Over 80 applications downloaded from Google's Android Market have been secretly gathering personal information from millions of users and sending it on to third parties, according to a report presented by security firm Lookout at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.
The custom wallpaper apps for Android mobile phones have been gathering phone numbers, user IDs and other personal information and forwarding them to an anonymous website in China.
Lookout’s chief technology officer, Kevin MaHaffey, blogged: "We found series of wallpaper applications in the Android Market are gathering seemingly unnecessary data.
"The wallpaper applications that we analysed transmitted several pieces of sensitive data to a server over an unencrypted network connection. The data included the device’s phone number, subscriber identifier and the currently entered voicemail number on the phone.
"While this sort of data collection from a wallpaper application is certainly suspicious, there’s no evidence of malicious behaviour," he reckoned.
The suspicious applications have been created by developers Jackeey, Wallpaper and IceskYsl@1sters.
Following the report, Google suspended the applications from its store pending investigation.