First mobile Trojan that sends SMS messages to premium rate numbers detected

Warnings have been made of the first malicious program to be classified as a Trojan-SMS for smartphones.

Kaspersky Lab said that the attack runs on Google's Android operating system and has already infected a number of mobile devices. It said that the program appears as a media player application and users are prompted to install a file of just over 13KB.

Once installed on the phone, the Trojan uses the system to begin sending SMS messages to premium rate numbers without the owner's knowledge or consent, resulting in money passing from a user's account to that of the cyber criminals.

Denis Maslennikov, mobile research group manager at Kaspersky Lab, said: “The IT market research and analysis organisation IDC has noted that those selling devices running Android are experiencing the highest growth in sales among smartphone manufacturers. As a result, we can expect to see a corresponding rise in the amount of malware targeting that platform.

“Kaspersky Lab is actively developing technologies and solutions to protect this operating system and plans to release Kaspersky Mobile Security for Android in early 2011.”

Simeon Coney, VP of business development and strategy at AdaptiveMobile, said that he had heard that the Trojan was masquerading as a media player and was sending out premium rate SMS messages.

He said: “This is interesting, it was a real uptake on J2ME on smartphones and we are seeing premium rate SMS as a good way of gaining illegal revenue. I was looking at the Kaspersky state of malware report and it said we will start to see a lot more malware for mobiles.

“They will do it in a way that they are hard to track down and use a third party who is a reseller of a reseller. We saw one instance where it started in the Arctic and directed to Cyprus, then on to Luxembourg and then on to New Zealand, so law enforcement cannot track them down.”

Asked if this could be the start of more mobile malware, Coney said: “I see the same setup as with PCs and the mobile space we are seeing a number of viruses and more variants and we see more things coming that work.”

Kaspersky Lab recommended users pay close attention to the services that an application requests access to when it is being installed. That includes access to premium rate services that charge to send SMS messages and make calls. When a user agrees to these functions during the installation of an application, the smartphone may then be able to make calls and send SMS messages without further authorisation.

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