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Why Android users shouldn’t worry (too much) about malware

Published Mar 5th, 2014 6:45PM EST
Android Malware Google Play

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So we know that malware developers absolutely love targeting Android since it’s not only the most widely used mobile operating system in the world but it’s also the least tightly controlled of all the other major mobile platforms. The Next Web points us to the latest study from F-Secure showing that, unsurprisingly, 97% of mobile malware found last year targeted Android phones. However, there’s some potentially good news here for Android users: As long as they’re smart, the chances of them ever encountering such malware are pretty slim.

Of all the mobile malware threats that F-Secure found last year, only 0.1% came from Google Play, the official app store where Android users mostly go to get their app fixes. F-Secure also said that Google has gotten much better about moving quickly to kill off reported malware in Google Play and added that “the Play Store is most likely to promptly remove nefarious applications, so malware encountered there tends to have a short shelf life.”

So where is Android malware really a problem? Well remember that not all Android phones come with Google Play pre-installed. In particular, many Chinese vendors who are cranking out dirt-cheap Android phones are only using the free-to-use Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) and aren’t paying Google licensing fees for the Google Mobile Services (GMS) part of the Android package. This means that anyone who buys these phones will go looking for apps in other, less trustworthy locations and is thus much more likely to get hit with malware.

So as long as you own an Android phone with access to Google Play and as long as you don’t download apps from shady third-party app stores, the chances of your phone getting infected with malware are pretty slim.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.