Vulnerabilities / Threats
01:20 PM

Spyware Hidden In Android Snake Tap Game

Free app is paired with GPS Spy, software that monitors a targeted device's location.

Spyware Hidden In Android Snake Tap Game
(click image for larger view)
Spyware Hidden In Android Snake Tap Game
At first glance, the Android Market game Tap Snake appears to be a free, touchscreen clone of the popular "snake" computer game that dates from the 1970s -- and it is. But that's not all.

"It turns out to be a client for a commercial spying application called GPS Spy," according to Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

One giveaway that Tap Snake isn't just a game is that it accesses GPS services. Another is that even if a user attempts to disable the game, it still runs in the background.

According to the developer's description, tracking a phone with GPS Spy requires installing Tap Snake on the target phone and registering an e-mail address in the application, which generates a unique code. Input this code and the related e-mail into GPS Spy, and you can see a trace of the target phone's location for 24 hours, in 15-minute increments.

That's because every 15 minutes, Snake Tap will transmit its location "to an application running on Google's free App Engine service," according to Symantec's Security Response blog. "The silver lining here is that for the application to really be used maliciously, an attacker would need to have access to the phone to install the program."

Alternately, an attacker could trick someone into installing the program as well as accepting the application's requests to use specific APIs. "This would probably require a dash of social engineering as well -- something like 'Hey, let me show you this cool game,'" said Symantec. "Think cheating spouses or keeping tabs on children."

Of course, plenty of applications already provide such functionality, and clearly disclose what they do. In contrast, Snake Tap does not, which is why it's earning a "Trojan application" classification from antivirus providers.

"We expect Google to remove Tap Snake from Android Market soon," said F-Secure's Hypponen. It remains to be seen, however, whether Google might also trigger an Android-wide remote application removal.

Comment  | 
Email This  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
All Videos
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest September 7, 2015
Some security flaws go beyond simple app vulnerabilities. Have you checked for these?
Back Issues | Must Reads
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-02
Buffer overflow in Canary Labs Trend Web Server before 9.5.2 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted TCP packet.

Published: 2015-10-02
Cisco NX-OS 6.0(2)U6(0.46) on N3K devices allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (temporary SNMP outage) via an SNMP request for an OID that does not exist, aka Bug ID CSCuw36684.

Published: 2015-10-02
Cisco Email Security Appliance (ESA) 8.5.6-106 and 9.6.0-042 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (file-descriptor consumption and device reload) via crafted HTTP requests, aka Bug ID CSCuw32211.

Published: 2015-10-01
lxc-start in lxc before 1.0.8 and 1.1.x before 1.1.4 allows local container administrators to escape AppArmor confinement via a symlink attack on a (1) mount target or (2) bind mount source.

Published: 2015-10-01
kernel_crashdump in Apport before 2.19 allows local users to cause a denial of service (disk consumption) or possibly gain privileges via a (1) symlink or (2) hard link attack on /var/crash/vmcore.log.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
What can the information security industry do to solve the IoT security problem? Learn more and join the conversation on the next episode of Dark Reading Radio.