Hackers continue to target Android phones

KUALA LUMPUR: Mobile malware continues to be a threat to Android smartphones, according to US-based cybersecurity company Sourcefire Inc.

“Android smartphones are vulnerable to mobile malware because of its openness, which attracts hackers,” said Alex Kirk, senior research analyst at Sourcefire.

One the best features about the Android OS is that it provides access to a wide range of useful libraries and tools for developers to build rich applications on the platform.

“But the same openness also attracts hackers to create malware,” Kirk explained during his talk at the recently concluded HITB (Hack in the Box) security conference 2011 here.

One type of malware that is affecting Android smartphones is the SMS trojan. When installed, the trojan will send out premium rate text messages without the owner’s knowledge. As a result, the victim ends up with a huge telephone bill, he said.

The other types of malware detected include those that transform a smartphone into a bot to resend viruses or to execute actions (which are executed remotely) without the user’s consent.

Another means of spreading malware on Android smartphones is via QR (Quick Response) codes. Once users scan the QR code, they are redirected to websites hosting Android trojans.

Although mobile Android malware is significantly lower than desktop malware, which accounts for 40,000 attacks per day, it is still cause for concern, Kirk explained.

“This is because Android dominates 50% of the smartphone market based on various research studies. Therefore, users needs to take steps to protect their smartphone,” he said.

As a general rule, Kirk advised users not to download applications from untrusted websites.

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