Mobile app behavior presents hidden BYOD risks for enterprises

BYOD

Allowing employees to use their own devices for work offers lots of benefits for businesses, but there are risks involved too.

A new report from software company Flexera and research specialist IDC says that enterprises are not doing enough to understand which mobile app behaviors hitting their networks and data are risky, nor are they testing apps for those risky behaviors to ensure proper enforcement of BYOD policies.

The report points out that BYOD risk doesn't just arise from malicious hackers and rogue nations. Threats to data and security may be hidden in the most innocuous-seeming apps that employees can unwittingly unleash on the enterprise. Examples include a flashlight app that illegally transmits user data to advertisers, or common banking apps capable of capturing device logs, accessing contacts lists, reading SMS messages or even installing packages on the phone.

Key findings are that 48 percent of enterprises have already got, or are in the process of implementing, BYOD policies with a further 23 percent planning on doing so within two years. And security is taken seriously, 71 percent of enterprises say data security counts among their biggest challenges when implementing BYOD policies.

Policies that block risky app behaviors to mitigate mobile app security risks are being implemented by 47 percent of respondents with another 22 percent planning to do so within two years. Despite concerns about security, however, 61 percent of organizations have not identified which app behaviors they deem risky.

A majority of organizations (55 percent) have not identified specific mobile apps that exhibit risky behaviors that would violate their BYOD policies. It also seems that just having a policy is not enough. Only 16 percent of respondents report that their BYOD policies are resulting in lower enterprise application risk.

"Most organizations already have strong processes to test and remediate traditional desktop, virtualized and cloud based applications to make sure they're safe and reliable. But as the report indicates, enterprises have not extended these Application Readiness best practices to mobile apps," says Maureen Polte, Vice President of Product Management at Flexera Software. "These same processes can and should be extended to mobile apps to ensure that risky app behaviors and apps are identified and appropriate measures are taken to contain those risks".

The full report is available to download from the Flexera website and you can see a summary of the findings in infographic form below.

Flexera infog

Photo credit: Alessandro Colle/Shutterstock

This was before I devised a cable management plan

PC Gaming Week: Build your first gaming PC: 5 tips from a first-time builder

PC Gaming Week: Build your first gaming PC: 5 tips from a first-time builder

Why it took me so long to build a PC

Hey everyone, my name is Joe, Reviews Editor for TechRadar, and I've never built a PC. Until now. Yes, I work for a technology media outlet and have never tangled my fingers in SATA cables. This is my shame. But recently all that changed.

I've been a PC gamer for as long as I can remember, but the hand-me-down systems my parents received from friends and family were just enough to handle Wolfenstein 3D and later Star Wars: Tie Fighter. When Everquest hit, I needed a beefier rig, which took months of saving (and a little help from my parents).

When World of Warcraft (my ultimate PC gaming obsession) came around, all I needed to do was buy a better graphics card (and have a surly fellow at the local CompUSA install it for me). Soon after that, laptops began taking off, with rising power and falling prices. That sparked my passion for mobile computing, and I didn't look back until a few months ago.

Build a gaming pc tips

All of the hype around the launches of the Xbox One and PS4 got me itching for a serious gaming rig at home. Despite their plug-and-play nature, I've grown tired of their walled gardens. I mulled over crafting a Steam Machine for a minute, but I wanted a Windows machine for the wide support. The reality of the situation grew clearer and clearer, I should just build my own gaming PC. And I needed to do it before the World of Warcraft latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor releases this November.

It was time to put a part list together. Over the course of a few days, I pieced together a set of components that was as affordable and compact as I could make it, but also handle Warlords of Draenor at 1080p with all the settings locked at "high".

And I'm happy to say that crushed it. The end result is a marvel. I've managed to assemble a box far thinner and not much taller than an Xbox One that lets me soar through Azeroth on a cloud of gigaflops at a frame rate that would make Peter Jackson blush. All for a total cost of just $486.

Build a gaming pc tips

That's before picking up a 1080p or Windows install. If you don't plan on hooking your would-be machine up to an HDTV or installing SteamOS, expect to add around $200 to that price.

[Editor's Note: In response to popular demand, here is a link to the part list that I created on PCPartPicker. Note that the price has since fluctuated.]

Click through to see the five things I wish I knew before starting my build that none of the PC building guides told me.

The tips only a noob could give you

I may have steeled myself for the Iron Horde now, but only after several days of mistakes, missteps and errors. I hope that my experience may save you some of the headache that preceded my eventual PC gaming nirvana, because dude, this rig is sweet.

1. You might not have all the right tools

Our brilliant friends over at Maximum PC told me that all I would need to build my gaming PC was a simple Phillips screwdriver. Lies. To install the included 802.11ac Wi-Fi module on my motherboard, I needed a #00 screwdriver.

To avoid a run to the local hardware store in the middle of your build, take every part out of the package and skim the stack of installation manuals. Find out whether you have every tool and part necessary to build the thing before you begin. Returning to a half-built PC is the stuff of nightmares.

Build a gaming pc tips

2. If you can avoid it, don't use mini ITX

For the uninitiated, mini ITX is the smallest form factor motherboard and case that can accept a discrete graphics card. But leave these to the pros (like I should have). In such a small chassis, things will get tight as you get further into your build. After you get your power supply in there, you'll have room for a few fingers at best. That's when you begin to truly appreciate the amount of computing power packed into the latest consoles.

Because I live in a one-bedroom apartment that another human also occupies, however, I went ahead and used mini ITX. I would like this other human to remain my fiancée, so I built a machine that wouldn't dominate the two-person desk in our living room. But if you have the space, for the love of all that is holy, using a roomier chassis for your first build will save yourself hours of frustration.

Build a gaming pc tips

3. Use every last cable tie

My Maximum PC pals told me that before I even started inserting silicon, I should have a plan for where the cables will go. And that no, "I'll just shove them between the 3.5-inch drive bay and case wall," does not constitute as a plan.

Chances are that either your case or power supply came with a pack of cable ties, those little plastic things that zip closed. (If my case hadn't come with them, I would have picked up these velcro cable ties.)You can use those to loop through the metal hooks on the case and around every wire in your PC. Let no cable go untied!

4. Drives need power, too

It's a simple, rookie mistake – at least that's what I'm telling myself. It turns out disk and optical drives need power to run just like your fans do. SATA connections do not provide power, only data.

Nothing bad will happen to your machine if you try to boot it the first time without these hooked up to the power supply. (This guy I know tried that once and everything was fine.) In most cases, it simply won't turn on. Just get back in there and use 4-pin to SATA cables to pipe power where it needs to go.

Build a gaming pc tips

5. Your graphics card needs drivers to work, silly

Your build is complete. Everything is connected, your fans are clear. You're ready for takeoff. And nothing's happening on the screen. You've checked all your connections, including the GPU and it all seems good to go. What's the deal?

Without drivers, your motherboard and CPU have no idea how to communicate with that foreign part. These parts don't natively understand the PCI-E connection.

After I worked this out for myself, I turned off the computer off completely – flipping that power switch in the back, too – and connected the VGA cable to the main I/O shield (the CPU in my build packs integrated graphics).

Protip: you must use a VGA cable until you can install the GPU drivers. After all the drivers are installed, turn off the system in the same fashion and switch to HDMI or another connection, like DisplayPort or DVI. I, for one, had to buy a VGA cable, because I threw out the one that came with my old, 15-inch HDTV that I ended up having to replace anyway. Your new monitor likely came with one in the box, but if you're hooking this rig up to an HDTV, you'll likely have to to do the same.

Build a gaming pc tips

In the end...

These are all simple problems or mistakes that I didn't need to make. Had I known about or thought through them ahead of time, I could have saved myself several hours of build time.

When the computer finally booted properly and I launched my first game (WoW, natch), the feeling of seeing a system that I put together with my own two hands work as well or better than the ones you see in Best Buy, was well worth it. And yes, that includes the grumbly trips to various stores and nearly spraining my hand fastening the main power supply wire to a cable tie.

Not only do I have a system that eats 60fps for breakfast, I learned an immense amount about how and why computers work, all of which will come in handy when something breaks or it's time to upgrade. Oh, and The Horde best watch its back








Xiaomi all set to launch the most affordable 4K smart TV you can’t easily purchase

xiaomi-mi-tv-2

Chinese technology conglomerate Xiaomi will be launching its new TV models tomorrow, the company has teased on Twitter. Xiaomi reportedly plans to launch two models in its Mi TV lineup -- one of which will be the successor to 49-inch 4K capable Mi TV 2, while the other will be a smaller-sized television set with FHD display.

Xiaomi has earned a name for itself for selling incredibly cheap-priced smartphones and other mobile accessories, and its Mi TV is no exception. The Chinese company launched the Mi TV 2 last May in China for the equivalent of $640. As for the specs, it packs in a 49-inch display with 4K screen resolution. The smart TV is powered by a quad-core MediaTek MStar 6AM918 CPU paired with Mali0450 MP4 GPU and 2GB of RAM with 8GB expandable storage. Running on Android, the TV has MIUI ROM skin on top.

A quick search on Amazon.com reveals that aside from LG -- which is selling 49UB8200 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD at $699 -- most of the popular TV makers sell their 40-inch and above 4K TVs at a price point that tends to go north of $990. Samsung’s UN50HU6950 50-Inch 4K Ultra HD, for instance, costs $997, while Sony’s XBR49X850B 49-Inch 4K Ultra HD will set you back by $1,398.

Xiaomi’s TVs do sound enticing, except for one tiny glitch: its scarce availability. As I mentioned in the headline, the next generation TV lineups -- much like other products from the company -- aren’t available worldwide. Last year, Xiaomi began to sell its smartphones, tablet and power bank outside of China, but the Mi TV is yet to become available outside the world's most populous nation. The company was supposed to launch the Mi TV 2 in India late last year, but now it is expected to launch it later this year.

That said, last month Xiaomi announced that it plans to debut in the United States and Europe markets later this year. The company said that it won’t be selling its smartphones as it aims to focus on phone accessories. The company is likely to expand its product offerings eventually. We’ll have more details on the TV tomorrow.

TuneIn Radio brings music to your Android-powered car

android-auto-1

This week Google announced its move into the car industry with Android Auto. The company describes it as "designed with safety in mind". The interface aims to be simple, controls will be present right on the steering wheel, everything can be launched by voice and Google Maps will guide the way.

A number of automobile makers are on board, including Ford, Subaru, Chrysler and many more. Now it's up to app makers to round things out and TuneIn Radio is among the early adopters racing to the platform.

The company is announcing full support of this new platform. "TuneIn Radio is one of only a handful of apps available with Android Auto at launch and will play in any Android Auto equipped car", the company claims.

Of course this doesn't come without expense -- after all you need to buy the car. You'll also need an Android Phone running version 5.0 or newer of the operating system. TuneIn's Boone Spooner points out "TuneIn has partnered with Google to integrate on the Android Auto platform, as this will enable TuneIn users to easily listen to their favorite radio stations and shows seamlessly in Android Auto compatible cars".

Android Auto is not available quite yet, though Google promises it's coming soon. That means you still have a bit of time to save your money up.

TuneIn Radio brings music to your Android-powered car

android-auto-1

This week Google announced its move into the car industry with Android Auto. The company describes it as "designed with safety in mind". The interface aims to be simple, controls will be present right on the steering wheel, everything can be launched by voice and Google Maps will guide the way.

A number of automobile makers are on board, including Ford, Subaru, Chrysler and many more. Now it's up to app makers to round things out and TuneIn Radio is among the early adopters racing to the platform.

The company is announcing full support of this new platform. "TuneIn Radio is one of only a handful of apps available with Android Auto at launch and will play in any Android Auto equipped car", the company claims.

Of course this doesn't come without expense -- after all you need to buy the car. You'll also need an Android Phone running version 5.0 or newer of the operating system. TuneIn's Boone Spooner points out "TuneIn has partnered with Google to integrate on the Android Auto platform, as this will enable TuneIn users to easily listen to their favorite radio stations and shows seamlessly in Android Auto compatible cars".

Android Auto is not available quite yet, though Google promises it's coming soon. That means you still have a bit of time to save your money up.

Microsoft’s latest attempt to save Windows Phone: Make Windows 10 ROMs for Android

Win10 Mi4

In its five years of existence, Windows Phone (formerly known as Windows Mobile) has managed to garner only 3 percent mobile market share. Microsoft's tiled operating system is still struggling to give Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS a serious challenge. But if you thought the Redmond-based company should be looking for an exit strategy by now, you will be surprised with what Microsoft has in mind.

Over the last few months, we learned that Microsoft is increasingly concerned about closing the Windows Phone’s infamous "app gap" problem. Referred to as the Plan A, as per a report by Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft intends to do this by introducing support for universal apps which will allow developers to quickly turn their Windows applications into Windows Phone apps with minimal effort.

The Plan B reveals that Microsoft is contemplating whether it should rekindle its Android affair. Many would want the company to make Android phone handsets based on AOSP -- like Nokia did with its X lineup of series -- but the report noted that Microsoft doesn’t intend to ditch Windows Phone platform. Instead, the company was reportedly thinking of adding support for Android apps on Windows Phone. Now we’re learning of a Plan C which the company rather openly spoke about just recently.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it will be releasing the Windows 10 OS in Summer (likely by the end of August) in 190 countries in 111 languages. On a blog post, the company also announced that it had entered into a partnership with China’s top mobile manufacturer Xiaomi to test Windows 10. This is what the company had originally noted.

"Through a new program with Xiaomi, one of the top smartphone distributors in the world, a select group of Xiaomi Mi 4 power users will be invited to help test Windows 10 and contribute to its future release later this year. These power users will have the opportunity to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview -- installing it and providing their feedback to Microsoft".

It led us to believe that Xiaomi would perhaps launch a Windows 10 for Phones-powered counterpart of its Android flagship Mi 4 smartphone. But it seems Microsoft has something entirely different in mind. The Redmond-based company is building a Windows 10 ROM that could be flashed (installed) on Android smartphones.

Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s VP of international is now shedding more light on this. "Microsoft is working on a build of Windows 10 specifically for Mi 4 devices. This Windows 10 build will not be running on top of Android nor be available as a dual-boot option", Barra said to steer away the cloud of confusion. "A small number of Mi 4 power users from the Xiaomi Forum in China who choose to take part in this experimental program will have to manually re-flash their Mi 4 devices with this Windows 10 ROM, in the same way they would re-flash other Android ROMs".

Barra noted that is an experimental program by Microsoft with Mi fans community in China, and as of now it is only taking place there. "welcomes Microsoft team members to interact directly with members of the Xiaomi Forum in China".

This isn’t the first time a company has built a ROM of its operating system that could be flashed on an Android smartphone. In the past, we’ve seen Ubuntu release a ROM for Android smartphones. There are several successful business models running on similar arrangements. Cyanogen Inc, which makes commercial Android-based Cyanogen OS also offers CyanogenMod ROM for Android. The build has more than 12 million active monthly users.

Will this work? We don’t know just yet. Just the announcement of Windows Phone supporting Android apps someday had many loyal users express their disapproval on forums. Besides, a Windows 10 ROM on an Android smartphone doesn’t appear to address the "app gap" issue. Unless Microsoft adds support for Android apps, it is hard to imagine how it will succeed. Sure, many hobbyists will, in the future, swap their Android OS with Windows 10 ROM on their Android devices. But how that will help this mobile platform grow is hard to imagine. If this is a way for Microsoft to increase the presence of Windows Phone on more devices, it could be an interesting move. But again, as I noted earlier, it is hard to imagine how this will improve the operating system’s image and market share.

Do you have a theory you would like to share? Please sound off in the comments below!

13 instances of adware detected in Google Play store

Adware

Despite the recent announcement by Google that it has introduced a vetting process on the Play store it seems that there are still rogue apps to be found.

Mobile security company Lookout has uncovered 13 apps with adware. Worse still these display malware-like characteristics that make them hard to remove. The company has alerted Google to the apps and they've already been removed from the store.

Two families of adware called HideIcon and NotFunny were hidden within the apps which between them have been downloaded thousands of times.

HideIcon, as its name suggests, hides its icon to make it harder to remove and then targets the user with aggressive ads. It came in an app pretending to be a card game, complete with playing instructions.

NotFunny was hidden in a number of downloads including wallpaper apps and a free Christmas ringtone app. It has two parts, a dropper and payload, once the dropper is installed with the app it prompts the user to download the payload. This drops an icon pretending to be Facebook on the device then hides itself once installation is complete. Like HideIcon it then pushes aggressive advertising and disrupts the user experience.

You can read more on the Lookout blog. Meanwhile the company is reminding users that apps with hidden icons can be uninstalled from Android's application manager under the Settings menu or from the Play Store app.

Photo Credit: Stephen Finn/Shutterstock

Opera acquires VPN firm SurfEasy to boost browsing security

Opera acquires VPN firm SurfEasy to boost browsing security

Opera Software, the company behind the web browser of much the same name, has acquired SurfEasy, a provider of VPN security. SurfEasy's software bolsters the security of internet users by adding a layer of encryption that helps to protect privacy.

More than this, the software also makes it possible to bypass some online restrictions and to access sites that are region locked. Few details have been revealed yet, but it's possible we could see VPN features integrated into future versions of the desktop and mobile Opera browser.

SurfEasy's aim for the last four years has been to place internet users back in control of their privacy and online freedom. With increased prevalence of spyware, coupled with the surveillance activities of the NSA and GCHQ, security and privacy have been thrust into the public consciousness in recent years.

SurfEasy founder and CEO Chris Houston said:

Over the past few years the dialogue and awareness around online privacy issues has increased dramatically. We are all now very aware just how vulnerable our data is to hacking, monitoring and censorship, regardless of the network or device you’re using to access the web.

Opera CEO Lars Boilesen says that SurfEasy is a neat fit with the Opera philosophy. "Opera has evolved beyond our browser roots and this step will add a critical building block towards a broader portfolio of applications".

Windows 10 IoT: How Microsoft plans to get it right for Internet of Things devices

IoT-1

Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 10 operating system will, in addition to powering desktop computers and mobile devices, also provide a platform for Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets. The Redmond-based company -- which earlier this year announced that it will be providing its operating system for free for such devices -- is shedding more light on its plan.

Microsoft notes that Windows 10 IoT will power a range of IoT devices including small products like gateways, mobile point-of-sale, ATMs, powerful industry devices like robotics, and specialty medical devices such as ultrasound machines. Despite their miniature form factor, the company assures enterprise-grade security from the devices to cloud, while also providing them with native connectivity for machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud with Azure services.

The company also reiterates its commitment to providing the software for free to these devices to unlock new possibilities for them. "To address emerging IoT device categories, we are delivering a new version of Windows 10 for small devices that will be free for Makers and commercial device builders and device services to unlock new scenarios", the company notes on a blog post.

To start on the right foot, Microsoft has partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Intel, and Qualcomm to provide a range of developer boards "to bring Windows 10 devices to life."  On a side note, this is a great opportunity for chipmaker Intel to battle for the pole position in the emerging IoT category. Intel single-handedly dominates the desktop processor market, but the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker was pretty late to join the mobile processor bandwagon, and it would definitely not want to make the same mistake again.

Microsoft recently introduced Qualcomm’s DragonBoard 410C development board to the Windows 10 device family. The Raspberry Pi-sized board comes integrated with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS, LPDDR2/3 533MHz single-channel memory and a full-fledged Snapdragon 410 chipset.

The company predicts that Windows will be powering over 25 billion devices by 2020.

Consumers are still waiting for a secure trusted mobile payment method

mobile payments NFC

Mobile and digital payment systems may be on the rise but according to a new report eight out of 10 consumers still have doubts about the technology.

The Future of Retail report from PR company Walker Sands points to a major player being able to take the lead in digital payments if they’re able to connect with what consumers want.

The use of cash continues to decline with 59 percent of the 1,400 US consumers surveyed carrying less than $20 in their pocket. However, most are waiting for a trusted digital payment source -- only four percent have used Apply Pay, though 18 percent say its introduction makes them more likely to make a purchase with their smartphone in the next year. That number rises to 36 percent when Apple users are asked.

There also seems to be demand among younger generations for peer-to-peer payments. Half of those aged 18-25 say they are likely to exchange money with a friend or colleague via a mobile application such as Venmo or QuickPay. This compares to only 19 percent of those ages 46-60.

As yet though there's no major loyalty to any one mobile payment system -- 2 percent have used Venmo and 16 percent have used a banking application, such as QuickPay, to transfer funds.

The study shows that mobile payment applications are used most often for social events, restaurants (24 percent) and bars (17 percent) were the most popular reasons cited for using peer-to-peer payment applications. The future could, therefore, be bright for Facebook's newly announced P2P payment system.

The study concludes that retailers need to offer flexibility in the payment methods they accept, whilst at the same time addressing consumer concerns. "...with cash on the decline and hacking scandals eroding trust in traditional POS systems, retailers who embrace mobile payments and convince consumers it's a safe way to make a purchase might be able to offer the best of both worlds".

The full study is available to download from the Walker Sands website.

Photo Credit:  Slavoljub Pantelic/Shutterstock

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