A new Android virus shows what strategies hackers are using to spread malware now – and how susceptible users are to those techniques.
A common Android virus protection strategy: Don’t install any apps that don’t come from the official Google Play app store. But last year, security vendor Symantec discovered malicious apps available in the store, showing even that strategy won’t fully protect and Android smartphone.
And now a new strategy has appeared that scammers are using to get Android owners to download malware: using malicious emails to send users to fake app stores loaded with viruses.
That was the strategy use wih a new Android virus called Android.Exprespam, which steals personal data from a compromised Android phone.
The malware was discovered by Symantec and traced back to fake app store called Android Express’s Play that was set up by scammers and designed to look like Google’s official store.
Roughly 3,000 people visited the fake Android app store in just a week, a Symantec researcher said. Victims are being lured to the store and then to download the Android virus via a phishing email.
Android virus protection keys
This is just the latest Android virus to appear, and the latest technique hackers are using to spread their malware. It’s not the first, and it certainly won’t be last, according to security research who expect a lot of growth in attacks targeting the mobile OS.
Here are some tips for users to avoid an Android virus infection:
- Verify that an app is being downloaded from the Google Play store, and not a different website that looks the same.
- If an app is suspicious, research the developer, no matter where it’s being download from.
- Read user reviews of apps to look for red flags.
- Look at the app’s required permissions to see if they match up with what program does. For example, be wary of an app that needs access to the phone’s contacts if there’s no discernable reason it would need to do so.