Calling Android Smartphone Zombies

Android Smartphones are under attack again by rogue applications that once installed are reading information from the phone and sending it back to a pre-assigned location. According to mobile security firm as many as 120,000 users may have been infected from a cafeteria selection of at least two dozen applications from the Android Market.

“Once installed, the apps secretly siphoned the IMEI (or international mobile equipment identity), IMSI (or International Mobile Subscriber Identifier), handset model, and details about other apps and software installed on the infected handsets.” Courtesy of Dan Goodin @The Register and Tim Wyatt.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently explored “Preparedness on a Zombie Apocalypse” where we learn about natural disaster items to include for a survival kit and the identification of the types of zombies in an emergency. Our zombie crisis is the emergence and growing threat of malicious applications targeting Android users. Never before in our long desktop based world has malware been so willing to come with us and drive our children to and from school. And, this begs that the user takes the reins and is careful in what they install on their hand held devices. This is a cooperative effort requiring participation, nay demanding it, across all levels:

  • Industry (Google, Security and AV Companies),
  • Law Enforcement (including greater participation across geographic jurisdictions),
  • Awareness & Education (consumers digesting information and being empowered to make smart decisions).

So what is our kit to be prepared in this space?

  1. Research the application(s) you wish to download and install;
    1. Has it been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times?
    2. Does it receive high ratings?
    3. Has it been around for a long time?
    4. Are the developers trusted by industry and consumers?
      1. Check the search engines,
      2. Check your social networks,
      3. Check micro blogs.
  2. Keep your sensitive information off your smartphone;
    1. Password programs.
    2. Disable geo-location services.
    3. Enable password protection.
    4. Remove in a timely manner personal photos you wouldn’t want shared.
  3. Install security applications;
    1. Run an AV program.
  4. Treat your smartphone as a desktop;
    1. Cyber criminals don’t care about platform and target anyone as a victim.

Get Smart! Read more, and keep your smartphones from turning into Zombies…

What is good is that Google previously with DroidDream responded quickly and removed the malicious applications, and also fixed holes in their mobile applications. Progress one step at a time…

Have a Happy International Children’s Day!

Author ESET Research, ESET

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