Google pulls 22 more malicious Android apps from Market

'RuFraud' sent texts to premium numbers, posed as popular games like 'Angry Birds,' 'Need for Speed'

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For its part, Lookout noted that the terms were "fairly hidden."

Google has had trouble keeping malware out of the Android Market.

In July 2011, Lookout found four apps there that were infected with a variant of the "DroidDream Light" malware. The July discovery was the third instance of DroidDream-infected applications making it into Google's e-store, following an initial campaign in March and a second in early June. Those two waves forced Google to pull more than 80 poisoned apps from its store.

Lookout uses its own malware detection technology to uncover malicious mobile apps. According to Halliday, Lookout detects rogue apps "as soon as they're published."

"Google is very responsive," said Wyatt, referring to the Android maker's moves when it's told that tainted apps are in its marketplace. "From notification to pulling the apps is generally on the order of minutes," Wyatt added.

Security experts have regularly knocked Google for not proactively scanning apps submitted to the Android Market, and repeated that criticism today.

"We have already stated several times that the requirements for becoming an Android developer that can publish apps to the Android market are far too relaxed," said Vanja Svajcer, a principal virus researcher with U.K.-based antivirus vendor Sophos, in a Monday blog. "The attacks on Android Market will continue as long as the developer requirements stay too relaxed."

Svajcer identified some of the fake games that the attackers used to spread RuFraud, a list that included "Angry Birds," "Assassin's Creed Revelations," "Cut the Rope" and "Need for Speed."

Unlike Google, other app store operators vet submissions and scan apps for possible malware. Microsoft, for example, has promised to review apps submitted to its PC- and tablet-oriented Windows Store for security issues; Microsoft's market is slated for opening in late February alongside the release of the first Windows 8 public beta.

When asked if Lookout had offered Google the former's technology for scanning apps submitted to the Android Market, Halliday declined to comment.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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