The evolution of mobile devices – just like the advent of the internet – has significantly improved every aspect of our lives in more ways than we care to admit. However, security threats are also on the rise, almost at par with what organizations face via the internet.
Malware can affect any operating system, but the Android OS is the most targeted. This is because most people use Android devices every day.
But how did Android devices become the object of attack by cybercriminals? Everything started right from Google Play Store. Let’s see how it all started.
The Early Days of Android Malware
The first Android OS was released in 2008 by Google and has significantly grown to become a force to reckon with in the smartphone universe. There are presently more than 2.5 billion active Android devices globally today.
At the time, attackers majorly focused their nefarious attention on other mobile operating systems such as Symbian, etc. But when the user base of Android smartphones increased, the platform became a target for cybercriminals.
The first Android Trojan – i.e., an SMS fraud app which subscribes your smartphone to various SMS services – was spotted in 2010. This usually happened without your knowledge.
Another trojan was discovered in the TapSnake game. This malware delivers your GPS location over HTTP. Other smartphones would identify this with a GPS Spy app installed.
By 2011, DroidDream, another malware, was also discovered. This malware is programmed to run between 11:00 pm, and 08:00 am when Android users were most likely asleep and not using their smartphones.
A mobile botnet type of malware that gains root access to Android devices and steals unique identification information was also discovered.
Most of this malware was discovered on the Google Play Store. Google’s own app store was overrun with these malwares. In fact, the Google Play Store has been called out severally for hosting malicious software and very poor-quality applications.
Cybersecurity researchers at Symantec also discovered several infected and highly deceptive apps on the Play Store. After installation, these apps secretly download a file that fills up your smartphone with diverse applications. And there was practically no way for Google to detect these malicious applications upfront.
These applications successfully made their way to millions of Android devices around the world.
To this end, Google Play Protect was launched in order to reduce the incidence of malware apps on the Google Play Store. Google Play Protect is an in-built protection on Android and was a test released via AV Comparatives in July 2019.
But it scored a protection rate of just 83.2 percent as well as 28 false positives. This is why you shouldn’t overly rely on it for the continuous protection of your Android device against phishing, malware, ransomware, identity theft, etc.
Type of Android Malware
The following are the types of Android malware known today:
Google swung into action and has been able to identify and remove several apps from the Play Store following Symantec’s report. Therefore, if you have the following apps installed on your Android device, it is high time you uninstalled them:
- Auto Blur Photo
- Fashion Hairstyles Pic Editor
- Latest Hairstyles Free
- Photo Background Editor Pro
- Amazing Photo Cutout
- Sky Camera Pro
- Yasuo Art, etc.
If any unusual pop-ups – typical to malware-infected applications – still occur on your smartphone, you should consider restoring your Android smartphone.
How to Protect Your Android Device from Malware Attack
You can protect your Android device from attack by cybercriminals by following these tips:
Don’t root your Android device
Rooting your Android device is the equivalent of prison-breaking Apple’s popular iOS. This means you can readily unlock the entire operating system in order to customize it to your liking. You can also apply OS updates by yourself, install unofficial apps, etc. This is what many Android users do from time to time.
However, you should bear in mind this practice comes with lots of severe security risks. Therefore, do not even consider rooting your Android device unless an expert does it for you.
Uninstall any app that is not useful
Spring-cleaning your Android device is something you should practice from time to time. If there is an app on your phone that you have not used for a significantly long period, do not let it sit on your phone. It could be used as a means of getting access to your device when it serves as a security hole.
Therefore, uninstall all these unnecessary applications as soon as possible.
Do not side-load applications
What this implies is that you should not download mobile apps from any third-party source other than Google Play Store, the official playground of Android applications.
When you side-load apps from these sources, you will unknowingly bypass every security protocol put in place by Google on the Play Store.
Install a highly reputable anti-malware solution
Thanks to Google Play Protect, the incidence of malware apps affecting Android devices has been reduced to the barest minimum.
However, you should not rely heavily on Google Play Protect 100 percent. As stated earlier, it has a protection rate of 83.2 percent and 28 false positives.
Search for and install a reputable malware solution like Thor Mobile Security, etc., for your Android device’s continued protection.
Most malware attacks on Android devices are successful because they are generally based on appealing but false promises. But the threats are genuine.
Therefore, stay alert; always update your system software and apps updated. And do not download any app on your Android device from third-party or dubious places.