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”]

FCA warns it may intervene as millions take pension cash early

Many savers are apparently moving money out of pension pots into other savings vehicles, which could be ‘disastrous’. Photograph: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images/Cultura RF

The TUC has warned that millions of workers risk being “plunged into insecurity in old age” after an official report revealed a surge of people grabbing their pension cash early without taking advice.

More than two years after the government brought in a range of pension freedoms, the Financial Conduct Authority concluded that accessing pension pots early had become “the new norm”. The regulator warned that early intervention may be needed to ensure this multibillion-pound market worked well.

The FCA’s study of the retirement market also found that in more than half of the cases where all the money was taken out of a pension pot, the cash was not spent on cars or holidays, etc; instead it was shifted into other savings or investments, partly because of a “mistrust of pensions”.

For many people the freedoms introduced in April 2015 effectively abolished the requirement to convert a pension pot into an annuity – a product that provides an income for life. Instead, older people are free to do whatever they like with their retirement cash – although those withdrawing large sums may well incur a considerable tax bill. Earlier this year it emerged that the reforms had raised five times more tax for the Treasury’s coffers than was originally forecast, suggesting that people were withdrawing larger sums than expected.

The FCA found that almost three-quarters (72%) of the pots accessed since the freedoms came in were held by people under 65. Most are choosing to take lump sums rather than a regular income. Meanwhile, more than half (53%) of the pots accessed had been fully withdrawn.

“Several factors motivated consumers to access their savings early, including a perception that ‘everyone is doing it’ and a general climate of mistrust,” stated the report. Meanwhile, moving cash from a pension into another savings or investment vehicle “can result in consumers paying too much tax, missing out on investment growth or losing out on other benefits”.

The report also found that income drawdown, which allows savers to take out regular amounts of money while the majority of their savings remain invested, had become much more popular. However, the proportion of drawdown plans bought without advice leapt from 5% before the freedoms to 30% now. “Drawdown is complex … There is a question about whether further support and protection is needed to manage drawdown effectively,” said the FCA.

Responding to the findings, Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “This is a damning verdict on so-called ‘pensions freedom’. Workers who are facing insecurity in their working lives now risk being plunged into insecurity in old age. Savers are increasingly dipping into their pots early. And others are following the path of least resistance and risk buying rip-off products.”

Moving retirement cash into other investments “can have disastrous long-term consequences”, said investment firm Old Mutual Wealth. Another firm, Retirement Advantage, said that to do this was “frankly bonkers”.

[“Source-theguardian”]

Lyft Drivers, if Employees, Owed Millions More: Court Documents

Lyft Drivers, if Employees, Owed Millions More: Court Documents

Drivers who worked for ride-hailing service Lyft in California during the past four years would have been entitled to an estimated $126 million (roughly Rs. 838 crores) in expense reimbursements had they been employees rather than contractors, court documents show.

Lyft drivers would have recouped an average of $835 (roughly Rs. 55,515) each under a standard rate for mileage reimbursement set by the US government, according to the documents, which were made public on Friday and had not been previously reported.

Lyft and larger rival Uber Technologies Inc face legal actions from drivers who contend they should be classified as employees and therefore entitled to reimbursement for expenses, including gas and vehicle maintenance. Drivers currently pay those costs themselves.

The new figures, requested by a judge and calculated by attorneys for the drivers based on data supplied by Lyft, provide a rare glimpse into how much ride-hailing services may save by classifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

In a statement, Lyft said a recent survey showed that 82 percent of drivers preferred being classified as independent contractors. The company also called the reimbursement calculation “hypothetical and misleading,” partly because it assumed some drivers would be deemed employees even if they only worked “a handful of hours.”

The judge asked for the estimates as part of his oversight of a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by California drivers against the ride service.

More than 100,000 of the 150,602 drivers included in the settlement drove fewer than 60 hours during the four-year period at issue and likely would have made less than $835 each in expense reimbursements had they been considered employees.

Other drivers racked up hundreds of hours and would have been entitled to far more, the documents show. More than 1,500 drivers drove 1,000 hours or more over the four years.

It is unclear how many drivers Lyft has across the country. The company operates in more than 200 US markets and has raised about $1.4 billion (roughly Rs. 9,300 crores) to date from investors, including General Motors Co, Andreessen Horowitz and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. It is valued in the private market at $5.5 billion (roughly Rs. 36,536 crores).

In an interview last week with Reuters, prior to the release of the documents, Lyft President and co-founder John Zimmer said drivers were better served by company programs – with higher payments to drivers who work more, the opportunity to get tips, and access to discounted gasoline – than if they were reclassified as employees.

“It should be understood that this is a specific industry where our average driver is doing 15 hours, and we are trying to create benefits for all drivers,” Zimmer said. “We’ve thought about it from the perspective of all the drivers on the platform. … We are trying to do what is the right legal path, and for us that’s quite clear.”

The settlement
Lyft agreed to settle the class-action lawsuit in January. Under the proposed deal, Lyft would pay $12.25 million (roughly Rs. 81.3 crores), with drivers receiving an average of $56 each after attorneys’ fees and other expenses, documents show.

During settlement negotiations, attorneys for the plaintiffs said in filings that they believed drivers were entitled to expense reimbursements totaling $64 million (roughly Rs. 425 crores), far less than the $126 million (roughly Rs. 837 crores) they had calculated after being provided with updated Lyft records.

“During these few months since the agreement was negotiated, Lyft has grown substantially (far beyond what Plaintiffs would have predicted at the time they were negotiating),” they wrote.

Based on the updated reimbursement data provided by Lyft, the $12.25 million settlement represents slightly less than 10 percent of the potential value of the claim, they said. Plaintiff attorneys have argued that the deal was a good one for drivers, partly because Lyft would no longer be able to summarily terminate drivers from its system.

The latest figures were submitted in response to questions about the proposed settlement from U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco, who is expected to consider whether to preliminarily approve the deal at a hearing this week.

Earlier this month five drivers and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union objected to the proposed settlement, saying it would shortchange drivers by keeping them as independent contractors.

“Plaintiffs have not properly calculated the value of the class’s claims, have not considered the ongoing economic – and public cost – of Lyft’s misclassification scheme,” they wrote.

The Teamsters also filed a complaint against Lyft with the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency charged with investigating and ruling on unfair labor practices.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, who represents the plaintiffs, said the lawyers also would have preferred that drivers be reclassified as employees, but the risks of continuing the lawsuit were too great. Nothing about the settlement precludes NLRB action, she said.

“Based on the data we reviewed, the vast majority of Lyft drivers have driven very little – even less than 30 hours total for the company, which is why the average amount per driver is so low,” she said.

The data underscores Lyft’s argument that the majority of its drivers are part-time, using the service to supplement other income.

About 83,000 California drivers drove fewer than 30 hours total over the past four years, according to court documents. Of the 150,602 total Lyft drivers covered by the settlement, drivers worked an average of 92 hours each during the four-year period.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Apps, Lyft, Uber, US
[“source-Gadgets”]