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A chief officer with a leading cybersecurity company says hackers are rapidly setting their sights on Android, and it could cost users thousands of dollars in unwanted text messages
The Android phone you carry around in your pocket can help you find restaurants, tweet, and navigate your around the city, but it might soon have another unwanted feature -- creating a black hole in your bank account. That's because hackers are working on viruses that could quickly rack up charges on your account.
About half of all Americans have smartphones, according to
"In the next couple months, I'd expect a big Android attack that's going to be very widespread," says Jacques Erasmus, chief information security officer with Webroot, a cybersecurity company. "It's going to be Android, because it's an open platform -- there's much less regulation in terms of the app store that makes it much easier for criminals to target. Obviously, the Apple user base is massive, but I think that attack is going to come later."
Erasmus says users could be "e-mugged" by unwittingly downloading malware that automatically sends premium-rate text messages -- the same kind used to donate money to the
The virus could be hidden in a trusted app, Erasmus says. A hacker could theoretically break into the
"You could hack into one of the really popular app distributors' accounts and leverage its userbase," he says.
But malware has made its way into the Google Play store in the past, and, in some instances, has stayed there for months at a time.
Erasmus says Webroot has seen a similar increase.
"We've seen an increase in threats -- there's now more than 9,000 known viruses and Trojans for Android," he says. "For most of the last year, there were very few threats, maybe two or three a day. Now, we're seeing 20-30 threats a day."
In November, Chris DiBona, open-source programs manager at
"Virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs [sic] protection software," he wrote. "If you work for a company selling virus protection for Android, RIM, or iOS, you should be ashamed of yourself."DiBona may have a point.. Last month, AV-Test, an independent German security institute, said that two-thirds of Android anti-virus software is "not yet suitable for use as reliable products." Of 41 tested anti-virus programs, just seven were able to detect 90 percent or more of Android malware.
Corporations are displaying the same fears as individual users. According to
Erasmus says that no matter what security measures are taken, there's no way to be 100 percent secure when you use a device that is constantly connected to the Internet.
"There's someone out there motivated enough who will find a way to get everything from you," Erasmus says. "It's just like a modern-day bank robbery."