All posts by MARTINn

Google removes 11 apps from Play store infected with Joker malware; uninstall them now

Researchers have said that with small changes to its code the Joker malware to get past the Play store’s security and vetting barriers.

Late last year we saw the Joker malware surface and spread like wildfire. The latest report from Check Point’s researchers has discovered a new variant of the Joker Dropper and Premium Dialer spyware in the Google Play Store. These were found hiding inside of seemingly legitimate applications. This new updated Joker malware can download additional malware to the device, which in turn subscribes the victim to a number of premium services without their consent.

Meantime, Google has removed 11 apps from the Play Store infected with the notorious Joker malware. The applications include include com.imagecompress.android, com.relax.relaxation.androidsms, com.cheery.message.sendsms (two different instances), com.peason.lovinglovemessage, com.contact.withme.texts, com.hmvoice.friendsms, com.file.recovefiles, com.LPlocker.lockapps, com.remindme.alram and com.training.memorygame.

Joker malware: Everything you need to know

The researchers have said that with small changes to its code the Joker malware to get past the Play store’s security and vetting barriers. This time along the Joker malware has adopted an old technique from the conventional PC threat landscape to avoid detection by Google. The newly modified Joker virus uses two main components to subscribe, app users to premium services. These components are: Notification Listener service and dynamic dex file loaded from the C&C server.

To minimize the Joker’s code, the developer hid the code by dynamically loading it onto a dex file, while at the same time, ensuring that it is able to completely load when triggered. The code inside of the dex file is encoded as Base64 encoded strings, that start decoding and loading as soon as the victim opens the affected apps.

The original Joker malware communicated with the C&C, and then downloaded the dynamic dex file, which was loaded as casses.dex. However, the new modified version of the code is embedded in a different zone, with the classes.dex file loading a new payload. The malware is triggered by creating a new object that communicates with the C&C.

@martin_christopher

Techies, government wants you to make these 14 types of mobile apps

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) along with Atal Innovation Mission – Niti Aayog has just launched the Digital India AatmaNirbhar Bharat Innovate Challenge. This initiative gives an opportunity to techies around India and the start-up community to create world class ‘Made in India’ apps. All details of the challenge are available at “innovate.mygov.in”. The last date of submission is July 18, 2020. The prize money for top apps is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 2 lakh depending on the category. While the contest is open for eight broad categories of apps, here are 14 specific categories and problem statements that the government wants techies to focus on and create solutions.

E-commerce app to help people try out products virtually

A mobile application harnessing the most accurate facial and / or body mapping technology to allow for a true-to-life virtual try out of products like spectacles, clothes, etc.

Real-time speech-to-speech translation app

Mobile application for real-time speech-to-speech translation and camera translation of multiple languages.

Business-to-business lead generation app

An automated web-based application that handles business-to-business lead generation and cold emailing and is completely manageable from a mobile device itself.

Image scanning app

Application to use mobile devices as image scanners with features like on the fly image correction, image editing, text recognition, etc.

Cross-platform file transfer app

Application to provide cloud storage integration, cross-platform file transfer via FTP or LAN, and a root browser on mobile devices.

Antivirus app

A robust indigenous anti-virus software for mobile devices.

Junk file cleaner app

Application to optimise mobile device’s performance by cleaning junk/cache files, optimizing device memory and optimizing battery usage.

Live streaming app

A mobile based live streaming platform for hosting webinars, lectures, etc.

Video calling app

A mobile based messaging and video calling application

Microblogging app like Twitter

A mobile based microblogging application.

Street maps app

A mobile application offering satellite imagery and street maps, as well as functions such as a route planner for traveling by foot, car, or with public transportation.

News app

A mobile based news application that uses cutting-edge technology to recommend the most relevant and interesting news individually to each use.

Social hub for gamers app

A mobile based online gaming platform which also functions as a social hub for gamers.

Photo-editing app

A mobile based photo-editing application with all standard image editing features.

@martin_christopher

5 ways to improve your efficiency when working from home

The outbreak of novel coronavirus has disrupted a normal life where humans today have realized how it feels to be caged. While the global lockdown has turned out to be the new normal after 4 months, people have started adjusting and adapting to new means and measures to continue living their personal and professional life in peace.

Maintaining a balance between personal and professional life was difficult even before, because we were short of time (as we spent most of our time travelling). However those who entered the quarantine phase thinking it would give them the additional hours to spend quality time with themselves and families, BOOM! here comes additional workload and irregular working hours.

Caged in our homes for nearly 4 months, it’s high time we set something’s right that helps us improve our work efficiency leaving us with more quality personal time.

Miss Diva Supranational 2019 Shefali Sood, who is also a mental health advocate, certified life coach and a motivational speaker in an exclusive has shared 5 effective ways to improve our ‘work from home’ situation.

1. Set up a workstation!

Setting up a workstation, a designated work space. Decorate it, fill it up with stuff that puts you in work mode and helps you concentrate. My workstation is surrounded with a cooling drink that I sip on when I work, a snack, a notebook and pen, my phone and laptop , stationery that I might need, and some decorative items.

2. Plan your day!

Having control over small elements of your day gives you a semblance of order and discipline even when there is so much uncertainty

3. Plan breaks:

Plan your breaks. It is important to take 10 minute breaks after every hour of productive hard work because it helps you rejuvenate

4. Have an activity to look forward to!

After a long day of work we need an activity that we enjoy or one that will help us unwind! So plan a fun activity like sports or games or just family time or Netflix after work as a reward for all that hard work

5. Lastly, leave work at the workstation!

Make sure that your work time does not overlap with the rest of your day and you do not let work interfere with your daily activities or leisure time just because you’re working from home!

@martin_christopher

Why PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile is not banned in India?

Both PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile are available to download and play on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The Indian servers of both the games are also live and are functioning at 100 per cent capacity.

Mixed ownership and the IP registrations might not be the actual reason as to why these mobile video games were not banned.

Earlier this week the government of India banned 59 Chinese apps in India, stating that these apps were threatening country’s sovereignty, defence, and public order. The list includes TikTok, Shareit, UC Browser, Clash of Kings and many more but not popular mobile games PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile.

Many people have been asking why PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile have not been banned despite being owned by Tencent Games, which s based out of Shenzhen, China. The answer to this question is that they have not been banned because they are not completely Chinese.

PUBG Mobile has been developed and is managed by the PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of Bluehole, which is located in South Korea. After the initial success of the game, Tencent Games approached PUBG Corporation to distribute the game in China. Soon after the game was a success in China, Tencent Games brought it to India.

On the other hand, to launch Call of Duty Mobile Activision partnered with TiMi Studios, which is a subsidiary of Tencent Games. Activision is a subsidiary of the California based company Activision Blizzard.

Keep in mind that the mixed ownership and the IP registrations might not be the actual reason as to why these mobile video games were not banned. The government hasn’t issued any statement on this topic yet.

Both PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile are available to download and play on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. The Indian servers of both the games are also live and are functioning at 100 per cent capacity.

Google and Apple have removed all 59 banned Chinese apps from Play store and App store. TikTok was the first application of them all to be taken down from Play store. The popular short video platform is completely offline in the country right now which means the app isn’t working for any users in the country right now. In an official statement, TikTok noted that it is working with the Indian government right now.

@martin_christopher

SONY PS5 CONSOLE AND ACCESSORIES PRICE EXPOSED – SEE THE PRICE LIST AND AVAILABILITY HERE

The anticipation regarding the upcoming Sony PS5 is growing and potential buyers can not wait for November. With the public reveal of the PS5 design as well as some of its games, we are now left with its price. Some months ago, the price speculations were simply wide guesses. However, as more features of this console comes to light, we now have some more calculated price speculations. Recently, the “recommended price” of the Sony PS5 “leaked” on Twitter. While many consider this latest price listing as a “leak”, I will prefer to call it a “speculation”.

Furthermore, not only did the price of all versions of PS5 appear in these speculations, but the Twitter user @IronManPS5 also revealed the potential prices of some of its accessories. Some of the Tweets which were in Japanese also claim that the devices will arrive in Japan on November 14. However, the tweets give the price and availability of these devices in North America and Europe. Let’s take a look at the prices and availability

Sony PS5 Game Console Regular version

  • Price: 49,980 yen ($466); Availability: Japan, November 14
  • Price: $499, €499 and £449; Availability: North America and Europe, November 20

Sony PS5 Game Console Digital version

  • Price: 44,980 yen ($419); Availability: Japan, November 14
  • Price: $399, €399 and £349; Availability: North America and Europe, November 20

Sony PS5 Vertical Stand

  • Price: 2,280 yen ($21); Availability: Japan, November 14
  • Price: $24.99, €19.99 and £16.99; Availability: North America and Europe, November 20

Sony PS5 Media Remote Control

  • Price: 3,600 yen ($34); Availability: Japan, November 14
  • Price: $29.99, €29.99 and £24.99; Availability: North America and Europe, November 20

@martin_christopher

Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm, which has big Chinese investments, says Chinese apps ban is ‘in national interest’

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has made a statement on India banning 59 Chinese apps including popular ones like TikTok, UC Brower, WeChat, Shareit, others saying the move by the Government of India is in the national interest.

Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has made a statement on India banning 59 Chinese apps including popular ones like TikTok, UC Brower, WeChat, Shareit, others saying the move by the Government of India is in the national interest.

Paytm which is run by Indian company One97 Communications Ltd — a leading mobile internet company — has investments by Chinese companies. India’s one of the most popular digital payment services and e-commerce app Paytm has major investments from Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Ant Financial.

However, giving his reaction on the government banning Chinese apps, Vijay Shekhar Sharma it is a “bold step in the national interest.”

Taking it to Twitter, Paytm boss Vijay Shekhar Sharma wrote, “Bold step in the national interest.

Sharma’s statement is also a far cry from previous years when he touted Alibaba and his relationship with its co-founder Jack Ma as his biggest strengths. Paraphrasing a popular Hindi movie line, he said in 2015, “Mere pass ma hai… Jack Ma”

However, large Chinese investors such as Alibaba hold stakes worth billions in many startups and not just Paytm.

Alibaba itself is an investor in online grocer BigBasket, ecommerce firm Snapdeal, food delivery firm Zomato and logistics firm Xpressbees.

Chinese investors are deeply entrenched in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Virtually every unicorn, from Swiggy to Byju to Ola, has a sizable Chinese backing.

@martin_christopher

World Bank enhances support for rejuvenating Ganga, sanctions USD 400 mn

It provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area and is key to India’s water and food security, the statement said. @martin_photography

The World Bank on Monday said it has enhanced its support for Government of India’s program to rejuvenate Ganga river with a USD 400 million (about Rs 3,000 crore) assistance that will help stem pollution in the river.
The assistance will help strengthen the management of the river basin which is home to more than 500 million people, the World Bank said in a statement.

“The Second National Ganga River Basin Project (SNGRBP), approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on June 25, will support the government’s Namami Gange program and its long-term vision for controlling pollution in the river and restoring its water quality,” it said.

It further said the bank has been supporting the government’s efforts since 2011 through the ongoing National Ganga River Basin Project, which helped set up the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) as the nodal agency to manage the river, and financed sewage treatment infrastructure in several riverside towns and cities.

“The first World Bank project helped build critical sewage infrastructure in 20 pollution hotspots along the river, and this project will help scale this up to the tributaries,” World Bank Country Director (India) Junaid Ahmad said. “It will also help the government strengthen the institutions needed to manage a river basin as large and complex as the Ganga Basin,” he added.

The Ganga basin covers a quarter of India’s landmass, and is a critical economic and environmental resource for the country. It provides over one-third of India’s surface water, includes the country’s largest irrigated area and is key to India’s water and food security, the statement said.

“Over 40 per cent of India’s GDP is generated in the densely populated basin. But the Ganga river is today is facing pressures from human and economic activity that impact its water quality and flows,” it added.
The Second National Ganga River Basin Project comprises a loan in the amount of USD 381 million and a proposed Guarantee in the amount of up to USD 19 million.

The variable spread loan has a maturity of 18.5 years including a grace period of 5 years, it said.

Meanwhile, the Government of India, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the World Bank on Monday signed legal agreements to help low-income groups in the state get access to affordable housing. The legal agreements were signed for two projects — USD 200 million First Tamil Nadu Housing Sector Strengthening Programme and USD 50 million Tamil Nadu Housing and Habitat Development Project — to strengthen the state’s housing sector policies, institutions, and regulations, the Finance Ministry said in a separate statement.

The loan agreements were signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank.
Khare said providing safe and affordable housing is a key priority for the state of Tamil Nadu as identified in its vision document.

With the allocation provided under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and the two projects from the World Bank, a large number of urban poor in the state are expected to get access to better housing and, in the process, improve their living conditions, he added. Nearly half of Tamil Nadu’s population is urban, and this is expected to increase to 63 per cent by 2030.

Redmi Note 9 vs Redmi Note 8: Is the Helio G85 really a performance upgrade?

The Redmi Note 8. (Source: Xiaomi)
Is newer better? The Redmi Note 9 was launched months ago debuting with MediaTek’s new Helio G85, but how does it compare to the tried and tested Snapdragon 665 on Xiaomi’s last-gen Redmi Note 8? Well, the results are nuanced.

A while ago, we compared the Redmi Note 8 Pro to the new Redmi Note 9 Pro in an attempt to find out which phone offered better performance across the board. This time out, it’s a fight between the cheaper models⁠—the Redmi Note 8 and the Redmi Note 9. Like with the previous comparison, it’s a MediaTek versus Qualcomm battle, only this time, the newer phone has the MediaTek chip.

Starting out with Geekbench, the Redmi Note 8 and its Snapdragon 665 records a single-core score of 309. The Redmi Note 9 flexes its mucles here, with a score of 357. That’s a powerful showing by the Redmi Note 9, translating into a 13% advantage. In the multi-core test, the Redmi Note 8 earns a score of about 1,312. The new Redmi Note 9 is also on top here, as it comes away with a 1,320 score. The difference is negligible.

Moving on to AnTuTu, the similarities in CPU performance continue. The Redmi Note 8 earns a CPU score of 71,021. The Redmi Note 9 is ahead here, too, with a score of 74,066. That translates into a 4% advantage for the Redmi Note 9 and its MediaTek Helio G85.

It’s in the GPU department that things get interesting, as the Redmi Note 8 manages a score of 32,316 in AnTuTu’s GPU test. The Redmi Note 9 wins handily with a score of 41,644⁠—a significant 29% advantage.

So, what do these numbers imply? Most notably, that the Redmi Note 8 and Redmi Note 9 will offer similar day-to-day performance. The two phones and their respective chipsets deliver similar numbers in the CPU tests, albeit with the Redmi Note 9 slightly edging the Redmi Note 8 by right about 10%. It’s in the gaming department that the newer phone really shines, however, as it appears to have a significant advantage.

Of course, it’d be facetious to ignore the fact that MediaTek has been caught cheating on benchmarks in the past. The company’s response wasn’t particularly encouraging either. In terms of efficiency, the two phones should also be similar. We don’t have perf/watts numbers, but the Helio G85 is built on TSMC’s 12nm node, while the Snapdragon 665 is built on Samsung’s 11 nm LPP node.

Does the Helio G85 on the Redmi Note 9 outperform the Redmi Note 8’s Snapdragon 665? Yes, it does. But it mostly comes down to the GPU, and CPU performance is similar enough that the overall differential isn’t a game-changer⁠—unless you’re a gamer.

Martin Christopher

Bankers in India are more productive working from home

Work from home may remain part of the norm for many in India’s financial industry beyond the end of the world’s biggest lockdown. The reason: elimination of lengthy commutes in the past three months has boosted employee productivity. Take Jefferies’ India team for example. On average, its 60 members have managed to save over an hour every day on commute and 70% of them have seen higher productivity, according to a note from the brokerage, drawing on a survey of its staff.

As banks and asset managers around the world try to figure out how they’ll manage their offices after the coronavirus pandemic, many in Mumbai – India’s finance hub – see the opportunity for permanent change in how they work. The average commute time on the city’s major routes is over an hour, more than twice the averages of SingaporeHong Kong and New York, according to a study by the IDFC Institute, a public policy think-tank.

Neil Parikh, chief executive officer of Parag Parikh Financial Advisory Services, like many others is finding the experience better than expected – so much so that he’s reconsidering plans of adding to the money manager’s offices in India’s top cities. He plans to equip new hires with laptops and high-speed Internet connections instead. “Now there’s no stigma around working from home,” he said. “I can see some from my research team being much more productive. Working from home saves almost 3-to-4 hours everyday in travel time for some people.”

Reliance Securities Ltd. has shelved plans to shift to a new premise. The firm, one of India’s leading retail broking houses, will have half its staff continue to work from home as it implements a rotational program to comply with social distancing norms, according to Chief Human Resource Officer Meenaa Sharma. “Many of our employees are saying that their productivity has gone up, and feedback from clients on research reports is good,” she said.

Second Wave
nullWhile the daily number of virus cases in Mumbai, India’s worst-hit city, has been stable in recent days, concerns over a second wave means businesses have little choice but to operate remotely. With economy set for its first full-year contraction in 40 years, India has begun reopening from the lockdown imposed on March 24 even as the country has the fourth-highest number of infections in the world.

Yet, not everyone in the world of finance is in a position to work remotely on a long-term basis. While banks and stock depositories had been open through the lockdown, designated as ‘essential services’, dealers who execute trades may have to return to office in greater numbers once regulatory relaxations are rolled back. “Businesses like ours where there’s sensitivity of information, at least some part of staff like dealers have to be in the office” said Jinesh Gopani, head of equities at Axis Asset Management Co. “Those parts were allowed at home because it was a crisis. But it is not ideal from the regulator’s point of view in the long term.”

For now, only a fraction of the staff in the financial-services industry is back in office. The unexpected benefits of working remotely mean it’s likely to be a favored option well into the future. “Productivity has improved dramatically because of removing unproductive travel time,” said Gopani. Working from home one or two days a week may become ‘the new normal’.

Boycott China effect? AC-maker Johnson-Hitachi India to halve import, double export

Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India is a 60:40 JV between the American and Japanese companies, respectively, and enjoys 12.5 per cent of the Rs 16,000-crore market in value and 11 per cent of the 65-lakh units domestic AC market as of FY2020.

Leading air-conditioner maker Johnson Controls-Hitachi India is planning to halve its import dependence and at the same time to double its exports over the next one year. The move comes amidst the shrill calls for boycotting Chinese goods following violent skirmishes on the Leh border earlier this month that lead to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers.

The government sees the air-conditioning industry as a priority sector for generating jobs along with furniture, leather and footwear. The domestic AC industry meets almost half of its parts through imports, primarily from China, and turn it to be a key export driver.

The company closed FY2020 with a turnover of Rs 2,300 crore, selling 7.5 lakh units, giving it a market share of over 12.5 per cent, chairman and managing director Gurmeet Singh said. On profit, he said on average they make 8-9 per cent net margin but this year it may slip to 6-7 per cent, as he does not expect to add volume due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With 12.5 per cent market share, Hitachi is the fourth largest player after Blue Star, Voltas and Daikin overall, and the third largest in window & split segment, he claimed. The company runs a 9-lakh per annum plant (in single shift, and up to 15 lakh in double shifts) at Kadi, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad since 2009 and has made a cumulative investment of over Rs 800 crore.

“We import around 40 per cent parts, of which 50 per cent are China-sourced. The import supply chain suffered due to the pandemic since February and the lockdown since March has left us with huge inventory pile. And I don’t want to have a repeat of either.

“Therefore, my idea is to focus on cutting down imports by half over the next one year and at the same time also to double my exports to 50,000 units or thereabout from the present 25,000-odd units to the middle East and Africa–both of which are under the India,” Singh told PTI over the phone from his New Delhi headquarters.

Singh said on a net basis 70 per cent of the AC market is imported in terms of parts and 30 per cent of the Rs 16,000-crore overall market is fully imported units. Of the remaining Rs 11,200 crore, around 50 per cent parts are again imported, reducing the domestic market pie to just about Rs 8,000 crore.

There are great synergies between India, Africa and the Middle East markets in terms of weather conditions, which demand only minor tweaks in the India made units, Singh explained underlining the scope for exports and noted that while our AC exports are close to nothing, China ships out 4 crore units annually.

“But we can easily do an encore of what we have done in mobile phone manufacturing,” Singh said, adding we can serve Africa, the Middle East, and the SAARC markets. Stating that he does not see an opportunity to grow bigger this year, he said he’d be happy not to lose his people (to the virus) and also market share this year. He said while sales were down 80 per cent in March, the same plunged over 90 per cent in April (he sold 2,000 units to government for COVID hospitals) and June volume is down 65 per cent so far.

@Martin_Christopher