They said that while this app was initially targeting users in China and Mandarin-speaking regions, malicious apps that masqueraded as something benign but were actually dangerous were quite common worldwide.
Proofpoint has discovered almost 16,000 publishers distributing malicious apps through both mainstream and third-party app stores (most of which masquerade as legitimate apps, but are different from what they claim to be). Organisations, their employees, and average users all must take the time to verify that requested permissions are reasonable as they install new apps.
Dave Jevans, vice-president of Mobile at Proofpoint, said: "Proofpoint has scanned over 45 million apps from 300 app stores and over 100 countries worldwide. Despite the best efforts of the mobile device platform vendors, we still see over 1% of the world’s 1.3 million app developers releasing malicious apps.
"Information stealing apps threaten not only consumers, but also enterprises, by compromising email addresses, passwords, address books, calendars and a variety of information that is used to target users in blended threat campaigns that may involve email or SMS targeting later,” he added.
At first glance, the app — which was found in a public repository — appears legitimate, featuring an icon showing a point-of-sale machine and Chinese characters that translate to "Mitsubishi POS Terminal Management".
Proofpoint says this particular app caught its attention in part because of the complete information-stealing capabilities that were built into the code. More importantly, though, the advertised function of the app — a point-of-sale system control app — automatically targeted a niche audience with potential access to a variety of sensitive data for retailers and their customers.