Android mobile devices have been around for a while now. Thus, security risks are increasing as hackers determine ever-more sophisticated means of breaching the system. Still – many of us go about our daily routines without giving mobile security a second thought. If you think Android security isn’t necessary, here are five reasons you should change your mind.
- 1. Attacks on the Android OS are increasing
Specific numbers vary based on the source, but it’s pretty clear that the number of malware attacks is rapidly increasing year over year. According to Veracode’s Android Security Features, Android devices operate using a mandatory application sandbox, designed to limit external applications’ access to personal information stored on the device. This means users should only download and install applications from trusted sources, but the vast selection of third-party applications makes determining safety difficult for the average user.
The sandbox also doesn’t stop malicious applications from requesting permissions to access sensitive data, and users who aren’t well-versed in installing software and minding potential security issues may choose to allow these permissions without realizing they’re not needed. “We have made great efforts to secure the Android platform, but it is inevitable that security bugs will be found in any system of this complexity,” notes the Android Developer Website.
- 2. Android OS permits remote installation of applications
The Google Marketplace permits remote installation of third-party applications to devices. While the user is prompted to allow the installation and accept permission requests, this feature means it’s not possible to remotely install or run an application that could clear the data stored on the device or an application that offers remote location services, in the event the device is stolen.
- 3. Google’s Bouncer protection isn’t all-inclusive
In early 2011, Google introduced its Bouncer program, designed to protect Android devices from malware-infected apps reaching the Android Market (now known as Google Play). But according to Extreme Tech, Bouncer doesn’t provide adequate protection.
Bouncer was an attempt to eradicate many of the apps that reached the market or otherwise breached the Android OS. These apps, which reached an all-time high in 2011, could steal contact information, track your keystrokes to gain passwords to sensitive websites and rack up your monthly bill by sending you premium-fee text messages and other unwelcome intrusions. But outside experts were able to gain access to the inner-workings of Bouncer and quickly discovered a number of ways hackers could circumvent Bouncer’s defenses.
- 4. Some developers don’t adequately test applications
The risks aren’t limited to installing outright malicious applications. Even installing a legitimate application can put your device at risk. That’s because some developers don’t perform adequate testing to ensure the security of their applications before offering it via the Marketplace.
Applications must be tested and verified secure before being offered via the Marketplace, but that doesn’t mean unknown vulnerabilities can’t slip through. If an installed application contains a hole in its code, it could provide a pathway for hackers to gain access to sensitive data stored on your device, such as contact information, passwords, financial information and more.
- 5. Security software can’t prevent theft, but it prevents thieves from breaching your personal data
If you’ve taken all the proper security measures and been careful not to install malicious or unsafe applications, your personal data could still be breached by a person stealing your actual device. That’s why it’s important to follow not just some, but all of the recommended security precautions when using an Android device.
This includes installing system updates, ensuring the safety and trustworthiness of third-party applications before downloading, carefully evaluating permission requests and only granting permissions when needed. General computing best practices, including the use of strong passwords to protect access to your data, setting your device to lock after a period of inactivity and only using trusted networks to connect to the Internet, will also add a layer of protection to your sensitive information should your device be lost or stolen.
There’s no such thing as being too secure when it comes to your Android-based mobile devices. With hackers developing increasingly sophisticated methods for gaining access to applications and the Android OS itself, it’s important to secure your data both on the application and device level for the most protection.
Fergal Glynn is the Director of Product Marketing at Veracode, an award-winning application security company specializing in data loss prevention, injection security solutions, and other security breaches for securing your Android operating system.https://plus.google.com/u/0/113691514122620157248