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DroidDream Turns Into a Nightmare – Google Removes Several Malware Infected Apps from Official Android Market

Related Tech Track: Mitigation of Security Vulnerabilities on Android

Related Tech Track: Mitigation of Security Vulnerabilities on Android & Other Open Handset Platforms

A new form of mobile malware targeting, once again, Android smartphone users has surfaced today. Dubbed “DroidDream,” the malware has infected multiple applications and is capable of siphoning private data and uploading to remote servers. What’s interesting, and scary, is that the apps in question are coming from the “Official Android Market” which has typically been safer than other direct downloads and “alternative app markets.”

Google has removed several of the applications from the Android Market and is looking into others that may be infected.

A Reddit user had posted a note earlier today on his discovery saying, “Someone just ripped off 21 popular free apps from the market, injected root exploits into them and republished. 50k-200k downloads combined in 4 days.” He also provided some additional details on his findings:

Link to publishers apps here. I just randomly stumbled into one of the apps, recognized it and noticed that the publisher wasn’t who it was supposed to be.

Super Guitar Solo for example is originally Guitar Solo Lite. I downloaded two of the apps and extracted the APK’s, they both contain what seems to be the “rageagainstthecage” root exploit – binary contains string “CVE-2010-EASY Android local root exploit (C) 2010 by 743C”. Don’t know what the apps actually do, but can’t be good.

I appreciate being able to publish an update to an app and the update going live instantly, but this is a bit scary. Some sort of moderation, or at least quicker reaction to malware complaints would be nice.

“Currently there are more than 50 apps that have either been taken down or are being investigated,” according to Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee Labs. “What makes this significant is these apps are in the official Android marketplace, not from a third party marketplace. Analysis has shown that these apps can break out of the typical sandbox that most apps reside in, to potentially gain control over the entire device and its data. In terms of attacks and malware, it doesn’t get any worse than root access, which this malware has.”

The folks over at AndroidPolice have published some informative posts here and here.

Mobile Security Firm Lookout has provided a list of apps that may be affected.

Related Technical Reading Mitigation of Security Vulnerabilities on Android & Other Open Handset Platforms

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