Science & technology
Malware worms its way into more apps
Publish Date: Jun 24, 2014
Malware worms its way into more apps
Researchers say they have identified malware can steal money from a digital wallet. PHOTO/AFP
  • mail
  • img
newvision

WASHINGTON - Malicious software is increasingly making its way into mobile phones through "cloned" versions of popular apps, and software weaknesses in legitimate ones, security researchers said Tuesday.

McAfee Labs said in its quarterly threat assessment that weaknesses in app security is becoming a growing problem for owners of mobile devices.

In some cases, cybercriminals can take advantage of the popularity of an app by creating a clone, which can extract personal data or even allow an attack to gain control of the device.

This was the case with "Flappy Birds," a mobile game which saw a meteoric rise but was later withdrawn by its creator.

McAfee Labs sampled 300 Flappy Bird clones and found that almost 80 percent contained malware.

"Some of the behavior we found includes making calls without the user's permission; sending, recording, and receiving SMS messages; extracting contact data; and tracking geolocation. In the worst cases, the malware gained root access, which allows uninhibited control of anything on the mobile device including confidential business information," the report said.

The McAfee report said some legitimate apps have security flaws which can be exploited by hackers.

The researchers said they discovered an Android trojan "which exploits an encryption method weakness in the popular messaging app WhatsApp" and then steals conversations and pictures stored on the device.

"Although this vulnerability has now been fixed, we can easily imagine cybercriminals continuing to look for other flaws in this well-known app," the report said.


In January, Snapchat said it would release an updated version of its app after hackers downloaded usernames and phone numbers for 4.6 million accounts

Digital pickpockets

The researchers also said they identified malware can steal money from a digital wallet.

One of the malware programs identified "is disguised as an update for Adobe Flash Player or another legitimate utility app," and can take over a digital wallet to send a money transfer to the attacker's server.

"Mobile malware has recently started to use legitimate apps and services, in addition to a platform's standard features, to circumvent conventional surveillance by app stores and security products," the McAfee report said.

"Consequently, protecting only the underlying platform is no longer sufficient. We believe that developers need to protect their apps and services from unauthorized and malicious use."

McAfee's Vincent Weafer said people may be lulled into a false sense of security about mobile apps.

"We tend to trust the names we know on the Internet," Weafer said.

"The year 2014 has already given us ample evidence that mobile malware developers are playing on these inclinations, to manipulate the familiar, legitimate features in the mobile apps and services we recognize and trust."

AFP


Also related to this story

Galaxy S5 fingerprint sensor hacked

Snapchat to app in wake of hack

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Japan company makes tear-free onions
The sobbing of a chef as he chops onions in the kitchen could be a thing of the past thanks to one Japanese company....
Samsung, LG agree to end legal feuds
Samsung and LG agreed Tuesday to end all pending legal disputes that had seen the South Korean electronics rivals accuse each other of stealing technology and vandalising products....
Solar Impulse departs Myanmar for China
Solar Impulse 2 took off from Myanmar''s second biggest city of Mandalay in a landmark journey to circumnavigate the globe powered solely by the sun....
New streaming apps could boost citizen journalism
When three buildings collapsed and ignited a blaze in New York on Thursday, a smartphone app brought the live video feed to anyone online wanting to watch....
Spacecraft docks at ISS for year-long mission
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft with three crew on board has successfully docked at the International Space Station....
Apple chief Cook to give his wealth away
Apple chief Tim Cook is joining technology titans who have vowed to donate their wealth to charities....
Should police arrest parents who do not take their children to school?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter