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Google boosting Android Market security after virus attack

David Ludlow
7 Mar 2011
Google boosting Android Market security after virus attack
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Sending out an update to all affected phones to undo the damage, too

After Google was caught with its pants down when hackers uploaded virus-infested apps to the Android Market, it has promised to beef up security.

The problems started when hackers uploaded copies of well-known apps infected with the DroidDream virus to the Market. When installed on affected handsets (those running Android 2.2.2 or higher were immune) DroidDream can send back private information and leave a backdoor for the hackers to install other malicious code through.

As soon as it was notified, Google took down the infected app and banned the publishers of them from the Market. While this quick response is to be admired, it took a long time for Google to be notified of the problem, highlighting that the Market's open nature where publishers can immediately upload new apps isn't necessarily the best plan.

Now that it has had time to mull over the impact of the attack, Google has responded with what it plans to do. First on the agenda is releasing an update to remove the virus from infected smartphones.

"We are remotely removing the malicious applications from affected devices. This remote application removal feature is one of many security controls the Android team can use to help protect users from malicious applications," said Rich Cannings, Android Security Lead on the Google Mobile Blog.

In addition, Google is pushing out a Market update to all affected handsets that undoes the exploit to prevent the hackers from accessing more information.

"If your device has been affected, you will receive an email from android-market-support@google.com over the next 72 hours. You will also receive a notification on your device that 'Android Market Security Tool March 2011' has been installed," said Cannings. "ou may also receive notification(s) on your device that an application has been removed. You are not required to take any action from there; the update will automatically undo the exploit. Within 24 hours of the exploit being undone, you will receive a second email."

While this will undo the damage so far, Google is also working on boosting the Market's security to prevent a similar attack from taking place again. We'll bring you more information on what these will be as we get them.

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