Feeds

First SMS Trojan for Android is in the wild

Premium rate scam will cost Google phoners dear

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Updated The first text message-based Trojan to infect smartphones running Google's Android operating system has been detected in the wild.

Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer-A poses as a harmless media player application and has already infected a number of mobile devices, Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab warns. Prospective marks are prompted to install a "media player file" of just over 13 KB with the standard Android .APK extension.

Once installed, the Trojan begins sending SMS messages to premium-rate numbers without the owner’s knowledge or consent, as explained in a technical write-up by computer security researcher Jon Oberheide here. Victims wind up with a huge bill while the cybercrooks behind the scheme earn a slice of the income. The scam has only affected Android smartphone users in Russia.

In a statement, Google said its existing permission controls guard against this type of scam, which only exists for applications published outside the Android Marketplace.

Our application permissions model protects against this type of threat. When installing an application, users see a screen that explains clearly what information and system resources the application has permission to access, such as a user's phone number or sending an SMS. Users must explicitly approve this access in order to continue with the installation, and they may uninstall applications at any time.

We consistently advise users to only install apps they trust. In particular, users should exercise caution when installing applications outside of Android Market.

There have been isolated cases of devices running Android getting infected with spyware since last year, but this is the first occasion that an SMS-spewing Trojan, common in the world of mobile malware, has affected devices running Google's operating system.

Denis Maslennikov, mobile research group manager at Kaspersky Lab, said the success of the Android platform in the marketplace has triggered increased interest from virus writers. The Russian security firm plans to respond to the increased threat with a new mobile security product, Kaspersky Mobile Security for Android, in early 2011.

Users are advised to pay close attention to the services that an application requests access to during installation. If a user agrees to permit an application to access premium rate service during installation, the smartphone may then be able to make calls and send SMSs without further authorisation.

In related news, BBC journalists created a mobile application with hidden spy functionality as part of an exercise designed to demonstrate how straightforward it has become to create a malicious application for a smartphone. The application was put together using standard components from software toolkits that developers use to create programs for handsets, an approach that might make the malware harder to detect.

The malware was not released into the wild or placed in an app store so no hacking of innocent PCs or smartphones was involved. Thus the exercise was far less ethically fraught than BBC Click's botnet hire spamming jape last year.

Application security firm Veracode helped BBC hack Mark Ward build the basic game of noughts-and-crosses with hidden backdoor spying functionality. "The spyware took up about 250 lines of the 1500 making up the entire program," Ward reports. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.