Google removes 21 apps infected with malware from its Android Market, report says
The move follows news of multiple apps distributed outside of Google's official Android Market system running up user's phone bills by taking over text messaging and Web browser functions.
Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system and the OS and its apps are built on an open-source platform, which makes it very accessible to both developers and hackers alike.
The 21 apps removed from the Android Market were all existing Android applications that were downloaded by their original developers, then hacked into and infected with malware and re-uploaded to the Android Market, according to Android Police, a blog unaffiliated with Google.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Google officials were unavailable to comment on the reports of infected apps making their way into Android Market.
Android Police said the apps had the unusual ability to download and install malicious code once downloaded from Google's Android Market.
By doing this, the code for the viruses wouldn't need to be included inside the app as it was presented to Google to be added to the Android Market. Instead, it could expand once installed, adding code that allowed it to steal user information, take over phone or tablet functions or perform other unwanted tasks.
Android Police said it took Google about five minutes to pull the infected apps once it notified Google of the problem on Tuesday. The apps were uploaded by a publisher called Myournet, and all of the apps uploaded by that user were removed Tuesday. A search in the Android Market for Myournet on Wednesday afternoon returned no results.
Each of the 21 apps removed has virus-free counterparts from their original publisher still on the Android Market.
On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it was launching an Android app store of its own to compete with the Android Market, called Amazon Appstore.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Participants gather around the Google Android stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, on Feb. 17. Credit: Manu Fernandez / Associated Press