Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Feature stops apps from stealing phone users' passwords

27.06.2013
Imagine downloading a NetFlix app to your phone so that you can watch movies on the go. You would expect the app to request your account's username and password the first time it runs. Most apps do.

But, not all apps are what they appear to be. They can steal log-in and password information. In 2011, researchers at North Carolina State University discovered a convincing imitation of the real Netflix app that forwarded users' login details to an untrusted server. And, in June, the security firm F-Secure discovered a malicious, fake version of the popular game "Bad Piggies" in the Google Play Store.

Attacks like these are rare, said Duke computer scientist Landon Cox, but, "we will likely see more of them in the future." To protect users against the threat of malicious apps, Cox and his team have built ScreenPass. ScreenPass adds new features to an Android phone's operating system to prevent malicious apps from stealing a user's passwords.

"Passwords are a critical glue between mobile apps and remote cloud services," Cox said. "The problem right now is that users have no idea what happens to the passwords they give to their apps."

This is where ScreenPass comes in. It provides a special-purpose software keyboard for users to securely enter sensitive text such as passwords. An area below the keyboard allows users to tell ScreenPass where they want their text sent, such as Google, Facebook, or Twitter. ScreenPass then tracks a users' password data as the app runs and notifies the user if an app tries to send a password to the wrong place.

ScreenPass guarantees that users always input passwords through the secure keyboard. It does this by using computer vision to periodically scan the screen for untrusted keyboards.

"If a malicious app can trick a user into inputting their password through a fake keyboard, then there is no way to guarantee that an app's password is sent only to the right servers," Cox said. If ScreenPass detects an untrusted keyboard, then an app may be trying to "spoof" the secure keyboard in order to steal the user's password.

Cox and his team presented ScreenPass at the MobiSys 2013 conference in Taipei on June 27.

In trials on a prototype phone, ScreenPass detected attack keyboards that tried to avoid detection by changing the font, color, and blurriness of letters on the keys. "The only attack keyboard that ScreenPass could not detect was a keyboard with a flowery background that blended in with the keyboard letters," Cox said.

He and his team also installed ScreenPass on the phones of 18 volunteers for three weeks to test how user-friendly it was. Users reported no additional burden at having to tell ScreenPass where their passwords should be sent.

Finally, testing ScreenPass on 27 apps from the Android Marketplace, the team found three apps sent passwords over the network in plaintext, four stored passwords in the local file system without encryption, and three apps sent passwords from different domains to a third-party server owned by the app developer. Cox would not provide the names of the apps, but said ScreenPass also easily detected the fake Netflix app.

Cox's team plans to make ScreenPass publicly available to continue to improve smartphone password security.

Citation: "ScreenPass: Secure Password Entry on Touchscreen Devices." Liu, D. et. al. MobiSys 2013. June 27, 2013.

Ashley Yeager | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano
20.10.2017 | Brown University

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>