Google flips Android kill switch; remotely wipes rogue apps from settlers’ phones

“Android has a built-in kill switch for nasty apps. And Google, apparently, is not afraid to use it,” Andy Greenberg reports for Forbes. “Over the weekend, the search giant announced that it had remotely wiped ‘a number’ of malicious Android apps from users’ phones, programs that earlier in the week had been identified as malware and pulled from Android’s app store.”

MacDailyNews Take: It’s one thing to have a “kill switch,” it’s quite another to be forced to actually use it.

“Google also wrote that it’s contacting law enforcement about the issue and updating Android devices with a fix for the exploit used by those apps–pirated copies of legitimate programs with malicious code weaved in–designed to prevent any further compromise of users’ data. The company added that ‘we are adding a number of measures to help prevent additional malicious applications using similar exploits from being distributed through Android Market and are working with our partners to provide the fix for the underlying security issues,'” Greenberg reports. “Exactly what those ‘measures’ might be, Google isn’t saying.”

MacDailyNews Take: That information is on a need-to-know basis. If you don’t like it, change your name and/or just move. (Read as if wheezed by a sniveling mole.)

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, by the way:

Of course 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… [For those infected] it could be worth your while investigating the possibility of getting a replacement handset or reinstalling the operating system on the one you have if possible.Rik Ferguson, Director of Security Research & Communication, Trend Micro

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Virus-laden apps infest Google’s ‘open’ Android platform; iPhone unaffected – March 3, 2011
Glenn Beck: Be wary of Google, they way they think is creepy (with video) – February 17, 2011
Google CEO Schmidt: If you don’t like being in Google Street View then ‘just move’ – October 28, 2010
Google CEO Schmidt: Change your name to escape ‘cyber past’ – August 18, 2010

30 Comments

    1. of course we can be “snide”, but its more of a ” we can stick our tongue out and say, i told you so”. Ignorance and stupidity is not an excuse.
      Just because you can retrofit your front door with one made of cardboard,( because its FREE or reaal cheeaap) doesnt mean you should. and you can’s be a crybaby when your house gets broken into later, when your neighbour with a wooden or metal front door says” i told you so”.

  1. What about the tens of thousands maybe hundreds of thousands of backdoors that are now installed by that malware?

    Google Schmoogle a bunch of ass monkeys.

    1. What exactly is the point of a “KILL” switch if it doesn’t remove ALL the malware? Google know these Trojans accessed the net in order to install further malware NOT affected by their baloney removal tool. Every one of the thousands of infected Android phones REMAINS PWNed. Gee thanks Google. 🙄

      The best security it to not allow infection in the first place. Thus Apple’s deliberated and intelligently closed system. Thank you Apple! 😀

      If you’re a Google Android troll, it’s time to defect…

  2. Wiping an app is not a fix, the damage has already been done. Data has already been stolen by the time the app is deleted, why not have a decent screening process to prevent these things from happening at all?

  3. Realistically, this event will probably take away most of any negative publicity the malware infestation had brought to the platform. With proper spin, Android zealots could easily claim that the platform is really perfect: you get true openness, with a mighty titan (Google) watching your back like a hawk, and if you make the mistake of downloading something bad, the big Google will be right there to fix that for you. The best of both worlds (Wild West of openness and true freedom, coupled with the solid security blanket provided by that watchful Google eye).

    Even if 100% of any future malware ends up wiped out through the use of Google’s “Kill Switch”, any such action will never happen before malware had already had plenty of time to harvest tons of personal data (the actual purpose of such malware). Like installing a double deadbolt on your front door after your family jewelry has already been stolen…

    1. oh yeah…I relish the idea of Google getting into my phone to watch my back. One problem though…who is watching the watcher?
      I can see Google coming in, a knight to drive off the bad guys and then looking around afterwards…hey…look at is…hmmmm

    1. Yeah and Android Town got shot up and taken over by The Black Hat Family.

      Clem sez: “Google done shot pa dead!” But sadly Google can’t “KILL” pa’s sons because Google doesn’t even know they’re there.

      Billy Bob sez: “Hey thar brothers! Did ya notice? We’re plum invisible!” Therefore, Android Town remains PWNed. 😛

      Sheriff Google sez: “Darn them Black Hat boyz! How’m I supposed to shoot what I cain’t see?”

  4. Come on Google don’t be evil, you promised that Android is freedom and choice. Whether the app is malicious or not is not your concern. If I want to screw up Android, it’s my choice and freedom to do it. Why are you now copying Apple’s walled garden to save your failed experiment of freedom and choice?

  5. For those unfamiliar with press-release speak

    “contacting law enforcement about the issue” = covering our butts regarding the issue

    “working with our partners to provide the fix” = scrambling madly to but a bandaid on the problem

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