Researchers find major security flaw in Android apps on Google Play, working with Google to fix

Google-PlayA recent study presented just yesterday by Columbia Engineering computer science professor Jason Nieh and PhD candidate Nicolas Viennot might be the most comprehensive look yet at the Google Play store and some of the issues plaguing it. The bad news is the researchers were able to discover what they think is a pretty serious security flaw (TheLoop via Phys.org):

Nieh and Viennot discovered all kinds of new information about the content in Google Play, including a critical security problem: developers often store their secret keys in their apps software, similar to usernames/passwords info, and these can be then used by anyone to maliciously steal user data or resources from service providers such as Amazon and Facebook. These vulnerabilities can affect users even if they are not actively running the Android apps. Nieh notes that even “Top Developers,” designated by the Google Play team as the best developers on Google Play, included these vulnerabilities in their apps.

According to the report, Google is working with the researchers to prevent similar problems in the future and has already started the process of informing developers about necessary changes: Read more

Google launches Made with Code initiative to inspire girls to code

Google today announced that it’s launching a new initiative dubbed Made with Code that hopes to inspire girls to learn code and support computer science programs. While announcing the new program, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki noted in a blog post today that “fewer than one percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science.” Here’s what girls that sign-up to participate will get through the program: Read more

Nest Protect goes back on sale for $99 as company touts safety data

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Update: The Nest Protect is also now available on the Google Play Store for the same $99 prices. Previously, the Nest Thermostat was the only Nest device available from Google.

Earlier this year, 440,000 Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were recalled following the discovery of a critical safety flaw that could accidentally deactive the system. Today, Nest has put the Protect back on sale at a reduced price of $99—previously $129. However, the “wave” feature that allowed the user to disable the alarm with a hand gesture has been removed.

In the blog post announcing the return of the Protect, the company boasted some of its safety statistics and recounted the story of one Nest Protect user who was alerted to the presence of carbon monoxide in his home by the device, which saved his life. Nest’s Doug Sweeny writes:

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Google rewards Pokemon prank winners with jobs, sort of

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As an April Fools Day prank, Google used Google Maps to place pretend Pokemon all over the world. The company later revealed that it was rewarding people who managed to find all 150 (or 151, don’t forget Mew) pocket monsters with a special gift. A tech superpower with endless resources, what might Google be sending this skilled group of individuals? Google Play credit? A free Nexus phone or tablet? Tickets to I/O? What could it be? To congratulate people who managed to wrangle the digital beasts, Mountain View has issued a letter certifying their success, along with a set of business cards labeling them as a “Pokemon Master” at Google Inc.

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Iraqi govt blocks Google, YouTube, other online services as tension with ISIS heats up

 

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Access to Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have reportedly been blocked in Iraq by the the state government according to reports from several media outlets covering the Middle East. The tweet shown above comes from a reporter for The Guardian covering the conflict on the ground in Iraq. It is believed that the Iraqi government has moved to block access to social media outlets to suppress videos and images being shared by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria… Read more