cent yearly likelihood of an Android user encountering malware, which was a significant increase compared to the beginning of the year. In the beginning of 2011 we measured a 1 per cent yearly increase.”
At the moment the malware seems to be limited to installing a facilities for premium rate text services without the owner knowing. One minute he or she thinks they are playing a genuine version of Livid Avians, the next they are looking at a bill for several thousand dollars for some dodgy soviet site linked by malicious content such as RuFraud.
5 Tips To Avoid Malware
Microsoft is rubbing its hands at the news and allegedly is offering deals to lure people over to its Windows 7 Mobile platform. My message to Microsoft is that it had the opportunity to revolutionise the mobile world a decade ago – with me you don’t get a seconds chance to make a first impression.
So what’s an Android user to do? Magazine PC World offers these tips:
1. Always research the publisher of the app
What other apps does it offer? Do any of them look a bit shady? If so, you should probably stay away.
2. Read online reviews
Android Market reviews may not always be truthful. Check around to see what reputable Websites are saying about the app before you hit the download button.
3. Always check app permissions
Whenever you download or update an app, you get a list of permissions for it. An alarm clock app, for instance, probably shouldn’t need to look through your contacts. The general rule of thumb: If an app is asking for more than what it needs to do its job, you should skip it.
4. Avoid directly installing Android Package files (APKs)
When Angry Birds first came to Android, you could get it only through a third party. This is called “sideloading,” or installing apps using an .APK file. Although Angry Birds wasn’t malware, in general it is highly advisable not to download and install .APK files that you randomly come across. Most of the time you won’t know what the file contains until you install it–and by then it’s too late.
5. Put a malware and antivirus scanner on your phone
Although many people still think that antivirus scanners on phones are useless, maybe outbreaks such as this one will change minds. Several different big-name security companies already offer mobile-security options, many of them free.