Google Play Updated and Hacked in Less Than a Week
March 24, 2014
By Andre Revilla, TMCnet Contributing Writer
Users of the Google (News - Alert) Play store were having some trouble accessing updates recently when a hacker brought down Google’s app publishing system. The publishing system known as Google’s Developer Console crashed for the first time mid-day Sunday. While something like this might go unnoticed by the common observer, that is until you need an update on that latest app, it was certainly felt in the developer community.
Many developers were unable to upload to the Google Play Store Monday afternoon. Some of the developers commented that the issue seem to get resolved Monday mid-day but others expressed the opposite, “problem started again,” reads one comment. Throughout the blackout Android (News - Alert) users did not have any access to new apps or updates, and considering that Android is 80 percent of the smartphone market right now, the ripples traveled far.
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According to the hacker that claimed responsibility, Ibrahim Balic, he was simply a developer testing a vulnerability he discovered when the system crashed. According to Balic he had written an app intended to exploit the flaw, but was surprised when it worked and subsequently caused everyone to be booted offline. “I didn't have any malicious aim," he told CNNMoney. "I am so sorry for this damage." After the mishap, Balic uploaded the app to the Google servers a second time, and again he crashed the system. Was it deliberate, or perhaps an honest mistake? "I just wanted to be sure about (the) vulnerability," he continued. “I really didn’t want to cause any damage but I couldn’t stop my feelings and I wanted to test it on Google’s Android Bouncer by uploading the malformed APK to Google Play. Then I realized that it caused Denial of Service on Google Play!”
Balic gave Google notice of the issue and Google reps said that the issued affected “a subset of developers” and stressed the point that pre-existing apps were still available for download. This all happened within a 4 day window of Google Play being updated, which reflected poorly on the much anticipated update and subsequent country expansion.
Critics point out that when it happened a second time, it became difficult to call the mishap an accident, their position bolstered by the fact that Balic took down an Apple (News - Alert) developer page the year prior.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker