Mobile security firm Lookout has identified a number of Android applications that are infected by a malware program called BadNews. A quick study of the table above shows that at least 32 apps are infected, and the total user base of these reach 9 million!
The malware disguises itself as an advertising network. Instead of displaying ads to the user, the app sends out fake news messages and gathers personal information like phone numbers and device IDs. Additionally, the app can send notifications prompting users to download more applications. Users of infected apps will also be pushed premium SMS messages.
Since the app isn’t a native app, but a mere disguised advertising SDK, it can access information without the required permission. Apps usually have to request access to information that it uess, but this isn’t the case with advertising SDKs.
All 32 apps listed above have luckily been removed from the Google Play store. Developer accounts tied to the apps have been suspended for the time being. Some of these developers probably not been aware of the malicios intentions of the advertising SDK.