Google Inc has a latest headache. Smart phones using its Android operating system are under increased malware attack. German security firm G DATA found that strains of malware targeting Android OS have jumped 25 percent during the second quarter, versus the first quarter of the year.
G DATA’s 10th such report was released earlier in the week. It said that analysts at the firm could detect a new strain of malware every 14 seconds. The report has forecast that by the end of this year, there will be close to two million new malware apps.
What is even more alarming is that some Android handsets were already infected when they were bought. Many rogue retailers’ unpacked brand-new devices. and loaded them with malicious software. Once done, they put back them back in, before selling to unsuspecting buyers.
“Over the past year we have seen a significant increase in devices that are equipped with firmware-level spyware and malware out of the box which can take a wide range of unwanted and unknown actions,” Christian Geschkat, Product Manager at G DATA said.
Asia is the Hub of Google Inc Attacks
Quite a larger number of these suspect phones are currently being sold in Asia through unauthorized dealers. Brands of affected Android phones include reputed names like Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo.
The malware is often embedded in a legitimate app. These apps might come pre-installed in smart phones. As such, it is impossible to remove it without unlocking the phone. These malwares are capable of accessing the Internet, obtaining location data, and retrieving contact lists.
Android attacks are not new. In early 2014, Marble Security detected malware on Samsung smart phones. They came embedded within pre-installed Netflix’s app on six different phones. The malware seized confidential credit card data and passwords.
Google and Open Source Android
The versatility and openness of Google Android OS is its biggest draw. It gives users lots of options regarding what they can put on their phones. But it also leaves consumers vulnerable to some nasty malware.
Google Inc has open-sourced the Android for coding by third parties. Contrast that with Apple, which has vertically integrated the hardware and software. Also, there are very strict parameters for any further development.
As a result, each Android phone-maker has the latitude to tweak the software to fit his needs. This has resulted is a great deal of innovation with the software. But problems arise when malware writers take advantage of this freedom and plant their seeds of data theft.
The only way out for consumers is to buy their handsets from authorized distribution channels. And remember to check for official factory seals before accepting the merchandise.