Now, Symantec says it has uncovered the first malicious apps making use of the exploit in the wild. Symantec discovered two mobile applications that were infected by an attacker, which are legitimate applications used to help find and make doctor appointments and distributed on Android marketplaces in China.
“An attacker has taken both of these applications and added code to allow them to remotely control devices, steal sensitive data such as IMEI and phone numbers, send premium SMS messages, and disable a few Chinese mobile security software applications by using root commands, if available,” Symantec explained in a blog post.
While this may be the first instance discovered where attackers have exploited the vulnerability, researchers expect attackers to continue to leverage the vulnerability to infect Android devices, especially as more technical details of the vulnerability emerge. The flaw, discussed here in a podcast with Bluebox co-founder Adam Ely, has been present since at least Android 1.6 – making it roughly four years old.
Google has fixed the security hole in Android, but it is now in the control of handset manufacturers to produce and release the updates for mobile devices to patch the flaws.