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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: android apps

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

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

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

Google Will Now Pay Anyone Who Reports Apps Abusing Users' Data

Google Will Now Pay Anyone Who Reports Apps Abusing Users' Data
August 29, 2019Mohit Kumar
In the wake of data abuse scandals and several instances of malware app being discovered on the Play Store, Google today expanded its bug bounty program to beef up the security of Android apps and Chrome extensions distributed through its platform. The expansion in Google's vulnerability reward program majorly includes two main announcements. First, a new program, dubbed 'Developer Data Protection Reward Program' (DDPRP), wherein Google will reward security researchers and hackers who find "verifiably and unambiguous evidence" of data abuse issues in Android apps, OAuth projects, and Chrome extensions. Second, expanding the scope of its Google Play Security Rewards Program (GPSRP) to include all Android apps from the Google Play Store with over 100 million or more installs, helping affected app developers fix vulnerabilities through responsibly disclosures.' Get Bounty to Find Data-Abusing Android & Chrome Apps The data abuse bug bounty progr

WARNING — Malware Found in CamScanner Android App With 100+ Million Users

WARNING — Malware Found in CamScanner Android App With 100+ Million Users
August 27, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Beware! Attackers can remotely hijack your Android device and steal data stored on it, if you are using free version of  CamScanner , a highly-popular Phone PDF creator app with more than 100 million downloads on Google Play Store. So, to be safe, just uninstall the CamScanner app from your Android device now, as Google has already removed the app from its official Play Store. Unfortunately, CamScanner has recently gone rogue as researchers found a hidden Trojan Dropper module within the app that could allow remote attackers to secretly download and install malicious program on users' Android devices without their knowledge. However, the malicious module doesn't actually reside in the code of CamScanner Android app itself; instead, it is part of a 3rd-party advertising library that recently was introduced in the PDF creator app. Discovered by Kaspersky security researchers, the issue came to light after many CamScanner users spotted suspicious behavior and posted neg

Facebook Sues Two Android App Developers for Click Injection Fraud

Facebook Sues Two Android App Developers for Click Injection Fraud
August 08, 2019Mohit Kumar
Facebook has filed a lawsuit against two shady Android app developers accused of making illegal money by hijacking users' smartphones to fraudulently click on Facebook ads. According to Facebook, Hong Kong-based 'LionMobi' and Singapore-based 'JediMobi' app developers were distributing malicious Android apps via the official Google Play Store that exploit a technique known as "click injection fraud." Click injection is a type of attribution fraud where fraudsters manipulate the attributions to steal the credit from the actual source of app installation in an advertising process that involves Cost Per Installation model. In simple words, a malicious app installed on a device automatically generates a fake click to the advertisement network with its own tracking codes when it finds that the user is installing a new app from any other source to claim itself as the source of the installation. Therefore, Advertisers end up paying commission to the wro

New Attack Lets Android Apps Capture Loudspeaker Data Without Any Permission

New Attack Lets Android Apps Capture Loudspeaker Data Without Any Permission
July 17, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Earlier this month, The Hacker News covered a story on research revealing how over 1300 Android apps are collecting sensitive data even when users have explicitly denied the required permissions. The research was primarily focused on how app developers abuse multiple ways around to collect location data, phone identifiers, and MAC addresses of their users by exploiting both covert and side channels. Now, a separate team of cybersecurity researchers has successfully demonstrated a new side-channel attack that could allow malicious apps to eavesdrop on the voice coming out of your smartphone's loudspeakers without requiring any device permission. Abusing Android Accelerometer to Capture Loudspeaker Data Dubbed Spearphone , the newly demonstrated attack takes advantage of a hardware-based motion sensor, called an accelerometer, which comes built into most Android devices and can be unrestrictedly accessed by any app installed on a device even with zero permissions. An

Important Flaw in Outlook App for Android Affects Over 100 Millions Users

Important Flaw in Outlook App for Android Affects Over 100 Millions Users
June 20, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Update (22 June 2019)  — More technical details and proof-of-concept for the OutLook for Android vulnerability has been released that we have covered in a separate article here. Microsoft today released an updated version of its "Outlook for Android" that patches an important security vulnerability in the popular email app that is currently being used over 100 million users. According to an advisory , Outlook app with versions before 3.0.88 for Android contains a stored cross-site scripting vulnerability ( CVE-2019-1105 ) in the way the app parses incoming email messages. If exploited, remote attackers can execute malicious in-app client-side code on the targeted devices just by sending them emails with a specially crafted message. "The attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could then perform cross-site scripting attacks on the affected systems and run scripts in the security context of the current user." According to Microsoft, the fl

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

Several Popular Beauty Camera Apps Caught Stealing Users' Photos

Several Popular Beauty Camera Apps Caught Stealing Users' Photos
February 04, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Just because an app is available on Google Play Store doesn't mean that it is a legitimate app. Despite so many efforts by Google, some fake and malicious apps do sneak in and land millions of unaware users on the hunting ground of scammers and hackers. Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro uncovered at least 29 devious photo apps that managed to make its way onto Google Play Store and have been downloaded more than 4 million times before Google removed them from its app store. The mobile apps in question disguised as photo editing and beauty apps purporting to use your mobile phone's camera to take better pictures or beautify the snaps you shoot, but were found including code that performs malicious activities on their users' smartphone. Three of the rogue apps—Pro Camera Beauty, Cartoon Art Photo and Emoji Camera—have been downloaded more than a million times each, with Artistic Effect Filter being installed over 500,000 times and another seven apps in the list over 100

A Twitter Bug Left Android Users' Private Tweets Exposed For 4 Years

A Twitter Bug Left Android Users' Private Tweets Exposed For 4 Years
January 17, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Twitter just admitted that the social network accidentally revealed some Android users' protected tweets to the public for more than 4 years — a kind of privacy blunder that you'd typically expect from Facebook . When you sign up for Twitter, all your Tweets are public by default, allowing anyone to view and interact with your Tweets. Fortunately, Twitter also gives you control of your information, allowing you to choose if you want to keep your Tweets protected. Enabling "Protect your Tweets" setting makes your tweets private, and you'll receive a request whenever new people want to follow you, which you can approve or deny. It's just similar to private Facebook updates that limit your information to your friends only. In a post on its Help Center on Thursday, Twitter disclosed a privacy bug dating back to November 3, 2014, potentially caused the Twitter for Android app to disable the "Protect your Tweets" setting for users without their k

Google Secretly Planning to Launch a Censored Search Engine in China

Google Secretly Planning to Launch a Censored Search Engine in China
August 01, 2018Mohit Kumar
After an eight-year-long absence from the most populated country in the world, Google search is going to dramatically make a comeback in China. Google is reportedly planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that is going to blacklist certain websites and search terms to comply with Chinese government's attempts to censor the Internet, a whistleblower revealed. According to leaked documents obtained by The Intercept, CEO Sundar Pichai met with a Chinese government official in December 2017 to re-enter the world's largest market for internet users. Project Dragonfly — Censored Google Search Engine Since spring last year Google engineers have been secretly working on a project, dubbed " Dragonfly ," which currently includes two Android mobile apps named—Maotai and Longfei—one of which will get launched by the end of this year after Chinese officials approve it. The censored version of Google search engine in the form of a mobile app report

Google Bans Cryptocurrency Mining Android Apps From the Play Store

Google Bans Cryptocurrency Mining Android Apps From the Play Store
July 27, 2018Mohit Kumar
Following Apple's lead in banning cryptocurrency mining apps , Google has also updated its Play Store policy this week to ban apps that mine cryptocurrencies on users' devices in the background. However, there are countless cryptocurrency mining apps, including MinerGate, AA Miner, NeoNeonMiner, and Crypto Miner, still available on the Play Store. Cryptocurrency mining is not a new concept, but the technology has recently been abused in the past year after hackers found it a great way to make millions of dollars by hijacking PCs to secretly mine cryptocurrency in the background without their users' knowledge or consent. Due to this practice, cryptocurrency mining has emerged as one of the biggest threats , raising negative sentiments towards this alternative revenue scheme, and big tech giants like Apple and Google took strict measures to put restrictions on such apps. Over a month ago, Apple updated its App Store guidelines to ban cryptocurrency mining apps and

Android P Will Block Background Apps from Accessing Your Camera, Microphone

Android P Will Block Background Apps from Accessing Your Camera, Microphone
February 26, 2018Mohit Kumar
Yes, your smartphone is spying on you. But, the real question is, should you care? We have published thousands of articles on The Hacker News, warning how any mobile app can turn your smartphone into a bugging device—' Facebook is listening to your conversations', ' Stealing Passwords Using SmartPhone Sensors', 'Your Headphones Can Spy On You' and 'Android Malware Found Spying Military Personnel' to name a few. All these stories have different objectives and targets but have one thing in common, i.e., apps running in the background covertly abuse ' permissions ' without notifying users. Installing a single malicious app unknowingly could allow remote attackers to covertly record audio, video, and taking photos in the background. But, not anymore! In a boost to user privacy, the next version of Google's mobile operating system, Android P, will apparently block apps idling in the background from accessing your smartphone's camera a

Password Stealing Apps With Over A Million Downloads Found On Google Play Store

Password Stealing Apps With Over A Million Downloads Found On Google Play Store
December 13, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Even after so many efforts by Google like launching bug bounty program and preventing apps from using Android accessibility services , malicious applications somehow manage to get into Play Store and infect people with malicious software. The same happened once again when security researchers discovered at least 85 applications in Google Play Store that were designed to steal credentials from users of Russian-based social network VK.com and were successfully downloaded millions of times. The most popular of all masqueraded as a gaming app with more than a million downloads. When this app was initially submitted in March 2017, it was just a gaming app without any malicious code, according to a blog post published Tuesday by Kaspersky Lab. However, after waiting for more than seven months, the malicious actors behind the app updated it with information-stealing capabilities in October 2017. Besides this gaming app, the Kaspersky researchers found 84 such apps on Google Play

Another Shady App Found Pre-Installed on OnePlus Phones that Collects System Logs

Another Shady App Found Pre-Installed on OnePlus Phones that Collects System Logs
November 16, 2017Mohit Kumar
The OnePlus Saga Continues… Just a day after the revelation of the hidden Android rooting backdoor pre-installed on most OnePlus smartphones, a security researcher just found another secret app that records tons of information about your phone. Dubbed OnePlusLogKit , the second pre-installed has been discovered by the same Twitter user who goes by the pseudonym " Elliot Alderson " and discovered the controversial " EngineerMode " diagnostic testing application that could be used to root OnePlus devices without unlocking the bootloader. OnePlusLogKit is a system-level application that is capable of capturing a multitude of things from OnePlus smartphones, including: Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, and GPS location logs, Modem signal and data logs, hot and power issue logs, list of the running processes, list of running service and battery status, media databases, including all your videos and images saved on the device. Unlike EngineerMode (which was found

Hackers Could Turn LG Smart Appliances Into Remote-Controlled Spy Robot

Hackers Could Turn LG Smart Appliances Into Remote-Controlled Spy Robot
October 27, 2017Swati Khandelwal
If your smart devices are smart enough to make your life easier, then their smart behaviour could also be exploited by hackers to invade your privacy or spy on you, if not secured properly. Recent research conducted by security researchers at threat prevention firm Check Point highlights privacy concern surrounding smart home devices manufactured by LG. Check Point researchers discovered a security vulnerability in LG SmartThinQ smart home devices that allowed them to hijack internet-connected devices like refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, air conditioners, dryers, and washing machines manufactured by LG. ...and what's worse? Hackers could even remotely take control of LG's Hom-Bot, a camera-equipped robotic vacuum cleaner, and access the live video feed to spy on anything in the device's vicinity. This hack doesn't even require hacker and targeted device to be on the same network. Dubbed HomeHack , the vulnerability resides in the mobile app and cloud app

Google Play Store Launches Bug Bounty Program to Protect Popular Android Apps

Google Play Store Launches Bug Bounty Program to Protect Popular Android Apps
October 19, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Better late than never. Google has finally launched a bug bounty program for Android apps on Google Play Store, inviting security researchers to find and report vulnerabilities in some of the most popular Android apps. Dubbed " Google Play Security Reward ," the bug bounty program offers security researchers to work directly with Android app developers to find and fix vulnerabilities in their apps, for which Google will pay $1000 in rewards. "The goal of the program is to further improve app security which will benefit developers, Android users, and the entire Google Play ecosystem," the technology giant says in a blog post published today. Google has collaborated with bug bounty platform, HackerOne, to manage backend for this program, like submitting reports and inviting white-hat hackers and researchers. White-hat hackers who wish to participate can submit their findings directly to the app developers. Once the security vulnerability has been resolved, th

Beware! Viral Sarahah App Secretly Steals Your Entire Contact List

Beware! Viral Sarahah App Secretly Steals Your Entire Contact List
August 28, 2017Mohit Kumar
Are you also one of those 18 Million users using SARAHAH? You should beware of this app because the anonymous feedback application may not be as private as it really sounds. Sarahah is a newly launched app that has become one of the hottest iPhone and Android apps in the past couple of weeks, allowing its users to sign up to receive anonymised, candid messages from other Sarahah users. However, it turns out that the app silently uploads users' phone contacts to the company's servers for no good reason, spotted by security analyst Zachary Julian. When an Android or iOS user downloads and installs the app for the first time, the app immediately harvests and uploads all phone numbers and email addresses from the user's address book, according to The Intercept . While an app requesting access to the user's phonebook is quite common if the app provides any feature that works with contacts, no such functionality in Sarahah is available right now. "The pri
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