How Secure Is Your Android Device For A Digital Transaction?

There are more the 2 billion active Android devices, making it by far the largest operating system in the world

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We either use Google's Android or Apple's iOS as an operating system (OS) for our mobile devices. But Android is leading the game.

There are more the 2 billion active Android devices, making it by far the largest operating system in the world. In the Indian market, as per industry metrics, there are more than 300 million smartphones users in India, who are again dominated by Android.

Open Source Code, where a large number of people can work to expand and create the diverse user experience, is one of the important reasons behind Android's success. The same technology raises an important concern i.e. with the majority of Indians using this OS, is an Android phone safe enough for digital transactions?

Trojans and Keyloggers

Once you download an application which is not secure, photo morphing apps for example, it might start tapping your data from the device. Advocate Puneet Bhasin, Cyber Law Expert of Cyberjure Legal Consulting said, "If you ever read the terms and conditions of such applications, they seek to access your contact book, location, messaging box. Practically, they have a proxy access to you."

These applications introduce Trojans and keyloggers to your phones. A Trojan can remotely access your phone to switch it on and off or take photographs, etc. On the other hand, keyloggers notify every touch you make on the screen to a third party.

"Unknowingly, you have authorized a third party to examine your messaging application and the fraudster uses it to access your bank accounts. This is how money goes missing from your bank account even when you have never accessed the OTP," Bhasin said. "In such situations, you will blame the mobile service provider or your bank, but never think that your device might also be at fault," she stressed.

"Compare it to your debit card or credit card pin, which you punch at a PoS machine or an ATM. You know it is encrypted and safe but is it the case with your mobile pins? Probably no," said Laxmi Ramakrishnan, Director of Risk Services – India and South Asia, Visa India.

Android V/S iOS

Mohit Agarwal, a software engineer working with Deltecs InfoTech Pvt. Ltd maintained that Apple's iOS is much safer as the company has stringent rules for application developers to list apps on the play store. This is not the case with Android, making it vulnerable to malware, he pointed out.

Bhasin, who is also an Apple user, though partially agreed with Mohit but added at the same time, "I am not saying Apple's iOS is the best but according to me Blackberry was better as their OS was closed source."

So, What's Next?

In Bhasin's view, open source needs to be controlled. It is good for developing technology but for financial security, where the stake is much higher, you need more secured platforms.

The need of the hour is to have regulation in place, similar to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), for mobile applications, said Ramakrishna. Just like the third party fraudsters, even companies have access to user data, she added. It is all about how they use in the interest of customers.

"If the information can be entered into Artificial Intelligence machine system or an analytical model, the feeds, over a period of time will help you understand whether the action was taken by the customer or a third-party fraudster. This in future can avoid frauds," she added.

Meanwhile, if you are an Android owner and if this concerns you, be mindful of the apps you download and consider investing in an anti-spyware or anti-malware to secure your device.