August 11, 2010

Android Smartphones Targeted By Virus

A virus that disguises itself as a media player but sends premium rate text messages has been affecting smartphones that run Google's Android operating system, according to various media reports.

The malicious software, code named Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a, was discovered by Russian-based Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab. It is spread through a text message that encourages users to download the booby-trapped 13KB movie-playback application.

"The Trojan uses the system to begin sending SMSs to premium rate numbers without the owner's knowledge or consent, resulting in money passing from a user's account to that of the cybercriminals," the company said in a blog post that was reprinted in part by AFP on Tuesday.

According to an August 11 BBC News article, "The virus was most prevalent among Russian Android users. The risk to Android owners worldwide is believed to be low"¦ it is believed to be the first booby-trapped application for Android."

On his Twitter account, Kaspersky Lab mobile research manager Denis Maslennikov noted that each message sent by the Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a application would run users about $5.

"We can expect to see a corresponding rise in the amount of malware targeting that platform," Maslennikov told the BBC on Wednesday.

A Google representative touted the Android OS's built-in security measures in addressing the threat.

"Our application permissions model protects against this type of threat," the spokesperson told the British news agency on Wednesday. "When installing an application, users see a screen that explains clearly what information and system resources the application has permission to access, such as a user's phone number or sending an SMS."

"Users must explicitly approve this access in order to continue with the installation, and they may uninstall applications at any time," the representative added. "In particular, users should exercise caution when installing applications outside of Android Market."


On the Net: