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Cellphones Security

Malicious App In Android Market 340

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-take-it-to-the-bank dept.
dumbnose writes to let us know that a fraudulent app that attempts to steal bank information has made it to the Android app store. From the alert: "NOTICE: Users of mobile devices with Android software may have noticed several applications available for download in the Android Marketplace. If you see any applications provided by the user Droid09, please do not download these applications. Android applications provided by Droid09 are fraudulent. Please remove any applications by Droid09 from your mobile device and contact your mobile provider to evaluate whether any other applications or information stored on your mobile device have been compromised." Multiple marketplaces are possible in the open Android ecosystem. Might we see the emergence of a marketplace distinguished by an iPhone-like app vetting process?
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Malicious App In Android Market

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:41PM (#30717830)

    This is something that is far more unlikely to happen on the iPhone because of Apple's strict control and testing of all apps. Even the "jailbreak" stores will reject things that aren't as advertised.

    Allow open development, and you've basically got a platform that the bad guys can target. There's already standards for signing code to prove that an app came from who you thought it did.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobertM1968 (951074)

      Wow, second post and already we've got the "iPhone vs Android" debate started! Kudos!

      That aside, or the apps Apple has had to remove aside... I'm happy with 99% of the quality control on the Android Apps.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It's nice to see the other side of the coin though. The App Store, this would never have made it through.

        Malware is only going to grow on Android.

        Don't get me wrong, I think Apple are TOO controlling, but Android phones become more ubiquitous, malware is going to get worse.

        This is only the beginning. (Ominous music)

    • by sznupi (719324) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:11PM (#30718084) Homepage

      This is why we can't have nice things.

      And I'm sure US cellphone carriers can't wait for more malicious apps.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:16PM (#30718150)
      However, there is balance. Look at Ubuntu's repositories, they rarely really "reject" any applications and everything in there is more or less malware free. I can see there being a market for trusted repositories in Android also.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LostCluster (625375) *

        Open source is another way to stop malware... not every user looks at the source, but enough curious ones will put out the warning should anything not be as its marked.

        Nice feature, but most software houses see the downside.

        • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:58PM (#30718490) Homepage

          Open source is another way to stop malware... not every user looks at the source, but enough curious ones will put out the warning should anything not be as its marked

          That's commonly claimed, but there is not much evidence to back it. There just aren't enough people interested in looking at source to cover all the apps if the Android market gets as big as the iPhone market.

        • by brit74 (831798) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @08:39PM (#30719056)

          Open source is another way to stop malware... not every user looks at the source, but enough curious ones will put out the warning should anything not be as its marked.

          Out of curiosity, what's to stop this situation: I build a "custom" version of an opensource application that includes a trojan. Maybe I use the application's original name, or maybe I add a few features/artwork and call it something different? People are just grabbing the exe's, afterall, and not building their own copy from the source.

    • by davester666 (731373) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:22PM (#30718214) Journal

      Um, no.

      Apple's certification process is unlikely to uncover an app like this. Assuming the app appears to do something 'real' [which I assume it does, as people download and use it], you can have the app access a web page that tells the app if it should harvest data or not. You simply don't enable the harvesting until after Apple has accepted it into the App Store. Black box testing won't uncover it, and static program analysis is unlikely to either [short of the app obviously using restricted APIs]. And apps can poke around the system, and I think even other apps data without even needing to hardcode in paths.

      Now, it might be easier to Apple to be able to trace where exactly the app came from than it is for Google...

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:37PM (#30718322)
        And that's why certificates can be revoked, and apps can be pulled from the app store after the fact.
        • by mjwx (966435) on Monday January 11, 2010 @03:04AM (#30720762)

          And that's why certificates can be revoked, and apps can be pulled from the app store after the fact.

          And applications can be pulled from the Android Market after the fact, which frankly is terrible security.

          Apple's security model is still far inferior to Androids. Apple have a gateway only approach, Apples decides what does and does not run on Iphones remotely and forgo any local security, Android has a limited gateway and local security approach, Google can revoke malicious applications and make them go through some kind of testing before hand (probably what Google will end up doing, limited semi/completely automated testing to check for obvious problems) and then you have local security on the device. The idea is that no program is trusted. Now with Apple you have a single point of failure, if a self replicating virus/trojan gets past apple then its over unless apple uses the kill switch, if the kill switch works. With Android if a virus/trojan can replicate you still need each user to authorise install on each device.

          You will also have more people watching android applications, Google are quite open to security being questioned where as it is tantamount to heresy to even suggest that Apple has insecurities (and I'm certain some fanboys are frothing at the mouth reading this and typing an incoherent rant). The false sense of security that surrounds Apple is far more dangerous then the open nature of Android or the Android marketplace.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ceoyoyo (59147)

            Uh, you don't know much about iPhone development, hey?

            The phone does not trust every app that comes out of the app store. Each app has to be individually signed for the phone it's operating on and apps are very well sandboxed. So well sandboxed that people complain about it constantly.

            App store vetting is an additional level of security on top of the phone itself being pathologically paranoid.

      • Assuming the app appears to do something 'real' [which I assume it does, as people download and use it], you can have the app access a web page that tells the app if it should harvest data or not. You simply don't enable the harvesting until after Apple has accepted it into the App Store.

        And then what do you do about the fact that you have given Apple and address they have verified, and paid for a $99 developer account via some means they can tract back to you, along with probably given them your bank accou

        • by mjwx (966435) on Monday January 11, 2010 @03:07AM (#30720772)

          And then what do you do about the fact that you have given Apple and address they have verified

          Quite easy to give and verify a fake address, especially if it's in a foreign country.

          and paid for a $99 developer account via some means they can tract back to you

          Once again, easy to do with a foreign bank.

          There are plenty of easy ways to prove addresses that can be easily faked, bank statements, utility bills. Plus there is the idea of using someone else's identity entirely.

          Let me put it this way, anyone smart enough to develop a scheme like this is smart enough to defeat Apple's rudimentary address/credit checks.

          That's a lot of exposure for a scam that's likely to be shut down in under a day.

          You seem to have a lot of faith in Apple's ability to detect a hidden scam once it has already penetrated their security (the app store). It's entirely plausible that this kind of phishing go on for weeks or months without anyone noticing, especially seeing as Apple are the only watchman and considering what the average iphone user understands about information security.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mjwx (966435)
        Yes, applications like this already exist for the iphone, there are several that have been caught harvesting contact details already.

        Now, it might be easier to Apple to be able to trace where exactly the app came from than it is for Google...

        Not really, if a person is organised enough to make and release this application, they are organised enough to defeat basic tracking. Apple wont have any more information on the attacker then google via their developer programs, pretty much all they'll have is an IP a

    • by Bogtha (906264) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:22PM (#30718216)

      This is not the case. Apple don't perform in-depth testing in this manner; they don't have access to the source code and some developers have already successfully bypassed the rules of the App Store by hiding functionality as easter eggs. It is trivial to put malicious code in an iPhone app that won't be triggered until after the application is already in the App Store. The security restrictions on what the iPhone OS lets you do doesn't save you from this kind of attack either; it sounds like all an equivalent iPhone app would have to do is embed a UIWebView and wait for people to enter their information.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday January 11, 2010 @12:38AM (#30720158)

        This is not the case. Apple don't perform in-depth testing in this manner; they don't have access to the source code and some developers have already successfully bypassed the rules of the App Store by hiding functionality as easter eggs. It is trivial to put malicious code in an iPhone app that won't be triggered until after the application is already in the App Store.

        Hey, what was that old saw about Macs not having any viruses? Wasn't it something like, the platform is not popular and that's why they do not have viruses?

        Well here we have a wildly popular mobile platform. Yet the most egregious exploit in an app to date is something that sent your address book somewhere without permission (something that's explicitly allowed by the API).

        So given the number of apps there are, perhaps the lack of problems like this is an indicator it is not as "trivial" as you claim to put a malicious app in the store.

        What would a malicious app really do anyway? It couldn't delete user data. It can't send passwords not entered in the app (passwords are not stored in the keystroke cache). And what makes you think Apple would not give extra scrutiny to an application that asked for something like your banking details? What makes you think they don't roll the date forward a month or two when testing apps just to see what kind of extra activity might be triggered?

        Furthermore, because you have to go through some paperwork to be a registered developer in the first place, you have a lot more exposure to liability if you try something. Apple the has valid bank account details for you (if you registered to sell paid apps), along with your address and other things. So if something like this exploit were found, you'd be pretty screwed.

        There are more aspects of protection in a closed system than just the review cycle...

    • Why bother? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MikeFM (12491) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:47PM (#30718400) Homepage Journal
      If you really want to steal people's info just throw up a quick Magento site pretending to sell things at unlikely prices and submit a Froogle feed. Soon you'll be getting lots of orders and you can collect credit card numbers, addresses, etc to your hearts content and then disappear and repeat the process next week. Lots of people will give you their info without thinking about it.
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      likewise, thanks to apple's strict control having useful applications is also far unlikely to happen. How are those google apps going on your iphone? Oh right, you started a flamebait discussion and tried to literally equate that open development equals a lack of security. goood job. Meanwhile, open development also equates to actual security, not falsely believing that apple is magically secure or likewise with windows. Security through obscurity is called delusion.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @07:10PM (#30718574) Homepage Journal

      This is something that is far more unlikely to happen on the iPhone

      Anyone want to bet that "Droid09" has an address somewhere near Cupertino?

    • by yakumo.unr (833476) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @08:17PM (#30718942) Homepage

      However, in Pinch Media's case, the user tracking goes a bit further according to one iPhone developer. He says applications using Pinch Media track the following information:

              * iPhone's unique ID
              * iPhone model
              * OS version
              * Application version (in this case, camera zoom 1.x)
              * If the application is cracked/pirated
              * If your iPhone is jailbroken
              * Time & date you start the application
              * Time & date you close the application
              * Your current latitude & longitude
              * Your gender (if Facebook enabled)
              * Your birth month (if Facebook enabled)
              * Your birth year (if Facebook enabled)

      What's worse is that you're often never told that the app will be performing this level of detailed tracking and you're often never given the opportunity to opt-out. The data recorded is continuously tracked every time you use the application. This violation of user privacy is so egregious that the developer even goes so far as to call Pinch Media "iPhone spyware."

      http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/dear_iphone_users_your_apps_are_spying_on_you.php [readwriteweb.com]

    • Allow open development, and you've basically got a platform that the bad guys can target. There's already standards for signing code to prove that an app came from who you thought it did.

      Steve? Is that you?

      -B. Gates

  • by slifox (605302) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:44PM (#30717858)
    One great app I use is DroidWall, which is a simple GUI for iptables.
    I set the default outbound policy to DROP, then specifically whitelist the apps that should reasonably have access to the internet.

    Since Android apps have to specifically declare the privileges they require before installation (such as ability to read contact data, internet access, etc), then it's easy to make sure that all apps that read personal data are not whitelisted, unless they come from a reputable developer (e.g. Google-made apps). Any app that can read my contacts data, my calendar, my email, etc, is sure as hell not getting internet access for "usage statistics" or whatever other lame excuse they give.

    I wish this functionality was built into the OS, rather than having to do it manually (for example, a way to disallow internet access during installation) -- but at least it's doable on Android. I don't think any other phone platforms give this level of permission separation or control. I'm not so sure that app review would really fix the overall problem; it might catch the obviously-malicious phishing apps like in this story, but I bet that the app auditors' opinion on what is a privacy violation differs greatly from my own.

    I still wouldn't use my banking info on my phone regardless, since a phone is so easily losable, and locking/unlocking the data everytime with a secure passphrase would probably be too inconvenient. At very most, I would only allow read access to transactions from my phone (if banks offered this), thereby limiting the amount of useful information or control a would-be attacker could gain from compromising my phone.
    • by dumbnose (190140) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:54PM (#30717942)

      Sounds like a really easy way for your standard user to administer their phone. My mom would totally get that....no wait....I think I meant the opposite of that. Yeah.

      Seriously, though, how do you communicate this to your standard, non-techie user?

      • by slifox (605302) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:01PM (#30717998)
        This app is just another vector in the long history of internet phishing attacks

        The problem isn't technical, but rather lack of user training

        The internet is not a safe place. If you want to use it openly, you better not be gullible and hand out your info to anyone who asks.

        One solution would be to setup the phone for your non-techie friend, and whitelist all the apps that they'll need that should have internet access. Yes, this means they'll have limited use of new apps, but if they can't figure out when not to give out her bank details, they aren't sufficiently trained to safely use the internet.
        • This happens enough, the carriers will quickly move to take back control of the handsets with their own "software" in the guise of consumer protection just like they have been. I can see a day where the, the new Verzion "SafeDroid" runs a firewall that blocks everything by default, for user safety of course. Oh, want to run turn by turn navigation, that will be $15 a month please. Want to unlock this app, $5 a month please.

          It may be based on android, but I'll be the carriers will move to lock it down.

          • Want to unlock this app, $5 a month please.

            If Verizon does that, AT&T will be quick to point it out in the ads. Somehow, I don't think Verizon is quite that stupid, although I could be totally wrong.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Skater (41976)

              Want to unlock this app, $5 a month please.

              If Verizon does that, AT&T will be quick to point it out in the ads. Somehow, I don't think Verizon is quite that stupid, although I could be totally wrong.

              Yes, they are that stupid, but like the other response said, there is no real competition between providers. Verizon has been doing this with their BREW system for years. Some apps have both a "permanent" subscription option and a monthly subscription option, but there are others that are monthly only, such as the navigation application. I bought a permanent license for Tetris for $6 years ago, on my previous phone, instead of paying $1.99/month for it. (Of course, Tetris didn't carry over to my new pho

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Seriously, though, how do you communicate this to your standard, non-techie user?

        You don't. This is NOT A PHONE. This is a little computer with a phone IN IT. The same level of knowledge required to use a computer and install apps safely, etc is necessary here.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nextekcarl (1402899)

          You make a good point, but that doesn't really do anything to the OP point. Most people who use computers are not techie users. They fall for scams all the time.

    • I wish this functionality was built into the OS, rather than having to do it manually (for example, a way to disallow internet access during installation)

      I'm sure you know this, but for other readers of your post -- just as there is a permission to read contacts and such, there is a permission apps have to request to gain access to the Internet. So, at install time, you can read through the list of requested permissions and take appropriate action. For example, I rarely install ones that ask for my contacts

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:44PM (#30718378)

      Any app that can read my contacts data, my calendar, my email, etc, is sure as hell not getting internet access for "usage statistics" or whatever other lame excuse they give.

      Usage statistics are the only reliable way to get real feedback about how actual users interact with the software (short of having a horde of QA testers that we can't afford). Some of the more useful things that my apps track (anonymized and with the terms stated clearly on install with an opt-out):

      (1) Which settings are most often changed, and to what. This helps us put the most-changed settings near the top and set better defaults. If a setting is changed back and forth a lot, that usually tells that the UI needs widget to control that behavior.

      (2) Which functions are used most or used most together. This helps organize the UI in accord with the most common usage patterns. Many times, we will see that users do the same clusters of things over and over and that lets us combine those into a single task in some fashion.

      (3) What functions/options are almost never used, especially ones we had imagined would be useful. This is usually a sign that we have either totally dropped the ball on implementation or interface or that we don't understand the user's workflow.

      I will admit that this is largely a matter of trust between the developer and the user -- I really can't blame users that opt-out or firewall us because they really don't have a reason to trust us. That said, such distrust does deprive us of very important data that we use to improve our products. I just want to express my deep appreciation for all the users that have let us have their usage statistics -- we really do read and act on them!

    • in this case, if you downloaded an app that you thought was a legit banking app, you would have just added it to the whitelist.

  • by bcmm (768152)
    An iPhone-like vetting process would be "we'll reject it if we don't like the look of it". How about "Linux-distro style vetting process"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by broken_chaos (1188549)

      How about "Linux-distro style vetting process"?

      Impossible, unless all apps are required to be open source (which would not be popular with many commercial developers). I'd even bet a large number of commercial developers would even be annoyed enough to stop developing for Android's app store if required to turn over their complete source code only to Google employees for review -- Apple doesn't even require this for their app store.

      • by mounthood (993037) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:14PM (#30718120)

        How about "Linux-distro style vetting process"?

        Impossible, unless all apps are required to be open source ...

        Not true. You can have binary only repositories. Ubuntu 9.10 has a "partner" repository from which you can install Flash, and interestingly, you can add it to your sources list by clicking a link in Firefox.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LostCluster (625375) *
          So who do you let into the "partner" program without being called biased against a "too small" programming shop?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bcmm (768152)
        Not all Linux distros package only open-source software.
        • Then what is a "Linux-distro style vetting process", if not relating to the hundreds of eyes on the source of most programs?

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @05:57PM (#30717966)

      iPhone's vetting process has a "AT&T doesn't like it, so Apple will deny" clause that the jailbreak stores don't. Apple then claims that jailbroken apps could be trojans that will overload AT&T's network.

      Google seems to be taking a "we'll do what we want and carriers can't stop us" attitude. Good luck with that.

    • by mounthood (993037) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:06PM (#30718038)

      An iPhone-like vetting process would be "we'll reject it if we don't like the look of it". How about "Linux-distro style vetting process"?

      Multiple repositories solve part of the problem, but more then just vetting the repository as a whole we need to score/rank/blacklist/require individual applications and authors. What friends think of an application is much more important than the "average" score of everyone. IT departments need to add/update/remove applications for workers phones, but also let the end user manage applications. Ban lists need to be available in a form that lets the end user (or their tech. support) decide what to trust.

      It's amazing that such a big industry has such crappy tools to manage applications. Making things "just work" for the end user does not need to mean a monopoly or tyrant controlling the (only) store.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      No, the iPhone vetting process is unashamedly "that competes with us, denied!"

    • by A1rmanCha1rman (885378) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:40PM (#30718344)

      An iPhone-like vetting process would be "we'll reject it if we don't like the look of it". How about "Linux-distro style vetting process"?

      The iPhone vetting process is closer to Slifox's "error on the side of caution" method on his outbound firewall, with the default being set to DROP (deny the app), followed by a specific whitelist (approved apps subject to continuous monitor for "good behaviour").

      Quite a number of approved apps in the iPhone App Store have been caught out doing naughty things like accessing and sending "home" users' Contacts - email addresses, phone numbers and home/work addresses - where they really had no business requiring such information for their function (battery charge display apps, games etc) and have promptly been expelled from the app store - quite rightly in my opinion.

      The price of true freedom is eternal vigilance, not laissez-faire do-what-you-please laxity...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apple's policy ain't foolproof either. I found an app designed for validating stolen credit cards, marketed to Romanian hackers:

    http://rationalitate.blogspot.com/2009/12/credit-card-stealing-app-in-apples.html

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nneonneo (911150)

      The app by itself is not illegal -- it uses publicly available information to "parse" a credit card number, and the algorithms which determine the validity of a set of 16 credit card digits are pretty well-known by now. What the app probably cannot tell you is whether the card actually belongs to someone.

      The description also doesn't outwardly suggest that the app was "marketed to Romanian hackers". Basically, there's nothing in the app description or screenshots to suggest that the application, which uses o

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by LostCluster (625375) *

        Knowing the number-crunching formula for credit card validation is a one-way result. A "reject" is 100% certainty that the card can't be valid. A "pass" simply means the number could be valid, but doesn't give you any clue that the number will work when you try to use it. Pass too many bad account numbers to be processed, and you'll be noticed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dangitman (862676)

        Basically, there's nothing in the app description or screenshots to suggest that the application, which uses only publicly available knowledge, violates any of the terms of Apple's app policy.

        What about the "we may reject your application for any reason whatsoever" clause of Apple's policy?

  • Nothing new here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    From time immemorial, bazaars have had pickpockets.

  • Apple's app store is already full of apps that require the creation of an account with a username and password. That's part of the value proposition of the technology platform: always-on synchronization between device and cloud.

    In a significant portion of cases I imagine this means that users have a single username/password pair that they have used to create dozens of accounts with services around the web. The fact that the app has been vetted and functions exactly as promised does not mean that there is no

    • Because Apple's vetting has a step in it where they verify the identity of the author. Pull that trick, and people will wonder why their accounts were compromised, and surveys of the users will find that everybody affected used your app. Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $20.

      • Because Apple's vetting has a step in it where they verify the identity of the author. Pull that trick, and people will wonder why their accounts were compromised, and surveys of the users will find that everybody affected used your app. Go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

        FTFY. I don't believe that the great recession has been quite that bad.

  • If you want to be free, be free. But then get checked every three months and you probably shouldn't give out your real address and phone number to anyone you're being free with.

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:23PM (#30718222)

      Tragedy of the Commons comes to mind here. People around here like to bitch about Apple's policies with their app store, but I understood the reasoning behind it from the beginning. The average consumer doesn't know better. A cute app that is malicious can spread to millions of users before someone wises up. And it only takes one or two to make people fearful of the platform.

      It will be fun to see if the carriers take advantage of this and try to get control over the handsets back in their court as opposed to that of Google. If it happens a couple more times, I can the Verizon App store popping up and a Verizon UI required on all android phones that only allow users to use their store. And I'm sure a lot of the apps will require extra "monthly" fees.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mlts (1038732) *

        What I can see is that carriers would have their own Android app stores, similar to how one carrier in the US used to require not just Microsoft code certificates on signed executables, but the carrier's as well. If the app wasn't signed by a certificate either from the carrier, or a key allowed by the carrier, the app won't install on the phone. Of course, the certs can be yanked at a moment's notice.

  • Reserved words? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:21PM (#30718200)
    What if the Android market would reserve a few words for only legitimate organizations? For example, apps would need to be certified to appear in an online banking part of the store, and there would be no certification other than Google contacting the company and making sure this is the app they made. For example, if someone submits an app with "Bank of America" in the description (or something) the Android market puts a big red heading saying This app was not developed by Bank of America, do not give out sensitive financial details over the app? It isn't restrictive because it still is open development yet it weeds out phishing apps.
    • Re:Reserved words? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:29PM (#30718266)

      "Bank of America" is already a reserved word under trademark law. You could say that "bank" is a reserved word, but then you'll accidentally block "iBank" and such. Such problems.

      • Under trademark law doesn't mean crap on the internet. I'm going to fill this post with trademarked words.

        Nintendo, Sony, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Philips, HP, AMD, Intel, Final Fantasy, Square-Enix, Wii, Pepsi, Coke, Compaq, Logitec, Halo,

        Now, when someone would search for these, my post might come up (yeah, unlikely, but I suppose its possible) same with the Android marketplace. If I put on a description "This app lets you use Twitter" its no different than an app that says "This app lets you s
  • by beakerMeep (716990) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @06:36PM (#30718314)
    One of the things my bank does for their mobile banking application (which is contracted out to another company) is to give you a special code that is akin to a extra "mobile password." You get this code from the bank's website after putting in your mobile phone number. You then must enter it on your phone and "activate" that phone to access your account. At any time also, you can go into the website and "deactivate" the device. At no time do you ever enter your banking login details into your phone, only this special code which is tied to you phone number, mobile OS, and carrier (that you can deactivate at any time) is entered into your phone.

    It's not perfect security, but it certainly puts up a few more decent hurdles against phishing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) *

      That prevents the problem of somebody bringing in a mobile device and claiming to be you... but doesn't stop you from giving your main password to a false app that asks for it.

  • It wouldn't be unprecedented, as the Internet has places like SnapFiles and CNET for multiple operating system verified-OK application download hosting.
    • CNET is a good fact-checking group, but they've fallen for tricks in the past. They're quick to put out a loud warning when they get tricked and figure it out, but they aren't perfect.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @07:49PM (#30718788)
    This is just the same old phishing attack moved to a new platform. This is no different then directing a web users to a fraudulent banking site.

    The fault here lies primarily with the user, but seeing as we cant force the users to be smarter the onus for defeating this attack relies on the bank. Banks can do a variety of things to prevent such phishing attacks from working such as using 2 factor authentication and One Time Passwords. OTP works best when being used for transactions rather then logins, my bank will SMS me a code when I want to make a transaction to another account so even if a phisher has my password, they need my phone to do anything (plus this is a dead give-away that a phisher has gained my password). Banks could also issue a private key to official applications and block any application that does not have the key (granted this is less useful and may be easily defeated)

    Iphone style lock downs will not work as they do not address the real problem of phishing and only serve to limit the platform. This isn't a fault with Android, this requires the user to initiate the attack, nor is it self replicating.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Sunday January 10, 2010 @07:52PM (#30718806) Journal

    Why on Earth would you download a 'bank' app from anyone other than *YOUR BANK*? I'm only gonna do online banking from the website or apps provided to me directly from my bank. I'm not gonna download anything from the Android market, from some random user, and do banking with it. Who thinks that it's a good idea to do 'banking' with an app by a random developer? I mean, *maybe*, maybe if it was someone large and established, like IBM, Google, Microsoft, or Apple, I *might* consider using third party software, but certainly not anyone I've never heard of before.

    • Ask Mint.com (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149)

      Why on Earth would you download a 'bank' app from anyone other than *YOUR BANK*?

      Actually there's a very good reason (for the user) - banks cannot write user interfaces to save their lives.

      In fact they are so horrible at it, that Mint.com flourished with tens (hundreds?) of thousands of users, despite you needing to give Mint the passwords to EVERY SINGLE BANK you do businesses with.

      Would you or I ever, ever do that? Nope. No reasonable person would you would think. Yet many have (and continue to), just b

  • on any other platform, you wouldn't need to remove software from "Droid09", your overlord would remove it for you, along with any other subversive material that might be on the device that you're borrowing from them

  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Monday January 11, 2010 @01:27AM (#30720376)

    I note that searches of Secunia, SANS.org, and CERT don't return any mention of it, which is curious given that the...alert...began spreading on or about the 3rd of December, 2009 according to a date-sorted Google search (who is Jeremy Allexon?) [google.com]. Said search likewise fails to turn up any sources which I would call "authoritative".

    Given the nature of corporate competition...

Entropy isn't what it used to be.

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