Malware is a problem for Android, but that problem almost exclusively exists outside the confines of the safety of the Play Store. Like any platform where the sharing of pirated, cracked software occurs, if you're downloading something you didn't rightly pay for, there's a risk it might be carrying a little something "extra" you hadn't counted on being included. For the most part, this is how Android malware spreads - but what do malware distributors do once they've got a device infected?
According to Google, less than one hundredth of a percent of apps out there are both malicious and capable of evading the built-in defenses in both Android and the Google Play Store. But if you really feel like you need a defense from that one-in-100,000 app, a trusted name in software protection has just entered the fray. Malwarebytes, makers of the popular eponymous Windows software, is now offering its services on Android.
You hear a lot of reports about malware and other undesirable third-party apps these days, especially from security researchers (and people who want to sell you something to make you feel safe). It's undeniable that malicious apps are a problem on an open system, but new data from Google indicates that the amount of actual harm being done might be negligible. QZ.com reports on a presentation from Google's Android Security Chief Adrian Ludwig at the Virus Conference in Berlin.
Remember when Google's app verification and malware scanning service debuted with Android 4.2? No? Well, that's probably because statistically speaking, you're likely to be one of the 95% of Android users rocking 4.1 or earlier. To help address this, it looks like Google has moved the Verify Apps system to Google Play Services, which at this point should be installed on all Google Play Store-equipped Android devices running Gingerbread or higher.
A new piece of Android malware has been discovered by security researchers at Kaspersky Labs. That by itself wouldn't be big news, but this Trojan does things no other malicious app has done. It exploits multiple vulnerabilities, blocks uninstall attempts, attempts to gain root access, and can execute a host of remote commands. Backdoor.AndroidOS.Obad.a, as it has been dubbed, is the most sophisticated piece of Android malware ever seen.
There are two previously unknown Android vulnerabilities exploited by Obad.
A new app update means a new APK Teardown here at AP. Today's victim is the Google Play Store, which was just freshly updated to 3.9.16. We've got all sorts of stuff to talk about.
A Built-In Malware Scanner
Yes, it's hard to believe, but Google is working on a malware scanner for the Play Store. The string file doesn't lie:
If you use an anti-spyware/anti-malware client on your device, then there's little doubt that you've tried Lookout at one time or another. While it is definitely one of the most well-known and popular anti-malware clients for Android, it has always had one huge shortcoming, in my opinion: lack of SD card scanning and real-time application monitoring for side-loaded apps.
That changes today, however, as the Lookout team has finally added these two crucial features to the array of others that Lookout is capable of.
As Android has grown from a small hobbyists OS to the mainstream-conquering behemoth it is today, so has the amount of malware directed towards it. A large chunk of the problem comes from malicious apps that make it into the Android Market - often times, duplicates of popular apps with a few strings of code thrown in that allow the app to transmit personal information or hijack the device.
Makers of anti-virus apps claim that there's more malware in the market than ever, painting the picture of a wild west-esque place that's ever-more attractive to the scum of the app universe.
In my continuous hunt for new apps, I sometimes run into such obvious malware/crapware that it causes an immediate virtual gag reflex. Sometimes, however, this malware is cleverly disguised and to an unsuspecting user it may seem legitimate.
Here, have a look at what I found today:
If you briefly scanned this page, you may have missed the fact that the publisher's name is MicrosDft Corporation (in all caps), or that it's requesting a permission to directly dial phone numbers without your intervention, or that the website in the listing is msM.com.
Looking to protect your mobile devices as well as it protects your computer, AVG has cooked up Anti-virus, available in free version, or a Pro offering for a one-time payment of $9.99. It's an app that not only helps you locate your lost device, but also protects your phone or tablet in real time by scanning apps, web pages, and settings to be sure you're safe.
At A Glance
AVG's anti-virus/security app comes in a small package but packs a lot of features.