According to Trend Micro’s Q3 Security Roundup, malware targeting Google’s Android platform has increased nearly six fold in the third quarter of 2012. In terms of actual numbers, mobile malware has soared from 30,000 to 175,000 between July 2012 and September 2012. The number of threats affecting mobile devices has far surpassed the estimations provided by renowned threat technologists.
Some of the applications on this list are clearly criminal, but this chart includes several “aggressive adware” applications that are designed to collect more personal information than the user has authorized. This type of “aggressive adware” is more of a privacy threat. Although most adware is designed to specifically collect information about the user, there is a fine line between collecting this data for use in advertising and completely violating a user’s privacy.
How can you protect yourself?
According to Trend Micro’s report, only 20% of all Android users are using a security app. Using a solution that warns a user of security issues with certain apps can provide an extra layer of security. SecureState also recommends fully reviewing an application’s permissions prior to installation and remaining vigilant when installing applications. Below is a list of the permissions that Android provides:
Please keep in mind that just because an application is asking for the above permissions does not mean that it is malicious. Normal applications will request and may require these permissions depending on the type of applications. However, a gaming app should not require Read/Write capabilities for a calendar, nor should it legitimately have access to make phone calls. Be aware of permission requests that seem out of place.
Another security measure users can take is to limit the installation of apps that are not listed on Google Play. In addition, users should also read reviews and limit the installation of unknown or suspicious apps. Installation of a reputable mobile antivirus solution is also highly recommended.