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Monday
Jan202014

Mobile Security - From Money Earning Apps to Wall Street

It was another interesting night at Mobile Monday. Mobile Monday being regular events focused at mobile development and developers.
Tonight focused on mobile security, something that we are very conscious of because of the sensitive material that we handle in our workflows.
The interesting thing we learnt tonight was that mobile users were knowingly infecting their own phones, this in a story that affected the New York stock exchange.
Cathal McDaid, head of security at Adaptive Mobile told us tonight about an App called Bazuc. Users could download this app and give it permission to send txt messages from their phone. Why would they do this? because Bazuc said it will pay them .0001 cent per text, and users were happy to do this if they had unlimited txt's on their account, or even an unused few thousand on their pay plan.
In short they became spam mules sending thousands of SMS messages around the world. And remember there is no such thing as unlimited when it comes to mobile data, ("fair usage applies") so telco's weren't too happy about this either and started to shut down their accounts.
A really interesting use for this style of malware attack happened before Christmas where the manipulation of a "penny stock' happened in the US. Like something from the Wolf of Wall Street a massive spam SMS attack from phones based all over the US advised people to get on board this stock. 
There is a good visual on Adaptive Mobiles site showing a map of the US under this so called Pump 'n' Dump attack. (Sending 000's of SMS messages)
The stock price actually did rise when the barrage of messages was sent out, but due to the complaints that it generated attention was drawn to it and it has come back down, however not before there was ample time to dump the shares. 
There is a good lesson to take away here. Cathal mentioned something he referred to as "permission fatigue", we have to be vigilant when apps or programs ask our permission to do things with our phone and not just click yes.

 

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