Tag: Google

Source: Mapletronics

In a time when billions of login credentials are floating around the internet, Google’s new Chrome extension aims to help.

Google’s new extension (currently only available for Chrome) will alert you if one of your username/password combinations is known to already be ‘out in the wild’, according to the company’s blog post.

The extension called Password Checkup, works in the background whenever enter your login details on a site. It compares the data against a large database with nearly four billion credentials that are known to be compromised over the years. If Password Checkup finds a match a red alert box appears and gives you a suggestion to change your password.

Google worked closely with cryptography experts at Stanford University to ensure that your credentials are not compromised while using Password Checkup. In its security blog, Google highlighted that Password Checkup scrambles all credentials with hashing and encryption as protection. Google also assures users that their login details are never seen by the company itself, either.

Don’t have Chrome? There are several other services available for free on the internet that can check to see if your credentials or other personal details have been compromised in a growing number of breaches. Check out Have I Been Pawned, Identity Leak Checker, or Firefox Monitor.

By James Pero for DailyMail.com

Malware that replaces victims’ legitimate apps with a malicious doppelgänger has infected 25-million devices across India, the UK and the US, say security researchers.

The virus, named ‘Agent Smith’ after a fictional character from the, ‘The Matrix’ who is able to make others into copies of himself, was highlighted by the security firm Check Point on Wednesday and affects users on Android devices.

Instead of stealing data, the malware covertly replaces apps inside a user’s phone with hacked versions which display ads selected by the hackers, allowing them to profit off their views.

To avoid detection, the malware — under its disguise as popular apps like WhatsApp or Flipkart — is also capable of replacing code in the original program with its own malicious version that prevents an app from being updated.

At least 15-million of the devices infected are located in India and 300,000 have been detected in the U.S. Other infections are spread across Asia as well as the U.K., and Australia.

‘The malware attacks user-installed applications silently, making it challenging for common Android users to combat such threats on their own,’ said Jonathan Shimonovich, head of Mobile Threat Detection Research at Check Point.

‘Combining advanced threat prevention and threat intelligence while adopting a ‘hygiene first’ approach to safeguard digital assets is the best protection against invasive mobile malware attacks like ‘Agent Smith”

A malware called ‘Agent Smith’ was found to have infected 25 million device mostly in India.

Malicious code was able to disguise itself as legitimate apps and take over the ads served inside those programs.

Hackers didn’t steal users data but were able to make money off serving up phoney ads.

Many users were unaware that they had been infected.

Code spread via third party app-store 9Apps and unsuccessfully tried to infect users in the Google Play store.

The malware is named after a fictional villain in the 1999 movie ‘The Matrix’ who was able to turn victims into copies of himself.

Researchers say Agent Smith was able to spread to devices through a third-party app store called 9Apps.

Malicious code was embedded into photo apps and sex-related apps which were then downloaded by users.

Once inside a victim’s device, the malware would disguise itself as a legitimate app and then begin replacing code.

As reported by The Verge, creators of the malware also attempted to infect users in the Google Play store through 11 apps containing bits of malicious code.

The foray was reportedly unsuccessful and Google has removed all the apps from its store.

A vulnerability in Android that allowed hackers to include their code was patched several years ago, but developers failed to patch their apps, leaving many open to attack.

To avoid being compromised by malware like Agent Smith, Check Point has some simple words of advice.

‘Users should only be downloading apps from trusted app stores to mitigate the risk of infection as third party app stores often lack the security measures required to block adware loaded apps,’ wrote researchers.

By Suzanne Rowan Kelleher for Forbes

Heading to a place where you don’t know the language? One of the handiest apps in any traveler’s toolbox is Google Translate, whose instant camera makes translating the world as easy as pointing your smartphone camera at foreign text on street signs, menus, shop flyers and more.

Google just upgraded the app by adding support for an additional 60 languages, including Arabic, Hindi, Malay, Thai and Vietnamese, which now brings the total number of supported languages to an impressive 88. (Here’s a full list.)

But it gets better. Let’s say you’re visiting a region with multiple languages and you’re not even sure which one you’re reading. нема проблема. That means “no problem” in Serbian. Just select “detect language,” point your camera at the words and get a translation in your native tongue.

The secret sauce that powers the app’s instant camera is Neural Machine Translation (NMT) technology, a type of machine learning that models the sequence of words and produces translations that are more accurate and natural than previously possible. Google says NMT reduces errors by 55 to as much as 85 percent in certain language pairs.

There’s also a new look with three features on the bottom of the app. “Instant” translates foreign text when you point your camera at it. “Scan” lets you snap a photo and highlight the text to be translated with your finger. “Import” lets you translate text from photos already on your camera roll. Google has also managed to get rid of the flickering that often made translated text difficult to read.

Refugee Dads Prove The Power Of A Father’s Love
For many languages, Google Translate even works when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi or using cellular data, but translations are more accurate when your device is connected to the internet.

So whether you want to locate a pharmacy in Greece (φαρμακείο), find a restroom in Denmark (badeværelset) or take the road to the beach in Bali (pantai), just point your camera and let Google Translate guide your way.

By Sean Hollister for The Verge

In 2014, The Verge reported how Google had effectively created its own island in Silicon Valley, something akin to a company town, exacerbating a housing and traffic crisis that now characterizes much of the San Francisco Bay Area — the place with the highest housing costs in the nation.

Now, Google CEO Sundar Pichai is announcing the company’s biggest commitment by far to fix its broken backyard: a $1 billion investment over the next 10 years to build some 20,000 units of housing.

According to the official Google blog post, the new commitment includes:

  • $750 million worth of the company’s existing office space, which Google will convert into an estimated 15,000 units
  • $250 million toward “incentives” for other developers to build 5,000 units of affordable housing
  • $50 million to nonprofits that help the homeless find shelter

That sounds good! But let me bring you down to reality with some more bullet points:

  • We were already expecting Google to free up as many as 9,850 units in its Mountain View backyard, with Google offering to build some 5,700 itself. (The company leases a lot of property, too.) Google tells The Verge that plan hasn’t yet been approved by the town, but whatever housing it builds in Mountain View is included in this total.
  • This is an investment, not a charity. Google says it’s leasing this land to developers who will rent and sell units — you know, for money — and won’t restrict what they do with it. That does mean no explicit preference to house Google employees, though, and cities will require a certain percentage to be affordable housing. Google proposed 20 percent affordable housing in Mountain View.
  • We’re not talking about single-family homes. Google simply doesn’t have enough office space for 15,000 traditional homes, so it’s going to need to build upward. Expect apartments and condos in multistory units.
  • We don’t know where they’ll be. Optimally, Google can help Bay Area traffic woes by building housing close to its big campuses, and that’s likely, but Google says they could be anywhere in the Bay Area it has office space. The details are up in the air as of today.
  • Google won’t be building 5,000 units of affordable housing itself. The $250M will help developers secure land and permits for affordable housing, incentivizing developers to build.
  • This is a 10-year commitment, all while Google keeps growing. In addition to its holdings in Mountain View, San Francisco, and generally across 24 of the 50 US states, the company’s planning a whole new giant campus in San Jose.

If you want more insight into the kind of relationship that Google believes it can have with the Bay Area, take a peek at the company’s pitch to transform North Bayshore (that’s the portion of Mountain View that Google primarily occupies) with housing, $77M for transportation, plus parks, schools, and more. There’s also a North Bayshore FAQ you might want to read — it explains why Google’s offering 5,700 units there, not 9,850.

But you also might want to think about how Google tried to use housing as a bargaining chip to get more Bay Area office space to begin with — and the damage that big companies like Google can cause if they wind up pulling out of a major infrastructure project early.

What is going on between Huawei and Google?

By Tom Wiggins for Stuff

You might have read that Google and Huawei have had a bit of a tiff this week.

You can’t really pin the blame on either of them. Donald Trump issued an executive order that meant US-based companies were restricted from doing business with Huawei unless they had a special licence, so Google had to limit the access Huawei phones had to its services.

That’s since been relaxed, but only for 90 days, so things could get ugly again before long. But what does it mean for your new P30 Pro? And does it put an end to your plans to pick up a foldable Mate X?

What is the problem?
America’s leader seems to have decided he doesn’t like Huawei because it’s from a country he has described as a “foreign adversary”.

Whether Trump’s reservations have any basis in reality or not, if the ban is upheld it means that American companies will not be allowed to trade with Huawei and it wouldn’t be able to base its OS on full-fat Android anymore. As the second-biggest manufacturer of smartphones in the world that could cause Huawei a significant headache.

What if you own a Huawei phone?
Huawei phones that have already been released have been certified to access the Play Store and receive updates for the current version of Android, so chances are things will carry on as normal whatever happens further down the line. That goes for Honor phones too.

If the US upholds its actions, though, future versions of the OS wouldn’t be certified for Huawei phones, meaning functionality would be severely restricted, and security updates could take a lot longer to come through.

What will Huawei use if not Android?
Android is open source, so Huawei will still be able to use the barebones of it no matter what, but it would mean apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Drive and Maps wouldn’t be pre-installed, and without access to the Play Store they wouldn’t be available for download later either. Some can be accessed through the phone’s web browser but that’s not the same and consumers would likely look elsewhere.

As a result, Huawei might opt to ditch Android altogether, but it’s already working on an alternative operating system of its own. That would require new versions of existing apps, although considering many use Android APIs to power things like notifications, without cooperation from Google significant changes would be needed even if Huawei were to stick with it.

Are others banning Huawei?
The ban has already starting to have a wider impact. EE has decided to leave Huawei’s Mate 20 X 5G handset out of its 5G launch line-up until it can be sure that it would be fully supported, while Vodafone has cancelled an event based around its own 5G rollout, although pricing and pre-order information will still be announced. Chip designer ARM, which most mobile processor manufacturers rely on, has also suspended its dealings with Huawei.

By Zack Whittaker for Tech Crunch

Google says a small number of its enterprise customers mistakenly had their passwords stored on its systems in plaintext.

The search giant disclosed the exposure Tuesday but declined to say exactly how many enterprise customers were affected. “We recently notified a subset of our enterprise G Suite customers that some passwords were stored in our encrypted internal systems unhashed,” said Google vice president of engineering Suzanne Frey.

Passwords are typically scrambled using a hashing algorithm to prevent them from being read by humans. G Suite administrators are able to manually upload, set and recover new user passwords for company users, which helps in situations where new employees are on-boarded. But Google said it discovered in April that the way it implemented password setting and recovery for its enterprise offering in 2005 was faulty and improperly stored a copy of the password in plaintext.

Google has since removed the feature.

No consumer Gmail accounts were affected by the security lapse, said Frey.

“To be clear, these passwords remained in our secure encrypted infrastructure,” said Frey. “This issue has been fixed and we have seen no evidence of improper access to or misuse of the affected passwords.”

Google has more than 5 million enterprise customers using G Suite.

Google said it also discovered a second security lapse earlier this month as it was troubleshooting new G Suite customer sign-ups. The company said since January it was improperly storing “a subset” of unhashed G Suite passwords on its internal systems for up to two weeks. Those systems, Google said, were only accessible to a limited number of authorized Google staff, the company said.

“This issue has been fixed and, again, we have seen no evidence of improper access to or misuse of the affected passwords,” said Frey.

Google said it’s notified G Suite administrators to warn of the password security lapse, and will reset account passwords for those who have yet to change.

A spokesperson confirmed Google has informed data protection regulators of the exposure.

Google becomes the latest company to have admitted storing sensitive data in plaintext in the past year. Facebook said in March that “hundreds of millions” of Facebook and Instagram passwords were stored in plaintext. Twitter and GitHub also admitted similar security lapses last year.

 

 

Source: BBC

Google has been hit with a €1.49bn (£1.28bn) fine from the EU for blocking rival online search advertisers.

It is the third EU fine for the search and advertising giant in two years.

The case accuses Google of abusing its market dominance by restricting third-party rivals from displaying search ads between 2006 and 2016.

In response, Google changed its AdSense contracts with large third parties, giving them more leeway to display competing search ads.

Google owner Alphabet makes large amounts of money from advertising – pre-tax profits reached $30.7bn (£23bn) in 2018, up from $12.66bn in 2017.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites.

“This is illegal under EU anti-trust rules,” said EC commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Last year, the EU competition authority hit Google with a record €4.34bn fine for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals.

This followed a €2.42bn fine in 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

The European Commission said that websites often had an embedded search function.

When a consumer uses this, the website delivers both search results and search adverts, which appear alongside the search result.

Google’s “AdSense for search” product delivers those adverts for website publishers.

The Commission described Google as acting like “an intermediary, like an advertising broker”.

In 2006, Google started to include “exclusivity clauses” in contracts which stopped publishers from placing ads from Google rivals such as Microsoft and Yahoo on search pages, the Commission said.

From 2009, Google started replacing the exclusivity clauses with “premium placement” clauses, which meant publishers had to keep the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and they had to request a minimum number of Google adverts.

Publishers also needed to get written permission from Google before making any changes to how rival ads were displayed, letting Google control “how attractive, and therefore clicked on, competing search adverts could be”, the Commission said.

Search giant
The restrictive clauses “led to a vicious circle”, Ms Vestager said in a media conference.

“Google’s rivals, they were unable to grow, and to compete, and as a result of that, website owners had limited options for selling advertising space on those websites, and were forced solely to rely on Google,” she said.

“There was no reason for Google to include these restrictive clauses in their contracts, except to keep rivals out of the market,” she added.

Between 2006 to 2016, Google had more than 70% of the search intermediation market in the EU. It generally had more than 90% of the search market and more than 75% of the online search advertising market, the Commission added.

By Olivia Tambini  for Tech Radar

Google is testing a new feature that allows people to buy products while browsing Google Image search results.

Known as ‘shoppable ads’, these sponsored posts are placed within image search results, and allow retailers to “highlight multiple products available for sale” within an image, according to a post on the Google Ads blog.

Google says the feature is only being tested on “a small percentage of traffic with select retailers, surfacing on broad queries like “home office ideas”, “shower tile designs”, and “abstract art”.

Should the tests go well, it could soon be possible to do your shopping from Google Images by hovering over a sponsored ad with a price tag icon in the bottom right corner, which will then show you the prices and brands of the items in the image.

It looks like the new feature will work in a similar way to Instagram’s shoppable tags, making it quicker than ever to buy products online.

Whether users will appreciate the proliferation of shoppable ads across social media and now search results will, of course, remain to be seen.

Google poured billions into its business in 2018

By Julie Bort for Business Insider US

Google doubled its capital expenditure spending in 2018 to R344-billion, which included spending on offices and tech infrastructure.

Its cloud unit also got the lion’s share of new hires in the quarter, the CFO of parent company Alphabet said.

Google’s cloud computing efforts were a mixed bag in 2018 but the company on Monday said that it invested heavily in 2018, and will continue do so in 2019, albeit maybe not at the same pace.

During its year-end earnings report on Monday, Google revealed that it doubled its capital expenditures in 2018, to R344-billion, up from R168-billion in 2017. The hefty spending went towards everything from new office facilities to accommodate Google’s growing workforce to bolstering its infrastructure such as datacenters and servers.

It’s tough to say exactly who much of that capex went towards Google’s cloud business specifically, but the company has made it clear that investing in the cloud is a priority. Google said it launched its 18th Google Cloud region in the fourth quarter and pointed to plans for continued expansion in the US and abroad.

In comparison, Amazon spent R151-billion cash on capex in 2018, split between fulfillment operations (like warehouses) and AWS, it said. And Microsoft said it spent R214-billion.

Google also hired madly for its cloud unit, with more than 4 000 new hires in the final three months of the year. “The most sizeable increases were in cloud, for both technical and sales roles,” Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said during the conference call.

Porat noted that spending on talent and equipment will continue in 2029, though the pace will cool off compared to 2018. Capex, she said, will “moderate quite significantly.”

How does Google’s cloud business compare?
Google is spending to catch up. Revenue from its cloud business lags Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, although Google does likely have a multibillion cloud business. It’s a bit tough to tell because Google doesn’t break out cloud revenue. It lumps it in its “other” category which also includes the revenue it makes from its Google play app store and its hardware devices like Google Home.

That “other revenue” category was R8-billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, up from just under R66=billion for the year-ago quarter and a sizeable portion of that is generated by its app store. Google noted on Monday that the number of Google Cloud Platform deals worth more than R13 million more than doubled in 2018 and that it ended the year with more than 5 million paying customers of its cloud productivity tools, but otherwise offered little new information by which to measure the size of its Cloud business.

For comparison, AWS generated R99 billion in net cloud sales for Amazon in the fourth quarter.

Microsoft also doesn’t disclose specific revenue figures for its cloud, Azure, so a direct comparison here is even harder to noodle out. The unit that includes Azure is called “Intelligent Cloud” and it generated R125 billion in the same quarter. However, despite putting “cloud” in the unit’s name, that unit includes a lot of classic software products, including Microsoft’s popular database and Windows Server, its operating system for servers. Those are both older, massive businesses compared to Azure and are not what anyone would consider a cloud service.

Most market experts believe that AWS is way ahead. One researcher, Synergy, puts AWS at 40% market share in cloud.

Keep an eye on the new boss
Of course the big news for Google’s cloud efforts in 2018 was its change of leadership. Near the end of 2018, Google board member Diane Greene left. Google hired Thomas Kurian to replace her. He left Oracle where he helped build Oracle into a database and applications giant during his decades there, and then lead Oracle’s cloud efforts. Oracle’s cloud is growing quickly by internal metrics as it moves its customers from buying its software to renting its software on its cloud. But Oracle’s cloud is not exactly taking the tech industry’s breath away, so his performance at Google Cloud will be a test for him and the company.

There’s been a lot of speculation about whether Kurian will embark on an acquisition spree to help Google’s Cloud catch up with the competition. Google CEO Sundar Pichai kept mum on Monday when asked about any potential big deals or changes in strategy under Kurian. Pichai spoke of “continuity” and focusing on the parts of the business where the company is seeing good returns.

Even with all the shrouding of investment and financial results, the cloud industry is often considered a three-player race, with Amazon in the lead, Microsoft on its heels, Google in third and a variety of players, from Alibaba to IBM to Oracle, in the chase pack.

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