Friday, April 19, 2013


32 apps infected with malware found on Google Play store

Security companies warns app developers to be careful about third party code they use in apps

Google has once again come under fire from security experts over its laissez-faire approach to its Play app store.

Security researchers at Lookout found 32 apps on Google Play that were infected by malware called BadNews.

The malware sends messages to premium rate text numbers. It is designed to lay dormant for weeks after being downloaded to avoid detection.

Premium rate malware is prolific in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Experts have warned that despite stronger regulation and monitoring, Western European and North American based criminals could still attempt to replicate the malware.

The malware specifically targeted Android owner in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and a number of other Eastern European customers.

Lookout said it was difficult to estimate how many handsets could have been infected before Google finally removed the apps. It estimates between two and nine million infected apps may have been downloaded.

Amongst the apps BadNews was found in were recipe generators, wallpaper apps, games, and porn apps.

All of the infected apps were released by four separate accounts. They have since been suspended.

According to Lookout, the infected apps tricked users into installing what was described as an update for either Skype or popular Russian social network Vkontakte. It then started stealing credit by sending texts to premium rate numbers.

The firm also said it was concerned that many of the developers had included the code in their apps willingly. Lookout said many had been convinced BadNews was little more than a advert network.

It urged developers to be more careful about the third party code they use in their apps.

In the past, major security companies – including Russian firm Kaspersky – have criticised Google for putting its users at unnecessary risk.

               Needle-less trial set for start

A nanopatch can fit on a fingertip. A nanopatch can fit on a fingertip. Photo: Supplied
A Brisbane scientist is preparing to begin field trials of an invention expected to get life-saving vaccines to children around the world immeasurably cheaper and years faster than is currently possible.
And it's all without the use of needles.
Professor Mark Kendall is the inventor of the Nanopatch - a strip smaller than a postage stamp that has thousands of microscopic points, which can inject disease-breaking vaccines into the skin.
A microscopic view of the nanopatch. A microscopic view of the nanopatch. Photo: Supplied
For nine years, Professor Kendall and a team of international researchers have been working on the "needle-less" vaccination in the laboratory.
In very simple terms, the technology is designed to deliver a vaccine - that now costs $50 for three injections - to children for about 50 cents without a needle in sight.
In October, University of Queensland Professor Kendall will test the fruits of his labour when he begins field trials.
Professor Mark Kendall. Professor Mark Kendall. Professor Mark Kendall. Professor Mark Kendall. Photo: Jeremy Patten
‘‘We will be going into the Papua New Guinea Highlands later this year for a follow-up usability trial,’’ he said.
Professor Kendall said this trial was likely to happen in October.
The full clinical trials - the step after the field and usability trials - will most likely happen in two stages in Brisbane and again in Papua New Guinea within 18 months.
The research is being done in two strands - for the developed world and for the developing world - with research in both areas piggy-backing from each other.
The nanopatch resembles Star Trek technology.
"To the naked eye it looks like a patch," Professor Kendall said.
"But if we look under a microscope, we see thousands of projections that we dry-coat vaccine to.
"These are invisible to the naked eye, you really have to look under a microscope to see, and then we apply the patch to the skin.
"Those little projections breach through the tough outer layer of the skin and deliver the vaccines, directly to thousands of immune cells."
The result is more efficient, pain-free medicine.
"It could be argued that needles are holding back how well the vaccines could work because it is putting them into the wrong place, it is putting them into muscle," Professor Kendall said.
"If you put them in the right place, at the right time, you can get them to work better."
Professor Kendall said the nanopatch vaccines would be significantly cheaper than their syringe-delivered counterparts because the patches did not need to be refrigerated.

Already, the World Health Organisation expressed fears that a large proportion of vaccines are not working effectively because vaccines are not being kept cold in third world countries, according to Professor Kendall.
"We have proven with the Nanopatch you do not need refrigeration," he said.
"And our tests with mice show you don’t need as much dose.
"Straight up, you have ruled out two of the largest barriers to the roll-out of vaccines in the developing world."
Professor Kendall will discuss his research at a forum at Brisbane's Customs House on Thursday night.

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