Old Apache Code at Root of Android FakeID Mess

A four year-old vulnerability in an open source component that is a critical part of Google’s Android mobile operating system could leave mobile devices that use it susceptible to attack, according to researchers at the firm Bluebox Security. The vulnerability was disclosed on Tuesday. It affects devices running Android versions 2.1 to 4.4 (“KitKat”), according to a statement released by Bluebox. According to Bluebox, the vulnerability was introduced to Android by way of the open source Apache Harmony module. It affects Android’s verification of digital signatures that are used to vouch for the identity of mobile applications, according to Jeff Forristal, Bluebox’s CTO. He will be presenting details about the FakeID vulnerability at the Black Hat Briefings security conference in Las Vegas next week.

iPhone and iPad Hijacking: What You Need To Know

The past 24 hours has seen a spate of stories warning about a spate of ‘ransomware’ attacks on iPhones and iPads – especially in the the UK and Australia. According to the reports, compromised devices are locked and owners are instructed to email a ransom (variously: $100, $50, €100) to one “Oleg Pliss” to have their devices unlocked. These attacks aren’t really news. In fact, the Oleg Pliss scam appears to have been circulating for close to six months. However, it’s worthwhile reviewing what we do (and don’t) know about these latest attacks on mobile devices. Accordingly, Security Ledger has put together a short FAQ that tells you what you need to know about the latest mobile scam, and to dispel some of the rumors floating around in the Internet ether. What’s Going On? According to news reports and complaints on Apple Support forums, owners of iPhones and iPads are having their devices locked. […]

Security Iris Scanner on Blue Human Eye

WSJ: Samsung Looks To Iris Scans To Secure Mobile Devices

Min-Jeong Lee has an interesting article over at The Wall Street Journal Digits blog on how mobile device maker Samsung is looking to expand its use of biometric sensors in mobile devices beyond the finger-print scanners that are now the state of the art. According to the article, Samsung is considering “various types of biometric [mechanisms]” in addition to fingerprint scanners. Samsung’s senior vice president Rhee In-jong told analysts and investors at a forum in Hong Kong on Monday that iris scanners are a top consideration. “One of things that everybody is looking at is iris detection,” Rhee said. The biometric features are part of Samsung’s enterprise-focused mobile software, dubbed “Knox.”According to Rhee, only a small portion of some 80 million Samsung devices that shipped with the Knox software, which provides additional security functions for use by businesses, such as hardware based “TrustZone” technology to isolate sensitive data, virtualization for data- […]

Android Zombies

Android Founder: Install Base Fragmentation No Big Deal

Android owners who were hoping that Google might be on the cusp of cleaning up its balkanized install base won’t be cheered by the latest word from on high: Android co-founder and Google Ventures Partner Rich Miner thinks it’s no big deal. Speaking on Tuesday at an event in Boston, Miner said that fragmentation of the install base was inevitable, given the number and variety of Android devices that are being adopted, according to a report by statement comes as Google is dealing with the fallout from a newly disclosed vulnerability affecting almost all Android platforms that could allow attackers to fool Android into installing and running compromised applications.   Miner was speaking at a Mobile Summit forum hosted by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. He made his statements while being interviewed by renowned technology journalist and columnist Scott Kirsner (@ScottKirsner) of the Boston Globe on the (evergreen) topic “What’s […]


Flaw Leaves 900M Android Devices Vulnerable

A security researcher claims to have uncovered a flaw in the Android security model that leaves almost all devices running the mobile operating system vulnerable to attacks and malicious software. Jeff Forristal, the Chief Technology Officer at Bluebox Security posted a description of the flaw on Wednesday. It affects Android devices running any version of the OS released in the past four years, starting with Version 1.6 (codename: “Donut” ) – a population of nearly 900 million devices. Discrepancies in how Android applications are cryptographically signed and then verified by Android allow a malicious attacker to modify the application package file (or APK) code without breaking the cryptographic signature. The implications of the flaw are huge. A malicious application installed on a vulnerable Android device could access any data stored on the device. For applications, such as mobile virtual private network (VPN), an attacker who could alter the application’s code or […]