SMobile Systems Study Points to Potential Android OS Security Threats

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Tens of thousands of people downloading applications onto their Android-based smartphones may be putting their personal and professional information at risk.

That is the conclusion of research conducted by mobile security and services company SMobile Systems that looked at the relative safety of Android-based applications. SMobile System’s Global Threat Center performed an in-depth analysis of over 48,000 applications currently available on the Android market and detailed the following points:

  • 20% of applications in the Android market grant a third party application access to private or sensitive information that an attacker could use for malicious purposes, such as identity theft, mobile banking fraud and corporate espionage;
  • 5% of applications have the ability to place a call to any number, without requiring user intervention;
  • Dozens of applications have the identical type of access to sensitive information as known spyware;
  • 2% of market submissions can allow an application to send unknown premium SMS messages without user intervention.

These threats, SMobile, claim are significant given the demand for Android-based devices, which outsold Apple iPhones in the first part of 2010.

“The Android operating system and the Android market are quickly becoming the most widely used mobile platform and app store in the world,” said Neil Book, Chief Executive Officer of SMobile Systems. “There are individuals and organizations out there right now, developing malicious code designed to capture your most personal information and use it to their advantage.”

The open-source architecture of Android phones is also driving the creation of an extensive number of applications, many of which may have potential to cause serious harm to devices, customers and to the broader cellular network, adds another SMobile executive.

Naturally, SMobile has a vested interested interest in commissioning the study and publicizing its results. The company has incorporated a new patent-pending spyware detection technology into its Security Shield solution. This capability analyzes an entire device in seconds and immediately identifies and mitigates known and unknown spyware threats, all with virtually no impact to the user experience or device performance, according to SMobile.

Complete results of SMobile survey, in the form of a white paper, are available at threatcenter.smobilesystems.com. Information on the company itself and its mobile solutions can be obtained at http://www.smobilesystems.com/.

 

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