Google Activating Kill Switch On Apps, Receives Scrutiny

Google has been the subject of plenty finger-pointing lately as result to the company policing a few applications on its Android Marketplace. The company this past week activated a kill switch on two specific applications that were seemingly designed for promotional purposes. While Google said that these apps werent design to be malicious, they were in fact projecting misleading information to influence more downloads of the software. It was then declared that the situation was a theoretical example of how to develop a method the spread malevolent software and create a botnet of hijacked mobile devices among the Android system. Apple has revealed in the past that they have the same kill switch-like ability for their platform, which received much attention despite the company never actually activating the function for any of the over 230,000 applications of the App Store stretching to this day. However, Google has garnered heat of the situation being that the company has always marketed their alternative to their competitors as completely open.

Recently, we became aware of two free applications built by a security researcher for research purposes. These applications intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. As the applications were practically useless, most users uninstalled the applications shortly after downloading them.

Security has been mentioned plenty of times by experts as one of things that Android harshly lacks and one of the main reasons the enterprise doesnt embrace and adapt the devices that the mobile operating system runs. CNET constructed a report of the alarmingly high prospective for malicious activity on the Androids Marketplace.

About 20 percent of the 48,000 apps in the Android marketplace allow a third-party application access to sensitive or private information, according to a report released on Tuesday.

A little over 80% of the applications on the software distribution medium are not potentially malicious, however, spyware has been said to be a more than likely threat to the platform. Google controverted that the issue is not a threat to the software and pointed out the users must explicitly allow applications to transmit select personal data they choose. Even though the statement proves true, Jon Lech Johansen explains how the lack of curation within the Androids Marketplace is damaging to the quality of the platform.

Google does far too little curation of the Android Market, and it shows. Unlike Apples App Store, the Android Market has few high quality apps.

Below are just a few examples of whats wrong with the Android Market. Those 144 spam ringtone apps (which are clearly infringing copyright) are currently cluttering the top ranks of the Multimedia category. I was not surprised to find that they were being monetized through Google Ads.
(images provided below)

Comments

7 Responses to “Google Activating Kill Switch On Apps, Receives Scrutiny”

  1. Chase on June 29th, 2010 1:14 pm

    This is a pretty big misrepresentation of the android marketplace. You can say the same about the high quality to low quality ratio in apple’s app store, and the fact that there is a picture of top free that has all those ringtone apps by the same person in a row is pretty ridiculous. I do know that there is a better chance of having malicious apps in google’s store than in apples but there are apps that also check for viruses ect. and in all the apps I have downloaded not one has been malicious.

  2. SuperGeek on June 29th, 2010 2:30 pm

    Yeah, Read about this in the NYT yesterday morning. Well, Google seems to have egg on their face in this incident.

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