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Home > Mobile, Security > Chronicles Of The Android

Chronicles Of The Android


The title of this post recalls a science fiction novel, but actually summarizes well a couple of news concerning the Android, which bounced in these days. Even if they seem apparently disjoined I decided to insert them in the same post: there is a logical link which connects the commercial success of a platform and the attention it attracts by malicious, and this seems to be the destiny of Android, to which the market share reserves a bright future, which become much less bright if one considers the information security consequences.

 

Part 1: Smartphone Market Share

This seems to be the right time for predictions as far as the smartphone market is concerned, that is the reason why I really was enjoyed in comparing the projections of ABI Research (released today), with the ones released from IDC a couple of days ago. The results are summarized in the following tables. Even if they are targeted at different years in the near future (respectively 2016 for ABI Research and 2015 for IDC), comparing the two reports is interesting for imaging what the future of the smartphone Operating System will be.

ABI Research IDC
Operating System 2010 2016 Operating System 2011 2015
Android 23,00% 45,00% Android 39,50% 45,40%
RIM 16,00% 14,00% RIM 14,90% 13,70%
iOS 15,00% 19,00% iOS 15,70% 15,30%
Symbian 36,00% - Symbian 20,90% 0,20%
Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile 0,60% 7,50% Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile 5,50% 20,90%
Others 9,40% 14,50% Others 3,50% 4,60%

Often the providers of market intelligence do not agree on anything, but in this case, if there is one thing that seems to have no doubt, is the scepter of the Android, which seems to be destined, for both reports, to rule the market with nearly one half of the total smartphones shipped after 2015. The data also confirm a stable position for RIM (around 13%-14%), while do not completely agree as far as Apple is concerned, for which ABI research estimates a market share of 19% in 2016 and IDC a market share of 15% in 2015. But were the data are surprisingly different, is on the Windows Phone Market Share. According to ABI Research, Windows Phone will reach the 7% of the market (which become 7.5 adding the market share of its predecessor Windows Mobile). Unfortunately I do not think that, according to Microsoft’s hopes, the number 7 which identifies the mobile operating system series, pertains to the market share in 2016. Last and (unfortunately) least? IDC is more optimistic and foresees a bright future for Redmond in the mobile arena, with its creature ranking immediately behind the Android with the 20% of the market. Will be very amusing to see (in 5 years if we will remember) who was right.

Last and (unfortunately) least, the poor Symbian, sacrificial victim of Nokia and Microsoft agreement, which, in 5 years will remain little more than a romantic remembrance for mobile lovers, while, surprisingly, ABI research foresees a surprising 10% market share for Samsung Bada in 2016.

Part 2: Mobile Malware Market Share

Of course I am an infosec guy so I wonder if also the mobile malware will follow the same trend. This consideration arises from an interesting article I found in the Fortinet blog. Of course data must be taken with caution, but I could not help noticing that when one switches from smartphone market share to mobile malware market share, the ranking positions are reversed: over 50% of mobile malware families detected by the security firm concern Symbian, approximately 15% are Java ME midlets, while the Android approximately suffers only of the 5% of the infections. Of course, as correctly stated on the article, this does not means that Symbian is the less secure. In my opinion the bigger percentage of mobile malware is a simple consequence of the fact that Symbian is still the Operating System with the greater spread. Of course malware writers deserve bigger attention to those platforms which offer the wider attack surface (that is the wider possibility to spread infections). And in this moment, Symbian is an attractive prey from this point of view. My sixth sense (and one half as we say in Italy) says that the Android will not take a long time in order to achieve also the unenviable first position also in the mobile malware market share, not only because it is spreading at an incredible speed, but also because it is becoming an enterprise platform (so the value of the data stored are much more attractive for Cyber Crooks.

As if on purpose, today Symantec discovered yet another malware for Android (Android.Walkinwat), which, at least for this time, tries to discipline users that download files illegally from unauthorized sites. Analogously to some of its noble malware predecessors (Geinimi, HongTouTou, Android.Pjapps), the malware is hidden inside a non-existent version of a true application (in this case Walk and Text) and downloaded from parallel markets from Asia and United States, but instead of stealing private data, simply floods of SMS the contacts.

Hey, just downloaded a pirated App off the Internet, Walk and Text for Android. I am stupid and cheap, it costed only 1 buck. Don’t steal like I did.

At the hand, after sending the SMS (affecting the user’s phone bill) it warns the user with the following message.

Unfortunately downloading malware from Asian parallel market is not new, and it is not a coincidence that the same report from Fortinet indicates that most mobile malware families are implemented by Russian or Chinese coders. This is undoubtely an increasing trend, and I am afraid that Chinese coders will soon shift their Cyber Espionage Operations to mobile devices…

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