Android Security – A Growing Concern

Malware, viruses, backdoors, rootkits, botnets – these are terms we would have heard with regard to Windows related malware. Moreover if you do happen to ask a Windows user about the importance of installing an Antivirus he/she will place it as the most important software to have installed. But if you take Smartphone’s in general the importance of security is close to negligible. Malware targeting the Android OS is rampant but there is always a catch to this.

Why is the Android OS vulnerable?

First and foremost, when it comes to patching vulnerabilities distributors of the OS haven’t been quick enough in developing OTA (Over the Air) updates. Take any brand for instance – Samsung, HTC, Sony or LG; there has always been a lag in pushing the required updates to their respective devices. Having said that, slow isn’t quite the defining word as all manufacturers stop providing updates once they move on to newer models or Smartphone’s; leaving users high and dry for all necessary updates. While this might not come as a surprise to many, only 9% of Android users have their updated to v4.2.3 and v4.3, leaving a staggering 91% of users vulnerable. Now, that’s a large number of users left in the dark with multiple vulnerabilities.

The second aspect to look into are the custom Android ROMs that come with performance tweaks. Developers put in a lot of time and effort in bringing out the latest to both new and old phones. This is more like a god sent platform for users who scream for nothing less than performance. Plus users who have stopped receiving OTA updates have the freedom to swap in one of these custom OSs. However, with these come a number of fake OSs that are rigged with spyware, especially when they are downloaded from torrent sites. Statically speaking, at least 6% of users end up installing a rigged OS.

Free apps are the most sought after within the Google Play store. They are also the most targeted when it comes to infecting legitimate software. Google’s Android application environment has been numerously targeted Google has always been quick at fixing malware related issues. Plus there are a number of users who prefer downloading apps from third-party sites and this is the root of most malware related issues. Sites other than Google Play do not provide the necessary security when it comes to checking applications thus allowing them to do just about anything with the user’s personal data.

The most important defense system of Google lies in its Application Permission Notifier which basically provides a brief description of the permissions the app would require to function properly. The issue here is that, no one reads these permissions before installing. Having said that, a basic user will find it difficult to understand the importance or be able to differentiate between right or wrong when it comes to app permission.

How to stay safe

Well, it all comes down to choosing the right product. There are tons of apps on Google Play. As a user you only need what you require and not everything that gets posted. Second, while people might shout out loud to not have a security suite installed, it is better to be safe than sorry. Choosing the right anti-malware product goes a long way when it comes to securing your Smartphone. Read reviews to be sure that the product you are downloading is worth every penny in terms malware protection as there are many security products that are made just to consume space and memory.

And always remember the rule of the thumb – only download apps via Google’s Play Store. That way you lessen the chances of getting infected. Plus you have Google backing you up in case you end up downloading malicious software as they are quick to have the app remotely removed. Lastly, always check App Permission before installing.

For those who are interested in installing custom OS builds, avoid downloading them from torrents sites at all costs. Try downloading them from sites such as XDA-Developers.com as they are constantly monitored and updated as and when required.

NOTE: Installing custom ROMs voids warranty and can even brick your phone beyond repair.

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The Battle Between Apple’s App Store and Android’s Marketplace Is Good for Business

The race for the app market supremacy has hit full stride. Once dominant leader Apple has now been relegated to second place when it comes to free apps being downloaded, first being the Android market. There is even a study out there that predicts that within the next five months, the app store will be second overall to Android when it comes to apps available. Does this spell the demise of the App Store? Hardly. By a significant margin, Apple’s app store continues to dominate when it comes to monetizing their app brands. When it comes to quantity vs. quality, Apple is still leading the pack. Worth an honorable mention, WP7 is projected to be the third in line followed by a rapidly falling Blackberry.

When it comes to sheer volume of downloaded apps, the app market is one of the fastest growing markets in history. Smartphone and tablet users are projected to download 44 billion apps by 2016. To put that in perspective, that’s approximately six apps for every man, woman and child on earth. To think that just three years ago there were 15 million app downloads, the growth is unprecedented. Aiding in the growth is the constant expansion of targeted apps to emerging markets such as Latin America with an overall mobile phone penetration of 55.4% and significant improvements to internet infrastructure. Influencing these numbers is the fact that 62% of Latin American mobile users switched to smartphones in 2010 creating a new opportunity for app developers.

The Android app market has exploded onto the scene having played catch up since its launch in 2008. In a shorter period of time, they are set to overtake Apple as the #1 app provider in the world for smartphones. Developers have been aggressive in submitting apps. Helping in that fact is that Android OS installs on a much larger variety of smartphones and Apple’s app submission process could be a mountain for the average app developer to climb. Developers have discovered that submitting free apps on the Android platform could mean bigger ad supported revenues.

Despite the competition and the rapid growth of the Android Marketplace, Apple continues to dominate when it comes to raw revenue. No other company, as of yet, comes close when it comes to the sheer dollars and cents Apple has generated for their developers. So despite the fact that Android OS based phones may be selling more, iPhones are also still selling and in large numbers. The more smartphones out in the market, the more app downloads. It seems that for ad supported free apps, right now Android is a good bet, for paid Apps, the App store. Either way, there’s no wrong answer in such a rapidly growing market.

Top 5 Free SMS Managers for Android

Software applications, shortened to Apps, have helped enhance a smartphone user’s ability to multitask. It offers everything at your fingertips. However, there are a few applications that do not introduce anything new; they improve on existing functions.

Text messaging or SMS has been around for ages even before Android opened its eyes to the world. An SMS allows you to convey complex messages in the least number of words. A few apps designed for Android have revamped the traditional text messaging feature. They allow you to organize SMSs on your device, provide backup, regular inbox cleanups and blocking and security features. There are free and paid SMS manager apps for Android. We have discussed 5 Free SMS Managers for Android.

1. SMS Backup n2 Manager:

The name gives you a hint of the primary feature it offers. It allows you to backup and restore text messages. When you download and install the application on your device, a backup file is created on your SD card. All text messages are transferred from your phone to this backup file thereby freeing up tons of phone memory. It backups up everything; you can delete what you do not want. The other highlight features include the ability to send international messages at a low rate, bubble style chat view and multi-language support.

2. Gate SMS:

Gate SMS is another free SMS manager for Android devices that can be downloaded at the Google Play store. This is an app to use if your carrier charges unusually high text rates. It offers internet gateway support and helps you save on every text message you send. It identifies the operator automatically, reminds users of unread messages and allows you to set a message ringtone of your choice with different levels of vibration. The only drawback is this free SMS management app for Android displays a lot of ads not present in the premium version.

3. SMS Guard:

It’s annoying to be bombarded with junk messages from unknown persons. SMS Guard stands out for its blocking feature. You only have to add the number to the Deny list. Thereafter, all messages from that number will automatically be removed to the junk box or deleted without notifications. Not all SMS manager applications are compatible with older versions of Android. SMS Guard supports Android versions 1.6 and up.

4. SMS Manager:

How you wish there was a way to hide private and personal messages from prying eyes! Fortunately, there is one in the form of SMS Manager. It enables you to move text messages from the Android inbox to the application inbox. The password protection feature makes it easy to hide personal text messages from others. Another good feature is the ability to enable and disable notifications for incoming and outgoing text messages.

5. Auto SMS Cleaner /Deleter

If your inbox is filled with junk and is eating into your phone memory, it’s time for a cleanup. We’re not talking about deleting single messages. This best free Android SMS manager allows you to cleans several message at a time. The user has to input the two dates between which he wants the messages to be deleted. One need not worry as deleted messages can be restored later.