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Android malware checker aims to improve security

19 August 2014, 08:31 Duncan Alfreds, Fin24

Cape Town - To protect Android smartphones against fraudulent applications, a security company has released a scanner that seeks to protect mobile devices from identity theft.

"Kaspersky Fake ID Scanner scans smartphones and tablets for vulnerabilities that put users’ valuable data, privacy and even money at risk," said Kaspersky Lab about its free application.

Android is charging ahead to dominate smart mobile devices.

According to data from the Strategy Analytics and others, Android is growing at the expense of rival platforms.

"The Android operating system captured a new record of 85% global market share, mainly at the expense of BlackBerry, Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone," the research firm said, indicating that global shipments hit just shy of 300 million units in last three months.

Malicious behaviour

That translates into a growth rate of 27% for smartphones from the same period in 2013, though growth in developed markets are showing a flattening curve, while in developing markets like SA, India and Brazil, there is still healthy appetite for smartphones.

That growth has motivated cyber criminals to write applications targeting the Android platform. As more people, particularly those from developing countries come online, they are more likely to be at risk from cyber attacks.

Fake ID is able to disguise itself as any application, and infect smartphones with a malware payload if instructed.

Simplocker is able to encrypt files on a mobile phone and is primarily used to demand a ransom from users.

Kaspersky said that the Master Key vulnerability enabled crooks to steal administrator privileges on Android devices, which means they could potentially launch any software without the owner's knowledge or permission.

"Although, as a rule, Google quickly closes such vulnerabilities, millions of Android users remain at risk, since it often takes device manufacturers a long time to update firmware," the security firm said.

In addition to the Kaspersky software, there are also apps which scan your Android smartphone for misbehaving apps - apps that are consuming more system resources than they should, giving an indicator of malicious behaviour.

The Kaspersky tool will not stop vulnerabilities, but prompt users to install a free version of Kaspersky Internet Security for Android if any threats are detected.

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