The grant is for developing program-analysis techniques to spot malicious apps that are designed to remain hidden.
Royal Holloway has received a share of a £3 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to counter cyber-criminals who are using malicious apps which can collude with each other to infect the smartphone in your pocket. Malware attacks are rising year on year – and over one million new Android malware attacks were identified in 2013 by McAfee, a division of Intel Security.
Dr Johannes Kinder, Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at Royal Holloway, will work jointly with team leader Dr Lorenzo Cavallaro of the Information Security Group to study the behaviour of apps on Android operating systems and develop novel program analysis techniques to spot malicious apps which are designed to remain hidden.
Malicious apps can gain access to address books, GPS coordinates, passwords or pin numbers. They can redirect your data across the net, send you to phishing sites and also bypass the two-step authentication process used to access an ever-increasing number of online services such as banking or email. Criminals can monetise this information in a number of ways – by getting your phone to send messages to premium numbers, by remotely controlling an infected phone, by tricking you into revealing passwords and by using your stolen data.
The £3 million is funding two app research teams at Royal Holloway and City University London, Coventry and Swansea Universities as well as three teams carrying out research to enhance the UK’s cyber-security.