It seems that I’m here reporting about a major problem with Android at least once every few weeks – whether it’s their painful text bug or their microSD security issue. While these issues have been far from minor, they nevertheless pale in comparison to the most recent hole in the Anroid system. That hole is made up of a simple security issue . . . that happened to let 260,000 users download malware via 58 different malicious applications.
Google announced that they’d caught the 58 companies on March 1st, at which time Google also removed the applications from the market. These groups were distributing rootkits that could store and forward personal information about the phone’s user, as well as the data they stored on the phone (internet passwords, financial information, email access, etc.), to a third party. Google believes that the developers of the malicious software never had a chance to do so, but with over a quarter of a million downloads, it is difficult to say for sure.
Those 260,000 users will all be receiving an email notifying them of the issue, and a Google “kill switch” will be enabled to disable the rootkit, delete the malicious application, and re-secure the system. But why hasn’t Google fixed the issue that allows such rootkits to take hold? Well, actually, Google has fixed the problem – in Android 2.3, Gingerbread, which only a small fraction of phones have access to. Google is working with its partners, encouraging them to push for an update so such security holes can be patched. That doesn’t resolve the core issue of malware being present on the Android Market, however.
There are two factors that make the Android Market more vulnerable. First, Google doesn’t review the applications thoroughly, believing that the “best will rise to the top” naturally. Second, as an open source platform, Android’s code is easier to dissect, exploit, and work around, which has caused some antivirus groups to condemn Google’s entire system as insecure. Hopefully both concerns will be resolved with future innovations, such as those anticipated from the Google-Zynamics partnership. In the meanwhile, whether affected by the malware or not, Android users have had their confidence shaken and must now proceed with greater caution.
[via Tech Crunch]