‘Al Qaeda on your Android’: Smartphones new frontier in terror war

Suspected Yemeni al-Qaeda militants sit with handcuffs. Credit: Getty Images
Suspected Yemeni Al Qaeda militants sit in handcuffs.
Credit: Getty Images

A smartphone app that could hijack an airplane using an Android phone, according to its developer, was unveiled last week. “You can use this system to modify everything related to navigation of the plane,” announced U.S. developer Hugo Teso, who created PlaneSploit to test security.

Aviation authorities played down fears, claiming that current software is not vulnerable to a terrorist takeover. But radical groups are embracing new smartphone platforms.

“We are hearing that Al Qaeda-linked groups are developing something similar (to PlaneSploit),’’ Nico Prucha, scholar of Fariq Jawwal Al-Ansar (FJA) — Al Qaeda’s digital branch — at the University of Vienna, told Metro. “The main focus of their handbook is recruitment and propaganda through Bluetooth packages, but we are also seeing more sophisticated mobile hacks.”

Mobiles are increasingly vulnerable – a recent report found malware attacks on them increased 163% in 2012. More than 95% of these targeted Android phones, with thousands of popular apps for the platform used to allow hostile takeover.

“The switch toward phones and away from computers is phenomenal,” Nigel Stanley, mobile expert at Bloor security, told Metro. “The most common attacks come through popular games from nonlicensed app stores – and terror groups use them to make the phone a ‘spy device’ or to steal funds.”

Security has improved around FJA programmes, with communication encrypted and anonymous. “It’s more difficult to follow them now, and the message are distributed quickly and efficiently,” says Prucha.

Yet applications are also used to fight terrorists. In 2012, the U.S. government released the Tag Challenge app aiming to crowdsource information on suspects, while Tactical Nav follows Taliban activities.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…