Android Security: Myths vs Facts

Sometimes it seems like the Android platform greets each new day with another update on how
security is falling apart and compromising Android users left, right and centre. However, for a
platform that has more than 80% of the market share tightly clasped within its firm grip, you
have to wonder what it’s doing right. There are several myths that plague the Android platform,
some of them are true but some of them are a tad bit inspired by the tiniest hint of baloney.

Myth 1: No Android is safe from malware

The statistics for the last quarter released by Mobile Security Threat Report painted a grim
picture for Android with a 600% increase in malware. However, the idea that the Android
platform is an infestation of cell phone spy apps and malware is actually just a myth. That’s not
to say that malware isn’t real, it’s as real as real gets, but the idea that you’re going to be a target
is actually not as real. An average user can avoid most malware just by being a bit more
intelligent than the rest. Review the app permissions before installing, is the app asking for
things it shouldn’t be? For instance, does your text message app want access to your browser?
Does the camera app want to read your texts? If that doesn’t work for you then just get a security
app. Problems solved.

Myth 2: Android is the same everywhere

This logic goes along the lines of: all Androids are equal, but in reality some Androids really are
more equal than others. In the context of security this takes a completely different shape. With
each new version that Android comes out with (the latest being Lollipop), the ones that came out
at the very beginning become a little more obsolete.
Not every Android update is going to reach older versions. In fact some updates aren’t ever
going to be released for them at all. So keeping a close check on updates that are meant for the
specific version you use isn’t just a necessity, it’s crucial if you want to stay safe.

Myth 3: Android is open source so rooting it is no biggie

Boy, are you wrong on that one. Sure, the very nature of Android is open source, that’s how the
platform has managed to stay relevant and flourish in recent times, but the best way to attack an
Android is to look for rooted devices. Hidden malware and spyware apps can only exist on
Android devices when they’re rooted, otherwise it’s not possible for an app to be a part of your
phone’s system files and not be known to you.
Cell phone tracking apps and location monitoring apps that are installed by people close to you
(and not that pesky hacker you’re so worried about) can only hide and function if you made the mistake of rooting a phone. So steer clear of doing this. The added advantage is that you won’t
void your warranty and stay safe too.

Myth 4: All compromised Android devices are the platform’s fault

Every time we hear about a hacked Android phone we curse the powers that be (in this case that
would be Google). However, most of the times it isn’t the platform at all that’s getting your
device messed up — it’s actually all you. When you click on suspicious links in shady emails, or
tap on that weird video on Facebook that your friend posted, it isn’t Android that’s letting you
down. Falling for spam and phishing scams actually has very little to do with the OS your device
came with. If you want to avoid this then simply be a bit more careful when clicking on stuff you
see online.

Myth 5: Open source means third party apps are safe

Android is open source which means anything and everything goes, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, this is the one of the most harmful myths about Android out there. Do not install
apps that are not on the Google Play Store, most of them are not safe. Even apps that are not out
to harm your device can pose a potential threat because they may not be complying with the
standards that have been set out by Google. There have been cases where completely benign
third party apps ended up compromising user data because hey got hacked by someone.
These are some of the top myths doing the circles whether Android is a safe platform or not. But
rest assured, if you are a bit careful you need not worry. Android has come a long way and it
wasn’t possible without it being a strong and secure mobile operating system.