Tag Archive: Google



Nokia, or rather HMD Global, is at it again. The company has released the September Android security update to the Nokia 5 smartphones ahead of Google’s update for its Pixel and Nexus devices. This, as you may have gathered, is not the first time that Nokia has beaten Google to its own Android security update. Back in July, the Nokia 6 received the monthly security patch ahead of Nexus and Pixel devices, whereas last month, the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 received the update alongside Google devices. So overall, it’s safe to Nokia has thus far been doing a good job with security update rollouts, something the company had promised soon after launch.

Getting back the September Android security patch for the Nokia 5, the 142.1MB update is now rolling out to users, Nokia Power User reports. The update does not bring in any other changes, the report notes. Google hasn’t yet published the Android Security Bulletin for the month of September 2017 yet, putting Nokia far in the lead with its own rollout. To add some more perspective to the announcement, HMD Global this week also confirmed that the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6, and Nokia 8 smartphones will all receive Android 8.0 Oreo updates.

To recall, the Nokia 5 was first unveiled back at MWC 2017, and has since launched the smartphone in India as well. While the smartphone’s India launch was back in July, the company only made the Nokia 5 available to buy in the country on August 15. The Nokia 5 comes with a fingerprint scanner mounted on the home button and sports a 5.2-inch HD (720×1280 pixel) display. It runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC coupled with 2GB of RAM. It comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage, which is expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB). Nokia 5 packs a 13-megapixel camera on the back along with a flash and while an 8-megapixel sensor sits at the front.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

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A prominent privacy rights watchdog is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a new Google advertising program that ties consumers’ online behavior to their purchases in brick-and-mortar stores.

The legal complaint from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to be filed with the FTC on Monday, alleges that Google is newly gaining access to a trove of highly-sensitive information – the credit and debit card purchases records of the majority of US consumers – without revealing how they got the information or giving consumers’ meaningful ways to opt-out. Moreover, the group claims that the search giant is relying on a secretive technical method to protect the data – a method that should be audited by outsiders and is likely vulnerable to hacks or other data breaches.

“Google is seeking to extend its dominance from the online world to the real, offline world, and the FTC really needs to look at that,” said Marc Rotenberg, the organisation’s executive director.

Google called its advertising approach “common” and said it had “invested in building a new, custom encryption technology that ensures users’ data remains private, secure and anonymous.”

The Washington Post detailed Google’s program, Store Sales Measurement, in May. Executives have hailed it as a “revolutionary” breakthrough in advertisers’ abilities to track consumer behavior. The company said that, for the first time, it would be able to prove, with a high degree of confidence, that clicks on online ads led to purchases at the cash register of physical stores.

To do this, Google said it had obtained access to the credit and debit card records of 70% of US consumers. It had then developed a mathematical formula that would anonymise and encrypt the transaction data, and then automatically match the transactions to the millions of US users of Google and Google-owned services like Gmail, search, YouTube, and Maps. This approach prevents Google from accessing the credit or debit card data for individuals.

But the company did not disclose the mathematical formula it uses to protect consumer’s data. In a statement, Google said that it had taken pains to build custom encryption technology that ensures that the data the company receives remains private and anonymous.

The privacy organisation is asking the government not to not take Google’s word for it and to review the algorithm itself. In its complaint, the organisation said that the mathematical technique that Store Sales Measurement is based on, CryptDB, has known securityflaws. Researchers hacked into a CryptDB-protected healthcare data based in 2015, accessing over 50 percent of the stored records.

Google also would not disclose which companies were providing it with the transaction records. When asked if users had consented to having their credit and debit transactions shared, Google would not specifically say. The company replied that it requires that its unnamed partners have “the rights necessary” to use this data.

In its complaint, reviewed by the Washington Post, the privacy group alleges that if consumers don’t know how Google gets its purchase data, then they cannot make an informed decision about which cards not to use or where not to shop if they don’t want their purchases tracked. The organisation points out that purchases can reveal medical conditions, religious beliefs, and other intimate information.

Google also told the Post that it does not have access to the names or other personal information of the credit and debit card users, and that it does not share any information about individual Google users with partners.

Advertisers receive aggregate information, for example, for an ad campaign for sneakers that received 10,000 clicks, the advertiser learns that 12 percent of the clickers made a purchase.

Users can opt-out anytime, Google says. To do so, users of Google’s products can go to their My Activity Page, click on Activity Controls, and uncheck “Web and Web Activity,” Google says.

The privacy group says the opt-out settings and the descriptions of what users are opting out of are confusing and opaque. The group says that the company continues to store server and click data even when Web and App Activity is turned off, and that to opt-out of everything requires a labyrinthine process of going to a number of third party sites. Meanwhile, opting out of location-tracking requires going to a separate button and interface. None of the opt-out descriptions specifically describe credit card data.

In 2012 and in 2011, Google paid multi-million dollar fines to settle FTC charges on privacy issues. The 2012 case, for $22.5 million, Google was charged with misrepresenting its privacy promises to users of Apple’s Safari browser, who were the under the impression that they could opt-out of ad-tracking. In 2011, in response to a case brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Google settled FTC charges that it used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises when it launched its social network, Google Buzz.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Alphabet Inc’s Google aims to train 10 million people in Africa in online skills over the next five years in an effort to make them more employable, its chief executive said on Thursday.

The US technology giant also hopes to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, a company spokeswoman said.

Google’s pledge marked an expansion of an initiative it launched in April 2016 to train young Africans in digital skills. It announced in March it had reached its initial target of training one million people.

The company is “committing to prepare another 10 million people for jobs of the future in the next five years,” Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told a company conference in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.

Google said it will offer a combination of in-person and online training. Google has said on its blog that it carries out the training in languages including Swahili, Hausa and Zulu and tries to ensure that at least 40 percent of people trained are women. It did not say how much the programme cost.

Africa, with its rapid population growth, falling data costs and heavy adoption of mobile phones, having largely leapfrogged personal computer use, is tempting for tech companies. Executives such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s chairman Jack Ma have also recently toured parts of the continent.

But countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, which Google said it would initially target for its mobile developer training, may not offer as much opportunity as the likes of China and India fortech firms.

Yawning wealth gaps mean that much of the population in places like Nigeria has little disposable income, while mobile adoption tends to favour more basic phone models. Combined with bad telecommunications infrastructure, that can mean slower and less Internet surfing, which tech firms rely on to make money.

Google also announced plans to provide more than $3 million (roughly Rs. 19.2 crores) in equity-free funding, mentorship and working space access to more than 60 African startups over three years.

In addition, YouTube will roll out a new app, YouTube Go, aimed at improving video streaming over slow networks, said Johanna Wright, vice president of YouTube.

YouTube Go is being tested in Nigeria as of June, and the trial version of the app will be offered globally later this year, she said.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Google on Thursday rolled out its Expeditions app with a new solo mode for all users.

“Using this mode, they can explore over 600 different tours on their own. All that users need to do is download the Expeditions app (available on both Android and iOS), drop their phone into Google Cardboard and get ready for an adventure!” the company said in a statement.

For the past two years, the app was available only for teachers as a tool to extend learning inside the classroom, helping students to gain exposure to new career paths and learn about various social impact initiatives happening around the globe.

With the new update, users can either take these tours as an explorer or a guide.

As an ‘Explorer’, users can experience the tour on their own, where they can view more detailed information on various points of interest within the experience.

The ‘Guide Mode’ lets teachers preview a tour before embarking with their students on a virtual journey.

Expeditions also works on Daydream View VR headset-ready phones for more immersive and engaging experience.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


After a US-based digital security company alerted Twitter about a massive botnet campaign promising online sex to its users, the micro-blogging website has removed nearly 90,000 such fake accounts.

Dubbed as ‘SIREN’, the fake botnet campaign was discovered by ZeroFOX, a Baltimore-based security firm specialising in social-media threat detection.

“To our knowledge, the botnet is one of the largest malicious campaigns ever recorded on a social network,” ZeroFOX wrote in a blog post.

ZeroFOX’s computer vision and natural language processing algorithms identified over 8,500,000 tweets from close to 90,000 accounts related to the ‘SIREN’ campaign.

“‘SIREN’ has been incredibly successful, netting over 30,000,000 clicks from its victims. This data can be gleaned because the botnet uses trackable, Google shortened URLs,” ZeroFOX added.

ZeroFOX last week reported the findings to both the Twitter and Google security teams, who promptly removed the offending accounts and links, comprehensively remediating the ‘SIREN’ botnet.

All of the nearly 90,000 accounts had a suggestive photo of a woman as a profile picture and a female name as the display name.

The accounts either engaged directly with a target by quoting one of their tweets or attracting targets to the payload visible on their profile bio or pinned tweet.

The tweets themselves generally contained canned, sexually-explicit text, often in broken English, compelling the target to click, such as “you want to meet with me?” or “Push, don’t be shy” [sic].

Once a link is clicked, the user is issued a series of redirects.

The final redirect websites encouraged the user to sign up for subscription pornography, webcam or fake dating websites.

“These types of websites, although legal, are known to be scams. Many of the websites’ policies claim that the site owners operate most of the profiles,” the blog post said.

A large percentage of the bots were female names with nude or semi-nude pictures.

In terms of the ‘SIREN’ actors themselves, a large chunk of the Twitter accounts’ self-declared user languages were Russian.

“The poor English, Cyrillic text and sheer magnitude of the infrastructure is indicative that ‘SIREN’ is a group or actor that is technically proficient and probably located in the Eastern Block of Europe,” ZeroFOX said.

The botnet is named after the mythical Greek Sirens, who seduced wayward sailors with their singing and lured them to their doom.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


While we still await the much-delayed Web client of Google Allo, version 14 of the messaging app has now started rolling out for Android and brings message reactions to the platform. Currently, the latest update is not showing up for us but it is expected to be rolled out by the search giant in phases to the users.

Now, just like on Facebook Messenger, users can give emoji reactions to particular messages within the chat and once there are multiple reactions, the count of the reactions starts showing up beside the message. Amit Fulay, head of Google Allo, announced the new feature in his tweet saying, “Latest #GoogleAllo version out today! You can react to messages in chat (tap the heart to like them)”

Notably, unlike Facebook Messenger, Allo users can only react to messages with a heart-shaped emoji as of now. Fulay has suggested that there are more “under-the-hood enhancements” that come with the update but we will have to wait to figure out other notable additions. For now, there’s now word on when the updated app will hit iOS.

To recall, Google said in May that the Web client of the Allo app will be released in a month or two but recently clarified that it will take “few more weeks” to be made available. Nick Fox, VP, Communications Products at Google, said in a tweet in May: “I’m using Web client every day and loving it. Team is working hard to get it out ASAP [As Soon As Possible], but we’re still a month or two from public release.”

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Asus ZenFone AR, claimed to be the world’s first smartphone with 8GB of RAM, will be launched in India on Thursday. The company will be live streaming the launch, which kicks off at 2pm IST, and you can catch it right here. To recall, the Taiwanese consumer electronics giant had launched the ZenFone AR at CES 2017.

Apart from the massive amount of RAM it offers, the smartphone’s biggest highlight is support for Google’s Tango augmented reality platform. It also sports a modfied Snapdragon 821 SoC that’s been optimised for Tango performance. To facilitate Tango, the handset also sports a camera arrangement and sensors that allow motion tracking, depth perception, and area learning.

Asus ZenFone AR price
So far, the ZenFone AR has been launched in the company’s home market – Taiwan. The Asus ZenFone AR price is TWD 24,990 (roughly Rs. 53,100) for its 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant. We can expect the Asus ZenFone AR price in India to be around the same.

Asus ZenFone AR specifications
In terms of specifications, the Asus ZenFone AR runs Android 7.0 Nougat and sports a 5.7-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) Super AMOLED display and is powered by a Snapdragon 821 SoC that has been claimed to be customised for Tango by the company. As mentioned earlier, the handset comes with an impressive 8GB of RAM.

In terms of optics, Asus ZenFone AR comes with a 23-megapixel Sony IMX318 module with TriTech+ autofocus system, dual-PDAF, second-gen Laser Focus, and continuous-focus. The rear camera supports 4-axis OIS (optical image stabilisation) as well as 3-axis EIS (electronic image stabilisation) for video recording alongside support for 4K video recording. At front, there is an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 aperture and an 85-degree wide angle lens.

The ZenFone AR comes with up to 256GB of built-in storage, which is further expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB) in a hybrid dual-SIM (Micro+Nano) configuration. It houses a 3300mAh battery and connectivity options offered by the smartphone include USB 2.0 Type-C port, Bluetooth v4.2, and Wi-Fi 802.11ac connectivity.

The Taiwanese company has previously confirmed that the Asus ZenFone AR features vapour cooling system to avoid overheating. We will not have to wait very long for the Asus ZenFone price in India and availability as the launch date is not far away.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

 


It seems as though Google’s Android platform is facing its worst time yet as far as malware infestations go. After two malware-related reports in the past week – CopyCat and SpyDealer – there are now reports of another malware, called LeakerLocker, that has the potential to send your personal pictures, messages and browser history to your friends. What’s more, this malware is also reportedly a ransomware that does not encrypt files.

Popular security technology company, McAfee has discovered that the LeakerLocker ransomware can be accidentally downloaded from the Google Play. As of now, It has noted two apps in particular, Wallpapers Blur HD and Booster & Cleaner Pro, that seem to carry the malware. Notably, the ransomware steals the information, creates an unauthorised backup, but does not encrypt them. Instead, it demands “a modest ransom,” failing which the attacker would leak the victim’s private data to their contacts.

McAfee has reported the ransomware to Google. One of the apps, Wallpapers Blur HD, has been downloaded between 5,000 and 10,000 times, and one user has pointed out that the wallpaper app strangely requests permissions such as calls, reading and sending SMS, access to contacts, among other things. The second malicious app, Booster & Cleaner Pro is an easier target as this is the sort of app that requires access to almost everything in your phone to function properly, which users may unwittingly give permission to.

LeakerLocker is the third in a series of malware-related reports this past week. On Monday, it was reported that an Android malware, named SpyDealer, had the ability to steal a user’s personal data from over 40 popular apps that include Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Telegram and more. This comes following another report last week of a CopyCat malware that had reportedly affected over 14 million Android devices last year. These cases have started to paint a pretty gloomy picture about the safety of Android OS, but at least we know that Google is taking some active anti-malware measures to help out its users.

For Android users who feel recent malware-related reports are getting too much for Google’s own good, there may a bit of relief in knowing that the tech giant has been reported to be working on an Android ‘panic button’ that would help users exit a potentially malicious app and back to the home screen. There’s no word on when Google will release this feature, but when last reported, it was being tested on Android 7.1 Nougat. It may not be much, but at least we know Google is taking some active measures to fight off compromised apps.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Alphabet Inc’s Google unit expects to receive its first wind power from Norway by early September, the company told Reuters on Wednesday.

Tellenes wind farm, a 50-turbine strong wind farm of 160-megawatt (MW) capacity that is currently under development, will become Norway’s largest wind farm and Google’s biggest in Europe.

“We’ll purchase power as soon as the wind farm becomes fully operational, which we expect will take place in early September 2017,” a Google spokesman told Reuters.

Google last year signed a 12-year deal to buy 100 percent of the plant’s output. The company, which has four European data centres in Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland, said the wind power will be used to supply one or several of them.

The Tellenes wind farm’s first turbine will begin to generate power by next week, said Olav Rommetveit, a spokesman for farm maker Zephyr, although Google will not receive the initial output.

“Google will not immediately get the supply. It has an exclusive contract for 12 years and they will begin getting the electricity at some point after commercial operations begins,” said Rommetveit.

The electricity produced until Google starts receiving the farm’s full capacity, will be sold on the Nord Pool power exchange, he added.

BlackRock, which provided the project’s equity financing, confirmed the first turbine would be ready for production next week and said power sales would start a few days later.

Arise, a Swedish wind power company, will be the farm’s operator.

Google has also bought the future output of a smaller wind farm in Sweden, due to start operation in 2018, bringing the total capacity of its renewable power purchases in Europe to 500 MW, the company said.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


A British hospital trust misused patient data when it shared information with Google for work on a smart phone app to help detect kidney injuries, a British data protection watchdog said on Monday.

The Royal Free NHS Trust failed to comply with the Data Protection Act when it passed on personal information of around 1.6 million patients to Google’s DeepMind.

“There’s no doubt the huge potential that creative use of data could have on patient care and clinical improvements, but the price of innovation does not need to be the erosion of fundamental privacy rights,” Elizabeth Denham, head of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), said in a statement.

The data was provided in a medical trial that integrated information from existing systems used by the Royal Free to alert clinicians when signs of deterioration in a patient with Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) were found.

The investigation found that many patients did not know their data was being used as part of a test.

“We accept the ICO’s findings and have already made good progress to address the areas where they have concerns,” the trust said in a statement.

 

As a result, the trust has signed a document agreeing to make change to the way it handles data.

Although the ICO’s findings related to the hospital, Google’s artificial intelligence arm has also taken responsibility, admitting it underestimated the complexity of Britain’s state-run National Health Service and the rules around patient data.

“We were almost exclusively focused on building tools that nurses and doctors wanted, and thought of our work as technology for clinicians rather than something that needed to be accountable to and shaped by patients, the public and the NHS as a whole,” Google DeepMind said in a statement.

“We got that wrong, and we need to do better.”

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)