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Fake banking apps hit Android

Another set of fake banking apps has found its way into the official Google Play store claiming to increase the credit card limit for users of three Indian banks.

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The malicious apps phish for credit card details and internet banking credentials using bogus forms and the data stolen from the victims is leaked online, in plain text, via an exposed server.

The fake apps were uploaded to Google Play in June and July 2018 when ESET notified Google they were taken down, but by then they had been installed by hundreds of victims. The apps were uploaded under three different developer names, each impersonating a different Indian bank: however, all three apps can be traced back to a single attacker.

How do the apps operate?

All three apps follow the same procedure. Upon launch, a form requesting credit card details is displayed (Figure 2). If users fill out the form and hit “Submit”, they are taken to a form asking for their internet banking login credentials (Figure 3). Interestingly, even though all fields are marked as “required” (*), both forms can be successfully submitted empty – a clear indicator of something fishy.

Figure 2 – Bogus forms phishing for credit card details.

Figure 3 – Bogus forms phishing for internet banking credentials.

Clicking through both forms – with or without filling them in – leads users to the third and final screen, which thanks users for their interest and informs them that a “Customer Service Executive” will be in touch shortly (Figure 4). Needless to say, no one gets in touch with the victims, and the app offers no further functionality beyond this point.

Figure 4 – Final screen displayed by the malicious apps.

Meanwhile, the data entered into the bogus forms is sent in plain text to the attacker’s server. The server listing the stolen data is accessible to anyone with the link, without requiring any authentication. For the victims, this amplifies the potential damage, since their sensitive data is not only at the attacker’s disposal, but potentially available to anyone who comes across it.

Just recently, we warned against another malicious app leaking stolen information for anyone to see – a fake MyEtherWallet app, exposing the private keys to victims’ wallets. These discoveries highlight the need for extreme caution when downloading apps related to finances – be it money in the traditional sense of the term, or cryptocurrencies.

How to stay safe

If you’ve installed and used any of these malicious apps, we advise you to uninstall them immediately. Check your bank account for suspicious activity and change your credit card pin code as well as your internet banking password.

To avoid falling victim to phishing apps, we recommend that you:

  • Only trust mobile banking apps if they are linked from your bank’s official website
  • Never enter your sensitive banking information into online forms if you aren’t sure of their security and legitimacy
  • Pay attention to number of downloads, app ratings and reviews when downloading apps from Google Play
  • Keep your Android device updated and use a reliable mobile security solution; ESET products detect these malicious apps as Android/Spy.Banker.AHR

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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