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Daily News Roundup: Fake Samsung Updates App Had 10 Million Installs

A fraudulent app called “Updates for Samsung” promised to help users install the latest firmware updates for their Samsung phones. In reality, it redirected users to an ad-filled site and tricked them into purchasing an expensive subscription.

Android updates can be a mess, and that’s mostly the manufacturer’s fault. If you want guaranteed timely updates, your best bet is to buy a Pixel phone. Unfortunately, some bad actors took advantage of how obtuse updating a Samsung phone can be and released an app called “Updates for Samsung” promising to make updates easier.

The app in question didn’t truly fulfill the “convenient and easy” promise. When opened, the app redirects users to an ad-filled site that did have Samsung firmware download links. But you have to dig past a bucket load of ads, and hope the free download link it offered didn’t crash.

When malware analyst Aleksejs Kuprins dug into the code, he discovered the app throttled its free download options to 56 KBps, and in testing generally crashed before completing. “Updates for Samsung” offered a $35 premium subscription that removed those limitations for a successful fast download.

Even the subscription process was suspect, as it didn’t use Google’s payment system, in violation of Play Store rules. Thankfully, after reporting this information to Google, the app has been removed from the Play Store. It’s just a shame it took 10,000 installs and an outside party noticing the problem for Google to put a stop to this abuse of unsuspecting users. [ZDNet]

RELATED: Fragmentation Isn’t Android’s Fault, It’s the Manufacturers’

In Other News:

  • Tesla promises a free upgrade to new self-driving chips in older cars: Telsa unveiled a new “self-driving” chip made in-house that it promised had all the power necessary to make self-driving possible. The problem? Older Tesla models don’t have it, and people already paid for the self-driving add-on. The company promised that anyone who did pay for the self-driving option would get a free hardware upgrade. [The Verge]
  • Amazon asks FCC for permission to launch satellites: Amazon wants to provide nationwide broadband and thinks it can accomplish that with 3,236 satellites. Dubbed “Project Kuiper” the company behemoth is taking the next step towards that end goal: asking permission to launch. If this story sounds familiar, that’s likely because SpaceX just launched satellites for the same purpose. [GeekWire]
  • The latest Windows 10 update may cause color issues: Some users have noticed that after taking the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, colors no longer display correctly on their monitor. Microsoft says it issued a fix, but users continue to complain even after updating. Here’s hoping Microsoft completely solves the issue soon. [TechRadar]
  • HQ Trivia laid off staff, and is moving to a subscription model: If you forgot all about HQ Trivia, don’t feel bad. So did everyone else. And that’s the problem. HQ Trivia, once the app everyone had to have, is old news and the world moved on.  As such the company laid off some of its staff and is trying to pivot to a new game with a subscription. At $10 a month, we don’t have high hopes for a giant turnaround. [TechCrunch]
  • Firefox begins beta tests for $5 ad-free news: Getting the news online is a balance of choices. You may not like ads, but ads support the companies that bring you the news. Firefox, like Apple News+ before it, thinks it has an equitable solution. Pay $5 a month to skip the ads. Part of that subscription goes to Mozilla, the other part to the sites you read. [International Business Times]
  • MovePass shuts down its app temporarily: Moviepass, the beleaguered movie subscription service, has more bad news. The company is shutting down its app and services for an unspecified time. It promises to return, and that not to charge users while the app down. The company says this is necessary for app updates. Subscribers can only hope it didn’t just run out of money again. [MarketWatch]
  • Apple testing FaceID and TouchID sign-in for iCloud.com: If you’re using the betas for iOS13 or MacOS 13, you can try a new sign in option for iCloud. Instead of plugging in your password manually (or using your password manager to take care of it), you can use FaceID or TouchID to sign in (depending on your hardware). Likely a precursor to “Sign in With Apple” the process sounds incredibly convenient while maintaining security. [9to5Mac]

Lightsail 2 is an incredibly exciting and unique satellite. First up in its unique credentials, crowdfunding helped bring the spacecraft to life.

You also won’t find a traditional means of propulsion in the satellite. Instead, as the name suggests, the LightSail 2 will soon unfurl a broad set of sails (which double as a solar charger) and use the impact of photons to move.

The first Lightsail had a rocky launch. Contact was lost multiple times before operators finally managed to get the sail to unfurl. This time around is going much more smoothly, and the researchers believe they’ll achieve much greater maneuverability than the original satellite.

If you want to keep track of LightSail 2’s progress, the Planetary Society (the team behind the project) published a mission control site with up to date progress information, telemetry, and more.

Ultimately the goal is to prove solar power is a viable method to power small satellites. [SlashGear]