It’s been an interesting week so far… Steven Slater decided to set the bar ridiculously high for those looking to make dramatic exits from their workplace, we learnt that school is in fact spelt ‘shcool’ in North Carolina, and Android got a wake up call in the security department.
It was bound to happen at some point; as Android proves to be as popular as ever, it will be targeted by more malicious developers looking to exploit users of the platform. This particular trojan, identified as Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a, is being spread around by text message.
How does it work? According to Kaspersky, users who receive the text message are prompted to install a 13kb application, which claims to be a media player. Once installed, it begins to send premium rate messages from the users phone, behind the scenes of course, leaving the creator of the virus to all the revenue generated by the messages.
Unless you’re currently living in Russia where the risk from the virus is high, there is little reason to worry, as the risk to worldwide Android users is low. It does, however, point out some insecurities that the smartphone industry must face as a whole.
Speaking to the BBC, Simeon Coney, spokesman for mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile, said "there are a significant number of Java based mobile viruses that do exactly the same malicious activity of sending out premium rate (i.e. reverse charge) SMS," citing the widely used Symbian OS as a prime example.
Google of course says that when a user installs an application, they see all of the system resources the application has access to, such as SMS, but it’s bound to get past users who don’t pay much attention to information screens such as these. In fact, many smartphone users are most probably unaware that viruses can exist on a phone like they can on desktop operating systems.
For Android, this is the price of popularity, and it’s an issue that will need to be confronted.