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Symantec discovers new malware with potential to exploit interest around Arab Spring
Source: BI-ME , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Thu December 29, 2011 1:01 pm

UAE. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the impact of the Internet, social media, and even the availability of cheap cell phones on the uprisings in the Middle East. Three major themes from 2011 – mobile malware, hacktivism and the “Arab Spring” – have converged in a new threat dubbed Android.Arspam by Symantec.

Based on our research, the malicious version was only distributed through forums focusing on Middle Eastern issues, utilizing the open nature of Android operating platforms to grow and spread the attack by means of ‘Hacktivism.’

Hacktivism is based on an activist agenda where there may be no visible monetary gain by the instigator. Instead the overall goal is to send a message or get a point across. Even though, on occasion, the message may be something many will sympathize with, this doesn’t mean it’s a victimless crime. In many cases, the cost of getting an agenda across may involve using resources, even people without consent.

“The Middle East has undoubtedly seen a rise in hacktivism and cybercrime in 2011, not only is it an emerging market that has great financial appeal for cybercriminals but the region plays host to an increasingly connected and mobile online community that offers great scope for those looking to exploit these devices to reach a wider audience. The ‘Arab Spring’ is just one of many trending topics that are attracting a higher volume of online traffic which is essentially where the low hanging fruits lie,” said Bulent Teksoz, Chief Security Strategist, Emerging Markets, Symantec.

“In a way, this threat is a testament to the rise of Hacktisivm. Attacks like Android.Arspam further offer Hacktivists and cybercriminals targeting this region an opportunity to test and develop their methods. It is of crucial importance that individuals and organizations secure themselves across all devices as these ‘gateway’ threats become more sophisticated and potentially harmful.”
How does it work?

The Android.Arspam Trojan was embedded into a pirated, popular Islamic compass app. The official version of the app, available on the Android Market, is not affected and, as the screenshot indicates, this pirated app contains expanded permissions beyond what is requested from the official one.

After the installation of the app, the code goes to work on device start up, silently working in the background as a service called “alArabiyyah”. It randomly picks one link from a list of eighteen and then sends out an SMS message to every contact in the address book of the compromised device, sending them a link to a forum site. Each forum site has identical content and appears to be a tribute to Mohamed Bouaziz.

About Symantec

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world. Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available at www.symantec.com.

This forward-looking indication of plans for products is preliminary and all future release dates are tentative and are subject to change.  Any future release of the product or planned modifications to product capability, functionality or feature are subject to ongoing evaluation by Symantec, and may or may not be implemented and should not be considered firm commitments by Symantec and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions.

 

MIDDLE EAST BUSINESS COMMENT & ANALYSIS

date:Posted: September 1, 2014
UAE. The Middle East's top brands have grown by an average of 38%, according to The Brand Finance Middle East 50; This brings the total value of the top 50 above US$50 billion for the first time; Emirates holds the top spot and remains far ahead of the rest.
date:Posted: September 1, 2014
SAUDI ARABIA. Consumer spending also remained robust; Non-oil exports rebound owing to greater production of petrochemicals and plastics.
date:Posted: September 1, 2014
INTERNATIONAL. Oil markets since 2011 have become less price sensitive to actual supply disruptions, especially to those geopolitical events that have taken place since the Arab Spring.
UAE. The Middle East's top brands have grown by an average of 38%, according to The Brand Finance Middle East 50; This brings the total value of the top 50 above US$50 billion for the first time; Emirates holds the top spot and remains far ahead of the rest.
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