Beware of Android scaremongers

Shares malware burden with Apple and RIM.

Smartphone malware may be rising, but users should be more wary of "charlatan" security vendors, says Google's open source program manager Chris DiBona.

DiBona took exception to claims that Android has a "virus problem" because it is based on open source and lacks Apple-like checks for its own Android Market Place.

Echoing Symantec’s recent advice in a report that pitted iOS against Android, DiBona wrote on his Google + page:

"No major cell phone has a 'virus' problem in the traditional sense that windows and some mac machines have seen. There have been some little things, but they haven't gotten very far due to the user sandboxing models and the nature of the underlying kernels."

The threats security vendors were selling against are "possible, but not probable", and anyone selling those wares “should be ashamed of yourself," DiBona wrote, excluding mobile management software for a corporate IT environment.

This year security vendors, lacking the APIs to launch iOS antivirus, have rallied around Android, which has recorded a huge leap in malware.

Google does allow vendors to sell antivirus to its Android customers, but most users install free software, according to recent research by NPD.

Still, Android has made headlines because of "trojanised apps" that have mostly been available on third-party websites. Around 80 Android malware samples in January climbed to 400 by July 2011, Lookout notes in its July threat report.

This week McAfee singled out Android as the only platform for which new malware was created in the last quarter, pointing to newer rootkits that attempt to "break free" of Android's application sandboxing.

But this is all FUD, according to DiBona, pointing out there had not been a worm that “magically spread” amongst devices.

"Yes, virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs protection software for Android, RIM and IOS. They are charlatans and scammers," said DiBona.

“All the major vendors have app markets, and all the major vendors have apps that do bad things, are discovered, and are dropped from the markets.

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Tags smartphonesmalwaremobile securityAndroidmobile phonesmcafeemobile malwareChris DiBona

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