Android Malware Reportedly Rises, Businesses Stay Wary

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 16, 2011

If you happen to work in a large organization ruled by a strict IT department, you may be intimately familiar with being restricted from using Android phones and devices. Many IT administrators remain convinced that Android--and applications for the platform--aren't secure. Now, even as Android continues to gain market share based on consumer adoption, there is some data appearing that supports the business case against the platform. Juniper Networks is reporting a 472 percent increase in Android malware since July.

Juniper Networks blames the fact that Android Market is relatively unpoliced for the free-flowing Android malware. In a blog post, company officials write:

"What happens when anyone can develop and publish an application to the Android Market? A 472% increase in Android malware samples since July 2011. These days, it seems all you need is a developer account, that is relatively easy to anonymize, pay $25 and you can post your applications.  With no upfront review process, no one checking to see that your application does what it says, just the world’s largest majority of smartphone users skimming past your application’s description page with whatever description of the application the developer chooses to include."

Juniper is also reporting that Android malware grew 400 percent from 2009 to the summer of 2010, which means its presence is accelerating. As if all of that isn't enough, Juniper adds that the types of malware are getting more threatening:

"In addition to an increase in the volume, the attackers continue to become more sophisticated in the malware they write. For instance, in the early spring, we began seeing Android malware that was capable of leveraging one of several platform vulnerabilities that allowed malware to gain root access on the device, in the background, and then install additional packages to the device to extend the functionality of the malware."

Meanwhile, Gartner Research's mobile devices report for November shows that Android has climbed to impressive 52 percent market share.  We've made the point before that Android's market share success is being driven more by consumers than by enterprises. In many enterprises, Android phones are not even sanctioned as business devices, and internal app development is often done only for the iPhone, BlackBerry, and non-Android devices.

Android is still a young mobile platform. Without a doubt, the next step in its evolution will involve much tighter security and corporate governance solutions.