Android Wallpaper App Harvests Personal Data

Dennis Faas's picture

Those wanting to jazz up their Google Android phones better watch out for a new malware that masquerades as a wallpaper application. While aesthetically appealing, the malware rooted behind the wallpaper strips personal data and sends it away to a remote server.

The mal-app (malware app) targets phone numbers, subscriber identity and voicemail passwords. The vulnerability was uncovered by the US-based security company Lookout, which is currently working on the App Genome Project, a website designed to uncover apps with malicious code embedded.

Malware Source Identified

Fortunately, the source of the malicious Android app has been identified as One-Piece Wallpapers developed by Jackeey Wallpaper. Here, users can select from ready-made (and infected) wallpapers with themes ranging from My Little Pony to Star Wars. (Source:

The intercepting server has also been identified, with the URL The location of the server has been traced back to Shenzhen, China.

Android vs. iPhone: Which is More Vulnerable?

Analysts have spoken out against Android apps, warning that they are not screened for viruses in the same way that iPhone apps are. Seemingly anyone can publish Android programs, but the iTunes vetting process protects those apps downloaded via the Apple online store.

While this would lead many to believe that iPhone apps are more reliable than Android apps, security companies like Lookout tend to disagree. Data collected by the App Genome Project suggests that nearly twice as many free apps have the ability to access user contact data on the iPhone (14 per cent with the iPhone compared to 8 per cent with Android phones). (Source:

The figures should not distract consumers from this very serious Android app situation. According to Google vice president and Android co-founder Andy Rubin, 160,000 Android devices are activated on a daily basis. While exact app download figures remain unknown at this time, estimates are believed to be in the millions, with the situation likely to get worse as each day passes.

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