Security experts: Malware spreading to millions on Android phones

“A particularly nasty mobile malware campaign targeting Android users has hit between four million and 4.5 million Americans since January of 2013, according to an estimate by Lookout, a San Francisco mobile security company that has been tracking the malware for about two years,” Nicole Perlroth reports for The New York Times.

“Lookout first encountered the mobile malware, called NotCompatible, two years ago and has since seen increasingly sophisticated versions. Lookout said it believes, based on attempted infections of its user base of 50 million, that the total number of people who have encountered the malware in the United States exceeds four million,” Perlroth reports. “The attackers goal, researchers say, is to infect as many smartphones as possible and turn them into a so-called botnet, a network of infected devices that can be used by attackers for various malicious purposes”

“Lookout says the malware, now on its third iteration, allows infected devices to search for and communicate with other infected machines and share intelligence. Attackers also have found a way to encrypt communications between their command and control center and infected devices, which makes it more difficult to detect and decipher,” Perlroth reports. “All this malicious activity can be costly. The criminals are incurring data charges on phones that, ultimately, victims are held responsible for. As if that weren’t annoying enough, researchers say the malware causes tremendous battery drainage.”

Read more in the full article here.

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

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F-Secure: Android accounted for 99% of new mobile malware in Q1 2014 – April 30, 2014
Google’s Sundar Pichai: Android not designed to be safe; if I wrote malware, I’d target Android, too – February 27, 2014
Cisco: Android the target of 99 percent of world’s mobile malware – January 17, 2014
U.S. DHS, FBI warn of malware threats to Android mobile devices – August 27, 2013
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First malware found in wild that exploits Android app signing flaw – July 25, 2013
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23 Comments

  1. If this was about iPhone it would be front page and on every TV news show. Android? Not so much as even a mention on our local San Jose Mercury that falls all over itself with any hint of a rumored Apple problem. How come?

      1. Apple is, among tech companies, a major celebrity. They’re, essentially, the Jolie, Pitt, Taylor Swift, and Robert Downey Jr’s of the tech world, all rolled into one.

        Just as with those Hollywood types, anytime Apple has the least misstep, the media is all over it, like white on rice.

        Android, on the other hand, represents more the Gary Busey types. Not all that talented and we already know they’re a train wreck, so hardly newsworthy.

        1. I understand what you say. But Google is also a celebrity. What’s baffling is that all we read about Google is about the self driving cars and Google Glass, neither of which are real products. And all we hear about Android is about it’s market share.

          I suppose your right, unless Android blows up and causes some major catastrophe in cellular networks, it will continue the way it has.

          Negative media attention to Apple hasn’t substantially hurt sales of the bottom line. Maybe most Apple customers don’t read newspapers.

          1. Google is like the Nickelback of corporations. All bluster and blandness with very little memorable action.

            A one-off fad that will be completely forgotten about in 15 years time.

  2. The worst malware infecting those phones is Android. Made by Google, who is in the business of selling your info to make a buck, who’s to say that this “malware” isn’t part of Android itself? Communicating with another phone nearby to gather info from other users, which could then be resold? Wouldn’t surprise me.

  3. As with most of these malware “hype” articles, the only source of information is from the company that stands to gain the most by propagating the story. Of course, I wouldn’t be caught dead with an Android device… malware or not. SJBMusic is right on target with his take. But I a bit skeptical that this is actually a problem. I’ll sit back and watch this Chicken Little fiasco.

  4. So, the article says 4-5 million android phones infected since january 2013. That is NOT a lot of phones in android-land. This doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me.

    But it does bring up something I’ve never understood — why AREN’T there billions-level infections of android phones? I’ve been expecting that for years, and it never happens.

  5. Android malware was already implicated in botnets mining Bitcoins, as absurd as that sounds.

    The summary message is that Android is a Rat’s Nest of malware. And Google’s only response is to identify and remove it remotely from your Android device AFTER you’re infected. Isn’t that special.

    iOS? It continues to be the pristine closed garden of no malware. Not that bugs don’t get into the garden! But by default, iOS has NO malware and Apple is determined to keep it that way. Thank you Apple.

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