Feeds

Malicious apps infiltrate Google's Android Market

Bogus games purged after more than 10,000 downloads

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Google security crews have tossed at least a dozen smartphone games out of the Android Market after discovering they contained secret code that caused owners to accrue expensive charges for text messages sent to premium numbers.

The malicious apps, uploaded to the Google-hosted service by a developer named Logastrod, masqueraded as wildly popular games such as Angry Birds, Assassin's Creed Revelations, and NEED FOR SPEED. The developer allegedly cloned the titles, including the accompanying graphics and descriptions, and added malicious code that caused handsets to surreptitiously send and receive premium messages.

By the time Google removed the titles – more than 24 hours after they were first made available – more than 10,000 people had downloaded them, according to a blog post published on Monday by Sophos.

“We have already stated several times that the requirements for becoming an Android developer that can publish apps to the Android market are far too relaxed,” Sophos blogger Vanja Svajcer wrote. “The cost of becoming a developer and being banned by Google is much lower than the money that can be earned by publishing malicious apps. The attacks on the Android Market will continue as long as the developer requirements stay too relaxed.”

In all fairness to Google, users who installed the counterfeit games saw permission screens that warned the apps were able to “edit SMS or MMS, read SMS or MMS, receive SMS” messages. The apps also came with terms of service that disclosed users would be subscribed to premium services that cost as much as €4.50.

The revelation that Google hosted the malicious titles for more than a day and allowed them to be downloaded more than 10,000 times is ample evidence that these protections aren't enough to secure the Android Market. Google has steadfastly declined to scan apps available in its online store for malicious code that logs users' keystrokes or racks up expensive charges.

Google has long counseled users to carefully examine the permissions screen of each app before it's installed. And at least one of its employees has lashed out at companies providing antivirus products for Android handsets, calling them "charlatans" who play on users' fears.

With so many Android apps requiring access to geographic-location data, messaging functions, and other sensitive resources, Google has yet to educate users how to tell legitimate requests from illegitimate requests. What's more, Google's caveat emptor approach means it's up to users to make sure they don't get swindled while shopping in the company's official apps bazaar. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.