Security Experts Highlight Security Issues on Mobile Devices


An insightful report on US  Today shows how hackers can easily get control of your mobile devices.

The report quotes a security expert study from from Georgia Tech and Alcatel-Lucent which disclosed gaping security holes in the developer support services of both Apple and Google.

“What’s worse, cybercriminals who are probing novel ways to infect mobile devices with malicious code, much as they do PCs, may be the least of consumers’ worries,” Byron Acohido writes for US Today. “Application developers, online advertising networks and social media sites may pose even bigger threats.”

“These legit players in the nascent mobile app and ad space have dispersed thousands of free apps designed to capture personal location, contacts and calendar entries,” Byron Acohido said. “While in hot pursuit of mobile advertising revenue, they are sharing this sensitive information indiscriminately among themselves.”

“It’s just not malware we need to worry about; it’s also app developers requesting more personal information than they need to make the app work, and then selling that information to monetize their apps,” says Domingo Guerra, co-founder and president of mobile app security start-up Appthority.

The disclosures come as Apple, Google, Microsoft and BlackBerry hustle to entice software developers to create cool new apps for their respective mobile platforms — in a tumultuous business environment.

“Whenever a platform gets more popular and more attention, there’s a higher motivation to try to take advantage because the chances for potential economic profit are higher,” says Billy Lau, a research scientist at the Georgia Tech Information Security Center.

The security experts were able to demonstrate that even Apple’s highly secure App Store is not impervious to attacks.

According to the report, “Lau and GTISC associate director Paul Royal on Wednesday disclosed a way anyone can pose as a developer and finagle Apple’s app-approval process to install a malicious application on non jail-broken iOS devices.”

This method includes:

  • Fabricating an Apple mobile device charger with simple materials, but then booby-trapped it so the following sequence would commence on any iPhone or iPad connected to the bogus charger:
  • First, the fake charger instantly captures the device’s unique identifying number, called the UDID. Next, it logs on to Apple’s developer support website where it submits the UDID, and requests what’s known as a “provisioning profile” for that specific device.
  • Apple assumes a developer intending to test a new app on a device dedicated to that purpose is making the request, so Apple automatically issues the provisioning profile.
  • With that profile, the charger can now install coding that gives the attacker full control of the device.

The experts also demonstrated how easy it is to hack an Android device.

According to the report:

Kevin McNamee, director of Alcatel-Lucent’s Kindsight Security Labs, showed how it’s possible to hack into any popular Android app that’s being distributed online and embed code that turns the smartphone of anyone who downloads the app into a spyphone.

The corrupted device transfers the phone’s location and contacts to the attacker, who can then send text messages luring others to download the tainted application, and even remotely operate the device to take photos and record conversations.


Video of the Exploit below:


Posted by | Posted at August 6, 2013 09:30 |
Storm is a technology enthusiast, who resides in the UK. He enjoys reading and writing about technology.

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