Stealthy new Android malware poses as ad blocker, serves up ads instead

Found on Malwarebytes on Sunday, 17 November 2019
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This nasty piece of mobile malware cleverly hides itself on Android devices while serving up a host of advertisements: full-page ads, ads delivered when opening the default browser, ads in the notifications, and even ads via home screen widget. All while, ironically, posing as an ad blocker vaguely named Ads Blocker.

Ads Blocker is inordinately hard to find on the mobile device once installed. To start, there is no icon for Ads Blocker. However, there are some hints of its existence, for example, a small key icon status bar.

All this mess only exists because the advertising business has gone out of control. They pay for all sorts of ads, no matter how annoying they are, no matter how illegally they are served. It would be great if users could so the company behind the advertised product if their ad was served via malware.

White Screen of Death: Admins up in arms after experimental Google emission borks Chrome

Found on The Register on Saturday, 16 November 2019
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An experimental feature silently rolled out to the stable Chrome release on Tuesday caused chaos for IT admins this week after users complained of facing white, featureless tabs on Google's massively popular browser.

Irate IT admins posting on the Chromium dev blog pointed out the problem didn't only affect Citrix, though with its wide adoption it was the highest-profile casualty.

As one IT pro put it not one hour ago: "I don't think we should stop making noise about this. The issue now is that Google has gotten so big that they aren't concerned at all about what they have done because they know we will keep using their software."

Keep his in mind when Google decides to make DoH mandatory. They don't really care what their sheep users are saying or how changes would affect them. Otherwise they would not enable an experimental feature in a stable release without even changing the version number.

Instagram tests hiding Like counts globally

Found on Techcrunch on Friday, 15 November 2019
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Instagram tells TechCrunch the hidden Likes test is expanding to a subset of people globally. Users will have to decide for themselves if something is worth Liking rather than judging by the herd.

The expansion raises concerns that the test could hurt influencers and creators after a study by HypeAuditor found many of them of various levels of popularity lost 3% to 15% of their Likes in countries where Instagram hid the counts.

If you get hurt by disabling the sheep count which makes users only like you because others did too, then you are just being pulled from the land of make believe into reality.

Universal Music Claims Copyright Over Newly Public Domain 'Yes! We Have No Bananas'

Found on Techdirt on Thursday, 14 November 2019
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One of the signature works of the public domain class of 1923 was the song Yes! We Have No Bananas by composers Irving Cohn and Frank Silver. As of January 1st, anyone was free to make use of that song.

Glenn Fleishman had posted a video of the song to YouTube in celebration of it entering the public domain earlier this year.

However, that video has now been "claimed" by Universal Music and various subsidiaries, meaning that they could "monetize" it or force it offline, despite them literally having no rights to speak of.

An ownership claim for a public domain work is so weak that even Youtube should have refused it.

Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil

Found on Techcrunch on Wednesday, 13 November 2019
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Instagram also has the U.S. government on its side for a change. While its parent company Facebook is being investigated for antitrust and privacy violations, TikTok is also under scrutiny.

Chinese tech giant ByteDance’s $1 billion 2017 acquisition of, another Chinese app similar to TikTok but with traction in the U.S., is under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

It's normal business for Facebook: if you cannot buy it, clone and crush it.

Uber CEO compares pedestrian death to murder of Saudi journalist, saying all should be forgiven

Found on The Register on Tuesday, 12 November 2019
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He downplayed the murder of an innocent man, calling it a “mistake”, then compared it directly to his own company’s “mistake” when it ran down and killed a pedestrian in a self-driving car. He then argued that everyone should be forgiven, and defended the Saudi government’s investment in Uber - all while being given multiple opportunities to backtrack.

It was an unbelievably bad response and one that makes you think about an oft quoted study by Australia’s Bond University and a researcher from the University of San Diego that found 21 per cent of senior professionals in the US had a “clinically significant” level of psychopathic traits. Which is roughly the same percentage as professional criminals.

There's really nothing more to add...

Bring Back the Replaceable Laptop Battery

Found on Slashdot on Monday, 11 November 2019
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Whether mainstream or obscure manufacturer, the fact that pretty much all of them are made in the same area denote a similar approach to soldering batteries in.

This leads to one conclusion, planned obsolescence.If you want your laptop to still be mobile when the battery fizzles out, forget about it. Buy new instead. Pick your manufacturer, even those famed for building 'tank' laptops that last forever, all you need is a fresh battery, upgrade the RAM, and a new HD or SSD and away you go.

Economy experts widely agree that the global markets are not growing anymore as they should in their opinion, so one could assume that steps like these are a way to enforce consumerism so this business model stays somewhat alive.

Massive Facebook document leak gives ammunition to investigators

Found on Ars Technica on Sunday, 10 November 2019
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The piles of leaked documents, which directly reference the company's questionable position on competition, are likely to be extremely helpful to the dozens of entities currently investigating Facebook on antitrust grounds.

The documents seem to confirm two long-held, popular suspicious about Facebook. First, it treats user privacy as an afterthought at best. And second, it works hard to prevent competitors from getting too powerful.

Ignoring privacy and attacking competition: just what everybody already knew.

This may shock you but Adobe is shipping insecure software

Found on The Register on Saturday, 09 November 2019
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It has been revealed that Adobe's Experience Platform mobile SDKs, used to create apps that interact with the company's cloud services, until recently contained sample configuration files that created insecure default settings.

Developers creating apps that utilize those files as templates or examples could find that their apps have been sending data over the network without SSL protection, making it vulnerable to interception and alteration.

Now that Flash is pretty much dead, the bugs move on inside Adobe.

TikTok: Should we trust the Chinese social-media video app?

Found on BBC News on Friday, 08 November 2019
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Some politicians are worried the app's Chinese owner, Bytedance, poses a risk to national security.

Others worry about the fact China requires its social-media apps to provide the state access to users' information.

People should be worried about TikTok just like about any "social" media. China is just more open about the fact that they make heavy use of all data they collect. Just like eg. Facebook does.