Nefarious Apps for Android Phones

Think you’re going to download that popular app for free?  Guess again!  Google has been forced to remove scores of malware infested apps from their Market over the past several months.  In many cases, the software masqueraded as a free version of a well-liked game or other app, but in reality included a trojan horse, dialer, or other malware.

Dialer malware can automatically dial or text toll numbers, incurring huge costs for the user and funneling money to the malware’s author.  The most recent dialer for Android phones, discovered in an alternative app market, is known as HippoSMS.  It sends text messages to toll services, then monitors for, and deletes, sms alerts from the phone company regarding the excessive charges.

In addition to monetary loss, some Android malware has been responsible for loss of sensitive data as well, leeching information from text messages and email.

The best way to protect yourself from this threat is to be very careful about which apps you download and avoid using an alternative app market if possible.  As a safety net, you can go to Settings -> Applications and make sure “Unknown sources” is unchecked.  You should carefully research any app from an unknown source before installing it.

Read more about HippoSMS at computerworld.com.

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About MIT
IT Security Awareness Consultant and Communications Specialist at MIT

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