New malware variant recognizes Windows 8, uses Google Docs as a proxy to phone home
Symantec believes the threat has been updated by the malware author to include the Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 references, but doesn’t do anything specific for them (yet). This is no surprise: the two operating systems were released less than a month ago but of course they are already popular, and cybercriminals are acting fast.
Yet the more interesting part is the Google Docs addition. Backdoor.Makadocs gathers information from the compromised computer (such as host name and OS type) and then receives and executes commands from a C&C server to do further damage.
In order to do so, the malware authors have decided to leverage Google Docs to ensure crystal clear communications. As Google Docs becomes more and more popular, and as businesses continue to accept it and allow the service through their firewalls, this method is a clever move.
The reason this works is because Google Docs includes a “viewer” function that retrieves resources of another URL and displays it, allowing the user to view a variety of file types in the browser. In violation of Google’s policies, Backdoor.Makadocs uses this function to access its C&C server, likely in the hopes of preventing the link to the C&C from being discovered since Google Docs encrypts its connection over HTTPS.
Anonymous takes sides in Gaza conflict, launches offensive against Israeli websites
Hacker group Anonymous is claiming to have successfully knocked offline and in some cases erased a number of prominent Israeli websites. The comprehensive attack, dubbed operation "OpIsrael," comes in direct retaliation to threats from Israel's government that it may shutter internet access to and from Gaza as violence between its Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hamas continues to escalate. "For far too long, Anonymous has stood by with the rest of the world and watched in despair the barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people in the so called 'Occupied Territories' by the Israel Defence Force," reads a statement from the group. "But when the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand."
A document publicly made available on Pastebin lists well over 600 URLs that the group has reportedly targeted, and The Verge can confirm that many of the specified sites are currently unavailable. Anonymous also claims to have deleted databases belonging to both Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bank of Jerusalem — the latter remains unreachable though the Ministry's site appears to be functioning normally.
Qeexo's FingerSense lets touchscreens listen, makes any object an input device (video)
While the humble touchscreen has become the standard interface for most smartphones, and capacitive displays make it a painless experience, the folk at start-up Qeexo think things could still be improved. It's developed a technology called FingerSense that could add even more functionality. Essentially, by using a small acoustic sensor, it measures the vibrations as objects tap the screen, and can tell the difference between them. So, for example, a knuckle tap could be used for "right-click." The tech is able to spot the difference between materials, too, so even when no finger is involved, it can register input, a great assistance to those with longer fingernails. The fun doesn't stop there, though, with the demo video after the break showing a Galaxy SIII with a modified display, able to register stylus input, even without official support for it. More input options can never be a bad thing, and if nothing else, it could certainly make those GarageBand drumming sessions a little more interesting.
Windows Phone 8 users report random reboots and battery issues
Windows Phone 8 devices have been available since the beginning of the month and users are starting to report early issues across HTC and Nokia handsets. In a thread over at WPCentral with 143 replies, a variety of HTC 8X users report that handsets randomly reboot while in use. A thread on Microsoft's own support forums has also gained 50 replies complaining about the issues. The Verge can confirm that an 8X we are testing has rebooted on more than one occasion.
Nokia Lumia 920 users are also reporting random reboots and freezes, with some complaining of poor battery life too. In a thread on Nokia's support forums, a number of users appear to be complaining of lock ups and resets with the Lumia 920. Battery life issues have led to some users wiping their devices in hope of a quick fix, unfortunately that seems to have resulted in some devices left stuck on a Nokia splash screen. In our own experience with several Windows Phone 8 devices, we've found that disabling the tap + send (NFC) feature results in improved battery life. We have reached out to Microsoft, HTC, and Nokia to discuss the issues and we'll update you accordingly.
iPad sales in China climb after trademark resolution
Remember Apple's trademark dispute with monitor manufacturer Proview over the name iPad? The tiff was resolved in July of 2012 when a Chinese court told Apple to pay the company US$60 million, resulting in Apple getting full control of the iPad trademark in China. That trademark issue was apparently keeping many Chinese citizens from purchasing an iPad, because sales of the tablet have skyrocketed since July.
IDC analyst Dickie Chang attributed the growth in iPad shipments to Apple's ownership of the trademark in China, which opened the door to "legal" sales of the product. Apple now owns the tablet market in China, having sold 2.07 million units in the third quarter of 2012 -- almost double the number sold in the second quarter. The next largest vendor in the country is Lenovo with sales of 278,000 units, followed by Samsung with only 143,000 tablets.
Queen Nabs Galaxy Note 10.1 for Royal Collection
The BBC reports that the Royal Commonwealth Society charity is choosing Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 to be added to the Royal Collection, the art collection of the British Royal Family.
So does this mean Her Majesty will be using it to Instagram photos with the hashtag #RoyalLife? Not quite. The Royal Collection is a repository of art and technology — over the years, goods are added to it to be used and studied by future generations. It dates back to the beginning of Britain’s monarchy.
In addition to being an artifact, the tablet will also host Queen Elizabeth II’s “Jubilee Time Capsule” — a collection of photos and videos highlighting the past 60 years of English history. Despite receiving hundreds of entries from across the world, only 60 — including footage from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage, as well as a rap about the 2011 London riots — were selected to be encapsulated. The 60 entries represent Queen Elizabeth’s 60-year reign.
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