The Great SMS Android Swindle

Cyber crime is nothing new but now smart phones have become premium targets for malicious criminals. They are attractive to cyber criminals because of the data that they contain, and the services they provide particularly the payment processing services. They also are often much less secure than computers and laptops. 

In the last week Google removed over 22 apps from the android marketplace and suspended the developer accounts. Android users in Europe should be wary as some apps on the market are more sinister than they appear to be at first glance.

These apps are capable of sending premium SMS messages without the mobile users being aware. The attack has been centered around European users, who do not realise that they may be charged upto $5 per SMS. The apps being developed and made available for download are being disguised as popular and authentic games or add-ons to already popular and trusted games,  often just by adding the word FREE, like Angry Birds FREE to dupe users into thinking they are created by a reputable supplier.

 The company called “Lookout Mobile Security” has published reports of these apps, dubbed RuFraud, short for Russian Fraud because many of the free downloads are hosted on Russian sites. Other apps found to use this loop hole to extract money are free wallper apps for popular movies and horoscope apps. The apps contain hidden or confusing terms and permissions. 

Early estimates of these malicious app downloads range from 10,000 to 14,000. It is likely that the developers are targeting android because the cost of becoming an android developer is quite low, and whilst the apps get pulled quite quickly there is still a good profit to be made in a short amount of time.

Microsoft supporter, Ben Rudolph has added fuel to the fire of the android malware panic by offering a prize of a Windows Phone (WP7) upgrade to android users on twitter for sharing their worst experiences.

The report from Lookout also predicts that 4% of Android users will encounter malware in 2012.

To avoid becoming one of the 4%, be vigilant when accessing third-party apps stores, always update your security applications regularly as well as your smart phones OS software, think before you click on any link or advertisement.

If you want to avoid downloading these apps best to always check the permissions before downloading, if these are difficult to find that could be the first sign that someone doesn’t want you to see them! In particular watch out for apps that ask for SMS permission.
The Great SMS Android Swindle The Great SMS Android Swindle Reviewed by Sandipan Chakraborty on December 15, 2011 Rating: 5
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