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.

Beware of new phishing scam that’s attacking Google Calendar

No matter which corner of the internet you visit, you'll find scammers trying to take advantage of you. You may already know to be skeptical of emails, Facebook posts, and dating profiles that seem too good to be true. And some times they even try to take control of our data - primarily the financial data - using the alleged calls from customer care executives. Quite frankly, no one is immune to receiving such unsolicited messages or emails. But thanks to their popularity, everyone knows the drill to safeguard themselves. Just don't click on suspicious emails or links and don't reveal your financial information to anyone and you are good to go. You know this. I know this and even scammers know this. And so now, reports are that there's a new type of security threat that targets your Google Calendar.

Scammers are using Google Calendar and other calendar apps to target innocent users in a new type of phishing scam, according to a global security firm.

Findings from the threat intelligence firm Kaspersky show there's been a recent wave of scam artists using hyperlink-embedded events to gain access to people's sensitive information. They start by spamming Google Calendar users with seemingly benign calendar invites. Anyone can accept the invitations, but the real targets are users with the default setting that automatically adds every event they're invited to to their Google Calendar. Once it's been added, Google sends notifications related to the event, making it seem more trustworthy.

The scam is thought to have happened throughout May this year.

The fake invitations contained a malicious website link that encouraged users to input their personal details, often in the form of a simple questionnaire that promised the chance to win money or other prizes if completed.

Kaspersky researchers say that users can safeguard themselves by turning off the automatic adding of invites to your Google Calendar app.

Google Confirms Several Android Devices Shipped With a Malware




Google tackles yet another vulnerability dubbed as Triada, a malware in the form of a code that affected some Android devices even before they shipped.

The malware is such cunningly structured by the hackers, that it displays ads and spam on a cell phone, on endless Android smartphones and stays undetected for long.

Google, in a rather detailed blog post, clarifies "Triada infects device system images through a third-party during the production process. Sometimes OEMs want to include features that aren't part of the Android Open Source Project, such as face unlock. The OEM might partner with a third-party that can develop the desired feature and send the whole system image to that vendor for development...Based on analysis; we believe that a vendor using the name Yehuo or Blazefire infected the returned system image with Triada."

The activities of Triada were first discovered by Kaspersky Labs through the two posts which had stayed profound into the workings of the malware, first was back in March 2016 and the other in a consequent post in June 2016.

What makes this Trojan progressively perilous is simply the way that it hides itself from the list of applications running and installed on the Android smartphone, making it unimaginable for the anti-virus applications and anti-malware applications to identify it, then again it makes it hard for the framework to distinguish if a peculiar or an undesirable procedure is running in the background.

Triada is additionally known to modify the Android's Zygote process too.

Google, upon finding out about the functions and workings of Triada in 2016, had immediately removed the malware from all devices utilizing Google Play Protect. In any case, the malevolent actors amped up their endeavors and discharged a much smarter version of the Trojan in 2017.

What's more, since this more 'smarter version' was implanted in the system libraries it could furtively download and run noxious modules. The most concerning fact being that it can't be erased utilizing the standard techniques and methods.

As indicated by a well-known software suite Dr.Web, the modified version of Traida is known to be found on several mobile devices, including Leagoo M5 Plus, Leagoo M8, Nomu S10, and Nomu S20.


Many Android devices had pre-installed backdoor: Google

Earlier this year, Forbes reported how a banking Trojan called Triada had been found on a bunch of brand new budget Android smartphones. Google has now confirmed that threat actors did, indeed, manage to compromise Android smartphones with the installation of a backdoor as part of a supply chain attack.

Two years later, on Thursday, Google has now admitted that criminals in 2017 indeed managed to get an advanced backdoor preinstalled on Android devices, even before these left the factories of manufacturers.

The list of affected devices includes Leagoo M5 Plus, Leagoo M8, Nomu S10 and Nomu S20.

To understand what has happened here, we need to go back to 2016 when Kaspersky Lab researchers first uncovered what they called one of the most advanced mobile Trojans Kaspersky malware analysts had ever seen. They named that Trojan "Triada" and explained how it existed mainly in the smartphone's random access memory (RAM) using root privileges to replace system files with malicious ones. Android phones were spotted to have Triada as a preloaded backdoor in 2017.

The firm, Dr. Web’s, researchers had found Triada embedded into one of the OS libraries and located in the system section. Not just that, the Trojan couldn’t be detected or deleted using standard methods.

Triada had, the researchers found, used a call in the Android framework log function instead. In other words, the infected devices had a backdoor installed. This meant that every time an app, any app, attempted to log something the function was called and that backdoor code executed. The Triada Trojan could now execute code in pretty much any app context courtesy of this backdoor; a backdoor that came factory-fitted.

The Mountain View, California-headquartered company initially removed Triada samples from all Android devices using Google Play Protect. But in 2017, it was found that Triada evolved and ultimately became a preloaded backdoor on Android devices. Notably, the latest phones aren't likely to be affected by what has been discovered by Google. The vulnerability did have an impact on various models in the past, though.

Live Status for Trains, Buses, now available on Google Maps in India



Google Maps by way of tracking live traffic data and public bus schedules will now be showing live status for trains and buses and a little something for the auto-rickshaws too.


The Google application, which at the onset was merely a direction tool, now has a fresh new updated set of features.

Other than the two major modes of conveyance status and traffic tracking will now also be available for auto-rickshaws.

The Maps will now redirect the users to the live train statuses of the trains as well as travel times for buses all in real-time.

Auto-rickshaws and other modes of public transport have all been combined for suggestions in the “mixed mode”.

Information regarding the delays and total time taken for their journey according to the traffic’s situation will now be available at a click or touch away.
The bus travel times could be easily checked by simply adding the starting location and the destination on the “transit tab”.

The buses that are on time will reflect the color green and the ones running late will show in red.

The feature will be available in 10 cities of India namely, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Mysore, Pune and Surat.

The real-time train status for trains will also be shown by Google Maps including if they are running late, where users will have to enter the location of their starting and destination.

Furthermore, the auto-rickshaw and other public transports will also get directional support with this feature being initially available in Delhi and Bangalore.

The fresh features of Google Maps will also help you decide whether taking a certain kind of journey is a good option or not after analyzing the traffic scenarios and all.

Allegedly, it will assist you to a level where you’d be prompted to take an auto-rickshaw to/from a particular stand to make your journey smooth.

Departure times for transit connection and rickshaw meters are other features that Google Maps is being said to have.


Gmail's Confidential Mode for G-Suite to be Launched on June 25




In an attempt to mature its email services, Google rolled out a privacy-centric feature called as ‘confidential mode’ which according to the announcements made by the company will be available for all the G suite users in the month of June. Reportedly, in 2018, a beta version of the feature has been launched in the month of August.
The feature is well-built to serve the users and their sensitive information; once available, the mode is configured to “be set to default ON for all domains with Gmail enabled, unless you choose to disable this feature" as per the Google announcements.
With the newly added Confidential Mode turned on, users are aided with inbuilt information rights management controls which allow them to set a specific expiration date for emails that will delete them automatically after the set deadline and they can also, revoke sent emails.
This groundbreaking feature of Gmail will also allow users to send self-destructing emails that will restrict forwarding and block printing to other users. 
As the officials further explained, “Because a sender can require additional authentication via text message to view an email, it’s also possible to protect data even if a recipient’s email account has been hijacked while the message is active."

How to use confidential mode

First of all, ensure that you are using the new version of Gmail which can be activated from the gear icon at the top.
Now open Gmail and click on compose, at the bottom of the mailbox will appear a tiny clock icon, click on that icon to configure the settings of that mail.  
You will have to go through this procedure for each mail you wish to use the feature with as the mode is configured on a per-email basis.



Google stored G Suite passwords in plaintext, apologises


Google says a small number of its enterprise customers mistakenly had their passwords stored on its systems in plaintext.

If you have a Google account, Google's core sign-in system is designed not to know your password.
The search giant disclosed the exposure Tuesday but declined to say exactly how many enterprise customers were affected. “We recently notified a subset of our enterprise G Suite customers that some passwords were stored in our encrypted internal systems unhashed,” said Google vice president of engineering Suzanne Frey.

The company said that only G Suite enterprise customers were impacted, but not regular Gmail accounts.

The tech giant said it had notified G Suite administrators to change the impacted passwords.

Google on Wednesday extended an apology to its G Suite customers.

"We apologise to our users and will do better," she added.

Most G Suite customers are companies that signed-up for enterprise versions of Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Drive, and Google's various other services.

No consumer Gmail accounts were affected by the security lapse, said Frey.

Storing passwords without cryptographic hashes expose them to hacking risk as they become readable.

Passwords are typically scrambled using a hashing algorithm to prevent them from being read by humans. G Suite administrators are able to manually upload, set and recover new user passwords for company users, which helps in situations where new employees are on-boarded. But Google said it discovered in April that the way it implemented password setting and recovery for its enterprise offering in 2005 was faulty and improperly stored a copy of the password in plaintext.

Google has since removed the feature.

Google said the bug at the heart of this security breach was an old tool it developed back in the 2000s.

"The tool (located in the admin console) allowed administrators to upload or manually set user passwords for their company's users," the company said today.


Google Using Gmail to Track User Purchases




The privacy of Gmail took a severe hit after a Reddit user's take on the matter related to privacy, he shared how he found that his Google Account's Purchases page carried a record of all his purchases made from other online platforms like Amazon; notably, it included the purchases made without using Google Pay.

Prior to appearing into your Google account, your Gmail messages undergo scanning by Google for purchases which happen at the expense of the privacy that the platform was supposedly providing.

While briefing his experience, the Reddit user told that when he checked his Google Account Purchases page, he discovered that the Purchases page also consists a record of the purchases he made from Adidas, Dominos, Amazon, Steam and some other online stores. To put the things into perspective, he further told that he does not use Google Pay.

On being enquired on the matter, Google stated that the source of information was Gmail messages. They also confirmed that the company is not making use of purchases or any other data stored in user emails and that this was configured to aid users in finding and tracking their valuable data.

Referencing from the company's statements, “To help you easily view and keep track of your purchases, bookings, and subscriptions in one place, we’ve created a private destination that can only be seen by you. You can delete this information at, any, time. We don’t use any information from your Gmail messages to serve you ads, and that includes the email receipts and confirmations shown on the Purchase page. We're always working to help people understand and manage their data.”



Google restricts Huawei’s access to Android apps





Google restricts the access of its Android operating system and apps for Chinese tech giant Huawei after US’s President Donald Trump administration blacklisted the firm.

The order not only impacted Google but the US chip-makers as well.  Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc., Xilinx Inc., and Broadcom Inc. have all stopped doing business with the Chinese tech giant

"We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications," a Google spokesperson said on Monday. Huawei, the world's No. 2 smartphone seller, relies on a suite of Google services for its devices, including the Android system and the Google Play app store.

Huawei will now only be able to use the public version of Android and the new phones will not have Google play store, Gmail, and other services provided by Google.

The users who are now using the Huawei smartphones will not be affected by this order, but they won’t be able to update their phones. 

However, the Chinese tech company claim that for the last three years that have been working on their own operating system.

"Huawei has been building an alternative operating system just in case it is needed," said Huawei spokesperson Glenn Schloss. "We would like to be able to continue operating in the Microsoft and Google ecosystems," he added.

The company has bought Microsoft’s operating system license for its laptops and tablets. Meanwhile, Microsoft (MSFT) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



Google’s security tools can shield from cyber-attacks

Google has long been asking users to enable its security tools for shielding all its services - from Gmail to Google Photos - from hacking attempts.

The search giant has been pretty vocal about the importance of these features, but now, instead of urging users, it has released hard stats revealing how useful these capabilities can really be.

Let's take a look.

Advantage

Adding phone number can fend off bot-based attacks.

Researchers from New York University and the University of California, San Diego partnered with Google to assess at the impact of its security tools in preventing hijack attempts.

The results, presented recently at The Web Conference, revealed that simply adding a recovery phone number to Google account helped block a 100% bot-based attacks, 99% of automated phishing attacks, and 66% of targeted attacks.

Protection

Two-factor authentication offers highest security.

Google has been saying this for years and the stats prove it - two-step verification is the securest offering right now.

The studies reveal that using phone number-based 2SV (SMS verification) blocked 100% of automated bots, 96% of bulk phishing attacks, and 76% of targeted attacks.

Meanwhile, on-device prompts prevented 100% of automated bots, 99% of bulk phishing attacks and 90% of targeted attacks.

Security key offers strongest shield.

Notably, among all two-step verification methods, using a physical security key proved to be the strong account shield. It blocked all kind of attacks with a 100% success rate.

Risk

Google also showed what happens when you don't use 2SV.

The same study also measured the effectiveness of default sign-in verification techniques, like last location signed-in or your secondary email.

These knowledge-based methods are used when the company detects a suspicious sign-in attempt, say from a new device/location, and you don't have a 2SV on.

The results showed these methods can block bot-based attacks but can fail miserably against phishing or targeted hijack.

Security Bug Discovered in Google's Titan Security keys, Provides Free Replacement




A security bug in Google’s Titan Security Key which can potentially allow fraudsters located nearby to bypass the security provided by the key. While the company provided a replacement key for free to all the already existing users, it blamed a “misconfiguration in the Titan Security Keys’ Bluetooth pairing protocols” for the security bug.
Although the defected keys are reported to be still protecting against phishing attacks, the company decided to provide a replacement key regardless. The affected keys include all those which are sold in packages priced a $50; it also includes a usual NFC/USB key.
In order to exploit the security bug, the fraudsters need to in a Bluetooth range of around 30 feet, he is supposed to act promptly as the victim activates the key by pressing the button, then the fraudsters can employ falsely configured protocol to intercept your device’s connection to the key and connect theirs instead. Then given, they would be having access to your username and password, they would be able to log in to the victim’s account.
Google has given students to ensure that the bug does not intercept the security key’s ultimate purpose that is to provide security against phishing attacks; Google also urged the users worldwide to keep utilizing the keys until a replacement is provided.
In an announcement, the company said, “It is much safer to use the affected key instead of no key at all. Security keys are the strongest protection against phishing currently available,”
Around the time when Google launched its Titan keys, Stina Ehrensvärd, Yubico founder, wrote, “While Yubico previously initiated the development of a BLE security key, and contributed to the BLE U2F standards work, we decided not to launch the product as it does not meet our standards for security, usability and durability,”




Google and Apple removes TikTok from App Stores in India




Google and Apple has removed the Chinese video app Tiktok from their App Stores, a day after Indian Government urged the companies to do so. 

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) requested the companies to block the app after the  state court ordered to ban access of the app as questions regarding its usage were raised. It was noted that people were using it for pornographic purposes and exploiting children.

According to  analytics firm Sensor Tower, TikTok had the highest number of users in India, and 75% of them were women. It has been downloaded more than 230 million times. 

However, a TikTok representative said that he “faith in the Indian judicial system.” The company hopes that they would be able to lift the ban and would come stronger than before, “We are optimistic about an outcome that would be well received by over 120 million monthly active users in India.”

The app has already banned in Bangladesh and had faced largest ever fine in the United States for illegaly collecting informations on children. 

TikTok users in India who had previously downloaded the app on their phones were still able to use the service on Wednesday.

TikTok's official statement: ’’At TikTok, we have faith in the Indian Judicial system and the stipulations afforded to social media platforms by the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. We are committed to continuously enhancing our existing measures and introducing additional technical and moderation processes as part of our ongoing commitment to our users in India.’’

‘’In line with this, we have been stepping up efforts to take down objectionable content. To date, we have removed over 6 million videos that violated our Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, following an exhaustive review of content generated by our users in India."





Indian Government asks Apple and Google to remove TikTok from App Stores







The government of India has asked Google and Apple to remove the Chinese short-video sharing application TikTok from their app stores.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) reportedly asked the companies to do so after the Supreme Court of India, refused to stay an order by the Madras High Court to ban the app. 

The bench was headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and the matter was posted till April 22, as the Madras High Court is expected to hear the case on April 16. 

TikTok's official statement: ’’As per the proceedings in the Supreme Court today, the Madras High Court will hear the matter on ex party ad interim order. The Supreme Court has listed the matter again for April 22, 2019, to be apprised of the outcome of the hearing on the April 16th, 2019 before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.’’

‘’At TikTok, we have faith in the Indian Judicial system and the stipulations afforded to social media platforms by the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. We are committed to continuously enhancing our existing measures and introducing additional technical and moderation processes as part of our ongoing commitment to our users in India.’’

‘’In line with this, we have been stepping up efforts to take down objectionable content. To date, we have removed over 6 million videos that violated our Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, following an exhaustive review of content generated by our users in India."





TP-Link's SR20 Smart Home Router Discovered To Come With a Vulnerability As Per Google Security Researcher




TP-Link's SR20 Smart Home Router is recently discovered to come with a vulnerability allowing arbitrary command execution from a local network connection as per a Google security researcher Matthew Garrett. The router, launched in 2016, uncovered various commands that come with root privileges and do not even require validation.

The endeavor was uncovered by the researcher after he was unable to request a reaction from TP-Link, and even published a proof-of-concept to exhibit the said weakness.

Garrett took to twitter to clarify that the TP Link SR20 Smart Home Router accompanying TDDP (TP- Device Debug Protocol), which is influenced with a few vulnerabilities, and one of them is that version 1 commands are 'exposed' for attackers to exploit.

He says that these uncovered directions enable aggressors to send an order containing a filename, a semicolon, to execute the procedure.

 “This connects back to the machine that sent the command and attempts to download a file via TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol) corresponding to the filename it sent. The main TDDP process waits up to four seconds for the file to appear - once it does, it loads the file into a Lua interpreter it initialized earlier, and calls the function config_test() with the name of the config file and the remote address as arguments. Since config_test () is provided by the file that was downloaded from the remote machine, this gives arbitrary code execution in the interpreter, which includes the os.execute method which just runs commands on the host. Since TDDP is running as root, you get arbitrary command execution as root,” he explains on his blog.

In spite of the fact that Garrett says he reported to TP-Link of this vulnerability in December, by means of its security disclosure form, the page disclosed to him that he would get a reaction within three days, however hasn't heard back from them till date. He additionally said that he tweeted at TP-Link with respect to the issue, yet that gathered no reaction either.



Pre-installed Android Apps Invade Privacy; Situation Still Out Of Control



Recent studies have provided evidence as to the role the pre-installed android application play in the breach of privacy of users.


Google doesn't seem to be paying enough attention on the issue which concerns security.

Heavy security checks are required of them as similar to the checks done for play store versions of the applications.

According to an independent study led by a group in Spain, personal information could be harvested by these pre-installed applications.

A well-known institute of Madrid IMDEA Institute and Stony Brook University checked out the pre-installed apps on the android devices from over 2700 users, over 1700 devices from around 200 vendors all across 130 countries.

The study didn't go deeper about the EU's General Data Protection Regulation laws and the difference they would make.




Android is a highly customized operating system despite its being owned by Google. This includes the packaging of other applications with the operating system before they are delivered to other users.

As per the aforementioned study, a potential threat to users' privacy prevails by the hands of  the infamous pre-installed apps which never undergo the security checks that the other downloaded apps do.

As usually is the case, pre-installed applications could never be uninstalled and aren't even subject to the severe security checks which are a must to keep the users safe.

It was implied by the co-author of the study that apparently no one keeps track of what the pre-installed applications do. There is a major lack of transparency and regulation.

In reply to all of this, Google said that it provides tools to equipment manufacturers which ensures that Google's  privacy and security standards aren't hampered. 

One of Google's spokespersons also mentioned that clear policies regarding the pre-installed applications are given to their partners also that information related with potential hazards is regularly disseminated to them.

The issue of the pre-installed apps has caught fire quite heavily now. A US department of Justice dug into Facebook. Partnerships are also being looked into.


Google to shut down Google+ and Inbox on April 2





After its social media website Google+, the company has announced that they are now shutting down its Inbox app.

Google will start notifying all its users about the closure of its Inbox from March 18th through a pop-up screen that will pop up every time users will be on the app.

The notification will also include a link to the Gmail app to ensure that it does not disappoint its users. Gmail has recently updated its app with new eye-catching features like Smart Reply, Smart Compose, and Follow-ups.

Now, it is really difficult to find Inbox by Gmail on the Google Play Stores.

The notification released by Google reads:
“This app will be going away in 13 days,” the alert reads. “You can find your favorite inbox features in the Google app. Your messages are already waiting for you.”

While on their official website Google said:

“Inbox is signing off. Find your favorite features in the new Gmail. We are saying goodbye to Inbox at the end of March 2019. While we were here, we found a new way to email with ideas like snooze, nudges, Smart Reply and more. That’s why we’ve brought your favorite features to Gmail to help you get more done. All your conversations are already waiting for you. See you there.”

Google fined by EU for blocking its rivals advertisements



Google has been imposed fine of  $1.68 billion (1.49 billion euro/£1.28billion) by European Union regulators for blocking the advertisement of rival search engine companies.

This is the third time in the last two years when the company has been fined multi-billion dollar by the EU antitrust.

The EU's commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, notified the company about their decision at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

'Today's decision is about how Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform,' Vestager said.

According to the probe, the Google and its parent company, Alphabet,  violated the EU antitrust rules by limiting the contract clauses with other websites which uses AdSense, the clauses prevented websites from placing ads of Google rival companies.

The company 'prevented its rivals from having a chance to innovate and to compete in the market on their merits,' Vestager said.

'Advertisers and website owners, they had less choice and likely faced higher prices that would be passed on to consumers.'

Just after the announcement of fine, the company said that they have made several changes and will make a number of other changes to address EU antitrust regulators' concerns.

'We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest,' Kent Walker, senior vice-president of global affairs, said in a statement.

'We've already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission's concerns.

'Over the next few months, we'll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe,' he continued.

Google Maps, Gmail, Drive, Facebook and Instagram Suffered Outage




Google addressed an influx of complaints it received from the users regarding the misbehavior of its popular services like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Drive among others. Users all across the world were troubled by the outage of the services they heavily rely upon for various day-to-day activities. 

Though the cause of the outage has not been confirmed, the issues of the users were addressed by Google.

Besides Google, Youtube has also received complaints by its users which it addressed on Twitter telling them that the platform is aware of the service disruption and the problems faced by its users. Alongside, YouTube assured the sufferers that it is already looking into the matter and will come up with a fix.

Notably, YouTubers and content creators were facing problems while uploading videos and viewers were unable to watch the videos smoothly.

Addressing the issues with Google Drive, the company said, “We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Drive. We will provide more information shortly. The affected users are able to access Google Drive, but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior.”

Similarly, for Gmail, the company stated, we’re investigating reports of an issue with Gmail. We will provide more information shortly. The affected users are able to access Gmail but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior.

Furthermore, Google mentioned in its G Suite Status Dashboard that the issue has been rectified and the services, i.e., Gmail and Google Drive will be functioning properly soon.

“The problem with Google Drive should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.”

While acknowledging the disruptions faced by its Cloud Engine, Google said, “We are still seeing the increased error rate with Google App Engine Blobstore API. Our Engineering Team is investigating possible causes. Mitigation work is currently underway by our Engineering Team. We will provide another status update by Tuesday, 2019-03-12 20:45 US/Pacific with current details.”

On the other hand, Facebook was down for more than 14 hours due to which millions of users across the globe were denied access to the platform. It was on Thursday morning, Facebook along with its associated apps seemed to be regaining operational status.

While Facebook is yet to provide an explanation for the services being disrupted, it said, "We're aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps,"
"We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible."

Being fallen prey to the same crisis, the issues faced by Instagram users included not being able to refresh the feed and other glitches while accessing the content.

Commenting on the matter, Elizabeth Warren, a potential Democratic candidate in the next US presidential election, said in a statement to New York Times, "We need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor."