US top developer of risky mobile applications

For non-modified iPhones and Android devices, American companies create the highest number of questionable apps

A new report identifies the U.S. as the top developer of malicious and privacy-intruding applications, a finding that contrasts with conventional wisdom that often places the problem squarely in Asia.

Marble Security, which focuses on mobile security, looked at countries with developers that published applications that were either directly malicious, handled data insecurely or posed a potential privacy risk.

The research focused on application marketplaces that are considered the most secure: Google's Play and Apple's App Store. Marble also limited its study just to those applications that were not designed for modified devices, thus excluding apps for jailbroken iPhones or rooted Android devices.

More than 42 percent of the dangerous apps came from companies or publishers that identified as being in the U.S., Marble found.

The report said it may be true that Chinese or Russian app developers are responsible for developing most of the malicious applications for tampered devices.

But "it's a common misconception that the risk of using mobile devices is limited to jailbroken or rooted devices in Asia, and apps that are downloaded from fly-by-night app stores other than the Apple App Store or Google Play," Marble's report said.

Marble analyzed applications for a range of sketchy behavior, such as if an app sent data without a user's knowledge, sent premium rate SMSes, collected a user's contacts or displayed unwanted advertising.

Applications with intrusive functions can often escape quality control checks by app stores, Marble said. Apple maintains tight control over its App Store to keep the quality of applications high, while Google also checks applications in Play for malicious behavior. But it's not perfect.

"For example, an app may request access to your contact database, but does not disclose the fact that it uploads your entire contact database to third party servers, perhaps insecurely, and that this data is sold or used to target your contacts who might be colleagues at work," Marble said.

That could pose problems for enterprises trying to guard sensitive data on employees' phones.

"Consumers and businesses need to pay close attention to what apps they download on their mobile devices, even if those devices are not jailbroken or rooted," Marble said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacymobilemobile applicationsMarble Security

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?