Walled-garden Android platform security easily copied
Facebook has insisted that losing control of the private key used to sign its Facebook Basics app is no biggie despite totally unrelated apps from other vendors, signed with the same key, popping up in unofficial repositories.
Targeted mainly at third-world countries, Facebook Basics is the latest incarnation of Internet.org and Free Basics. The idea was to offer free access to Facebook-owned internet properties (and only Facebook-owned ones) with the intention of getting the great unconnected hooked on The Social Network, WhatsApp and Instagram.
So it was that last week the Android Police website, something between an online souk and an occasional tech blog, informed the world that "random APKs" were being uploaded to its Android app mirror site – with Facebook's key signature. The site maintains its own APK repository, parallel to the Google Play store.
"In the last month, we've spotted third-party apps using a debug signing key which matched the key used by Facebook for its Free Basics Android app," wrote Android Police. The site's owner, Artem Russakovskii, said he reported the key compromise to Facebook after spotting unrelated APKs with the same key signature. He also claimed that because he tweeted about it publicly after reporting it, Facebook had refused to pay out a bug bounty.
For its part, Facebook quietly re ..