The Google Tax: Android phones hit by cyber thieves’ spamming malware

“Cyber-thieves are using games including Angry Birds to turn Android phones into spam-sending drones,” BBC News reports. “Phones have been infected with spam-forwarding software that hid inside free versions of popular Android games. Once installed, the booby-trapped app contacts a web server for a list of phone numbers then starts sending junk text messages to them.”

Angry Birds Space, Need for Speed Most Wanted and many other games have been used in the attack,” The Beeb reports. “The first stage of the campaign to recruit phones to act as spam relays. It involved sending out thousands of messages supposedly offering people free versions of popular Android games, said network security firm Cloudmark in an analysis of the SpamSoldier attack.”

“The copies of the games were held on a server in China rather than on the main Google Play store, it said. After the app is downloaded users must disable some safeguards, grant the app permission to install and give it the ability to browse the web or send texts messages before it will run,” The Beeb reports. “Once installed the app removes its icon from a phone’s main screen and then contacts a central server for a list of target phone numbers. It then starts sending out spam messages in a bid to trick more people into downloading and installing the rogue app.”

The Beeb reports, “Cloudmark said whoever was behind the attack had recently ramped up their use of it. Now, it said, it was seeing more than 500,000 junk texts per day being sent through infected Android phones.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Android is “open” in all the wrong ways.

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

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Google forced to pull several malware-infested apps from Android market – June 8, 2011
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Virus-laden apps infest Google’s ‘open’ Android platform; iPhone unaffected – March 3, 2011
Security firm warns of new Android trojan that can steal personal information; iPhone unaffected – December 30, 2010
Trojan infects Android smartphones; iPhone unaffected – August 10, 2010
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Unlike proactive Apple, reactive Google doesn’t block malware from Android app store – June 4, 2010
Malware designed to steal bank information pops up in Google’s Android app store – January 11, 2010


  1. Earth to ANALcysts (kudo term from creative D.C.):

    Have not seen DOWNGRADE GOOGLE in breaking news.

    We have here the largest smartphone (units sold) player on the planet and the impending potential to affect millions of users and what is that I hear from the Wall Street cast? … Crickets.

    1. Yeah, because no computer platform can be profitable & popular when it’s full of serious security problems and viruses that create giant networks of spam sending infected machines … except …

      1. Good point.

        Never truly understood why Microsoft and now Android gets a media pass for malware.

        Yet the smallest misstep of Apple, perceived or real, wipes out billions in the blink of an eye.

        Again, Animal Farm.

  2. I wonder if they try to provide the instructions for disabling the default security measures that stop the software from installing.

    If you disable security and then install software from a server hosted out of china I really don’t have any sympathy. lol

  3. How sweet is this.
    You know how every last video/web article that even mentions Apple is infested with fandroid cretins, all spreading the message of ignorance?
    Now their phones do basically the same thing.

  4. Here’s the $64,000 question no one seems to be asking:

    “Spam texts”?!?!?! What happens if this escalates? What happens if spammers reduce SMS to the current state of email, where the vast majority of messages are unwanted crap, and you need filters to make it even barely usable?

    I get spam texts from time to time, and I’m one of those people who never reveals his cellphone number in any public fashion. I have a landline without long-distance just to give out when some business needs to contact me. My cell number is only ever given out to family, friends, and co-workers. Yet even then, a few times a year, I get a spam text. Imagine what’s going to happen to people who use their cellphones as their only phones!

    Can you imagine the nightmare of your phone pinging every hour just for garbage? I sincerely hope something is going to be done about this.


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