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Smartphone security under threat

Android and Apple devices are coming under increasing attack from malware and Trojans, a leading security firm has claimed

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As many as one in 20 Apple and Android mobile phones could be infected by dangerous software within the year, a security firm has warned.

Mickey Boodaei, the chief executive of Trusteer claimed “Fraudsters are two steps ahead” and raised concerns about the security of Google’s Android operating system in particular.

He claimed that “Fraudsters have all the tools they need to effectively turn mobile malware into the biggest customer security problem we’ve ever seen”.

The figures predicted that within 12 to 24 months more than one in 20 (5.6 per cent) of all Android phones and iPads or iPhones could become infected by mobile malware if fraudsters started integrating so-called “zero-day” vulnerabilities into their attacks.

Boodaei claimed that “Android’s security architecture is not currently up to the challenge. This is reflected mainly in the ease of generating powerful fraudulent applications and the ease of distributing these applications. Fraudsters can easily build applications that have access to sensitive operating system resources such as text messages, voice, web traffic, and more. Users installing these applications do get a message with a list of resources the app is requesting access to but would usually ignore it as many applications request access to an extensive list of resources. Building a powerful fraudulent Android application that steals and abuses your identity and your bank account is almost trivial. Distributing these applications on the Android Market is even more trivial.”

He said “there are no real controls around the submission process that could identify and prevent publishing malicious applications on these stores. Compared to Apple’s App Store, Android Market is the Wild West.”

Although Google has removed many malicious applications from its store, Boodaei said “the process of identifying and removing malicious applications from the Android Market requires major improvements”. He said that financial fraud programmes that have previously attacked other mobile phones were now appearing on the Android platform.

Boodaei also warned that “vulnerabilities in iOS could allow malicious websites to jailbreak a device and infect it with malware without the user’s consent or knowledge”. He added that recent vulnerabilities had already used such techniques, and warned that “we are about to face one of the worse security problems ever and it won’t be long before we do”.

Filed in: Technology News

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