World Bulletin / News Desk
Hacking experts on Wednesday demonstrated ways to attack Android smartphones using methods they said work on virtually all such devices in use today, despite recent efforts by search engine giant Google to boost protection.
Experts showed off their prowess at the Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas, where some 6,500 corporate and government security technology workers gathered to learn about emerging threats to their networks.
"Google is making progress, but the authors of malicious software are moving forward," said Sean Schulte of Trustwave's SpiderLabs.
Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano declined to comment on the security concerns or the new research.
Accuvant researcher Charlie Miller demonstrated a method for delivering malicious code to Android phones using a new Android feature known as near field communications.
"I can take over your phone," Miller said.
Near field communications allow users to share photos with friends, make payments or exchange other data by bringing Android phones within a few centimeters of similarly equipped devices such as another phone or a payment terminal.
Miller said he figured out how to create a device the size of a postage stamp that could be stuck in an inconspicuous place such as near a cash register at a restaurant. When an Android user walks by, the phone would get infected, said Miller.
He spent five years as a global network exploit analyst at the U.S. National Security Agency, where his tasks included breaking into foreign computer systems.
Miller and another hacking expert, Georg Wicherski of CrowdStrike, have also infected an Android phone with a piece of malicious code that Wicherski unveiled in February.
That piece of software exploits a security flaw in the Android browser that was publicly disclosed by Google's Chrome browser development team, according to Wicherski.
Google has fixed the flaw in Chrome, which is frequently updated, so that most users are now protected, he said.
But Wicherski said Android users are still vulnerable because carriers and device manufacturers have not pushed those fixes or patches out to users.
Marc Maiffret, chief technology officer of the security firm BeyondTrust, said: "Google has added some great security features, but nobody has them."
Experts say iPhones and iPads don't face the same problem because Apple has been able to get carriers to push out security updates fairly quickly after they are released.
Two Trustwave researchers told attendees about a technique they discovered for evading Google's "Bouncer" technology for identifying malicious programs in its Google Play Store.
They created a text-message blocking application that uses a legitimate programming tool known as java script bridge. Java script bridge lets developers remotely add new features to a program without using the normal Android update process.
Companies including Facebook and LinkedIn use java script bridge for legitimate purposes, according to Trustwave, but it could also be exploited maliciously.
To prove their point, they loaded malicious code onto one of their phones and remotely gained control of the browser. Once they did that, they could force it to download more code and grant them total control.
"Hopefully Google can solve the problem quickly," said Nicholas Percoco, senior vice president of Trustwave's SpiderLabs. "For now, Android is the Wild West."
Public shuttle was displayed during international conference in Turkey
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to launch Monday at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Telegram blocked when app makers decline to provide encryption key to Federal Security Service
The company will tell users if their information were improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica
Fund to support scientists in finding solutions to challenges in Muslim World, Islamic Development Bank says in Tunis
Speaking to the news site Vox, Zuckerberg defended the company's business model and shot back at criticism of the social networking giant from Apple CEO Tim Cook last week.
A Tesla Model X collided with a highway barrier near the town of Mountain View in California on March 23, catching fire before it was struck by two other cars.
Company establishing two new teams -- Experiences and Devices, and Cloud and AI
The updates include improved access to Facebook's user settings and tools to easily search for, download and delete personal data stored by Facebook.
Social network giant has lost more than $100B in value loss since last week
Qantas on Saturday launched the first non-stop passenger service linking Australia and Europe, with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner departing Perth for London on one of the longest flights in the world.
Lowest levels of wintertime sea ice on record occurred during past four years
Three veteran space fliers launch successfully to join crew on space station in two days
The so-called Langlands programme dates back to 1967, when the then-associate professor at Princeton University wrote a letter to renowned French mathematician Andre Weil outlining his new theory.
Calls for investigations came on both sides of the Atlantic after Facebook responded to explosive reports of misuse of its data by suspending the account of Cambridge Analytica, a British firm hired by Trump's 2016 campaign.
New research says reducing carbon emissions sooner could prevent 153 million premature deaths globally