All it takes a WhatsApp call for the spyware to enter your phone


It’s been a day of high-profile security incidents. First there was news the popular WhatsApp messenger app was hacked. Updated versions of WhatsApp have been released, which you should install if you’re one of the more than one billion people who use the app.

WhatsApp has confirmed that a security flaw in the app let attackers install spy software on their targets' smartphones. The spyware install on a host phone via a WhatsApp call. The spyware deletes all WhatsApp call logs to become untraceable.

On Wednesday, chip-maker Intel confirmed that new problems discovered with some of its processors could reveal secret information to attacks.

What's scary about this spyware is that it can slip on any WhatsApp users' smartphone without giving the slightest clue that their devices have been infected. All it takes is a WhatsApp call.

The WhatsApp news was revealed first by the Financial Times, which says the bug was used in an attempt to access content on the phone of a UK-based human rights lawyer.

That has left many of its 1.5 billion users wondering how safe the "simple and secure" messaging app really is. How trustworthy are apps and devices?

No. Messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, meaning they are scrambled when they leave the sender's device. The messages can be decrypted by the recipient's device only.

WhatsApp is arguably one of the most popular social messaging apps in the world. In the recent times, the Facebook-owned social messaging app has been under fire owing to the rampant spread of misinformation on its platform. But never has the app been under seige by a malware. That is until now.

WhatsApp has rolled out an update to its servers. It has also rolled out a security patch on to its Android and iOS apps to safeguard your phone data. Software patches have been released by several vendors, including Microsoft. You should install security updates from vendors promptly, including these.

Qualcomm Chip Security Flaw Poses Risk to App Account Security



Qualcomm technology which was manufactured to safely store private cryptographic keys has been found to be plagued with a security bug. The bug has been found in Qualcomm chipsets and is said to be paving way for Android malware which can potentially steal access to victims' online accounts.

The implemention of the technology should be such that even if the Android's OS has been exploited, the Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment, also known as QSEE should be beyond the reach of exploit and hence, unassailable. However, due to some imperfections in the implementation, such is not the case.

One can go about manipulating the system and leaking the private stored keys into the QSEE, as per a researcher with cybersecurity firm NCC Group, Keegan Ryan.

Ryan documented the vulnerability and came out with a conclusion that the flaw could bave been used by a hacker to exploit the way mobile apps let users sign in on smartphones. After entering the password, a cryptographic key pair would be generated by the app, which can be employed to make sure that all login attempts in the future are from the same device.

Referenced from the statements given by Ryan to PCMag,
"However, if an attacker uses this vulnerability to steal the key pair, the attacker can impersonate the user's device from anywhere in the world, and the user cannot stop it by powering down or destroying their device,"

"The attacker can run the malware one time, and extract the key. They now have permanent and unrestricted ability to create (authentication) signatures," he further added.

The patch is expected to roll out in April itself along with Android's security update.







Google’s security program has caught issues in 1 million apps in 5 years

Security is a common concern when it comes to smartphones and it has always been especially important for Android. Google has done a lot over the years to change Android’s reputation and improve security. Monthly Android security patches are just one part of the puzzle. Five years ago, the company launched the Application Security Improvement Program. Recently, they shared some of the success they’ve had.

First, a little information on the program. When an app is submitted to the Play Store, it gets scanned to detect a variety of vulnerabilities. If something is found, the app gets flagged and the developer is notified (above). Diagnosis is provided to help get the app back in good standing. Google doesn’t distribute those apps to Android users until the issues are resolved.

Google likens the process to a doctor performing a routine physical.

Google recently offered an update on its Application Security Improvement Program. First launched five years ago, the program has now helped more than 300,000 developers fix more than 1 million apps on Google Play. In 2018 alone, it resulted in over 30,000 developers fixing over 75,000 apps.

In the same year, Google says it deployed the following six additional security vulnerability classes:

▬ SQL Injection

▬ File-based Cross-Site Scripting

▬ Cross-App Scripting

▬ Leaked Third-Party Credentials

▬ Scheme Hijacking

▬ JavaScript Interface Injection

The list is always growing as Google continues to monitor and improve the capabilities of the program.

Google originally created the Application Security Improvement Program to harden Android apps. The goal was simple: help Android developers build apps without known vulnerabilities, thus improving the overall ecosystem.

Google understands that developers can make mistakes sometimes and they hope to help catch those issues for years to come. Security will continue to be a big talking point as technology evolves. It’s important for users to be able to trust the apps on their phones.

Threatening Frailty in the Indian Mobile Security



Compromising your phones has become quite an easy task for the hackers these days as it is convenient for them to do so without much hard work .There are numerous ways already available like the hackers can change passwords and get access to confidential corporate and private data on your phone or better yet they can either install malicious code on your phone that allows them to read your messages, access your photos or could even turn on your microphone.

In other words, once hackers access your device, they can easily use your microphone or camera to record you, and thanks to GPS, they’ll even get to know your location.

In case of companies that make operating systems (OS) for mobile phones, they are used to plugging known vulnerabilities and loopholes by periodically updating their operating systems and release newer versions of it by even issuing security patches.

But in the case of Android, there exists a unique problem. Android being a foundational OS releases an update or a security patch and it’s unclear who is responsible for updating the OS that’s actually running on the device.

There are hundreds of companies that are currently making Android based devices and selling more than 60,000 models worldwide. It’s a complex ecosystem, with no one quite tracking the updates and vulnerabilities.

A third of the Android phones in India are running a version of the OS released in March 2015 or before. This leaves now some 300 million smart phone users in India potentially vulnerable.
Nobody presently knows how they are utilizing the internet and what applications are being installed on these devices. They are additionally liable to be less attentive about imparting information to application developers. Most terms and conditions that users consent to have a tendency to be in English. And that in itself is reasonable enough for assuming that numerous Indian mobile users are consenting to things without quite understanding what they are consenting to.

Saket Modi, the CEO of Lucideus Tech as well as a well-known ethical hacker says,
“It is relatively harder to install malware on Apple’s iPhones as to install a hacking app on an iPhone, you need the unique device identifier — a sequence of 40 letters and numbers, which can only be accessed by connecting the phone to a computer via Apple’s iTunes software. It is far easier however to install an app from an unknown source on an Android phone than on an iPhone,”

According to data aggregated by Lucideus, Android (all versions combined) has 1,855 known vulnerabilities, compared with 1,495 for iOS.

The Outdated privacy laws in India add to the troubles of mobile phone users. Shiv Putcha, founder of telecom consultancy Mandala Insights says..

 “In India, the regulations are weak at best, you don’t have a privacy law, no regulations around data storage or access to private data. If they (mobile phone makers and service providers) aren’t storing data here, how can we be sure how secure our data is?”

Nevertheless the government though did respond to this issue by highlighting the need for a strong data protection law, along the lines of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, and has even set up a committee to look into it.


Although according to Google, in 2017, India still ranks third in the highest percentage of phones with potentially harmful applications (PHAs) among the major Android markets, with 1% of the total Android phones in the country affected, though the figure had dropped by a third from 2016 but Google still says that devices that install apps from outside the Google Play app store are nine times more likely to have PHAs.






BlackBerry to launch Android phones



Isn’t it too late to launch an Android smartphone now, for a company like BlackBerry?

BlackBerry, a global leader in mobile communication which was introduced in 1999, is all set to launch an Android smartphone. Many people had already assumed few months ago that the company was planning to build the smartphones when the keyboard of the new Android phone was leaked.

During that time, it was said that the new phone would be named the BlackBerry Venice, and would come with a BlackBerry-esque sliding keyboard (H/T evleaks).

If the initials leaks were true, then the new BlackBerry Android phone would be a slider and would be touchscreen with a slide-out keyboard.

Now, it would be a great challenge for the BlackBerry to stand out among other giant Android phone companies. It seems the company has to do a lot of struggle to be the favorite.

It is said that people might love BlackBerry hardware but many people do not like its software. Hope the new phone will meet people expectations.

According to the second quarter financial results of the company, it plans to launch a flagship handheld device that will run on the Android operating system with BlackBerry security.

As per a news report published in Venturebeat, it is “focused on making faster progress to achieve profitability in our handset business,” before finally confirming the launch of “Priv,” a name that was first rumored earlier this week.

“I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry’s heritage and core mission of protecting our customers’ privacy,” John Chen, CEO of the BlackBerry told Venturebeat. “Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform.”

The report suggested that the new Android phone would launch in November.


At the meantime, the company has also confirmed that it would continue working on BlackBerry 10, and said platform updates would be made available next March.

Beware of setting fingerprints screen lock on your Smartphone as it can easy hack



When we have to set lock screen feature on our Smartphone, we usually go with a fingerprint scanner in our Smartphone. We think that the fingerprint scanner is very safe and sound.


However, researchers from FireEye, a security firm, have found a way to break the fingerprints from Android phones such as Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One Max.

“Fingerprints last for a life, once leaked; they are leaked for the rest of your life. Moreover, fingerprints are usually associated with every citizen’s identity, immigration record, etc. It would be a hazard if the attacker can remotely harvest fingerprints in a large scale,” the researchers said in the PDF report.

The research team, which includes Yulong Zhang, Zhaofeng Chen, Hui Xue and Tao Wei, has found a forehead-slapping flaw in HTC One Max in which fingerprints are stored as an image file (dbgraw.bmp) in an open "world readable" folder.

The researchers have provided detail information about the problems of existing designs, including the confused authorization attack that enables malware to bypass pay authorizations protected by fingerprints, insecure fingerprint data storage, fingerprint sensor, and pre embedded fingerprint backdoor.

However, the team reported the flaw to the companies concerned and was patched.

As per the news reports, the research team had also identified another attack that affects other Android phones where malware can circumvent protections in the operating system to access the fingerprint hardware directly.

The researchers have suggested, “To avoid being attacked by malware or being exploited for remote code execution, we suggest normal users to choose mobile device vendors with timely patching/upgrading to the latest version (e.g.'Android'Lollipop), and always keep your device up to date.”




Google offers Refunds to users scammed by fake "Virus Shield" app

Google is trying to maintain its reputation by offering refunds to those android users who were scammed by a fake antivirus app "Virus Shield".

Earlier this month, Android Police uncovered a fake virus scanner which was hosted in Google's Play Store that did nothing other than changing the icon and led the users into believing their devices are safe.

This fake paid app($3.99) was downloaded by more than 10,000 users before Google and others became aware of the true nature of this app.  In fact, this app reached number one position in the Top Paid apps list.

However, the developer of this app told the Guardian that one of their developers mistakenly uploaded the wrong version of "Virus Shield" application.  At the time, he also promised to refund users who bought their app.

But, Google seems to have decided not to lose thousands of users who are unhappy about the lax security mechanism which allowed such fake apps to be published.

According to Android Police report, Google is not only issuing refunds to purchasers but also offering them $5 promotional credit using which you can buy apps, books and music in Google Play store.

Android Vulnerability allows hackers to Turn Legitimate Application into Virus

All Android applications contain a signature which helps the Android to determine if the app is legitimate and to make sure the apk hasn't been tampered with or modified.

Security Researchers from BlueBox Labs have uncovered a new security flaw in Android that allows hacker to modify the application's code without breaking the application's cryptographic signature.

It can be exploited by cyber criminals to turn the legitimate applications into Malicious apps.

Exploited HTC Phone. - Image Credits: BlueBox

In a blog post, Jeff Forristal, Bluebox CTO, noted that the security flaw is particularly dangerous if hackers managed to exploit the application developed by the device manufacturers.

He also pointed out that turning the apps from the device manufacturer into Malware will grant the app full access to Android system that allows hackers to gain access to email , Messages, documents, passwords and more sensitive data.

Security Alert: Linux Kernel Privilege escalation exploit affects Android platform


Android Operating System is based on the Linux, means the vulnerabilities affecting Linux kernel have the possibility of being exploited in the Android platform.

It appears the recently discovered Linux local kernel privilege escalation vulnerability (CVE-2013-2094) is affecting the Android operating system.

According to Symantec researchers, the exploit for the kernel vulnerability has now been modified to work on Android platform. The security flaw allows hacker to gain complete control of the infected devices.

The researchers have warned that malware will take advantage of this exploit to access data from other apps, prevent users from uninstalling the malware, and allows them to send premium rate SMS.

We are not sure how much time Google will take to patch the bug. So, users are advised to download the apps only from trusted marketplaces.

Inbuilt Malware Scanner for Android 4.2 Jelly bean



The number of malware attacks on Android smartphones is increasing day in day out.  Google has been taking some steps to protect their users in recent months.  Now they are implementing a powerful new security features to android OS - an inbuilt malware scanner that scans app for malicious code.

Whenever you install an app from a source other than the Play Store -- including a third-party app market like Amazon's app store, Android pops up a box asking if you want such applications to be checked for "harmful behavior."

If user don't want to display a pop-up whenever installing new app, there is "checkbox" in the security section of the 4.2 system settings that lets you turn the service on or off at any point.

"We have a catalog of 700,000 applications in the Play Store, and beyond that, we're always scanning stuff on the Web in terms of APKs that are appearing," Lockheimer says. "We have a pretty good understanding of the app ecosystem now, whether something's in the Play Store or not."