Allegations that a group of Android apps could infect five million phone users have initiated a war of words between security vendors Symantec and Lookout.
13 apps, ranging from games to photo albums of scantily clad women and of which only five still remain on the Android Market, have been accused of carrying a Trojan virus called ‘Android.Counterclank’ that can potentially steal sensitive information on devices.
Symantec posted on its blog earlier this week that it has “identified multiple publisher IDs on the Android Market that are being used to push outAndroid.Counterclank. This is a minor modification of Android.Tonclank, a bot-like threat that can receive commands to carry out certain actions, as well as steal information from the device".
Stressing the magnitude of the threat, it added: “The combined download figures of all the malicious apps indicate that Android.Counterclank has the highest distribution of any malware identified so far this year."
However, the antivirus firm’s findings were disputed by another provider, Lookout Mobile Security, which specialises in Android devices.
"We disagree with the assessment that this is malware, although we do believe that the Apperhand SDK [software development kit] is an aggressive form of ad network and should be taken seriously.”
Android is, of course, no stranger to malware scares. Last year, a staggering 50,000 apps managed to infect devices, raising concerns that the platform is inadequately protected against hackers and malicious programmers.
Much of this has been attributed to Google’s lenient approval policy as well as the open nature of the operating system.
Google has yet to comment on Symantec and Lookout’s analyses. But seeing as it has already pulled some of the apps in questions, we'd guess it is likely to err on the side of caution.