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Google Warning: Tens Of Millions Of Android Phones Come Preloaded With Dangerous Malware

Millions of shiny new Android smartphones are being purchased with dangerous malware factory-installed, according to Google’s own security research team. There have been multiple headlines about the millions of harmful apps being installed from the Play Store, but this is something new. And the danger to unsuspecting users, trusting that new boxed devices are safe and clean, is that some of that preinstalled malware can download other malware in the background, commit ad fraud, or even take over its host device.

Android is a thriving open-source community, which is great for innovation but not so great when threat actors seize the opportunity to hide malware in basic software loads that come on boxed devices. New phones can have as many as 400 apps factory-installed, many of which we just ignore. But it transpires that many of those apps have not been vetted. The apps themselves will work as billed, providing a useful capability or service, so we can be forgiven for not considering the risk that might lurk within.

Google’s Maddie Stone, a security researcher with the company’s Project Zero, shared her team’s findings at Black Hat on Thursday. “If malware or security issues come as preinstalled apps,” she warned, “then the damage it can do is greater, and that’s why we need so much reviewing, auditing and analysis.”

The risk impacts Android’s Open-Source Project (AOSP), a lower-cost alternative to the full-fat version. AOSP is installed on lower-cost smartphones where cheaper software alternatives help keep prices down. This means owners of Android-badged devices from the likes of Samsung and Google itself are safe from this particular risk.

For an attacker, Stone warned, the benefit of supply chain compromise is that they “only have to convince one company to include their app, rather than thousands of users.” The Google team didn’t disclose any details of the brands of phones involved, but more than 200 device manufacturers fell foul of the testing, with malware allowing the devices to be attacked remotely.

Of particular concern were two particularly virulent malware campaigns: Chamois and Triada. Chamois generates various flavors of ad fraud, installs background apps, downloads plugins and can even send premium rate text messages. Chamois alone was found to have come installed on 7.4 million devices. Triada is an older variant of malware, one that also displays ads and installs apps.

Google is working to help device manufacturers screen for such vulnerabilities, and between March 2018 and March 2019, Stone claims such screening helped reduce the instances of devices infected by Chamois from 7.4 million to “only” 700,000. “The Android ecosystem is vast,” she warned, “with a diversity of OEMs and customizations—if you are able to infiltrate the supply chain out of the box, then you already have as many infected users as how many devices they sell—that’s why it’s a scarier prospect.”

In the meantime, the usual advice applies around downloading and installing apps from the Play Store. A healthy dose of skepticism does not go amiss when the app is from an unknown source. Not much users can do if those threats come preinstalled, though, and that’s why this revelation is so dangerous. For this one we need to rely on manufacturers to do the right thing and follow Google’s advice in screening software fully to eradicate such risks.

I am the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers, a provider of video surveillance and analytics technologies to security and defense agencies as well as commercial organizations. I cover the sectors in which DB operates, potential conflicts are highlighted.

Source: Google Warning: Tens Of Millions Of Android Phones Come Preloaded With Dangerous Malware

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Samsung Pay Comes to Africa, Launching In South Africa – Toby Shapshak

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Samsung Pay, the mobile payment from the world’s largest smartphone maker, has launched in South Africa.

Calling it the first such service in Africa, Samsung has partnered with two of South Africa’s big banks, Absa and Standard Bank through MasterCard and Visa cards.

The system took three years to set up, says Sung Yoon, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics Africa, working with the banks and the regulatory body, the Payments Association of South Africa (Pasa).

Because of the country’s mobile-first nature, he says “acceptance of Samsung Pay at launch in South Africa is much better than 2015 in the US when it launched. People in South Africa understand the technology better today, too, than users in the US did three years ago.”

Samsung Pay uses Galaxy handsets from the world’s largest smartphone maker to make payments using both MST and NFC technology – or tapping your phone on a point-of-sale terminal.

Once the app has been installed and credit cards have been added, people can make a payment just by authenticating themselves in the app – using a Pin code, fingerprint or iris scan.

The security is built on its “defence-grade Samsung Knox security platform and biometric authentication” which it installs on its smartphones.

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5 Ways To Become a Better Writer Using Android Apps and Tools – Jennifer Lockman

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Technology has definitely changed the art of writing and the means we can use to get our points across. Not so long ago everything involved handwriting (and then typing) a draft, spending hours on revision and proofreading, and eventually submitting a finished text to an editor’s red pen.

Thus, doing this kind of work well still takes skills, talent, and perseverance. Luckily for us due to the evolution of technology, everyone with an Android device or access to the internet can get the help needed to write and polish a paper. Whether you’re writing a college paper or the next Great American Novel, there are multiple apps available to help you with the entire process.

Take noteswriting and technology

If you’re a writer, you need a note-taking app you can rely on. Thus, you can spend more time brainstorming and less time waiting for inspiration to come. Plus, you can jot down your thoughts on the go.

Evernote

Evernote is one of the most downloaded apps on the Android market. Its logo is an elephant not by chance. This animal is known for a good memory. The app is created for the users not to forget anything important. Hence the symbolism. Evernote allows you capturing, organizing, and storing almost any type of digital note with your phone.

FiiNote

FiiNote is one of the hottest note-taking apps right now. It offers Android users a special feature: combined handwriting and keyboard. You can even paint illustrations! Additional features include voice typing, photo and video support, calendar, alarm and a to-do list.

2 Research

We all got writing assignments in school and college. So, you know the importance of deep and careful research in tailoring an excellent academic paper. It’s no less crucial for nonfiction because the story must be believable. In nonfiction, accurate research can make or break a writer.

Wikipedia

The official Wikipedia Android app is designed to help users quickly find and explore information on Wikipedia. You can make a voice-integrated search, create reading lists, see articles related to your GPS location, and more.

Instapaper and Pocket

These apps belong to a “read it later” type. They let you save any stuff you find on the web, from articles to videos, for easy access later. Instapaper and Pocket are similar. So, you’ll have to choose your favorite based on your personal preferences. They both offer a reading mode free of excess ads and images, an offline reading mode, and text-to-speech options.

3 Create content

Typing on your smartphone is not as convenient as on your laptop. But you can’t take your laptop with you everywhere you go. Do writing a great experience with the right software.

iA Writer has an integrated file browser that helps to simply organize and access all your documents. The black screen keeps your eyes from strain. Syntax highlighting shows you all nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs or conjunctions in the document. There’re also such features as auto-correction, word and character count, a preview mode, fast syncing, etc. This app is used for writing essays, screenplays, novels, white papers, business proposals, and other types of documents.

Monospace Writer

The app is equipped with a minimalistic dark theme that is easy on your eyes. It’s important as writing takes a lot of time. Monospace Writer is not as feature rich as iA writer, but it has its fans. You can use hashtags to organize related articles. Formatting options include the most essential styles: bold, italics, quote and bullet. You can export your content to a Markdown or Plain text.

JotterPad

JotterPad is a well-designed writing app with valuable features. The distraction-free interface allows a writer to focus on turning thoughts into text. It supports Markdown and has export options to PDF and DOCX. The app includes a built-in dictionary, extended keyboard, phrase finding, word and character count, and more.

4 Find the right wordswriting and technology

A great vocabulary is an essential tool in a writer’s toolbox. You must empower your writing with the best words and stay with the newest words.

Advanced English Dictionary & Thesaurus

This app has a lexical database with more than 1.4 million words. The dictionary doesn’t follow the standard format. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are gathered into groups of synonyms. The dictionary provides the definition, the examples of usage, synonyms, antonyms, and even hyponyms of the word.

Urban Dictionary

It’s important for a writer to stay in sync with the current language. Update your vocabulary with Urban Dictionary. The app contains words and phrases that are used by young people. You can actually define any word, whether it’s slang or not.

5 Edit and proofread

Polishing your works has never been easier. Android apps are easy-to-use and save time on editing.

Ginger Page

Ginger Page is a powerful productivity-focused app. It automatically detects and corrects all grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. The sentence rephraser will offer you the synonyms to replace boring words. Your writing will sound more exciting.

Spell Checker

You may be good at spelling. But there’s always a possibility of typos in your work. Spell Checker will find all spelling mistakes and offer suggestions from inbuilt dictionary, which is formed from Wikipedia’s most widely used words. You can correct your content without an internet access.

Classic Text to Speech Engine

This app converts a document into a naturally audible voice file. Why should you listen to your work? It allows you to spot errors you’ve made in your writing. You’ll notice missing words and misspelled words. You’ll also be able to hear the rhythm of your speech and polish the flow of the work if necessary.

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How Android gets to 100% market share — TechCrunch

Android commands more than 80 percent of the mobile OS market share globally, and just less than 60 percent in the U.S. But you wouldn’t know it here in Silicon Valley — almost everyone I know has an iPhone. As the consumer technology landscape evolves over the next five years, however, there are a number…

via How Android gets to 100% market share — TechCrunch

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