Thousands of phones — running Android and iOS are at risk of getting hacked into by spyware developed by an Italian firm.
As part of their effort to make Android phones more secure — Google’s Threat Analysis Group (opens in new tab) (TAG) publishes reports on vulnerabilities that are spotted around the world. TAG has now reported that Milan based RCS Labs had come up with tools to spy on private messages, passwords and contacts of users. These tools are now being used to spy on the phones of people based in Italy and Kazakhstan.
How would you know if this was attacking your phone? Well, TAG reports that the spyware uses a combination of clever tactics to enter a user’s phone. This includes trying to get users to download a malicious app on either Android or iOS or sometimes disables the users data via their carrier before sending a malicious link via text to get them to ‘fix’ the issue.
Strangely enough, RCS Labs’ website (opens in new tab) claims that they have European law enforcement agencies as clients. Google said that the big problem is that they are “enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house.” European and American regulators have been deciding new rules against the sale and purchase of spyware.
Spyware like that of RCS Labs can be dangerous especially when it falls into the wrong hands. This is also not the first time a spyware firm has been found hacking into phones. Israeli firm NSO’s Pegasus spyware was found to be spying on journalists and activists by many different governments around the world. RCS’ spyware doesn’t seem as dangerous or widespread as Pegasus though.
In an email to Reuters, RCS Labs mentioned that they condemned any abuse of its products and insisted that they are used to help law enforcement agencies investigate crimes.
An Apple spokesperson said that the company had revoked all accounts and certificates associated with this hacking campaign. Apple has patched each of the iOS exploits used, so you should be safe if you have at least iOS 15.2.
Google has ramped up its defenses and mentioned that they have informed the affected users in both Italy and Kazakhstan.
There might be little reason to worry though. The attack does not seem widespread and there is no indication users beyond those countries have been affected.
The hack is a good reminder to keep installing security patches on your Android or iPhone. Spyware is something everyone should be aware of to avoid falling victim to. You can also download the best Android antivirus apps to keep spyware at bay.
Some Google Pixels received an Android 12 update instead of Android 13 – MobileSyrup
It wouldn’t be a major Google software release if there wasn’t something that went wrong.
Google started pushing the stable Android 13 update to Pixel devices on August 15th, and already some users have encountered an issue. For some Pixel devices, the latest update is actually to Android 12, not version 13. Several reports have emerged on Twitter and the r/GooglePixel subreddit about users receiving a 2GB Android 12 update on their Pixel phone.
Per Android Police, some brave users took a risk and installed the mystery Android 12 update and claimed it simply re-installed the Android 12 update and seemingly didn’t bump the OS build number.
Refreshed the ‘System Update’ dialog on my Pixel 6 sporadically for an hour… only to get an available update for Android 12 which the device is already on🤔
— Ed Holloway-George 🍝 (@Sp4ghettiCode) August 16, 2022
Other users noted they initially received the Android 13 upgrade but weren’t able to update right away. When they went back to download the new software a few hours later, the Android 12 update had replaced it. Moreover, some users who installed the Android 12 update were able to download the Android 13 update after.
Android Police notes the issues seems to primarily impact the Pixel 6, Pixel 4a and Pixel 5a (which isn’t available in Canada). Overall, the problem doesn’t seem that widespread, but it still impacted a bunch of Pixel users.
If you’re in the same boat with an Android 12 update on your Pixel, you might be able to trigger the Android 13 update by rebooting the device. If that doesn’t work, you’ll just need to wait for Google to fix the problem on its end unless you’re brave enough to redownload Android 12.
Why is ArriveCan still mandatory, and what is Ottawa’s plan for the contentious app?
OTTAWA — The glitch-prone app touted as an efficient border tool early in the pandemic has become a punching bag for critics who question its utility — but ArriveCan may be here to stay.
The government insists it’s a useful tool. Critics say it has outlived its use, if it ever had one.
Here’s a quick lowdown on what we currently know about it.
What is ArriveCan?
The app was introduced early in the pandemic and its use has been mandatory at air and land borders since February 2021 with exceptions in cases of accessibility issues or outages.
ArriveCan ostensibly screens incoming travellers for COVID-19 and for the last year tracked their vaccination status. Refusing to use the app to provide required information can result in a fine of up to $5,000 under the Quarantine Act.
Has the app done what it was supposed to do?
A December 2021 report from the federal auditor general said the ArriveCan app improved the quality of information the government collected on travellers. But poor data quality still meant that almost 138,000 COVID-19 test results couldn’t be matched to incoming travellers, and only 25 per cent of travellers told to quarantine in government-authorized hotels were verified to have stayed in them.
Last month, due to a glitch, ArriveCan instructed about 10,200 travellers to quarantine for 14 days when they didn’t have to. Bianca Wylie, a partner at Digital Public, questioned why the app would be automating those decisions in the first place, rather than sticking to the information-collection mandate it was launched with.
Is the app only about COVID-19?
Recent government updates to do with the app have focused on efficiencies rather than on public health measures. At air border crossings, it is now possible, though optional, to use the app to fill out a customs declaration form before arrival at Toronto’s Pearson airport, Vancouver or Montreal.
Last week the government said it planned to expand that optional feature to air arrivals in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax and the Billy Bishop Toronto City airport.
In a statement earlier this month that focused on Canada’s broader air travel fiasco, Transport Canada said those who use the forms cut their time at kiosks down by a third. That’s 40 seconds off the average two-minute visit, which the government estimates could “save hours in wait time” if everyone used it.
Are apps the way of the future for air travel?
Electronic data collection related to COVID-19 has been mandatory at many international borders, and online forms are increasingly being used for non-pandemic reasons. Australia handles its electronic travel authorizations exclusively via app, while an online authorization form will be required to visit the European Union starting next year.
Canadian officials haven’t gone so far as to say that they’re planning something similar. But Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters in June that while ArriveCan was created for COVID-19, “it has technological capacity beyond that to really shrink the amount of time that is required when you’re getting screened at the border.”
Before the pandemic, Canada had already started digitizing its border services with other initiatives, including installing customs kiosks at major airports starting in 2017 and introducing an eDeclaration app in 2018, which still exists, to cut down processing times.
Wylie said people were not using that app at a high volume before the pandemic, because it was voluntary and there were easy alternatives. But she said Ottawa has been using COVID-19 as an opportunity to speed up the transition.
“The federal government has been using a public health crisis to basically train people in a border modernization exercise that they have wanted to do,” Wylie said, adding that modernization initiatives are fine as long as they are voluntary and alternatives are available.
How has the app affected travel across the land border?
About a quarter of people who cross into Canada from the U.S. by car don’t use ArriveCan in advance, according to Pierre St-Jacques, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Union.
At the Canada-U. S. land border, a one-time exemption is in place for travellers who “may have been unaware” of the rules, the Canadian Border Services Agency confirmed. Out of five million crossings between May 24 and Aug. 4, the exemption was used 308,800 times, CBSA said in a statement.
But that’s just a temporary fix, St-Jacques said, as officers who already feel spread thin because of staffing shortages find themselves acting as “IT consultants” and troubleshooting travellers’ technical issues rather than doing what they’re trained to do. “If the goal of the app is to make cross-border travel more efficient or more secure, well, it doesn’t work in its current iteration,” he said.
Border town mayors, border-city chambers of commerce and even duty-free stores have complained publicly that they think ArriveCan, along with other pandemic border restrictions, have been a deterrent to American tourists.
Why has ArriveCan become such a hot political topic?
Whether because Canadians are annoyed about the extra hassle, concerned about their privacy, sympathetic to border towns or simply fed up with the federal Liberals, Conservatives have an audience for their calls to eliminate ArriveCan.
Canadian acting darling Simu Liu joined the “scrap the app” bandwagon, challenging his followers to say a single nice thing about it in a tweet Tuesday, then saying immediately: “I failed the challenge.”
Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen said in a tweet Tuesday that ArriveCan created “unnecessary hurdles” and “only serves to hurt Canada’s economy and tourism industry.”
Some voices have gone a step further in claiming that the app is part of a broader effort to collect personal information and control the public. Conservative leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis called the whole thing a “surveillance experiment.”
The privacy commissioner is also investigating a complaint about the app’s collection and use of personal data.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.
— With files from Sarah Ritchie
Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press
Asmongold calls out Blizzard after brief WoW ban: “You obviously f**ked up” – Dexerto
Asmongold was recently banned from World of Warcraft for a brief period but was quickly allowed back in the game after Blizzard overturned the initial suspension.
In a recent YouTube video, Asmongold described his banning from World of Warcraft as a “glorious day.” During this video, the popular content creator began by recounting the events leading up to the moment he found out he had been banned from playing Blizzard’s hit MMO.
“I go to log on to World of Warcraft and it tells me this: Blizzard account has been suspended.” Jokingly, Asmon then added, “they shut me down, rightfully so.” He then went on to address Blizzard directly and offer up his thanks for what he clearly believed was an error on their behalf.
“I wanna say thank you, Blizzard, this is gonna be great clickbait on YouTube. You obviously f***ed up and didn’t mean to suspend me but that doesn’t mean my editors aren’t gonna farm this out for viewers on YouTube. Thank you, Blizzard.”
He then went on to read out an email from the devs, explaining why he was banned from World of Warcraft for allegedly engaging with real money transactions (RMT). However, Asmon was quick to shut down the idea that he had done any RMT trading in the video, which appeared to be the reasoning for his banning.
Asmon then called out Blizzard for their recent string of banning players for supposedly unsubstantiated reasons or banning players and then quickly overturning the decision. He did this by reading out tweets from other content creators as well as community members who have found themselves in similar situations when playing World of Warcraft.
Following his video, the World of Warcraft community on Reddit have shown their support for the content creator as well as also voicing their disappointment at Blizzard for banning Asmongold and others and then quickly backflipping after realising it was a mistake.
For all the latest on Asmongold, check out Dexerto’s full coverage here.
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