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Tainted apps worm into official Android store

DroidDream creates security nightmare

Application security programs and practises

Dozens of tainted applications have been discovered on the official Android Market.

More than 50 applications have been found to be infected with a new type of Android malware called DroidDream, an information stealer. Fraudsters repackaged legitimate apps (mostly games) so that they included malicious code before uploading them to the marketplace. The tactic has been seen in mobile marketplaces in China and elsewhere but this is the first time the approach has been successfully applied in the US, mobile security firm Lookout reports.

Google responded to the reports of problems by purging the apps from its mobile marketplace. Credit for initially noticing a potential problem goes to Lompolo, a user at popular news aggregator site to Reddit.

The scare over modified apps on the official Android Market follows a security flap on third-party app stores late last week. Scammers modified an app called Steamy Window to incorporate backdoor code before uploading it to third-party stores. The malign application is designed to surreptitiously send text messages to premium rate numbers, earning scammers a commission in the process while leaving victims well out of pocket and probably unaware of the scam prior to receiving a bumper bill. The malware, which is capable of downloading other malign applications, blocks alerts telling phone users that they've exceeded their quota of texts.

The malware – dubbed Android Pjapps by Symantec – also has the capability to navigate to websites and add bookmarks to the user's browser, characteristics that would come in handy for running click fraud internet ad scam campaigns. ®

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