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Android and Viruses....

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by dragonriot, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. dragonriot

    dragonriot Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I've seen SO many apps on the market that say they are virus scanners, and every time I find a new one, I have to let out a little chuckle. Of course, when I see how many people have actually downloaded these virus scanners, it kinda makes me sick. See Android, while not GNU/Linux, is still Linux, and as such is nearly immune to viruses. ESPECIALLY the Windows Mobile viruses that all these virus scanners actually can detect.

    While Android DOES have security holes that can be exploited, almost all of them have required root access to affect your machine. There has never been, and it is very unlikely that there will ever be, a virus written specifically for Android, the market share of each individual phone is too small, and Android is inherently a very secure OS when it comes to malicious files being run on your phone. Note, every program you install on your phone, whether you have rooted your phone or not, requires your permission to install, unless you have somehow disabled the permission macro that is run every time you find a new piece of software.

    Even if you decide to go the illegal route and torrent or newzbin some software, the installers will still ask your permission to install the files. Granted, I wouldn't trust those files from non-Market sources nearly as much as Market-sourced software, but you really don't have a lot to worry about. I DO NOT and HAVE NEVER endorsed or supported software piracy, so don't take this as permission to go download your favorite PAY software for free somewhere... I'm just making the point that the virus scanner software for Android is plain and simple, a scam, designed to make the developer hundreds of thousands of dollars... These guys are laughing all the way to the bank as they think about how many people are downloading their software - AND paying subscriptions (OMG, what?) - for their programs with Windows Mobile virus definitions... Heck, I'm still laughing about it.

    So some friendly advice, from a guy who knows a LOT about viruses... save your money, because even if someone DOES figure out how to get a virus on your phone, it's a google phone... everything on it is backed up to google, so if there is a problem, just do a factory reset, and as soon as you set up your gmail account again on the phone, you will have everything back again, minus any virus or spyware you might have had.

    HGroux83 and rodrigt like this.

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  2. Tymanthius

    Tymanthius Well-Known Member

    While what you saying is mostly true, remember that the Iphone was much the same way, until it was jail broken, and people left holes up.

    So while I think our phones are secure now, it may not always be so. I'm no fan of AV software either. It doesn't work if the PEBKAC issue isn't solved.

    I've NEVER run AV software on any system I was the only person using. I've only ever gotten 2 viruses. One I got on purpose, as I was curious, the second was new enough that I missed it.

    So if you REALLY want to keep your system, be it PC, Mac, Iphone, Android phone, etc, watch what you install on your system. If it's too good to be true, research it. Usually doesn't take long to figure things out. Google is your friend (and overlord ;) )
  3. ari-free

    ari-free Android Expert

    people jailbreak their iPhones because Apple is so closed, it's the only way to get apps from outside the app store. More and more 'casual' users are doing it to change wallpaper, have multitasking and all kinds of interesting apps.

    The biggest reason for rooting android seems to be apps2sd. Apple never had this problem because iPhones have lots of internal memory and no SD to deal with. Android is usually the opposite but thanks to the root hackers, there is a solution. But this is a new capability that android never had before, not a capability that android has but doesn't let you use. Once google incorporates this, there will be very little reason to root and the Android ecosystem won't be a virus target.
  4. glitch32

    glitch32 Well-Known Member

    LOL! Very true.

    I also agree, for now. There may be no viruses for the android OS, but that could easily change. IMO, linux doesn't have viruses only because not many people use it. Virus authors would not be very motivated to write a virus for linux when it wouldn't get very far. Just my .02.
  5. vonfeldt7

    vonfeldt7 Well-Known Member

    Umm.. true to an extent. You're right saying that not as many people use it, and since it has a smaller marker share there's not as much money for virus/spyware makers as there is in the PC/Mac scene. That being said, that's not the only reason... linux is a lot more secure than the other OSes as well. A lot.
  6. glitch32

    glitch32 Well-Known Member

    Good point, but it still comes down the user, and how educated they are with the OS they are using. A lot of malware relies on social engineering techniques. Overall, I would agree that linux viruses would have a much harder time spreading though.
  7. Brynk

    Brynk Newbie

    What about sending data over an open wi fi?
    Would that be safe? No firewall needed?

  8. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande?

    I have to chuckle whenever I see a post like this. There's so much adolescent machismo dripping all over it but it's just narrow minded. Like the OP never heard of malware. It's like there exist these tiny isolated worlds, these little walled gardens, these extremes, where it's either a virus that roots your phone and rewrites the whole OS into a spam machine, or it's the user's fault.

    By the way how many apps have you all installed that asked for full internet access that you couldn't immediately, on the spot, think of why it needed internet access?

    Also, AFAIK nothing is screened in the market. It just requires developers to self sign their apps, which does nothing to prevent malware. It just leaves a unique ID so google could block that app after something went wrong.

    Now this is not to say I'm all chicken little/the sky is falling over here. I have a perfectly reasonable level of trust in the effectiveness of the community policing the apps. But to insult those downloading anti-virus apps is a bit ignorant in my opinion.
    chanchan05, MSU Fan and rs2young like this.
  9. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande?

    I wouldn't log into your bank over a wifi other than your work's or home's. I also wouldn't transmit any passwords over any wifi you dont trust (which should be most any public wifi). There is one popular one for airports that's a company you pay for access that's reasonably trustworthy but I can't remember the name of it off my head. And you can probably trust something like starbucks, but you'll have to decide that for yourself.

    Also whenever possible be sure to use WPA or WPA2 encryption, WEP is crap and can be cracked in minutes.
  10. Mike Anthony

    Mike Anthony Member

    Im a bit ignorant to the whole Android OS and the security issue people talk about with this OS, but I think I can agree with this statement.
  11. barry99705

    barry99705 Android Expert

    I'd skip wpa as well. Though a good wpa password is okayish. WPA can be bruted if you have a dictionary password, in minutes as well. WPA2 is less susceptible, though it can be done as well. I've done wep in a minute twelve seconds, and wpa with a dictionary pass in about 5 minutes. A good password will change that several hundred years, with a cluster of supercomputers.
  12. Brynk

    Brynk Newbie

    now I'm getting confused.
    You're talking about the configuration on a router, right?
    Not on the Droid, right?
  13. JulieB

    JulieB Lurker

    so much stuff to learn with my new "toy"..... :)
  14. vincentp

    vincentp Android Expert

    Not everybody knows that Android is a Linux based OS, and even fewer of those people probably know how a Linux system works, or that it is highly resilient to malware. There's no need to make people feel stupid for doing something that they just assume is protecting their phone.

    I understand that you're just giving advice here, but that initial paragraph came across a little bit rude and condescending. If I were to run around asking everybody I know with an Android phone how much they know about Linux, 99% of them probably will have never even heard of it.
  15. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande?

    Both the router and the droid need to be configured to use the same encryption. Unfortunately WEP is the default on most routers because it's considered "easy."

    Really though he's right WPA2 is best.
  16. dragonriot

    dragonriot Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Assuming that I'm some adolescent who needs to express his machismo on an internet forum is exactly the kind of trolling that makes people afraid of malware and viruses on these phones. Linux in general is extremely resilient, and resistant even to Malware. Everything on the Market IS screened and yes, authors and developers CAN sign their own apps, but there are multiple levels to the Google Market, the first of which only a small portion of users have access to, for testing, after which the software is approved for the 2nd round of the market.

    My original post was directed at the current swarming of AV programs whose virus definitions are for WINDOWS MOBILE devices, because there are no viruses to define a heuristic pattern on any Linux based system. The whole idea of the GNU/Linux project - and people who hack it purposely - is to not only find security holes, but to them provide the community a method to fix the problem. It is a source of pride for Linux programmers to fix the holes they have exploited.

    My point was that the AV software available on the market right now is absolutely 100% useless, and will remain useless because we are using a 2.6 kernel, which is patched for pretty much every security flaw before it ever gets ported into the Android OS... Any security holes found in Android are immediately reported and patched by Google... so until people start REALLY Maliciously hacking Linux, which will NEVER happen because there isn't a large enough consumer base - and even then, the developer base that are doing it on purpose will be fixing the problems before the hackers can really do anything with it - you will NEVER need a virus scanner for Android.

    Ignorance being bliss, as it is... the people who are paying their $10.00 or whatever for a WINDOWS virus scanner ported to Android just make me laugh... People who are too lazy to do a little research and just trust that something that says "Anti Virus" is actually going to be beneficial... People who believe the POPUP on their Vista machine that says "Antivirus Pro has detected a virus on your system... click here to buy and install." How the hell did it detect it if it's not installed? oh, yeah... ITS MALWARE all by itself.

    By the way... before you come in here and insult the OP - me - it might help you to find out a little about my experience before calling me an adolescent. I've been building computers probably longer than you've owned a computer, working in Linux since Slackware was in its infancy, and teaching family, friends, and siblings about computer security since I was in 2nd grade.... my 10-year old son is an adolescent, and knows more about computer security than most high school graduates.

    ***Disclaimer*** I totally expect to get a warning for directly attacking someone in this post, but please mods, let it be known I was directly attacked, and I refrained from calling names or belittling anyone... I simply explained that it was useless, and defended myself. Kthx...
    pequeajim likes this.
  17. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande?

    I didn't assume your were an adolescent, I said you were behaving like one. And sure enough, you still are. You wave knowledge of Linux around like it's a badge of authority. Malware doesn't have to be a full fledged virus. You obviously know that too, except you pretend that it just cant happen to the "perfection" that is open source and Google.

    Do you get why that makes you sound narrow minded? As far as I know Google originally used some older libraries in Android with known security holes and was rightly criticized for it.

    Regardless, I feel it's a safe operating system and that you may very well have a valid complaint that the current crop of AV software on the market is useless. I also am a big supporter of open source and Google and Android. But to tell users that they should never worry because Google backs up everything in the cloud is silly, and bad advice.

    What you could have done that might have been helpful is to make aware users of how the permissions work. Perhaps you can share some of that Linux knowledge, eh? You could tell users what to watch out for, and what their options are, and even what a heuristic is.

    This is why I posted what I did. I apologize for my condescending tone, but your original post was of the same ilk.
  18. xentrik

    xentrik Lurker

    web browsing.. could this mess me up?

    i know some websites that are bad, give me trojans on my desktop PC, im not saying im going to use them, but what if there are websites or apps that load websites that may have spyware malware trojans or various bad guys..

    are these apps that run fishy websites, or browsing on some websites going to harm my precious little android

    is it at all possible?
  19. vonfeldt7

    vonfeldt7 Well-Known Member

    @ alostpacket I don't think he was coming off as rude, really. I agree with him that people who blindly purchase things based upon labels such as "Anti-Virus" without researching first have more money than brains and deserve to have their money taken.

    xentrik is a great example.. he/she is researching a bit before pulling the trigger, which I applaud. To answer xentrik's question.. I don't believe you have to much to worry about, because (as was mentioned earlier) Linux is an extremely well designed OS. Keep in mind, also, that any trojans, etc. have to be specially designed for a given system. A trojan designed for WinXP isn't going to do anything to Linux, for example. Anyways, I'll let someone who knows more than I do answer with a more comprehensive answer.
  20. Rolanda

    Rolanda Lurker

    I am very interested in the conversation that Android is safe to viruses. I had my entire music library delete before my eyes less than 24 hours after I downloaded imusic (app from market) which I gave permission to access my library. Afterwards, I downloaded 2 songs played them both several times. When I woke in the morning to play the song once again I was prompted with a phrase to the effect "this song is not formatted to be compatible with this player". I tried several songs from my original library all with the same prompt. I then turned off my phone. Rather than turning off it rebooted on its own. I quickly went to music to then see my entire library disappear. If this isn't a virus what could it be? I am concerned about mounting the phone to a computer, even though it's a mac.
  21. BiGMERF

    BiGMERF Extreme Android User

    getting lookout was a no brainer for me.. needed the location service, the anti virus was just a bomus
  22. dragonriot

    dragonriot Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I'll refrain from the protected music lecture, because really what you do with your own phone is entirely up to you. I see so many people talking about the great features of "i music" and I did download it the day I got my Droid... but after a few minutes of playing with it, I decided I would be better off with Pandora, or if I really wanted my phone to be filled with MP3s, to only fill it with songs from my own computer, derived from sources that I trust.

    The problem with "i music" is the permissions you give it. If I were using it again, I would absolutely make sure I don't save my regular MP3s in the same folder. "i music" obviously still has some bugs, so preventing it from having access to anything but the single folder it needs to download music to is extremely important. Don't get me wrong, the function of "i music" is extremely cool, and no different than limewire/napster.

    Some tips for preventing "i music" from deleting all your music in the future:

    Create a separate folder for all the MP3s you get from your computer, CDs, etc. Call it "MP3s" or something... Remember that Android folders are case sensitive, so if you're doing this from a terminal emulator (after rooting your phone) and you type "MP3s", "mp3s" will not work to navigate to that folder.

    When searching for songs, for instance "Soul Meets Body" by Death Cab for Cutie, you'll notice there's many different copies of the same song available. The giant sized 12-15MB versions of the song are 256-320kbit quality songs, something your phone can't even take advantage of. The highest quality mp3 stream that your phone CAN take advantage of is 192kbit, which is CD quality. These files are generally between 3-6MB, and won't fill up your SD card so fast.

    Only use "i music" to download songs, not manage your library. Use the built in media player, or some other Market media player that only has access to PLAY the songs, not change them. When you're done downloading songs with "i music" shut it off... kill it with a task killer, and make sure it's on a list to ALWAYS be shut down if it starts on its own. This will prevent it from being able to delete anything.I hope this helps, and good luck with your downloads.
  23. dragonriot

    dragonriot Newbie
    Thread Starter

    That's the thing MERF, the virus scanner attached to lookout contains a windows mobile virus database, a set of viruses that just can't infect Android.
  24. Rolanda

    Rolanda Lurker

    Dragonroit all of your knowledge and suggestions are appreciated. My library is backup in more than spot so gratefully I really lost nothing. I uninstalled imusic instantly and would rather, as you suggested get music from a source I trust. Ironically the song I downloaded was Crash by the Primitives. Being a mac user I am unfamiliar with the experience of a so called virus. (I'm not claiming this was a virus) In your experience would it be safe to mount the phone to the mac to then load music from itunes? I reformatted the SD card and uninstalled imusic.
  25. dragonriot

    dragonriot Newbie
    Thread Starter

    There's not much danger to phones in general on the web, unless you find yourself downloading executable programs from the internet all the time. The biggest threat to computers and phones is scripts, ActiveX, Java, Perl, whatever language the hostile jerk decides to write it in. The good thing about this, is that Android can't handle ActiveX, Java threats are few and far between because it's just too hard to write something that could harm your machine without your permission, and the people that actually know how to write in PERL and other programming languages that actually COULD be a threat to AndroidOS are professionals and not script kiddies who want to destroy your computer.

    Websites that your windows PC says are not safe, will generally be safe to a Mac or Linux machine, including iPhone and Android, because these sites have malware/viruses written specifically for Windows. Windows "users" generally have some delusion that everything they do is protected because of the built-in firewall and virus scanner. I will admit, the Windows 7 versions of these programs are absolutely wonderful, but still not as good as standalone software. Because of these thoughts of "my computer is safe", more attackers write malware and viruses for Windows than for any other Operating System on the market.

    When OSX and Linux have about a third of the share - OSX has about 10% and Linux has about 3-5% - of the home PC market, then you can start worrying about viruses being written for those operating systems. Until then, there's just not enough people who are trying to harm those OSes, rather they are trying to fix the holes in the OS because it's a small, tight knit community - in the case of Linux developers.

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