Archive for February, 2012

Samsung releases Galaxy Tab – on 4G

Posted February 29, 2012 By David Kolle

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

Apple’s biggest tablet rival has beaten the iPad 3 release by launching Australia‘s first 4G tablet.

Samsung‘s Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G is smaller, lighter and more powerful than the market-leading Apple iPad 2 and it connects to Telstra’s 4G mobile network, delivering apps, streaming video and websites up to five times faster than 3G tablets.

The new 8.9-inch tablet is also slightly cheaper than Apple’s offering, with an outright price of $720 and availability on a two-year Telstra plan.

Telysyte research director Foad Fadaghi said Samsung’s first 4G tablet could prove popular among tablet consumers, many of whom put a premium on processing and internet speed.

“We believe that speed is one of the killer applications for tablets,” Mr Fadaghi said.

“You have a device that can potentially connect to the internet at speeds faster than some home connections, so you can get a sense that this is a device that could be on of the first true post-PC devices.”

Galaxy Tab 8.9

Mr Fadaghi said the timing of the launch, before Apple’s latest competitor could emerge, was not accidental.

A new iPad is expected to be unveiled in early March, though Mr Fadaghi said he did not expect it to be compatible with Australia’s 4G mobile networks.

Launched in September, Telstra’s 4G network delivers internet downloads of up to 40 megabits per second in Australia’s capitals, major airports and some regional towns.

More than 100,000 consumers subscribed to Telstra’s 4G network by January, and Telstra emerging devices general manager Graeme McLindin said the Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G was designed to recruit more travelling 4G users.

“I’ve been commuting for many years and it wasn’t too long ago that a lot of people were using laptops but now they’re using tablets,” he said. “They’re much lighter and they’re able to do the things they need when they’re out and about.

“We know from the research we’ve been doing that 87 per cent of customers use a tablet to surf the web, 75 per cent check email on a tablet, and 60 per cent download apps.”

The new Samsung device joins a host of tablets launched in Australia recently, including the Motorola Xoom 2, ASUS Transformer Prime and Toshiba AT1S0.

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Unsocial Network as users become less friendly

Posted February 29, 2012 By David Kolle

Facebook is fast becoming the unsocial network, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study released Friday.

Facebook users are becoming decidedly unfriendly, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study released Friday.

An increasing number of social network users are tightening up their privacy settings , “pruning” their personal profiles and unfriending people, according to the Pew study.

About two-thirds of Internet users use social networks, and a huge percentage of them are getting more strict about letting others access their Facebook, Google+ and Twitter pages.

The Pew telephone survey of 2,277 American adults found that 63% of social network users have deleted friends, 44% have deleted comments that friends made on their profiles and 37% have taken their names off photos that had been tagged to identify them.

The study found that 67% of women have deleted people from their network, while 58% of men have done the same.

Pew said 67% of women say they set their social networking privacy controls at the highest setting, while 48% of men said the same.

Regardless of gender, 58% of social networking users say their profile is set so only friends can view it. Another 19% allow friends of friends to see their profile and 20% set their profiles as public.

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Chinese Nickispy malware targets smartphones

Posted February 28, 2012 By David Kolle

Just as companies are coming to terms with threats to their computer networks being targeted from cyber-spies based in China, a well noted expert has highlighting what he says is an even more serious vulnerability in smartphones.

English: T-Mobile's G1 phone (HTC Dream), usin...
Dmitri Alperovitch, the former McAfee cyber security researcher best known for identifying a widespread China-based cyber-espionage operation dubbed Shady Rat, has used a previously unknown hole in smartphone browsers to plant China-based malware that can commandeer the device, record its calls, pinpoint its location and access user texts and emails.

He conducted the experiment on a phone running Google’s Android operating system, although he says Apple’s iPhones are equally vulnerable.

“It’s a much more powerful attack vector than just getting into someone’s computer,” said Alperovitch, who just formed a new security company called CrowdStrike with former McAfee Chief Technology Officer George Kutz.

Alperovitch, who has consulted with the US intelligence community, is scheduled to demonstrate his findings February 29 at the RSA conference in San Francisco, an annual cyber-security gathering.

The Shady Rat attack he disclosed last year targeted 72 government and corporate entities for as long as five years, siphoning unknown volumes of confidential material to a server in China.

Alperovitch said he and his team commandeered an existing piece of malware called Nickispy, a remote access tool from China that was identified last year by anti-virus firms as a so-called Trojan horse.

The malware was disguised as a Google+ app that users could download. But Google quickly removed it from its Android Market app store, which meant that few users were hit.

Alperovitch and his team reverse-engineered the malware, he said, and took control of it. He then conducted an experiment in which malware was delivered through a classic “spear phishing” attack – in this case, a text message from what looks like a mobile phone carrier, asking the user to click on a link.

Alperovitch said he exploited what’s known as a zero-day vulnerability in smartphone browsers to secretly install the malware. Zero-day vulnerabilities are ones that are not yet known by the manufacturers and anti-virus companies.

“The minute you go the site, it will download a real-life Chinese remote access tool to your phone,” he said. “The user will not see anything. Once the app is installed, we’ll be intercepting voice calls. The microphone activates the moment you start dialing.”

The malware also intercepts texts and emails and tracks the phone’s location, he said. In theory, it could be used to infiltrate a corporate network with which the phone connects.

There is no security software that would thwart it, he said.

As smartphone use has exploded, malware has not been as much of a problem as it has with laptops and desktops, Alperovitch said, because most people download applications through app stores that are regulated by Google and Apple.

If cyber-thieves and spies figure out a way to get malware on the devices by bypassing the app store – as Alperovitch says he has demonstrated – it could cause huge problems.

“This really showcases that the current security model for smartphones is inadequate,” he said.

Earlier this month, the top US intelligence official, James Clapper, accused China and Russia of engaging in “wholesale plunder of our intellectual property” through cyber-attacks. Both countries deny a state-sponsored policy of cyber-espionage.

The US says it doesn’t steal trade secrets or intellectual property. Western business executives who travel to China these days frequently take extraordinary computer security precautions, including ensuring that any device they bring to China is never again connected to their corporate networks.

Last year, anti-virus firm Trend Micro found a Chinese website that charged $US300 to $US540 to customers who wanted to spy on smartphones that ran Symbian or Windows Mobile operating systems. The website offered to send Nickispy as an attachment to a multimedia message.

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