Danger, Will Robinson! As the expression so rightly has it, you should always beware Greeks baring gifts or, in the case of the Android community, any incoming text message that offers free versions of popular apps.
The warning issued by messaging security mandarins, Cloudmark, tells of malware hidden inside the offered apps which, once downloaded to your device will infect your Android and begin its malicious business of sending 1000s of virulent text messages to live numbers each day.
“By installing the free app, the user actually downloads a hidden program connecting their handset to a command and control server in Hong Kong,” says Cloudmark researcher Andrew Conway. “The Hong Kong server next sends the handset a list of 50 phone numbers, copies of viral messages and instructions to begin sending the messages to each of the numbers.”
According to Conway, it only takes around 65 second for the malware to fire off its massively misleading missives to those 50 phone numbers, after which the Hong Kong based baddies send another 50 numbers, meaning a potentially nasty financial surprise for those not on an unlimited text plan.
“What’s more, the malicious program also blocks incoming messages from anyone not on the user’s contact list.” Continues Conway. “So the phone company or a friend can’t text you back and say, ‘Stop sending me spam’.”
Of course, as ever, there’s a simple solution to falling foul of such a savage Chinese burn – install decent antiviral software such as avast! and, for the love of Larry (Page), stop believing someone wants to give you something for nothing!