Is Google’s Latest Security Boost On Android Software Enough to Secure Your Phone?

Earlier this week, Google reported that it had installed a service, called Bouncer, that scanned apps uploaded to its Android Market for malware. Bouncer scans new apps and runs simulations of existing apps to test them for potential malicious behavior, such as data theft and paid texting scams.

Several media outlets suggested that this act meant an end to the “wild west” days of Android.
This is false. The threat to Android security is real – mostly because the market potential remains so great and the opportunity so present.

Juniper Networks recently noted a 472% increase in Android malware variants between July and November 2011.

Plus, Google’s latest measures do nothing to protect users from malicious app downloads outside the Android Market – which is large but only one of numerous such app marketplaces. Moreover, Google’s focus, even with the Android Marketplace, is on “known malware”.

With Android Bouncer, Google analyzes apps within its marketplace and flags those with suspicious code. This new service comes after repeated concerns about Android security, particularly Android app security. But it may not be enough.

The fact is, there are approximately 500,000 Android apps just within the Android Marketplace alone. These have been downloaded over 10 billion times on approximately 250 million official Android devices.

The scope of the Android market and the potential for harm is staggering. Plainly speaking, those who would infect Smartphones with malware see a ripe market. Malware, for example, can exploit the growing popularity of SMS billing and carrier billing that more Smartphone users are leveraging to pay for a variety of goods and services, both digital and physical, including charitable donations. Unfortunately, SMS-based “Trojans” have been used to steal money and collect personal information on the user.

Google has helped grow the Android install based to hundreds of millions by virtue of supporting an “open” UI and app ecosystem. This openness, which has its benefits, nonetheless creates vulnerability.  Considering the increasing adoption of Android within both the enterprise and government, more security is required.

In announcing the Android security software, even Google made this clear, noting the following:

  • The company saw only a 40% decrease in the number of “potentially malicious” downloads.
  • This impacts only the Android Market, not other app markets.
  • Android security software companies have been reporting a “rise” in malicious applications.

Given the phenomenal growth of Android, and the increasing importance of Smartphones in business, retail, government and other arenas, this latest move by Google is an important step. However, it clearly reveals the importance of even greater security protection for your phone. It also demonstrates the need for businesses like KoolSpan to be proactive, not reactive when it comes to security.

This is why a hardware solution is critical. Even Google admits the limitations of their latest (software-based) security efforts. A hardware solution offers stronger encryption. Hardware can better protect stored/archived data – including voice messages. Not only is hardware more reliable, it offers greater efficiencies. This means minimal battery drain on the device. The ability to support multiple device types. Just as important, a hardware solution such as the “TrustChip” can enable an individual to easily swap the chip into a new device. This can be especially useful for those traveling abroad.

Call 240-880-4400 or contact us to find out more information on how TrustChip can protect your network devices.