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Beware of Third Party Marketplaces, Malware Distribution is on the Rise

February 28, 2011 - Written By Cameron Summerson

Third Party Marketplace Malware is becoming an issue for Android

 

We all know that there have been instances of malicious code being dropped into phones via questionable apps, but now third-party marketplaces have started to repackage well-known apps and bundling them with spyware. As a computer technician, I know the damage that spyware can do to a PC, but the thought of this threat on a device as personal as my phone raises even more concern.

Security firm NetQin Mobile has discovered two new third party marketplace malware programs named SW.SecurePhone and SW.Qieting being spread around through these third-party marketplaces. SW.SecurePhone seems to be native to the US while SW.Qieting is being distributed mainly outside the US, so the combination of these threats are global.

Once SW.SecurePhone Malware is installed on the device, it quietly sets in the background collecting private data.

The collected data includes messages, call logs, pictures, recorded sounds, and even location. Every 20 minutes the collected data is uploaded to a remote server, not only causing a serious privacy risk, but also using up precious data.

SW.Qieting, also sets in the background and forwards all messages to a remote server. While it may collect less data, it doesn’t pose any less of a threat to Android owners.

Also this month, click fraud app HongTouTou was discovered bundled in repackaged apps like the popular game RoboDefense. While click fraud spyware may not be collecting our private data, the presence of it’s existence is alarming enough that it needs to be addressed.

Fortunately, there are a few anti-malware apps available which can help against third party marketplaces malware like this. The same company that found these threats, Netqin, offers a free Anti-Virus for Android; as does popular security company Trend-Micro.

The best advice that I can give, though, is to stay away from third-party marketplaces to help avoid Malware!

While Google does allow basically any app into the Android Market, it’s much harder for these repackaged apps to show up there.

Third Party Marketplaces Malware is a serious threat.One of the biggest benefits of our beloved Android is it’s openness. Which, because of cases like this, can prove to be both a blessing and a curse.