Google reinforces Android’s security against malware
February 06th, 2012 - 06:34 am ET by C. D.
As the world’s most widely used mobile platform, deployed on more than 250 million devices, it is hardly surprising that Android is targeted by malware. Google is taking the required precautions to make Android Market safer.
The phenomenal growth of the Android platform, which is today the world’s most widely used mobile OS, has led to an increased number of software developments that attack users devices: malwares. These programs look to steal users personal information, spy on their communications and even send toll charged SMS messages at the users expense.
While such offerings are essentially present on portals other than Android Market which are not as well controlled, some developers have been successful in hiding malicious code within legitimate applications from which Google’s portal hasn’t been spared.
Such Android Market clean up’s are usually done over time as programs are discovered, with developers behind the programs being banished, but the volume of regular applications being released on the portal means that security now has to be reinforced. Google has announced that they will be adding an additional security layer called Bouncer which automatically scans new applications submitted to Android Market. This software layer looks for potential malware without slowing down the applications approval process or affecting the user experience.
Android taking security seriously Bouncer, which is already operational, analyses recently submitted applications for typical malware, detecting suspect files by studying how they work on a simulated Android environment. Developers who have recently signed up will also be monitored to see whether they are editors that have been previously banished.
Google confirms that the different security measures have also allowed the number of malware programs detected on Android Market to be reduced by 40%. This doesn’t prevent the number of malware targeting Android from continually increasing, but these are essentially distributed via alternative portals, while the official portal is the best in terms of security.
Finally, Google reminds users that there are various protection mechanisms available within Android: running in a sandbox which closes applications off from the OS so that the rest of the device is protected, the permissions system which assists the user in knowing what applications access their device and the "kill switch" which allows you to remotely remove an application on a handset which has been locked.