Android device owners know that the safest way to get an app is from official sources such as the Google Play store or even the Amazon Appstore. Getting an app from unofficial sources just increases the chance of malware infecting the device. What happens when even the official sources are not safe anymore?
RiskIQ, an Internet security company, recently released a report showing that malicious apps in the Google Play store have increased by 388 percent from 2011 to 2013. The company also says that the number of malicious apps that Google has removed has decreased from 60 percent in 2011 down to only 23 percent in 2013. The most common malicious apps available are those that allow personal customization of a device.
RiskIQ got this data by monitoring mobile application stores for suspicious activity. For this report the company counted Android apps in the Google Play store as being malicious if they satisfy any of the conditions listed below.
- Collect and send GPS coordinates, contact lists, e-mail addresses etc. to third parties
- Send SMS messages to premium-rate numbers
- Subscribe infected phones to premium services
- Record phone conversations and send them to attackers
- Take control over the infected phone
- Download other malware onto infected phones
According to Elias Manousos, CEO of RiskIQ, “The explosive growth of mobile apps has attracted a criminal element looking for new ways to distribute malware that can be used to commit fraud, identity theft and steal confidential data. Malicious apps are an effective way to infect users since they often exploit the trust victims have in well known brands and companies they do business with like banks, insurance companies, healthcare providers and merchants. Our unique visibility directly into App Stores allows us to shine a light on this problem and prevent attackers from impersonating brands to exploit their customers.”
The RiskIQ report also states that 12.7 percent of apps in the Google Play store for 2013 are malware. The top app categories that contain malware include personalization, entertainment, education/books, media/audio video, and sports.
Google on the other hand has implemented its scanning feature since 2012 called the Bouncer program which catches malware before the app reaches the Google Play store. Apps are also not able to do an update unless it comes from the Play store.
Android malware has become a growing concern lately as hackers are coming up with newer ways to infect a system. If you’re concerned about the security of your mobile device even if you are getting your apps from official sources then you might want to consider installing an anti-virus program on your deivce.