Jun 19

Researchers find thousands of secret keys in Android apps
Some of the secret keys, including Facebook and LinkedIn, were discovered by PlayDrone, a tool developed by Columbia Engineering researchers that uses hacking techniques to circumvent Google security to successfully download Google Play apps and recover their sources. Credit: Columbia Engineering

Researchers find thousands of secret keys in Android apps (Phys.org, June 18, 2014):

In a paper presented—and awarded the prestigious Ken Sevcik Outstanding Student Paper Award—at the ACM SIGMETRICS conference on June 18, Jason Nieh, professor of computer science at Columbia Engineering, and PhD candidate Nicolas Viennot reported that they have discovered a crucial security problem in Google Play, the official Android app store where millions of users of Android, the most popular mobile platform, get their apps.

“Google Play has more than one million apps and over 50 billion app downloads, but no one reviews what gets put into Google Play—anyone can get a $25 account and upload whatever they want. Very little is known about what’s there at an aggregate level,” says Nieh, who is also a member of the University’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering’s Cybersecurity Center. “Given the huge popularity of Google Play and the potential risks to millions of users, we thought it was important to take a close look at Google Play content.” Continue reading »

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Sep 08

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a BlackBerry Z10 smart phone: Will the company face a setback following claims the NSA can spy on its phones? (REUTERS)

Privacy Scandal: NSA Can Spy on Smart Phone Data (Spiegel, Sep 7, 2013):

SPIEGEL has learned from internal NSA documents that the US intelligence agency has the capability of tapping user data from the iPhone, devices using Android as well as BlackBerry, a system previously believed to be highly secure.

The United States’ National Security Agency intelligence-gathering operation is capable of accessing user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. Top secret NSA documents that SPIEGEL has seen explicitly note that the NSA can tap into such information on Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The documents state that it is possible for the NSA to tap most sensitive data held on these smart phones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been.

Continue reading »

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Aug 11

Is Google following you? Internet giant’s latest mobile operating system tracks user’s location even when Wi-Fi is switched OFF (Daily Mail, Aug 7, 2013)

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Aug 30

Will the next iPhone replace your wallet? Apple set to take on Google with chip that could let you pay with a wave of your handset (Daily Mail, Aug 28, 2012):

  • iPhone expected to have NFC chip that could turn it into a credit card
  • Successful launch could spark a revolution in how payments are made
  • Will take on Google which already offers wallet feature is some of its Android phones
  • Apple expected to unveil phone on September 12, followed by UK launch in early October

The iPhone has already replaced digital cameras, MP3 players and portable games consoles for most owners.

Now it could be about to replace your wallet.

The next iPhone, which is believed to launch in just two weeks time, is expected to come with a built-in chip which can serve as your credit or debit card for small payments.

Continue reading »

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Apr 23

iPhones and Android ‘tracking’ phones building vast databases for Google and Apple (Guardian):

Apple and Google are using smartphones running their software to build gigantic databases for location-based services, according to new research following the Guardian’s revelations that iPhones and devices running Android collect location data about owners’ movements.

Samy Kamkar, a hacker and researcher, has shown that Android phones, which run on software written by Google, collect the location data every few seconds and store it in a local file, but also transmit it to Google several times an hour.

How to See the Secret Tracking Data in Your iPhone (PC Mag):

Coverage of the iPhone tracking “feature” has ranged from concern to outrage. “I don’t know about you, but the fact that this feature exists on an iPhone is a deal-killer,” wrote PCMag Columnist John Dvorak, shortly after news broke. PCMag Executive Editor Dan Costa drew a softer line, writing, “Apple may not be actively tracking you, but it did turn your phone into a tracking device without telling you.”

Apple, Google Collect User Data (Wall Street Journal):

Apple Inc.’s iPhones and Google Inc.’s Android smartphones regularly transmit their locations back to Apple and Google, respectively, according to data and documents analyzed by The Wall Street Journal—intensifying concerns over privacy and the widening trade in personal data.

Google and Apple are gathering location information as part of their race to build massive databases capable of pinpointing people’s locations via their cellphones. These databases could help them tap the $2.9 billion market for location-based services—expected to rise to $8.3 billion in 2014, according to research firm Gartner Inc.

In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier.

Google declined to comment on the findings.

Continue reading »

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Feb 18

See also:

And Now: iPhone Confession App – ‘Forgive Me iPhone, For I Have Sinned’

NSA Turns to Smart Phones For Recruitment

How Your Smartphone is Keeping Track of You: Apps Secretly Monitor Users

Big Brother iPhone Patriot App Turns Users Into Government Spies


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Need a condom? There’s an app for that.

The New York City Health Department on Monday unveiled a smartphone application that will help users locate the nearest place in the area giving out free condoms.

“We want New York City to be the safest city in the world to have sex,” said Dr. Monica Sweeney, the city’s assistant health commissioner. “A lot of people come here for that, so we want them to practice safer sex.”

The application, available for download on the iPhone and Android phones, taps into the city’s database of over 1,000 different locations which offer free condoms.

Continue reading »

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Dec 21

Don’t miss:

Big Brother iPhone Patriot App Turns Users Into Government Spies



Drawback? Most programmes for smartphones, such as this iPhone, send data back to companies that sold them

Dozens of popular iPhone apps are secretly monitoring users and sending information back to companies – who then use it to target them with adverts.

More than half of the programmes and games for smartphones sent data back to the private companies once they had been downloaded, a study found.

The apps include the wildly popular Angry Birds game and music identifying software Shazam, which comes pre-installed on every iPhone.

Armed with this information firms including Google track the individuals’ movements and sell personalised adverts for which they can make more money than regular ones.

The study found that of 101 apps tested, 56 transmitted the phone’s individual number to a private company in some way, known as the Unique Device Identifier or UDID.

Some 47 sent the phone’s location and five sent age, gender and other personal information.

More data was sent back about a user’s location on the Apple’s iPhone than Google’s Android smartphone, the research discovered, even though both companies have promised not to let such practices take place.

The research was carried out in the U.S. but it would apply to users downloading apps from anywhere in the world.

Continue reading »

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