Symantec tags Tapsnake game as malware

Android app secretly uploads user GPS location

Symantec has warned of a game available on the Android Marketplace which periodically uploads GPS data from handset running the game.

The Tapsnake game is a simple rendition of the classic snake game but the software carries a hidden payload and periodically uploads GPS location data to a central server, Symantec revealed. 

"Essentially, AndroidOS.Tapsnake uploads the GPS data every 15 minutes to an application running on Google’s free App Engine service," said Symantec in an advisory. The application also thwarts attempts to try kill the GPS spy service process. The same authors produced another application on the Marketplace designed to interact with the secretly collected location data.

"GPS Spy then downloads the data and uses this service to conveniently display it as location points in Google Maps. This can give a pretty startling run-down of where someone carrying the phone has been."

The actual threat of the application was limited, Symantec said, since an email address and key needed to be entered into TapSnake. The Android operating system warms users installing applications as to what access the application requires such as GPS and Internet. 

"Our advice for users of smartphones is to be careful of what you install and always check if the application you’re installing is asking for rights it doesn’t really need," Symantec said.

Image credit: Symantec

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