Cyber Criminals Prefer Android to iOS - Analyst
Image Credit: Google

Speaking at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012, Trend Micro security expert Rik Ferguson reported that hackers were targeting Google's Android operating system more than Apple's iOS.

Specifically Ferguson highlighted the problem facing Google's Android operating system, suggesting the amount of security threats on it had increased "multiple thousands of percent" over the last few years.

Interestingly, Ferguson suggested that the increased threat facing Android users was due to a preference by cyber criminals rather than an increased number of inherent software vulnerabilities.

"The number of vulnerabilities on Android compared to iOS is very similar," said Ferguson. "It's not true to say Android is more vulnerable than iOS, they have positives and negatives in each case."

Instead, Ferguson suggested that Android users were more at risk due to a growing preference by hackers towards the OS. The lack of monitoring on the Android market and hackers' ability to easily upload malicious Trojan apps was highlighted as a specific area being exploited by cyber criminals.

"Android is where the action is. Android is what the criminals are focusing on," said Ferguson.

Hackers' tendency to piggy-back off existing popular apps, creating fake and malicious versions - many of which appear legitimate and actually work - was listed as a key problem affecting Android. One example used by Ferguson was a fake Angry Birds app.

The app appeared on the market listing Rovio Mobile - the legitimate app's maker - as the publisher. The only difference between the real and fake app was that the Trojan app's creators had replaced the "l" in Mobile with a capital "i" - making it look nearly identical to the real Angry Birds.

Moving on, Ferguson attacked Google for its lack of control over the Android Market, questioning its decision to install Android Bouncer - an app that deletes malicious apps after they are on the Market - as opposed to monitoring the apps before they are submitted.

Concluding, Ferguson suggested that the problem would continue, and predicted that by the end of 2012 there would be as many as 130,000 unique malicious apps on the Android Market.