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Malware is stubborn and hard to remove

Since July, a new strain of malware has been attacking Android smartphones in China.  Dubbed SMSZombie.A, the malware spreads by wallpaper apps on China's largest apps marketplace, GFan.

The apps come with alluring titles, such as "Android Animated Screensaver: Animated Album I Found When I Fixed My Female Coworker's Computer".  

When the user sets the in-app wallpaper as their selected wallpaper, they receive a prompt requesting to download additional files.  Those files are a malware packaged dubbed "Android System Service".  Once installed, that package request administrative privileges, repeatedly popping up the dialogue until the user accepts.

As with various text message scams in the U.S., sending and receiving messages from premium SMS numbers make the bulk of the profit from the malware.  As carriers receive a cut of the profits from premium SMS messages, some carriers have been unwilling to block abusive premium SMS entities, even if it means their customers are being ripped off.  

The new Android malware is particularly clever as it deletes receipts from premium SMS services, disguising the fees from the user.  Researchers suspect the malware may also be attempting to steal bankcard numbers and money transfer receipt details.

SMS Zombie
The SMSZombie malware acts a malicious Trojan [Image Source: TrustGo]

So far 500,000 Android smartphones in China have been infected by SMSZombie, according to TrustGo, a mobile security firm.

As the actual wallpaper apps contain no direct malware, they are hard for mobile antivirus software to detect.  They also reportedly are resistant to removal.

Android malware is most prevalent in China, where poorly regulated third party applications markets dominate the Android software space.  Such markets are oft rife with pirated and malicious applications [1][2][3].

In the last quarter approximately 34 million Android smartphones shipped to the Chinese market, according Canalys [source].  The biggest player is Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), who is shipping close to 10 million units a quarter to the world's biggest smartphone market.  Huawei Technologies Comp. (SHE:002502and HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) also command large Android sales in the market.

Source: SMSZombie

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RE: Yeah, well
By Tony Swash on 8/20/2012 4:03:02 PM , Rating: 0
Any sophisticated device that holds such access to one's personal data needs to be respected though.

We can ague this issue around and around but the buying public know a simple truth which is that for most people using 'open' operating systems like Windows, a model that Google took for Android and absurdly made even more 'open", was a hellish and unpleasant experience. Leaving aside the ridiculous instabilities and general shoddiness of Windows through out most of it's iterations the overwhelming experience of using computers for many tens of millions of people for decades was one characterised by fear and insecurity. Would my PC be breached? Has it been attacked? Has it already been infected? Will I lose my precious stuff, will my identity be stolen?

People are, rightly, sick of it.

Apple decided when it launched iOS to change the model to curated computing and a vastly reduced price for software. The result has been a creative explosion of inexpensive software: see this info-graphic

This happened because many tens of millions of consumers are happy to pay a few bucks for apps and are very happy indeed that they can install them safely. It's a huge relief and a liberating experience.

And what was the response of many techies? Endless stupid whining nonsense about Apple's attack on freedom, a dismissal of the App Store as being full of fart apps and a constant attempt to brush off Androids shortcomings such as the non-arriving system updates, malware, the anaemic developer revenues, as being somehow anomalous. It's like a wilful attempt to not understand the world and modern technology. Incidents like this latest Android malware fiasco are not anomalous they are an unavoidable part of the Android system. Even more shameful are the cowardly attempts to try paint iOS security with the same brush as Android. They are not the same and you and I know it. You have your cake - now eat it.

RE: Yeah, well
By chris2618 on 8/20/2012 4:15:03 PM , Rating: 2
"vastly reduced price for software"

Are you kidding, most are only worth a couple of quid if that and the vast majority of games are nothing better than internet flash games which are free.

RE: Yeah, well
By Reclaimer77 on 8/20/2012 4:23:31 PM , Rating: 3
In Tony's mind, without Apple we would be paying $60 for mobile apps lol.

The idea that Apple has ever been about "reduced prices" made me shoot Coke through my nose.

RE: Yeah, well
By Argon18 on 8/20/12, Rating: -1
RE: Yeah, well
By Reclaimer77 on 8/20/2012 4:37:27 PM , Rating: 4
$29 OSX upgrades? Microsoft wants $129 or more.

Nice try. Those OSX "upgrades" amount to a Windows Service Pack, which last time I checked was free.

Also since OSX only runs on Apple hardware, which is always overpriced, meh.

Sounds like you've been drinking too much of that Coke then.

Better than the Kool Aid you're gorging on.

RE: Yeah, well
By kleinma on 8/20/2012 4:37:43 PM , Rating: 3
Lets not confuse OS upgrades with Service Packs.

.99 cent apps were not groundbreaking with the iPhone, what are you smoking? I was buying .99 cent apps written for BREW on Verizon Wireless dumb phones before Apple even made the iPod.

They didn't pioneer shit. They simply wrap up what everyone else is doing in a neat little package and call it revolutionary, and you and Tony gulp their koolaid without question.

RE: Yeah, well
By Tony Swash on 8/20/12, Rating: 0
RE: Yeah, well
By wordsworm on 8/20/2012 7:59:54 PM , Rating: 2
I don't agree that Apple was the first. Ubuntu beat them all to it, except that their apps are free.

RE: Yeah, well
By bug77 on 8/20/2012 4:58:25 PM , Rating: 1
From time to time people grow tired of democracy, too. Not many good things come out of that.

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