Hackers, malware purveyors and spammers make a living by evolving with the development community and concentrating their resources in areas where consumers and businesses flock.
It comes as no surprise then that mobile malware has exploded and become a significant point of consternation for app developers, service providers and consumers alike.
Android (News - Alert), an open, fragmented and relatively ubiquitous platform, is the most likely target for mobile malware, and has already seen its fair share of fake applications.
One such example was recently identified by Symantec's Irfan Asrar, who found that a fake Netflix app is making the rounds.
The app, called Android.Fakeneflic, is apparently a Trojan horse that steals information from Android devices when downloaded. As Asrar explains in a blog post, the faux app presents users with identical permissions to those provided by the legitimate Netflix app.
When the user clicks the "sign-on" button, an incompatibility screen will appear that recommends a second version of the app be downloaded to fix the problem. Asrar suggests that this is where the program begins capturing user data and posting it to an offline server.
"Android.Fakeneflic is a text book case of an information-stealing Trojan that targets account information," he wrote. It's "a red herring, probably used to add to the illusion that the end user is dealing with the genuine article."
As Asrar explains, the malware creators have the "perfect cover" to exploit the genuine Netflix app. The software was originally launched as a limited release only to specific mobile devices that could handle video streaming while still offering a high level user experience.
The gap in availability created a market for pirated versions of the app that could be ported to devices that were not officially supported. Android.Fakeneflic was able to sneak in behind pirated and fully supported Netflix apps and find a home.
Check out Asrar's blog to see screen shots that point out the small differences between Android.Fakeneflic and the real app.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves