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Symantec: Google Android is a ‘malware magnet’

No punches thrown yet, but plenty of bickering.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Symantec has called Android a "malware magnet" in a dispute with Google over whether users of the mobile OS should install antivirus.

The security firm previously concluded that mobile malware had "almost exclusively" targeted Android last year, prompting fears that were dismissed by Adrian Ludwig, lead engineer for Android security.

Marianne Davis, enterprise content strategy and analytics at Symantec, said: "Although statistics vary depending on the company and the intelligence gathered, the conclusion appears to be the same across the industry: Google’s Android is a malware magnet."

Last August 1,000 fraudulent apps were uploaded to the Google Play store, resulting in more than 8,500 downloads, according to the security firm.

"Currently, most malicious code for mobile devices consists of trojans that pose as legitimate applications or games," Davis said.

SimpleLocker ransomware has recently emerged on Android, frightening users into paying fees to have their phones unblocked by accusing them of watching child porn.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this month, Ludwig said: "In practice most people will never see a potentially harmful application from our data.

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"[In fact] most people won’t even know someone who has ever installed a potentially harmful application. I believe it is an overstated risk."

He added that Android antivirus provides no benefit to more than 99% of users, and is not needed on top of Google’s own security features.

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