Virus-laden apps infest Google’s ‘open’ Android platform; iPhone unaffected

“More than 50 applications available via the official Android Marketplace have been found to contain a virus,” BBC News reports. “Analysis suggests that the booby-trapped apps may have been downloaded up to 200,000 times.”

MacDailyNews Take: Oopsey.

The Beeb continues, “The virus-laden apps were discovered by a Reddit user called Lompolo who realised that one program was listed under the name of a publisher he knew had not written it… Lompolo initially found 21 apps bearing the viral code but, according to an investigation by mobile security site Android Police, the final tally is believed to involve more than 50. The apps are also known to be available on unofficial Android stores too.”

MacDailyNews Take: Marketplace fragmentation makes tracking down malware a fruitless exercise. Android settlers are “open,” alright. Open targets.

The Beeb continues, “Once a booby-trapped application is installed and run, the virus lurking within, known as DroidDream, sends sensitive data, such as a phone’s unique ID number, to a remote server. It also checks to see if a phone has already been infected and, if not, uses known exploits to bypass security controls and give its creator access to the handset. This bestows the ability to install any code on a phone or steal any information from it.”

MacDailyNews Take: Windows redux. Don’t settle for pale imitations. Get the real thing.

The Beeb continues, “[Google] has the option to use a security tool that can recall and uninstall rogue applications from phones. It is not thought to have yet done this as its investigation continues. Google has yet to issue a formal statement about the rogue applications while it completes the investigation. Writing on the Trend Micro security blog, Rik Ferguson, pointed out that remote removal of the booby-trapped apps may not solve all the security problems they pose. ‘…this remote kill switch will not remove any other code that may have been dropped onto the device as a result of the initial infection,’ he wrote.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, Android settlers, how’s that openy, derangey thing workin’ out for ya?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

36 Comments

  1. Two important points are vague or missing in this:

    1. The malware apps were simply repackaged (read: pirated) copies of legitimate apps with the extra code added in. 50+ pirated apps…

    2. They exploited holes that have already been patched, but due to fragmentation, most devices aren’t running the newer, patched versions.

    1. This is why it is important to get updates into end users ASAP. Android’s open source model doesn’t support or encourage that. Last time anyone checked, the latest version 2.3 was installed on 3% of Android handsets. Doesn’t make much sense to claim that a hole has been plugged when it’s not being distributed quickly enough.

      This was the exact reason Windows suffered so badly, users just didn’t know that they needed to update their systems. It let malicious code run over millions and millions of systems. Even today, IE 6 is still on a significant number of systems and it’s probably the least secure piece of software on the planet.

      1. A lot of Android users CAN’T update their devices because they can’t get the update via their mobile service provider or handset manufacturer, or the handset manufacturer won’t provide/create an updated version with its altered code to let the physical buttons work properly, etc.

        Whereas iOS users automatically have their devices checked for updates weekly via iTunes, and are given the option to install updates or leave them be.

        I think we all see where this is headed.

  2. Android users that download those ‘open’ apps from the Google Apps Marketplace: Kinda like haivng unprotected sex with a stranger. You never know what you might get.

  3. Clearly the only reason Android is the target of malware is because of Android’s dominant market position. Obviously, no one cares about the minor, niche iPhone platform to write malware for it.

    That was sarcasm, in case it wasn’t obvious.

    ——RM

  4. My daughter bought an Android phone that came with apps running in the middle of the night, resulting in huge data bills at the end of the month. It was impossible to find out the apps and we had to go through a very messy way to block data traffic.
    I told her to get an iPhone like mine and now she regrets having bought that garbage

    1. Just wanted to know, where these apps pre-installed or were they something she installed?

      If the phone came with them, great way for phone company to make more money on data usage. Screws the user of course.

  5. This is exactly why Apple goes through every application before letting it go up for sale on there App store.
    Everyone whines about Apple’s control yet here’s a perfect example why Apple does it the way they do. Android users now can’t trust what there getting. That’ not a good experience.

  6. yep Android users were right (partly), Android is going to be Mac vs PC again.

    They’re partly right ’cause it’s not market share but the PC signature of malware prevalence, messy OS updates and bad OEM support.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.