Feeds

'Suspicious' Android wallpaper app nabs user data

Up to 4 million downloads

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

An Android wallpaper application that collected data from users' phones and uploaded it to a site in China was downloaded "millions of times", according to mobile security firm Lookout.

Kevin MaHaffey, chief technology officer at Lookout, used Jackeey Wallpaper as an example of the wider risk faced by smartphone users during a presentation at the Black Hat security conference in Vegas on Wednesday.

Jackeey Wallpaper was uploaded to the Android Market, offering wallpaper themed around Star Wars, My Little Pony, and other popular themes. But according to Lookout, the application also collects a device’s phone number, subscriber identifier, and the currently entered voicemail number. This data was then uploaded to a server in China.

Though some press reports indicated the data was used or nefarious purposes, MaHaffey has now said in a blog post that Lookout cannot actually say that this is the case. "While this sort of data collection from a wallpaper application is certainly suspicious, there’s no evidence of malicious behavior," he writes. "There have been cases in the past on other mobile platforms where well-intentioned developers are simply over-zealous in their data gathering, without having malicious intent."

Imprecise download records from the Android Market suggest the app was downloaded anywhere between 1 million to 4 million times. Lookout ran across Jackeey Wallpaper as potentially suspicious during its App Genome Project, which is attempting to analyse how smartphone applications behave. Around half (47 per cent) of Android apps access third-party code, a behaviour repeated by 23 per cent of iPhone, according to Lookout. Third-party apps perform functions such as serve ads, for example.

John Hering, Lookout chief executive, said that Google and Apple were adequately policing their application stores. Nonetheless, problem apps may make it through screening, as the Jackeey Wallpaper incident demonstrates, and developers and end-users both need to be wary of potential problems, Lookout warns.

“Even good apps can be modified to turn bad after a lot of people download it,” MaHaffey said, Mobile Venture Beat reports. “Users absolutely have to pay attention to what they download. And developers have to be responsible about the data that they collect and how they use it.” ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.