Feeds

Google denies Redmond report of a spamming Android botnet

'Show us the evidence,' says Chocolate Factory

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Google is disputing claims from a Microsoft researcher that a functioning botnet is operating on Android phones and spamming out Viagra and penny stock adverts to unsuspecting punters.

Terry Zink, program manager for Microsoft Forefront online security, took time during the annual July 4 "We're kicking out the Brits and will spell color any way we please" holiday to post an analysis of a spam operation using Yahoo!'s webmail service. The spam uses the message ID 1341147286.19774.androidMobile@web140302.mail.bf1.yahoo.com and includes the line "Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android"

"All of these message are sent from Android devices," he said. "We’ve all heard the rumors, but this is the first time I have seen it – a spammer has control of a botnet that lives on Android devices. These devices login to the user's Yahoo Mail account and send spam."

Zink said that those IP addresses that included location data indicated the infected devices were located in Chile, Indonesia, Lebanon, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. He attributed this to the likelihood that local Android apps sites were selling malware-laced software for the Android.

"The evidence does not support the Android botnet claim," Google told The Register in a statement. "Our analysis suggests that spammers are using infected computers and a fake mobile signature to try to bypass anti-spam mechanisms in the email platform they're using."

Zink's announcement certainly set tongues wagging in the security industry, with vendors split on whether or not this is an actual Android botnet or a clever spoof using PCs looking to imitate such a scenario.

Sophos senior security advisor Chet Wisniewski told The Register that spam was still coming in from the botnet at a rate of around five pieces an hour, and the circumstantial evidence seemed to suggest a functioning Android botnet.

"There's just little pieces of evidence that this is coming from an Android handset, but no smoking gun that proves the case entirely," he said.

On Thursday, Zink posted an update to his original report, admitting that the case for the botnet was not proven. It would be possible to use a PC to strip out the Yahoo! message IDs and replace them, he said, and to add the sent-from-an-Android message. He has considered this could all be an "elaborate deception" by spammers, but that he stands by his original findings.

Yahoo! told El Reg in a statement that it was investigating the case and that it encourages users of its mobile applications to only buy applications from registered marketplaces. ®

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'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
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
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
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.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.