Feeds

UK unis, McAfee collude to beat collusion attacks

EPSRC splashes cash at security

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is backing research designed to improve detection of “collusion” between malicious apps on the Android platform.

Collusion attacks use malicious apps with different levels of permissions to bypass Android access controls. For example, one app might request permission to access personal data, but not ask for Internet access. Instead, the user might be encouraged to install a second app that has communication access.

In that scenario, the app with access to data would then pass information to the app with Internet access for transmission back to an attacker.

According to the EPSRC's announcement, this is a relatively little-studied attack model, so researchers at Royal Holloway University of London, City University London, and Coventry and Swansea Universities are sharing £3 million of grants to study the issue (some of the money is also going to teams looking at the UK's cyber-security, the announcement notes).

Intel's McAfee business is also taking part in the research, providing a library of safe apps and assistance in analysing results.

The work is being led by Royal Holloway information security lecturer Dr Lorenzo Cavallaro. The announcement states that his team “will study the behaviour of apps on Android operating systems and develop novel techniques to spot malicious apps, which of course, are designed to remain hidden. They will use this information to enrich or enhance devices to counteract attacks.”

As this paper from ETH Zurich notes, collusion attacks can be hard to spot. “Existing security products … that are used for the analysis of application permissions, analyze and report the permissions independently for each individual application and therefore do not take into consideration application collusion,” it states.

According to that paper, collusion attacks are a consequence of per-app permission models. They undermine the assumption that applications can be independently restricted in their access to resources. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.