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App risk

The app market is a fast growing software market, but the increasing growth also applies to the amount of malware says Kevin Freij CEO at the mobile security company He suggests how to reduce the risk of being hit by expensive and hidden text messaging services, such as those currently found in many apps like “Battery SuperCharger”.



Today there are over 450.000 apps on Google Play compared to 100.000 in July 2010. This explosive growth makes the app market the fastest growing software market ever. With the many new apps, the amount of malware has increased dramatically. Alone in the period of September last year to February this year, the number of malware samples for Android increased with approx. 388 percent according to the German anti-virus testing company


“With the rapid growth in the app market, it is only a natural consequence that the hackers will follow through,” says Kevin Freij, CEO of MYMobileSecurity, a company that makes security apps for smartphones. And we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, he says. “The app industry is still relatively new and immature, and there are many security gaps, especially with the Android system. Google has improved and is trying to fight against the malware by increasing their demands for new apps on Google Play, but there is still a long way to go if they really want to get rid of the fake apps for good. “


Freij recommends that you install some kind of security app, due to the fact that cybercriminals are able to install their malicious codes even after an apparently clean app has been downloaded. He mentions the current case, where thousands of European Android users, including Brits have been frauded after downloading the app Battery SuperCharger  that pretends to be able to extend the battery life, but instead sends  premium text messages without the phone owner’s knowledge. Google has just removed the app from Google Play but it still exists in banner ads on already downloaded apps like the popular scrabble application Wordfeud. “With a security app you will be protected against malware, but it is still very important to be careful and only download apps from trusted sources such as Google Play or Amazon Appstore. Spend some time reading the other user reviews and comments about the app before you download it”, he says.


As it normally can take from two to four weeks before app stores like Google Play removes malicious apps, Freij recommends people to be extra aware of new apps that have received none or very few comments. “If possible, wait until the app has had at least a few thousand downloads, and received many good ratings. Many security experts advise people to seek information about the app developer, visit their website, check the contact information, etc., but I think this is a unrealistic advice because who have the time to spend 10-15 minutes on research every time you download an app?” A shortcut is to skim the “terms and conditions” before you download it. Be suspicious if eg a game or a wine label scanner will have permission to locate you via GPS or read, write and send text messages. And finally it is a good idea to check your phone bill regularly to avoid expensive surprises”, he says.


To read more about what an antivirus app can protect against, visit  


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