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Android Phones Targeted By Trojan

A new Android Trojan that displays some botnet characteristics has emerged from China, Lookout Mobile Security warns. Called Geinimi, the malware can compromise a significant amount of information on a user's Android smartphone and send it to remote servers, the security developer said in a blog. Once installed on the phone, it could allow the server's owner to control the mobile device, says Lookout.

"Geinimi is effectively being 'grafted' onto repackaged versions of legitimate applications, primarily games, and distributed in third-party Chinese Android app markets. The affected applications request extensive permissions over and above the set that is requested by their legitimate original versions," Lookout says in its blog. "Though the intent of this Trojan isn't entirely clear, the possibilities range from a malicious ad network to an attempt to create an Android botnet."

Lookout has written and delivered an automated update to protect existing free and premium users from the Trojan. Consumers can protect themselves from Geinimi, and from the anticipated surge in future Trojans targeting mobile apps, by downloading apps only from trusted sources such as reputable developers, Lookout says. Likewise, common sense should be used when reading the permissions for each app, the company recommends.

Users should be wary if their phone starts acting unusual. Odd actions include unknown applications downloaded without approval, SMS messages sent without approval to unknown recipients, and uninitiated phone calls being placed. And, of course, Lookout recommends that all smartphone users download a security app.

In fact, smartphones make many CIOs nervous because the devices are highly portable and give the owner so much access to often sensitive information. In one Ovum study, 80 percent of IT executives said they think these devices increase business' vulnerability to attack.