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Viu OTT App Comes to the Middle East

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Vuclip, a PCCW Media company, and the leading premium video-on-demand service provider for emerging markets, today announced the launch of Viu, a direct to consumer video-on-demand (VOD) service, in the Middle East. Viu has already achieved market success and tremendous consumer adoption in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong and Singapore, and is now available for users in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan.

Users across the region now have access to tens of thousands of hours of local, regional and international premium entertainment, built on Vuclip’s patented Dynamic Adaptive Transcoding technology™ to offer viewers a “buffer free” viewing experience.

Viu highlights include:

  • Rich content library designed and especially curated to meet unique user preferences. Viewers can personalize their experience with diverse entertainment options based on their choice of language and genre, ranging from cooking and cars to reality shows and documentaries
  • Unlimited downloads and streaming of all content on the mobile app
  • Diverse pool of the premium Arabic TV shows from across the Arab world including Egyptian, Syrian, Khaleeji and Tunisian dramas. Arabic viewers can also enjoy a range of movies including classics, all-time fan favorites and recent blockbusters, including premium curated music videos with 6000+ songs of the best of Arabic music hits featuring artists such as Nicole Saba, Amr Diab, Hassan El Shafei, Nancy Ajram, Ramy Sabry, Maya Diab and many more
  • Latest content from Bollywood, including movies, popular TV shows and music videos featuring megastars such as Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone
  • The most popular sitcoms from the Philippines, as well as music videos from regional stars Garry Valenciano and Christian Bautista
  • Hollywood content including movies, as well as TV series.

“We are excited to introduce Viu to the Middle East and extend to our viewers a unique platform to enjoy premium on demand content on their choice of device and network. We’ve been in the mobile video business for nine years and that has given us a lens into viewer insights that is unparalleled. The Middle East is home to a diverse population and our mission is to curate the most compelling and popular content from across the world. We look forward to an exciting journey as we bring new ideas to life and offer viewers a whole new experience in entertainment,” said Sherif Dahan, Regional Director for Middle East, Vuclip.

Viu launches as a freemium service, with consumers across the region having access to thousands of hours of content for free. Consumers can also subscribe to a premium portion of the service which includes an ad-free experience, as well as access to additional premium content for a monthly fee. Viu is accessible via mobile phones and tablets, as well as desktops by downloading the Viu app on Google Play or the Apple Store, or by typing in www.viu.com on a desktop or mobile browser.

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Free Fire to Celebrate 5th Anniversary with Justin Bieber

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Free Fire’s 5th-anniversary celebrations are off to an exciting start as it launches a spectacular 5-part extravaganza to delight fans and players. The festivities are set to culminate on 27 August with several in-game content drops involving global icon Justin Bieber, who is headlining this special anniversary collaboration. The Free Fire community can revel and reminisce iconic anniversary celebrations over the years with the weekly rollout of 5 specially-designed chapters – Battle, Style, Map, Hero and Memory. Experience new in-game events, gain exclusive rewards, and enjoy Free Fire like never before. 

Free Fire will host its first ever in-game performance on 27 August, with Justin Bieber set to debut an exclusive track “Beautiful Love (Free Fire)” as part of the 5th-anniversary celebrations. Players can look forward to immersing themselves in an interactive set-up, groove along to custom emotes, participate in minigames and potentially even perform with Justin Bieber’s avatar on stage. A permanent in-game character modelled after Justin Bieber will also be unveiled and distributed to all players.

To commemorate this unique celebration, Free Fire will also give away the highly coveted Magic Cube to players, allowing them to easily redeem their favourite exclusive costume bundles and battle in style. Players will be able to try their hand at various daily and time-limited missions, accumulating tokens which can be swapped for exclusive rewards in the exchange store. With iconic costumes and classic guns available to unlock during these missions, players can expect a nostalgic and exciting experience every day.

Expansive, dynamic maps are iconic features of Free Fire and players can look forward to the release of a new map Nexterra, which has been enhanced with various elements to elevate and diversify the battle experience for players. There will also be new game modes for players to explore, including:

  • A new limited-time mode Free For All. Set against the backdrop of El Pastelo, it will simulate intense close combat point-based matches where up to 16 players will battle it out. Players will be able to select their own weapons and can obtain points by eliminating other players. Matches will be decided by the first player to accumulate a predetermined amount of points.
  • An exclusive 5th-anniversary mode Droid Apocalypse, which will see 12 players compete in each match, vying to become the ultimate droid. Players will get to select their own type of droid and convert as many humans as possible before the timer runs out. When only a predetermined number of humans remain, they will transform into hunters and have enhanced stats, as well as the ability to permanently eliminate droids. Points can be gained based on performance and the player with the most points after three rounds will win the match.
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New Malicious Campaign Hunts Discord Messenger Users

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On July 26, using the internal automated system for monitoring open-source repositories, Kaspersky researchers identified a malicious campaign dubbed LofyLife. The campaign employed 4 malicious packages spreading Volt Stealer and Lofy Stealer malware in the open-source npm repository to gather various information from victims, including Discord tokens and credit card information, and to spy on them over time.

The npm repository is a public collection of open-source code packages widely used in front-end web apps, mobile apps, robots and routers, and also to serve countless needs of the JavaScript community. Its popularity makes the LofyLife campaign even more dangerous, as it could potentially have affected numerous users of the repository.

The identified malicious repositories appeared to be packages used for ordinary tasks such as formatting headlines or certain gaming functions, however, they contained highly obfuscated malicious JavaScript and Python code. This made them harder to analyze when being uploaded to the repository. The malicious payload consisted of malware written in Python dubbed Volt Stealer, and a JavaScript malware dubbed Lofy Stealer, which possesses numerous features.

Volt Stealer was used to stealing Discord tokens from the infected machines along with the victim’s IP address and upload them via HTTP. The Lofy Stealer, a new development from the attackers, is able to infect Discord client files and monitor the victim’s actions – detecting when a user logs in, changes email or password details, enables or disables multi-factor authentication and adds new payment methods, including full credit card details. Collected information is also uploaded to the remote endpoint.

“Developers rely heavily on open-source code repositories – they use them to make IT-solution developments faster and more efficient and significantly contribute to the development of the IT industry as a whole. As the LofyLife campaign shows, however, even reputable repositories cannot be trusted by default – all code, including open-source code, that a developer injects into his products becomes their own responsibility. We’ve added detections of this malware to our products, so users who run our solutions will be able to identify whether they have been infected and remove the malware,” comments Leonid Bezvershenko, a security researcher at Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team.

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Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) Removed From Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India

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India blocked a popular battle-royale format game from Krafton Inc, a South Korean company backed by China’s Tencent, using a law it has invoked since 2020 to ban Chinese apps on national security concerns, a source said. Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) was removed from Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store as of Thursday evening in India.

The removal of BGMI, which had more than 100 million users in India, comes after India’s 2020 ban of another Krafton title, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The PUBG crackdown was part of New Delhi’s ban of more than 100 mobile apps of Chinese origins, following a months-long border standoff between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The ban has expanded since to cover more than 300 apps, including popular gaming app ‘Free Fire’, owned by Singapore’s technology group Sea Ltd. Tencent held a 13.5% stake in Krafton as of end-March through an investment vehicle, according to Krafton’s regulatory filing.

Krafton shares slumped more than 9% on the news on Friday, later paring losses to trade down 4.5% as of afternoon trade in Seoul. The company said in May India accounted for a high single-digit percentage of its revenue in the first quarter of this year.

According to news reports, a Google spokesperson said it blocked the game following a government directive. In Seoul, a Krafton spokesperson said the developer was talking to relevant authorities and companies to figure out the exact situation regarding the suspension in the two major app stores in India.

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