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The Android malware problem is not hyped, researchers say

Lucian Constantin | March 11, 2013
Recent reports from antivirus companies seem to suggest that the number of Android malware threats is growing. However, there are still many skeptics who think that the extent of the problem is exaggerated.

Skeptics are correct that most Android malware is found on third-party application stores or on shady websites that offer cracked, unrestricted versions of popular paid applications, Botezatu said. It's also true that such third-party apps sources are more popular in countries like Russia or China. "But let's not forget that China has the fastest-growing Android market in the world at the moment, so we are talking about a huge number of Android users who may fall victim to malware delivered via third-party stores," he said.

When talking about Android threats there's some confusion generated by the lack of a clear-cut distinction between adware, aggressive adware, spyware and malware, Botezatu said. The fastest growing number of Android threats are aggressive-ad-supported apps, but there has also been a significant spike in the development of Android Trojan programs and monitors, a category of applications that track users' behavior and geographical position, he said.

"Bottom line: Android malware is here to stay," Botezatu said. "Since more and more users turn to Android for day-to-day operations, cybercriminals have plethora of reasons to invest in the research and development of mobile-borne threats. Android malware is already in a point where it can inflict real damage to users: banker Trojans, mobile espionage and privacy invasion are only a few of the threats that we deal with on a daily basis. And with mobile devices becoming payment mechanisms -- payment via premium-rate SMS or by tapping into the associated Google Wallet account-- the next generations of Android threats will become even more dangerous."

 

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