Malware infestation running amok on Android

By , Jun 26, 2013

Android Sucks

It’s not the sort of recognition any smartphone maker wants, but Android appears to be the platform of choice for nine out of ten mobile malware authors. The growth of malware apps targeting users of Google’s mobile operating system rose an unbeliavable 614 percent in just the last year, author’s of a new study found.

Perhaps even more discouraging is three-quarters of the mobile malware could easily be eliminated through software updates, yet ignored by 96 percent of Android owners. As for Apple’s iOS, it’s nowhere to be found on the malware hit-list, an area in which Apple is happy to hand to rivals…

Android-based malware is growing at “a staggering rate,” according to Juniper Networks. In 2010, Android comprised just 24 percent of mobile malware, the firm’s Mobile Threat Center said. More than 500 third-party Android stores host the malware.

In what could be seen as a most unwelcome twist on saturating the market, at 92 percent, mobile malware may have to look elsewhere for increased growth. Then again, the number of Android handsets are always growing.

Android malware (Juniper Networks)

The threat is akin to thieves taking advantage of  doors secured with ancient skeleton keys – simply updating the Android software would lock out 77 percent of mobile malware. But actually updating Android software is about as rare as Apple owners with 8-tracks.

“Most Android malware could be avoided if users were running the latest operating system, but Juniper’s data says only 4 percent of users are,” the company reports.

Apple on its Why iPhone and Why iPad web pages acknowledges as much, writing that App Store apps are “all reviewed by Apple to guard against malware”.

But Juniper is in the business of securing businesses, where there can be a bit more control over the update process. The report highlights other ironies about Android growth as a malware platform.

The very global region which is a success for  Android sales may also be  a hotbed of mobile malware authors – who target Android phones. According to Juniper, three out of every five cases of mobile malware originate in China or Russia.

On average, a malware-infected Android phone can send $10 to those writers.

malware-platforms

Of course, this latest report comes as no surprise to other mobile security firms. In May, F-Secure announced Android accounted for 91.3 percent of mobile malware episodes.

Similarily, McAfee found out that attacks involving Android devices has risen dramatically in the space of just one year (chart above), skyrocketing to more than 36,000 instances in 2012, up from only 792 cases.

schiller malware report

Apple, which enjoys a good chuckle at Android’s expense, told analysts at its past quarterly report that McAfee Labs determined 97 percent of mobile malware was on the Google software.

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  • Ian

    In ya face Android!

    • Gorgonphone

      hahahhah

    • https://www.facebook.com/LP.lyrics.video Ghaith Al Hami

      Android is the best OS for shit :P
      or for toilet

      • Taf Khan

        Well that robot does look rather like a trash can!

      • ShuttingUpFanboys

        Just like Apple’s new Mac Pro.

    • Dominik Odobašić

      You mean: “In ya face everyone who uses software outside Google Play store?” I’m so sick of fanboys reporting on news about Android. Stick to the platform you praise. It’s the only thing blogs like this are good for.

      • Damian W

        with all do respect but google play sucks. Some software I find there is made purely for advertising with a bit of OS functionality. After installing few tweaks, suddenly I was receiving ads in notification centre even though i did not have anything open.

        I just could not believe I was receiving some random strange ads. It was disgusting.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        That’s what happens when you don’t bother to read the description and permissions b4 installing the Android software….only iOS gives you the freedom to be that unconscious of what you install on your device.

      • Damian W

        You don’t see it on windows 7 or 8 when you tweak it a bit. Unless you get the soft from weird places.

      • mehrab

        Yeah and gets the whole notification centre flooded by random ugly ass ads

      • Dominik Odobašić

        Yesterday I spent more than half an hour searching for a good flashlight app. Half of them didn’t even work properly. Did I blame the App Store? Nope. So please, don’t blame Google Play for shitty software.

      • @dongiuj

        I know these kind of ads you receive. Frankly I never get those tweaks/themes etc because I read the contents first.

      • Damian W

        I guess I will read the privacy agreements now first before reading the app description . Way to go google play.

      • Mohammed Sahib

        Google play has stupid regional restrictions, depending on ip address, so unlike the app store, setting the region to USA won’t open up the US market. Lacking most of the apps and games in out region’s market, 99% of people in my country have to go outside Google Play.

      • Dominik Odobašić

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t regional availability up to the developer? Netflix or Spotify aren’t available in my region on the App Store.

      • Mohammed Sahib

        Yes probably it is up to the developper, but I believe you didn’t get it in my previous comment: simply changing the region setting to USA opens up the US app store but not the US google play. The latter has an IP check and requires that you setup a VPN to access other regions’ markets.

      • Dominik Odobašić

        They want to make sure you don’t misuse the service. What’s so wrong with that?

      • Mohammed Sahib

        Misuse? Come on. How come playing subway surfers or using viber or whatsapp is misuse in Iraq and other middle east countries and not so in USA or Europe?
        You really have to try it to understand how frustrating, useless and dry the google play in our countries is.

    • JamesR624

      So this is what iDownloadBlog has come down to huh?

      Everyday, I see at least 1 android bashing article with nothing of value to say with a comments section that looks like it came right out of an /r/apple circlejerk.

      Really pathetic. What happened to the good articles on this site and why are the comments infested with some of the worst fanboys ever?

      • BoardDWorld

        Diddums

      • Gerry Capó

        Android sucks kid…

      • michael

        IOS sucks kid

      • http://kcain.com/ KC

        Sorry, I agree with you about the rabid iOS fans that are “Apple rulez all”, but I disagree about this blog. I think the article was well written and I didn’t get the impression it was bashing Droid at all – just reporting news.

  • Boss

    No surprise that’s what happens when you have a ‘open’ OS

    • Dallas Groot

      No that’s what happens when a company has tons of variations to their so and can’t maintain each one properly. Apple has done it right. Android SUCKS!

      • pegger1

        It’s a combination of both. The openess allows the developers to quickly spread the mal wared apps and the fragmentation of Android prevents the holes from being closed quickly.

      • chris125

        Seeing how it’s not in googles hands but the manufacturers your comment is pure ignorant. Google has their nexus devices up to date.

      • mnm221988

        Thank you. Finally someone who isn’t a troll or a moron.

        Updates come from the company who the phone. For example, if Samsung says, “oh, the galaxy note 2 should get jelly bean 4.2.1, will push it to them.”. If all test are done correctly and so forth, then they have to ask the carrier to push the update over the air. Sometimes, carriers say no to avoid customers on the latest firmware to avoid customers from keeping their phones, thus making them upgrading phones all the time.

        The only difference with Apple – this reason also is why carriers push android over apple – is that they control their entire phone. From updates. Android has to relay on the carrier when apple doesn’t.

        In truth, you should blame carriers more than anything and even the manufacturer who want to drive on endless upgrades. So, in truth, it isn’t Google at all.

        A

      • Joseph

        Except for the fact that it’s not the Android developer’s/Google’s fault that other device manufacturers are incompetent (I’m looking at you, Samsung and Motorola, who can’t give a crap about updating their device within a timely manner…).

        This is why Nexus devices are better.

  • Arthur H Johnson

    They key part of this story is: More than 500 third-party Android stores host the malware

    If you install your apps from Google Play, your not likely to get infected. Stay away from 3rd party stores in China and Russia. Simple enough.

    • Sam

      What these blogs tend to never report on is that a good amount of this malware on Android comes from ‘stores’ based around pirating apps, music, etc.

      • Arthur H Johnson

        Makes sense. Sounds like something similar that happens on Windows. Sounds like they deserve to get hacked then lol

      • Sam

        Not to mention iOS can get malware, too. Sometimes from apps in the App Store, from some 3rd party accessories (that’s a recent story), and from Cydia.

      • Damian W

        I believe Cydia is being monitored to some extent. If there is a suspicion of certain package with a malware, it would get removed. So far I have been using cydia for years and never detected anything strange. As long as you buy tweaks from trusted developers, cydia will be a friend to you.

      • Sam

        I doubt 3rd-party piracy sources are monitored that much. In that case, Cydia would be like Android, so why do iOS users complain?

      • Damian W

        Well if you look at xsellize and insanelyi, then you would see they dont intend to spread any malicious software. They even have VIP options for paid subscribers. Of course if you install some repo from a random dude…then you might be in trouble. But you are in control of it. After all you can blame yourself for getting the malware.

      • Joseph

        This is pretty much a reflection of the Android situation. Compare Cydia (with default sources) and Google Play. Stick with those and your chances of getting hit by malware are an absolute minimum. Bring in 3rd party app stores (comparable to untrustworthy sources in Cydia) and you have a good chance of getting infected.

      • Gorgonphone

        exactly… windows = android on phones

      • JamesR624

        Why would they do that?

        This garbage article helps validate Apple fanboys more.

        That seems to be what idownloadblog is all about these days.

    • Timothy

      Not as simple as iOS…

      • Arthur H Johnson

        iOS also doesn’t allow 3rd party apps. Both a strength and weakness.

        Install from Google Play, you’ll be safe. I’ve been an Android user since shortly after the phones started hitting the market. Never had a problem. Of course, I’m not installing apps for piracy and surfing porn either.

      • Gorgonphone

        not a weakness at all we already have too may damn apps i dont think we need any more at all..

      • Rockwell mellow

        Its a weakness if apple blocks apps on the appstore what can you do then.

    • Arthur Geron

      I don`t think so, you can even find apps that give you root acess on Play Store, wouldn`t be hard for anyone to insert a virus into a app and launch it on the google play store

      • Joseph

        Which is why the permissions it uses are shown before an app is installed (which most people tend to ignore, which is basically suicidal). The App Store doesn’t do this, nor does Cydia. If they intend to do something malicious and do it silently, then you’re screwed, son.

      • Arthur Geron

        Yeah youre right, 0,7 % compared to 97% oh god I’m rlly screwed :c.. Lol.. Cydia is not used by every iOS user like google play, and if you install tweaksfrom offical and tristed repos youre ok c:.

      • Guest

        *If* you were in the 0.7% percent of the people with their device infected with malware, you’d very likely complain about Android not being secure, etc.

        Just because a chance of an event happening is low doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at all.

        (Basic probabilty…)

      • Arthur Geron

        But focus on the subject here, we are comparing the security of both os, of course it could happen one day in the year, since 1 app per year appears to be able to bypass iOS security system, android in the other hand has plenty of malware apps, making it necessary for users to install a anti-virus.

      • Kiyashi Shizoku

        There’s a reason why iOS apps are given the “user” permission in the operating system. The apps can never get out of their sandbox.

        How often does a malware app get into the AppStore? Probably 1 every year out of the hundreds of thousands there. How long does it take for Apple to pull it? 5 hours at max.

      • Joseph

        I should’ve emphasized the ‘if’ in my statement, then.

      • MehLaMeh

        For people who are too stupid to understand the above comment:
        Basically if you gave an app the “system” permission, they’ll have access to the system and break some stuff there and, tada! Bricked iDevice.

        If they have the “user” permission instead, they are very limited in their actions and cannot modify the system.

    • MehLaMeh

      For people who don’t understand this:
      Most of the apps with malware isn’t from Google Play because apps in G.P. the apps are reviewed. The apps with malware are mostly from other hosts, because they’re free to do modifications on some apps and insert some malware in it for their own good.

  • Kiyashi Shizoku

    That’s what you get for needing to have your updates patched with skins and crap, meaning you can’t even jump on board the latest update as soon as it’s released

    • Sam

      Because Android users can’t install malware and anti-virus programs like AVG, Avast, or Norton?

      • Arthur Geron

        If that solved the problem the situation wouldn`t be like it is nowadays.

      • Joseph

        Not true. Statistically, most Android users don’t use Android devices, probably under the same reasoning as a lot of Windows and Mac users.

        “If I don’t do anything wrong, nothing can happen, right?”

      • Cameron Chao

        anti-virus on your cellphone. 10 points!

      • MehLaMeh

        Antivirus programs/apps are not a surefire solution to any kind of malware/virus/etc. Like iOS, they also have exploits. All software have exploits. No software is perfect.

    • Joseph

      Two words: Nexus devices.

      Nexus devices are vanilla Android, Google-certified devices that always get the software updates first. That’s why a Nexus 7 is an excellent choice over a Kindle Fire or Galaxy Note.

      • Rockwell mellow

        Yeah but Asus kinda fu cked up the nexus 7 the 10 and 4 are good though

      • Joseph

        I’ve never had a problem with it other than NVidea’s stupid auto-dim technology which made the screen lose some saturation temporarily (fixed by rooting).

      • Rockwell mellow

        I’m talking about how quickly it deteroraites internally, after around ten months it will start to lag and freeze and can’t be fixed

    • Jared

      That’s why there’s a nexus device, iSheep.

  • U Kn0w What 1t 1s

    I love this because earlier in the week on an iDB thread there were android users trying to defend their os by stating that we were crazy to think that android has a bunch of malware lol… Ya if u stay stock lol #iOS7IsKing

  • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

    this is like the ultimate weapon in the fight for Apple fanboys like myself against Android in regards to the malware war. Hopefully we’ll see an end in the arguments about malware in the comments sections now, we’ll have to move back on to screen resolutions.

    I’m honestly not a fanboy, I love both of the main mobile OS’s but I’m not allowed own an iPhone/any apple device without being branded a fanboy haha

    • Gorgonphone

      truth hurts everyone fan boy or not.. android sucks i would even take ugly IOS7 over android anyway

      • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

        liking your comment about the truth hurts part

      • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

        it’s ironic and just goes to show how much the truth hurts by the sheer quantity of dislikes

  • Gorgonphone

    androids are like PCs……. and IOS iPhones are like MACs end of story..lol

    • Sam

      Macs are PCs. (Personal Computers) Mac is an operating system.

      • Gorgonphone

        Great post dude

      • Raul Henriquez

        you know what he meant

      • JoJo

        No, OSX is an operating system and Mac is a brand name that refers to personal computers from Apple.
        You know.. hint hint.. iMAC, MACbook, MAC Pro.

        So his statement was perfectly accurate, yours however is not.

      • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

        what a moronic comment, iMacs, Macbooks, Mac Pros are all PCs… they are personal computers.. why do people like you always insist on trying to correct people when they are blindingly obviously in the wrong?

      • JoJo

        How about you read my post again before you embarrass yourself even further.
        I even refer to Macs being personal computers. I merely stated that the word Mac is a brand name for personal computers from Apple.

        You probably do something very similar on a daily basis.

        You call MacBook’s personal computers in your post. Which technically is correct, and thus so are regular laptops. However you never refer to regular laptops as personal computer in a conversation do you? No.. you call them laptops. Why because everyone instantly knows about what kind of personal computer you are talking about. The same goes for Macs.. yes they are PC’s no we don’t call them that because it is more convenient to call them Mac’s. Why? Because everyone instantly knows you are talking about computers from Apple.

        Now please do elaborate on how moronic my post was.. I am very curious to hear your reasoning behind it.

      • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

        because you’re trying to call him out and say he’s wrong when he’s right.. a Mac is a PC.

      • Blahblahtldr

        Jake u are really thick arent you?

      • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

        why do you feel the need to get involved

      • JoJo

        Really?? even after My last post you still think i was correcting him on that part??? how thick are you? jezus…
        You just read what you want to read apparently.

        The only thing I corrected him on was that he called MAC an operating system. Which its not, OSX is a operating system. Then i just stated that the word MAC is used as a brand name for all APPLE PC’S! And if you take that information and look at gorgonphones comment, you can say that he was not wrong.. I dont know
        how I can make this any clearer. If you still don’t get this then I give up.

      • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

        “how thick are you? jezus”

        The irony.

        But fair point, everyone on here comes across as trying to correct people regardless of whether or not they are wrong (case point)

    • Joseph

      You mean how both can get malware? Judging by your extremely uneducated post, I can guess that you think OS X is invincible. Uh, no. Your “bulletproof” OS has been the target of multiple zero day attacks that can’t be fixed automatically because Apple won’t update past Java 6 automatically.

      • http://klikkit.co.uk/ Jake – Klikkit

        Java itself being an optional install, combined with the fact most are on Java 7.x means only a small minority are affected

    • Graphic74

      No, iOS cannot be like a pc cose it’s full of limitation and build up for babies, u cannot even move an icon. Android yes instead, u definitely can say it’s like a pc. Great difference :)

  • Patrick

    hAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!, screw you android (i laughed in the most devilish laugh you can imagine)

  • Rowan09

    The problem too is that only in most cases popular or name brand Android handsets can even be updated. If you have a 2 year old Android good luck on updating to the newest software.

    • Arthur Geron

      True, and imagine 3Gs supported up to iOS6 … I bought my first iPhone (a 3GS) 3 years ago or more I think :3

  • Arthur Geron

    Omg, Android Boys are soooo silent! lol

  • vexorian

    To save from spyware when running Android, just stay up to date and don’t still crap on it. Studies fail to mention that this is a cause of the freedom Android provides by letting third party stores. If you want “safety” just don’t use third party stores of dubious origins or none at all.

    To save yourself from using a shit OS when running iOS, there is nothing you can do.

  • Joseph

    Active Android user here. I never have had malware problems because I install only from reputable sources (iOS devices can install from unreliable sources when jailbroken, like vShare). I also check the permissions of what I install to make sure they aren’t doing anything they don’t need to (Apple doesn’t show you what the app can and can’t access, so if a malicious app were to make it through the App Store, have fun).

    It’s also important to note that Android devices (not sure what version, but I think as far back as 2.0) have a switch in the system settings to allow installation of apps from unknown sources, which is disabled by default. Therefore, if you don’t check permissions and allow apps to be installed from pirate sources or unreliable sources, that’s due to your own dumbassery, Android users. Stop giving us all a bad name.

  • JT

    Same situation as osx vs windows. Less virus/malware on osx. Windows is infested with it. Its easier when you have a locked enviroment and full control over each hardware component. Osx is a locked system. Hence better security. Windows is open for everyone to participate. Hence worse security

    • Joseph

      That’s true, but it also depends on the measures taken by and the competence of the users.

  • Nikos Chrisoulis

    isheep, doing it again.
    All those ‘researches’ and ‘news’ come from companies who sell antivirus and protection suites.

    Clap your hands, all together sheep

  • Rockwell mellow

    Well luckily due the openness of android we can get anti virus…

  • dev29

    Simple: Dont install apps from unknown sources. Be legal and you will be safe :)

  • AppleAnalist

    I do love these android fans calling idownloadblog and the iOS users here fanboys. In case you had not noticed this is an iOS driven site… over the last few months I’ve grown sick of the obvious android plants here posting “I’m leaving for android” etc… good get lost… WTF would you hang out on an iOS forum like this and bitch all the time if you prefer android? Gotta admit if I ever need a laugh I just read IDB comments its like watching monkeys throwing poo at each other in a zoo…

    • Joseph

      I came to this blog to read about iOS news and jailbreak stuff, not bullshit about Samsung or Android.

  • Kamrul

    This is why I don’t want iOS to be open source

  • Dan

    Nice flame bait article (and that’s what it is, seeing as it has nothing to do with IOS).

    • cool

      Hi buddy! =)

  • Gerry Capó

    Android sucks…

  • @dongiuj

    Apple created the malware for android. After all, apple Hates competition.

  • MehLaMeh

    This post is an Apple fanboy post. Wow.

    Anyways, Apple can also be infected by malware when an exploit (may include those exploits used for jailbreaking) is used by the wrong person.

    Fanboys.

  • Avinash Kumar

    I have used android, ios and wp8..the truth – android (trash can) sucks..no doubt on that..get a freaking 2 gig ram device and it still lags..
    Wp8 is smooth n fluid but lack of apps is frustrating.
    IOS is good, reliable and is the daddy of all platforms when it comes to apps..the only downside being small shits like itunes, proprietary lightening port etc..
    Every platform has its +s and -s..depends on what u need..
    All the android fanboys badmouthing ios and wp8, use iphone or lumia 1st and then comment..
    Android is shit, filled with bloatware, malware and all other kinds of shit..

  • Alejandro M. Marez

    What if it’s really Apple that makes the malware that affects android?
    [insert Keanu meme here]

  • Jared

    oh and i like jailbroken ios, i check out this site for cool tweaks and such. I own a nexus 4 as my phone and sorry, but i just get mad when i see a site like this bashing android.

    • Ritsujun

      LOL, GTHU.

      • grumpyfuzz

        What did that reply even say?

  • John Scott

    Can’t blame anyone but Google for this. They seem to attack a market with a decent OS and then let it run amuck without much oversight. Android itself is brilliant but the way Google has managed it is something that is very troubling.
    We all know Google loses interest in projects. Chrome OS is a piece of work that has been left to wallow as its not a complete operating system and not really a mobile OS either. Some even thought Android and Chrome would combine. In any case my iPhone 5C will be here today and gone will be my 5 month old Droid Razr M. I still will continue to use services like Gmail, Google Drive and Maps. All of which set the standard. Google Apps sorry to say are a mixed bag of solid attempts and lousy information hogging, resource consuming duds.