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BlackBerry Offers Android Users a Secure New Smartphone

BackBerry on Tuesday made a play for security-conscious Android users with the announcement of its new DTEK50.

 

Running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and BlackBerry security software, the new unit is the “most secure Android smartphone” in the world, the company claimed.

Among the DTEK50’s security features:

  • rapid patching for quick delivery of security updates;
  • DTEK software for monitoring a phone’s operating system and applications, and to alert a user whose privacy is at risk;
  • Hardware Root of Trust, which allows security to be baked into a device at the manufacturing stage;
  • secure boot process that monitors each stage of a phone’s startup to ensure none of the components in that process have been tampered with;
  • Android hardening to prevent an attack on a phone by scrambling an application’s system memory; and
  • full disk encryption.

 

Who Cares About Security

Many Android users have concerns about the their phone’s security, according to BlackBerry’s April survey of 8,000 consumers between the ages of 34 and 54.

Fifty percent of the respondents felt their phones were only somewhat secure, and only one in six knew about security patches for their phones, researchers found.

“With an increase in cybercrime on smartphones, people need to recognize that the private details of their lives — where they live, their bank info, pictures of their kids — are at risk on their personal device,” said BlackBerry Chief Security Officer David Kleidermacher.

“You wouldn’t leave the doors of your house unlocked at night. Having a smartphone that doesn’t take your privacy seriously is the equivalent,” he pointed out. “It’s equally important for businesses to protect their sensitive data from cyberattacks at all points of their mobile environment — from the device to the network and servers.”

 

On Last Legs?

Apart from its security extras, the DTEK50 has a 5.2-inch HD display, supports SD cards with up to 2 terabytes of storage, and has two cameras — an 8-MP front facing shooter and a 13-MP rear facing unit with phase-detection autofocus and a dual-tone LED flash.

BlackBerry on Tuesday began accepting DTEK50 preorders at its online store. It sells for US$299, and through Aug. 8, anyone buying the phone there will receive a complementary BlackBerry Mobile Power Pack.

“This phone is an interesting twist on BlackBerry’s asset-light approach to hardware development,” saidIHS Markit analyst Wayne Lam. “The physical hardware is essentially a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4 smartphone with BlackBerry security software.”

BlackBerry once dominated the smartphone market it help create in the first decade of the century, but in recent years its hardware fortunes have steadily declined. This latest offering isn’t likely to change that.

“They’re doing a number of right things with this phone, but it’s a tough sell,” said Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst at Technalysis Research.

 

Not a Customer Magnet

The DTEK50’s security and selling price are both strong points of the phone, but the list of features needed to attract consumers to a smartphone these days has more than just two items, maintained Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen.

For that reason, “it will not attract new users in any significant way, but it could help keep existing users,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It’s entirely possible that the new phone will help BlackBerry stem the tide of customers leaving its platform for other devices, but I expect that attracting new customers will continue to be a challenge for the company,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“That’s especially true given the security improvements that competitors have instituted over the past 12 to18 months,” he told TechNewsWorld.

 

Unaffected Trajectory

BlackBerry’s competitors, who have more robust phones, already have started chipping away at the company’s security corner of the market, noted Gartner’s Nguyen. Samsung, for example, has introduced Knox, which adds security to Android phones.

BlackBerry really doesn’t have much to offer the smartphone market from a hardware perspective, maintained IHS’ Lam.

“They have essentially vacated this space and are no longer a competitive hardware vendor. The use of Alcatel design on the DTEK50 is testament to that fact,” he said.

Will the DTEK50 have a significant impact on BlackBerry’s smartphone fortunes?

“Will this phone make their trajectory more positive?” Nguyen asked. “I’m highly skeptical of that.”

That may not be a critical issue, however.

“The company’s leadership is already preparing for a future where software and services are more important to BlackBerry’s bottom line than hardware,” said Pund-IT’s King.

“That’s a rational approach to take in a smartphone market where the line between mainstream and premium handsets is getting thinner and thinner,” he maintained.

“I really think BlackBerry should just stop making hardware,” suggested Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.

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How well does Pokemon Go run on Android phones?

Also in today’s open source roundup: Pokemon Go now supports Android N, and why you shouldn’t fake your location while playing Pokemon Go

Pokemon GO is all the rage these days, with millions and millions of people playing it as they walk around with their phones. But how well does Pokemon GO run on Android phones?

Pokemon Go for Android has just received an update to version 0.29.2. The most notable feature is support for devices running the Android N Developer Preview.

Unlike the iOS version, the update did not come with release notes on Google Play or the Pokemon Go site. The only major change seems to be support for Android 7.0 Nougat. During the field test, opening the app on Android N devices would just show a grey screen.

After entering a birth date, the latest version fully loads and allows users to sign-in with either Google or a Pokemon Trainer Club account. Performance seems unchanged and the update likely focuses on crashes and bug fixes.

Why you shouldn’t fake your location while playing Pokemon GO

A hot game like Pokemon GO is bound to bring out cheaters along with other gamers, and some players have figured out how to fake their locations. But a writer at Android Central points out why doing so is a very bad idea.

This Malware Steals $300,000 Monthly From 10 Million Android Phones

There’s a new and potentially devastating malware going around that affects Android phones. The new malware has wasted no time in infecting 10 million devices. This was unveiled recently by security companies Checkpoint and Lookout.

Details about the HummingBad Malware

The security companies released a report that pointed to an exponential increase in infected Android devices recently.

They’ve dubbed the new exploit HummingBad. This malware works by installing a rootkit on compromised devices, burying itself deep inside the operating system. The rootkit ends up giving complete control of your phone or tablet to the attackers.

HummingBad works by installing apps on any Android device, using them to spy on the habits of the users. If that wasn’t enough, it also generates fake clicks on advertising sites, making as much as $300,000 monthly for the creators of HummingBad.

By nesting itself deep inside the OS, even a factory reset couldn’t help in erasing the malware, according to the report released by Lookout.

Checkpoint’s report revealed that most of the phones infected with HummingBad originated in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

How was HummingBad Discovered?

Checkpoint and Lookout both noticed a sharp increase in phones infected by HummingBad. Mostly phones with older Android OS versions were affected by it. In fact, the exploit worked by disguising itself as legitimate apps such as Twitter and Facebook.

BBC reached out to Google to comment on the HummingBad malware. Here’s the company’s response:

We’ve long been aware of this evolving family of malware and we’re constantly improving our systems that detect it. We actively block installations of infected apps to keep users and their information safe.

Google has also released a new security update this month for Android, which effectively blocks HummingBad malware.

How to Rid Your Device of HummingBad?

First you need to check if your device is infected. You can do this by installing and running any of the security apps for your Android device here:

  • Lookout Security & Antivirus from Lookout Inc.
  • ZoneAlarm Mobile Security from Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.
  • Mobile Security & Software from Avast Software
  • AVG Antivirus from AVG Technologies
  • 360 Security – Antivirus Boost from Qihu 360 Software Co. Ltd.
  • Avira Antivirus Security from Avira Operations GmbH & Co. KG.

Run a scan.

If you’re infected, then you will need to follow the following steps, before performing a factory reset on your Android phone or tablet. Be aware that a factory reset means that everything on your device will be erased.

To remove the Hummingbird malware:

  • First you need to create a backup of the data and content on your phone or tablet.
  • Tap on Settings > Backup and reset > Factory Data Reset on your phone/tablet.
  • Tap Reset phone or Reset device. This will start your device in Recovery mode, and initiate the wiping process.
  • Your phone will reboot once the process is done. And hopefully Hummingbird-free.
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Mozilla could get $1 billion in the fallout of Yahoo sale

Yahoo has been struggling for years, but it seems the final attempt has failed and the company is up for sale. As the bidders are lining up, one of the Yahoo’s deals struck in 2014 may out Mozilla as the biggest winner after the sale.

But let’s go back in 2012, when Yahoo appointed the ex-Google’s VP of Product Search Marissa Mayer for its CEO. It was a brave move and everyone hoped Mayer will rescue the sinking company from an imminent demise.

Yahoo knew its search engine was all but dead, but Mayer decided to resuscitate it and try to make it cool again. Yahoo focused on two fronts here – an unprecedented, as it turns out, deal with Mozilla, and an innovative mobile-centric search engine called Project Index.

We don’t know the amount of money that have sunk in the Index project, but we are still yet to see it in action, if ever.

 

But the deal with Mozilla was just revealed to be a particularly interesting one. As the latest reports revealed, Yahoo’s CEO offered an extremely lucrative deal to Mozilla back in 2014 in order to secure the default search engine position in the popular Firefox web browser for the USA. Yahoo outbid Google’s $300 million payment per year and offered an annual payment of $375 million.

 

The contract involves a clause that if Yahoo is to be acquired by another company and Mozilla wasn’t happy with the new owner and its commitment, then Mozilla would be free to leave the Yahoo relationship, choose another partner, and receive annual payments of $375 million until the end of 2019. That’s just over $1 billion.

It seems Marissa Mayer was very confident she’ll make Yahoo great again and promised Mozilla the big money in believing that this clause would never come to pass.

Today Yahoo is said to be valued between $3 billion and $5 billion. The final bids are placed right now and we may have a buyer in the upcoming weeks. The latest reports suggest the final round of bidding will be between Verizon, Quicken Loans, and other private equity groups.

None of the bidders seem to be interested in continuing Yahoo’s efforts to keep the search business, so Mozilla may emerge as the one to profit the most from Yahoo’s twilight. Naturally, Mozilla declined to comment as it is limited by non-disclosure agreements.

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