Feeds

Android Trojan spams tribute to Arab Spring martyr

At least it doesn't completely pwn your phone

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Hacktivists have released a manipulated version of a popular Android app to commemorate a Tunisian man whose suicide triggered anti-government protests in his country a year ago.

Street fruit'n'veg vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, set himself on fire after local government officials refused to meet him and discuss his grievances. Bouazizi's self-immolation propelled Tunisians' general frustration with their politicians into a wave of protests that forced out President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in early January. Ben Ali was the first Middle East dictator to be turfed out of office by the "Arab Spring" protest movement that spread to Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Altered versions of popular Android app Al Salah, which calculates prayer times and orientates believers towards Mecca, have begun appearing on forums dedicated to Middle Eastern issues. The Trojanised builds of the software sends links to a tribute to Bouazizi as SMS messages to everyone on the contact list of an infected phone. This process occurs silently, in the background, leaving victims none the wiser that anything has happened and certainly not asking for permission to spread the "martyr's message".

Analysis of the twiddled app by Symantec suggests it doesn't do anything especially malign. Curiously, if an infected phone is located in Bahrain, the application attempts to download a PDF file onto a smartphone's SD card.

"The PDF file was examined and does not contain any malicious code or exploits," writes Symantec's Irfan Asrar. "The report itself is a fact-finding inquiry by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry on allegations of human rights violations.

"There has been a lot of discussion regarding the impact of the internet, social media, and even the availability of cheap cell phones on the uprisings in the Middle East. In a way, this threat is a testament to the rise of Hacktisivm 2.0."

Symantec's Norton Mobile Security detects the threat as Android-Arspam.

Self-immolation as a form of extreme political protest is a centuries-old tradition in some cultures. A number of Buddhist monks, including most famously Thich Quang Duc, set fire to themselves as a protest against the persecution of Buddhists under the Roman Catholic administration of South Vietnam. The practice spread to the former Soviet bloc, with the self-immolation of Czech student Jan Palach, and more recently to the Middle East and North Africa. Bouazizi's death inspired a number of copycat protests both in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.