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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

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

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to replace SMS with RCS Messaging in 2020

Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to replace SMS with RCS Messaging in 2020
October 25, 2019Mohit Kumar
Mobile carriers in the United States will finally offer a universal cross-carrier communication standard for the next-generation RCS messaging service that is meant to replace SMS and has the potential to change the way consumers interact with brands for years to come. All major United States mobile phone carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, have joined forces to launch a new initiative that will replace SMS with RCS mobile messaging standard . What's more? The initiative is also working with its carrier ownership group and other companies to develop and deploy the new RCS standard in a new text messaging app for Android phones that is expected to be launched in 2020. The goal of this joint venture , dubbed the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) , is to deliver the GSMA's Rich Communications Service (RCS) industry standard to consumers and businesses on each of the four carriers, both in the United States and globally. "Efforts like

Just An SMS Could Let Remote Attackers Access All Your Emails, Experts Warn

Just An SMS Could Let Remote Attackers Access All Your Emails, Experts Warn
September 04, 2019Mohit Kumar
Beware! Billion of Android users can easily be tricked into changing their devices' critical network settings with just an SMS-based phishing attack. Whenever you insert a new SIM in your phone and connects to your cellular network for the very first time, your carrier service automatically configures or sends you a message containing network-specific settings required to connect to data services. While manually installing it on your device, have you ever noticed what configurations these messages, technically known as OMA CP messages, include? Well, believe me, most users never bother about it if their mobile Internet services work smoothly. But you should worry about these settings, as installing untrusted settings can put your data privacy at risk, allowing remote attackers to spy on your data communications, a team of cybersecurity researchers told The Hacker News. Mobile carriers send OMA CP (Open Mobile Alliance Client Provisioning) messages containing APN settin

Hackers Can Manipulate Media Files You Receive Via WhatsApp and Telegram

Hackers Can Manipulate Media Files You Receive Via WhatsApp and Telegram
July 16, 2019Mohit Kumar
If you think that the media files you receive on your end-to-end encrypted secure messaging apps can not be tampered with, you need to think again. Security researchers at Symantec yesterday demonstrated multiple interesting attack scenarios against WhatsApp and Telegram Android apps, which could allow malicious actors to spread fake news or scam users into sending payments to wrong accounts. Dubbed " Media File Jacking ," the attack leverages an already known fact that any app installed on a device can access and rewrite files saved in the external storage, including files saved by other apps installed on the same device. WhatsApp and Telegram allow users to choose if they want to save all incoming multimedia files on internal or external storage of their device. However, WhatsApp for Android by default automatically stores media files in the external storage, while Telegram for Android uses internal storage to store users files that are not accessible to any othe

New Malware Replaced Legit Android Apps With Fake Ones On 25 Million Devices

New Malware Replaced Legit Android Apps With Fake Ones On 25 Million Devices
July 11, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Are you sure the WhatsApp app you are using on your Android device is legitimate, even if it's working perfectly as intended? ...Or the JioTV, AppLock, HotStar, Flipkart, Opera Mini or Truecaller app—if you have installed any of these? I'm asking this because cybersecurity researchers just yesterday revealed eye-opening details about a widespread Android malware campaign wherein attackers silently replaced installed legitimate apps with their malicious versions on nearly 25 million mobile phones. Now the important question here is how they're doing it and why? According to researchers at Check Point, attackers are distributing a new kind of Android malware that disguises itself as innocent-looking photo editing, adult entertainment, or gaming apps and available through widely used third-party app stores. Dubbed Agent Smith , the malware takes advantage of multiple Android vulnerabilities, such as the  Janus flaw and the Man-in-the-Disk flaw , and injects malic

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

'Exodus' Surveillance Malware Found Targeting Apple iOS Users

'Exodus' Surveillance Malware Found Targeting Apple iOS Users
April 09, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered an iOS version of the powerful mobile phone surveillance app that was initially targeting Android devices through apps on the official Google Play Store. Dubbed Exodus , as the malware is called, the iOS version of the spyware was discovered by security researchers at LookOut during their analysis of its Android samples they had found last year. Unlike its Android variant, the iOS version of Exodus has been distributed outside of the official App Store, primarily through phishing websites that imitate Italian and Turkmenistani mobile carriers. Since Apple restricts direct installation of apps outside of its official app store, the iOS version of Exodus is abusing the Apple Developer Enterprise program, which allows enterprises to distribute their own in-house apps directly to their employees without needing to use the iOS App Store. "Each of the phishing sites contained links to a distribution manifest, which contained metadata

Unpatched Flaw in Xiaomi's Built-in Browser App Lets Hackers Spoof URLs

Unpatched Flaw in Xiaomi's Built-in Browser App Lets Hackers Spoof URLs
April 05, 2019Mohit Kumar
EXCLUSIVE — Beware, if you are using a Xiaomi's Mi or Redmi smartphone, you should immediately update its built-in MI browser or the Mint browser available on Google Play Store for non-Xiaomi Android devices. That's because both web browser apps created by Xiaomi are vulnerable to a critical vulnerability which has not yet been patched even after being privately reported to the company, a researcher told The Hacker News. The vulnerability, identified as CVE-2019-10875 and discovered by security researcher Arif Khan , is a browser address bar spoofing issue that originates because of a logical flaw in the browser's interface, allowing a malicious website to control URLs displayed in the address bar. According to the advisory, affected browsers are not properly handling the "q" query parameter in the URLs, thus fail to display the portion of an https URL before the ?q= substring in the address bar. Since the address bar of a web browser is the most r

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

Insecure UC Browser 'Feature' Lets Hackers Hijack Android Phones Remotely

Insecure UC Browser 'Feature' Lets Hackers Hijack Android Phones Remotely
March 26, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Beware! If you are using UC Browser on your smartphones, you should consider uninstalling it immediately. Why? Because the China-made UC Browser contains a "questionable" ability that could be exploited by remote attackers to automatically download and execute code on your Android devices. 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 500 million users worldwide. According to a new report published today by Dr. Web firm, since at least 2016, UC Browser for Android has a "hidden" feature that allows the company to anytime download new libraries and modules from its servers and install them on users' mobile devices. Pushing Malicious UC Browser Plug-ins Using MiTM Attack What's worrisome? It turns out that the reported feature downloads new plugins from the company server over insecure HTTP protocol instead of encrypted HTTPS proto

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

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

New Android API Lets Developers Push Updates Within their Apps

New Android API Lets Developers Push Updates Within their Apps
November 08, 2018Mohit Kumar
You might have read somewhere online today that Google is granting Android app developers powers to forcefully install app updates…but it is not true. Instead, the tech giant is providing a new feature that will help users to have up-to-date Android apps all the time and yes, it's optional. Along with the launch of a number of new tools and features at its Android Dev Summit 2018 , Google has also launched the a new API, called "In-app Updates," which aims to help developers ensure that users are running the latest and greatest version of their app. "We've heard that you'd like more controls to ensure that users are running the latest and greatest version of your app. To address this, we're launching an In-app Updates API," Google said . How Does Android's New In-app Updates API Work? It should be noted that the Android's new In-app Updates API doesn't force or lock out users from the app if they chose not to update it. In
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