Android Market Plagued with Angry Birds Viruses (not Bird Flu)

When you download smartphone apps from an official app store, iPhone or Android, you usually expect that the applications are monitored and virus free. Unlike iPhone’s app store, however, the Android platform does not actively pre-screen all of their apps, and sometimes malicious viruses sneak through, including phenominally popular apps like Angry Birds.

Before you start panicking, the Angry Birds game itself isn’t infected with information-stealing viruses; but due to its popularity, many add-on and cheat apps forAngry Birds have been introduced to the Android app store, many of which are indeed infected with malware.

According to Google, at least 10 applications that were Angry Birds add-ons were removed from the app store because they either recorded phone information, browsing history and sensitive information like passwords, and uploaded them online, or even worse, had trojans that secretly sent SMS messages to premium numbers, leaving the phone owners with a huge bill at the end of the month.

So how is it possible that these malicious apps ever made it to the app market?

As previously stated, the Android market doesn’t actively monitor the user-generated apps that it sells, and usually only investigates them after they have been reported as problematic by other users. By not pre-screening apps, developers have more freedom to create the types of apps they want without strict limitations; but this also leaves room for security risks to slip by.

As a warning to all of our readers, we urge you to be careful of what apps you download and not assume that they are safe just because they come from the official app store. As for other third party app stores that can be found online, you should try to avoid them entirely, as there is a high chance that those apps are malicious.

(Via Wired) / (Image by Denis Dervisevic licensed under Creative Commons)

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