Google Android Malware Surges 400 Pct

Bloomberg Android trying to eat Apple but malware still an issue ... Vic Gundotra, Googles senior vice president of engineering, speaks at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. - There has been a 400 per cent increase in malware on Google's Android platform since the middle of last year and the problem is causing such concern that several Android anti-virus programs have been released.

There are over 200,000 applications on the Android Market today – up from 50,000 a year ago – but the huge growth in the platform has brought with it a rise in malicious apps designed to steal user data.

The issue highlights the flaws in Google's open, freewheeling approach compared to the tightly controlled nature of Apple's iTunes App Store.

The 400 per cent increase in malware figure is contained in a new study on mobile security released by Juniper Networks, which found that the application store was the biggest distribution point for malware on mobiles.

A malicious Android app known as DroidDream is believed to have infected about 50,000 Android users before Google began to remove it, with limited success.

"The last 18 months have produced a non-stop barrage of newsworthy threat events and while most had been aimed at traditional desktop computers, hackers are now setting their sights on mobile devices," said Jeff Wilson, principle analyst at Infonetics Research.

This week security firm Webroot released its Webroot Mobile Security for Android software, which is available on the Android Market. There is a free and paid version.

The Webroot software scans apps before they are installed to ensure they are safe, scans web links and URLs to block phishing attacks and can be used to remotely wipe all information from the phone in the event that it is stolen. Security firm AVG has also released an Android anti-virus program.

At its I/O event in San Francisco this week, Google announced that over 100 million Android devices had been activated around the world. Google's Hugo Barra also revealed that over 400,000 new Android devices are activated globally each day, up from 100,000 this time last year.

At the event Google gave a preview of the next version of Android, "Ice Cream Sandwich", which is designed to take the best parts of the Android Honeycomb tablet platform and bring them to Android smartphones.

But it's not just smartphones and tablets – Google also announced plans for Android to power everything from smart light bulbs to appliances to sound systems. Movie rentals and a music storage service are also coming via Google to the Android platform but this is only available for US users at this stage.

Asked whether the reported rise in Android malware meant anti-virus programs for the platform were desirable or necessary, a Google spokeswoman did not directly answer the question.

"We are committed to providing a secure Android Market experience for consumers," the spokeswoman said.

"Our approach includes clearly defined Android Market Content policies that developers must adhere to, plus a multi-layered security model based on user permissions and sandboxing.

"Applications in violation of our policies are removed from Android Market." /Sydney Morning Herald

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