Mobile Malware: Scare stories

Posted on November 1, 2012

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read a few stories from the register each day, taking their RSS feed into my Yahoo page.

They are, on the whole interesting, written with a sense of humour and generally one of the best tech news web sites.

However this story on free android apps worries me.

It is based on a report from Juniper,  where by Juniper have analysed the app store details for 1.7 million apps and from this created some stats on the meta data.

My worry is that the story is potentially misleading.  The headline is “Free Android apps often secretly make calls, use the camera” and the story contains many stats such as “One in 40 (2.64 per cent) of free apps request permission to send text messages without notifying users (a figure than drops to just 1.45 per cent for paid apps).”

however there is no data regarding the percentage of apps that do send messages without the user’s permission, and critically when the user would not expect it.  This would be malware.  for example send messages to a premium SMS number so that you rack up the income from the premium rate.

However these kinds of abuses are far and few between,  and as such I think that care should be taken with this kind of story to add a little balance and ensure that the actual risks are made clear.

I say thin, not in defence of the malware producers, but to prevent users being bamboozled by stats, or worse sold unnecessary security software.

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Posted in: mobile