Android Gets Its First Ever Virus–You’re a Mandroid, My Son (Updated)

Android virus


Nurse, the screens, please. Android’s got itself a nasty little virus–its first. It goes by the name of Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer-A, says Kaspersky Lab, the firm that detected it, and it takes the form of a media player. A media player is most definitely what it isn’t, however. Once on your smartphone, it fires off SMSes to premium-rate phone numbers, sending your phone bill through the roof, as well as a share of the profits from the line owners to the nasty bugmakers.

The virus has, so far, only affected Android users in Russia but, as the Google-developed OS increases its market share, expect the amount of malware and viruses to increase worldwide–don’t forget last month’s nasty little wallpaper app that harvested users’ private data, and today’s report from the BBC outlining just how simple it is to create and pass on a smartphone virus.

It means a bad day for Google just got even worse. Under fire for their Net Neutrality plans alongside Verizon, their South Korean offices raided by the police this morning, the just-outed angst over being good versus being rich. It’s not, however, like it’s in bad company, as Apple’s iOS is the proud possessor of a brace of viruses (viri?)–albeit ones with catchier names: Ikee and Duh. However, anyone who trumpeted the idea of Android being almost completely “invulnerable” to viruses just may have to think again.

Update: A Google spokesman said this about the effect of the trojan on its OS.

“Our application permissions model protects against this type of threat. When installing an application, users see a screen that explains clearly what information and system resources the application has permission to access, such as a user’s phone number or sending an SMS. Users must explicitly approve this access in order to continue with the installation, and they may uninstall applications at any time. We consistently advise users to only install apps they trust. In particular, users should exercise caution when installing applications outside of Android Market.”

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My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.