App stores: A security time bomb?

With more and more app stores popping up, are we about to see a significant rise in threats within these virtual stores?

This brings more fuel to the fiery debate around open vs closed systems in the IT world.

Day said from his perspective, the Android store appeared not to have the same degree of "rigour" as the Apple option.

At the time of publication, Google had not responded to a request for comment on Day's suggestions.

According to Cox, closed systems like Apple's App Store (and now Mac App Store) are inherently safer.

However, she recognised the importance of open systems, which could be seen as somewhat more "user friendly."

"It's trying to get the balance of the two," Cox told IT PRO.

"Of course, on the Android side there is going to be a time-lag between something being released that is malicious and it being removed from the marketplace but then you can argue it is more user friendly, users have greater access to applications."

She also noted how Apple's system was inherently more secure, but it takes longer for apps to go up on the store.

"There is no perfect solution," Cox added.

Going unofficial

Whilst there appear to be limited threats on official stores, unofficial ones are somewhat more risky.

The blame would lie at users' doors if their phone became infected after a visit to an unofficial store, but as we have seen with illegal downloading of music and film files, people often do not care about officialdom.

A recent threat seen by Symantec named Gemini was seen propagating from an unofficial source in China, for example.

Whilst it seems these stores are not yet widely used, Cox has seen more spring up in recent times.

"It'll be really interesting to see ... how relaxed people are going to be with what they place on their phones," Cox said.

"Will we see the same approach on mobile phones as we've seen on PCs where people are just a little bit more lax about it?"

The same, it seems, would go for jailbroken, or homebrew, apps.

The message at the minute is clear though: whilst the number of app threats are far from frightening, users and businesses alike need to be sensible about what they download.

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