Antivirus Experts Respond to Google: “We’re Not Scammers, Malware Threats Are Real”

November 23, 2011
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Google’s Open Source Programs Manager Chris DiBona lashed out last week with pretty harsh words at antivirus companies who keep claiming that the Android platform has security flaws in every aspect.  DiBona called developers of antivirus solutions for Android “scammers and charlatans.”

“[Virus] companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs protection software for Android, RIM and IOS. They are charlatans and scammers. IF you work for a company selling virus protection for android, rim or IOS you should be ashamed of yourself,” DiBona said on his Google+ page.

Antivirus experts, however, disagree with DiBona’s statement, pinpointing that malware threats have dramatically increased in numbers during this year. Denis Maslennikov, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Labs, told PCWorld, “Today malware for Android devices is one of the biggest issues in [the] mobile malware area.”

With Android not screening what applications gets published in the Android Market, the chances of malware-infected programs being released pose a serious threat to user security without users’ even knowing that they are already infected.

“The growth of numbers of malware for Android is significant in [the] last 5 months. In June we’ve discovered 112 modifications of Android malware, in July – 212; August – 161; 559 in September; 808 in October,” Malsennikov added.

The same results were also discovered by Trend Micro, which reported a 1,410 percent increase in Android malware threats starting from January to July of this year. Rik Ferguson, Trend Micro’s director of security research and communication said, “The more important figure is not the total number of malware, but the rate of increase of that malware quarter on quarter and year on year. That demonstrates current, active and sustained criminal interest in the mobile platform.”

Security experts have narrowed down the most common malware threats being circulated over the Android platform as consisting of Trojans and worms. If left unchecked, such malware can be as damaging as anyone could have anticipated.

“It depends on your definition of damaging. Is it recording and uploading voice conversations to a remote server, is it stealing email and text message histories, or is it running up huge bills through premium-rate text and voice scams? I guess it all depends on the point of view of the victim and the fallout of infection,” Ferguson added.

Even if security issues take a huge toll on the Android platform, malware threats are not the only one troubling Google’s mobile OS. Just like in using an ordinary computer, users are also being targeted for phishing activities, online scams, as well as hacked accounts.

Online security experts insist that even though Android is based on its openness, which allows installation of unknown apps and the freedom of uploading apps on the Android Market with less supervision, that same openness has contributed to the surge in malware threats for the platform.

What do you think?  Is Android an insecure and unsafe operating system?

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