Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Android Apps Are Growing, But So Is App Malware

Mobile apps in Google's Android Market have jumped 127 percent since August, triple the rate of Apple's App Store, according to Lookout's App Genome Project. Apple's App Store still leads the mobile-app market, but alternative app markets are posing security threats. New Android malware repackaged in apps include HongTouTou and Geimini.

Apple's App Store is still the king of the hill, but the Android Market is gaining ground in the paid-app category. So says a report from mobile Relevant Products/Services-security Relevant Products/Services company Lookout.

Lookout's second report from its App Genome Project, a database created to map more than 500,000 mobile apps across different device platforms and app markets, aims to offer visibility into mobile-market dynamics and identify security threats in the wild.
The latest results show that the Android Market is rapidly maturing. The emerging market has seen strong growth in the number of new apps available, with 127 percent growth since last August. The growth is triple the rate of Apple's App Store -- and the proportion of paid apps also rose dramatically.
"Android is beginning to catch up to iTunes in terms of several key metrics. As Android has gained momentum, it has attracted more developers to its platform," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence. "What's most striking to me, however, about the report is the degree to which Google's AdMob dominates both Apple apps and the Android Market in terms of adoption by publishers and developers."
Apple Fights Back
Of course, the App Store is still leading the pack. As of late January, Apple reported more than 10 billion apps have been downloaded from its store by more than 160 million iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users around the world. The App Store offers more than 350,000 apps, with more than 60,000 native iPad apps available in 20 categories.
On Tuesday, Apple upped the app ante by launching subscriptions on the App Store. The new service is available to all content publishers, including producers of magazines, newspapers, video Relevant Products/Services and music. Subscriptions purchased from within the App Store will be sold using the same App Store billing system that has been used to buy billions of apps and in-app purchases.
Publishers who use Apple's subscription service in their app can also leverage other methods for acquiring digital subscribers outside the app. For example, publishers can sell digital subscriptions on their web sites, or can choose to provide free access to existing subscribers. Apple processes all payments, keeping the same 30 percent share that it does for app purchases.
App Security
Beyond the business models, Lookout also looked at specific alternative app markets for both Android and Apple's iOS. Also known as ADRD, HongTouTou is the most recent piece of Android malware. It was just disclosed Tuesday. Geimini is another recent example of legitimate applications that were repackaged with malware.
"As one might expect, while these markets increase users' access to apps, some also have a higher number of apps that could be repackaged with malware or illegitimate ad code," Lookout wrote in a blog post. "Repackaged applications found on the Android alternative markets can serve as vectors for illegitimate activities, whether it's ad fraud (the inclusion of illegitimate ad code), piracy or malicious activities like bundling malware."

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