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Scientists tested 13,500 Android applications and determined that a massive 8% failed to adequately protect users personal details such as social media logins and even more worryingly, bank details.
The research was conducted by a security group at the Leibniz University of Hanover and the computer science department at the Philipps University of Marburg on the most popular apps in the Google Play Store.
The suspect applications are said to have failed to implement standard scrambling systems, which allow “man-in-the-middle” attacks to reveal data that passes between the device and the relevant websites it connects to for the apps.
By creating a fake Wi-Fi hotspot, a potential hacker would then have the opportunity to capture login details for online bank accounts, email services, social media sites and corporate networks, they could disable the device security programs or fool them into labelling secure apps as infected or inject computer code into the data stream that made apps carry out specific commands.
Concerningly at-risk users could also have trouble detecting when they are at threat.
“About half of the participants could not judge the security state of a browser session correctly,” the researchers wrote. “Most importantly, research is needed to study which counter-measures offer the right combination of usability for developers and users, security benefits and economic incentives to be deployed on a large scale.”
Google has yet to comment on these findings.