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Android Smartphones Prone to New Spam Virus

By - Source: Cloudmark | B 25 comments

SpamSoldier engineered to hide traces of malicious activity.

Network security firm Cloudmark has issued a warning to Android handset users regarding a new spam-forwarding botnet.

Known as SpamSoldier, the malicious mobile application, which appears to be confined to the U.S., comes into affect should a user download counterfeit versions of Android games stored on a Hong Kong server as opposed to the central Google Play store.

The copied games are accessed through a text message that promises to deliver free versions of titles such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Angry Birds Star Wars.

"Download Grand Theft Auto 3 & Need for Speed Most Wanted for Android phones for free at http://[redacted].mobi for next 24hrs only!" the message reads.

Should the app be installed, users will notice that the icon disappears from the home screen. The app will then connect to a remote server in order to obtain a list of target numbers, after which it'll commence the sending of spam messages through the infected handset.

"You better have an unlimited message plan or your phone bill may come as a bit of a shock," Cloudmark stressed.

"Compared with PC botnets this was an unsophisticated attack. However, this sort of attack changes the economics of SMS spam, as the spammer no longer has to pay for the messages that are sent if he can use a botnet to cover his costs. Now that we know it can be done, we can expect to see more and more complex attacks that are harder to take down."

Mobile antivirus firm Lookout, a company that recently signed a deal with EE to provide free virus protection for Android next year, added that SpamSoldier is engineered in a way that allows it to become hidden and remove any trace of "malicious activity" by intercepting text replies and hiding outgoing messages.

It was recently revealed that Android's 4.2 malware scanner has a detection rate of 15 percent. The amount of malware itself affecting Google's platform surged during 2012's Q3.


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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    azraa , December 23, 2012 12:07 AM
    Well who the frack actually goes anywhere outside GooglePlay for that kind of thing? They deserve the virus.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    azraa , December 23, 2012 12:07 AM
    Well who the frack actually goes anywhere outside GooglePlay for that kind of thing? They deserve the virus.
  • 3 Hide
    Ninjamonkeh , December 23, 2012 12:20 AM
    I dont know if anyone at toms cares but I am 3 more zak anti-android or pro-apple articles away from removing toms from my toolbars and bookmarks. At first it was mildly amusing to see how often he was wrong , its becoming more and more apparent these are either paid apple adverts or writings of a deranged fanboy. I don't care if you believe it or not, just know you are very close to losing 1 reader. Most of the articles are very misleading , or out right wrong.
  • Display all 25 comments.
  • -8 Hide
    otacon72 , December 23, 2012 12:21 AM
    ninjamonkehI dont know if anyone at toms cares but I am 3 more zak anti-android or pro-apple articles away from removing toms from my toolbars and bookmarks. At first it was mildly amusing to see how often he was wrong , its becoming more and more apparent these are either paid apple adverts or writings of a deranged fanboy. I don't care if you believe it or not, just know you are very close to losing 1 reader. Most of the articles are very misleading , or out right wrong.


    Ok bye...
  • 3 Hide
    sacre , December 23, 2012 12:23 AM
    ninjamonkehI dont know if anyone at toms cares but I am 3 more zak anti-android or pro-apple articles away from removing toms from my toolbars and bookmarks. At first it was mildly amusing to see how often he was wrong , its becoming more and more apparent these are either paid apple adverts or writings of a deranged fanboy. I don't care if you believe it or not, just know you are very close to losing 1 reader. Most of the articles are very misleading , or out right wrong.


    Yea you won't hesitate for one second on bashing apple, but as soon as something negative is said about the Android platform you'll slip into denial and scream "IT AINT TRUE!"

    Both platforms have their downsides, we have to accept that and just work on fixing it as oppose to pretending they don't exist.

    Fanboys all over the damn place. "You like the blue sucker?! YOU SUCK RED IS SUPERIOR!" is basically all you people are doing.

  • 7 Hide
    Ninjamonkeh , December 23, 2012 12:42 AM
    sacreYea you won't hesitate for one second on bashing apple, but as soon as something negative is said about the Android platform you'll slip into denial and scream "IT AINT TRUE!"Both platforms have their downsides, we have to accept that and just work on fixing it as oppose to pretending they don't exist.Fanboys all over the damn place. "You like the blue sucker?! YOU SUCK RED IS SUPERIOR!" is basically all you people are doing.

    Who is denying anything? To side-load a app on android it you have to click a box warning you of exactly what is happening. I come to this site for unbiased tech information. When i see a article saying Android phones are prone to something i read it to make sure im not at risk. Then i find out OMG 3rd party shady Chinese android warez sites might have viruses!!!!! Over time i start seeing the same person writing all these misleading articles. At the same time I also notice alot of "Apple's shit is solid gold and smells like roses" articles by the same author. This makes me worry that the site I use for unbiased tech information might be selling good press to Apple.

    on a side note I'd like to say I dont hate apple. I believe both phones have their ups and downs, I just prefer Android cause I like to tinker with my phone.
  • 6 Hide
    jerm1027 , December 23, 2012 1:17 AM
    sacreYea you won't hesitate for one second on bashing apple, but as soon as something negative is said about the Android platform you'll slip into denial and scream "IT AINT TRUE!"Both platforms have their downsides, we have to accept that and just work on fixing it as oppose to pretending they don't exist.Fanboys all over the damn place. "You like the blue sucker?! YOU SUCK RED IS SUPERIOR!" is basically all you people are doing.

    I don't think he ever denied Android having it's flaws, but it would obtuse to say Zak is unbiased. It's clear that this article has a slant and at the bottom, Zak referenced his own articles (with biased sources) to further discredit Android's security. There is only so much an operating system can do to protect itself from its user(s), and this spam virus requires user interaction to infect the device.

    Again, the virus is laced into games and "the copied games are accessed through a text message that promises to deliver free versions of titles." That has malware written all over it to anyone with common sense.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , December 23, 2012 1:21 AM
    The issue is not whether the article is correct or not 'sacre'. If you actually read octacon72's post you'll notice he/she doesn't call the credibility of that article into account, what he questions is the insistence of Toms (& imho several other US based publications) on continually beating up anything that can be perceived as a negative about the android OS, while at the same time Toms appears to me to play down the flaws that have been exposed in IoS and now also windows 8 telecommunication devices.
    It isn't about which phone is better, anyone with half a brain knows that is a subjective determination made by consumers after they analyse information from a variety of sources ranging from objective engineering data to their neighbour's take on his new handheld love affair.

    This is about Toms Hardware either maintaining its reputation as an objective source or becoming just another spruiker for a select range of corporate 'friends'.
    Most of us use Toms because we trust you guys not to unfairly weight your stories with subjective garbage. To give every brand the same objective analysis. That is why I am here but like octacon I have noticed that what began as less than truthful coverage of the myriad samsung Vs apple lawsuits around this planet has now crept into other areas of Toms reporting.

    The US is going through a tough time, we get it but if Tom's decides for some perverse and ill-informed reason that they should take sides on their reporting and somehow put toms thumb on the scales so that products likely to create more US wealth are favoured, it will back fire and global consumers will do as many have already done with samsung. That is assume that 'poor little Samsung' is an underdog and buy their products even when the engineering doesn't stack up.

    A classic example is the cisco huawei contest. As soon as cisco leant on US politicians to put out press releases claiming that huawei metworking hardware is insecure, providing no evidence to substantiate that claim, net heads in my country pressured government to ensure that the taxpayer funded fibre optic rollout only used huawei hardware. The pressure back-fired because the play was too obvious.

  • -7 Hide
    QEFX , December 23, 2012 2:02 AM
    ninjamonkehWho is denying anything? Yada Yada Yada


    You realize this is Toms and not a high end tech site .... Toms the TMZ of Tech sites.
  • 0 Hide
    madjimms , December 23, 2012 2:06 AM
    Simple solution is simple, fire Zak....
  • 0 Hide
    alextheblue , December 23, 2012 2:25 AM
    DisherA classic example is the cisco huawei contest. As soon as cisco leant on US politicians to put out press releases claiming that huawei metworking hardware is insecure, providing no evidence to substantiate that claim, net heads in my country pressured government to ensure that the taxpayer funded fibre optic rollout only used huawei hardware. The pressure back-fired because the play was too obvious.
    Worst example ever. Your "net heads" sound more like politicians, who don't care about the technical details as long as it fits their agenda. Huawei is shady and their network hardware is full of more holes than swiss cheese, probably half of them intentional. Just Google it, Huawei security is a complete joke.

    You also mentioned Samsung... they're Korean, and they're OK in my book. My current phone is Samsung, and my next phone will be Samsung or possibly HTC. Not ZTE, no way. Same with Huawei routers, no thanks. I don't mind buying foreign hardware, but I'd much prefer something from a Japanese, Korean, or Taiwanese firm.
  • -3 Hide
    maddad , December 23, 2012 2:37 AM
    MadjimmsSimple solution is simple, fire Zak....

    Simple solution; if you don't like Zak's articles then quit reading them!
  • 3 Hide
    halcyon , December 23, 2012 2:58 AM
    To be honest, I simply don't rely on any articles from Zak Islam for anything more than entertainment/trolling value. I'm not agitated like so many of you appear to be because other authors here such as Jane, Kevin, and the rest of THG's crew provide high-value articles. Just consider the source when you read his articles. Just because he may write, "Android stinx and iOS is manna from Heaven" doesn't mean it'se true and in fact I know to take what he writes lightly. His directive seems to be to write so you'll read and you're doing that ...so he's sucessful. No need to hate on him for that.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , December 23, 2012 5:22 AM
    As if iPhone or iPad won't have the same issue. Anyone who has jail-broken his iOS device and downloaded compromised app will have the same issue. This is just part of the risk when using such devices.
  • 2 Hide
    sacre , December 23, 2012 5:58 AM
    ninjamonkehWho is denying anything? To side-load a app on android it you have to click a box warning you of exactly what is happening. I come to this site for unbiased tech information. When i see a article saying Android phones are prone to something i read it to make sure im not at risk. Then i find out OMG 3rd party shady Chinese android warez sites might have viruses!!!!! Over time i start seeing the same person writing all these misleading articles. At the same time I also notice alot of "Apple's shit is solid gold and smells like roses" articles by the same author. This makes me worry that the site I use for unbiased tech information might be selling good press to Apple.on a side note I'd like to say I dont hate apple. I believe both phones have their ups and downs, I just prefer Android cause I like to tinker with my phone.


    Must have misread then, I apologize.
  • -1 Hide
    wildkitten , December 23, 2012 8:24 AM
    jerm1027I don't think he ever denied Android having it's flaws, but it would obtuse to say Zak is unbiased. It's clear that this article has a slant and at the bottom, Zak referenced his own articles (with biased sources) to further discredit Android's security. There is only so much an operating system can do to protect itself from its user(s), and this spam virus requires user interaction to infect the device. Again, the virus is laced into games and "the copied games are accessed through a text message that promises to deliver free versions of titles." That has malware written all over it to anyone with common sense.

    He is unbiased. He has written many articles that were negative towards Apple. Only recently has he branched out to write more about Android and other topics, likely because Tom's has told him to.

    Here is one example of an negative Apple article Zak Islam as written...
    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/iOS-6.0.2-iPhone-Apple-Battery,news-16496.html
    Here is an article Zak has written that talks about Samsung becoming the top smartphone provider...
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Samsung-Cell-Phone-Smartphones-Nokia,19891.html

    In the 4 tabs of Latest News, there is a total of ONE Apple article. As one of the major players in technology, something that can not be objectively denied, no one can say that is too many. And that one article, written by Zak, is a NEGATIVE article talking about the poor battery life on iOS devices since the iOS version 6.0.2 release.

    And if anyone wants to leave Tom's over one write doing his job, fine, let them. No web site needs people that are that ignorant, stupid, and yes, even bigoted because they don't like the fact that a write covers something they do not like. Tom's is essentially a compilation site when it comes to news. They do hardware benchmarking and reviews, but when it comes to stories, they write about what other sites are saying and put them in one handy place.

    And sorry Android fan kiddies, but security is lacking. Yes, people are stupid for getting apps from unofficial sources, but you know what, even the Play market has had malicious apps on their site. The fact is, people are upset about this news being talked about because it shatters the myth of Linux being so secure. NO OS is secure. Any OS that has widespread usage will be attacked and those who wish to attack it will find ways to do so.

    While I have an Android phone myself (Motorola Bionic) and do not like the iOS beyond an iPod, there are some things I wish Google would learn from Apple. I wish they would review apps much tighter like Apple does before they go on the Play market. I wish they pushed their weight around with the cell phone carriers like Apple does so that Google and the Android OEMs controlled when Android updates are sent out and not have to go through long drawn out carrier approval processes where so much bloatware is added in that can not be uninstalled.

    The fact is, there are security concerns with Android that are common with any OS. Yes, people should read before they do something, but a lot of people don't. That's why so many Android phones get infected.
  • 0 Hide
    _Cosmin_ , December 23, 2012 9:24 AM
    alextheblueWorst example ever. Your "net heads" sound more like politicians, who don't care about the technical details as long as it fits their agenda. Huawei is shady and their network hardware is full of more holes than swiss cheese, probably half of them intentional. Just Google it, Huawei security is a complete joke.You also mentioned Samsung... they're Korean, and they're OK in my book. My current phone is Samsung, and my next phone will be Samsung or possibly HTC. Not ZTE, no way. Same with Huawei routers, no thanks. I don't mind buying foreign hardware, but I'd much prefer something from a Japanese, Korean, or Taiwanese firm.


    In case you didn`t know: majority of "phone and network electronics" are made by Huawei and ZTE. Sure they provide just parts (like boards) which is used by other " you consider good" corporations (like Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent, etc) in their products... for another example LTE chip in iphone 5 is made by a firm named Skyworks which happens to be the best colaborator of ZTE - in other words ZTE phones and IPHONE share same chipset for LTE communications (and that means Iphone is no better than an ZTE phone regarding LTE)!
    You should not judge a product by it`s origins only! Lenovo lap-tops are "made in china" and belive me i have 9 and no one failed in 2 years, on the other hand i have 2 Dell`s (number one US - as they are self named) and guess what: both have problems (one got to RMA 4 times in 2 months from purchase), but on the other hand i have 2 Dell Servers who work flawlessly!
    BTW: just google SAMSUNG phones security and you will find 2 big flaws in 2 months period both affecting only samsungs devices (a code to reset to factory and a hardware one found in Galaxy S2/S3)... hell i think even Tom had news about them. And i`m not taking sides here - just be more OPEN MINDED !
  • 2 Hide
    halcyon , December 23, 2012 11:59 AM
    One thing Zak made me think about here was Android security, in general. I'd never really given it that much thought. It may not be related, at all, but it made me want to try the highly-rated Avast on my new Galaxy Note II. No matter what platform you prefer there are gonna be security concerns. Such is the state of the technology. Be mindful of that and you'll likely be just fine.
  • 1 Hide
    khha4113 , December 23, 2012 2:22 PM
    Known as SpamSoldier, the malicious mobile application, which appears to be confined to the U.S., comes into affect should a user download counterfeit versions of Android games stored on a Hong Kong server as opposed to the central Google Play store.

    Duh!
  • 0 Hide
    olaf , December 23, 2012 2:27 PM
    Realy you get a virus or a malware from shady sites ? who would have guessed it ... Zak iSlam strikes again ....
  • -2 Hide
    reprotected , December 23, 2012 4:33 PM
    MadjimmsSimple solution is simple, fire Zak....

    He should be promoted. What are you guys talking about?

    NinjamonkehI dont know if anyone at toms cares but I am 3 more zak anti-android or pro-apple articles away from removing toms from my toolbars and bookmarks.

    Zak Islam will become God of Tom's Hardware. There is no denying that.
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