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Android security a lost topic for Google?

by Kristen Nicole

Android security remains a hefty issue for smartphone users as well as the platform owner, with a disheartening report emerging last week in the middle of Google’s I/O developer conference. Published by Juniper Networks’ Global Threat Center (JNPR), the report indicates a 400 percent increase in malware instances on Android devices since summer 2010. The increase is attributed to consumer disinterest, with mobile security education lagging far behind the rapid adoption for Android devices.

Uneducated consumers fall prey to cyber attacks

It’s this gap that cyber-attackers are taking advantage of, slipping malware onto devices through applications and other means. Consumers are trusting of even new technologies, especially those that emerge from familiar devices that have been well established for over a decade, and from companies that have been dealing with Internet communications for just as long. Security app makers are taking advantage of the rising need for Android security, as we noted a large influx of security apps in recent months. But it’s something all app makers need to consider, especially after Skype’s recent debacle where user info was leaked through its Android app. Even Adobe (ADBE) Flash has tightened security around its Android app, which had early vulnerabilities allowing an attacker to take control of the affected system.

Ice Cream Sandwich, Honeycomb 3.1 hold OS promise for apps and devices

Security wasn’t a focal point for Google I/O, though Google (GOOG) representatives did have to face a Senate hearing that same week, answering questions about Android’s location-based data collection methods and use. But the unveiling of Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of the Android OS, promises a number of fragmentation fixes. The constant upgrades will hopefully take security and cyber-attack threats into consideration, as Google’s mobile platform has already become a target for smartphone and tablet devices. Simply offering a unified platform will ease security requirements for app makers, limiting the portfolio of apps they’ll have to maintain.

While app developers are anxious to get their hands on Ice Cream Sandwich, device makers are excited about next-gen Android tablets as well. NVIDIA (NVDA) is particularly hopeful for Android 3.1 Honeycomb, improving on the company’s first round of Android tablets. NVIDIA is preparing to release thinner, lighter Android tablets featuring the recently revealed Honeycomb 3.1, expected on the market very soon. The manufacturer is also working closely with Google on Ice Cream Sandwich devices, though there's no word on when these will even be demoed.