Chinese Android app stores pose malware risk

The growing popularity of Google’s Android in China plus Google’s seemingly rocky relationship with the Chinese government has given rise to third-party Android app stores in China.

But along with the rise of these app stores is the rise in the risk of getting malware, computer security firm Trend Micro said.

“As most of the app stores in China are relatively small by global comparison, the resources required to maintain effective levels of application monitoring and testing are not available. This leaves them open to a greater likelihood of hosting malicious applications. It is therefore up to the individual user to attempt to ensure a sufficient level of security of their device, the first step of which is to be vigilant in only downloading and installing trustworthy apps,” it said in a blog post.

It noted the third-party stores also offer repackaged apps and pirates applications as well.

Most applications in the stores are free as the developers make money from advertisements embedded in their apps, Trend Micro noted.

Trend Micro said the rise of the third-party app stores in China is due in part to the rocky relationship between Google and CHina’s government.

“It has been reported that access to the Google Android Market has been intermittent since 2009 (Access to the Android Market was last reported blocked in October, but was unblocked again three days after),” it said.

Such inconvenience in accessing the Android Market can be considered a big factor in the Chinese users’ preference on where to get their Android apps, it said.

Started as online forums

Trend Micro noted some of the earlier third-party app stores started as online forums for some Android fans.

When the Android Market became inaccessible to China-based users last year, the forums became popular among Android developers and users.

Presently, there are about 20 Chinese third-party app stores. — TJD, GMA News

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