Search This Blog

Showing posts with label Google. Show all posts

Google Takes Down Around 46 Apps by Chinese Developers from its Play Store


Last week, around 46 apps by a Chinese developer, iHandy were taken down by Google from its Play Store. Initially, Google declined to provide reasons for the sudden removal of various security, horoscope, selfie, health and antivirus related apps which were downloaded over millions of times.

However, a total of eight apps were still present on Google’s Play Store, until three more were taken down, as per a Buzzfeed report. The Chinese company, established in the year 2008, claims to have almost 180 million monthly active users in more than 200 countries across the globe. Currently going through investigations, iHandy is one of the world’s largest mobile application developers.

In a conversation with Buzzfeed, iHandy VP Simon Zhu, while expressing how they found Google’s takedown quite unexpected, said “It is an unexpected action from our point of view. We are trying to find out the reasons. Hope the apps will be back to Play Store as soon as possible.”

Notably, Google has taken down apps made by Chinese developers in the past as well for various reasons; in this case, the removal is triggered by deceptive and disruptive ads. In August this year, after Trend Micro discovered malware inside certain apps, Google removed a total of 85 apps from its Play Store, most of these apps were related to gaming or photography and had more than 8 million downloads. The most popular names among these infected apps included, ‘Super Selfie’, ‘Cos Camera’, ‘One Stroke Line Puzzle’ and ‘Pop Camera’.

To exemplify, a very popular app known as ‘Sweet Camera- Selfie Beauty Camera, Filters’ which had over 50 million downloads was also removed in the process and it is not to be found on the Indian Play Store either.

Researchers discovered that all of these infected apps were put on the Play Store via distinct developer accounts and were signed by non-identical digital certificates, but they exhibited the same behaviors and shared a similar code.

Referenced from the statements given by Google’s spokesperson, "Our Google Play developer policies are designed to help create the best experience for users, and we explicitly prohibit deceptive or disruptive ads. When violations are found, we take action,"

Milwaukee Couple's Nest Smart Home Hacked, Vulgar Music was Played


Smart home products designed by Nest such as smart cameras, smart displays, smart thermostats, and smart doorbells to make our lives more comfortable and safe, may not be all that safe according to a horrifying incident reported by a Milwaukee, Wisconsin based couple, Samantha and Lamont Westmoreland.

 After a hacker hacked into the couple’s home and took control of their gadgets, Samantha said, "It's (installation of gadgets) supposed to make me feel safe, and I didn't feel safe", "My heart was racing, I felt so violated at that point."

As per a report by Fox 6 News, on September 17th, Samantha returned home in which she has Nest camera, a doorbell and a thermostat installed, and found the atmosphere unreasonably warmer, she immediately noticed that her smart thermostat has risen up to 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

Initially, she assumed it to be a glitch and set it back to the room temperature, but it kept on going up after every time she turned it down. A while later, the couple heard a voice talking to them from their Nest camera and afterward it played vulgar music. Samantha went ahead, unplugged the camera and turned it to face the ceiling. They changed the passwords of all the three devices but as the issues persisted, they resorted to contacting their internet service provider to have their network and Ids reset.

The couple was of the opinion that their Wi-Fi network and Nest camera was hacked, putting the actual problem into perspective, Lamont Westmoreland said, "If someone hacks into your Wi-Fi, they shouldn't be able to have access to those Nest devices without some sort of wall they have to get over,"

In a conversation with Fox 6 News, the couple revealed that the smart home accessories they had installed at their home since last year, cost them $700, and that they have never faced any problem before this; however, in the wake of this terrifying incident they had a change of mind regarding smart home devices.

Meanwhile, responding to the disturbing experience, a spokesperson of Google, told a media outlet, “Nest was not breached. These reports are based on customers using compromised passwords. In nearly all cases, two-factor verification eliminates this type of security risk,"

Google about to Roll Out One of the Most Awaited Features



In 2018, Google broke headlines for tracking its users location even after they disabled the sharing of location history via their privacy settings.

There were complaints against the company, stating, "Google represented that a user ‘can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.’ This simply was not true."

In the wake of receiving intense criticism over location history, Google came up with necessary adjustments which now allow users to stop the tech giant from tracking them, except for the applications in which location data is of utmost importance such as Waze and Google Maps.

In an attempt to make Google Maps even more secure and trustworthy, the company added enhanced security features related to location privacy in Android 10; to further better the services and regain the lost user trust, Google is planning to add Incognito Mode to Google Maps and the feature is said to be in testing.

Users can always put restrictions on the location data collected by Google Maps by signing out of their Google account, but it will come at the cost of their convenience, therefore, Google is planning to introduce Incognito Mode which can be turned on by the users in the same way they do it for Youtube or Google Chrome to delink the search or navigation data from their main Google account.

In order to activate Incognito Mode, users can simply choose the option from their Google account avatar and they will be informed about the app being in incognito mode by a black status bar and the marker indicating the location will turn into dark from blue to mark the change.

To enable the feature, users are recommended to install Preview Maps version 10.26 or higher and for those who are not a part of Preview Maps test group, wait until the company releases it on a wider scale.


Google Calendar vulnerability affects 1 billion users


Google has finally acknowledged vulnerability in the Google Calendar app that left more than a billion users open to a credential-stealing exploit.

In 2017, two cybersecurity researchers at Black Hills Information Security had informed and demonstrated how they exploited the vulnerability in gaining access to the users credentials.

The vulnerability has put 1.5 billion users at risk.

A Google spokesperson responded to the researcher’s findings that "Google’s Terms of Service and product policies prohibit the spreading of malicious content on our services, and we work diligently to prevent and proactively address abuse."

Google is informing all its users about ”security protections for users by warning them of known malicious URLs via Google Chrome's Safe Browsing filters."

The Vulnerability inside Google Calendar allows anyone to schedule a meeting with you, and Gmail is built to integrate with calendaring functionality.

When a user get an invitation on the calendar, a pop-up notification appears on their smartphone. Hackers could create a messages that include a malicious link, and these links can direct users to a fake online poll or questionnaire with a financial incentive to participate and where bank account or credit card details can be collected.

"Beyond phishing, this attack opens up the doors for a whole host of social engineering attacks," Javvad Malik, a security awareness advocate at KnowBe4.

Google Is Supplying Private Data to Advertisers?




A big time accusation on Google is allegedly in the wind that it’s surreptitiously using secret web pages to give away data to advertisers.

Per sources and the evidence provided it’s being said that maybe Google is dealing in data without paying much attention to data protective measures.

The matter is under investigation and is a serious matter of research. Apparently the sensitive data includes race, political and health inclinations of its users.

Reportedly, the secret web pages were discovered by the chief policy officer of a web browser and they’d also found that Google had tagged them with identifying trackers.

Allegedly, using that very tracker, Google apparently feeds data to advertisers. This is possible an attempt at predicting browsing behavior.

According to sources, Google is doing all it can to cooperate with the investigations. The Google representative also said that they don’t transact with ad bidders without users’ consent.

Reportedly, Google has mentioned previously that it shall not “share encrypted cookie IDs in bid requests with buyers in its authorized buyers marketplace”.

Apple Apologises To Siri Users for “Not Fully Living Up To Their High Ideals”




Apple apologizes to Siri users for not 'fully living up to their ideals' as well as enabling temporary workers to tune in to voice recordings of Siri users so as to review them.

The announcement was made after a review of the grading programme was finished, which had been triggered to reveal its existence with the help of a Guardian report.

 “As a result of our review, we realise we have not been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologise, as we previously announced, we halted the Siri grading program. We plan to resume later this fall when software updates are released to our users.” Apple said in an unsigned statement posted to its website.

The company committed to three changes to the way Siri is run after it resumes the grading programme:
  • It will no longer keep audio recordings of Siri users by default, though it will retain automatically generated transcripts of the requests.                                                                                
  • Users will be able to opt in to sharing their recordings with Apple. “We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better,” the company said.                                                                        
  • Only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to those audio samples. The company had previously outsourced the work to contracting firms. Over the past two weeks, it has ended those contracts, resulting in hundreds of job losses around the world.


In the past six months, almost every significant producer of voice-assistance technology has been 'revealed' to have been operating human-oversight programs, having run them in discreetly for a considerable length of time. Many out of them have sworn in to change their frameworks.

Amazon was the first to have been identified, then came along Google and Microsoft, with the former pledging to review its safeguards and the latter updating its privacy policy.

A Bunch of Loopholes in Apple’s iMessage App?


Apple’s devices could be vulnerable to attacks owing it to a few flaws that the researchers have uncovered in its iMessage app.

Where, in one case, the extent of severity of the attack happens to be so large that the only way to safe-guard the device would be to delete all data on it.

The other case saw some files being copied off the device without needing the user to do anything. The fixes were released last week by Apple.

But somehow there was a problem which couldn’t be fixed in the updates, which was brought to the attention of the company by the researchers.

Google’s Project Zero Team was established in July 2014 with an aim to dig all the “previously undocumented cyber vulnerabilities”.

Samaung, Microsoft, Facebook and a few others were warned off by this team regarding the problems in their code.

The unrepaired flaw, according to Apple’s own sources could aid the hackers to crash an app or execute commands of its own accord on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches.

Installation of new version of the iOS (iOS 12.4) has been strongly advised by the organization. The attacks/dangers could be easily handled by keeping the software up-to-date.

An iMessage Vulnerability Patched by Apple Allowed Potential Attackers to Read Contents of Files





An iMessage vulnerability was discovered by Google Project Zero security researcher was as of late fixed by Apple as a component of the 12.4 iOS update which enabled potential attackers to peruse contents of many files put away on iOS devices remotely with no user interaction.

The security flaw tracked as CVE-2019-8646 was reported in Apple during May. Natalie Silvanovich, the researcher who found the vulnerability created the proof of concept works just on devices running iOS 12 or later and said that it is structured as "a simple example to demonstrate the reach-ability of the class in Springboard. The actual consequences of the bug are likely more serious."
Describing the issue in detail on Project Zero's bug tracker she says:

 “First, it could potentially allow undesired access to local files if the code deserializing the buffer ever shares it (this is more likely to cause problems in components that use serialized objects to communicate locally than in iMessage). Second, it allows an NSData object to be created with a length that is different than the length of its byte array. This violates a very basic property that should always be true of NSData objects. This can allow out of bounds reads, and could also potentially lead to out-of-bounds writes, as it is now possible to create NSData objects with very large sizes that would not be possible if the buffer was backed.”

Later adding the Google security researcher says that ‘the iMessage issue is caused by the _NSDataFileBackedFuture class which can be deserialized even if secure encoding is enabled. This class is a file-backed NSData object that loads a local file into memory when the [NSData bytes] selector is called.’

Apart from this Silvanovich discovered two other iMessage vulnerabilities in collaboration with Google Project Zero's Samuel Groß, flaws that additionally got fixed in the iOS 12.4 update.
The first is memory vulnerability in Core Data tracked as CVE-2019-8660 fixed with improved length checking and the second, a Core Data use after free issue tracked as CVE-2019-8647 that may enable a remote attacker to cause arbitrary code execution on iPhone 5s or iPad's.

In general, five iMessage bugs were found by Silvanovich, with the last two being an input validation issue which could block devices with a contorted message, that was fixed in iOS 12.3 and released on May 13 and an 'out-of-bounds read' read prompting a memory leak which was fixed in watch iOS 5.3 issued on July 22.

Google’s Trying to Buy Faces For as Less as $5?









After already owning lots of information about the people who use it, Google’s up for trying to own people’s faces, that too just for $5!

Allegedly, individuals from Google are meeting up with people and are asking them to use the “selfie” mode in various angles.

Many teams of Google representative across several different cities are panning out people to collect “facial” data.

When asked the say that they are collecting data to “improve the next generation of facial recognition” while unlocking the phone.


What does that person get in exchange for their valuable face? Merely a gift card worth $5 to Starbucks or Amazon.

After the person agrees to participate in this new development initiative, a relatively large phone is handed out in an inconspicuous looking case that hides its shape.

Also, the participant then is apparently asked to sign a waiver.

It is being conjectured that the device given to the participants is a pre-release version of Google’s Pixel 4s still in its testing stage.

The data that gets fed into the prototype machine apparently gets worked into an algorithm to recognizes faces by way of a varied assortment of sensors.

As is in the air already, Google’s all set for losing its 2D face recognition sensors and is about to embrace official support for 3D face unlock.

Between all these assumptions, suppositions and surmises Google haven’t officially uttered a word.

Google, Facebook tracking porn preferences of users








Researchers at Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pennsylvania found out that Google and Facebook are tracking users porn consumption data, even in incognito mode. 

The experts analyzed 22,484 porn sites and 93 percent of them send data to several domains that are owned by third-party companies.

“[E]veryone is at risk when such data is accessible without users’ consent, and thus can potentially be leveraged against them,” write the authors. “These risks are heightened for vulnerable populations whose porn usage might be classified as non-normative or contrary to their public life.” 

According to the study, Google is the No.1 company who receives data from the third parties. The research found that Google or its subsidiaries had trackers on 74% of the pornography sites, while  Facebook had trackers on 10% of the sites. 

“[M]any sites and apps include code from other parties of which users are typically unaware,” the authors say. “Such ‘third-party’ code can allow companies to monitor the actions of users without their knowledge or consent and build detailed profiles of their habits and interests.”

Only 17 percent of all the analyzed sites in the research sample were encrypted. More ever, 49.97 percent of porn site URLs expose or strongly suggest the identities, sexual orientation, and intimate interests of visitors.

“[T]hese porn domains contain words or phrases that would likely be generally understood as an indicator of a particular sexual preference or interest inherent in the site’s content,” the researchers say. [T]hese might also likely be assumed to be tied to the user accessing that content.”

The study found that only 17 percent of porn sites have a privacy policy and encrypted data transfer. 


“The policies were written such that one might need a two-year college education to understand them,” the authors note. 

Israeli spyware firm NSO can mine data from social media accounts









An Israeli spyware firm has claimed that they can scoop  user data from the world’s top social media, the Financial Times report. 

The powerful malware Pegasus from NSO Group is the same spyware that breached WhatsApp data earlier this year. 

The firm said that this time their malware can scrap data from the servers of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. 

According to the reports of the Times, the NSO group had “told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch”.

However, the companies spokesperson denied the allegation in a in written statement to AFP’s request for comment. 
“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of NSO, its services and technology,” it said.

“NSO’s products do not provide the type of collection capabilities and access to cloud applications, services, or infrastructure as listed and suggested in today’s FT article.”

In the mean time, Amazon and Google told AFP that they have started an investigation on the basis of report, but so far found no evidence that the software had breached their systems or customer accounts.




Google now pays more for disclosing vulnerabilities in Chrome OS and some Play Store apps

One of the hardest aspects of maintaining a cross-platform product is ensuring its security. Vulnerabilities can be exploited on various platforms in various scenarios, and it’s almost impossible for literally any company’s security department to fix all of them on their own. That’s why companies often use vulnerability disclosure rewards programs, which basically means giving money to someone who finds an issue in your product. Google has several programs of this kind. One of them is the Chrome Vulnerability Rewards Program, which awards security researchers for exploiting vulnerabilities in Chromium, Chrome, and Chrome OS. As you already know, there are a lot of Chromium-based browsers on the market, so the security of this product is crucial.

Today, Google is increasing the minimum rewarding amount for this program. Currently, security researchers receive a maximum amount of $5,000 on baseline reports. These exploits are mostly around escaping the sandboxing. Google is tripling the amount of reward for high severity baseline reward, bringing it up to $15,000. The price of high-quality reports with functional exploits of the same category got doubled. Previously it was $15,000, but after today Google will pay $30,000 for these kinds of exploits. Google is also increasing the bonus from $500 to $1,000 for exploits found via Chrome Fuzzer, which lets security researchers use Google’s hardware and scale to replicate the exploits.

The Google Play Security Reward Program got an update, too. This program only covers apps that have specifically opted-in.

- The reward for remote code execution bug went from $5,000 to $20,000
- The reward for theft of insecure private data went from $1,000 to $3,000
- The reward for accessing protected app components went from $1,000 to $3,000

To put it in short, Google decided to show more appreciation for all the security researchers that help ensure the security of their product. The changes will go into action today. You can start looking for vulnerabilities if you are competent enough. Maybe you’ll get some reward from Google.

Google removes 16 apps infected by 'Agent Smith' malware

Every now and then, Android keeps getting visited from deadly malware attacks that put user and their data at lots of risks. This time, it's a new malware called Agent Smith and like its name, this malware is sneaky in what it's designed to do - bombard your phone with ads. Agent Smith also has properties to stick to other apps installed on the phone and ensure that the malware infection stays the same. The malware was first detected by Check Point and after working with Google, the infected apps have been removed from Google Play Store.

After it was informed of the infection, Google has identified and removed 16 apps from the Play Store that are known to be infected by Agent Smith. These apps are no longer available for download from the Play Store and there won't be further updates for these apps via the Play Store. However, Google can only remove the app from the Play Store but it can't wipe these apps from an individual's Android phone. Hence, if you have the following apps installed on your Android phone, you should uninstall them immediately.

Ludo Master - New Ludo Game 2019 For Free

Sky Warriors: General Attack

Color Phone Flash - Call Screen Theme

Bio Blast - Infinity Battle Shoot virus

Shooting Jet

Photo Projector

Gun Hero - Gunman Game for Free

Cooking Witch

Blockman Go: Free Realms & Mini Games

Crazy Juicer - Hot Knife Hit Game & Juice Blast

Clash of Virus

Angry Virus

Rabbit Temple

Star Range

Kiss Game: Touch Her Heart

Girl Cloth Xray Scan Simulator

However, Agent Smith can cling on to other popular apps and make it difficult for users to identify which app has been affected by it. Two most popular apps in India include WhatsApp - through which it has infected 1.5 crore Android phones, and Flipkart.

Google’s Language Experts Listen to Users’ Private Recordings





The technology superpower Google recently avowed that its employees listen to customers' personal audio recordings on Google Home smart speakers.


For allegedly improving the voice recognition quality, language experts analyze "snippets" of users' recordings.


Those recordings are used to further develop the Google assistant's artificial intelligence system which is used in the Android phones and Google Home smart speakers.


According to sources the company is a statement cited their experts did transcribe a few of the anonymous recordings.


An investigation had been launched after it was found out that some Dutch audio data had been leaked.


Per sources the technology giant also said that in the process of developing technology of its AI products, transcribing a small set of queries is critical for which they collaborate with language experts around the world.


And it was one of these reviewers who allegedly leaked the Dutch audio data hence violating Google's security policies.


Actually, only 0.2% of all audio snippets are reviewed by the language experts, which especially are never associated with user accounts.



The investigation launched by the Security and Privacy Response teams is Soon to reach some result and all possible actions are being taken to deduct all chances of repetition.


Amazon also indulges in similar actions of listening to recordings of customers in relation with Alexa, its voice based assistant, mentioned a report.


Later Amazon admitted to the process and mentioned that the number of recordings was pretty small and imperative to train AI's responses.


There's a special provision for users though. They can always delete their recordings linked to their account by way of the Alexa Companion App.


Google has been listening to recordings from Home smart speakers


Google has admitted that it listens to voice recordings of users from its AI voice-assistant Google Assistant after its Dutch language recordings were leaked by Belgian public broadcaster VRT. “Most of these recordings were made consciously, but Google also listens to conversations that should never have been recorded, some of which contain sensitive information,” VRT claimed in its report.

Google’s product manager of Search David Monsees admitted, in a company blog post, that its language experts globally listen to these recordings to help Google better understand languages to develop speech technology.

“These language experts review and transcribe a small set of queries to help us better understand those languages. This is a critical part of the process of building speech technology, and is necessary to creating products like the Google Assistant,” the post read.

Google, however, insists that only around 0.2 per cent of all audio snippets are reviewed. The clippings, the company says, are anonymous or not associated with user accounts and do not reveal a user’s personal information. The post adds that no background noise is transcribed by the language experts to maintain privacy.

However, of over 1,000 recordings from Assistant, which is used on smartphones, smart home speakers like Google Home and other products, VRT reported that 153 were recorded accidentally and even revealed some personal information of users such as their address in one case and names of grandchildren of a family in another.

Notably, to activate the Google Assistant, users need to say the phrase “OK, Google” or physically trigger the Assistant button on devices, after which it starts recording. Though rare, Google admits that Assistant may falsely accept recording request sometimes when triggered by interpreting something else as “Ok Google”. According to the post, this tends to happen when there is too much background noise.

A New Smartphone Malware Infects 25 Million Devices Worldwide


A new smartphone malware that has infected 25 million devices around the world, including 15 million in India has been recently discovered by a team of cyber security specialists. Being dubbed as "Agent Smith”, the malware camouflages itself as a Google-related application and then replaces the installed applications with pernicious versions of them utilizing known Android vulnerabilities without the users' knowledge.

'Agent Smith' utilizes its access to Android devices in order to display fake ads for financial gain, yet given its access, it can likewise be utilized for increasingly accursed purposes.

Checkpoint research team which specializes in analysing global cyber threats , notes that the activity of Agent Smith takes after how other malware like CopyCat, Gooligan, and HummingBad have operated in the recent years and each of the three campaigns have utilized infected devices to generate fake ad revenue 'to the tune of millions of dollars'.

'Agent Smith' is said to have been originated on prevalent third-party application store 9Apps and has focused predominantly on Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian, and Russian speakers. Majority of the malware's victims were reported to be from India and neighbouring nations like Bangladesh and Pakistan yet as indicated by certain confirmations there are quite a few infected devices in nations like Australia, UK, and USA too.
 
Agent Smith infection world heat map
Some of the apps that have been utilized to infect devices by means of 9Apps store are Color Phone Flash – Call Screen Theme, Photo Projector, Rabbit Temple, and Kiss Game: Touch Her Heart, and Girl Cloth XRay Scan Simulator.

What's more is that, after the inceptive attack vector by means of 9Apps, the makers of Agent Smith shifted their focus towards Google Play Store and had the option to push at least 11 malware laden app in the store.

Android apps infected with Agent Smith in Google Play Store and 9Apps


While Google has removed all the apps from Google Play, users are cautioned against having any of these applications installed as they will be no doubt infected by the Agent Smith malware. Check Point Research adds further, saying that the Android users should only utilize trusted application stores to download applications as "third party app stores often lack the security measures required to block adware loaded apps."

Gamers’ Google and Facebook Credentials Unsafe; Android’s “Scary Granny ZOMBYE Mod: The Horror Game” To Blame!






A horror game from Android which has more than 50,000 downloads to its name. The Scary Granny ZOMBYE Mod: The Horror Game showed malicious behavior and is allegedly stealing users’ credentials after they log into their accounts.

The game is specifically designed to hoard downloads from the success of another Android game dubbed “Granny” with 100 million installs as of now.

After the researchers informed Google about the game’s phishing and siphoning abilities, the fully functional game was taken down from the Google Play Store.

A prominent research team realized that the game wouldn’t exhibit any malicious activity up to 2 days to steer clear of security checks.

It would turn in its data-stealing modules lest it were being used on older Android versions with users with new devices which run up to date.

Quite obviously it starts asking for permissions to launch itself on the smartphone or tablet and tries to gain the trust of the users.

Even after the Android users reboot their systems the game still shows full-screen phishing overlays.

Firstly it shows “a notification telling the user to update Google Security Services” and the moment they hit ‘update’ a fake Google Login page appears which looks almost legitimate except for the incorrectly spelled “Sign in”.


Scary Granny, after stealing the users’ credentials it will go on to try to harvest account information like recovery emails, phone numbers, verification codes, DOBs and cookies.

Obfuscated packages are other ways of mimicking official components of the Android apps. For example, com.googles.android.gmspackage attempts to pass itself as the original com.google.android.gms

The Scary Granny would also display some really legitimate looking ads from other prominent applications like Messenger, Pinterest, SnapChat, Zalo or TikTok.

The malicious horror game would make it appear that apps like Facebook and Amazon were actually open when actually they are only ads pretending to be actual applications.

In one of the cases the researchers tried out, the ad directed the user to a page which Google blocked flagging it as being deceptive which clearly implies that it hosts malware or a phishing attack.

After connecting with an ad network by way of com.coread.adsdkandroid2019 package, the ads would get distributed to the compromised Android devices.

At the end, to maximize the profit for its creators, the Scary Granny would try to wrest money form the users by asking them to pay for their playing privileges via a “pre-populated PayPal payment page”.

Over 2,000 malicious apps exists on Play Store

If you thought that the quality control issues plaguing the Google Play Store for Android were finally being ironed out, it couldn't be further from the truth. A two-year-study by the University of Sydney and CSIRO’s Data61 has come to the conclusion that there are at least 2,040 counterfeit apps on Google Play Store. Over 2,000 of those apps impersonated popular games and had malware. The paper, a Multi-modal Neural Embedding Approach for Detecting Mobile Counterfeit Apps, was presented at the World Wide Web Conference in California in May documenting the results.

The study shows that there is a massive number of impersonated popular gaming apps available on Play store. They include fake versions of popular games such as Temple Run, Free Flow and Hill Climb Racing. The study investigated around 1.2 million apps on Google Play Store, available in Android, and identified a set of potential counterfeits for the top 10,000 apps.

Counterfeit apps impersonate popular apps and try to misguide users`. “Many counterfeit apps can be identified once installed. However, even a tech-savvy user may struggle to detect them before installation,” the study says.

It also points out that fake apps are often used by hackers to steal user data or infect a device with malware. “Installing counterfeit apps can lead to a hacker accessing personal data and can have serious consequences like financial losses or identity theft,” reads a blog post by the university.

The study also found that 1,565 asked for at least five dangerous permissions and 1407 had at least five embedded third-party ad libraries.

To investigate these applications on Google Play store the researchers used neural networks.

Google has acknowledged the problem of “malicious apps and developers” in a blog post by Google Play product manager Andrew Ahn on February 13, 2019.

According to Google, the company now removes malicious developers from Play store much faster when compared to previous years. The company says that in 2018 it stopped more malicious apps from entering the store than ever before.

A Google spokesperson, in response to a TOI email, said, “When we find that an app has violated our policies, we remove it from Google Play.”

Fake Businesses On Google Maps; WSJ Outs The List!




Per Wall Street Journal’s latest report, Google Maps is brimming with scam campaigns imitating to be genuine businesses enterprises.


As of now there has been a listing approximately of 11 Million fake businesses on Google Maps and reportedly new numbers and addresses get added every month.

Motives behind Fake Listings
·       Creating fake profiles for competitors
·       Listing wrong phone numbers and addresses for rivals
·       Impersonating legitimate businesses to lure customers in
There have been several cases in one of which a woman was swindled off by a fake company contractor by doing a terrible job and charging twice.


The identified fake listings were in turn taken down by Google in addition to adding better safeguards for the “high-risk” categories in its business listings.

Allegedly, contractors and repair services are the most common fake business up there as customers hardly take any time to dig deep into their profiles.

Last year Google had to take down over 3 million fake business accounts and disable over 150,000 profiles which were used to make them.

Over 85% of the eradicated were flagged by Google’s internal systems and over 250,000 fake accounts were reported by the consumers.

Google very well understands how important it is for the users and how deep the need runs to make it as safe as possible because people will always try to create obstructions and hence it’s committed to it.

Creating a listing on Google Maps is sort of easy. Businesses could verify their listings’ address and phone number via SMS, a phone call or even their listed location.

Google My Business is currently home to around 150 million business enterprises probably owing to the ease of joining.

Mozilla advices its users' to update their web browser to fix critical vulnerability






Mozilla has issued a warning to its users and asked them to upgrade their web browser Firefox, after company found some critical vulnerabilities.

The company has issued an advisory on Tuesday, 18 June, 2019, it includes a details about security vulnerabilities that have been fixed in Firefox 67.0.3 and Firefox ESR 60.7.1.

 The advisory detailed flaws stating, “A type confusion vulnerability can occur when manipulating JavaScript objects due to issues in Array.pop. This can allow for an exploitable crash.”

It further read “We are aware of targeted attacks in the wild abusing this flaw.” The company has marked the update as ‘critical’. 

According to reports, the bug is classified as critical because  it allows outside users to remotely execute code on your machine without your permission.


The bug was spotted for the first time by Samuel Groß, who is reportedly a security researcher with Google Project Zero and Coinbase Security.