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IBM uncovers Android banking vulnerability

The message for Android is increasingly bleak in the context of security. After Android malware hits South Korean mobile banking customers and Android cyberattacks on 34 European banks it now appears that business heavy weight IBM has further bad news to add.

One-in-ten banking apps are wide open to a malicious drive-by hacking exploit that

The Google Android logo with malware additions

IBM uncovers Android banking vulnerability

exposes user credentials when visiting bug-laden websites.

The vulnerability – discovered by the IBM Security X-Force Research team – lies in Android applications built on the Apache Cordova (previously PhoneGap) platform. According to AppBrain, this affects 5.8% of all Android apps and roughly one-in-ten mobile banking apps – reports Finextra.

The Apache Cordova vulnerabilities enable Cross-Application Scripting – the execution of a malicious JavaScript code – which can occur when users unwittingly browse an infected website.

Says IBM: “Due to other vulnerabilities that we have detected within Cordova, such code can exfiltrate information back to the attacker, such as their login credentials, allowing attackers to impersonate them, access their accounts and even make purchases on their behalf.”

IBM has privately reported the vulnerabilities to the Cordova team, which has released patches for the latest Cordova version 3.5.1.

News of the exploit comes as new research among 2000 UK adults by Intercede, found that 53% of consumers would never use mobile banking services, due to security fears. The survey also found that half avoid money transfer apps, and almost a quarter (24%) would not feel safe shopping on their handsets.

When asked why they were so concerned, respondents cite a lack of trust in current mobile login and authentication options, and worries about identity theft. One respondent said, “I must be confident only I will be able to log in and use them [apps] – at this stage, I just don’t trust apps, especially financial ones,” while others commented, “I don’t want anyone to steal my phone and be able to access my money,” and “apps are too hackable”.

Key words: Android security, Android security fears, Android unsecure, Android banking app security

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