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Trend Micro Unearths a Massive Android Adware and Data-harvesting Ploy

The world is seeing a paradigm shift from PCs to mobile solutions. While performance improvements, availability of apps and aggressive marketing has skyrocketed Android’s popularity, there is a vital area that has been ignored — Security. Android phones run apps, which connect to the Internet the same way your browser connects to the Internet. While, the browser’s access to your operating system is well regulated by the browser manufacturer, an app’s access to your system is defined by the app developer at his own will. Some apps use ad networks for monetization, and these ad networks gobble up all kinds of personal information notoriously. This poses a serious security threat, which is being exploited now.

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In a report titled “Android Under Siege: Popularity Comes at a Price”, Trend Micro has released the scariest report out there for Android enthusiasts. Android malware count has increased 600% from about 30,000 mid-2012 to about 175,000 now. Most of these infected apps are fake versions of popular android apps. Some others do not have proper disclosures of activities listed on their EULA.

A dangerous malware called Zero Access Malware that can patch system files has been seen on more than 900,000 devices, and there are over 7000 Android devices that are infected with a dangerous adware, which harvests your personal data without permission. The top two countries sending out malware and hosting data harvesting botnets are Saudi Arabia and India. These are good choices for running such operations, as they are not seen as the conventional cybersecurity threats.

Clearly, the openness and regulation-free nature of the Android platform is taking a toll on security. Android developers need to address this issue and come up with a secure platform. Failing that, Android will soon become the Windows OS of the mobile world.

Read Trend-Micro’s report here [PDF link].

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