Could Android turn into the Windows XP of the mobile world, a highly popular operating system that becomes a darling of the criminal set? That’s certainly not going to happen right away, but a new report from mobile security company Lookout suggests that Android malware is on the rise.
Lookout Security’s new report, timed to the launch of the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, said that mobile users are 2.5 times more likely to run into malware than they were six months ago, as those bent on stealing money and personal information increasingly target mobile browsers and Android users. As of June 2011, Lookout had counted a total of 400 applications that have been loaded with malware over the last few years and the attacks are getting smarter, according to the report.
It’s worth mentioning that companies which sell security software are always keenly interested in warning the public about security threats, for obvious reasons. But that doesn’t mean that mobile users will be forever able to think of their mobile devices as secure. Many of the same precautions that were unfortunately necessary on the PC may become just as needed on the mobile device if usage habits continue to tip in favor of mobile.
Just this year we’ve seen over 100,000 Android users affected by malware in the Android Market, forcing Google (NSDQ: GOOG) to pull 21 applications from distribution. Most attacks involve tricking users into downloading something resembling a legitimate application, so a dose of skepticism is always healthy when installing anything on your device. iPhone and iPad users can breathe a little easier due to the fact that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) reviews all App Store applications for malware, but they could also be threatened by phishing scams or fake Web sites when using their mobile browsers.