Android 'solar charging' app actually steals contact data: Symantec
By Digital News Asia October 18, 2012
- Malware developers taking advantage of smartphone users’ constant need for power by creating malicious apps
- Spam rate in Malaysia sees increase of 2.4 percentage points in September, to 75.2%, from August 2012
SECURITY company Symantec said it has discovered an Android app – Android.Sumzand – that claims to convert the smartphone screen into a solar panel that can charge the battery, but actually steals contact data.
“Most smartphone users know that battery life is a perennial problem. The high processing power of embedded CPUs and large, bright LCD screens, coupled with frequent usage, means a lot of juice is required to keep the show going throughout the day,” Symantec said in a statement.
This has spawned a whole genre of applications aimed at addressing this problem, the company said. There are some applications that will offer status updates on battery life and notify users when your battery is getting low, but breaking through the boundaries of credibility are a bunch of applications that will supposedly turn the phone screen into a solar charger.
Malware developers too have caught on and are taking advantage of smartphone users’ constant need for power by creating malicious apps to steal confidential information.
“Android.Sumzand claims to convert the smartphone screen into a solar panel that can charge the battery. Android devices do not contain solar panels—a critical component needed to turn light into electricity.
“Naturally the application can do nothing of the sort. Instead, what the app really does is steal contact data from the phone,” the company said, citing the September 2012 edition of the Symantec Intelligence Report.
Until real solar panels are actually installed on phones, Symantec advises that it’s best to just continue charging your phone the old-fashioned way: Plugging it in to a wall socked or USB port.
“Besides that, be careful of what you download and install from application marketplaces. If an application requests permissions that seem out of the ordinary for what it is supposed to do, then don’t install it,” Symantec added.
Also in the report, Symantec said that as more small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Malaysia adopt mobility in the workplace to encourage productivity, the growth of these mobile connections becomes a mounting challenge to secure, owing to the increasingly sophisticated and tricky threat landscape.
Symantec advises users to be careful when downloading or installing apps from application marketplaces.
Malaysia is seeing a similar trend with the global spam rate in September 2012 with an increase of 2.4 percentage points, to 75.2%, from August 2012.
Malaysia is also seeing a similar increasing trend as the global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic in September 2012, with an increase to 1 in 369.8 emails in September 2012, as compared to 1 in 447.8 in August 2012 (click chart to enlarge).