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News

Balancing Open Architecture With Security For Android Users

Wick Hill : 29 July, 2011  (Technical Article)
Wick Hill comments on the increasing popularity of Android smartphones, the risks associated with open operating systems and how to combat these risks
Balancing Open Architecture With Security For Android Users

Smartphones now represent nearly a third of all mobile sales, with Android rapidly closing on the number one spot. One of the things that makes Android smartphones so attractive is the openness of the Android operating system. Users, for example, can benefit from the high number of apps and free apps written for Android phones.

However, because Android is not a closed, structured environment, like that of competitors such as Apple, but an open environment, there have been many security issues. Android apps are not checked by Google before being sold on Android Market and this has created security problems.

The Guardian recently reported that 50 Android apps from Android Market were found to be infected with rootkit malware called DroidDream, which could compromise personal data, taking over the user’s device, although Google acted swiftly to remove the apps from the market once it had been alerted.

More recently, a security flaw was discovered in the operating system, where certain Google account authentication tokens being sent over the air unencrypted were potentially putting users at risk, if they were sending data over public Wi-Fi networks. Again, Google issued a fix, but recurring security episodes give users serious cause for concern.

The good news is that there are products around that will make your Android phone secure, such as Mobile Security 9 from Kaspersky Lab.

This protects smartphones from malware and spam, blocks unwanted calls, hides chosen contacts and files and locates missing devices. If a smartphone is lost or stolen, confidential files can be wiped or blocked remotely by sending a special SMS. Lost phones can be located through a GPS Find tool, and if the SIM card is replaced, phones can be blocked and the real owners notified of the new number.

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