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Cybercriminals use Google Cloud Messaging to control malware on Android devices


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Cybercriminals are controlling malware on Android devices through a Google service that enables developers to send messages to their applications, according to security researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab.

Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) for Android allows developers to send and receive different types of messages to and from applications installed on Android devices. A developer can, for example, send messages that contain up to 4KB of structured data from a server the developer owns through a Google-run GCM server to all user installations of the developer’s GCM-enabled apps. The applications don’t even have to be running on user devices as the received messages will be broadcast by the Android OS and the targeted apps will be woken up.

The GCM message data can include links, text advertisements, or commands, said Roman Unuchek, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab, Wednesday in a blog post.

Researchers from the antivirus company have already identified multiple Android malware threats that use GCM as a primary or secondary command-and-control channel.

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