Giving apps access to info stored on phone can be risky, here’s what you need to know

Agencies
January 3,2020

Giving each and every app access to personal information stored on Android smartphones such as your contacts, call history, SMS and photos may put you in trouble as bad actors can easily use these access to spy on you, send spam messages and make calls anywhere at your expense or even sign you up for a premium "service", researchers from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky have warned.

But one can restrict access to such information as Android lets you configure app permissions. 

Giving an app any of these permissions generally means that from now on it can obtain information of this type and upload it to the Cloud without asking your explicit consent for whatever it intends to do with your data.

Therefore, security researchers recommend one should think twice before granting permissions to apps, especially if they are not needed for the app to work. 

For example, most games have no need to access your contacts or camera, messengers do not really need to know your location, and some trendy filter for the camera can probably survive without your call history, Kaspersky said. 

While decision to give permission is yours, the fewer access you hand out, the more intact your data will be.

Here's what you should know to protect your data.

SMS: An app with permission to send and receive SMS, MMS, and WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) push messages, as well as view messages in the smartphone memory will be able to read all of your SMS correspondence, including messages with one-time codes for online banking and confirming transactions.

Using this permission, the app can also send spam messages in your name (and at your expense) to all your friends. Or sign you up for a premium "service." You can see and conrol which apps have these rights by going to the settings of your phone.

Calendar: With permission to view, delete, modify, and add events in the calendar, prying eyes can find out what you have done and what you are doing today and in the future. Spyware loves this permission.

Camera: Permission to access the camera is necessary for the app to take photos and record video. But apps with this permission can take a photo or record a video at any moment and without warning. Attackers armed with embarrassing images and other dirt on you can make life a misery, according to Kaspersky.

Contacts: With permission to read, change, and add contacts in your address book, and access the list of accounts registered in the smartphone, an app can send your entire address book to its server. Even legitimate services have been found to abuse this permission, never mind scammers and spammers, for whom it is a windfall.

This permission also grants access to the list of app accounts on the device, including Google, Facebook, and many other services.

Phone: Giving access to your phone means permission to view and modify call history, obtain your phone number, cellular network data, and the status of outgoing calls, add voicemail, access IP telephony services, view numbers being called with the ability to end the call or redirect it to another number and call any number.

This permission basically lets the app do anything it likes with voice communication. It can find out who you called and when or prevent you from making calls (to a particular number or in general) by constantly terminating calls. 

It can eavesdrop on your conversations or, of course, make calls anywhere at your expense, including to pay-through-the-nose numbers, Kaspersky warned.

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85-year-old Shantabai Pawar displays `lathi-kathi' skills on Pune streets, video goes viral

Agencies
July 24,2020

Pune, Jul 24: Agile and dexterous, 85-year-old Shantabai Pawar wields sticks with absolute ease as she displays 'lathi-kathi' on the streets of Pune.

A video of her, displaying her skills in the Indian martial art form for livelihood, has gone viral on social media.

Pawar told media persons that she learnt the art form when she was only eight and has been practising it since then. The ancient martial art s believed to be linked to Dombari community, a nomadic tribe in Maharashtra.

"I have been pursuing the art of lathi-kathi since I was eight. I have never left it. It is part of me and it is an honour to practice it. My father taught me this. He taught me to work hard," Pawar told media persons.

In the video, the sari-clad octogenarian takes a warrior-like stride and effortlessly rotates a stick several times in a second in her hand and around her head and then does it with two sticks together with a smile on her face. She also tosses a stick in the air and catches it with ease.

The assembled gathering is impressed and enthused.

"People come and say, 'Well done Daadi!' I practice it to earn money for my children and grandchildren," she said.

Pawar leaves her home in the morning in the conditions created by coronavirus and performs the art form on roads and streets.

"I go to various areas to perform the art form and people give money," she said.

The artiste also uses thali and stick to gather the attention of people as most of them are indoors due to conditions created by COVID-19.

Senior citizens have been advised against venturing out due to their greater susceptibility to coronavirus but Pawar said she is not afraid to step out.

"People do advise me to not go out due to fear of COVID-19 but I am not scared. Whenever I step out, I pray to my God and he has kept me safe so far," she said.

Aishwarya Kale, a dancer and the person who uploaded the video on social media, said that it is "only an artist who can understand what help another artist needs".

"I was in that area shopping for some items and it was then I saw her performing and thought that I should film her and upload her video on social media. But I never thought that the video would go viral and she would receive financial help not just from people in the country but overseas as well," Kale told media persons.

"She is now getting honour for her craft that she couldn't get in the last 85 years. I feel good that through my small video, her art form has become viral," she added. 

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NCW issues notice to celebrities on complaint against company promoter for 'sexually assaulting' girls

Agencies
August 2,2020

New Delhi, Aug 2: The National Commission for Women (NCW) has issued notice to some Bollywood celebrities named in a complaint against the promoter of a company for allegedly blackmailing and sexually assaulting a number of girls on the pretext of giving them a career in modelling.

Taking cognizance of the complaint filed by social activist Yogita Bhayana of People Against Rape in India (PARI), the NCW scheduled a virtual hearing presided by its chairperson on August 6.

The complaint against Sunny Verma, promoter of a company named IMG Ventures with its headquarter in Chandigarh, alleged that he has been blackmailing and sexually assaulting a number of girls on the pretext of giving them career in modelling.

PARI's Yogita Bhayana wrote a complaint letter to NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma.

"Through his company, he (Sunny Verma) invites the girls on the pretext of organising a Miss Asia contest with a claim that the contest will launch them as models. To make it look genuine, his company has also been taking an entry fee of Rs 2,950. Once the girls apply, they are alluded by the female accomplices of Sunny Verma to submit their nude pictures in order to get the better ranking in the contest," the complaint letter said on July 31.

It alleged that Verma, after receiving the pictures and sometimes even before, used to get in touch with the girls and ask for completely nude pictures and videos.

The complaint letter said that Verma also used to allude as well as threaten the girls to submit to his sexual desires if they were interested in modelling as a career or wish to win the contest.

"Once he established a physical relationship with the girls, he used to blackmail them for regular sexual favours. Many girls from across the country have suffered a sexual and mental assault from Sunny and his accomplices," said the complaint citing several letters, texts and audio clips from several girls as proof of this modus operandi of Sunny Verma and his company.

The complaint also said that Sunny Verma has been previously also arrested on charges of sexual assault.

"We would demand that NCW should investigate the case to its depth and get the guilty punished so that any other person should not dare to exploit these kinds of innocent girls on any pretext. It will be a message to people like Sunny Verma and all associated Bollywood stars. Looking forward to strict action from NCW against sexual offenders like Sunny Verma & others," the complaint said.

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India’s cybersecurity agency warns people of credit card skimming via e-commerce sites

Agencies
July 18,2020

New Delhi, Jul 18: India's national cybersecurity agency CERT-in, has warned people of credit card skimming spreading across the world through e-commerce platforms.

Attackers are typically targeting e-commerce sites because of their wide presence, popularity and the environment LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) said in a notice on Thursday.

Recently, attackers targeted sites which were hosted on Microsoft's IIS server running with the ASP.NET web application framework, it said.

Some of the sites affected by the attack were found to be running ASP.NET version 4.0.30319, which is no longer officially supported by Microsoft and may contain multiple vulnerabilities, CERT-In said.

The notice also included a list of best practices for website developers including the use of the latest version of ASP.NET web framework, IIS web server and database server.

The advisory is based on research by Malwarebytes which found that this skimming campaign likely began sometime in April this year.

Credit card skimming has become a popular activity for cybercriminals over the past few years, and the increase in online shopping during the pandemic means additional business for them, too, Malwarebytes said in a blog post, adding that attackers do not need to limit themselves to the most popular e-commerce platforms.

Researchers from global cybersecurity and anti-virus brand Kaspersky had warned in December last year that more cybercriminal groups will target online payment processing systems in 2020. 

It said that over the past couple of years, so-called JS-skimming (the method of stealing of payment card data from online stores), has gained immense popularity among attackers. 

Kaspersky researchers in their report said they are currently aware of at least 10 different actors involved in these type of attacks.

Their number will continue to grow during the next year, the report said, adding that the most dangerous attacks will be on companies that provide services such as e-commerce as-a-service, which will lead to the compromise of thousands of companies.

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