November 18, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Chris DiBona is no fan of mobile anti-virus software, and he’s not afraid to say it. DiBona took to Google+ to decry companies who, as he believes, stoke fear and misinformation about mobile device “virus” threats in order to sell software.
“Yes, virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs protection software for Android, RIM and IOS,” DiBona wrote in a public Google+ post. “They are charlatans and scammers. IF you work for a company selling virus protection for android, rim or IOS you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Wow, Chris. Tell ‘em how you really feel.
DiBona’s post was inspired by a recent article that depicted open source software as ‘inherently insecure’ and implied Android, based on open source software and lacking the tight controls displayed by Apple, is persistently open to viruses. DiBona called shenanigans in a post that I suggest you read in its entirety, but if you need a shorthand version: mobile ‘virus’ talk is FUD designed to drum up sales for security vendors.
It’s important to note that DiBona does not include IT security or device management as unnecessary; he’s referring strictly to the implication that mobile devices face the same virus threats as the traditional desktop model and must employ the same protection software. We’ve taken a similar position – though I wouldn’t go so far as to call anyone a scammer or say they should be ashamed of their job.
There are definitely useful features in some mobile security apps, but the whole anti-virus protection angle doesn’t really accomplish anything. Some apps help identify potential malware threats, but the usefulness of the genre questionable. I’ve used dozens of Android devices and clocked more hours on the platform than most, and have yet to be exposed to a virus or any form of malware. Why? Because I don’t download from shady sources, I consider permission requests, and Google is pretty good about quickly addressing the malware that tries to get into the Android Market. Before you say “You’re an early adopter, you know better,” I’ll leave you with this: my brother and father, who are not technically-inclined at all, have been Android users for 2 years without incident.