Warning: Battery-saver app on Android is malware

Warning: Battery-saver app on Android is malware

Summary: Cybercriminals have created a fake battery-saving app for Android that is really malware in disguise. The idea is to harvest e-mail addresses for spamming users at a later time.

Warning: Battery-saver app on Android is malware

A new piece of malware is trying to take advantage of poor battery life on Android smartphones. Cybercriminals have created an app that is supposed to reduce battery use, but in reality steals the user's contacts data stored on the device. Symantec, which first discovered the malware, is calling this particular threat Android.Ackposts. Here's the official description

Android.Ackposts is a Trojan horse for Android devices that steals the Contacts information from the compromised device and sends it to a predetermined location. The Trojan may arrive as a package with the following name: BatteryLong.apk.

As opposed to using third-party app stores or even the official Google Play store, this app is pushed via Japanese spam e-mail that includes a link to download and install it. Although the messages claim the app reduces battery use by half, the app does nothing to save battery power. It does, however, send the user's contacts data (name, phone number, e-mail address, and more) to an external website for safe keeping.

As you can see in the screenshot in the top right, this malicious app only requests two permissions when it installs: "Network communication" (to access the Internet and upload the personal data) and "Your personal information" (to read and acquire the user's contacts data in the first place). The developer may have limited the number of required permissions as much as possible to avoid suspicion.

Once the app is installed and launched, a setup screen appears for a second, followed by a message stating that the device does not support the app. That is when the app steals the user's contacts data in the background.

The developers of this malicious app are most likely trying to harvest e-mail addresses for spamming purposes. Symantec traced the spam message back to the sender, and discovered that the cybercriminals are also operating various social networking and dating sites already notorious for sending spam.

See also:

Topics: Security, Android, Apps, Google, Malware, Mobile OS

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • This is why maemo was better

    Never had a problem with battery life on a nokia n900.
    • it's a pain in the butt to post comments on this site

      What is the point of this? Spam filters have gotten so good that spam is not longer a concern of mine. My gmail account's spam filter is ALWAYS catching 50-60 emails a day. Once about every couple months I will see a spam message in my inbox. To me, this just seems like a whole lot of work to send out an email that is going to be automatically deleted by an email server.
      • Harvesting Contacts

        Your spam filter may be working well, but the cyber-criminals are betting that when your contacts receive an email that seems to be sent from you, they'll open it. It happens all the time.
        • Harvesting Contacts

          I've received at least half a dozen in the last few days that seem to be from friends. I'm always on the lookout for this kind of stuff. I use Spamdrain and it catches everything.
      • Well consider this....

        Perhaps they send out a billion emails.

        Let's say 1% of them get through filtering.

        Then let's figure of that 1% of that 1% are stupid enough to install the malware.

        That's quite the successful failure.
        Hallowed are the Ori
    • Battery

      I've never had a problem with battery life either and I've owned 4 different types of Android phones.
      Software Architect 1982
  • If one wants more performance,

    root and run SetCPU and other chosen apps to modify CPU usage, scheduling of tasks/modems, etc...

    One app on its own - especially on unrooted devices - isn't going to do too much of anything pragmatic...
  • Security

    Hm, that's strange. What is best security for Mobile OS?

    I use Adware Remover for my laptop security. I recommend it to everyone:

  • The problem with android apps

    Is that they seem to all ask for all rights. Sometimes, that's fair, but why does a screensaver need contacts and network? I'm rejecting any like this now, unless I really trust the publisher.