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Google boots major Android app developer from store for conducting massive ad fraud

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Ultra secure email: Gmail adds MTA-STS and TLS Reporting standards
Google rolled out MTA-STS and TLS Reporting support for Gmail servers on April 10, 2019.

Google has begun removing a plethora of apps from the Google Play store belonging to a major developer following an investigation into the apps and their widespread ad fraud practices.

A BuzzFeed News investigation uncovered these illicit practices, conducted by Chinese app developer DO Global, which is in part owned by tech giant Baidu.

The publication found that a minimum of six mobile applications offered by DO Global were deploying adware which enforced click-fraud even when users were not actively present in the app. 

Click fraud is often embedded in apps and online services to generate clicks fraudulently in order to receive payouts by advertising networks. 

The apps in question were posted under generic publisher names and did not disclose they were owned by DO Global, which is in itself a violation of Google Play policies.

See also: Bad bots now make up 20 percent of web traffic

DO Global’s six adware-laden apps were quickly removed, leading to a further 40 applications from the same developer vanishing from the store. Before the crackdown, the developer offered approximately 100 applications with over 600 million installs between them.

Google did not respond to the publication’s request for comment but a source close to the matter implied that DO Global may be issued an outright ban for its activities.

In a statement to the publication, Do Global said that an internal investigation is underway and there are “irregularities in some of our products” use of AdMob advertisements, Google’s mobile advertising service.

This “regrettable” finding has meant that Do Global “fully accepts” Google’s decision to remove the applications.

TechRepublic: Widespread scam campaigns targeting millions uncovered by GoDaddy and Palo Alto Networks

“Moving forward, we will strictly follow relevant regulations and continue conducting a comprehensive review of our products,” the company said. “[…] We offer our sincere apologies.”

Last week, researchers from Avast uncovered 50 Android applications in the fitness and lifestyle Google Play categories which had managed to circumvent the platform’s security barriers in order to serve adware to users. The apps in question were downloaded roughly 30 million times and were connected to each other through third-party libraries used to issue malicious code.

CNET: Lost or stolen Android phone? Here’s how to get it back

Check Point has previously discovered 206 applications in the Google Play store containing the SimBad malware which is not only able to act as adware but is also capable of committing spear phishing attacks. These malicious apps had been downloaded a combined 150 million times.

Previous and related coverage


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Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together

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Software development teams are increasingly focused on identifying and mitigating any issues as quickly and completely as possible. This relates not only to software quality but also software security. Different organizations are at different levels when it comes to having their development teams and security teams working in concert, but the simple fact remains that there are far more developers out there than security engineers.

Those factors are leading organizations to consider security tooling and automation to proactively discover and resolve any software security issues throughout the development process. In the recent report, “GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools,” Shea Stewart examines a roundup of security tools aimed at software development teams.

Stewart identified three critical criteria to bear in mind when evaluating developer security tools. These include:

  • Vendors providing tools to improve application security can and should also enhance an organization’s overall security posture.
  • The prevailing “shift-left” mindset doesn’t necessarily mean the responsibility for reducing risk should shift to development, but instead focusing on security earlier in the process and continuing to do so throughout the development process will reduce risk and the need for extensive rework.
  • Security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is critical for any organization focused on reducing risk.

Figure 1. How Cybersecurity Applies Across Each Stage of the Software Development Lifecycle *Note: This report focuses only on the Developer Security Tooling area

Individual vendors have made varying levels of progress and innovation toward enhancing developer security. Following several acquisitions, Red Hat, Palo Alto Networks, and Rapid7 have all added tooling for developer security to their platforms. Stewart sees a couple of the smaller vendors like JFrog and Sonatype as continuing to innovate to remain ahead of the market.

Vendors delving into this category and moving deeper into “DevSecOps” all seem to be taking different approaches to their enhanced security tooling. While they are involving security in every aspect of the development process, some tend to be moving more quickly to match the pace of the SDLC. Others are trying to shore up existing platforms by adding functionality through acquisition. Both infrastructure and software developers are now sharing toolsets and processes, so these development security tools must account for the requirements of both groups.

While none of the 12 vendors evaluated in this report can provide comprehensive security throughout the entire SDLC, they all have their particular strengths and areas of focus. It is therefore incumbent upon the organization to fully and accurately assess its SDLC, involve the development and security teams, and match the unique requirements with the functionality provided by these tools. Even if it involves using more than one at different points throughout the process, focus on striking a balance between stringent security and simplifying the development process.

Read more: Key Criteria for Evaluating Developer Security Tools, and the Gigaom Radar for Developer Security Tool Companies.

The post Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together appeared first on Gigaom.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

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Cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary practice that not only grows in complexity annually but evolves nearly as quickly. A survey of the security landscape today would reveal concerns ranging from the classic compromised servers to the relatively new DevSecOps practices aimed at securing the rapid deployment of new code and infrastructure. However, some things remain constant no matter how much change is introduced. While technology evolves and complexity varies, there is almost always a human component in
risks presented to an organization.

User Behavior Analysis (UBA) was designed to analyze the actions of users in an organization and attempt to identify normal and abnormal behaviors. From this analysis, malicious or risky behaviors can be detected. UBA solutions identify events that are not detectable using other methods because, unlike classic security tools (an IDS or SIEM for example), UBA does not simply pattern match or apply rule sets to data to identify security events. Instead, it looks for any and all deviations from baseline user activity.

As technology advanced and evolved, and the scope of what is connected to the network grew, the need to analyze entities other than users emerged. In response, entity analysis has been added to UBA to create UEBA or User and Entity Behavior Analysis. The strategy remains the same, but the scope of analysis has expanded to include entities involving things like daemons, processes, infrastructure, and so on.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools

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As we learned in the associated GigaOm report, “Key Criteria for Evaluating Developer Security Tools,” the most cost-effective method for reducing risk in software development is to identify and fix issues as close to the developer as possible. As the number of software developers continues to vastly outnumber the number of security professionals allocated to any software project, organizations need to invest in security tooling and automation that can help software developers consider and mitigate security risks in a proactive manner.

Add to this situation an appreciation for how the role of the developer has changed vastly over the last few years: Developers aren’t just responsible for software components; they can write infrastructure components, security controls, automations/integrations, and so forth. This has blended the worlds of the traditional software developers and the infrastructure and operations teams responsible for the environments that software components are deployed to. A much wider range of job titles can be incorporated into the developer role now, which requires the same security tooling and process oversight as does traditional software development.

As we consider how to evaluate vendors for developer security tools, we need to take these points into account:

  • All vendors involved in improving application security can contribute to an organization’s overall enhanced security posture.
  • “Shift-left” mindsets do not imply that the work of reducing risk is simply shifted to the developer, but rather that adding a focus on security early in the process will reduce risk and rework as software moves through the delivery pipeline.
  • Security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is key for any organization that is focused on reducing risk.

In this report we have identified a number of vendors that address the specific need to catch and remediate security issues earlier in the software development lifecycle, which we articulate in the report as table stakes, key criteria, and evaluation metrics. While we review 12 vendor solutions here, we ruled out many more, including several offering capabilities focused on runtime protection, which merit review in upcoming GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar Reports.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools appeared first on Gigaom.

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