The UpStream

Android Malware Targets Call-Based Passcodes

posted Sunday Jan 17, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo

Android Malware Targets Call-Based Passcodes

It seems like every month there is a new malware outbreak in the Android space. Fake apps run rampant in the store, and with the marketplace eclipsing one million malicious threats last year, the problems keep getting worse. This time, a malware has appeared on the platform that goes after one-time passcodes.

One-time codes are typically used as a secondary level of authentication, to ensure that the device you're trying to log into a service with is indeed yours. They are most commonly used for bank apps, and that's exactly where this malware targets. Symantec says that a malware called Android.Bankosy can be deployed on a device and actually intercept the passcode between the user and the website that sends the code. The Trojan is specifically looking for apps that use the voice codes, and then triggers the app to send the code, wiping any trace of its actions.

From Symantec's blog post, here's how it works in more detail.

So how does Android.Bankosy take advantage of voice-based 2FA? Once the malware is installed on the victim's device, it opens a back door, collects a list of system-specific information, and sends it to the command and control (C&C) server to register the device and then get a unique identifier for the infected device. If the registration is successful, it uses the received unique identifier to further communicate with the C&C server and receive commands.

So essentially the malware is working behind the scenes, and can then initiate call forwarding procedures, sending the call containing the code to whatever number it chooses. This is very serious and again illustrates a big flaw that exists when a space such as this is left wide open.

To protect yourself, Symantec recommend basic common sense practices, but they are worth reiterating. Of course, make sure your software is always up to date. Don't download anything you don't recognize, and make sure apps you download are actually coming from the publisher or developer's official channels; some apps may look very similar but are malicious. Finally, make note of the permissions an app will require. For instance, a flashlight app shouldn't need access to your contacts.

California Currently Reviewing New Potential Drone Laws

posted Sunday Jan 17, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo

With drones becoming one of the most popular gifts this past holiday season, millions of new aircraft will take to the skies this year. The FAA was able to predict the sensation and implemented a bunch of new rules on flying them, along with requiring almost all drones to undergo a registration process on the agency's website. One would imagine that the regulations in place would be enough to protect property and restricted air spaces, however the State of California disagrees and is looking to implement more rules on drone use.

There are currently two different bills being passed around California, each by a different lawmaker, that would add more regulations to drone use in the state. One of the new laws, if passed, would make it a requirement that all drones have a "tiny physical or electronic license plate" attached to the aircraft. The other bill would see to it that pilots who cause damage with their drones would have to leave contact information with the other party, much like one has to do with car accidents.

What's the cause for all of the increased regulation on these new flying devices? Well, considering California's ability to blow things up out of proportion, drones have caused power outages, prevented fires from being put out and one drone even struck a baby, all in 2015. That was enough for Glendale, CA Assemblyman Mike Gatto to introduce a "$1 or so" insurance policy program that he is hoping will be passed. Gatto also wants to require all drones come with a kill switch that will immediately disable the drone when it approaches an airport. I think we overlooked how dangerous that can be in practice, but again, this is California.

I think 2015 showed us that in the era of democratized aviation, certain types of incidents will be fairly common. More and more people are buying these and that's great. This is just like the 1920s when more and more people were buying cars, but I just think that we need some basic rules going forward.

Gatto hopes that he can introduce the bill next week and that it will be passed relatively quickly. Similarly, Monterey Park, CA Assemblyman Ed Chau says that drone accidents are increasing and owners should be responsible for the damages. I'm completely on board with the idea of making pilots accountable for their actions, and Chau hopes that this good practice will simply become a law.

Unfortunately, as the number of drones in the air will only increase in the coming years, we are going to see more and more accidents. And even with world-class safety features and training, accidents are still going to happen, just like on our roadways. If a drone breaks down, runs out of power or crashes into something, the operator needs to do the responsible thing and come forward and identify himself to the victim and to the police. This bill will make that responsibility the law.

That bill is currently in review within California's legislation system. Interestingly, drone bills in the past have been vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown, who shot down a bill in September that asked to ban drone use over private residences at altitudes of 350 feet or less. Some of the newly-proposed bills are far less restrictive than that, and it would seem likely that the bill to require owners to report and admit damage will end up becoming a law. After all, drones are known to the State of California to cause birth defects, or something like that.

Hulu Strikes Deal with Sony Pictures for Older Movies and Shows

posted Sunday Jan 17, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo

Hulu Strikes Deal with Sony Pictures for Older Movies and Shows

Back in September, Hulu finally gave users what they wanted - advertising-free streaming. For only $4 more per month than their initial paid package, streamers could enjoy no commercials on almost all content. Since then, Hulu has been riding high on its successes as it hopes to take on Netflix for the top video-streaming spot on the 'net. In order to help that motive along, the company continues to sign content deals with partners from all over the place, and this week was no exception. Hulu has reached out to Sony to ink a deal that will bring over older shows and movies to the platform.

Since Hulu is known for mostly current shows, it has been fighting to add a formidable backlog to its offerings in order to keep users engaged on the service. This deal with Sony Pictures will bring over some very popular shows of the 90s and 2000s. The full catalogs of The Shield, Party of Five, Damages, Happy Endings and Dawson's Creek will all make their way over to Hulu. For movies, titles like Jerry Maguire and My Best Friend's Wedding will also be found in Hulu's ever-expanding film selection.

This deal is after an initial deal with Sony Pictures that saw Seinfeld show up on the service for a cool $700,000. Early last year, Hulu began going on a contract frenzy with Disney, Comcast and Fox, all of which are co-owners of Hulu itself. The company also sought after AMC Networks and Discovery for exclusive deals for a bunch of content.

That's not all for Hulu, however. The green team is also focused on original content, much like Netflix and Amazon, in order to give customers a reason to pick one service over the other. A deal has been struck with award-winning producer J.J. Abrams and New York Times Bestseller Stephen King on an eight-part mini-series called 11.22.63. The show will premiere on February 15th and is based on King's book about a teacher who tries to go back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. Abrams spoke highly of Hulu in a statement that indicated he was shopping around the idea.

We feel incredibly lucky to be working with Hulu. They've been remarkable and incredibly collaborative and excited about this as we were. That really is why we ended up there. We did go out to a number of different places, had some offers, but the enthusiasm was clear and it matched ours.

Further proving its success, Hulu's newest comedy, Casual, was recently nominated for a Golden Globe Award, which was a first for Hulu.

EA Launches Origin Access for PC Gamers, Mimics EA Access for Xbox One

posted Sunday Jan 17, 2016 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA Launches Origin Access for PC Gamers, Mimics EA Access for Xbox One

EA has had its EA Access program available for the Xbox One for quite some time now. For $5 per month, or $40 for the year, you get free games, exclusive trials, early access to demos and discounts on game purchases. However for those on EA's Origin platform for PC, nothing like that existed. The company has its Great Game Guarantee, but giving gamers the ability to try games worry-free is a bigger benefit to some. So in order to give the community more flexibility, variety and value, EA has introduced Origin Access.

For $4.99 a month, Origin Access will bring gamers a full collection games, along with trials, demos and discounts, just like on Xbox One. The service is launching with 15 of EA's most popular titles, such as Battlefield 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Sims 3 and This War of Mine. EA says it will add more titles from both EA studios and indie developers over time, mimicking the service on its console counterpart. EA also has a link that contains the full game list.

While the details are simple, many gamers who had the service on the Xbox One were unaware of the full feature set. EA broke that down in a simple way for Origin Access. Users will be able to:

  • Play More - Explore The Vault where members can download and play full versions of more than a dozen great PC games.
  • Play First - Play EA's PC games for a limited time before they're released. All your stats and progress carry over if you decide to buy the game.
  • Play for Less - Save 10% on your Origin purchases - from full games and DLC to content packs and more.
Those interested can visit the Origin Store and sign up today. EA has also set up a FAQ page for those who have more questions.

Still not convinced? The gaming giant has enlisted the help of Bill Nye the Science Guy to produce a quick 43 second video about the service. It also contains multiverse theory.

Ultimaker: An Upgraded 3D Printer with New Features

posted Tuesday Jan 5, 2016 by Michele Mendez

3D Printers are an exciting addition to the world of making, fabricating and engineering. From the small printers that introduce children to the world of design and ingenuity, to the large commercial printers that create aerospace solutions that were previously impossible, these machines have brought a sense of amazement to all who have encountered them.

As 3D printers are becoming more and more commonplace in the consumer market, Ultimaker is taking their models to the next level with some sweet upgrades. While still utilizing the open source strategy, Ultimaker has taken user feedback to improve upon their printers. The new Ultimaker 2 + and Ultimaker 2 Extended + hit the market today with the following new features:

  • Interchangeable Nozzles Freedom to change nozzles in a matter of seconds makes working with different materials easier, eases maintenance and gives the possibility to choose between highly detailed prints or high speed prints.
  • Optimized Print Results With the inclusion of a more powerful geared feeder, printing materials are less likely to skip.
  • Enhanced Surface Quality Improved surface quality with astonishing results due to improved cooling.
"Ultimaker's mission is to provide the ultimate tools to empower professionals, educators and makers to discover, learn and create more efficiently by offering and supporting a full infrastructure of 3D printers, software and materials strengthened by integration with key industry partners such as Solidworks, Spark, the 3MF Consortium and leading global manufacturers of materials."

We are excited to see even more new innovations as they are released in 2016.

BlackBerry to Enter IoT Fray in 2016

posted Sunday Dec 20, 2015 by Scott Ertz

BlackBerry to Enter IoT Fray in 2016

It should be no surprise that BlackBerry is in trouble. The company has had longstanding financial trouble, starting when the smartphone industry changed out from under them. They were incapable of adapting to the changes in the market, as consumers began purchasing smartphones faster than enterprise customers, who wanted different hardware and features than BlackBerry were offering.

In the past 8 years they have tried a lot to recover, including their failed PlayBook tablet, their BlackBerry 10 operating system and a slue of new hardware. All of this has been powered by their QNX operating system platform, a company they purchased in 2010. While the platform has not been successful in either location, it has had a lot of success in vehicle entertainment systems, which was its original intent.

BlackBerry, as part of their recovery plans, will try to bring QNX to the Internet of Things. It would appear that the plan is to try to get ahead of a tech trend, instead of waiting for it to prove itself out before jumping in. They will have some swift competition, however, from the likes of Microsoft and Google, both of whom have large, trained development communities who will not need much, if any, additional training to be able to develop software, both internal and external, for IoT devices.

Not everyone makes their choices based on technology, though; it is possible that companies might pick a platform because of the name associated. Unfortunately for BlackBerry, they will also likely go to Microsoft or Google, since BlackBerry's name lost its value long ago. If they are going to be successful in this realm, they are going to have to show off A LOT of hardware partners at CES this year, with just as many reasons to choose them vs others.

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