100% of Top Paid Android Apps Have Been Hacked

A new report has found that 100% of the Top 100 paid Android apps and 56% of the Top 100 paid Apple iOS apps have been hacked
A new report has found that 100% of the Top 100 paid Android apps and 56% of the Top 100 paid Apple iOS apps have been hacked

Arxan Technologies performed an analysis to arrive at the results, and found “cracked” mobile apps to be widespread as even more companies move toward app-centric innovation and more employees leverage mobile technology, highlighting the potential for the usual miserable results of hacking: revenue loss, unauthorized access to critical data, intellectual property (IP) theft, fraud, altered user experience and brand erosion.

“The widespread use of cracked apps represents a real and present danger given the explosion of smartphone and tablet use in the workplace and home,” said Kevin Morgan, CTO at Arxan, in a statement. “Not only is IP theft costing software stakeholders millions of dollars every year, but unprotected apps are vulnerable to tampering: either through installed malware or through decompiling and reverse engineering – enabling hackers to analyze code and target core security or business logic that is protecting or enabling access to sensitive corporate data.”

The analysis had special focus on high-risk apps, namely mobile financial apps, which also turned up widespread hacking indicators, the firm said. Arxan discovered that 53% of the Android financial apps they reviewed had been compromised, while 23% of the iOS financial apps were hacked variants.

“Mobile applications are still subject to diverse hacking attacks that are launched via a three step process – analysis of code, identifying software target and launching an app attack,” the company explained. “As the growth in mobile innovation continues, payment use accelerates and transaction volumes increase - especially during seasonal shopping spikes – [so] mobile app security remains a critical issue.”

Among the findings was the fact that hackers continue to target free apps – 73% of free Android apps and 53% of free iOS apps were found to be hacked in 2013. In 2012, Arxan found 80% of Android apps and 40% of iOS apps had been compromised.

Consumers should beware rogue app stores too. “Pirated versions of popular software are available on numerous unofficial app stores like Cydia, app distribution sites, hacker/cracker sites and file download and torrent sites,” Morgan said. “During our research we discovered that some of the hacked versions have been downloaded over half a million times which gives a sense of the magnitude of the problem especially as we embark upon a season of high consumer activity that will involve payment transactions, and consumption of products and services via the mobile endpoint.”

He added: “The challenge for greater mobile application security remains significant and core recommendations for improving mobile application security need to be integrated early in the application development lifecycle and made a key component of any mobile first strategy.”

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