Google pushing Android security update post-malware attack

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is pushing an Android Market security update designed to undo any damage caused by a wave of malware-infected applications discovered last week. More than 50 Android apps--credited to developers Kingmall2010, we20090202 and Myournet--reportedly contained the DroidDream malware, which seeks to gain root access to the user's device, collecting a range of available data and downloading more malicious code to the smartphone without the consumer's knowledge or consent.

"Within minutes of becoming aware, we identified and removed the malicious applications," writes Android security lead Rich Cannings on the Official Google Mobile Blog, explaining Google leveraged a remote application removal feature to zap the apps in question. He adds that Google also suspended the associated developer accounts and contacted law enforcement officials about the attack.

"The applications took advantage of known vulnerabilities which don't affect Android versions 2.2.2 or higher," Cannings states. "For affected devices, we believe that the only information the attacker(s) were able to gather was device-specific (IMEI/IMSI, unique codes which are used to identify mobile devices, and the version of Android running on your device)." Affected devices are now receiving email messages from the Android Market Support team--users may also receive notifications indicating that malicious apps have been deleted from their device. No consumer action is required. Reports suggest that at least 50,000 Android users may have downloaded the infected games and utilities, most of which are pirated versions of popular apps.

Cannings adds Google plans to implement a series of new security measures to prevent other Android Market applications from wreaking the same kind of havoc. The digital services giant is also collaborating with partners to solve the storefront's underlying security questions.

Although Android's open-source ethos is credited as a primary catalyst behind the operating system's enormous growth, malware threats underline the challenges inherent in maintaining an open mobile ecosystem. Google cites violations of the Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement or Content Policy as the culprit behind most app removals.

For more:
- read this Official Google Mobile Blog entry

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