Wednesday, February 29, 2012
BARCELONA - Cybercriminals are sneaking a soaring number of malware into smartphones to steal data or even money, with those running on Google's Android most exposed to security threats, analysts said.
While the Android open concept has gained the hearts of those who find the iPhone too closely managed by Apple, it is also turning out to be the Google operating system's Achilles heel.
"Something really worrying about the Google model, which is also the beauty of that model, is the openness of the environment," Cesare Garlati, consumer specialist at security firm Trend Micro, told AFP.
Anyone can create or install an application on an Android phone, Garlati pointed out, as opposed to the Apple controlled Appstore which imposes a layer of screening.
"Android's security model basically says, it is the responsibility of the end user to judge if an application is secure.
"I think that is asking too much from the user. Who is able to understand if a vendor is legitimate?" he asked.
Trend Micro surveyed independent analysts about security features on the four main mobile operating systems -- Apple's iOS, RIM's Blackberry, Microsoft's Windows and Google's Android -- and found that Blackberry was ranked most secure and Android the least.
Blackberry benefitted from the fact that it was originally designed more as a platform than a device, while iOS, ranked second most secure, was tightly controlled by Apple.
Nevertheless, Garlati stressed that "no platform is immune from problems."
With over a billion people expected to own a smartphone by 2013, cybercheats are increasingly setting their sights on the market.
Several sessions at this year's Mobile World Congress therefore addressed security, with companies including McAfee, SAP, Kaspersky Lab all trotting out new security products for tablets or smartphones.
Technology company Juniper Networks compiled a "record number of mobile malware attacks" in 2011, particularly on Android phones.
In 2010, just 11,138 mobile malware samples were recorded, but they soared 155 percent to 28,472 in 2011, the company said.
Just under half -- 46.7 percent -- occurred on Android phones, said Juniper, whose study did not look into Apple breaches.
"The combination of Google Android's dominant market share and the lack of control over the applications appearing in the various Android application stores created a perfect storm, giving malware developers the means and incentives to focus on the platform," the group said.
Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive of the eponymous computer security firm, said: "We are pretty sure that this will follow the computer's evolution," pointing out that threats had surged from 90,000 in 2004 to some 16 million in 2011, with internet transactions largely fueling the rise.
Some criminals are hiding "malicious code in legitimate applications" that consumers are downloading unwittingly.
Once they have gained access to data on the phone, they are stealing information that could be used in identity theft or in illegal transactions.
A further incentive for cybercriminals to breach smartphone security is that unlike computers, each phone "has a direct link to money" through the SIM card, Denis Maslennikov, Kaspersky Lab's senior malware analyst said.
Criminals are able, for instance, to implant so-called trojan horses that prompt phones to send SMSes to premium numbers.
"In 2012, the whole malware industry will become a fact we will have to deal with," he warned
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS - Backed by the biggest marketing rollout in Sony’s history, the consumer electronics giant today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona unveiled a new user interface for its Android-based Xperia P and U which will form part of the new NXT line-up.
The new NXT series is designed to make it easier for consumers to share content from their smartphones to TVs, laptops or tablet devices. The new phones will also come with Sony’s new ‘WhiteMagic’ display technology.
Designed to enhance the Android experience, the new user interface also include new album, video and music players and the ability for consumers to access their favourite apps directly from the lock screen.
A new Reality Display promises razor-sharp clarity and the ability to take a photo from sleep mode to snap in about a second via a single key press.
The new smartphones are also designed to make use of the Sony Entertainment Network for unlimited access to thousands of movies and millions of songs.
The Xperia U boasts a 3.5-inch Reality Display, a 5-megapixel camera and runs on the Android Gingerbread OS which Sony says will be upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) during the second quarter. It runs on a 1GHz dual-core processor.
Also sporting a 1GHz dual core chip, the Xperia P has a 4-inch Reality Display, runs on Gingerbread and will also upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich in the second quarter.
The P, however, has an 8-megapixel camera and can capture images in HD, 2D and 3D. It comes in a choice of silver, black and red and has an aluminium unibody.
Users can stream their music from either device to wireless speakers using DLNA technology and can connect to HD TVs using HDMI technology.
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei claims it has the fastest smartphones in the world thanks to processors the company has designed itself.
The new Ascend D quad and Ascend D quad XL phones, launched at the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona, use Huawei's own K3V2 quad core processor at speeds of 1.2GHz and 1.5GHz respectively. The company claims its new processor, based on the industry-standard ARM architecture and designed with a partner it declined to name, is significantly faster than the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor. The Tegra 3 is used in rival Android phones, as well as tablets such as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime.
The new phones come with 4.5in screens that have a high resolution of 1,280x720 pixels so you can see more detail onscreen, yet Huawei claims these phones are more compact than rival 4.5in and 5in phones and therefore more comfortable to hold.
Despite these impressive specifications, Huawei boldly claims the Ascend phones will have average battery life of one to two days. Chairman Richard Yu attributes this to its years of experience in building the broadcast towers and other infrastructure used in mobile phone networks. Both phones will also come with the latest version of the Android operating system, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Huawei also announced the very similar Ascend D1 which oddly uses a different 1.5GHz quad core processor from chip maker Texas Instruments and has a smaller battery than either the Ascend D quad or Ascend D quad XL.
Yu wouldn't be drawn on pricing of any of the Ascend phones, citing negotiations with the mobile phone network companies, but he did claim that they would be released before the summer with 4G versions arriving later in the year.
First Look: Samsung's Galaxy Beam Android Phone with a Built-In Projector
Samsung Sunday announced its first phone of Mobile World Congress (MWC), the Samsung Galaxy Beam, an Android smartphone with a built-in projector. The Galaxy Beam will be available globally in the second quarter of this year. MWC, which officially starts Monday in Barcelona, Spain, is the world's largest mobile show.
Projector phones (and mobile projector accessories) have been around for some time, but they tend to be on the chunky and not-so-attractive side. The Galaxy Beam measures only 0.49 inches while packing in a 15 lumens projector. Most pico projector accessories sold today are only 10 or 12 lumens bright.
Samsung Galaxy Beam Android smartphone with projectorThe Galaxy Beam can project video, images or PowerPoint presentations up to 50-inches wide. The resolution of projected video is 640-by-360 pixels. Samsung did a quick demo projector image quality. The image clarity was impressive: colors looked vivid and the picture looked sharp. In other demos of pico projectors I’ve seen, colors looked washed out, while images and text looked faded.
Here's an upclose look at the Beam:
The projector basically mirrors whatever is on your display. It uses the phone’s gyroscope to correctly adjust the image from portrait to landscape mode. It, however, is not Samsung's first attempt at a phone/projector combo.
Samsung Galaxy Beam side viewOther than the built-in projector, the Galaxy Beam’s specs are pretty standard for high-end Android phones. The Beam is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor, sports a 5-megapixel camera and has 6GB of RAM along with 8GB of internal memory as well as a microSD slot. It has a 4-inch WVGA TFT LCD display. It currently runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but will be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich.
Design-wise, the Beam has a pretty unique look with a slightly curved back made from a soft, yet ruggedized material. There’s a bright yellow band that wraps around the edges of the phone, which contrasts nicely with the black body.
Samsung estimates that the phone can project video for up to three hours before you need to recharge again. Samsung also informed us that there will also be accessories, such as stands, available for the Beam.
In choosing a browser for your phone, you have to take into account the more tenuous data connection, the smaller screen, and the kinds of tasks that you need or want to do on your handset. Here's a look at some of the most popular Android browsers, to help you decide which one is right for you.
Note: Though third-party browsers are available for iOS as well as for Android, Apple doesn't allow such tools to replace the built-in Safari browser altogether. For that reason, we've chosen to focus on Android browsers here. For a detailed appraisal desktop and laptop browser options, see "Which Browser Should You Use?"
If you're an RSS fiend, Dolphin Browser HD may become your new best friend. Dolphin lets you create a webzine from popular websites' RSS feeds, presenting simplified versions of Web pages with much of the clutter removed to make them easier to read. Though Dolphin can't transform every website into a webzine, it's a handy tool for people who read extensively on the Web. Dolphin also supports tabbed browsing and gesture commands, enabling you to issue specific instructions to your mobile device by drawing shapes on the touchscreen. You can draw a circle to reload the page, for example, or you can draw an F to instruct the browser to load Facebook.
Firefox for Android
Like its desktop counterpart, Firefox for Android is all about the add-ons, which, for the mobile version, include URL Fixer (for correcting common typos in URLs) and Reading List (for saving Web pages to read offline). Firefox for Android is an excellent choice for users who want to tweak and tune their browsers, and add their own personal touches. Unfortunately, the browser can be a bit slow to start up, and it consumes a lot of RAM--a potential problem if you have an older or underpowered Android phone. Firefox for Android also supports tabbed browsing, and you can sync between the mobile app and Firefox on your desktop, to pick up on one device right where you left off on the other.
Opera Mobile and Opera Mini
Opera has two mobile browsers: the full-size (12MB) Opera Mobile, and the smaller (767KB) Opera Mini. Opera Mini sends your page requests to a server, which compresses the pages before transmitting them to your device, making this space-saving browser much faster than Opera Mobile. For its part, Opera Mobile does a better job than Opera Mini of rendering pages so that they look the way they would on your desktop. Opera browsers don't support add-ons, but both of these Opera apps do let you sync your mobile bookmarks with the desktop version of Opera, and both of them permit tabbed browsing.
Chrome for Android Beta
If you have an Android smartphone that runs Ice Cream Sandwich, Chrome for Android might be a good choice. Mobile Chrome supports tabbed browsing, but it doesn't support Flash plug-ins at all. Instead, you'll find some advanced HTML 5 features, plus synchronization with your desktop browser's bookmarks and settings. Although Chrome for Android doesn't offer extensions yet, it probably will support additional capabilities in the future.