Yeah yeah, Google’s Android platform is open and amazing and makes Apple’s iOS ecosystem look like a Russian gulag in comparison – or so some folks would have you believe. Seriously, while Android’s openness does have some positives, it also carries the potential for mischief.
Case in point – Google this week removed over 51 popular apps from the Android Marketplace after it was discovered the apps contained malware that sought to root user’s devices and send back a plethora of private information to only lord knows where.
There’s another APK hidden inside the code, and it steals nearly everything it can: product ID, model, partner (provider?), language, country, and userID.But that’s all child’s play; the true pièce de résistance is that it has the ability to download more code. In other words, there’s no way to know what the app does after it’s installed, and the possibilities are nearly endless.
And the scary part is that the 21 apps in question managed to garner over 50,000 downloads (and perhaps as many as 200,000) before Google removed them. In Google’s defense, sort of, the malicious apps employed an exploit that was remedied in Android 2.2.2. Then again, that version of Android didn’t drop until January of this year, and we can only imagine how many existing Android handsets don’t even support that particular update. Well, at least Nexus One and Nexus S owners are fine.
And one more thing to Google’s credit, upon being made aware of the malicious apps, Google pulled them within 5 minutes. Fast reaction time, but users shouldn’t have to worry that the apps they’re downloading are actually ticking timebombs.
This of course isn’t the first time Google has had a run in with sinister software. Back in January of 2010, Google had to remotely remove 2 Twilight Apps that, though built for research purposes, were subsequently able to download executable code without alerting the user.
via Android Police