The volume of malware surged in the first three months of 2012. In particular, there’s been a flood of new types of rootkits, password-stealing Trojan applications, malware targeting Android users, and botnet infections.
This finding comes by way of a new report from security vendor McAfee.
“Malicious code is on the rise again, plain and simple,” said David Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs, in a related blog post. “We are seeing more malware than in the recent past, and you can count on that figure to rise in the coming year. In particular, mobile platforms present today’s cybercriminal with an almost irresistible target, specifically Android-based for now, but that can certainly evolve.”
[ Cyber-scams and malware are expected to escalate as we approach the 2012 Olympics. Read more at London 2012 Olympics Scammers Seek Malicious Gold . ]
The number of new malicious applications targeting mobile devices leapt from about 500 in the fourth quarter of 2011 to over 6,000 in the first quarter of 2012. The jump was targeted almost solely at the Android platform, according to the McAfee report. It also noted that the vast majority of Android malware targets mobile users based in Russia and China, and comes not via the official Google Play application store but via third-party sources.
From a corporate information security standpoint, the most prevalent types of network-based attacks seen between January and the end of March 2012 were remote procedure calls, SQL injection attacks, and browser cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
Geographically, the United States took top marks when it came to SQL injection attacks, both as the region from which most of these attacks were launched and as the biggest target. The United States also saw the largest number of machines compromised by botnets, which, as McAfee reported, are “often used as a proxy for spam, botnets, denial of service, or other types of malicious activities.”
On the good news front, spam volumes have recently been decreasing, with McAfee recording about 1 trillion spam messages circulating worldwide per month. Decreases were most significant in Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia, while increases in spam were found in China, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom, according to the report. The United Kingdom in particular is no surprise, given the increase in spam, phishing, and malware attacks that are related to the July 2012 Summer Olympics that will be happening in London.
If spam volumes are down, however, botnet activity is up. All told, McAfee saw about 5 million new botnet infections–2 million alone due to the Cutwail (a.k.a. Pushdo) botnet–during the first three months of 2012. The biggest increase in the overall number of botnet infections, meanwhile, was in Columbia, Japan, Poland, Spain, and the United States.
Without a doubt, the botnet business is booming–and for a price, anyone can buy in. For example, McAfee researchers found that a botnet known as Citadel, available via a malware-as-a-service model, costs $2,400, plus $125 for renting the required “bot builder and admin panel.” Meanwhile, for an additional $395, users can add an upgrade that brings “automatic updates for antivirus evasion,” according to the McAfee report, although each update then costs $15.
First detected in December 2011 and based on the published Zeus financial malware source code, Citadel has quickly become one of the most rapidly adopted profit-driven attack toolkits, meaning it’s designed to separate consumers from their bank account and credit card details.
Meanwhile, the price of the Darkness botnet marketed by “SVAS/Noncenz,” which is designed for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against websites, starts at $450–with no free updates or add-on modules–but can rise to $1,000 for lifetime free upgrades and an attack module that will grab passwords from infected PCs.
Finally, the latest version of the Carberp financial botnet, which is designed to steal bank account data or even Facebook e-cash vouchers, costs $2,500. While Russian authorities announced on March 20, 2012, that they’d arrested the gang behind Carberp, the new version debuted the next day.
Think your corporate website isn’t vulnerable to a SQL injection attack? Start rethinking. SQL injection is among the most prevalent–and most dangerous–techniques for exploiting Web applications and attacking back-end databases that house critical business information at companies of every size. In our Stop SQL Injection report, we explain how SQL injection works and how to secure your Web apps and databases against it. (Free registration required.)
Article source: http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/attacks/240000992
The Google Web browser received more usage than Microsoft’s browser during the week of May 14 to May 20, marking the first time Chrome has received the highest traffic for a full seven days.
Google would not address the statistic from StatCounter directly, but the company did put out a statement.
“It’s great to see more and more people around the world experiencing the speed, simplicity and security of Chrome,” a representative for the company said in an email. “We continue to remain focused on building a better browsing experience so that people can enjoy a better web.”
But while Chrome is finally No. 1 worldwide, there are still certain regions on the planet where Internet Explorer holds the title.
In the United States, Chrome was still in second place, and that held true to a dramatic degree in some countries like Japan and China, as
noted by The Verge.
However, the opposite held true in other countries and regions. In India, Chrome is the most used while Internet Explorer falls to third place, and in South America, Chrome brings in almost half of all Web traffic.
All in all, this is good news for Google because while browsers themselves do not make money, ad clicks from their search queries do. With more people using Chrome now, Google can rest assured its search engine is the default for most Web surfers.
Google, a Hardware Company?
The first big change will be to replace Motorola’s chief. CEO Sanjay Jha is out, replaced by longtime Google employee Dennis Woodside, a man instrumental in the revenue growth of Google as a business over the last several years. Now his job will be to streamline Motorola’s smartphone product line, cut out the dead weight of Motorola Mobility and deliver on the Android geek’s wet dream.
Many pundits and analysts thought that when Google acquired Motorola, it was purely a patent deal. Google had just lost out on a boatload of critical mobile patents in the Nortel patent auction and Android looked more vulnerable to being taken down in the patent wars than ever. With Motorola in its war chest, Google all of a sudden had 17,000 patents from the company that basically invented the cell phone. With patents in hand, would Google spin off Motorola Mobility or sell it piece by piece?
Selling off Motorola’s hardware division doesn’t appear to be in the plan. If the search company were going to do that, Google CEO Larry Page likely would not have enticed one of his most effective lieutenants, Woodside, to take over. Yet, while the smartphone division will likely remain under Google’s control, other hardware aspects of Motorola Mobility, such as its set-top cable box segment, may go on the block.
“Many users coming online today may never use a desktop machine, and the impact of that transition will be profound – as will the ability to just tap and pay with your phone. That’s why it’s a great time to be in the mobile business, and why I’m confident Dennis and the team at Motorola will be creating the next generation of mobile devices that will improve lives for years to come,” Page wrote.
Balancing the Ecosystem
To prognosticate the future of Motorola and Google, it is pertinent to look at the guidelines various government bodies put in place when approving the merger. For instance, both the European Commission (the European Union version of the Federal Trade Commission) and the U.S. Department of Justice concentrated mostly on the patents aspect of the merger. The U.S. DOJ was obviously thinking that Motorola/Google was a pure patent play when it approved Google’s acquisition, the sale of Nortel’s patents to “RockStar Bidco” (a consortium of Apple, Research In Motion and Microsoft) and Apple’s acquisition of Novell’s patents in the same ruling.
“The division’s investigations focused on whether the acquiring firms could use these patents to raise rivals’ costs or foreclose competition,” the DOJ stated in its release. “The division concluded that the specific transactions at issue are not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics.”
While the E.U. and the U.S. focused on the patents aspect of the deals, China had different motivations when it approved the deal earlier this week. China stipulated that Google had to keep Android free and open source for at least the next five years. China is clearly looking out for its smartphone manufacturers in this deal, with Huawei, Meizu, Lenovo and ZTE pumping out versions of Android smartphones on a regular basis.
An acquisition of this size, with so many global entities sticking their fingers in the pie, is a fascinating study on the global impact of Android. While Google does not directly profit from Android hardware (for now), there are billions of dollars wrapped up in the Android ecosystem. And this is where Google needs to tread carefully. It needs to balance its desire to streamline the Android process while also not alienating its OEM and carrier partners in the process.
One way to appease the Android ecosystem would be to spread the love when it comes to flagship Android Nexus devices. According to reports, Google will be giving early access of its next Android operating system, likely called Jelly Bean, to five different manufacturing partners that could then sell the device directly to consumers. One motivation for this would be to wrest control of Android from mobile carriers, such as Verizon and ATT (in the same way that Google originally had planned when it unveiled the first Nexus device and tried to sell it without the carriers). Another reason, and probably more important from Google’s perspective, would be that it could let Motorola create a quintessential Android Nexus device and avoid claims of favoritism.
Benefits of Motorola/Google Android Devices
The potential benefits of Google taking top-level control of the Android ecosystem are intriguing. Google benefits, consumers benefit, developers benefit. It remains to be seen if the carriers and other manufacturers will benefit, especially if Motorola and Google create an Android device that becomes a true “iPhone killer” and starts cannibalizing sales from other Android handsets.
For consumers, the benefits are obvious: an extremely high-end smartphone and likely an equally impressive tablet that are streamlined to Android software and hardware specifications. The device would receive timely Android firmware upgrades and customer support from Google and Motorola. The very best of Android delivered at palatable price points.
Google benefits from these devices as well. It is hard to say that Page and the rest of the Google executives see the revenue that Apple is making from its iOS line of devices and don’t want a bigger slice of that pie. For instance, Apple made more in profit from its hardware last quarter than Google made in total revenue.
This is not going to be easy for Google and Motorola. Google is moving into an entirely new product category and that comes with its own problems outside of the balancing act that has to be performed with the rest of the Android ecosystem. There are a lot of balls to juggle, not only in incorporating Motorola into Google, but creating a vibrant division that operates and iterates with a high degree of quality.
What can be said is this: In many, many ways, the best thing to ever happen to Android will be Google’s acquisition of Motorola. Google can now defend its mobile operating system with Motorola’s patents and create dynamic devices with Motorola’s hardware. At the same time, the E.U. and U.S. have put in measures concerning litigation around essential patents and China has ensured that Android will remain open and free. There will be losers in the Android ecosystem, among them several mobile manufacturers and maybe mobile carriers, depending on how much control Google can exercise over the sale of the devices.
When the Motorola deal was announced last August and Page said that Google wanted to “supercharge” Android, he was not being facetious. Google has a tremendous opportunity in front of it. The path is paved with daggers but the benefit to the entire ecosystem at this point outweighs the risks.
In giving the thumbs-up to Google’s acquisition of Motorola, regulators in China stipulated that Google must make
Android free and open for five years, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed with CNET today.
The stipulation would seem to be designed to keep Google from denying Motorola’s handset competitors access to the mobile operating system, or from giving Motorola an advantage of some sort — such as integration between its handsets and Android that’s tighter than connections between rival phones and the OS.
From the beginning, Google has taken an open approach with Android, making it free and available to any hardware manufacturer — a strategy that’s helped to quickly make Android the No. 1 mobile OS globally.
“Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing our work with all of them on an equal basis to deliver outstanding user experiences,” Google CEO Larry Page said during a conference call last August, at the time the intended acquisition was announced. “We built Android as an open-source platform and it will stay that way.”
Still, despite the offering of such olive branches, and despite Android’s great success as an open OS, Motorola rivals may well have been nervous. “Any way (Google) tries to couch this, there’s no doubt Motorola is the most favored player,” Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg told CNET’s Roger Cheng in August. “If I’m a third-party vendor, I have some real concerns here.”
That’s in part because it could have at least crossed Google’s mind to integrate its software and services more tightly with the Motorola hardware, following Apple’s end-to-end approach with its own hardware and services.
Apple uses the sale of its iPhones and iPads to drive sales of iTunes, the App store, iCloud, and other offerings. Google, of course, has its own services — Google Drive, Google+, and so on — and a Google-focused Android device could further push subscribers to them. Ultimately, it’s these services that are the money-makers for Google. Fragmentation of Android is another concern, and a dominant, tightly integrated Android handset might help to address that.
What, then, would rival phone makers do? There aren’t many alternatives to Android. Windows Phone might become a more attractive option, but then, Microsoft has a cozy relationship with Nokia, so it could be deja vu all over again. Here’s what CNET’s Maggie Reardon had to say back in August, in a discussion of the merger’s possible impact on consumers:
What is likely to happen is that HTC, LG, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung will remain Android partners, but they may have to find new ways to differentiate their products from Motorola’s more Google-centric hardware. This may mean that HTC offers more advancements for its Sense software, which rides on top of the Android software. And Samsung may develop more TouchWiz customizations.
For consumers this could either be a good thing or a bad thing. If executed well, it will offer consumers more variety in device capabilities as well as look and feel. But if it’s not executed well, it could just mean more fragmentation in the Android ecosystem.
Reardon also wrote that the merger would probably lead to more-advanced devices from Google, a good thing for consumers.
With the stipulation from China’s regulators (which was reported earlier today by several media outlets), all this may have become moot. And if Google is to be believed, it may not have been an issue anyway.
A company representative told CNET today that Google’s “stance since we agreed to acquire Motorola has not changed and we look forward to closing the deal.”
So, had it crossed Google’s mind to tie Android tightly to Motorola handsets? We might have to wait five years to find out. And who knows what the landscape will look like then?
We have an e-mail out to Motorola for comment and will update this post if we hear back.
Google has secured Chinese approval to complete its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the search giant has confirmed, though it was reportedly forced to commit to Android openness to sway the decision. Chinese regulators had stood as the final hurdle for Google to complete, with the two companies being given the green-light by both US and European authorities back in February. According to unconfirmed reports, however, China’s price for giving the deal its blessing was a renewed commitment by Google to ensure Android remained freely available for at least five years. That agreement was described as a “main condition” in order to secure approval, a source not authorized to publicly discuss the deal told Reuters. Android has been adopted by many Chinese OEMs, used in everything from phones to tablets to set-top boxes and more, though often in ways that do not validate the devices for Google’s official suite of apps and official branding. For its part, though not commenting on any allegiance to openness, Google appears to be treating the deal – and its approach to Android – as business as usual. “Our stance since we agreed to acquire Motorola has not changed,” spokesperson Niki Fenwic said in a statement, ”and we look forward to closing the deal.” Google’s announcement last year that it intended to buy Motorola Mobility in a deal worth $12.5bn prompted no shortage of surprise in the Android ecosystem. Until now, Google – and the Open Handset Alliance, officially the ruling body guiding Android development, of which Google is the most significant member – has generally taken a back seat from too much involvement in the device market itself, content only to give manufacturers a gentle shove with its Nexus range of “pure Android” phones. With Motorola brought in-house, however, suspicions were raised that Google might take a more aggressive approach and follow in Apple’s footsteps, marginalizing other Android OEMs such as HTC and Samsung in the process. Google execs promised that would not happen, with talk of a “firewall” between the two companies, but have met with no small amount of skepticism in response. The Chinese drive for openness would seemingly mean that Android will remain available for all who want it, at least for the next half-decade, though without full details of the deal it’s impossible to know under what conditions that will be the case. The acquisition is expected to close early next week, according to a Motorola spokesperson.
Google has secured Chinese approval to complete its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the search giant has confirmed, though it was reportedly forced to commit to Android openness to sway the decision. Chinese regulators had stood as the final hurdle for Google to complete, with the two companies being given the green-light by both US and European authorities back in February. According to unconfirmed reports, however, China’s price for giving the deal its blessing was a renewed commitment by Google to ensure Android remained freely available for at least five years.
That agreement was described as a “main condition” in order to secure approval, a source not authorized to publicly discuss the deal told Reuters. Android has been adopted by many Chinese OEMs, used in everything from phones to tablets to set-top boxes and more, though often in ways that do not validate the devices for Google’s official suite of apps and official branding.
For its part, though not commenting on any allegiance to openness, Google appears to be treating the deal – and its approach to Android – as business as usual. “Our stance since we agreed to acquire Motorola has not changed,” spokesperson Niki Fenwic said in a statement, ”and we look forward to closing the deal.”
Google’s announcement last year that it intended to buy Motorola Mobility in a deal worth $12.5bn prompted no shortage of surprise in the Android ecosystem. Until now, Google – and the Open Handset Alliance, officially the ruling body guiding Android development, of which Google is the most significant member – has generally taken a back seat from too much involvement in the device market itself, content only to give manufacturers a gentle shove with its Nexus range of “pure Android” phones.
With Motorola brought in-house, however, suspicions were raised that Google might take a more aggressive approach and follow in Apple’s footsteps, marginalizing other Android OEMs such as HTC and Samsung in the process. Google execs promised that would not happen, with talk of a “firewall” between the two companies, but have met with no small amount of skepticism in response.
The Chinese drive for openness would seemingly mean that Android will remain available for all who want it, at least for the next half-decade, though without full details of the deal it’s impossible to know under what conditions that will be the case. The acquisition is expected to close early next week, according to a Motorola spokesperson.
Samsung, as Apple and
Nokia are all too aware, is on a hot streak. During the first quarter of 2012,
Samsung’s smartphones accounted for 40 percent of all Android-based phones sold
globally, while no other Android-supporting vendor achieved better than a 10
percent representation, according to a May 16 report from Gartner.
Overall, smartphone sales
rose 45 percent year-over-year, with 144.4 million units shipping during the
first quarter of 2012. Lagging feature phone sales, however, caused the overall
mobile phone market to decline by 2 percent—its first decline since the second
quarter of 2009, according to the firm.
Samsung overtook Nokia for
the No. 1 spot, as IHS
iSuppli said in an early estimate in April, shipping 86.6 million units
to Nokia’s 83.2 million. Apple followed the pair, with shipments of 33.1
million iPhones, and behind it came ZTE, on shipments of 17.4 million units,
and LG, with 14.7 million units.
BlackBerry maker Research
In Motion finished in seventh place, behind Huawei but ahead of Motorola and
Sony Mobile Communications, respectively.
phones accounted for 56.1 percent of all smartphone sales, Gartner analysts
believe that differentiation is becoming a challenge for manufacturers. Motorola
CEO Sanjay Jha, among other executives, has spoken to this point,
saying Motorola plans to release fewer but more differentiated devices. Likewise,
a spokesperson for ATT, at the launch of the HTC
One X, said a focus on design, a strong camera and the collaboration
with Beats Audio were ways HTC had looked to differentiate that device.
“This is particularly true
for smartphones based on the Android OS, where a strong commoditization trend
is at work and most players are finding it hard to break the [mold],” Anshul Gupta,
a Gartner principal research analyst, said in the report.
“At the high end, hardware
features coupled with applications and services, are helping differentiation,
but this is restricted to major players with intellectual-property assets,”
Gupta added. “However, in the mid- to low-end segment, price is increasingly
becoming the sole differentiator. This will only worsen with the entry of new
players and the dominance of Chinese manufacturers, leading to increased
competition, low profitability and scattered market share.”
Strong Apple iPhone
sales—shipments increased by 96.2 percent year-over-year—came with, thanks to China,
Apple’s No. 2 market behind the United States. China accounted for sales of 5
Additionally, Gartner added,
“On top of the sales through official carriers’ channels, there was an increase
in transshipments from Hong Kong, where volume has been growing over the past
year, to reach a sell-in of more than 3 million units.”
With China Mobile, the
world’s largest carrier, in talks with Apple to officially
offer the iPhone, the importance of China to Apple, and the mobile
industry on the whole, is likely to intensify.
Again showing their
impact, China, and the Asia-Pacific region on the whole, were also contributors
to the quarter’s overall lackluster results. While Chinese
New Year generally helps to make the first quarter the strongest in Asia
(again, a boon for the world market, which usually experiences an aggressive
dip after the high of the fourth-quarter Western holidays), a lack of new phone
launches from leading manufacturers caused users in Asia to delay upgrades,
said Gartner, “in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year.”
Follow me on Twitter: @eWEEK_Michelle.
There’s no doubt that there is a great deal of diversity when it comes to Android.
There are a half-dozen flavors of the operating system, with products made by dozens of manufacturers and literally thousands of individual designs. Whether this is good or bad depends on one’s perspective.
But the sheer number of different products is mind-boggling. In a report this week, OpenSignalMaps looked at data from 600,000 users who downloaded its signal-measuring software. The company found that its software has been downloaded by nearly 4,000 different devices. Some of these are actually standard devices running custom software. But even factoring those out, there are still upward of 2,000 different Android products in the wild.
Of the nearly 600 different brands, Samsung rules the roost with nearly 40 percent market share, followed by HTC, SEMC, Motorola and LG. At the bottom end of the market-share battle, the company spotted a pair of the ill-fated Fusion Garage tablets and a handful of Polaroid’s smart cameras.
For its part, OpenSignalMaps notes the downsides of so many makes and models, but says that the opportunities outweigh the challenges.
“Developers tend to bemoan Android fragmentation yet there’s much here to be celebrated,” the company said in its report. “While the number of different models running Android will continue to increase we’ve seen Samsung take the lion’s share of the Android market, most of that due to the Galaxy product line. Testing on the most popular Samsung HTC devices will get you a long way.”
Besides, Android means reaching to all corners of the globe. OpenSignalMaps says it has collected data from nearly 200 countries, with the most popular being the U.S., Brazil, China, Russia and Mexico.
“One of the joys of developing for Android is you have no idea who’ll end up using your app,” it said.
The report is chock full of interesting numbers and charts, and is well worth a read.
Approximately 40 percent of the Android-based smartphones sold during the first quarter were produced by Samsung, according to new stats from Gartner. No other vendor nabbed more than 10 percent of the global market.
Overall, some 81 million Android-based smartphones were sold during the quarter for 56.1 percent of the market, up from 36.4 percent during the same time period last year. Apple’s iOS came in second place with 22.9 percent of the market, up from 16.9 percent last year.
Symbian held on in third place with 8.9 percent, but that was a drop from 27.7 percent last year. RIM also took a dip, from 13 percent in 2011 to 6.9 percent in the first quarter. Samsung’s bada platform bested Microsoft, with 2.7 percent to 1.9 percent, respectively.
In terms of overall cell phone sales, Samsung topped Nokia with 86.6 million units shipped and 20.7 percent of the market, a 25.9 percent year-over-year increase. Nokia sold 83.1 million for 19.8 percent of the market, down from 25.1 percent last year.
Apple landed at number three thanks to sales of its iPhone 4S. Cupertino sold 33.1 million smartphones during the quarter for 7.9 percent of the cell phone market, up from 3.9 percent last year.
Gartner said Apple sales were particularly strong in China, where it sold more than 5 million units to become the company’s second-biggest market after the U.S.
RIM sold 9.9 million handsets in the first quarter, with its global share dropping over the last year from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. “RIM desperately needs to deliver winning BB10 products to retain users and stay competitive,” Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “This will be very challenging, because BB10 lacks strong developer support, and a new BB10 device will only be available in the fourth quarter of 2012.”
Overall, cell phone sales dropped 2 percent during the quarter, the first time Gartner has seen a decline since the second quarter of 2009. The firm attributed the drop to lackluster sales in Asia, where the first quarter normally sees a pickup thanks to Chinese New Year. This year, however, there was “a lack of new product launches from leading manufacturers, and users delayed upgrades in the hope of better smartphone deals arriving later in the year,” Gupta said.
Things were a bit brighter on the smartphone front, where overall sales jumped 44.7 percent year-over-year.
Samsung’s next big release will be the Galaxy S III, which hits Europe later this month and the U.S. this summer. For more, see PCMag’s hands on with the device and the slideshow below. There are rumors, meanwhile, that Apple is prepping a 4-inch iPhone for a late 2012 release.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.
Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404497,00.asp
Chrome ore exports were banned in April last year to promote value addition and boost revenues on government coffers.
Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu on Monday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that the government was under pressure to make a U-turn on the policy.
He singled out mining firms like Zimasco for paying low prices on chrome ore extracted on their behalf.
These people (small-scale miners) are like employees of Zimasco. It is Zimasco which determines the price and processes and semi-processes the chrome. We are under pressure to allow raw exports (of chrome) just to empower our people for a given period because of the actions of Zimasco and others, said Mpofu.
The minister added that the government was also considering granting chrome claims held by large mining firms to small-scale miners.
We are also, as a ministry, looking at even cancelling the tributing of these claims by certain big organisations and allow our people to mine those claims and sell that chrome to whoever they want to at competitive prices.
This can only be done if companies like Zimbabwe Alloys (ZimAlloys) are fully operational, he added.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, an organisation representing mainly small-to- medium-scale miners, urged the government to lift the export ban on chrome arguing the decision had resulted in job cuts in the sector.
Fast-growing economies like China and Brazil have been the major source markets of ferrochrome minerals currently in demand. Zimbabwe has large ore deposits found on the Great Dyke, a linear geological feature that runs nearly north-south through the centre of Zimbabwe passing just to the west of the capital.