Security Experts:

Majority of Top Android Apps Easily Reverse Engineered: Report

Most of the top 200 and top 100 applications available for Android users via the Google Play store can be decompiled and reverse engineered, a new report from mobile application security solutions provider SEWORKS claims.

According to the security company, 85 percent of the top 200 most popular free applications in the official Android marketplace can be decompiled, and the same applies to 83 of the top 100 paid apps in the store. Since the process is used to reverse engineer software to expose the source code, these applications can become easy targets for exploits, including malware injection and ad fraud.

Most worrying is the fact that some of the most popular retail, messaging, photo sharing, and streaming service applications are included in the top 200 Android applications. Furthermore, puzzle, sandbox, and real-time strategy games are among these highly vulnerable applications, the security firm says.

The report reveals that 87 percent of the top 100 free game applications in Google Play are decompilable, a list that includes multiplayer, match-3, and real-time strategy installments, along with games based on recent popular movies. 80 percent of the top 100 non-game free applications in the storefront are also decompilable.

SEWORKS also found that 95 percent of the top 200 free apps in Google Play can be reverse engineered, and that the same applies to 82 percent of the top 100 paid apps in the marketplace. The researchers used a SaaS-based scanner service to find apps that can be reverse engineered through the apps' shared object library and DEX file with malicious tools available on the Internet.

"We are publicizing our findings to warn the industry at large of the dangers they are currently exposed to, which app developers can still fix through relatively simple precautions. Until these protections are put in place, over a billion Android owners are vulnerable due to these decompilable apps," SEWORKS founder and CEO Min-Pyo Hong, said.

Android has been the target of choice for a large number of malicious attacks lately, and many of these attacks were carried out using infected mobile applications, such as BrainTest, a malicious game app estimated to have infected up to one million devices. In early October, FireEye researchers revealed a malicious adware campaign that affected Android users in more than 20 countries via popular apps such as browsers, calculators, games, and sharing tools. 

RelatedBuilding Android Malware Is Trivial with Available Tools

Related: Securing Mobile in the Enterprise - Identify Risky Apps

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