Called Geinimi, the malware can compromise a significant amount of information on a user's Android smartphone and send it to remote servers, the security developer said in a blog. Once installed on the phone, it potentially could allow the server's owner to control the mobile device, said Lookout.
"Geinimi is effectively being 'grafted' onto repackaged versions of legitimate applications, primarily games, and distributed in third-party Chinese Android app markets. The affected applications request extensive permissions over and above the set that is requested by their legitimate original versions," Lookout said in its blog. "Though the intent of this Trojan isn't entirely clear, the possibilities for intent range from a malicious ad-network to an attempt to create an Android botnet."
Lookout has written and delivered an automated update to protect existing free and premium users from the Trojan, the company said.
Consumers can protect themselves from this -- and the anticipated surge in future Trojans targeting mobile apps -- by only downloading apps from trusted sources such as reputable developers, said Lookout. Likewise, users should use common sense when reading the permissions for each app, it recommended.
If a phone starts acting unusually, this could be a sign it has become infected: Some odd actions include unknown applications being downloaded without approval, SMS messages sent without approval to unknown recipients, and uninitiated phone calls being placed, for example. And, of course, Lookout recommends that all smartphone users download a security app.
In fact, smartphones make many CIOs nervous since they are highly portable and give the owner so much access to often sensitive information. In one Ovum study, 80% of IT executives said they think these devices increase the business' vulnerability to attack.