Instagram Fever Opens Window for Android Malware Writers; SMS Trojan on the Rise

Online security is no joke. For years we've been told to make sure to change our passwords and scan our systems on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. All in an attempt to thwart the success of hackers and malware writers from infecting our computers and gaining access to personal information. Smartphones are no different. For many of us, they are almost a full replacement to the laptops and desktops we once so closely worked with during our daily grind. This is especially true over the last few years with the release of android, and the growing success it has seen. At the beginning of this month, that popularity finally granted us fan boys the use of one of the most sought after applications to date, the popular photo sharing app Instagram.

For those unfamiliar with Instagram, it allows you to capture photos from your smartphone or pick from your gallery, and apply a number of exciting and fun digital filters to enhance the look of the picture. Once applied you can attach any tag you want and post it up to your Instagram account and then share it with other popular social networking sites. The applications popularity caught on and not long after its release onto the Google Play Store on April 3rd, Facebook purchased Instagram for $ 1 billion in US dollars. This made Instagram an appealing target for those who seek to create and distribute viruses to unsuspecting users.

According to security researchers from antivirus firms TrendMicro and Sophos, malware writers have created fake Instagram websites to infect user's devices with Trojan horses. As stated by TrendMicro fraud analyst Karla Agregado in her blog post on Tuesday, "We discovered a spoofed web page containing a rogue version of Instagram. The said page mimics Instagram's download page." The fake website distributes the Android Trojan horse posing as the actual Instagram app and once the user has installed it, they are unaware that the app is actually sending text messages to premium-rate numbers.

If you have been thinking about picking up and trying out Instagram, I highly recommend it. As it can be loads of fun to play with and makes for some very fun and interesting picture posting moments. Just be sure to check the validity of your sources if downloading apps from third party websites. Photos of the website mimicking Instagrams own legitimate site can be found here at Karla Agregado's malware blog. This rogue app in particular has been said to contain several images of a man that has been the subject of a photo-bomb type meme in Russia inside the apps apk file.(The applications installer program) This has also been done with other applications in the past as reported by Symantec security researchers back in February using a technique called  server-side polymorphic Android malware. You may or may not remember a similar scare in the last week about the Android malware that posed as the popular recent release of Angry Birds Space, attempting to trick users into downloading the program.

Various websites like this most recent one found to be an impostor of Instagram have been spotted popping up over the last month posing as download sources for other popular android games and apps. The allure of something free is always appealing. I mean who could resist a free app or game? Right? As Android and its popularity continue to grow though the reality is that more and more, users need to be aware of potentially threatening software that could hurt or steal their private information. Arming up with the knowledge on how to protect against such attacks is one of the best tools one can have. Not sure how to keep yourself safe from such attacks? Not to worry. We're here to help you find the right application for your needs. Norton Antivirus by Symantec is very popular with PC so you should all be familiar with their program. Well now they offer the same great protection for your android device. With an automatic antivirus scan for downloaded apps and app updates you never have to worry about downloading or installing a harmful program. Remote lock allows you to remotely lock your device in the event that it is lost or stolen and it even has the option to scan your SD card  data for threats when inserted into your phone. avast! Mobile Security is another popular PC based antivirus program that has made its way onto Android. With similar features to Norton,  it's definitely worth looking into but it adds to the appeal by giving you the options for a privacy report, sms/call filtering, web shield and firewall.  Lookout Mobile Security which is probably the most popular of all is also one to check out before you decide. Below is a list of applications that has been compiled to help you keep your android devices safe from malicious programs and activity. All of which are available on the Google Play Store. Feel free to post any questions about certain apps in the comments thread and as always read the user reviews posted directly in the store pertaining to each application to find the best fit for you.

Norton Anti-virus and Security

Lookout Security and Anti-Virus

avast! Mobile Security

Kaspersky Mobile Security

Webroot Mobile Security

Mobile Security Personal Ed.


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About the Author

Justin Diaz

Justin has written for Android Headlines since 2012 and currently adopts a Games Editor role with a specific focus on mobile gaming and game-streaming services. Prior to the move to Android Headlines Justin spent almost eight years working directly within the wireless industry. Contact him at [email protected]