London Olympics and the end of Adobe mobile flash player spark summer of fake Android apps
Cyber criminals are continuing to develop malware for mobile devices, with Android smartphones still their favourite target according to GFI Software.
Not surprisingly the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics spawned a huge number of rogue apps according to the security company. But in August GFI also found the OpFake Trojan was being distributed by Russian fraudsters disguised as Adobe's Mobile Flash Player, despite this app initially being pulled from Google Store last month.
Although the legitimate Adobe app is currently back in Google Play, after pressure from the BBC, GFI said some versions of the fake app had adware, which has caused problems.
The OpFake Trojan is used to send premium-rate SMS messages to other phones while the adware carried out malicious tasks; such as stealing the user's phonebook contacts for ad purposes and sending pop-up ads to people's screens.
The fraudsters were also cashing in on the increased awareness of mobile security among users with a number of fake mobile antivirus applications masquerading as those provided by legitimate security companies.
Company brand names hijacked for this attack included BitDefender, Vipre, McAfee, Kaspersky and Trend Micro. These fake security apps also contained a Boxer malware, which like the OpFake Trojan hijacks the victim's phone to send premium rate SMS messages.
Christopher Boyd, senior threat researcher at GFI Software, said: "The past month's examples show that the world of smartphone applications has firmly become a battleground for scammers and malware writers, keen to take advantage of unsuspecting users.
"Avoiding mobile malware often requires the same preventative tactics associated with traditional malware such as verifying the legitimacy of any unsolicited emails or hyperlinks before installing an unknown application or submitting personal information."
A spokesman for GFI said that the best way to defend against Android viruses was to download apps from Google Play.
"Android antivirus apps can detect many instances of rogue apps; however, anti-virus apps themselves are also being targeted with fake builds. The best thing is to only download apps from the Google Play store.
People who find that they have had unauthorised premium-rate text messages sent from their phone should contact Phonepayplus. The UK premium rate regulator can often stop payments reaching the fraudsters and also fine companies distributing rogue apps.
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