In The Security World, Android Is The New Windows

first_imgRelated Posts 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now fredric paul For decades, Microsoft Windows was the computer platform of choice — not just for the overhwelming majority of computer users, but also for a growing legion of malware creators. As the dominant computing platform, it offered the fattest, most lucrative target, and some of its fundamental architecture decisions made it vulnerable to many kinds of malware.With the transition to the mobile era, Windows is no longer at the center of the computing universe — for users or for hackers. That role is now occupied by Android. According to Stephen Cobb, a distinguished security researcher for the IT security company ESET, “Android is like early Windows.” It’s now the locus for security attacks and prevention — even if it’s not getting as much attention in this regard as Windows used to.Flying Under The Radar?“There’s so much malware on Android, you’d think it would be a huge deal,” Cobb said. And the growth of is “huge,” he added, “both in the number of malware exploits and their increasing sophistication. The rate of growth in Android malware is impressive, and scary.”(See also Sloppy App Development Leaves Android Owners At Risk)At this week’s RSA conference in San Francisco, ESET did a live demo on Android, downloading an infected app that roots the phone and opens it up to whatever the attacker wants to do with it — including dumping out its entire contents in a few seconds over the Internet.Why aren’t we hearing more about Android’s security problems? “It’s death by 1000 cuts,” Cobb said. Instead of emptying the bank accounts of infected users, the malware is more often used to for premium-rate SMS fraud against mobile carriers, “which isn’t bankrupting anyone immediately. They’re flying under the radar.”“I don’t think the criminal underground is sophisticated enough that it is holding back,” Cobb said. It’s just that when a mobile platform is the target, “the model is many times a smaller attack — or you can look at it as part of a larger attack.”(See also Where Has All The Mobile Malware Gone?)For example, if a criminal wants to insert himself into a small or medium-sized business doing $40,000 bank transfers, he’d run into the fact that many online banking systems use two-factor authentication — i.e., they require a code sent to a client’s mobile device in addition to a password. But a mobile hack can help defeat that.Your Mobile Platform Does MatterJust as on computers, which mobile platform you use really does make a difference on security. “The Apple model of a closed shop, from a security standpoint, is a very good thing,” Cobb said. Apple’s OS X and iOS are both pretty secure to start with, and with iOS and the App Store, “Apple is moving that from a physical environment to a software environment.”Even as Android takes the lead in global sales, it’s been much less successful from a security standpoint. “We sell an anti-virus product for Android,” Cobbnoted. “No one sells anti-virus for iOS.”What will it take for Android to clean up its act? “Quite frankly, I expect to see it improve when sales start getting impacted,” Cobb said. That obviously hasn’t happened yet on a mass scale, as Android sales continue to outstrip its smartphone competitors.But Cobb said that “In some circles it is already having an effect… I wouldn’t use an Android phone for my personal stuff.”Meanwhile, Windows Is Getting BetterIronically, as Android’s secuirty issues grow, Windows is actually getting better. “Microsoft deserves kudos for making Windows more and more secure,” Cobb said. And with the move to Windows 8, Microsoft is shifting toward a more closed, more secure model, specifically by by not allowing apps unless they are from a legitimate developer.Plus, Windows’ issues over the years have had the effect of training people to be more careful. “Someone who’s been using Windows for the last 10 years is probably better protected than a Mac person,” Cobb joked. “They’ve had to learn the hard way.”The problem is in that in an ostensibly protected environment, people can get a false sense of security. They are still vulnerable to “some big hack” that overrides all the existing protections, or to “social engineering” attacks, Cobb noted. That’s why many of the bad guys are changing tactics. “Instead of trying to break into the computer, they’re now trying to break into the person.”Ultimately, that’s only one reason Cobb thinks that concentrating on mobile malware may be the wrong angle. “What the bad guys really want,” he said, “is the device out of your pocket.” If they can physically get ahold of your device, they can do all sorts of bad things.Image of Stephen Cobb by Fredric Paul. Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…center_img IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Tags:#Android#antivirus#cybercrime#cybersecurity#iOS#OS X#security#Windows#Windows 8 last_img read more

Presidency to honour Banerjee

first_imgPresident University, the alma mater of Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, will honour the distinguished alumnus award to him in January 2020.On Wednesday representatives of Presidency University Alumni Association called on Mr. Banerjee at his south Kolkata residence and handed him a letter from the alumni association president Nabanita Dev Sen, a famous Bengali author.“We came to invite him to the University. We have decided to confer the Atul Chandra Gupta Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2020 to him. He has agreed to receive the award,” a member of the Association told journalists. According to the Alumni Association, Mr. Banerjee said that he will inform about the dates of his availability to the University in January 2020. Get-together in 2020 The Association representative said that they would organise a get-together when Mr. Banerjee would visit the University in January 2020. “We will invite those teachers who taught him along with his contemporaries, as also those who ran the canteen and the college administration then,” the representative said. The University has also decided emboss facsimile of the faces of Mr. Banerjee and Amartya Sen, another Nobel laureate and an alumni, in the list of distinguish alumni on its wall. Meanwhile, later in the day Mr. Banerjee met Nabanita Dev Sen. Mr. Banerjee arrived in Kolkata on Tuesday evening and spent a day with his mother. He is likely to leave Kolkata on Thursday.last_img read more

Son of Russian spies fights for Canadian citizenship

first_imgTORONTO – Recent university graduate Alex Vavilov was born in Toronto, which would typically qualify him for Canadian citizenship except for one thing: His parents were part of a notorious Russian spy ring in North America.That is the conflict at the heart of a high-profile citizenship battle as the 23-year-old Vavilov seeks the right to reside permanently in the country where his parents once lived clandestine lives as deeply embedded spies who are the models for the TV show “The Americans.”The Canadian government says he isn’t entitled to citizenship and has appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the passport granted to him by a lower court. Vavilov’s supporters say a son shouldn’t pay for the sins of his parents while critics contend his claim to be a Canadian by birth is based on a fraud since he and his parents lived under stolen identities in the Toronto area and later Massachusetts as they collected intelligence for Moscow.The case is another reminder of the Cold War hostilities that are surging throughout the world in an era when Russia is accused of poisonings in Britain and interfering in elections – accusations it denies. Some argue Canada shouldn’t be quick to forgive the case of the Russian spy couple who lived under deep cover in North America.“We shouldn’t be doing anything to encourage activity by the Russian intelligence service, particularly in terms of what’s happened recently with the poisoning of individuals,” said Richard DesLauriers, the FBI agent who oversaw the arrests of the parents, Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, in 2010 along with eight other members of the spy ring around the U.S.The court agreed earlier this month to take up Vavilov’s case and will rule on whether the government has the discretion to take away his citizenship. If it finds in Alex’s favour, it would likely allow his older brother Tim to retain his Canadian citizenship as well. The case presents unique set of circumstances.Canada, like the U.S., grants citizenship to anyone born within its territory with limited exceptions such as the children of diplomats. The government argues that Vavilov’s parents were employees or representatives of a foreign government and thus ineligible. But the attorney for the brothers says they were not official representatives and that all that matters in this case is their physical birthplace.“The right to citizenship is a fundamental right when you are born here,” said Toronto-based lawyer Hadayt Nazami. “You can’t punish children for something their parents did. You just can’t. It would be terrible if Canada did that.”The parents came to Toronto in the 1980s and took the names Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley. They then gave birth to Tim in 1990 and Alex in 1994 before moving to Paris in 1995 and then Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999.“The kids were given that name under false pretenses,” said David Heathfield, whose deceased younger brother Donald had his identity stolen by Alex’s father. “They shouldn’t get to keep their citizenship.”In 2010, the FBI busted a ring of sleeper agents for Russia that it had been following for years in the United States. All 10, including the now well-known Anna Chapman, pleaded guilty and were returned to Russia in a swap.Alex and his brother maintain they didn’t know their parents were Russian let alone Russian spies. The family’s story became the inspiration for “The Americans,” now in its sixth and final season on the FX network.Alex Vavilov is now actively trying to find a job in Canada and has visited with his Canadian passport. He declined to be interviewed through his lawyer who claims not to know where Alex lives. In court documents he claims to spend as little time in Russia as possible and in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Alex portrays himself as a university graduate who wants to work in Canada’s banking sector and get married and raise a family.“I don’t pose a threat. I’m a Canadian citizen and I’m here to make my own life,” he told the CBC recently.DesLauriers, the FBI agent, said in 2010 that Tim may have found out about his parents’ secret life before they were arrested. But this week DesLauriers said he “could not pinpoint the specific facts that led me to make that judgmental decision on that.”“It’s hard to say what the kids knew and at what point they knew something,” he said.The brothers weren’t charged and their lawyer said no evidence has ever surfaced suggesting they knew. The FBI believed the parents were building a false identity in Canada in an effort to eventually spy in the U.S. Prosecutors said their father met in 2004 with an employee of the U.S. government to discuss nuclear weapons research.Alex wanted to return to Canada for university but was denied. The government ruled that Canada would no longer recognize him as Canadian because his parents were “employees or representatives of a foreign government.” Alex appealed but lost at the Federal Court. But the Federal Court of Appeal ruled last June the law only applies to foreign government employees who benefit from diplomatic immunities or privileges. Alex was given his citizenship back.A hearing in Canada’s Supreme Court is scheduled for early December.Richard Fadden, the former National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of Canada and the ex-head of the country’s spy service, said if CISIS, Canada’s spy service, deems they are not a threat they should be allowed to keep their citizenship.Bob Anderson, a former FBI assistant director, said Canada is are far more lenient than the U.S., which stripped citizenship from Alex and his family after the arrests of the Russian spy ring.“I was totally for kicking everybody out of the country and not letting anybody maintain their citizenship just because of how nefarious the acts were,” he said. “Canada is much more liberal when it comes to that stuff.”last_img read more