New Android Malware That Could Claim Over 21M Victims
Smartphones today are pocket-sized computers. We use them for web browsing, cash transactions, gaming, official and business correspondences and much more. Moreover, with BYOD being an accepted trend in the business world, we use smartphones to do our work- at the office, at home and on the move.
Well, this is all good. That technology has made things so easy for us is simply amazing, but there is one very relevant question that stares us in the face, compelling us to think with all seriousness. The question is- Do we ever stop to think of smartphone security the way we think of security when it comes to our desktops and laptops? The answer, for most smartphone users, would be a big ‘NO’.
The fact, however, is that smartphones are just as vulnerable to hacking and malware attacks as desktops or laptops. Android malware today is as much a reality as the malware that target our computers. Hackers definitely want to get into our Android devices and steal all our sensitive personal data.
Check Point Software, the very same cyber security firm that had discovered the “Judy” malware, has now reportedly uncovered a malware outbreak in Google play once again. This malware attack, though likely to be smaller in scale compared to the “Judy” outbreak, could still be of alarming proportions.
The new Android malware, dubbed “ExpensiveWall”, is estimated to have affected between 5.9 million and 21.1 million users. This malware works by sending fraudulent SMS messages to users and charging them for fake services.
A post on the Check Point blog, made by Elena Root, Andrey Polkovnichenko & Bohdan Melnykov, says- “Check Point’s mobile threat research team identified a new variant of an Android malware that sends fraudulent premium SMS messages and charges users’ accounts for fake services without their knowledge. According to Google Play data, the malware infected at least 50 apps and was downloaded between 1 million and 4.2 million times before the affected apps were removed…The new strain of malware is dubbed “ExpensiveWall,” after one of the apps it uses to infect devices, “Lovely Wallpaper.” ExpensiveWall is a new variant of a malware found earlier this year on Google Play. The entire malware family has now been downloaded between 5.9 million and 21.1 million times.”
So, this Android malware, which has infected at least 50 apps, remains hidden inside these apps and registers the victims to premium services without their knowledge. It then sends out fraudulent premium SMS messages and charges user’s accounts for fake services.
Following the discovery, Check Point had notified Google about the malware. Google removed the reported samples but then, within days, another sample caused infections, prompting Google to act again. The Check Point blog reports- “Check Point notified Google about ExpensiveWall on August 7, 2017, and Google promptly removed the reported samples from its store. However, even after the affected Apps were removed, within days another sample infiltrated Google Play, infecting more than 5,000 devices before it was removed four days later.”
Users have been asked to manually remove from their devices any of those apps that have been installed before it was removed by Google and still remains installed on the device. Users have also been advised to protect their smartphones with the best cyber security solutions available.
Kevin Jones951 Posts
Kevin Jones, Ph.D., is a research associate and a Cyber Security Author with experience in Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, Monitoring solutions, Surveillance and Offensive technologies etc. Currently, he is a freelance writer on latest security news and other happenings. He has authored numerous articles and exploits which can be found on popular sites like hackercombat.com and others.