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Chris Hails (NetSafe)

DroidDream – the Android phone virus – has arrived

It was less than a month ago when I posted about the threat to smartphones from virus and malware creators, as predicted by McAfee.

The post has been surprisngly popular with readers probably very aware of how essential they find their pocket sized mini office devices and how much damage could be caused by an attack on their handset.

Well those fine folks over at Android Police have covered in great detail a discovery made by Reddit user lompolo of fake/copied apps for download that are carry a virus payload:

The Mother Of All Android Malware Has Arrived: Stolen Apps Released To The Market That Root Your Phone, Steal Your Data, And Open Backdoor

In only 4 days there were up to 200,000 downloads of the Android Trojan, a piece of code that could not only nab a lot of personal details from the phone and post it to a remote server but also open a backdoor allowing future exploits, before Google deleted the apps.

If you’re an Android user then take the time to read both the initial coverage and the follow up which has guidance on what to do with an infected phone. Note that “any device running Android 2.3 [codenamed Gingerbread] should be fine”. Initially the site stated:

Because the virus opens up a backdoor and can bring in new code at any time, the only way to really rid an infected device of any damage is to completely wipe it – not exactly the optimal solution, but it looks like the only one available, at least for now.

Now it appears there’s a self-help file to secure your phone.

How to secure your Android phone

Have you been affected by the virus? Or do you struggle to comprehend the solution? At NetSafe we’ve had more Mac users contacting us for help with spyware and viruses recently and we’re hoping to provide more advice and information on other security issues as they are arise.

Security firm Sophos believe that “99% of the Android phones [are] potentially affected” and go on to state:

the rate of new Android malware is increasing. The openess of the platform and the availability of alternative application markets makes Android-based devices more difficult to secure. The whole situation reminds me of Windows some years ago. One keeps wondering if history is repeating again?

Rapid Spawn NetBasics virusIn the week that Android won the US smartphone operating war, here is some simple advice for your phone repeating the common computer security advice from NetBasics:

  • Install and use an anti-virus package – a popular free app for Android is AVG’s ANTTIVIRUS Free
  • Set up routine scans to keep your phone virus and malware free
  • Be cautious about what you download. The open nature of the platform is what leaves users at risk of rogue apps. The AVG tool can scan apps for malware before you download them

Are there other tools out there you can recommend?

UPDATE: We put anti-virus on Android to the test and videoed the results

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