Spammers are targeting Android users by installing corrupt software on to mobile devices when users download games applications, prompting infected mobiles to send out numerous SMS messages.
Free applications which have been identified thus far as possibly infected by the software include “Angry Birds Space” and “Need for Speed Most Wanted”.
After an Android user has downloaded an infected application, the corrupt software contacts a remote server – based in China, according to security firm Cloudmark – which prompts users to disable certain security settings.
It then provides phone numbers and spam messages, with the infected mobile proceeding to send out multiple SMS messages, including invitations to download apps in a bid to infect further devices.
The messages also offer various promotions to entice SMS recipients to respond, including initially advertising anti-SMS-spam software.
In order to hide its presence, the virus deletes its icon from the device’s screen as well as outgoing spam messages. It also monitors incoming messages from spammed numbers in order to avoid detection.
While the rate and extent of the software’s activity at first appeared to be low, Cloudmark has reported a sudden pick-up in the activity of the virus since December, with levels of up to 500,000 spam SMSs being sent per day.
Security firms including Cloudmark have advised Android users to only download applications from Google Play rather than alternative sources who claim to provide free copies of games.