Phony Angry Birds App Reveals Android Security Flaw
Article by George Norman
On 16 Nov 2010
An interesting application showed up on the Android Market not too long ago. The application was called Angry Birds Bonus Levels and promised to offer, well, bonus levels of the incredibly popular game – all free of charge. The app was downloaded by more than 100 people who failed to notice that the app’s developer is not Finish company Rovio, but one Jon Oberheide (he is the Chief Technology Officer of Scio Security).

Does the name Jon Oberheide ring a bell? It does in my head. Back in June I was reporting that Google used its remote application removal privileges to remove two Android apps from users’ devices. The apps in question were released by the same Jon Oberheide. Security researcher Jon Oberheide released the two apps as proof-of-concept to test the feasibility of distributing a program that could later be used to take control of the device in an attack. The apps did not do anything malicious; they only executed code that displayed a “Hello World” message.


So why did Jon Oberheide release the Angry Birds Bonus Levels app? To showcase an Android flaw that allows an application to download and run additional applications from the Android Marketplace. Once installed on a device, the Angry Birds Bonus Levels downloaded and installed three additional applications on the user’s device - Fake Contact Stealer, Fake Location Tracker and Fake Toll Fraud (which were also released by Jon Oberheide).

Google responded by taking down Jon Oberheide’s applications within a few hours after they were uploaded to the Android Market. Google then contacted Jon Oberheide and worked with the researcher on a fix for the security issue he uncovered. You will be glad to know that Google already issued a fix.

In related news, Rovio recently released Angry Birds for Android 1.4.2, the first important update for the Android version of Angry Birds. The update brings with it the following features:
- Support for QVGA graphics has been added
- The Big Setup episode has been added. This episode adds 45 new levels to the game. As a little side note, the total number of levels in the game has now gone up to 195.
- Issues users have been complaining about have been solved. “We have fixed a number of issues that a lot of people experienced with Angry Birds on Android, including the blank screen issue on Android 1.6 devices, and the white textures appearing on certain devices,” explained Rovio.

Tags: Rovio, Angry Birds, Android, Google, Security
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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Phony Angry Birds App Reveals Android Security Flaw
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