Microsoft Exploits Android Misery

Ben Rudolph, Microsoft's Windows Phone evangelist, tweeted the offer on Twitter Monday, a day after San Francisco-based mobile security vendor Lookout reported that it found 22 apps with the RuFraud malware on Google's Android Market. On Tuesday, Lookout reported finding five more apps.

Following the first discovery, Rudolph tweeted, "more malware on Android!" and asked users of the smartphone to share their worst stories to win a Windows Phone. Comments on the offer can be found with the hash tag: #droidrage.

Android-creator Google was not immediately available for comment.

RuFraud surfaced on the market hidden in horoscope apps, wallpaper apps and phony versions of popular games, such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. Once installed, the malware sends text messages to paid services, racking up big bills for unsuspecting phone subscribers. The apps targeted European Android users. People in North America were not affected.

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Beyond pulling the apps from the market, Google has not commented on the report. The company's official policy is to not discuss third-party reports of Android malware.

When apps are installed on Android, the operating system is programmed to give users the option to abort, after they are told what services will be accessed. With the RuFraud apps, the agreement to premium charges is buried and not easily seen, according to Lookout.

Makers of security software for mobile phones have warned for some time that the Android Market gives cyber-criminals an easier onramp than Apple's more closely guarded App Store for the iPhone.

Google has struck back against the criticism. In a recent blog post, Chris DiBona, open-source program manager at Google, claimed anti-malware is not needed on smartphones and accused security vendors of playing to people's fears to sell product.