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Android remains top target for malware: report

The Android operating system is under assault. By comparison, Apple's iOS is in pretty good shape. 

By Matthew Shaer / November 21, 2011

Android is the primary target for mobile malware, according to a new report. Here, a user holds an HTC phone, powered by the Android operating system.

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It is very hard to escape Android phones this year. While Apple's iPhone remains the most coveted phone this Christmas, and RIM's BlackBerry handsets sink into early retirement, Google's Android operating system continues to gobble up shares of the mobile market. According to the most recent Nielsen report, Android phones currently account for 43 percent of the US market, compared to 39 percent in the quarter before. 

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In June, Google said it was logging a half million Android activations everyday, worldwide. Meanwhile, Android has also reportedly become the leader in app downloads – an arena once dominated by Apple and its online App Store. But hey, you know what else Android is doing? Attracting an extremely large amount of malware.

In a report published this week, McAfee experts said the amount of malware aimed at Android devices has jumped almost 37 percent since the second quarter of this year – and a several-fold increase over this time last year. In fact, almost all malware created in the third quarter of 2011 was directed right at Android.

"Last quarter the Android mobile operating system (OS) became the most 'popular' platform for new malware," McAfee Labs wrote in the report (PDF). "This quarter Android became the exclusive platform for all new mobile malware. The Symbian OS (for Nokia handsets) remains the platform with the all-time greatest number of malware, but Android is clearly today’s target."

So what's driving the malware deluge? Well, Android is an open-source platform, and over at ZDNet, Rachel King theorizes that "whatever amount of open source qualities there are to Android is what is leaving the door open to mobile malware." Moreover, Google doesn't vet additions to its Android Market as religiously as, say, Apple. Although Apple has its own problems.

Android phone laid low with malware? Drop us a line. 

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