Google Zaps Rogue Android Apps

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A rogue developer managed to lure thousands of Android users into downloading dodgy malware for their mobile devices.

Google acted fast and axed the account run by developer Myournet, also taking steps to remove its 21 stolen applications from users’ phones via a built-in “back door” system put there for just such an event.

Myournet grabbed original code from other legitimate apps, injected its own malware, then re-named the apps and snuck them back into the Android Market. A handful of advanced users could spot that something was amiss – that’s how the scam was spotted – but thousands of ordinary folk had no idea they were downloading something that could be harmful.

And not just a little bit harmful. Analysis of Myournet’s apps showed that they were able to gain access to pretty much everything on any phone they were installed on, including user data, and send it to a remote location. They were also able to download and install additional code and run it. Nasty stuff.

If you installed any of the apps (there’s a list here), Google’s back door should have removed them. But to be on the safe side, Android Central recommends that you do a full system wipe and reset. Mashable goes one step further, advising users to “take your device to your carrier and exchange it for a new one”. Ouch.

Although this story broke just as Google was buying security software company Zynamics, a certain amount of PR damage has already been done.

The story isn’t so much that Google killed the malware apps, but that they made it into the Android Market in the first place.