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.
Online Marketplace Ayshei Launches in the UAE
Ayshei.com a Web3-enabled online marketplace, has officially launched, marking a paradigm shift in the UAE digital commerce landscape. The marketplace introduces a novel approach to customer-2-customer (C2C) online commerce, providing users with a dynamic space to buy, sell, and bid on products and services. Ayshei.com also introduces an open auction model, featuring multiple categories, public chats, online payment options, and turnkey logistics as well as, a unique live auction feature enabling live streaming to engage bidders in real time.
In addition to the open auction model, the marketplace integrates innovative bargaining features to ensure users get the best deals, culminating in a robust and interconnected community. Mohammed Shaiba Al Mazrouei, CEO of Ayshei, commented on the launch, saying, “We are thrilled to bring Ayshei.com to the UAE market, offering a new way for buyers and sellers to connect. Users can now join and become part of the Ayshei community, where opportunities are limitless. In addition, we will be launching a complementary mobile app offering our users further on-the-go convenience. We are also proud that Ayshei.com is built upon Web3-enabled blockchain technology, ensuring a transparent, open and decentralised platform granting our users more security and control, resulting in a truly customer-centric online experience.”
The marketplace offers Emirates ID profile verification, UAE Pass integration, high-value product authentications, inspections, and advanced transaction monitoring. Additionally, Ayshei has partnered with Transguard, a leader in logistics solutions, to guarantee best-in-class end-to-end services for seamless and efficient deliveries. Future Ayshei.com features include Proptech solutions for the real estate market, other AI-driven technologies and more. “Ayshei Business” will also launch by mid-2024, targeting the needs of SMEs, home businesses, and independent sellers. Offering an all-in-one virtual store, enabling users to create online trade licenses and bank accounts, in addition to payment gateways and logistics (including end-to-end self-storage and delivery).
TikTok Creator Hub’s Second Edition to Spotlight Women in Business
TikTok MENA has launched the second edition of the TikTok Creator Hub to spotlight women-led businesses and foster a supportive environment for their growth. This innovative program, presented in a competition format, allows participants to showcase their unique talents and business acumen, emphasizing the remarkable contributions of women in the business world.
The culmination of the program will be a grand awards ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, celebrating the achievements of these exceptional women leaders. With UN Women serving on the judging panel for the TikTok Creator Hub, the program’s primary objective is to recognize and nurture the business talents of women entrepreneurs in the MENA region. The initiative is dedicated to guiding female entrepreneurs on their entrepreneurial journey and rallying behind the women’s business community.
“We’re proud to collaborate with TikTok on this empowering journey. Together, we are working towards helping women-led businesses flourish in the MENA region, making a significant impact in the world of entrepreneurship,” said Susanne Mikhail Eldhagen, UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States region.
The program will offer participants distinctive opportunities, including mentorship from accomplished female leaders, guidance on leveraging content creation platforms for business promotion, and the chance to connect with like-minded women, establishing a robust support network. Inspirational female entrepreneurs from across the region will have the opportunity to unite, benefiting from ample funding, educational resources, mentorship, and networking prospects.
TikTok will actively promote this year’s Creator Hub initiative using the hashtag #HerAmbitions, spotlighting the invaluable role women play in the business landscape. Female entrepreneurs in the MENA region can share their stories, inspire others, and be part of a supportive community that celebrates women in business. The competition format not only acknowledges the potential of women entrepreneurs but also empowers them to share their creative and entrepreneurial ideas with a global audience. Through the program, participants will gain access to other successful female leaders, acquiring insights, advice, and guidance to enhance their entrepreneurial skills.
The judging panel for the competition will include esteemed creators and entrepreneurs. As a capacity-building initiative, the TikTok Creator Hub not only aims to cultivate a supportive and collaborative environment for female entrepreneurs but also empowers them to upskill and thrive through a comprehensive support system, providing the tools, knowledge, and resources for their advancement. By nurturing business ambitions among women in the MENA region, the Creator Hub will ultimately assist the selected entrepreneurs in reaching a broader market and further developing their brands.
Speaking about the exciting initiative, Kinda Ibrahim — General Manager of Operations, TikTok Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Pakistan and South Asia — said, “TikTok believes in the boundless potential of women entrepreneurs in the MENA region and is dedicated to creating an environment where their ambitions can thrive. The second edition of The Creator Hub #HerAmbition is more than a competition: we’re setting the stage for these remarkable women leaders to shine and inspire others. The #HerAmbitions campaign will recognize the incredible role that women play in the business landscape. Through this initiative, we aim to amplify their voices, share their inspiring stories, and build a supportive community that celebrates the power of women in business.”
The second iteration of the TikTok Creator Hub will unfold in three dynamic stages. In Phase 1, the initiative will be launched in-app, marked by the #HerAmbitions hashtag and a compelling video showcasing inspiring female entrepreneurs and creators. Participants will present an elevator pitch of their businesses, and TikTok users will cast votes for their favourite entrepreneurs.
Moving on to Phase 2, live workshops and panels will take centre stage, featuring members of the judging panel such as Karen Wazen, Chahrazad Al Hajjar, and Doaa Gawish, along with renowned industry experts. These sessions will provide participants with insights, advice, and guidance to enhance their skills. The live-streamed discussions on TikTok’s official accounts will delve into the transformative potential of content creation in boosting career prospects, unlocking new opportunities, and strengthening personal branding. The panels will emphasize the crucial role of leveraging social media platforms to showcase professional achievements, build connections with peers and industry leaders, and establish a powerful online presence for female entrepreneurs.
In the grand finale stage, a closing ceremony is scheduled for February in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Finalists will present their businesses for evaluation by the judging panel, with monetary prizes at stake. The first-place winner will receive US $10,000, while second and third places will each be awarded US $5,000.
To showcase the platform’s utility and contribution to the creator economy, the second TikTok Creator Hub is poised to uplift female business creators in the region. It marks a new era in the digital content economy in the MENA region, playing a crucial role in enabling and upskilling users.
The TikTok Creator Hub was initially launched in 2022, with last year’s program focused on Climate Change, unlocking numerous opportunities for new talents and contributing to the region’s growing creative economy through a similar competition format.
Genshin Impact to Launch Version 4.3 This Month
HoYoverse today announced that Genshin Impact Version 4.3 “Roses and Muskets” will arrive on December 20. With Fontaine’s major crisis resolved, Version 4.3 will slow down the pace of adventure and celebrate one of Fontaine’s most important traditions, the Fontinalia Festival.
In addition, Navia, the president of Spina di Rosula, and Chevreuse, the captain of the Special Security and Surveillance Patrol, will join as playable characters. Meanwhile, a series of updates and optimizations will also be added in Version 4.3.
This year, the Fontinalia Festival will be celebrated with a unique film festival, which will not only feature joyful and fun festivities but will also honor the tradition of commemorating the legendary Lochknights, who welcomed the previous Hydro Archon Egeria to Fontaine. Under the leadership of Furina, an unexpected team composed of the Kamisato siblings, the Traveler and the renowned fashion designer of the Chioriya Boutique, Chiori, will come together to work on a film.
In addition, the Fontinalia Festival will also offer a series of mini-games, such as designing a short film with different camera angles and narrations in “Into the Frame,” as well as shooting training in a marksmanship-themed gameplay mode. By winning Theater Tickets during these events, players will be able to obtain various festive rewards, including the 4-star claymore “Ultimate Overlord’s Mega Magic Sword.”
In this festive atmosphere, two firearm enthusiasts, Navia and Chevreuse, will join the game as playable characters. Renowned as the president of Spina di Rosula, Navia, a 5-star Geo claymore wielder, is capable of firing “Rosula Shardshots” from her elegant yet lethal gunbrella. The number of shots is determined by “Crystal Shrapnel,” which is accumulated either by obtaining Elemental Shards from Crystallize reactions or her Elemental Burst. Navia’s Elemental Burst also deals solid AOE Geo damage by bombarding her enemies.
Another firearms professional, Chevreuse, will join the team as a new 4-star Pyro polearm wielder. As captain of the Special Security and Surveillance Patrol, Chevreuse can fire bullets with her musket that deal AoE Pyro damage and look out for the team by healing the active character with her Elemental Skill. She can provide more firepower with an explosive grenade, which can split into multiple secondary explosive shells on impact. In the Event Wishes of Version 4.3, Navia’s debut and Kamisato Ayaka’s rerun will be featured in the first half, while Chevreuse will arrive in the second half together with reruns of the Raiden Shogun and Yoimiya.
Some permanent gameplay modes and limited-time events will also be updated with new features and rewards. Genius Invokation TCG will receive a major update with more cards, NPCs that can be challenged, and a limited-time Heated Battle Mode.
A new Fontaine-style realm layout will be available inside the Serenitea Pot. Apart from that, Itto’s Beetle Battle event and Liben’s daily requests will return with various exciting features and abundant rewards.
In addition, travelling in Teyvat will become even smoother thanks to numerous optimizations. The “one-click function” will soon be released, and Travelers can collect rewards from expeditions as well as repeat them, as well as collect processed ingredients and forged items.
Players will also be able to lock or unlock Artifacts in batches, as well as automatically lock existing or new Artifacts that match the filter specifications. Additionally, players will also be able to see how other active players choose Artifact Sets for a given character via Artifact Set Recommendations.
Genshin Impact Version 4.3 will be arriving on December 20. With cross-progression and Co-Op functions, players can enjoy their adventure across PlayStation®, PC, Android, and iOS. The game has been rated T for Teen by ESRB on PS5, PS4, PC, and Google Play, and 12+ on iOS.
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