Zombie talk is all over the web and in the news these days. From reported “zombie” attacks to the latest titles at Netflix and Redbox, zombies have become a common word on the lips of the world. Now we are getting news of a new type of zombie, and the terrifying thing is: it is right next to you… You don’t have too much to worry about though; these zombies can’t attack you, because they are your cell phones.
In an independent report from researchers at Microsoft and Sophos Labs, evidence has been found that a group of criminals has secretly composed an android-based botnet, linking cell phones on the android platform to work together as drones – or zombies – in order to send out spam in the form of emails.
The spam being sent out is not new, it consists of advertisements for Viagra, Cialis, and the usual spam you might find in your inbox. Who is this person that transforms your cell phone into a zombie? Well, it turns out that it is likely the owner of the phone that has allowed the botnet/malware onto the afflicted device. Let’s say you are searching for a game or app to download on your phone. There are two types of the same app, one costs $3.99, the other is $.99. The 99 cent version is likely a pirated copy of the same app that also contains programming that can hijack the functions of your phone.
While Microsoft and at England’s Sophos Labs are confident that their study proves the existence of smartphone bots, Google, Kaspersky and various other internet companies are quick to refute this claim. An unnamed spokesperson for Google stated, “The evidence does not support the Android botnet claim. Our analysis suggests that spammers are actually using infected computers and a fake mobile signature to try and bypass anti-spam mechanisms in the email platform they are using.
If the claim of zombie phones is actually true, this would be the first instance of a botnet running completely on a smartphone platform. Spammers have attempted for many years now to develop and implement a botnet on cellphones because they are highly powerful machines, they are on at all times, and there are over 1 billion of the devices that can possibly act as mindless slaves to the botnet’s creators.