Android malware capable of accessing smartphone users’ location and sending it to cyberattackers remained undetected in the Google Play store for three years, according to a security company.
Discovered by IT security researchers at Zscaler, the SMSVova Android spyware poses as a system update in the Play Store and was downloaded between one million and five million times since it first appeared in 2014.
The app claims to give users access to the latest Android system updates, but it’s actually malware designed to compromise the victims’ smartphone and provide the users’ exact location in real time.
Researchers become suspicious of the application, partly because of a string of negative reviews complaining that the app doesn’t update the Android OS, causes phones to run slowly, and drains battery life. Other indicators that led to Zscaler looking into the app included blank screenshots on the store page and no proper description for what the app actually does.
Indeed, the only information the store page provided about the ‘System Update’ app is that it ‘updates and enables special location’ features. It doesn’t tell the user what it’s really doing: sending location information to a third party, a tactic which it exploits to spy on targets.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht