New Android Trojan Surfaces, Increases Text Message Spam

We all know that Android and virus attacks have a long-term relationship. So, making it bit strong (no pun intended!), a new Trojan virus recently surfaced that lead to an increase in text message spam in the U.S. Named as SpamSoldier, this Trojan virus infects smartphones and sends out out thousands of SMS messages without the user’s permission.

The spam is spreading through text messages that offer free versions of popular paid games, such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Angry Birds Space. When the receiver clicks on the link in the text, it opens up an installer app that infects the sender’s handset with the SpamSoldier Trojan. SpamSoldier further sends booby-trapped messages, spreading itself further in the process.

“Once infected, a user’s phone will be used to silently send out thousands of spam SMS messages without permission to lists of victim phone numbers that the malware automatically downloads from a command-and-control server,” according to Cloudmark researcher Andrew Conway. “We’ve seen a peak rate so far of over half a million SMS messages per day. This sort of attack changes the economics of SMS spam, as the spammer no longer has to pay for messages that are sent if he can use a botnet to control devices and cover his costs.”

The origins of SpamSoldier can be traced back to  servers in Hong Kong. It sends out messages like a free gift card lure with text like, “You have just won a $1000 Target Gift Card but only the 1st 777 people that enter code 777 at http://[redacted].com can claim it!”, which is nothing but a trick to collect personal information for affiliate programs and sometimes identity theft.

Though the attack is not on as a wide scale as others we’ve seen–the botnet typically contains 100 US numbers at a time–SpamSoldier still has the potential to make a big impact at a network level: a single prolonged infection could result in thousands of SMS spam messages. So, all you can do is BEWARE!

About Isha Suri

Isha Suri is a staff writer for SiliconANGLE covering social news and security trends. If you have a story idea or news tip, send it to @SiliconAngle on Twitter.