Why do malicious Android apps come from China?

It seems like every time we hear about a malicious application aimed at Android users, it is always distributed by third-party Chinese app markets.

You might wonder why the Chinese seem to have a preference for these markets over the official Google Android Market, and the answer is simple: given the Chinese government ‘s often shaky relationship with Google and its penchant for online censorship, access to the official market is often blocked for one reason or another.

“The inconvenience in accessing the Android Market, one not experienced by users from other countries, can be considered a big factor in the Chinese users’ preference in terms of where to download their Android applications,” point out Trend Micro researchers.

These third-party stores popped up when access to the official market was impossible. They started as online forums where Android users gathered, shared their knowledge and discussed various topic, but in time some developers begun offering their (often free) applications for download.

Some 20 or so third-party app stores are currently operating in China, and as popular they are with the country’s Android users (who represent 16 percent of Chinese smartphone users), most of them are quite small and the people who run them lack the funds to thoroughly test submitted application.

It’s no wonder, then, that cyber crooks prefer to use them to disseminate their malicious applications, along with crooks distributing pirated and repackaged applications. And with the continuing growth of Android users, the targeted public keeps getting bigger.

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Why do malicious Android apps come from China?