Mumbai

Hackers could be crashing into your Houseparty

Group introducing malware on video calling apps; experts say download only through verified platforms

A group of people is exploiting the popularity in video calling apps during the lockdown: hackers, who are slipping malwares into the devices of unsuspecting users.

Ever since the State and Central government announced a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, professionals have been having almost daily meetings in the virtual space with the use of apps like Zoom or Houseparty.

Not just for work, people are also using such apps to connect with each other to beat the sheer boredom that comes with being unable to socialise physically. Cyber experts said over the past few weeks, hackers have been trying to disguise malware as genuine apps in order to try and take over users’ devices through a method called ‘Trojan-binding’. Named after the historically famous Trojan Horse used in the battle of Troy, Trojans are malware disguised to look like genuine apps.

“Trojan-binding is a process of hiding malicious apps behind the appearance of genuine ones. Typically, the links to download such apps are put out on social media and as the icons and other visuals look like the genuine apps, people get taken in and download them. Once on the device, the malware can take the device over and grant remote access of the device to the hacker,” cyber expert Shubham Singh said.

State and Central cyber crime agencies are trawling cyberspace to flag and address attempts at hacking devices using the guise of video calling apps.

On Tuesday, a large number of users of Houseparty, one such app, took to social media to allege the app had hacked their phones, as it was automatically throwing up links of other apps on their screens. While Houseparty denied the reports and even offered a bounty to anyone who could prove the claims, experts said this could be a result of Trojan-binding.

“The users who felt their devices were hacked might have been using a Trojan-bound version instead of an actual version. The only difference is that the icons are smaller in size and a malicious version cannot be uploaded on legitimate platforms like Google Play Store, which is something not everyone is aware of,” a cyber police officer said.

Experts and officials advise downloading apps only through verified platforms and keeping your device’s security apparatus updated regularly.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 8:59:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/hackers-could-be-crashing-into-your-houseparty/article31231758.ece

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