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Again On The Carrier IQ Saga

December 13, 2011 2 comments

Yesterday I posted evidence about the presence of the infamous Carrier IQ Software in Italy. Today another episode (I presume will not be last) of what it si becoming an endless Saga. Following the forthcoming investigations of privacy regulators in the U.S. and Europe, and the last-minute speculations concerning the fact Carrier IQ technology has been used by FBI, Carrier IQ has just published a 19 pages document trying to explain in detail what the IQ agent does. After reading the document, it is clear that the affair will not stop here.

The documents analyzes what the software really does, tries to confute Trevor Eckhart’s assertions and, most of all, admits that some SMS may have been collected (even if not in human readable form), because of a software flaw.

Interesting to mention, there are three ways in which Carrier IQ’s customers (the operators, not the end users!) install the IQ Agent: pre-load, aftermarket and embedded. The pre-load and embedded versions which differ among themselves for the fact that the pre-loaded agent may not provide RF data, cannot “typically” be deleted by an end user.

In any case Network Operators and handset manufacturers determine whether and how they deploy Carrier IQ software and what metrics that software will gather and forward to the Network Operator.

Several Remarkable Points:

The IQ Agent is able to summarize the diagnostic information before it is uploaded to the network, greatly reducing the amount of data transmitted and subsequent data processing costs. (as you will read later, looks like summarization is not done for security purposes).

In typical deployments, the IQ Agent uploads diagnostic data once per day, at a time when the device is not being used. This upload, which averages about 200 kilobytes, contains a summary of network and device performance since the last upload, typically 24 hours.

The profile, written by Carrier IQ based on information requested by operators, defines which of the available metrics may to be gathered and contains the following information:

  1. Should information be collected in anonymous mode or with the hardware serial number and the subscriber serial number being used (e.g. IMEI & IMSI)?
  2. The frequency of metrics uploads and instructions on what to do if the user is roaming or not on the network
  3. The specific metrics from which to gather data
  4. Instructions for pre-processing of metrics to create summary information

Profiles may also be subsequently updated.

As far as Trevor Eckhart’s video is concerned, and his findings related to the fact that the agent logs SMS and keystrokes in clear text, Carrier IQ indicates this log log essentially as a consequence of debug enabled, which is not a common (and recommended) situation in normal usage. Moreover the only captured keystroke is a specific numeric key code entered by the user to force the IQ Agent software to start an upload.

Our privacy is safe? Not at all, few lines after the above quoted statement the company declares that:

Carrier IQ has discovered that, due to [....] bug, in some unique circumstances, such as a when a user receives an SMS during a call, or during a simultaneous data session, SMS messages may have unintentionally been included in the layer 3 signaling traffic that is collected by the IQ Agent. These messages were encoded and embedded in layer 3 signaling traffic and are not human readable.

Although the company states that no encoded content of the SMS is available to anyone.

As far as phone numbers and URLs are concerned, this kind of information is collected by the agent if selected on a profile by the Network Operator. In any case, according to the company:

The metrics gathered by the IQ Agent are held in a secure temporary location on the device in a form that cannot be read without specifically designed tools and is never in human readable format.

About the gathered data, Carrier IQ has no rights to the data that collected into its Mobile Service Intelligence Platform.

Did you find the clarifications enough satisfactory? At first glance I am not able to understand how the collected data may be considered anonymous (as supposed from the first statement of Carrier IQ), if the operator may select a profile in which it can grab (and correlate) IMSI, IMEI or Phone Number together with the URLs visited by the (unaware) user. In this moment I cannot tell if, with a clause hidden between the lines of the contracts, mobile operators advise their customers that some personal information may be collected to improve the user experience. In any case the user should be at least provided with the option to choose. Some Device Manufacturers ask for user consent to perform similar operations. I am not aware of a similar approach by operators.

Mmh… The story will not finish here, indeed I guess the affair will soon spread to Mobile Carriers.

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Breaking: First Known Detection of Carrier IQ in Italy

December 12, 2011 2 comments

Update December 13: Carrier IQ issued an updated statement, new concerns for an endless saga…

I am proud to post here the first known detection in Italy of the infamous Carrier IQ software!

As you will probably know, everything started on Nov. 28, on the other side of the Atlantic, when Trevor Eckhart, an Android developer posted a video on YouTube showing the hidden software Carrier IQ interacting oddly with his mobile phone activity. Eckhart subsequently alleged his keystrokes and data were being collected without his permission.

Easily Predictable, speculation and accusations have immediately begun, concerning the kind of data collected by Carrier IQ and presumably transmitted to Wireless Mobile Operators: as a matter of fact subsequent investigations have shown that the Carrier IQ software is embedded on nearly every mobile phone and operator, at least in the U.S where concerns of consumer privacy led Massachusetts congressman Rep. Edward Markey to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the company over concerns of consumer privacy.

But although many believed the software was logging keystrokes and collecting sensitive data, a subsequent more reasonable analysis carried on reversing the code, has shown a different scenario: the software “only” collects anonymized metrics data, although there are hooks inside the code to events such as keystrokes, possibly suggesting the implementation of this kind of functionality for future versions. Essentially the analysis confirmed the content of a statement by the company which attempted to clarify how information was being collected:

We measure and summarize performance of the device to assist Operators in delivering better service.
While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video. For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen.

Nevertheless, since the clarifications did not mitigate the fact that Carrier IQ is s a potential risk to user privacy, and users may not choose to to disable it, As a consequence a bunch of Class Actions lawsuits have been filed against the main handset manufacturers and carriers including, besides the obvious Carrier IQ, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA, HTC, Apple, Samsung, and Motorola Mobility.

Of course European regulators could not remain indifferent, and started immediately to  investigate Carrier IQ. Germany’s Bavarian State Authority for Data Protection was the first to contact Apple, which publicly declared to have included Carrier IQ in earlier version of iOS, with support ceased with iOS 5 and completely removed for previous versions in future software updates. The German Example has immediately been followed not only by other  regulators in the U.K., France, Ireland and Italy, but also from organizations like BEUC, the European Consumers’ Organisation that defend the users’ right to be told how their data is used.

I was wondering if Europe’s concerns were exaggerated (since so far the scandal seemed to be contained in the U.S.) until a friend of mine decided to test one of the available Carrier IQ detection tools on his Samsung Galaxy Tab, which was purchased from 3, an Italian Mobile Operator belonging to the H3G Giant.

Of course the results are shown above: the tool detected the Carrier IQ software in an inactive state. The bad thing is that, although apparently inactive, my friend told me he was not able to remove the software following the different procedures available on the web even if he did not spend so much time in its removal. So far I can only show the screenshot but he told me he will give me his device for a deep analaysis (with caution since it is his work device).

Thinking at this strange encounter, I admit I could not help but think to Samsung’s official statement concerning Carrier IQ (and reported by Engadget):

Some Samsung mobile phones do include Carrier IQ, but it’s very important to note that it’s up to the carrier to request that Samsung include that software on devices. One other important point is that Samsung does not receive any consumer user information from the phones that are equipped with Carrier IQ.

Since it is up to the carrier to request the software to be included on Samsung devices, I presume that 3 could have decided to install it on all the devices for the Italian Market. I tested the tool on My HTC Desire and Sensation XE (both belonging to Telecom Italia Mobile) with no result.

Francesco Pizzetti, Italy’s Protection of Personal Data Guarantor will have a lot to do… meanwhile he opened an investigation into how Carrier IQ works and is checking Italian mobile phones to verify where the software is in use.

Mobile devices are more and more becoming inseparable companions for our personal and professional life, and deadly enemies for our privacy…

Mobile Antiviruses: Malware Scanners or Malware Scammers?

November 23, 2011 2 comments

Few days ago Juniper Networks has released a report on the status of Android Malware. The results are not encouraging for the Android Addicted since they show a 472% increase in malware samples since July 2011 (see the infographic for details).

This does not surprising: already in May in its annual Malicious Mobile Threats Report, report, Juniper had found a 400% increase in Android malware from 2009 to the summer of 2010. This trend is destined to further grow since the Juniper Global Threat Center found that October and November registered the fastest growth in Android malware discovery in the history of the platform. The number of malware samples identified in September increased by 28%. whilst October showed a 110% increase in malware sample collection over the previous month and a noticeable 171% increase from July 2011.

As far as the nature of malware is concerned, Juniper data show that the malware is getting more and more sophisticated, with the majority of malicious applications targeting communications, location, or other personal information. Of the known Android malware samples, 55%, acts as spyware, 44%, are SMS Trojans, which send SMS messages to premium rate numbers without the user’s consent.

The reason for this malware proliferation? A weak policy control on the Android market which makes easier for malicious developers to publish malware applications in disguise. From this point of view, at least according to Juniper, the model of Cupertino is much more efficient and secure.

Easily predictable Google’s answer came from the mouth of Chris DiBona, open source and public sector engineering manager at Google. According to DiBona, Open Source, which is widely present in all the major mobile phone operating systems, is software, and software can be insecure. But Open Source becomes stronger if it pays attention to security, otherwise it is destined to disappear. In support of this statement he quotes the cases of Sendmail and Apache, whose modules which were not considered enough secure disappeared or came back stronger (and more secure) than ever.

But DiBona’s does not stop here (probably he had read this AV-test report which demonstrates that free Android Antimalware applications are useless): “Yes, virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs protection software for Android, RIM and IOS. They are charlatans and scammers. IF you work for a company selling virus protection for android, rim or IOS you should be ashamed of yourself.”

From this point of view Google hopes that Ice Cream Sandwich will lead Android Security at the next level even if some features are raising security concerns among Infosec professionals.

The Dangerous Liaisons (Updated)

August 22, 2011 1 comment

Did you know that a smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 patent claims? You may easily understand why the $ 4.5 billion auction to buy 6,000 Nortel patents by the consortium formed by Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony Ericsson and EMC was so cruel. You may also easily understand why Google, the loser of the Nortel auction, decided to react immediately acquiring Motorola and its patent portfolio made of more than 17,000 approved patents (and another 7,500 patents filed and pending approval) for the large sum of $ 12.5 billion.

Said in few words, the mobile arena is getting more and more agressive and cruel. For this reason, a litte bit for curosity, a little bit for fun, I decided to draw a chart (and a table) showing all the moves of the giant players in this mobile chessboard. Although deliberately incomplete (I did not show in the table the patent saga of NTP Inc. against the rest of the world and the settlement of Motorola vs RIM), it gives a good idea of the dangerous intersections involving partnership, fees, alliances and, most of all, lawsuits… With the strange paradox that some companies (read Apple and Samsung) are enemies before the court, but in the same time business partners.

While visualizing the idea I stumbled upon this similar graph showing the status of the mobile arena on 8 Oct 2010. I decided to use the same layout, omitting some informations, but updating it to the current date. The graph is a little bit confusing, but the confusion of the arrows reflects betten than a thousand words the real situation.

Anyway the war will not stop here: the next targets? Interdigital Inc. with its 8,800 patents  which are attracting several bidders such as Apple, Nokia and Qualcomm; and, most of all, Kodak, whose survival depends on the auction of the 10% of its patent portfolio (1,100 patents), valued as high as $3 billion which are vital to compensate the losses estimated in $2.5 billion.

As far as the table is concerned, in order to avoid repetitions, it only shows the status of the lawsuits and alliances from the perspective of Google, Apple and Microsoft. Enjoy your read and the 250,000 patent claims on your smartphone!

Company Filed Suit Against Has technological alliance with Filed Suite From:
  No one (at least so far!)

Of course Google licensees his Mobile OS to HTC and Samsung (in rigorous alphabetical order), and it is the driver for the impressive market share growthof Samsung and HTC.

In an effort to defend Android’s Intellettual Property “to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing”, on Aug 15 2011, Google announced the intention to acquire Motorola Mobility with a $12.5 billion deal. Motorola has nearly 17,000 patents.

Aug 12 2010: Oracle has filed suit against Google for infringing on copyrights and patents related to Java,. Oracle claimed Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property”. Android uses a light proprietary Java Virtual Machine, Dalvik VM, which, according to Oracle infringes one or more claims of each of United States Patents Nos. 6,125,447; 6,192,476; 5,966,702; 7,426,720; RE38,104; 6,910,205; and 6,061,520.

The case is in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Oracle America, Inc v. Google Inc, 10-3561.

The lawsuit is still pending and will likely take several months. The trial between Oracle and Google is expected to begin by November and Oracle is seeking damages “in the billions of dollars” from Google.

On Aug 1 2011, the judge overseeing the lawsuit Oracle filed over the Android mobile OS has denied Google’s attempt to get a potentially damaging e-mail redacted.

Mar 2 2010: Apple sued HTC for infringing on ten patents, nine of which involve technologies which apply to the iPhone, while one involves the use of gestures, but only in a specific use case.

The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware , alleging twenty instances of patent infringement. The company also petitioned the US  ITC to block the import of twelve phones designed and manufactured by HTC.

On Jul 15 2011 Apple won a preliminary patent ruling in an early judgment before the US ITC, in which HTC was found to have breached two of 10 patents held by Apple.

On Aug 8 2011 ITC  announced to have dediced to review Apple’s patent infringement complaint against HTC.

Oct 31 2010: In response to Motorola lawsuit against Apple, Apple sued Motorola and Motorola Mobility for Infringment on several Multi-Touch patents infringments in the Wisconsin Western District Court with two distinct lawsuits. A total of six patents are involved in the two lawsuits.

On Nov 23, 2010: US International Trading Commission announced to review Apple patent case against Motorola.

Apr 18 2011: Apple filed suit against Samsung for copying the design of its iPad and iPhone with its smartphones and tablets.

Aug 10 2011: European customs officers have been ordered to seize shipments of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab computers after the ruling late on Tuesday by a German patents court.

In the last days Apple has been accused of presenting inaccurate evidence against Samsung.

Aug 24 2011: Samsung has been banned from selling some galaxy phones in the Netherlands. The ban is set to begin on October 13, but Samsung doesn’t seem to be taking it too hard.

On Jul 1 2011 the intellectual property of the Canada giant Nortel (in Bankrupt), involving 6,000 patents, was sold for $4.5 billion, in a dramatic auction, to a consortium formed by Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, EMC and Ericsson. Google was the other competitor (and the big looser) for the deal. This event acted as a trigger for the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google.

On Aug 3 2011, In a post to the Official Google Blog, Google Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said that Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and others have waged “a hostile, organized campaign against Android” by snapping up patents from Novell and Nortel and asking Google for high licensing fees for every Android device”, accusing them of Patent Bulying.

Curiously, Apple is one of the main technological partners of Samsung for displays and semi-conductors. Samsung produces Apple’s A4 systems-on-a-chip (SoC) and also the two companies collaborate for iPad displays (Apple is moving from LG to Samsung because oof quality issues of the former). Nevertheless the lawsuits between the two companies are compromising their relationships so that Apple is evaluating a new supplier (TSMC) for its A6 nexy generation chipset.

Oct 22 2009: Nokia sued Apple in Delaware court for infringing on  ten patents related to GSM, UMTS, and WLAN standards that Nokia states they established after investing more than EUR 40 billion in R&D over the last 20 years.

On Jun 14 2011 Apple agreed to pay between $300m and $600m to cover the 111m iPhones sold since its launch in 2007. Although the exact number was not specified, additional yearly fees could be part of the agreement.

On Jan 2010 Kodak sued Apple and RIM claiming Apple is infringing its 2001 patent covering technology that enables a camera to preview low-resolution versions of a moving image while recording still images at higher resolutions. The cases were filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., as well as the U.S. ITC.

On Apr 2010 Apple argues that some Kodak still and video camera products violate two of its patents

On Jul 2011: While Kodak’s claim is pending, the commission rules on Apple’s complaint and says Kodak’s digital-camera technology doesn’t violate Apple’s patents.

Oct 6 2010: Motorola sued Apple for patent infringement in three separate complaints; in district courts in Illinois and Florida and a separate complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The suits covered 18 different patents, infiringed by Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and certain Mac computers.

The Motorola patents include wireless communication technologies, such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, 802.11 and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless e-mail, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronization.

Jan 12 2011: Microsoft has motioned for a summary judgment to block Apple from trademarking the phrase “app store,” as it filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on July 17, 2008.

Mar 30 2011: Microsoft filed a second objection to Apple’s enduring pursuit to trademark the phrase “app store hiring a linguist, Dr. Ronald Butters, to go head-to-head against Apple’s own hired linguist, Robert A. Leonard.

On Jul 1 2011 US ITC said Apple has violated two S3 Graphics Co. patents in its Mac OS X operating system, but not in the iOS platform. Although not directly related to Mobile, this ruling is meaningful since S3 has been acquired by HTC on Jul 6 2011 for $300 million in order to use their patents in the fight against Apple.

HTC expects final ruling on Apple-S3 graphics case in November.

On Aug 16 2011 HTC filed a new lawsuit against Apple in Delaware’s US District Court, in an escalation of the legal battle between the two smartphone giants. HTC accused Apple to have infringed three of HTC’s patents through its sale of devices including iPads, iPods, iPhones and Macintosh computers.

Oct 1 2010: Microsoft sued Motorola for patent infringement relating to the company’s Android-based smartphones. Microsoft filed its complaint with the International Trade Commission and in a Washington state district court. At issue are nine patents that deal with, among others, sending and receiving e-mail, managing and syncing calendars and contacts, and managing a phone’s memory.

Patent dispute will begin from Aug 21 2011, the hearing procedure can take up to 10 days, the judgment procedure is expected to reach the final verdict point only in March 2012.

Nov 9 2010: Microsoft sued again Motorola for charging excessive royalties on network technology used in Microsoft’s Xbox game system.

Feb 11 2011: a deal with the Devil, Microsoft and Nokia announce their plansto form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.

Besides the alliances with Apple and RIM (see the corresponding cell), on May 12 2011 Microsoft has teamed up with HTC, Nokia and Sony Ericsson in Europe, filing a challenge seeking to invalidate Apple’s trademarks on the phrases “App Store” and “Appstore.”

Nov 11 2010: Motorola Mobility sued Microsoft with the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin alleging infringement of sixteen patents by Microsoft’s PC and Server software, Windows mobile software and Xbox products.

Motorola Mobility asked for the infringing devices to be barred from importation into the United States.

On Dec 21 2010, ITC has agreed to hear the complaint.


Looking Inside a Year of Android Malware

August 14, 2011 2 comments

As you will probably know my Birthday post for Android Malware has deserved a mention from Engadget and Wired. Easily predictable but not for me, the Engadget link has been flooded by comments posted by Android supporters and adversaries, with possible trolls’ infiltrations, up to the point that the editorial staff has decided to disable comments from the article. The effect has been so surprising that someone has also insinuated, among other things, that I have been paid to talk s**t on the Android.

Now let me get some rest from this August Italian Sun and let me try to explain why I decided to celebrate this strange malware birthday for the Android.

First of all I want to make a thing clear: I currently do own an Android Device, and convinced, where possible, all my relatives and friends to jump on the Android. Moreover I do consider the Google platform an inseparable companion for my professional and personal life.

So what’s wrong? If you scroll the malware list you may easily notice that the malware always require an explicit consent from the user, so at first glance the real risk is the extreme trust that users put in their mobile devices which are not considered “simple” phones (even if smart), but real extensions of their personal and professional life.

You might say that this happens also for traditional devices (such as laptops), but in case of mobile devices there is a huge social and cultural difference: users are not aware to bring on their pocket dual (very soon four) cores mini-PCs and are not used to apply the same attention deserved for their old world traditional devices. Their small display size also make these devices particularly vulnerable to phishing (consider for instance the malware Android.GGTracker).

If we focus on technology instead of culture (not limiting the landscape to mobile) it easy to verify that the activity of developing malware (which nowadays is essentially a cybercrime activity) is a trade off between different factors affecting the potential target which include, at least its level of diffusion and its value for the attacker (in a mobile scenario the value corresponds to the value of the information stored on the device). The intrinsic security model of the target is, at least in my opinion, a secondary factor since the effort to overtake it, is simply commensurate with the value of the potential plunder.

What does this mean in simple words? It means that Android devices are growing exponentially in terms of market shares and are increasingly being used also for business. As a consequence there is a greater audience for the attackers, a greater value for the information stored (belonging to the owner’s personal and professional sphere) and consequently the sum of these factors is inevitably attracting Cybercrooks towards this platform.

Have a look to the chart drawing Google OS Market share in the U.S. (ComScore Data) compared with the number of malware samples in this last year (Data pertaining Market Share for June and July are currently not available):

So far the impact of the threats is low, but what makes the Google Platform so prone to malware? For sure not vulnerabilities: everything with a line of code is vulnerable, and, at least for the moment, a recent study from Symantec has found only 18 vulnerabilities for Google OS against 300 found for iOS (please do no question on the different age of the two OSes I only want to show that vulnerabilities are common and in this context Android is comparable with its main competitor).

Going back to the initial question there are at least three factors which make Android different:

  1. The application permission model relies too heavily on the user,
  2. The security policy for the market has proven to be weak,
  3. The platform too easily allows to install applications from untrusted sources with the sideloading feature.

As far as the first point is concerned: some commenters correctly noticed that apps do not install themselves on their own, but need, at least for the first installation, the explicit user consent. Well I wonder: how many “casual users” in your opinion regularly check permissions during application installation? And, even worse, as far as business users are concerned, the likely targets of cybercrime who consider the device as a mere work tool: do you really think that business users check app permission during installation? Of course a serious organization should avoid the associated risks with a firm device management policy before considering a wide deployment of similar devices, most of all among CxOs; but unfortunately we live in an imperfect world and too much often fashion and trends are faster (and stronger) than Security Policies and also make the device to be used principally for other things than its business primary role, hugely increasing risks.

This point is a serious security concern, as a matter of fact many security vendors (in my opinion the security industry is in delay in this context) offer Device Management Solution aimed to complete the native Application Access Control model. Besides it is not a coincidence that some rumors claim that Google is going to modify (enhance) the app permission security process.

As far as the second point is concerned (Android Market security policy), after the DroidDream affair, (and the following fake security update), it is clear that the Android Market Publishing (and Security) model needs to be modified, making it more similar to the App Store. There are several proposals in this context, of course in this place is not my intention to question on them but only to stress that the issue is real.

Last but not least Sideloading is something that makes Android very different from other platforms (read Apple), Apple devices do not allow to install untrusted apps unless you do not Jailbreak the devices. Android simply needs the user to flag an option (By The Way many vendors are opening their Android devices to root or alternate ROMs, consider for instance LG which in Italy does not invalidate the Warranty for rooted devices) or HTC which, on May 27, stated they will no longer have been locking the bootloaders on their devices.

So definitively the three above factors (together with the growing market shares) make Android more appealing for malware developers and this is not due to an intrinsic weakness of the platform rather than a security platform model which is mainly driven by the user and not locked by Manufacturer as it happens in case of Cupertino.

One Year Of Android Malware (Full List)

August 11, 2011 30 comments

Update August 14: After the list (and the subsequent turmoil) here is the Look Inside a Year Of Android Malware.

So here it is the full list of Android Malware in a very dangerous year, since August, the 9th 2011 up-to-today.

My birthday gift for the Android is complete: exactly One year ago (9 August 2010) Kaspersky discovered the first SMS Trojan for Android in the Wild dubbed SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a. This is considered a special date for the Google Mobile OS, since, before then, Android Malware was a litte bit more than en exercise of Style, essentially focused on Spyware. After that everything changed, and mobile malware targeting the Android OS become more and more sophisticated.

Scroll down my special compilation showing the long malware trail which characterized this hard days for information security. Commenting the graph, in my opinion, probably the turning point was Android.Geinimi (end of 2010), featuring the characteristics of a primordial Botnet, but also Android.DroidDream (AKA RootCager) is worthwhile to mention because of its capability to root the phone and potentially to remotely install applications without direct user intervention.

As you will notice, the average impact is low, but, the number of malware is growing exponentially reaching a huge peak in July.

Let’s go in this mobile malware travel between botnets, sleepwalkers, biblic plagues and call Hijackers, and meanwhile do not forget to read my presentation on how to implement a secure mobile strategy.

Date Description Features Overall Risk
Aug 9 2010
SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a

First SMS Android Malware In the Wild: The malicious program penetrates Android devices in the guise of a harmless media player application. Once manually installed on the phone, the Trojan uses the system to begin sending SMSs to premium rate numbers without the owner’s knowledge or consent, resulting in money passing from a user’s account to that of the cybercriminals.

Aug 17 2010 AndroidOS_Droisnake.A

This is the first GPS Spy Malware disguised as an Android Snake game application. To the victim, Tap Snake looks like a clone of the Snake game. However, once someone installs this app on a phone, the “game” serves as a front for a spy app that proceeds to run in the background, secretly reporting GPS coordinates back to a server. The would-be spy then pays for and downloads an app called GPS Spy and enters an email address and code to gain access to the victim’s uploaded data.

Android MarketGPS Spy
Sep 14 2010 SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.b

Pornography lands on Android! This malware is a variant of SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.A. The malware poses as a pornographic application whose package name is pornoplayer.apk, and it installs on the phone with a pornographic icon. When the user launches the application, the malware does not show any adult content and, instead, sends 4 SMS messages to short codes, at the end-user’s expense.

Oct 13 2010
SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.c

Pornography back on Android! Third variant of the malware SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.A. New pornographic application, old icon. Sends 2 SMS messages to short codes, at the end-user’s expense.

Dec 29 2010
Android.Geinimi

First example of a Botnet-Like Malware on Android. “Grafted” onto repackaged versions of legitimate applications, primarily games, and distributed in third-party Chinese Android app markets. Once the malware is installed on a user’s phone, it has the potential to receive commands from a remote server that allow the owner of that server to control the phone. The specific information it collects includes location coordinates and unique identifiers for the device (IMEI) and SIM card (IMSI).

Botnet Like Features
Feb 14 2011
Android.Adrd AKA Android.HongTouTou

New Malware with Botnet-like Features from China. The trojan compromises personal data such as IMEI/IMSI of the device and sends them back to the remote side to react based on the commands from there. Similar to Android.Geinimi but with a lower profile (less commands)

Botnet Like Features
Feb 22 2011 Android.Pjapps

New Trojan horse embedded on third party applications. It opens a back door on the compromised device and retrieves commands from a remote command and control server.

Botnet Like Features
Mar 1 2011 Android.DroidDream AKA Android.Rootcager AKA AndroidOS_Lootoor.A

The first example of a new generation of Mobile Malware: distributed through the Official Android Market, affected, according to Symantec 50,000 to 200,000 users. Expoits two different tools (rageagainstthecage and exploid) to root the phone

Android MarketBotnet Like FeaturesRoot

Mar 9 2011 Android.BgServ AKA Troj/Bgserv-A AKA AndroidOS_BGSERV.A

Trojanized version of the Android Market Security tool released by Google, on March the 6th, to remove the effects of DroidDream. The trojan opens a back door and transmits information from the device to a remote location. It shows more than ever security and reputation flaws in the Android Market Proposition Model. 5,000 users affected.

Android MarketBotnet Like FeaturesRoot

Mar 20 2011 Android.Zeahache

Trojan horse that elevates privileges on the compromised device, discovered on a Chinese language app available for download on alternative Chinese app markets. The app has the ability to root an Android device (by mean of the exploid tool called by zHash binary), leaving the device vulnerable to future threats. The app, which provides calling plan management capabilities was found also on the Android Market albeit this version lacked the code to invoke the exploit.

Android MarketRoot

Mar 30 2011 Android.Walkinwat

Manually installed from non-official Android Markets, the Trojan modifies certain permissions on the compromised device that allow it to perform the following actions: Access contacts in the address book, ccess network information, access the phone in a read-only state, access the vibrator on the phone, Check the license server for the application, find the phone’s location, initiate a phone call without using the interface, open network sockets to access the Internet, read low-level log files, send SMS messages, turn the phone on and off. It gives a message to user trying to discipline users that download files illegally from unauthorized sites.

May 9 2011

Android.Adsms AKA AndroidOS_Adsms.A

This malware specifically targeted China Mobile subscribers. The malware arrived through a link sent through SMS. The said message tells the China Mobile users to install a patch for their supposedly vulnerable devices by accessing the given link, which actually leads to a malicious configuration file. The malware then send message to premium numbers.

Android Market

May 11 2011

Android.Zsone AKA Android.Smstibook

Google removed a Trojan, Zsone, from the Android Market with the ability to subscribe users in China to premium rate QQ codes via SMS without their knowledge. 10,000 users affected.

Android Market

May 22 2011

Android.Spacem

A biblical plague For Android! Trojanized version of a legitimate application that is part threat, part doomsayer. The threat was embedded in a pirated version of an app called ‘Holy ***king Bible’, which itself has stirred controversy on multiple forums in which the app is in circulation. The malware targeted North American Users. After the reboot, it starts a service whichm at regular intervals, attempts to contact a host service, passing along the device’s phone number and operator code. It then attempts to retrieve a command from a remote location in intervals of 33 minutes. In addition to having abilities to respond to commands through the Internet and SMS, the threat also has activities that are designed to trigger on the 21 and 22 of May 2011, respectively (The End of The World).

Android Market

Botnet Like Features

May 31 2011

Android.LightDD

A brand new version of Android.DroidDream, dubbed DroidDreamLight, was found in 24 additional apps repackaged and redistributed with the malicious payload across a total of 5 different developers distributed in the Android Market. Between 30.000 and 120.000 users affected.

Android Market

Botnet Like Features

Jun 6 2011

Android/DroidKungFu.A AKA Android.Gunfu

Malware which uses the same exploit than DroidDream, rageagainstthecage, to gain root privilege and install the main malware component. Once installed, the malware has backdoor capabilities and is able to: execute command to delete a supplied file, execute a command to open a supplied homepage, download and install a supplied APK, open a supplied URL, run or start a supplied application package. The malware is moreover capable to obtain some information concerning the device and send them to a remote server: The collected information include: IMEI number, Build version release, SDK version, users’ mobile number, Phone model, Network Operator, Type of Net Connectivity, SD card available memory, Phone available memory. In few words, the device is turned into a member of a botnet.

Root

Botnet Like Features

Jun 9 2011

Android.Basebridge

Trojan Horse that attempts to send premium-rate SMS messages to predetermined numbers. When an infected application is installed, it attempts to exploit the udev Netlink Message Validation Local Privilege Escalation Vulnerability (BID 34536) in order to obtain “root” privileges.  Once running with “root” privileges it installs an executable which contains functionality to communicate with a control server using HTTP protocol and sends information such as Subscriber ID, Manufacturer and Model of the device, Version of the Android operating system. The Trojan also periodically connects to the control server and may perform the following actions: send SMS messages, remove SMS messages from the Inbox and dial phone numbers. The Trojan also contains functionality to monitor phone usage.

Botnet Like Features

Jun 9 2011

Android.Uxipp AKA Android/YZHCSMS.A

Trojan Horse that attempts to send premium-rate SMS messages to predetermined numbers. Again the threat is as an application for a Chinese gaming community. When executed, the Trojan attempts to send premium-rate SMS messages to several numbers and remove the SMS sent.
The Trojan sends device information, such as IMEI and IMSI numbers.

Android Market

Jun 10 2011

Andr/Plankton-A AKA Android.Tonclank 

This is a Trojan horse which steals information and may open a back door on Android devices. Available for download in the Android Market embedded in several applications, when the Trojan is executed, it steals the following information from the device: Device ID and Device permissions. The above information is then sent to a remote server from which  the Trojan downloads a .jar file which opens a back door and accepts commands to perform the following actions on the compromised device: copies all of the bookmarks on the device, copies all of the history on the device, copies all of the shortcuts on the device, creates a log of all of the activities performed on the device, modifies the browser’s home page, returns the status of the last executed command. The gathered information is then sent to a remote location.

Although this malware does not root the phone, its approach of loading additional code does not allow security software on Android to inspect the downloaded file in the usual “on-access” fashion, but only through scheduled and “on-demand” scans. This is the reason why the malware was not discovered before.

Android Market

Botnet Like Features

Jun 15 2011

Android.Jsmshider

Trojan found in alternative Android markets that predominately target Chinese Android users. This Trojan predominantly affects devices with a custom ROM. The application masquerades as a legitimate one and exploits a vulnerability found in the way most custom ROMs sign their system images to install a secondary payload (without user permission) onto the ROM, giving it the ability to communicate with a remote server and receive commands. Once installed the second payload may read, send and process incoming SMS messages (potentially for mTAN interception or fraudulent premium billing subscriptions), install apps trasparently, communicate with a remote server using DES encryption.

Botnet Like Features

Jun 20 2011

Android.GGTracker

This trojan is automatically downloaded to a user’s phone after visiting a malicious webpage that imitates the Android Market. The Trojan, which targets users in the United States by interacting with a number of premium SMS subscription services without consent, is able to sign-up a victim to a number of premium SMS subscription services without the user’s consent.  This can lead to unapproved charges to a victim’s phone bill. Android users are directed to install this Trojan after clicking on a malicious in-app advertisement, for instance a Fake Battery Saver.

Jul 1 2011

Android.KungFu Variants

Repackaged and distributed in the form of “legitimate” applications, these two variants are different from the original one by  re-implementing some of their malicious functionalities in native code and supporting two additional command and control (C&C) domains. The changes are possibly in place to make their detection and analysis harder.

The repackaged apps infected with the DroidKungFu variants are made available through a number of alternative app markets and forums targeting Chinese-speaking users.

RootBotnet Like Features
Jul 3 2011 AndroidOS_Crusewin.A AKA Android.Crusewind

Another example of a trojan which sends SMS to premium rate numbers. It also acts as a SMS Relay. It displays a standard Flash icon in the application list. The Trojan attempts to download an XML configuration file and uses it to retrieve a list of further URLs to send and receive additional data. The Trojan also contains functionality to perform the following actions: delete itself, delete SMS messages, send premium-rate SMS messages to the number that is specified in the downloaded XML configuration file, update itself.

Jul 6 2011

AndroidOS_SpyGold.A AKA Android.GoldDream

This backdoor is a Trojanized copy of a legitimate gaming application for Android OS smartphones. It steals sensitive information of the affected phone’s SMS and calls functions, compromising the security of the device and of the user. It monitors the affected phone’s SMS and phone calls and sends stolen information to a remote URL. It also connects to a malicious URL in order to receive commands from a remote malicious user.

Botnet Like Features

Jul 8 2011 DroidDream Light Variant

New variant of DroidDream Light in the Android Market, immediately removed by Google. Number of downloads was limited to 1000 – 5000. This is the third iteration of malware likely created by the authors of DroidDream.

Android Market

Botnet Like Features

Jul 11 2011

Android.Smssniffer AKA Andr/SMSRep-B/C AKA Android.Trojan.SmsSpy.B/C AKA Trojan-Spy.AndroidOS.Smser.a


ZiTMO arrives on Android!
This threat is found bundled with repackaged versions of legitimate applications. When the Trojan is executed, it grabs a copy of all SMS messages received on the handheld device and sends them to a remote location.

Jul 12 2011

Android.HippoSMS AKA Android.Hippo

Another threat found bundled with repackaged versions of legitimate applications. When the Trojan is executed, it grabs a copy of all SMS messages received on the handheld device and sends them to a remote location.

Jul 15 2011

Android.Fokonge

This threat is often found bundled with repackaged versions of legitimate applications. The repackaged applications are typically found on unofficial websites offering Android applications. When the Trojan is executed, it steals information and sends it to a remote server.

Botnet Like Features

Jul 15 2011

Android/Sndapps.A AKA Android.Snadapps

Five Android Apps found in the official Android Market share a common suspicious payload which upload users’ personal information such as email accounts as well as phone numbers to a remote server without user’s awareness.

Android Market

Botnet Like Features

Jul 27 2011

Android.Nickispy

Trojan horse which steals several information from Android devices (for instance GPS Location or Wi-Fi position). For the first time on the Android Platform a malware is believed  to spy conversations.

Botnet Like Features

Jul 28 2011

Android.Lovetrap

Trojan horse that sends SMS messages to premium-rate phone number. When the Trojan is executed, it retrieves information containing premium-rate phone numbers from a malicious URL then sends premium-rate SMS messages. and attempts to block any confirmation SMS messages the compromised device may receive from the premium-rate number in an attempt to mask its activities. The Trojan also attempts to gather IMSI and location information and send the information to the remote attacker.

Aug2 2011

Android.Premiumtext

This is a detection for Trojan horses that send SMS texts to premium-rate numbers. These Trojan is a repackaged versions of genuine Android software packages, often distributed outside the Android Marketplace. The package name, publisher, and other details will vary and may be taken directly from the original application..

Aug 9 2011

Android.NickiBot

It belongs to the same NickiSpy family. However, it is significantly different from its predecessor since it is fully controlled by SMS messages instead of relying on a hard-coded C&C server for instructions. In addition, NickiBot supports a range of bot commands, such as for (GPS-based) location monitoring, sound recording and (email-based) uploading, calllog collection, etc. It also has a check-in mechanism to a remote website. his threat is often found bundled with repackaged versions of legitimate applications. The repackaged applications are typically found on unofficial websites offering Android applications. When the Trojan is executed, it steals information and sends it to a remote server.

Botnet Like Features

Legend

Parallel Market

Android MarketAndroid Market

Manual Install

Automatic Install of Apps

Send SMS or Calls to Premium Numbers

Botnet Like Features Server C&C

GPS SpyGPS Spyware

Root Root Access

Happy Birthday! One Year of Android Malware

August 9, 2011 2 comments

Exactly One year ago (9 August 2010) Kaspersky discovered the first SMS Trojan for Android in the Wild dubbed SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a. This is considered a special date for the Google Mobile OS, since, before then, Android Malware was a litte bit more than en exercise of Style, essentially focused on Spyware. After that everything changed, and mobile malware targeting the Android OS become more and more sophisticated.

For this reason I decided to prepare a special birthday gift for the Android, that is a special compilation showing the long malware trail which characterized this day. Commenting the graph, in my opinion, probably the turning point was Android.Geinimi (end of 2010), featuring the characteristics of a primordial Botnet, but also Android.DroidDream (AKA RootCager) is worthwhile to mention because of its capability to root the phone and potentially to remotely install applications without direct user intervention. Moreover, as you will have probably noticed, the average impact is low, but, the number of malware is growing exponentially after June, this is the reason why I decided to divide my special compilation in two parts. Today is part I: from the beginning to May, the 31st 2011.

Let’s go in this mobile malware travel between botnets, sleepwalkers and biblic plagues and meanwhile do not forget to read my presentation on how to implement a secure mobile strategy.

Date Description Features Overall Risk
Aug 9 2010
SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.a

First SMS Android Malware In the Wild: The malicious program penetrates Android devices in the guise of a harmless media player application. Once manually installed on the phone, the Trojan uses the system to begin sending SMSs to premium rate numbers without the owner’s knowledge or consent, resulting in money passing from a user’s account to that of the cybercriminals.

Aug 17 2010 AndroidOS_Droisnake.A

This is the first GPS Spy Malware disguised as an Android Snake game application. To the victim, Tap Snake looks like a clone of the Snake game. However, once someone installs this app on a phone, the “game” serves as a front for a spy app that proceeds to run in the background, secretly reporting GPS coordinates back to a server. The would-be spy then pays for and downloads an app called GPS Spy and enters an email address and code to gain access to the victim’s uploaded data.

Android MarketGPS Spy
Sep 14 2010 SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.b

Pornography lands on Android! This malware is a variant of SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.A. The malware poses as a pornographic application whose package name is pornoplayer.apk, and it installs on the phone with a pornographic icon. When the user launches the application, the malware does not show any adult content and, instead, sends 4 SMS messages to short codes, at the end-user’s expense.

Oct 13 2010
SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.c

Pornography back on Android! Third variant of the malware SMS.AndroidOS.FakePlayer.A. New pornographic application, old icon. Sends 2 SMS messages to short codes, at the end-user’s expense.

Dec 29 2010
Android.Geinimi

First example of a Botnet-Like Malware on Android. “Grafted” onto repackaged versions of legitimate applications, primarily games, and distributed in third-party Chinese Android app markets. Once the malware is installed on a user’s phone, it has the potential to receive commands from a remote server that allow the owner of that server to control the phone. The specific information it collects includes location coordinates and unique identifiers for the device (IMEI) and SIM card (IMSI).

Botnet Like Features
Feb 14 2011
Android.Adrd AKA Android.HongTouTou

New Malware with Botnet-like Features from China. The trojan compromises personal data such as IMEI/IMSI of the device and sends them back to the remote side to react  based on the commands from there. Similar to Android.Geinimi but with a lower profile (less commands)

Botnet Like Features
Feb 22 2011 Android.Pjapps

New Trojan horse embedded on third party applications. It opens a back door on the compromised device and retrieves commands from a remote command and control server.

Botnet Like Features
Mar 1 2011 Android.DroidDream AKA Android.Rootcager AKA AndroidOS_Lootoor.A

The first example of a new generation of Mobile Malware: distributed through the Official Android Market, affected, according to Symantec 50,000 to 200,000 users. Expoits two different tools  (rageagainstthecage and exploid) to root the phone

Android MarketBotnet Like FeaturesRoot

Mar 9 2011 Android.BgServ AKA Troj/Bgserv-A AKA AndroidOS_BGSERV.A

Trojanized version of the Android Market Security tool released by Google, on March the 6th, to remove the effects of DroidDream. The trojan opens a back door and transmits information from the device to a remote location. It shows more than ever security and reputation flaws in the Android Market Proposition Model. 5,000 users affected.

Android MarketBotnet Like FeaturesRoot

Mar 20 2011 Android.Zeahache

Trojan horse that elevates privileges on the compromised device, discovered on a Chinese language app available for download on alternative Chinese app markets. The app has the ability to root an Android device (by mean of the exploid tool called by zHash binary), leaving the device vulnerable to future threats. The app, which provides calling plan management capabilities was found also on the Android Market albeit this version lacked the code to invoke the exploit.

Android MarketRoot

Mar 30 2011 Android.Walkinwat

Manually installed from non-official Android Markets, the Trojan modifies certain permissions on the compromised device that allow it to perform the following actions: Access contacts in the address book, ccess network information, access the phone in a read-only state, access the vibrator on the phone, Check the license server for the application, find the phone’s location, initiate a phone call without using the interface, open network sockets to access the Internet, read low-level log files, send SMS messages, turn the phone on and off. It gives a message to user  trying to discipline users that download files illegally from unauthorized sites.

May 9 2011

Android.Adsms AKA AndroidOS_Adsms.A

This malware specifically targeted China Mobile subscribers. The malware arrived through a link sent through SMS. The said message tells the China Mobile users to install a patch for their supposedly vulnerable devices by accessing the given link, which actually leads to a malicious configuration file. The malware then send message to premium numbers.

Android Market

May 11 2011

Android.Zsone AKA Android.Smstibook

Google removed a Trojan, Zsone, from the Android Market with the ability to subscribe users in China to premium rate QQ codes via SMS without their knowledge. 10,000 users affected.

Android Market

May 22 2011

Android.Spacem

A biblical plague For Android! Trojanized version of a legitimate application that is part threat, part doomsayer. The threat was embedded in a pirated version of an app called ‘Holy ***king Bible’, which itself has stirred controversy on multiple forums in which the app is in circulation. The malware targeted North American Users. After the reboot, it starts a service whichm at regular intervals, attempts to contact a host service, passing along the device’s phone number and operator code. It then attempts to retrieve a command from a remote location in intervals of 33 minutes. In addition to having abilities to respond to commands through the Internet and SMS, the threat also has activities that are designed to trigger on the 21 and 22 of May 2011, respectively (The End of The World).

Android Market

Botnet Like Features

May 31 2011

Android.LightDD

A brand new version of Android.DroidDream, dubbed DroidDreamLight, was found in 24 additional apps repackaged and redistributed with the malicious payload across a total of 5 different developers distributed in the Android Market. Between 30.000 and 120.000 users affected.

Android Market

Botnet Like Features

Legend

Parallel Market

Android MarketAndroid Market

Manual Install

Automatic Install of Apps

Send SMS or Calls to Premium Numbers

Botnet Like Features Server C&C

GPS SpyGPS Spyware

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