Feeds

Android app secretly uploads GPS data, warns Symantec

Like a Tapsnake in the grass

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Researchers from anti-virus provider Symantec have outted a gaming application in Google's Android Market that tracks users' whereabouts so they can be secretly monitored in real-time.

The free app is known as Tapsnake, which bills itself as an Android variation of a video game that has been around for three decades. What the description doesn't say is that every 15 minutes, the app uploads the user's GPS coordinates to a server that can be monitored by people running a separate $4.99 app known as GPS Spy, which is made by the same developer shop.

“GPS Spy then downloads the data and uses this service to conveniently display it as location points in Google Maps,” the Symantec advisory warns. “This can give a pretty startling run-down of where someone carrying the phone has been.”

Tapsnake has been downloaded from 1,000 to 5,000 times, while GPS Spy has 100 to 500 downloads. The discovery comes on the heels of a suspicious Android Wallpaper app that was downloaded millions of times and what is believed to be the platform's first SMS trojan in the wild.

The researchers note that an attacker would have to have physical access to the Android phone of the person he is stalking, since account credentials must be typed into the handset running Tapsnake. The Android OS also prominently notifies users installing apps about the types of resources that will be accessed, so marks who install Tapsnake should have some reason to be suspicious if they're paying attention.

But Symantec has gone ahead and classified the app as malicious, mainly because its snoop features aren't disclosed. The researchers also dinged the app for continuing to run in the background even when a user attempts to kill the app.

Representatives from Maxicom.net, the company credited with developing Tapsnake, didn't respond to a request for comment. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
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
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

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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.