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Google warns of 'hermit spyware' infecting Android and iOS devices – Mashable

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As part of Google’s efforts to track the activities of commercial spyware vendors, the company’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) released a report Thursday on spyware campaigns targeting Android and iOS users.

Google TAG researchers Benoit Sevens and Clement Lecigne go into detail about the use of entrepreneurial grade spyware dubbed “Hermit.” This sophisticated spyware tool allows attackers to steal data, private messages and make phone calls. In their report, TAG researchers attributed Hermit to RCS Labs, a commercial spyware vendor based in Italy.

Hermit poses many significant dangers. Due to its modularity, Hermit is quite customizable, allowing the functions of the spyware to be altered to the will of its user. Once fully situated on a target’s phone, attackers can harvest sensitive information such as call logs, contacts, photos, precise location, and SMS messages.

Sevens and Lecigne’s full report details the ways in which attackers can access both Android and iOS devices through the use of clever tricks and drive-by attacks. Potential targets of this scam will have their data disabled through their ISP carrier before sending a malicious link via text to get them to ‘fix’ the issue. If that doesn’t work, targets will be tricked into downloading malicious apps masqueraded as messaging applications.

Just last week, cybersecurity firm Lookout reported the use of Hermit by agents working in the governments of Kazakhstan, Syria, and Italy. Google has already identified victims in these countries, stating that “TAG is actively tracking more than 30 vendors with varying levels of sophistication and public exposure selling exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed actors.”

The Milan-based company claims to provide “law enforcement agencies worldwide with cutting-edge technological solutions and technical support in the field of lawful interception for more than twenty years.” More than 10,000 intercepted targets are purported to be handled daily in Europe alone.

When reached out for comment by The Hacker News, RCS Labs said its “core business is the design, production, and implementation of software platforms dedicated to lawful interception, forensic intelligence, and data analysis” and that it “helps law enforcement prevent and investigate serious crimes such as acts of terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, child abuse, and corruption.”

Still, the news of the spyware being used by state government agents is concerning. Not only does it erode trust in the safety of the internet but it also puts at risk the lives of anyone a government considers an enemy of the state such as dissidents, journalists, human rights workers, and opposition party politicians.

“Tackling the harmful practices of the commercial surveillance industry will require a robust, comprehensive approach that includes cooperation among threat intelligence teams, network defenders, academic researchers, governments, and technology platforms,” Google TAG researchers wrote. “We look forward to continuing our work in this space and advancing the safety and security of our users around the world.”

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Samsung quietly changed trade-in values for its Galaxy Z Flip 4 promotion – XDA Developers

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Over the past few years, Samsung has been aggressive when it comes to new smartphone launches, offering trade-in promotions, credits, and other incentives to lure in new and old customers. With the release of the Galaxy Z Flip 4, things were no different. The company delivered outrageous offers, like giving $900 in “enhanced” trade-in credit for a Galaxy Z Flip 3. This was a steal, considering the phone had a retail price of $999.99 when it was released a year ago. But now, it looks like Samsung is pulling back its offers, quietly changing its trade-in values.

The folks at 9to5Google spotted the changes, reporting that Samsung had lowered its trade-in values for the Galaxy Z Flip 3. As mentioned before, Samsung previously offered $900 in trade-in credit for any version of the phone. But now, the trade-in credit offered starts at $700 if you trade in a 128GB model of the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Those with a 256GB model will be eligible for $800 in credit, and the Bespoke Edition will bring in $900 in credit. Of course, these changes will disappoint some who were on the fence, but the offers are still pretty good even with the lower trade-in values.

    Samsung’s latest and greatest. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 improves on its predecessors, offering a sturdier more refined foldable handset.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 offers a familiar clamshell design with a more refined look, thanks to squared-off edges and a redesigned hinge. The compact foldable packs the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC paired with 8GB RAM. The 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display offers a 120Hz refresh rate, with deep blacks and colors that pop. It gets a slightly larger battery than its predecessor, coming in at 3,700mAh. The phone offers wireless charging or 25W wired fast charging as an option if you’re in a rush. Those that love capturing the moment while on the go will be glad to know that the phone has dual 12MP cameras capable of shooting beautiful photos and videos.

Despite the lower trade-in values, Samsung is still offering other incentives like up to $200 in instant Samsung Credit that can be used towards accessories. It also offers a free memory upgrade, with the base model Galaxy Z Flip 4 upgraded to 256GB of internal storage. It’s also throwing in a case valued at $39.99. On top of that, by purchasing a Galaxy Z Flip 4, you’ll be eligible to receive four months of YouTube Premium, four months of SiriusXM streaming, three months of Spotify Premium, and six months of 100GB of OneDrive cloud storage for free. Simply put, this is still a great deal and should be taken advantage of.


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Apple reportedly plans iPhone and Apple Watch event for September 7th – Ars Technica

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Enlarge / The iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Samuel Axon

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and new iPhones in September. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that this year’s iPhone event will be held on Wednesday, September 7th.

According to Gurman, the non-pro iPhone 14 lineup will axe the 5.4-inch mini display size that Apple has sold for the last couple of generations. The standard 6.1-inch model will instead be joined by a large-screened 6.7-inch version, matching the screen size of the current iPhone Pro Max model. But these phones will also continue to use the current Apple A15 Bionic chip and will look externally similar to the iPhone 13.

The iPhone 14 Pro will reportedly be more exciting, replacing the current camera notch with a pair of pinhole cutouts for the front-facing camera and FaceID scanner; many Android phones have already switched to similar pinhole cutouts to save screen space. The Pro phones will also reportedly get a faster chip and an even-larger three-lens camera assembly anchored by a 48-megapixel wide-angle camera plus 12-megapixel ultra-wide and telephoto cameras.

Apple also plans to introduce new Apple Watches, the report says. The Series 8 watches will reportedly include a standard model that looks similar to the current Series 7, plus a long-rumored larger and more “rugged” titanium model with more battery life and additional fitness tracking features.

The basic Apple Watch SE will reportedly receive a faster chip—the current SE uses an Apple S5, and a new one could use an S6, S7, or some newer as-yet unannounced chip. This new SE model will hopefully mean the end of the long-lived Apple Watch Series 3, which the company still sells even though it won’t be receiving the watchOS 9 update this fall.

A September 7th announcement for the new iPhones and watches probably means at least some new devices will be available to buy toward the middle of the month, roughly coinciding with the release of iOS 16—Gurman says that Apple Store employees have been told to prepare for a September 16th launch.

Apple often holds an iPad- and Mac-focused event in October to complement the September event, which is when we’d expect to see updates to those products and the release of macOS Ventura and the reportedly delayed iPadOS 16. Gurman predicts we’ll finally see a USB-C version of the low-end iPad, new M2-based iPad Pros, and updated Mac mini and MacBook Pros before the end of the year.

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Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4 feature new 'Light' battery-saving mode – MobileSyrup

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Samsung’s latest flagships running One UI 4.1.1 feature a new battery-boosting performance profile. This profile hidden in the settings on the Z Flip 4 and the Z Fold 4 is in a new section called ‘Performance Profile.’

In this settings section, there are two options called ‘Standard’ and ‘Light.’ The Light profile is described as prioritizing “battery life and cooling efficiency over processing speed.”

A user on Reddit that got their hands on a Galaxy Z Fold 4 early has put both modes to the test.

According to ‘Dudi4PoLFr‘, with Light mode turned on, benchmarking apps seem to drop about 20 percent of raw performance. This should, in theory, result in battery savings while still offering better overall performance than the Z Fold 3.

It’s also worth noting that the Galaxy Fold 4 and Flip 4 feature a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, which Qualcomm says is 30 percent more efficient than previous device Samsung devices.

I haven’t noticed that much of an increase in battery life in my testing of the Fold 4 of far. However, I’ve yet to try the foldable’s new Light mode. I’ll have a full review of the Galaxy Fold 4 up on MobileSyrup in the coming weeks.

Source: Reddit Dudi4PoLFr‘ Via: 9to5Google

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