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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Android security

Watch Out — Microsoft Warns Android Users About A New Ransomware

Watch Out — Microsoft Warns Android Users About A New Ransomware
October 12, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft has warned about a new strain of mobile ransomware that takes advantage of incoming call notifications and Android's Home button to lock the device behind a ransom note. The findings concern a variant of a known Android ransomware family dubbed "MalLocker.B" which has now resurfaced with new techniques, including a novel means to deliver the ransom demand on infected devices as well as an obfuscation mechanism to evade security solutions. The development comes amid a huge surge in ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure across sectors, with a 50% increase in the daily average of ransomware attacks in the last three months compared to the first half of the year, and cybercriminals increasingly incorporating double extortion in their playbook. MalLocker has been known for being hosted on malicious websites and circulated on online forums using various social engineering lures by masquerading as popular apps, cracked games, or video players. Pre

Beware: New Android Spyware Found Posing as Telegram and Threema Apps

Beware: New Android Spyware Found Posing as Telegram and Threema Apps
October 01, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A hacking group known for its attacks in the Middle East, at least since 2017, has recently been found impersonating legitimate messaging apps such as Telegram and Threema to infect Android devices with a new, previously undocumented malware. "Compared to the versions documented in 2017, Android/SpyC23.A has extended spying functionality, including reading notifications from messaging apps, call recording and screen recording, and new stealth features, such as dismissing notifications from built-in Android security apps," cybersecurity firm ESET  said  in a Wednesday analysis. First detailed by Qihoo 360 in 2017 under the moniker  Two-tailed Scorpion (aka APT-C-23 or Desert Scorpion), the mobile malware has been deemed "surveillanceware" for its abilities to spy on the devices of targeted individuals, exfiltrating call logs, contacts, location, messages, photos, and other sensitive documents in the process. In 2018, Symantec discovered a  newer variant  of the

A Bug Could Let Attackers Hijack Firefox for Android via Wi-Fi Network

A Bug Could Let Attackers Hijack Firefox for Android via Wi-Fi Network
September 19, 2020Mohit Kumar
Dear Android users, if you use the Firefox web browser on your smartphones, make sure it has been updated to version 80 or the latest available version on the Google Play Store. ESET security researcher Lukas Stefanko yesterday tweeted an alert demonstrating the exploitation of a recently disclosed high-risk remote command execution vulnerability affecting the Firefox app for Android. Discovered originally by Australian security researcher Chris Moberly , the vulnerability resides in the SSDP engine of the browser that can be exploited by an attacker to target Android smartphones connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the attacker, with Firefox app installed. SSDP, stands for Simple Service Discovery Protocol, is a UDP based protocol that is a part of UPnP for finding other devices on a network. In Android, Firefox periodically sends out SSDP discovery messages to other devices connected to the same network, looking for second-screen devices to cast. Any device on the local netwo

Android 11 — 5 New Security and Privacy Features You Need to Know

Android 11 — 5 New Security and Privacy Features You Need to Know
September 18, 2020Anchit Sharma
After a long wait and months of beta testing, Google last week finally released Android 11 , the latest version of the Android mobile operating system—with features offering billions of its users more control over their data security and privacy. Android security is always a hot topic and almost always for the wrong reason, including Google's failure to prevent malicious apps from being distributed through the Play Store, over-claim of permissions by apps, and privacy leakages. Though most of such issues can be avoided as long as users take advantage of already available features and a little common sense, most users are still not aware of or following basic security practices. According to Google's latest announcement, the latest Android 11 OS includes a few new built-in measures designed to keep users' data secure by default, increase transparency, and offer better control. Instead of diving deep into smaller or more extensive changes, we have summarized some critica

Exclusive: Any Chingari App (Indian TikTok Clone) Account Can Be Hacked Easily

Exclusive: Any Chingari App (Indian TikTok Clone) Account Can Be Hacked Easily
July 11, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Following vulnerability disclosure in the Mitron app , another viral TikTok clone in India has now been found vulnerable to a critical but easy-to-exploit authentication bypass vulnerability, allowing anyone to hijack any user account and tamper with their information, content, and even upload unauthorized videos. The Indian video sharing app, called Chingari, is available for Android and iOS smartphones through official app stores, designed to let users record short-form videos, catch up on the news, and connect with other users via a direct message feature. Originally launched in November 2018, Chingari has witnessed a huge surge in popularity over the past few days in the wake of India's ban on Chinese-owned apps late last month, crossing 10 million downloads on the Google Play Store in under a month. The Indian government recently banned 59 apps and services , including ByteDance's TikTok, Alibaba Group's UC Browser and UC News, and Tencent's WeChat over priv

Joker Malware Apps Once Again Bypass Google's Security to Spread via Play Store

Joker Malware Apps Once Again Bypass Google's Security to Spread via Play Store
July 09, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers took the wraps off yet another instance of Android malware hidden under the guise of legitimate applications to stealthily subscribe unsuspecting users for premium services without their knowledge. In a report published by Check Point research today, the malware — infamously called Joker (or Bread) — has found another trick to bypass Google's Play Store protections: obfuscate the malicious DEX executable inside the application as Base64 encoded strings, which are then decoded and loaded on the compromised device. Following responsible disclosure by Check Point researchers, the 11 apps ( list and hashes here ) in question were removed by Google from the Play Store on April 30, 2020. "The Joker malware is tricky to detect, despite Google's investment in adding Play Store protections," said Check Point 's Aviran Hazum, who identified the new modus operandi of Joker malware. "Although Google removed the malicious apps from the P

Unveiled: How xHelper Android Malware Re-Installs Even After Factory Reset

Unveiled: How xHelper Android Malware Re-Installs Even After Factory Reset
April 07, 2020Mohit Kumar
Remember xHelper? A mysterious piece of Android malware that re-installs itself on infected devices even after users delete it or factory reset their devices—making it nearly impossible to remove. xHelper reportedly infected over 45,000 devices last year, and since then, cybersecurity researchers have been trying to unfold how the malware survives factory reset and how it infected so many devices in the first place. In a blog post published today, Igor Golovin, malware analyst at Kaspersky, finally solved the mystery by unveiling technical details on the persistence mechanism used by this malware, and eventually also figured out how to remove xHelper from an infected device completely. As the initial attack vector and for distribution, the malware app disguises itself as a popular cleaner and speed optimization app for smartphones — affecting mostly users in Russia (80.56%), India (3.43%), and Algeria (2.43%). "But in reality, there is nothing useful about it: af

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

Google Bans 600 Android Apps from Play Store for Serving Disruptive Ads

Google Bans 600 Android Apps from Play Store for Serving Disruptive Ads
February 21, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Google has banned nearly 600 Android apps from the Play Store for bombarding users with disruptive ads and violating its advertising guidelines. The company categorizes disruptive ads as "ads that are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions," such as a full-screen ad served when attempting to make a phone call. Although Google didn't name the specific apps in question, many of the apps — which had been installed more than 4.5 billion times — primarily targeted English-speaking users and were mainly from developers based in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India, according to Buzzfeed News. Highlighting that malicious developers are getting "more savvy in deploying and masking disruptive ads," the company said it has developed new counter mechanisms to detect such behavior. Trouble in Google Play Store This is not the first time adware apps have been removed from the Google P

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."

Exploit Reseller Offering Up To $2.5 Million For Android Zero-Days

Exploit Reseller Offering Up To $2.5 Million For Android Zero-Days
September 04, 2019Wang Wei
Well, there's some good news for hackers and vulnerability hunters, though terrible news for Google, Android device manufacturers, and their billions of users worldwide. The zero-day buying and selling industry has recently taken a shift towards Android operating system, offering up to $2.5 million payouts to anyone who sells 'full chain, zero-click, with persistence' Android zero-days. Just like other traditional markets, the zero-day market is also a game of supply, demand, and strategy, which suggests either the demand of Android zero-days has significantly increased or somehow Android OS is getting tougher to hack remotely, which is unlikely. In it's latest notification , Zerodium—a startup that buys zero-day exploits from hackers, and then probably sells them to law enforcement agencies and nation-sponsored spies around the world—said it's looking for hackers who can develop full chain Android exploits. The company is ready to pay up to $2.5 million for

New Flaws in Qualcomm Chips Expose Millions of Android Devices to Hacking

New Flaws in Qualcomm Chips Expose Millions of Android Devices to Hacking
August 06, 2019Mohit Kumar
A series of critical vulnerabilities have been discovered in Qualcomm chipsets that could allow hackers to compromise Android devices remotely just by sending malicious packets over-the-air with no user interaction. Discovered by security researchers from Tencent's Blade team, the vulnerabilities, collectively known as QualPwn , reside in the WLAN and modem firmware of Qualcomm chipsets that powers hundreds of millions of Android smartphones and tablets. According to researchers, there are primarily two critical vulnerabilities in Qualcomm chipsets and one in the Qualcomm's Linux kernel driver for Android which if chained together could allow attackers to take complete control over targeted Android devices within their Wi-Fi range. "One of the vulnerabilities allows attackers to compromise the WLAN and Modem over-the-air. The other allows attackers to compromise the Android Kernel from the WLAN chip. The full exploit chain allows attackers to compromise the Andr

Your Android Phone Can Get Hacked Just By Playing This Video

Your Android Phone Can Get Hacked Just By Playing This Video
July 25, 2019Wang Wei
Are you using an Android device? Beware! You should be more careful while playing a video on your smartphone—downloaded anywhere from the Internet or received through email. That's because, a specially crafted innocuous-looking video file can compromise your Android smartphone—thanks to a critical remote code execution vulnerability that affects over 1 billion devices running Android OS between version 7.0 and 9.0 (Nougat, Oreo, or Pie). The critical RCE vulnerability (CVE-2019-2107) in question resides in the Android media framework, which if exploited, could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on a targeted device. To gain full control of the device, all an attacker needs to do is tricking the user into playing a specially crafted video file with Android's native video player application. Though Google already released a patch earlier this month to address this vulnerability, apparently millions of Android devices are still waiting for the latest A

New Android Spyware Created by Russian Defense Contractor Found in the Wild

New Android Spyware Created by Russian Defense Contractor Found in the Wild
July 25, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a new piece of mobile surveillance malware believed to be developed by a Russian defense contractor that has been sanctioned for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Dubbed Monokle , the mobile remote-access trojan has been actively targeting Android phones since at least March 2016 and is primarily being used in highly targeted attacks on a limited number of people. According to security researchers at Lookout, Monokle possesses a wide range of spying functionalities and uses advanced data exfiltration techniques, even without requiring root access to a targeted device. How Bad is Monokle Surveillance Malware In particular, the malware abuses Android accessibility services to exfiltrate data from a large number of popular third-party applications, including Google Docs, Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat, and Snapchat, by reading text displayed on a device's screen at any point in time. The malware also extracts

Over 1,300 Android Apps Caught Collecting Data Even If You Deny Permissions

Over 1,300 Android Apps Caught Collecting Data Even If You Deny Permissions
July 09, 2019Mohit Kumar
Smartphones are a goldmine of sensitive data, and modern apps work as diggers that continuously collect every possible information from your devices. The security model of modern mobile operating systems, like Android and iOS, is primarily based on permissions that explicitly define which sensitive services, device capabilities, or user information an app can access, allowing users decide what apps can access. However, new findings by a team of researchers at the International Computer Science Institute in California revealed that mobile app developers are using shady techniques to harvest users' data even after they deny permissions. In their talk " 50 Ways to Pour Your Data " [ PDF ] at PrivacyCon hosted by the Federal Trade Commission last Thursday, researchers presented their findings that outline how more than 1,300 Android apps are collecting users' precise geolocation data and phone identifiers even when they've explicitly denied the required permi

Android July 2019 Security Update Patches 33 New Vulnerabilities

Android July 2019 Security Update Patches 33 New Vulnerabilities
July 02, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Google has started rolling out this month's security updates for its mobile operating system platform to address a total of 33 new security vulnerabilities affecting Android devices, 9 of which have been rated critical in severity. The vulnerabilities affect various Android components, including the Android operating system, framework, library, media framework, as well as Qualcomm components, including closed-source components. Three of the critical vulnerabilities patched this month reside in Android's Media framework, the most severe of which could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on a targeted device, within the context of a privileged process, by convincing users into opening a specially crafted malicious file. "The severity assessment is based on the effect that exploiting the vulnerability would possibly have on an affected device, assuming the platform and service mitigations are turned off for development purposes or if successfully bypas

Unpatched Flaw in UC Browser Apps Could Let Hackers Launch Phishing Attacks

Unpatched Flaw in UC Browser Apps Could Let Hackers Launch Phishing Attacks
May 08, 2019Wang Wei
A bug hunter has discovered and publicly disclosed details of an unpatched browser address bar spoofing vulnerability that affects popular Chinese UC Browser and UC Browser Mini apps for Android. Developed by Alibaba-owned UCWeb, UC Browser is one of the most popular mobile browsers, specifically in China and India, with a massive user base of more than half a billion users worldwide. According to the details security researcher Arif Khan shared with The Hacker News, the vulnerability resides in the way User Interface on both browsers handles a special built-in feature that was otherwise designed to improve users Google search experience. The vulnerability, which has yet not assigned any CVE identifier, could allow an attacker to control URL string displayed in the address bar, eventually letting a malicious website to pose as some legitimate site. The vulnerability affects the latest UC Browser version 12.11.2.1184 and UC Browser Mini version 12.10.1.1192—that is current

Google Makes it Tough for Rogue App Developers Get Back on Android Play Store

Google Makes it Tough for Rogue App Developers Get Back on Android Play Store
April 16, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Even after Google's security oversight over its already-huge Android ecosystem has evolved over the years, malware apps still keep coming back to Google Play Store. Sometimes just reposting an already detected malware app from a newly created Play Store account, or using other developers' existing accounts, is enough for 'bad-faith' developers to trick the Play Store into distributing unsafe apps to Android users. Since the mobile device platform is growing rapidly, every new effort Google makes apparently comes with trade-offs. For example, Google recently made some changes in its Play Store policies and added new restriction in Android APIs that now makes it mandatory for every new app to undergo rigorous security testing and review process before appearing in the Google Play Store. These efforts also include: restricting developers from abusing Android accessibility services, restricting apps access to certain permissions like call logs and SMS permi

Hackers Could Turn Pre-Installed Antivirus App on Xiaomi Phones Into Malware

Hackers Could Turn Pre-Installed Antivirus App on Xiaomi Phones Into Malware
April 04, 2019Swati Khandelwal
What could be worse than this, if the software that's meant to protect your devices leave backdoors open for hackers or turn into malware? Researchers today revealed that a security app that comes pre-installed on more than 150 million devices manufactured by Xiaomi, China's biggest and world's 4th largest smartphone company, was suffering from multiple issues that could have allowed remote hackers to compromise Xiaomi smartphones. According to CheckPoint, the reported issues resided in one of the pre-installed application called, Guard Provider , a security app developed by Xiaomi that includes three different antivirus programs packed inside it, allowing users to choose between Avast, AVL, and Tencent. Since Guard Provider has been designed to offer multiple 3rd-party programs within a single app, it uses several Software Development Kits (SDKs), which according to researchers is not a great idea because data of one SDK cannot be isolated and any issue in one of
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