Tag Archives: Android

BlackBerry’s ultra-secure chat gives each message its own security key

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Chat systems like BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) are typically very secure, since they’re encrypted end-to-end. However, they still have a glaring flaw: if intruders do crack the code, they can see everything you’ve said. That’s where BlackBerry’s soon-to-launch BBM Protected comes in. As the company showed at its BlackBerry Experience Washington event (CrackBerry’s video is below), the new service makes it extremely difficult to spy on an entire conversation. Each message has its own random encryption key; even a very clever data thief would only get one tidbit at a time, so it could take ages to piece together a full chat.

BBM Protected will only be available for corporate-controlled BlackBerry devices when it launches as part of an enterprise suite in June, although that will include anything running the now-ancient BlackBerry OS 6 or higher. The chat client won’t be available for personal phones running BlackBerry Balance until early fall, while Android and iOS users will have to wait until late fall or early winter. All the same, it might be worth holding out if you’re really, truly worried that someone is watching your private discussions.

Source: Engadget

Rugged, wildly modular tablet runs Android and Linux

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CrossfirePro running Android

Entegra announced a rugged, modular tablet that’s configurable for a wide range of environments and applications, and supports both Android 4.2 and Linux.

Entegra’s CrossfirePro is unlike any tablet you’ve encountered: it’s the consummate chameleon of rugged slates, boasting a modularity that starts with its snap-in Qseven computer-on-module processing core and extends to nearly every aspect of its I/O and software. Though it ships standard with a 1.86GHz quad-core Intel Bay Trail M-series N2930 processor, the COM-based core supports alternatives ranging from faster or slower Intel and AMD x86 CPUs, to ARM-based SoCs. It also accepts I/O add-ons such as barcode scanners, magnetic strip readers, fingerprint scanners, smart card and NFC readers, and a variety of custom modules, says the company.

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CrossfirePro with a rear-mounted cardswipe/keypad module

Entegra also offers three docks for the CrossfirePro, which support its use in office, point-of-sale, and vehicular environments. These would presumably be accompanied by snap-in or add-on modules, operating systems, and application software suitable to each market.

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CrossfirePro Desk Dock
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CrossfirePro Vehicle Dock
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CrossfirePro Point-of-sale Dock

The photos below show how the Qseven COM and mSATA storage devices snap into compartments in the rear of the tablet.

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CrossfirePro’s configurable Qseven COM and mSATA storage device

To support such an extensive array of modularity, Entegra designed a unique mainboard that’s controlled by a PIC microcontroller. The PIC chip serves as a “traffic cop” to initialize and manage the options it discovers upon power-up, as illustrated in the diagram below.

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CrossfirePro’s PIC µC discovers modules and configures the tablet accordingly on power-up

For a full list of the specs follow the source link below.

Source: LinuxGizmos.com

Google Chrome working on latest BlackBerry 10.3 leak

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Using the latest leaked version of BlackBerry 10.3 software version 10.3.0.296. I haven’t yet had a chance to try any other Google apps and in earlier versions of BlackBerry 10 you could not use any apps that require Google Services. A couple more screen shots of Chrome running perfectly on my Z10.

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Is CryptoLocker Ransomware arriving on Android?

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The U.S. version of the Android malware purporting to be CrytoLocker.

CrytoLocker Ransomware, the malware that locked up PCs until you paid off $300 and the so-called Menace of the Year, may have jumped from Windows to Android.

ThreatPost reports that the Reveton cyber-crime gang is advertising an Android version of CryptoLocker. This program seems to have no way to actively infect an Android smartphone or tablet. To get it you have to actually download the APK file.

To trick you into doing this, the malware masquerades as a porn application. As you’d expect, this malware is designed to hide out on porn sites. If I’d said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, never download Android apps from third-party sites of any sort and don’t, no matter what operating system you’re running, download programs from porn sites.

If you’re fool enough to do this anyway and get infected, any time you try to use your device, you’ll be shown a warning display that accuses you of viewing child pornography or equally ugly and illegal porn. It then goes on to say that you’ll face a jail term of five to 11 years, unless, of course, you make a payment of $300 via MoneyPak. This is a legitimate pre-paid debt card service.

At this time, it’s unclear if this malware, labeled Koler.A really is a port of CryptoLocker or simply a malware program using the infamous ransomware name in vain. From the limited experience security companies have had with this program it seems most likely it is not actually encrypting your files.

That said, getting rid of Koler.A is currently a major annoyance. Android anti-virus programs don’t have a fix for it yet. If you can move the program’s icon to the trash, however, that “seems” to get rid of the program. The trick is you only have five seconds to delete it before the ransomware screen takes over your display.

For more information and the original story follow the source link below.

Source: ZD Net

Google tech to bring 3D mapping smarts to NASA’s space station robots

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NASA and Google are working together to send new 3D technology aloft to map the International Space Station.

Google said Thursday that its Project Tango team is collaborating with scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center to integrate the company’s new 3D technology into a robotic platform that will work inside the space station. The integrated technology has been dubbed SPHERES, which stands for Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites.

NASA astronaut Mike Fossum works with one of the smart Spheres aboard the International Space Station. The robotic orbs will get some 3D-sensing smarts from Google this summer. (Photo: NASA)

The technology is scheduled to launch to the orbiting station this summer, although Google a specific date hasn’t been set.

“The Spheres program aims to develop zero-gravity autonomous platforms that could act as robotic assistants for astronauts or perform maintenance activities independently on station,” according to a Google+ post from the company’s ATAP ( Advanced Technology and Projects) group. “The 3D-tracking and mapping capabilities of Project Tango would allow Spheres to reconstruct a 3D-map of the space station and, for the first time in history, enable autonomous navigation of a floating robotic platform 230 miles above the surface of the earth.”

Earlier this year, Google announced that its Project Tango group is working to build an Android phone with sensors and chips that enable it to map indoor spaces in 3D.

The project, which includes scientists from universities, research labs and commercial partners, is led by Google’s ATAP group.

“Mobile devices today assume the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen,” said Johnny Lee, the Project Tango leader, in a YouTube video. “Our goal is to give mobile devices a human scale understanding of space and motion.”

Google’s 3D sensing smartphone, which is still in the prototype phase, has customized hardware and software, including a 4-megapixel camera, motion tracking sensors, computer vision processors and integrated depth sensing.

The sensors make more than a quarter of a million 3D measurements every second, fusing the information into a 3D map of the environment.

NASA began working with Google last summer to get Project Tango working on the space station.

The Intelligent Robotics Group at the Ames Research Center is looking to upgrade the smartphones used to power the three volleyball-sized, free-flying robots on the space station. Astronauts will exchange the current smartphones used in the Spheres with the Google prototypes.

Each robotic orb is self-contained, with power, propulsion, computing and navigation equipment, along with expansion ports for additional sensors and appendages, such as cameras and wireless power transfer systems, according to NASA.

“The Project Tango prototype incorporates a particularly important feature for the smart Spheres — a 3D sensor,” said Terry Fong, director of the Intelligent Robotics Group, in a statement. “This allows the satellites to do a better job of flying around on the space station and understanding where exactly they are.”

In February, Google and NASA scientists took the smartphone prototypes on a zero-gravity test flight. The engineers used the flight to calibrate the device’s motion-tracking and positioning code to function properly in space.

NASA scientists say they envision 3D-enabled Spheres could be used to inspect the outside of the space station or the exterior of deep space vehicles.

While Google’s 3D technology is set to go to the space station this summer, a SpaceX resupply mission, which will carry legs for the humanoid robot working on the orbiter, is slated to launch this afternoon.

SpaceX was set to launch its third resupply mission on Monday but the liftoff was postponed due to a leak in the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the Dragon cargo spacecraft aloft.

Since the summer of 2013, Google and NASA have been working together to bring 3D mapping technology to the International Space Station.

Source: Network World

iFixit Gives HTC One M8 2/10 For Repairability

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With HTC officially announced the HTC One M8 yesterday, we’re sure many of you guys are eager to get your hands on the device. After all what’s not to like? The phone packs some great hardware under the hood and even sports a pretty nice metal body which feels pretty premium.

Those are some factors that people take into consideration when thinking about a new phone, but at the same time there are those who worry about things like durability and repairability. After all no one likes spending a lot of money on repairs if they can help it, right?

Well according to a recent iFixit teardown of the brand new HTC One M8, they have found that the HTC One M8 is pretty damn hard to repair and have given it a 2/10 based on repairability, with 10 obviously being the easiest to repair.

According to their reasoning, this is because it is extremely difficult to open up the phone without risking damage to the rear casing. They also claim that because the battery is adhered to the midframe of the motherboard, it makes it pretty difficult to replace as well. They also cite how the much trouble is to access the display assembly, making common repairs like screen replacements very difficult.

To read more and for the original story follow the source link below.

Source: Ubergizmo

Intel To Join The Android Wear Party With New Innovations In Wearables

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Intel and wearables. Two names that you best get used to seeing together, as the aforementioned company is diving into the wearables sector in a major way. As part of the broader Android Wear rollout announced this week, Intel has made a point to emphasize its role in the coming explosion of wearables. The company has stated that it’s “excited to be a part of Android Wear,” which will bring a fork of Android to an entire sector that’s poised for huge growth in the years ahead.

Intel isn’t revealing any products just yet, but it — along with Broadcom, Mediatek, and Qualcomm — are going to be powering some of the products that you see emerge over the next while. Watches, head-worn devices, and items we haven’t yet conceived are likely going to be running atop of Google’s Android Wear platform, and Intel hopes to be the circuitry behind some of it. As desktop and laptop sales slow, Intel has a very real need to replace that revenue with new streams.

Breaking into the tablet, phone, and wearable sectors makes complete sense, but it remains to be seen what kind of margins exist for wearables. At any rate, it’s great to see a name like Intel pushing the sector as a whole forward. For any serious innovation to occur, we’re going to need broad, industry-wide recognition of a movement. With wearables, we’re certainly seeing it.

Intel isn’t revealing any products just yet, but it — along with Broadcom, Mediatek, and Qualcomm — are going to be powering some of the products that you see emerge over the next while. Watches, head-worn devices, and items we haven’t yet conceived are likely going to be running atop of Google’s Android Wear platform, and Intel hopes to be the circuitry behind some of it. As desktop and laptop sales slow, Intel has a very real need to replace that revenue with new streams.

Breaking into the tablet, phone, and wearable sectors makes complete sense, but it remains to be seen what kind of margins exist for wearables. At any rate, it’s great to see a name like Intel pushing the sector as a whole forward. For any serious innovation to occur, we’re going to need broad, industry-wide recognition of a movement. With wearables, we’re certainly seeing it.

Source: Hot Hardware

Five reasons Microsoft could become a top Android smartphone company

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I thought this article brought up some good points and thought I would share it here.

1) Microsoft already makes major profits from Android.
How much? Thanks to its patent agreements, Microsoft may have made as much as $3.4 billion in 2013 from Android sales. If it wasn’t for its Android patents, the analyst firm Nomura thinks Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division (EDD), which covers Xbox, Windows Phone and Skype would actually lose $2-billion dollars a year!

With its forthcoming Nokia acquisition, Microsoft could make ten times that much from its own Android smartphones. Also, unlike its potential Android competitors, Microsoft won’t have to pay its own patent fees. That automatically makes each MS-Android phone more profitable for Microsoft than an equivalent device for say Samsung.

Thinking of the Android phone powerhouse, Samsung owns the Android smartphone market the way Microsoft controls the PC market. Microsoft is one of the few companies with the resources to go toe-to-toe with Samsung. All it needs is to commit to a mobile operating system that people wants.

2) Android already owns the market.
The smartphone OS that everyone wants is Android. IDC’s latest fourth-quarter ranking shows Android has more than 78 percent of the worldwide smartphone market.. Between Android and IOS, the powerful mobile OS pair has 95 percent of the market.

I don’t care how much you may like some Windows Phones, they’re not selling. It’s been over a year now Windows Phone 8 was introduced, and it’s still not making serious inroads on either Android or iOS.

3) MS-Android has unique advantages over its competitors.
Ask anyone who makes Android phones what their biggest marketing problem is and they’ll tell that’s it’s trying to get their devices to stand out from their competitors. So, they add bloatware, which customers usually hate, or they paint on their own custom interface, which really doesn’t look that different from anyone else’s front-end.

What’s a company to do? Well, if you’re Microsoft, it can offer customers, Outlook instead of Gmail; Office 365 over Google Docs; and OneDrive, formerly SkyDrive, in place of Google Drive. Get the idea?

Microsoft has real software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) alternatives to Google’s offerings. While I have no love for Microsoft’s applications, there are hundreds of millions of users who have been using Outlook and Office since they first used a computer. A lot of them would love to use the apps they’ve known since they were kids on a widely-supported platform such as Android.

4) Lower development costs.
I don’t know how much Microsoft is spending on building Windows Phone 9, but it’s got to be north of a hundred million. How much does it cost to build Android? Oh wait, Microsoft doesn’t have to spend a thin dime on creating Android! Google, and other open-source developers, are the ones picking up the tab to build the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

5) More apps, more developers
Android also already has a huge number of developers and existing applications. In fact, the Google Play store already has a million apps. Windows Phone? It probably just crossed over 200,000 apps. The Android developers are out there, it won’t cost them much money or time to bring their apps to MS-Android.

Presto! For far less money, Microsoft cuts its internal development costs and opens its doors to tens of thousands of new developers and hundreds of thousands of new programs.

ZD Net

Study finds most mobile apps put your security and privacy at risk

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A report from HP claims apps lack security defenses, fail to encrypt data, and compromise personal information.

The average smartphone user has 26 apps installed. If recent research conducted by HP is any indication, approximately, well, all of them, come with privacy or security concerns of some sort.

The HP study focused purely on custom business apps, but there’s no reason to believe the issue doesn’t extend to commercial apps you find in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Many apps have access to data or permission to perform functions they shouldn’t.

If you want to play a game like Angry Birds, there’s no reason that it needs to have access to your contacts, and A a weather app probably doesn’t need to be able to send email on your behalf. The security risks in apps go beyond permissions, though. There are issues in how the apps integrate with core functions of the mobile operating system, as well as how they interact with and share information with one another.

In the HP study, 97 percent of the apps contained some sort of privacy issue. HP also found that 86 percent of the apps lack basic security defenses, and 75 percent fail to properly encrypt data. Assuming similar percentages across the hundreds of thousands of consumer apps in the app stores, it’s likely that you have a few security or privacy concerns floating around your smartphone or tablet.

But this isn’t about malicious apps designed to steal your data. It’s mostly a function of lazy coding. Developers write apps that access everything because it’s easier than writing more specific code, and it also paves the way for any future enhancements that might actually need it.

In a BYOD scenario these security and privacy risks are exaggerated for both the employer and the employee. In most cases, the line between business and personal is not clearly defined, and apps can easily blur that line and put both company and personal data at risk. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that apps are impulse purchases for many users, thanks to low prices and easy installation.

The mobile operating systems have improved in terms notifying users about the permissions an app is requesting and providing the user with more control to allow or block access to specific functions. But the system still puts too much burden on the user, both to know those controls exist and how to use them, as well as to understand the implications and security concerns of the apps.

The better solution is for developers to build security and privacy into the apps from square one. Developers should be aware of the potential implications of how their apps access data and interact with other apps, and design them to be secure by default.

Via: Network World

Want to protect your Android phone? Here’s how to kill its crapware

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Crapware can open up big security holes in Android. Killing it isn't as hard as you think.

The pre-installed crapware that fills many Android phones is more than just annoying — it also frequently opens up big security holes. Here’s how to kill the crapware and keep your phone safe and in tip-top shape.

The crapware problem is much worse than you think. New research by the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University found that many popular Android phones are vulnerable because of security holes introduced by pre-installed apps you don’t want.

The researchers examined ten Android phones, looking for how much crapware is on each, although they preferred the gentler and more academic-sounding term “vendor customizations.” They then examined the crapware to see if it made the phones more vulnerable. The phones they studied were Google’s Nexus S and Nexus 4, HTC’s Wildfire S and One X, Samsung’s Galaxy S2 and S3, Sony’s Xpreia Arc S and Xperia SL, and LG’s Optimus P350 and P8880. The results are sobering — and scary. Here’s the summary of their findings:

“Our results also show that vendor customizations are responsible for a large proportion of the vulnerabilities in each phone. For the Samsung, HTC, and LG phones, between 64.71% and 85.00% of the vulnerabilities were due to vendor customizations. This pattern was largely stable over time, with the notable exception of HTC, whose current offering is markedly more secure than the last-generation model we evaluated.”

The core of the problem are apps that the researchers call “over-privileged.” That means that apps get more access to the phones’ various systems, data, and resources than they actually use. That leaves the phone open to exploitations.
Of the phones, which are the least and most secure? Here are the findings:

“The HTC Wildfire S is still the least secure pre-2012 device, but only by a hair — the Samsung Galaxy S2 has only one fewer vulnerability. The Sony Xperia Arc S is tied with the Google Nexus S for the most secure pre-2012 device. Meanwhile, there is a complete shake-up among the post-2012 devices: the Samsung Galaxy S3 has 40 vulnerabilities to the LG Optimus P880’s 26, while the HTC One X (at 15 vulnerabilities) falls to mid-pack, behind the Nexus 4 (at three) and the Sony Xperia SL (at eight).”

Even if you don’t have one of those phones, pre-installed crapware is making your phone less secure. So to make your phone safer, you should disable or kill the crapware. There’s the easy way and the hard way. The easy way disables the apps but doesn’t remove them from the device. And to use it, your phone has to have Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0 or above). The hard way requires you to root your phone, then use a free app.

If you’ve got Android 4.0 or above and want to disable the crapware without rooting the phone, here’s how to do it. Note that many manufacturers have customized Android, so the instructions here might differ a bit from what you’ll see on your phone. But the general instructions and principles are the same.

First, go to Settings. You’ll find the Settings menu in the App Menu , or else you can get there by pulling down the notification drawer and tapping Settings. Once you’re there, go to “Apps.” Depending on your phone, it might be called “Manage Apps,” or even “Application Manager.”

Now swipe to the All apps list. Scroll to find an app you want to disable. Tap it. The App Info page appears. If the app isn’t true crapware, there will be an Uninstall button. Simply tap the button to uninstall the app. But if it is crapware, an Uninstall button won’t be there. There will, however, be a button that reads either “Uninstall updates” or Disable. If there’s an “Uninstall updates” button, tap it. The button will change to read Disable.

Tap the Disable button. That will disable the app, and from now on, the app won’t launch in the background. If you want to enable the app, head back to the All apps list. You’ll find disabled apps at the bottom. Tap any you want to enable, then tap the Enable button.

Disabling the app, won’t actually remove it from your system, which means it will take up hard disk space. That shouldn’t be a problem. But if you absolutely, positively want to get the app off your system, you’re going to have to root your phone, then use a free piece of software called NoBloat Free. There are plenty of ways to root your phone, and my suggestion is to do an Internet search. Keep in mind that it can prove to be problematic, and you’ll void your phone’s warranty if you do it, so make sure it’s really something you want to do. A few good starting points are this page from Android Central and this page from LifeHacker. Once you’ve rooted the phone, run NoBloat Free.

Source: IT World