'Mobile Thursday' at the VB conference

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Sep 19, 2013

Record number of presentations dedicated to threats affecting smartphones.

The significant increase in mobile threats is reflected in the VB2013 programme, which includes seven presentations on mobile malware.

Security experts have always been fascinated by mobile security, a subject which has been covered at many previous VB conferences. As far back as 2002, T-Mobile's Markus Schmall gave a presentation on the security of a mobile platform, in this case Java 2 ME.

The first VB presentation on the iPhone was given by Marius van Oers, then of McAfee, five years later, while it wasn't until VB2011 that Kaspersky researchers Timothy Armstrong and Denis Maslennikov gave the first presentation on Android malware.

However, despite researchers' fascination, the quantity of mobile threats long lagged behind expectations. Mobile malware has long featured in most vendors' end-of-year predictions, but for a long time the number of actual threats seen in the wild remained small.

In 2013, however, their predictions are finally coming true, and the number of mobile malware samples has skyrocketed since the beginning of the year. This was also reflected in the abstracts that were submitted for VB2013. Seven talks will deal with the subject of mobile threats, conveniently following each other up on Thursday morning and early afternoon.

The morning begins in the technical stream, where Sophos's Rowland Yu will discuss the 'GinMaster' family of trojanized Android apps. The next presentation is by K7's Samir Mody, who will explain how obfuscation is used in Android malware. His talk is followed by a presentation from three researchers from the Institute of Space Technology in Islamabad, who will discuss a framework to detect malicious Android apps.

After the tea and coffee break, the mobile presentations continue in the corporate stream where Fortinet researchers Karine de Pontevès and Axelle Apvrille will analyse in-app advertisement kits, again focusing on the Android. Then Vanja Svajcer and Sean McDonald, both of Sophos, will explain why Potentially Unwanted Applications are an even bigger problem on mobile platforms than they are on the desktop. After them, Kaspersky's Roman Unuchek will discuss how malicious redirection is used to target mobile users.

The common trend among these presentations is that most of them focus on Android which, when it comes to malware, is for the phone what Windows still is for the desktop. We are thus excited that right after the lunch break, three researchers from Google's Android Security Team will explain their approach for securing the Android platform against malware.

The full programme for the conference can be found here, and interviews with many of the presenters about their research interests and what they hope to bring to the conference can be read in the 'speaker spotlight' series of blog posts.

VB2013 runs from 2 to 4 October in Berlin, Germany.

Registration is still open, so why not use your mobile phone - or your desktop computer - to buy a ticket and join us for what promises to be an exciting event!

Posted on 19 September 2013 by Martijn Grooten

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