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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
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
Police Can't Force You To Unlock Your Phone Using Face or Fingerprint Scan

Police Can't Force You To Unlock Your Phone Using Face or Fingerprint Scan

January 15, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Can feds force you to unlock your iPhone or Android phone? ..."NO" A Northern California judge has ruled that federal authorities can't force you to unlock your smartphone using your fingerprints or other biometric features such as facial recognition—even with a warrant. The ruling came in the case of two unspecified suspects allegedly using Facebook Messenger to threaten a man with the release of an "embarrassing video" to the public if he did not hand over money. The federal authorities requested a search warrant for an Oakland residence, seeking to seize multiple devices connected to the suspects and then compel anybody on the premises at the time of their visit to unlock the devices using fingerprint, facial or iris recognition. However, Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California turned down the request, ruling the request was "overbroad and neither limited to a particular person nor
Google Partially Patches Flaw in Chrome for Android 3 Years After Disclosure

Google Partially Patches Flaw in Chrome for Android 3 Years After Disclosure

January 03, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Google has finally patched a privacy vulnerability in its Chrome web browser for Android that exposes users' device model and firmware version, eventually enabling remote attackers to identify unpatched devices and exploit known vulnerabilities. The vulnerability, which has not yet given any CVE number, is an information disclosure bug that resides in the way the Google Chrome for Android generates 'User Agent' string containing the Android version number and build tag information, which includes device name and its firmware build. This information is also sent to applications using WebView and Chrome Tabs APIs, which can be used to track users and fingerprint devices on which they are running. For example: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 5.1.1; Nexus 6 Build/LYZ28K ) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/46.0.2490.34 Mobile Safari/537.36 Yakov Shafranovich, a contributor at Nightwatch Cybersecurity firm, initially reported this issue to Google three years a
OnePlus Left A Backdoor That Allows Root Access Without Unlocking Bootloader

OnePlus Left A Backdoor That Allows Root Access Without Unlocking Bootloader

November 14, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Another terrible news for OnePlus users. Just over a month after OnePlus was caught collecting personally identifiable information on its users, the Chinese smartphone company has been found leaving a backdoor on almost all OnePlus handsets. A Twitter user, who goes by the name "Elliot Anderson" ( named after Mr. Robot's main character ), discovered a backdoor (an exploit) in all OnePlus devices running OxygenOS that could allow anyone to obtain root access to the devices. The application in question is " EngineerMode ," a diagnostic testing application made by Qualcomm for device manufacturers to easily test all hardware components of the device. This APK comes pre-installed ( accidentally left behind ) on most OnePlus devices, including OnePlus 2, 3, 3T, and the newly-launched OnePlus 5. We can confirm its existence on the OnePlus 2, 3 and 5. You can also check if this application is installed on your OnePlus device or not. For this, simply go t
How To Keep Your Android Phone Secure

How To Keep Your Android Phone Secure

February 26, 2016Swati Khandelwal
As the number of threats is on the rise, Android platform is no longer safe, which isn't a surprise to anyone. Most of us are usually worried more about the security of our desktops or laptops and forget to think about the consequences our smartphones can make if compromised or stolen. Unlike desktops, your smartphones and tablets carry all sorts of information from your personal photographs, important emails, messages to your sensitive financial details. And due to rise in mobile usage, the hackers have shifted their interest from desktops to the mobile platform. Nowadays, nearly all possible threats that were previously attacking desktop platform are now targeting smartphone users. Ransomware , Phishing, Spams, Spyware, Botnets, Banking Malware , OS and Software vulnerabilities, just to name a few examples, but users don't understand the potential threat when it comes to mobile devices. Additionally, your smartphones and tablets are also subjectable mo
ENCRYPT Act of 2016 — Proposed Bill Restricts States to Ban Encryption

ENCRYPT Act of 2016 — Proposed Bill Restricts States to Ban Encryption

February 11, 2016Swati Khandelwal
The last year's ISIS-linked terror attacks in Paris and California has sparked debate on Encryption, and the intelligent agencies started reviving their efforts to weaken encryption on various encrypted products and services. But, there is some Good News! California Congressman and Texas Republican are now challenging state-level proposals to restrict US citizens' ability to encrypt their smartphones. On Wednesday, California Congressman Ted Lieu , one of four members of Congress, and Texas Republican Blake Farenthold , a member of the House Oversight and House Judiciary committees, introduced a new bill in Congress that… …attempts to ban states efforts to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level while a national debate on Encryption is ongoing. The bill, called " Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016 " – in short, " ENCRYPT Act of 2016 " – would stop states fr
Police Using Planes Equipped with Dirtbox to Spy on your Cell Phones

Police Using Planes Equipped with Dirtbox to Spy on your Cell Phones

January 29, 2016Swati Khandelwal
The Anaheim Police Department of California — Home of Disneyland — admitted that they used special Cell Phone surveillance technology, known as DirtBox , mounted on aircraft to track millions of mobile users activities. More than 400 pages of new documents [ PDF ] published Wednesday revealed that Local Police and federal authorities are using, DRTBox , an advanced version of Dirtbox developed by Digital Receiver Technology ( Boeing's  Maryland-based  subsidiary ). DRTBox — Spies in the Sky DRTBox is a military surveillance technology that has capabilities of both Stingray as well as Dirtbox, allowing the police to track, intercept thousands of cellphone calls and quietly eavesdrop on conversations, emails, and text messages. According to the report, DRTBox model is also capable of simultaneously breaking the encryption hundreds of cellphone communications at once, helping Anaheim Police Department track criminals while recording innocent citizens' inform
Samsung Get Sued for Failing to Update its Smartphones

Samsung Get Sued for Failing to Update its Smartphones

January 22, 2016Swati Khandelwal
One of the world's largest smartphone makers is being sued by the Dutch Consumers' Association (DCA) for its lack in providing timely software updates to its Android smartphones. This doesn't surprise me, though. The majority of manufacturers fail to deliver software updates for old devices for years. However, the consumer protection watchdog in The Netherlands, The Dutch Consumentenbond, filed a lawsuit against Samsung, due to the manufacturer's grip over the local market compared to other manufacturers. Last year, the discovery of the scary Stagefright Security Bug , which affected over 1 Billion Android devices worldwide, forced Samsung to implement a security update process that " fast tracks the security patches over the air when security vulnerabilities are uncovered a security update process that " fast tracks the security patches over the air when security vulnerabilities are uncovered, " and that the security updates will
Signal 2.0 — Free iPhone App for Encrypted Calls and Texts

Signal 2.0 — Free iPhone App for Encrypted Calls and Texts

March 03, 2015Wang Wei
An open source software group, Open Whisper Systems , has announced the release of Signal 2.0 — the second version of its free and open source messaging application for iPhone and iPad users. Signal  app is specifically designed to make secure and easy-to-use encrypted voice calling. But that’s what the application was providing in its previous release introduced last July with  Signal 1.0 . Apple’s iMessage also provides encrypted communication, but it was challenged by security researchers in 2013, revealing that  Apple controls the key infrastructure  and could, in turn, be compelled to change a key anytime they want, and read the content of your messages. But there was no way to send secure messages from an iPhone iMessage to an Android phone, or vice versa, unless you signed up for a monthly subscription plan and got the person you wanted to communicate with to sign up for it too. GAME CHANGER: SIGNAL 2.0 Signal 2.0 lets you send end-to-end encrypted messages to us
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