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Android Malware Using Twitter To Communicate With Infected Phones

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Twitter-on-smartphones-150x150Twitter users aren’t the only ones getting updates from the micro-blogging social media site. One maker of Android malware is also using Twitter to communicate with infected smartphones, according to security firm ESET.

The company uncovered the feature in a malicious app called Android/Twitoor. It runs as a backdoor virus that can secretly install other malware on a phone.

Typically, the makers of Android malware control their infected smartphones from servers. Commands sent from those servers can create a botnet of compromised phones and tell the malware on all the phones what to do.

The makers of Android/Twitoor decided to use Twitter instead of servers to communicate with the infected phones. The malware routinely checks certain Twitter accounts and reads the encrypted posts to get its operating commands.

Lukas Stefanko, an ESET researcher, said in a blog post that this was an innovative approach.  It removes the need to maintain a command and control server, and the communications with the Twitter accounts can be hard to discover.

“It’s extremely easy for the crooks to re-direct communications to another freshly created account,” he said.

ESET said this was first Twitter-controlled Android botnet it had ever found. Windows-based botnets using Twitter have been around since at least 2009.

ESET said Android/Twitoor hasn’t been detected in any app stores, so it probably spreads through malicious links sent to the victim. The malware pretends to be a porn player or multimedia messaging app, and it’s only been active for about a month.

So far, Android/Twitoor has been found downloading versions of mobile banking malware to users’ phones.

“In the future, we can expect that the bad guys will try to make use of Facebook statuses or deploy LinkedIn and other social networks,” Stefanko added.

AMD Bundling Deus-Ex With Gaming Cards

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-Deus-EXWe already knew that AMD was one of the launch partners for the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided game and it appears it will be bundled with some of AMD’s hot FX-series CPUs.

While we were hoping to see it bundled with some recently launched Polaris-based graphics cards, it appears that AMD wants to give some love to those that decide to buy AMD’s FX-series CPUs.

To be available in most popular retail/e-tail stores, the bundle will include a copy of the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided game with a purchase of a 6- or 8-core AMD FX CPU. According to details provided by AMD, the promotion will run from August 23rd to November 14th or until the supply lasts.

Currently, some of the hot AMD FX-series CPUs like the 6-core FX-6300 or 8-core FX-8320 are selling for as low as US $100 and US $130, so bundling a US $60 game sounds like a really good deal.

Hopefully, AMD will decide to bundle the game with some of its Polaris-based graphics cards after Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gets its DirectX 12 patch later in early September.

Courtesy-Fud

MIT Researchers Develop Technique To Triple Wireless Speeds

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

MIT-logo-150x150MIT researchers have uncovered a way to transfer wireless data using a smartphone at a speed about three times faster and twice as far as existing technology.

The researchers developed a technique to coordinate multiple wireless transmitters by synchronizing their wave phases, according to a statement from MIT on Tuesday. Multiple independent transmitters will be able to send data over the same wireless channel to multiple independent receivers without interfering with each other.

Since wireless spectrum is scarce, and network congestion is only expected to grow, the technology could have important implications.

The researchers called the approach MegaMIMO 2.0 (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) .

For their experiments, the researchers set up four laptops in a conference room setting, allowing signals to roam over 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi. The speed and distance improvement is expected to also apply to cellular networks. A video describes the technology as well as a technical paper (registration required), which was presented this week to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications (SIGCOMM 16).

The researchers, from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, are: Ezzeldin Hamed, Hariharan Rahul, Mohammed Abdelghany and Dina Katabi.

 

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Sales Exceed Supply Chain’s Expectations

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Galaxy-Note-7-150x150Better-than-expected demand for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 is creating supply problems worldwide, the South Korean tech giant said, suggesting strong initial sales for the new premium smartphone.

While robust demand could help deliver another solid quarter of earnings, Samsung also risks missing out on potential sales if it cannot boost supply quickly. Rivals such as Apple Inc are poised to launch new phones which could pull customers away from Samsung if a shortage persists.

“As pre-order results for the Galaxy Note 7 have far exceeded our estimates, its release date in some markets has been adjusted,” Samsung told Reuters in a statement without commenting on where launch delays could occur.

Production problems for the curved displays for the Galaxy S6 edge phone resulted in disappointing sales last year, and some investors fear a repeat if the world’s top smartphone maker does not move quickly to meet Note 7 demand.

Samsung said it was trying to boost production at the secret locations where the Notes are made, and aimed to meet demand “as early as possible”. It gave no further details.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters there was no production issue for the curved screens used on the Galaxy Note 7 and that the shortage would not be a long-term problem.

“The party got more visitors than Samsung expected, so they just need to put more food out,” said Nomura analyst C.W. Chung, who said the supply situation was not a major risk given that Samsung made key parts such as displays and chips in-house.

Samsung could sell as many as 15 million Galaxy Note 7 phones this year, Chung said, compared with an estimated 9 million Galaxy Note 5 phones sold last year.

The phone went on sale on Aug. 19 in countries including the United States and South Korea, where it retails for 988,900 won ($882).

 

Microsoft Makes A Deal With Lenovo

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Software King of the World Microsoft has apparently been seen in public with the PC supremo Lenovo and insiders have been told that they want something more serious.

The pair have announced that they are deepening strategic ties but have not hinted about financial details. Instead Lenovo will load Microsoft’s productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.

Microsoft did not say how much gear would be involved in the deal. Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years.

The deal is the latest in a string of similar deals by Microsoft with more than 70 Android device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Asus, Acer and Xiaomi.

The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices.

Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.

Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM division, Microsoft said that Vole was thrilled that its productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices and was talking about marrage.

“The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers worldwide to be more productive and connected and achieve even more,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

EA Appears To Be Going HD With Old Games

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Electronic Arts has one of the deepest back catalogs in the industry, but to date it has steered clear of mining it for new revenue through remastered and HD editions. That’s likely to change soon, according to a Game Informer interview with EA Studios executive VP Patrick Soderlund from last week at Gamescom. When asked if anything in EA’s stance on remasters had evolved in the last year, Soderlund tipped the publisher’s hand.

“What’s changed is that there is proof in the market that people want it, maybe more than there was when we spoke [previously],” Soderlund said. “There were some that did it before, but I think there is even more clear evidence that this is something that people really want. The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it. I can’t announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully.”

Soderlund added that if EA were to remaster games, it would “have to be careful in choosing the right brands for the right reasons at the right time.” Part of that would be ensuring the company handles the remasters properly instead of just selling quick and dirty ports.

That attitude is a pretty clear pivot from where the company’s thinking was just a year ago. Last October, Peter Moore said EA wasn’t interested in remakes and remasters because “it feels like pushing stuff out because you’ve run out of ideas,” adding, “I don’t know where we find the time to do remakes. We’re a company that just likes to push forward.”

While EA hasn’t been especially aggressive with remastered games, it has produced HD versions of older games like American McGee’s Alice and Crysis, primarily as preorder incentives for sequels in those series.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Samsung To Offer A Third Tizen OS Smartphone

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Tizen-OS-150x150South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced that it will begin selling its third smartphone powered by the company’s own Tizen mobile operating system in India next week.

The Z2 phone, equipped with a 4-inch screen and India-specific features such as a safety mode for motorcyclists, will be the cheapest Tizen phone Samsung has launched to date at 4,590 rupees ($68.44).

The phone, the first Tizen-powered device that will run on 4G networks, will start selling in India on Aug. 29.

The world’s top maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips is trying to reduce its dependence on Google, whose Android operating system powers Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

The firm has been using Tizen on products ranging from TVs, home appliances and wearable products to enable the devices to communicate with each other and phones via the internet.

Samsung has so far kept Tizen for a small number of markets such as India and Bangladesh, where many potential customers are still first-time buyers looking for a cheap device and do not necessarily need a big library of apps.

The firm declined to comment on sales figures but analysts have said the Z2’s predecessors have found some success.

 

Intel To Focus On The Backend For 5G

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Fresh after scoring a reasonably sized contract for the iPhone, Intel is getting more excited about its mobile business and is talking about its 5G plans.

5G is a good thing to talk about as there is no standard yet and it could be years away before carriers think of moving to away from 4G. However, it does inspire confidence that companies, like Intel are busy researching it.

However the Intel Developer Forum (IDF),in San Francisco heard how Intel is not that interested in trying to create 5G modems for mobiles and will instead focus on the back-end infrastructure supporting the technology.

Intel said that while 5G will power the mobile internet, Intel believes there will be a lot of room for its processors and data centers to look after the millions of sensors, cars and internet of things devices which will all be part of it.

Intel said that 2G networks were about phones and voice, and it was rolling out 4G there were requirements that hadn’t been planned for when it was originally designed.

While 5G is expected to start appearing by 2020, it should support IoT devices, as well as broadcast-like services and lifeline communications. This means that the backbone of datacenters will need to be in place to make it go.

While Intel has been talking about this backbone, it does seem odd that it is not mentioned much about the modem front end of the technology. Our guess is that it is something that Intel cannot ignore and does not appear to be doing so, with its various Internet of Things gadgets.

Courtesy-Fud

Smartphones Sales Posts 4% Gain In Second Quarter

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

smartphones-decline-150x150Global smartphone sales enjoyed a 4.3% bump in the second quarter compared to a year ago, but iPhone sales declined for the third straight quarter, market research firm Gartner announced.

Gartner’s figures for second-quarter smartphone growth were more optimistic than numbers reported by Strategy Analytics and Canalys recently. Both had reported modest growth of no more than 3% in smartphone shipments.

IDC last month reported second-quarter shipments were flat, growing just 0.3%.

Gartner’s numbers show that Apple’s iPhone sales dropped 7.7% in the second quarter, with 44.4 million phones sold globally, down from 48 million a year earlier. This decreased Apple’s market share to 12.9%, down from 14.6% a year earlier. Even so, Apple was second globally in smartphone sales.

Meanwhile, Samsung was the top smartphone seller, with 76.7 million smartphones sold, compared with 72 million sold a year earlier. That increase boosted its share to 22.3%, up from 21.8%.

Gartner said Samsung benefited by sales of the Galaxy A and Galaxy J series of smartphones which competed well against devices from Chinese smartphone makers.

Apple’s declines were the worst of any market in greater China and mature markets in Asia/Pacific, decreasing by 26%. There were also declines for Apple in North America and Western Europe, but there was a big jump of 95% in Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.

Gartner ranked Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, in order, for third to fifth biggest in sales. Android devices were 86% of the total market, compared to 14.6% for iOS and 2.5% for Windows. Overall sales reached 344 million, up from 330 million a year earlier.

 

Get Ready To Pay Taxes For Using Ride-Hailing Apps In Massachusetts

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber-taxis-150x150Massachusetts will begin levying a 5-cent fee per trip on ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and spend the money on the traditional taxi industry, a subsidy that appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the nickel fee into law this month as part of a sweeping package of regulations for the industry.

Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee.

“I don’t think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors,” said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas.

Some taxi owners wanted the law to go further, perhaps banning the start-up competitors unless they meet the requirements taxis do, such as regular vehicle inspection by the police.

“They’ve been breaking the laws that are on the books, that we’ve been following for many years,” said Larry Meister, manager of the Boston area’s Independent Taxi Operator’s Association.

The law levies a 20-cent fee in all, with 5 cents for taxis, 10 cents going to cities and towns and the final 5 cents designated for a state transportation fund.

The fee may raise millions of dollars a year because Lyft and Uber alone have a combined 2.5 million rides per month in Massachusetts.

The law says the money will help taxi businesses to adopt “new technologies and advanced service, safety and operational capabilities” and to support workforce development.

Regulations for how the fee will be collected and a plan for how it will be spent still need to be drawn up, said Mark Sternman, a spokesman for the state’s MassDevelopment agency, which will be in charge of the money.

Riders and drivers will not see the fee because the law bars companies from charging them. Instead, companies themselves will pay the state, although Evdakov said it will be passed on to riders or drivers one way or another.

Authorities worldwide are grappling with how to regulate and tax ride-hailing. Seattle has passed a law that allows drivers to unionize. In Taiwan, Uber is battling a tax bill of up to $6.4 million.

Despite the cost, ride services in Massachusetts appear to have accepted the fee in exchange for other provisions. For example, the law does not ban them from picking up at Boston’s airport or convention center, although there will be special rules for those sites.

Lyft is pleased with the law even though it is not perfect, spokesman Adrian Durbin said.

Soliciting readers for how to spend the 5-cent fee, a column in the Boston Globe offered ideas such as hospitality training, incentive bonuses and help so taxi owners could buy “flagship” vehicles like a 1940s Checker or a Porsche.

Meister said the money could go toward improving a smartphone app his association has started using, or to other big needs.

“We definitely need some infrastructure changes,” he said.

 

Samsung To Launch Refurbished Smartphone Program

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung-logo-2-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is gearing up to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The South Korean technology firm is looking for ways to sustain earnings momentum after reviving its mobile profits by restructuring its product line-up. As growth in the global smartphone market hits a plateau, Samsung wants to maximize its cost efficiency and keep operating margins above 10 percent.

The world’s top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States.

Samsung would then re-sell these phones at a lower price, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was not yet public.

The person declined to say how big a discount the refurbished phones would be sold at, which markets the phones would be sold in or how many refurbished devices Samsung could sell.

A Samsung spokeswoman said the company does not comment on speculation.

It was not clear to what extent the phones would be altered, but refurbished phones typically are fitted with parts such as a new casing or battery.

Rival Apple Inc’s iPhone has a re-sale value of around 69 percent of its original price after about one year from launch, while Samsung’s flagship Galaxy sells for 51 percent of the original price in the U.S. market, according to BNP Paribas.

Refurbished phones could help vendors such as Samsung boost their presence in emerging markets such as India, where high-end devices costing $800 or so are beyond most buyers.

Apple sells refurbished iPhones in a number of markets including the United States, but does not disclose sales figures. It is trying to sell such iPhones in India, where the average smartphone sells for less than $90.

Selling used phones could help Samsung fend off lower-cost Chinese rivals that have been eating into its market share, and free up some capital to invest elsewhere or boost marketing expenditure.

Deloitte says the used smartphone market will be worth more than $17 billion this year, with 120 million devices sold or traded in to manufacturers or carriers – around 8 percent of total smartphone sales. Some market experts expect the used market to grow fast as there are fewer technology breakthroughs.

“Some consumers may prefer to buy refurbished, used premium models in lieu of new budget brands, possibly cannibalizing sales of new devices from those budget manufacturers,” Deloitte said in a report.

Hyundai, Google Discussing Self-driving Car Deal

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hyundai-Motor-150x150Hyundai President Jeong Jin Haeng said that his company is holding discussions with Alphabet’s Google unit about helping it develop a self-driving car.

The world’s fifth largest automaker hopes to enter into a symbiotic relationship, where it will bring its manufacturing prowess to Google and the Silicon Valley giant will help the automaker’s autonomous technology development.

“Hyundai is lagging behind the competition to develop autonomous vehicles,” Ko Tae Bong, senior auto analyst at Hi Investment & Securities Co, told Bloomberg News. “It’s not a choice but a critical prerequisite for Hyundai to cooperate with IT companies, such as Google, to survive in the near future.”

At a news conference with Korea’s Minister of Trade on Wednesday, Haeng said that “because Google is not too familiar with vehicles” his company can help with the execution of Google’s self-driving vehicle, which is one of the most advanced in the market.

The two companies are already connected in that Google’s self-driving vehicle project is being led by John Krafcik, the former CEO of Hyundai Motor America; Krafcik left Hyundai in 2013.

Hyundai also has been among the most aggressive automakers adopting Alphabet’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay, which allow the iPhone and Android smartphones to connect wirelessly to car infotainment systems.

Google’s self-driving vehicle division has also joined forces with major carmakers and ride-sharing services to form a coalition to lobby lawmakers and regulators for faster adoption of self-driving car technology.

In all, five companies — Alphabet, Ford, Lyft, Volvo and Uber — formed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets coalition. Its mission: to spur the federal government to usurp a “patchwork” of state driving laws that could hinder autonomous vehicle acceptance.

 

Major Technology Giants Join Forces To Crackdown on ‘Robocalls’

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robocalls-150x150Major technology and communication companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on “robocalls,” automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that held its first meeting with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

“The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology,” Wheeler said. In the past, he has said robocalls continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

Stephenson emphasized “the breadth and complexity” of the problem.

“This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged phone service providers to offer those services at no charge.

The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

Other companies taking part include Blackberry Ltd, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications Inc, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics Inc, Microsoft Corp, Nokia Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sirius XM Holdings Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular Corp.

Consumers Union, a public advocacy group, said the task force is a sign “phone companies are taking more serious steps to protect their customers from unwanted calls.”

HP Building Mobile Device Strategy Around Windows 10

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

HP has experimented with many operating systems over the last few years, but the company always returns back to Microsoft’s Windows.

The company is building a mobile device strategy around Windows 10 Mobile and is slowly cutting its reliance on Android, once high on the company’s list for tablets and PCs.

HP has discontinued low-cost Android tablets, and two remaining enterprise tablets feature aging hardware and an old version of the OS. Company executives have said future mobile devices will be built around Windows 10 unless there’s significant new demand for Android.

HP is following the lead of Dell, which has cut Android devices to focus on Windows. Lenovo, meanwhile, still sells Android tablets and smartphones but is cutting its number of Android tablets and increasing its number of Windows 2-in-1s.

The goal for HP is simple: to unify products around one OS, much like Apple. That’s a challenge facing Samsung, with its PCs on Windows, tablets and smartphones on Android, and wearables and smart TVs on Tizen. Samsung is still working to put the pieces together to ensure all devices communicate flawlessly, but the company claimed progress during the recent launch of Galaxy Note 7.

HP is re-entering the smartphone market its Elite X3 handset, which runs Windows 10 Mobile. The company is building its smartphone strategy around Windows 10 Mobile, which had just a 0.7 percent market share in the first quarter, according to Gartner.

HP says Elite X3 can be a PC replacement with help from cloud services and accessories. Users will be able to run Universal Windows apps on PCs and smartphones. HP also plans to bring augmented reality apps on HoloLens to the Elite X3.

“We’re not trying to hit the volumes and scales of Android,” Park said. “We’re going after IT shops. There are a lot of people in the commercial domain who are not using Pokemon Go.”

HP has said it doesn’t want to sell low-cost devices and has cut many Android devices in the process. But the same strategy doesn’t apply to Windows — this week it announced low-cost Stream notebooks running Windows 10 starting at US$199.

 

 

 

 

Hard Disk Drive Noises Can Be Used For PC’s Data Theft

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Researchers have discovered a new method to steal a PC’s data by using the mechanical noise coming from the hard disk drives inside.

It’s not a very practical hack, but the scheme has been designed for “air-gapped” systems, or computers that have been sectioned off from the Internet.

The researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel have been studying how to use sound to extract information from air-gapped computers. In June, they showed that even a PC’s cooling fans can be controlled to secretly transmit data, including passwords and encryption keys.

In a new paper, the researchers found that a PC’s hard disk drive could also generate enough noise to do the same. They did this by manipulating the drive’s internal mechanical arm to generate binary signals.

Typically, the mechanical arm only reads and writes data within the hard drive. But when in use, it also creates a good deal of sound at different frequencies — which the researchers decided to exploit.

They developed a piece of malware called “DiskFiltration” which can infect a Linux-based PC to control a hard disk drive’s operations. To record the emitted noise, the researchers placed a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone nearby to log and decrypt the signals.

They found that their hack could transmit enough 0s and 1s for a stream of data, including passwords. However, the transmission rate is quite slow at only 180 bits per minute, and the range is only effective at up to six feet.

Nevertheless, the method is covert. A hacker could infect an air-gapped system with a USB stick, and then secretly extract the data, by simply recording the nearby sounds.

To prevent this kind of hacking, owners of air-gapped owners can consider using solid-state drives, which have no moving parts, the researcher said.

 

 

 

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