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Happy VXers get 400 enterprise-popping apps hosted on Google Play

Up to half a million downloads clocked for one poision app. More than 400 malicious apps from a single attacker have been successfully uploaded to the Google Play store, with one downloaded up to half a million times, Trend Micro malware researcher Echo Duan says. The malware is disguised as various games, phone boosters, and themes that when executed can compromise devices and connected networks, download additional payloads, and enslave handsets into botnets. Such malware is usually barred from the Google Play store thanks to security analysis checks Mountain View runs to determine apps that steal user data, spam with advertisements, or adversely impact privacy. The prolific authors who have created some 3000 variants of the DressCode malware have had a significant win in breaching Google's defences since apps hosted on the Play store are considered and marketed as safe. Duan says the malware attempts to gain a foothold on any networks the compromised handsets are connected to making it a threat to to enterprises and small businesses. This malware gives attackers an avenue into internal networks which compromised devices are connected to—a notable risk if the device is used to connect to company networks. "If an infected device connects to an enterprise network, the attacker can either bypass the NAT device to attack the internal server or download sensitive data using the infected device as a springboard," Duan says. "With the growth of bring your own device programs, more enterprises are exposing themselves to risk via care-free employee mobile usage. "[The installed SOCKS proxy] can be used to turn devices into bots and build a botnet." DressCode and you.
Image: Trend Micro. Duan says the malicious code was a small fraction of the total app codebase making it "difficult" for Google to detect. One app offering a Grand Theft Auto theme for Minecraft clocked between 100,000 and 500,000 downloads according to Google Play's metric bands. Compromising modern Android handsets is increasingly difficult for regular malware players thanks to big leaps in defensive upgrades, but most phone users run old, unsupported, and dangerously exposed versions of the mobile operating system. Some 35 percent of Android users operate version five (Lollipop) of Google's platform released in 2014, while about 25 percent run ancient version 4.4 (Kitkat) published in 2013. Fewer than 10 percent run Android version six (Marshmallow) released last year and virtually no one other than owners of Nexus 6P devices sports version seven (Nougat) published last month. Outside of the Nexus line, handsets everywhere are locked into custom vendor ROMs and as such must reply on manufacturers to push through Google's security updates and patches. Trend Micro says it flagged some 16.6 million malware detections as of August, 40 per cent up on January figures. ®

Sorry Lindsay Lohan, Grand Theft Auto V is satirizing you,...


reader comments 42 Share this story A New York appeals court is putting the brakes on actress Lindsay Lohan's lawsuit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto V.

The appellate court concluded Thursday that the game is riddled with satire and, hence, Take-Two Interactive Software is shielded by the First Amendment from allegations of misappropriation of likeness. Lohan claimed that elements of the video game—which features washed out celebrities, criminals, and paparazzi—were too close to her in real life.

Among other things, she alleged that a minor character named Lacey Jonas in the game was a "look-alike" and that the game violated her "privacy rights under New York law." She also alleged that the game unlawfully exploited her "signature peace sign pose." Mob Wives star Karen Gravano, another plaintiff in the case, similarly alleged that the game unlawfully used her likeness with the character Andrea Bottino. But a New York Court of Appeals ruled their suit was without merit because, if anything, the game is fiction and satire.

Therefore, it doesn't constitute as "advertising" or "trade." Even if we accept plaintiffs' contentions that the video game depictions are close enough to be considered representations of the respective plaintiffs, plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed because this video game does not fall under the statutory definitions of "advertising" or "trade" (see Costanza at 255, citing Hampton v Guare , 195 AD2d 366, 366 [1st Dept 1993], lv denied 82 NY2d 659 [1993] [stating that "works of fiction and satire do not fall within the narrow scope of the statutory phrases advertising' and trade'"]; see generally Brown v Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 US 786, 790 [2011] ["(l)ike the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas..." and deserve First Amendment protection]). This video game's unique story, characters, dialogue, and environment, combined with the player's ability to choose how to proceed in the game, render it a work of fiction and satire. Lohan also complained that the game featured the Hotel Chateau Marmont, a West Hollywood hotel where Lohan once lived and was said to have racked up $46,000 in unpaid bills.
In the game, the hotel features a separate side quest, in which the player must film a washed-up actress named Poppy Mitchell having sex. Listing image by Take-Two Interactive Software

Panamanian ex-dictator sues Activision over Black Ops II appearance

Ruthless criminal Noriega complains game depicts him as a ruthless criminal.

Grand Theft Auto V Can Cause Malware Infection on PCs

The spam campaign is offering victims a beta invite to the GTA V on the PC as bait that ultimately leads to a malware infection. Security vendor Trend Micro is warning about a spam campaign that is targeting gamers looking to play "Grand Theft Auto V" (GTA V) on the PC. GTA V is the latest iteration of the popular gaming franchise, but to date, the game has only been available on gaming consoles and not on the PC.

The spam campaign is offering victims a beta invite to the GTA V on the PC as bait that ultimately leads to a malware infection. Christopher Budd, Trend Micro's threat communications manager, explained to eWEEK that the malware comes as an executable named "your promo code." He added that the victim has to open the zip file and run the executable for the malware to work. While there is a group of Internet users likely to be very attracted to the GTA V beta offer, the spam campaign isn't being specifically targeted against some kind of gamer list from any known source. "There's no indication of any data compromise behind this attack; this is a classic, indiscriminate spam campaign," Budd said. The defense against the attack is relatively simple: Users just need to have an up-to-date antivirus technology running on their PCs. Trend Micro successfully protects against this malware, according to Budd. "While we can't speak for other vendors, typically protections for threats such as this come out fairly quickly throughout the industry," Budd said. Spam campaigns targeted against gamers are nothing new, and according to Budd, they represent a lucrative lure for criminals who know that gamers are a particularly eager audience, making them a good target. Gamers are particularly eager when there's a demand for an application or game on one platform where it’s not yet available, he said. "Attackers exploit that demand gap by giving false leads for how to get nonexistent versions of the hot game or application on that platform [as in this case] or other times by providing fake, malicious versions of the hot application or game on that platform," Budd said. PhishMe co-founder and CTO Aaron Higbee explained to eWEEK that attackers hoping to spread malware through phishing emails need an emotional hook to get the recipient to click quickly with reckless abandon. "It's no surprise PC gamers anxiously anticipating one of the biggest blockbusters in game history might fall for this," Higbee said. "Large organizations are aware of this and do a pretty good job at keeping nuisance malware inside of zip files out." Even though the malware zip file method may be considered low sophistication by enterprise defenders, consumers certainly need to be suspicious of unsolicited emails with zipped attachments, Higbee said. Joe DeMesy, senior security analyst at BishopFox, told eWEEK that the GTA V spam campaign is just the latest in a long history of email viruses that goes all the way back to the the "I Love You" virus, which was unleashed on the Internet nearly 15 years ago. "However, the reason we still see these types of attacks is that they work," DeMesy said. "For all the millions of dollars spent every year on antivirus and other security products, people still open executable email attachments—a solemn reminder that we have yet to solve the human aspects of computer security, let alone the technical ones." Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.