In the past, we have written about the
major security issues of the android platform. The company's "come one, come all" approach to application publishing and incredibly liberal access to data stored on your device by any and all applications created an environment that was very conducive to taking advantage of owners.
There was no way that Google could have let this environment persist. In an attempt to prevent their customers from being taken advantage of, and to prevent the complete collapse of Android, Google implemented a system that checks code of applications as they are submitted to see if they contain code specifically designed to steal data or hijack the device. It has been fairly successful, preventing many scam apps from entering Google Play.
The group at Hacking Team, however, seems to have found a way around Google's checks. A sample app, which was designed to show Hacking Team clients how to implement the workaround, was found by Trend Micro researchers in the Hacking Team files that were released recently. The app, BeNews, uses the name of a legitimate but retired news application, and only asks for 3 traditional, non-issue permissions at installation time. All of this makes the app appear legitimate to both customers and bypass the Google security checks.
After the app is installed, though, it takes advantage of a security hole in Linux to inject additional code from the outside world, which escalates the permissions and installs the group's RCSAndroid backdoor Trojan horse. Android is a flavor of Linux, meaning that any version of Android built upon a Linux kernel that contains this exploit, which was documented a year ago, can be affected by the Trojan. It is known that all versions from Android 2.2 to 4.4.4 are affected, but there could be more.
As of now, it appears that the BeNews app has been downloaded less than 50 times, but there is no telling how many other apps published by Hacking Team clients have included this exploit. The moral of the story is, you can't trust an app from Google Play. Always make sure the app is from official, known authors before downloading.
One of the big announcements at Microsoft's E3 presentation was a new Xbox One controller. While the price is a little steep, it does bring to the table a pretty incredible feature set. But outside of a few display units, there wasn't much more information on the device in the post-conference panels and news releases. That is until Phil Spencer went into more detail about the new gaming pad in an interview about the future of Xbox.
In the most recent edition of
Edge magazine, the Xbox head took some time to address the criticism and glory behind the new controller. He also explained who the hardware specifically targets, along with how the community had input in the design.
Spencer was asked if the design was an internal project or something driven by the community. He responded by saying,
Definitely from the community. There's a lot of innovation that happens in the controller space - people want more customisation when they're at the higher end, and they want to be able to make it their controller. Whereas for me I take the default setup that I've learned. But you think about your eSport pro gaming, which is a very, very strong growth category: those people - a growing segment of our population - really care about making the controller feel exactly the way they want it to feel.
So the controller is targeted at pro gamers who not only take their gaming more seriously, but require a bit more customizability and durability in their peripherals. Does this mean that the regular Xbox controller is gone? Contrary to what the majority of the Internet believes, no. If you'll recall, Microsoft also announced an improved Xbox One controller which (thankfully) brings back the 3.5mm audio jack and improves the bumpers.
I think that controller, especially with some of the recent modifications we made with the audio jack and the shoulder buttons, is the best controller, obviously, that we've made up until the point the Elite controller comes out. We look at the Elite controller as being for somebody who feels they're an elite competitive gamer, and that's great for them, but we'll continue to be very supportive of our Xbox One controller. It's what a vast majority of our gamers will be playing (for the) life of the console.
While I may not be a "pro gamer," I definitely want to pick up the Elite controller and use it in my every day gamer, and a lot of the Xbox community has chimed in with the same feelings about the new accessory. And if that's not for you and you're in the market for an additional controller, the revamped standard one is perfect for you. This gives the Xbox One some more diversity and really does appeal to several different markets now.
It's been almost three years since Netflix' CEO Reed Hastings tried to
split the company into two. Since the public outrage and reversal in decision, the company has seen record growths and a myriad of success, even after a price hike at the same time. Well, it appears that it may be time for another change in the company, so you might want to prepare your wallets for the second incoming price increase. This time it's for all you streamers out there.
While the news isn't shocking and the increase won't be happening this year, it is coming. Hastings spoke on this in an investor meeting earlier this week. The announcement came on a day where Netflix stock rose over 10 percent and the company saw a seven-to-one stock split that evening.
Again, this announcement shouldn't surprise anyone who has been following the video-streaming giant for any length of time, as the $7.99 per month price point was something that Hastings said he wanted to change for a while now. If you recall, way back in 2010 Netflix
introduced a streaming-only package that matched the cost of Hulu Plus.
Netflix has made over $800 million in revenue from US streaming alone, with another $300 million coming from the rest of the world. With over 40 million US subscribers, a raise to $9.99 per month would prove fruitful for the company, as the team currently shells out $7.7 billion in content licensing.
It's also important to note that the $7.99 per month plan isn't the only package that Netflix offers for streaming. While $7.99 gets you 2 screens and HD-streaming if you were grandfathered in, 4 simultaneous screen watching and Ultra HD runs you $12.99 per month. Hastings said he'd also "encourage" users to move into that higher plan if they don't already have it.
Lots of tech news happens in the course of the week and sometimes you have to skip stuff that doesn't have a conclusion yet. This happened last year, when T-Mobile had two nationwide 911 outages in the month of August. This meant that emergency calls were not connecting to emergency service provider, which is a really big deal. The reason this is being talked about now, however, is because the Federal Communications Commission has now issued a fine for those outages.
Because of the incidents, T-Mobile will have to pay out $17.5 million to the FCC and will also have to put in place a compliance program that includes failovers for the company in order to prevent an outage from happening again in the future.
The FCC document reports that on August 8th, 2014, T-Mobile had two 911 outages, for a total of three hours without service. T-Mobile users dialing 911 at that time were unable to place the call, let alone reach a dispatcher. The FCC also said that T-Mobile took way too long on letting emergency service providers know about the problem. Additionally, T-Mobile did not have the necessary backups in place to counter a drop in coverage at this magnitude.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement that he will be holding services accountable if these issues persist.
The Commission has no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation's communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need. Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.
For reference, the FCC says there are just over 27,000 emergency calls places in the US from all cell phone providers every hour. Considering T-Mobile makes up a large portion of the consumer cell phone base, two outages totaling three hours is a problem that needs to be rectified.
A spokeswoman for T-Mobile said that there have been "significant changes" made to the 911 service over the past year and that this type of problem shouldn't happen in the future.
Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference was this week in Orlando, and it allowed the company to show off some new products and services that were outside the Windows 10 craze. On that list was a new service that helps you get work done. No bells, no whistles, just productivity.
Project GigJam, as it's been called for a while now, was in development for several years before it was announced at WPC 15. It's a simple an easy way to not only do work, but allow others to see and collaborate on your work. GigJam operates by taking a task and disassembling it into individual steps and focus points. You can assign people or groups certain tasks, connect to other software apps to grab information or even jump into internal databases to extract the data you need for the project at hand.
Running off of Microsoft's complex and efficient Azure Web Services, GigJam can be installed to any of the popular operating systems. Geared towards business power users, the entire system works using APIs, meaning there isn't special integration that's required to make GigJam work for you.
GigJam doesn't tout itself to be a new single product. As Microsoft's GM of Ambient Computing and Robotics Vijaty Mital puts it,
Microsoft's TechNet blog laid out two scenarios that GigJam is perfect for.
A sign-up link is A physical therapist who previously worked alone to create a rehab protocol now involves the patient and the patient's family (each interacting from their own devices), all the while making sure that sensitive physician's notes and the patient's records are appropriately shielded. An engineer assigned to inspect an aircraft fuselage can opportunistically accelerate the work by divvying up some of it for a couple of colleagues who happen to be nearby and free, while still maintaining personal responsibility through the ability to review the colleagues' input before committing it. on GigJam's homepage, where you'll be notified when the service goes live if you provide an email address. I'm very curious to see how the system works and have already signed up. If it can improve efficiency for businesses simply by making it easier to work together and gather information, then the Microsoft team has hit another home run this year.