Is A Cheap Phone Worth The Cost Of Your Privacy?

There is absolutely no room for doubt that Chinese manufacturers offer an excess of affordable gadgets with extraordinary specs to boot, in fact, Xiaomi would most likely be among the brands that you would consider when searching for a decent deal.

However, a few recent revelations put its privacy practices into question.

Security researchers Gabriel Cirlig and Andrew Tierney while speaking to Forbes guaranteed that Xiaomi’s web browsers gather an ‘over the top’ amount of information even in incognito mode. This purportedly incorporated all URLs and search queries made in the stock MIUI browser, just as Mi Browser Pro and Mint Browser.

When combined, these programs have in excess of 15 million downloads on the Google Play Store. As per Forbes, “The device was also recording what folders had been opened and to which screens the user swiped, including the status bar and the settings page.”

Tierney later following up on Xiaomi’s blog post with a Twitter thread defending the primary findings with additional evidence. In a said blog post, the Chinese manufacture guaranteed every single data gathered is anonymized and that its practices are the same as the industry standard.

Notwithstanding, not long subsequent to issuing the statement, Xiaomi pushed an update to its browsers, permitting users to ‘toggle off’ data collection in incognito mode.

Xiaomi guarantees that all information it gathers is anonymized, in spite of the fact that this has been questioned by the discoveries of the security researchers.

However, regardless of whether Xiaomi’s side is thought about in this contention, there has been proof that some anonymized information can still be traced back to the users. The New York Times proved this with anonymous location data.

While browser data may be a bit harder to link to a user than location data, it could be conceivable depending upon how the information is gathered and stored. In the Xiaomi situation, the expansion of the ‘toggle off’ option is likewise disappointing on the grounds that this implies the default hasn’t changed.

The Chinese company will continue gathering incognito browser data unless users are aware of the ‘toggle and explicitly opt-out’.

Given the fact that Xiaomi is the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer by market share, this implies for the average user that is not in particular ‘tech-savvy’ as the status quo remains the same.

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Rise of a Mobile Banking Malware Which Steals Personal Financial Information – Disposable mail news

The federal cybersecurity agency cautions about the rise of a new mobile banking malware called “EventBot”, which purportedly steal personal financial information and says it might influence Android phone users in India, in a most recent advisory.

The Trojan infection may “masquerade as a legitimate application such as Microsoft Word, Adobe flash and others using third-party application downloading sites to infiltrate into victim device” as per an alert issued by the (CERT-In) Computer Emergency Response Team of India, the national technology arm to combat cyber-attacks and guard the Indian cyberspace.

“It has been observed that a new Android mobile malware named EventBot is spreading. It is a mobile-banking Trojan and info-stealer that abuses Android’s in-built accessibility feature to steal user data from financial applications, read user SMS messages and intercept SMS messages, allowing malware to bypass two-factor authentication,” said the CERT-In warning.

As indicated by the CERT-In the virus “to a great extent target financial apps like PayPal Business, Revolut, Barclays, UniCredit, CapitalOne UK, HSBC UK, TransferWise, Coinbase, paysafecard and so on”

The agency said while “EventBot” has not been “seen” on Google Playstore till now, it can “masquerade” as a certified mobile phone application.

The virus further prompts the users to offer access to their device accessibility services.

The advisory claimed that the virus is equipped for recovering notifications about other installed applications and read the contents of various applications.

Over time, it can also read Lock Screen and in-app PIN that can give the attacker more privileged access over victim device,”

The cybersecurity agency has proposed certain counter-measures to check the virus infection within the Android phones: “Do not download and install applications from untrusted sources like unknown websites and links on unscrupulous messages; install updated anti-virus solution; prior to downloading or installing apps even from Google Playstore), always review the app details, number of downloads, user reviews, comments and the ‘additional information’ section”

Lastly, it requested that users abstain from utilizing unsecured, unknown Wi-Fi systems, and for prior affirming of a banking/financial application from the source organization.


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Attention! Fake Extensions on the Chrome Web Store Again! – Disposable mail news

Reportedly, Google was in the news about having removed 49 Chrome extensions from its browser’s store for robbing crypto-wallet credentials. What’s more, after that, there surfaced an additional set of password-swiping “extensions” aka “add-ons”, which are up for download even now.

Per sources, the allegedly corrupt add-ons exist on the browser store disguised as authentic crypto-wallet extensions. These absolutely uncertified add-ons invite people to fill in their credentials so as to make siphoning off them easy and the digital money accessible.

Reports mention that the security researchers have affirmative information as to 8 of the 11 fake add-ons impersonating legitimate crypto-wallet software being removed including “Jaxx Ledger, KeyKeep, and MetaMask.” A list of “extension identifiers” which was reported to Google was also provided.

Per researchers, there was a lack of vigilance by the Google Web Store because it apparently sanctions phisher-made extensions without giving the issue the attention it demands. Another thing that is disturbing for the researchers is that these extensions had premium ad space and are the first thing a user sees while searching.

According to sources, much like the Google Play Store with malicious apps, the Google Web Store had been facing difficulty in guarding itself against mal-actors. There also hadn’t been much of a response from their team about the issue.

One solution that was most talked about was that Google should at the least put into effect mechanisms in the Chrome Web Store that automatically impose trademark restrictions for the store and the ad platforms in it.

Per sources, Google’s Chrome Web Store “developer agreement” bars developers from violating intellectual property rights and also clearly mentions “Google is not obligated to monitor the products or their content”. Reports mention that as per the ad policy of Google, it could review trademarks complaints from trademarks holders only when it has received a complaint.

Google heeding all the hue and cry about the extensions did herald more restrictions with the motive of wiping away traces of any fake extensions and spammers creating bad quality extensions that were causing people trouble.

The alterations in the policy will block the spammers and developers from swarming the store with similar extensions and elements with questionable behavior. Word has it that because of hateful comments the Chrome Web Store was “locked down” in January.

But, as promising as it may be, allegedly Google has been making such promises about the Chrome Web Store security strengthening for more than half a decade. So no one can blame researchers for their skepticism.


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All you need to know about the new threat “Fleeceware” and how to protect yourself!

SophosLabs, a cybersecurity firm has discovered a range of apps on Google Play Store and Apple’s iOS App Store whose sole purpose is to charge huge subscriptions and other fees to clients for the features and services they could avail for free.

These apps though tricks the user they however neither steal your data nor do they run any malicious code hence fundamentally they are not malwares. Sophos calls them fleecewear, malicious apps hiding in sheep’s clothing. “Because these apps exist in a categorical grey area that isn’t overtly malware, and isn’t a potentially unwanted app (PUA), we’ve coined the term fleeceware, because their defining characteristic is that they overcharge users for functionality that’s widely available in free or low-cost apps.” writes Sophos Labs.

They found 25 such Android apps on Google Play store in January and 30 apps on the iOS App Store that could be fleeceware.

“In our capitalistic society, you can look at fleeceware apps and say if somebody wants to waste $500 per year on a flashlight app that’s up to them,” says John Shier, Sophos senior security adviser. “But it’s just the exorbitant price that you’re being charged, and it’s not done aboveboard. That, to me, is not ethical.”

You have to be careful while paying for in-app purchases and especially subscription. These apps will offer a trial period but will demand payment the first time you open the app. Or they could ask high payment for simple basic features like photo filter for 9$ per week or 30$ per month.

Fleeceware apps exploit the marketing model of play store and App Store, finding loopholes to charge their skyrocketing prices. But Google is tightening the leash. It announced last week that developers will be required to make details of subscriptions, free trials, and introductory offers more precise and clear by June 16.

“Part of improving the subscription user experience comes from fostering a trustworthy platform for subscribers; making sure they feel fully informed when they purchase in-app subscriptions,” Angela Ying, Google product manager wrote in a blog.

How to avoid fleeceware?

Through some simple steps you can avoid falling into the traps set by this fleeceware:

  1. Install apps developed by prominent developers. Big companies and their apps offer features like emojis, selfie filters, and QR code scanners for free.
  2. If you found something exclusive that the app is providing, it’s better to compare prices by doing a quick search.
  3. If you think, you’re subscriptions are getting a bit out of hand and want to check which apps you have subscribed to and the ones you’d like to cancel – Play Store and iOS App Store both offer the option where you can see all your subscriptions.

“On iOS, open Settings, tap your name, and then Subscriptions to view and manage everything. Or you can open the App Store, insert your initials in the upper right corner, and tap Subscriptions. On Android, open the Play Store, tap the hamburger menu icon in the upper right, and choose Subscriptions to view and manage your signups.”

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Google Doubling Down On Efforts to Protect Android Users – Disposable mail news

With the rise in the in-application subscription scams on Android, Google subsequently announced the introduction of new Play Store policies intended to forestall such scams in the near future.

The American multinational technology additionally pledged to provide Android users with direct assistance in the form of notifications when a trial is going to turn into a paid subscription, or a subscription is going to renew consequently.

The new policies announced that demand application developers offer clear info about the obligations associated with subscription models and free trials, and provide a simple and easy way through which users can cancel subscriptions.

These latest policies are a small part of a more extensive Google campaign, aimed especially at ensuring the privacy and security of Android users.

The newly announced policies focus mostly on fleeceware, a form of application that ‘manipulates’ trial periods and membership models to defraud victims. This kind of application usually burdens the user with complex terms and conditions, further enshrouding unjustifiable subscription commitments.

As a component of the new prerequisites, developers must distinguish with enough clarity between features accessible free of cost and those accessible only to paying subscribers.

Thus, Google will convey an admonition to users when a free trial is set to end or when a subscription longer than three months is because of turn over.

The firm will likewise give warnings if a user endeavors to uninstall an application attached to an on-going subscription.

The new policies are said to take effect on June 16, so users should take particular consideration whenever handling of in-application subscriptions on Android in the meantime.

Apart from this, the company took the initiative to remind developers that its new assessment procedure will produce results in August, which will require developers to gain approval from Google before requesting location data from the end-user.

Further Play Store ‘tweaks’ are likewise in the pipeline, which will reportedly address issues related to illusive content and applications.


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100 Million Android Users Warned Against Using this “Very Dangerous” VPN App – Disposable mail news

Millions of Android users are being cautioned against using a popular Android VPN that was removed by Google from its Play store. The action was taken by Google after Researchers found vulnerabilities in ‘SuperVPN’ that could leave devices open to malware attacks and allow attackers to redirect victims onto malicious servers.

As of now, the app has around 100 million downloads, however, in the year 2016 when the risks associated with the app surfaced for the first time ever in related research, it only had a total of 10,000 downloads.

While testing, security researchers identified three main issues with the app:

1. Unencrypted HTTP traffic: The communications can be intercepted by the attackers, it has been said that transferring highly sensitive information over HTTP is not secure at all.

2. Hardcoded encryption keys: The app has inbuilt decryption keys that can easily decrypt the information in an encrypted format.

3. Payload including EAP credentials: EAP credentials are being used by the VPNs therefore users outside the app can not connect to the same server. Hence, EAP credentials sent in the unencrypted payload in a way defeats the purpose.

Notably, SuperVPN was also listed as one of the top 5 VPN in Google Play Store’s search results before it was taken down by the authorities. As per the findings by researchers, it contained vulnerabilities that allowed attackers to carry out man-in-the-middle attacks, also known as MITM attacks. It could expose communication that took place between the user and provider letting hackers have access to everything the user is doing online, be it browsing tabs in Chrome, making video calls or loading up apps – all of that sensitive data including passwords, private texts, and voice messages is being made available to the attackers.

Other occasions where SuperVPN drew negative remarks include the app being ranked third by the Australian researchers in an examination of the most malware-rigged VPN apps. The researchers pointed out that the app had been posing risks since it appeared on the Play Store.

While explaining more about the issues, Jan Youngren, Security Researcher at VPNPro told, “SuperVPN used a wide range of shady techniques to help it rank highly in Google, as well as to hide who actually owns the app, where it’s located, and the other apps from the same developer that may have similar issues.”

“But lastly, and most importantly, it seems that the entire time the app was on the Play store, it had critical vulnerabilities in one way or another, either by being a vehicle for malware in 2016 or allowing for MITM attacks just before being removed.”

“The only thing unclear now is whether these vulnerabilities are due to mistake, or intention. Nonetheless, there are millions of users right now with a dangerous app on their phone. If you’re one of those users, we implore you to delete SuperVPN immediately.” He further added.


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Check Point: 56 apps from the Google Play Store hide a new dangerous malware – Disposable mail news

Check Point experts have identified a new family of malware in the Google Play Store. It was installed in 56 Google Play Store apps that have been downloaded almost a million times by users worldwide. 24 apps among the damaged 56 are children’s games, as well as utilities such as calculators, translators, cooking apps and others. As it is specified, applications emulate the behavior of a real user.

Tekya malware uses the MotionEvent mechanism in Android that simulates a click on an ad banner (first discovered in 2019) to simulate user actions and generate clicks.

Imitating the actions of a real person does not allow the program or a third-party observer to understand the presence of fraud. This helps hackers to attack online stores, make fraudulent ads, promote advertising, promote sites in search engine results, and also serve to carry out banking operations and other illegal actions.

During the research, Tekya went unnoticed by the VirusTotal and Google Play Protect programs.
Hackers created copies of official popular apps to attract an audience, mostly children since most apps with Tekya malware are children’s games.

However, the good news is that all infected apps have already been removed from the Google Play.
This case shows that malicious app features can still be found in Google Play. Users have access to almost 3 million apps in the Google Play Store, and hundreds of new ones are downloaded daily, making it difficult to check the security of each individual app.

Although Google is taking steps to ensure security and prevent malicious activity on the Google Play Store, hackers are finding ways to access users’ devices through the app store. So, in February, the Haken family of malware was installed on more than 50 thousand Android devices through various applications that initially seemed safe.


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Stay Wary of Third-Party Apps: Malware App ‘CovidLock’ Locks User Out of their Phone – Disposable mail news

In an attempt to block misinformation from being spread by developers taking advantage of the COVID-19 charged environment, Google started prevention by blocking any search made for terms “COVID-19” and “coronavirus” on Google Play Store. It identified certain developers’ malicious intent of exploiting user’s concerns regarding the new coronavirus. As of now, Google’s attempt to block searches has yielded positive results with the search for the aforementioned keywords returns no results at all on the Play Store.

Once you are out of the Play Store searching for the same, considering the installation of third-party apps, it becomes a matter of great concern as developers are embedding ransomware in apps named after the new coronavirus to delude uninformed users.

Recently, DomainTools, a Threat Intelligence company found an app known as “CovidLock” that is ransomware in the facade of ‘coronavirus tracking app’. The app will appear to be a real-time tracker for the coronavirus but it will function as a malware that will lock the user out of his phone and ask for a ransom of $100 in bitcoin within a time period of 48 hours. If the affected user fails to provide the demanded ransom in the given time, he receives threats of his social media accounts being exposed online and the data stored onto his device being permanently deleted. It further notifies that his device is constantly monitored and in case he attempts to do anything stupid, everything will be automatically deleted.

However, a piece of good news is that the new mobile devices are secured against such attacks as Google has added defense against it. But in cases of users running versions older than Android Nougat, there are chances of their device being infected by this malware. To stay on a safer side, users are being advised to stick to the Google Play Store when downloading apps. Turning to unauthorized third-party sources invites great danger to user security especially at a time when our concerns and fears can be exploited and used against us. 


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Over 600 Million Users Download 25 ‘Fleeceware’ Apps from the Play Store – Disposable mail news

Researchers at security firm Sophos has discovered a new set of Android apps present on the Google Play Store that contain fleeceware. Notably, these apps have been downloaded and installed by over 600 million unsuspecting Android users.

The term ‘Fleeceware’ was first coined in September 2019 by cybersecurity firm Sophos in aftermath of an investigation that led to a new kind of financial fraud on the authentic Google Play Store.

Fleeceware is a new addition to the cybersecurity ecosystem, referring to the exploitation of the trial period mechanism in Android apps which generally is provided before one is charged for the full version from his signed up account.

Normally, users who register for an Android app’s trial period are required to cancel the same manually in order to avoid being charged. However, it’s common among users to simply stop using the app by uninstalling it in case they don’t like it. The action of uninstalling is read by the developers as trial period being canceled and hence it doesn’t result in the due amount being charged from the user account.

The UK based, a cybersecurity company, Sophos told that it identified over two-dozen android apps containing fleeceware, these apps were charging somewhere around $100 and $240 per year for apps as basic and mainstream as barcode readers, calculators, and QR scanners.

Suspecting the unusually high number of downloads on these apps, analyst Jagadeesh Chandraiah says, it’s likely that these apps have resorted to third-party pay-per-install services to raise up the download counts. He also suspects the five-star reviews being fake and bought in order to better the apps ranking on the Play store and hence lure a large number of users.

Warning the users in their report, Sophos told, “If you have an Android device and use the Google Play Store for apps, you should rigorously avoid installing these types of “free trial” apps that offer subscription-based charges after a short trial.”

“If you do happen to have a free trial, make sure you understand that merely uninstalling the app does not cancel the trial period. Some publishers require you to send a specific email or follow other complicated instructions to end the free trial before you are charged, though you might just need to log into your Google Pay to cancel. Keep copies of all correspondence with the publisher, and be prepared to share that with Google if you end up disputing the charges.” the report further read.


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