Symantec has identified multiple publisher IDs on the Android Market that are being used to push out Android.Counterclank. This is a minor modification of Android.Tonclank, a bot-like threat that can receive commands to carry out certain actions, as well as steal information from the device.
What started out as a way to provide a cheaper phone is now becoming a headache. Licensing is a heavy hitter in the cost of a phone. Manufactures pay serious money to use propitiatory software by Apple or Microsoft. Using Android, a derivative of Linux sourcing, provides FLOSS software. The headache with it is that the changes in OSS must be posted to the public for it’s use. This means anyone with a programmer’s background understanding Linux can also research it’s weaknesses.
Android has taken the smart phone market by storm because it’s cost conscious. This is not to put down on any of the other makers, they all have their fanboys. But the market always looks at costs when it comes time to pay the merchant for the goods. This is a problem for the official Android Marketplace where you buy your apps at. So far 13 apps have been identified with this malware. That’s somewhere between 1 million and 5 million downloads. There’s a handy chart of publisher/app name/type at the source and if you have bought and downloaded any apps from the Android App Store it might be a smart move to go check it out for your own piece of mind.
Now this is not the first time around with malware in the official store and not just with Android. No doubt more will be discovered. The problem with OSS is the securing the OS, since by it’s nature the source code is exposed. At some point they will get serious with locking the phones down before it costs them too much business.