'Xafecopy' mobile malware detected in 40pct of India; looting victims through WAP billing

The malware, which has spread to 40 percent of the Indian landscape, is said to be operating normally while secretly decrypting and loading malicious code onto the device

New Delhi: Experts at Kaspersky Lab experts uncovered a mobile malware 'Xafecopy Trojan' targeting the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) billing payment method, stealing money through victims' mobile accounts without their knowledge, disguised as useful apps like BatteryMaster.

The malware, which has spread to 40 percent of the Indian landscape, is said to be operating normally while secretly decrypting and loading malicious code onto the device. Some of the names in the JavaScript files used by Xafecopy are also seen in the infamous Ztorg Trojan, suggesting possible code sharing between criminal gangs.

Once activated, the Xafecopy malware clicks on web pages with WAP billing - a form of mobile payment that charges costs directly to the user's mobile phone bill so they don't need to register a card or set up a username and password - and then silently subscribes the phone to a number of services. The malware uses JavaScript files that can bypass 'captcha' systems designed to protect users by confirming the action is being performed by a human.

"WAP billing can be particularly vulnerable to so-called 'clickjacking' as it has a one-click feature that requires no user authorization. Our research suggests WAP billing attacks are on the rise. Xafecopy's attacks targeted countries where this payment method is popular. The malware has also been detected with different modifications, such as the ability to text messages from a mobile device to Premium-rate phone numbers, and to delete incoming text messages to hide alerts from mobile network operators about stolen money," said Roman Unuchek, Senior Malware Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Xafecopy hit more than 4,800 users in 47 countries in a span of one month, with 37.5 percent of the attacks detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab products targeting India, followed by Russia, Turkey and Mexico.

"Android users need to be extremely cautious in how they download apps. It is best not to trust third-party apps, and whatever apps users do download should be scanned locally with the Verify Apps utility. But beyond that, Android users should be running a mobile security suite on their devices," said Altaf Halde, Managing Director- South Asia, Kaspersky Lab.

Persuading users from falling prey to the infectious malware, it is important for Android users to note that the apps they are downloading have been created by a reputable developer, and use only reputable online stores.

Further, users must keep their OS and application software up-to-date, and refrain from downloading anything that looks suspicious or whose source cannot be verified

Samsung might not wait to sell foldable displays to Oppo and Xiaomi

A new report states that it might not take long for Samsung foldable displays to hit the market for competitors.

According to the report, Xiaomi and Oppo are already in talks to get the foldable display technology.

Samsung is likely pushing the tech out quickly to build a market - and then make money on every sold device.

A new report from Korean site ETNews (via SamMobile) says that Samsung is already planning on selling its foldable display technology to competitors. Oppo and Xiaomi are called out in the report as already in talks with Samsung regarding the displays.

Usually, Samsung creates a new technology or design process and then incorporates it into its own product(s). After a suitable waiting period where it exclusively makes and sells the tech, it then opens the tech up for sale to other companies. However, with foldable displays, Samsung might move the process along at a much quicker pace.

The likely reason for this - if this is, in fact, the case - is that Samsung wants to create a dependent market. If Samsung releases a foldable phone and it does well, that's great for Samsung. But if Samsung creates an entirely new smartphone market and most of its competitors use Samsung technology to create the devices in that market, that's really great for Samsung. It then makes money from its own products and all the competitors' products as well.

Of course, the trade-off here is that the Samsung Galaxy X - or whatever it ends up being called - won't be the only foldable phone on the market for a long period of time, which will eat into Samsung's sales. It would prove to be a risky move if the foldable phone market falls flat.

2019 is looking to be a big year for Samsung with the Samsung Galaxy S10, the Galaxy X, and the company's first 5G phone.

Google Assistant Found to Get Support for 14 New Languages in Beta, Including Tamil, Telugu 

Google Assistant has been spotted to soon add 14 new languages. The latest development is spotted in a new beta version of the Google app. Google launched the Assistant back in May 2016 with limited language support, though it expanded the scope of the voice assistant by gradually rolling out new languages. It also received bilingual support in August to start supporting two languages simultaneously. Google also recently brought Hindi support to make the Assistant app largely popular among Indian users and take on the likes of Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana. 

Folks at XDA Developers have managed to find as many as 14 new languages on Google Assistant by digging into the latest beta version of the Google app. The list of new languages includes Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Turkish, and Urdu among others. The XDA Developers report also highlights languages such as Bengali, English (India, Indonesia, Ireland, Philippines, Thailand), Kannada, Malayalam, and Marathi that are already available for some users. To recall, at the Google for India event in August, the company had announced support for Marathi, and said support for seven other Indian languages was in the pipeline.

While the XDA Developers folks were able to see what all the new languages Google is testing for the Assistant, they weren't able to use them as the Google Assistant would time out after enabling the extended language list.

As of now, Google Assistant is officially supporting 17 languages. It received Hindi language support in March that expanded to Google Home speakers officially just earlier this month. The company in February also revealed that by the end of the year, it is set to expand the Assistant to more than 30 languages.

It is unclear that when Google Assistant will get the new languages. However, considering the company's previous promise and the presence of the expanded supported language list within the latest beta version of the Google app, the update could soon debut publicly.

Tesla Cuts China Car Prices to Absorb Hit From Trade War Tariffs 

Tesla is cutting the price of its Model X and Model S cars in China, the US firm said on Thursday, in a shift in strategy that will see it take more of a hit from tariffs linked to a biting trade war between China and the United States.

The electric carmaker, led by billionaire CEO Elon Musk, said it will cut prices of the two models by 12-26 percent to make the cars more "affordable" in the world's top auto market, where sales of so-called new-energy vehicles are rising fast.

The move comes amid severe trade tensions between China and the United States, which has seen extra tariffs slapped on US imports into the country, including automobiles, hurting Tesla which imports all the cars it currently sells in the market.

"We are absorbing a significant part of the tariff to help make our cars more affordable for customers in China," Tesla said in a statement sent to Reuters.

The move marks a shift from July when Tesla was one of the first US carmakers to raise prices in the market in response to tariffs. The firm hiked prices then on its Model X and S cars by about 20 percent.

Tesla warned last month it was facing major problems with selling cars in China due to new tariffs that would force it to accelerate investment in its first overseas Gigafactory in Shanghai.

The carmaker last month secured the site for the facility, which will help it avoid steep import tariffs.

The firm, which recently launched pre-sales of its new Model 3 car in China, added in its statement that the car's price tag would start from CNY 540,000 ($77,928.83 or roughly Rs. 55.5 lakhs) for a dual motor all-wheel drive version, and CNY 595,000 for a performance version.

Before the price hike in July, Tesla had lowered prices on its models in China in May, after Beijing had said it would cut import tariffs for all auto imports.

Google's Digital Wellbeing App Now Out of Beta, Available for Select Android Pie Phones 

Digital Wellbeing app, which Google unveiled under the Digital Wellbeing initiative back in May to help users curb their device addiction, is now out of beta. The stable version of the Digital Wellbeing app is available for free download for all Google Pixel and Android One devices with Android 9.0 Pie. With the latest move, users on the eligible devices will no longer require the public beta programme to experience the app that essentially lets monitor your digital habits. It also has an extensive Do Not Disturb mode that goes beyond silencing phone calls and notifications and suspends all visual interruptions.

The stable Digital Wellbeing app is available for download through Google Play. However, it is still limited to all Google Pixel and Android One devices running Android Pie. This means the app won't be installed on any of the non-Google Pixel and Android One models. Having said that, its stable arrival suggests that Google could soon expand the app at least to models from OnePlus and Essential Products that don't have any bloatware.

Alongside being the first stable build, the Digital Wellbeing app version 1.0 improves the Wind Down feature that now turns off at your selected time or the next alarm, whichever comes first. The feature automatically fades the screen to grayscale, enables Night Light schedule, and turns on the Do Not Disturb mode at a preset 'bedtime' to help users wind down and hit the bed.

The latest Digital Wellbeing version also improves the back button behaviour. Once installed, the Digital Wellbeing app is accessible through the Settings menu.

Google announced the Digital Wellbeing initiative at I/O 2018 in May. The initiative is aimed to help users understand their digital habits and curb device addiction using built-in tools and features. While its initial debut was for Android devices in the form of the Digital Wellbeing app, the search giant recently rolled out its presence on YouTube and Google Calendar. At the October event, the company also revealed a Digital Wellbeing version with features such as Downtime and Filters for Google Assistant-powered smart displays and speakers.

Samsung Galaxy A8s Alleged Renders Show Infinity-O Display With Selfie Camera Cutout 

Samsung is expected to launch its Galaxy A8s smartphone in the next few days, which will most likely be its first one to sport the Infinity-O Display design bringing a small circular cutout for the selfie camera. The design of the upcoming Galaxy A8s has now been leaked in certain renders showing the presence of a triple rear camera setup and a rear-mounted physical fingerprint sensor. Additionally, some shots of the new Infinity-O Display panels have surfaced online that give us a real-world look at the cutout of the selfie camera on the panel.

Teased at the launch of the Samsung Galaxy A6s and Galaxy A9s, the Galaxy A8s will be launched by the South Korean giant shortly. The hole on the front is expected to house the selfie camera as well as crucial sensors like the proximity sensor and ambient light sensor. According to a report by German blog AllAboutSamsung, the upcoming Galaxy A8s will sport an almost-bezel-free panel with a slight chin at the bottom, not larger than the one on the Galaxy S9₹ 45,990 or the Galaxy Note 9.

The hole for the selfie camera on the Samsung Galaxy A8s will be placed on the upper left corner of the display. However, the report mentions that the front camera is not placed under the display and will be visible. The leaked renders show a triple camera setup at the back, much like the Galaxy A7 (2018), with no information the sensors being used. The fingerprint sensor on the back of the smartphone, as shown in the renders, appears to be small and elliptical-shaped. That said, these renders are not officially from Samsung and their genuineness needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Separately, a couple of shots of the alleged Samsung Infinity-O Design screen panel have surfacedonline, via SlashLeaks. While most of the elements are pixelated, the cutout for the selfie camera can be clearly seen placed on the upper left corner.