I recently accidentally installed an app from Google Play onto my android phone (Version 2.3.6) which was clearly a fake... It had the same name and icon as the app I wanted, and I hit the install button.

While it was installing, I noticed it was not the real app, and as soon as it completed, I uninstalled the app without opening it.

1 - What actions should I take to assure I have no infection?

2 - Does the fact that I did not run the app mean that it did not have the ability to infect the phone in any way?

3 - Just by installing it, could it have sent my MEID to a bad guy?

Thanks in advance for your help! SteveG

  • 1
    Perhaps you could tell us what app you were trying to install, and the source where you found the fake copy of it. Lots of malware apps are different, so more information is helpful. On the plus side, I think (disclaimer: THINK) you'll be fine after removing it.
    – dotVezz
    Sep 27 '13 at 17:34
  • 2
    Reporting the app to Google would be good, too.
    – ale
    Sep 27 '13 at 17:44
  • dotVezz- Thanks for responding. The app was FIFA 14 by VK software and it was on Google Play. It was 269MB in size.
    – Sgogo
    Sep 27 '13 at 19:22
  • All Everett - I reported it and it was removed the next day (along with about 10 other apps that looked like other popular new titles). They were capitalizing on the fact that FIFA 14 was released that day (for a limited time free) and used the graphics from the original...it even came up first in the search.
    – Sgogo
    Sep 27 '13 at 19:27

Android won't run anything from the app as soon as you install it. An app can only set alarms, register broadcast receivers, etc. after the first time you run it manually, for example by:

  • launching one of its activities from the launcher
  • clicking Open in the Play Store app
  • creating a home screen or lock screen widget provided by this app
  • starting it from another app (via a Share action or the like)

This isn't a complete list, but it should be pretty obvious what actions start the app. If you haven't started the app, it can't have run yet, unless the author is able to exploit a bug in Android that no one else knows about.

This is very different to the situation on desktop OSes. In Windows and most GNU/Linux package managers, installing an application consists of running code provided by the app author. In contrast, Android is designed to limit what apps can do. Android itself installs the package by reading its manifest, which tells Android the name of the package and what components it contains. Android unpacks the app's files to its own private directory in internal storage, without running any code provided by the app. If the app wants to do any further setup (such as performing an anti-piracy check, or getting you to sign into a server), it can only do this when you first run the app.

  • Dan-Thank you so much for responding... I did not open the app in any way, so it sounds like I am OK. I have to say I felt pretty stupid after I clicked on the install button in the Google Play store...I am usually very diligent about security. Again, thank you so much for your time!
    – Sgogo
    Sep 27 '13 at 21:13
  • Dan-What exactly goes on when the application says "installing"... I had imagined it was similar to a windows installation where files were being copied to the hard drive and registry values were being modified...Is it very different on Android?
    – Sgogo
    Sep 27 '13 at 21:18
  • @Sgogo I added this information to my answer.
    – Dan Hulme
    Sep 27 '13 at 21:57
  • Dan-So basically the installer is really just creating a kind of sandbox for the app and alerting the OS that the app now exists. Great information, and again, thank you very much!
    – Sgogo
    Sep 28 '13 at 0:29

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