As reported by Avast and hyped by certain websites, Android has yet again been scorned by a rogue app available on the Android Market which sends unsolicited premium SMS’s. It’s pretty easy to read the shocking headlines and cast judgment without knowing the facts, so I’m going to attempt to straighten things out and show you how to stay safe on your awesome Android device.
There are no viruses in the Android Market
Provided you’re using an Android rom issued by a reputable provider (ideally Google) apps have no way to do anything without your permission. If you don’t know what a rom is you’re probably safe.
The best (and worst) thing about Android is that the responsibility of the device passed to it’s owner. Android will give you every warning you might need but ultimately let you have control. Every time you install an app Android forces you to read the permissions the app will have. The app Avast discovered was by Trend Micro. Below is a screenshot of the installation screen of one of their malicious apps. This is the screen you need to look out for every time you install an app, especially the part that says:
Services that cost you money
Directly call phone numbers, send SMS messages
When you see this, and the app has nothing to do with SMS’s, do not install it.
You might have seen antiviruses in the market. What they do is scan your device looking for apps with these permissions or are known to be rogue. They’re thought of as a joke, a waste of money and a waste of RAM by the Android community. It’s much more effective to just read the permissions list.
But what if you can’t trust yourself with such things?
There is a third option. They call it ‘the iPhone’. Since Apple only allow apps to be installed which are hand checked by them there is a smaller risk of rogue apps appearing in the app store. A few apps have slipped through though. In November 2011 security experts managed to sneak a malicious app into the iPhone app store unnoticed.
Better yet, get a Nokia 6210.