Sony Xperia devices secretly sending user data to servers in China.


If you own a Sony smartphone either the Android 4.4.2 or 4.4.4 KitKat firmware then inadvertently you may be transmitting your data back to the servers in China, even if you haven’t installed any application.
Quite surprising but it’s true. I know many of you haven’t expected such practices from a Japanese company, but reports popping up at several forums suggest that some new Sony Xperia handsets seem to contain the Baidu spyware.
About a month ago, a group of community users of Sony smartphone detected the presence of a strange folder, named “Baidu”, mysteriously appeared from among those present in various versions of Android for these handsets.
The creepy part is that the folder is created automatically without the owners permission and there is no way of deleting it. Even if someone tries to remove it, it instantly reappears as well as unticking the folder from device administrator equally seems to do nothing, neither does starting the phone in Safe Mode.
Just unpacked my Sony Z3 compact, haven’t installed a single app and its connecting to China. I am not so concerned about the folder itself but my phone now has a constant connection to an IP address in Beijing which I am not too happy about.” Reddit user commented.
The Baidu folder appears to be created by Sony’s ‘my Xperia’ service each time a connection is made and is reported to be sending pings to China. There is no further information known on what these pings are transmitting but nevertheless they do seem to be transmitting.


Dropbox Denies It Was Hacked, Says Passwords Stolen From Other Services


On Monday, a group of hackers posted a message on Pastebin claiming they have “hacked” nearly 7 million Dropbox accounts. The cloud storage giant said the data was stolen from other services, not from its own systems.

The hackers have already published hundreds of email addresses and associated passwords in clear text. They claim they will publish more as they get Bitcoin donations, but so far only 0.0001 BTC has been transferred to their address.

Reddit users have confirmed that at least some of the credentials are valid, but Dropbox says the information has been stolen from other services. In an effort to protect its customers from such attacks, the company is resetting the passwords for compromised accounts.

“Recent news articles claiming that Dropbox was hacked aren’t true. Your stuff is safe. The usernames and passwords referenced in these articles were stolen from unrelated services, not Dropbox. Attackers then used these stolen credentials to try to log in to sites across the internet, including Dropbox. We have measures in place to detect suspicious login activity and we automatically reset passwords when it happens,” Dropbox Security Engineer Anton Mityagin wrote in a blog post.

The company advises its customers to avoid using the same password on multiple online services. Dropbox also recommends the activation of two step verification for an extra layer of security.

“The recent Dropbox credentials leak shows once again how easy it is for cyber-criminals to seize personal user data at a massive scale. However, judging by the large number of accounts registered with specific e-free webmail providers, there is a small chance that the data was actually obtained via phishing,” Bogdan Botezatu, Senior E-Threat Analyst at Bitdefender, said via email. “However the data may have been obtained, the risk is still out there: these accounts have been exposed and anyone could have logged in to copy private files belonging to the user during the window of opportunity.”

Last week, in support of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Dropbox published an advisory to warn its users about phishing and malware attacks.

Windows 10: Nine things you need to know


Windows 8 has had a bit of a tumultuous run, something Microsoft is hoping to turn around with Windows 10. We got a brief glimpse at a Microsoft event on Tuesday, and while it did prove to be a tantalizing look at what’s in store, there are still plenty of questions floating around, and a lot more to figure out before the final product is sitting on our hard drives.

If you’ve got questions, we’ve got some answers on the latest step for Windows.

1. When can I upgrade? And how much will it cost?

Microsoft expects to release the OS sometime in 2015, after the company’s Build developer conference in April. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can sign up for the Windows Insider Program on October 1 to get your hands on the early (and likely buggy) preview build. The cost for the retail version has yet to be determined.

2. Windows 10? What happened to Windows 9?

Windows 7 ate 9. (I kid.) Microsoft wants us to think of the latest version as a fundamental change to how Windows works, and the company is skipping a version number to show it.

Keyboards and mice take center stage on Windows 10. Nick Statt/CNET

3. I’ve got a desktop, and a tablet. How will that work?

Windows 10 isn’t just about PCs. The operating system will run on everything from desktops all the way down to smartphones, and the user interface will adjust accordingly.

4. What about apps?

Apps will be coming along for the ride too, though Microsoft hasn’t explained how that’s going to work. We do know that you’ll be able to buy one app from the Windows Store and expect it to run on all your devices. Developers will presumably need to make universal apps that will adjust their look and feel, depending on your devices size and capabilities.

5. Those full-screen “Modern” apps were a pain. Are they still around?

Those touch-friendly, full-screen apps that debuted with Windows 8 were alternately known as the “Metro” or “Modern” design. For Windows 10, full-screen apps will be optional. Let’s say you’re using a convertible 2-in-1 device, like the Surface Pro 3, for example. When the keyboard is docked, you’ll see the standard desktop with Windows 10’s “new” old-school Start menu. Once you take the device off of the keyboard base, the OS will allow you to switch to the finger-friendly full screen mode Windows 8 users are likely familiar with.

6. I actually liked those Modern apps, and bought a few. Are they still around?

It’s too soon to say how Windows 8 developers will react to the changes, but Microsoft did show some of its own full-screen Modern apps operating in a windowed mode.

Old is new again with the Windows 10 Start menu. Nick Statt/CNET

7. And the Start menu?

If you hated Windows 8’s full-screen Start screen, you’re in luck: the new Start menu harkens back to the good old days, sitting on the left side of the screen and presenting that familiar pop-up column of shortcuts. And if you liked Windows 8’s approach, there’s something here for you too: the new menu will incorporate Live Tiles and can be customized.

8. Never mind the apps — I need to get things done. Any improvements on that front?

Windows 10 beefs up Snap, the function that lets you quickly arrange apps side by side, with a new quadrant layout that lets you split your display up among up to four apps. There’s also support for multiple desktops (finally), so you can keep all your work apps in one place and quickly slide back to the desktop with your blogs and Reddit once your boss walks away. And then there’s the task view button that lives on the taskbar. Click it, and you’ll get a quick look at all of your open files, windows, and desktops.

We’re going to need bigger screens. Nick Statt/CNET

9. Will Windows 10 run on my machine?

It’s too early to say. Windows 8.1 did introduce 64-bit computing requirements that ruled out some ancient processors, but it otherwise played well with PCs that weren’t too old. Suffice to say, if you’re picking up a newer device any time between now and Windows 10’s release next year, you should be good to go. Once again, if you’re willing to take risks, you can check out the Windows Insider Program for an early look.