A rogue Android app that’s been tweaked by hackers can hijack a smartphone and run up big texting bills before the owner knows it, Symantec said today.
The newest in a line of compromised Android apps, said Vikram Thakur, a principle security response manager at Symantec, is Steamy Window, a free program that Chinese hackers have modified, then re-released into the wild.
The Trojan planted by the malware-infected Steamy Windows can install other applications, monkey with the phone’s browser bookmarks, surreptitiously navigate to Web sites and silently send text messages, said Thakur.
The last is how the criminals make money.
“The Trojan lets them send SMS [short message service] messages to premium rate numbers,” said Thakur, for which the hackers are paid commissions.
Android.Pjapps also has a built-in filter that blocks incoming texts from the user’s carrier, a trick it uses to keep victims in the dark about the invisible texting.
“It monitors inbound SMS texts, and blocks alerts telling you that you’ve already exceeded your quota,” Thakur said. Smartphone owners then wouldn’t be aware of the charges they’ve racked up texting premium services until they receive their next statement.
Symantec found the cloned Steamy Windows app on a Web site hosted by Chinese servers.
(my advise….stick to the android market and don’t just download every app you can get your hands on. E Vil)
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg’s RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com. Read more about cybercrime and hacking in Computerworld’s Cybercrime and Hacking Topic Center.