Hacktivist Android Trojan designed to fight app piracy

There’s hacking, then there’s hacktivism. There’s malware, then there’s Android Trojans like the latest “threat” discovered by Symantec. Android.Walkinwat is like the Batman of mobile malware–a rogue vigilante seeking justice through means that also skirt legality, but for a good cause, PCWorld reports. The purpose of Android.Walkinwat is not to take control of your Android smartphone, compromise your personal data, or steal your bank account information. In fact, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from Android.Walkinwat. But, if you have a habit of downloading pirated Android apps rather than paying for the legitimate version, you might run into this Trojan…

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U.S. gov’t worker pleads guilty to accessing student files

According to PCWorld, a former employee of the U.S. Department of Education has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing confidential loan files of several hundred college students on an agency database, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Charlotte M. Robinson, 46, of Dolton, Illinois, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of unauthorized computer access. Robinson, who faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a U.S. $100,000 fine, is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22. Robinson worked as an employee in the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Division of the Department of Education, where her responsibilities included reviewing and processing student loan complaints within the FSA Office of the Ombudsman, the DOJ said in a press release. Between April 2006 and May 2009, Robinson logged into the agency’s National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) and repeatedly viewed the confidential college loan records of several hundred people, including musicians, actors, family members and friends, the DOJ said. NSLDS includes borrowers’ names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, types of loans, loan balances and other information. Confidential records maintained in NSLDS are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and access by Department of Education employees is strictly limited to official government duties, the DOJ said. Robinson was aware that the records were confidential, according to her plea agreement. Her sole purpose for viewing the records was “idle curiosity,” the DOJ said…

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Amazon integrates Apple iPhone, iPad and Android with cloud

According to PCWorld, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is making it possible for developers to directly integrate mobile applications for Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and also apps for Android-based smartphones, with its cloud using two new beta SDKs (software development kits), it said in a blog post on Thursday. Amazon’s aim is to make it easier for developers to build mobile applications that take advantage of its cloud-based services. Previously, developers had to do more of the work themselves, including writing their own libraries to handle the HTTP connection and error handling, according to Amazon. Using the AWS SDK for Android and the AWS SDK for iOS developers can integrate their applications with Amazon’s cloud-based Simple Storage Service (S3), the SimpleDB database and send messages using Simple Notification Service (SNS) and Simple Queue Service (SQS). Possible applications of the services include uploading photos, videos, and other types of content to Amazon S3; sharing game moves and high scores using Amazon SimpleDB, or transmitting messages between smartphones without the need for any additional server infrastructure, Amazon said…

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Google offers a peek at its Chrome laptop. Hint: It’s an NC

Google gave the world a first look at its new Chrome OS laptop Tuesday and according to CEO Eric Schmidt it’s very much like the Network Computer devices that he was pitching while chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems 13 years ago, reports PCWorld. Only this time around, the idea will actually catch on, Schmidt said. The difference, Schmidt said, is that the web-based development tools used to build programs for Chrome OS have had had years to mature. “Our instincts were right… but we didn’t have the tools,” he said of the computer industry’s failure to make lightweight computers that could compete with Microsoft Windows in the enterprise. Google thinks that web applications are finally ready to displace Microsoft’s hegemony and businesses will buy computers that can’t run programs such as Word or Excel.

“I think there’s every reason to believe that when you go back and you look at history, not only is this the right time to build these products, but because they work and they work at scale, they’ll be very successful,” Schmidt said. Google didn’t say if or when it was going to start selling its own lightweight laptops. But the company did offer a sneak peak at a completely black, unbranded notebook, running the Chrome OS, that it’s shipping out to developers and a limited number of lucky consumers…

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5 holiday tech scams to avoid

The holiday shopping season is a great time to get tech products at discounted prices, but it also creates a golden opportunity for the web’s scam artists. The FBI, McAfee, the Better Business Bureau and F-Secure are all warning about cybercriminals who will try to take you for a ride this holiday season, reports PCWorld. Here are their most pertinent warnings and tips for staying safe:

The Infamous Free iPad

Bogus free iPad offers started popping up immediately after Apple’s tablet went on sale, and they’ve since been banned from Facebook. Still, you might see similar offers around the Web, McAfee says, prompting you to buy other products as a condition of getting the free iPad. By now, you should realize it’s too good to be true.…Read More

Apple: Underage workers may have built your iPhone

That iPhone you adore may have been built by a child. Nearly a dozen underage teens were working for Apple-contracted facilities in 2009, the company has revealed, PCWorld reports. The news was posted to Apple’s web site under a section labeled “Supplier Responsibility.” The underage workers, Apple says, were at three different suppliers’ facilities. Though the specific locations aren’t disclosed, the report says inspectors visited facilities in China, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. The factories in question built iPhones, iPods, and various Apple computers. “Across the three facilities, our auditors found records of 11 workers who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age, although the workers were no longer underage or no longer in active employment at the time of our audit,” the report says. The legal age in the facilities’ countries, according to Apple’s report, is 16. The workers in question were only 15 when they were hired.

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