The very openness of Android is what makes it a double edged sword. Recently news popped in regarding malicious apps being present in Android Market and in no time Google removed all the infected apps from the Android Marketplace. Unfortunately, around 260,000 devices had already download the infected apps which actually is a huge number. Understanding the seriousness of the situation Google has decided to remote kill the apps without any user intervention. Though Google will soon clean up all the devices that are using the infected apps yet they won’t be able to fix the security hole which caused this attack as it is system issue which needs to be fixed at carrier level. This surely will take a lot of time.
Although Google says that the malware can download device specific information only but experts doubt that the malware has the ability to download literally any code from the device. This makes the malware highly dangerous. All infected users will be sent emails regarding the same. Google comments that the security flaw has been fixed on higher versions of Android and the vulnerability exists on Android 2.2.1 and lower. As of now many Android based devices use older versions itself resulting into the huge number of devices getting affected.
Below is the email sent to Android users:
You are receiving this message to inform you of a critical issue affecting your Android Market account.
We recently discovered applications on Android Market that were designed to harm devices. These malicious applications (“malware”) have been removed from Android Market, and the corresponding developer accounts have been closed.
According to our records, you have downloaded one or more of these applications. This malware was designed to allow an unauthorized third-party to access your device without your knowledge. As far as we can determine, the only information obtained was device-specific (IMEI/IMSI, unique codes which are used to identify mobile devices, and the version of Android running on your device).
However, this malware could leave your device and personal information at risk, so we are pushing an Android Market security update to your device to remove this malware. Over the next few hours, you will receive a notification on your device that says “Android Market Security Tool March 2011” has been installed. You are not required to take any action from there, the update will automatically run. You may also receive notification(s) on your device that an application has been removed. Within 24 hours of receiving the update, you will receive a second email confirming its success.
To ensure this update is run quickly, please make sure that your device is turned on and has a strong network connection.
For more details, please visit the Android Market Help Center.
The Android Market Team