The world is Android-dominated and this was confirmed by a new U.S. government report but in beating the iOS platform that powers the iPhone and iPad, the Google mobile operating system is also attracting the most malware attacks.
It was like the case of Microsoft's grip at the height of PC market era and prior to the mobile device explosion some five years ago. Windows - in all its forms and editions - controls hundreds of millions of PCs around world, automatically making it as the default target of malware authors.
Android is playing the same game now, according to Apple Insider, citing the reports of the U.S. Homeland Security Department. The agency, basing its findings on a 2012 F-Secure data, expressed grave concerns that millions are exposed to possible security exploits due to Android's global popularity.
Google has earlier indicated that millions of Android-powered devices, smartphones and tablet computers, are activated everyday. This claim was supported by Samsung's June 2013 results, showing that more than 70 million Galaxy smartphones were sold in the three months spanning the second quarter of current year.
At present, Samsung is acknowledged not only as the top Android device maker but also as the largest smartphone company in the world, which is a testament of Google's rule. This fact worries U.S. authorities and they have identified three key issues that Galaxy device owners and users of other Android gadgets face everyday.
Mobile Trojan attack
This originated in the PC era, in which an application is secretly inserted into a PC machine, infecting its system and secretly taking control of its functions. In the mobile device environment, Trojans are deployed to hijack a handset enrolled in premium service contracts, allowing the dispatcher to remotely access the same services that are paid for by the owner of the infected device.
Rootkits or data mining
Authors of this malware send out a file to an unsuspecting device. When opened, the file releases the rootkits deep inside a phone's system with one programmed task - to record sensitive data such as key strokes, passwords and locations. Such information are treasured by unscrupulous hackers to steal identity that is then employed for financial gains.
With the prevalence of shortened URLs, shared via Facebook or Twitter and readily clicked on by many smartphone users, it is easier for cyber criminals to lure victims by tricking them into visiting an innocent looking site, where a virus is then planted on the user's device to wreak havoc both personally and financially. Refer to the first two threats to visualise the ensuing illegal operations to follow.
As of 2012, about 80 per cent of detected mobile malware are in the Android sphere with majority of the infection occurring on lower Android versions. While experts would suggest quick upgrades to the latest Android build, this is not totally possible as hardware limitations and the notoriously fragmented Android updating process keep million of gadget users stuck in lower editions such as Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread.
Users, however, can put up a good fight by installing internet security application suites on their devices, which normally comprises of anti-virus and firewall, though the latter, in many cases, can only be installed on rooted Android gadgets.
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