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3/1/2011
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Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Hacked Android App Runs Up SMS Bills

If you have an Android device and are running an app called Steamy Window, you might want to uninstall it and check your cell phone bill as soon as possible. It may have run up a tab with a premium texting service.

If you have an Android device and are running an app called Steamy Window, you might want to uninstall it and check your cell phone bill as soon as possible. It may have run up a tab with a premium texting service.The app itself is like so many of the freebies available for smartphones today. It doesn't do anything useful, but you can pretend you just took a shower with your phone and then wipe off the steam and water droplets that are moving around on the screen. As an added bonus, you can send an image of the steamy screen to your friends.

The problem is some Chinese hackers have modified the app and re-released it according to ComputerWorld. The hacked app isn't in the sanctioned Google Android Market but is in a third party store.

The code makes money for the hackers by having the compromised device surreptitiously send text messages to a premium service. Those charges then appear on the user's bill. If your carrier texts you back saying you have hit your monthly quota. the software intercepts and suppresses those messages so it can continue to rack stuff up.

This is a key reason that most users should just buy their apps from the platform's official store. While it isn't impossible for an app to make it through the security that app stores provide, it is highly unlikely that anyone could modify an app and sneak it back in the repository. Some of the stores can also recall an app that snuck through its certification process. In the case of third party stores, that isn't as likely.

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