Hackers Prefer Android to Windows: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Leading security firm Sophos has revealed that Google's Android operating system (OS) -- and not Microsoft's Windows -- is now the favorite operating system for hackers to target.

Sophos revealed that finding in its newly released 2013 Security Threat Report. The firm says that during a three-month time frame, one in every ten Android-based devices was the target of some kind of malware attack.

By comparison, only six per cent of Windows devices were targeted by hackers and other purveyors of malware. (Source: forbes.com)

This is the first time since the 1990s that Windows has not been the primary target for hackers.

Android Usage Rapidly Rising

It's understandable that hackers are adjusting their focus to that operating system, given Android's rapidly rising popularity.

Twenty years ago virtually every computer ran the Windows operating system, but in recent years Android and Apple's Mac OS X have significantly cut into Microsoft's share of the OS market.

For example, more than 100 million new Android devices were shipped during the second quarter of 2012. Industry analyst firm IDC has more recently reported an increase of 136 million Android devices during 2012's third quarter.

In addition, Apple and Google have established a huge presence in the smartphone market, while Microsoft lags behind there.

Fake Apps Cause Real Problems for Android Users

Hackers have learned to use a special type of tactic when targeting Android machines. According to Sophos, "the most common business model for Android malware attacks is to install fake apps that secretly send expensive messages to premium rate SMS services." (Source: technologyreview.com)

For example, fake versions of Angry Birds, Instagram, and Android antivirus applications have all been deployed as means to take advantage of Android users.

Android Antivirus Programs Rare

Nevertheless, Android antivirus and anti-malware programs remain relatively underutilized within the Android environment.

Experts are advising Android users to be very careful about the websites they visit, the applications they download, and the links they open.

In its report, Sophos encourages Android users to pay close attention to the reputation of each application developer when choosing an app to download and install.

Sticking to the most popular apps on Google's Play store is another way to help keep your system clean and clear of a nasty malware infection.

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