donderdag 2 augustus 2012

Android Mallware clearly Hogwash!


 As a seasoned (12 years) GNU/Linux user I have my doubts about the Android Mallware FUD which journalists have been slinging around the past weeks, in the corporate controlled propaganda media.

From a advanced GNU/Linux user's point of view, the FUD is pretty laughable :-)

A few facts.

 Android is based on Linux and uses a similar file system hierarchy, including similar security control.

Now in essence, it is out of the question that apps have write access to the file system, other than FAT formatted media, like sdcards and USB Thumb drives.

There for mallware doesn't stand a chance on Android. Mallware needs to copy itself to another existing file to multiply, which is impossible if write access is denied by default.

The (mallware) app requires root access.

Unless the gadget is "rooted". And a stock Android ROM is *never* rooted and thus root access will never be granted to the (mallware) app. Game Over!

Update: Homer contributed in comp.os.linux.advocacy:

It's not just FUD, it's an outright lie. The so-called "viruses" for
Android have to be voluntarily downloaded, installed and run by the
users, which classifies them as malware for dummies, not "viruses".

One might as well describe "rm -fr /" as a "virus" too.

None of it has any bearing on Linux security. At all. It certainly has
no bearing on Free Software security, since every single example of this
malware has been proprietary. Naturally. That's what you get for running
mystery binary blobs from untrusted sources.

Of course, the anti-virus companies, who are the self-interested source
of this propaganda, would like us to believe otherwise.

 Update: Bob Hauck contributed in comp.os.linux.advocacy:

It is actually tighter than that. For example, /system is mounted 
read-only and each app runs as a different user.
Update: Homer also contributed in comp.os.linux.advocacy:
It also utilises a mandatory access control mechanism similar to
SELinux contexts, and sandboxes apps into their own address spaces.
I was too generous in the previous version of this post, because Homer added this to the discussion on comp.os.linux.advocacy:
Just out of curiosity I tried several antivirus apps for Android.
The first few found nothing. Kaspersky didn't do anything at all,
it must only check newly created files, since there's no scanner.
Finally I tried "Dr. Web Lite", which found something called "not
a Virus Adware.Startapp.origin.0" in the file "hyperspacelite_10"
(a screensaver). It turns out this "malware" is nothing more than
the perfectly legitimate advertising code built into ad-supported
freeware, and not exactly clandestine either given that it places
a rather conspicuous "search" button on the launcher, which links
to an affiliate search sponsor. I'm sure the antivirus profiteers
simply "forgot" to mention that their sensationalist "statistics"
are based on utter bullshit like this, though.

This is on a two year-old, heavily used, rooted SGS with a couple
of hundred apps, many of which are "hacker" oriented and obtained
outside the market.

Android is "doomed".
 I can confirm this. Used the UBEROiD custom ROM on my TomTech WM8650 7" Tablet and never had mallware on this rooted device. And yeah, Android is clearly "doomed" with 1 million activations per day! (Notice that Homer is parodying the insane DFS Microsoft Astroturfer, with this laughable statement :-)

Exploiting Windows User's Incompetence.

I never understood why adoption of Desktop GNU/Linux didn't took off that well, but that's out of the scope of this post. On the other hand Android is clearly adopted by the masses.

What we see is that the majority of Android users are long term Windows users as well, who struggle to some extend with Android on a technological merit.

They have been deceived in the way how Anti-Everything-Ware will grand them (the illusion of) a secure system. Not realising that all this overpriced Anti-Everything-Junk is nothing but a placebo. Since Android enjoys mass adoption, providers of Anti-Everything-Ware are trying to sell their products to Android users.

In case you've missed it: you are paying for your own placebo-effect! Purchasing Anti-Virus software.

The solution.

You as a Android user and certainly in case you are a Chef* can educate yourself by installing GNU/Linux on your desktop or laptop and learn about Linux, the file hierarchy and its security control.

After you have educated yourself, you will understand how laughable and pathetic the claims of the Android Mallware FUDsters are. Have a good laugh and a lot of Fun, educating yourself ;-)

Installing GNU/Linux in a virtual machine.

If you are scared to install GNU/Linux on your Windows machine as a dual boot system, you can always install your preferred GNU/Linux distribution on Top of Windows, as a Virtual Machine. What you'll need is a VM application like VirtualBox and a ISO image of your preferred GNU/Linux distribution.

It is out of the scope of this post, to teach you how to install a virtual machine, yet there are 100's of tutorials and even instruction videos on the World Wide Web for free!

* Chef is Android Hacker Slang for a person who creates (Cooks) custom Android ROM's.

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