Feeds

Malware from Google Market menaces Android users

Security firms sniff out threat so Google doesn't have to

The essential guide to IT transformation

Google has yanked more than two-dozen mobile apps from its Android Market after security researchers reported they were laced with malicious code that transferred user data to servers controlled by attackers.

As many as 120,000 Android users downloaded the trojans before they were detected, according to Tim Wyatt, a researcher with mobile security firm Lookout. Once installed, the apps secretly siphoned the IMEI (or international mobile equipment identity), IMSI (or International Mobile Subscriber Identifier), handset model, and details about other apps and software installed on the infected handsets.

The apps also contained code that was triggered when users received text messages, according to an analysis from antivirus provider F-Secure.

“The added code will connect to a server and send details about the infected handset to the malware authors,” F-Secure Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen wrote. “So we're talking about a mobile botnet.”

It's at least the second rash of malicious apps discovered in the official Android Market in as many months. In late March, Lookout researchers discovered a separate outbreak of 50 malicious apps that they dubbed “DroidDream.” In both cases, the attackers downloaded legitimate programs from the Google bazaar, added malicious code to them, and then made the modified versions available in the same forum.

Lookout identified 26 apps in the most recent outbreak. Infected programs carried titles such as Hot Girls 1, Floating Image Free, System Monitor, Quick Photo Grid, and Quick SMS Backup. Based on information included with the apps, the number of affected users numbered from 30,000 to 120,000.

Google has so far taken a laissez-faire approach to policing the Android Market, relying on users and security researchers to identify malicious apps. Company representatives have counseled users to pay close attention to disclosures that are shown when apps get installed to make sure they are legitimate. The company has stopped short of vetting the apps itself to check for security threats.

A Google spokesman didn't immediately reply to an email seeking comment for this article.

Two weeks ago, Google plugged a security hole that exposed the vast majority of Android phone users' calendars and contacts when they accessed those services over unsecured networks. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.