Malware discovered in Super Mario and GTA 3 Google Marketplace apps


Up to 100,000 Android users may have unwittingly downloaded malware disguised as video games from the Google Play market, Symantec has revealed.

The malware was listed on the site as "Super Mario Bros" and "GTA (Grand Theft Auto) 3 Moscow City" on June 24. Both apps had been downloaded between 50,000 to 100,000 times.

Better luck next time to Android Security.

Once installed on a device, the Android.Dropdialer malware downloads an additional element called Activator.apk.

This prompts the device to send text messages to Eastern European premium rate numbers before uninstalling itself.

The security software vendor announced the find in a blog post earlier today.

"What is interesting about this Trojan is the fact that the threat managed to stay on Google Play for such a long time, clocking up some serious download figures," wrote Symantec's Irfan Asrar.

He then goes on to praise Android Security for swiftly removing the apps after Symantec discovered them.

However, rival security vendor F-Secure has since claimed to have found more examples of the Super Mario malware in the Google Market, as well as similar rogue Instagram and Fifa football apps.

In a further blog post, Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure, said the premium phone lines the malware is linked to only work in certain countries and are only accessible to people on "profitable networks."

"This limits the malware to its target group, as well as making it more difficult for antivirus researchers to collect samples," said Sullivan.

"Kudos to Asrar for identifying the threat. Better luck next time to Android Security," he concluded.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.