Security company G Data has identified more than 20 mobile phones that have malware installed despite being marketed as new, according to a research report. And it doesn’t appear the infection is occurring during manufacturing.
“Somebody is unlocking the phone and putting the malware on there and relocking the phone,” said Andy Hayter, security evangelist for G Data.
Many of the suspect phones are sold in Asia and Europe through third parties or middlemen and aren’t coming directly from the manufacturers, Hayter said.
Brands of affected phones include Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Alps, ConCorde, DJC, Sesonn and Xido.
G Data has contacted some manufacturers, including Lenovo, whose S860 Android smartphone in one instance was found to have the malware.
Ray Gorman, Lenovo’s executive director of external communications, wrote in an email that the device G Data analyzed came from a third-party marketplace. The malware was installed by middlemen, he wrote.
“This is the only such occurrence we have been made aware of,” Gorman wrote. “We always recommend customers transact with authorized distribution channels and only accept merchandise that comes in an official box with original factory seals.”
The malware is embedded in a legitimate app, such as Facebook, which is sometimes preinstalled on phones, Hayter said. It can read and send text messages, install other apps, collect and change call data, grab location information, record phone calls or send premium SMSes, according to G Data’s report.
It’s impossible for consumers to remove since it resides inside the phone’s firmware.
“You can’t take it off there unless you unlock the phone,” Hayter said.
G Data was alerted to the problem after receiving support calls from users who said a file had been quarantined but that it couldn’t be removed.
The problem has been around for a while. In June 2014, G Data said it found malware in the firmware of a relatively inexpensive Android device made by the Chinese manufacturer Star.
Xiaomi is the latest big phone manufacturer trying to make its own SoCs to differentiate itself from the fearsome competition.
China’s biggest smartphone manufacturer is working on its own SoC that is scheduled to appear in 2016. Details are thin on the ground but it would appear that the company is working on its own ARM based chip. This will help company to compete with Apple, Samsung and Huawei. These three already have an inhouse SoC.
Apple started making its own SoC a while ago with the original iPhone and Samsung has joined in a few years later. This is going to become more common in the phone industry.
Samsung caught everyone by surprise when it announced that its flagship Galaxy S6 and the latest Galaxy 6 Note and edge ended up with a 14nm based 7240 . Before this, they used Qualcomm chips for their high end devices.
HTC ended up using Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 while LG G4 flagship phone chose the Snapdragon 808 which was a slightly slower version of the chip.
Huawei has acquired HiSIlicon SoC manufacturer a few years ago and the company makes its own SoC branded Kirin. The company is doing a decent job with its latest Kirin 930. This “four plus four” A53 chip with one cluster with 2.0 GHz and another with 1.5Ghz seems like a decent chip. It even has Cat 6 modem to compete better.
The future Kirin 950 will have A72 cores and even Cat 10 modems but this is something we will see in course of 2016.
If Xiaomi becomes successful in its SoC plans, it will put Qualcomm and MediaTek in a tough position. The company is using Snapdragon 810 in its MI Note Pro, and Snapdragon 615 in Mi 4i phone.
Redmi Note 2 is using the quite popular MediaTek SoC Helio X10 SoC that ended up in quite a few phones coming from the Far East.
Xiaomi has already developed LC1860 processor for its low end Redmi 2A, which was a sub $100 phone. This was developed by the Xiaomi-owned Pine Cone Electronics working with Chinese chip maker Leadcore Technology. The LC 1860 was significantly less expensive that similar spec Qualcomm chip.
LG has been working on its own SoC codenamed Odin and we still haven’t seen a single device with it. Making SoC chips with an integrated LTE is hard and it costs Qualcomm and MediaTek billions of dollars to refresh the latest offering at least once a year. This was why Nvidia and Texas Instruments have dropped out of this game as it was too hard to compete.
An open saucy general-purpose graphics processor (GPGPU) has been unveiled at the Hot Chips event.
The GPGPU is relatively crude and is part of another piece of an emerging open-source hardware platform called MIAOW.
Karu Sankaralingam, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said that an open source hardware platform is emerging that has inherent value
He said that big companies will someday be built using open source hardware, just as multi-billion-dollar Web giants owe their existence to open source software.
He said more people needed to contribute to open source hardware to improve the platform layer so there’s enough for entrepreneurs to build from it.
A 12-person team developed the MIAOW core in 36 months. Their goal was simply to create a functional GPGPU without setting any specific area, frequency, power or performance goals.
The resulting GPGPU uses just 95 instructions and 32 compute units in its current design. It only supports single-precision operations. Students are now adding a graphics pipeline to the design, a job expected to take about six months.
MIAOW compares favourably on several benchmarks to AMD’s latest high-end chip, Tahiti. However, it also falls far short on other benchmarks. Apparently AMD had a quick look at it and said that the designers were not doing anything “too crazy”.
However quite how MIAOW will navigate through the shark infested patent sea is anyone’s guess.
The move comes amid an explosion in the amount of video viewed on Facebook, posted by regular users, publishers and advertisers alike.
Alongside the uptick in video content, copyright holders have complained about videos posted without their permission. A recent report by video marketing and social media consulting companies Tubular and Social@Ogilvy estimated that a majority of the most popular videos on Facebook were pirated.
On Thursday, Facebook said it would be deploying new video matching technology that will be available to a small group of partners. The tool, Facebook said, will let select media companies, multichannel networks and individual video creators identify matches of their videos posted across Pages, profiles, groups and geographies on the site.
The tool will evaluate millions of video uploads quickly. When matches surface, publishers will be able to report them to Facebook for removal, the company said in a blog post.
Facebook has already been using a system called Audible Magic that uses audio fingerprinting technology to identify and prevent unauthorized videos from making their way to the site.
But the video matching tool, currently in beta, is a new step in Facebook’s broader efforts to establish a content ID system akin to what YouTube uses to quickly identify copyright violations.
On YouTube, copyright owners have the option of running ads against videos that the video sharing site has identified as matches.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter granted $75 million to assist a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane.
Carter said funding for the Obama administration’s newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing , Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
The group will work to advance the development and manufacture of so-called flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used.
“This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products,” Carter said.
He was speaking at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The consortium, which will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, will add $90 million to the federal money. Local governments will chip in more, boosting the group’s total five-year funding level to $171 million.
Defense officials say the rapid development of new technologies around the globe is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing most of its technology itself, as it once did.
The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base.
The European Commission will launch a study in September of the ride-hailing app Uber in an effort to resolve legal disputes that have pitted the U.S. start-up against conventional taxis across Europe, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Since opening in Paris in 2011, San Francisco-based Uber has run into vehement opposition from taxi drivers, who complain it competes unfairly by bypassing local laws on licensing and safety.
Uber has responded by submitting complaints to the European Commission against German and Spanish court bans, as well as a new French law on taxis.
The study will attempt to determine the legal instruments Brussels might use to decide whether Uber is a transport service or just a digital service, an EU official said.
Uber argues it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers. Being considered a transport service might make it subject to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety.
The study will review the regulatory regimes for taxi services in all member states and assess if an EU-wide framework is needed. Currently, taxis and vehicle-with-chauffeur services are regulated at a national level.
“This investigation appears to indicate that the European Commission believes that the manner in which the taxi and private hire sectors are currently regulated in some member states is dysfunctional and is no longer fit for purpose, not to mention new barriers to entry for innovative, technology-based services such as ridesharing,” an Uber spokeswoman said.
The study will run in parallel with a case at the European Union’s top court that could set a precedent for legal battles across the continent. However, it is likely the European Court of Justice will rule before the completion of the study, expected around June next year. In the meantime, the Commission will also continue assessing the complaints against France,Germany and Spain. In May, the Commission asked France for more information on its new taxi law, which Uber says favors regular taxis at its expense.
The Commission has previously said it welcomes innovative services such as Uber as part of the so-called sharing economy - where individuals are put in touch with others offering services, such as travel or accommodation.
Qualcomm has launched its new Official Safety Car for season two of the FIA’s Formula E Championship.
For those not in the know, the Formula E Championship is for electric cars, and they are no longer the milk floats that English people get stuck behind in narrow streets.
The new Official Qualcomm Safety Car is the BMW i8 but it will be charged wirelessly with an advanced Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system.
The Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system delivers twice the amount of energy to the BMW i8′s batteries per hour as compared to last year’s 3.6kW system.
This halves the full charge time, enabling the vehicle to fully charge in one hour. Employing Qualcomm Halo DD technology, with magnetic architecture optimization, ensures higher coupling coefficients and drives lower system currents, higher inefficiencies and the ability to support higher power levels.
A Qualcomm spokesman said that an open championship has encouraged teams to develop their own powertrain tech.
This ensures that the racing remains highly competitive, and it supports the goal of Formula E to advance the development of new technologies for electric vehicles and to bring those technologies, vital to sustainable mobility, to the attention of millions of people around the globe, a spokesman said.
Qualcomm’s general manager of wireless charging, Steve Pazol said Qualcomm was excited to continue its support of Formula E in this second season.
IBM security research has found that people are using the so-called dark net to launch cyber attacks, force ransomware demands on punters and make distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.
The dark net, accessed via Tor, is often tagged as a threat. The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly 3Q 2015 report identifies a spike in bad traffic and leads with a warning.
The report introduces Tor as the network that takes people to the dark net. We might start calling it the ferryman and the passage across the river Styx, but things are complicated enough.
IBM said that Tor is used by “non-malicious government officials, journalists, law enforcement officials” and bad people alike. It is the latter that should concern us.
“This latest report reveals that more than 150,000 malicious events have originated from Tor in the US alone thus far in 2015,” the report said.
“Tor has also played a role in the growing ransomware attack trend. Attackers have evolved the use of encryption to hold data hostage and demand payment/ransom for the decryption code.”
We have been here before, and ransomware has been a feature of many a security alert this year already. We heard, courtesy of Bitdefender, that ransomware charges start at £320, and are a real pain to deal with. We also heard that it is Android mobile users in the UK who get the worst of the hackers’ grabbing-for-money treatment.
Back at the IBM report, and we find IBM X-Force on the issue. X-Force, which is nothing like X-Men, said that hackers push internet users who are easily fooled by flashy online advertisements into installing the new cyber nightmare. Ransomware, it warns, will separate you from your cash.
“A surprising number of users are fooled by fake/rogue antivirus [AV] messages that are nothing more than animated web ads that look like actual products. The fake AV scam tricks users into installing or updating an AV product they may never have had,” it explains, adding that in some cases people pay the money without thinking.
“Afterward, the fake AV keeps popping up fake malware detection notices until the user pays some amount of money, typically something in the range of what an AV product would cost.”
This establishes the subject as a mark, and the hackers will exploit the opportunity. “Do not assume that if you are infected with encryption-based ransomware you can simply pay the ransom and reliably get your data back,” said IBM.
“The best way to avoid loss is to back up your data. Regardless of whether your backup is local or cloud-based, you must ensure that you have at least one copy that is not directly mapped visibly as a drive on your computer.”
Tor nodes in the US spewed out the most bad traffic in the first half of this year, according to the report, adding up to about 180,000 attacks. The Netherlands is second with around 150,000, and Romania is third with about 80,000.
The bulk of this negative attention lands at technology and communications companies. You might have assumed the financial markets, but you were wrong. IBM said that ICT gets over 300,000 Tor thwacks every six months, manufacturing gets about 245,000, and finance gets about 170,000.
IBM said that the old enemy, SQL injection attacks, is the most common Tor-led threat to come at its customers. Vulnerability scanning attacks are also a problem, and IBM said that the use of the network as a means for distributed DoS attacks should “Come as no surprise”. It doesn’t.
“These attacks combine Tor-commanded botnets with a sheaf of Tor exit nodes. In particular, some of the US-based exit nodes provide huge bandwidth,” explained the report.
“Employing a handful of the exit nodes in a distributed DoS orchestrated by the botnet controller and originating at dozens or hundreds of bot hosts can impose a large burden on the targeted system with a small outlay of attacker resources, and generally effective anonymity.”
There is a lot more. The bottom line is that bad things happen on the dark net and that they come to people and businesses through Tor. IBM said that concerned outfits should just block it and move on, which is along the lines of something that Akamai said recently.
“Corporate networks really have little choice but to block communications to these stealthy networks. The networks contain significant amounts of illegal and malicious activity,” said Akamai.
“Allowing access between corporate networks and stealth networks can open the corporation to the risk of theft or compromise, and to legal liability in some cases and jurisdictions.”
That sounds fine to us, but won’t someone give a thought to those non-malicious government officials out there?
Oracle has been sharing a few details about its SPARC processor code-named Sonoma. Sonoma is not a sleeping Italian mama at all but a place where Americans grow wine that Europeans will not touch.
Sonoma is supposed to be a “low-cost SPARC processor for enterprise workloads.” The chip uses the SPARC M7 design, DDR4 memory interfaces, PCIe electronics and InfiniBand interfaces in a single package. Eight SPARC 4th generation cores, hooks into the system RAM and built using a 20nm process with 13 metal layers.
Each package has a shared 8MB L3 cache, shared L2 caches with 512KB per core pair and private L1 32KB caches.
There are two DDR4 memory controllers, each with four DDR4-2133/2400 channels, up to two DIMMs per channel, and up to 1TB of DRAM per socket. Oracle it can manage 77GB/s bandwidth with the wind behind it and if it is going downhill.
Basant Vinaik, Oracle’s senior principal engineer of CPU and I/O verification, told the Hot Chips conference that Sonoma contains a crypto-unit with user-level crypto instructions.
“The cache has been optimized to reduce latency and increase throughput. Sonoma achieves low latency with its integrated memory controller. We use speculative memory read to do this. Software can tune this using threshold registers.”
Days after Apple finally decided to replace faulty cameras on a batch of their premium phones, we find out that there’s a serious design flaw in Samsung’s newest flagship phablet with a pen.
You know how Apple invests a lot of effort into filming gorgeous-looking promotional videos for their overpriced products? And then, sometimes, they don’t really think the products all the way through, so you may end up having to return it for repairs within weeks from splurging on them? We wrote about the issues with the camera on the iPhone 6 plus here.
You know how Samsung was repeatedly accused of shamelessly coppying Apple for years? How there was even a multi billion dollar law suit and an almost equally large court sentence? Honestly, we thought that fining Samsung for going with rounded corners, just like Apple’s, was a bit over the top, but now we’re not sure if the companies aren’t tied together more than we would have believed.
Case in point: Samsung’s newest and arguably best designed phablet to date, the Note 5, seems to have a serious design flaw. And if you ever use the Note 5 pen while drunk, you might get to know that flaw intimately.
As Android Police discovered, it’s very easy to insert the pen into the Note 5 backwards. And if you do, there is a very high chance that you will irreparably break the phone. Namely, the pen clasping mechanism seems to grasp it so firmly, that even if you do manage to pry it out, the mechanism might not function any more. And maybe even more worryingly, the software on the phone won’t recognise the insertion or removal of the pen anymore. So none of that handy S Pen ease of use that Samsung has been so diligently designing over the years.
Well, we’re hoping to find out very soon what exactly Samsung intends to do to mitigate/resolve this little mess in the coming weeks. If we find out first, we’ll let you know asap.
The online retailer is expanding Prime Now, its one- and two-hour service, to Seattle, where the company is headquartered, and offering alcohol deliveries there.
Amazon Prime, the company’s $99 per year shopping membership program, offers free two-day delivery on millions of items. It is a key testing ground for the retailer’s new services, ranging from TV and on-demand video to fast delivery.
Amazon has said it has “tens of millions” of Prime subscribers. Analysts estimate the program to have around 40 million users worldwide.
The company has steadily expanded Prime Now since it launched the service in New York City last year. It facilitates integration of the retailer’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, which has been slower to expand to new markets.
On-demand grocery delivery is a growing and competitive market in the United States. Instacart, a grocery delivery company, announced on Tuesday that it had expanded to Indianapolis, its 17th city. Other startups, like Postmates, which focuses on meal delivery, also deliver personal care goods and alcohol for customers using a network of couriers.
Prime Now customers can order using an app available on both iOS and Android devices. Orders are shipped from smaller warehouses, or hubs. An Amazon spokeswoman said the company opened two facilities in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington, to handle Prime Now deliveries.
Even if the tablet market is in stuck in a rut, vendors aren’t giving up on the product category. LG Electronics will debut the best model of its G Pad tablet series at the IFA trade show in Berlin next week.
LG’s latest tablet, the G Pad II 10.1, is more powerful and has a better screen than its predecessor, but it also has a slightly smaller battery.
A quad-core 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor powers the G Pad II and its 10.1-inch screen has a 1200 x 1920 pixel resolution. That’s a big step up from the original G Pad 10.1, which had a Snapdragon 400 processor and an 800 x 1280 pixel screen.
The G Pad II also has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of integrated storage that can be expanded using the tablet’s microSD card slot. There is a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel camera at the front.
Features that could turn out to be useful include a Reader Mode, which makes reading e-books more comfortable by reducing the blue light of the display backlight, according to LG. On the software side, the tablet comes preloaded with Microsoft Office and an additional 100GB of free OneDrive storage for two years.
LG didn’t reveal when the G Pad II 10.1 will go on sale, but said it will be available in North America, Europe and Asia. Pricing for the LTE and Wi-Fi models will be announced locally at the time of launch, the company said.
AMD and Nvidia both appear to be certain to get their “14 nm” out next year.
According to TweakTown Nvidia is apparently dotting the “I” and working out where to put in the semi-colons for its Pascal GPU using TSMC’s 16nm FinFet node. AMD rumored has been wining and dining its old chums at GlobalFoundries to use its 14nm process for its Greenland GPU.
Although these sound like different technologies the “14nm and 16nm” is difference how you measure a transistor. The outcome of both 14 and 16 should be a fairly same sized transistor with similar power features. TSMC calls its process 16nm FinFet, while Samsung and GloFo insist on calling it 14nm FinFet.
The dark satanic rumor mill suggests that the Greenland GPU, which has new Arctic Islands family micro-architecture, will have HBM2 memory. There will be up to 32GB of memory available for enthusiast and professional users. Consumer-oriented cards will have eight to 16GB of HBM2 memory. It will also have a new ISA (instruction set architecture).
It makes sense, AMD moved to HBM with its Fury line this year. Nvidia is expected to follow suit in 2016 with cards offering up to 32GB HBM2 as well.
Both Nvidia and AMD are drawn to FinFET which offers 90 percent more density than 28nm. Both will boost the transistors on offer with their next-generation GPUs, with 17 to 18 billion transistors currently being rumored.
Facebook, for instance, is the largest social network in the world, with more than 1 billion active monthly users. But it didn’t garner significant growth among U.S. Internet users in the past three years, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.
Some 72% of online U.S. adults use Facebook today. That is up only 5 points from 67% in 2012, Pew noted.
By comparison, Pinterest more than doubled its user base, going from 15% of online U.S. adults in 2012 to 31% today. Similarly, Instagram also showed strong momentum, growing from 13% three years ago to 28% now.
Other major players, including Twitter and LinkedIn, also saw growth but not at such a strong pace.
Pew reported that 23% of online adults use Twitter, a 7-point increase from the 16% who used it in 2012. As for LinkedIn, a quarter of online adults use the site, up from 20% in 2012, the survey noted.
“Interesting but not surprising,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “I have six kids under 23 and none of them use Facebook regularly. I think Facebook is almost considered an older person’s social tool now… Much of the growth in the younger population is on Instagram, Vine, etc.”
The Pew study also shows that while younger users are using Instagram and Pinterest, they clearly haven’t abandoned Facebook.
According to Pew, 82% of online U.S. adults between the ages of 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those between 30 and 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older.
The promotion lets iPhone owners choose between the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge or the Galaxy S6 edge+ without any obligations with their existing carrier. After the month is up, they can simply return it. Or, if the phone feels right, go ahead and upgrade, Samsung said.
In general, Android has been losing ground to Apple in the high-end segment of the smartphone market since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus where launched last year.
To give the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ more breathing room before new iPhones arrive, the company launched the devices earlier than its predecessors. With the so-called Ultimate Test Drive promo, the company is now trying to build some more momentum.
Even if the two newcomers and the Galaxy S6 edge are great products, it’s hard to imagine that the promo will have a meaningful impact on sales. Apple is expected to present new iPhones in less than three weeks.
For now, it seems the test drive will only be available in the U.S. Samsung in the U.K. and Germany didn’t immediately reply to questions whether the promo would be rolled out in Europe, as well.