Android ‘a prime target’ for malware attacks

Owners of Android devices have been given yet more incentive to consider their mobile application security, as figures show that the operating system is a prime target for attacks.

A memo was sent by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, explaining the extent of the malware that affects these users.

Public Intelligence revealed the memo, which showed that 44 per cent of Android users are still using older versions of the system, regardless of the vulnerabilities that have been recognised.

As mobile devices become more commonly used, it is essential for authorities to make sure they are keeping on top of the latest security trends.

In later versions, many of these issues had been rectified, leading the department to emphasise the importance of keeping up to date with the latest technology available.

A number of security flaws were outlined in the document, such as SMS Trojans, which reportedly represent almost half of the malicious applications affecting older Android operating systems.

The effects of these can be mitigated through the installation of an Android security suite, the department indicated, which are widely available from various sources.

Prevention is often the first line of defence against malicious activity, as it is much easier to carry out than a clean-up operation after an attack has taken place.

Another area that was recognised by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI was rootkits – a type of malware that is able to escape the usual means of detection.

Just two years ago, a software developer's rootkit was found to be running on millions of mobile devices, but had not been picked up by security programs.

In order to overcome this flaw, public bodies are recommended to install an application that is able to both detect and remove the malicious software, such as Carrier IQ Test.

Lastly, another scam affecting Android users arises through fake Google Play domains – these are sites created by criminals and encourage users into installing malicious apps.

In turn, these are able to steal sensitive information – such as log-in details and financial data – which can then be used by cyber criminals.

Bodies are advised only to install applications that have been approved and regularly install any updates that are available to their device's operating system.

In addition, they are recommended to regularly update antivirus software, which should detect and remove any malicious apps.

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