Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Apple has announced a sudden reversal in its development conditions for its mobile devices today. Back in April, Apple announced that the only development platform that could be used to create apps for its mobile devices was the Apple SDK (software development kit), which only runs on a Mac. Fortunately, Cupertino has had a change of heart. It is now just fine to develop apps with other development platforms, provided the apps don’t download any code. Time will tell how badly the ‘no download’ condition will hamstring developers, but this is a move in the right direction.
Apple says that it has “listened to our developers”. I’m not quite sure who they were listening to back in April when they pulled the plug on third-party development platforms. Perhaps what they heard as they listened this time was the footsteps of developers heading to less restrictive platforms such as Android? Regardless, it’s a win for pretty much everyone. Adobe wasted no time in responding with glee because developers can now develop for iOS with Flash Professional CS5. Note, that doesn’t mean that Flash will work in your web browser on your iOS devices now, it just means more sales for Adobe’s development platform. Ultimately, it’s a win for users. More developers will be able to develop for iOS devices now, and that means more apps for users of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
In addition, Apple has announced they are publishing guidelines for how the app store review process works. This is designed to give developers a better idea of how the review process works and presumably a better shot at getting their apps approved.
Related: Mobile Crunch
Posted in Mobile Devices, Technology
Tagged 2G, 3G, 3GS, Android, Apple, devices, Google, iPad, iPhone, iPhone4, mobile, News, technology
Courtesy of Flickr
In a report by security company M86 Security, organized crime is using a new trojan variant called Zeus v3 to infect unsuspecting web surfer’s machines, then steal their online banking credentials. Once the credentials are obtained, they are then used to drain your account. This is a very sophisticated and organized attack. It’s not something that the kid down the street who hasn’t come out of his basement in three years is capable of pulling off. M86 has posted an in depth whitepaper on the matter which can be found here. The report is both fascinating and disturbing.
For those who don’t wish to commit the time to understand all of the fine details about how the attack works, I’ll lay out the short version here. First, the bad guys infect legitimate ad servers. These are machines that serve the advertisements to websites you regularly visit. From there, the infected servers start pushing out the trojan to computers visiting LEGITIMATE websites. The trojan is delivered via advertisements through the infected ad servers. That’s really the beauty of delivery. They deliver the payload to infect your computer through regular websites because the advertising on them comes from somewhere else. The ad servers are infected the same way your home computer gets infected. Somewhere along the line, a vulnerability wasn’t addressed. This can happen for a number of reasons. The operating system wasn’t patched, a firewall rule wasn’t enforced, etc. Once the trojan is delivered to the home users computer, it simply waits until the unsuspecting user logs into their bank account via a web browser. That’s when it sends the credentials to a command and control (C&C) server. Later, after it analyzes the information (bank name, country, etc) the C&C server communicates back to the victim’s computer and has it initiate a bank transfer. It will drain the victim’s account, siphoning it off and covering tracks along the way. Then, to put the cherry on top, when the victim logs back into their bank, the traffic is diverted to the C&C server where a fake statement is generated, thereby fooling the user into thinking they have money in their account.
This is a brilliant and complicated scheme. The money trail is like following a single noodle through a bowl of spaghetti. Thus far, attacks have primarily been on UK bank accounts, but don’t let that make those of you outside of the UK feel good. This could very easily be perpetrated elsewhere. To compound the matter, this particular attack seems to be very good at getting past the major virus scanners.
That’s the bad news. The good news is, we can make it very hard to fall victim to this type of attack. If you don’t bank online of course, you are immune. If the benefits of online banking outweigh the risks, you can still protect yourself. First, you should be following ALL of my advice in my recent post Lock Down!. This alone will dramatically reduce your chances of infection by the trojan. Another option is to switch to a Mac or use Linux. While not immune, these operating systems are much more difficult to infect because of their Unix heritage and because they just aren’t as popular as Windows. Windows is the low hanging fruit for virus writers. Linux has become very easy to use and most versions of it are free. I have my computer setup to give me a choice of booting to Linux or Windows. That’s pretty easy to do. Third, you could use a boot CD as I described in my post A Temporary Solution for your online banking activities. While not as convenient, you won’t be at risk of infection. This is the safest option next to just not banking online at all.
Posted in Home & Small Business, Technology
Tagged antivirus, Apple, hack, hacker, hacking, home, Linux, M86, M86 Security, News, online banking, rescue disc, security, small business, technology, windows, zeus v3
Microsoft’s biggest customer, HP has announced that they will not be using Windows Phone 7 or Android in their smartphones. While bypassing Android is no surprise given HP’s purchase of Palm, the Windows 7 snubbing will be sure to raise some eyebrows. HP Executive VP Todd Bradley reported during an interview on CNBC. That while they will not be using Microsoft’s operating system in their smart phones, they will be using both Windows 7 and WebOS (from the purchase of Palm) in future tablets. I’m not quite sure how long that arrangement is going to last considering how badly HP wants WebOS to compete in the smartphone and tablet arena, but it’s going to happen at least temporarily.
With HP’s deep, deep pockets, look for them to invest a considerable amount of capital into trying to make the smartphone market a three horse race with Apple and Google and themselves as the major players. While Microsoft has confirmed that some large hardware makers such as LG and Samsung will be producing phones with their operating system on it, they haven’t seemed to generate much excitement in their software.
MobileCrunch also carries a link to the video.
Thinking about entering the iPhone market or upgrading from an early version? Here is an interesting side by side by side by side comparo of the iPhone 2G, 3G, 3GS, and 4. While very unscientific, you can get the point pretty easily. There is no indication as to what version of the os each phone is running, but if you were considering spending the cash for the 4 or saving a few dollars (or avoiding that whole antenna thing) by getting the 3GS, this video will give you a decent real time comparison of the speed you’ll be giving up by saving the cash. You’ll need to decide which you want to give up, speed or cash.
Thanks to Gizmodo for the article.