Revealed: How Lady Gaga helped Google keep malware off Androids

Two security researchers say that they have found multiple ways to bypass Bouncer, Google’s automated system for detecting malicious Android apps before they are made available in the Google Play store.

Google automatically runs newly uploaded apps through Bouncer before making them available to the general public. Bouncer emulates an Android smartphone, inside a virtual environment, and attempts to tell if the submitted app is capable of stealing data, sending expensive SMS messages, steal information, and so forth.

The challenge for malware authors, therefore, is to see if they can bypass Bouncer’s checks and sneak their malicious Android apps into the Google Play store.

Security researchers Charlie Miller and Jon Oberheide claim to have found multiple ways for Android apps to realise they are being tested by Bouncer and behave differently during the examination. If apps hide their malicious intentions while they are being tested (in other words, tell the difference…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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