Did Instagram hit Android, or was it a spam link?

by Kristen Nicole

Android users have been waiting for what seems an eternity for Instagram to hit the Market, and while the app developers haven’t revealed an exact launch date, it may be sooner than we think. According to InFlexWeTrust, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 user saw a message for a Featured App that was none other than Instagram, the popular photo-sharing service. But when he went to download the file, the Android Market link was broken. A quick check of the Android Market confirms that there is no Instagram app yet.

So what’s with the mysterious Featured App notification for an Android version of Instagram? It could be a glitch, or it could be spam. Malware and adware are known to take on the guise of popular apps, and highly anticipated apps like Instagram are certainly lures for impatient Android users.

False identity

In fact, a new wave of fake apps has recently hit the Android Market, promoting phony versions of Jetpack Joyride, Madden NFL 12 and Angry Chicken, amongst others. Also gaining traction is the fake version of Pinterest, another popular service that has yet to launch an Android app. In fact, the bogus Pinterest app is tagged “official,” without permission, of course. While these apps are imposters, Google confirms that they contain no malware.

There’s another batch of Trojans, however, that have been determined to be malware. And they can mutate, making them more difficult to detect by security software. Identified by Symantec, the evolving programs called Android.Opfake have originated from Russian websites, and downloading the programs inadvertently can immediately infect other Android users by sending out text messages to contacts.

Symantec’s latest Android security app

Symantec, always looking to stay ahead of mobile security trends, has also released a new Android app today. Norton Safety Minder lets parents keep track of their kids’ Android device activity through Norton Online Family services, acting similarly to their PC monitoring program. It can help keep kids’ devices safe from imposture apps, rogue services that drum up cell phone bill charges and block certain numbers.