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Fitness App Lights Up Military Bases

Security fears have been raised after the Strava fitness app was revealed to ‘light-up’ the running routes used by users on military bases.

Strava has published a heat map that reveals where its users have logged where they are running or cycling.

Now, the data appears to reveal the structure of military bases in many countries including Afghanistan and Syria with soldiers using the app when moving around them.

US military chiefs say they are now examining the heat map for potential security issues.

The app utilises the mobile phone’s GPS to track the user’s exercise activity so they can check on their performance levels and also compare them with others.

There are around 27 million Strava users around the world.

Ransomware attacks rise by 93%

A security report has revealed that incidents of ransomware attacks have rocketed by 93%.

The findings from Malwarebytes, an antivirus offering, says that these attacks will continue to increase.

The firm looked at the activities of hackers last year in their attempts to steal or lock personal data.

The report reveals that hackers are becoming more persistent and are targeting PCs and Macs as well as Android smartphones.

There has been a big rise in ransomware  attacks where the hacker uses a virus to lock a computer or its files and then demands an extortion fee so access can be recovered by the victim.

One incident major incident last year occurred when NHS computers, as part of a worldwide ransomware attack, fell victim to the WannaCry virus.

Of the threats, Malwarebytes reports that adware is responsible for 40% of all the threats detected, an increase of 132% on 2016’s figures.

Young children increasingly own smartphones

A report reveals that around one in five children aged 5 to 6 now owns a mobile phone.

By the time they are seven or eight, this figure jumps to 41% and rises again to 59% for those aged nine and 10, says the Childwise Monitor.

By the time they are 11, 90% of children have a mobile phone.

On average, children are spending around three hours every day using their phone for various activities including messaging, going online and playing games.

Child safety raised over popular app

Parents have been warned to monitor their children’s app activity if they are using the popular smartphone game Roblox which is aimed at young children and dubbed the new Minecraft.

The app is a popular multiplayer game that enables users to design their own games and play different ones and has attracted more than 30 million players aged between eight and 12.

However, there are fears that children are receiving inappropriate messages from strangers online.

Children also report that they have seen naked characters in the game, some doing ‘adult things’, and now parents are being urged by Internet safety groups to check their children’s inbox for messages from strangers.

Questions raised over phone use at petrol stations

With so many warning signs in petrol stations for users not to use their smartphone, questions have been raised over actual safety levels with the unveiling of new apps that enable drivers to pay for their fuel without leaving their car.

The BPme app from BP has been launched this week to following in the steps of Shell’s Fill Up & Go so drivers can pay for fuel without queueing up in the station.

The apps work when the motorist pulls up alongside a pump, logs into their app, confirms the pump number as well as their payment method and the petrol station’s location service will then pinpoint where they are.

The question was raised by The Sun newspaper and the UK Petroleum Industry Association says drivers don’t have to worry about using phones when at a filling station.

They say that phone use should, however, be restricted when refuelling.

The BP app does make clear that users should only use it from inside their car.

In other mobile phone app news …

Apple has revealed that it is bringing iOS apps to Macs this year which have the ability of natively running. This is part of the firm’s project called Marzipan which simplifies the developer tools to enable the porting of apps from iOS to macOS.

Google and Apple Showcase AR Platforms

Google and Apple are gearing up to go head-to-head with competing augmented reality (AR) platforms.

Both firms have unveiled their new are tools for iOS and Android devices this week that will enable a user to digitally superimpose an object through their phone onto the world around them.

Google’s AR offering will be released with its new Pixel phone and the Samsung Galaxy S8; Apple says the new iOS 11 operating system will be able use the technology on all of its devices.

However, iOS 11 has yet to be released and the apps for them have yet to be presented to consumers.

Among the apps for the Apple platform is one from IKEA that enables users to measure space in their homes and then digitally place a piece of furniture from the IKEA catalogue into the space on their smartphone.

British teenagers spend 40 days year on their mobile phones

A survey has revealed that teenagers spend around two hours and 40 minutes every day using their mobile phones, which is equal to nearly 41 days.

The research from broadbandchoices reveals that youngsters in Liverpool use their phones the most and spend 48 days browsing apps and text messages.

Teenagers in Glasgow and Cardiff claimed second and third places, while London teenagers were ranked in bottom place and use their phone for 37 days.

The firm’s research also reveals that 55% of parents say they wonder how they managed to survive as a teenager without a mobile phone or access to the Internet.

Parents warned of smart phone bingeing

Meanwhile, parents in the UK are being warned to monitor their children’s smartphone use over fears they are overindulging on social media.

In addition, the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, says phone companies are increasingly offering unlimited data for streaming apps, messaging and social media.

Her comments came after a new mobile plan was unveiled by Vodafone called Voxi which is aimed at under 25s.

The SIM-only plan allows subscribers unlimited access to a variety of apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Twitter.

Tech coalition squashes botnet

As reported recently, Google was forced to bin more than 300 apps from its Play Store recently because of malware issues.

Now a coalition of tech firms has managed to dislodge a massive botnet that was using Google’s Android platform.

The malware started as a click fraud scheme with hundreds of malicious apps operating on phones but the botnet was tailored to launch distributed denial of service attacks against websites.

Researchers dubbed the botnet ‘WireX’ and it has infected more than 120,000 mobile phones.

Some of the firms that worked to take down the threat include Cloudflare, Oracle and Flashpoint.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

US sanctions have led Apple to remove popular Iranian mobile phone apps from its App Store. Apple accounts for 11% of Iran’s mobile phone market and the government there says it will pursue the company to respect its customers.

A survey by comScore has revealed that most US mobile phone users do not download any apps. They found 51% of people with a mobile phone do not download anything in a month.

Microsoft has unveiled its Mixer Create app which enables gamers to stream mobile games on Android and iOS devices.

Google has revealed that its Android Wear 1.0 will have standalone apps that will enable it to be used independently of smartphone apps.

The new Sony Xperia phone has a 3D scanning app with the phone maker believing there is a big demand from users to create and distribute their 3-D creations.

The new Apple iPhone 8 will be released this month with rumoured features including wireless charging, edge-to-edge display and facial recognition. The iPhone 7S and 7S plus will also be released.

Biggest Drawback to Banking Apps Revealed

When it comes to using mobile banking apps, researchers say the biggest threat to security is human fallibility.

The report from Risk Mitigation Workgroup says that along with vulnerabilities in software and devices, banks need to pay attention to criminals targeting the end users with phishing tactics and social engineering.

A spokesman for the firm said banks are focused on delivering the apps for multiple operating systems and devices and while they need to focus on potential vulnerabilities they also need to be aware of human fallibility.

With growing numbers of customers using mobile apps to access their banking services means the apps need to develop robust security measures to mitigate any risk to the bank and their customers.

Half of children own a mobile phone

A new study has revealed that nearly half of children in the UK will own a mobile phone by the time they are 11 years old.

Researchers found that the average child received a mobile phone on their 11th birthday worth £120 – and they then spent two hours every day using the device.

However, 40% of parents said they regretted handing the child a phone while they were so young since they then become transfixed by it for social media as well as games.

Parents say the phone also becomes an expensive present since they will be expected to pay for replacing it at least twice after it has been damaged, stolen or lost.

Why small businesses should use mobile phone apps

One interesting article published this week reveals that small businesses should be following the footsteps of big corporate organisations and developing their own phone apps to boost business.

The apps can also boost functions and processes for the business and the article outlines what employer should be looking for from mobile phone technology including data collection, lead generation and campaign apps.

Organisations could also use employee and sales engagement applications.

More on the ITproportal.com site.

In other mobile phone app news …

Motorists using their mobile phones while driving in the UK are facing the doubling of penalties under plans revealed by the government. Drivers now face the prospect of receiving six points as well as a £200 fine.

Apple has partnered with PayPal to help make transfers and payments by voice commands using its digital assistant, Siri. Users can simply request that Siri sends an amount of cash via PayPal to a recipient and the payment will be triggered automatically. This is the first big announcement from Apple which in September opened Siri to third-party developers.

Researchers have revealed that an Android banking Trojan that uses Chrome browser vulnerabilities has, in just two months, infected more than 300,000 mobile devices. Called Svpeng, the Trojan allows hackers to steal personal and bank card data and intercept and send text messages.

Smart phone users in China prefer to use their mobile devices for shopping online rather than using computers. The findings come after the annual ‘Singles Day’ shopping bonanza saw Chinese shoppers spend nearly $18 billion with 82% of all transactions being made on mobile devices – that’s a rise from 70% last year.

First GP App Passes CQC Test

The first medical app aimed at offering a GP service has been given the go-ahead by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who have deemed it to be ‘safe’.

Dr Now will, says the CQC, offer safe care that meets the ‘relevant regulations’.

The new app is one of two digital healthcare provisions, the other is Babylon Health, and is part of an independent health pilot project.

From April 2017, the CQC will be rolling out a regulatory regime for meeting the needs of an ever expanding number of digital healthcare providers within the UK.

Discount app thrives in Russia

The economic slow-down in Russia has seen a phone app that highlights discounts rocket in popularity.

Edadeal now has more than two million users who are looking for discount deals in shops, cafes and supermarkets.

The app is tapping into a growing mood for thrift among Russians which is experiencing its worst economic crisis for many years.

The app has been downloaded more than six million times and there are 2.4 million active users who use the app at least once a month.

Children check devices 10 times a night

Research has revealed that schoolchildren as young as nine are checking their smartphones more than 10 times a night because they fear ‘missing out’.

The study was commissioned by leading organisation of headteachers and they found that one in four children admit to feeling tired during the school day because they are waking up at night to respond to their phone’s notifications.

The youngsters are checking apps including Snapchat, WhatsApp and Twitter.

Some teenagers say they receive around 100 notifications every night but have no idea how to turn them off.

In other mobile phone app news …

Facebook is spinning out its Events app so it’s no longer part of its main offering with the firm saying it should be easier for users to find local events and keep on top of friends’ invites. They are also including an interactive map so users can see what’s happening nearby.

Microsoft is to unveil a slew of new products later this with industry watchers predicting that there will be several apps available for smartphones as well as PCs. It looks like Windows 10 is being developed to offer users and developers more opportunities to develop apps that work on PCs tablets and smartphones.

Whatsapp has unveiled a facility for users to paint on their photos – just like the Snapchat facility. The social media platform is looking to change the way users share their photos by sprucing up their creations and help drive up traffic.