Monday, 20 May 2013

Android Security in 2013 - Users and Their Woes

As the US Army approves of Samsung Android phones running Knox to be replaced by Blackberry, security must have been given a lot of thought before the decision was made. Introduced by Samsung during the launch of Galaxy S4, smartphones running Knox allows the users to keep their private and personal life separate while providing an added security to the professional data in the phone. As Android phones have been an easy target for Android spy apps ever since their launch back in 2007, the OS seems to have recently experienced another malware blow as users discover about the excess baggage that Facebook Home app seems to be sporting.

Latest Android Malware in town
The Home app, which refashions the phone into the Facebook Home page, has recently been under speculation for the unnecessary features that come with it. once the user installs the Home app to their smartphone, the app is automatically given access to your audio settings, camera and sound recoreder. It can adjust the volume of the phone without giving to a notification or asking your permission. It can record audio by using the phone’s microphone and use the camera to take pictures and record videos without your permission. The question does arise here that why would an app need all this excess baggage to run. A spokesperson from Facebook did admit that though the Home app has the ability to do things like these, the company will not do that.

2013 and Android malware
With a whopping 52.2% market share in the US alone, more than a 100 million Android phones have reportedly been shipped in the second quarter of 2012 in the country. Android’s share of malware rose in 2012 when in the fourth quarterof the year, 96% of all attacks on mobile OS were targeted at Android phones during this time period. Here are some of the scandals that have risen against Android in recent times:

Google Play scandal
In Feburary 2013, Android experienced a massive blow when it was asked by web developers and customers alike to change it’s policies when they discovered what their harmless downloading has been resulting in. Google Play store has been getting information out of every single person who purchases Android apps from the Google Play store. The news broke when a developer of Android apps noticed personal information of customers when they purchased one of his apps. their names, e-mails, addresses and even the suburbs they lived in were accessible.

A report in April 2013 by a Romanian firm, Bitdefender, warned cell phone users against the highly intrusive qualities of apps. Almost 30,000 free Android apps were analyzed in this study and 12.87% of them were found to be collecting personal information from their customers without permission or even knowledge.

Google may be using your private Gmail messages and Scroogled
What 70% of the population of US is unaware of is the fact that Google uses Gmail messages to deliver advertisements. Microsoft launched it’s Scroogled campaign against this policy of Google. Much of Scroogled was based on ads and Microsoft played on the fear of the general masses by leaving the impression that people at Google are reading each and every message sent through Gmail. Although not impossible, this is very difficult as this would allow huge databases and logarithms.

Google has not been able to resolve many of the security issues that Android users have been faced with. The question arises that apart from filling the previous loopholes in the OS, will Google give it’s customers another privacy blow in the rest of the year. A lot of this depends on the time to come.

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