News  General
The Dark side of BitCoin

Why BitCoin?

There's no escaping it - BitCoin is everywhere now. You can't move for internet stories of how it's being used for both good, such as a powerful global currency outside of any central control, and evil such as the drug dealers on SilkRoad. This "anonymous" aspect hasn't escaped the attention of malware authors, and we're seeing the first viruses - and even warnings of a smartphone virus - which insists the victim pay using BitCoins for this very reason. Ouch.


Yes and No. Whilst it should be obvious BitCoin is less traceable than a direct bank account transfer, it's a popular myth that it's totally anonymous. Technically, it is until there is a transaction - i.e. no one can just go and look into someones account without their knowledge or permission, but if they could access the identity of a party in a BitCoin transaction it might be possible to reconstruct the chain and analyse more. The term identity is a technical one BitCoin uses as part of the transaction process - it encourages users to change it each time to minimize this risk. More is explained on the BitCoin Anonymity page - but its a fair bet anyone considering using it for the nasty stuff will certainly be aware of how to hide their tracks this, and other ways.

News  General
Android virus

A decade after Cabir infected Symbian handsets

Everyone nowadays is (or should be!) as cautious when it comes to installing new apps in their smartphones as they are when it comes to installing software to their PCs. However, this wasn't always the case. Those with long memories might remember the days when the term "smartphone" itself was new, and those which could even connect to the internet were few and far between.

Downloadable software

It didn't take the bad guys long to figure out these new devices could run malware - and the users would be virtually powerless to guard against it at that time since there was no such thing as as smartphone virus. Cabir, aimed at Nokia Series 60 Symbian handsets, spread via Bluetooth. It was capable of infecting any similar device which came within range - in fact the biggest outbreak was during the Helsinki Athletics World Cup.

News  General
Android virus

Hackers fit WiFi sniffers to drones

As if smartphone users haven't enough to worry about, here comes "Snoopy" - drones with WiFi access points capable of hacking your smartphone from literally above your head. Hackers have actually built - and flown in London - a device which genuinely retrieved passwords and other confidential account details.

Spoofs WiFi access points you trust

The system uses your smartphones' feature of attempting to connect to a WiFi point you've already granted access to, because you've connected to it before. These could be public ones, such as Starbuck, McDonalds or BT. If the drone is in a public place close to a real one, it make the likelihood even greater of unknowing users being hacked.

News  Android
Android virus

Unofficial app stores are a hackers paradise

Kaspersky Labs are warning Android users that the growing threat from malware has reached upwards of 10 million apps. The danger this poses ranges from stealing passwords, sending spam, sending premium text messages charged to your account or even turning your handset into a zombie controller capable of launching attacks on other targets. They have also identified a new kind of target - the booming virtual currency systems appearing now such as BitCoin.

Going for the money

By far, however, the largest target was financial information. Banking apps are an obvious target, but increasingly a "pure" virus isn't the only method - social engineering malware also plays a part, for example taking over a Facebook or Twitter account. Multiple attack vectors also play a role - even basic attempts such as links sent via SMS, which then download malicious Apps when clicked. Kaspersky's report states Android is the target for 98.05% of known (mobile) malware.