Infected apps are secretly stealing money from millions of people

android

A 3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken March 22, 2016 / REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

‘All of this illicit activity takes place without the victim’s knowledge’

Malware that secretly charges users for fake services has been downloaded by millions of people, a new report says.

“ExpensiveWall”, software designed to cheat users out of their money without them realising, was hidden in at least 50 apps in the Google Play store. A list of apps can be found further down this page.

According to the Check Point researchers who discovered it, ExpensiveWall has been downloaded between one million and 4.2 million times.

“The malware registers victims to premium services without their knowledge and sends fraudulent premium SMS messages, charging their accounts for fake services,” the researchers said.

“In some cases, the SMS activity takes place without giving the user any notice. In other cases, the malware presents the user with a button called ‘Continue’, and once the user clicks the button, the malware sends a premium SMS on [their] behalf.”

A number of people who installed ExpensiveWall-infected apps tried to warn other users off downloading them by leaving negative reviews on Google Play. Some of these read:

“The comments indicate that the app is promoted on several social networks including Instagram, which might explain how it came to be downloaded so many times,” said Check Point.

The ExpensiveWall apps were reported to Google on 7 August and removed from the Play store.

However, Check Point says more infected apps were made available to download on Google Play “within days”. These were taken down four days later.

The ExpensiveWall apps requested a number of permissions from users after being downloaded, including internet and SMS access.

These are fairly common permissions that most users wouldn’t think twice about granting, but allowed ExpensiveWall to operate.

However, Check Point says it could have caused a lot more damage.

“While ExpensiveWall is currently designed only to generate profit from its victims, a similar malware could be easily modified to use the same infrastructure in order to capture pictures, record audio, and even steal sensitive data and send the data to a command and control (C&C) server,” it said.

“Since the malware is capable of operating silently, all of this illicit activity takes place without the victim’s knowledge, turning it into the ultimate spying tool.”

Check Point says ExpensiveWall is a new variant of a malware found on Google Play earlier this year by McAfee, and says “the entire malware family” has been downloaded between 5.9 million and 21.1 million times.

If you downloaded an ExpensiveWall-infected app, you should delete it immediately. Check Point has listed the following apps online:

  • I Love Fliter
  • Tool Box Pro
  • X WALLPAPER
  • Horoscope
  • X Wallpaper Pro
  • Beautiful Camera
  • Color Camera
  • Love Photo
  • Tide Camera
  • Charming Camera
  • Horoscope
  • DIY Your Screen
  • Ringtone
  • ดวง 12 ราศี Lite
  • Safe locker
  • Wifi Booster
  • Cool Desktop
  • useful cube
  • Tool Box Pro
  • Useful Desktop
  • ดวง 12 ราศี Lite
  • Horoscope2.0
  • Yes Star
  • Shiny Camera
  • Simple Camera
  • Smiling Camera
  • Universal Camera
  • Amazing Toolbox
  • Easy capture
  • Memory Doctor
  • Tool Box Pro
  • Reborn Beauty
  • Joy Photo
  • Fancy Camera
  • Amazing Photo
  • Amazing Camera
  • Super Wallpaper
  • DD Player
  • Fascinating Camera
  • Universal Camera
  • Cream Camera
  • Looking Camera
  • DD Weather
  • Global Weather
  • Love Fitness
  • Pretty Pictures
  • Cool Wallpapers
  • Beauty Camera
  • Love locker
  • Real Star
  • Magic Camera
  • Wonder Camera
  • Funny Camera
  • Easy Camera
  • Smart Keyboard
  • Travel Camera
  • Photo Warp
  • Lovely Wallpaper
  • Lattice Camera
  • Quick Charger
  • Up Camera
  • Photo Power
  • HDwallpaper
  • Wonderful Games
  • BI File Manager
  • Wallpapers HD
  • Beautiful Video-Edit your Memory
  • Wonderful Cam
  • useful cube
  • Ringtone
  • Exciting Games
  • Replica Adventure
  • GG Player
  • Love Camera
  • Oneshot Beautify
  • Pretty Camera
  • CuteCamera
  • Cartoon Camera-stylish, clean
  • Art Camera
  • Amazing Video
  • Fine Photo
  • Infinity safe
  • Magical Horoscope
  • Toolbox
  • Cute Belle
  • CartoonWallpaper
  • Ringtone
  • Best Camera
  • Colorful Locker
  • Light Keyboard
  • Safe Privacy
  • Enjoy Wallpaper
  • File Manager
  • Fancy locker
  • Cute Puzzle
  • Smile Keyboard
  • Vitality Camera
  • Lock Now
  • Fancy Camera
  • Useful Camera
  • Vitality Camera
  • Sec Transfer
  • Lock Now
  • Magic Filter
  • Funny Video
  • Amazing Gamebox
  • Super locker
  • Music Player

[“Source-independent”]

Feeling Drained? These Are The Apps To Blame

Image result for Feeling Drained? These Are The Apps To Blame

For something we use so often, we certainly have a love/hate relationship with our smartphones. These devices, while endlessly useful, can often be the bane of our day-to-day lives when they give us the dreaded ‘1% battery’ notification. Yes, they can transform hour-long monotonous commutes, but that same distraction can also leave us wondering how we have come to rely on them so much. It’s all too familiar a scenario that, when we do need to use our phones for an important call or to reply to emails, we find them drained from too much time on Facebook.

But rather than burdening ourselves with battery packs or searching for easily accessible plugs, there is an easier way to extend battery life – simply by altering the way we use certain apps.

After conducting extensive research into over 3,000,000 Android users, Avast’s Android App Performance & Trend Report allows us to see which apps are the worst offenders for draining battery life, taking up storage and affecting overall performance. Meaning that when you choose to drain your battery by uploading statuses about last night’s Game of Thrones, at least you did it knowingly.

Social Media and Instant Messaging: the Reformed and the Repeat Offenders

Historically, social media apps have been recognised as greedy users of both data and battery. This unwanted reputation has led to a number of improvements for well-known apps in the past year, showing that concerns around performance are equally important to their creators as they are to consumers.

Take Snapchat and Facebook. The popular image messenger and social media behemoth have made concerted efforts in the last six months to reduce the impact they have on Android devices. Having previously held the top two positions for performance-draining apps, both have shown marked improvements by removing themselves from the top 10 overall worst offenders list, according to our report.

Instant messaging apps are some of our most commonly used in daily life and each person has their own personal favourite. But which one is the most efficient at maximising your phone’s performance? Despite improvements in the overall categories, both the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps are still gluttons for battery and data.

Many users may not be aware that this can be quickly remedied by simply accessing the social media site through a browser, rather than the app. It means the app can be deleted which will save battery and free up some all-important space.

WhatsApp is another prime offender for leeching charge. The instant messenger service ranks as the sixth highest battery drainer in apps that run from start-up.

Spring-Cleaning Your Smartphone

Many people won’t be aware of this, but Facebook and Instagram use your phone’s internal memory to stow away a whole host of files you didn’t even know were there. Considering a whole host of other apps also run from start-up, a bevy of files begin to accumulate before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox, as well as messenger and navigation apps, are also guilty of similar problems.

Designated cleaning apps are a great fix for this as they monitor and scan the hidden caches on your device, ensuring that your smartphone is fully optimised without any unnecessary baggage.

Streamlining Your Streaming

While the move from storing media to streaming has afforded our smartphones a lot more space, there are still a number of apps moonlighting as serious storage hogs. Key culprits are Netflix and Spotify, which adds insult to injury as they’re both very high up the list of battery sappers, too.

Streaming apps are best used when your device is plugged in and charging, but if you really need your latest fix of EastEnders while on the go, most streaming apps have offline modes to conserve both your battery and data. Downloading a programme while connected to Wi-Fi before watching it later offline is the most economical way of viewing your favourite shows. It will ensure you don’t get caught short missing the crucial cliff-hanger as your battery slowly dies.

Top Tips for Prolonging Battery Life

In addition to the aforementioned points, there are a number of other ways to help you get the most out of your device. Push notifications are useful for urgent news updates or as gentle nudges to continue our Spanish lessons. But do we need Facebook telling us we haven’t ‘updated our profile in six weeks’? Push notifications consume valuable resources. Evaluate which ones you can live without.

While GPS can get you out of a number of sticky situations, it’s not always essential. Switch it off when you don’t need it and give your phone a much-needed boost.

But alas, all of these performance-affecting apps have nothing on the number one cause of battery consumption: screen brightness. Amazingly, screen brightness is accountable for up to 80 percent of entire power consumption. Most modern smartphones come with an ‘auto’ option for screen displays, increasing and decreasing the brightness depending on your surroundings. Leaving this option on will not only ensure your eyes get the break they sometimes need from a bright screen, but you’ll also gain more precious minutes on your smartphone.

[“Source-huffingtonpost”]

Kobo adds audiobooks to its iOS and Android apps

Audiobook fans have a new option to comparison shop against. Rakuten Kobo has announced it’s adding audiobooks to its iOS and Android ebook apps, with two ways to buy them: a la carte, or with a $10 per month subscription service that nets you one book per month. The service launches today in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand via an update to the apps.

Kobo, which was bought by e-commerce platform Rakuten in 2011, is best known for being one of the only e-reader makers around not named Amazon. But while it doesn’t have the same kind of name recognition, Kobo does have an almost completely global reach. It sells e-readers or ebook services in 190 countries, according to the company, and has a library of 5 million ebooks. The company also offers access to discounted ebooks, and library card compatibility, too.

The new audiobook offering is only coming to the mobile apps, though, so don’t expect to be able to listen to books on any of the company’s e-readers any time soon. Kobo hasn’t said how many books will be available at launch, but you can try out the service for free for 30 days.

[“Source-theverge”]

Apps to Provide Peace of Mind With a Teenager Behind the Wheel

Q. I have a new teenage driver in the family. What’s the best way to keep tabs on his whereabouts when he is out with the car? Will regular location-tracking phone apps work?

A. As long as you and the teenage driver agree to use a location-tracking app on your phones, the software should give you an idea of where he is at any given moment. Several apps and services for monitoring location through a smartphone can be found online. But keep in mind that you may not get the latest updates if the teenager loses his phone, its battery runs out or a network signal is unavailable.

Some location-tracking services include features specifically for keeping tabs on young drivers. For example, Life 360’s Driver Protect for Android and iOS is one option in this category and includes roadside assistance, a “Safe Drive Review” report for parents to see where the driver went (and how fast), arrival alerts, crash detection and emergency response tools. A Driver Protect subscription is $7.99 a monthbut comes with a free seven-day trial.

Photo

The Life360 Driver Protect app, one of several subscription services that track drivers, guides a new user through setting up a “circle” for family members to see one another on a map. Once configured, the app collects GPS and other data from the driver’s phone to show location, route and other information. Credit The New York Times

For parents who do not want to rely solely on information collected from the phone, a number of companies make vehicle-monitoring kits that use a small gadget that plugs into the car’s onboard diagnostics (OBD-II) port, usually found under the dashboard. Through its companion smartphone app, the device reports the car’s location, speed, braking information, driving history and more. You need to buy the OBD-II adapter (typically less than $80) and pay a monthly subscription fee. Prices vary based on the company, but Bouncie, Hum and MotoSafety are three car-tracking products to consider.

Newer vehicles may have optional tracking tools and custom apps available, so check your car’s user manual if you think these may be available. If the car already has the OnStar vehicle-safety service, you can add its FamilyLink monitoring feature for $3.99 a month.

Welcoming a new motorist into the family these days involves more than just driver’s education classes and adding the teenager to the insurance policy. Distracted driving incidents from texting or fiddling with other technology in the car are dangers that most older generations of drivers did not experience. The National Safety Council has information and app suggestions online for reducing distracted driving. Additionally, the council’s DriveItHome.org site hosts a series of detailed guides for parents of new driver

Even for parents who opt for less electronic surveillance of their teenage drivers, there is software to suggest for the new driver. Apps for the family’s insurance company, navigational aids and roadside-assistance tools can provide help when needed and minimize that invasive feeling.