Android Market Malware Scare
On March 4th, reports were released that Google had removed 21 malicious apps from its Android Market. These apps were malware aimed at getting root access to the user’s device, gathering a wide range of information and acting as quietly downloads more malicious code to the device without the user knowing.
Since then, Google now says that there were actually 58 dangerous apps removed from their Android Market, all created by the entity Myournet. The apps in question are all pirated apps, with one such knock off simply being called Chess.
On Saturday, Google remotely turned on its kill switch, which is able to remove the applications from all user phones.
The kill switch is actually software that’s downloaded onto an Android smartphone and installed automatically, removing the apps in question with no user action required. In its Google Mobile Blog, the company announced:
“We are pushing an Android Market security update to all affected devices that undoes the exploits to prevent the attacker(s) from accessing any more information from affected devices. If your device has been affected, you will receive an email from email@example.com over the next 72 hours. You will also receive a notification on your device that “Android Market Security Tool March 2011” has been installed. You may also receive notification(s) on your device that an application has been removed. You are not required to take any action from there; the update will automatically undo the exploit. Within 24 hours of the exploit being undone, you will receive a second email.”
Google tried to downplay the amount as to which the scammers had been able to collect user information:
“For affected devices, we believe that the only information the attacker(s) were able to gather was device-specific (IMEI/IMSI, unique codes which are used to identify mobile devices, and the version of Android running on your device). But given the nature of the exploits, the attacker(s) could access other data.”
Intuitive IT recommends that all users of a mobile marketplace (whether it be Android, Apple, etc.) make sure they read the comments and reviews on each app before downloading it to their phones.