When the NHSX contact tracing app was made available in the app stores last Thursday we decided to take a quick look at its operation and how the code has been put together. We used the Android version and the excellent MobSF tools to do our reversing analysis. On Friday the full source code of the app was also published on github.
The eBay concept first came to light as a browser based auction platform, giving sellers a chance to offer their goods to potential buyers from across the globe, before making the transition to become one of the world’s most popular mobile auction apps. Others have since emerged, with mobile auction apps giving event organisers the tools to simplify setup and management, and buyers the simplicity and speed of making bids and performing transactions with the swipe of a finger. Of course, every financial opportunity throws itself open to dishonest practices -- and mobile auction apps are no exception. Scalping and sniping are two of the major issues faced by mobile auction operators.
More details of the UK's controversial NHSX contact tracing app are being released as the app starts a wider scale trial on the Isle of Wight this week. NHSX is a digital transformation group associated with the UK National Health Service.
Why controversial? There are many reasons, some to do with how the app development was initially procured, but also specifically from a technical perspective as the UK has opted for a centralised contact tracing approach rather than the decentralised model being championed by Apple and Google amongst others (including ourselves).
Google announced Android App Bundles a couple of years ago at I/O 2018. App Bundles are a new app publishing format providing new features that have rapidly driven their adoption. In particular App Bundle delivery enables automatic splitting of various assets within the overall app package, so they are only delivered to a device if they are actually needed.
Approov lets your mobile app prove to a backend API that it really is the official mobile app making the call, and that it is not running in an environment that may be compromised. Only requests from the apps that you specifically allow can make successful requests.
Our aim is to make the process of integrating Approov into your mobile app as simple as possible. Our Quickstart guides show you how to Approov into your app, tailored to whatever framework or programming style you’ve already adopted. In this blog we are going to cover the comprehensive options we have for Android Native app development.
Recent years have seen a move towards cloud platforms and mobile health apps for citizens -- applications and data processing systems that enable ordinary people to interact with their health providers, make appointments with medical professionals, order prescriptions, and gain on-demand access to their medical records. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is putting greater emphasis on this trend, as citizens clamour for the latest news, advice, and best practices, while government and health organisations look to digital technologies to help them develop treatment protocols, track the progress of the virus spread, and monitor the condition of all those affected.
Last Friday, there was an unusual joint announcement from Apple and Google providing details of a new phone API for Covid-19 contact tracing via Bluetooth. The protocol allows mobile phones to continually transmit Bluetooth advertisements to one another. This includes a proximity identifier derived from randomly generated keys that can be held secretly on each device. If a phone user is later diagnosed with Covid-19, they are able to upload the daily tracing keys for those days when they might have been infectious.
With smartphone usage now a global phenomenon, mobile apps and connectivity are common denominators binding people the world over. And as the world’s nations grapple with the common dilemma of how to manage the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus or COVID-19, it’s little wonder that governments and health authorities across the planet are turning to mobile app technology as a weapon in their crisis management arsenal.