Your apps are spying on you

Awareness around data integrity is improving every day, but are your efforts to shore up your sensitive personal information in vain?

Unfortunately, the answer appears to be yes.

Have you ever had a phone conversation about a brand or product, only to hop onto your browser later that day and be inundated with ads for the same product?

It’s enough to make anyone do a double take, and it’s been the source of an old legend: our phones record our conversations.

In their 2018 study, undergraduate Elleen Pan and doctoral candidate Jingjing Ren set out to test this very theory, analysing over 17,000 of the most popular Android apps.

The result?

9,000 of those apps had the potential to be unfaithful to the user.

While no evidence was found of recorded conversations, the apps in question took screenshots of activity before forwarding them onto third parties.

Oh dear.Oh dear.

That’s just a tad horrifying.

David Choffnes, who was one of two computer science professors who oversaw the study, commented on the findings: “We found that thousands of popular apps have the ability to record your screen and anything you type.

“That does include your username and password, because it can record the characters you type before they turn into those little black dots.”

“We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack,” Choffnes said, “and we were surprised to find several needles.”

Although the privacy breaches over the course of the study were largely benign, it drives home just how easy it could be for your phone to be exploited for cash.

“This opening will almost certainly be used for malicious purposes, it’s simple to install and collect this information,” said Christo Wilson, the other computer science professor on the research team.

“And what’s most disturbing is that this occurs with no notifications to or permission by users.

“In the case we caught, the information sent to a third party was zip codes, but it could just as easily have been credit card numbers.”

It should be noted that while the study was only conducted on Android apps, the study concluded that iOS apps were likely guilty of similar breaches.

So, how do we combat this betrayal?

Android Q teases new and improved privacy controls

While there’s no quick fix for this loophole, greater app security is a major point of emphasis in the upcoming Android Q release.

In the new edition of the popular OS, a status bar feature displays when sensitive phone permissions are in use and which apps are responsible.

Source: arstechnica Source: arstechnica

Among these fresh features will be a list that displays:

  • Apps by most frequently accessed permission
  • Apps by most permission use
  • Apps that gained recent permission access

This will be a significant upgrade over Android’s current permission screen, which is a simple series of on/off switches.

Other improvements include greater visibility on why apps need certain permissions and GPS services being actively turned off when an app is running in the background.

In theory, these updates should help users make informed decisions around which apps could be up to no good.

[“source=finfeed”]

Millennials are killing canned tuna, but the industry is fighting back

Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Geri Lavrov | Getty Images
Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Another one bites the dust. This time, millennials are killing canned tuna, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Consumption of canned tuna has dropped 42 percent per capita from the last 30 years through 2016, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. And the industry places the blame on younger consumers, who want fresher or more convenient options.

“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” Andy Mecs, the vice president of marketing and innovation for Starkist, said to the Journal.

The struggle of the three largest canned tuna companies, StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea International, mirrors that of others in the packaged food industry, like Campbell Soup and Kraft Heinz. Younger consumers are turning away from processed foods, and new competitors are catering to changing tastes faster than the industry’s giants.

To Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, the bigger picture is about convenience.

“In the last 15 years, can openers became passe,” Harris told CNBC.

Harris, who has worked with canned tuna businesses, believes that the traditional companies have fallen behind because it’s a low-margin business and investing in packaging falls low on the list of priorities. The main priority for canned tuna companies now, according to Harris, should be packaging that makes it easy to remove and drain the tuna.

StarKist started re-thinking its product line-up in earnest about three to five years ago when the decline of tuna accelerated, Mecs said in an interview with CNBC. He remembered reading a newspaper article a few years ago about millennials recoiling from cereal because the bowl had to be cleaned. For him, the story reiterated how much consumers care about convenience.

Upstarts like Wild Planet Foods and Safe Catch market their tuna as safer and higher quality and are slowly eating into the big three’s market share, the Journal said. According to Nielsen data as of October, smaller brands (not including private labels) control 6.3 percent of the market, up from 3.7 percent in 2014, the Journal said.

To stage a comeback, the traditional tuna makers are taking a page from those brands. Bumble Bee and StarKist both have premium brands that they market as sustainable.

They’re also focusing on the products that are working. Tuna pouches don’t require a can opener, and StarKist told CNBC that sales of its pouches are increasing by 20 percent annually. For the first time, the Pittsburgh-based company sold more pouches than their most popular can size in 2018.

Kroger’s Home Chef, a meal-kit company, has partnered with the tuna brand to put its yellowfin tuna pouches in kits next year.

Bumble Bee and StarKist have also turned to flavors favored by millennials, like sriracha.

Chicken of the Sea is pitching it to younger consumers as a snack. The San Diego-based company started selling resealable cups of its flavored tuna this summer.

Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea weren’t immediately available for comment when CNBC reached out.

[“source=cnbc”]

Mobile apps may or may not be collecting your child’s data—but here’s why you should assume they are

This week two democratic senators are calling on federal regulators to investigate if children’s apps are tracking their data.

Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission, writing they are concerned that numerous apps are potentially violating the law.

Without explicit parental consent, it is illegal to collect data on children under the age of 13 according to the Children Online Privacy Protection Act, which went into effect in 2000.

This comes after last month when the New Mexico Attorney Generalsued the maker of app Fun Kid Racing, as well as the online ad businesses run by Google, Twitter and three other companies.

The suit accused the companies of violating the law, and that Google misled parents by allowing apps to remain in its Google Play store children’s section after it was notified by researchers that thousands of apps may be tracking young children.

“The problem is this – we don’t know where the onus lies,” New York Times reporter Edmund Lee told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview.

Lee says the law isn’t clear on whether it should be the platform such as Google or Apple to make sure the apps in their stores are complying with the law, whether it’s up to the game developer or if it should be up to the third party data firm tracking the data.

“So there’s a whole system in place that everyone keeps passing the buck and there’s no case law yet,” says Lee. “Even the legislation – it’s not entirely clear who is ultimately responsible.”

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So what should a parent do if they are concerned their child is being tracked?

Lee says, “You should just assume it’s going to happen you should assume you’re going to be tracked.”

“Right now it’s the ‘Wild West’ there are very few protections, few sort of places of enforcement around it, and that’s why it’s hard as a parent and as a kid to navigate,” he added.

However, Lee notes most of these are harmless games, and the tracking data is used for advertising purposes, which is how these companies make money.

For parents worried about their child’s privacy – Lee says he tells his own daughter to keep her communication online only with people she knows.

“You’re not going to be able to look and know every single piece of data that’s being floated out there until there’s legislation and case law in place. But in the meantime make sure you know who your kid is talking to and it shouldn’t be strangers and it shouldn’t be someone they just met online.”

[“source=businessinsider”]

How IIMs are using CAT 2018 to take in more non-engineers

IIMs want students to come from diverse academic backgrounds and therefore IIM professors are trying to redesign questions for its MBA entrance exam CAT.  Photo: HT

IIMs want students to come from diverse academic backgrounds and therefore IIM professors are trying to redesign questions for its MBA entrance exam CAT. Photo: HT

New Delhi: As their classrooms continue to be dominated by men and engineers, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are trying to add diversity, which will ultimately show up in corporate boardrooms over the next few years. At the centre of this strategy is IIM’s Common Admission Test (CAT 2018), which will see a change in the type of questions being asked.

Although the IIMs have decided not to change the broad pattern in this year’s CAT examination, yet questions will be framed in a manner to create a level field for students from all streams, including arts and commerce.

IIM officials say they do not want the CAT pattern to be biased towards engineering students as there is a need for academic diversity in India’s top B-schools.

What kind of questions should you expect in the CAT

CAT 2018 convener and IIM Calcutta professor Sumanta Basu told Livemint that there was no significant change in the broad pattern of the CAT exam. The IIMs are continuing with the same set of three sections:

Section I: Verbal ability and reading comprehension

Section II: Data interpretation and logical reasoning

Section III: Quantitative ability

But within these sections, there is a change. “We may focus on questions that test candidates on fundamentals,” Basu said. “Our effort will primarily involve framing the correct types of questions instead of changing the pattern altogether,” he added.

The CAT exam does not have a syllabus. Only mocks tests, to be posted soon on the CAT website, can help you understand the pattern of questions. In the three-hour-long computer-based exam, candidates get 60 minutes each for the three sections.

According to analysis of previous CAT exams by coaching centres, the focus has been more on testing reasoning and analytical ability than grammar and vocabulary. This could be a reason why engineers have the upper hand in the CAT.

How are engineers filling up IIMs in large numbers

If you walk into a typical classroom in any of the 20 IIMs in India, chances are high you will encounter students who have already completed their engineering courses. Even popular author Chetan Bhagat first studied in IIT Delhi and then joined IIM Ahmedabad before working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

IIM Calcutta, ranked consistently among the top management colleges in India, has an overwhelming number of 88% students coming in from an engineering background. The figures may be better in some other IIMs, like the one in Ahmedabad (68%), but the IIMs remain a bastion of engineering graduates.

Engineers dominate list of top scorers in the CAT exams. In 2017, there were only three non-engineers who scored 100 percentile.

What are the other changes in IIM selection process

Over the last few years, the IIMs have been making concentrated efforts to have more academic diversity, not just through the CAT but via other aspects of the selection process.

IIM Calcutta, for example, allots only 15 points out of 50 to the CAT score the while personal interview (PI) and a written ability test (WAT) together receive almost double the weight (24+5). Therefore, a candidate who can write well on a given topic has a higher chance of getting through IIM Calcutta than someone who is good in analysis but has poor writing and communication skills.

IIM Bangalore, on the other hand, wants you to be at your best in PI. The weightage is 30 for PI and 25 for CAT.

If you are applying to IIM Ahmedabad then a science student has to score at least 55% in class XII exams to get 1 point in the preliminary screening process while a commerce student needs only 50% and arts 45%.

How are IIMs giving importance to gender diversity

Besides skewed towards engineers, classrooms at IIMs are also skewed against the fairer sex. IIMs, both old and new ones, are walking the extra mile to ensure that women representation.

The admission of girls in IIMs during the last three years has shown an increasing trend with the total women admitted going up from 881 in 2015-17 to 1211 in 2017-19, according to the union ministry of human resource development. IIM Ahmedabad’s flagship PGP course saw 28% women students in 2017, as compared to 14% women in 2015.

IIM Rohtak has been the most successful so far in gender diversity with a ratio of over 50% going in favour of women.

[“Source-livemint”]