Android Trojan leaves 100,000 users out of pocket
MMarketPay buys content from China Mobile's app store
Security researchers are warning of yet another Android malware outbreak which has spread to nine app stores and infected 100,000 with code designed to covertly purchase apps and content from China Mobile’s Mobile Market.
Mobile security firm TrustGo explained that the MMarketPay.A Trojan could be hidden in a number of legitimate-looking applications, including those from Sina and media streaming company Funinhand, as well as travel and weather apps.
The malware has already been placed in nine different third party Android app markets in China, infecting over 100,000, the firm said.
Once downloaded, the Trojan will automatically place orders for paid content and apps at China Mobile’s official Mobile Market online store without informing the user.
It is able to intercept China Mobile’s verification SMS and post the code to the Mobile Market web site in order to complete the purchase, said TrustGo.
In the event of CAPTCHA being triggered at this stage, the malware will apparently send the relevant image to a remote server for analysis.
The advice from the security experts at TrustGo is for users to only download Android apps from trusted app stores and to have some form of real-time mobile security scanner installed on their device to prevent any dodgy downloads.
Visiting an apparently legit app store is no guarantee you’re going to get a malware-free experience, however.
Malware is frequently turning up on the official Android marketplace Google Play – although admittedly less frequently than on some of the more dubious third party sites.
The latest discovery came at the tail end of last week when researchers found malware that lifts the victim’s location data and address book info.
China in particular has been a hotbed of malicious Android activity for some time.
In April, the Chinese authorities were forced to publically reprimand the country’s two biggest mobile carriers, China Mobile and China Telecom, after uncovering “many problems” in their respective app stores.
Globally too, Android continues to be a favourite with cyber criminals.
Security firm Trend Micro is predicting the discovery of 129,000 malicious apps by the end of the year and has compiled this handy infographic detailing the main threats. ®
Take an Android phone, deactivate the option to only install from the official Android market, go to unofficial store, download software, get a trojan, all Google's fault.
Take an iPhone, jailbreak it, go to unofficial app store, download software, get a trojan, not Apple's fault at all, you jailbroke it, all your fault.
Android security isn't perfect, but at least I can see what permissions an app wants before I install it, and can make an informed choice as to whether I want to install it.
Can iPhone users be so sure that not one of the hundreds of thousands of apps on the App Store is unsafe and doing something nefarious? It's been shown that malware can be put in there, both as a proof of concept and an actual real app. How many more? Do you really think that millions of iPhones containing all sorts of private data are not a juicy target for criminal gangs the world over?
The numbers are scary. No doubt.
The fact that they're published in such a pretty infographic form by a security company with an anti virus app for sale is, well, funny. AV on Android is mostly useless because these apps are themselves subject to sandboxing, meaning they can't scan other app folders or system folders.
Also, there are intrinsic platform design problems in Android, like allowing any app to copy photos without the user's permission. It's great that Google intended to emulate a PC experience, but what AV software is going to determine whether doing this is legit or not?!?
What is the name of the app
What are these alternative stores and what is the name of the App. A little bit more information would have been a lot more serious.
Re: YAY more Android FUD stories
@g e “I don't know why Google don't allow users to individually grant/revoke privileges to apps regardless of whether it knackers the app functionality or not.”
I fully agree, and this was first requested as an “Android Issue” back in 2009: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3778
Google’s response then, and every time it crops up again, is “Works as intended”. There’s a lot of people insisting they want the functionality, and a lot of fud in response such as “would increase complexity of writing apps” (which is nonsense).
The way such functionality would behave is that any “revoked” permission would appear (to the app) to work, but fruitlessly – http would return 404; accessing contacts would find none; sending an SMS would send it to the bit bucket; GPS would return some default location; etc.
The reason Google won’t implement it is simple and obvious: If you could revoke internet access for an app, how could it serve Google Ads to you the whole time?
I believe there was some possibility of a Cyanogenmod patch to revoke individual permissions, but I don’t think it faked results as above.
Judging from my calculations, this COULD have affected .001% of ALL smart-phones in China (not just android purely because I don't know the breakdown of differnt operating systems). I.e. if 50% of all phones were android, it would mean that possibly .002% were compromised.