According to research, there’s around 2.8 million of you out there who have downloaded Minecraft applications on their Android smartphones and tablets, which are malicious.
There’s been a host of dodgy apps doing the rounds in the last year, and 33 of them have been spotted in the Google Play store. These apps tend to offer cheats and tips to players, but of course, they’re doing something else that is no good for you at all. Once you download these apps, you end up getting a warning which says your device has been infected with a “dangerous virus”.
These are some of the malicious apps.
If the apps fool you, you’re then asked to sign-up with a premium-rate SMS subscription which tells you that it’ll rid your gadgets of nasties.
It won’t, of course. What it will do is charge you for texts, coming in at £3.40 per week, which is around £177 per year if you don’t sort it out. The bogus virus warning page looks like this.
One of the things that gives away these apps are the myriad of negative reviews and comments they’ve received. If you’re ever downloading any app, it is always worth looking at the score they’ve been given and checking out the reviews on Google Play, right before you hit the download button.
A number of the apps have been removed from Google Play, but that’s not to say they got them all. Obviously, snide developers are probably making more and tying them in the with hugely popular Minecraft game.
Like we said, to stop this happening, always look at the ratings and reviews on any app and get some security software for your Android phone. You can see some of the best anti-virus Android software here.
Seeing as Google Play is a bit of a mess and there’s a lack of curating going on, on their part, it is hard to find the best apps for you.
One of the reasons there’s such a dizzying amount of apps around is that anyone can submit their apps to Google’s Play market, and that includes scammers and those who want to brick your phone and all that. Apps can also be downloaded from all over the place, not just Google’s store.
With Android being more open than other operating systems, this is often a good thing – but as ever, there’s always someone who wants to spoil it for everyone.
So with that, let us look at what we think are the best Android antivirus apps around. Search for these in the Google Play Store, read the reviews from other users and see what is best for you.
THE BEST ANDROID ANTIVIRUS AND SECURITY APPS
Avast Mobile Security & Anti-Virus (click)
One of the most highly rated anti-virus apps is the Avast Mobile Security & Anti-Virus, which provides you with a load of background tools to thwart any bleakness you may stumble across. The app is free, too! This is probably the best you can get.
Qihoo 360 Mobile Safe (click)
Another good freebie, the Qihoo 360 Mobile Safe has a big array of useful tools and fares well with other users. This is arguably as good as the Avast app.
Kaspersky Internet Security for Android (click)
Yet another good free app, Kaspersky Internet Security is a solid app that offers protection for your Android devices. Well worth checking out.
Ikarus Mobile Security (click)
This app will cost you £7 inc VAT, and is a lightweight security app that should give you what you need to protect your Android device. That said, we feel it isn’t quite as good as the aforementioned freebies.
Norton Mobile Security 2014 (click)
A popular and famous name, the Norton Mobile Security 2014 app has a lot of helpful tools to manage and secure your phone and again, it is a free download.
Do you like putting human urine on your face? How about rat poo? Do you want to daub yourself with a mixture of the aforementioned, especially when it is mixed together with arsenic? If you’re into that, you should totally buy a load of fake make-up.
If not, then the police are saying that you should avoid fake beauty products, which are being sold all over Britain.
A campaign has been launched called ‘Wake Up – Don’t Fake Up’, which aims to warn consumers about the fake beauty product industry, which is reportedly worth £90m a year. This isn’t some dodgy person flogging counterfeit perfume out of a suitcase on a street corner – thanks to the internet, these products are everywhere.
Sadly, consumers are being conned as, online, you can’t hold the product to see inspect it and stock images are being used with these knock-off goods, so they look like the real deal.
The police’s lab tests have shown all manner of horrible stuff in them. Fake perfumes have been tested and, in them, they’ve found cyanide and urine.
Many counterfeit cosmetics are made in unsanitary factories, which means whatever vermin is creeping around there is taking a dump in the products, which you then wipe all over your face. Not cool.
Something is being done about this, though – in the last 18 months, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has suspended more than 5,500 websites which were flogging fake-up, and they seized more than £3.5m worth of products.
Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall said: “Many people don’t know about the real dangers counterfeit beauty products pose to their health. That is why this week we are urging the public to Wake up – don’t fake up! Criminals are exploiting every opportunity to fool customers into buying counterfeits in order for them to make some quick cash – putting people’s health, homes and lives at risk.”
“Beauty products are meant to enhance your features, however the fakes can in fact do quite the opposite. Our general rule is: if it seems too good to be true then it probably is.”
The hack sees ne’er-do-wells able to take funds from customer credit cards, bank accounts and PayPal accounts. You see, the app is linked to an online payment service and hackers have found a way in, so they can take advantage of the cash auto-reload function and online gift cards that a lot of people use.
Basically, they can transfer money to themselves.
So what’s the deal? Well, Starbucks say that they know there’s a problem, but rather than this being their fault, they say this is an issue with weak passwords. While they’re seemingly not willing to do anything about this security flaw, they are saying that customers won’t be held responsible for any charges that someone else is responsible for.
Starbucks said in a statement: “If a customer believes their account has been subject to fraudulent activity, they are encouraged to contact both Starbucks and their financial institution immediately.”
“Customers are not responsible for charges or transfers they did not make. If a customer’s Starbucks Card is registered, their account balance is protected.”
If you’re worried about this, change your password and disable the auto-reload feature, and you should be fine.
The drink vendors said that they’d identified “some unusual activity” on some customers accounts while they were doing security checks.
A Costa spokesperson said that the number of people affected was in the “low to mid-hundreds”, but were confined to the UK. It will take a couple of days to reset everyone’s passwords and, until they’ve completed this, all online accounts will be suspended.
Mercifully, Costa don’t hold any customers financial data.
“We have already contacted those customers affected and emailed all registered Coffee Club members to make them aware of the situation. Customers can still continue to collect and redeem points as usual,” Costa Coffee said in a statement.
Now, feel free to complain about people spending too much money on coffee in the comments.
A report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has fired off a warning to you sun-worshippers, saying that some holidaymakers who have booked vacations online have been collectively conned out of £2.2m in 2014.
Crims have been targeting online booking firms to swipe money from unsuspecting folk, and many of those only find out that they’ve been had once they arrive at their hotel, who tell them that there’s no record of their booking.
The NFIB report shows, during a 12-month period, that 1,569 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the police’s fraud squad, with most complaints relating to plane tickets, hacking accounts, posting fake adverts online and setting-up bogus sites. Two groups particularly targeted were sports fans and religious groups, paying for fake tickets to religious sites and/or sporting events, where places are limited and people can charge more.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Holiday fraud is a particularly distressing form of fraud as the loss to the victim is not just financial but it can also have a high emotional impact. Many victims are unable to get away on a long-awaited holiday or visit to loved ones and the financial loss is accompanied by a personal loss.”
“We would also encourage anyone who has been the victim of a travel-related fraud to report it so that the police can build up a case, catch the perpetrators and prevent other unsuspecting people from falling victim.”
These small extensions can be helpful additions to Chrome and Firefox when it comes to browsing, but some of them were problematic when you get under the hood of them. Google teamed-up with the University of California to analyse and nix a number of these apps.
They found that 5% of everyone visiting a Google page have at least one malicious extension, and most of those have a number of add-ons which are malicious.
One of the problems, according to researcher Alexandros Kapravelos, is that the dodgy extensions use the same techniques to collect your data as the legit ones.
“Even when we have a complete understanding of what the extension is doing, sometimes it is not clear if that behaviour is malicious or not,” he said. “You would expect that an extension that injects or replaces advertisements is malicious, but then you have AdBlock that creates an ad-free browsing experience and is technically very similar.”
An investigation has been kicked off by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after claims were made that the data of millions of people’s pensions are being sold to cold-calling firms and shady fraud types. The ICO have said that the rumours they’ve heard are “very worrying” and they will be talking to regulators and the police.
As you’ll know, there’s been changes which means that, from next month, people can cash-in their savings when they retire, rather than buying an annuity. These changes have seen increased concern about an upswing in fraud.
According to reports, people’s pension details are being sold off for as little as 5p without consent. Over at the Daily Mail, reporters said they were offered information about 15,000 pensions without checks being made. This backs up previous ICO warnings that these reforms could lead to more scamming.
Steve Eckersley, the head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “It suggests a frequent disregard of laws that are in place specifically to protect consumers. We will be launching an investigation immediately. We’re aware of allegations raised against several companies involved in the cold-calling sector, and will be making inquiries to establish whether there have been any breaches of the Data Protection Act or Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.”
If any company is found guilty, there could be fines of £500,000 dished out and criminal prosecutions could be brought forward to anyone found obtaining personal data.
Eckersley added: “The information we’ve been shown supports the work we’ve been doing to target the shady industry that operates behind the nuisance of cold calls and spam texts. We’re already aware of the potential for a huge spike in the number of scam texts and calls linked to pensions when the law changes in April, and have already taken action against a company that was sending out misleading messages.”
“What we’ve seen here confirms those fears. Personal data is such a valuable asset, particularly financial information. The worst case scenario here is this information getting into the wrong hands and being used to target individuals at a critical point in their financial lives.”
Everyone is looking at Lizard Squad, who hacked Xbox as well as Lenovo. They’ve got previous with Twitch as well, when they carried out a DDoS attack, which was only resolved when (get this) four Twitter users gave in to the Squad’s demands to post selfies with “Lizard Squad” daubed on their foreheads.
However, this latest hack doesn’t look like the handiwork of Lizard Squad because, mainly, they crow about their actions very readily and they’re not really about stealing personal information, which is what’s happened here.
It appears that login details, passwords and some credit card information has been stolen in this particular hack. Twitch themselves have confirmed the hack, saying that all users will be forced to reset their passwords. They said: “For your protection, we have expired passwords and stream keys and have disconnected accounts from Twitter and YouTube. As a result, you will be prompted to create a new password the next time you attempt to log into your Twitch account.”
There’s no word on just how many people have been affected by this, but seeing as Twitch has over 45 million monthly viewers and in advance of 1 million people streaming videos, it is likely that this’ll be a large number of people who have had their security breached.
Twitch say that they’ve warned users and told them that the information that may have been swiped includes usernames, email addresses, the IP addresses from where people last logged in, credit card types, truncated card numbers and expiration dates, first and last names, phone numbers, home addresses, and dates of birth.
If you’re a Twitch user, it’d be worth changing the password for any sites you use that has a similar password to the one you use with this lot.
Another day, another attack on people using gadgets to get on the internet. This time, something called Freak Attack (which sounds like an ace ’80s horror b-movie) is causing a headache for users of Android and Apple devices.
The good news is that there are no reports of this weakness being exploited (yet) and that the relevant companies are working quickly to shore up the flaw… but where has all this come from? Well, researchers reckon that the problem comes from code that came about from old government policies which required software developers to use weaker security in encryption programmes, thanks to that old chestnut of ‘international security concerns’.
The flaw is to do with web encryption technology, which could potentially enable bad people to spy on what you’re doing if you use Safari or Google’s Android browser.
Around a third of all encrypted sites were vulnerable as of yesterday, as sites continued to accept this weaker software, which affects Apple’s browsers, the Android browser, but not Google Chrome browser or the latest versions from Firefox or Microsoft.
Apple and Google have both said that they’ve fixed the Freak Attack flaw, with Apple rolling theirs out next week and Google saying that they’ve sent out the goods to device makers and wireless carriers.
Obviously, this highlights the problems with governments interfering with encryption codes, even when dealing with national security. This old policy has come back to bite it on the arse, as it could well do the opposite of what it was intended to do, and actually give a helping hand to criminals.
Until a rollout occurs, you’d be wise to use Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft’s browser or, indeed, ride your luck until the new security measures are in place, if you’re feeling saucy.
Another day, another hack and this time, customers of TalkTalk are being warned after a load of account numbers, names and personal details were stolen from them. Be on the lookout for people trying to scam you, basically.
In an email sent to all TalkTalk customers, the company said that ne’er-do-wells were using the swiped details to try and trick people into handing over their bank details. If you received the email, you’ll find a special phone line to call if you’ve been targeted.
The number is 0800 083 2710.
This scam was discovered after TalkTalk found that there was a very sudden spike in people complaining to them about scam calls at the end of last year. A spokesperson said: ”We have now concluded a thorough investigation working with an external security company, and we have become aware that some limited non-sensitive information may have been illegally accessed in violation of our security procedure.”
It seems that the hack came about via a third-party who also had access to TalkTalk’s network and, as a result, the company will be taking legal action against the aforementioned third-party.
“We are aware of a small, but nonetheless significant, number of customers who have been directly targeted by these criminals and we have been supporting them directly,” said a statement from TalkTalk.
The scam in question involves customers getting called up and, with the stolen details, the scammers are trying to convince you that they’re a legitimate TalkTalk representative who tries to sell them security software. So, if you’re a customer and someone from TalkTalk rings you up and asks for your bank details, tell ‘em where to sling it.
Those irritating gits who run companies that mither everyone with nuisance calls and texts are looking at some new regulations that will slap them with huge fines. We’re talking penalties of (up to, of course) £500,000.
The current laws don’t do much to discourage these spam merchants, but that’s apparently going to change, as new rules will make it much easier to penalise them.
They come into play from April 6th and they mean that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) won’t have to prove that unwanted messages are causing a “substantial damage or substantial distress” any more.
In addition to that, the Government are also looking at bringing in new rules which will see that executives on the board of these businesses will also be held responsible for these calls and messages.
“For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm,” said digital economy minister Ed Vaizey. “This change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on.”
We all know how slippery these cold-callers are, so it would be wise to avoid holding your breath until we actually see someone getting a massive fine. Still, this is, initially, very good news for everyone.
There’s a number of products and services out there that give you a free trial before biting you on the seat of your pants. We warned readers about the trial with The Sun+ which ended up taking money off people.
Well, the Royal Bank of Scotland are now calling on regulators to do something about firms that offer free product trials before taking consumers for mugs. The RBS said that, since last June, they’d helped 37,000 customers to stop charges that had been hidden in the small print in 30-day ‘free trial’ deals for beauty and nutrition products.
The bank said that these deals “took advantage of consumers” who believed they were only handing over a small fee for postage: ”Clever advertising and pop-ups on social media websites lure customers into what they believe to be a free trial of a cream or tablet. They are asked to enter their card details to pay a small fee to cover postage and packaging.”
“In reality, by providing their card details and entering the free trial they are agreeing to a recurring subscription, if they do not cancel within the trial period.”
“At its worst point, RBS and NatWest were receiving over 390 calls a day from customers to complain of charges of around £80 a month being applied to their accounts that they did not recognise.”
“Customers receive the goods but don’t know about the recurring costs associated or that they have to stop the trial.
“Subscription details and charges should all be laid out in the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of the agreement, but the bank has found instances where the T&Cs only appear after the customer has agreed to them, where they’re hidden at the bottom of the page or where they’re greyed out making them near impossible to find.”
“The bank estimates that at its peak this was costing customers over £30k per day and over £2.9m in fees since June last year.”
So, as ever, stay vigilant and remember – always read the T&Cs and, if it looks too good to be true, it almost invariably always is too good to be true.
So with that, they’re continuing the fight against bad advertising practices, and Google’s Adwords platform, disabled over half a billion adverts last year. That’s a whopping amount! In addition to this, over 214k advertisers were banned and 250k sites were removed from the network because they’d been hiding malware, spyware and other forms of internet bleakness inside themselves.
Things that were most prevalent were 4.3m adverts that violated AdWords copyright infringement policies (over 4.3 million ads), adverts that employed trick-to-click approaches (over 43 million), advertisers trying to sell knock-off goods (in advance of 7k), those that practised phishing (more than 5k) and adverts for healthcare related violations (over 9.6 million).
That’s a lot of admin.
“Overall, we disabled more than 524 million bad ads and banned more than 214,000 advertisers in 2014″ said Vikaram Gupta, Director of Ads Engineering.
Sadly, you’ll still probably see weird muscle-men and women’s buttocks with blue dotted lines drawn on them all over your Facebook feed for the foreseeable.
If you think a deal is too good to be true, chances are, it is. Unless you’re looking in our Deals of the Day, of course. Either way, if someone is offering you a MacBook for £300, you’ve got to be wary.
One man who wasn’t, was Paul Barrington who saw the deal on eBay and thought he’d got himself an absolute steal! He parted with his money and waited. When it arrived, he found he’d spent all that money on a photocopied picture of a MacBook instead.
Look at his sad face.
Of course, MacBooks set you back around £1,500 if you’re buying them new and, if you’re getting one second-hand, they’re not going to be much cheaper.
Paul had apparently sold his treasured surfboard to buy the device, as he wanted to start gigging as a wedding DJ.
He said: “I sold my pride and joy for a piece of paper. It’s the first time I haven’t had a surfboard since I was 10 years old but I need a laptop so I checked the listing and the seller’s rating.”
“He’d been a member for a few years, so there was nothing to be suspicious about. I was excited about winning the auction and just thought, ‘I’ve got a laptop so I can start the business. The package was as light as a feather. Why bother sending a picture in a box? It doesn’t make any sense. I almost had to laugh.”
Paul has of course, reported this scam to eBay who are going to get back to him. Anyone who has dealt with eBay before, stop laughing. Here’s the auction.