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Here’s Why it is Important to Pick the Right Android Security App

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Written by Tomas Foltyn, security writer at ESET

A recent test of anti-malware apps available in Google Play showed that most are not, in fact, worthy of the name and, indeed, the space they take up on the Android device. Independent testing outfit AV-Comparatives threw the 2,000 most common Android malware samples seen in the wild last year at 250 security (and, as it turns out, also “security”) apps that were available in the Android store in January of this year.

Only 80 apps passed the organization’s most basic test – flagging at least 30 percent of the samples as malware while reporting no false positives for some of the most popular and clean apps in Google Play. Crucially, only 23 apps passed the test with flying colors; that is, they had a 100-percent success rate at detecting the malicious code.

So, what are those purported anti-malware solutions that failed the test up to? You may have guessed it – for the most part, they’ll only foist ads on you. Put differently, instead of keeping you safe from pests that are banking Trojans, ransomware and other threats, many of the fake security apps will apparently only pester you with unwanted ads, all in the name of easy revenue for the developers.

Indeed, some of the products are already detected, at the very least, as “potentially unwanted applications” by at least some reputable mobile security solutions and are likely to be booted by Google from the Android store soon. In many cases, the apps’ “malware-detecting functionality” resided in their comparing the name of a package for any given app against the AV apps’ respective whitelisted or blacklisted databases.

This way of determining if a piece of software is safe or not, can, of course, be trivially easy to defeat by malware creators. Meanwhile, for the user, it creates a false sense of security. The fact that many ad-slinging apps are disguised as security solutions may not be a revelation for you. After all, ESET malware researcher Lukáš Štefanko warned early in 2018 about dozens of apps that professed to protect users from malicious code but were instead only vehicles for displaying ads.

Meanwhile, a number of products that scored poorly in the test were deemed to be the work of what AV-Comparatives called “hobby developers”. Rather than focus on producing quality security software, these software makers apparently produce a variety of apps that are only designed to generate ad revenue for them. Still, other developers “just want to have an Android protection app in their portfolio for publicity reasons”, wrote the AV testing outfit.

In addition, user ratings and/or download numbers are not necessarily something to go by. “Most of the 250 apps we looked at had a review score of 4 or higher on the Google Play Store. Similarly, the number of downloads can only be a very rough guide; a successful scam app may be downloaded many times before it is found to be a scam,” wrote AV-Comparatives, adding that the ‘last updated’ date isn’t a reliable indicator, either.

All told, the results can be understandably disheartening. On the other hand, they’re another reminder of the need to stick to reputable products with proven track records in mobile security.

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Apps

UAE Entrepreneurs Launch Private Messaging App

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UAE-based entrepreneurs have launched a private messaging app, which enables users to send voice and written messages that disappear as soon as they are sent, read, and played. “The application called Oh!Message, brings users back to the classical period of simple communications tools, but by using the best privacy-enhancing features, to be the first chat application with this high privacy developed in the ME region by Arab expertise,” said Mohammed Othman and Haian Nayouf, the makers of the app.

With this free app, the sent message will disappear from the sender’s account after 10 seconds if it is read by the recipient or not, and it will also disappear from the recipient’s account after 10 seconds of opening or playing it. The message will be destroyed completely within the application and will not be stored on the app servers. Each written message is limited to 100 characters while the audio message is 10 seconds.

“Oh!Message is end-to-end encrypted but it has also other features that make it the most private app among messaging apps,” said Engineer Mohammed Othman, Co-Founder and Chief of Technology at Oh!Message. “In this app, which is available in Apple and Android stores, the user doesn’t appear online while using it, and his/her location is not tracked.”

“The first period of the app launch is in the UAE, the Gulf region, and Arab countries,” said Haian Nayouf, Co-Founder and Chief of Communications at Oh!Message. “The UAE is the capital for talent, companies, and investments in the areas of digital and technical excellence globally, and this has greatly motivated us to work on this project in UAE, and the app is the first of its kind in the Arab world with these strong privacy features.”

The app is now available for both iOS and Android devices.

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Taiwan’s First International Streaming Platform Called Taiwan+ is Now Live

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Taiwan Plus (Taiwan+), the first English-language international streaming platform of Taiwan, was unveiled by Vice President Lai Ching-te, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, Culture Minister Lee Yung-te, Central News Agency (CNA) Chairman Liu Ka-shiang, Taiwan+ CEO Joanne Tsai, and H.E. Ambassador Jasmine E. Huggins of Embassy of Saint Christopher and Nevis at the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei on Aug. 30.

Targeting an English-speaking audience, Taiwan+ consists of media professionals from the U.S., the U.K, Canada, France, and Australia, as well as local industry professionals, who work collaboratively to deliver the latest news about Taiwan, international affairs, and covers a wide range of topics. The platform also sources stories from Taiwan’s public and private media organizations.

Golden Melody-award-winning singer Sanpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw opened the event with a music performance. Held with COVID-19 prevention measures in place, the event was joined by representatives including Izumi Hiroyasu from Japan, Jordan Reeves from Canada, Andrew Wylegala and Don Shapiro from the U.S., and Henry Chang and Giuseppe Izzo from Europe.

H.E. Ambassador Jasmine E. Huggins of the Embassy of Saint Christopher and Nevis in Taiwan said the international video platform is expected to connect Taiwan with the world. President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her pleasure to join the launch of Taiwan+ with a video message, saying “Taiwan+ is an exciting new initiative to tell Taiwan’s story. Generations of Taiwanese fought to transform this country into a vibrant democracy that protects freedom of speech and expression.”

Premier Su Tseng-chang wished the platform success. He stressed that Taiwan is a democratic and free country guided by the rule of law, and cares about universal values of human rights, freedom of speech, and diversity, noting that this is why many countries are willing to make friends and do business with Taiwan. Vice President Lai said, “I hope that the platform can be the starting point from which the world learns about what Taiwanese people think and want, what Taiwan is doing, and what we can contribute to the world.”

Legislative Speaker, You noted that, with China’s intimidation and political oppression against Taiwan, the establishment of Taiwan+ allows Taiwan to tell its stories to the world through its voices. Taiwan+, a project commissioned by the Ministry of Culture to the CNA, marks an important milestone in the country’s history of mass media, Minister Lee said. He expressed his gratitude to legislators and professionals for making this happen.

“I hope to make this platform a form of expansion, connection, and infinite possibilities, just like how Taiwan incorporates ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity, and introduce Taiwan to the world through dynamic storytelling and news,” said Tsai, a senior media professional with over 25 years of experience in international media outlets, such as NBC/CNBC, National Geographic, and Fox International Channels.

The content of Taiwan+ can be played on the Taiwan Plus app or viewed on its website and social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

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“Selfdrive” Launches Smart Mobility App

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Selfdrive, an entity of Pinewoods Tech Serve, has launched an all-in-one Smart Mobility App. The app is serving as a game-changer for the car rental space offering its users a seamless, reliable, and convenient mechanism to rent a car on demand. The cutting-edge mobile app provides direct access to dealership fleet to its users, allowing them to rent a car by the day, subscribe by the month, or lease a car up to 3 years, offering complete flexibility in booking duration.

The company to date has served over 50k customers and witnessed a 30% MoM growth in customer base in the past six months. The app is built on a proprietary tech foundation concept, Search – Select – Pay, that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to match customers’ profiles with the cars that they would like to drive, making the selection process and renting a car absolutely seamless experience.

This app is available to download on Android and iOS, which offers users the option to select from 65 different car models across 15 different car brands from 45 different locations in the UAE within three hours. Some of the key brands available to rent are Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Renault, Mazda, Infinity, Volkswagen (VW), BMW, and many more.

Speaking about the launch of its app, Soham Shah, CEO, and Co-Founder of Selfdrive said, “As one of the largest car rental service providers in the UAE, we strive to offer exceptional service to our customers every step of the way. We bring together exclusive offers on the app starting from AED 49 per day and AED 999 per month. That’s not all, with the launch of ‘Lease Pro’ in this app, users can now rent a brand new ‘Zero Km’ car under its 12 – 24 – 36 months subscription that would be exclusively registered on demand by the car dealer.”

“The smart mobility platform is a testament of our commitment to curate best deals on cars direct from the dealership, whilst making it possible for anyone to rent a car on demand and get it delivered too. This alleviates the hassle of going through multiple car rental agencies to find the best car models and rates on offer,” added Shah.

The Car rental market accounted for $86 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $131 billion by 2026, projecting a CAGR of about 7% during the forecast period. Selfdrive launched in 2017 is the UAE’s largest car rental tech platform that has crossed 2000 cars on road.

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