updated 02:55 am EDT, Tue June 5, 2012
Maliciously crafted app allows root access, shell commands
Android security researchers Jon Oberheide and Charlie Miller have devised ways to circumvent the cloud-based security filter that Google uses to attempt to keep the market devoid of malicious Android apps. By feeding the scanner a maliciously crafted file and shell commands to reveal files and list system attributes, the research team were able to procure information about how the malware scanner works.
"So this is just one technique to fingerprint the Bouncer environment, allowing a malicious app to appear benign when run within Bouncer, and yet still perform malicious activities when run on a real user's device," Oberheide said in a demonstration video (seen below). Oberheide and Miller are scheduled to talk at the SummerCon conference in New York City between June 8 and June 10. Details about the exploit will be published and publicly available after the conference.
Bouncer is Google's automatic malware scanner in Google Play, to ensure applications don't match signatures of known malware. Within weeks, a technique to avoid Bouncer was exploited so sneak a malicious app into the Google app store. Oberheide and Miller have been in touch with the Android security team to help address the problems that they have discovered with the scanner.