TechCrunch is running a story today about a new malware that’s affecting Android users. After Google put “bouncer” in place in the Android market to patrol for malware, this new enemy has let himself in the side door via Facebook.
The malware, which has disguised itself as “any_name.apk” and “allnew.apk” was discovered by the security firm Sophos. Researcher Vanja Svajcer, who discovered the exploit, received a Facebook friend request. When Svajcer went to check out the users profile he clicked the Facebook users “about me” url link and downloaded this piece of malware to his Android phone.
More after the break
Once infected the malware got into the users Android phone and then it was able to send text messages to text sites that charge a premium for their text services. As TechCrunch points out this is a popular practice outside the United States.
The security researcher was vulnerable because their phone was set to allow installations of apps from outside sources. Most Android phones ship with this setting turned off. This practice is often referred to as “side loading” and is found under the applications portion of your settings menu.
Bouncer is designed to protect users by checking for Malware with in apps submitted through the actual Android Market. It wouldn’t protect you from malware if it were to gain access to your phone through this Facebook process or even a third party app store like Getjar or Amazon. Of course both of those sites have protections in place for Malware.
How to protect yourself:
Pay attention to your Facebook friend requests, if you don’t know the person requesting to be your friend you can poke around their profile but don’t click any links outside of familiar in app Facebook links.
Set your phone to not allow installations of apps outside of the Android Market. Should you want to download an app from Amazon or GetJar it will prompt you to change it when the download initiates, and you can just change it back for your protection after you download the app.
Of course there are also security apps like NQ Mobile which will scan every app and file that you download regardless of the source.