New App Will Protect Against ‘Spies’

A new app unveiled by whistleblower Edward Snowden will turn a phone into a spy system to help protect human rights activists and journalists.

The app uses a spare mobile phone to create a makeshift intruder detection and security system.

The app is entitled ‘Haven’ and uses sensors including the microphone and camera as well as the accelerometer, gyroscope and ambient light to create a motion detector to monitor its surroundings.

The app has been created with help from the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

The former National Security Agency contractor now lives in Russia as an exile and says Haven has been created using open source so the code can be edited by users to suit their needs.

Once Haven detects a disruption or movement, a notification will be sent to the user using an encrypted messaging service.

WhatsApp will stop working on these phones

The popular messenger service WhatsApp will stop working on a variety of phones from New Year’s Day with older operating systems being dropped.

WhatsApp these older system will no longer be supported and instead they are looking to develop further on the Android and iOS platforms.

The devices that will stop working are using BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS and also Windows 8 – and older version.

There are now more than 1 billion WhatsApp regular users.

Bank customers can now pay cheques in with mobile phones

Customers with Barclays Bank can now pay a cheque into their account by using their mobile phone camera.

The customers will need to use the bank’s mobile phone app and snap a photo to pay money in.

Once the customer has logged into their mobile app there’s a new option in the menu to ‘pay in cheques’. They are then given on-screen instructions about how to pay a cheque into their account.

While the bank says it still testing the technology, around 175,000 customers have already managed to pay in a cheque successfully.

Other banks looking to introduce the same function include HSBC, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Santander.

Warning over new Trojan

Security researchers say a new Android malware has been detected that can pose as more than 2,200 banks to steal user’s passwords and then plunder the account holder’s account.

The Catelites Bot has been linked to Russian criminal gangs who have infected more than 1 million mobile phones to steal $900,000, according to research from SfyLabs and Avast.

The Trojan works by using fake mobile banking app interfaces which pulls bank names and logos from Google Play Store.

The bot is being spread via third-party app stores, the researchers have revealed.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

A court in Spain has ruled that parents have the right to read their children’s messages on WhatsApp. One mother had complained that her ex-husband had breached the country’s privacy laws after checking his nine-year-old daughter’s phone for messages.

A news story broadcast in the US reveals that Japanese app developers are reliant on Google Play Store to generate most of their revenues. Of the top 12 public firms that generate at least 25% of their income from Google, seven are in Japan.

Researchers from the University of Dundee have revealed a warning system for flooding utilising data extracted from mobile phone apps that use crowdsourced information and also data from Twitter.

A team at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a system that will correctly guess the PIN for a mobile phone based on information that is provided by its sensors. They have developed an algorithm that analyses the data and the way the phone is held to deduct which numbers are being used for the user’s PIN.

Major Data Leak for Millions Revealed

A popular virtual keyboard has been leaking the data of 31 million users, say security researchers.

The massive data breach is for the app Ai.type used on the Android platform after researchers found an open database online.

Apparently, the database holds the personal data for 31 million Android users including their names, locations and phone numbers. The data also contains the Google search queries of those users.

The revelations come from the Kromtech Security Centre after they found a huge number of customer files had been leaked online and are now publicly available.

The details of data for 31.3 million users of mobile phones and tablets and the discovery has led to questions over how much data is being gleaned by app developers from users.

A spokesman for the firm said: “The database exposure shows just how much data developers can access and they are able to obtain a treasure trove that the average app user is not expecting to be data mined or extracted from their phone or tablet.”

Banking app flaw discovered

A massive security flaw has been discovered in hundreds of apps from major banks leaving account holders vulnerable to hacking.

The findings from the University of Birmingham reveal that the apps for banks such as NatWest and HSBC may have left 10 million account holders vulnerable.

The findings come after researchers developed a tool for performing a semi-automated security test of the banking apps.

Of 400 apps tested, the researchers uncovered a critical vulnerability that could have enabled hackers to retrieve the user’s username and their password.

Banks have now been told of the flaw which has been removed.

Researchers say the issue was over ‘certificate pinning’ which is meant to improve the app’s security  but failed to detect the vulnerability.

Tamagotchi to live again

Back in the 90s, the digital pet Tamagotchi was a must have toy and in 2018, it is due to live again in a new mobile phone app.

The toy’s creator, Bandai, says fans will be able to hatch a digital pet on their phone, play and feed with them and care for them. The app will be free to install on Apple and Android devices.

There will also be augmented reality technology similar to that used for Pokémon Go.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Whatsapp is reminding users that its app will no longer work on some phone platforms from the end of this month. The popular messenger app will no longer be available for BlackBerry’s OS or 10 and Window’s Phone 8.0.

Google has announced that any apps for the Android platform that will force a user to submit personal information or to click on an ad for advertising purposes before using an app will now be prohibited.

The Netflix app is now found on one in three Dutch smart phones while the Youtube app is on 83% of phones. The Netflix app is being used by 2.7 million people every week, according to a survey of the country’s app market.

Facebook has unveiled a new Messenger app aimed at children. There’s no Facebook account or phone number required for users to access the Messenger Kids app which is aimed at those between the ages of six and 12. The idea is for youngsters to communicate with family and friends on a mobile device but they will not need a SIM card, for example, but they will need a Wi-Fi connection to use the app.

App-addiction Grips the UK

The average Brit will look at their smartphone around 28 times a day, which works out at more than 10,000 times every year, according to a survey.

Researchers say that 4,000 of the checks are being made compulsively without any particular goal in mind.

However, one in 10 smartphone users are opening their device more than 60 times a day and one in three say they are addicted to looking at their various app updates.

A spokesman for the firm that undertook the survey, Casumo, said: “The instances of compulsive checking are higher than we imagined and shows our phones are a habit as they are an aid.”

The survey found that Brits are spending 58 minutes a day using their smartphone with the most popular app being Facebook. In second place is WhatsApp, with Gmail and Instagram in third and fourth places.

However, the survey also reveals that while Facebook takes first place, users believe other apps deliver more benefits with Google Maps being number one for usefulness followed by WhatsApp and Gmail.

Black Friday sees major boost to mobile phone app use

The number of people using mobile phone apps to score a Black Friday bargain has rocketed with 39% of sales online being made over a mobile phone, according to IMRG.

Also, Vouchercloud says that 63% of its online traffic came from smartphones compared with 27% using desktop computers and 10% using tablets.

The report from IMRG says that since Friday is a working day there’s an unusual trend since most people are at work and unlike last year, mobile sales were being used steadily throughout the day.

Apple revealed to have major privacy flaw

Security researchers say a popular app has a major privacy flaw and mines information stored on the smartphone to work out where the user is.

The researchers from Stamford University say that PinMe will use data from the accelerometer and gyroscopes among other information to work out where the user is – even if the apps don’t have access to the phone’s GPS.

The app can calculate whether the person is travelling by car, foot, plane or train and also chart their travel.

The researchers say that phone makers need to introduce software that will enable a user to switch off all sensors in a bid to protect their privacy.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Yale University have found that there are hundreds of Android apps that are riddled with trackers.

They say the trackers are being used for targeting advertising, location tracking and behavioural analytics.

They point out that these apps may have a legitimate application but are operating, most often, without the smartphone user’s knowledge.

Researchers found that of the 300 apps they inspected, 75% had trackers.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Google has unveiled a new app for Android smartphones that enables users to stay under pricey mobile data limits in developing countries. The new service is called Datally and helps users close down data transmission by various apps easily.

Hundreds of new drivers in the UK have been banned for using their mobile phone while behind the wheel of a car. The bans are automatic for new drivers.

Police in Gwent are trialling a new app for sending emergency images and follows in the footsteps of West Midlands Fire Service testing a similar app. Gwent’s two-month pilot will use a mobile phone app that will enable the public to provide a livestream or photographs of emergency incidents for control room operators to use.

GPs in the UK will soon be able to offer a prescription using a clinically approved app while sitting opposite a patient; a trial will begin in Merseyside from January. The app will see prescriptions for 10 drugs being trialled with a target of 100 more being added in subsequent months.

Android Phones ‘Betray’ Users

Google has come under fire after revelations that Android smartphones still collect the user’s location data and sends it back to the firm – even when the phone’s location services used for apps has been switched off.

The system works by gathering information from nearby mobile phone masts and sharing the information with Google. The data can be used to calculate the user’s position.

The practice cannot be disabled.

A privacy advocate told a news website that the findings are a ‘betrayal’ of Android phone users.

The issue is with Google Play Services running in the background since this is required to access search functions and has been installed on most Android smartphones.

In response, Google says it does not retain the information though it has been collecting data for 11 months and its Android system will be updated shortly to stop the practice.

App helps turn phone into a ‘sonar’ detector

Biometric voice authentication has taken a step forward with a mouth app that turns a user’s smartphone into a ‘sonar’ detector.

The security app will check that the lip movement being monitored really is the phone’s owner speaking.

The app then enables the user’s voice to be recognised as a password for using other apps.

However, critics say it might be vulnerable to ‘replay’ attacks should an identity thief use a recording of the user’s voice.

In a bid to overcome this issue, the app will detect whether someone is using the phone ‘live’ or is misusing a recording.

The VoiceGesture app could, say its creators, help make smartphones more secure and Google is already said to be reviewing the technology which has been created by researchers at State University of Florida.

They say the app can also be extended to include various voice assists including Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Mobile gaming apps take-off in Asia-Pacific

There’s been a huge growth in mobile gaming users in the Asia Pacific region, according to research.

The findings from AppsFlyer and eMarketer point to mobile gaming becoming increasingly important for marketers in the region with the apps delivering strong revenues and audiences.

The researchers at AppsFlyer found that in 40 countries, there are 1,300 apps to choose from and 95 million apps have been installed to generate $150 million of revenue.

Meanwhile, a report from eMarketer is forecasting that around 55% of Chinese Internet users will be playing digital games by the end of this year which equates to 420 million people.

Also, they say that 54% of mobile phone users will be using a gaming app at least once a month.

EU privacy regulators to discuss Uber

The EU’s privacy regulators are to meet to discuss the massive Uber app hack.

The move follows last year’s data breach which saw the personal data from 57 million accounts being exposed.

Now, the regulators are to discuss creating a task force from various EU countries for undertaking the investigation.

The stolen data included the names, mobile phone numbers and email addresses of Uber users around the world and the firm says it paid hackers $100,000 to keep the data breach secret.

News of the data breach of its app only came after senior management were replaced.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Microsoft has revealed that it has pulled its Skype app from China’s Android and Apple app stores. Apple has also removed several Internet phone call apps after being informed that they did not comply with local laws.

Cyclists in the UK could benefit from a new app that will warn them of potholes in the road ahead. Using smart lights and Bluetooth technology, the lights will detect imperfections and alert the cyclist with data collected via Bluetooth of cyclists avoiding spots on the road to help create a virtual map of Manchester’s roads where the trial is underway.

Newcastle University has created an app that will help protect ancient rock art in Northumberland. Researchers say that the ‘cup and ring’ marks are under threat from climate change and agriculture. The app will help pinpoint the sites so users can add information about its surroundings and conditions.