DroidDream turns Androids into zombies

The malicious code that led Google to remove more than 50 Trojan applications from the Android Marketplace appears to mainly be a "dropper"

The malicious code that led Google to remove more than 50 Trojan applications from the Android Marketplace appears to mainly be a "dropper" -- a program designed to load other code to further compromise the affected smartphone, according to a security firm's analysis.

The code, dubbed "DroidDream," attempts to use two exploits to gain root privilege on a compromised smartphone by breaking out of the sandbox designed to limit what applications can do on Android devices, mobile security firm Lookout stated in its most recent analysis. While the vulnerabilities targeted by the program were patched by Google last year, the majority of phones do not have the update yet, allowing the attack to compromise more than 260,000 phones, Google said in a statement.

Also see: After attacks, Google vows to fortify Android Market

Following the first stage of the attack, the program then forwards phone-specific information -- including hardware, software and service identifiers -- to a command-and-control server, which can then direct the compromised phone to reconnect at a certain time and download additional functionality from a specific URL, according to Lookout's analysis.

"The second stage is more interesting -- it is essentially a blank check," says Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout co-founder and chief technology officer.

The second-stage program appears to have unfinished functionality that would have allowed it to manipulate Marketplace ratings and post comments, the Lookout analysis states, concluding that "DroidDream could be considered a powerful zombie agent."

Google pulled down 58 applications from the Android Marketplace and has started to identify affected users and remotely remove the malicious applications from their smartphones. The company will also be pushing a security update to all users to undo any malicious changes and augmenting security measures for the Android Marketplace to attempt to head off future incidents, the company stated in a blog post.

Security companies have repeatedly predicted the rise of mobile malware, but the threat has typically been more myth than reality. Previous attacks against Android-based smartphones have targeted non-Marketplace apps. Earlier this year, for example, Lookout warned of the Geinimi Trojan, which mainly spread in China.

Yet, malware developers seems to be focusing more intensely on mobile-device users. Businesses need to worry because their IT departments do not have the same control over smartphones that they may have over their PCs and laptops, Mahaffey says.

"When there is a vulnerability there are two choices: You can work around it or you can patch it," he says. "With mobile, there really isn't that ability (to patch) right now."

Instead, businesses should deploy device management software that allows them to implement application whitelists, he says.

Read more about wireless/mobile security in CSOonline's Wireless/Mobile Security section.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphone securityGoogle securityapplicationssecuritymobile securityLookout Mobile SecuritysoftwareData Protection | WirelessDroidDreamdata protectionGoogle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert Lemos

CSO (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?