Google pulls SMS trojans from Market

Apps put issue of Android security back in the spotlight

Stewart Mitchell
13 Dec 2011

Google has been forced to remove a series of premium rate apps from its Android Market after user complaints.

According to security experts, Google has taken the apps offline, but not before they were downloaded by unsuspecting users, with the apps reportedly sending premium rate texts.

Posing as free-versions of popular games - including Cut the Rope, Need for Speed and World of Goo - the SMS dialler was published under accounts named Logastrod and Miriada Production.

Both Market accounts have since been closed, but according to security experts the apps mark a new stage in Android malware because of the global reach of the operation.

“In the past, all of the premium rate SMS trojans that we've actively encountered have targeted Russia,” said security company F-Secure in a blog. "These trojans are targeting 18 countries.”

The UK, France, Germany, and Poland were among the countries targeted.

Red faces

The premium rate issue comes at a bad time for Google's Android, which has been criticised by the security industry over what it considers lax oversight of the Android Market.

While Apple uses a strict vetting process, Google relies on takedown requests if apps are reported after publication.

The revelation comes at a particularly embarrassing time for Google after senior open source employee Chris DiBona blasted mobile security companies as "charlatans and scammers" for selling antivirus protection he claimed was unnecessary.

We are waiting to hear back from Google regarding the takedown.

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