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Google culls 21 Android apps to curb malware spread

updated 05:40 am EST, Wed March 2, 2011

Current model leaves users vulnerable

Google has taken steps to address the rising malware problem that threatens to plague the platform. According to a report from Mashable, Google has pulled 21 apps from the Android Market that have been identified as being aimed at gaining root access to a user's personal data. While proponents for Google's platform often deride Apple's iOS platform for being "closed" and for Apple's App Store approval process, Google's stance has seemingly left its users vulnerable to serious security threats.

In this case, the apps in question were brought to the attention of Google, who then responded by taking the apps down. All of the apps were pirated versions of popular titles and produced by a group or individual known only as Myournet. The list of apps taken down includes, Falling Down, Super Guitar Solo, Super History Eraser, Photo Editor, Super Ringtone Maker, Super Sex Positions, Hot Sexy Videos, Chess, Hilton Sex Sound, Screaming Sexy Japanese Girls, Falling Ball Dodge, Scientific Calculator, Dice Roller, Advanced Currency Converter, APP Uninstaller, Funny Paint and Spider Man plus some Chinese titles.

The news follows a warning issued by Symantec on Tuesday about a Trojan known as Android.Pjapps that is also installing itself via bootlegged apps. Kapersky issued a warning about the first trojan written in Android-native code infecting Android devices last August. It warned at the time that this could be the start of a trend as the Android OS and its ecosystem continues its expansion.

While it Google has taken a positive step in removing affected apps, its current approach of removing apps after the fact leaves users of the Android platform open to further security threats when downloading apps from the Android Market, and especially from alternative and unofficial Android app markets.

Like certain internet sites with a pornographic theme, one step Android users can take to avoid malware is to avoid apps with a pornographic or sexual theme based on some of the titles of apps affected thus far. Another step that users can take is to check user reviews before downloading applications as well.

As for currently infected phones, there is no known method for successfully removing the affected files. Mashable recommends, perhaps optimistically, that it is best for users to return their devices to carriers and exchange it for a new one.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Parky

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +17

    Well.....

    Still think Apple have not got it right?
    I think the average person on the street needs protection from these issues and Apple are 100% right in the way they control Apps.

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jan 2000

    +5

    Android is Windows all over again...

    your comment

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -15

    Re: Well

    If Apple has it right, then it seems to me they should extend this to the desktop, and only allow people to install apps that are pre-approved and purchased through the app store.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -6

    Huh?

    In this case, the apps in question were brought to the attention of Google, who then responded by taking the apps down. All of the apps were pirated versions of popular titles and produced by a group or individual known only as Myournet.

    One has to wonder how pirated titles got in the marketplace in the first place.

    While it Google has taken a positive step in removing affected apps, its current approach of removing apps after the fact leaves users of the Android platform open to further security threats when downloading apps from the Android Market, and especially from alternative and unofficial Android app markets.

    Yeah, how dare Google leave their users vulnerable to installing anything they want. The gall! Then again, when Apple finds a malicious app, they remove it as well. They do get through (remember the flashlight app that had the capability to enable tethering?)

    Like certain internet sites with a pornographic theme, one step Android users can take to avoid malware is to avoid apps with a pornographic or sexual theme based on some of the titles of apps affected thus far. Another step that users can take is to check user reviews before downloading applications as well.

    That just seems obvious. Those damn pornographic scientific calculator apps really are the problem here.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004

    -5

    exactly its like windows

    which is not a bad thing.

    the author of this article clearly has a political viewpoint - they like central control, they believe it makes the world safer.

    the argument is rather simplistic - its just this kind of surface thinking, one method removes all bad things from happening (not true) and the other doesn't until after the fact (also not true).

    The reality is, Android is not "open" in terms of its Marketplace - Google does approve apps, and also removes apps after the fact. In this sense they are like Apple.

    Now, Android phones can also sideload completely unapproved apps - and that's up to those who are technically inclined to do so. In that sense, it is like windows. It doesn't mean you are forever infected with virus's and trojans - in real world what it means is you end up getting apps from trusted sources.

    In the windows world, if you go to p*** sites, you'll get a virus. If you go to adobe to get a copy of acrobat reader - doesn't matter that a central command didn't approve it, adobe is not going to give you a virus.

    There is a downside to the central control - perfectly useful apps that some people would have enjoyed are denied by apple, because they conflict with the profit goals of Apple - happens every single day. That is great for Apple - and nothing illegal about it, I'm just saying its not good for those whose choice was limited.

    And take for example, apps abou the Dali Lama - on android, sideload them. On iOS, Apple is a great friend to the communist government of China and bans them for sale in the Chinese market - its just a down side of central control.

    All in all, I appreciate, though a marketplace that, scans its apps for malware and rejects those apps - it's not all or nothing, you can have both freedom and a premium service in one. Just sideload the apps, as needed, from trusted sources.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004

    -11

    @Parky

    Since both Android and Apple reject apps that are about malware, I assume what you need protection from are those apps that might show a woman in a bikini.

    Because thats the actual, practical difference between the two marketplaces. On Apple's store, you are "protected" from the horror - and on the other, it's handled by you not searching for, seeking out and purposely downloading the app - otherwise known as self-control.


  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -4

    @Jonathan-Tanya


    >>>what you need protection from are those apps that might show a woman in a bikini.

    ROFL! That could be considered as Porne to some people. Heck, even the word 'p o r n' is censored on this site. I guess the macnn editors think like Apple, only a bit more dense.

  1. HappySlug

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2010

    +5

    Walled Gardens can be very peaceful

    It's these sorts of issues that I believe validates Apple's approach with mobile devices. I think any limitation that it imposes is far outweighed by the extra safety from viruses and malware. No, Apple's approach doesn't guarantee safety but it provides an excellent first line of defense. The line about "As for currently infected phones, there is no known method for successfully removing the affected files" says it all. Who wants to risk having their cell phone or tablet rendered unusable until they can do a complete restore of it?

    Erik

  1. facebook_Justin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2011

    +3

    comment title

    But its open! Its the best!!!! Its open alright, open to viruses and other c***. We can now thank Google for inventing cellphone viruses! Very innovative company!

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