Warning over iPhone apps that can silently turn on cameras at any time

The new iPhone X will feature an advanced front camera that can build up 3D pictures of faces CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

Apple has been urged to change the way in which iPhone apps are granted access to the phone’s camera after a security researcher demonstrated how apps can secretly record photos and videos without the user knowing.

Felix Krause, an Austrian developer who works for Google, built an app that was able to take pictures of its user every second and upload them, without notifying the user. He called it a “privacy loophole that can be abused by iOS apps”.

When an app wants to access the camera, for example to scan a credit card or take a profile picture during the set-up process, the iPhone user must give the app permission, in the same way that apps must ask to access the camera roll, location and contacts and to send notifications. Once allowed, it has to be turned off via the settings menu.

The system is similar to the permissions required by apps on Android. Google has recently deleted several apps that surreptitiously recorded users and masqueraded as legitimate apps.

But Krause said that once an app has been granted initial access, it can take photos and videos whenever it is opened up. Unlike on Mac computers, which have a small green light next to the camera when it is being used, there is no indication that an app is recording videos or taking photos, or when it sends them elsewhere.

Facebook app permissions
App permissions are indefinite, apply to both the front and back camera, and can be used for photo and video

The iPhone’s camera app permissions do not differentiate between the phone’s front and back camera. Allowing camera permissions can grant extra access in the latest version of iOS, which has a facial recognition engine that could allow apps to detect emotions.

The permissions system is not a bug or a flaw – it works in exactly the way Apple has designed it – but Krause said malicious apps could take advantage of it to surreptitiously record users.

He demonstrated this by building an app that took a photo of the person using it every second, and which also ran a facial recognition program to detect the person using it.

He warned that other apps could monitor users’ emotions as they scroll through a social network news feed, record what they are saying, or live stream video of them in the bathroom as they tap away at a smartphone game.

Krause said Apple should introduce a system of temporary permissions – one that allows apps to take a picture during the set-up process, but revokes it after a period of time – or to introduce a warning light or notification to the iPhone that tells people when they are being recorded.

There are few examples of apps being found to secretly record users – apart from those specifically designed for this such as Stealth Cam. The practice is banned by Apple’s App Store guidelines, which state that a “reasonably conspicuous audio, visual or other indicator must be displayed to the user as part of the Application to indicate that a Recording is taking place”.

Krause claimed it would be easy to hide the behaviour, allowing it to make it through Apple’s approval process.

Facebook users have often claimed that the social network is secretly listening to their conversations in an attempt to better target adverts, something that Facebook itself has denied.

Some privacy conscious users have taken to covering up the cameras on their computers in an attempt to prevent being spied on, including Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Krause recently demonstrated how malicious apps could steal a user’s iCloud password by appearing to be an official command. The developer works at Google but says his work on security is a hobby, in no way affiliated with his employer.

Apple did not comment.


UGC warning to Bhimrao Ambedkar University faculty on discrimination against SC, ST students

BBAU authorities have been asked to  develop a page on the university website for complaints of caste discrimination against SC/ST students and also make available a complaint register at the registrar’s office.

Lucknow: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked officials and faculty members of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) to desist from any act of discrimination against scheduled caste (SC) nd scheduled tribe (ST) students on grounds of their social origin.

BBAU authorities were also asked to develop a page on the university website for such complaints of caste discrimination against SC/ST students and also make available a complaint register at the registrar’s office.

BBAU has 50% seats reserved for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students.

UGC under secretary Madhu Verma in her order said if any such incident came to the notice of the authorities, action should be taken against the erring officials/faculty members promptly.

The order said the university should ensure that no official, faculty members indulge in any kind of discrimination against any community or category of students.

The university may constitute a committee to look into the discriminating complaints received from SC/ST students, teachers and non teaching staff, the UGC order reads.

The university was asked to advise the official/faculty members that they should be more sensitive while dealing with such incidents of caste discrimination and send an action taken report to UGC within 30 days.

There have been a number of number occasions when students have made allegations of caste discrimination and lodged complaints.

Last year in September, a Dalit student studying forensic science, Sumit Kumar, who was suffering from liver cirrhosis, was allegedly forced to vacate his room by officials on charges of beating up a professor.

“The university officials threw out all my medicines, ultrasound reports and other belongings without showing any mercy. They were so heartless that they did not even bother to inform me. They simply uploaded the order of my rustication (with seven others) and threw away all my belongings from the room in my absence,” Kumar told Hindustan Times.

The university administration, however, has denied the charge.

BBAU was in the news on January 2016 when a few Dalit students raised slogans against PM Modi during its convocation ceremony over his silence on Hyderabad University PhD student Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

It was here at BBAU that Modi spoke about Vemula’s death for the first time saying his death “pained” him and that “Mother India has lost one of her sons”.




VR in India suggests warning and Optimism

VR in India Shows Caution and Optimism

big players are coming into the VR media enterprise in India.
brands remain sceptical of the capacity of the medium for now.
Media advent is happening in films, advertising, or even healthcare.
while Parth Choksi visited Camp Nou – the house of soccer membership FC Barcelona – some years ago, he knew he changed into seeing something unique. alongside the dozens of trophies amassed with the aid of the team over the a long time become a digital reality enjoy which thrust you into the pre-in shapesurroundings, from the locker room to taking walks up the stairs onto the pitch side. Choksi, being amassive football fan, became enthralled.

he’s now the co-founder and CMO of a digital fact content material company, Meraki. based in Mumbai and absolutely bootstrapped, it has already advanced projects for star sports, Sunburn and IIT Bombay’smood Indigo – three of the four co-founders are alumni of the generation college.

With the engineering pedigree and the starvation for film-making in region (two of the co-founders haveboth been concerned in university film clubs or labored on a Grammy-winning album) Meraki’s passionlies in creating brief fiction. Choksi proudly pointed out their efforts in the field, and referred to one in alltheir latest initiatives – a 4-minute brief film related to cutting-edge dance – to provide an explanation for the troubles of working with, and in, VR. whilst the story follows simply characters, maximum of themovie has multiple variations of them at any given time, developing challenges no longer simplyduring manufacturing but additionally for visitors who were attracted in opposite instructions.

rather than ordinary film projection, VR stories are advised in 360 ranges, which means there is noassure that the audience is going to be looking at what you want them to peer. thru visible cues andmovement, Choksi noted, you can try to factor the manner. however in contrast to traditional movie, or-dimensional movie as VR content material makers have a tendency to call it, you haven’t any realmanage over what the audience makes a speciality of.

(also see: Making technology Fiction actual With digital reality)

however that’s element and parcel of working with virtual truth. it is a totally unique artwork shape thanthe sector has seen in ages. The language of traditional film has been written because the stop of thenineteenth century. that is a long time, extra so whilst you consider when VR film-making started out. “we are trying to write the grammar of virtual fact,” Choksi said.

Technical challenges and other teething problems
VR content manufacturing then, isn’t just an uphill challenge, but one whose mere life continues to bebeing questioned. The enterprise at large – the brands, broadcasters, advertisers and so onaren’taware about the possibilities of virtual truth, he says, which makes it hard to convince them to evenattempt it out. “they’re frightened about spending cash and no longer seeing returns,” Choksi informeddevices 360.

there are many motives for this. VR remains in the early adoption section so there may be not an awful lot of an target audience right now. Then there’s the issue of low-price VR headsets: whilst Google Cardboard has been a giant fulfillment in widening the user base, on mass-market telephones it offers a low excellent nausea-inducing experience that can honestly be unfavorable for tale-telling.

and then there may be the problem with video nice way to technical troubles inclusive of display screen decision (most phones still provide complete-HD or lower displays, which look downright blockywhilst cut up into presentations) and bitrate (movies streamed over the net are closely compressed,ensuing in unviewable photographs).

This receives a piece higher if you could have enough money a QHD telephone or have the option todownload an uncompressed version and watch it offline. higher great headsets, inclusive of the Samsungequipment VR or computerbased systems just like the Oculus Rift, have a distinctive issue: only apick few can find the money for to get their arms on them. how many people do you know that personala Samsung flagship smartphone or a highend laptop?

(also see: Low-fee VR Headsets Will boost virtual reality in India)

Choksi understands this, and stated that there may be a want for low-price VR headsets, ones that wouldsit down between Cardboard and the equipment VR. Google Daydream, introduced last week on theenterprise‘s developer conference, has the capacity to offer just that. And in the meantime, he believes,big manufacturers and entities will pressure the apprehensions away. Take the case of HBO’s fantasy epicseries sport of Thrones, which promoted the start of its 6th season with a 360-diploma tackle its titlecollection. “That honestly helped us,” Choksi mentioned, explaining that it gave the agencies who weren’twilling the self belief they needed to give VR a go. “It acted as a kicking off point,” he introduced.considering then, Meraki had been worried in diverse projectsmost of them digital advertising and marketing, and some shows in shops and airports around the united states of america.

large companies are entering into the picture
speakme of massive agencies dipping their toes in VR, prime focus – a main company of media offeringstogether with VFX, stereo conversion and animation, behind movies along with Captain the united states: Civil warfare and The Martian – is moving into the world of VR-marketing in India with the aid of way of a joint venture with the determine organization of James Cameron-founded VFX studio virtual domain.

Namit Malhotra, the founder and CEO of prime focus, explained to gadgets 360 why he thinks that is theright time for this type of project: their previous experience, India’s viewpoint as “a big market and alarge influenceand the way advertising is the low-putting fruit in terms of VR content material.thinking about their records inside the movie international, what approximately VR in film-making?

“Yeah certainly, it is only a count number of time,” Malhotra said. “The application of that will becomeincreasingly more actual each day.” He thinks Barco escape – the multi-display panoramic projectionlayout – is a step towards that, aside from the supply of gear VR, Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive. “Wewant to make certain audiences will be secure with sitting and looking a ninety-minute film in virtualfact,” he adds.

prime cognizance introduced digital intermediate approaches to India’s film enterprise, and additionallyclaims it turned into accountable for the world‘s first 2d to 3D film conversion. The employer has alwaysbeen at the vanguard of recent technology, Malhotra claimed, and with significant firepower on its facethigh awareness‘ India presence and scale, in mixture with know-how of Double poor and virtual domainit is one of the few agencies that might make VR appear on the big display.

(also see: digital fact places Viewer within the movie at Cannes)

beyond movies
There are human beings coming at it from any other angle as well. Architect couple Gautam and Tithi Tewari started out Noida-based SmartVizX in early 2015 to rethink layout visualisation of their area. whilst you‘re building a new home or an workplace, you’re proven -dimensional pics on a web page and need to comply with spend a fortune. The Tewaris wanted to create a better and more immersive process, one that wasn’t static, passive and out of date, Gautam Tewari said.

With the assist of video gaming specialists who are now the middle of the business enterprise, they realised that dream and dozens of projects. however now, it sees itself as a full-blown VR business enterprise, he cited, offering equipment for absolutely everyone who desires to be concerned with the new tech. proper now it might be in general architecture, but SmartVizX recently set up a R&D lab in Bengaluru, and is expanding into video games and healthcare.

that is some thing that Choksi and his co-founders at Meraki are working towards as properly. Heinstructed us about upcoming initiatives within the pharmaceutical global, and the way they’re having toconstruct out their animation knowledge. after all, it’s the corporate initiatives and tie-u.s.that offer thefunding for the movie stuff they’re so obsessed on. The night before the interview, the crew was up until4am within the morning operating on a shoot.

the restrictions and unproven nature of digital reality plays into each the making and viewing of it. All in their tasks are in the unmarried-digit minutes however take longer than a ordinary production, what with the incapacity to face behind the digital camera (it is 360 degrees, so it sees the whole thing) or evenunderstand what you’re capturing (the six-camera GoPro rig they use can not wirelessly transmit video).

but they – and each person else involvedkeep to persist because it‘s a booming area in the end. simplylook at the big bets being located through facebook and Oculus, Valve and HTC, Sony with playstation , and maximum currently, Google and its hardware companions.

Malhotra likes to evaluate VR’s motion with that of 3-d photographs. “3D become there for a long time[but it was] the following generation of 3D that became a lot greater purchaserfriendly,” the highrecognition founder said. “I suppose VR goes through the same section. VR has existed for some timenow; it is certainly at a point in which it could be mass-advertised and it is a lot extra patron pleasantto what become seen in the beyond.”

that’s a reasonable function to look from a organisation that is deeply invested in 3-D movies, howevera note of warning is wanted right here. nowadays, it’s almost not possible in lots of components ofthe sector to look the contemporary films in 2nd in cinemas; but 3-d content material on smaller screenscontinues to be a ways from the norm, and is now in large part considered the past.

VR can be mass-market (Google Cardboard), but a lot may be stated then of the experience. The Rifts and the Vives are out of reach for most, leaving the rest with sub-popular satisfactory of VR, similar to what you get from 3-d on a small display. And the guarantees of Google Daydream continue to be to be seen.

humans like Malhotra, Choksi, and the Tewaris are at the forefront of a motion that’s only getting started, and it’s as much as them to prove whether or not the medium’s competencies are going to assist it reacha stature beyond that of 3-D. For now, it is an open question.

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