Over 1m Google Accounts Affected by Android Malware

Trojan-Horse-Virus-Malware-Visual-Metaphor.jpgOver 1m Android devices have been infected by a new malware campaign that has been distributed via third-party app stores, according to a report from security firm Check Point.

The malware first emerged in August, and is currently compromising devices at a rate of around 13,000 a day, largely in Asia, where third-party app stores are more prevalent.

The malware, dubbed ‘Googlian’ by Check Point, roots Android devices and steals email addresses and authentication tokens stored on them, enabling the attackers to access sensitive data and user accounts including Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs and more.

“This theft of over a million Google account details is very alarming and represents the next stage of cyber-attacks,” said Michael Shaulov, head of mobile products at Check Point. “We are seeing a shift in the strategy of hackers, who are now targeting mobile devices in order to obtain the sensitive information that is stored on them.”

Devices running on Android versions 4 (Jelly Bean and KitKat) and 5 (Lollipop) are vulnerable to the malware. This represents nearly 74 per cent of Android devices in use today. Check Point has reached out to Google’s security team with information on the campaign, with the hope of fixing the vulnerabilities it exploits.

“We appreciate Check Point’s partnership as we’ve worked together to understand and take action on these issues,” said Adrian Ludwig, director of Android security at Google. “As part of our ongoing efforts to protect users from the Ghost Push family of malware, we’ve taken numerous steps to protect our users and improve the security of the Android ecosystem overall.”

Among other tactics, the malware’s controllers use infected devices to fraudulently install apps and rate them on behalf of the victim, generating revenue from app publishers who pay for massive boosts in Play Store rankings. Gooligan reportedly installs at least 30,000 apps a day across infected devices, totalling at least 2m apps since the campaign began.

Check Point has created a tool enabling Google users to check if their account has been compromised by the malware, as well as putting together a full list of apps infected by the malware, which range from games to utility apps and beyond.

Malware campaigns are typically stopped using software fixes, but in this particular case, Google has already created patches for the vulnerabilities being exploited, which date back to 2013. Unfortunately, Android’s fragmented ecosystem means there are still plenty of devices out there that have yet to receive the patch, and the majority are still at risk of infection.

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Smartpipe Closes Series A Funding Round

has closed an $18.75m (£15.1m) Series A funding round, as it drives expansion of its privacy-first mobile network data monetisation platform in key global markets.

The round was led by Notion Capital and supported by Comba Telecom, Finance Wales, Delta Partners Ventures Holdings SPC, Wren Capital and other strategic investors.

CEO and co-founder of Smartpipe Tobin Ireland said: “We’re delighted that our expansion into new regions is being supported by our strong group of investors, who bring their strategic and financial expertise to the table.

“The power and value of accurate deterministic identity and behavioural profiles will make global mobile data a $50bn market opportunity.  It’s more important than ever that mobile operators and the advertising ecosystem take a privacy-first approach to data monetisation, and work with technologies that keep data completely secure and privacy compliant.”

Stephen Chandler, managing partner at Notion Capital, added: “We invest in high growth companies with big potential and global ambition, and in great products that will make businesses more successful.”

Smartpipe says it will use the funding to accelerate adoption of its patented technology across key international mobile markets, including the UK, where the mobile advertising market is expected to be worth $7.2 billion by the end of this year.

Its platform enables mobile, fixed and wi-fi network operators to subscriber data, without compromising privacy.

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Twitter Joins Forces with Disney and People for Star Wars Event

Facebook Star Wars videoTwitter is set to collaborate with Disney and People for an exclusive live stream of a special Rogue One: A Star Wars Story event.

The live stream, hosted by People, will feature never-before-seen content followed by a Q&A with the director and cast members.

People is thrilled to participate in the celebration of the latest release in the iconic Star Wars franchise,” said Jess Cagle, editor in chief at People. “We have been covering Star Wars since the very first film hit theatres in 1977; our audience can’t get enough of it.”

Coverage will begin on Friday 2 December at 10am PT, streaming from a surprise location. The stream will be available worldwide to Twitter’s logged-in and logged-out audience at RogueOne.twitter.com, in Twitter Moments or through the @StarWars and @People Twitter accounts.

Fans will be introduced to director Gareth Edwards, Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy, and cast members – including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen and Riz Ahmed – as they provide behind-the-scenes commentary during a live discussion. Fans will then have the chance submit their own questions to the cast by tweeting with #AskRogueOne.

A Star Wars Twitter emoji will automatically appear, if fans tweet the following: #RogueOne, #DeathStar, #StarWars and #StarWarsRogueOne.

COO at Twitter Anthony Noto said: “Our collaboration with Disney and People will give fans fresh and exciting live Star Wars content that they can view and Tweet about all on the same platform.”

People has also released a special newsstand edition called Star Wars: The Secrets of Rogue One, featuring a VR bonus including goggles.

The collaboration with Disney and People marks Twitter’s latest high-profile venture into live-streaming. The platform has also hosted live streams from the Wimbledon Championship, NFL games (to which it had exclusive broadcast rights) and the US Presidential debates.

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User-generated Content Trusted Seven Times Better than Traditional Ads

nyx cosmetics campaignA new report has revealed that consumers are seven times more likely to trust user-generated content from social media than traditional advertising, findings that could have massive implications for brands seeking to build trust and engagement among consumers.

The report from earned content platform Olapic surveyed over 4,500 active social media users aged between 16 and 49 from the UK, US, France, Spain, Germany and Sweden. Among UK respondents (of which there were 1,000), the study found that only six per cent trusted traditional advertising, while over three quarters preferred to look at user-generated content.

The study also found that trust has a significant impact on click-through rates and sales, with 56 per cent of respondents more likely to click on an ad that features user-generated imagery, and the same amount more inclined to buy products featured in such advertising.

“These figures send a strong message to brands about how they should engage with consumers,” said José de Cabo, co-founder of Olapic. “Social media brings streams of authentic images to consumers’ fingertips, transforming how they see products and interact with brands.

“Today’s low levels of trust in traditional advertising suggest that consumers are seeking a more honest dialogue with brands and marketers. In order for brands to increase engagement and sales, they’ll need to adapt to this changing landscape and communicate with consumers in the authentic visual language they crave.”

User-generated content seems particularly popular among UK audiences, with 35 per cent of surveyed Britons interested in looking at social media photos while researching purchases, and a further 24 per cent looking for social images while in the process of purchasing.

This tend is particularly pronounced in the fashion industry, which has seen heightened consumer backlash against rampant Photoshopping of models in campaigns. 38 per cent of Britons said they seek out ads featuring ‘real people’ before making a purchase in fashion.

Brits are also happy to provide content for such campaigns. 48 per cent of British respondents had uploaded photos featuring a brand’s hashtag, a figure which rose to 57 per cent among millennials. Among those who had done so, 86 per cent said they uploaded content simply because they enjoyed the product, rather than motivated by social media contests or other promotions.

Brands have begun to take note of these trends, using social media campaigns with hashtags to generate a wealth of images that can be easily browsed by consumers. A campaign by cosmetics brand NYX found that customers who interacted with user-generated content had a 93 per cent high average order value, and a 320 per cent higher conversion rate.

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Facebook Launches Messenger Gaming Experience

Facebook Messenger GamesFacebook has launched a HTML5 cross-platform gaming experience on Messenger and the news feed, for both mobile and web.

The experience allows Facebook users to discover, share and play games without having to install new apps. Games include classic titles such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Galaga and Track & Field 100M.

“We are excited to work with Facebook to feature two of our classic IPs, Pac-Man and Galaga on the new Instant Games platform,” said a spokesperson for Bandai Namco Entertainment, one of Facebook’s launch partners. “To give the opportunity for our global fans to access these classic titles on mobile and web, we are working with Facebook to allow users to play Instant Games on Messenger and Facebook News Feed, both of which have significant reach around the world.”

To start playing, users must download the latest version of the Facebook app, open a conversation with a friend (or friends), tap on the newly added game controller icon and choose a game. People within the chat will see your score once you finish a round. Games can also be discovered in the Messenger search field or on the Facebook news feed – where users can play solo or challenge friends back on Messenger.

The gaming service will launch in 30 countries simultaneously, and may be expanded to new markets in the future if it proves a success. Facebook also hope to roll out more games to their 1bn monthly Messenger users over time.

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Sky Goes Quad Play with Mobile Network Launch

sky mobile
Broadcaster Sky has unveiled plans to launch a mobile virtual network in the UK, offering customers call and data plans in addition to its existing broadband, television and fixed-line telephone services to establish itself as a ‘quad play’ provider.

Sky is marketing its Sky Mobile virtual network, which operates on O2’s network infrastructure, as “the UK’s most flexible mobile service”, with customers able to roll over unused data each month for up to three years.

According to Sky, 46,000 customers have already pre-registered for the service, largely thanks to the company offering existing Sky TV customers free UK calls and texts with any Sky Mobile data plan.

“With £2bn being wasted each year on unused data in the UK, Sky Mobile customers will only pay for what they use,” said Stephen van Rooyen, UK and Ireland chief executive for Sky Mobile. “Plus we’re giving Sky TV customers a fantastic offer which will allow them to get even more value from their subscriptions.”

The service has three different data plans, ranging from 1GB to 5GB a month, and customers are able to freely switch between plans each month to suit their changing needs. Non-Sky TV customers can add on unlimited calls and texts for £10 per month, or pay on a pay-as-you-go basis.

In another feature for existing Sky+ subscribers, Sky Mobile users will be able to access TV recordings on their Sky Box via their mobile, creating playlists, streaming content or even downloading shows via wi-fi.

“Sky’s first mobile offering is very competitive, as long as you’re already a Sky TV customer,” said Ewan Taylor-Gibson, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com. “Sky’s SIM-only set up is distinctly comparable to Giffgaff’s. Both piggyback off O2’s network and both allow customers to dial their plans up or down depending on their usage. Mobile users love the kind of flexibility – it shouldn’t be underestimated as a perk.

“By putting data first, with minutes and texts as an add on, Sky is catering to our ever-increasing appetite for megabytes. But if the TV giant really wants to appeal to data hungry consumers it may have to offer bigger data bundles. However, early interest from 46,000 customers is certainly a head-start out of the blocks.”

“Sky’s ‘hook’ is allowing customers to ‘piggyback’ data that went unused at the end of each month and store it for up to three years,” said Dan Howdle, director of communications at Cable.co.uk. “No mobile provider has ever offered this before. It shows a keen understanding of how customers consumers their data some months they use a lot, others they use very little.

“This flexibility should allow consumers to choose a lower data tariff on the basis of rolling over data they don’t use during lower-usage months and that will save them money. Perhaps best of all, though, it may force the hand of other UK providers to follow suit and that would be good for everybody.”

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Marriott Teams up with GoInStore for Virtual Tours

Marriott International
Marriott International’s European Convention Network (ECN) has joined forces GoInStore, a London-based technology start-up, to provide meeting planners with virtual live tours of meetings and events facilities.

The service, to be trialled for a six-month pilot period, integrates the latest technology with human touch to provide previews of function spaces that enhance the booking process for meeting planners. Event managers will be enable to use real-time mobile technology to conduct interactive virtual tours using a one-way live video stream and two-way audio channel.

Pauline Bronkhorst, Head of the ECN, said: “We’re really pleased with the progress we have made with the European Convention Network since its launch earlier this year, and are thrilled to be working exclusively with GoInStore to continue to strengthen our offering.

“Many of our customers plan large annual or bi-annual events in different cities, and are unable to carry-out site visits in person – our virtual tours offer the perfect solution and planners can continue to enjoy personalised interaction combined with the benefits of state-of-the-art technology to make well-informed decisions on their venue choices.”

Marriott International launched the ECN in February to allow regular meeting planners to engage with one dedicated contact person to organise meeting and events at 14 hand-selected European properties across brands.

GoInStore, founded in 2014, creates a first-person live video ‘through the eyes’ of a sales person, using wearable headware, and provides the customer with a new way to shop online.

“Having previously focused on the retail space, we’re excited to partner with Marriott International in Europe to apply our pioneering technology to a new sector,” said André Hordagoda, GoInStore’s co-founder.

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GroupM Launches mPlatform Technology Suite

[m]PlatformGroupM, WPP’s media investment group, has launched an advanced technology suite of media planning applications, data analytics tools and digital services.

The world’s largest advertising media company has created mPlatform with the aim of improving advertisers’ ability to use audience-defining insights from hundreds of data sources to find and communicate with their consumers across all media.

“The rise of digital and mobile technologies, media fragmentation and expanding eCommerce create a pivot point in marketing where the scientific application of data to media strategies is essential,” said Brian Gleason, CEO of mPlatform. “Today, marketers have to know their customers in richer detail than ever before, or else they won’t reach them.  mPlatform is an audience-centric approach enabling our agencies with individualized consumer insights and technologies to reach audiences without boundaries.”

mPlatform aims to unify data analytics and digital services including search, social, mobile, digital ad operations and programmatic into one team delivering a completely open and fully transparent data and technology architecture. For GroupM clients, it aims to deliver objective insights and the power of choice across data, technologies and key performance indicators.

CEO GroupM global Kelly Clark said:  “Marketers are under tremendous pressure to deliver results from media investments. This flexible platform approach enables us to focus $7bn worth of investments we’ve made in data and technology over 10 years to help them realize a marketplace advantage.”

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Accenture Acquires Karmarama

Accenture KarmaramaProfessional services company Accenture has acquired Karamarama, an independently-owned British creative advertising agency, for an undisclosed sum.

Karmarama develops advertising campaigns, data driven content and mobile platforms to help brands better engage with consumers.

The agency will join Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital. Karmarama’s executive chairman Jon Wilkins, CEO Ben Bilboul, CSO Sid McGrath and CCO Nik Studzinski will continue in their current roles, as well as taking on additional leadership positions in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

“As part of Accenture Interactive, we will dramatically enhance our ability to offer best-in-class creativity and digital delivery,” said Bilboul.

Head of Accenture Interactive Brian Whipple added: “Acquiring a creative agency in London, where some of the world’s most iconic creative work is produced, will help us reshape how brands imagine, create, and deliver customer experiences.”

Accenture has made a series of acquisitions over the last 18 months. In April, this year, it acquired a majority stake in IMJ Corporation, full-service digital agency Japan. Prior to that, in 2015, it acquired AD.Dialeto, an independent Brazilian digital agency; Pacific Link, a set of independent digital agencies serving Hong Kong and Greater China; Chaotic Moon, a Texas-based creative technology studio; and Brightstep, a Swedish provider of digital content and commerce solutions.

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The UK Accounts for a Fifth of Messaging App Users in Western Europe

messaging-apps.pngThe UK will account for almost 20 per cent – or 27.9m – of all mobile phone messaging app users in Western Europe at the close of 2016, according to eMarketer’s latest mobile phone messaging app forecast.

Mobile phone messaging apps will have been used by more than 149 million consumers in Western Europe.

The UK’s rate of growth year-on-year, however, is lower than the next two largest proportions – France (21.4m) and Germany (24m). The UK saw a growth of 13.4 per cent, compared to France’s 16.5 per cent and Germany’s 13.7 per cent.

France’s projections have grown since eMarketer’s last forecast, largely because of the growth in Facebook and mobile social network users which in turn drives chat app adoption.

“One reason mobile messaging apps have taken off is because they are a cheaper alternative to SMS/MMS,” said Cathy Boyle, principal analyst of mobile at eMarketer. “Brand marketers are eager to follow consumers to these apps, but injecting themselves into users’ conversations is not easy, and it’s often unwelcome. However, the expansion of messaging apps into platforms that include chat bots and editorial content is providing marketers with more natural places to engage messaging app users.”

Worldwide, mobile phone messaging apps will have been used by 1.4bn consumers in 2016 – a year-on-year increase of 16 per cent. By the end of the forecast period in 2019, it is predicted that 26.7 per cent of the global population will use a chat app – working out to more than 2bn users.

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