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Home / Technology / Why tens of thousands of Android users in the UAE have been the victims of malicious malware

Why tens of thousands of Android users in the UAE have been the victims of malicious malware



Some apps may have evil intentions and be masters of camouflage at the same time. Mobonogram, which was available for download earlier this year, described itself as an overloaded version of the telegram messaging app with "more features than other unofficial versions".

In the first six months of 2019, it was downloaded at more than 100,000 Android devices, – most of them in the United Arab Emirates and Iran – but the app has much more than advertised. Users found that their phones became sluggish as a code in the app called malicious websites and displayed ads with bogus offers as a virus published in Symantec Research this month. But mobonogram is just one example of PHAs or potentially harmful apps that are widely used in the Android ecosystem. The manufacturers of PHAs are criminals; Those of us who download are the unfortunate victims.

There is a minefield out there: beware of the viruses.

A two-year study, recently published by the University of Sydney, attempts to quantify the extent of the problem. With a sample of approximately 50,000 apps disguised as other popular apps, the researchers found that 2,040 contained malware, 1

,565 potentially compromised security issues, and a further 1,407 suspiciously large numbers of ads. That's over 5,000, about 10 percent of the set. "A number of problematic apps have slipped through the cracks and evaded automated verification procedures," said Dr. Suranga Seneviratne, co-author of the study.

For many users, their smartphone is online almost all day, never turned off. And once a smartphone is infected, malware can access more sensitive personal information than it can on a PC.

Lukas Stefanko, researcher of the cybersecurity company Eset

The dangers of malware on computers have been known for many years According to Luke a researcher of the cybersecurity company Eset holds this newer type of Smartphone malware additional risks. "For many users, their smartphone is online most of the day, never turned off," he says. "And once a smartphone gets infected, malware can access more sensitive personal information than it can on a PC." used by PHAs. Many of them are started without warning each time the phone or tablet is started. Apps like Mobonogram search a list of malicious websites while others collect usernames and passwords or display an inexorable series of ads to earn revenue. Some apps track your money directly. Over the past two months, there have been a number of Android apps that served as digital wallets or trading platforms to steal cryptocurrencies and empty accounts once passwords have been provided. Last year, Indian smartphone users came across a variety of malicious apps, posing as banking services, asking for PINs, passwords, or credit card details to search the accounts of anyone they'd inadvertently downloaded.

Apple may be safer than Android When it comes to malware

You might hope these apps get blocked before they ever hit our devices. However, Apple only has the carefully reviewed apps installed on its App Store. download from other sources after a first warning . One of them is 9apps (owned by Chinese technology giant Alibaba), which is hosting malware-infected apps earlier this month that will replace other apps on your device with fake versions that look identical when you download them. Google Play is currently trying to remove PHAs whose malware is hidden in encrypted code or whose activation is scheduled long after installation. "Android has a bigger market share than iOS and therefore becomes more attractive to the bad guys," says S Tefanko. "But it's also an open platform that always offers the ability to load apps from unknown sources."

How can we prevent our technology from becoming infected? Apple is by no means immune. Late last year, an unauthorized app for setting up Amazon's Echo Smart speaker was in the top 10 utilities. It was later discovered that she was collecting an alarming amount of personal information. However, both Apple and Google are seeking a first line of defense against PHAs, and the latter is particularly interested in convincing us of their commitment to security. Launched in 2017 and integrated with Google Play in every device, Google Play Protect scans more than 50 billion apps per day on 2 billion devices, scans for and removes malware. However, the sheer size of the platform means that the threats are inexorable. About 165 billion Android apps were installed in 2018. According to Google's figures, only 0.042 percent of the installed were PHAs, which multiplies to an impressive 70 million installations.

So how can we prevent our technology from becoming infected?

Given the nature of the It is up to us to set up a vigilant second line of defense . The first step, S Tefanko says, is not to download Android apps from outside of Google Play. " Installing software from various sources is a bad habit many Android users experience with Windows PCs," he says. "If someone decides to install a third-party app after being warned about it, they can not blame it on Android." Fake apps use identical icons as the app they imitate. Others position themselves in search results for terms such as "How do I update my phone?" To take advantage of people unfamiliar with technology. Some apps are suffering from human impatience, possibly because we can not wait for a game to be published, or, in the case of Mobonogram in the United Arab Emirates, because an app is not available in our area. "Most of these attacks are based on false promises," says S Tefanko. "Unfortunately we can not always tell if the app is harmless or not." The best advice from experts is to keep the system software up to date, not download apps from unknown locations, and just be aware that these threats are very are real.

Updated: July 28, 2019 at 19:32


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