The designer of the Audi A5 said he had probably never made a car this beautiful before. That might not necessarily be true for the four-door version of the car, since from most angles it still looks like its A4 kin, but this model still has broad shoulders and strong character nevertheless.
Usually, when we talk about an Audi on custom Vossen wheels, it’s been photographed in sunny California. But this time, things are a little bit different. That cool space rocket in the background might give you a little clue…
Yes, the A5 Sportback is actually in Russia, where the car wrappers Re-Styling added a bit of flair to it by fitting a custom blue satin chrome wrap over the factory paint. The wrap has a deep luster and has a slight chameleon tint which emphasizes the A5’s every curve and line.
❐ Check out the Audi A5 Blue Chrome photo gallery
Several malicious Android apps designed to steal mobile transaction authentication numbers (mTANs) sent by banks to their customers over SMS (Short Message Service) were found on Google Play by researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab.
The apps were created by a gang that uses a variant of the Carberp banking malware to target the customers of several Russian banks, Denis Maslennikov, a senior malware analyst at Kaspersky, said Friday in a blog post.
Many banks use mTANs as a security mechanism to prevent cybercriminals from transferring money from compromised online banking accounts. When a transaction is initiated from an online banking account, the bank sends an unique code called an mTAN via SMS to the account owner’s phone number. The account owner has to input that code back into the online banking website in order for the transaction to be authorised.
In order to defeat this type of defense, cybercriminals created malicious mobile apps that automatically hide SMS messages received from numbers associated with the targeted banks and silently upload the messages back to their servers. Victims are tricked into downloading and installing these apps on their phones via rogue messages displayed when visiting their bank’s website from an infected computer.
SMS stealing apps have previously been used together with the Zeus and SpyEye banking Trojan programs and are known as Zeus-in-the-Mobile (ZitMo) and SpyEye-in-the-Mobile (SpitMo) components. However, this is the first time a rogue mobile component designed specifically for the Carberp malware has been found, Maslennikov said.
Unlike Zeus and SpyEye, the Carberp Trojan program is primarily used to target online banking customers from Russia and other Russian-speaking countries like Ukraine, Belarus or Kazakhstan.
According to a report in July from antivirus vendor ESET, Russian authorities arrested the people behind the three largest Carberp operations. However, the malware continues to be used by other gangs and is being sold on the underground market for prices between US$5,000 and $40,000, depending on the version and its features.
“This is the first time we’ve seen mobile malicious components from a Carberp gang,” Aleksandr Matrosov, senior malware researcher at antivirus vendor ESET, said Friday via email. “Mobile components are used only by one Carberp group, but we can’t disclose more details at the present.”
The new Carberp-in-the-Mobile (CitMo) apps found on Google Play masqueraded as mobile applications from Sberbank and Alfa-Bank, two of Russia’s largest banks, and VKontakte, the most popular online social networking service in Russia, Maslennikov said. Kaspersky contacted Google on Wednesday and all CitMo variants were deleted from the market by Thursday, he said.
However, the fact that cybercriminals managed to upload these apps to Google Play in the first place raises questions about the efficiency of the app market’s anti-malware defenses, such as the Bouncer anti-malware scanner announced by Google earlier this year.
“It seems that it’s not that hard to bypass Google Play’s defenses because malware continues to appear there regularly,” Maslennikov said via email.
Bogdan Botezatu, a senior e-threat analyst at antivirus vendor Bitdefender, believes that it might be hard for Google’s Bouncer to detect ZitMo, SpitMo or CitMo components because they are functionally similar to some legitimate applications.
“The mobile version of the Trojan is only responsible with hijacking the received SMS and forwarding its contents to a different recipient, and this behavior is also found in legitimate applications, such as SMS management apps or even applications that allow the user to remotely control their devices via SMS in the event they get stolen or lost,” he said via email. “SMS interception is a feature that is well documented on forums, along with sample code. If the same sample code is used both in malicious and legit applications, it would be even harder to detect and block.”
The ability to use Google Play to distribute SMS stealing apps offers advantages to cybercriminals, Botezatu said. First of all, some user devices are configured to only install apps obtained from Google Play. Also, users are generally less suspicious of apps downloaded via Google Play and pay less attention to their permissions because they expect the applications to be what their descriptions claim they are, he said.
Android has had yet another big week with a bevy of app updates making their way onto the platform, some new device announcements thrown into the mix and interesting developments with Android’s main competitors. In our This Week in Android roundup for the past 7 days, we’ll take a quick look at all of this.
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A number of big apps received updates this week, notably Instagram and Twitter where the latter takes its own spin on filtered photos.
The Instagram update brings a brand new filter, the grayscale “Willow”, in addition to a number of performance enhancements and bug fixes. The iOS app did also recently receive a UI redesign but the Android update did not bring a similar changelog, although Android users can perhaps expect that refresh in the coming weeks.
In a similar update, Twitter introduced photo manipulation tools in-app, including filters for user images. The app can also do some basic editing such as cropping and auto-enhancing, but the main focus is the new filters that take photo uploading into direct competition with the aforementioned Instagram. This, obviously is a sign of heating rivalry between Twitter and Facebook, the owners of Instagram.
If you’re still one to use Yahoo! Mail, it also received an update to its Android app, refreshing its UI with a more Holo-styled design. Other major app updates from this week include the introduction of a new, adaptable design for scaling to tablets from The New York Times.
Google has been busy this week too, launching a revision of its in-app billing system. Version 3 brings an improved and simpler design, making it easier for developers to integrate into their apps, increases the system’s speed, performance and overall reliability. This is perhaps not the biggest of stories for the end-user but an important one for developers and Android’s standing as a premium app platform at large.
In Russia, Google launched Google Play for books and movies. Google Play will offer over 1,000 Russian-language books and a library of international and local movie content. This comes just days after Apple announced a continued rollout of iTunes around the globe, including Russia.
As we approach the holiday season, device launches are expected to be less common — especially with CES just around the corner in January. However, there are still some hardware news of note.
Software updates to the GT-7100 and LTE GT-7105 models of the Samsung Galaxy Note II are being released with Android 4.1.2. This update brings a few notable features such as notification customisation, performance improvements to the browser and a new “Group Cast” application.
LG has had news to celebrate as we approach the end of the year too, announcing 10 million shipped units of the Optimus L series. The announcement hardly contains blockbuster numbers but is still an impressive amount for a mid-range series of handsets.
As we approach this holiday season, we’re rounding up a year of significant advancement for Android. Hardware news are becoming more sparse as we look forward to January and the CES announcements that it shall bring. However, software updates are still rolling strong as developers try to end the year on a high note and present their apps in tip-top condition for all the new users who’ll find Android devices under their Christmas tree.
Check back next week for another instalment of This Week in Android.
According to McAfee the number of malicious Android apps surged from the hundreds to the thousands in the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year.
In “McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2012″ the company reported that the number of mobile threats on Android reached 7,000 samples, while Symbian, Java ME (mobile edition), and “others” combined reached only 1,000.
Adam Wosotowsky, messaging data architect at McAfee Labs, attributed at least half of the newly detected malware to McAfee’s better detection methods, such as identifying more third party app stores and improving its scanning technology. Even taking this into consideration, he estimates Android malware has “definitely more than doubled” since the same time last year.
Not the “Year of Android Malware” Yet…
The figures are alarming, but it’s still fairly easy to keep your Android devices clean of malware. For starters, steer clear of third-party app stores (outside Google Play or Amazon App Store for Android). Unlike in the PC environment where worms can spread without any user involvement, mobile infections still rely on users installing malicious apps. Most Android malware still originates from and targets users in China and Russia, and gets distributed through non-official app stores.
However, attackers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods. In early May, Lookout Mobile Security reported a primitive sort of drive-by download, where attackers used compromised websites to trick Android users into installing the “NotCompatible” Trojan. When a user visited a compromised website, the malicious app would automatically begin downloading. However a user would still be prompted to install the app before it could exploit anything.
McAfee also found “significant amounts” of new adware, which even security-conscious Android owners can catch from official app stores.
Mobile adware refers to code within ad networks that can access more data perform more functions on your device than you’re probably aware of. For example in January, vendors Symantec and Lookout squabbled over the the shade of grey of one particularly aggressive ad network being used to monetize free Android apps. Symantec initially identified it as malware called “Android.Counterclank,” but hours later, Lookout Mobile Security said the SDK in question was really an aggressive ad network called “Apperhand” that placed a search icon on your mobile desktop without your permission, and pushed ads through the notice bar.
Google Play doesn’t block adware (after all it runs one of the most ubiquitous ad networks, AdMob) which can be a bigger problem for Android owners.
Fortunately, many vendors now offer ad network detectors that explain what the ad network dropped in your Angry Birds Lite can do. Check out Lookout Ad Network Detector or TrustGo Ad Detector for such tools.
As far as mobile security suites go, Lookout for Android is PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for Android security, but other high-performing malware detectors include F-Secure Mobile Security 7.6 and McAfee Mobile Security 2.0. All have free versions that include a quick malware scan.
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.
Chrome is the second most-used browser globally, and dominates many local markets including Brazil and Russia. Creating a Chrome Extension helps companies gain distribution in many local markets via official resources such as the Google Chrome WebStore.
Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) May 02, 2012
The worldwide market shares by browser indicate that Internet Explorer still dominates overall (35%), with Chrome in the second most popular position (29%), and Firefox not far behind (24%). Safari (6%) and Opera (2%) complete the overall shares.
However, the market shares by browser vary greatly region by region. From the diagrams below you can see that in Latin America, Chrome is the number one browser, taking 45% of the market share. The situation is similar in Russia, where Chrome dominates the market with a 29% share.
Browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Opera have made Add-ons a fundamental point in their strategy, which has helped lead Firefox to success and market domination in many markets. But Chrome is the most successful in this strategy, amplifying Extensions with Apps and transforming its Add-ons Gallery to the Chrome Web Store, which has proven to be a very successful channel of distribution.
According to a Besttoolbars market study, Chrome has about a 50% higher installation rate from their directories compared to Firefox. The Internet Explorer Gallery is in its infancy.
As a result, creating Chrome Extensions and Apps becomes crucial part of any marketing strategy for web apps and web services, due to its highly developed distribution channel and significant market share.
Formed in 2003, Besttoolbars is known as the leader in toolbar software. Besttoolbars focuses on browser toolbar, add-ons and extensions solutions and also offers a toolbar and add-ons frameworks. Besttoolbars has created desktop products for leading Internet companies including AOL.com, Web.de, and Skype.com. More than 7000 companies worldwide use Besttoolbars solutions.
In our latest installment of the browser wars, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) has started to regain its share of the browser market at the expense of rival browsers, particularly Mozilla’s Firefox and Google Chrome.
IE has made a comeback this year, increasing its market share by 2 percent from December 2011 to March 2012 to 53.83 percent, according to the data from Net Applications. This follows a period of decreasing popularity between May and December last year for the browser, during which it lost more than 5 percent of its users.
Firefox usage has generally declined since May 2011 to this March, falling roughly 2 percent to 20.55 percent of the market.
Meanwhile, Google Chrome increased its user base between May and December last year by nearly 6 percent, but in recent months it has been losing users. Chrome now sits at 18.57 percent of the market.
Apple’s Safari browser had slowly increased its market share since May last year to as high as 5.24 percent, although it appeared to take a popularity hit in December and January and has now fallen to 5.07 percent in March.
While the figures are good news for Microsoft, the firm is still under threat in the market with Chrome passing IE usage on a single day during March, for the first time in its history, according to StatCounter.
The company’s research showed that the spike was largely due to heavy usage in India, Russia, and Brazil, indicating a wider trend of increased Chrome usage over weekends. The phenomenon was taken by analysts as a sign that consumers commonly use IE for work purposes during the week and Chrome for home browsing.
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Chrome was last Sunday the most-used browser in the world, according to the website analytics firm StatCounter.
Google’s browser briefly overtook Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for the first time on that day, although IE is now back in the lead. StatCounter said Chrome’s one-day triumph was a “milestone”, and pointed out that people tend to use Chrome more on the weekends, when they are away from work, and IE more while in the workplace.
StatCounter analyses a network of more than three million sites to provide statistics relating to the browsers people are using, as well as operating systems and other factors such as screen resolution. On Wednesday, the company said a surge of Chrome use in India, Russia and Brazil on the weekend had briefly made the browser the most widely-used in the world.
“While it is only one day, this is a milestone,” StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen said in a statement. “Whether Chrome can take the lead in the browser wars in the long term remains to be seen, however the trend towards Chrome usage at weekends is undeniable. At weekends, when people are free to choose what browser to use, many of them are selecting Chrome in preference to IE.”
On the Sunday, Chrome had a 32.71-percent share of global browser usage, just above Internet Explorer’s 32.5 percent. However, the shares normalised after that, and Chrome is currently on 30.41 percent to IE’s 35.29 percent.
Mozilla’s Firefox, which was until last December in second place ahead of Chrome, is now in third place with a 25.05-percent share, StatCounter’s latest figures show.
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Internet Explorer is still the world’s top browser, but for a day over the weekend, it feel to second place.
According to Stat Counter, which analyzes browser market share worldwide, Chrome was the most-used browser globally on March 18, just edging out Internet Explorer for top billing. The browser was put over the top by strong usage in India, Russia, and Brazil, Stat Counter said.
But unfortunately for Chrome, it was a short-lived victory: by March 19, Internet Explorer was back on top.
“While it is only one day, this is a milestone,” StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen said in a statement yesterday. “Whether Chrome can take the lead in the browser wars in the long term remains to be seen, however the trend towards Chrome usage at weekends is undeniable. At weekends, when people are free to choose what browser to use, many of them are selecting Chrome in preference to Internet Explorer.”
StatCounter’s findings on weekend usage compared to weekday usage is rather interesting. It indicates that people might be using Internet Explorer on their work machines, but when home on weekends and on their own computers, they’re running Google’s browser.
According to StatCounter, back in January, Chrome’s global daily market share stood at around 28 percent, compared to roughly 38 percent for Internet Explorer. Since then, Chrome’s market share has been steadily increasing to around 32 percent, while Internet Explorer’s has declined.
StatCounter’s data is based on its analysis of three million Web sites. All told, the company analyzes 15 billion page views each month, including 4 billion in the U.S.
The Netcraft Web Server Survey, which appears each month, is usually viewed as offering the spectacle of a two-player fight between the open source Apache and Microsoft’s IIS. Actually, that’s giving Microsoft too much credit, since it’s never really been a fight: IIS has occasionally tried to claw its way closer to Apache’s market share, failed dismally, and then started sinking back again. But there’s another story in these graphs.
Starting from around 2007, a little (green) line has been steadily creeping up, and has now attained the very respectable level of 8% – over half of Microsoft’s. It belongs to the nearly unpronounceable Nginx (“engine-x”), which is really beginning to make a name for itself. Last week I spoke to Andrew Alexeev from a similarly-named startup based around that open source code.
He told me about the origin of Nginx in 2002, when Igor Sysoev, a Russian system and software engineer, working at Rambler, which runs some of the biggest Web sites in Russia, hit some problems with serving up Web pages. In typical hacker fashion, he just sat down and started coding a solution of his own (probably muttering “it can’t be that hard” in Russian…)
Since this wasn’t an official project, it took a while to complete, but in 2004 the Nginx Web server was released under the BSD licence. Interestingly, the first operating system it ran on was FreeBSD: according to Alexeev, FreeBSD has always been much more popular in Russia than elsewhere.
Alexeev says that Nginx’s key advantage is scalability – during its design, it was influenced by discussions centred on what was called the “C10K problem”:
It’s time for web servers to handle ten thousand clients simultaneously, don’t you think? After all, the web is a big place now.
An example of the kind of scaling Nginx can achieve is WordPress, which has moved all of its 24 million blogs to the platform. And it’s that kind of high-end customer that the new company hopes to interest in its forthcoming add-ons – it will be adopting a standard Open Core strategy, with the main codeline continuing to be available as open source.
The company is still quite small – just three developers, all in Russia, where Nginx holds an impressive 52% of the Web server market according to Alexeev – although a recent investment round should allow it to expand that number.
In a way, it’s amazing the Nginx has managed to garner 8% of the larger Web server market, since the coding has always been something that happened alongside other work. Given Apache’s long-standing dominance of this sector, it’s not likely that Nginx will be making the market leader quake in its digital boots much. But I think the real point is rather different.
It’s striking how Firefox has really tried much harder since the open source Chrome/Chromium browser has started snapping at its heels. It’s no secret that competition is good – even, or maybe especially, competition from other open source projects. This is not to suggest that the people behind Apache are getting complacent, but it must be a little boring being the unchallenged champ for 15 years: I’m sure they’d welcome a little friendly rivalry, and maybe Nginx can provide it.
After all, one of the things that Microsoft has taught us is that monocultures are really bad for everyone. The dominance of Apache in the Web server sector doesn’t seem to have led to the atrocious malware problems experienced with Windows, but as the rising number of attacks on Android show, just because the code is open source doesn’t mean that it is immune to this kind of problem.
As well as being good for Apache, I think the emergence of Nginx as a strong number 2 in the Web server market would be good for the whole Web ecosystem. And by pushing Microsoft’s IIS back into third place, it would provide inarguable proof that Apache’s success was not just some one-off, but rater a foretaste of future open source victories.