Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Amazon Echo’s messaging service to add SMS, Garmin’s new fitness watch has payment feature, mobile trojans are abusing WAP-billing services, Asia’s newest mobile wallet may get the region cashless and much more…
Amazon appears to be planning an expansion of Alexa’s existing messaging capabilities to support sending SMS text messages to friends using your Echo device or Alexa app. That means Echo users could then text anyone using voice commands, not only other Echo owners.
According to code found in the Amazon Alexa app, there are references to a new type of phone number – referred to as your “Alexa number” – which is listed alongside other contact information, like a home phone number, work phone, and mobile. Additionally, references in the code specifically state that users will be able to “send and receive SMS text messages”from their Echo device or the Alexa app.
European business people are more prone to malware attacks through their smartphones than children and millennials.
The Allot MobileTrends Report from Allot and Kaspersky analysed mobile data records from a sample of 500,000 European smartphone users during a week’s time to find out which end users pose greater threats to mobile network security. The study included Android, iOS and Windows Phone operating systems. A risk score was assigned to the most popular 500 URLs and 500 apps, categorising each as either safe or risky.
Business users were discovered to have the riskiest online behaviours, with 79 percent of men and 67 percent of women using risky apps at least once a day. When it comes to children and millennials, 65 percent use potentially risky apps each day.
A user’s online behaviour as well and the App or URL itself affects potential malware risk. The study also noted that while mobile App downloads are usually protected, ongoing use is not which makes users vulnerable to malware threats.
Crooks slinging mobile trojans have reverted to old techniques by stealing users’ money through WAP-billing services.
The “unusual” rise in mobile trojan clickers that steal money from Android users through Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) billing has been tracked by security researchers at Kaspersky Lab. The unexpected trend had been in evidence for a while, but in Q2 of 2017 it became surprisingly common, with thousands of affected users in different countries across the globe, mainly in India and Russia, according to Kaspersky Lab.
WAP billing has been widely used by mobile network operators for paid services and subscriptions for many years. This form of mobile payment charges costs directly to the user’s mobile phone bill, avoiding the need for bank card registration or a sign-up process.
Apple has joined a consortium of businesses led by the investment company Bain Capital in a last-ditch £14bn offer for Toshiba’s chip unit.
Toshiba is the world’s second-largest producer of Nand memory chips, which are used in smartphones and computers. A deal may be crucial for Apple in keeping down prices of components for its iPhone, as well as reducing dependence on the market leader, Samsung.
According to reports by Reuters, Apple has been brought in to help bolster the bid as Toshiba and the hard drive manufacturer Western Digital struggle to strike a deal, despite partnering on the joint venture chip business.
Most of the CIOs I meet with are concerned about mobile fraud, but they focus their resources on mobile commerce (card-not-present transactions), phishing attacks and/or ransomware.
CIOs and CTOs should not underestimate, however, the cost and manpower drain caused by mobile ad fraud for their corporate users and IT teams.
At face value, it would appear mobile ad fraud is primarily a problem for the advertiser and publisher — or the app itself that’s running the fraudulent ad. Why should a CIO or CTO care? Unfortunately, with advancements in mobile ad fraud, it’s rarely just one fraudulent ad.
Over the last few years, the number of different types of mobile ad fraud integrated into apps via malware has grown (and continues to grow) to include click spamming, click injection, ad stacking and invisible ads. Now, if an app that contains malware is downloaded by someone in a corporate environment, that could enable a hacker to use one of the aforementioned mobile ad fraud tactics to access the corporate network…
Startups have been invited to apply for the M4D Utilities Innovation Fund, supported by the UK Government and the Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge for Development, which will award grants to test and scale the use of mobile to improve or increase access to energy, water, and sanitation services.
The M4D Utilities Innovation Fund was launched in June 2013, and in two phases of funding has so far awarded grants amounting to a total of GBP6 million (US$7.7 million) to 34 organisations across four continents.
To date, M4D Utilities estimates the trials have impacted over 2.5 million direct beneficiaries in underserved populations around the world, with the grants awarded since 2013 leading to an additional US$174 million raised by grantees from the private sector.
Finally, people in Singapore are about to get an easier and quicker way to send money to a friend, via a mobile wallet app.
But surprisingly, it’s not coming from a bank or payment company — it’s coming from ride-hailing app, Grab.
Grab, Uber’s biggest competition in Southeast Asia, on Wednesday announced users will be able to transfer funds in the app’s wallet between users, without fees.
They can do it by sending money over to a mobile number registered with Grab, or by physically scanning a friend’s QR code.
Kata.ai, a Jakarta-based startup that develops Indonesian-language chatbots, has raised a US$3.5 million series A round led by the Taiwanese Trans-Pacific Technology Fund (TPTF).
In today’s release the firm says it’ll use the capital to launch in new markets, starting with Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries. This makes Kata one of a few Indonesian startups to tackle international expansion early on. The startup in its current form is less than a year old, though its predecessor, a virtual assistant called Yesboss, started in 2015.
Investors in this round also included Korean-based Access Ventures, Indonesia-based Convergence Ventures, and MDI Ventures – the venture capital arm of Indonesian state-owned telco Telkom, as well as VPG Asia, Red Sails Investment, and angel investor Eddy Chan. TPTF principal Barry Lee has joined Kata’s board of directors.
Responding to privacy concerns, AccuWeather is out with a new version of its iOS app that removes a controversial data sharing behavior. Earlier this week, security researcher Will Strafach called attention to the practice in a Medium post and users took to Twitter to announce their intention to dump the app in droves.
“AccuWeather’s app employed a Software Development Kit (SDK) from a third-party vendor (Reveal Mobile) that inadvertently allowed Wi-Fi router data to be transmitted to this third-party vendor,” the company wrote in a statement accompanying the app update. “Once we became aware of this situation we took immediate action to verify the operation and quickly disabled the SDK from the IOS app. Our next step was to update the IOS app and remove Reveal Mobile completely.”
In the past 20 years, we have seen a boom in mobile adoption and the arrival of the Internet of Things, but recently, these advancements have been overshadowed by cybersecurity attacks which have targeted celebrities, the NHS and even the CIA. As a result, concerns for our online and mobile security have sky rocketed for both B2B and B2C customers.
These hackers’ skills are forever evolving, and our ability to stay one step ahead is becoming increasingly difficult, with providers embarking on a never-ending search for ways to stop these attacks. So, what are the current challenges facing the world of mobile security and how can telecoms and Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) overcome them?