Over 100 Android Apps on Google Play Found to Be Infected With Windows Malware

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 132 apps were found infected with malware
  • The security firm traced the infected apps to a common location
  • Malware were downloaded from domains that have been disabled

Android has been known to suffer malware attacks from time to time. Just recently in December, it was reported that a malware called ‘Gooligan’ breached accounts of more than a million users. Now, a bizarre new type of malware has been detected in around 132 apps in Google Play that had the ability to affect Windows users, according to a security firm.

Palo Alto Networks discovered the malware-ridden apps and reported them to Google to have them removed from Google Play. The Internet security team in a blog post said that the apps, which were developed by several different people, managed to hide HTML-based iframe tags. The iframe tags, which are generally used to embed external elements in a webpage, like a YouTube video, was also loading elements from malicious domains. In one case, an app didn’t use iframe but Microsoft’s Visual Basic language to load malicious code into the app.

In the report, Palo Alto Networks traces the infected apps to a common geographical location even though the developers are unrelated. Most of the apps are said to originate from Indonesia, since the country’s name was attached to the names of the apps.Over 100 Android Apps on Google Play Found to Be Infected With Windows Malware

“One common way HTML files have been infected with malicious iframes has been through file infecting viruses like Ramnit. After infecting a Windows host, these viruses search the hard drive for HTML files and append iframes to each document. If a developer was infected with one of these viruses, their app’s HTML files could be infected,” the report notes.

The reports goes on to suggest that the malicious nature of the apps was not intentional and that the developers simply did not realise that their apps’ HTML files were infected when uploading their apps to Google Play. Furthermore, the purpose of the malware was to load interstitial ads and the main malicious applications, elaborates Ars Technica.

These Windows-specific malware were downloaded from domains that have long since been disabled. So while the apps themselves aren’t a threat on Android devices, it still raises concerns on Google’s app screening process, and why it failed to identify the infected apps.

3 Google Slides tricks to engage your audience

 

Despite its austere appearance, Google Slides has some powerful features that can liven up your presentations and help you keep your audiences riveted. Here are three to start using on your next slide deck.

Use speaker notes

As a rule of thumb, you want to keep text on your slides to a minimum. It can easily take over and clutter up a slide deck, dulling both your presentation itself and your message. Using a graphics on slides is more visually pleasing and keeps people’s focus on the words you’re saying.

slides speaker notes

PCWorld

Speaker notes allow you to add talking points—viewable only by you—to any slide.

That doesn’t mean you have to wing the spoken part of your presentation. You can add talking points or complete text to the speaker notes section of any Google Slide for reference. Just click in the text box beneath the main slide area to type your notes, or go to Tools > Voice type speaker notes, click the mic button and start dictating. Your notes will be viewable by only when you select “presenter view” from the Present drop-down menu.

One of the best ways to keep an audience engaged in you presentation it to have them participate in it by asking questions. Adding a question and answer session with Slides Q&A feature is an easy way to do this.

In Slides, click the drop-down arrow next to to the Present button in the top right and select Presenter view. On the Audience Tools tab in the window that opens, click Start new button. A slide will open with a URL displayed across the top. Audience members can visit this URL on their mobile device and type their questions into a simple interface. The question will appear to you in real time in Presenter’s view. Audience members can also vote on questions using familiar thumbs up/thumbs down icons to let you know which questions they’d most like you to answer.

Autoplay video

Using video in a slide is an excellent way to illustrate a point, add comic relief, or just keep you audience interested. But until recently, it meant stopping your presentation to click on the video to play it and again to stop it. With Slides autoplay option, your video will play as soon as you advance to that slide.

slides autoplay video

PCWorld

Using the autoplay video feature lets you customize how much of a video you display during your presentation.

To activate this feature, add your video to a slide, then click Video options from the ribbon above the slide. This will open a sidebar on the right. Check the box next to “Autoplay when presenting.” If you don’t want to play the whole video, you can enter start and end times in the fields beneath the thumbnail of the video.

Google makes the best Android apps easier to find with Android Excellence

 

Google wants you to find the best apps faster, so it’s introduced a new section to the Play Store called Android Excellence. The banner on the Editor’s Choice page will spotlight apps and games that “deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization.”

Last month, Google spotlighted the winners of its second annual Google Play Awards. Several of the apps are, not surprisingly, represented on the Android Excellence page. Google says this list will be updated quarterly with hand-picked selections from its editorial team. Check out the first round of apps and games below:

Google Play

Google wants you to find the best apps faster, so it’s introduced a new section to the Play Store called Android Excellence. The banner on the Editor’s Choice page will spotlight apps and games that “deliver incredible user experiences on Android, use many of our best practices, and have great design, technical performance, localization, and device optimization.”

Last month, Google spotlighted the winners of its second annual Google Play Awards. Several of the apps are, not surprisingly, represented on the Android Excellence page. Google says this list will be updated quarterly with hand-picked selections from its editorial team. Check out the first round of apps and games below:

Android Excellence Apps

  • AliExpress by Alibaba Mobile
  • B&H Photo Video by B&H Photo Video
  • Citymapper by Citymapper Limited
  • Drivvo by Drivvo
  • drupe by drupe
  • Evernote by Evernote Corporation
  • Hotel Tonight by HotelTonight
  • Kitchen Stories by Kitchen Stories
  • Komoot by komoot GmbH
  • Lifesum by Lifesum
  • Memrise by Memrise
  • Pocket by Read It Later
  • Runtastic Running & Fitness Tracker by Runtastic
  • Skyscanner by Skyscanner Ltd
  • Sleep as Android by Urbandroid Team
  • Vivino by Vivino

Android Excellence Games

  • After the End Forsaken Destiny by Nexon M Inc.
  • CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars by ZeptoLab
  • Golf Clash by Playdemic
  • Hitman GO Square Enix Ltd
  • Horizon Chase – World Tour by Aquiris Game Studio S.A
  • Kill Shot Bravo by Hothead Games
  • Lineage Red Knights by Ncsoft Corporation
  • Nonstop Knight by flaregames
  • PAC-MAN 256 – Endless Maze by Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe
  • Pictionary by Etermax
  • Reigns by DevolverDigital
  • Riptide GP: Renegade by Vector Unit
  • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts
  • Titan Brawl by Omnidrone
  • Toca Blocks by Toca Boca

 

Android Excellence Apps

  • AliExpress by Alibaba Mobile
  • B&H Photo Video by B&H Photo Video
  • Citymapper by Citymapper Limited
  • Drivvo by Drivvo
  • drupe by drupe
  • Evernote by Evernote Corporation
  • Hotel Tonight by HotelTonight
  • Kitchen Stories by Kitchen Stories
  • Komoot by komoot GmbH
  • Lifesum by Lifesum
  • Memrise by Memrise
  • Pocket by Read It Later
  • Runtastic Running & Fitness Tracker by Runtastic
  • Skyscanner by Skyscanner Ltd
  • Sleep as Android by Urbandroid Team
  • Vivino by Vivino

Android Excellence Games

  • After the End Forsaken Destiny by Nexon M Inc.
  • CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars by ZeptoLab
  • Golf Clash by Playdemic
  • Hitman GO Square Enix Ltd
  • Horizon Chase – World Tour by Aquiris Game Studio S.A
  • Kill Shot Bravo by Hothead Games
  • Lineage Red Knights by Ncsoft Corporation
  • Nonstop Knight by flaregames
  • PAC-MAN 256 – Endless Maze by Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe
  • Pictionary by Etermax
  • Reigns by DevolverDigital
  • Riptide GP: Renegade by Vector Unit
  • Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts
  • Titan Brawl by Omnidrone
  • Toca Blocks by Toca Boca

 

Google Pixel XL Successor ‘Muskie’ Reportedly Shelved for ‘Taimen’ With Larger Display

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Google was earlier tipped to launch three phones this year
  • Taimen has been rumoured to feature 4GB of RAM
  • Google Walleye is expected to succeed the regular-sized Pixel smartphone

If you have been following leaks around the second-generation Google Pixel smartphones, you would know that the search giant has been tipped to launch three new devices with codename ‘Walleye’, ‘Muskie’, and ‘Taimen’. Now, the company has reportedly shelved the rumoured successor to Google Pixel XL, i.e Muskie, and will instead go with Taimen, which reportedly features a larger display.

An Android Police report citing sources close to the matter, Google has shelved the device codenamed Muskie and now plans to launch two smartphones, codenamed Walleye and Taimen. While the reason for ditching Muskie has not been revealed, AP says that it has confirmed with multiple independent sources that the information is correct. This means that Muskie has been shelved permanently, Taimen will be the successor to Google Pixel XL, and Walleye will succeed the standard Google Pixel, as had been rumoured earlier.

As per the previously leaked information, Taimen is expected to be powered by an octa-core Qualcomm processor clocked at 1.90GHz. The smartphone, which was previously tipped to be a possible tablet as well, is expected to feature 4GB of RAM and run Android O. Rumours had previously indicated the Pixel successor will feature an improved camera and better processor as well.Google Pixel XL Successor 'Muskie' Reportedly Shelved for 'Taimen' With Larger Display

Considering information available regarding the upcoming Pixel smartphones is sparse, we will have to wait for more leaks to flow in till we can give you some idea of what to expect from the second-generation of Pixel smartphones. As Google Pixel and Pixel XL were launched in October last year, we can expect the next-generation models to arrive around the same time this year.

Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Rs. 43,500
Buy
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS

Display

5.00-inch

Processor

1.6GHz quad-core

Front Camera

8-megapixel

Resolution

1080×1920 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

Android 7.1

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

12.3-megapixel

Battery Capacity

2770mAh

BUY AT
  • Google Pixel (Very Silver, 32GB)
    Rs. 43,500
  • Google Pixel (Very Silver, 32GB)
    Rs. 44,000
  • Google Pixel (Very Silver, 32GB) – OFFER
    Rs. 44,000
Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Rs. 52,999
Buy
  • REVIEW
  • KEY SPECS
  • NEWS
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Brilliant low-light photography
  • Fast modern processor
  • Great battery life
  • Google Assistant with localisations for India
  • Bad
  • Not very stylish or eye-catching
  • Expensive
  • No storage expansion
BUY AT
  • Google Pixel XL (Very Silver, 32GB) –
    Rs. 52,999
  • Google Pixel XL (Very Silver, 32GB) – OFFER
    Rs. 54,000
  • Google Pixel XL (Very Silver, 32GB)
    Rs. 57,000

 

Google Maps Local Guides Program Adds New Levels, Perks, Badges and More

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Earlier, the program only consisted of five rank levels
  • Google has added new badges for levels 4-10
  • Certain contributions carry more weightage than the others

Keeping Google Maps updated is not an easy task and in order to ensure it has the latest data, Google has its Local Guides program in place. Now the search giant has added new levels, a revamped point system, and new badges to keep advanced level guides motivated for updating its Maps service regularly.

For those who are unaware, Local Guides is a community that provides regular updates to Google Maps. For their contributions, the members of this community are awarded with benefits like early access to new Google Maps features, exclusive contests, and events, among other things. Anybody can sign up to be a part of Local Guides and start contributing.

Moving on to the latest update to Local Guides, Google is now rolling out a new point system, new levels that unlock different kinds of perks, and new ways to earn points within this community. Google says that certain contributions will have more impact than others for users. For example, users will get more points if they are first to add a place to the map or leave a review.Google Maps Local Guides Program Adds New Levels, Perks, Badges and More

Now, users who are part of Local Guides community will earn points for rating the places and checking the facts that have been provided by other community members. Google has now added 5 additional levels. This means that users can now reach their maximum rank at level 10. The search giant has now introduced new badges for users with 4-10 level rank to make sure their contributions are recognised within the community. The new badges will be visible right beside their profile picture, Google says.
“Just like before, Local Guides Level 2 and above can enjoy early access to new product features, and get occasional perks from Google and local perks from partners,” Google said in its blog post. Further, members with Level 4-10 can redeem a free three-month Google Play Music subscription and get 75 percent off a rental in the Google Play Movie store, as per company.

Last month, Swiggy announced its partnership with the Local Guides program to offer special perks to the community members in India.

If you are not a part of this community already, now would be a good time to share your experiences, post pictures, and rate places to get some serious benefits from Google.

 

Google Trusted Contacts Review

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Trusted Contacts lets you share location
  • It lets people you trust track your location
  • It’s useful when, say, you are returning home late

Safety isn’t something anyone should take for granted, no matter where they live. Whether you’re returning home after a late night with friends, or simply returning late from work during rush hour, there’s a good chance you might have received calls from loved ones asking where you are. Annoying as these calls or texts might be, they only show that someone cares about you.

There’s no shortage of ways to let people know where you are. You can share your location via practically any messaging app, or just let your loved ones know where you are via calls or texts. If you are in a crowded bus or train and can’t use your phone, you can simply use an app such as Google’s Trusted Contacts to do this for you.

Trusted Contacts lets you create a list of, well, trusted contacts, who can access your location anytime, anywhere. Instead of calling or texting you, they simply click a button and find out where you are. This is a very useful feature from a safety standpoint. You’ll be asked if you want to share your location, so you know who is looking for you, but if you don’t respond, the details will be shared to the trusted contact anyway, as a safety feature.

We installed the app on an Android phone (the iOS version is still in the works) and added a couple of trusted contacts. But before you can add any contacts, the app reminds you that you need to enable location history and location sharing. Now most people already have this turned on if they use any kind of location-based apps on Android, but if you are worried about sharing your location with Google, with might be a problem.Google Trusted Contacts Review

Once you decide to give Google to access your location at all times, you can add trusted contacts. Trusted contacts can see your location via the app, but they don’t need to install it just to see your whereabouts. You can instead invite them to check your location via email. They can simply click a link and access your location via the Web.

Make sure that you don’t share this address with anyone else as it’s a publicly visible URL, which is a privacy concern. You can stop sharing your location at any point, after which no one will be able to see it. But at the time you are sharing it, the URL should still ideally be viewable only by people you’ve invited.

Sharing your location is easy enough. You just need to tap a button, and it starts happening until you stop sharing it the same way. That’s different from apps such as Find My Friends, available on Apple’s iOS, which share your location whenever your trusted friend seeks this information. When sharing is on, the app also lets people see where you are while you’re commuting, which is a nice addition. They can also request your location via the app or Web, and you get a notification for it. If you don’t respond within five minutes, your location gets shared automatically.

We tested this app in Delhi and it worked as expected. You could just as easily share your location via WhatsApp if you don’t mind having to manually send your location – and of course, you would lose out on live tracking too. Overall, we can recommend this app but be aware that sharing your location will decrease your smartphone’s battery life. If the privacy concerns don’t bother you and you are on Android, Trusted Contacts is a good app you to share your location with your loved ones.

 

Google Pushes Virtual Reality Harder With New Phones From Partners

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Huawei announced two phones that will work with Daydream View
  • Asus ZenFone AR will support both Daydream and Google’s Tango
  • Google has stressed that the programs do not overlap for now

Alphabet Inc’s Google quickened the pace of its push into virtual and augmented reality this week as its hardware partners announced new devices featuring the company’s technology at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas.

Google has been trying to position the vast network of smartphones running its Android operating system for virtual and augmented reality, known as VR and AR, fields that many in the technology industry say are poised to go mainstream after years of niche appeal.

Chinese manufacturer Huawei   announced on Thursday that two of its phones will soon work with Daydream View, a VR headset released last year by Google. Meanwhile, Taiwanese manufacturer AsusTek Computer Inc announced that its ZenFone AR will support both Daydream and Google’s Tango software for AR, in which computer-generated content is overlaid on the real world.

While the announcements expand the line-up of participating phones, Google still has much to do to take its technology to the masses, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research, noting that Samsung Electronics Co, the largest Android manufacturer, has yet to sign on.

“Google’s ecosystem for both AR and VR is in the very early days,” he said.Google Pushes Virtual Reality Harder With New Phones From Partners

As growth in the global smartphone market shows signs of slowing, some manufacturers are voicing optimism that AR and VR will revive consumer enthusiasm.

“This is the next wave of technology that is really going to get consumers excited about smartphones,” Erik Hermanson, Asus’s head of marketing for mobile products, said at the show.
But mainstream consumer interest in the technology remains largely unproven. Apps might be expected to stimulate demand, but until Google’s technology is available on a wider range of phones, it will be tough to persuade developers to build for the platform, analysts said.

“We are waiting for app developers to really use the platform for what it’s for,” Amit Singh, a vice president for VR at Google, told reporters.

In addition to supporting Daydream, Huawei said that it is exploring opportunities for Tango with Google. The Asus phone became the first to support both technologies.

Google has stressed that the programs do not overlap for now, but by pursuing both, the company can position itself for success regardless of whether AR or VR becomes a mainstream hit.

“By having options for both, they can cover the full potential market,” said analyst Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research.

 

Google Pixel and Pixel XL: Just 1 Million Units Sold in 8 Months?

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Google’s flagship Pixel smartphones have sold 1 million units
Its rivals Apple & Samsung have good sales number for their flagships
The Pixel and Pixel XL were launched last year
Google’s flagship Android device has now sold over 1 million units, media reported, saying the figure was reached based on downloads of an application exclusive to the device.

While this is a milestone in the eight-month history of Pixel seen as Google’s answer to the Apple iPhone, the number is overshadowed by its competition.

In comparison, Apple sold over 70 million iPhones (which included iPhone 7) in the last quarter of 2016 while Samsung is estimated to have sold 5 million units of Galaxy S8 in the first month of its release.
According to Arstechnica, Google doesn’t release sales data but the installs of the device-exclusive “Pixel Launcher” app has just passed the 1 million mark. The data includes pre-installed apps on new Pixel phones and doesn’t count installs on third-party devices and so can accurately estimate the number of Pixel phones sold, the report said.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL: Just 1 Million Units Sold in 8 Months?Launched last year, Pixel is the first smartphone that works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator. The 5-inch smartphone is equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset, 4GB of RAM and runs on Android Nougat 7.0 operating system. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, with two cores clocked at 1.6GHz, and two cores clocked at 2.15GHz, coupled with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. The smartphone sports 12.3-megapixel rear camera with a Sony IMX378 sensor, PDAF, a large f/2.0 aperture and 1.55-micron pixels. On the front, it sports an 8-megapixel camera with a Sony IMX179 sensor, an f/2.4 aperture and 1.4-micron pixels.

The device also has Pixel Imprint – a fingerprint scanner on the back of the smartphone for quick access to all apps, texts and e-mails.

 

Google for Jobs Starts Rolling Out in Search on Desktop and Mobile

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Job hunters will be able to go to Google and see help-wanted listings
  • The feature is available only in English, on both desktop and mobile
  • Google will also show employer ratings from current and former workers

Google is trying to turn its search engine into an employment engine, with a feature called Google for Jobs.

Beginning Tuesday, job hunters will be able to go to Google and see help-wanted listings that its search engine collects across the Internet. The feature is available only in English, on both desktop and mobile. The results will aim to streamline such listings by eliminating duplicate jobs posted on different sites. Google in its announcement post says “People from all walks of life, experiences and backgrounds have undergone a job hunt at some point in their lives. Whether you’re a young adult looking for your first job, a veteran hoping to leverage your leadership experience in civilian life, or a parent looking for a job with better pay to support a growing family, we hope this new experience on Google will help make the job search simpler and more effective.”

Google will also show employer ratings from current and former workers, as well as typical commute times to job locations. Google for Jobs will further let job seekers filter job openings based on category, date posted, and full-time or part-time employment, and other options.Google for Jobs Starts Rolling Out in Search on Desktop and Mobile

This detailed jobs information is a departure from the way Google’s main search engine has traditionally shown only bare-bones links to various help-wanted sites.
Google is teaming up with a variety of help-wanted and employer-rating services, including LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, and Facebook.

First announced at Google I/O 2017 in May, the Google for Jobs feature will be initially limited to the US market. There’s no word as to when the feature will be rolled out to other markets.

ALSO SEEGoogle for Jobs Is Now Live; at Least for Some Users

By the end of May, the Google for Jobs feature had become available for limited users in the US.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai had at the I/O 2017 Keynote revealed the motivation behind the new feature – according to the company, almost half of US employers were having issues filling open positions while job seekers weren’t even aware about a job opening.

 

More Android apps from dangerous Ztorg family sneak into Google Play

 

For the second time this month, Google has removed Android apps from its Google Play marketplace. Google did so after a security researcher found the apps contained code that laid the groundwork for attackers to take administrative “root” control of infected devices.

“Magic Browser,” as one app was called, was uploaded to Google’s official Android App bazaar on May 15 and gained more than 50,000 downloads by the time it was removed, Kaspersky Lab Senior Research Analyst Roman Unuchek said in a blog post published Tuesday. Magic Browser was disguised as a knock-off to the Chrome browser. The other app, “Noise Detector,” purported to measure the decibel level of sounds, and it had been downloaded more than 10,000 times. Both apps belong to a family of Android malware known as Ztorg, which has managed to sneak past Google’s automated malware checks almost 100 times since last September.

Most Ztorg apps are notable for their ability to use well-known exploits to root infected phones. This status allows the apps to have finer-grain control and makes them harder to be removed. Ztorg apps are also concerning for their large number of downloads. A Ztorg app known as Privacy Lock, for instance, received one million installations before Google removed it last month, while an infected Pokémon Go guide racked up 500,000 downloads before its removal in September.

Earlier this month, Google removed a game called colourblock after Kaspersky Lab’s Unuchek found it contained code dubbed DVmap that attempted to gain root. To evade detection by Google, DVmap developers initially uploaded a clean version of the game to Play and later updated it to add malicious functions. Unuchek has warned that the rooting processes used by malicious rooting apps can often harm the phones because the apps can overwrite crucial files and folders.

Magic Browser and Noise Detector didn’t actually root the phones, but the Ztorg digital fingerprints in both apps led Unuchek to theorize that the app developers were in the process of adding the capability to one or both of the apps gradually in an attempt to evade detection. In the meantime, the researcher said, the developers were using Magic Browser to either test or actively use malicious text-messaging functions. The app had the ability to send premium text messages to attacker-controlled numbers. To keep users in the dark, the app could also delete incoming texts and turn off the device sound.

“So I think that the authors are still testing this malware, because they use some techniques which can break the infected devices,” Unuchek wrote. “But they already have a lot of infected users on whom to test their methods. I hope that by uncovering this malware at such an early stage, we will be able to prevent a massive and dangerous attack when the attackers are ready to actively use their methods.”