The Android operating system (OS) may be a favourite among smartphone users, according to recent reports. However, its success may also be its downfall, if security experts are not careful.
According to the recent trend report of security experts Trend Micro, by the end of the year, there will be more than 120,000 malicious Android apps.
Trend Micro recently noted that a variant of the Plankton is embedded in various apps based on the Android OS. In particular, Trend Micro has monitored what it called the "largest Android malware outbreak ever." The outbreak was in the form of a puzzle game Sexy Ladies-2.apk, which is detected as ANDROIDOS_PLANKTON.P.
Trend Micro noted that Android's popularity has made it vulnerable to cyber attacks.
"The Android platform, in particular, has become a favourite attack target due to its app distribution model, which makes it completely open to all parties. We believe this will continue in 2012 although other platforms will also come under fire," stated Trend Micro in a report titled '12 Security Predictions for 2012.'
But the same report is not singling out the Android OS and Android smartphones. The report noted that smartphone and tablet platforms are attractive to cyber criminals, "especially Android."
comScore recently reported that Google's Android OS ended 2011 with a 47.3 percent smartphone market share in the US. The Apple iOS, on the other hand, had a market share of 29.6 percent, to land the number two spot.
Another report - by the NPD group - noted that the Android OS is popular among first-time buyers of smartphones. The report noted that 57 percent of new smartphone purchases were Android smartphones compared to 34 percent for the Apple iOS.
"The fact that Android apps are also available in third-party stores and in the developers' own sites poses even more risks, as this, too, hasn't escaped cyber criminals' attention," stated a publication of Trend Micro titled 'Simple Steps to Secure your Android-based Smartphones.'
To protect Android users from threats, Trend Micro recommends that users activate the smartphone's built-in security features and to disable the wi-fI auto-connect option.
Trend Micro is also offering a mobile security app - the Mobile Security for Android, which protects digital files, including banking transactions.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.