Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cebit 2015: Find out what your apps are really doing

10.03.2015

These tiny programs on Internet-connected mobile phones are increasingly becoming entryways for surveillance and fraud. Computer scientists from the center for IT-Security, Privacy and Privacy, CISPA, have developed a program that can show users whether the apps on their smartphone are accessing private information, and what they do with that data. This year, the researchers will present an improved version of their system again at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover (Hall 9, Booth E13).

RiskIQ, an IT security-software company, recently examined 350,000 apps that offer monetary transactions, and found more than 40,000 of these specialized programs to be little more than scams. Employees had downloaded the apps from around 90 recognized app store websites worldwide, and analyzed them.


The software from Saarland University uncovers data theft on mobile devices.

Credit: Oliver Dietze

They discovered that a total of eleven percent of these apps contained malicious executable functions – they could read along personal messages, or remove password protections. And all this would typically take place unnoticed by the user.

Computer scientists from Saarbrücken have now developed a software system that allows users to detect malicious apps at an early stage. This is achieved by scanning the program code, with an emphasis on those parts where the respective app is accessing or transmitting personal information. The monitoring software will detect whether a data request is related to the subsequent transmission of data, and will flag the code sequence in question as suspicious accordingly.

“Imagine your address book is read out, and hundreds of lines of code later, without you noticing, your phone will send your contacts to an unknown website,” Erik Derr says. Derr is a PhD student at the Graduate School for Computer Science at Saarland University, and a researcher at the Saarbrücken Research Center for IT Security, CISPA. An important feature of the software he developed is its ability to monitor precisely which websites an app is accessing, or which phone number a text message was sent to.

To conclusively detect these functional relationships between the data source and the recipient, the researchers use contemporary methods of information flow analysis. They set their program up in advance with a list of suspicious code combinations that access programming interfaces, so that it would learn to differentiate between “good” and “evil” apps, and additionally fed it with details of currently known attacks. “So it can be helpful, for instance, to know the telephone numbers of these expensive premium services. Say one of these numbers is dialed without the consent of the user, then the fraud is obvious,” Derr explains.

Since his method is computationally demanding and also requires a lot of memory space, the software is run on a dedicated server. “It takes our software an average of 25 minutes per app,” Derr says. So far, his research team has tested around 23,000 apps in this manner. And of course, consumers will benefit most from this approach. “The app could be analyzed on our server, and the results would be displayed on your smartphone. Or ideally, the evaluation process could be integrated directly into the app store websites,” explains Derr. This is one of the reasons the Saarbrücken researchers are already discussing the issue with US online retail company Amazon. “But Google would certainly be an option as well,”, says Derr.

Background Information on Computer Science in Saarbrücken
The Department of Computer Science represents the center of computer science research in Saarbrücken. Seven other internationally renowned research institutes are nearby: The Max Planck Institutes for Informatics and for Software Systems, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the Center for Bioinformatics, the Intel Visual Computing Institute, the Center for IT Security, Privacy and Accountability (CISPA), and the Cluster of Excellence “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”.

Media Inquiries:
Erik Derr
Center For IT Security, Privacy and Accountability CISPA
Phone: +49 681 302 57368
Email: derr(at)cs.uni-saarland.de

Editor:
Gordon Bolduan
Science Communication
Competence Center Computer Science Saarland
Phone: +49 681 302-70741
Email: bolduan(at)mmci.uni-saarland.de

Information for Radio Journalists: Phone interviews with Saarland University scientists can be conducted in studio quality using the Radio Codec (via direct-dial IP connection, or the ARD Sternpunkt 106813020001). Interview requests can be made via our press department (+49 681 302-2601).

Melanie Löw | Universität des Saarlandes
Further information:
http://www.uni-saarland.de

More articles from Trade Fair News:

nachricht Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining
10.01.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Diamond Lenses and Space Lasers at Photonics West
15.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Trade Fair News >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>