Three plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T in California Superior Court this week, alleging that the company acted as an accessory to theft by re-activating their stolen iPhones for the new, illegitimate owners. The suit comes as the telecom company is making moves to address smartphone theft—earlier this week, the AT&T as well as Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint announced a plan to create a national database of lost or stolen phones so that thieves could not reactivate pilfered devices.
Still, the plaintiffs think they have a case, as AT&T and other telecom companies have registered and assigned names of legitimate users to legally purchased smartphones for years, but still neglect to check with the original user when reassigning registration of the phone. And, telecom companies operate with the knowledge that users will simply buy or replace smartphones in the event of theft.
The complaint accused AT&T and any other “Doe Corporation Entities” that were “in some way legally or proximately responsible” of negligence, civil conspiracy, accessory to theft, and fraud and breach of contract, among other charges. “Plaintiffs have been told by AT&T representatives that they will not, and ‘cannot’ block and effectively kill usage of stolen cell phones by thieves and criminal organizations, however, such representations are false an fraudulent,” the suit read(PDF).
Other countries like Germany and Australia keep databases that prevent reactivation of stolen phones, which has lowered incidences of theft. In the US, electronics have recently begun to surpass cash as the most frequently stolen form of property.
from Ars Technica
Google has removed at least 15 Android apps from its official Play market after receiving outside reports they were malicious trojans that siphoned names, telephone numbers of email addresses of every person in the phone’s contact list.
The apps, which were reported here by McAfee researcher Carlos Castillo, masqueraded as video players offering trailers of Android games and anime content. In the background and without warning, they also obtained the phone number and a unique identifier of the infected device and sent the information in clear text to a remote server under the control of the software developers. Statistics provided by Google Play (formerly the Android Market) indicated they had been downloaded at least 70,000 times, according to Castillo, who didn’t provide the name of the apps or the developers marketing them.
The discovery marks at least the second time Google servers have been caught distributing Android malware since the company announced a new cloud-based service that scours its online bazaars for malicious apps. Two weeks ago, a separate set of researchers found malicious extensions in the Google Chrome Web Store that could gain complete control of users’ Facebook profiles.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on Friday’s report from Castillo. Japanese researchers appear to have been the first to uncover the malicious apps, according to this translation from hatena.ne.jp.
The repeated discoveries of malware hosted on Google servers underscore the darker side of a market that allows anyone to submit apps with few questions asked. Whatever critics may say about Apple’s App Store, which is significantly more selective about the titles it hosts, complaints about malware aren’t one of them. Why outsiders are making the all-too-frequent discoveries of trojans in Google Play and the Chrome store before the company’s security team does is a question that has yet to be answered.
from Ars Technica
Those of you who reload the Valve job postings page every morning hoping to find a way out of your meaningless, dead-end career may have noticed that the esteemed game developer is now looking for a couple of hardware engineers to “conceive, design, evaluate, and produce new types of input, output, and platform hardware.”
The job postings don’t go into any specifics on what kind of hardware Valve is looking for help with exactly, but the company says it wants to “invent whole new gaming experiences” that can “enhance” the kinds of software it’s already making. Some might immediately try to connect the job postings to recent rumors of a PC-based “Steam Box” game console designed to run Valve’s digital distribution service. But it’s just as likely that the company is looking for people to further develop the kind of biofeedback devices it talked about at last year’s Game Developers Conference, or even work on its patent for a “pivotally translatable handle” controller that came to light last year. Or maybe it’s something the company hasn’t spoken about publicly at all.
In any case, it seems clearer than ever that Valve has its sights set on expanding out of the software business, even as it says it’s “a long way from… shipping any sort of hardware.”
from Ars Technica