News Security solutions and antivirus software

Haven app can turn your old phone into a surveillance system

As you may know, Edward Snowden is the guy that has leaked in the press a bunch of NSA documents and created a caused a big scandal with this.

Recently, Edward has developed Haven, an open-source, free Android application that transforms your old mobile phones into surveillance systems. It uses the device’s camera, audio recording ability and the accelerometer to detect movement and notify the user.

Despite the strong encryption methods, every device is vulnerable to physical, in-person tampering which can be done by everyone with the required skill set. The software was created in collaboration with The Guardian Project and Freedom Of The Press and aims to prevent different burglaries.

If you setup a spare Android phone to track down the movement of the front door, the app will record any audio or movement, take a snap of who enters on the door and detect motion, alerting the user via either SMS, Signal (encrypted messaging service) or via a Tor-based website.

Haven can be downloaded for free via Google Play.

Quote from Freedom of the Press:

Imagine you are a journalist working in a hostile foreign country and you are worried about security services breaking into your hotel room and rifling through your belongings and computer while you are away. Haven detects changes in the environment using the sensors in a typical smartphone — the camera, microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light, USB power — to alert you if anyone enters your space or attempts to tamper with your devices while you aren’t there.

The Haven app can then send end-to-end encrypted alerts to your phone via Signal, and you can monitor activity remotely through a Tor Onion Service. Importantly, Haven does not rely on the cloud and does not transmit data that third parties can access unless you have SMS functionality turned on in situations where you don’t have data or wifi.

Sources: TechCrunch and BetaNews.

Editorials and informational articles

Android overtakes Windows becoming the most popular operating system worldwide

According to the Global Stats for the OS Market Share Worldwide on StatCounter, Android overtakes Windows and becomes for the first time the most popular operating system worldwide in terms of internet usage.

Android software has taken the lead of the operating system market due to the the large mobile software that is used into browsing the internet, with a 37.93% in March. This means that there is only a small 0.02% gap between Android and Windows.

Aodhan Cullen, CEO at StartCounter commented that: “This is a milestone in technology history and the end of an era“. He also said that the main drivers of the breakthrough were the growth of smartphones to access the internet, a decline in the sales of traditional PCs and also the impact that Asia had on the global market.

Windows won the desktop war but the battlefield moved on,” said Cullen. “It will be difficult for Microsoft to make inroads in mobile but the next paradigm shift might give it the opportunity to regain dominance. That could be in Augmented Reality, AI, Voice or Continuum (a product that aims to replace  a desktop and smartphone with a single Microsoft powered phone).

Android market might continue to rise in the next few months and we can’t wait to see the new statistics for the next trimester to see if Windows will continue the dominance of internet usage or it will fall again in statistics. For now Android topped Windows for the first time in the last past 5 years, so the battle is tight.

android overtakes windows - stat counter - global stats - march 2017

Hackers and hacks

The Russians have created an Android ransomware that does not do anything in the first four hours

Some researchers from Zscaler ThreatLabZ have discovered a new type of ransomware for Android inside OK (Odnoklassniki), a Russian entertainment social network application.

The clean application has between 50 and 100 million downloads from the Google Play Store, but the infected one is available via third party application stores.

The virus stays quiet for four hours, permitting the user to perform his regular activity on the phone, unlike other ransomware variants that encrypt the data right after the infection. After the four hour interval, the application asks for administrative rights, changes the unlock password, locks the screen and sets the lock-screen password expiration. If the user taps cancel, the administrative prompt reappears quickly and does not permit the user to take any other action on the phone.

The ransom is only 500 rubles, the equivalent of $9.

The researchers have managed to discover that the ransomware does not sent the user’s data to a server and is incapable of unlocking the user’s phone. So, if the victim pays the ransom, the virus will stop operating, but the user will not be able to access his data anymore.

Due to the fact that the ransomware malware does not take any action in the four hours, the antivirus software cannot detect it, so it can be easily injected in the Google Play Store Apps.

A piece of advice: Do not install apps from unknown sources and disable the unknown sources installation feature from the phone’s settings.

If however you get infected with this, you need to boot into Safe Mode, remove the device admin privilege of the ransomware app, remove the app itself and reboot your device back in regular mode.

For more information, see this VirusGuides article.


Google Allo is coming to the desktop

As you may know, Google has been working a lot at Allo, their smart messaging app, tied to the user’s phone numbers. At first, Google made it clear that it was a “mobile first” service, but it looks like they are working towards making it accessible on the desktop, from the browser.

The desktop version of Allo is in its early development stages, but Nick Fox, Google’s VP of Communications Products, shared an image of the browser-based Allo on Twitter.

Google Allo is coming to the desktop

We can see from the screenshot that the app has an intuitive design, a list of chats on the left side of the screen, while the messages are shown on the right. It has video and GIF support as well and it is said that Google with integrate their new AI virtual assistant into the app.

On Android 7.0 Nougat, Allo has direct reply support, split screen and brings Google Assistant features to iOS. Despite Google’s effort, the app has dropped out from top 500 apps on Play Store, allegedly meaning that consumers did not appreciate it too much.

To my mind, the app was created as an WhatsApp alternative, but I cannot see how it will overtake it. There are other internet services like Telegram or Viber that did not succeed it, so why would Google?