Security researchers find multistage Android malware on Google Play
- 11 July, 2012 18:15
Security researchers from antivirus vendor Symantec identified two malware apps on Google Play that used a multistage payload delivery system in order to remain undetected.
The apps, which have since been removed by Google, masqueraded as two games -- "Super Mario Bros." and "GTA 3 - Moscow city."
"Both were posted to Google Play on June 24 and since then have generated in the range of 50,000 to 100,000 downloads," Symantec security researcher Irfan Asrar said Tuesday in a blog post.
Once installed, the apps downloaded an additional package called Activator.apk from a Dropbox account and prompted the device owners to install it.
This secondary Activator app sent SMS messages to a premium-rate number located in Eastern Europe, after which it asked to be uninstalled.
The fact that the malicious payload was delivered in multiple stages is probably why the apps managed to remain undetected for so long on Google Play, Asrar said.
Earlier this year, Google started using an automated scanner called Bouncer to detect malware on Google Play. Bouncer runs all published apps in an emulated Android environment and monitors them for suspicious activity.
However, downloading a secondary app from a developer's server and prompting the user to install it might not necessarily represent malicious behavior.
This is not the first time when Android malware developers have used multi-stage payloads. The Android.Lightdd and Android.Jsmshider threats discovered in 2011 both downloaded additional components after the installation of an initial app.
There are several advantages to spreading the payload across multiple apps, Asrar said about those threats at the time. For one, the initial malicious app no longer needs to display an extensive list of permissions that might attract the user's attention.
Secondly, if the initial app is downloaded from the official Android marketplace -- now called Google Play -- the user is likely to assume that the additional apps also originate from there.
Symantec detects the two newly found malware apps as Android.Dropdialer. The Android security team immediately removed the threat after being notified by Symantec, Asrar said.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.
Larry Page wants to see your medical records
Dual-Persona Smartphones Not a BYOD Panacea
After two-year hiatus, EFF accepts bitcoin donations again
CIOs struggle to deliver timely mobile business apps: survey
Spiceworks' free management software gets integrated MDM
Tolly Report: Performance Survey of Virtual Environment Security
This report by Tolly tests the system resource requirements of competing vendor solutions when performing on-demand and on-access scanning functions, during distributed definition updates. Click to download how the four competing options ranked against each other.
CSO Spotlight: Security-as-a-Service Gaining Popularity
Organizations that are looking for security features including identity management, encryption and access control — and at the same time want to take advantage of the cost and flexibility benefits of the cloud —might check into security-as-a-service offerings available now from several vendors. Download now to find out more.
Real-Time Protection Against Malware Infection
Malware is at such high levels (more than 60 million unique samples per year) that protecting an endpoint with traditional antivirus software, has become futile. More than 100,000 new types of malware are now released every day, and antivirus vendors are racing to add new protection features to try to keep their protection levels up. Read more.