Tag Archives: Google

This Hack Lets You Run Any Android App on Your Chromebook

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Using a small JavaScript script, the hack, which is detailed in full on GitHub, allows any regular Android APK to be packaged up and, for want of a better term, side-loaded onto a Chromebook. It can then be run under the Android App Runtime in the same way as the ‘official’ Vine, Dulingo and Evernote. 

Restrictions mean that only one Android app can be run at a time.

To watch a Youtube video demonstration and the full original story follow this link to OMG Chrome.

Try It Out

If the thought of waiting for Google to partner up with the maker of your favourite app, game or utility is too much to bear, you could don your hard hat and try it out for yourself.

But be warned: it’s not a guide for the fainthearted or the technically averse. The developer behind the hack,
Vladikoff, cautions that his tool is for ‘proof of concept’ and is provided without any kind of warrant or assurance. The hack is also not endorsed by Google, Chromium or Android.

To follow along you’ll need a Chromebook with the Android Runtime plugin installed, the Android Vine app (which will be replaced during the course of the guide) and an OS X or Linux desktop from which to ‘package’ your app.

Applications tested and said to be working include Twitter, both tablet and mobile modes, and Flipboard (which was demoed running on a Chromebook at Google I/O).

Other apps tested but that crash include Google Chrome for Android (!), Spotify, SoundCloud and Swing Copters.

You can find more details and a download for the script on the project’s GitHub page, linked below.

‘Run Android APKs on Chromebooks’ Guide

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Yes, Google can remotely reset Android passcodes, but there’s a catch

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Newer Android phone and tablet owners aren’t affected, but it does say something about Android’s fragmentation of device security.

The one-sided encryption debate continues. Now, it’s being used as a tool to spread what’s commonly known as “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”

If you ventured to Reddit, you might have read a startling claim by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, who last week released a report into smartphone encryption and public safety.

It reads [PDF]:

“Google can reset the passcodes when served with a search warrant and an order instructing them to assist law enforcement to extract data from the device. This process can be done by Google remotely and allows forensic examiners to view the contents of a device.”

But there’s a problem: that’s only half of the story. And while it’s true, it requires a great deal more context.

The next few lines read:

“For Android devices running operating systems Lollipop 5.0 and above, however, Google plans to use default [device] encryption, like that being used by Apple, that will make it impossible for Google to comply with search warrants and orders instructing them to assist with device data extraction.”

If you thought you heard that before, that’s because you have.

Google, which develops Android, said in its “Lollipop” 5.0 upgrade two years ago it would enable device encryption by default, which forces law enforcement, federal agents, and intelligence agencies to go to the device owner themselves rather than Google.

This so-called “zero knowledge” encryption — because the phone makers have zero knowledge of your encryption keys — also led Apple to do a similar thing with iOS 8 and later. Apple now has 91 percent of its devices using device encryption.

However, there was some flip-flopping on Google’s part because there were reports of poor device performance. Eventually, the company said it would bring device encryption by default to its own brand of Nexus devices. Then, it said that its newest “Marshmallow” 6.0 upgrade will enable device encryption by default.

It took a year, but Google got there in the end

The US government, and its law enforcement and prosecutors were concerned. They have argued that they need access to device data, but now they have to go to the very people they are investigating or prosecuting.

Only a fraction of Android devices, however, are protected.

According to latest figures, only 0.3 percent of all Android devices are running “Marshmallow” 6.0, which comes with device encryption by default. And while “Lollipop” 5.0 is used on more than one-quarter of all Android devices, the vast majority of those who have device encryption enabled by default are Nexus owners.

To read more and the original story follow this link to ZD Net.

New Android Malware Sprouting Like Weeds

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Information stored on an Android smartphone or tablet is vulnerable to almost 4,900 new malware files each day, according to a report G Data SecurityLabs released Wednesday.

Cybercriminals’ interest in the Android operating system has grown, the firm’s Q1 2015 Mobile Malware Report revealed.

“The report suggests that Android devices are becoming a bigger target for the bad guys and more profitable than in previous years,” said Andy Hayter, security evangelist for G Data.

The number of new malware samples in the first quarter increased 6.4 percent (440,267) from the fourth quarter of last year (413,871). The number of malware strains rose by 21 percent compared with the first quarter of 2014 (316,153).

More than 2 million new Android malware strains are likely to surface this year, G Data security predicted.

Just the Start

The 2 million figure is very realistic, due to the increasing use of Android devices for banking and shopping online, G Data suggested.

“The report shows that the OS has a bigger market share than the others, and thus is more interesting to security researchers and malware authors alike. Also, a lot of vendors offer Android devices varying in quality standards, but that is not a problem of the OS itself, but rather of the vendor in question,” Hayter told LinuxInsider.

Google introduced premium SMS Checks last year. After that, the malware models started to spread out, he noted.

“Before that time there were a few very active malware families, such as SMS FakeInstaller,” Hayter said. “Since then there are lots of small families.”

Financially Motivated

At least 41 percent of consumers in Europe and 50 percent in the U.S. use a smartphone or tablet for their banking transactions. Plus, 78 percent of Internet users make purchases online.

The new malware files have a financial foundation, according to the G Data report. At least half of all Android malware now in circulation includes banking Trojans, SMS Trojans and similar malware components.

The actual percentage of malware-infected Android apps easily could be higher, the researchers warned. They only studied malware with a direct financial purpose — many other types of cases might exist.

For example, a malware program might install apps or steal credit card data as an additional process after a payment is made. Because that type of malware would not seem to be financially motivated, it would not have been included in the report’s statistics.

Thin Dividing Line

Free Android apps offer particularly attractive attack vectors to cybercriminals. Many apps, especially free apps, rely on advertising to fund their development.

Bad apps can hide themselves in the background or conceal functions from users. Bad apps also can send legitimate apps’ data to additional advertising networks.

Apps that do such things — like programs running on PC OSes — are called “Potentially Unwanted Programs,” or PUPs. The report categorizes such apps as adware, noting that they often hide in manipulated or fake apps that are installed from sources other than the Google Play Store.

Malware Magnet

Android is a derivative of Linux, an operating system generally considered less likely to be targeted by viruses and malware. However, Android is less rigorous and less secure than other mobile platforms, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“There is much more sideloading, which means there is a far easier path to getting viruses on Android devices than any other mobile platform,” he told LinuxInsider.

Google historically has been less focused on security and customer satisfaction than firms that are more closely tied to user revenue, Enderle said. Another reason for Android’s vulnerability is that mobile platforms generally don’t run security software.

Historically, they have been somewhat protected because of their tight ties to curated stores, “but now that smartphones have PC-like performance, they are becoming a magnet for malware,” noted Enderle.

“Google’s lack of focus on this problem, reminiscent of Microsoft’s similar mistake in the late 1990s — which resulted in their having to rethink their OS and create Windows XP — has created a massive exposure for Android users,” he said.

To read more follow this link to Linux Insider.

Wikipedia has been visualized as an interactive galaxy powered by WebGL

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Wikipedia is an almost boundless source of information — as close to a true compendium of human knowledge as we’ve ever come. It’s not very pretty, though, is it? Page after page of black text on a white background, and enough hyperlinks to suck you into a never ending vortex of related articles. Rendering Wikipedia as a nebula is more befitting its true nature, don’t you think? I just so happens there’s a Chrome experiment that does just that, and it’s called WikiGalaxy.

This Wikipedia visualization was created by French computer science student Owen Cornec. Each “star” in WikiGalaxy is a single article on Wikipedia. Highly related articles are placed close to each other in space with connections between them. So if you click on one point of light, you’ll see the text of the article in the left info panel. Over on the right are all the linked articles, which show up on the map as lines connecting the points of light. It’s interesting to see how wide-ranging some of the articles are. The beams of light might be confined to a little corner of the virtual galaxy on one article, then a neighboring page has its tendrils of influence creeping all the way across the map. To get a better feel of your meandering, you can enable the history path, which connects all the articles you’ve clicked on with a green line, winding through the stars.

The map view is the default mode, but you can also dive into fly mode for a more interactive experience. This places you in the middle of the galactic disc, surrounded by articles. The arrow keys move forward, back and side to side. The movement control is good enough, but anyone who has played a 4X game will be missing mouse zoom in map view. It just seems like you should be able to zoom in any out more quickly, and the buttons toward the upper left don’t quite cut it.

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So it’s neat for poking around Wikipedia in a superficial way, but what about reading articles? The preview pane on the left is okay for getting the gist, but you can click on the title for a full page version. You can read through a whole article in this view, but the lack of links and busted table formatting make it less than ideal for in-depth research. Hey, it’s still Wikipedia in galaxy form. What more do you want? If you would like to simply enjoy the interface and click around, there’s a button up top to turn off the UI and get all those boxes out of the way. The beta version only has 100,000 articles, but that’s still a sizeable galaxy.

Cornec’s next project will be to color-code the different article categories so you’ll be able to tell what sort of article each star represents without clicking on it. More stars should be added along the way too. While this is a Chrome experiment running WebGL and HTML5, WikiGalaxy should work in most modern browsers. However, it might not play as nicely with Chrome on Macs. You can blame either Google or Apple for that — take your pick.

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

Source: Extreme Tech

Android SMS worm Selfmite returns, more aggressive than ever

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A new version of an Android worm called Selfmite has the potential to ramp up huge SMS charges for victims in its attempt to spread to as many devices as possible.

The first version of Selfmite was discovered in June, but its distribution was quickly disrupted by security researchers. The worm—a rare type of malware in the Android ecosystem—spread by sending text messages with links to a malicious APK (Android Package) to the first 20 entries in the address book of every victim.

The new version, found recently and dubbed Selfmite.b, has a similar, but much more aggressive spreading system, according to researchers from security firm AdaptiveMobile. It sends text messages with rogue links to all contacts in a victim’s address book, and does this in a loop.

“According to our data, Selfmite.b is responsible for sending over 150k messages during the past 10 days from a bit more than 100 infected devices,” Denis Maslennikov, a security analyst at AdaptiveMobile said in a blog post Wednesday. “To put this into perspective that is over a hundred times more traffic generated by Selfmite.b compared to Selfmite.a.”

At an average of 1,500 text messages sent per infected device, Selfmite.b can be very costly for users whose mobile plans don’t include unlimited SMS messages. Some mobile carriers might detect the abuse and block it, but this might leave the victim unable to send legitimate text messages.

Unlike Selfmite.a, which was found mainly on devices in North America, Selfmite.b has hit victims throughout at least 16 different countries: Canada, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sudan, Syria, USA, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The first version of the worm used goo.gl shortened URLs in spam messages that pointed to an APK installer for the malware. Those URLs were hardcoded in the app’s code, so once they were disabled by Google, the operator of the goo.gl URL shortening service, Selfmite.a’s distribution stopped.

The worm’s authors took a different approach with the new version. They still use shortened URLs in text messages—this time generated with Go Daddy’s x.co service—but the URLs are specified in a configuration file that the worm downloads periodically from a third-party server.

“We notified Go Daddy about the malicious x.co URLs and at the moment both shortened URLs have been deactivated,” Maslennikov said. “But the fact that the author(s) of the worm can change it remotely using a configuration file makes it harder to stop the whole infection process.”

The goal of Selfmite is to generate money for its creators through pay-per-install schemes by promoting various apps and services. The old version distributed Mobogenie, a legitimate application that allows users to synchronize their Android devices with their PCs and to download Android apps from an alternative app store.

Selfmite.b creates two icons on the device’s home screen, one to Mobogenie and one to an app called Mobo Market. However, they act as Web links and clicking on them can lead to different apps and online offers depending on the victim’s IP (Internet Protocol) address location.

Fortunately, the worm’s distribution system does not use exploits and relies only on social engineering—users would have to click on the spammed links and then manually install the downloaded APK in order for their devices to be infected. Furthermore, their devices would need to be configured to allow the installation of apps from unknown sources—anything other than Google Play—which is not the default setting in Android. This further limits the attack’s success rate.

Source: Network World

Android Browser flaw a “privacy disaster” for half of Android users

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Bug enables malicious sites to grab cookies, passwords from other sites.

A bug quietly reported on September 1 appears to have grave implications for Android users. Android Browser, the open source, WebKit-based browser that used to be part of the Android Open Source Platform (AOSP), has a flaw that enables malicious sites to inject JavaScript into other sites. Those malicious JavaScripts can in turn read cookies and password fields, submit forms, grab keyboard input, or do practically anything else.

Browsers are generally designed to prevent a script from one site from being able to access content from another site. They do this by enforcing what is called the Same Origin Policy (SOP): scripts can only read or modify resources (such as the elements of a webpage) that come from the same origin as the script, where the origin is determined by the combination of scheme (which is to say, protocol, typically HTTP or HTTPS), domain, and port number.

The SOP should then prevent a script loaded from http://malware.bad/ from being able to access content at https://paypal.com/.

The Android Browser bug breaks the browser’s handling of the SOP. As Rafay Baloch, the researcher who discovered the problem found, JavaScript constructed in a particular way could ignore the SOP and freely meddle with other sites’ content without restriction.

This means that potentially any site visited in the browser could be stealing sensitive data. It’s a bug that needs fixing, and fast.

As part of its attempts to gain more control over Android, Google has discontinued the AOSP Browser. Android Browser used to be the default browser on Google, but this changed in Android 4.2, when Google switched to Chrome. The core parts of Android Browser were still used to power embedded Web view controls within applications, but even this changed in Android 4.4, when it switched to a Chromium-based browser engine.

But just as Microsoft’s end-of-life for Windows XP didn’t make that operating system magically disappear from the Web, Google’s discontinuation of the open source Browser app hasn’t made it disappear from the Web either. As our monthly look at Web browser usage shows, Android Browser has a little more real-world usage than Chrome for Android, with something like 40-50 percent of Android users using the flawed browser.

The Android Browser is likely to be embedded in third-party products, too, and some Android users have even installed it on their Android 4.4 phones because for one reason or another they prefer it to Chrome.

Google’s own numbers paint an even worse picture. According to the online advertising giant, only 24.5 percent of Android users are using version 4.4. The majority of Android users are using versions that include the broken component, and many of these users are using 4.1.x or below, so they’re not even using versions of Android that use Chrome as the default browser.

Baloch initially reported the bug to Google, but the company told him that it couldn’t reproduce the problem and closed his report. Since he wrote his blog post, a Metasploit module has been developed to enable the popular security testing framework to detect the problem, and Metasploit developers have branded the problem a “privacy disaster.” Baloch says that Google has subsequently changed its response, agreeing that it can reproduce the problem and saying that it is working on a suitable fix.

Just how this fix will be made useful is unclear. While Chrome is updated through the Play Store, the AOSP Browser is generally updated only through operating system updates. Timely availability of Android updates remains a sticking point for the operating system, so even if Google develops a fix, it may well be unavailable to those who actually need it.

Users of Android 4.0 and up can avoid much of the exposure by switching to Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, none of which should use the broken code. Other third-party browsers for Android may embed the broken AOSP code, and unfortunately for end users, there’s no good way to know if this is the case or not.

Update: Google has offered the following statement:

We have reviewed this report and Android users running Chrome as their browser, or those who are on Android 4.4+ are not affected. For earlier versions of Android, we have already released patches (1, 2) to AOSP.

Source: Ars Technica

Backdoors and surveillance mechanisms in iOS devices

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This paper is actually half a year old – give or take – but it’s gotten a lot of attention recently due to, well, the fact that he has uploaded a PowerPoint from a talk about these matters, which is obviously a little bit more accessible than a proper scientific journal article.

For instance, despite Apple’s claims of not being able to read your encrypted iMessages, there’s this:

“In October 2013, Quarkslab exposed design flaws in Apple’s iMessage protocol demonstrating that Apple does, despite its vehement denial, have the technical capability to intercept private iMessage traffic if they so desired, or were coerced to under a court order. The iMessage protocol is touted to use end-to-end encryption, however Quarkslab revealed in their research that the asymmetric keys generated to perform this encryption are exchanged through key directory servers centrally managed by Apple, which allow for substitute keys to be injected to allow eavesdropping to be performed. Similarly, the group revealed that certificate pinning, a very common and easy-to-implement certificate chain security mechanism, was not implemented in iMessage, potentially allowing malicious parties to perform MiTM attacks against iMessage in the same fashion.”

There are also several services in iOS that facilitate organisations like the NSA, yet these features have no reason to be there. They are not referenced by any (known) Apple software, do not require developer mode (so they’re not debugging tools or anything), and are available on every single iOS device.

One example of these services is a packet sniffer, com.apple.pcapd, which “dumps network traffic and HTTP request/response data traveling into and out of the device” and “can be targeted via WiFi for remote monitoring”. It runs on every iOS device. Then there’s com.apple.mobile.file_relay, which “completely bypasses Apple’s backup encryption for end-user security”, “has evolved considerably, even in iOS 7, to expose much personal data”, and is “very intentionally placed and intended to dump data from the device by request”.

This second one, especially, only gave relatively limited access in iOS 2.x, but in iOS 7 has grown to give access to pretty much everything, down to “a complete metadata disk sparseimage of the iOS file system, sans actual content”, meaning time stamps, file names, names of all installed applications and their documents, configured email accounts, and lot more. As you can see, the exposed information goes quite deep.

Apple is a company that continuously claims it cares about security and your privacy, but yet they actively make it easy to get to all your personal data. There’s a massive contradiction between Apple’s marketing fluff on the one hand, and the reality of the access iOS provides to your personal data on the other – down to outright lies about Apple not being able to read your iMessages.

Those of us who aren’t corporate cheerleaders are not surprised by this in the slightest – Apple, Microsoft, Google, they’re all the same – but I still encounter people online every day who seem to believe the marketing nonsense Apple puts out. People, it doesn’t get much clearer than this: Apple does not care about your privacy any more or less than its competitors.

Source: OS News

Note: this is not mentioned in the original article but is definitely worth noting that there is at least one company put there that cares about your privacy and always has and is the leader in security. That’s BlackBerry of course, they should be recognized for how great they are and they continually get over looked unless it is for something negative. BlackBerry for life! Best mobile OS is BlackBerry 10, period.

Android malware tool iBanking commands $5000 price for attackers

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Evolving malicious tool adopts service model, grows increasingly complex

The market for malware tools is expanding, including the purchase of pre-made tools for a hefty fee from underground developers. One such tool aimed at Android, iBanking, promises to conduct a number of malicious actions including intercepting text messages, stealing phone information, pulling geolocation data and constructing botnets with infected devices. All it would cost to obtain the program is $5000, even after its source code leaked earlier in the year.

The iBanking malware has evolved from simply being able to steal SMS information, but has grown to be a much larger Trojan tool for would be data thieves. Applications injected with the iBanking code have hit the marketplace costumed as legitimate banking and social media apps as a way for users to be convinced to use them.

The apps often appear to users who have already been infected on desktop machines, prompting them to fill in personal information which then leads to an SMS message with a download link. Once the app is downloaded and installed, it begins feeding information to the attacker.

According to Symantec the tool is “one of the most expensive pieces of malware” the company has seen, especially for one with that sets up a service business. Other malware applications have paved the way for things like customer support and HTML control panels, but not at such a high price.

Part of the larger problem with iBanking is that it resists most attempts to reverse engineer the software, giving it a better strength against those trying to craft similar tools says an article from Ars Technica. iBanking uses encryption and code obfuscation to hide the commands and actions it carries out. This prevents researchers from breaking down the process of the malware, as well as keeping others from using the code to clone more software.

Source: Electronista

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