Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and The Ohio State University have revealed more than 1,600 vulnerabilities within the support ecosystem among the 5000 free aps available in the Google Play Store.
The presence of such vulnerabilities will allow hackers to hack the databases which includes personal information, along with the possibility of reaching the user’s mobile device.
In order to avoid such incidence, the researchers have developed an automated system known as the SkyWalker which will scrutinize the cloud servers, in addition to the software library systems. The development of SkyWalker will thus also help in evaluating the security of servers which support mobile applications, operated through cloud hosting services instead of individual app developers.
“A lot of people might be surprised to learn that their phone apps are communicating with not just one, but likely tens or even hundreds of servers in the cloud,” commented Brendan Saltaformaggio. He is an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Users don’t know they are communicating with these servers because only the apps interact with them and they do so in the background. Until now, that has been a blind spot where nobody was looking for vulnerabilities,” he added.
The latest research was also supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation. In the study, 983 instances of common vulnerabilities were found, including 655 instances of zero-day vulnerabilities which covered operating systems, software layers, communications modules and even web apps. According to the reports, the experts are still examining whether the attackers could get into individual mobile device when connected to vulnerable servers.
“These vulnerabilities affect the servers that are in the cloud, and once an attacker gets on the server, there are many ways they can attack. It’s a whole new question whether or not they can jump from the server to a user’s device, but our preliminary research on that is very concerning,” Saltaformaggio said.