Android and the Bitcoin Miners

unnamedNo its not the name of a band, and yes it does sound pretty James Bond meets Thor / Iron Man i.e. like daft fantastic …but the title above seems, nevertheless to have some basis in truth. Android, famously open source is now  perhaps infamously Open Sauce. By the time you have read this your favourite Android phone, sitting seemingly innocently in your trouser pocket may have been engaged in a sort of co-operative mining subterfuge in pursuit of untold riches of the virtual yet transferable coinage of the Gods of Ether…Bitcoin.. Oh yes, isn’t technology wonderful?

So what’s happening exactly? Well according to Stuart Dredge, technology expert at The Guardian newspaper there are millions of Android devices engaged in actively mining Bitcoin…….without their owner having the foggiest idea that it is happening. The words “stealth” may be applied by a more generous soul than I, to my mind its fraud and deception on a grand scale. It happens when an app you have downloaded contains some code which is activated once it detects a data link is possible and then gets to work hooning your data allowance and sucking the life blood from your battery. Researchers have already identified a couple of apps which are sitting on about 10 million Android phones right now doing their dirty deeds. This may be the tip of a very unappealing iceberg.

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The serious point here is that this is exploiting faithful and loyal Android users in a way that can only be described as dishonest and fraudulent. The devices are using the phones data connectivity to mine for Bitcoins, i.e. stealing bandwidth. The user gets to pay for the bandwidth but doesn’t get to enjoy the fruits of the ill begotten gains made via this stolen bandwidth.  A double whammy too because this mining activity drains power like kryptonite drains Superman. The continual re charging of the device costs money (real money on someone’s electricity bill) and reduced the life expectancy of the device.

The mining activity happened as soon as the app containing the code is downloaded. The code is launched and the CPU mining gets under way, whilst connecting to a dynamic domain for an anonymous mining pool. All the mining data is sent to a central database where the analysis takes place. Presumably this is the place where coinage bought up from the data is extracted.

If Android is to avoid a splurge of bad PR, they’d better sort out this weakness sooner rather than later as it’s hard to see the general public welcoming the exploitation of their bandwidth without reward. beware the” no armed” bandit!

 

Bitcoin

bitcoin pic 3Bitcoin explained, or not. Can anyone explain Bitcoins in a way that makes perfectly rational sense to a non-clued up majority? Is it true that we can actually buy bitcoin with paypal? Bitcoins, we hear about this mysterious currency from time to time, whether it is in relation to the so called inventor / founder turning up in Malaysia and denying all knowledge or whether it’s the unemployed chap who accidentally lost 4 million pounds worth by chucking out a few old hard drives. Today we hear that Wikipedia is considering accepting these as donations to its cause. It’s hardly a surprise though – in order to survive in the digital age, companies must adapt to changes in technology, and in this case by embracing cryptocurrency. Wikipedia is not the first and they certainly won’t be the last business to benefit from bitcoin, and their association with cryptocurrencies may even lead to a surge in bitcoin affiliate commission. But, what comes next? Loyaltybit points on my clubcard for spending actual Bitcoins. In fact are there any physical Bitcoins, there are certainly lots of photographs of lovely piles of these virtual coins….why? …

This month we notice continues coverage in the news about companies established with the sole purpose of mining Bitcoins. That is to say they attract millions of pounds, dollars and other boring real world cash investment on real stock markets with which they invest in factories to build powerful servers to create or mine the Bitcoins. It’s like the elusive Black Panther of the Cotswolds or Somerset or wherever the Black Panther kept getting sighted. Very hard to know if any of these Bitcoin sightings or explanations are anything but a high flown prank by some megalomaniac IT / nerd. Who be dat? You may well ask. Its rumoured to be . well , er …..well its only a rumour.

The fact is however that a company called KnC Miner in Sweden is a real company and it is spending more money that they care to detail on building numerous computers at a cost of 10 thousand pounds each with which people can to “mine” for Bitcoins. Well excuse us for being nonplussed but why, how, where ? Astonishingly KnC Miner have just announced that within four hours of putting these on sale they have orders for over 2 million us dollars worth. Its not like buying you pick and shovel for the old school gold rush then is it? “We are overwhelmed by the positive response we have gotten and we will continue to produce the best possible mining hardware for our customers,” said co-founder Andreas Kennemar. Can’t argue with the sales figures but frankly ..what does it all mean?

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How and why are Bitcoins valuable? Hard to find? So is a four leafed clover but it doesn’t make it valuable and that’s something that’s real and does exist. I have seen one !. So is the mutated humorous root vegetable, but its not worth a lot once the laughter fades. Bitcoin on the other hand, a rare beast indeed so rare that they seem unlikely to exist. Most of us haven’t seen a Bitcoins and out of the many people I have asked, neither has anyone else. That’s because they don’t exist as material things, they are a series of numbers. Big Deal. Yawn.

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Get this, in Sweden KnC are building a 43 thousand square foot data centre for…you guessed it, for back up capacity for their customers who are mining the Bitcoin. Ho h oho… what? But then again this malarkey has proved itself profitable as the company, only a couple of years into its existence says it made 15 million dollars profit last year on a turnover of 75 million. Whose laughing now.? Well…. No one because they don’t get the joke. Why Sweden? because its cold. Like Facebook and Google before them, who have both huge purpose built data centres in this corner of the world, the advantages of the Nordic chill are well understood in the world of data centres. Keeps the server cooling costs down (mind you the outgoings on company thermal underwear must be through the roof!)….Wait a minute… what was that? Bitcoins? Haven’t got a clue, but perhaps some of our more switched on readers will let us know. Please!.

Top 7 gadgets to increase home office productivity

Anyone who has tried to work from home, or who works from home on a regular basis knows how important the right home office set-up is. Setting up your home office correctly can mean the difference between productivity and procrastination. So, what are the gadgets you need to ensure productivity in your home office? You can visit iinet at iiNet.com.au to discover how to get the most out of your mobile devices.

Computer

One of the most significant gadgets in your home office will be your computer. Your computer should allow you to perform all the tasks you need to do at home, and it should be compatible with all the software you require. If you need portability, consider a laptop or netbook (which can be used with a monitor at home). And of course, make sure your internet connection is up to scratch as well.

Wireless Mouse

For some, a standard mouse is good enough. For those who want more, the Apple Magic Mouse could be a good option. It is wireless, it allows you to scroll in any direction, and it is multi-functional. As the Magic Mouse is battery-powered, it’s also a good idea to invest in rechargeable batteries and a charger. The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX is another possible option.

Keyboard

Again, a standard keyboard is good enough for most jobs. However, comfort is also a factor, so you should choose a keyboard that is comfortable and gives you the functionality you need. There are various wireless keyboards, such as the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 (handily solar powered), or the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which is a Bluetooth-based chiclet keyboard.

Printer

Whether you need a printer will depend on your role, however, having a printer around is always useful. There are loads of different types of printers that you could get. If you want a simple, easy to use printer then you could check out something like the Ricoh Printers, or you could think about getting a multi-function printer such as the HP eStation printer, which allows for web browsing, printing, faxing without a phone line, copying and scanning. The detachable 7-inch touchscreen is pretty handy too.

Camera

If you need to videoconference to stay in touch, it’s a good idea to invest in a good camera. If you are using a laptop, it may be fitted with a good camera, or if you are videoconferencing on the move, the camera on your smartphone should do the job. If you are looking for a camera for your home computer, check out the FV TouchCam E1 or the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam.

Storage

Backing up your work is essential, so it’s important to find a storage solution that is reliable and secure. Try using a standard external hard drive, or for a more secure option try the Aegis Padlock Secure Drive with internal encryption and external PIN keypad. Alternatively, you could store your work in the cloud. Again, choose a cloud provider that is reliable and secure.

Some laptops come with security in mind (such as those seen here), and this can give you a head-start on the battle to secure your personal and financial life.

Phone

Communication is essential in business. Choose a phone that allows you to communicate on all required levels, such as email, social media, videoconference and of course, talk. While a smartphone is the go-to option for most people, a landline could be useful as well.

Additional Extras

These additions probably aren’t essential for everyone’s home office, but they can be handy!

  • Try out salesforce app integrations. This isn’t a gadget as such but is still tech related and extremely helpful to you because increases anything from your productivity to marketing to collaboration and beyond.

  • Cancel out unwanted sounds with noise-cancelling earphones such as Bose QuietComfort 15.

  • If you prefer some background noise, check out Coffitivity – a site that allows you to stream the quiet, comforting sounds of a coffee shop.

  • Need a Dictaphone, portable storage drive, music player and pen in one? Try the Echo Smartpen.

  • Coffee machine. Enough said.

MWC 2013 Mobile Security: Key Points

mobile world congressSecurity was a big theme at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Every major name was in attendance, touting their latest innovations for smartphones and tablets. But aside from promoting their products there were some very interesting points being made about the current state of mobile security around the world.

Users don’t understand mobile security

This was one point made over and over by everyone we spoke to: a lack of awareness is allowing mobile viruses to propagate and opening users up to dangerous security breaches.

It took years for computer owners to understand that they needed to have anti-virus and that you shouldn’t just go clicking every attachment found in an email, and unfortunately mobile security right now is in the same state as PCs in the mid-90s.

It’s no secret that the majority of mobile phone users also connect their devices to their home wireless networks. For example provided someone has an ISP like Eatel internet, it’s far more cost effective and convenient to use WiFi for texts and calls. This does however open up devices to certain vulnerabilities which is why it’s so important to use a reputable provider.

Too many people are surprised to discover that anti-virus is even a possibility on a mobile phone, and users will blindly trust apps without taking the time to check permissions. Many don’t even have a PIN code or password protecting their phone – Norton Antivirus thinks this could be around 35% of users, but McAfee estimates it might be as high as 50%.

Security companies are trying to educate (of course, they want to sell software) but manufacturers could do a lot more to raise awareness.

Android is the most popular target for viruses

Android is, unfortunately, the mobile platform most under threat from viruses and hackers. There are two main reasons for this.Android is, unfortunately, the mobile platform most under threat from viruses and hac

First is popularity. Last year alone 144 million Android-powered devices were sold all over the world (compared to 43 million iPhones). That’s a huge, tempting target for nefarious types who want to create the biggest impact. And with so many of these Android phones being sold in developing countries or to kids and smartphone newcomers, the victims are more likely to fall prey to their tricks.

Secondly, Android is a much easier target. It’s not that it has a significantly higher number of exploits than other platforms, but its focus on openness and freedom means virus writers have other options for getting their malware onto an Android phone. Which leads to our next point…

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Piracy and unofficial app stores pose a huge threat

These are two of the major avenues for distributing Android viruses.

By default an Android device will not allow you to install software from somewhere other than an official source, however this is simply an option in the settings menu. Disable that and you can ‘sideload’ by copying .APK installations to the device memory.

That’s why Android piracy is such an issue, but it doesn’t just pose a problem for developers having their hard work used for free – virus writers like to attach their code to pirated apps then send them out into the wild where they’ll be available on forums, file sharing networks and even pirate app stores. Users just think they’re getting something for free, not realising that there’s an unpleasant surprise hiding in the background.

App stores are another trouble spot. Google Play is the standard app store but there is nothing stopping third parties setting up their own, which is often what happens in places such as India and China where they do not fulfil the requirements for carrying Google Play.

Unfortunately these sources are often poorly curated so it’s very easy for viruses to slip in and end up on the phones and tablets of unwitting users who think they can trust the outlet.

Now this isn’t to say that viruses never appear on the iPhone, but with nothing other than the Apple App Store (and no way to install software) on unmodified iPhones this is not the issue it is with Android.

Author Bio: Matt Powell is the editor for the broadband, smartphone and tablet information site Broadband Genie. You can follow him on Twitter @broadbandgenie

Native V Web Apps – Do we have a winner?

According to recent research by app analytics firm Flurry mobile device users spend 80% within native apps and only 20% on the web. They track usage on over 300,000 apps across 1 billion mobile devices.  This equates to each user spending 158 minutes per day on their smart devices and of the total 2 hours 7 minutes is within apps and only 31 minutes in the web browser.  The most startling fact is perhaps that Facebook accounts for 18% of all usage.

App-v-Web

Here at www.appdevelopersuk.com we understand the benefits that native apps can bring over their web counterparts.  Native means any app that is built specifically for an operating system such as iOS or Android and then usually downloaded via an app store.  Native apps allow for more functionality incorporating features such as accessing the camera and sensors from within the app.  Other major benefits include a nicer looking user interface and the ability to access the app and its features without needing a web connection, this is a huge plus if the user is in an area with a slow or non existent data connection.

Flurry also notes that consumers are now using and downloading more apps than ever before, launching 7.9 per day in final quarter of 2012 versus 7.5 per day in 2011 and 7.2 per day in 2010.

On the surface it would appear that native apps have all but won the battle but with HTML5 development advancing at a rapid rate with enhanced video playback capabilities and multiple platform compatibility, we would argue that the war is far from over.   It is also important to note that both native and web apps are in their infancy so watch this space.

 

 

 

WhatsApp for iOS changing to annual subscription fee

What’s App for iOS changing to annual subscription fee

WhatsApp for the Apple iOS platform will be getting a slight change in the coming weeks as the cross platform messaging service will be going from its current flat fee download charge to the more standardised Annual payment system that is used by other platforms.

WhatsApp has historically been available on the Apple App store for iOS for a small nominal fee of £0.69 and from then onwards it has been free but with the explosion of the app on other platforms including Windows Phone 8 OS and android the app is now going to follow on with the Annual pricing system.

All other OS users get access to the WhatsApp messenger free for the first year of service (this is when you build up contacts and messages with your friends) then after this time the service goes to a yearly subscription for just 0.69p.

As anyone who uses the service will attest it is well worth the meager 69p that it costs for the annual subscription as the Messenger allows you to send free messages, Images and videos across the world and to all platforms free of charge.

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum has reportedly revealed the change in iOS price plans to a Dutch journalist Alexander Klöpping, saying that while the company is relaxed on exact dates, the switch is definitely on the 2013 road map.

Koum also stated that the new pricing will only happen for new users so if you’ve already downloaded WhatsApp on iOS, you won’t need to pay for the Annual premium.

No reasons were stated over the pricing change but it makes sense to streamline and bring all of the pricing’s for all OS’s into one line.

Source: TechCrunch

Download: WhatsApp

 

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Launching App Developers UK into Social Networking

We at App Developers UK are constantly focusing on creating the best Apps on the planet but we have recently started to join the social media revolution with our new look website and new Facebook, Twitter an YouTube accounts.

We have setup a new Twitter feeds so you can ask us a question, comment on our work and share some of our news with all of your followers and likewise with the Facebook Page.

On YouTube you can see just what we have created in the past with an extensive look at our App videos on the worlds biggest video sharing website.

Check us out using the links below:

Get following!