Android Owners: What, Me Worry?


When it comes to cell phone security, Android owners are the Alfred E. Neuman of smartphone owners, according to a new study. A Retrevo survey found four in 10 (39%) of Android users haven't done anything to prevent someone from misusing data on their cell phone if it were lost or stolen. That compares to 30% of BlackBerry owners and 26% of iPhone owners.

Further, only 32% of Android owners think their cell phones can get malware, while 27% aren't sure. That's a bit surprising given the much-publicized problems the Google platform has had with malware. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million people were affected by Android malware in the first half of 2011, according to a new report from Lookout Mobile Security.

Following a malware attack in March, Google was forced to pull more than 50 apps from the Android Market and disable them remotely.

Moreover, Android users are two and a half times as likely to encounter malware today than six months ago, and three out of 10 are likely to get hit with a Web-based security threat on their device each year. The Retrevo study pointed out that the more stringent process Apple employs for vetting apps makes the App Store much less susceptible to threat of malware.(Jailbroken iPhones are another story.)

Even so, Android users are generally more lax about taking security precautions on their devices. For example, almost two-thirds of BlackBerry owners are most likely to have password protection on their phones, compared to only 49% of Android users. Fewer Android owners also know how to recover a lost phone than iPhone or BlackBerry users.

Besides using a pass code to unlock phones, Retrevo also recommends using anti-virus or anti-malware apps if you install a lot of apps. There are also various tools and services available for tracking down lost devices.

But there are issues cell users run into for which there is no painless software remedy. In that vein, the 36% of people surveyed said they had, or knew someone, who had dropped their cell phone in the toilet. And 31% said the same about a phone dropping in a pool or other body of water. Here's a question the survey didn't answer in the former instance: Will it flush? End of bathroom humor.

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