A smartphone security firm claims to have found 26 legitimate Android apps that had been laced with malware.
The once-legitimate applications were modified to include what researchers from security firm Lookout called a “stripped down version” of DreamDroid, which it dubbed DreamDroid Light.
The malware is activated by an incoming call, according to Lookout’s spokesperson, Tim Wyatt, which meant that users would not have to launch the application to trigger its behaviour.
Lookout has estimated the applications have been installed on 30,000 to 120,000 devices.
Like its predecessor, the tainted application sends identifiers (IMEI/IMSI) to the malware's distributors, however DreamDroid Light would require user-interaction to steer its way through an update.
Google has removed the program while it investigates the claim, according to Forbes security blogger, Andy Greenberg.
Lookout discovered the malware after a developer had alerted it to a modified version of one of his apps, which was being distributed on Google's Android Market.
“Our security team confirmed that there was malicious code grafted into these apps and identified markers associating this code with previously analysed DreamDroid samples,” wrote Wyatt.
A list of the affected apps, which ranged from “hot girls” to systems monitoring tools, can be found on Lookout’s website.
One of the apps, Hot Girls 1, had the capacity to create a “mobile botnet”, according to F-Secure chief researcher, Mikko Hypponen.
In that instance, receiving a text message will activate malicious components of the app.
“The added code will connect to a server and send details about the infected handset to the malware authors. So we're talking about a mobile botnet,” he said.