Archive for December, 2011

2012: A Year of Mobile Threats

Posted: December 27, 2011 in Mobile
Tags: , ,

2011 witnessed convoluted malware attacks in the mobile field. The end of 2011 is showing a 4 percent increase in the mobile attacks compared to the first quarter. Adding to it, the global yearly likelihood of an android user clicking on a malicious link reached to a 36 percent according to a report by Lookout Mobile Security. The trend is not going to end as 2012 is predicted to be the year of mobile malware.

The android world keeps on evolving; so are the malwares. The malware developers took an estimated $1 million from android users this year and are planning on looting more. The smart phones are most vulnerable targets as they are rich in applications and data, are tied to the payment processing services, and usually have less security compared to the PC’s.

The expected threats will be on various levels like SMS/Fraud calls, mobile botnets, and vulnerable smart devices. The SMS malware raises primary threat as they are the easiest tie into a transaction infrastructure. Google has removed 22 applications from the android market last month as they are found to charge customers by sending and receiving messages on their behalf. Botnets include a connection of infected mobiles which have the capacity of infecting other phones. 10 families of botnets were discovered in the late 2011 and the number is expected to increase in the coming year. Also security holes in the numerous smart phones will be a driving factor.

The threats are building up as there are new ways of speeding up the process to save the time and money of a malware writer. One process is “Automated repackaging” where the repackaged, infected versions of applications are released into the third party markets. “Malvertising” is another process where a genuine looking advertisement will lead the user to a fraudulent site. The PC based attacks like fraudulent websites, e-mails are also finding their way into the android market as the number of users accessing the internet from smart devices is going to touch a whole time high.

The applications which are more likely to come up with threats are games, utility and porn. So the mobile users are warned to take extreme precautions while downloading the vast applications available in the third party markets as they may be stepping into a trap, unknowingly.

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As any good designer in App Development will tell you, great implementation of an impressive feature is only the beginning. But for an iPhone app that has to get approved by Apple, presentation that goes hand in hand with logic, purpose, and structure of the app is vital.

10 principles of designing good apps that could prove handy will gain your app an entry into the list apps approved by Apple are as follows:

1. Idea-mapping

You’re not going to get anywhere until you have a clear idea for yourself of what you aim to make, so map your ideas, and set a clear purpose for this app.

2. Ergonomics

The UI should be spotless, so the user would want to tap them. Its buttons must be such that the user knows what they do at a glance, and most importantly, at the first time.

3. User’s Needs

One might not know what one needs until one sees it on screen. Bear in mind what the user will and will not require on each page. Less clutter makes things a lot clearer, so do not fear white space.

4. Beauty

Transitions, animations and even the buttons every bit of visual feedback needs to be visually appealing, while fitting the theme of the app. Make sure the animations serve to clarify what the user could do with the apps.

5. Mobile = Tactile

The way the user gets to control touch is important. Make sure the control system you design is engaging yet touch-optimized. Make defaults intelligent, and yet easy to do away with, or easy to customize.

6. Iteration

Keep in mind to not plan too much, but keep playing with the design as much as possible and gauge the UI’s effectiveness. It is vital to think of every possible button/element on every screen.

7. Clarity

Make clear to the user what he/she has control over. Jargons would sound impressive to a hard-core techie, but they would lose value to one who has no idea what you mean.

8. Elegance

The implementation of all the above should be smooth. Not only would the user-interface be good to look at it should also be easy-to-use. One such way to do this would be to use buttons that are of ‘tap-able’ size.

9. Polish the App Icon

The icon represents your App, so make sure it shows the user what he/she can do with it.

10. Honest pricing

Although it is tempting to price the app according to the work you put into designing it, it would be best to price it according to how often the user would turn to it. Test often with subjects, who would give you honest, yet varied feedback.

Microsoft’s famous FUSE labs launched its most hyped product So.cl (pronounced as social) last week. Contradictory to the previous statements, So.cl won’t be a rival to the facebook or google+.

According to Microsoft, So.cl will be an experimental social search project, focused on social search for the purpose of learning. The primary target will be students since it will give them a chance to share and collaborate the ideas from various web pages and other resources.

The main features of So.cl include social search, which is usually public and can be made private on demand. The search interface is made with the help of Bing. Users can create communities with likeminded people around them and post pictures or data. The video chat room facility helps the community members to watch a video together.  It also offers public file sharing, with the most searched topic having the high priority. The interesting feature is that users with a facebook or twitter account can collaborate their account with So.cl and start Searching! But for the time being, new users trying to login to the So.cl are greeted back with the message that the site is overcrowded.

Even though Microsoft says that So.cl won’t be a rival to facebook, we cannot forget the fact that facebook also began its journey as a small community search for a college.

“Synthetic biology” is accelerating “faster than computer technology”, say experts who have warned that hackers could someday use it to develop a computer virus to bend human minds.

According to Andrew Hessel of Singularity University on US space agency NASA’s research campus, “It could lead to a world where hackers could engineer viruses or bacteria to control human minds.

“This is one of the most powerful technologies in the world. Synthetic biology the writing of life. I advocate cells are living computers and DNA is a programming language.

“I want to see life programmed and used to solve global challenges so that humanity can achieve a sustainable relationship within the biosphere. It’s growing fast. It will grow faster than computer technologies.”

He predicts a world where people can “print” DNA, and even “decode” it. But he warned that viruses and bacteria send chemicals into human brains and could someday be used to influence, or even “control” people, ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

A literal virus injected into a “host” in the guise of a vaccine, say could be used to control behaviour, says Hessel who warns people “may’ve to learn how to counterattack” against such weapons.

Micromax has launched a new Android Smartphone, named Superfone Lite A75, with dual SIMs for 8,999. The A75 runs on Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread and has a 650 MHz processor. This dual SIM Android powered device from Micromax also comes with features like a 3.75 inch capacitive touchscreen, dual camera, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. It also features a 32 GB expandable memory.

The A75 comes preloaded with apps like Google Voice Search which enables you to perform various actions by speaking to the phone, live sending text messages, taking down notes, play music, access websites, and find directions to places. The phone also has a series of apps like SAAVN for users to listen to their favourite music using this online music store, Times of India online newspaper, and Netqin antivirus.

The phone offers a practically unlimited phonebook and SMS memory and comes with a 3.5 mm universal jack for the best music experience.