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Major smartphone OEMs and wireless carriers agree to support anti-theft measures

Posted by wicked April - 16 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

smartphone theft

Like with any other valuable object, smartphones are often the target of thieves. Many lawmakers and even carriers and device manufacturers have questioned how to implement features on devices that would cut down on theft, but until now there hasn’t been much of a united stance in making that happen.

On Tuesday, a group of wireless carriers and smartphone manufacturers voluntarily agreed to start including anti-theft measures on smartphones next year. The list of companies that have pledged support include major US carriers like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, as well as big smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, but also including OEMs like HTC, Motorola, and Nokia. It’s not an all-inclusive list, but it’s a ton of names, regardless.

This voluntary agreement means that all companies on the list will start shipping devices with security and anti-theft measures preloaded beginning July in 2015. Since the major US carriers are on board, that likely means that even if the manufacturer of a certain phone isn’t in compliance, the carrier is going to enforce it to be allowed on their network. These new features will allow users to remotely wipe and deactivate a phone, and keep it deactivated until they regain possession of the device.

Some lawmakers still have a bit of criticism over this agree, however. As it stands, the security measures will be forced onto the devices, but nothing forces the consumers from turning the feature on. If those features aren’t turned on, the devices will still be just as easy to steal as they have been in the past. Many lawmakers want these features to be mandatory and automatically turned on to ensure that they can be more effective.

However you look at the situation, this is still a step in the right direction towards cutting down on stolen devices.

source: Recode

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Google expands Android’s ‘Verify apps’ feature for security

Posted by wicked April - 10 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

verify_apps_beyond_google_play

Security is something very important these days. And Google is taking the extra step to give the massive amount of Android users it has safe. Android already has the ‘Verify apps’ feature. What this does is scans applications from outside sources and not from Google Play. But now, Google will make the ‘Verify apps’ feature continually scan your device for applications that are rather suspicious.

Chances are you will not ever be affected by a suspicious application, though. Google says “that fewer than 0.18% of installs in the last year occurred after someone received a warning that the app was potentially harmful.” So if you are downloading applications from somewhere other than the Play Store, just proceed with caution.

Source: Android Official Blog

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Heartbleed only an issue for Android 4.1.1

Posted by wicked April - 9 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

There has been plenty of talk regarding “Heartbleed” lately. For those who may have somehow missed that story, the simple version is that Heartbleed is a flaw in OpenSSL. But while that is simple to say, this is causing issues for quite a few people. On the flip side, we do have a bit of good news for Android users.

It seems Heartbleed is only causing issues for one specific version of Android. Google recently shared some details on the official Online Security Blog and mentioned how “all versions of Android are immune to CVE-2014-0160 (with the limited exception of Android 4.1.1.)” For reference, CVE-2014-0160 is Heartbleed.

There hasn’t been any specific timeline given as to when an update can be expected for Android 4.1.1. Google said “patching information for Android 4.1.1 is being distributed to Android partners.” Basically, it sounds like Google has the fix ready for 4.1.1 users and it is just a matter of when the partners and carriers are ready to begin the rollouts.

Google has combined some of the numbers in recent distribution reports so it is hard to get an accurate figure here. But that said, according to the numbers coming from earlier this month, Android 4.1.x currently accounts for 34.4 percent of Android usage. We can only hope the patching update rolls out quickly, and that Android 4.1.1 makes up a small percentage of the overall Android 4.1.x figure.

SOURCE: Google Online Security Blog

Updated LastPass app now autofills passwords in Android apps and mobile Chrome browsers

Posted by wicked March - 26 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

LastPass

LassPass, a fantastic password manager, has updated their Android application to create a much better experience across the Android OS. The new app will now autofill passwords in on your mobile applications, as well as the mobile Chrome browser. Autofilling passwords are already handled by Chrome, but if you use LastPass, you already know that it’s a slightly more secure, easier to manage option.

The biggest advantage now is the autofill option in applications. As long as you’re on Android 4.1 and up, whenever you open an app that has a username and password field, a pop up will appear that will let LastPass fill in your information. Since very few apps offer the ability to save passwords, this will definitely save you a lot of typing.

You can find the updated LastPass app below. The app is a 14 day trial, and you’ll have to subscribe to a LastPass premium service ($12 a year) to continue using it after the trial.

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Play Store Download Link

Come comment on this article: Updated LastPass app now autofills passwords in Android apps and mobile Chrome browsers

Next Android version may have enterprise security in mind

Posted by wicked March - 25 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

One truth remains a hurdle for Android: it’s just not a great platform for enterprise. From a consumer perspective, Android is plenty secure. For enterprise, it needs help. With the next “major” version of Android (an “L” release), it seems those entities wanting a mobile platform they can better manage will be coming.


This information comes to us from, well, The Information. According to two of their sources, one who is involved with the latest version of Android and one “briefed” on the upcoming iteration, there will be additional security features cobbled in. This time, there will be the ability to partially wipe a device remotely. That way, if your device is lost or stolen, your company can effectively cover their bases and eliminate access to a VPN.

This is also useful if you change departments or leave your job. It also makes a BYOD program more attractive, as a partition of company data can be wiped clean if you’re no longer with an employer. Google is also said to be working with chipset manufacturers on various changes to assist with this vision.

Google may be asking chipset OEMs to let passwords be stored on their chips. There is also talk of stronger encryption, though no details are offered up just yet. Of course, it’s still early days for the next Android, and we’ve got no reliable timeframe for when we’ll get this “L” release.

Firefox Beta for Android gets updated to support Firefox accounts, data sync

Posted by wicked March - 21 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

firefox sync

Mozilla’s “Firefox Accounts,” introduced earlier this year, was created to help sync all data used between the Firefox browsers on your computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. This information includes passwords, browsing history, bookmarks, settings, open tabs, etc.

Now, support for Firefox Accounts has come to its Android beta app. You’ll be able to turn on the feature by tapping on the message that will appear when you open up a new tab while using the updated app for the first time.

Hit the break below for the full changelog as well as a link to the app in the Play Store.

  • Search suggestions available for Bing search engine
  • The ability to set up Firefox Sync by creating a Firefox account (learn more)
  • Added multiple quick share buttons
  • Locales added: Hindi [hi-IN], Indonesian [id], Latvian [lv]

qr codePlay Store Download Link

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White House may drop BlackBerry after testing Samsung, LG smartphones

Posted by wicked March - 21 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

obama_on_smartphone

President Obama, it may be time to put down your beloved BlackBerry. Both the White House’s internal technology team and the White House Communications Agency have started testing smartphones from Samsung and LG. Also, the United States Department of Defense is also testing other devices. A Samsung spokesman would not confirm any of this; however, they did say the company is interested in the government sector. LG decided to just deflect any knowledge of the situation.

What would this mean for BlackBerry? The company relies heavily upon government and enterprise accounts and losing the White House would be yet another blow. BlackBerry remains heavily behind Android and has yet to find a plan to get back on track. The good news is that that any possible change in smartphones would take some time to actually happen. So for now, Mr. President, you can hang on to that BlackBerry.

And what would it mean for Samsung and LG? For Samsung, it would be huge as the company has really put a ton of time into building a solid infrastructure. Just look at Samsung Knox. LG would gain some attention if gaining this massive account and perhaps build a larger presence in the enterprise business.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Updated Skype application promises to save more battery life

Posted by wicked March - 18 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

skype

Many Skype users prefer to stay logged out of the service on their phones and tablets while not video chatting because of a fear of drained battery. If you remember, Google admitted that the Nexus 5 battery is currently experiencing faster battery drain due to the camera communicating with apps such as Skype.

Skype just updated the Android app to version 4.7, which will hopefully alleviate the situation. Just one other change includes message notifications in group chats being turned off by default.

Battery life is precious these days, so anything Skype can do to improve the situation is good news.

qr codePlay Store Download Link

 

 

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Samsung_Galaxy_S_4_Back_Samsung_Logo_TA

If this claim is true, Samsung has some explaining to do. According to the folks that develop Replicant, Samsung has “remote access to data.” Now that is a very large claim to be making. So what do they mean? To do this, Replicant says that Android’s largest hardware manufacturer is utilizing two processors as a backdoor to gain user information. The applications processor handles all of the usual functions; however, the other is for the communication coming to and from the handset.

The issue comes from the latter, the baseband/modem processor. Replicant is claiming that this processor uses Samsung’s own software and has the ability to modify a user’s storage and data. The devices affected include the Nexus S, Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Galaxy S 3, Galaxy Note II, and potentially the Galaxy S 4 and Note 3.

After this news broke yesterday, Ars Tchnica did a little bit of questioning to find out more about this concern. They sat down with Dan Rosenberg, a senior security researcher at Azimuth Security. First off, Rosenberg does not believe that Samsung is using a backdoor to do any of this. He says “there is virtually no evidence for the ability to remotely execute this functionality” due to Samsung’s own software. So if Samsung is doing something, they are not doing it very quietly.

Rosenberg clarifies that not everything is exposed. Only data related to the device’s radio and SD card can be read; however, this is something that every application requires. He then makes it clear that Samsung was not using this to snoop, but instead to actually perform a function. Also, Rosenberg feels that the real issue that should be addressed is that this can allow files involving the modem to be modified.

Source: CNET, Ars Technica

Come comment on this article: Developer claims Samsung is using a backdoor to access user data, but security expert disagrees

Lookout reports on Dendroid malware creation tool

Posted by wicked March - 7 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Malware on Android, though controversial, isn’t exactly a new topic. But seeing a complete development suite that helps others create malware that has managed to evade Google Play Store’s security is definitely an alarming development.

Mobile security expert Lookout is going through great lengths to explain the case of Dendroid, which brands itself as an HTTP Android Remote Administration Tool. The professional-sounding phrase is just a sugary way to say that it is a remote access toolkit that gives miscreants the tools to take control of someone’s device, resources, and data. What’s more, it is actually a tool that helps other people in creating malware that can then be installed on others’ Android smartphones.

Unlike other malware toolkits in the market, Dendroid offers the whole shebang of capabilities, including intercepting and sending messages, taking videos or photos, acquiring browser history and data, recording calls, and more. All without the user knowing, of course. What’s more, Dendroid makes the process completely stress free for the malicious wannabe. All of these features and conveniences for a single $300 lifetime purchase, with Bitcoins for the ultimate anonymity.

What is even more worrying is how Dendroid is boasting how it can help evade Bouncer, Google Play Store’s automated anti-malware checker. Dendroid employed an anti-emulation mode that doesn’t execute known bad code so as not to trigger Bouncer’s alarms. So far only one such malware created with the help of Dendroid was found and was reported and promptly taken down.

dendroid-advert-copy

The growing sophistication and brazenness of tools that simplify the malware creation process is quite worrying and Lookout reminds Android users to take due diligence in keeping their devices and data safe. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have Lookout’s security app installed as well.

SOURCE: Lookout