Nov 22 AT 1:48 PM Edgar Cervantes 16 Comments

Googler speaks of mobile security, says anti-virus companies are playing with your fears

hacker Image via: altemark with Creative Commons

Android is currently the most popular mobile operating system in the planet. With over 200 million devices activated, and over 550,000 added daily, Android is taking over the world. This also raises a concern, though, as developers of malicious software often target platforms with the most exposure. No one will write a malicious app for Symbian, for example, when they can target more people on Android, iOS or Blackberry.

Android users seem to be much more worried about such issues. This fear is reasonable; smartphones hold all of our most important information. Android may be one of the main targets for malevolent virus/malware developers, trying to get your private information. Is it really a huge danger, though? Googler Chris DiBona has spoken up in a Google+ post, mentioning the fact that virus-protections is really not necessary in smartphones.

One tends to believe that an open source project can be much more dangerous. The idea of “open source” is that the community has a lot of influence over what happens with the OS. This does not mean that it is more dangerous, though, as the platform’s success depends greatly on consumer satisfaction. If the operating system was that insecure, people would not choose it.

Another factor also mentioned during discussions relating to this topic is Google having such an open mind about the way the Android Market is run. Google does not limit developers as much as iOS does, and getting an app in the Android Market is much easier and faster. While this may lead to some malicious apps sneaking in, the apps are soon discovered and taken down. He goes on to mention that this happens with every platform’s app stores.

Of course, we also have to be smart consumers. It is the way life runs. Scammers are out there, and they will find a way to somehow try to take your money. One usually does not walk into a store and just buy stuff blindly; many factors come into play – Price, quality, competition, safety, etc.

The same applies to apps. One shouldn’t just rush into the Android Market (or any app store) and buy apps blindly. It is recommended that you check the developer’s reputation, the star ratings, the comments, and take a look at the permissions. Just like crooked sales representatives, a malicious app developer will not be honest. That is why we need to do a bit of research before making important decisions.

As DiBona mentions, though, these apps are quickly put down by Google upon finding out their nature. So we are still quite safe as consumers. He believes that virus protection apps are BS and they do not accomplish much, as all mobile operating systems are very secure.

Yes, virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs protection software for Android, RIM and IOS. They are charlatans and scammers. IF you work for a company selling virus protection for android, rim or IOS you should be ashamed of yourself.

Yes, a virus of the traditional kind is possible, but not probable. The barriers to spreading such a program from phone to phone are large and difficult enough to traverse when you have legitimate access to the phone, but this isn't independence day, a virus that might work on one device won't magically spread to the other. Chris DibonaGoogle Inc.

The latter paragraph is very true. Segregation does happen, and though we may hate it, it is also something that can keep our phones from spreading a virus. Developers have to work very hard for their apps to work on many Android devices. Sometimes simple things like flashlight apps won’t work with certain phones. Just like apps, we can’t really expect a virus/malware app to be compatible with all devices.

Virus protection may not be all that necessary, after all. I recently performed a format reset on my device, and have just noticed that I forgot to install my favorite protection software, which happens to be Lookout Mobile Security. Even without it, though, I feel very secure, and do not believe there is any form of threat in my device.

Be a careful shopper (just like when you go to the store) and try to stick to reliable app stores. This is the best way to protect yourself. Hit the source link to read Chris DiBona’s full post. What are your views on this? Do you feel like Android is too vulnerable to such threats? Do you use an anti-virus on your device?

Via: Phandroid

Source: Chris DiBona (Google+)

Hello, I am Edgar Cervantes. I am an avid Android fan, and keeping myself updated on the topic is part of my daily life. I will always work hard to give the best of me to our community of Android enthusiasts, and I am very honored to be part of this ship. Hopefully we can all enjoy sharing our knowledge and opinions!

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  • bruce080

    There are free anti-virus applications available, so why not use one? I do use a anti-virus on my device, but I do not feel as though android is too vulnerable. It’s just an extra precaution to make sure I fee comfortable using the device.

    • Brandon Peters

      This is axactly the issue, they are making you *feel* more comfortable, but it what is called ” a false sense of security”

      An antivirus is not needed, you would only feel safer if you know you are installing apps from an unknown and untrusted source

  • antonioortegajr

    I haven’t had antivirus anything for years now. Have not had a problem. A lot of hype.

  • pekosROB

    I did run LookOut at first, but it was annoying. I also felt like it drained the battery.

    I don’t download stuff unless I know exactly what it is. I rarely buy apps that don’t have reviews or ratings. The only things I sideload are from either the Amazon Appstore or something from XDA.

  • watbetch

    I stick with the Android market (sometimes Amazon), and only get .apk’s online from trusted sources and forums. I don’t have problems. I saw this on the new and I almost vomited all over my screen. They made it seem like Android is riddled with malware and spyware then right after the news anchor iPhone touting biotch had to mention about how the iPhone has 50% of the market and about how it’s so secure because Apple’s app store is more restrictive which is TRUE but Jailbreakers are more vulnerable, even more so than us.

  • fatspirit

    I only use community proven apps. And I’ve tried antivirus with on-demand scanning once or twice just because of curiosity.

  • DroidSamurai

    While I agree with that the traditional kind of computer virus is difficult to spread in a mobile OS, but let’s be realistic, the joe the non-tech savvy consumer won’t use a computer dictionary to define a virus. To these people, if something finds its way into their phone and do harm, they see them as a virus.

    Frankly, I am quite offended by Chris Dibona’s statement. Why? Because it reminds me of the old days’ Microsoft. MS back then also tried to play down how significant their security problem was. They paid a hefty price for that.

    Yes, a traditional computer virus may not be probable on Android. Yes, anti-viral software may be no more than a scheme to steal your hard-earned money. BUT, Android does have a security problem that no other leading mobile OS makers have — the mechanism to deploy security patches quickly is simply not there. More importantly, Google refuses to acknowledge that there’s a problem.

    Do you think it matters whether it’s a true virus or not, when someone find a way to steal million of people’s personal data from their phones through an exploit of the Android web browser? No. Can Google quickly patch it? Unfortunately, the answer is also no.

    • Brandon Peters

      Name the “anti virus product that will stop the situation that you spoke about

      An antivirus cannot and will not make up for an exploit in an form of software, that’s why it is an exploit, I think you are a bit confused between the purpose of a antivirus and the use of an exploit

  • charliethesuperturtle

    Antivirus people are dicks

  • Nathan

    And that why i don’t bother with that stuff anyway because phones aren’t computer so it shouldn’t be a big problem

  • sylar

    I run a free anti virus and it has caught a few apps that i have downloaded and told me they were spyware and it later turned out to be true so I guess I will keep them. Though I doubt that there are as many viruses as there are for computers yet.

  • ben dover

    I don’t even run anti-virus software on my pc. I’ve never had a virus or malware! It’s all about smart browsing.

    Maybe a little luck sprinkled on top but it’s worked for me so far!

  • xProteus

    What people really need is to be much more informed. You can, for the most part, prevent malicious software, just by being aware of what you click on, much the same for windows, a browser, etc. Users need to be informed about how to make a decision based on the permission requirements of an app. See that live wallpaper asking for access to contacts? you might need to think twice.

    This is also the reason i rooted to put in droidwall for iptables. at least by default everything doesn’t have internet access and i only allow stuff to get through that have a trusted reputation. but i guess that’s a bit more than what an average user would expect from a product that should “just work”

  • Sfr

    Antivirus on Windows is a scam business as well.
    Ever had a random app detected even if it’s clear? Ever got compromised while your antivirus is running and “monitoring”? Malware authors won the war long time ago, and with rootkit techniques they can also be practically invisible to detection. Antivirus will catch a year old malware or binary code that uses a few practices common for malware (self modifying code, for example), but it’s far from effective against most sophisticated threats.
    Good that DiBona shot that down because Android is, unlike Windows, built to not provide root-grade permissions by default, and these also have to go through approval process for apps (in Windows admin “UAC” access is required on install).

  • haahaaah

    MR. chris dibona is right. i use ubuntu desktop from 3 year and no one virus/malware infected my desktop. when i use window desktop, i get virus/malware. and after i use linux desktop, i dont want back with window desktop.

    anti virus vendors is playing business with microsoft and they both are trully scammers. the virus/malware in window desktop is “playing by window developers when the sistem have a bugs”.

    sorry if my english not good (i am asian)

  • haahaaah

    MR. chris dibona is right. i use ubuntu desktop from 3 year and no one virus/malware infected my desktop. when i use window desktop, i get virus/malware. and after i use linux desktop, i dont want back with window desktop. i sure, Microsoft is behind from the Juniper Network.

    anti virus vendors is playing business with microsoft and they both are trully scammers. the virus/malware in window desktop is “playing by window developers when the sistem have a bugs”.

    sorry if my english not good (i am asian)