Google's decision to pull dozens of apps from its Android Market demonstrates an effort to target Android devices through Google's official marketplace instead of third-party app stores.
Google has removed numerous applications laced with malware from the Android
app store, underscoring the threat of rogue
applications infiltrating the company's mobile marketplace.
to Lookout Mobile Security
, more than 50 applications released under the
developer names "Myournet," Kingmall2010″ and "we20090202″ were
infected with the DroidDream Trojan and removed by Google. A complete list of
the affected apps is available on the Lookout blog linked to above.
An analysis by Kaspersky Lab found that the Trojan attempts to gather a
variety of information, including product ID, device type and user ID data.
After swiping the information, the Trojan will upload it to a remote server.
Unlike most of the other samples seen so far, there is no attempt at sending or
receiving premium rate SMS messages, the firm said.
"DroidDream is packaged inside of seemingly legitimate applications
posted to the Android Market in order to trick users into downloading it, a
pattern we've seen in other instances of Android malware such as Geinimi and
HongTouTou," Kevin Mahaffey, CTO of
Lookout, told eWEEK.
Unlike previous instances of malware that were only available in alternative
app markets targeted toward certain countries, DroidDream was available in the
official Android Market-indicating a growing need for consumers to beware of
the apps they download and actively protect their smartphones, Mahaffey said.
It is not the first time that Google has pulled
from its marketplace. Last year, Google yanked several apps
that used the names of various banks, including Chase, Sun Trust and Bank of
America, without permission. The applications were removed not long after
financial institutions began warning customers that rogue Android apps were
trying to gain access to their information.
Earlier this week, researchers at Symantec reported a compromised
application called Steamy Window had been discovered on a Chinese third-party
app hosting site. The app was infected with a Trojan Symantec calls
Android.Pjapps, and is thought to have been designed to push advertisement
campaigns and "reap
from compromised devices using third-party, premium-rate services."
"The Android.Pjapps code is well written and as such, can be easily
inserted into any number of otherwise legitimate apps by someone who knows what
they are doing," explained Vikram Thakur, principal security response
manager at Symantec. "A couple of examples of where we're seeing this
malicious code [are] in a compromised version of the Steamy Window app and also
in a compromised video player app. However, we expect to see quite a few more
legitimate looking apps over the coming days propagating this threat via
unregulated Android marketplaces."
Once Android.Pjapps is installed, an attacker can initiate the download and
installation of other applications as well; however, completing the
installation of another app would require the phone owner's permission, Thakur
Security vendors have continued
to push anti-malware software
for mobile devices. In the past few weeks,
McAfee, Kaspersky Lab and a number of other vendors have all made announcements
focused on smartphone security.
"One of the important observations here is that it is likely that these
are not the only live malware in the Android Market," blogged
, malware researcher for Kaspersky Lab. "Kaspersky
recommends that you always check all the permission requests that an
application is requesting at install time."