What We’ve Been Thinking
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
search, mobile, app marketing, events and some random stuff.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The amount of mobile data being used in the UK will grow sevenfold, say researchers, by 2021.
The research from CCS Insight has found that the average mobile phone user will use around 2.5 GB of data every month but by 2021, this will grow to 18 GB.
The firm says that mobile phone networks should begin making attractive offers in a bid to meet the growing demand for data.
This would include offers such as unlimited data plans and with 3 being the only network offering this, CCS says their subscribers are using, on average, 7 GB every month, around 3.5 times more than users on other networks.
However, researchers also say that data usage will not increase massively until 2022 when 5G will become increasingly popular with 17 million subscribers – by 2025, around half of all mobile users will be on a 5G network.
A trainee GP has launched an innovative app that will help farmers come to terms with mental health issues from their own homes.
Dr Julian Nesbitt wants to offer reliable and quick access to medical support using smart phone video technology because the farmers are often in isolated locations.
He explained: “The app will help break down barriers of access for farmers who are on the farm all day but most medical services will only be available between 9 and 5pm.”
The app means farmers can do their day job and then speak to someone when it’s convenient and there is a range of therapists dealing with issues including stress, trauma and gambling addiction.
They may sound like legitimate Android apps but users are being warned of multistage malware lurking in a family of apps.
The warning from ESET has revealed that the malicious apps are being hidden in Google Play Store with names such as ‘World News’ and ‘Cleaner for Android’.
The apps that have been revealed by the firm’s researchers do not raise suspicions from users because they do not ask for app permissions and will behave as an app is designed to do.
However, another malicious app which has been downloaded without the user knowing will, after a five-minute delay, be presented as a legitimate service, for example an Adobe Flash update.
When the prompt is approved, the new app will download a mobile banking Trojan to steal the user’s financial information.
The apps have now been removed by Google and a spokesman for ESET said: “Multistage downloaders have a better chance of creeping into official app stores than a common malware will.”
Android users are being warned of a new exploit which will trick a user into recording their phone screen without them knowing. The exploit affects android versions 5.0 to 7.1.
A car thief in Scotland was caught after the owner used a mobile phone tracker app to find their car, a court was told. The thief was caught less than an hour after stealing the car.
Coventry commuters are being urged to use an innovative app aimed at reducing congestion, said to be the first project of its kind in the UK. The Intelligent Variable Message System (iVMS) will enable motorists to plan their route to avoid travel hotspots and help improve congestion and reduce journey times.
Supermarket shoppers can use their mobile phone’s facial recognition system to replace ID checks when buying alcohol, under a pilot scheme. The British identity app Yoti will scan a shopper’s face to confirm their identity and help remove the self-service tills bottle-neck when assistants must check identification when buying goods that are age restricted.
Millions of smartphone users have been put at risk because of a simple coding error in 685 phone apps, warns security firm Appthority.
The mistake means that the user’s text messages and calls are at risk of being intercepted by hackers – particularly if app developers have used the Twilio Rest API or SDK platform.
Researchers say the developers have mistakenly coded credentials for accessing services, calls and texts by provided by Twilo Inc.
Apparently, hackers can access credentials by reviewing the app’s code to gain access to data sent via those services. The flaw has been dubbed ‘Eavesdropper’.
Among the affected apps are the AT&T Navigator, which is pre-installed on many Android phones and GPS navigation apps from Telenav though researchers say they have been careful not to name all of the affected apps – and Twilio’s users include Uber and Netflix.
Shares in Twilio fell by nearly 7% after the report from Appthority was published.
Mobile banking apps could see the end of paper receipts since a new app could see digital receipts being used instead.
Barclays Bank has now teamed-up with tech outfit Flux to trial its new Launchpad app with 10,000 customers.
The new app means there will be no longer receipts clogging up wallets because they will be stored digitally and be harder to lose; the digital receipt will also prove beneficial in finding a receipt should a purchase break or if there is a warranty issue.
However, for the new scheme to work effectively, retailers will need to use software that enables them to send their receipts digitally to customers.
Growing numbers of stores, including New Look and Topshop, are moving away from printed receipts already by emailing them to their customers instead.
With the new system, there’s no need to hand over email details since the Barclays pay machine will send a receipt directly to the customer’s mobile phone app.
Smartphone users in the UK are increasingly comfortable sharing their device’s location with an app, compared with two years ago. Around 55% of phone users said they are comfortable doing so while 11% said they always allow their apps to access their location, says marketing firm Verve.
A new app for smartphones may help parents keep their children safe while on social media, particularly to help prevent them from sending explicit images, messages and personal details. The Oyoty app will run automatically to detect whether an image is showing too much flesh and will suggest a rethink before the child user sends it out.
The rise of tracking apps for plane flights has been revealed with the news that 230,000 people followed Priti Patel’s eight hour flight back to the UK before resigning from government. FlightRadar24 says the international secretary’s flight is now the most monitored ever.
Facebook says the UK is the first country outside of the US to get its Messenger payments service. Launched in 2015, the app is used to split restaurant bills and send money, among other uses, with most users sending £38 on average. Facebook says the UK has been chosen because there are so many ‘mobile savvy consumers’ in the country.
The growing popularity of apps has been underlined with news that nearly 26 billion apps were downloaded around the world, a rise of more than 8%, over the past year.
The figures are for new downloads and do not cover app updates or reinstalls.
The worldwide consumer spend for apps for Google Play and iOS has also increased by 28% to reach nearly $17 (£12.9) billion.
The researchers also reveal that app usage is also increasing at ‘significant pace’ and the time people are spending an apps is also increasing to 325 billion hours in the third quarter of 2017.
The growth of apps being downloaded is driven by new smart phone owners with the consumer spend on Google Play is nearly double in the third quarter of this year than that recorded by iOS.
The world’s largest market for spending on apps is China which has just recorded its highest ever annual growth figures.
Banking apps are proving increasingly popular with more than half of British ‘Millennials’ regularly using their mobile phone for their financial affairs, says a survey.
The findings from Visa reveal that 38% of Brits are using banking apps regularly while for 18 to 34-year-olds, the figure rises to 53%.
However, 31% of millennials confessed that they have never used a banking app before.
Of the financial activities, most are using the apps for making payments securely and the users are increasingly keen to use biometric technology for authenticating their identity.
A spokesman for Visa said: “The retail banking industry has been revolutionised with mobile technology and until recently conducting simple transactions meant visiting a bank branch.
“Now banks are embracing the flexibility being offered by apps to enable customers to stay on top of their finances while they are on the move. Anyone with a tablet or smartphone can now take their bank branch with them.”
A number of dating apps have been found to have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers, says Kaspersky Lab.
The Russian firm says the vulnerabilities enable a user’s location to be accessed easily while the Android versions of some apps enable a user’s messages to be accessed.
Hackers can also, in some cases, log into a person’s profile.
The researchers say that the apps, including Zoosk, Tinder, WeChat and Happn, can have their location data hacked.
In separate research, Kaspersky also points out that growing numbers of us prefer to use mobile devices rather than computers for our online activities.
However, they add that there is a blasé attitude from users about their device’s security with online threats increasing.
An app unveiled by Facebook which is aimed at making users be more productive is now available as a desktop version. Workplace Chat, which is similar to Slack, could only previously be accessed via a mobile phone and, Facebook claims, around 30,000 organisations are now using the app.
Security experts at Check Point are warning that the Reaper botnet has now infected more than one million organisations and their computers and mobile devices. The firm says that those behind the network may be gearing up to wreak havoc soon.
Travel firm Booking.com says that in 2018 travellers will increasingly use technology and apps when arranging their travelling experiences. They also want to use technology to better understand their accommodation and destination before booking.
Amazon has unveiled a new Kindle app which will, the firm claims, encourage people to read more e-books using their mobile phones. They say the new app has been inspired by books and so the app has the ‘look and feel’ of reading a real book with larger book covers and new fonts. There’s also a new community tab for readers to access the Goodreads community.
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