University researchers are looking to study how to tackle hackers using malicious colluding apps that attack smartphones after receiving a £3m grant by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Dr Lorenzo Cavallaro, an Information Security Group Lecturer at Royal Holloway University of London, said: "You may think that the phone in your pocket is safe, but think again.
"We're used to considering our phones as a trusted, private channel of communication, and suitable to receive authentication information to access specific online services," Cavallaro said.
Cavallaro's research team will explore the behaviour of apps on Android OS and build new techniques to identify malicious apps, while research teams at City University London, Swansea and Coventry universities will develop app detection mechanism.
City University London professor Tom Chen said: "Existing antivirus products are not designed to detect collusion."
All the research teams have collaborated with security firm McAfee, which is offering them access to a library of safe apps, while assisting in analysing malware to test their behaviours.
McAfee senior principal architect Dr Igor Muttik said:"These cybercriminals often take an industrial approach to malware; they try to maximise their benefits from it.
"So, we need to constantly raise the bar by improving the technology and this will make it more complex and less profitable for them to operate."