Archive for April, 2013

Mobile security company Lookout claims to have discovered BadNews, a new malware family that’s affecting Android apps.

The company found the malware in 32 apps across four different developer accounts in the Google Play store. Talking about it in a blogpost, Lookout mentioned that the affected apps have been downloaded between 2,000,000 – 9,000,000 times. Google has removed all the apps and suspended accounts of the specific developers, as per Lookout.

Half of the affected apps were found to be in Russian and AlphaSMS, an SMS fraud malware that was also being pushed by BadNews is found to be involved in committing premium rate SMS fraud in the Russian Federation and neighbouring countries such as the Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan. The apps that feature the malware range from Russian dictionary apps to popular games to even innocent ones like apps offering salad recipes.

BadNews works by disguising as an ad network and later pushes malware to the user’s device after an affected app is installed. It sends fake news messages, prompts users to install apps and sends sensitive information such as the user’s phone number and device ID to its Command and Control server.

Following initial activation, the BadNews contacts its server every four hours for new instructions while sending sensitive information such as the device’s phone number and its serial number (IMEI) to the server. The server replies with instructions including displaying (fake) news to users, and asking them to install new app updates. The app updates are new malware apps disguised with names of popular apps like Skype.

The malware acts as a challenge to the people who filter apps for malware at the Play Store as it’s not directly included in the app and comes into existence after the app connects to the malware server.

However, Lookout mentions that it is not clear whether some or all of these apps were launched with the intent of spreading the BadNews malware or developers were caught unaware as they included code to earn money thinking that BadNews was just an ad network for monetization, as it’s disguised as a fraudulent monetization SDK.

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Case manufacturer Tactus has shared purported pictures of the rear shell of Apple’s much rumored lower-cost iPhone. The rear shell is White in colour and appears to have been made from plastic polycarbonate. This could also open the possibility of the phone coming in multiple colours, as reported earlier. The case maker also informs that the device will be available in Black, White, Blue, Red and Yellow colours, citing the ‘ factory producing this secretive project’ as a source.

Posting an image of the shell on its blog, Tactus informs that the actual phone might be around 9mm thick, 120mm in height and around 62-65mm in width, making it both taller and wider than the iPhone 4 and 4S.

It’s difficult to verify the credibility of the image of the case. Accessory makers have produced mock-up cases in the past that have at times turned out to be accurate.

The case maker goes on to report that the budget iPhone will be powered by an A5 processor similar to the iPad Mini with a 32nm diecast and that it will have a 3.5-inch retina screen, like the iPhone 4S. The phone is expected to sport a 5-megapixel rear camera.

It even mentions that the budget iPhone would go on sale October 15th for $300. However, we’d take it with a grain of salt as an accessory maker or anyone part of Apple’s supply chain is unlikely to have accurate information of Apple’s exact device plans.

Just a few days back KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo came out with a new research report that said that the Phone 5S, low-cost iPhone and iPad mini 2 will begin shipments later than its previous expectation. He had also confirmed a plastic shell for the budget iPhone and had said that Apple was finding it difficult to keep the plastic shell of the low-cost iPhone as thin as it would like.

Samsung is all set to launch its Galaxy S4 smartphone in India on April 26. The Korean smartphone maker has already started sending out invites for the launch. It is noteworthy, that Samsung is expected to launch Galaxy S4 in some other countries on the same date.
NDTV Gadgets has learnt from its sources that the phone is likely to be priced at Rs. 43,490. Samsung is expected to take a leaf from HTC’s book and market the phone carrying this as the ‘best buy’ price tag, though there’s no confirmation of this yet. This will peg the Galaxy S4 at a slightly higher price tag than HTC One’s Rs. 42,900, but given Samsung’s wider dealer network, marketing clout and brand value in the country, that may not make much of a difference.

Samsung Galaxy S4 was unveiled in an unpacked event on March 14, 2013. The smartphone sports a 5-inch full-HD screen with a resolution of 1080×1920 pixels, and pixel density of 441ppi. It is powered by 1.6GHz Exynos octa-core processor in some regions, and a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor in others. India is expected to get the octa-core version when the phone is unveiled this Friday.

The smartphone has 2GB of RAM is expected to come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variants. It also features a microSD card slot for expanding the memory. The Galaxy S4 sports a 13-megapixels rear shooter and a 2-megapixel one on the front. The Galaxy S4 also offers more camera features including dual-shot, employing the use of both front and back camera, an eraser shot mode to remove people from photos, and a Cinemagram like feature called Cinema Photo, among several other tricks.

Strangely, the phone does not come with FM radio. The company had recently explained this decision.

The smartphone is already on pre-order in United States and UK. In US the smartphone has been listed carrying a contract-free price of $640 (approx. Rs. 34,700). In UK, on the other hand, an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4 is available through Amazon for 699 Pounds (approx. Rs. 58,000). In Portugal, the smartphone has been listed for 690 Euros (approx. Rs. 49,000).

According to trade pundit, Samsung is likely to ship 10 million units of its flagship smartphone in the first month of its launch.

Samsung Galaxy S4 key specifications

5-inch full-HD (1080×1920) Super AMOLED display (441 ppi)
1.9GHz quad-core processor/ 1.6GHz octa-core processor (Depending upon region)
2GB RAM
16/32/64 GB Storage (expandable by 64GB via microSD slot)
13-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS/ GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, IR LED, MHL 2.0
Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
2,600 mAh battery
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
130 grams
Story first published: April 22, 2013 17:03 IST