Mobile
11/29/2013
08:06 AM

Android Security: 8 Signs Hackers Own Your Smartphone

Security experts share tips on how to tell if attackers are in control of your Android smartphone.
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Image (derived) courtesy of Flickr user espensorvik. 


Odd charges on cellphone statements 

Not all malware will linger after infecting devices, especially if it has a financial bent. 'Some of the malware is opportunistic, and the installer is basically a wrapper for free Angry Birds,' said Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure Labs, via email. 'The installer has you submit to a EULA that says you will subscribe to an SMS subscription, then it installs the free version of Angry Birds that you can download for free.'  

What users may end up with, of course, is not just the free version of Angry Birds, but also a financial hit in the form of SMS messages sent to premium numbers and billed to their account. These SMS scams are much more prevalent in China and Eastern Europe than in the United States, where Android users are more likely to encounter Trojan apps or fraud attempts based on social engineering, rather than texts to premium SMS numbers.  

If consumers spot strange charges, their best strategy is to give their operator a call and say, 'Can you please tell me what these charges are?'' said Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at mobile security firm Lookout, speaking by phone. Likewise, don't be afraid to call your bank if you think you may have been exposed to a banking Trojan.
Image (derived) courtesy of Flickr user espensorvik.

Odd charges on cellphone statements
Not all malware will linger after infecting devices, especially if it has a financial bent. "Some of the malware is opportunistic, and the installer is basically a wrapper for free Angry Birds," said Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure Labs, via email. "The installer has you submit to a EULA that says you will subscribe to an SMS subscription, then it installs the free version of Angry Birds that you can download for free."

What users may end up with, of course, is not just the free version of Angry Birds, but also a financial hit in the form of SMS messages sent to premium numbers and billed to their account. These SMS scams are much more prevalent in China and Eastern Europe than in the United States, where Android users are more likely to encounter Trojan apps or fraud attempts based on social engineering, rather than texts to premium SMS numbers.

If consumers spot strange charges, their best strategy is to give their operator a call and say, 'Can you please tell me what these charges are?'" said Marc Rogers, principal security researcher at mobile security firm Lookout, speaking by phone. Likewise, don't be afraid to call your bank if you think you may have been exposed to a banking Trojan.

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deviclock
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deviclock,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2014 | 9:16:44 AM
Re: More security tips for the Smartphones.
 Android security is vulnerable and is easily hacked by users of the Smartphone or IT specialists. Other apps have to be downloaded to protect your data against hacking. 

my device lock
FreeTipss
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FreeTipss,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2014 | 7:44:11 PM
More security tips for the Smartphones.
That's cool. You might want to check these 10 important Smartphone security Tips too.

http://freetipss.com/smartphone-security-tips-10-useful-tips/
RoopaL731
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50%
RoopaL731,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/25/2014 | 6:40:19 AM
secure android mobiles
this app http://hangoverstudios.com/mobileantitheft/  which helps you find lost phone's location and picture of thief.
mrhobbes
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mrhobbes,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 9:21:59 AM
Android Security needs to be increased
Nice article on Android Security, Mathew, Great work.

 

Android is more prone to malware impacts due to Google's loose developer agreement, you can check it on my blog post regarding the same topic http://goo.gl/LyLHse you can of course, give your opinion regarding the same.  If Google increases there security measure, then surely a lot of malware and PAU's can be avoided.
anon9673719294
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50%
anon9673719294,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2014 | 2:37:51 AM
Interesting
I recently found a useful app in Amazon that not required any unnecessary permissions and store all your passwords - MyPasswords
pnally
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pnally,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2013 | 11:52:21 AM
I'm only seeing 7 "signs"
I'm only seeing 7 "signs" listed in the article...  Was it hacked?  ;)
anon6601743669
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100%
anon6601743669,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2013 | 9:10:33 PM
Re: MISCONCEPTION
Jailbreaking is an iOS term because Apple keeps iSheep in jail as it where with the locking down of the OS.  Rooting on the Android side is from the Linux world, which basically means you gain root access of the OS.
WayneT637
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50%
WayneT637,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2013 | 12:47:36 AM
The Benefits of Rooting-
The first benefit of accessing administrator privileges over Android is full control over the applications installed on your handset. No longer do you have to suffer from the cluttered app drawers and reduced memory space taken up by pre-installed carrier and manufacturer applications, you can instantly cut the bloatware and keep only the apps that you really want.

Even if you're up to date with Android 4.1 or above, which grants users the ability to disable these pre-installed apps if you don't want to see or use them, you can't permanently remove them, they're still there eating up your memory space. Rooting is the only way to permanently get rid of these pesky apps, but please don't uninstall something crucial or your handset may stop working properly. Apps like Titanium Backup are particularly helpful for organising and culling this bloatware.

 

This brings me nicely on to the next major benefit of Android, improved backup and restore options. As already mentioned, Titanium Backup is one of the most popular backup apps used by rooters, and this, or a similar app, is essential if you're going to start tinkering around with Android software. But as well as acting as a safety net in case you uninstall something important, Titanium Backup can also be used to backup your user data, from SMS messages to browser bookmarks.

ClockworkMod Recovery Backup Cropped
ClockworkMod Recovery offers superior protection against faulty updates and bricking your handset.
Even better still, once rooted you can create complete backups of your entire handset using the ClockworkMod Recovery option, providing you with extra protecting in case of a major malfunction. Recovery can only be accessed before booting into Android, but it provides additional backup options in case, for whatever reason, Android fails to boot properly or experiences a crippling error. This makes ClockworkMod Recovery an essential tool for those looking to install custom versions of Android.

Once you're fully backed up you're ready to move up to one of the other major perks of rooting, installing different versions of Android.

We all know that manufacturers are often pretty slow at delivering the latest Android offerings even to their flagship handsets, let alone aging devices. So if you're not a Nexus or Play Edition device owner, rooting opens the door to much faster Android updates, thanks to the developers who put time into porting the latest updates to various handsets.

Pretty much every semi-popular handset has a decent following of developers working on porting the latest versions of Android to their handsets, most of which can be found over on the XDA Forum. The only sacrifice here is that you won't receive official manufacturer versions of Android, so no updated Touchwizz or Sense5 features, but if we were really too worried about that we probably wouldn't be rooting in the first place.

 

If stock Android isn't your thing, there are also tons of other customized ROMs offering unique features and improvements to the default Android experience.

AOSP has given us so many custom ROM's, and has extended the lifespan of many an Android.
AOSP has given us so many custom ROM's, and has extended the lifespan of many an Android handset.
I'm sure you've all heard of the biggest names, CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android, MIUI to name just a few of the most popular ones. Many custom ROMs are actually at the forefront of innovation on Android, offering several features that aren't available anywhere else. Paranoid Android's Halo feature or OmniROM's multi-workspace mode are just a couple of examples.

But as well as these big third party developments, you'll also find a lot of smaller developers tweaking away at the core Android experience, offering ROMs with vastly superior battery life or overclocked processor speeds. Not to mention that most custom ROMs are updated to the latest version of Android very quickly too, bringing you the best of both worlds.

As rooting opens up administrator type privileges on your handset you'll instantly have access to all the core files on your handset. File browser apps can take full advantage of this, allowing you to move stuff around on your internal memory if so require.

App wise, we've already touched on Titanium Backup, but there are far more apps that can make use of root permissions, and simply aren't available with a non-rooted device. The speed junkies among you could take advantage of overclocking software to boost performance or save on battery life, providing that your Kernel supports overclocking. Alternatively, fans of custom ROMs can use a ROM manager to install and update their operating system without the need to flash zip files from Recovery.

Rooting is sometimes criticized for compromising handset security, but security apps, such as Cerberus, use root functions to bury themselves deep down into the operating system, making them hard for would be thieves to remove. These apps can also be granted permissions that aren't available on unrooted devices, such as access to GPS data even when the device is locked.

There's also additional gesture apps, data syncing software, and even theme managers to customize the look of your handset.
sjennison
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50%
sjennison,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 8:19:59 PM
Re: MISCONCEPTION
Agreed. In fact, custom ROMs are generally more secure, due to constant updates(nightly, weekly, or monthly, depending on the developer). That is assuming, of course, your ROM dev is fast on their updates.

In fact, the major "master key" exploit, which is one of the biggest security holes, was patched by Cyanogenmod long before the vast majority of manufacturers got around to fixing it.

http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/07/cyanogenmod-10-1-2-fixes-android-master-key-exploit/

Also, generally rooting allows you to do things like fix the security holes in the system. Rooting installs a root control app (Superuser/SuperSu, etc) that restricts access to only apps the user allows. While the device can still be comprimised using privledge escalation vulnerabilities just like any other device, rooting will not make your device insecure. The very fact that a device can be rooted using exploits means it is inheirently insecure due to those same exploits. A malicious piece of software could exploit them just as easily. Rooting doesn't change that, unless you go deeper and actually fix the hole (assuming you can). Hence where custom ROMs come in - when a vulnerability is found, they release patches in less than a month. The only other OEM who comes close to that speed is Google. Nearly every other manufacturer takes months if not years to push an update through to end users.
krishel67801
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0%
krishel67801,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2013 | 2:47:00 PM
google aps
Google Play Store is malware in itself.  I have numerous aps that require play store services to be activated.  Play store then accesses your phone whenever it wants to.  Also play store will not allow aps that block advertising to be obtained thrrough them.  Another good reason for rooting your phone.  Take control away from google.
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