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Most of your favorite free Android apps leave you open to hackers

Published Aug 21st, 2014 2:10PM EDT
Free Android Apps Vulnerabilities

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Security has always been a huge concern for Android users. From seemingly insignificant security flaws to massive outbreaks that make international headlines, it’s never a bad idea to be cautious when downloading a new app or browsing the web. Unfortunately, sometimes even being careful isn’t enough. In a recent analysis, the FireEye Mobile Security Team discovered that 68% of the top 1,000 free apps on Google Play are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

According to OWASP, a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack is when an attacker intercepts a communication between two systems and then splits the connection in two, injecting new data in between.

The 1,000 free apps were just a sample of the roughly 10,000 applications FireEye checked during the analysis. The results are just as unsettling on a larger scale as well:

“Roughly 4,000 (40%) [apps] use trust managers that do not check server certificates, exposing any data they exchange with their servers to potential theft,” writes the security team. “Furthermore, around 750 (7%) applications use hostname verifiers that do not check hostnames, implying that they are incapable of detecting redirection attacks where the attacker redirects the server request to a malicious webserver controlled by the attacker. Finally, 1,300 (13%) do not check SSL errors when they use Webkit.”

It’s up to developers to ensure their apps are protected from common vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to stolen data and information. Until then, think twice before downloading the latest free app.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.