Category Archives: Digital and Mobile Security

Warning: Crypto-Currency Mining is Targeting Your Android


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Cryptocurrency, a virtual form of currency designed to work as a secure form of exchange, has gained a lot of traction in the world of finance and technology. But for many, the concept of obtaining cryptocurrency, or “crypto-mining,” is obscure. Investopedia defines crypto-mining as, “the process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the blockchain, and also the means through which new currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are released.”

The practice has been around since 2009, and anyone with access to the Internet, the required programs and hardware can participate in mining. In fact, by the end of this month, Forbes Magazine will have published its first “Top Richest” list dedicated to Crypto Millionaires.

With the rise in popularity of digital currency, it’s no surprise that cybercriminals across the globe are leveraging malicious code to obtain it. Hackers would rather develop or utilize mining malware instead of paying the expensive price tag associated with mining machines, which can be upwards of $5000. In China, the ADB Miner malware is spreading and targeting thousands of Android devices for the primary purpose of mining cryptocurrency. The malware is spread through the publicly accessible Android Debug Bridge (abd) on an opened port 5555. This port is typically closed but can be opened by an ADB debug tool. Once infected, a device will look for other devices with the same vulnerability to spread the malware and leverage other Android-based smartphones, tablets, and televisions for crypto-mining.

So why are cybercriminals now targeting Android mobile devices? This could be due to the fact that hackers know they can easily manipulate vulnerabilities in Google Play’s app vetting system. Last year McAfee Mobile Threat Research identified more than 4,000 apps that were removed from Google Play without notification to users. Currently, the app store does not have consistent or centralized reporting available for app purchasers. Even if an app is supported by Google Play at the time of download, it could later be identified as malicious and Android users may be unaware of the fact that they’re harboring a bad app.

Researchers have found over 600 blacklisted malicious cryptocurrency apps across 20 app stores including Apple and Google Play. Google Play was found to have the highest amount of malicious crypto apps, with 272 available for download. In the United States, researchers have found another crypto-mining malware that is so demanding of phone processors, its causing them to implode. Loapi, a newly-discovered Trojan crypto-miner, can cause phone batteries to swell up and burst open the device’s back cover, and has been found in up to 20 mobile apps.

Crypto-mining malware isn’t a new phenomenon. Before the WannaCry attacks last summer, cryptocurrency malware sprung up as another malicious software looking to take advantage of the same Windows vulnerabilities that WannaCry exploited. But, instead of locking down systems with ransomware, these cybercriminals were putting them to work, using a cryptocurrency mining malware called Adylkuzz.

Here are a few tips to ensure your Android-devices are protected from crypto-mining malware:

  • Download your apps from a legitimate source. While some malicious apps may slip through the cracks, app stores like Google Play do have security measures in place to protect users, and it’s much safer than downloading from an unknown source.
  • Delete any apps that you haven’t used over the past 6-months. An app’s security can change over time; applications that were once supported by an app store can be flagged as malicious and removed from the platform without notification. If an app is no longer supported in the app store, you should delete it immediately.
  • Keep all of your software up to date. Many of the more harmful malware attacks we’ve seen, like the Equifax data breach, take advantage of software vulnerabilities in common applications, such as operating systems and browsers. Having the latest software and application versions ensures that any known bugs or exploits are patched, and is one of the best defenses against viruses and malware.
  • Double up on your mobile security software. I can’t stress enough how important is to use comprehensive security software to protect your personal devices.

Source : : Blog

Could You Have a Toxic Relationship with Your Smartphone?

Could You Have a Toxic Relationship with Your Smartphone

It’s the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about: our devotion to and dependence on our smartphones. For most of us, our children included, smartphones have become an appendage; a limb of voracious digital consumption and social obligation that keeps us scrolling, refreshing, swiping, and responding with no end in sight.

Any friend or psychologist would encourage us to rid ourselves of toxic relationships that hinder — even threaten — our emotional and physical well-being, but what if that relationship is with a smartphone? Would you be willing to give it up (or reset the relationship) if you knew it was toxic?

Researchers are increasingly debating the impact of the smartphone on our emotional well-being, and the debate often returns to striking a balance between the ethical design of technology versus corporate profitability. One of the most compelling arguments is that of researcher Tristan Harris, a former Google Design Ethicist, on a crusade to inspire people to stop clicking and start caring about how technology is intentionally designed to shape the behavior of the people who use it. Harris has launched a nonprofit called Time Well Spent. His viral TED Talk proposes a renaissance in online design that can free tech users from being manipulated by apps, websites, and advertisers as the race for user attention increases.

From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube auto plays, Harris argues that our online behavior is anything but random. Instead, our thoughts and feelings are being carefully manipulated by technologists behind the scenes persuasively competing for more and more our attention.

Not convinced you among the tech lemming crowd? I wasn’t either. But the discussion got me thinking and inspired me to make some specific changes to test my smartphone dependence.

5 Ways to Drastically Reduce Smartphone Dependence

  • Turn your phone to grayscale mode (google how to do this – it’s amazing)
  • Turn off all push notifications (reclaim your attention span).
  • Park your phone in one physical location (stop carrying it everywhere).
  • Stand up when you use your phone (no more getting cozy for hours).
  • Ban your phone from the bedroom (get an alarm clock).

I made these changes for a week and here’s what happened.

Not as interesting, right?
Grayscale mode, iPhone.

Absolutely no fun in sight for the first three days. Initially, I felt overcome with a sense of vulnerability, panic even that suddenly, somehow, I wasn’t in control of something. I felt an overwhelming need to check my phone every 15-30 minutes. That time gradually increased to about an hour by the third day. Not having my phone nearby, I was sure I’d miss out on something important. For the first few days, I constantly felt as if I had lost something and I’d get up and wander around before realizing my phone was docked safely in the kitchen — just like when I was growing up and had to physically walk to the kitchen to use the phone. I resolved to check my phone once every three hours rather than carry it with me from room to room. When I did check it, surprisingly, the world had not collapsed without my attention to it. I found an average of three texts (two from family with non-critical comments, and usually, one discount text from a retailer).

Because I turned my screen grayscale (wow, what a game changer!) I didn’t feel the anticipation of checking social media, scrolling, reciprocating, uploading, or commenting. My phone in the grayscale mode made using it stale, almost irritating. I realized looking at my phone in grayscale that I being overly influenced and pulled by pretty pictures and all the colors, sounds, links, and prompts, which had come to own my attention. Sadly, I was giving my time to this relationship without any meaningful, lasting benefit coming back to me. I was in a toxic relationship, and something had to change.

By the end of the week, I felt awesome, empowered almost. I had successfully distanced myself from a toxic relationship and redefined it on my terms. I also realized something profound: There’s an unspoken cost to unbalanced technology use I’m not willing to hand over any longer, and that is my time.

When I parked my phone in the kitchen, banned it from the bedroom, and refused to sit down with it, I noticed patches of extra time magically appear in my day. What could I do with all the time I once poured into my phone? As it turns out, quite a lot.

I’m keeping my new habits, and I’m encouraging my family to do the same for a good reason. Here’s what we know: Kids are spending more time on digital devices than ever before, and that trend has no reason to reverse. Anxiety disorders linked to social media use is at an all-time high. Also, researchers are confirming the link between technology, depression, and suicide among youth

MWC 2018: Digital and Mobile Security in the 5G IoT Era

Digital and Mobile Security

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Mobile World Congress 2018 is upon us and the big news includes the launch of a bunch of new devices, including the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, Samsung Galaxy S9, Sony Xperia XZ Premium 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S4.

In addition to these and dozens of other devices launching at this year’s event in Barcelona, we are seeing the acceleration of the trend for domestic and industrial smart devices, voice-controlled digital assistants and other internet of things (IoT) enabled smart devices.

Google, for example, is using MWC 2018 as a platform to publicise Google Assistant and the Google Home smart speaker, though one thing we still haven’t heard enough about are the many new security threats and issues surrounding new smart devices, digital assistants and IoT technologies.

Biometric Authentication, 5G Realities and IoT security

Another notable trend at MWC 2018 has been the focus from Samsung and some of the other major mobile players on improved forms of biometric authentication, with Samsung releasing a much-improved Iris Scanner as part of the new Galaxy S9 range.

It’s certainly a really positive move to see this focus on identity authentication at this year’s show, with a notable shift at this year’s event from the hype surrounding virtual and augmented reality and voice-controlled smart homes to far more realistic and practical concerns around security, biometrics and the real-world use cases of superfast 5G networking tech.

Much of the conversation around 5G, of course, is still dominated around how edge computing and low latency in 5G networks will actually translate into valuable and useable services for consumers and businesses alike.

These new 5G use cases dominated the IoT news at MWC 2018, with numerous exhibitors talking up their latest 5G IoT applications and concepts. And almost by default digital security has also become one of the hottest topics in Barcelona this year, as small developers and the major multinational mobile brands alike wake up to the fact that security is of paramount importance across the entire IoT supply chain

Evolving Digital Security for the 5G IoT Era

Firms are realising that their digital security strategy has to evolve at the same pace as the many new developments in the current buzzword bingo card such as 5G IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Failure to undertake the appropriate due diligence in these new emerging technologies open them up for significant penalties when the inevitable data breaches occur.

In addition to the focus on improving mobile handset security and raising awareness of digital security issues in the smart home, the onus for 5G network level security really needs to shift back to the telecommunications companies themselves.

The 5G Security Challenge for Telecoms

The bottom line is this: the security of 5G networks presents a fundamental challenge to the telecommunications industry at large. Something that the hype machine surrounding 5G at MWC 2018 generally fails to highlight, for obvious reasons!

The promise of 5G-enabled services in smart cities, connected cars and across the burgeoning e-health sector, for example, is clear. Yet the fact that network-wide security and security across the IoT value chain is fundamental to these types of applications and services operating safely is still too often overlooked.

Driverless cars, smart surgery and IoT applications across the manufacturing sector are good examples to cite, where digital security is crucial.

All of which is why we as an industry have to work better together – from digital security specialists through to 5G IoT app and hardware developers through to the multinational telecommunications companies themselves – to ensure that we are doing all we can to meet the security challenges and the many increasingly sophisticated attacks that are sure to come in the 5G era.

Source : : Blog