Android SMS trojan goes wild

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Aug 12, 2010

Premium-rate text scam shows growing cracks in smart phone security.

The first known SMS trojan affecting smart phones running Google's Android operating system has been observed in the wild, highlighting growing cracks in the security veneer of the latest range of glossy smart phones.

The trojan was first identified by researchers at Kaspersky Lab (whose report on the problem can be read here). After tricking users into installing the code by disguising it as a free media player app, the trojan sends premium-rate SMS messages, racking up expensive bills for the phone's owner and raking in cash for the malware's operators. So far the trojan is only thought to be affecting users in Russia; a more technical breakdown of its operation is here.

The news comes just days after Apple announced a patch for a security vulnerability in its iOS, running on iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads, which could allow a website to run code to 'jailbreak' the device, simply by being viewed. While no malicious attacks were known to be using the exploit, it highlights the very real threat to the security of the latest generation of smart phones - thought by many to be inherently safe thanks to their relatively closed design and limited ability to install new software.

The updates to fix the flaw (details here for iPhone/iPod Touch users and here for iPads) require fairly large downloads, and it seems likely that users who do not update promptly will be at risk from maliciously crafted sites in the near future. The security risks of jailbroken devices have already been demonstrated by the 'Ikee' and 'Duh' worms seen in 2009.

Several vendors have already released security solutions for the current generation of phones, with others thought to be working on offerings; meanwhile a specialist developer has already deployed 2.5 million copies of a free Android anti-malware app, as reported in The Register here. The Register also has more details on the Android and iPhone problems here and here.

Posted on 12 August 2010 by Virus Bulletin

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