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Android's many security issues continue unabated

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November 30, 2016

A newly-discovered version of Android malware is again infecting Android devices, this time at an estimated 13,000 devices per day, and the problem appears to be escalating.

The malware roots Android devices before stealing e-mail addresses and authentication tokens stored on them.

Security researchers at Check Point Software Technologies say that, stated simply, the tokens create a practical method for hackers to access users' sensitive information from Gmail accounts.

The malicious code then creates a money-making sideline for cybercriminals by fraudulently installing various apps from Google Play and rating them on behalf of the victims.

Those are nasty tricks in deed. The malware targets devices running Android 4 and 5, collectively around 74 percent of Android devices currently in use.

Dubbed Gooligan, the malware is installing at least 30,000 apps on breached devices every day, or more than 2 million apps since the malicious campaign began, according to Check Point.

Security researchers at the Israeli company first encountered Gooligan's code in the malicious SnapPea app in 2015.

In August of this year, the malware reappeared with a new variant and has since infected at least thirteen-thousand devices everyday.

About 40 percent of those devices are located in Asia and around 12 percent are in Europe. Hundreds of the email addresses compromised by Gooligan are associated with various enterprises around the world.

As can be expected, Check Point has offered its findings on the campaign to Google’s security team.

"The theft of over a million Google account details is very alarming and represents the next stage of cyber-attacks," said Michael Shaulov, Check Point's head of mobile products. "We are seeing a shift in the strategy of hackers, who are now targeting mobile devices in order to obtain the sensitive data that is stored on them."

Gooligan spreads itself when Android victims download and install an infected app. Crooks are pushing the malware by tricking victims into following malicious links in phishing messages.

"If your account has been breached, a clean installation of an operating system on your mobile device is required," Shaulov asserted users.

Source: Check Point Software Technologies Inc.

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