Verizon, Google team on Android digital safety and security app
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) unveiled Net Safety Tips On the Go, a free Android application delivering information and insight designed to help consumers guard their privacy on the mobile web.
The app, called Net Safety Tips on the Go, was developed by Verizon Wireless and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in association with online security education organizations including Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely.org, OnGuardOnline.gov and GetNetwise.org. Net Safety Tips on the Go is available for download via Verizon's V Cast Apps storefront and includes consumer tips to protect against fraud, phishing and ID theft; suggestions for social networking privacy, location sharing and surfing the web; ideas for protecting children against cyber-bullying and unwanted contact; and Android app management and security advisories.
The Android app arrives days after Google removed another series of malware-infected applications from Android Market. Earlier this month, North Carolina State University computer science professor Xuxian Jiang alerted Google to the threat after identifying the stealth Android spyware, dubbed Plankton, in at least 10 different Android Market apps from three different developers. All of the infected apps were marketed as add-ons or cheats for Rovio Mobile's wildly popular mobile game Angry Birds--none of the apps delivered gameplay functionality, however, serving solely as delivery vehicles for the Plankton spyware, which collects information including the device ID as well as granted permissions and transmits the data to a remote server via HTTP Post message.
Although Android's open-source ethos is credited as a primary catalyst behind the operating system's enormous growth, malware threats underline the challenges inherent in maintaining an open mobile ecosystem. In March, Google pulled more than 50 free applications said to contain the DroidDream malware, which seeks to gain root access to the user's device, collecting a range of available data and downloading more malicious code to the smartphone without the consumer's knowledge or consent. Late last month, Google deleted an additional 34 apps containing the so-called "Droid Dream Light," a stripped-down version of the original DroidDream virus.
Jiang previously alerted Google to "DroidKungFu," another DroidDream variant found in unauthorized Chinese app stores. The researcher also uncovered YZHCSMS, a Trojan horse that racks up charges by mailing hidden text messages to premium numbers--according to Jiang, YZHCSMS apps were available on Android Market for at least three months before Google eradicated them.
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