New Android Malware Uses Phones as Spam Botnet

The messages are being propagated through Yahoo's mail service and promote counterfeit Viagra and other pharmaceuticals.

Researchers at security firm Sophos say they have discovered malware for Android phones that is used as a spam botnet. Spam messages are being sent from Google Android phones and tablets, all of which have been propagated through Yahoo's mail service, promoting counterfeit Viagra and other pharmaceuticals.

This seems to be a new form of malware for Android users. Researchers have already unveiled schemes for cybercriminals to make money from capturing SMS messages used for online banking logins, or by sending premium-rate SMS messages without the users' knowledge.

The source of the spam botnet seem to be users who downloaded pirated copies of paid Android apps that which were infected with trojans, said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at Sophos Canada. Some the spam messages are text-only, while others are graphic, and some are even animated.

So far, the security firm has analyzed samples of the spam originating from Argentina, Ukraine, Pakistan, Jordan and Russia. The malware does not appear to be coming from apps download from Google's official app store, Google Play -- but from localized third-party download sites where users can get pirated versions of paid apps for Android.

"Android users should exercise caution when downloading applications for their devices and definitely avoid downloading pirated programs from unofficial sources," Wisniewski advised. "Google, Amazon and others may not be perfect at keeping malware off of their stores, but the risk increases dramatically outside of their ecosystems."

Security firm Symantec also found in its latest annual report that mobile malware threats are almost exclusive to Google's open mobile OS, with an increase by more than 93 percent over the last year. The report found more than half of all Android threats collect device data or track users' activities.

Follow Daniel Ionescu and Today @ PCWorld on Twitter

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Daniel Ionescu

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts