Android security holes vex mobile users

Li Bei plans to get rid of his Android-using smartphone after being bombarded with pop-up ads and malware.

"I was in big trouble after I downloaded several online games from the Android application store. The software conflicted with each other, and I had to delete spam the following week," said Li, a native of Shandong province who has used Android for more than four years.

He said the last straw was when the applications shut down his smartphone and deleted his contacts list. After that, he decided to buy a new phone that uses another operating system.

Li is not alone.

In 2013, more than 703,000 malware programs were found in mobile cyberspace, an increase of at least threefold over the past year, according to a report by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team and Coordination Center.

The report also said that more than 99.5 per cent of malware targets the Android OS.

The Android system is popular for its open source, its biggest advantage, "but that also brings with it a failure of app supervision and risks in mobile security", said Ning Jiajun, a researcher of the Advisory Committee for State Information.

According to the report, the top malware were those promising to reduce cellphone fees, followed by those that destroy the operating system and steal users' information.

In addition, operators of some app stores also lack supervision and verification of applications, according to He Nengqiang, who specializes in mobile security and works for the centre.

To alleviate the increasingly serious mobile attack and boost self-discipline of network enterprises and app-store operators, a "white list" of trusted software companies was established last year, said Yan Hanbing, deputy director of the centre's operation department.

Nine companies, including Qihoo 360 and Kingsoft Security, two leading Chinese network security enterprises, are on the list, "which means the security of applications designed by these companies can be highly ensured", he said.

"Each application on the list will be labelled in app stores, which is easy for users to distinguish," he said.