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Android Malware Infects Devices When Connected to Windows PCs

A newly discovered malware reportedly can infect Android devices connected to Windows-based PC.

According to security firm Symantec, who discovered and recently detailed the malware in a blog post,  the malicious software has been targeting users of South Korean banking apps. Called Trojan.Droidpak, the app makes the jump from a Windows-based PC to the phone when connected via USB.

Once an Android device with USB debugging enabled (necessary for the malware to make the jump) is connected to the infected computer, the malware located in Windows executes and installs a harmful .apk file. After installation is completed, the hidden app will scan the device and, if a targeted South Korean banking app is found, the device will prompt users to update. Instead of updating through either Google's app store or directly from the bank, the malware will delete the app and install malicious copies of the bank apps that will monitor online banking activity and intercept and reroute SMS messages sent to and from the financial institutions.

Symantec said that this malware is unique due to the fact that it's moving from Windows to a connected device, instead of the other way around.

"We've seen Android malware that attempts to infect Windows systems before," wrote Symantec's Flora Liu. "Android.Claco, for instance, downloads a malicious PE file along with an autorun.inf file and places them in the root directory of the SD card. When the compromised mobile device is connected to a computer in USB mode, and if the AutoRun feature is enabled on the computer, Windows will automatically execute the malicious PE file."

While this particular threat has only been used to target a specific audience in South Korea, with anything "new" in the hacking community, this unique type of threat won't stay unique for long. To avoid what may be making its way through the pipeline with regards to this specific type of attack, Symantec recommends the following:

  • Disable USB debugging when not in use.
  • Avoid connecting mobile devices to public or unknown PCs.
  • Install and make sure to keep updated mobile security software.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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