Wednesday, June 23, 2010

20% of Android Apps Are Potential Spyware? Not So Fast

I don't like hit pieces whether it's against Apple, Google, or anyone else. Even the despicable wireless providers if it's not true. And recently, a CNet article about 1/5 apps from the Android Market are spyware just is plain wrong.

Since the original post, CNet has done the right thing by posting a new headline but I'm afraid some damage might have been done. But it has gotten me thing about it. First a bit about the post. SMobile is the source of the article and its interest is to protect Android users. That's the politically correct part. The reality is that it is also trying to sell anti-virus apps to Android users.

There are two issues here. Fearmongering and dismissal of a potential problem. At issue is the permission being sought by apps when an user download it. That's fine and all. So long as the user understands what he or she is getting into, there should be no problem.

SMobile seems to be exploiting this by saying that 20% of Android apps have the same type of access to the system's information as a spyware would. That alone sounds very scary. Is it? I've wondered that myself. There has been past incidents of malicious apps.

However, those apps were disabled and taken off after their reporting. Here likes the dismissal. Google needs to proactive in assuring users that everyone is being done to make sure that they're keeping information safe. Instead of outright dismissing SMobile's claim, it needs to address it.

And maybe Google does need to provide a more rigorous approval process, maybe not a walled garden like the iPhone app store but at least some kind of fence.

And I'll be honestly, I don't have the same confidence in the Android Market as I do with the iTunes app store and the only apps I download are from top tier developers that I have engaged with in the past.

For smaller developers, they'll need help from Google to make sure claims such as the one from SMobile isn't necessarily true.

More at CNET, And FAQ on ow to protect oneself.

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