The bug hijacking smartphones

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 11 Januari 2015 | 20.01

Smartphone users are frustrated with a bug that is redirecting their web clicks. Picture: Sean Gallup / Getty Images Source: Getty Images

IT IS truly a 21st century problem, but one with potentially very serious implications. It may have even happened to you.

Mobile phone users browsing the internet are increasingly having their link clicks hijacked and being diverted from pages they are viewing towards pornography websites or advertisements or even the App Store.

The good news for both iPhone and Android users is that both parent companies — Apple and Google — say they are doing everything they can to protect customers from malicious software on their smart phones.

The bad news is that even the experts don't know what is causing the problem.

Professor Nigel Phair, a former Australian Federal Police officer and head of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre, said the problem is not a new one, but tracking down its origins is almost impossible.

"In cybercrime, attribution is really difficult," Professor Phair told

In recent months users have reported being driven away from web pages towards the App Store, commonly to the landing page for popular puzzle game Candy Crush Saga, which was released in 2012 and was one of the most downloaded games on Android and iPhone.

"It might be a company that promises Candy Crush they can drive content in their direction but I'd be surprised if Candy Crush had to do that," professor Phair said.

Redirects are sending users to the popular Candy Crush Saga game. Picture: Philippe Huguen / AFP Source: AFP

"There are a lot of organisations that are paid to move eyeballs around the internet."

He said the problem was not a precursor to "the next big hack", but that smartphones presented a number of security issues, particularly when users were downloading apps.

"With Android in particular, any man and his dog can make an app and it can be full of anything including malicious software, redirects, anything."

Professor Alistair McGibbon from the University of Canberra and the Centre for Internet Safety agreed.

"Apps generally have proven quite problematic," Professor McGibbon said.

"Often, when you purchase an app you give permission to the creator to access your contacts, all of your to-and-from emails, all of your past and ongoing communications, granular information in exchange for a free game," he said.

The problem affects iPhone and Android devices. Source: Supplied

"I wonder if people know what they're trading off sometimes."

A spokesman for Google Australia told that security checks are in place "before and after purchase".

"When you download an app it lists all the permissions it requires and you have to click yes to approve," he said.

Even after the app is downloaded there's security built in to the phone to prevent one app from accessing another app.

Apple provided a statement saying it would not discuss the security issues.

"For the protection of our customers, Apple does not disclose, discuss or confirm security issues until a full investigation has occurred and any necessary patches or releases are available."

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