Nude wallpaper apps infect thousands of Android devices with malware

Filed Under: Android, Featured, Malware, Mobile

Sketch of sitting woman. Image from ShutterstockThousands of Android devices are thought to have been infected by a strain of Chinese malware which sends costly SMS messages to earn cash for its creators.

Some reports have claimed that over 500,000 Android devices are infected with the malware, which is detected by Sophos's free Android anti-virus as Andr/SMSZomb-A.

Users are tricked into believing that they are installing GIF wallpaper onto their Android device, and a provocative message is shown suggesting that a secondary app is installed that would allow permanent use of the images.

SMS Zombie malware

Clearly, this threat is only likely to be successful amongst Chinese-speaking Android users. But, of course, there are plenty of them!

If you have configured your Android device to only allow installation of apps from a legitimate Android Marketplace then a warning will be displayed - giving you the opportunity to still avoid infection.

Warning message

However, if you are comfortable installing apps from unknown sources, and ignore the warning messages, the Trojan horse will request certain permissions: to read and write SMS and MMS messages, internet access, read the phone's state and identity, read system logs, restart other applications, retrieve a list of running applications, etc.

Malware permissions

If you made the mistake of agreeing to install the app, the Trojan would have full access to the personal details you store on the device, as well as the ability to send SMS messages to a premium rate number.

Sophos's free anti-virus for Android detects the threat as Andr/SMSZomb-A, and some other products are referring to it as SMSZombie.

Although this particular malware is clearly targeting users based in China, we have seen a steady rise in interest amongst cybercriminals worldwide in infecting Android devices. It would be foolhardy for Android users not to recognise the rising tide of Android malware, both inside and outside the official Google Play marketplaces.

Thanks to Anna Szalay of SophosLabs for her assistance with this article.

Sketch of sitting woman from Shutterstock.

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One Response to Nude wallpaper apps infect thousands of Android devices with malware

  1. lewis · 1104 days ago

    Similar malware is now being sold on public forums and have been for a while now, i honestly can only suggest people to take care and be carefuil when downloading apps and also note that just because its in the market place doesnt meen its safe.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley