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What you should and shouldn’t worry about in Android security

BARCELONA The smartphone industry has given birth to a vibrant growth sector distinguished by its creativity, drive and entrepreneurship . Unfortunately, that sector is malware.

Conversations with security professionals here at Mobile World Congress, the world s largest mobile tech show, provided a dismaying, but necessary, reminder that the computers in our pockets are targets for authors of malware and other scams and that many of us don t care about those risks.

The amount of thought that consumers are giving to security is almost nonexistent, said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel (INTL).1

App anxiety

The major malware risk on smartphones remains downloading a hostile app that tries to compromise your data or run up your phone bill . The best advice to avoid such threat is to stick to the Google (GOOG, GOOGL) Play Store instead of downloading apps from third-party stores or off the Web. 23

The fact that Google screens its Play Store apps makes the risk of malware there dramatically less than a third-party app store, by far, said Davis .

Still, the Play Store isn t immune from crooks.

Last month, for instance, the Slovakian security firm ESET found a trojan app on the Play Store disguised as a world weather app . Google yanked the app after ESET notified the company. 4

We encounter these things I would say every couple of months, said ESET chief technical officer Juraj Malcho . The risk of downloading malware on iOS is vanishingly small in comparison to Android, thanks in part to the strict limits Apple (AAPL) places on how apps interact with the operating system.5

A recent report by Intel s McAfee subsidiary noted a related issue: Many customers still have copies of apps on their devices that have long since been removed from the Play Store . The report urged more notification and disclosure when apps are taken out of the marketplace.6

Read the reviews, please

But many users may ignore those alerts if an app looks legit . The McAfee report noted an example of a photo app that silently signed users up for premium text messaging services and yet still earned a 3.5 out of 5 rating on the Play Store.

ESET s Malcho said he wished people would look past apps ratings and instead check users comments . Many times, we encounter clear reviews in the text, Don t install this, this is bloody malware, and people install it anyway.

Some of the countries represented at MWC don t have access to the Play Store, because their governments block Google . That leaves those users subject to whatever defenses their local app store alternatives offer.

Niloofar Amini, business developer at Tehran-based Cafe Bazaar, said his Iranian firm has a dedicated review team to assess and re-assess apps . Of course, the company also has to ensure that titles comply with the Islamic Republic s morality laws and limits on political speech.

If you re in China ? Good luck .

Intel s Davis described app stores there as just riddled with malware.

Good and bad news on phones

The show floor provides one reason for optimism about the state of Android security: fingerprint sensors . When even cheap, unlocked phones like the $229 Moto G5 Plus can be unlocked via its fingerprint sensor, we should begin to see more people securing their phones.7

Today, a disturbingly high number 28 percent of Americans, according to a Pew Research Center study released in January don t lock their phones at all . Without that, a stolen phone can easily be wiped and resold after the thief abuses all the personal data on it.8

Let s stop calling it a phone, said Raj Samani, Intel Security s chief technical officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa . It s not even a computing device it is our digital passport.

Unfortunately, most of the devices on the floor don t run the latest version of Android, which can leave them open to security holes . Demo units of Samsung s new Tab S3 tablet, LG s G6, Moto s G5 Plus and HTC s (headphone jack-deprived) U Ultra all ran Google s Android 7.0, which shipped in August, not its subsequent updates. 9

The new Nokia 5 was a refreshing exception, showing the current 7.1.1 release and security patches current through March 1 but that phone hasn t been announced for the U.S . market yet10. Read More

Meanwhile, the majority of Android phones run older versions that lack the stronger security of 7.0, and the stricter control of apps added in 2015 s Android 6.0 . Intel s Samani called those brownfield devices, after the term developers use for environmentally contaminated sites that they sometimes must build on.11121314

ESET s Malcho mused out loud about a more extreme fix for that brownfield-phone problem: Make the device so it dies in two years.

More from Rob:

Email Rob at; follow him on Twitter at @robpegoraro.1516


  1. ^ INTL (
  2. ^ (GOOG, (
  3. ^ GOOGL) (
  4. ^ found a trojan app on the Play Store disguised as a world weather app (
  5. ^ AAPL (
  6. ^ recent report by Intel s McAfee subsidiary (
  7. ^ cheap, unlocked phones like the $229 Moto G5 Plus (
  8. ^ 28 percent of Americans, according to a Pew Research Center study released in January (
  9. ^ headphone jack-deprived (
  10. ^ announced for the U.S .

    market yet (

  11. ^ majority of Android phones (
  12. ^ older versions (
  13. ^ stronger security of 7.0 (
  14. ^ stricter control of apps (
  15. ^ Rob (
  16. ^ @robpegoraro (

Arsenal launch investigation into Emirates Stadium security after urban climbers film themselves breaking in

Arsenal1 have launched an investigation after urban climbers breached security to film themselves inside and on top of the Emirates Stadium.

A climber, who calls himself DyingLlama, and his friends scaled the stadium’s walls and posted video images on Youtube showing them wandering around the stadium. The youngster then claims on the video that he and six other friends were able to breach security at West Ham’s home ground, the London Stadium, where they also wandered pitchside, in the stands and on the roof. It is the second time security at the London Stadium has been breached in this way by urban climbers following a similar stunt carried out by a group known as Night Scape, who posted footage in October.

The climbers walk around the Emirates A shot of the Emirates pitch The climbers look on from the roof

Read More

The latest incident at the Emirates Stadium is understood to have taken place nine days ago and has prompted the Premier League club to re-evaluate security measures at its north London ground. An Arsenal spokesman said: “Fan safety is a top priority and we take security at Emirates Stadium extremely seriously.

“We have launched an immediate investigation into this incident . We work closely with police and anti-terrorism experts and will be reviewing our procedures.”

The Emirates Stadium has 24-hour security staff and is monitored by CCTV, but its “robust security system” appeared to be easily side-stepped by DyingLlama and his friends.

The DyingLlama group filmed their exploits Their unwanted Emirates visit follows a similar escapade at West Ham’s London Stadium

The video footage shows them climbing a stairwell and walking through an unlocked door on to the terraces and then pitchside. The climbers also hopped on to the stadium roof and perched directly above the iconic stadium clock in the Clock End. Similar footage of the group breaching security at the London Stadium shows them looking down from the roof and walking pitchside.

Watch the full video in the clip below.

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Millions of Brits risking home security

Millions of Brits are leaving their windows and doors unlocked, leaving keys in the garden and relying on their dog to keep their home safe, a study has found. One in five leave their doors unlocked all or most of the time on a typical day and 48 per cent keep the windows open even when they aren t at home. And more than half believe their home would be safe if they accidentally left their front door unlocked during the day. One in 10 hides a key somewhere near the property, including under a plant pot and beneath a garden gnome. But the trust in the security of their home could be misplaced as the poll of 2,000 adults by Canary Home Security found that one in 10 have been victim to burglars within the past year alone. More than one in five have been so affected by burglaries they have taken time off work, while over a quarter have experienced sleeping problems and around half said they are less trusting now. And of those who have been burgled, the effects have lasted long after the event, with one in five saying their children were left unsettled or unhappy, while four per cent have needed counselling.

A spokesman for Canary Home Security said: Our home is meant to be somewhere we feel safe and secure. While it s great that we are trusting and feel safe enough to go out and leave our windows open and front door unlocked, this is leaving some of our most prized possessions at risk – especially irreplaceable sentimental items. But if your home were to be burgled, it s not just the stolen items you need to worry about.

The emotional effects can be far reaching and it can be hard to get over the feeling of knowing someone else has been in your home, where you want to feel as safe as possible. Insurance may replace the material items, but it can t re-buy the sentimental things or help you get over the intrusion of having a burglar in your home. Seven in 10 consider security at home to be of utmost importance but one in 10 have a key hidden somewhere near the property, including under a plant pot, beneath a garden gnome and even buried in a flower bed. Others leave it in the garage or outside store room, under the door mat or in the dog house. Worryingly, more than a third of the population has no special security measures in place to make sure that their possessions are safe. And 21 per cent rely on their dog to deter burglars and keep their home secure. Three times as many people think that a strong mechanical lock is more secure than a digital alarm system, and 43 per cent of respondents have never tested the home security they do have. Canary s spokesman added: Having your home broken into can be traumatic, and most people recognise that material items can be replaced, but a feeling of unease in your own home is much harder to deal with. In fact, nearly a tenth of people whose homes have been broken into have moved house after the event.

A Canary system offers peace of mind, with HD night vision and a built-in siren that can be monitored from your smartphone . With home security, prevention is definitely better than cure. TOP 10 PLACES PEOPLE LEAVE A KEY:

1 . In the garage/outside store room

2 . Under a plant pot

3 . In a keysafe

4 . Buried in the garden

5 . Under the mat

6 . Under a windowsill

7 . Inside a fake lock

8 . Under a garden gnome

9 . In a dog house

10 . Under a garden ornament


1 . A loss of confidence

2 . Overly cautious with security

3 . Have become less trusting

4 . Lost sentimental items

5 . Was unable to replace certain items

6 . Sleeping problems

7 . Took time off work

8 . Kids were unsettled or unhappy

9 .

Pet was unsettled

10 .

Difficulties with insurers