Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Security holes in smartphone apps

Date:
April 17, 2013
Source:
University of California Davis (UCD)
Summary:
Popular texting, messaging and microblog apps developed for the Android smartphone have security flaws that could expose private information or allow forged fraudulent messages to be posted, according to researchers.

Popular texting, messaging and microblog apps developed for the Android smartphone have security flaws that could expose private information or allow forged fraudulent messages to be posted, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Related Articles


Zhendong Su, professor of computer science, said that his team has notified the app developers of the problems, although it has not yet had a response.

The security flaws were identified by graduate student Dennis (Liang) Xu, who collected about 120,000 free apps from the Android marketplace. The researchers focused initially on the Android platform, which has about a half-billion users worldwide. Android is quite different from Apple's iOS platform, but there may well be similar problems with iPhone apps, Xu said.

The victim would first have to download a piece of malicious code onto their phone. This could be disguised as or hidden in a useful app, or attached to a "phishing" e-mail or Web link. The malicious code would then invade the vulnerable programs.

The programs were left vulnerable because their developers inadvertently left parts of the code public that should have been locked up, Xu said.

"It's a developer error," Xu said. "This code was intended to be private but they left it public."

Su and Xu, with UC Davis graduate student Fangqi Sun and visiting scholar Linfeng Liu, Xi'an Jiatong University, China, found that many of the apps they surveyed had potential vulnerabilities. They looked closely at a handful of major applications that turned out to have serious security flaws.

Handcent SMS, for example, is a popular text-messaging app that allows users to place some text messages in a private, password-protected inbox. Xu found that it is possible for an attacker to access and read personal information from the app, including "private" messages.

WeChat is an instant messaging service popular in China and similar to the Yahoo and AOL instant messengers. The service normally runs in the background on a user's phone and sends notifications when messages are received. Xu discovered a way for malicious code to turn off the WeChat background service, so a user would think the service is still working when it is not.

Weibo is a hugely popular microblog service that has been described as the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. But its Android client is vulnerable, and it is possible for malicious code to forge and post fraudulent messages, Xu said.

The researchers have submitted a paper on the work to the Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity (SPLASH) 2013 conference to be held in Indianapolis this October.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California Davis (UCD). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California Davis (UCD). "Security holes in smartphone apps." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417091917.htm>.
University of California Davis (UCD). (2013, April 17). Security holes in smartphone apps. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417091917.htm
University of California Davis (UCD). "Security holes in smartphone apps." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130417091917.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

'Brand Blocker' Glasses Blur Ads in Real Time

Buzz60 (Jan. 28, 2015) A team of college students design and build a pair of goggles that will obscure any corporate branding from your field of vision. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
iPhone Sales Give Apple Record Quarter

iPhone Sales Give Apple Record Quarter

AP (Jan. 28, 2015) Apple says staggering consumer demand for new iPhones has helped the company report record-smashing earnings for its latest quarter and primed its stock for a rally. (Jan. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Fiber Pressures Incumbent ISPs With Latest Expansion

Google Fiber Pressures Incumbent ISPs With Latest Expansion

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Google’s newly announced Fiber cities put it in closer competition with the likes of AT&T and Time Warner Cable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google High-Speed Service Coming to 4 Cities

Google High-Speed Service Coming to 4 Cities

AP (Jan. 28, 2015) Google is expanding its fiber-optic high-speed internet service to four cities in the Southeastern US. The company selected Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh and Nashville and their surrounding communities. (Jan. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins