Never let a competitor's stumble go to waste. That appears to be Microsoft's strategy, as it is giving away Windows Phones to five Android users following a malware scare on Android Market.
Microsoft's Ben Rudolph announced the giveaway on Twitter earlier this week. "More malware on Android!", he wrote. "Share yr #droidrage story to win a #windowsphone upgrade," he added. "5 best (worst?) win!"
Google removed about two dozen apps on the Android Market this week because of indications the apps were infected with malware. The move came after Lookout Security, a San Francisco-based company, reported to Google the problems in those apps.
Android Market 'Too Relaxed'
The malware, which Lookout called RuFraud, is intended to send text messages to premium phone numbers from smartphones in Europe, Russia, and some parts of Asia, which would result in revenues for the perpetrators. The infected products included horoscope apps, wallpapers related to the Twilight movie series, and fake accessories to Angry Birds and Cut the Rope games.
Lookout previously found malware in the Android Market on three occasions, resulting in 80 apps being removed by Google from the store. There have been complaints from security specialists that Google does not more actively scan apps in the store for malicious software. Lookout has said that a U.S.-based Android user has a 40 percent chance of clicking on an unsafe link.
Security firm Sophos recently wrote on its company blog that the requirements for becoming an Android developer "are far too relaxed." While Sophos noted Google acted quickly to remove the offending apps, it added that the "attacks on Android Market will continue as long as the developer requirements stay too relaxed."
'Charlatans and Scammers'
A report released in November from security firm McAfee on global security threats found a 37 percent increase in Android-targeted malware in the third quarter this year. The European Network and Information Security Agency, part of the European Union, recommended earlier this fall that apps stores unify around security standards.
Microsoft's offer comes as its major hardware partner in Windows Phone 7, Nokia, is launching its first Windows Phone device in the U.S. on Jan. 11, the Lumia 710.
In November, Google open source advocate Chris DiBona wrote on his Google+ account that "there have been some little things" in relation to viruses on major cell phones, but "they haven't gotten very far due to the user sandboxing models and the nature of the underlying kernels."
He said that virus companies "are playing on your fears" by trying to sell protection software for Android, Research In Motion and iOS, and DiBona called them "charlatans and scammers." While DiBona did exclude "those tools that manage devices" in a corporate IT department from his scorn, he didn't directly address the kinds of malware that Lookout has discovered in the Android Market.
Posted: 2011-12-14 @ 6:43pm PT
It is just incredible that Google still doesn't scan apps for malware before it approves their placement in the market.