Beware of Mobile App Malware

Malicious attacks within mobile apps are very possible, and much more common than we might think. Yet, security testing is often overlooked. So how many of our mobile apps actually contain security vulnerabilities?

According to a recent finding, hiding within our Android smartphone or tablet devices are massive amounts of app-based malware. The British Telecom recently did a study that showed that almost all Android devices are infected. As covered by Rick Merritt of EETimes:

“‘We analyzed more than 1,000 Android applications and found a third compromised with some form of active or dormant malware,’ said Jill Knesek, head of the global security practice at BT. ‘Almost every device is compromised with some kind of malware, although often it’s not clear if that code is active or what it is doing,’ she said in a panel discussion at the NetEvents Americas conference here.

Wayne Rash, a technology journalist moderating the panel, said he was reviewing a Samsung Galaxy S3 handset and found malware in an Android applications provided by Google. ‘This is a device considered by some people to be the best smartphone on the market right now,’ Rash said.

‘There’s plenty of anti-malware software available for Android and other mobile operating systems, but companies don’t often insist on using it,’ Rash added.”

Numbers aside, mobile app malware is definitely increasing in-the-wild. Anti-virus software is great, but more importantly developers need to security test their applications regularly. Because security threats are always changing- testing is not a one time deal. With thorough testing, development teams should be able to identify and resolve any risks or vulnerabilities.

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uTest - Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Get App Recommendations From Your Trusted Community

Apps GaloreWhen you’re looking for a new app you have to know the exact term to search, then rely on star ratings and reviews written by strangers to decide whether the app is worth the download. It can be hard to tell if the app is exactly what you’re looking for and trying to read vague reviews by people you don’t know often isn’t much help. That’s where AppVue comes in. It’s a social network for apps that let’s others (including specific people from your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn lists) see what apps you have and what you thought of them, and in turn enables your network to point out other apps you might like or would fit your specific need. From Pando Daily:

AppVue differs from other services by relying on the people you trust instead of artificial intelligence, CEO and cofounder Matthew Epstein says.

“AppVue’s focus is not on trying to predict what you would like. I say AppVue is a service, but we’re really a medium for communication and app discovery through the people you trust.”

The service will launch with Facebook integration and plans to incorporate LinkedIn and Twitter in the future, allowing users to find their friends or people they trust no matter what service they happen to use.

It seems that AppVue will let you pick and choose your connections within its own social network, so you can weed out those acquaintances you don’t really know or those friends who love all the apps you absolutely hate – in other words, the people who aren’t likely to make worthwhile app recommendations for you.

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Mobile App Georgie Helps the Visually Impaired

There are countless apps that make our lives easier- but what about the visually impaired who can’t use smartphones the same way we can? There are millions of people who are blind, and hundreds of millions who are visually impaired. For any of these people each day presents many challenges.  Now, thanks to mobile app technology, there’s a solution.

Meet Georgie, a mobile app for the blind. Georgie runs on Android devices and aims to help people with little to no sight accomplish daily tasks that are difficult for them. To use the app, users pass their fingers over different options which are read aloud. If you hold your finger on a particular option it will make a beeping sound, signifying that an option has been selected. The app can call, text, set reminders and provide location services.

For many things, visually impaired users will be relying on this mobile application- which makes testing that much more important. A missed error or bug could cause serious problems.

Luckily, according to Mat Smith of Engadget, Georgie has gone through testing:

“The app was initiated by Roger and his wife Margaret, both from the North of England, who got in touch with an app maker to carefully develop the idea over the last 18 months, passing through several months of testing with other blind users.”

It is very reassuring that Georgie wasn’t only tested inside the lab. The app developer knew the importance of real world testing, which is why Georgie was tested with its target audience of blind users.

Have you heard of any other apps like Georgie? Let us know in the comments section.


Oops: Half of Mobile Ad Clicks are Accidental

File this one under the I-had-a-feeling-this-was-true department. According to an informal survey from, about half of those who click on mobile ads did so by mistake. Sorry advertisers. The reasons for this, as you might have guessed, have less to do with advertisements and more to do with a lack of mobile usability testing. Take a look:

Not surprisingly, the report’s findings show that in-app ads, those which don’t take the user out of the app to a mobile wap site, tend to be more appreciated. As this week’s Gartner forecast showed, download revenues for the mobile app market is growing — this year, developers will generate $15 billion in revenues on downloads of more than 17 billion. The Gartner report also showed that the clear majority of 81 percent of all mobile application store downloads in 2011 will still be free, although the percentage has been declining since 2008.

The real estate of app ads is too small, and it’s too easy to click accidentally,” Lasker said. “If you are a mobile marketer, why would you run a [cost-per-click] campaign? Steve Jobs was right: keep people in the app. The problem with the approach of a lot of mobile advertising is that the old online model has been transferred to the mobile device.”

Read the rest here >>>

Official 2012 London Olympics Apps

London 2012 Results appDon’t be surprised if some malicious apps claiming to be related to the 2012 London Olympics pop up over the next few weeks, with this many eyes on one event it’s bound to happen. But if you want to keep tabs on the latest events while you’re on-the-go these official apps are safe bets.

London 2012 Results
The official app put out by the Olympic planners will provide “all the latest news, schedules and results, allowing users to keep up-to-date with the latest action LIVE across all Olympic sports (25 July to 12 August 2012) and Paralympic sports (29 August to 9 September 2012). Key features include results, live updates, calendar schedule, details of sports, medal tables and athlete profiles. Users can also follow specific countries, and receive official news and updates tailored to them all in one app.” London 2012 Results is available on Android, iOS and Windows.

NBC Olympics
NBC is the official and exclusive network of the 2012 Olympics (at least in the U.S.) and as such they’re the network with the official app. Their basic app will allow users to “follow every event from London, including real-time results & schedules, medal counts and TV & Online listings. And during the nightly Primetime Show televised on NBC, the app will feature a second screen experience that makes a great companion to the on-air broadcast!” NBC Olympics is available on Android and iOS.

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South Korea Hits 100% Mobile Web Subscription Rate

So refined...South Korea has surpassed a wireless broadband subscription rate of 100%. This means that for each citizen of South Korea, there is a mobile device that is able to access the internet. Of course, some South Koreans still do not have mobile access to the internet. Others have multiple accounts; testers, for example, commonly have multiple devices with a wireless broadband subscription. South Korea’s high broadband subscription rate is still significant, though: it showcases the country as a hub of modern technology integration. The high rate also demonstrates a very prevalent global trend, according to CNET’s Charlie Osborne:

Worldwide wireless broadband subscriptions in OECD countries have shown healthy growth of over 13 percent in the last six months, and now total 667 million, up from 590 million in June 2011…. The OECD comprises 34 members, including the U.K., U.S., Japan, Finland and Sweden.

Read Osborne’s full story on CNET

Sweden, Finland and Japan follow South Korea as the global leaders in wireless broadband subscriptions. However, according to Sourcingline, the four most frequently tapped countries for web development are India, Indonesia, Estonia and Singapore, respectively. What does this mean?

Mobile web sites are not being accessed predominantly where they are developed. With the increasing relevance of mobile web access and rift between development location and usage location, it is increasingly important to test for localization issues.

Forget the Bank, New Check Deposit App Being Tested

Say goodbye to those routine trips to the bank. Wells Fargo Bank is testing a mobile app that allows customers to quickly and easily deposit a check from anywhere. You simply take a photo of the back and front of a check, and then follow the steps to submit the check for deposit. The check should be marked as deposited and can be destroyed after several days.

Sounds easy enough, but has the app been thoroughly tested? Testing for the banking app began in May in Washington and Arizona. From there, the team slowly released the app in more states for testing. According to Gordon Oliver of The Columbian, the test was carefully planned:

“Washington was selected as an early test site because of its combination of a large urban population with a strong technology presence, as well as a vast rural area where residents might have to travel great distances for banking services. The new service appeals to both populations, he said. ‘We thought Washington was a great (test) market,’ [Brian Pearce, a project development manager] said, adding that he doesn’t know how many Washingtonians are using the new service.

Pearce and the rest of the project development team are smart to plan and test in different, carefully selected locations. However, the team needs to thoroughly monitor the testing process. The developers should be tracking how many people are using the service and regularly verifying that issues are bugs are being reported.  A banking app, more than any other app, is at risk for security threats. Any risks and vulnerabilities must be reported prior to launch, because without proper test reporting the application cannot be improved.

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iOS: You’ve Exceeded Your Maximum Number of Apps

Here’s a good fringe use-case bug: It seems that people who install more than 500 apps on their devices (with iOS 6) will experience some serious performance issues. Here’s CNET with the story:

As revealed in a blog by a developer called Mid Atlantic Consulting, iOS 6 users who install more than 500 apps on their device will start to run into slow boots, auto-reboots, and other problems. Install as many as 1,000 apps, and the device won’t boot at all.

How many people actually install more than 500 apps on their iPhone or iPad? That was apparently Apple’s reaction, since the company initially showed little concern about this limitation.

But Mid Atlantic Consulting argued that if the iPhone is expected to replace your phone, portable gaming console, TV remote, and countless other devices, then Apple needs to make sure iOS can handle an unlimited number of apps. The developer even cited a quote by the late Steve Jobs in which he said that the only limit was the number of folders and apps per folder.

It should be noted here that iOS 6 is currently in beta, so we expect this problem to be resolved before the official launch. Still, these are the types of bugs that are always nice to catch early.

This leads us to ask: How many apps do you have on your phone? Let us know in the comments section.

Mobile Apps Could Save the World

Global App EconomyThe World Bank recently put out a report on mobile usage that intended to “analyze the growth and evolution of applications for mobile phones, focusing on their use in agriculture, health and financial services, as well as their impact on employment and government.” It turns out that the emergence of mobile apps is helping advance many of those fields, especially in developing countries. I didn’t read the entire 244 page report, but here’s a summary of some of the findings from Smart Planet:

In the United States alone, the mobile app industry provided an estimated 466,000 jobs in 2011 with annual growth rates of up to 45 percent from 2010 to 2011. Mobile money applications have also proved to be net generators of jobs. For example, Safaricom’s M-PESA system supports 23,000 jobs for agents in Kenya alone. Airtel Kenya, the second-biggest mobile operator, plans to recruit some 25,000 agents for its mobile money service, Airtel Money.

The report observes that the global mobile industry is today a major source of employment opportunities, through direct jobs, indirect jobs, and jobs on the demand side.

Mobile phones and apps aren’t just providing new job opportunities, they’re giving people in rural, under-developed regions access to resources that were beyond reach a decade ago.

In developing countries, citizens are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback mechanisms.  As the report puts it: “in some developing countries, more people have access to a mobile phone than to a bank account, electricity, or even clean water.” Mobile communications “offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development – from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes,” says World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte.

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Instagram Celebrates Two-Year Testing Anniversary

How time does fly. Two years ago today, Instagram – the envy of the mboile world – tested its first image. How has the application evolved during that time? Other than the massive amount of new users, not all that much. Here’s HuffPo with the story:

It’s been two years since developers behind the popular mobile photo-sharing app Instagram tested their first photo, and as it turns out, not much has changed in terms of what users choose to photograph.

On its blog, Instagram shared a photo of a cute puppy chilling on the floor — the first picture the company uploaded through an app, which at the time they called “Codename.”

Since Instagram launched in October 2010, more than 50 million people have shared more than 1 billion photos on the application, according to the company’s blog post.

The app has gained popularity among users of all ages and big-name celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Pink, Mashable notes.

The application has also garnered plenty of attention for its filters, which can give photos a distressed, 1970′s look — a feature some critics say disparages the quality of a photograph. Earlier this year, a writer at Belgian blog Applelogen even experimented with the app’s settings and applied all 17 filters to one photo, which resulted in a fire-ball like image.

This pretty much dispells the myth that you need to constantly improve to stay on top of the mobile world. This might be true for games and business apps, but certainly not for Instagram.