Android Malware on the Rise

Android Malware on the Rise

ZDNet reports that malware targeting Android users has nearly quadrupled. The graph below illustrates a growth of 270% among Android malware families since 2011.


Security firm F-Secure collected the data, stating the following:

Since its debut, Android has quickly claimed significant market share in the mobile market. Unfortunately, such popularity (amongst other factors) makes Android a lucrative target for malware authors. New families and variants of malware keep cropping up each quarter, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down…This growth in number can be attributed to malware authors crafting their infected or trojanized applications to defeat anti-virus signature detection, distributing their malware in different application names, and trojanizing widely popular applications.

Most worrying is the news that many of the apps are targeting users’ financial data. F-Secure reports that 34% of current malware families are designed to steal money from infected smartphones.

Malware-Free is the Way to Be

How can you keep malware from wreaking havoc on your smartphone? PCWorld offers these five tips:

  1. Research the publisher of the app. What other apps do they offer? If anything looks shady, listen to your gut and stay away.
  2. Read online reviews. Android Market reviews may not be entirely truthful, so research a potential app online before you start downloading.
  3. Check app permissions. If an app is asking for more permissions than it needs to do its job (like an alarm clock app asking to view your contacts), you should skip it.
  4. Avoid directly installing Android Package files (APKs). These third-party files are a hit-and-miss when it comes to malware because you don’t know what you’re getting until it’s too late. Avoid the headache by sticking to files directly from the Android market.
  5. Find a reputable malware and antivirus scanner for your phone. Scanners might seem useless, but with such a recent increase in Android malware, downloading a well-reviewed antivirus scanner can’t hurt.

Apple’s at Risk, Too

Of course, Apple’s iOS isn’t immune from malware, either.  A study from Juniper Networks states:

“While malicious applications on the iOS platform are limited in large part due to Apple’s closed application marketplace and stringent screening model, it does not necessarily make it fundamentally more secure. For one, when a user ‘jailbreaks’ their device by removing the limitations on the operating system, the device can be susceptible to malicious applications downloaded from third-party sources.”

Furthermore, Apple doesn’t provide developers with the tools necessary to create anti-malware apps, which could open the door for shady apps to sneak through the company’s approval process. However, iOS doesn’t seem to be as high-risk as Android, especially since Google’s open-source Android platform means that security patches fall into the responsibility of device makers and carriers.

So, bottom line: whether you’re on iOS or Android, listen to your gut and don’t download lie detector apps without doing some research.

Scott Kaufmann
[email protected]

Scott is Partner at Lucid Agency and a lover of all things technology, marketing, investing and entrepreneurship. Scott volunteers on the board of the Denver-based Nonprofit Celebrate EDU and as a mentor for SeedSpot (a Phoenix-based social startup incubator).

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