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Flaw in WhatsApp Security Revealed

A security flaw in WhatsApp could enable a hacker to spy on a private group chat, warn researchers.

The vulnerability means that anyone with access to WhatsApp servers can join a private group or insert someone without the chatroom administrator’s permission.

The findings from researchers at Ruhr University in Germany point out that sensitive conversations including those by women MPs at Westminster discussing sexual harassment could be infiltrated by an outsider.

Also, once a hacker accesses a group they then have the phone number of each group member and will automatically share secret keys and have access to all future messages.

The researchers say that for any users who are looking for absolute privacy in their group chat should sign up with encrypted app Signal or restrict their WhatsApp use to simply sending private messages.

The researchers also called on WhatsApp to introduce a new authentication mechanism for any new invitations to a group.

Mobile app growth is slowing down

Researchers at Flurry say that the growth in global mobile apps is slowing down even though smartphone users are still spending more than five hours every day using their device.

Now the firm says that apps need to build-in daily usage habits in a bid to boost growth.

Flurry has now measured app activity growth and found that in 2016, the number of sessions grew by just 6%. In 2015, growth was 11%.

They have tracked more than 1 million apps across more than 2.6 billion devices for their study.

Also, there are big changes in how people use apps; for shopping, use grew by 54% as consumers continue to move their spending online with media, music and entertainment coming a close second with 43% growth.

The steepest decline was seen by lifestyle apps which fell by 40%. Gaming also fell again with a decline measured at 15%.

‘Open Banking’ sparks security fears

New rules imposed from 13 January mean a revolution is about to hit the finance world.

That’s when we will get more power over the data that banks hold about us.

The aim is to boost competition and help us save more money.

However, industry experts say that the growing use of banking apps is creating a big security concern with crooks able to carry out more bank transfer scams.

The rules have been introduced by the European Union so banks and building societies must now allow developers of web and mobile phone apps to plug into the user’s current account data if the customer gives them permission.

Flashlight apps hit by malware

Researchers have revealed that malicious adware has infected more than 22 flashlight apps which have been downloaded between 1.5 and 7.5 million times.

The malware has been tagged as ‘LightsOut’ and will generate ad revenue secretly for its developers.

The malware will bombard constantly the phone’s user with pop-up ads that must be clicked before they can use their device.

The apps are found on Google’s Play Store and after they have been launched, the app hides its icon on the main screen so it is more difficult to find and then uninstall the app.

Child-friendly apps hide malware

Researchers say they have found more than 60 child-friendly apps that are hiding malware designed to rob mobile phone users or display pornography.

The apps are available from Google Play Store and, security firm CheckPoint says, the apps have child friendly themes including ‘Fidget spinner for Minecraft’. They’ve called the malware AdultSwine and Google now says it has removed the apps from Play.

In other mobile phone app news …

Some of Apple’s biggest investors are calling on the firm to limit how long children can use apps and its smartphones. The call has been welcomed by academics who say that imposing restrictions will help youngsters.

Russian smartphone users are being warned over malware that will access their banking text messages to enable criminals to intercept bank security codes. They can then use the codes to access and reset bank account passwords and empty the bank account itself. The malware is dubbed as ‘FakeBank’.

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.

New Bank App Will Push Deals to Customers

A new app from the bank First Direct will enable it to push personalised broadband and energy deals to its customers in a move that could see the end of price comparison websites.

The firm says the smartphone app will trawl thousands of deals from third-party providers and will recommend specific products to its customers.

First Direct says the app will allow consumers to hand over their saving and spending data from their financial accounts in return for notifications on money-saving deals.

Consumer groups say the move could lead to a revolution in the way consumers shop for deals and warned that banks that flog poor deals would damage their reputation.

Apple devices to be future ‘AI’ platform

Apple’s chief executive, Jeff Williams, says the new iPhone X offers developers a great platform for apps and those wanting to develop artificial reality functions.

The new phone will use facial recognition and users can pay for goods by simply glancing at their phone.

Mr Williams told a conference: “The neural engines we have in the phone and our watch are a huge piece of our future and we believe these frameworks will enable developers to create apps that will do more.

“I think we are the point with our devices and computing, and with AI’s potential, to really change the world.”

Zombie apps turn up on Google’s Play Store. Again.

According to a report, there’s been a big leap in the number of zombie apps that are generating fraudulent app clicks turning up on Google Play Store.

According to eZanga, they have found 43 fraudulent ‘live wallpaper’ apps which come from three developers but have had more than 1 million downloads.

They work in a similar way to apps identified in July so the phone does not have to be touched before the app will generate a click for a fraudulent advert.

Critics say the issue is a growing problem with Play Store which, unlike Apple’s App Store, does not have the same review processes in place and removes fraudulent apps retrospectively.

Mobile devices are increasingly the choice for online activities

Research reveals that people today are increasingly preferring to use their mobile device for online activities rather than a computer.

The findings from Kaspersky Lab found that people are using their mobile devices more often, particularly for accessing email.

Users are also increasingly shopping online while the use of computers for both of these activities is in decline.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Irrespective of age and occupation, the focus of our digital lives is shifting increasingly onto our mobile devices; people are trusting them with their secrets, confidential information, money, files and other things.”

He added that cyber criminals are changing tactics to attack mobile platforms and says tablets and smartphones need to be effectively protected as a result.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Vodafone has unveiled passes to help users access apps when burning through their monthly data allowance. There are four passes available and are grouped by the type of app, for instance, the video pass is £9 a month and will cover Amazon Video, Netflix and YouTube, among others.

After two massive earthquakes hit Mexico, the number of users of early warning app start-up SkyAlert has doubled to nearly six million, making it one of Mexico’s most downloaded apps.

Researchers in Norway have reveal some alarming security flaws in smart watches aimed at children. They say hackers can seize control of these watches to eavesdrop and track the young users. The issue comes with those watches that use a mobile phone function for parents to communicate with their child and stay up-to-date with their location via an app.

So, Farewell Then Pokemon Go

Apparently, the summer’s most popular app for generating a gaming craze, Pokemon Go is about to be Pokemon Gone as analysts say its popularity is already on the wane.

The game has seen users leave their jobs, being mugged for their phones and crash their cars but research firm Superfly Insights says that Pokemon hunters are now beginning to abandon the game.

The app itself is free for downloading and has generated around £200 million with in-app purchases that help players progress.

Research reveals that the number of these purchases have plummeted which, the firm says, indicates that people may still have the app on their phone but they are no longer using it.

The firm’s chief executive said the performance levels for the game last week were ‘absolutely abysmal’ as he said goodbye and thank you for the ride.

Banking app revolution on way

Banks in the UK have been told to boost their efforts to provide apps for customers that match the services that can be found in high street branches.

Indeed, by 2018 there will be a new single app available to enable customers to access their bank details.

The move follows a two-year investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into rip-off bank accounts.

The new app will work for all banks and enable customers to apply for overdrafts, loans and mortgages on a mobile phone and also transfer cash between accounts.

Rise in snooping apps

There has apparently been a rise in people using stealth apps to monitor someone’s movements, particularly when partners are suspicious of their lover.

India Today TV investigated the activities of several private detectives and found lots of invisible monitoring software available that can be easily downloaded onto a mobile phone.

The software tracks the user’s activities as well as texts and phone conversations.

There are no laws in India to regulate private detectives so they can sell the apps to clients for around £300 a year.

‘Drive safe’ mode for smartphones

In a bid to make smartphones less distracting for motorists, a motoring charity says a ‘drive safe’ mode could the introduced which would operate in a similar way to flight safe options when people board aircraft.

The idea comes from the RAC Foundation who say that growing numbers of people are becoming overwhelmed or distracted with information while at the wheel of a vehicle.

Indeed, the charity says that around 70 fatal accidents occur on the UK’s roads because of ‘distraction in vehicle’ while 20 crashes are the fault of drivers using a mobile phone.

The Foundation is also now calling for an international set of guidelines to enable manufacturers to restrict the level of distractions in the cabin and for mobile phone apps to be made safer when someone is behind the wheel.

Mobile apps could boost beer sales

Mobile apps could help boost spirits and beer sales among young adults, according to research from Canadean.

The firm says that one in three consumers around the world want to know more about pairing food with a suitable alcoholic drink and there’s an opportunity for apps as well as social media to offer advice.

The apps could be crucial tools to encourage young people to think about pairing their drink and food more often, the firm said.

A spokesman for the company said firms need to use highly visual social media platforms and create beverage-dedicated apps which will demonstrate to young adults the experiences to be enjoyed by drink and food pairing.

Android could have serious security bug

Android devices could have a security flaw that enables attackers to have complete access to its data, according to research.

The revelation from research firm Checkpoint says it has uncovered bugs from the software that runs the Qualcomm chipset.

Unfortunately, the Qualcomm processors are found in 900 million Android phones though there’s no evidence that their vulnerabilities are currently being exploited by cyber thieves.