A string of malicious applications dumped on the Android app store over the weekend have triggered calls for developer fees and security controls to be increased.
As it stands, anyone can infect thousands of phones with money-making malware using a $25 developers' license bought from Google.
Google touted its one-time fee, the cheapest of any app store, as a means "to encourage higher quality products on the market - less spammy products".
But the irony was that Google's app store has been battered by mountains of malware because the money made from infecting devices with applications such as premium phone dialers dwarfed the $25 fee.
And unlike Apple, Google did not vet the integrity of applications before they hit the app store. Policing on the app store boiled down to a developer agreement and customer reports.
The malicious apps that hit Google's anarchistic app store over the weekend were loaded with premium dialers and were downloaded about 14,000 times before they were taken down, according to researchers at security firm Lookout.
Sophos principle virus researcher Vanja Svajcer said the $25 fee made Google's open app store model easy to abuse.
“The cost of becoming a developer and being banned by Google is much lower than the money that can be earned by publishing malicious apps,” Svajcer said.
“The requirements for becoming an Android developer that can publish apps to the Android market are far too relaxed.”
By comparison, Apple charges developers $100 per year for a developer account; Windows $100 a year for five submissions; BlackBerry $200 for 10 submissions and Nokia charges an initial €50.
Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia
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