SMS trojan targets Android users in eight western countries

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Nov 25, 2011

Will another piece of mobile malware convince Google manager of the seriousness of the threat?

Researchers at Kaspersky have discovered an SMS trojan for Android phones that targets users in eight western countries.

This trojan, which masquerades as an SMS monitoring app, gives an error message upon being launched, suggesting that it is incompatible with the Android version being used. Meanwhile, in the background it sends SMS messages to premium rate numbers operated by the crooks, who thus steal money from the phone's owner. Such pieces of mobile malware are far from new - however, hitherto they had mostly been seen in Russia and China.

The trojan has a second component, which acts on incoming messages from certain numbers and hide these from the user. This is used to give the attackers insight into the number of premium messages sent from the phone.

While few security researchers will be surprised by yet another Android trojan, it is possible Google's Open Source Programs Manager Chris DiBone will be. In a recent post on his Google+ page, he claimed that the threat from "viruses" for mobile phones is vastly exaggerated, calling companies selling malware protection for mobile devices "charlatans and scammers" and adding that their employees "should be ashamed of [themselves]".

The accusation that the threat from mobile malware is exaggerated is not new. In 2008 G DATA's Dirk Hochstrate said that "to some it might seem as if the security industry is more interested in making money than in providing real protection". However, given the enormous rise in mobile malware in general and that targeting Android in particular, it is hardly surprising DiBona's comments led to fierce reactions from security experts.

More on the SMS trojan at Kaspersky's SecureList blog here. A reaction to DiBona's post by Trend Micro's Rik Ferguson here with another one from ESET's David Harley on a personal blog here.

Posted on 25 November 2011 by Virus Bulletin

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