Trojans have been around for a long time, and are not exclusive to Android. We’ve been seeing more and more reports related to Android, though, as trojans seem to be becoming a serious threat to Android users.
This particular article has been greatly inspired by a recent report regarding Android banking trojans. Those trojans infected about a dozen Android apps, and managed to sneak their way to over 300,000 users.
Trojans are slowly becoming a serious threat to the Android ecosystem
What’s worrying when it comes to this report, and a number of others we’ve seen this year, is that those apps managed to find their way to the Google Play Store. Google’s very own app store should be extremely secure, and it usually is, but there is always a way to get malware through the cracks, it seems. Third-party app stores are usually easier targets.
These banking trojans did it in a very smart way, but we hope Google will find a way to prevent that from happening in the future, at least to a degree. These trojans use loaders to get through the security fences. Loaders are tiny pieces of malware that are really well hidden inside apps. They usually remain undetected by Google’s defenses, and that goes for other platforms as well. Apple’s AppStore is not immune to such problems either, just to be clear.
Some of these trojans are not dangerous at first, but updates make things worse
Most of these trojans are not working trojans to begin with, but they become malicious after several updates. Whoever placed them inside apps rolls out updates in order to combine bits and pieces of malicious software.
That way it’s possible to avoid Google’s defenses, in some situations, as these banking trojans demonstrated. We’ve seen trojans that infected considerably more than 300,000 people this year, and that is worrying, needless to say.
The joy of using a smartphone is installing apps, of course, as each app gives you another new function, basically. You can play it safe, and just stick to extremely well-known apps from big corporations, but you shouldn’t be limited to that.
You should be able to feel safe installing the most obscure application on the Play Store, if it seems interesting enough. There are a lot of great apps on there that you’ve never heard of, and they offer functionality like no other app out there.
It would be ideal if Google could prevent this from happening altogether, but we know that’s not possible. So all we can hope it’ll keep doing the best it can. When such apps manage to find their way to hundreds of thousands of devices before they’re removed, it’s a problem.
Trojans usually hide themselves in obscure image editing apps, PDF scanners, and so on
Something worth noting is that malware usually hides in apps that present themselves as image editing apps, PDF scanners, QR code scanners, and something similar. Something that people need from time to time, and usually install in a hurry, without thinking twice about it.
Let’s hope that Android trojans will be less and less of an issue moving forward. We all know Google is doing its best to prevent this from happening, but you need to do your part as well. You need to check the app a bit more closely before installing, and most importantly, be very careful which permissions you grant for apps.
Think before you grant apps various permissions
If a PDF scanning app requires permission to send SMS messages, make calls, and so forth, you know something’s wrong. This is just one example, of course. The problem is, most people simply grant everything that is required, without a second thought. Needless to say, that is not the right approach. Those permissions are in place for a reason. I cannot emphasize this enough, don’t grant unnecessary permissions, in other words, be careful what permissions you do grant. That is your last line of defence, and a very effective one.