One of the major concerns for the Android marketplace has always been the security of applications and the potential of malware and other issues. Google has been working to increase the security of the Android Marketplace in recent years to ensure that users are protected while still retaining the freedom and openness of the market.
Why Are There Concerns About Android Security?
The Android marketplace is a significantly more open marketplace than the iPhone iOS marketplace. There are numerous reasons for this. Android applications are naturally more complex because they need to support an extremely fragmented and diverse market; there are many Android versions out there, some created for special devices and others simply old. Android applications also aren’t subjected to as rigorous standards testing as iOS applications, and for good reason; the goal of the Android marketplace is to remain open.
On iOS, an application may be rejected after solid development simply because Apple feels as if the application doesn’t bring anything new to the market. By contrast, virtually anything can be entered into the Android market and users are free to choose the applications they want to use.
Avoiding malware on the Android OS is often as simple as avoiding it on a personal computer; an antivirus scanning utility can usually protect a user. However, users aren’t used to running antivirus software systems on their smartphones, and thus proper security methods aren’t always used.
The New Malware Scanner
Google has improved security within the Android marketplace significantly by developing a new malware scanner. This malware scanner will check through a user’s applications to ensure that the apps being used do not contain any malware. Because this scanner checks periodically, it will be able to detect any updates that could introduce malware in addition to malware present upon installation. Though applications have always been inspected when entered into the library, they haven’t always been inspected when they were changed later on, and this was a serious vulnerability.
This change comes upon the heels of a rather notorious anti-virus application that rose to the top of Google’s application charts and yet did absolutely nothing. The “Virus Shield” application, which retailed for $3.99, became a very popular way for Android users to protect their operating system. Unfortunately, a decompilation conducted by the Android Police found that the actual application didn’t do anything at all. In fact, it was harmful because it lulled users into a false sense of security. Over 10,000 users had purchased and installed Virus Shield by the time it was pulled from the market.
Other applications that have been notoriously embedded with malware include applications that claim to be able to extend the life of your phone’s battery and simple tool applications such as flash lights. Malware applications tend not to be overly complex; they either perform one simple task or they don’t actually work at all.
The Future of the App Marketplace
Though the application marketplace has proven to be a bit of a wild west in the past, Google has remained dedicated to fixing the issues as they occur. Security has always been problematic for any new technology, and there is every indication that Google is taking the issue as seriously as it should.
“The Android platform is incredibly open,” says tech expert, Jason Hope (http://sens.org/outreach/outreach-blog/release-internet-entrepreneur-jason-hope-pledges-half-million-dollars-sens). “This comes at a trade off; users also need to be more vigilant about what they use and install.” Protecting yourself from malware does not need to be difficult; simply installing a reliable and dependable antivirus solution should be enough to protect most users. Avoid installing applications that don’t come from a reliable vendor and monitor your Android device for any strange activity, such as billing line items that you did not purchase.
By securing your Android phone much like a personal computer, you should be able to sidestep most of the major security issues. Android phones today are so incredibly advanced that they are essentially small, mobile computers; most users wouldn’t use their laptop without antivirus security, and it’s a very similar situation.
About Author: Amy Taylor is a business and technology writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, AZ. She enjoys writing about business technology trends. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking with her Alaskan Malamute, Sam.