Thursday, July 29, 2010

Android app records user data including SIM card number and voicemail password, and sends data to China

As much as I lament Apple's lack of intelligence and maturity in its handling of media apps, there is always Windows and Android around to make Apple products look good.

VentureBeat reported today that an Android app named "Jackeey Wallpaper", which offers branded wallpapers from My Little Pony and Star Wars is causing a bit of a security problem for its users.

The app, according to the mobile security firm Lookout, steals data from the user including the phone's SIM card number, subscriber information and voicemail password. As many as four million smartphone users have downloaded the app. Lookout had previously reported on its blog of the security flaw in the Citigroup iPhone mobile banking app.

Reports that the wallpaper app steals browser data appears to be incorrect, but the problems of data theft could grow as almost half of all Android apps access third-party code, while only about a quarter of iPhones do, according to VentureBeat.

But the Wild West nature of the Android market probably makes it harder to monitor these types of situations. In Apple's iTunes store it is at least theoretically possible to have tighter controls. Though, as I have written before, media apps appear to be rejected for puritanical, often anti-free speech reasons, while apps that may be fraudulent, or obviously stretch the fair use limits, or are simply me-too reader apps, seem to get through without a problem.