Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system with over 2.5 billion users. That makes it a prime target for malicious third-parties that want to infect devices across the globe with malware. Most recently, the team at Barracuda Security discovered almost 200 apps that contained either adware or a suspicious combination of device permissions. And now cybersecurity company White Ops has identified 116 apps – with more than 4.6 million downloads between them – it claims are performing ad fraud.
The firm said the apps are leveraging a type of code it nicknamed “Soraka” and a similar variant named “Sogo”. In a nutshell, the code allows the programmes in question to display adverts over an Android device under certain circumstances.
White Ops performed a deep dive into one of the apps in question that remains on the Google Play Store at the time of writing, Best Fortune Explorer. The app seems a tantalising premise – get a glimpse into your future – but the reality is much more frustrating.
The app was noted to leverage a framework called AppsFlyer that’s used for mobile attribution and marketing analytics. According to the security firm, if you download the app through any kind of promotion (such as on a website for example), then intrusive adverts will plague the device in question.
White Ops showed a GIF of the frustrating promotions in action. Best Fortune Explorer was exhibited to be capable of displaying full screen adverts (that last up to 20-seconds in some circumstances) over a user’s home screen.
Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system with over 2.5 billion users
Best Fortune Explorer was shown to display intrusive ads under certain circumstances
Best Fortune Explorer remains on the Google Play Store at the time of writing
All of the apps discovered were noted to demonstrate similar behaviours. The adware being used was noted to be capable of hiding, making it harder to detect by apps designed to root out malware like VirusTotal.
Speaking with Forbes, White Ops’ John Laycock said: “Those hiding behaviours are significant. The fraudsters are getting smarter—they know this is now an arms race, they’re trying to slow down analysis with these tactics. We’re seeing these types of behaviours more and more.”
You only need to take a read of Best Fortune Explorer’s reviews to see that something is seriously wrong with the app. Numerous comments note after installing it their phone has been burdened with annoying adverts.
One Android user said: “Totally useless. After installing, you get so many unnecessary ads. While writing this also, I got 4 ads. This is like a virus for your phone.”
Another wrote: “Don’t download it. You will just time pass. And main problem after download is you will get non-stop adds and adds. Even you cannot get to use anything. And also there is nothing like shown in adds. It is like a virus.”
At the time of writing, Best Fortune Explorer has amassed over 100,000 installs and has an average review rating of three stars.
According to Forbes, Google has been informed of the apps discovered by White Ops. However, it seems some of the 116 programmes remain on the Play Store.
White Ops urged Android fans to remove any of the apps in question if they have them installed and provided the package names for each.
They were listed as being:
How Samsung's SmartTag Bluetooth trackers work (and how to buy them) – CNET
This story is part of , where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.
Samsung on Thursday held its first Unpacked event of the year, where in addition to a , the company also introduced the SmartTag and SmartTag Plus. The products are a direct competitors to Tile, the small Bluetooth trackers that help locate lost items like keys, your phone, pets and anything else you routinely misplace or would like to attach the tag to. Samsung is bundling a free SmartTag with .
There are several things to know about the new product. For a start, SmartTags connect to SmartThings Find, a service that’s already built directly into Samsung Galaxy phones — SmartThings is Samsung’s hub for smart home devices. There are also two different types of SmartTags, which makes things confusing right off the bat (don’t worry, we’ll explain below).
Here’s everything we know about Samsung’s SmartTag so far (and what we don’t), from the price and way it works, to how to figure out which SmartTag to buy.
Samsung SmartTag: What does it do?
Samsung’s SmartTag is a small, battery powered device that you can attach to things like a wallet, backpack or even your pet. It isn’t clear what kind of battery SmartTag uses, what the battery life is, or how to replace it. We’ve asked Samsung for more details.
Once it’s set up and linked to your Samsung account, the tag can be found using the SmartThings Find app on your phone.
How do you use a SmartTag to find a lost item?
After you realize you’ve lost an item, open the SmartThings Find app on your smartphone. Next, you’ll tap on the Find card, pick the device you want to locate and wait for it to load.
If you’re close to the lost item, you use the gauge on the screen to show how far away the item is. The fuller the gauge gets, the closer you are. To help you find the tag, you can make it play a sound.
If the tag isn’t close to you, don’t worry, it can still be found. Other Samsung devices near the tag will anonymously locate it for you, and then let you know where it is, all without the owner of the device doing a thing. It’s done in the background and is encrypted to ensure privacy.
Why are there two different types of SmartTags?
In a classic Samsung move, there are two different types of SmartTags. The first, which is available alongside the Galaxy S21 lineup, uses Bluetooth Low Energy as its connection standard. The other version, called SmartTag Plus, will use.
There are two versions of the SmartTags, because not all Samsung Galaxy phones support UWB, but they do all support BLE. Only the, the Galaxy S21 Plus and S21 Ultra support UWB.
What’s the difference between the two SmartTags?
Using the SmartThings Find app to locate tags that are equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy, you won’t be able to see a tag’s exact location, but an estimate of how far away or close it is. It’s the same kind of tech that’s used to stream music from your phone to your wireless earbuds or allow your phone to act as a key with a smart lock.
With ultrawideband, your phone and the tag are able to talk to each other and estimate a more precise location, within a few inches. Using a series of short pulses, a UWB device can communicate measuring how long it takes for one of the pulses to be received and answered by another UWB device. In short, UWB is far more precise than BLE.
We’re seeking more information about the expected range difference between the two. We have aof what exactly UWB is, how it works and other ways it can be used.
Will both Bluetooth and UWB SmartTag models be available at the same time?
No. Samsung is launching the standard SmartTag first, with the UWB version SmartTag Plus launching later. The company didn’t say when, just that it’s coming. Since a SmartTag is being bundled with Galaxy S21 preorders, we assume the BLE version is what’s included.
How much do SmartTags cost?
The SmartTag that’s available for the Galaxy S21 launch is $30 for one, $50 for two and $85 for a four-pack. The UWB version will launch at $40 for one and $65 for a two-pack.
What is this bundle deal with a Galaxy S21?
If you preorder a Galaxy S21, you’ll get one SmartTag for free, along with a credit that ranges from $100 to $200, depending on which S21 model you order.
Will both tags work with every Galaxy phone?
No. Currently, the Galaxy S21 Plus, S21 Ultra and last year’s Note 20 Ultra support the UWB SmartTag technology. All other Galaxy phones only support the BLE version of the SmartTag.
What else should I know?
The extra features of UWB mean that you can use a dedicated augmented reality mode in the SmartThings Find app that will help you pinpoint a tag’s location in the real world, instead of using a gauge that fills in as you get closer to it.
Using AR, you’ll be able to hold up your phone and view exactly where the tag is, using a combination of your phone’s camera and a graphic in the app to see the world around you.
Battery life is expected to last months, but it’s unclear if the battery is replaceable. We’ve asked Samsung for more details and will update when we learn more.
Once we get our hands on SmartTags and the S21, we’ll update this post with more information. Until then, make sure to check out our. If you want to preorder an S21, . We also take a deep dive and look at the .
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Elon Musk wants you to use Signal instead of Facebook. Here's how the app works – CNET
The tweet was then retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Shortly after, Signal tweeted that it was working to handle the surge of new users.
The Signal app was downloadedon Monday, according to data from Apptopia, a tracking firm. The app had been downloaded an average of 50,000 times a day prior to Musk’s tweet. A Signal spokesperson said the report undercounted the number of downloads the service is experiencing.
Signal also attributed a temporary Friday outage to the surge in new users.
“While we have been working hard all week to keep up with all the new people switching over to Signal, today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. We are working hard to resolve [the issue],” the spokesman told CNET in an email.
Musk’s Twitter endorsement also incidentally led shares in the biotechnology company Signal Advance to soar, despite the fact that it is completely unrelated to Signal, which is not a publicly traded company.
This isn’t the first time Musk has publicly sparred with Facebook over privacy concerns. In 2018, he not only had his own personal Facebook page removed, but those of his companies Tesla and SpaceX. His take on the long-fought battle between Signal and WhatsApp isn’t off-base, though.
Both of thehave been found over the years that have been resolved. For years, to share with parent company Facebook. Its latest policy change just expands that. Signal, on the other hand, has any entity that asks for your data, and you where possible.
Earlier this week, WhatsApp WhatsApp announced Friday it would delay the rollout of its new policy by three months.aimed at clarifying its data collection policy, emphasizing that neither it nor Facebook can see users’ private messages or hear their calls. Following mounting privacy concerns,
“We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15,” the company said in a blog post.
Here are the basics of Signal you should know if you’re interested in using the secure messaging app.
What Signal is, and how encrypted messaging works
Signal is a typical one-tap install app that can be found in your normal marketplaces like Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, and works just like the usual text messaging app. It’s an open source development provided free of charge by the non-profit Signal Foundation, and has been famously used for years by high-profile privacy icons like Edward Snowden.
Signal’s main function is that it can send text, video, audio and picture messages protected by end-to-end encryption, after verifying your phone number and letting you independently verify other Signal users’ identity. You can also use it to make voice and video calls, either one-to-one or with a group. For a deeper dive into the potential pitfalls and limitations of encrypted messaging apps, CNET’s is a life-saver. But for our purposes, the key to Signal is encryption.
Despite the buzz around the term, end-to-end encryption is simple: Unlike normal SMS messaging apps, it garbles up your messages before sending them, and only ungarbles them for the verified recipient. This prevents law enforcement, your mobile carrier and other snooping entities from being able to read the contents of your messages even when they intercept them (which happens).
When it comes to privacy it’s hard to beat Signal’s offer. It doesn’t store your user data. And beyond its encryption prowess, it gives you extended, onscreen privacy options, including app-specific locks, blank notification pop-ups, face-blurring anti-surveillance tools, and disappearing messages. Occasional bugs have proven that the tech is , of course, but the overall arc of Signal’s reputation and results have kept it at the top of every privacy-savvy person’s list of identity protection tools.
For years, the core privacy challenge for Signal lay not in its technology but in its wider adoption. Sending an encrypted Signal message is great, but if your recipient isn’t using Signal, then your privacy may be nil. Think of it like the herd immunity created by vaccines, but for your messaging privacy.
Now that Musk and Dorsey’s endorsements have sent a surge of users to get a privacy booster shot, however, that challenge may be a thing of the past.
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