Android apps with BadNews malware downloaded by millions

Malware dubbed BadNews has been discovered in Android app market Google Play and downloaded millions of times.

Do you want the good news or the BadNews? Malware dubbed BadNews has been discovered in Android app market Google Play, downloaded millions of times and potentially sending your phone number to wrong'uns.

The malware is buried in at least 32 Android apps from four different developers, including games, dictionaries, and wallpapers in English and Russian. The tainted apps have been removed by Google, but not before they've been widely downloaded -- perhaps as many as nine million times.

Games including Gremlins Holiday, Bottle Shoot and Stupid Birds have been infected with malware, but the majority are Russian apps ranging from recipes to sex apps.

Half the ne'er-do-well apps bilk Russian phone fans with premium rate text messages.

Security experts Lookout Mobile Security spotted BadNews, which prompts you to install applications, sends fraudulent news messages, and sends information such as your phone number and the phone's IMEI serial number to wrong'un servers in Russia, Ukraine and Germany.

BadNews also encourages you to download more software --under innocuous-sounding fake names including skype_installer.apk and mail.apk -- which also contain malware.

It's not clear whether the developers are all bad guys themselves, or have somehow had malicious code added to their legitimate apps.

Although Google doesn't approve every app in the same way Apple does, it has software called Google Bouncer that scans the app store for villainous code. To get around such measures, the dodgy developers added apps to the store without any malicious code, and only added the malware later, in the form of updates.

To protect yourself, the experts at Lookout suggests you head into your Android phone's settings and untick Unknown sources to prevent dodgy downloads. And download their Lookout security app -- but they would say that.

And the good news? It's going to be 23 degrees on Wednesday.

Have you ever had trouble with dodgy apps? Should manufacturers and networks do more to protect you? Share your good and bad news in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Tags:
Phones
Mobile
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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