As we experience the arrival of a new year there’s one thing that won’t change, which is the need to remain vigilant over our personal security. With our increasing dependence on smartphones it’s helpful to be reminded of the potential security pitfalls of our trusty devices. Lookout Mobile Security reported December 29 in their blog that a new Trojan virus has been detected in China affecting Android devices. This new virus has been named “Geinimi” and although it’s not the first virus known to affect the Android, so far it’s the most sophisticated. This virus has botnet capabilities – meaning once the virus has been installed on the phone, the phone can be controlled from a remote server to collect data and that’s pretty alarming. According to Lookout Mobile Security’s blog, the virus is also capable of the following:
• Send location coordinates (fine location)
• Send device identifiers (IMEI and IMSI)
• Download and prompt the user to install an app
• Prompt the user to uninstall an app
• Enumerate and send a list of installed apps to the server
So you’re wondering how you can avoid this malicious bug. One suggestion is to download your apps from a trustworthy market, such as the official Android market. The source for this virus has been found to be third-party Chinese Android application markets – games have been the primary source. So far versions of these affected games in the official Android app market are still safe. Also, Lookout (if you are a free or premium subscriber) has delivered an update to fend off this particular virus, which will protect your phone. Additionally, the virus-affected programs ask for additional permissions over- and –above what’s required from the legitimate original version. If this happens to you it’s a good warning sign that the app you are about to download is unsafe.
On a short-term basis it’s great to be aware of Geinimi before it potentially hits the States, but on a long-term basis it’s a great reminder to be conscious of the fact that hackers can threaten our mobile device systems. The decision you make on what device you use to how you use the device can greatly influence your risk. Luckily, in addition to our own risk management practices there are software options such as those offered by Norton and Lookout to further protect you. With the increasing prevalence of mobile devices – technology will improve, hackers will learn new methods, and we’ll have to learn to adapt to all of it.