2The Market Share Doesn’t Lie
Why should you worry about Android security? Perhaps there’s no better justification than the very fact that 97 percent of all mobile malware is targeting Android. That means that the chances of getting malware on other platforms is exceedingly low, and it speaks to the great efforts that need to be made to improve Android security.
The Android ecosystem is still a fragmented mess. As of this writing, Android Jelly Bean is the most common OS, with about two-thirds of the Android ecosystem. However, a massive number of devices still run Android 2.2 Froyo, Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Unfortunately, those older versions don’t have the security features found in the later Android releases. However, millions of people are still using the older Android versions, and so face a greater risk from malware and cyber-attacks.
4We’ve Seen This Play Out Before
The scary thing about the growth in malware in the Android ecosystem is that it’s eerily similar to the ramp-up with Windows. As malicious hackers saw more and more people move to Windows, they almost exclusively turned their attention to that platform. And as time goes on and more people use the software, the threats only increase. Windows is playing out all over again.
5Unauthorized App Stores Are a Concern
Interestingly, the Google Play store that Google runs is by no means a threat to users. In fact, just 0.1 percent of all malware samples were discovered in the company’s store. It’s when users start to venture into new territory by downloading apps from unauthorized app stores that all kinds of issues happen. F-Secure said that users should steer clear of unauthorized app stores.
6Google Is Trying
There’s no debating that Google is trying to improve Android security. With each new software launch, the company improves the security of its offerings. But there’s an issue: The malware creators are always a step ahead. If those people are able to stay ahead of a company with as much money, power and influence as Google, what does that say about the state of security in the Android ecosystem?
7Google Play Ubiquity Isn’t Complete
As noted, Google Play is a quite safe marketplace. However, it’s not nearly as ubiquitous as it should be. There are still countless countries in which Google Play isn’t available, and there’s no developer support in key countries, such as Brazil. Google Play is arguably the safest place to get apps in the Android ecosystem and yet, it’s not readily available around the world. That’s a huge issue.
8Globalization Is a Killer
Following that, it’s important to note that while being in the U.S. where Google Play is available might mean better security, one needs to consider the impact globalization has on the entire space. We’re in a globalized world where the actions of one person will impact people around the world. That’s especially the case in the security space, where people who get hit with malware in, say, Europe can hurt the overall security of people in the U.S. or elsewhere. Globalization has been both a blessing and a curse. And when it comes to security issues, it’s the latter.
9Hardware Vendors: Partly to Blame
As F-Secure points out in its study, hardware vendors might be partly to blame in the case of Android security. The onus is on hardware vendors to get new Android versions up and running on devices, and they’ve largely lagged behind where they should be. Software updates are crucial to Android security.
10The Numbers (and Malicious Efforts) Will Increase
There’s no doubt that Android security issues will only increase in the coming years. As shown by F-Secure’s data between 2012 and 2013, new threats are nearly quadrupling year-over-year. Whether that rate of growth will keep up over time remains to be seen, but it’s entirely possible that the growth will continue over the long term. Simply put, if you think things are bad now, get ready—they’re only going to get worse.
11Mobile Security Is Generally Worrisome
The final reason to worry about Android security doesn’t have anything to do with Android at all. Mobile security in general is very worrisome. Threats are coming fast and furious from apps, SMS, Web browsers and other holes that malicious hackers can exploit. Until the mobile security space becomes an area of concern for users and security companies alike, it’s hard to see how things will get any better.