Feeds

Malware from Google Market menaces Android users

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

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Boffins build FREE SUPERCOMPUTER from free cloud server trials
Who cares about T&Cs when there's LIteCoin to mint?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.