An Israeli software company which creates spyware has developed a tool with the ability to break into users’ cloud-based accounts, according to a report in the Financial Times.The Pegasus software developed by the NSO Group has been advertised as being able to copy authentication keys and access cloud services like Google Drive or iCloud, and can also access messaging services like Facebook Messenger.Once a phone is infected, the infection can spread to the user’s cloud accounts and download their entire online history.Even after the authentication key is no longer valid, the infection can still remain.NSO has boasted of the software’s abilities in its pitches to potential customers.The report reveals that “One pitch document from NSO’s parent company, Q-Cyber, which was prepared for the government of Uganda earlier this year, advertised the ability of Pegasus to ‘retrieve the keys that open cloud vaults’ and ‘independently sync-and-extract data’.”
Israeli spyware company NSO Group’s powerful Pegasus malware – the same spyware implicated in a breach of WhatsApp earlier this year – is capable of scraping a target’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, according to a report in the Financial Times on Friday.According to the FT, “people familiar with its sales pitch” as well as leaked sales documents show that NSO Group’s parent company Q-Cyber is advertising Pegasus as having the capability to copy authentication keys to services including Google Drive, Facebook Messenger and iCloud from an infected phone to a web server that is then capable of independently downloading the target’s entire online history.The paper wrote that the documents advertise the functionality as allowing ongoing access to data stored on the servers of tech giants that persists beyond the Pegasus infection on the phone itself (presumably until the authentication key in question is invalidated):It works on any device that Pegasus can infect, including many of the latest iPhones and Android smartphones, according to the documents, and allows ongoing access to data uploaded to the cloud from laptops, tablets and phones – even if Pegasus is removed from the initially targeted smartphone.One pitch document from NSO’s parent company, Q-Cyber, which was prepared for the government of Uganda earlier this year, advertised the ability of Pegasus to “retrieve the keys that open cloud vaults” and “independently sync-and-extract data”.The documents brag that having access to a “cloud endpoint” allows access “far and above smartphone content”, the FT wrote.
When a digital health company announces a new app, everyone seems to think it’s going to improve health.Where I work, in San Francisco’s public health system, in a hospital named after the founder of Facebook, digital solutions promising to improve health feel far away.Our patients are low-income (nearly all of them receive public insurance) and diverse (more than 140 languages are spoken).The resulting technological innovations, such as mobile applications, telemedicine, and wearables, promise to help patients fight diabetes, treat chronic disease, or lose weight, for example.However, we have yet to see digital health drive meaningful improvements in health outcomes and reductions in health expenditures.This lack of impact is because digital health companies build products that often don’t reach beyond the “worried well” – primarily healthy people who make up a small proportion of health expenditures and are already engaged in the healthcare system.
There’s the one where we click through interfaces and hit menu buttons and dive down predictable lines of inquiry and find predictable ends.What intrigues me here is that a few days ago Instagram announced that it was further rolling out a test to hide like counts from users and that it has been further minimizing the prominence of follower counts on profiles.It’s an (admittedly small) step in the evolution but it hinges a bit more on how internet giants have come to realize UX transparency can actually lead to some negatives.There’s of course the ethical argument where you think about the responsibility that Facebook has not to make people feel shitty about themselves by offering a dopamine-hit conveyor belt as a platform, but a more fascinating idea is what a change like this opens up to the company in terms of returns and what it means for how platforms portray the nebulous idea of “engagement.”One of the easy returns I bet Instagram finds as they expand this test is that by eliminating the conforming social pressures inherent to seeing what other users are enjoying, Instagram might paint a clearer picture of its users.Without giving users a groupthink crutch to influence their own decisions on what to click the heart button on, a web of content less-focused on stats might lead them to things that actually break into.
Instagram will start issuing warnings to users who are in danger of having their accounts on the social media platform banned.This is one of the changes being implemented to address policy violations.In a blog post, Instagram introduced a new notification process that will inform people if their account is at risk of being disabled.The alert will contain the posts, comments, and stories that were deleted from the account, as well as the reason for their removal.“If you post something that goes against our guidelines again, your account may be deleted,” the notification says.The notification will also offer the chance to appeal content deleted for violations of the nudity and pornography, bullying and harassment, hate speech, drug sales, and counter-terrorism policies.
The XR Association, or XRA, now counts Microsoft among its membership, joining founding members Google, Facebook, Sony, HTC Vive, and Samsung.The trade association represents the shared interests of key companies enabling augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.Microsoft’s Heidi Holman, assistant general counsel, will represent the company on the group’s board.The XRA lists its purpose as promoting “responsible development and adoption of AR and VR globally with best practices, dialogue across stakeholders, and research” while serving “as a resource for researchers, policymakers, and partners across the XR industry.”The group published a comprehensive starter’s guide, the XR Primer, which includes an overview of best practices for developers just getting started with VR or AR work.The 38-page document also provides clear breakdowns and diagrams explaining the range of enabling technologies for “XR” — an umbrella term encompassing the range of reality filtering software and hardware.
A mysterious hairy, white creature found on the lawn of the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, this week was later determined to be a rare albino porcupine.The rodent — which is likely a juvenile as its quills have not yet hardened, per The Portland Press Herald — was spotted by museum staff on Tuesday.The museum later took to its Facebook page with pictures of the toupee-resembling creature, hoping social media could help to identify it.The consensus was it’s an albino porcupine.CHICAGO ALLIGATOR REPORTEDLY MOVING TO FLORIDA: 'CHANCE THE SNAPPER' WILL 'BE LIVING IN LUXURY'“We all thought it was an albino skunk because it was so fluffy,” Katie Orlando, executive director of the Seashore Trolley Museum, told the newspaper.
Welcome to the 275th edition of Android Apps Weekly!Here are the big headlines from the last week:Facebook is paying for one of its many privacy scandals.The $5 billion fine is the result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal from 2018.Minecraft Earth is inching closer and closer to release.The game is an AR title similar to games like Pokemon Go, but with Minecraft elements instead.
TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video platform, appears to be testing a whole host of new features that seem to take a few cues from Instagram.The tests were spotted by Jane Manchun Wong and reported by TechCrunch on Friday.According to screenshots shared by Wong to Twitter, TikTok is toying with an in-app 'Discover' tab as well as a grid-like feed layout that would function similarly to the Explore feed on Instagram by surfacing user-specific related content.TikTok is working on grid feed layout.It works like Instagram's Explore feed app is apparently also testing other features like account-linking for Facebook and Google, the ability to send videos to specific WhatsApp friends, as well as an account-switch function to allow users to more easily toggle between multiple profiles, Wong tweeted.
In more uplifting news, security researchers made an app designed to kill, to prove a point about the intense risks of internet-connect health devices, and the need for the companies who make them to stop ignoring them.(Wait, sorry, murder apps are not uplifting.)Oh, and we—like everyone else—took note of this week’s viral app, FaceApp, which shows you how you’ll look when you’re old.Though people were quick to point out its security risks, we reminded you that if you’re worried about FaceApp, you’re going to panic when you learn about a little old app called Facebook.Every Saturday we round up the security and privacy stories that we didn’t break or report on in depth but which we think you should know about nonetheless.Click on the headlines to read them, and stay safe out there.
Facebook has struck a new deal with Crypt TV, the studio founded by Eli Roth and Jack Davis with backing from Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions.Under this deal, Crypt TV will create five original, exclusive horror shows for Facebook Watch, the social network’s video platform.This represents an expansion of Facebook’s work with Crypt TV.Facebook Watch is a video platform that largely pales in comparison to YouTube and a number of other video services.However, Facebook has steadily expanded its platform, including striking different sports deals for livestreaming sports games.Late last year, the company penned a deal with Crypt TV for a 15-episode version of its The Birch short.
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The Facebook group urging people to storm Area 51 and "see them aliens" has earned lots of attention (Bud Light is even offering the aliens free beer).But messing with the US Air Force's super-secret military facility could get you killed.So here's a friendlier option: An Oklahoma City animal shelter is encouraging Americans to "come storm our shelter" instead.In a Facebook post put up Friday, OKC Animal Welfare in Oklahoma City writes, "We have great animals ready to protect you from the Area 51 aliens," adding, "adoption isn't that far out of this world!"But what really sells the shelter's post is that they have included photos of multiple adoptable dogs (and one cat) wearing the famed tin-foil hats associated with conspiracy theorists.The shelter has also decorated the animal photos with sparkling spacey sprinkles, and little cartoony aliens.
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A forthcoming research paper [PDF] from researchers at Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pennsylvania brings up the possibility that Google and Facebook might be tracking your porn history—and, perhaps more worrisome, that using Incognito mode doesn't help.The paper, set to be published in the journal New Media & Society, does an excellent job of backing up the claim that porn usage ends up being tracked by Google and Facebook.Authors Elena Maris, Timothy Libert, and Jennifer Henrichsen used open source tool webxray to analyze more than 22,000 porn sites, discovering tracking code for Google on 74% and for Facebook on 10% of the sites analyzed.Software giant Oracle's Web tracking code also showed up, appearing on 24% of those sites.In light of the study, a Facebook spokesperson told CNET, "We don't want adult websites using our business tools since that type of content is a violation of our Community Standards.Oracle has an advertising services division called DataCloud, into which it has funneled more than $3 billion dollars in acquisitions in the last five years.
Instagram debuted Stories in August 2016, and by March 2017, businesses of all sizes were allowed to run ads alongside the ephemeral content format.However, despite the theoretical lack of barriers for smaller brands looking to capitalize on Stories ads, a recent study found that larger companies still enjoyed many advantages.Software-as-a-service company Socialinsider—which offers marketers an analytics tool covering Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube—examined 135,976 Instagram Stories from 2,548 business accounts and shared its findings.The study found that, on average, brands posted Stories on seven days each month, but follower size was a factor.Brands with 100,000 or more followers posted Stories an average of roughly every two days, while those with fewer than 1,000 followers did so approximately every four days.And Socialinsider pointed out that only business accounts with over 10,000 followers can include links in their Stories, giving them more incentive to create content for this medium.
Today we’re taking a look at the quick rise and confusing fall of FaceApp and the privacy concerns therein.Early privacy-centered reactions to the app were blown a TINY bit out of proportion – but concerns still remain, in a big way.Yes, the app was developed in Russia*, but the Russian angle has nothing to do with the amount of privacy you can expect from the app.“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable… license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username, or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.” That’s what users agree to when they start to use FaceApp.He went back to clarify a few things after the story exploded, but the original warnings remain – something’s still fishy with the app.When you deal with apps with less-than-perfect User Agreements, you’re dealing with real important potential consequences.
FaceApp, which edits a person’s photo to imagine how they might look at an older age, quickly went viral this week before becoming the subject of yet another data privacy concern.Founded by the Russian-based company Wireless Lab in January 2017, the app rocketed to popularity when it released a feature that allowed users to place a filter on photos to make people appear older or younger.Since then, though, officials and privacy advocates have raised questions about the app’s privacy policy after realizing its terms give it extensive rights to users’ photos.When users sign up on the app, they agree to, among other things, granting FaceApp “a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”The broad, vague terms caused an uproar.But Jeremy Gillula, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s director of technology projects, reviewed FaceApp’s privacy policy and told Adweek that didn’t see any “red flags” in FaceApp’s privacy policy that aren’t also in other apps that come from major tech companies like Facebook and Google.
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