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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Android security

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

Android Q — Google Adds New Mobile Security and Privacy Features

Android Q — Google Adds New Mobile Security and Privacy Features
March 19, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Google has recently released the first beta version of Android Q, the next upcoming version of Google's popular mobile operating system, with a lot of new privacy improvements and other security enhancements. Android Q, where Q has not yet been named, offers more control over installed apps, their access, and permissions, and location settings; more support for passive authentication like face ID, and warnings when you install a new app targeting Android Marshmallow or older. Instead of directly going through dozens of different pages Google published about Android Q, here I have summarized all new privacy and security features of the new version of Android you can quickly learn from: 1) Stop Android Apps From Tracking Your Location in the Background Android Q gives you more control over how an app can use your device location information. Currently, you have a single option to either allow or deny an app access to your device location, doesn't matter if it is in-use

First Android Clipboard Hijacking Crypto Malware Found On Google Play Store

First Android Clipboard Hijacking Crypto Malware Found On Google Play Store
February 11, 2019Swati Khandelwal
A security researcher has discovered yet another cryptocurrency-stealing malware on the official Google Play Store that was designed to secretly steal bitcoin and cryptocurrency from unwitting users. The malware, described as a " Clipper ," masqueraded as a legitimate cryptocurrency app and worked by replacing cryptocurrency wallet addresses copied into the Android clipboard with one belonging to attackers, ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko explained in a blog post . Since cryptocurrency wallet addresses are made up of long strings of characters for security reasons, users usually prefer copying and pasting the wallet addresses using the clipboard over typing them out. The newly discovered clipper malware, dubbed Android/Clipper.C by ESET, took advantage of this behavior to steal users cryptocurrency. To do this, attackers first tricked users into installing the malicious app that impersonated a legitimate cryptocurrency service called MetaMask , claiming to let users

Google Makes 2 Years of Android Security Updates Mandatory for Device Makers

Google Makes 2 Years of Android Security Updates Mandatory for Device Makers
October 25, 2018Mohit Kumar
When it comes to security updates, Android is a real mess. Even after Google timely rolls out security patches for its Android platform, a major part of the Android ecosystem remains exposed to hackers because device manufacturers do not deliver patches regularly and on a timely basis to their customers. To deal with this issue, Google at its I/O Developer Conference May 2018 revealed the company's plan to update its OEM agreements that would require Android device manufacturers to roll out at least security updates regularly. Now, a leaked, unverified copy of a new contract between Google and OEMs obtained by The Verge reveals some terms of the agreement that device manufacturers have to comply with or otherwise they have to lose their Google certification for upcoming Android devices. Google's New Terms for Android Security Updates According to the leaked contract, Android OEMs will now be required to regularly roll out security updates for popular devices—lau

Google to Encrypt Android Cloud Backups With Your Lock Screen Password

Google to Encrypt Android Cloud Backups With Your Lock Screen Password
October 15, 2018Swati Khandelwal
In an effort to secure users' data while maintaining privacy, Google has announced a new security measure for Android Backup Service that now encrypts all your backup data stored on its cloud servers in a way that even the company can't read it. Google allows Android users to automatically backup their essential app data and settings to their Google account, allowing them to simply restore it when required, instead of re-configuring all the apps after formatting or switching to a new phone. However, until now your backup data was not encrypted and visible to Google, and now the company is going to change its storage procedure. Starting with Android Pie, Google is going to encrypt your Android device backup data in the following way: Step 1: Your Android device will generate a random secret key (not known to Google), Step 2: The secret key will then get encrypted using your lockscreen PIN/pattern/passcode (not known to Google), Step 3: This passcode-protected

Google Adds Control-Flow Integrity to Beef up Android Kernel Security

Google Adds Control-Flow Integrity to Beef up Android Kernel Security
October 12, 2018Mohit Kumar
Google has added a new security feature to the latest Linux kernels for Android devices to prevent it against code reuse attacks that allow attackers to achieve arbitrary code execution by exploiting control-flow hijacking vulnerabilities. In code reuse attacks, attackers exploit memory corruption bugs (buffer overflows, type confusion, or integer overflows) to take over code pointers stored in memory and repurpose existing code in a way that directs control flow of their choice, resulting in a malicious action. Since Android has a lot of mitigation to prevent direct code injection into its kernel, this code reuse method is particularly popular among hackers to gain code execution with the kernel because of the huge number of function pointers it uses. In an attempt to prevent this attack, Google has now added support for LLVM's Control Flow Integrity (CFI) to Android's kernel as a measure for detecting unusual behaviors of attackers trying to interfere or modify the contr

Critical Flaw in Fortnite Android App Lets Hackers Install Malware

Critical Flaw in Fortnite Android App Lets Hackers Install Malware
August 27, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Security researchers from Google have publicly disclosed an extremely serious security flaw in the first Fortnite installer for Android that could allow other apps installed on the targeted devices to manipulate installation process and load malware, instead of the Fortnite APK. Earlier this month, Epic Games announced not to make its insanely popular game ' Fortnite for Android ' available through the Google Play Store, but via its own app. Many researchers warned the company that this approach could potentially put Android users at a greater risk, as downloading APKs outside of the Play Store is not recommended and requires users to disable some security features on Android devices as well. And it seems like those fears and concerns were true. Google developers discovered a dangerous security flaw as soon as the Fortnite game launched on Android. Fortnite Android Installer Vulnerable to Man-in-the-Disk Attack In a proof-of-concept video published by Google, r

New Man-in-the-Disk attack leaves millions of Android phones vulnerable

New Man-in-the-Disk attack leaves millions of Android phones vulnerable
August 14, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Security researchers at Check Point Software Technologies have discovered a new attack vector against the Android operating system that could potentially allow attackers to silently infect your smartphones with malicious apps or launch denial of service attacks. Dubbed Man-in-the-Disk , the attack takes advantage of the way Android apps utilize 'External Storage' system to store app-related data, which if tampered could result in code injection in the privileged context of the targeted application. It should be noted that apps on the Android operating system can store its resources on the device in two locations—internal storage and external storage. Google itself offers guidelines to Android application developers urging them to use internal storage, which is an isolated space allocated to each application protected using Android's built-in sandbox, to store their sensitive files or data. However, researchers found that many popular apps—including Google Translate

Fortnite APK Download for Android Won't Be Available on Google Play Store

Fortnite APK Download for Android Won't Be Available on Google Play Store
August 06, 2018Swati Khandelwal
There's both good news and bad news for Fortnite game lovers. Fortnite, one of the most popular games in the world right now, is coming to Android devices very soon, but players would not be able to download Fortnite APK from the Google Play Store. Instead, Epic Games software development company has confirmed the Fortnite APK for Android will be available for download exclusively only through its official website, bypassing the Google Play Store. Why Fortnite for Android Bypassing Google Play Store? Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney cites two main reasons for this decision. First, offering Fortnite APK downloads directly from its official website will allow the company to "have a direct relationship" with its consumers. Second, since Google takes a 30 percent cut of revenue each time a user makes an in-app purchase through its Play Store, the decision will allow the company to save millions. This should not be shocking as Fortnite on iOS made $15 million in j
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