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Google invokes remote tool against rogue Android applications

Google is stepping in to protect the security reputation of its mobile operating system by remotely disabling malicious software downloaded by users of thousand of smartphones running on Android.

Around 60 malware-infected applications including games and utilities were found on the Android Market on 1 March, which were downloaded by more than 200,000 users, according to the BBC.

Google has ensured its ability to remove dangerous applications installed by users on their phones through the Android Market terms of service.

According to Google, the remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications.

In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users, the company says.

Google announced at the weekend that in addition to removing the rogue apps from the Android Market, suspending associated developers and notifying law enforcement, it would use the remote application removal tool to clean affected devices.

"We are pushing an Android Market security update to all affected devices that undoes the exploits to prevent the attacker(s) from accessing any more information from affected devices," said Rich Cannings, Android security lead.

All those with affected devices will receive an email from android-market-support@google.com by the end of Tuesday, March 8, as well as a notification that the "Android Market Security Tool March 2011" has been installed.

Cannings said Google is also adding a number of measures to help prevent additional malicious applications using similar exploits from being distributed through Android Market and is working to provide the fix for the underlying security issues.


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