The Android platform has evolved into chic convenience for its users. The power to control their device and the apps that they install gives a sense of freedom that also translates to a freeway for malicious groups who are waiting with their baits.
There are a lot of security concerns that a versatile platform like Android is exposed to. And more often than not, these vulnerabilities are difficult to be defended against.
Since we are talking about convenience, let’s broadly categorize the kind of threats that this platform can face. Let’s begin with the most obvious – social engineering. So, you never see the attacker but you get duped by installing an app (created by the not-so-visible) that looks genuine and effectively manages to get the information and mostly the money. The creator backs it up with permissions that allow it to access the SD card, send SMS, read contacts and even access Internet. One fine day you might just wake up to a humungous phone bill or for those who go for pre-paid “Whoosh!” and the credits vanish because SMSs have been sent to premium numbers!
Then there are the little glitches in design. These platform vulnerabilities are cashed in on by malware authors. Design loopholes are usually covered up with system updates that are released. If it’s an app then the developer has to come up with bug fixes. If third party applications have loopholes in their design they can prove to be another source of bane to the android users.
The exploits don’t stop there. There are version-specific exploits. Loopholes in a technology that is universal to Android would be a serious cause for concern. Something like what happened in May 2011, when the security flaw in the use of verification tokens for integrating Google services like Gmail was exposed. This gave the malware authors leeway to steal the token for a session and masquerade as the user. A server-side fix was released immediately that controlled the mass exploitation.
Software moderators often discover gaps that give them the root access to the device. This brings us to Root Trojans. Once secretly embedded by the attackers, these allow the modders to steal data from the device or even get remote access – a scary tactic that can be misused to add the phone to a mobile botnet. Even if Android is designed to have root access disabled by default, modders find ways to get in.
That quite sums up the “What” aspect of security concerns of this platform. That said, how should one protect the devices against such attacks?
- First and foremost – keep your eyes open! Use common sense. Check the reviews of an app, look at the screenshots. Do a little R&D before installing an app from outside the market.
- Install system updates. Whether the update is an over-the-air one or a tied one from manufacturers or carriers, it is wise to be informed. Security gaps can be covered before they are abused.
- Get security software that scans apps and detects malware.
We want a mobile culture that allows us unrestrained communication and to be in control of the devices that we use. This requires a simultaneous security shield that is simple, effective and quick because you never know the origin of the proprietary extensions and changes. Security software like Quick Heal give you security solutions that you can depend on. Quick Heal Total Security for Android offers complete virus protection from phishing attacks, cloud backup, and other smart features for Android devices also provides Web Security with Parental Control. As an added security measure, the app also notifies about harmful applications and vulnerable settings on your device.
The software provides a high degree of flexibility allowing you to use your mobile while the scan runs in the background. This powerful product also helps locate a lost or stolen phone and has the capability to render the device unusable once stolen with the anti-theft feature.
However, it is important to have sufficient knowledge about the platform, for it is possibly the most effective way of preventing your device from being manipulated.