The extent of vulnerabilities in this domain, are significant and a report on ARS Technica last Friday documented statistics from Juniper Networks showing Android malware increased 500% since May 2011. This is on top of an increase of 400% from Summer 2010 to May 2011. When one consider the recent Ofcom Communications Market Report from August 2011 showing that 27% of UK adults and 47% of teenagers own smartphones (with 59% obtaining them in the last year) the implications of malware growth for UK citizens are increasingly significant. Within these statistics a large component of smartphone ownership are Android devices, and on a global level Android remain the dominant OS for smartphones with a 52.5% dominance in 2011 Q3. The Tech Weekly report highlighted, perhaps obviously, that downloading of 'apps' from the app market places are the primary source of malware in smartphone handsets. The importance of this are when one considers the distinct ideologies of retained manufacturer control over app marketplaces that create fragmented domains of threats. The arbitrarily imposed and commercially guided parameters that entities like Apple, RIM, Windows and Google define can result in significant implications for mobile security. Furthermore, these governance procedures develop an environment where the user trades their relative freedom (to interact with content outside these arbitrary parameters) for a secure enclosed environment.
What these developments suggest is that the business models of different smartphone platforms and app stores can increase vulnerabilities of consumers to malware, and consequently the negativity of their consumer experience. Instead of moving solely to systems where imbalanced levels of control are vested in the manufacturer, new business models from the antivirus market seem to provide a means of protecting consumers whilst still allowing more 'open' app distribution domains to survive.In this regard, smartphone malware could appear as a dominant driver that will push consumers to vote with their feet and force new business models for smartphone manufacturers.The issues shall be will this be the less creative but more secure cosy sheltered domain of Apple or the wild 'open' and 'generative' app marketplaces. It seems to me that the most positive outcome is retention of the creative platforms, but increased integration with AV companies sniffing out threats and warding off wayward outlaws, whilst allowing the user relative freedom to continue on their own self determined path.
Note 1 - This Wired article highlights the issues with cybercrime statistics and to take them as indicating a problem but perhaps with a pinch of salt, the huge figures cited of 900% increase in smartphone malware since Summer 2010 may be such an example... http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/12/ideas-bank/cybercrime-stats