Feeds

Chinese cops cuff teen over Heart App Android malware flap

Reportedly infected 100,000 phones in just a few days

Security for virtualized datacentres

Chinese authorities have arrested a 19-year-old suspected of unleashing a fast spreading strain of malware that infects Android smartphones.

Police told Chinese newspapers including Sina.com that "Li", a 19-year-old software engineering student, was cuffed in Shenzhen on suspicion of creating the Heart App Android malware within a day of its release.

The Heart App mobile malware poses as an invitation from a friend or contact to arrange a romantic hook-up. In reality, the Android nasty sends a text message to a download link to the first 99 contacts in a compromised Android users' address book. As with email worm of the past, this is the sort of behaviour that has the potential to quickly snowball.

Chinese mobile telephone operators including China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom have already reportedly blocked over 20 million messages, with "at least 100,000 phones infected".

All this happens in the background. Victims, who would be blissfully unaware anything was amiss until they started getting complaints from their friends, are invited to "register", a process that involves submitting personal information. This data is sent to a control number via SMS. Registration fails to grant victims access to any dating functionality, which is non-existent.

Heart App also attempts to induce victims into installing secondary malware, another malware package that is bundled inside the virus itself, that poses as a "resource pack" but is actually spyware. Part of the reason the mobile malware spread so quickly may have had to do with the absence of an official Google Play marketplace in China, according to security veteran Paul Ducklin.

"With Google Play not officially available in China, alternative Android markets have flourished, and, by all accounts, Chinese users are accustomed to running their Android phones with the Allow installation of apps from unknown sources option enabled," Ducklin explains in a post on Sophos' Naked Security blog. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.