RSSArchive for October, 2015

Encryption is the trending approach made by the apple iPhone, but is there any catch?

When the giant Apple turned on certain forms of encryption by default settings for the iPhone a year ago, and Google also applied the same on Android devices, several brands have picked up a public fight with the government.

Last year, the director of SBI who is known as, James Comey likened the encrypted phone to “a closet which cannot be opened”, full of child pornography, terrorist chatter, as well as the conspiracies to share heroin. Mr. Comey did raise the specter of the FBI, “going dark”, blocked from the interception of the communications of dangerous suspects, even with a warrant.

encryption

This year in summer, Apple CEO Tim Cook, at the EPIC champions of Freedom event, fired back on the cryptographic “Backboor” and also demanded by Comey, that the digitally equivalent of a skeleton key which would let the FBI listen in on mathematically garbled conversions. “If you probably put a key under the mat for the cops, the burglar can find it, too” said Cook.

The key under the mat or in the closet are different ways to describe the same thing, but with different priorities.

Are the encoded phones an unassailable closet full of horrors? Or are solidly locked front door which forces the government to use one of its several other tools to find out which exactly is inside?

It has been experienced that Google and Apple’s encryption-oriented policies as well as the marketing strategy has actually pleased privacy advocates, as the encryption of devices should also prevent the surveillance in bulk by the NASA.

Ryan Calo who is current studying law and emerging technology at the University of Wanshington, says“For sure Encryption will interfere with all the required capability to intercept communication on regular basis, as our national intelligence sometimes seems to be doing it domestically”. It has probably been designed, tested with the usability in mind by people with three letters after their name. It is usable and mainstream for the individuals who don’t feel weird about using the same device.

The giant brand apple has in fact Criticized Google and other organizations which are relying on mining communications of the consumers for services, as these services are otherwise free. Because apple makes money primarily by selling up expensive hardware device like the iPhone, and creating privacy-friendly deviceswhich has little business trade-offs than for itsopponents.

Apple is the brand which is not in need to analyze the required content of your data to be profitable. But then there is Google’s “Free”, advertising which is supported model and does make the device a lot cheaper.

Oliver Day, says that “Apple is the only organization which will probably get the credit to make the privacy a mainstream topic”, Oliver heads a non-profit security oriented security change.

But at the same time individual will realize that apple is so much expensive what it is impractical to advice the activists to purchase the latest version of the iPhone to secure their communication with iMessage.

Majority of time if compared, Android seems behind in terms of the security features, but individuals today are more interested to visualize the advances in Android privacy technology, as it is the technology which can easily be afforded.

 

Google reveals the convoy of latest chromecast products

Google has come up with a new roster of the Chromecast products on Tuesday at an special media event held in San Francisco. Additionally, we have got some updates related to its TV streaming device, the Chromecast, the giant organization is also planning to announce a new dedicated music streaming device which is known as Chromecast audio.

chromecast

chromecast

The Chromecast Audio yet to be launched is a latest device, which has embedded speakers that can easily be converted into Wi-Fi Speakers. Users can easily plug-in through this Gadget into existing devices by using a 1/8-inch headphone jack (AUX), optical input or RCA cables.

Once the device is plugged in, the user can now control the speakers using the Chromcast application. That means that any existing surround sound speakers, regular desktop speakers, or Bluetooth speakers and possibly a bookshelf speaker can be turned into smart home speakers.

This latest audio device just works like, existing Chromecast products. Once you are in a supported app, you will just have to tap upon the cast button, and enjoy the audio streaming directly to your chrome product. There is no pairing required, as the device has been featured with guest mode, so the family ir the friends can also play music from their speakers.

With the help of Chrome browser, users can easily stream through their Android Smart phone, tablet, or probably a laptop. Chromecast Audio is also compatible with a huge list of music apps including, Pandora, Spotify, Sonfza, Rdio, NPR one tunein, Google play music and much more.

The Chromecast Audio Dingle will cost you around £30, to make it cheaper than several other similar audio streamers. The device also poses a challenge to speakers with a built-in Wi-Fi, whose makers generally charge a premium for their products. At an launch event in San Francisco, The giant said that this original chromecastaudio streamer, which streams media to TV’s, had been sold more than 20 million units.

The original Chromecast product did really very well because of the Google’s brand, which actually focuses to gain the trust of its target audience; this would do what Stuart Miles, the founder of the Pocket – lint tech website said on the tin, that, we probably have seen some similar devices to this earlier, but the device will probably be successful because it will encourage people to upgrade their old Hi-Fi’s which are still under good from an audio perspectives.

The launch considerably coincides with the release of the flagship, the “Smart Speaker” from Sonos are one of the bestselling brands in the same industry. The brand kit is probably several times more expensive than Google’s accessory, but the SONOs says that, its device delivers a superior “Room-filling listening experience” which can be fine-tunes through all new software.

Google has also announced that a second generation Chromecast TV media Streamer, which has now been equipped with third antenna, is to be created with the help of robust data connections and probable support of more apps than before. The products will be launched for sale at the time when apple, roku, and amazon will also launch their audio-video streaming devices of their own.

The device will probably favor the connecting apps to its existing stereo equipment through standard 3.5 mm jack, Optical or RCA cables.

Microsoft Gets Hold of Irish 3D Physics Provider Havok From Intel

Microsoft has announced on Saturday that it has acquired 3D physics provider Havok from Intel. This new achievement will improve the present gaming scenario by adding up the new 3D resources.

In a Blog Post the Redmond-based technology major Microsoft stated that “Havok is an amazing technology supplier in the games industry and the leading real-time physics creator. We saw an opportunity to acquire Havok to deliver great experiences for our fans”.

Havok was established in the year 1998 in Dublin, whose business model involves licensing its physics technology to the developers. Havok has more than 15 years of experience in offering the most challenging technology requirements to the leading game developers. An amalgamation of superior technology and dedication to deliver incomparable support to their customers has led to the company’s technologies. In the year 2007 it was purchased by Intel to step up its play in the amazing gaming market.

Havok was also honored with the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards in the year 2008, for advancing the development of physics engines in electronic entertainment.

havok

havok

Even though, no details regarding the acquisition are given by the technology major, it said: “Microsoft’s acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world.”

They further added “We will continue to innovate for the benefit of development partners. Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we’ve just started to show through games like ‘Crackdown 3’,”.

Havok has worked with the renowned publishers and development studios in the world, that includes Microsoft Games Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Activision Blizzard, Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft, Wargaming, Remedy, Bungie and Infinity Ward and had created more than 600 games including Halo, Assassin’s Creed, The Elder Scrolls, Call of Duty, Dead Rising, Uncharted and Skylanders are in their list of customers. Havok has also contributed its services in developing special effects in the movies like Harry Potter, X-Men First Class, James Bond, World War Z, and The Matrix.

Being a part of Microsoft, Havok will work to improve the development tools and platforms like Visual Studio, DirectX 12 and Microsoft Azure. A few months ago, Havok has announced a new visual effects product that is named Havok FX. This technology is used to make special effects like shrapnel, particle, dust and smoke more CPU-friendly.

The Havok FX is the modern generation gaming hardware, that has given the varied opportunities to the developers to develop their ambition for realizing fully dynamic worlds. With this amazing gaming hardware the designers have the freedom to crank up real-time destruction experienced by the newest games in leading franchises.

 

It is said that the new visual effect product Havok FX is aimed at present generation game platforms like PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is the first game to feature Havok FX, which is expected to hit the market later this month to PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

It will be very interesting to see what the acquisition between the Microsoft and Havok will do in the gaming market. But, right now the Xbox Ones of the company  has trailed the PlayStation 4 of Sony, in the terms of console market share and this trend doesn’t seem slated to reverse itself any time soon.

If Microsoft continues its working pattern with the other platforms, then it might make sense to carry on to support the competition, as well as Microsoft products moving forward. But time will tell how they are going to handle it.

Apple, Facebook, Google Battles to Provide Faster Mobile News

The fast expansion of the news products describes how mobile has become the battle zone for the tech companies. The tech giants of the US are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users by developing new and faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets is not clear till now.

Cindy Krum, the chief executive at MobileMoxie, a mobile marketing consultancy stated that “Mobile drives so much traffic as many people from all over the world begin their day by reading the news on their phone or tablet”.

Various news app expect to profit by attracting more news readers and the advertising dollars they bring.

Last month, an app was incorporated in the Apple’s updated iOS 9 mobile operating system, that is named Apple News. The content in  Apple News is delivered by more than 50 media partners, that includes the New York Times, Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Google, Fb and apple

Google, Fb and apple

Earlier this year Facebook has launched its app “Instant Articles”, in joint venture with various organizations of media. With this app the readers can access to the news 10 times faster, than the most news websites. The contents that are included in Instant Articles contains audio captions on photos. Moreover, the reader can like or comment on specific sections of the article rather than the entire news.

Google is said to be planning for a similar system in a joint venture with Twitter. This will allow the readers to load the entire article on their cell phone in a fraction of a second, as compared to current nearly 10 seconds.

This has definitely turned the mobile as a battleground for the tech companies, who want to keep the mobile users surrounded by their ecosystem, so that they can reach them with better products, services and promotions.

Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, stated that “For now, the contract looks pretty favorable to the publishers”. But Edmonds cleared that the long tenure impacts are still not clear, particularly as to how the partnerships will affect the digital subscriptions or purchases of individual articles previously sold directly by the media outlets.

To make their  product more user friendly, the tech companies are paying more incentives to the media companies.

For Apple News, The New York Times has agreed to access 30 articles free per day, in comparison to the daily website or news application that allows the readers to access 10 articles per day. Still, it remains unclear whether these news apps will be able to help the news organizations to come across a lasting economic model to survive the digital age.

According to the reports of the Pew Research Center, the daily print circulation in US has been decreased up to 19 percent over the past decade and similar to this the print advertising has declined by 60 percent. Now its entirely on the news organizations to decide whether to go after digital readers on their own or to partnership with the tech firms to deal with that turn down.

Krum agreed by saying that “ the news organizations needs to adjust to the modern ways the consumers access the news. She further added that “It’s much more casual” than in the past.

A spokesman from New York Times said that “ it is important to ensure that The Times is available in a wide variety of places where people find their news and information,” mentioning that the daily can be reached through services such as Microsoft’s MSN News, Flipboard or Google Play Newsstand.

 

Motorola To Launch ‘Moto X Style’ Very Soon In India

After launching Moto X Play, Motorola is now launching the Moto X Style in India very soon. Now the firm has recently announced through twitter “To get ready to live life to the fullest & party in 15 minutes flat with the Moto X Style that is coming in India very soon”.

These were the same lines that were indicated by the company during its launch of Moto X Play in India last month. In an event that held in the USA in July this year, the Moto X Style was revealed. Till now the company has posted several tweets, to reconfirm their announcement. Unluckily for the Motorola lovers, the company has not mentioned the exact dates of the launch or the cost of the Moto X Style. But, the company has assured that the ‘Style’ edition of the Moto Play will be launched in India before the beginning of the festival season.

Moto X Style

Moto X Style

Unlike, the Moto X Play, this phone has a metal body which look alike the 2014 version of the device. The Moto X Style has a 5.7-inch 2K screen, 3GB RAM, high-end 6-core processor, 21-megapixel camera on the back with an f/2.0 aperture and is available in numerous colors. For the selfie freaks this device has a 5-megapixel front camera with an 87-degree wide-angle lens as well. Apart from 16 GB and 32 GB models it also comes in 64 GB internal storage and all the versions have 128 GB micro SD card slot.

The battery size of Moto X Style is 3,000mAh, which is smaller than that of  Moto X Play, which is 3,640mAh. But, it is less powerful than the Moto X Style. The Moto X Play features less powerful processor, a smaller screen with full-HD display and the same camera.

The company hypes of its fast charge technology, as it claims to charge at a rapid rate, which can last up to 30 hours on a single charge. It consist Motorola’s TurboPower 25 for faster charging and water-repellent Nano-coating (IP52 certified). The device also has dual front facing speakers. Along with this,  it also has various memory options with MicroSD card expansion. This device supports 4G, 3G, dual band WiFi, NFC, GPS and other connectivity options. It not only runs Lollipop, but along with this, it runs apps like Moto Display, Moto Assist and Moto Voice, which are Motorola’s own apps.

The Moto X Play smartphone that was launched in India last month is available at Rs. 18,499 for the 16GB variant and Rs. 19,999 for the 32GB variant. The Moto X Play is no exception. It has 5.5-inch full HD display, a 21-megapixel camera, a meaty processor that  includes a version of the Android Lollipop operating system. This means that this device is free from the painful bloatware most companies insist on installing. The splash resistant body protects the internals of the Moto X Play, from all kinds of spilled drinks. The best part is the options to wildly customize the colors according to the exacting tastes of the users.

 

However, the handset consists of a bigger battery than the Moto X Style. The phone measures 148mm long and 75mm wide and it’s not at all so chunky as to be cumbersome to use. It weights just 169 grams and slides easily in the pockets of the users. The 3.5mm headphone jack and the Micro-USB port around the edges of the phone, with the SIM card and microSD card slots underneath the back cover.

The launching time of the device is at a very interesting time as Google is also going to launch its new Nexus smartphones in India, which might be priced competitively.

 

Traditional Gaming No More?

PlayStation Vita’s successor won’t be seen anytime sooner with the statement coming in from Mr. Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Computer Entertainment. Yoshida said in his statement that the dominance of the mobile gaming in the market has made him take that decision. However, he also said that he hopes that the culture of the traditional gaming continues as the touch-based games won’t be able to give you the experience that traditional stick and button controls do. He also said that the future prediction can’t be made as of now. But, was the President of Sony Computer Entertainment right enough to blame the mobile gaming for its failures? We say “we agree to disagree”. Even after giving out the high priced handheld console and expensive memory cards. Sony was unable to deliver the content. Also, Yoshida said that enough marketing had not been done for the handheld console. It was done for PS3 and PS4.  A high quality hardware like PlayStation Vita for the Hard-core gamers struggled because liked its predecessors. Because, it failed to deliver the single most important thing this entertainment device: The Content. What Sony is still failing to understand is that the gamers these days have endless options to go for and they widely depend on the free options.

PS VIta

PS VIta

PS Vita was released by in December, 2011 and made an entry in the Indian Market in Feb,2015. With a good enough launch and better line-up of games. It still lacked in making its mark in the gaming market because of it being high priced.       Yoshida’s statement was no surprise. Sony’s financials for 2016 did not even include the PS3 and the PS Vita in its sales forecasts. It was surprising indeed in the case of the PS3, but not unexpected to see the PS Vita going through the same. The PS Vita never came close enough to fulfilling its massive and best potential. It launched right as any other smartphones and tablets – and the countless “free” mobile games that they run on it were skyrocketing in popularity and ubiquity. And while Nintendo has somehow managed to carve out a big place with its consoles in today’s climate, Sony had no such blessing with the PSP Vita.

Things have already affected Sony’s bottom line; it has also had a damning effect on the PSP Vita’s gaming ecosystem. Which was never great in the first place, has screeched to a halt as said by Yoshida. Considering the high hopes many of us had for when the PSP Vita had arrived, it’s been hard to watch serious portable gaming – pay money for the high priced console and memory cards, it does give traditional gaming experience at many levels – losing out to the mobile gaming dominance. Ideally, there would be a place for both, but the masses have spoken. And, by a landslide, mobile gaming has dominated the market so far, and it has touch controls which are quite convenient for the user and gamers. PSP Vita, which was console-like and more of a traditional gaming console with indeed new inventions like Vita Remote Play being the coolest ones wherein. someone else is on the TV (or when you simply want to play game in another room) or even while you’re away from home and your game station – provided your home has high end which has good upload speeds and your receiving end has good download speeds at the same time.

But, as times have gone by the climate is complex for gamers and game developers who have got countless competition, but for publishers and hardware makers, this is an age of plenty. If we don’t see a PlayStation Vita 2, it will be because of the decision taken by the hierarchy, not because of the forecast made by them.

World’s Most Powerful Smartphone- Yu Yutopia

Micromax Subsidary, YU Televentures wanted to create a splash this Diwali and indeed they will. They are planning to launch the smartphone which has been termed “World’s Most Powerful Smartphone”. It has been named as YU Yutopia and the work on this phone is in progress. It has been named as “Project Achilles’ internally. While there has been no about how the phone controls and how the display is gone be. The packaging box clearly stated “YUTOPIA – The most powerful phone ever”.

However, the phone is being manufactured in India and will be launched in Diwali – the details about the phones specifications will be rolled out in next couple of weeks. Also, the tweet by the Micromax Founder and CEO, Rahul Sharma already hinted at the beast that was tweeted on 25th September. It’s the same deal that was tied up with Cyanogen and broke its agreement with OnePlus. After the Project Caesar, YU is working on a new project called ‘Project Achilles’ as we told earlier. Obviously, it’s only a codename for the project but it will be the Yutopia phone. No official announcement has been made as of now. But a source of BGR said that the phone is set to be the “world’s most powerful smartphone in India”.

Yu Yutopia

Yu Yutopia

It is an ambitious claim to be made by the cofounder. The YU Yutopia is expected to be unveiled next month. It’s not the YU Yunique phone announced but another “beast” as noted by YU founder Rahul Sharma in a tweet. He said, “After the minion monster #YUNIQUE can’t wait to present the #Real Beast. Let the countdown begin”. So the Yunique isn’t the biggest phone yet but this upcoming YU Yutopia. Whatever the case, the phone will boast top of the line specifications.

So far, it is known from the benchmark listing that the YU phone will have the following: a 5.2-inch screen with a 1080p or 2K display, 3GB or 4GB RAM integrated, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 21 megapixel camera, 8MP front-facing cam, and 32GB of built-in storage. No mentions on the battery size.  Making a statement such as  world’s most powerful smartphone may be quite a challenging. But, Micromax’s YU knows its capability. This Yutopia will be the first real high-end flagship phone from YU since the previous models released (Yureka, Yuphoria, Yunique, and Yureka Plus) are all mid-range devices (Rs 10,000). Let’s just wait and see if this smartphone will really be as powerful as YU claims. It will be competing around with the likes of those one plus two. We are anyways expecting the prices around Rs. 20,000. There are some more facts that have been found in the phone. The stunning feature that you will be liking in this mobile is the support of the great touch sensor and the perfect synchronization of the set with a Bluetooth device. Thus get the best support now through the smart phone that has been there in the system and that is in the device for the aid of you.

Hence order for the set today and get the perfect benefit from the device. You will be totally satisfied while using the set and that is an approved support from the end of the company. The device is filled with lots of important apps and you will get the upgraded and licensed pro version apps in the device too. This is an additional benefit in the device and there from you will get the best support for your glamour and smartness. You can get the device at the local shops, however to get the additional benefits, it is better to get the device from the online stores.

 

The best smart phone reaches the market

With Google unveiling it’s 2015’s Nexus smart phones – the LG-made Nexus 5X, and the Huawei-made Nexus 6P with other android variants such as new Pixel C tablet, and other new Chromecast products – specifically, the second-gen Chrome cast dongle, Chrome cast Audio, and the Chromecast App. Google’s David Burke, VP Engineering (Android), introduced saying that the new nexus line up will represented the “latest Android software built into the most innovative hardware”, meant to deliver the “Android as Google designed it.” It will available in the Google Store, with the Nexus 5X priced starting around $379 for the 16GB handset, and the Nexus 6P priced starting from $499 for its 32GB model. Both devices will be available for the pre-orders on Tuesday in Germany, Ireland, Japan, the UK, and the US. They will however start shipping from later in October. The pricing for the Indian market for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P has also been announced, but there’s no word yet on the availability of the phone.

Nexus 6p and Nexus 5x

Nexus 6p and Nexus 5x

Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X have been named as the platform lead devices for Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s launch, and feature specific hardware to power the supported features, like the Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor, and USB Type-C ports. The fingerprint sensor is claimed to recognise a print in less than 600 milliseconds.

Both variants will ship with an all 90-day access free subscription to Google Play Music, and get $50 of Google Play Credit for the gamers. Google also announced that the new Nexus smart phones will come with an extended warranty scheme that’s valid for 2 years and covers mechanical breakdown apart from accidental damage that will priced for additional $69 and $89 for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P respectively.

Nexus 6P

First full-metal Nexus smartphone Nexus 6P is the first in the nexus variants, built out of aluminium, and features a 5.7-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixel) display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 (Latest); a 12.3-megapixel rear camera with 4K and slow-motion (240fps) video recording, apart from an f/2.0 aperture; 8-megapixel front-facing camera with HDR+ and a f/2.4 aperture; a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 SoC; 3GB of LPDD4 RAM, a 3450mAh battery with Quick Charge support providing up to 7 hours of charge in less than 10 minutes, and dual front-ported speakers. The variants will be available in Frost White, Aluminium, and Graphite colours. 64GB ($549) and 128GB ($649) inbuilt storage variants will also be available. However, it was not specified when it will be.

Nexus 5X

The Nexus 5X on the other hand features a 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3; a 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC; 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM; a 12.3-megapixel rear camera with 4K and slow-motion (120fps) video recording, apart from an f/2.0 aperture, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with HDR+ and a f/2.0 aperture. It also features a 2700mAh battery, with Quick Charge support providing up to 3.8 hours of charge in 10 minutes or less. It will be available in colours like Carbon Black, Quartz White, and Ice Blue. A 32GB ($429) inbuilt storage variant will also be available.

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO also announced Google Play now has 1 billion active users and more are joining, and with Android pumping 1.4 billion active users over the past 30 days and counting. 20 million Chromecast dongles are being sold till date and more than 10 thousand companies are either using or testing the Android for Work platform, and 30,000 new Chromebooks being shipped every single day.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates will start rolling out on Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9, Nexus Player, and Android One devices from next week onwards.

Lenovo- Superfish and Spyware

The story of unauthorized and pre-installed spywares continues with its recent discovery in refurbished laptops. Michael Horowitz, the investigator from computer world, found that some of the laptops by Lenovo carried a suspicious folder by name ‘Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64’ with files. These files were found while using Task Manager Tool to check the CPU usage. The files had an ability to send the user activities to a third party data analytics firm called Omniture. The same discovery was found on IBM ThinkPad T520 and T420 refurbished laptops.

Lenovo’s Defense

Lenovo have already stated that there may be some software component that will send data to Lenovo. It is also a part of support document of Lenovo that states these systems may communicate with Lenovo servers on the internet – All ThinkStation, All ThinkCentre and All ThinkPad. Some of the files Lenovo can include are Lenovo.TVT.CustomerFeedback.Agent.exe and LenovoExperienceImprovement.exe

Reason behind 3rd Party Is Receiving the Data

Within hundreds of pages of the ‘Terms and Conditions’ lies a small clause which is never informed to the end-user. This adds to one more concern regarding why is the data shared with a third party without informed the end-user about the information flow.

Also, there is no information provided to the user in order to stop the process of unauthorized tracking of their laptop. For an option the EULA document did mentions some steps to stop this analytics task, however even the investigator was not able to locate the specific ‘settings’ in this regard.

lenovo

lenovo

Lenovo’s Earlier Attempts to Track User data

In the past, Lenovo laptops and smartphones being accused to spying on their users. Early this year, ‘Superfish’, which directly influenced browsers such as Google Chrome and others, and displayed advertisements and pop-ups to the end-user was found on Lenovo’s new laptops. Over the event, Lenovo admitted their mistake with their CTO Peter Hortensius mentioning that it was missed by the engineering team staff.

Thus, fresh concerns for user’s privacy and data protection have been added withthe latest discovery of spyware files on refurbished laptops from Lenovo.

Previously, system tools, antivirus software trials and other pack of unwanted to user but necessary for system programs were pre-installed in the new computers and laptops. Today’s trend states that Superfish spyware is also to be added in the list. Not many of us have an idea about how concern you need to be with this spyware. To answer them, Superfish software actually installs a self-signed root HTTPS certificate and then uses its own certificate for every single HTTPS session the user opens. For instance, if you visit your online banking portal, you will actually get the certificate signed by the Superfish instead of that from your bank. Your PC will trust it as it already has a root certificate installed. This simply means that you will not be aware and your important data will be stored and operated by a middle man installed by Lenovo. Further if this was not enough, the encryption used for the certificate is 1024-bit RSA encryption. This type of encryptions are weak and can be attacked easily risking your data to a next level. In fact, the CEO of Errata Security has already cracked the certificate and revealed the private key. If the private key is known to the public, it would be more vulnerable for the attackers and hackers to spoof any HTTPS certificate and systems with Superfish will just trust it. It means, the users will have no idea and they will be visiting a fake website.

According to Lenovo, in some computers there was Superfish installed between September and December of 2014. However, the server-side interaction have been disabled since January, meaning that Superfish are now disabled since January.  No plans of pre-loading Superfish into any new systems is claimed by Lenovo for the future.

 

Learning language by playing games

Researchers at MIT designed a computer system that can play text-based computer game without prior assumption about how the language works. Although the system is not capable of completing the whole game as of now, however it suggests and discovers the meaning of words while training.

This system, developed by professor of computer science and engineering Regina Barzilay and her students, is called ‘Civilization’. According to the MIT graduate student, every next interaction in this game is through text including the state of the game and the commands you enter. No console buttons are used and thus, understanding of the text is required in order to play this game.

Along with MIT graduate, students from the group Josh Tenenbaum and others have recently joined in the papers for the system.

learning language

learning language

Initially, researchers were particularly concerned about a usual problem in the field of natural-language processing that is designing a system that can make interfaces about syntax. It simply means that for a game that entirely depends upon a set or words for its meaning, if a word is misplaced or added, the entire sentence can interpret a different meaning. For instance, the meaning may completely change when you type ‘This is not perfect’ instead of ‘This is perfect.’

Therefore, a lot of thoughts and hard work was required while designing this game. It resulted in a very simple text based computer game that tends to describe state of affairs using troublesome syntactical constructions such as negation and conjunction. The game was also tested against a demonstration game built by the developers of EVennia. It was discovered that on an average, a human can complete the game in 15 minutes.

To set the standards high, the system was compared to the performance of the others based on natural-language processing. The machine-learning algorithm has its output based on the co-occurrence words which is a basic technique used in the field called ‘bag of words’. ‘Bag of bigrams’ is the other concept that is based on co-occurrence of two-word units.

MIT researcher’s system outperformed other systems based on both bags of words and bags of bigrams. However, on the homebrewed game, its meaning was hard to be determined from its context. Thus the outcomes were quite dramatic for actual test language understanding.

Deep Learning

The concept of deep learning, a revival of neural networks concept, was used by MIT researchers as an approach to machine learning. Deep learning was a staple of early artificial-intelligence research. It was considered that a machine learning system will begin with some assumptions about the data it’s examining, to prevent wasted time on fruitless hypotheses.

Neutral Networks do not make any kinds of such assumptions. Besides, a sense of direction is driven out from the organizations into layers. All the information is given to the processing nodes of the network, in the last layer. This modifies the data every time in different way before moving it to the next level and this process goes on. The output of the final layer is measured against the performance criterion repeatedly to check if different modifications improve the performance.

Two performance criteria were used in this experiment. One was to complete the task in the Evennia game, where one has to cross the bridge without falling off. The other performance was maximizing a score that contributed in numerous player attributes tracked by the game such as ‘magic points’ and ‘health points’.

Out of both the measures, the deep learning system outperformed bags of bigrams and bags of words. It was thereby known that the general area of mapping the natural languages to actions was interesting and important.

 

Candy Crush and other games have infected Android users with trojan and other virus

The internet, being one of the most accessible sources of information has also become a big arena for the viruses and the developers that made them. Android users in India might have skipped upon the entire virus issue that has been discovered lately. Users who downloaded games including Candy Crush, Super Hero adventure and Plant vs. Zombies from Google Playstore between 24-30th November, 2013 and on 22nd November 2014; there is probability of 74% that their mobile phones might have been infected with a virus.

This scary fact was discovered by ESet, an IT security firm in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. According to the research and analysis, they revealed that hackers were able to install malwares, backdoor Trojan virus and other deadly ingredients directly into the victim’s smartphone using official Google Playstore platform. Users however would be ignorant and not notice that the virus in their phones would be installed because of downloading games.  These viruses were strong enough to control the user’s phone and include them as part of an illegal botnet which is under the hacker’s control. The arcade games which were shrewdly installed on Android smartphones have been found with files named Android/TrojanDropper.Mapin; and the actual Trojan has been installed as Android/Mapin.

Candy Crush

Candy Crush

 

How was this discovered?

Security Analysts at ESet found that popular games from Google Playstore came loaded with suspicious looking files such as “systemdata” and “resourcea”. Interestingly, these files did not install automatically unlike the usual downloading & installing process. They asked the users to install it separately. Using some official sounding name like “Manage Setting” app, the attackers were able to convince thousands of Android users to themselves install Trojan in their smartphones.

The Modus Operandi

Once the virus gets inside the phone, it starts functioning in the background without disturbing the users playing any of the mentioned games. Suspiciously, these viruses get activated after 3 days which eliminates any doubt and questioning by the end user. Using complex codes to trigger timers, these viruses work behind the scene, taking control of the infected device, and including the Android OS to work under a criminal botnet, spread globally.

Once, they gain the full control over the device, the virus commands the device to communicate with C&C server, display full screen advertisements on the mobile and work for the illegal botnet. Considering this, all the applications on the Android OS were made to send push notifications and access the user’s private details as well as install updates automatically. Besides these, there are numerous other threatening activities that could have been performed without any knowledge of the owner of that virus-infected device.

Why Google Failed To Detect The Virus?

Goggle’s program, Bouncer Malware Protection System could not detect these viruses while testing. This was because these viruses were activated after 3 days as there are timers included within the ‘bundle’.

The games which were affected are:

  • Hill climb racing the game
  • Plants vs. zombies 2
  • Subway suffers
  • Traffic Racer
  • Temple Run 2 Zombies
  • Super Hero Adventure

Applications like Classic brick game, Tom Cat Talk, Zombie Tsunami, ystem Optimiser, Super Hero Adventure were uploaded by the same publisher, PRStudio on various other Android devices on the same dates and downloaded thousands of times without any trace of virus. Virus-infected games were available on the playstore for over a year and were eventually removed this year in March when Google manually checked all the uploaded apps.

The experts recommend that, to avoid such situations, it is necessary to install only those applications which are created by well-known developers and companies. Knowing the present intentions of viruses, we should take extra care when installing a software or browsing a page. Its intentions are still for fun, although they are now made with malicious intent for the developer’s benefit.