Risk

6/24/2010
12:06 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Remotely Deletes Two Apps From Android Phones

The security researcher who created the apps had misrepresented what the apps did, Google says.

Demonstrating that its approach to mobile security isn't as far from Apple's as some suggest, Google on Wednesday said that it had exercised its ability to delete two apps from Android users' phones.

In a blog post, Android security lead Rich Cannings said that Google had recently become aware that two apps in the Android Market did not fully disclose their function.




Image Gallery: Top 10 Google Videos
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)

"These applications intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET," explained Cannings.

"permission.INTERNET" is an Android programming setting that allows applications to open a network socket to communicate over the Internet.

Cannings said that because the applications were essentially useless, most users uninstalled them after discovering they didn't do anything.

The security researcher who created the apps voluntarily removed them from the Android Market and Google decided to remove copies of the apps that remained on Android phones.

"The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications," explains Cannings. "In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users."

A Google spokesperson said that a few hundred Android phone users were affected.

Remote deletion of apps or content from users' devices without specific permission doesn't always go over well. Last year, Amazon decided to delete copies of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "1984" from Kindle devices because it discovered it did not have permission to sell the versions in question. Community outrage and a lawsuit followed.

Last year, Google told the FCC that it removes about 1% of apps submitted to the the Android Market for failure to comply with rules.

Cannings concludes by noting that Android's varied security mechanisms -- remote deletion, sandboxing and permissions, over-the-air updating, a central Market, developer registration requirements, and user-submitted ratings and flagging -- collectively help make Android's open environment secure.

Cannings' post arrived the same day as a report that questioned the security of the Android ecosystem.

Google in turn challenged the report's conclusions, and CNET decided to amend an article on the report that failed to sufficiently question the report's findings about alleged Android insecurity.

Update: Added Google spokesperson's comment about affected users.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
BlueBorne Attack Highlights Flaws in Linux, IoT Security
Kelly Sheridan, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  12/14/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2017
A look at the biggest news stories (so far) of 2017 that shaped the cybersecurity landscape -- from Russian hacking, ransomware's coming-out party, and voting machine vulnerabilities to the massive data breach of credit-monitoring firm Equifax.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.