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Google Is Waging War on Apps That Attack and Steal From Your Phone

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mashable.com

Google made sweeping changes late last month to its policies for developers on Play, the official store for apps that run on Android, Google’s smartphone operating system.

The changes, which among other things affect how ads are displayed and permissions sought, are meant to make Android safer so users can download and use apps with confidence. Developers have until later this month to make the changes. Those that run afoul of the new rules after the deadline will find their apps deleted.

If the past few months are any indication, the Play store will experience a major purge. Google does not disclose or publicly comment on how many apps it removes from its store every month. But Priori Data, an app-market research firm based in Berlin, estimates that in the month through Aug. 9, more than 36,000 apps were removed from Google Play.

That may not sound significant compared with the roughly 950,000 apps in the store, but in the same period, the number of apps available on Play only increased by 35,000. That means one app was removed for every two new apps that came to the Play store. According to Zscaler, a security firm, one in every five apps available on Google Play has some sort of problem with it.

The numbers have been fairly consistent. As per Priori’s data, it is not uncommon for between 25,000 and 35,000 apps to be removed in any given month.

apps-removed-per-month-google-play-ios-app-store_chartbuilder-211

The Perils of “Open”

Google makes a big deal about being an open marketplace. Unlike Apple, it does not vet apps before they become available in its store. The idea is to make Android a more welcoming platform, one that is not subject to the whims of the store owner. The problem is that it also makes Android much more vulnerable to attacks.

Early in 2012, Google unveiled Bouncer, an automatic scanner that checks for malware, spyware and trojans when apps are submitted to Google Play. That catches some of the more obviously undesirable apps — the ones with bad code.

But it misses apps that infringe on copyright, contain what Google considers undesirable content (hate speech, sexually explicit material, gambling and so on), and ones that more skillfully hide their malicious nature. Even so, as the number of apps seeking approval goes up, the speed at which Google allows them onto its marketplace is going down. Until last year, apps went live on Play within five minutes of submission. It now takes several hours, according to one developer.

Google also encourages users to be vocal about negative experiences so it can find and remove bad apps. But some malicious apps are very clever indeed. Joji Hamada of Symantec, a large computer security company based in California, recently found a spate of Japanese scam appsthat require users to willingly and very consciously take a series of steps that eventually result in the phone owner being slapped with an “annual fee” of 315,000 yen ($3,100) just to look at some dirty videos.

hree developers known to upload malicious apps. Symantec

Even apps that are less clever can cause damage to phones, Android’s reputation, and the bank balance of both users and Google. The stories, once you start looking for them, are endless. Some 2 million people downloaded one of 32 apps that installed malware masquerading as free apps before the apps were pulled earlier this year. Others fall for anti-malware apps that turn out to be phony.

Not all removed apps are malicious. Some are taken down by the developers. Others run afoul of Google’s policies. Many are just frustrating and pointless: “Ad-related apps probably make up the majority of those removed from stores,” Hamada told Quartz. “Developers can make healthy profits from display advertising such as pop-ups, displaying notification ads at the top of the screen.” In addition, adblockers are also banned from Play, though people can still download such apps elsewhere.

Closing In

Still, being a “closed” system like Apple’s App Store is not easy either. Despite an extensive review process that can take as long as two weeks before an app is approved, undesirable apps manage to sneak into the App Store as well. One of the most common problems is copycat apps.

When a new app becomes popular, developers simply copy the icon and name and reap the benefits of easily fooled users. Worse, some developers complain that Apple is slow to respondto their requests to remove the imitators. Malware also manages to sneak in. Yet Apple’s store retains the trust of both consumer and business users. Google has managed to catch up to Apple in the number of apps it offers and far exceed iPhones in market share. But trust is something it is still fighting to establish.

Little surprise then that Google does all it can to remove offending apps as swiftly as possible. Hence Google’s new policy that explicitly bars certain things, like allowing users to pay through a non-Google mechanism. If apps are forced to accept payment only through Google, it should in theory make it easier for Google to ensure such payments are legitimate, safeguarding its and Android’s reputation.

But that will take time. For now, Google Play remains a tempting target for scammers and attackers. ”A relatively typical fraudulent app can be spotted, reported and removed in about half a day as we know what we’re looking out for,” Hamada said. “However, scammers can also just as easily post up a new one the next day. Half a day is all they need to make a quick profit.”

 

 

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Featured

Meet Uganda’s New Generation of Youtube Vloggers

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By Ian Ortega

As the world becomes more visual, as Facebook gets optimized for videos, there’s also a growing community of Ugandan Youtube Vloggers. This time round, sharing stories not with their words, but with video. Today, we follow up on some of the channels in no order.

1.       I’m Shyla (1.86K Subscribers, 56 Videos)

This lifestyle blogger is one of the most active in the game. She describes her channel as charming, witty and friendly. She’s taken us on Easter celebrations during lockdown. It’s content everyone will relate to, the highs and lows of living alone, and her other life routines such as shopping. She’s been vlogging since 2018.

Visit her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOHqE84qjiPmidzZeCtBygw/featured

2.       Amito Mitra (8.76K Subscribers, 111 Videos)

Amito has put in the time, she’s taken the vlogging serious. Another lifestyle blogger describing her channel as full of life, and ready to explore Uganda and the world. Her two biggest addictions; Café Javas and Nigeria. Her videos have registered a combined 627K views, impressive. She’s walked us through the Nyege Nyege scenes and various Kampala concerts.

Visit her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMhf9xsHJ9Mcz-y8gF3k6Gw/featured

3.       B and T Life Lane (6.79K Subscribers, 209 Videos)

This duo promises to take us through their love for fashion and other inspirations. But I must say, it’s their new angle to sharing real estate in Uganda that’s getting many hooked. If you’re looking for cool furnished apartment deals, this duo is a must to keep on your tabs. If you want to hang out with friends and throw a cool party over a weekend, why not book out one of these apartments going for as low as USD 35. The duo boasts of 526K views on their channel. Great job from Betty Benson and Christine Aguti.

Visit their channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDrNbyFUtHmn1bOp2lYjUbQ

4.       Denis Duke Uganda (41.9K Subscribers, 567 Videos)

For many, you’ve seen Denis Duke on your television screens, but did you know, he runs a super Vlog on Youtube. He takes you on a journey of entertainment, lugambo and politics or call it, general affairs. With 3.4 million views, he is evidence of compounded hard work over the years. And in a world of vlogging that’s dominated by ladies in Uganda, he’s proving to be the one holding fort for the men.

Visit his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI82EetZ1SRV-52es7tnTqg/videos

5.       Namuli (1.18K Subscribers, 214 Videos)

Another lifestyle blogger that should take your interest is Namuli. You want to travel Uganda, then travel it through her vlogs, watch her reviews, let her indulge you in some food and hair. You feel like it’s a visual conversation with her, stories of her fighting with a conductor, like all of us have… At 85K views, the sky is the limit for this girl whose totem is a monkey.

Visit her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfCz9W_mecE_WbyHHDPKNmg/featured

6.       Sheila Basajja (1.44K Subscribers, 35 Videos)

You want to experience Kuala Lumpar or you want a feel of the Ugandan wedding. Sheila got you covered. You will enjoy her travel moments with her girls, perhaps to Bali or to Zanzibar. At 63K Views, an awesome fairing for a Ugandan vlogger.

Visit her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPfCQdaN9GNlghwRVfmkWKQ/featured

7.       Itsmayabee (714 Subscribers, 119 Videos)

From lifestyle to fashion to beauty, she lets you experience everything in the life of a millennial mother. Wait a minute? Yes, you read it right, millennials are having kids. If you want some product recommendations, be it makeup or fashion, you must be at her youtube door. She stands at 26K views and growing.

Visit her channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnHb4M73VYyD9llCKmNuiLA/featured

8.       Nabz Arah (3.43k Subscribers, 144 Videos)  

Don’t be deceived, it’s none other than Aswirah Nabuuma. Her niche is travel and tour. She’s as authentic as they come, sharing experiences of having to shift to a cheaper area, to adjust to life. If you want that and more of these real conversations, Arah is the deal. At 129K Views, there’s pretty good believability.

Visit her channel here : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTKZT31HLJuR7Qn0–Tut7Q

9.       Mr. Musinguzi (58.6K Subscribers, 50 Videos)

It’s an experiential Vlog covering Musinguzi’s life moments in Uganda. A few minutes on his channel and you feel like you want to go out and see more of Uganda. He stands at a combined 85K for his content.

Visit his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC21CacZiFEvmdzkD79-EnQg/featured

So I have broken the rules and stuck to 9 Vloggers. For those wondering what criteria I used to arrive at this names, it’s activity. Recency was a key factor, when the last video was created and the time in between the videos. I also looked at volume of content and somehow at subscribers (but this didn’t matter much). It’s about the time that people put in to create videos. But in case I had to do 10 Vloggers, then I must give Jessica Zziwa’s channel a mention. 

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Lifestyle

Facts you need to know about WhatsApp web

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By Staff Writer

WhatsApp has more than a billion active monthly users. It is the most common messaging app service and the reason for its popularity is that it is available on all major mobile platforms. Whether you have an Android, iOS, java, Nokia or Blackberry, you can use WhatsApp on your mobile.

You only need an active internet connection to do a lot of actions that include sending or receiving written and audio messages, videos, documents, location, and many others. So, it acts as a mirror. Some important facts about WhatsApp web are:

·         The official announcement by WhatsApp included that it would work only on Google Chrome. However, over the years other platforms are also supporting WhatsApp on Web on their browsers.

·         If you are running an older version, you need to update it from the store on your mobile. Once the app is updated on your mobile, you will see the option in your app.

·         On the upper right corner of your screen, you will see three dots. Click on them and a check will be open. Search for the option of “WhatsApp Web” on it and click on it.

·         Once you click on the button, your phone camera will get opened asking you to sync any bar code through it.

·         You need to open web.whatsapp.com on your PC and a QR code will appear.

·         Scan this QR through the camera and after a wait of some seconds, WhatsApp will get opened in your PC.

Remember that once you sync the QR code, the session will be saved in your PC and you will access WhatsApp directly next time without a need to sync the code.

Is the web version secure?

WhatsApp https://heatfeed.com/whatsapp-web/ applies to end encryption on your standard messages on the mobile app. It let no other person see your messages than the sender and the receiver. Many people have the confusion that whether the PC version is also as safe as the mobile version?

Well, you are connected to the Web version from your mobile. Some tips will help you ensure your security on the web version.

·         Go to the menu in the app and logout WhatsApp Web any time you wish.

·         Uncheck the “keep me signed in” option whenever you are on a shared PC.

·         Nothing is stored on your PC, which means no one can attempt to hack it.

 ·         People loved the new web version of the WhatsApp. The reason is that:

·         It gives them great options. You can type a lot faster on your PC keyboard than you can on a mobile pad. Many people loved the web version because of typing convenience.

·         It is secure and you can logout any time.

·         The images, documents, videos, audios can be downloaded and sent directly from your web version. Thus, eliminating the use of the mobile app.

Conclusion

It was very common on mobile, but people had to install quick programs like Blue stacks that were very slow to use it on PC. It was in 2015 when WhatsApp officially launched the Web version of their app. 

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Lifestyle

WhatsApp puts new limits on the forwarding of viral messages

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With heightened scrutiny on the potential of private message apps to spread misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic, WhatsApp on Tuesday said it would place new limits on the forwarding of messages. Starting today, messages that have been identified as “highly forwarded” — sent through a chain of five or more people — can only be forwarded to a single person. The move is designed to reduce the speed with which information moves through WhatsApp, putting truth and fiction on a more even footing.

“We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes, and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers,” the company, which is part of Facebook, said in a blog post. “However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.”

For much of WhatsApp’s existence, it was easy for users to forward a single message to as many as 256 people with just a few taps. Initially, these messages were not labeled as forwards, and the end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp could make it almost impossible for authorities to determine who might be using the app to spread hate speech or calls to violence. This triggered a crisis in India, where WhatsApp was linked to mob violence.

In 2018, WhatsApp began experimenting with limits on the number of times a message could be forwarded. It also began labeling forwarded messages for the first time, and adding two arrows to show that a message has been repeatedly forwarded. Last year, the company began limiting the number of people you can forward a single message to to five.

It’s a soft limit: nothing prevents you from forwarding the same message over and over again to different people. But introducing more friction helped to slow the rate of forwarding overall — in the past year, WhatsApp says, forwards are down 25 percent around the world.

But amid a huge surge in use related to the pandemic, WhatsApp has come under the spotlight for the way it can be used to spread misinformation. Last month, CNN and other news organizations found that the app had been used to share a variety of false information about “cures” for COVID-19 and hoaxes about military activity related to the disease. The prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, urged people to “please stop sharing unverified info on Whatsapp groups.”

In response, WhatsApp promoted a bot made by the World Health Organization that provides information about the disease that has been vetted by healthcare professionals. The app has been used by more than 10 million people. WhatsApp also donated $1 million to the International Fact-Checking Network.

TheVerge

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Local Business

Huawei donates telemedicine solutions to aid in fight against COVID-19

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Natumanya Edmund, I.T specialist at Huawei Uganda during the demonstration exercise at Health ministry headquarters.

By Our Reporter

The Minister of Health Dr Ruth Aceng has received Huawei telemedicine solutions to assist in the fight against COVID-19 in Uganda.

This happened at the installation and demonstration exercise that happened at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Wandegeya on Friday.

The telemedicine solution is aimed at enabling real-time communication and interactive content sharing without much risk of physical contact among the health officers.

This includes video conferencing equipment that shall enable mobile video meetings and communications among staff in various sites such as health centers and ministry of health. The Huawei video conferencing solution includes special video terminals and software that connects to more terminals such as phones and computers of the doctors and officers.

Dr. Ruth Aceng was grateful about Huawei’s donation and commended them for their efforts to improve the ICT of the sector and the whole country.

“I am very grateful for this wonderful and generous donation by Huawei, this is of great importance to the country in such a time as this. We thank you Huawei for your great effort and contribution to the ICT of the ministry and Uganda. Be safe,” said Dr. Ruth Aceng.

According to the Huawei Executive Director Enterprise Business group Mr Bai Chengyu, the video conferencing equipment have been installed at different offices at the Ministry of Health and Mulago Hospital and that Huawei was willing to give more assistance.

He added that, “this video conference and telemedicine solution has been implemented all over China, Thailand and Pakistan among others to assist in the fight against COVID-19 and I hope this shall also be of help here.”

This system can be connected to its kind in other countries to enable international collaboration. During today’s test, a Chinese doctor was connected to provide remote consultation.


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