Android apps really take advantage of those permissions they ask for to access users’ personal information: one online store records a phone’s location up to 10 times a minute, French researchers have found. The tools to manage such access are limited, and inadequate given how much information phones can gather.
In a recent study, ten volunteers used Android phones that tracked app behavior using a monitoring app, Mobilitics, developed by the French National Institute for Informatics Research (INRIA) in conjunction with the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL). Mobilitics recorded every time another app accessed an item of personal data — the phone’s location, an identifier, photos, messages and so on — and whether it was subsequently transmitted to an external server. The log of the apps’ personal information use was stored on the phone and downloaded at the end of the three months for analysis.
The volunteers were encouraged to use the phones as if they were their own, and together used 121 apps over the period from July to September. A similar study last year used a special iOS app to examine the way iPhone apps access users’ personal data.
Many apps access phones’ identifying characteristics to track their users, the researchers said. One of the few options users have to avoid this tracking is a switch in the “Google Settings” app to reset their phone’s advertising ID. That’s not much help, though, as apps have other ways to identify users. Almost two-thirds of apps studied in the three-month real-world test accessed at least one mobile phone identifier, a quarter of them at least two identifiers, and a sixth three or more. That allows the apps to build up profiles of their users for advertising purposes.
Location was one of the most frequently-accessed items of data. It accounted for 30 percent of all accesses to personal information during the test, and 30 percent of the apps studied accessed it at some point. The Facebook app recorded one volunteer’s location 150,000 times during the three-month period — more than once per minute, on average, while the Google Play Store tracked another user ten times per minute at times. Often, the only use apps make of such information is to serve personalized advertising, as was the case with one game that recorded a user’s location 3,000 times during the study.
Red Hat has announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.1 Beta with enhancements to improve ease of use, manageability and performance, as well as support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture.
RHEL 7.1 Beta is the next point release following the enterprise Linux vendor’s initial production release of RHEL 7.0 in June.
RHEL 7.1 adds OpenLMI support to streamline system configuration management with thin logical volume manager provisioning, along with kernel and user mode components supporting Ceph block storage devices.
The update also offers support for Microsoft CIFS for mixed vendor data centre environments that need it, providing native access to Microsoft Windows file and print services.
RHEL 7.1 also enhances identity management security with one-time password authentication via LDAP and Kerberos protocols and the FreeOTP standard, and introduces a certificate authority management tool.
In addition, RHEL 7.1 includes Security Content Automation Protocol Security Guides that reduce the complexity of compliance testing and enhance security assurance.
Building on RHEL 7.0 support for Linux containers in physical, virtual and cloud deployments in development, test and production environments, RHEL 7.1 adds access to Docker 1.2 in the RHEL 7 Extras channel.
For users with demanding workload responsiveness requirements, RHEL 7.1 adds real-time dispatching for workloads that require very precise and deterministic processing times. This capability is delivered with Linux kernel enhancements and additional userspace packages that can be added on top of a stock RHEL 7.1 installation.
Finally, RHEL 7.1 includes support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture for customers using the IBM Power8 systems infrastructure.
Running in little endian mode accelerates application portability to the IBM Power8 systems, thus allowing customers using IBM Power8 systems to use the existing ecosystem of Linux applications as developed for the x86 architecture.
Interested users can read the RHEL 7.1 Beta Release Notes, and can download the RHEL 7.1 Beta at Red Hat’s website.
Patent wars have become commonplace with smartphone vendors across the world, and now Xiaomi is no exception. The Chinese company announced it had halted its product sales in India, due to a patent dispute with Swedish network equipment vendor Ericsson.
The legal troubles throw a wrench in Xiaomi’s international expansion, and could open the company to even more lawsuits from other patent holders, analysts warn.
In Ericsson’s case, the company said it had spent more than three years complaining to Xiaomi about the alleged patent infringement, which relates to the telecommunications technology used in the company’s phones.
“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action,” the company said in an email, which claimed that Xiaomi had declined to pay a fair licensing fee for the technology.
In response, Xiaomi said it was working with Ericsson to resolve the matter, without elaborating. But doing so will probably come at some financial cost.
Xiaomi has enjoyed an almost meteoric rise, becoming China’s top smartphone maker this year. However, the company was only founded in 2010, and doesn’t possess an extensive patent portfolio that so many older technology firms like Ericsson wield.
Although Xiaomi declined to comment on its patent activities, analysts expected that the company would eventually run into intellectual property matters at some point in its international expansion.
“It’s possible lawsuits will be filed in other countries, and not just from Ericsson, but other vendors that want to use patents as a weapon against Xiaomi,” said Wang Jingwen, an analyst with research firm Canalys.
Xiaomi, which still sells most of its phones in China, made India a focus of its international efforts. The company still has a small market share in the country, but its phones have been selling like hot cakes there.
It could simply end up paying Ericsson and other companies for access to their patents, but that could mean paying a hefty price.
“If Xiaomi is willing to pay for the licensing fees to Ericsson, the issue can be resolved,” said Xiaohan Tay, an analyst with research firm IDC. “But the higher cost for smartphones may be passed on to consumers, and Xiaomi may not be able to offer phones at such a low cost to consumers anymore.”
Like other infotainment systems, Sync allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music choices and perform other functions with the use of voice commands. Ford’s Sync head unit also upgraded to the latest Texas Instruments OMAP 5 processor.
As with Ford’s announcement about the new Sync rollout,Ford spokesperson Alan Hall declined to say why the automaker chose QNX over Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive OS for its third-generation product.
Negative press and feedback and criticism from Consumer Reports likely spurred Ford rethink its choices, said Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski.
“Having that automotive expertise and understanding the programs they have in place, how they work from an engineering perspective, the UI and getting applications into the head unit makes QNX very strong,” Koslowski said in an earlier interview with Computerworld.
Ford’s Sync IVI system has never been recommended by Consumer Reports magazine.
By turning to the open-source QNX platform, Ford gets a full community of developers to support and update the software. QNX also supports the ubiquitous HTML5 markup language and other native user interface toolsets.
Before being purchased by Blackberry in 2010, QNX Software Systems was owned by audio and infotainment equipment company Harman International. It’s been used in more than 200 different car models, so it has been well vetted.
Ford’s third generation, QNX-supported Sync uses a more natural language speech-recognition technology from Nuance, according to Hall.
“What we did with the data set was allow it to use a more conversational way that you’d refer to something. So P.F. Chang’s is how you’d refer to the restaurant, but the official name of the restaurant is P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro. In the past, you had to know the official name for the system to be able to find it,” Hall said. “That wasn’t very helpful because no one calls it P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro.”
Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”
Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.
“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.
An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.
Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.
An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.
Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.
Intel’s platform is like a set of building blocks based on the chipmaker’s components and software for companies to create smart, connected devices, Doug Davis, head of Intel’s Internet of Things business, said at a launch event in San Francisco.
It also aims to make it easier to connect to data centers in order analyze data collected from devices’ sensors.
“We’re creating compute capability in end-point devices that scale from our highest performance Xeon processor to the Quark family of products,” Davis said, referring to Intel’s chips.
After moving slowly in recent years to adapt its personal computer chips for smartphones and tablets, Intel is determined to make sure it is on the leading edge of future computing trends, industry experts and company executives have said.
Adding processors, sensors and web connectivity to devices from soccer balls to industrial machinery, an emerging trend dubbed the Internet of Things, has become a new battleground for Intel, rival Qualcomm and other technology companies.
The install base of wireless gadgets will more than double by the end of the decade, with most of the growth coming from smart devices other than PCs and smartphones, according to market research firm ABI Research.
Intel’s Internet of Things Group had $530 million in revenue in the September quarter. That accounted for just 4 percent of Intel’s total revenue in the quarter, but it grew 14 percent over the previous year, which was faster than the company’s PC business.
Dell, SAP, Tata Consultancy, Accenture and other companies are working with the new reference model, Davis said.
Internet startup Trustev is expanding its digital fingerprinting business beyond e-commerce by launching Trustev for Publishers aiming to help publishers ban toxic Internet commenters completely from their websites, providing no leeway for even setting up a second account. Trustev thinks this can raise the level of online discourse and help stop harassment campaigns the likes of #GamerGate before they even begin.
Trustev CEO Pat Phelan said this solution came about after his own experiences on Twitter: He describes his online persona as “pretty outspoken,” but still finds himself in a perpetual state of shock at the vitriol he sometimes gets about even mundane things.
“Jesus, the language used there is incredible,” Phelan said.
There’s a cycle to online harassment. You block the offender. The offender sets up a second Twitter/Wordpress/Yahoo/whatever account. You block that one, too. So they set up a third. And so on. Phelan calls it “whack-a-mole.”
The best case scenario is that the harasser on the other end gives up before you do. The worst case is that your choices become put up with abuse forever or just stop trying. That doesn’t really make for healthy online discussion, especially when it comes to controversial subjects.
“The whole story is destroyed,” Phelan said.
There are good comments sections out there, to be sure:the AV Club, among others, stands out, largely because of the strong hand it takes to moderating a discussion and kicking out bad seeds as they sprout. But keeping up with the aforementioned cycle takes a tremendous investment of time and talent, which isn’t for everybody. Our colleagues at Re/code, for instance, recently made thecontroversial decision to shut down comments entirelyand urged readers to take any discussion to social media.
Trustev sees a better way. With Trustev for Publishers, blocking a person once means they’re gone. That “digital fingerprint” takes everything into account when banning a user — not just the IP address, which is easy to spoof, but everything from browser configuration and extensions down to operating system version and amount of RAM installed.
Phelan said that digital fingerprinting has a 99.93% positive rate (which sucks for the other 0.07%).
You can’t even get around a Trustev ban with a virtual machine running on your desktop. The only way to beat it, Phelan says, is to get a new computer entirely. And if you mess up again, it’s back to the blacklist.
The U.S. National Security Agency should have an unlimited ability to collect digital information in the name of protecting the country against terrorism and other threats, an influential federal judge stated during a debate on privacy.
“I think privacy is actually overvalued,” Judge Richard Posner, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said during a conference about privacy and cybercrime in Washington on Thursday.
“Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct,” Posner added. “Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you.”
Congress should limit the NSA’s use of the data it collects — for example, not giving information about minor crimes to law enforcement agencies — but it shouldn’t limit what information the NSA sweeps up and searches, Posner said. “If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine,” he said.
In the name of national security, U.S. lawmakers should give the NSA “carte blanche,” Posner added. “Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you’re talking about national security,” he said. “The world is in an extremely turbulent state — very dangerous.”
Posner criticized mobile OS companies for enabling end-to-end encryption in their newest software. “I’m shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search,” he said.
Last Friday we ran a report on technical issues plaguing Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 810 processor, the company’s first consumer SoC based on the 20nm process.
Reports coming out of Korea alleged the chip was experiencing thermal issues, along with memory and GPU bugs. We reached out to Qualcomm and the company reassured us that everything is on track.
Jon Carvill, Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Public Relations, told Fudzilla that the company won’t comment on any of the rumours or speculation referenced in our report (based on Business Korea’s reporting).
“I can tell you that everything with Snapdragon 810 remains on track and we expect commercial devices to be available in 1H 2015,” said Carvill.
This means next generation Android flagships are unlikely to be delayed due to any potential issues associated with Qualcomm silicon. Of course, they could face other issues and delays always remain a possibility, but that has nothing to do with Qualcomm or its first 20nm 64-bit part.
New versions of wireless technology standards aren’t often a big deal, there are far too few car chases and full frontal nudity, but the latest Bluetooth 4.2 is apparently going to change that. The new spec allows Bluetooth devices to connect to the Internet through newer home routers supporting IPv6. This should drastically simplify home automation, as it would avoid the need for dedicated Bluetooth hubs or devices with built-in Wi-Fi.
This will bring about some significant changes. Home automation plans are stuffed up by the fact that each service sells its own proprietary hub for connecting smart light bulbs, switches and sensors. This adds to the cost and complexity of home automation, because users may need multiple hubs to connect all the devices they want.
Bluetooth 4.2 should cut down on the overhead, so that even if two groups of products don’t talk to one another, you won’t need separate hardware. Bluetooth 4.2 includes new protections against Beacons, which can locate and send notifications to nearby Bluetooth devices.
Some retailers have been using Beacons to track and alert their shoppers, but with Bluetooth 4.2, users will have to opt in to the specific alerts they want to see. This works by having users download an app that effectively whitelists the store in question. Bluetooth 4.2 also uses new encryption and hash algorithms to protect wireless communications.
The systems data transfer should be up to 2.5 times faster, and connections over Bluetooth Smart and should be even more power efficient than before. Some of the new features (including Internet connectivity) won’t be around until later this month or early next year. In any case, we probably won’t start seeing phones, tablets and smart devices with Bluetooth 4.2 on board until later next year.
Michael Fey has left Intel Security Group to become chief operating officer at Blue Coat. Blue Coat is apparently not the traditional garb of a British Holiday Camp entertainer, but apparently a privately owned network security company.
Fey was one of the few top McAfee managers to stay with the company after it was bought by Intel in 2011. McAfee is now part of Intel Security Group, where Fey had been chief technology officer. Fey said that his role at Blue Coat would be “very similar” to his old job but he was allowed to focus on the cloud and the advanced threats space more.
“Blue Coat had tremendous growth behind the scenes and now I get to focus on taking that growth and trying to get it to the billion-dollar revenue mark,” he told Reuters.
Since the $7.7 billion acquisition by Intel, McAfee has lost senior managers and key talent in technology development, research and sales. At Blue Coat, Fey will replace David Murphy, who will stay on as a strategic adviser to the board.
Dell got back to us about the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet following our recent article, in which we pointed up that it has yet to ship. The company said the tablet will officially launch at CES 2015.
This is the tablet that Michael Dell held in his hand at IDF 2014 in September and later Jim Parsons promoted the sleek device in a commercial that aired less than two weeks ago.
“The Venue 8 7000 – the world’s thinnest at 6mm, with the world’s best display (2560 x 1600 OLED) and the first RealSense depth camera integrated into such a small form factor – is going to be officially announced with pricing and availability at CES.”
It cannot be clearer than that, but we would be a tad happier to know what sort of SoC Intel uses in this tablet is and it would be great to know the price. There is still a chance that this will be the thinnest tablet by the time it actually launches, although we don’t think that Dell will be the only brand launching new products at CES.
The competition never sleeps and after a lot of digging around the most serious candidate for the SoC inside the ultrathin tablet is the Intel Atom Z3580, a 22nm processor previously codenamed Moorefield. This SoC is a quad-core clocked at up to 2.33GHz and based on the Silvermont architecture. The prototype that Dell showed back at IDF 2014 and Dell World was running Android 4.4 and Morefield Atom Z35xx has been confirmed as the SoC of choice.
Moorefield is ready for 64-bit Android 5.0 and this might be the reason behind the slight delay. Let’s face it, Lollipop is the biggest Android refresh in years and it’s a big selling point.
There is no doubt that Airmont, the 14nm follow up architecture for mobile Atom has been delayed. In September 2013, Intel’s Hermann Eul, VP GM mobile communication group announced that Airmont 14nm Atom is coming in 2014. Well it didn’t show up and it won’t as 2014 is coming to an end.
The 14nm Airmont based Cherry Trail product has been pushed to 2015, so if all goes well Dell might be launching an updated Venue tablet later in 2015, powered with a new and improved Atom processor.
“Our goal is to deliver fantastic cross-platform apps that support the variety of email services people use today and help them accomplish more,” wrote Rajesh Jha, Microsoft corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365, in a blog post announcing the purchase.
Over the past year, Microsoft has been extending its Office set of office productivity software and services so they can be accessed on non-Windows devices. The company has released Office apps for the iPad and iPhone, and is working on a version of Office for Android.
Founded in 2013, Acompli offers an iPhone and Android mobile e-mail client that streamlines many of the basic tasks around managing e-mail so they can be completed on the device itself, rather than by using a desktop client. Users have reported that the software works particularly well with Microsoft’s Exchange e-mail servers. Microsoft offers a basic version of Outlook for iPhones, though thus far it has seemingly garnered only a lukewarm response from users.
The free Acompli app offers advanced features such as the ability to view both calendar items and email side by side on the same screen. The calendar lets users email available times for proposed meetings and send a message when they are running late.
Microsoft plans to pair the Acompli development team with the team for its own Outlook e-mail client.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though tech website Re/Code reported that the acquisition was worth more than $200 million.
“Presumably, Intel would not get involved if Glass was a dying product,” said Scott Strawn, an analyst with IDC. “The really positive indication is if this comes along with an intention [by Intel] to invest and make new technologies that will solve a lot of the problems associated with Glass. That would be meaningful.”
The Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that Texas Instruments Inc., which made the processor for the Glass prototype, is out and Intel is in. Intel plans to push Glass into vertical industries like healthcare networks and manufacturers.
Google did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Intel would only say, “We work closely with Google across a number of areas, but we are not commenting on speculation.”
The report comes at a propitious time for Google, though, since it will quell talk of the company shelving Glass because of problems or lack of user interest.
Speculation heated up last month when Reuters reported that it had contacted 16 Glass developers and found only seven were still working on software for the wearable computer. The other nine had stopped working on their apps or ditched the project all together.
It didn’t help that Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who is frequently seen out sporting a pair of Glass, showed up at an upscale event without the computerized eyeglasses.
The implication was that Google was giving up on Glass — and the more than 10,000 early adopters who paid $1,500 for their wearable were out of luck.
At the time, Google pushed back, saying the company remains committed to pushing Glass forward, though there is no publicized launch date.
Analysts argued that while Google might be rethinking some Glass features or even tinkering with the form factor, it’s unlikely Google was giving up on the project — especially when it had just invested in Magic Leap Inc., an augmented reality company.
Intel is offering a safebox technology to internet users suffering from the arduous burden of password fatigue.
The firm has done this by spending money, which is as good a way as any, and has acquired Canadian company PasswordBox which, in case you haven’t guessed, makes a password repository.
Intel did not disclose any financial details about the deal, but said that PasswordBox will be rolled into the firm’s security unit.
“Everyone can relate to password fatigue. The PasswordBox service has already brought relief to millions of consumers who now enjoy simple, instant log-in,” said Chris Young, senior vice president and general manager of Intel Security.
“Intel Security and PasswordBox share the same goal of improving digital identity protection across all devices and platforms. We believe we have the technology, expertise and reach to bring simple, secure access to consumers worldwide.”
Intel research has found that people are lumbered with over 26 password-needing accounts and rely on a hardcore of five, which is probably a low estimate.
We constantly hear that passwords should not be shared across sites, and barely a week goes by without one provider or another telling its users to change their chosen passkey. Password management, then, is something of a nightmare for some.
Not so for PasswordBox – and now Intel – users, though, as they can rely on what is pitched as a secure vault that is better and more reliable than you are at staying on top of your security.
It offers a form-filling option that punters can effectively put in their pocket and swan around with.
PasswordBox is positive about its prospects. “PasswordBox has spent the last two years building a product that people love, trust and use around the world every day,” said Daniel Robichaud, CEO and co-founder of the firm.
“We share Intel Security’s vision of simple, secure access and identity protection across all platforms and devices.
“Together, we believe we can offer our customers world-class technology, expertise and support to bring such access anywhere – all backed by Intel.”