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Virus on your mobile

*Anti-virus firms have renewed their alert call on Android, the popular mobile operating system from Google. Kaspersky has listed Android malware among its top security risks of 2013. A recent report from Sophos voices the same concern. 

In the last 18 months, mobile malware has exploded and more than 90 per cent of it is aimed at Android.  Android is running on 3 out of 4 devices sold worldwide, enjoying 52% of the market share. Its reach makes it a lucrative target. Sophos says many of the recent attacks are ‘unsophisticated, but profitable’, indicating that it is an easy target even for the not-so tech savvy cyber criminals.

The latest versions of the OS are designed to browse the web from where users can download programs from different sources, including malware.

The most popular malware on Android phones are SMS Trojans, which send messages to premium rate numbers to steal money from infected mobiles. Kaspersky says the first mass worm for Android is likely to appear soon. This will spread itself via text messages and send out links to itself at some online app store. 

Competitors are watching Google’s woes with glee. Last year Microsoft launched #DroidRage, a campaign where Android users could share their malware horror stories and get a free Windows Phone.  It is reportedly re-starting this campaign soon.

Android is often contrasted with iOS, Apple’s OS, which allows app download only from one source, the App store.  So, to distribute the code, virus makers have to get past Apple’s defence. But the larger issue is the security risk posed by the inadequately protected mobiles as nobody would be immune from attacks in the long run. Macs were supposedly free from the virus menace. But early this year Flashback Trojan infected over 700,000 machines and busted this myth forever.

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