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An academic study that analyzed 82,501 apps that were pre-installed on 1,742 Android smartphones sold by 214 vendors concluded that users are woefully unaware of the huge security and privacy-related threats that come from pre-installed applications. Researchers found that many of these pre-installed apps have access to very intrusive permissions out of the box, collect and send data about users to advertisers, and have security flaws that often remain unpatched. On top of this, many pre-installed apps (also referred to as bloatware) can't be removed, and also use third-party libraries that secretly collect user data from within benign-looking and innocently-named applications. The study is, by far, one of the most complex endeavors of its kind, and included both an analysis of device firmware, app behavior, and the internet traffic the apps generated. One of the first things that researchers spotted was the incessant use of third-party libraries (or software development kits --SDKs) inside many pre-installed applications. While using an SDK to simplify the coding of basic tasks is commonplace in the web, desktop, and mobile development community, researchers noted that the most commonly encountered third-party libraries were all advertising and user tracking-related. Learn more in-depth details on OUR FORUM.

The European Parliament has voted to adopt the highly controversial Article 13 provision which would govern the production and distribution of content online under the auspices of increasing copyright protections. Tuesday’s move will update the EU's 20-year-old copyright rules and will govern audiovisual content, much to the dismay of many social media users who have already begun outpouring their grief online. However the parliament said in a statement that sharing memes and gifs has been protected “even more than it was before” and they will continue to be available and shareable on online platforms. MEPs passed the legislation by 348 votes to 274 Tuesday. Opponents had hoped for last-minute amendments to be made but their efforts were in vain. Article 13 or ‘The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market’ makes all platforms legally responsible for the content hosted and shared on their platforms. The process of updating the bloc's copyright laws began in the European Commission two years ago, ostensibly to protect Europe's publishers, broadcasters and artists and guarantee fair compensation from big tech companies. The onus will now be on tech companies to clamp down on content-sharing on their platforms, which will likely ensure yet more draconian policing of speech and content. EU member states now have two years to pass their own laws putting Article 13 into effect. Tech giant Google said that while the directive is “improved” it will still lead to legal uncertainty and will damage Europe’s creative and digital economies. Critics have argued that the only way for Article 13 to be effectively enforced would be through the use of upload filters which automatically check content to see if it's copyrighted or not, at least in theory. However, the exact mechanics of such a system have yet to be fully debated and the potential for abuse is immediately clear. What will it mean for our Forum and site is unknown for now but one thing is for sure it's a dark day for internet freedom.
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A scheme to stealthily run video ads behind banner images drained users' batteries and data while they used popular Android apps. Aniview denies any involvement and instead says the platform and banner ads and code, which were created by one of its subsidiaries, were exploited by a malicious, unnamed third party. “BuzzFeed brought to our attention that there is an abuse activity, as an immediate action, we stopped this activity and started and continue an internal incident review,” said Aniview CEO Alon Carmel in an emailed statement. “We notified and emphasized our clients that the use of our platform must be according to our policy and the IAB and TAG guidelines.” It’s just one of the many ways ad fraudsters siphon money out of the global digital advertising industry, which will see more than $20 billion stolen this year. This scheme in particular highlights once again how ad tech companies exploit insider access and technical knowledge to participate in ad fraud. “I don’t even think about me being ripped off,” Julien told BuzzFeed News. “All I think about is them damaging the app’s reputation. It can cost money to [a user] and drain his battery. This is the thing that makes me really mad.” (BuzzFeed News agreed to withhold his full name and the name of his app due to concerns about people wrongly thinking it was knowingly part of the scheme.) Details are posted on OUR FORUM.

Microsoft is rebuilding its Edge browser on Chromium. The software maker has been testing versions of this browser internally at Microsoft, and now The Verge has secured an exclusive first look at the early work thanks to a source who wishes to remain anonymous. While the previously leaked screenshots made Edge look very similar to Chrome, Microsoft is adding its own touches and animations to make it look and feel like a Windows browser. When you first install the Chromium version of Edge, Microsoft will prompt you to import favorites, passwords, and browsing history from Chrome or Edge (depending on your default). The setup screen also prompts you to pick a style for the default tab page before you start browsing. Most of the user interface of the browser is a mix of Chrome and Edge, and Microsoft has clearly tried to add its own little touches here and there. There’s a read-aloud accessibility option, and it simply reads the page out loud as it does in existing versions of Edge. Some features that you’d expect from Edge are missing, though. Microsoft hasn’t implemented its set aside tabs feature just yet, and write on the web with a stylus isn’t available. Microsoft also has support for extensions and a dedicated extensions page for ones that it has approved. You’ll also be able to install Chrome extensions from Google’s online store, just by flipping a switch in the extension's settings. We’ve tried a number of extensions like 1Password and Ghostery, and they work just like you’d expect them to in Chrome. We have more posted on OUR FORUM.

Intel announced that its 9th generation mobile Core processor (H series) would be released soon. The announcement was made at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The General manager of premium and gaming notebook segments at Intel, Frederik Hemberger promised to release the processor very soon, in the second quarter of the year. Compared to previous CPU generations, the new processor includes a variety of exciting new features, especially for game lovers. But what are the gaming features that Intel promises to bring in this new chip? Any guesses? No? Then keep reading to learn more. Intel’s sources claimed that this new processor would provide a “more rounded experience for gamers”. It offers an optimum environment for gaming and streaming. Not only this, but it would also be able to operate triple -A (AAA) titles with the option of recording and streaming on Youtube and Twitch. The exact date of Intel’s 9th-gen processor's release is still a mystery and yet to be announced by the company. However, we expected the new CPU to be released in July 2019. Intel‘s 9th-gen mobile Core processor is based on the older 14nm Coffee Lake architecture. As the previous 8th generation H series CPUs consist of 6 cores, so it is expected that the 9th -gen processor may contain 8 cores. Further details can be found on OUR FORUM.

Facebook on Thursday said it has fixed a security issue wherein millions of its users' passwords were stored in plain text and "readable" format for years and according to reports, were searchable by thousands of its employees. The report by KrebsOnSecurity claimed on Thursday around 200-600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by over 20,000 Facebook employees. In a blog post later, Facebook said as part of a routine security review in January, it found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. "This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. "We have fixed these issues and as a precaution will be notifying everyone whose passwords we found stored this way," wrote Pedro Canahuati, VP Engineering, Security and Privacy at Facebook. The company, however, said these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook. "We have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them. We estimate that we will notify this to hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users. More details can be found on OUR FORUM.

 

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