Sunday, 22 April 2012 18:19

Fake Instagram app hits Android users

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Just days after the launch of an Android version of the photo-sharing app, Instagram, which Facebook recently acquired for $1 billion, malware disguised as Instagram has hit the market, targeting Android users.

In a new warning, security firm and data protection company, Sophos says that cybercriminals have created fake versions of the Instagram Android app, designed to earn money from unsuspecting users.

According to Sophos' senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley, cybercriminals have played on the popularity of the Instagram app, which has millions of users around the world, and if Android owners download the app from unapproved sources, rather than official sites such as the official Google Play Android marketplace, they run the risk of infecting their smartphone.

'Once installed, the app will send background SMS messages to premium rate services earning its creators revenue,' Cluley says.
 
"Android malware is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Just last week, we saw a bogus edition of the Angry Birds Space game and it's quite likely that whoever is behind this latest malware are also using the names and images of other popular smartphone apps as bait.   Infected Androids are now effectively part of a botnet, under the control of malicious hackers.  Android users need to be extremely careful when downloading applications from sites, especially when they're not official Android markets," Cluley warns.

According to Cluley, Sophos products detect the malware, which he says has been distributed on a Russian website purporting to be an official Instagram site, as Andr/Boxer-F.

'Curiously, the malware contains a random number of identical photos of a man.With help from internet users we were able to identify that the image comes from a Moscow wedding photograph, where he was dressed a lot more casually than other guests. The man's photo became widespread on Russian internet forums, making the man something of a celebrity. There's no reason to believe, however, that he has anything to do with the Android malware attack."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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