Monday, 25 March 2013

Adobe’s CTO moves to Apple; Analysts shocked

There has been a major turn of events in the world of technology - Chief Technology Officer at Adobe, Kevin Lynch has made an announcement that he has resigned from his post at Adobe to join Apple as vice president, technologies. The announcement came as a shock for tech analysts, as Lynch had been a harsh critic of Apple at some point. The controversy began in 2010, when Apple declined to use Adobe’s Flash technology on their iPhone and iPad. The war escalated to the point that both companies became public with their grievances. Former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs published a memo called “Thoughts on Flash”, in which he brutally criticized Adobe’s technology, terming it flawed, while praising HTML5. Adobe replied by launching an online and in print advertising campaign against the workings of Apple, which takes away people’s freedom to choose. However, a year after this controversy, Adobe halted its work on mobile version of Flash and focused more on HTML instead.

Lynch and Apple say: No comment
So, what prompted this sudden change of mind on Lynch’s side – no one is sure of. When contacted by the media for a statement and probable cause of shift, Apple and Lynch chose to stay mum.  However, Adobe responded and said the company wouldn’t be hiring any new CTO; instead the responsibilities will be re-assigned to two key personnel - Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and SVP Bryan Lamkin.
Earlier, CNBC reported that Lunch will take the position of vice president of technology at Apple, working directly under senior vice president of Apple, Bob Mansfield. This position was created, when ioS software chief Scott Forstall resigned in October 2012 along with retail chief John Browett. Apple is still looking for Browett’s replacement, but it is rumored that Lynch will be filling in for Forstall.

Speculations at Adobe
Back at Adobe, people are speculating upon Lynch’s reasons for resignation. One senior employee assumed that it’s probably got to do with Apple’s approach towards combining hardware and software. Connecting threads, he said Lynch’s fascination with combination of hardware and software – which is absent at Adobe – may have propelled him towards Apple. While solving the mystery of Lynch’s move, tech analyst Jeffery Hammond has said Lynch has always been interested in software. He has earlier knowledge of iOS and worked with the Mac software including the Mac spyware threats. This might have forced Lynch to make its move to Apple. Another important reason is lack of software based work in Adobe – despite its success with cloud computing.

The significance of Lynch’s resignation can also be determined by the fact that Adobe’s revenue crashed down significantly in its first quarter, which might have created a buzz in the market. However, the company number of members for its Creative Cloud service has increased to over 500,000 this year. Moreover, the company showed a marked increase at the stock exchange – from $2.32 to $43.07. However, Apple’s stocks decreased by 89 cents to $453.60 per share.

Friday, 15 March 2013

How to Monitor LGBT Cyber Bullying

For children growing up in this age, discovering who they are and what their sexual identity is can be more then confusing.  If they begin to experience some lesbian, gay, or bisexual tendencies then they may seek some comfort or solace in sharing this with friends and peers. The foremost way of socializing nowadays is through social networking sites, text messaging, and instant messenger services such as GTalk and so on. But sharing such details on the internet is never a good idea. Children and teens can be targets of cyber bullying by all sorts of people that you may not be aware of which can include, friends, relatives, and these include adults too.

The sad fact is we live in a brutal world and in brutal times. It’s difficult living in times of global economic crisis; it’s even more difficult living in times of intolerance and fear of others who may be dubbed ‘different’, ‘weird’, or even ‘freakish’.  And of course, as a parent, these are the last things one wants to hear associated with their child. The internet is not the nicest virtual neighborhood. After all, there aren’t enough restrictions, rules, or regulations in place for any adult to let their child just wander the virtual social landscapes without supervision. So what should a concerned parent do?

Here are some steps to go about monitoring your child and making sure that they don’t fall prey to cyber bullies and hence end up losing confidence in their abilities and sense of self esteem.

Observe your child’s internet practices
In order to monitor your child in such a way that you are up to date on what is happening around them when they log on to the internet, you should first know what their internet routine is. If they access it through their cell phone, through their laptop or the family PC, or perhaps when they go over to a friend’s place, you should go about picking out the best monitoring apps keeping that in mind.
 If your child is still a preteen or under 13 and already demonstrating some sexual deviancy then it would be a good option to bar them from owning a personal cell phone just yet. That way you could talk to them about the changes in their selves and explain to them what to do in case of online bullying and threats before they occur.

Monitor their access devices
In case they are old enough or you feel that they can handle having a personal cell phone, its time you invest in a cell phone monitoring app. If they own their own laptop then you will need computer and internet monitoring software for that device. If they use the family PC only then you can spend time with them when they are online and go about networking and interacting online together.

You can avail a range of apps and spyware software that will allow you to check their browsing history, their emails, their pictures and text messages as well as their contact lists. This way if they receive any harassing texts or multimedia messages, you’ll be in on the loop too and hence equipped to deal with the emotional and mental drama that may afflict your child. As a parent, you will also be able to block any such bullies from Facebook, Twitter, and other sites before the malicious content even reaches your child, preventing mental injury.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Unpatched Vulnerabilities: Android Devices Continue to Cling Onto the Risk Factor

Carriers and tech gurus continue to be at sixes and sevens with regards to solving that million dollar puzzle: patching up Android devices. While mobile spy software is deadlier every passing moment, it seems to be Android spyware that is weaving its malicious magic more effectively than other brands of malware, as the operating system casualties soar without any indication of ceasing any time soon. Recent reports have confirmed that Android’s long tussle with malware is still ongoing, the platform is still the target numero uno for spyware from across the globe and most crucially there seems no easy way out for the users that want to keep themselves up to date with latest patches.

Unpatched Vulnerabilities Galore!
Duo Security is one of many think-tanks mulling over the Android patchwork. It recently compiled results from 20,000 Android machines, which had been scanned with the X-Ray tool for vulnerability assessment. According to the results more than 50 percent of the devices all over the world have unpatched vulnerabilities. And to add fuel to this blazing fire, the chief technology officer of Duo Security is touting the number as a “conservative estimate”, which has been compiled after the preliminary results. If one were to factor in detailed tests this number could further soar skywards.
Duo’s numbers are in synchrony with the Bit9 report that was released earlier this year, which stated that 56% of Android devices were allowing insecure and out of date versions of the software and in turn inviting Android spyware to wreak havoc in their devices.
Devices that have been under this pretty menacing gun include, HTC, Samsung, Sanyo, Motorola, Sony and LG.
Sophos has also reported recently that the discovery of new malware has hiked up 41 times in 2011, while most of this jump traces its origin to a toll fraud malware family which targeted Eastern European markets. This toll fraud occurs when mobile spy software stealthily sends texts to paid services via a phone that has been hijacked.

Crossing the Line
The thing that affects the US the most is the latest apps which use extremely aggressive tactics. And more often than not these tactics cross all lines of privacy. The more aggressive of these apps link sponsored apps, display their advertisements even if the application doesn’t run and criminally extract private information and take it to the server of the advertiser – if this isn’t blatant violation of the ad policy of Google for Android, then what is?
Advertising, while a fundamental right of every single company and firm, has become a dangerous tool, in the garb of which many a hacker has eradicated some of the biggest companies by delving into their private data. Again, no other platform has been as compromised as Android and while other platforms do put up a wall to bolster their lines that shouldn’t be crosses, Android’s lines continue to be the easiest to cross for hackers.

Maximum Risk
As we study the security aspects of various platforms it is still as you were, and Android’s poor vulnerability patching and fragmentation continues to be a massive risk for its users. And with Android – unlike iOS that Apple has on iPhones and iPads – there is a plethora of vendors that use scores of platform versions. This, in turn, results in a hotchpotch of strategies catering to patchwork and they are further complicated owing to the carriers that push out updates.
There are some carriers that tend to push out updates sooner than the rest of the carriers and similarly there are users that install the patches sooner than the rest. And hence the fact that there are more than 50 percent Android devices that have unpatched glitches shouldn’t be that big a surprise for anyone. With Android providing the maximum risk factor to its users, do we really expect things to be different any time soon? Not really…

Quasi Silver Lining
With no tangible solution foreseeable, Android spyware is clearly on the up, which would continue to up the ante on users that have unpatched phones. Even so, mobile spy software and malware is still not as daunting as the malicious apps that have been created to expose vulnerabilities in computers and hence, the menace for Android users is still less than the potential menace in the tech domain. This can be demonstrated simply by knowing the simple fact that one can survive if they haven’t updated their phone’s OS, but no one can survive not updating the anti-virus or the OS patches on the PC.
So yes while the risk factor for Android users is, has been, and would in all likelihood continue to be a hot topic of debate in the tech world, there is still a ray of hope for Android buffs in the shape of the survival and persistence of the PC industry. As they say every cloud has a silver lining; only sometimes one needs a really robust telescope to perceive it.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Scam Calls: Innovation In Hacking Techniques

It has become common knowledge that scammers try to penetrate into the computers and cell phones through cell phone tracking apps and PC tracking malware. These malicious contents play havoc with the system upon entering the device. However, now these hackers have devised another useful way of penetrating into your machine and destroying your privacy – Phone scams.

How to identify a Phone Scam?
The purpose of the phone scam is to extract your personal details by making a fake call that makes your private data accessible to the hackers. Glaring example is of last year’s Microsoft phone scam call, when people called to inform them that their computers had been infected with rogue software. The caller tries to gain trust of the victim by establishing the call from Microsoft, asking some personal data and the user falls prey to the scam and their security and privacy crumbles down like a deck of cards. The scam caller requests to install remote access code, which in turn helps the hacking group, get complete access to the computers and other devices.

More cases of Scam Calls Reported
The trend of scam calls is rising in English speaking countries, particularly America and the United Kingdom. The hackers follow a similar process every time they call the new victim – establish the call from Microsoft, request remote access, install malware under the cloak of updated version of software, run a fake scan and get successful in obtaining their credit card numbers. A survey conducted by the Trustworthy Computing Team revealed, out of 7000 people surveyed, 1000 reported these spam calls – 234 people out of one thousand, fell for the scam, while 184 of the 234 actually lost money, around $800.

How to Avoid the Scam
The first thing to keep in mind is that Microsoft does not call its users and charge them for fixing or updating software. So, this is a clear distinction that you need to be aware of. Here’s how you can counter these spam calls:
-          Never hand over the remote access of your computer to an unknown, third party. Only when you are certain about the credibility of other person, you’re giving the control to a legitimate member of the support team. Ideal way would be to give them a call back to establish the authenticity of the employee.
-          This is one rule we learnt as kids – never give your talk to strangers or give any personal information – also applying to your credit card number and financial information.
-          Always establish the authenticity of the call, which demands paying a fee or needs subscription. Don’t take any risks, if you have any doubts.
-          If you are victim of such calls, then the most pragmatic approach would have been to note down the information of the caller and report it to local authorities, so that the hackers can be traced and arrested. Make sure you cover all your bases with regards to warding off the phony calls.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Blackberries Leaking Juice

A leaked presentation file detailing RIM’s planned out path for the future- the credibility of the file is naturally dubious- is shedding light about the company’s plan regarding the upcoming updates, which according to the announcement made by the company the upgrade to Blackberry 10 platform is going to be delayed as it is now expected to be released in the first quarter of 2013. Although the contents of the not so credible slide are in consonance with the news revealed by RIM lately, the slide was revealed from an anonymous source at Earlier on, RIM foretold that BlackBerry 10 devices would come out in the fall of this year, during Blackberry World conference in May, however, the information from the slide coincides with the recent change that RIM only announced last week about delaying the BlackBerry 10 release to next year.

RIM takes a step further in Tablets
The PlayBook 4G (also Winchester) running the version 7 of BlackBerry Os instead of BlackBerry 10 is shown to be released in the last quarter of this year. It may come off as a surprise to many as the previous tab was not that popular, but the company has more planned out in this regard as well. A 10 inch tablet called “Blackforest 128” is going to be released in the third quarter of 2013, according to the slide, while there is no detail as to what 128 stands for, an educated guess would be 128gb memory which be a great advance as most tabs right now go up to a capacity of 64gb. While this raises concerns about the authenticity of the slide, it is also a controversial idea for RIM to launch a tab competing against the iPad considering RIM’s first quarter sales for Playbook were 260 000 where as Apple sold 11.8 million iPads in the second quarter of 2012. According to Ken Dulaney, Gartner analyst, RIM’s upcoming plans regarding tabs are not much of business ideas, the reasons behind them could be maintaining high security users with their platform and devices known for this quality and also completing the company portfolio of devices. So with the new upgrades out, users won’t have to worry about BlackBerry spy or any other malware of the kind. Even in this regard, Android and Apple tabs are advancing in almost every aspect including security features, Microsoft Surface is also going to launch with its own security details, therefore if security is the key area that RIM treasures, it might not be too farfetched to expect contending tablets to exceed RIM in this regard as well by the time they layout an action plan.  However, even with these rivals advancing in the race, RIM has to worry a lot less about mobile spy software as opposed to Android for example, which is a platform much more plagued by malware attacks.

London and Nevada rediscovered in 2013
As per the leaked information, the new handsets will also be released in the first quarter of 2013, including RIM’s first device without a hardware keyboard running BlackBerry 10 being the “London” handset and the other one being “Nevada”. BlackBerry 10 will launch in Europe in January 2013, prior to U.S. launch which is expected in February, according to BB OS’s sources.
BlackBerry Handsets have always found their clientele in the cell phone market, where as the Playbook has not yet been as popular. RIM is counting on the response for these new upgrades, let’s all hope that it turns out to be great for the company as well the users.

Malicious Malware Creeps Into Android Market

 In times when technology is a household phenomenon and markets are flooded with various kinds of devices – security is a constant challenge faced by the users. Market for Android and Apple devices is expanding every day, with innovations pouring in every month. Advancement in smart phones has led to certain issues in the field of mobile phone technology. The most important of them is security issue.
Recent reports have suggested that security researchers have unearthed a new malware in Google Play Store, which is an app market for Google’s Android. This discovery proves the limitations of the scanning service used to detect the presence of spywares in the apps just before downloading them.

A Trojan War!
Irfan Asrar, researcher from an antivirus provider company, Symantec said that Android Dropdialer, a Trojan was detected in different titles, which went unseen for weeks. Asrar gave out this information in his blog. Naming the two titles, Asrar said that the Trojan was hidden in "Super Mario Bros" and "GTA 3 Moscow City" – generating at least a 100,000 downloads of these apps.

Explaining the nature of the Trojan, the researcher said that the interesting thing is that this spyware went unnoticed on Google Play for a long time – affecting other downloads, due to its remote payload used by this Trojan.

Earlier Asrar mentioned on his blog post about the process of disintegrating a harmful app into separate, staged payloads protected the malware from being detected by the Android monitoring software.  The major purpose behind this procedure is to break the malware into separate files, instead of using it as single file, which will make it easier for it to go undetected for a longer period of time. The malware in question, Android.Dropdialer, was first found on on Google Play (earlier known as the Android Market) – once this malware is installed, it will download other packages as well.

Who to blame?
The blog post writer went on to say that users affected by this Trojan – after installing the app - were still shown a list of notifications including "services that cost you money" -  meaning the users who were victims of this threat were equally responsible for being affected. But keeping it fair and taking into account the fact that this malicious Android spyware was available on Google's own servers, it appears that the company should also be blamed for the act.

Google is not sitting idle. The search engine giant discovered Bouncer, a cloud-based malware scanner in February. Since this discovery, researchers have been successful in their independent discovery of malicious apps in Google Play on several occasions. They were also able to detect malware in the Google Chrome Web store.

Two mobile security experts, Jon Oberheide and Charlie Miller have made a shocking announcement that they've found multiple loopholes in the malware scanner, Bouncer – enabling them to sneak malicious apps into Google Play by bypassing Bouncer. Google representatives have not responded to this threat so far, with no attempt made to check the accuracy of the claim.