Feeds

Security boffins brew devilish Android rootkit

Experimental vileware turns your mobe into a TRAITOR

Security for virtualized datacentres

Computer scientists have identified a weakness in the Android mobile operating system that allows users to be tricked into silently installing hidden malware.

A research team led by Xuxian Jiang at North Carolina State University discovered that they could redirect a fandroid's touchscreen taps - a technique known as clickjacking - to inject a rootkit that can evade detection and maliciously alter the operation of the device.

Xuxian was able to develop a "proof-of-concept prototype rootkit that attacks the Android framework, rather than the underlying operating system kernel". The vulnerability was uncovered during a more general study into the security measures, or lack of, in various smartphone platforms.

The rootkit, which could be bundled with an app and is said to be undetectable by anti-virus packages, would allow an attacker to replace a smartphone's browser with a version that logs key strokes to capture bank card data and uploads them to a hacker-controlled website. The malign technology can hide or replace any or all of the apps on a smartphone, as illustrated in this video:

The clickjacking vulnerability is present in Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and earlier versions of the smartphone OS. The mechanism - described as a "user interface readdresing attack" - means the malware can be installed by a user thinking he or she is agreeing to some other action and without a reboot. No privilege escalation is needed, nor any nobbling of the operating system's core kernel.

"This would be a more sophisticated type of attack than we’ve seen before, specifically tailored to smartphone platforms," Xuxian explained in a NCSU blog post about the work. "The rootkit was not that difficult to develop, and no existing mobile security software is able to detect it."

"Now that we’ve identified the problem, we can begin working on ways to protect against attacks like these," he added. Xuxian is founder of the Android Malware Genome Project, a collaborative research effort into existing Android malware, launched in late May. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.