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Malware in the media – Augusts’ eclipse and Android 8

On August the 21st people in the USA could witness a total solar eclipse. People from Oregon to South Carolina could see the moon totally covering the sun. A total eclipse is a unique event. The last total eclipse of the sun happened 38 years ago and the next one will be in 2024. Google smartly used this event to introduce the next Android OS version. Version 8 is named Oreo, a popular chocolate cookie filled with butter milk cream.

Google modestly markets their new Android 8 operating system as an “open wonder” and promises us that Android 8 will be “safer, smarter and sweeter”. The new Android OS has many interesting features and security improvements. Truth needs to be told that August also marked another record: over 1800 apps were found in Google Play and blacklisted.

Forbes reported on 10th of August that a developer managed to “spawn 1000 Android Spyware Apps”. Some of these apps were not detected by Google’s automated Google Play app analysis. Two weeks later Fortune posted that “Google Kicks 500 Apps Off Online Store Over Spyware Concerns”. All these apps used a software module that helps companies to target people with ads based on people’s preferences. In the last week of August CSO Online published that “experts from Akamai, Cloudflare, Flashpoint, Google, Oracle (Dyn), RiskIQ, Team Cymru united”  to take down the WireX botnet and “removed another 300 apps from the Play Store” according to Techspot.

According to Bitdefender “App install fraud is a 300 million business”. This high profit potential explains why the mobile market will keep on attracting malware. eScan even calls it an “alarming rise of mobile security threats”. This rise will also impact corporate users, since employees are allowed to bring their own (mobile) devices to work. With this in mind we applaud the ongoing efforts of Google to improve the security of the Android ecosystem. The three most important security improvements on Android device and Google server side ecosystem are:

  • No more install from unknown sources
  • Improved Google Play protect
  • Android instant apps

At AV-Comparatives we will keep testing mobile security software against real world mobile malware. Read our 2017 mobile security review, when you consider adding Antivirus on your Mobile phone.