Feeds

Google can kill or install apps on citizen Androids

Vanished 'RootStrap' masqueraded as movie preview

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Oberheide, it turns out, has gotten to know Google's Rich Cannings at various security conferences, and it was Cannings who asked him to remove the applications from the Market. With his blog post, Oberheide also says that according to Cannings, this is the first time Google has used its REMOVE_ASSET mechanism. Unlike some, Oberheide isn't fussed about Google's kill switch. But he does take issue with its INSTALL_APP mechanism.

Both mechanisms operate over a persistent TCP/SSL/XMPP connection that Google maintains between its servers and Android handsets via a service called GTalkService. "If an attacker is able to MITM [man in the middle] this SSL GTalkService connection for a particular device, it may be possible to spoof these INSTALL_ASSET messages to deliver a malicious application payload. If Google’s GTalkService servers were compromised, the malicious impact would obviously be a bit more widespread," he says.

"You better believe that myself and others are taking a careful look at these code paths."

He adds that the INSTALL_ASSET is invoked every time the user installs an application on their own through the Android Market – meaning it's a fundamental part of Google's setup. "Instead of downloading the APK [Android package] from the Market, clicking ‘Install’ will trigger Google’s servers to push a INSTALL_ASSET message down the GTalkService pipe. Upon receiving this message, your phone will download and install the APK," he says.

We still say the kill switch is more unsettling – little different from Amazon's Orwellian ability to remotely remove books from the Kindle. Amazon may say it won't use the thing, but it can be legally compelled to do so. Or it may use it for fear of legal action.

It's unclear whether Google's "kill switch" can remove applications that were not download through the Android Market. But Oberheide tells us he's working to reverse engineer the tool, in an effort to determine whether it can. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.