20,000 Apps Infected With Malware Capable of Gaining Root Access to Any Android Device

Mobile MalwareOne of the most prevalent issues in this digital age is the issue of malware.  Viruses are still out there but they no longer carry the threat that they used to.  I remember many years ago where you had to check every email to ensure there weren’t any viruses in the email and everyone was extra paranoid about the dangers of viruses.  Nowadays I hear more people expressing concern about a different issue that has arisen that has as much if not more of an impact on us than viruses do.  That issue is malware.

Now don’t misunderstand, viruses still are dangerous and you should always take every precaution to protect yourself against viruses.  However, when working on computers or devices belonging to other individuals it seems more often than not they are infected with adware and malware and not so commonly with viruses.

Malware isn’t much different from the Trojan viruses of old.  Malware often relies on you as the user to take an action that then allows it to sneak in and hide within your existing files.  Depending on the type of malware it then does one of many things.  It can be something as benign as changing your homepage to a specific site or it could start harvesting your data and sending it to the creators of the malware and those are just two common things you see malware doing.  The functions built into malware are only limited by the imagination of their creator.

Recently the security company, Lookout, posted to their blog stating that their researchers had detected over 20,000 instances of what they referred to as trojanized adware, or more in the more common vernacular, malware.  These instances were unique in that they came with a large group of exploits that allowed them to gain root access to almost any Android device they were installed to.  The root access would give them almost unlimited control over the devices to do whatever they wanted with them.

The 20,000 different apps were all apps that were posted to third-party markets and sites.  None of them were available on Google Play.  The apps were common apps that had been repackaged with the exploits in such a way that they retained their original functionality and to the untrained eye were identical to the originals.

Strangely the apps don’t seem to do much at this point beyond displaying ads but they have the potential to do more.  A LOT more.

To protect yourselves from malware and viruses you should always download from a reputable source.  The most common source of apps infected like these are through sites that endorse and encourage piracy of apps.  Make sure you support the app developers and get their app from the places they chose to host them.

Source Links: Lookout | Ars Technica