Lately, Google has had to make use of their remote application removal feature, a move that they've only had to use a few times in the past to kill off applications that can cause harm and have already been downloaded on to devices.
It was discovered by Google earlier this week that many malicious apps had made it onto the Android Market and that some of these were already on user's phones. According to the update from Google Mobile's official blog, these applications took advantage of vulnerabilities on Android phones with builds earlier than 2.2.2 (Android 2.2.2 devices and higher are safe in this case).
They say that the affected devices may have had some information compromised:
" we believe that the only information the attacker(s) were able to gather was device-specific (IMEI/IMSI, unique codes which are used to identify mobile devices, and the version of Android running on your device). But given the nature of the exploits, the attacker(s) could access other data, which is why we‚Äôve taken a number of steps to protect those who downloaded a malicious application"
Furthermore, they have removed said applications from the Android Market and taken the above precaution of remotely killing applications on devices. They are also releasing an Android Market security update to those devices to undo the exploits and "prevent the hackers from accessing any more information from affected devices."
They will also be adding security measures in order to help prevent applications with similar exploits from being released on the market.
There's a difficult balance between being open and being restricted, as we have seen in the past with devices like Apple's iPhone and iPad. Many will say that Apple is too restricted, perhaps they are right. However, Apple has also been able to to fairly well to keep their platform safe from malicious applications, and will kill such Apps in an instant, without second thought, if they must. Some may also remember a while back when Apple was confirmed to have a 'kill switch' (it was originally reported that such a kill switch did not exist, until the function was later confirmed by Apple) that would allow them to remotely remove applications that could cause harm to one's device or steal private information without the user's knowledge.
This was of course back in 2008, before smartphones had fully taken off and become more of a standard than a luxury, and he defended Apple's stance by saying, "Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull."