recommended reading

There's a Zombie-Like Security Flaw in Almost Every Android Phone

Flickr user marypcb

Almost every Android phone has a big, gaping security weakness, according to the security startup who discovered the vulnerability. Essentially, according to BlueBox, almost every Android phone made in the past four years (or, since Android "Donut," version 1.6) is just a few steps away from becoming a virtual George Romero film, thanks to a weakness that can "turn any legitimate application into a malicious Trojan." 

While news of a security vulnerability in Android might not exactly be surprising to users, the scope of the vulnerability does give one pause: "99 percent" of Android mobiles, or just under 900 million phones, are potentially vulnerable, according to the company. All hackers have to do to get in is modify an existing, legitimate app, which they're apparently able to do without breaking the application's security signature. Then, distribute the app and convince users to install it.

Google, who hasn't commented on the vulnerability yet, has known about the weakness since February, and they've already patched the Samsung Galaxy S4, according to CIO. And they've also made it impossible for the malicious apps to to install through Google Play. But the evil apps could still get onto a device via email, a third-party store, or basically any website. Here's the worst-case scenario for exploitation of the vulnerability, or what could potentially happen to an infected phone accessed via an application developed by a device manufacturer, which generally come with elevated access, according to BlueBox

Installation of a Trojan application from the device manufacturer can grant the application full access to Android system and all applications (and their data) currently installed. The application then not only has the ability to read arbitrary application data on the device (email, SMS messages, documents, etc.), retrieve all stored account & service passwords, it can essentially take over the normal functioning of the phone and control any function thereof (make arbitrary phone calls, send arbitrary SMS messages, turn on the camera, and record calls). Finally, and most unsettling, is the potential for a hacker to take advantage of the always-on, always-connected, and always-moving (therefore hard-to-detect) nature of these “zombie” mobile devices to create a botnet. 

Read more on The Atlantic Wire

(Image via Flickr user marypcb)

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    View
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.