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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Android

New Android Flaw Affecting Over 1 Billion Phones Let Attackers Hijack Apps

New Android Flaw Affecting Over 1 Billion Phones Let Attackers Hijack Apps

May 26, 2020Mohit Kumar
Remember Strandhogg? A security vulnerability affecting Android that malicious apps can exploit to masquerade as any other app installed on a targeted device to display fake interfaces to the users, tricking them into giving away sensitive information. Late last year, at the time of its public disclosure, researchers also confirmed that some attackers were already exploiting the flaw in the wild to steal users' banking and other login credentials, as well as to spy on their activities. The same team of Norwegian cybersecurity researchers today unveiled details of a new critical vulnerability (CVE-2020-0096) affecting the Android operating system that could allow attackers to carry out a much more sophisticated version of Strandhogg attack. Dubbed ' Strandhogg 2.0 ,' the new vulnerability affects all Android devices, except those running the latest version, Android Q / 10, of the mobile operating system—which, unfortunately, is running on only 15-20% of the total
Over 4000 Android Apps Expose Users' Data via Misconfigured Firebase Databases

Over 4000 Android Apps Expose Users' Data via Misconfigured Firebase Databases

May 12, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
More than 4,000 Android apps that use Google's cloud-hosted Firebase databases are 'unknowingly' leaking sensitive information on their users, including their email addresses, usernames, passwords, phone numbers, full names, chat messages and location data. The investigation, led by Bob Diachenko from Security Discovery in partnership with Comparitech, is the result of an analysis of 15,735 Android apps, which comprise about 18 percent of all apps on Google Play store. "4.8 percent of mobile apps using Google Firebase to store user data are not properly secured, allowing anyone to access databases containing users' personal information, access tokens, and other data without a password or any other authentication," Comparitech said. Acquired by Google in 2014, Firebase is a popular mobile application development platform that offers a variety of tools to help third-party app developers build apps, securely store app data and files, fix issues, and ev
Change This Browser Setting to Stop Xiaomi from Spying On Your Incognito Activities

Change This Browser Setting to Stop Xiaomi from Spying On Your Incognito Activities

May 05, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
If you own a Xiaomi smartphone or have installed the Mi browser app on any of your other brand Android device, you should enable a newly introduced privacy setting immediately to prevent the company from spying on your online activities. The smartphone maker has begun rolling out an update to its Mi Browser/Mi Browser Pro (v12.1.4) and Mint Browser (v3.4.3) after concerns were raised over its practice of transmitting web browsing histories and device metadata to the company servers. The new privacy setting now allows Mi Browser users to disable aggregated data collection feature while in Incognito Mode, but it bears noting that it's not enabled by default. The option can be accessed by tapping the settings icon in the browser > Incognito mode settings > and then disable 'Enhanced incognito mode,' as shown in an attached screenshot below. Mint Browser and Mi Browser Pro have been downloaded more than 15 million times from Google Play to date. The devel
Watch Out: Android Apps in Google Play Store Capitalizing on Coronavirus Outbreak

Watch Out: Android Apps in Google Play Store Capitalizing on Coronavirus Outbreak

March 26, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Preying on public fears, the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is proving to be a goldmine of opportunity for attackers to stage a variety of malware attacks, phishing campaigns, and create scam sites and malicious tracker apps. Now in a fresh twist, third-party Android app developers too have begun to take advantage of the situation to use coronavirus-related keywords in their app names, descriptions, or in the package names so as to drop malware, perpetrate financial theft and rank higher in Google Play Store searches related to the topic. "Most malicious apps found are bundle threats that range from ransomware to SMS-sending malware, and even spyware designed to clean out the contents of victims' devices for personal or financial data," Bitdefender researchers said in a telemetry analysis report shared with The Hacker News. The find by Bitdefender is the latest in an avalanche of digital threats piggybacking on the coronavirus pandemic. Using Coronavirus-Relat
TrickBot Mobile App Bypasses 2‐Factor Authentication for Net Banking Services

TrickBot Mobile App Bypasses 2‐Factor Authentication for Net Banking Services

March 25, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
The malware authors behind TrickBot banking Trojan have developed a new Android app that can intercept one-time authorization codes sent to Internet banking customers via SMS or relatively more secure push notifications, and complete fraudulent transactions. The Android app, called " TrickMo " by IBM X-Force researchers, is under active development and has exclusively targeted German users whose desktops have been previously infected with the TrickBot malware. "Germany is one of the first attack turfs TrickBot spread to when it first emerged in 2016," IBM researchers said. "In 2020, it appears that TrickBot's vast bank fraud is an ongoing project that helps the gang monetize compromised accounts." The name TrickMo is a direct reference to a similar kind of Android banking malware called ZitMo that was developed by Zeus cybercriminal gang in 2011 to defeat SMS-based two-factor authentication. The development is the latest addition in the ars
Dozens of Android Apps for Kids on Google Play Store Caught in Ad Fraud Scheme

Dozens of Android Apps for Kids on Google Play Store Caught in Ad Fraud Scheme

March 24, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
More than 50 Android apps on the Google Play Store—most of which were designed for kids and had racked up almost 1 million downloads between them—have been caught using a new trick to secretly click on ads without the knowledge of smartphone users. Dubbed " Tekya ," the malware in the apps imitated users' actions to click ads from advertising networks such as Google's AdMob, AppLovin', Facebook, and Unity, cybersecurity firm Check Point Research noted in a report shared with The Hacker News. "Twenty four of the infected apps were aimed at children (ranging from puzzles to racing games), with the rest being utility apps (such as cooking apps, calculators, downloaders, translators, and so on)," the researchers said. While the offending apps have been removed from Google Play, the find by Check Point Research is the latest in an avalanche of ad fraud schemes that have plagued the app storefront in recent years, with malware posing as optimizer an
You Can Now Run Android on an iPhone With 'Project Sandcastle'

You Can Now Run Android on an iPhone With 'Project Sandcastle'

March 05, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Not happy with your expensive iPhone and wondered if it's possible to run any other operating system on your iPhone, maybe, how to install Android on an iPhone or Linux for iPhones? Android phones can be rooted, and iPhones can be jailbroken to unlock new features, but so far, it's been close to impossible to get Android running on iPhones, given the mobile device hardware constraints and software limitations. However, it's now possible to smoothly run Android on an iPhone—thanks to a new initiative, dubbed Project Sandcastle . Undertaken by cybersecurity startup Corellium , Project Sandcastle is the consequence of a 13-year-long developmental effort to port Android to iOS and as well as demonstrate that Apple's much-vaunted security barriers can indeed be compromised. "Where sandboxes set limits and boundaries, sandcastles provide an opportunity to create something new from the limitless bounds of your imagination," the project website says. "T
Google Advises Android Developers to Encrypt App Data On Device

Google Advises Android Developers to Encrypt App Data On Device

February 26, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Google today published a blog post recommending mobile app developers to encrypt data that their apps generate on the users' devices, especially when they use unprotected external storage that's prone to hijacking. Moreover, considering that there are not many reference frameworks available for the same, Google also advised using an easy-to-implement security library available as part of its Jetpack software suite. The open-sourced Jetpack Security (aka JetSec) library lets Android app developers easily read and write encrypted files by following best security practices , including storing cryptographic keys and protecting files that may contain sensitive data, API keys, OAuth tokens. To give a bit of context, Android offers developers two different ways to save app data. The first one is app-specific storage, also known as internal storage, where the files are stored in a sandboxed folder meant for a specific app's use and inaccessible to other apps on the same
3 Google Play Store Apps Exploit Android Zero-Day Used by NSO Group

3 Google Play Store Apps Exploit Android Zero-Day Used by NSO Group

January 07, 2020Mohit Kumar
Watch out! If you have any of the below-mentioned file managers and photography apps installed on your Android phone—even if downloaded from the official Google Store store⁠—you have been hacked and being tracked. These newly detected malicious Android apps are Camero , FileCrypt , and callCam that are believed to be linked to Sidewinder APT, a sophisticated hacking group specialized in cyber espionage attacks. According to cybersecurity researchers at Trend Micro, these apps were exploiting a critical use-after-free vulnerability in Android at least since March last year⁠—that's 7 months before the same flaw was first discovered as zero-day when Google researcher analysed a separate attack developed by Israeli surveillance vendor NSO Group. "We speculate that these apps have been active since March 2019 based on the certificate information on one of the apps," the researchers said . Tracked as CVE-2019-2215 , the vulnerability is a local privilege escalation
New Linux Bug Lets Attackers Hijack Encrypted VPN Connections

New Linux Bug Lets Attackers Hijack Encrypted VPN Connections

December 06, 2019Swati Khandelwal
A team of cybersecurity researchers has disclosed a new severe vulnerability affecting most Linux and Unix-like operating systems, including FreeBSD, OpenBSD, macOS, iOS, and Android, that could allow remote 'network adjacent attackers' to spy on and tamper with encrypted VPN connections. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-14899, resides in the networking stack of various operating systems and can be exploited against both IPv4 and IPv6 TCP streams. Since the vulnerability does not rely on the VPN technology used, the attack works against widely implemented virtual private network protocols like OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec, and more, the researchers confirmed. This vulnerability can be exploited by a network attacker — controlling an access point or connected to the victim's network — just by sending unsolicited network packets to a targeted device and observing replies, even if they are encrypted. As explained by the researchers, though there are variati
Unpatched Strandhogg Android Vulnerability Actively Exploited in the Wild

Unpatched Strandhogg Android Vulnerability Actively Exploited in the Wild

December 02, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new unpatched vulnerability in the Android operating system that dozens of malicious mobile apps are already exploiting in the wild to steal users' banking and other login credentials and spy on their activities. Dubbed Strandhogg , the vulnerability resides in the multitasking feature of Android that can be exploited by a malicious app installed on a device to masquerade as any other app on it, including any privileged system app. In other words, when a user taps the icon of a legitimate app, the malware exploiting the Strandhogg vulnerability can intercept and hijack this task to display a fake interface to the user instead of launching the legitimate application. By tricking users into thinking they are using a legitimate app, the vulnerability makes it possible for malicious apps to conveniently steal users' credentials using fake login screens, as shown in the video demonstration. "The vulnerability allows an attacke
Malicious Android SDKs Caught Accessing Facebook and Twitter Users Data

Malicious Android SDKs Caught Accessing Facebook and Twitter Users Data

November 26, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Two third-party software development kits integrated by over hundreds of thousands of Android apps have been caught holding unauthorized access to users' data associated with their connected social media accounts. In a blog post published yesterday, Twitter revealed that an SDK developed by OneAudience contains a privacy-violating component which may have passed some of its users' personal data to the OneAudience servers. Following Twitter's disclosure, Facebook today released a statement revealing that an SDK from another company, Mobiburn , is also under investigation for a similar malicious activity that might have exposed its users connected with certain Android apps to data collection firms. Both OneAudience and Mobiburn are data monetization services that pay developers to integrate their SDKs into the apps, which then collect users' behavioral data and then use it with advertisers for targeted marketing. In general, third-party software development k
New Flaw Lets Rogue Android Apps Access Camera Without Permission

New Flaw Lets Rogue Android Apps Access Camera Without Permission

November 19, 2019Swati Khandelwal
An alarming security vulnerability has been discovered in several models of Android smartphones manufactured by Google, Samsung, and others that could allow malicious apps to secretly take pictures and record videos — even when they don't have specific device permissions to do so. You must already know that the security model of the Android mobile operating system is primarily based on device permissions where each app needs to explicitly define which services, device capabilities, or user information it wants to access. However, researchers at Checkmarx discovered that a vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-2234 , in pre-installed camera apps on millions of devices could be leveraged by attackers to bypass such restrictions and access device camera and microphone without any permissions to do so. How Can Attackers Exploit the Camera App Vulnerability? The attack scenario involves a rogue app that only needs access to device storage (i.e., SD card), which is one of the mo
Qualcomm Chip Flaws Let Hackers Steal Private Data From Android Devices

Qualcomm Chip Flaws Let Hackers Steal Private Data From Android Devices

November 14, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Hundreds of millions of devices, especially Android smartphones and tablets, using Qualcomm chipsets, are vulnerable to a new set of potentially serious vulnerabilities. According to a report cybersecurity firm CheckPoint shared with The Hacker News, the flaws could allow attackers to steal sensitive data stored in a secure area that is otherwise supposed to be the most protected part of a mobile device. The vulnerabilities reside in Qualcomm's Secure Execution Environment (QSEE), an implementation of Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) based on ARM TrustZone technology. Also known as Qualcomm's Secure World, QSEE is a hardware-isolated secure area on the main processor that aims to protect sensitive information and provides a separate secure environment (REE) for executing Trusted Applications. Along with other personal information, QSEE usually contains private encryption keys, passwords, credit, and debit card credentials. Since it is based on the principle of l
Mysterious malware that re-installs itself infected over 45,000 Android Phones

Mysterious malware that re-installs itself infected over 45,000 Android Phones

October 29, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Over the past few months, hundreds of Android users have been complaining online of a new piece of mysterious malware that hides on the infected devices and can reportedly reinstall itself even after users delete it, or factory reset their devices. Dubbed Xhelper , the malware has already infected more than 45,000 Android devices in just the last six months and is continuing to spread by infecting at least 2,400 devices on an average each month, according to the latest report published today by Symantec. Here below, I have collected excerpts from some comments that affected users shared on the online forums while asking for how to remove the Xhelper Android malware: "xhelper regularly reinstalls itself, almost every day!" "the 'install apps from unknown sources' setting turns itself on." "I rebooted my phone and also wiped my phone yet the app xhelper came back." "Xhelper came pre-installed on the phone from China."
42 Adware Apps with 8 Million Downloads Traced Back to Vietnamese Student

42 Adware Apps with 8 Million Downloads Traced Back to Vietnamese Student

October 24, 2019Mohit Kumar
First of all, if you have any of the below-listed apps installed on your Android device, you are advised to uninstall it immediately. Cybersecurity researchers have identified 42 apps on the Google Play Store with a total of more than 8 million downloads, which were initially distributed as legitimate applications but later updated to maliciously display full-screen advertisements to their users. Discovered by ESET security researcher Lukas Stefanko, these adware Android applications were developed by a Vietnamese university student, who easily got tracked likely because he never bothered to hide his identity. The publicly available registration details of a domain associated with the adware apps helped find the identity of the rogue developer, including his real name, address, and phone number, which eventually led the researcher to his personal accounts on Facebook, GitHub, and YouTube. "Seeing that the developer did not take any measures to protect his identity, it
Chrome for Android Enables Site Isolation Security Feature for All Sites with Login

Chrome for Android Enables Site Isolation Security Feature for All Sites with Login

October 17, 2019Swati Khandelwal
After enabling ' Site Isolation ' security feature in Chrome for desktops last year, Google has now finally introduced 'the extra line of defence' for Android smartphone users surfing the Internet over the Chrome web browser. In brief, Site Isolation is a security feature that adds an additional boundary between websites by ensuring that pages from different sites end up in different sandboxed processes in the browser. Since each site in the browser gets its own isolated process, in case of a browser flaw or Spectre like side-channel vulnerability, the feature makes it harder for attackers or malicious websites to access or steal cross-site data of your accounts on other websites. Site Isolation helps protect many types of sensitive data, including authentication cookies, stored passwords, network data, stored permissions, as well as cross-origin messaging that help sites securely pass messages across domains. The feature gained attention in January 2018,
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