Websense slams Motorola Android ad campaign on security grounds

The criticism – from Amy Steier, Websense’s principal technology researcher – comes against the backdrop of a rising number of malware infections and other security issues with the Android smartphone and tablet computing platform and, of course, Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s mobile phone operation earlier in the year.

According to Steier, the latest ad from Motorola shows a leather-clad motorcycle rider on a dramatic high-speed chase to capture the latest Droid. “This explosive, precision-timed heist is worthy of a Mission Impossible movie scene”, she says in her latest security posting.

The commercial, she explains, clearly gives the impression that Droid users live on the edge, shunting danger.

“This might actually be true in an unintentionally strange way. At Websense Labs, we study the web-use habits of mobile device users and yes, in fact, this is exactly the profile of an Android user”, she says, adding that, while iPhone users are busy listening to music and watching videos, Android users are surfing through some of the most dangerous areas of the web.

Steier and her team have been analysing the web sites and apps that smartphone users visit/download/use and have concluded that the open nature of Android development has proven that there is more risk.

Anybody, she says, can take a legitimate Android app and repackage it with malware, meaning that the average person will not be able to tell the difference until it's too late.

“When we study where customers are really getting their apps, once again, you can see that the Android users are living dangerously. While iPhone users almost exclusively get their apps from Apple (with its formal approval process), Android users clearly have no problem downloading apps from a wide spectrum of completely unsanctioned marketplaces”, she asserts.

Because of these issues, she says, the question of `too powerful to fall into the wrong hands?’ is not such a ridiculous question.

“With power comes risk, and if you are not aware of the risk and/or unwilling to take precautions, then that would indeed be the wrong hands”, she concludes.


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