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Android’s popularity makes it open target for malware, says study

Android’s surge in popularity has triggered an accompanying surge in malware aimed at the mobile OS, says a new study today fromFortinet.

Analyzing the malware landscape this year, the security vendor tracked a 90 percent jump in Android malware families in 2011 compared with 2010. That figure doesn’t account for infection rates or severity, only the rise in malware seeking to infect Android devices.

In comparison, malware directed toward Apple’s iOS rose by only 25 percent over last year.

Fortinet pointed to two reasons for the larger bull’s eye painted on Android’s back.

Google’s OS has shown a dramatic increase in market share over the past year, surpassing iOS, Nokia’s Symbian, RIM’s BlackBerry, and other mobile platforms. A recent Gartner reportpegged Android’s share of the global smartphone market at 52.5 percent, followed by Symbian with 16.9 percent and iOS with 15 percent. As the leading smartphone OS, Android has naturally become a bigger target for cybercriminals.

But Google’s open development platform has also played a role in Android’s appeal to malware writers.

"FortiGuard Labs has found approximately five times the amount of malicious families on the Android OS versus what we’ve found on iOS," Axelle Apvrille, senior mobile anti-virus researcher at Fortinet, said in a statement. "We believe that this disparity can be attributed to the way Apple handles iOS application development and distribution. Unlike Android, which makes it fairly easy to place applications for people to download, iOS requires developers to undergo some strict screening from Apple before the application can make it to the Apple Store."

The report noted that iOS isn’t totally immune from malware. As an example, Fortinet cited theEeki banking worm, a malicious app that specifically hunts for jailbroken iPhones. But still, Apple’s more closed approach has make it less of a target for security threats.

Looking at the greatest number of malware samples received and analyzed by FortiGuard Labs, the report described the top five malware families directed toward Android devices.

  1. Geinimi. Android’s first botnet can send out a user’s location and control the person’s phone to call a certain number, explained Fortinet.
  2. Hongtoutou. A Trojan in the form of live wallpaper, this malware can steal private information, such as a user’s subscriber number (IMSI), and access malicious Web sites.
  3. DroidKungFu. This botnet is multifaceted in that it can remotely install other malware, launch specific apps, and add bookmarks.
  4. JiFake. This phony IM app can send messages to premium phone numbers.
  5. BaseBridge. This Trojan can also send SMS messages to premium numbers.

Certain malware, such as BaseBridge, was found on Android Market before Google removed it. Some malicious apps try to disguise themselves as legitimate, while others actually sneak into legitimate apps.

"DroidKungFu was an example of malware that was found repackaged in a legitimate VPN utility, whereas Geinimi was found within the legitimate application ‘Sex Positions,’" Fortinet malware analyst Karine de Ponteves said in a statement.

Android has certainly gotten its fair share of lumps lately from several security vendors.

McAfeeSymantecJuniper Networks, and others have all issued reports pointing to vulnerabilites in Google’s OS due to its rising popularity and open environment. Many people have discounted such reports, saying that the antivirus vendors are just trying to drum up sales of their own products by scaring people.

So, is the Android criticism deserved? Well, obviously Google doesn’t think so.

Chris DiBona, Google’s open-source programs manager, recently referred to the antivirus vendors as “charlatans and scammers,” claiming that mobile operating systems such as Android, IOS, and BlackBerry, don’t need antivirus software.

"Virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you BS protection software for Android, RIM, and, iOS," DiBona said on Google+. "They are charlatans and scammers. If you work for a company selling virus protection for Android, RIM or iOS, you should be ashamed of yourself."

In response, some of the security vendors defended their findings and their products, pointing to such malicious apps as DroidDream that infected more than 100,000 Android users.

Kapersky Labs acknowledged that security software is still not a necessity on mobile devices as it is on PCs but advised people to “consider using them if they’re concerned about the information they store on their devices and the security transactions they perform with it.”

Source: CNET


Google offers free phone calls from within Hangouts

Users of Google+ Hangouts with extras can now place phone calls from within the application.

(Credit: Google)

Google is encroaching just a little bit more in the telecommunications world.

Today, it began offering free voice calls in the United States and Canada from inside its Google+ Hangouts video conference service. Now, Google+ users can dial anyone in those two countries and have them join a Hangout, even if they’re not online.

Google’s Jarkko Oikarinen announced the new service via Google+.

Even though Oikarinen posted his note publically, Google isn’t making the service easy to find. Rather than including it on the interface that launches when user click the “Start a Hangout” tab on their Google+ home page, users need to navigate to Hangouts with extras ( to try the service


Google introduced Hangouts with extras in September as something of a testing ground for the video conferencing feature. It’s an alternative offering where users can share notes and drawings using a sketchpad, as well as collaborate with Google Docs, the company’s online word processing application. Users can also screenshare in Hangouts with extras.

Google may eventually integrate some of the features from Hangouts with extras into its more widely used Hangouts service.

A Google spokeswoman said the service has now rolled out to all Google+ users.

Source: CNET


With today’s jump to version 6.0, Google Maps for Android is taking its powers indoors.

Instead of just dropping you off at the front door of your destination, the improved app is now helping you find your way around the inside of the building. Once you’ve stepped into a building with coverage, just zoom in to see a detailed floor plan, and as usual, the “blue dot” icon will indicate where you are. You can swipe around just as you would with an outdoor location, and even check out different floors using the numbered selector on the right. Otherwise, whenever you move to a different floor, the floor plan will update automatically.

For now, the technology only covers select airports, transit stations, and big-box retailers in the U.S. and Japan, but we’re sure the list will grow rather quickly. Google is even inviting business owners to manually add floor plans to its map database For a full list of buildings with Indoor Maps coverage, head over to Google’s Help Center.

Google Maps 6.0 (download) with Indoor Maps is available for devices running Android versions 

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If you have an iPhone and Android or any other device what is most beloved device for you ? In most peoples opinion they love their iPhone’s, each user who jumps ship to Android or Windows phone usually goes back to iPhone, iPhone owners are more loyal than Android owners and that’s what researches tell us in the following:

According to a new study by research firm GfK, we’re not the only ones captivated by our fruity phones. The report claims that of the survey’s 4,500 participants across Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, China, the United States, and Japan, 84% of current iPhone owners said they would buy another iPhone in the next twelve months. And really make your mind works, why do users go to iPhone and leave Android, well because any user love a simple and cool Smartphone that makes their lives easy….

GfK analyst Ryan Garner suggested that Apple’s lead may diminish as others catch on:

”Apple is clearly ahead of the game, but developments next year will challenge that”

So are you loyal to your iPhone or not ?! We would like to see your answer in our comment section, enjoy :)

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Google responds to Galaxy Nexus volume bug: ‘we have a fix’

galaxy nexus side

The Galaxy Nexus volume bug has been squashed in Google’s labs. The Android software maker has just announced it has a fix for the problem plaguing UK owners of the new Nexus, which will be rolled out “as soon as possible.” Here’s Google’s statement in full:

"We are aware of the volume issue and have developed a fix. We will update devices as soon as possible."

It was starting to look like the pseudo-random volume fluctuation on the device was a hardware issue, one that would potentially require the replacement of affected handsets, but Google’s promise of an update would seem to indicate that’s not the case. Let’s hope the remedy is as simple as an over-the-air software update.

Update: We reached out to Google for clarification and have been told the volume issue is definitely a software problem. As with anything of this kind, what we’re looking at is the faulty interaction between software and hardware, however the company is resolute in saying it’ll deliver a software fix.

Unfortunately, Google’s track record in such matters is less than perfect, following similar promises of a software solution to the Nexus One’s chronic 3G and touchscreen issues. Eventually, the company just abandoned attempts at a fix, having originally claimed those problems could be overcome with better software.

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UBS Finds 31% of Android Users Likely to Switch to iPhone

Investment bank UBS issued a report Friday showing that Apple’s iPhone crushed all would-be competitors when its comes to “stickiness,” referring to whether or not owners of a device would stick with that device the next time they upgraded their smartphones. Not only was Apple #1 with an 89% retention rate, well ahead of #2 HTC with a 39% retention rate, the survey found that 31% of Android owners were planning on ditching the little green monster in favor of an iPhone with their next purchase.

UBS surveyed some 515 consumers to measure smartphone stickiness by asking consumers, “which handset OEM they expect to next purchase a handset from,” according to Barron’s. As you can see in the figure below, Apple’s retention rate was far higher than any other OEM, with #2 HTC truly representing a “distant second.” 

UBS Smartphone Retention Survey

Chart by The Mac Observer, from UBS data

The survey also found that when you add up gains and losses for each OEM that 50% of those looking to switch smartphones planned on buying an iPhone. Both Samsung and HTC were also narrowly on the side of net gainers.

Which means there much be a big loser, and in this case it’s two big losers, Nokia and Research In Motion.  Nokia scored at the bottom of the survey, with a 24% retention rate, while RIM was third with 33%, but that’s down from 62% in just 18 months, a precipitous drop.

“When we look at all consumers who are considering changing handset Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) provider, Apple remains a significant net beneficiary — alongside Apple, only Samsung and HTC also appear as net beneficiaries (more users won than users lost),” UBS analyst Gareth Jenkins wrote in a research note for clients. “[RIM] and Nokia are the largest losers.”

He added, “Retention rates appear to be falling for most of the OEMs. The largest loser recently has been RIMM whose retention rate has dropped from 62% to 33% in 18 months. Relatively, Apple’s retention rates have held up incredibly well even as its market share has risen.”

At the same time, when the survey focused on platforms instead of hardware, Android performed better, with 60% of respondents saying they intended to stick with Android. While still far behind Apple’s 89%, it’s better than the retention rate of any individual Android OEM. 

That suggests there’s something about Android that some customers like, they just don’t like the way it’s being packaged by the OEMs.

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Mark Zuckerberg is looking for a way to get Apple to help him in the fight against Facebook’s main rival Google+. Google is the mutual enemy of Facebook and Apple But how Apple could help Facebook defeating Google+. according to Fortune

Facebook Vs. Google+

That last point is not lost on Zuckerberg. It has prompted him to seek closer ties with Google’s biggest rival in mobile: Apple. The two companies have held multiple rounds of discussions, according to people with knowledge of the talks. But they have yet to find a compelling way to collaborate, perhaps because their courtship got off to a rocky start. Last year Facebook rebuffed Apple’s attempt to connect Ping, a new social network built around iTunes, with Facebook, purportedly for technical reasons. It was a rare public rebuke for Apple, and Steve Jobs personally called some reporters to voice his displeasure. That Apple chose to bake Twitter, not Facebook, into the most recent version of its mobile operating system has not helped. Still, the two companies continue to talk, knowing full well that an alliance could help them fend off a common enemy.

Maybe Zuckerberg is seeking to have Facebook integrated in the iOS just like Twitter (There were some rumors about such a thing before the announcement of iOS 5).

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Source: CNN