Android botnet sends SMS spam through Android phones
Cloudmark says it is the first time its researchers have detected a botnet that abuses sends spam through infected Android phones.
IDG News Service - In a new twist, spammers have built a botnet that sends SMS spam through infected Android phones, shifting the potentially pricey cost of sending spam to victims.
The trend, spotted by security vendor Cloudmark, poses a new challenge for operators. Victims whose phones are sending the SMS spam often do not know their phone is infected, and they could have their account suddenly shut down by their operator if abuse is detected.
"I think they [operators] are still working out how to deal with this," said Andrew Conway, lead software engineer with Cloudmark, which makes antispam products for operators. "This is fairly new."
Cloudmark noticed that a server located in Hong Kong was hosting two Android games, "Angry Birds Star Wars" and "The Need for Speed Most Wanted," for the Android mobile operating system. Both games were infected with malware that connects the phones with rogue servers that deliver instructions for a mobile spam campaign.
When connected to the rogue command-and-control servers, the victim's phone receives a list of around 50 phone numbers along with the spammy text, Conway said. The malware on the Android device will wait a little more than one second after sending a message, then will eventually check in with the rogue server to obtain more numbers. If the phone is shut off and turned on again, the malware reboots and installs itself as a service on the phone, Cloudmark said.
In one example, the spam messages contained links to the malicious applications in hopes of infecting other users. In another example, the spam message falsely informed people they had won a gift card. But in order for the gift card to be delivered, the victim is asked to pay a shipping cost of $5.95. Conway said the scammers then collect a victim's personal details for further affiliate marketing campaigns, as well as a credit card number.
Spam via SMS (short message service) is nothing new. In the past, spammers bought SIM cards in bulk and inserted them into a SIM card bank to start a spam campaign. As the spammy numbers are shut down by operators, the SIM cards are swapped out with fresh ones.
But with that method, the spammers incurred the cost of buying SIM cards. They also had to be in the same country as victims in order to avoid international SMS sending charges.
The latest method neatly avoids both of those costs. Conway said using malware allows the scammers to conduct campaigns from anywhere in the world at no extra cost. The people whose phones are infected will incur the costs of sending the SMS messages, which could be expensive for some people with monthly SMS limits, Conway said.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Protection for Every Enterprise: How BlackBerry Security Works Get an IT-level review of BlackBerry® Security, addressing data leakage protection, certified encryption, containerization and much more.
- Future Focus: What's Coming in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Find out why Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions that are truly future-ready must be designed to enable Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities and much more.
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts