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How Android users can overcome LeNa malware, slow carrier updates

Android users can't rely on slowly deployed carrier updates to protect them from the LeNa malware. Expert Nick Lewis explains.

Could you describe the evolving threat of the Legacy Native (LeNa) malware to Android devices, particularly now that the newest version affects non-rooted Android devices? How can users whose devices don't receive the latest Android updates protect themselves from LeNa malware?

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In a blog post, Lookout Mobile Security provides some details about the LeNa malware and some potential steps Android users can take to protect their phones. The LeNa malware first uses the Gingerbreak exploit to root the phone and then the malware takes over the phone. So far, LeNa malware has only been detected on non-Google application stores. However, it is only a matter of time before attackers create malware that infects and controls a large number of smartphones in a similar manner as desktops. Smartphone OSes are generally more secure than desktop OSes, but even the most secure systems can be compromised.

One of the challenges associated with protecting smartphones against malware is that the carriers control a large part of the update process and may not deploy updates. In this case, third-party security applications can help reduce the risk of malware infection. Still, carriers should be pressured to deploy updates on a regular and reasonable schedule. Android mobile device users have many of the same preconceived notions as Mac users regarding security, namely that their devices won't be infected by the likes of the LeNa malware or have other security issues. If Google continues to strengthen the security of the Android ecosystem, the risks evolving from this expectation will be effectively reduced.

This was last published in November 2012

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