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Researchers have discovered a new Android vulnerability that could allow malware to pose as popular apps and ask for various permissions, potentially allowing hackers to listen in on users, take photos, read and send SMS messages, and basically take over various functions as if they are the device’s owner. Security researchers John Høegh-Omdal, Caner Kaya and Markus Ottensmann at Norwegian app-security provider Promon discovered the flaw—which they dubbed “StrandHogg” from old Norse for the Viking tactic of plundering villages and holding people for ransom. They said attackers can use the vulnerability to allow “real-life malware to pose as legitimate apps, with users unaware they are being targeted,” according to a blog post. “The attack can be designed to request permissions which would be natural for different targeted apps to request, in turn lowering suspicion from victims,” researchers wrote. “Users are unaware that they are giving permission to the hacker and not the authentic app they believe they are using.” If the flaw is exploited, to users it appears that they are clicking on an app that they use every day, such as Facebook or Instagram. However, what happens when they click on the app is that instead of the app a user intended to open starting up, malware is deployed that can give permissions to the hacker, who is directed to the legitimate app, researchers said. The flaw, which can be exploited by “real-life malware,” affects all Android devices, including…

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