Malware attacks are on the increase at an alarming pace, making cyber security and online safety more important than ever before. While most people buy anti-virus software for their computers and take steps to keep their laptops safe, they sometimes forget that their mobile phones and tablets are just as lucrative for criminals as the computers.
The most common way cyber criminals target mobile devices is though apps. Malware can pose as useful apps but are built for either data breach or rasomware, which means they steal your identity or force you to pay up.
Android and iOS devices can become the target of such cyber attacks, however experts claim that due to its wide reach Android is the preferred choice of malware apps creators. Android phones are now more popular than ever before and its open source platform makes it a more thrilling activity for malware makers.
Apple encourages its users to only use apps from its own app store which has helped keeping a check on malware; however Android users can download from a variety of app stores including its own Play store. Surprisingly, some of the dodgy apps have even made their way into the play store and lure unsuspecting victims with high ratings. A recent malware attack is said to have stolen Instagram credentials of at least 1.5 million people. Sometimes the malware poses as a different version of an already popular app to avoid looking suspicious or new.
However malware being on the Google Play platform is alarming for most of us. What if that app that looks so good and promises to make a photo frame is the culprit? Or what if it is a serious looking business and stock market app that no one would suspect?
The reasons they make their way into the Play store is actually because Google submission process for apps is less restrictive than Apple’s and only charges registration fees of $25 to be a developer. However the process to get an app into the Apple App Store is a lot more lengthy and rigid. Google has an open source policy which is good to get new and innovative apps into their domain but can be used by unscrupulous people for devious purposes including sending out Trojans.
What that can effectively translate into is that Android phones are more vulnerable to these malware attacks than iPhone. However it is important to note that the number of users whose phones have been infected is actually only 0.05 percent of Play store users.
But even though the numbers are small, why are the apps getting to users? The main reason is that makers of these malware apps are usually experts themselves and are looking for new ways to deal with the security checks their apps might face.
However not all malware apps can make it to the Play Store, potential malicious apps are scanned when they are submitted and further tracked but some clever hackers have found ways to sneak code into the app and activating it only after the app is available in the Play Store.
Experts know that Google is already taking many steps to ensure malicious content does not enter its space, however they feel Google could use other methods such as identifying user responses to malware.
“Most of the malware we’ve seen comes with angry comments from users who’ve downloaded the apps and know there’s something wrong immediately after. If you read the comments by the users, you could easily see what’s going on,” one expert recently said. Analyzing comments to look for information with the help of algorithms can be a good way to help throw out the malware.
“Google has started to approach the subject a bit more seriously with some improvements in the last year or so. They’ve begun to work with security vendors and they’re considerably developing protections — but there’s always more to be done,” Another cyber security expert commented.
Knowing these details can help you stay far away from malware, so the next time you see a five star rated app which seems to have a lot of angry users in its comments section, remember to stay far away from it.