Android users should be aware of a new piece of malware that has been discovered, called GingerMaster, which exploits the 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) platform and provides attackers with root-level access to devices.
Whilst this is far from the first malicious software to target the Android platform, it is thought that it may not be picked up by AV scanners as it is the first to target this version of the OS.
The malware is packaged as part of legitimate apps that can be downloaded on Chinese markets, such as one that has found to be infected that promises “beauty of the day” pics of women such as Lady Gaga.
When the apps are launched the malware collects device information such as phone numbers, SIM card numbers and IMEI numbers which are then shared on a remote server.
An infected app will also install a service that makes sure it is reloaded when the handset is turned on or rebooted, ensuring that the infection is ever-present.
Android is becoming an increasingly popular target for malware authors. McAfee reported a few days ago that the number of viruses being written for the platform has jumped by an astonishing 76% since the last quarter, making it the most attacked mobile OS.
Such is the price you pay for popularity (just ask Microsoft).
“This year we have seen record breaking numbers of malware, especially on mobile devices, where the uptick is in direct correlation to popularity,” Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, said in a statement.
Therefore it is important for users to ensure they have up-to-date AV protection, and they should be aware that infections are often carried via an app.
Users should make sure they only download from a trusted source and always carefully examine permissions when installing an app to ensure that the list looks genuine.