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23 Dec 12 Samsung Galaxy S4: all you want to know

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London: There are a lot of things coming for smarphone enthusiasts from the arrival of the world’s first 8-core handset – the ZTE Apache, apparently – to the fate of perpetually beleaguered Canadian manufacturer RIM and its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 platform in 2013 but the most awaiting thing is Samsung Galaxy S4, the successor of the South Korean firm’s Galaxy S3.

The Galaxy S3, first released in May 2012, is well into its life-cycle, so it’s only natural that S4 rumours are becoming more and more substantive by the day.

Flexible display:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 would have a flexible OLED 1080p HD displays, rumour says.

“Foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than… conventional LCD technology,” a preventative of the South Korean firm explained to PC Advisor.

Several release date rumuors for the S4 have been published, but the representatives of the South Korean firm have denied the veracity of all rumuors.

However, sparking speculation, Samsung has revealed the dates for its annual Forum and promised “major announcements”.

Specification (rumours) :

The Korea TImes claims to have been made privy to a substantial Galaxy S4 specification leak, which say a 5 inch device sporting an impressive 1,920 x 1,080 pixel ‘Super LCD 3′ display at a mind-boggling 445 ppi, coated with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.

Further speculations about the Galaxy S4 are the smartphone will use the 13MP sensor, 2GB RAM and a quad-core processor Cortex-A15 processor clocked at 2GHz.

Hint from Samsung:

An official has told Korea Times reported on condition of anonymity, “Samsung is ready to unveil the next Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy S4, at early next year’s mobile world congress (MWC) in the Spanish city of Barcelona.”

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25 May 12 Android Malware Surges, Botnet Business Booms

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.)

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03 May 12 The Samsung Galaxy S III: what we know so far

Tomorrow’s the big day, Android fans: we’ll finally be able to put months and months of rumor to rest, and begin months and months of arguing over whether the Samsung Galaxy S III or the HTC One X is top dog in the smartphone world. The Galaxy S III is, without exaggeration, the most rumored, leaked, faked and anticipated Android phone yet, so we figured we’d do a roundup of what we’re likely to see at Samsung’s London even tomorrow.

Form Factor: Basically identical to the Galaxy S II, only bigger. Numerous leaks point to a device similar in size and feel to the Galaxy Nexus.

Screen: Somewhere between 4.6 and 4.8 inches. This leaked screen protector, when compared to the 4.7-inch HTC One X, shows that it’s likely to be just a tiny bit bigger. There’s no doubt that it’ll be a Samsung-made 720p Super AMOLED panel, and probably a  non-Pentile Super AMOLED HD+ one at that.

Processor: Samsung itself has said that they’ll be using the brand new Exynos 4 Quad in “the next Galaxy”. That’s certainly the case for international models, but we’ve heard tell that at least some American versions will go with the popular Snapdragon S4 from Qualcomm instead. Today’s look into a Verizon user agent string seems to confirm that – perhaps the latest Exynos isn’t quite ready for LTE networks, or at least those in the US.

Operating system: Ice Cream Sandwich and the latest version of TouchWiz, without a doubt. One of the later leaks shows version 4.0.4 running, but it’s still possible that the final hardware will still be on 4.0.3 when it’s announced tomorrow.

Body: Like HTC, Samsung seems to be sticking with physical buttons despite Ice Cream Sandwich’s virtual nav button functionality. The same leak showed a layout similar to the previous Galaxy phones with a slimmer and more angular Home button. According to a retail listing, the phone will come in white and blue initially.

Camera: We’ve heard rumors that Samsung was going with a 12 megapixel rear camera on the Galaxy S III, and this AnTuTu benchmark listing seems to bear that out. Other leaks seem to indicate a more conventional 8MP sensor.

Connection: European versions of the Galaxy S III will almost certainly run with HSPA+ bands to start with – LTE simply isn’t widespread enough yet to justify the expansion. American versions for Verizon, ATT and/or The Now Network will probably include LTE, as will at least one version in Samsung’s home territory of South Korea.

Carriers: Those of you in Europe or Asia probably won’t have to much to worry about – Samsung and other manufacturers tend to play nice with everybody, since unlocked models are so readily available. Here in the States it’s a different matter. While all four major carriers got a crack at the original Galaxy S, and only Verizon sat out for the Galaxy S II (for an early shot at the Galaxy Nexus) we’re not sure what the situation for the Galaxy S III is. Verizon seems to have the phone up its sleeve, or at least something very similar: the “SCH-I535″ was spotted earlier today in a user agent string.

Name: Now here’s one thing we’re not sure of. Continuing the Roman numeral scheme with “Galaxy S III” seems most likely, but we’ve seen Samsung’s official Kies program call the phone “Galaxy S3″ and a few other outlets label it as “Galaxy SIII” (no space). But who really cares – we’d be just as excited if they called it the Galaxy S Cauliflower.

There’s still a few things we’ll be looking out for at Samsung’s announcement; the more far fetched early rumors of a waterproof ceramic case are probably duds, but we want to know about battery capacity, MicroSD card options and storage capacity. And, of course, price. Join us tomorrow afternoon as we lie blog the Samsung Unpacked event from London – and place your bets now.

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05 Jan 12 Google relegates Chrome home page after spam criticism

The sponsored blog postings were commissioned by Essence Digital, a
London-based digital marketing agency. Google said it had never approved the
campaign and that only one of the sponsored blog postings improved the
Chrome home page’s PageRank.

“Google have consistently avoided paid postings to promote their products,
because in their view these kind of promotions are not transparent or in the
best interests of users,” Essence Digital said, apologising for the
sponsored postings.

According to Search
Engine Land, a leading blog
about the web search industry, Google’s
self-punishment has had a dramatic effect. The Chrome home page is now
ranked as low as 73rd in a search for “browser”, for example. It was
previously ranked second in searches for the term.

The strict action comes as Google is under regulatory scrutiny by the European
Commission for allegedly using its dominance of web search to promote
secondary products.

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06 Oct 11 Google Launches First Chromebook Store in London

Google has moved forward with the next phase of its plan to directly compete with Apple for your computing cash by opening an actual Chrome laptop store in London. Dubbed the “Chrome Zone,” the store is designed to give consumers a hands-on sample of what cloud computing is like using a Google Chromebook.

Inside the store, staffers stand at the ready to walk customers through the Google ecosystem of cloud services and applications on the notebooks. Commenting on the launch, Google Product Marketing Manager Laura Thompson said, “Many things in life, like football and rock music, are best experienced in person. Chromebooks are no exception.”

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this new retail initiative is that Google decided to put its first non-travel centric retail experiment in London, of all places. Those following the company’s recent history in Europe know that Google hasn’t had an easy time in terms of public perception in the region, but a recent initiative tied to Britain’s Tech City indicates that the brand is truly committed to making London the beachhead of its integration into Europe’s consumer market.

Referring to Google’s recent Tech City plans, former Google EMEA Head of Corporate Development Anil Hansjee gave us some insight into what Google’s increased presence in the U.K. means for tech innovation: “The emerging ecosystem of Internet startups in East London already has amazing resources at its fingertips such as Seedcamp, Techhub and The Trampery co-working spaces. With the Google announcement more resources are being added… The Google building is more than just about working space. They have understood what start-ups actually need at the very early stages and are bringing mentorship, skills and resources…”

Although Google has confirmed that more Chrome Zone stores will begin appearing throughout the U.K., no plans have been announced for additional stores in other major cities, but stay tuned for updates. We have a feeling, as the stores begin to evolve over the next year, the much-lauded and iconic Apple Stores may finally have some worthy competition.

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