Google won't kill 'malicious' Android apps

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Apps dubbed malicious by Symantec did not violate terms of service.

Google will not remove 13 Android applications dubbed malcious by security firm Symantec.

The applications included action, adventure and puzzle games that had data stealing capabilities, according to Symantec.

The security company said the apps included the software development kit (SDK) dubbed Appherhand that installed a search bar on the user's phone and allowed the distributors to change the user's home page and add and remove bookmarks and shortcuts.

Symantec security response director Kevin Haley said questioned the legitimacy of Apperhand.

"I'm not sure why you would need to pull someone's bookmarks," Haley told SCMagazine.com."I'm not aware of the benefit."

The apps contained a trojan dubbed by Symantec as Counterclank and have been downloaded between one and five million times, Haley said.

Apperhand was similar to an SDK  present in other apps that appeared recently in the Android Market.

They carried malicious code dubbed Plankton which provided distributors with remote access to a users' device.

Google temporarily suspended the apps but later found they were not harmful.

"You should be aware what you're getting into when you download these apps, and if you don't want them taking these actions on your phone, then I think you should remove them," Haley said.

Google would not remove the apps stating they did not violate its terms of service, Symantec said.

Lookout Mobile Security said it does not consider the applications malware but "an aggressive form of [an] ad network" which "should be taken seriously".

As the mobile device space continues to mature, security companies and platform providers will be forced to sort out applications worth flagging.

Haley likened this to the early days of the PC industry when spyware programs routinely were considered innocuous.

"Maybe we don't have all the nomenclature set yet in the Android or malware space."

"We're building consensus on what these things ought to be called."

This article originally appeared at scmagazineus.com

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition


Google won't kill 'malicious' Android apps
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