Android phones cannot remove all your personal data with factory reset

avastWiping your phones for resale may seem like a simple task, but for Android phones, it’s likely to be a lot more painstaking than your typical factory reset.

The security team at Avast used their data-recovery tools on 20 phones found on eBay. What they find was rather shocking. (more…)

Mobile fraud is a dangerous plague on Android apps

iovation fraud report

Mobile apps rely on their operating system for more than just code development. Usually, the choice between iOS and Android can result in very different levels of sales and profit, but it can also mean varying degrees of vulnerability. Android vulnerability makes for fairly frequent news events, and it’s not surprising considering that Android apps carry a 4% risk of dangerous mobile transactions (graphics above). Compare that to 6% from Windows and Blackerry, and Apple’s 2% for iPad and 3% for iPhone. (more…)

Smartphone camera may offer simple encryption solution against NSA snooping

hero ios

Your smartphone camera’s unique noisy pixelations might be the key to smartphone security, especially if you’re seeking to hide your data from the eyes of the NSA, who can decode practically all versions of security cryptography.

Since computing technology has a hard time finding reliable, random chaos, a smartphone camera can be the perfect solution since it’s a simple, fast source for chaos in the form of a light reader. It’s quantum physics, but for mobile users. (more…)

Android Mobile Malware on The Rise


Photo via Flickr / nasaldemons

Mobile malware increased 155% in 2011, and 614% from March 2012 to March 2013, according to CNET and a white paper by Juniper Networks.


Being free is no defense: Arxan finds 40% of free iOS, 80% of free Android apps have been hacked

Even making your app free isn’t much of a deterrent for hackers reports security company Arxan Technology.

The company found that over 40 percent of the top 15 most popular free iOS apps and 80 percent of the top 15 most popular free Android apps have been hacked. Unsurprisingly, the issue was even more common when an app was paid — the company reports 92 percent of the 100 most popular paid iOS apps and every single one of the top 100 most popular paid Android apps have been hacked.

Arxan reports the most common type of hack is to simply make a free copy of a paid app available. For apps that are already free hackers typically strip out advertising, unlock in-app purchases or bypass security measures.

Hacked versions of both free and paid apps are also commonly bundled with malware, a finding backed up by security and anti-virus software provider McAfee. The company recently reported mobile malware infections hit a 12 month high as hackers experimented with new kinds of mobile malware. The two fastest growing categories of malware are ransomware — code that holds a user’s data for ransom until money is received — and botnets that turn infected devices into “zombies” that are used to send spam or conduct DDoS attacks.

Although sometimes found in official app stores, hacked or cracked apps are most commonly found in unofficial third party app stores such as Cydia, torrent sites and app distribution sites run by third-parties and hackers.  While iOS users that wish to use hacked versions of apps need to first jailbreak their device to gain root access to the iOS operating system, Android users can simply change a setting in their device preferences to allow them to download apps from any source or market. This setting, combined with the fact that apps released through Google Play aren’t encrypted (as they are in the iTunes App Store) accounts for the higher level of Android app piracy according to Arxan.

Mobile app roundup: Google victorious, malware fines and Because We May

Google victorious in Oracle patent suit — After months of legal dealings, a jury has ruled Google did not violate Oracle’s Java patents in the development of its Android operating system, the Verge reports.

Social networking ties with gaming for smartphone usage — Mobile analytics company Flurry is reporting that consumers now spend the same amount of time using social networking apps as they do playing games — 24 minutes a day.

Dev fined for Android scam apps — The BBC is reporting a Latvian developer, which released fake versions of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope that set up users to receive unsolicited premium rate SMS messages, has been fined £50,000. It’s the first time a mobile company has been fined for a scam.

Because We May strikes back for dev pricing rights — Indie developers like 2D Boy, Kittehface Software, Rubicon, Capybara Games and Two Tribes (to name a few) have discounted their games as part of an initiative called Because We May. The idea is a protest against online stores that set prices for games without developer consent.

Activision opening U.K. mobile game studio — Gamasutra is reporting Activision has hired industry veteran Martyn Brown to set up a new mobile gaming studio in the U.K.

Google redesigns iPhone search app — Hot on the heels of its Google+ app redesign, the internet giant overhauled the look of its iPhone search app.

Moshi Monsters coming to GREE’s gaming platform — Mind Candy is the latest developer to sign up for GREE’s new global mobile-social gaming platform. The company will release two Moshi Monsters games on GREE’s platform in Q4 2012.

PayPal grows mobile payment business with ShopKeep, ERPLY partnerships — Merchants using ShopKeep’s iPad point of sale systems can now take payments from shoppers who have synced their PayPal app with the store’s POS. PayPal has also set up a deal with ERPLY that allows users to pay via check-in. Both systems will require merchants to confirm the customer’s face and name with a photo from PayPal’s records.

ShareCompat makes it easier to share content from Android phones to Google+ — Google has introduced a new tool for developers who wish enable content sharing from mobile apps to Google+, the ShareCompat Library. All shared items include attribution to the original app.

Mobile malware grows by 1200 percent in Q1 — According to computer security firm McAfee’s Quarterly Threat Report, the amount of mobile malware continues to grow. The firm reported it had found 1200 percent more malware during Q1, most of which targeted Android smartphones and tablets.

HTML5 runs 8x faster on desktop than on mobile —’s latest PerfMarks Report show that HTML5 runs six times slower on an iPhone 4S than it does on a laptop. The highest performing Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S2 ran HTML5 10 times slower. Overall, smartphones ran HTML5 889 times slower than an average laptop.

Zynga promotes Zombie Swipeout with “real” zombies – Zynga unleashed 80 actors in Zombie costumes on San Francisco and New York to promote its upcoming game, Zombie Swipeout.

Madagascar 3 coming to Draw Something — Draw Something’s about to get an influx of content tied to Dreamworks Animation’s upcoming film Madagascar 3. The movie hits theaters in two weeks, and Draw Something will promote the game with special terms and video clips. This is the third time Dreamworks has advertised in a Zynga game; the previous times Zynga promoted Megamind and Kung Fu Panda 2 in its titles.

Inside the mind of mobile dev Amanda Wixted — Business Insider has posted a feature-length interview with Amanda Wixted, Zynga’s first mobile employee.

[Funding] Firebase grabs $1.1 million in funding — Real-time app infrastructure developer Firebase has raised $1.1 million in funding, according to TechCrunch. The round was lead by Flybridge Capital Partners.

[Funding] Kony Solutions raises $15 million — Enterprise app development platform Kony Solutions has closed a $15 million Series C round. It was lead by Insight Venture Partners.

[Release] Tylted releases latest HTML5 game, CuBugs — Newly-renamed HTML5 gaming platform Tylted has released its newest HTML5-based game, a Tetris-style matching game called CuBugs.

Mobile app news roundup: Gumi, Android malware and big revenues for TinyCo

Gumi opens South Korean office — Japanese mobile social game company Gumi has opened its first overseas office in South Korea. According to Gumi, the South Korean smartphone gaming market is expected to grow by 60 percent in 2012.

More malware in Google Play — McAffee Labs is reporting a new Trojan has been discovered in the Google’s official Android app store. The security company has found the Android/DougaLeaker.A Trojan in 15 anime-themed apps. They have been downloaded more than 70,000 times so far.

Apple patents iTunes store user interface – The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has awarded Apple patent No. 8,161,411 for “graphical user interface for browsing, searching and presenting media items” in its iTunes store.

Nokia sales down 29% year-on-year to €7.4 billion — According to Nokia’s Q1 2012 earnings, the company’s net sales declined 29 percent year-on-year and 26 percent quarter-on-quarter, dropping to €7.4 billion (approximately $9.7 billion USD). Overall the company reported a loss of €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion USD).

TinyCo’s Tiny Village sees big revenues on Kindle Fire — TinyCo has revealed its free-to-play game Tiny Village generates higher average revenue per user on the Kindle Fire than on iPad. According to a TinyCo blog post, Amazon’s Appstore generates 180% of the ARPU the game sees on the iTunes App Store. Google Play ARPU is 65 percent that of the iTunes app store.

Digi-Capital predicts consolidation in social gaming industry, Berkery Noyes reports mobile and online transactions decline — Investment bank Digi-Capital is predicting 2012 will be a busy year for mergers and acquisitions in the social gaming industry. According to Digi-Capital Q1 2012 saw 30 social gaming mergers and acquisitions, with a total value of $1.7 billion. Meanwhile Berkery Noyes is reporting the merger and acquisition transaction volume in the mobile and online industry on the decline, down four percent in Q1 2012 to $12.8 billion.

Google Oracle trial over use of Java in Android begins — The trial between Google and Oracle over the use of Java in Android has begun. According to Oracle’s arguments, Google knew in 2005 that the use of Java in the Android OS would require a licensing agreement, but declined to pursue one to avoid profit sharing. Oracle is suing Google for $1 billion in damages.

O2 UK customers get free EA games for three months – EA has signed a deal with mobile communications company Telefonica that gives Android phone users on the UK’s O2 network free access to EA Mobile games for three months, reports Pocket Gamer.

Toca Boca sets up U.S. office — Swedish developer Toca Boca, known for its line of child-friendly mobile apps that avoid in-app purchases and advertising, has set up a U.S. office in San Francisco. The developer’s apps have been downloaded more than 9 million times.

Read it Later goes free, become Pocket – Content bookmarking app Read it Later has reinvented itself as Pocket, a free app for iOS, Android and Google Chrome. The service has 4.5 million registered users.

[Funding] GREE invests in Vancouver’s IUGO Mobile – GREE has acquired a minority stake in Vancouver BC based IUGO Mobile. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will co-develop a series of free-to-play mobile games. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.

[Funding] MoMinis nets $4.5 in funding — Israel’s MoMinis has secured a second round of funding from existing investors BRM Group and Mitsui Ventures. The company has raised a total of $9.2 in funding since 2008.

[Launch] LoveThis launches friend-based recommendation service — U.K. based LoveThis has launched its self titled social recommendation app, LoveThis on iOS. The service allows users to share and save product recommendations with their friends through email and Facebook.

[Launch] Time to Enjoy aggregates local events – Time to Enjoy has launched its self titled iOS app. The service aggregates local event information and allows users to save the information directly to their smartphone calendars.

Smartphone botnet piggybacks on pirated copies of Angry Birds Space

Unscrupulous developers are once again using the popularity of Rovio’s Angry Birds games to spread malware. Antivirus company SophosLabs has discovered a trojan called Andr/KongFu-L that hides inside a fully functional, pirated version of Angry Birds Space. The company has found the malware in several third-party Android app stores, but the official version of the game in Google Play is not affected.

Once installed, Andr/KongFu-L uses an exploit in the Android 2.3 operating system to gain root access, allowing the trojan to download more malware and hijack the smartphone’s browser. According to SophosLabs, smartphones infected with the Andr/KongFu-L trojan are “effectively… now part of a botnet, under the control of malicious hackers.”

In the past, malicious apps have been generally used to defraud users through unauthorized charges on their phones bills, but botnets — networks of infected computers — can be used for much more unscrupulous purposes, including click fraud, identify theft, spamming or conducting distributed denial of service attacks. In December, South Korean information security company AhnLab discovered a malicious code named Geinimi in a Chinese third party app store attempting to set up a botnet similar to the one Andr/KongFu-L is creating.

If a smartphone does become part of a botnet, the botnet’s owner can control every function on the infected phone including call monitoring, voice and information capture  and the ability to download and install software.

Andr/KongFu-L is not the first piece of to piggyback off Rovio’s mega-hit franchise. In December, Google was forced to remove 22 apps from its official app store — some of which pretended to be free versions of Angry Birds — as part of the RuFraud mobile attack.

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