Android app with 100 million users spread malware

However, a recent influx of negative reviews pointed to problems with the app’s user experience which prompted Kaspersky to investigate the software …

Google has pulled the popular CamScanner app from its Play Store after it was discovered that it was spreading malware.

Kaspersky discovered that the app – which was installed more than 100 million times – contained an advertising library with a malicious dropper component.

The component was detected as “Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Necro.n” and was designed to download and launch a payload from malicious servers.

CamScanner was a popular app among Android users which allowed them to scan documents with their smartphone camera and save the content to a PDF document.

The app had 1.8 million reviews, most of which were positive. However, a recent influx of negative reviews pointed to problems with the app’s user experience which prompted Kaspersky to investigate the software.

Now read: Apple patches flaw that allowed iPhone jailbreak

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Android warning: Google fans told to delete popular Play Store app right now

Android is one of the most used pieces of software in the world, with over two … Kaspersky said: “Official app stores such as Google Play are usually …

“Unfortunately, nothing is 100 per cent safe, and from time to time malware distributors manage to sneak their apps into Google Play.

“The problem is that even such a powerful company as Google can’t thoroughly check millions of apps. Keep in mind that most of the apps are updated regularly, so Google Play moderators’ jobs are never done.

“CamScanner was actually a legitimate app, with no malicious intensions whatsoever, for quite some time.

“It used ads for monetisation and even allowed in-app purchases.

“However, at some point, that changed, and recent versions of the app shipped with an advertising library containing a malicious module.”

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A Google Engineer Accused of Stealing Trade Secrets Sold to Uber

A former Google engineer has been accused of stealing trade secrets from the company, which he then sold to Uber, the Associated Press reported.

A former Google engineer has been accused of stealing trade secrets from the company, which he then sold to Uber, the Associated Press reported.

The charge filed by the San Jose, California prosecutor’s office is related to a case filed in 2017 by Google’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle division, Waymo. Uber agreed to pay $ 245 million to settle the case, but the federal judge in charge of the case made an unusual recommendation to launch a criminal investigation.

It’s important for Uber to have self-driving car technology

Anthony Levandowski, a pioneer in the development of robotic cars, has been accused of stealing trade secrets. He could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000 for each of the 33 counts or a total of 8.25 million, the BTA reported.

According to the prosecution, months before his abrupt departure in 2016, Levandowski downloaded numerous files from Google’s self-driving car program and used the information to create his Otomotto company, which was later acquired by Uber for $ 680 million.

Prosecutors have indicated that the investigation is ongoing, but will not specify whether Uber and company founder Travis Kalanik are the subject of the investigation.

“He didn’t steal anything, from anyone,” the statement reads. “This case rehashes claims already discredited in a civil case that settled more than a year and a half ago. The downloads at issue occurred while Anthony was still working at Google—when he and his team were authorized to use the information. None of these supposedly secret files ever went to Uber or to any other company.”, Tech Crunch reported.

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Google parent’s investing arm battles suspicions in profit quest

… investing arms have done more deals in the last two years than any other corporate venture investor, according to industry tracker CB Insights.

CapitalG, a private investment arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc., has been in all the right places lately, generating billions of dollars in gains. The success is raising questions about the company’s strategy and sprawling influence over the technology industry.

In the last year and a half, four of CapitalG’s 36 portfolio companies have gone public, including Lyft Inc. and Crowdstrike Holdings Inc. Airbnb Inc. plans to do the same. Another four have been acquired. One of them, cloud analytics provider Looker, was bought by Google itself for $2.6 billion. At the end of June, Alphabet’s stakes in privately held companies were worth almost $11 billion, with unrealized gains of almost $3 billion.

The company’s private investing arms have done more deals in the last two years than any other corporate venture investor, according to industry tracker CB Insights. Last year, CapitalG made a record nine “unicorn” investments in companies worth more than $1 billion. In second place? GV, Alphabet’s venture capital unit, which bought stakes in three unicorns among its industry-leading 70-plus deals.

Google struggles to make big acquisitions in its main areas of business, partly due to concern over antitrust regulation. Its last huge deal was Motorola almost a decade ago. If the company can’t buy promising tech firms outright, the next best thing is investing in them. This helps Google keep tabs on the latest innovations bubbling up in Silicon Valley, and means Alphabet shareholders benefit if the creations turn out to be hits.

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Still, there’s so much scrutiny of large technology companies that even this strategy sows suspicion in Silicon Valley and could come under the regulatory microscope.

“Deal flow gives you a lot of insight into what other people are doing in the market,” said Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, which studies and recommends competition policies. “It’s just one more tool that they have to exert power.”

Google’s clout was so much of a concern for one financial technology company that it ended up rejecting money from an Alphabet investment arm, according to Pascal Bouvier, who is now managing partner of MiddleGame Ventures.

“If Google decides to get into that line, all of a sudden you may have a formidable competitor,” said Bouvier. He worked at another VC firm when the deal was spurned and declined to name the fintech firm involved.

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These are questions that CapitalG executives have gotten before. They say they’re not a tool of Alphabet to corner digital markets and insist their mission is the same as traditional private tech investors: generate a return on investments.

David Lawee, the 53-year-old startup veteran who heads CapitalG, recalled a dinner in 2017 with a group of entrepreneurs and Google co-founder Larry Page, at which someone asked what CapitalG’s purpose was.

Page turned to Lawee, who responded: “Make money.”

“That’s it!” Page said.

Dealing with a company the size of Alphabet, though, it’s hard to ignore potential conflicts. Lawee is on the board of Lyft. GV bought a large stake in rival Uber Technologies Inc. And Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving technology unit, could compete with both one day.

To avoid the appearance of conflicts, Lawee said CapitalG is careful about where it invests while maintaining strict firewalls to protect trade secrets and intellectual property.

“There’s a few areas we’ve decided not to be as forward-leaning — self-driving cars as an example,” he said during an interview at CapitalG’s eighth-floor offices with postcard views of the San Francisco Bay. “We’re not sharing any data back with Google. But we don’t want anyone to have that perception.”

CapitalG is independent from Google, added Laela Sturdy, a veteran Google worker who along with former TPG Capital executive Gene Frantz make up the trio of partners running the unit. It is also run separately from GV, which invests in early-stage startups and shares the same building. “We operate like any other investment fund,” Sturdy, 41, said.

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Still, scrutiny is intensifying. Some powerful people in Washington think Google is too big, and to them, nothing the company does is outside the realm of potential anti-competitive behavior.

Last month, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who is leading an antitrust investigation of Google and other big tech companies, asked about Alphabet’s venture capital fund.

“Unlike many other corporate venture funds, our funds are not designed to create a pipeline for future strategic acquisitions,” Kent Walker, Google’s chief legal officer said in a written response. “These funds run independently of Google and there are strict boundaries between the funds and Google to prevent confidential information about any of the funds’ portfolio companies from being shared with Google or any other Alphabet entities.”

Lawee’s position on Lyft’s board is one place where lawmakers might cry foul, said Michael Kades, director for markets and competition at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive think tank. A board seat could make it look like Google has influence on Lyft’s business, even if CapitalG is officially independent from Google, Kades said.

CapitalG executives disclose few financial details. Unlike other private equity or venture firms, they have only one partner — parent Alphabet — and don’t need to raise outside money or return cash to investors on a deadline. They typically invest in only a half-dozen startups a year, among more than 5,000 on their radar.

Lawee’s pitch, when he started CapitalG as Google Capital in 2013 with the blessing of Page and a top Google lawyer, David Drummond, was to help younger companies grow by matching them with Google experts in areas such as artificial intelligence, marketing and human resources. Lawee knew the value of that expertise, having spent five years overseeing more than 100 acquisitions for Google, including DoubleClick and AdMob.

CapitalG has delivered on that access, according to officers at several portfolio companies.

“They’ve connected us with probably dozens of people,” said Luis von Ahn, CEO and co-founder of language-learning app Duolingo. At one point, his startup wanted to start creating its own instructional videos, Von Ahn said. “Within two days, we were talking to the head of original content on YouTube.” (In 2009, Google acquired Recaptcha, another company he co-founded.)

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Daniel Dines, CEO of automation technology startup UiPath, said he didn’t need CapitalG’s money when the firm approached him. But the chance to work with Google AI experts piqued his interest. In a presentation at a borrowed office in Manhattan, CapitalG’s Sturdy clinched the deal.

“I got the sense her allegiance is with UiPath and not with Google,” Dines said.

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Robot Wars: A Tale of 2 AI Heavyweights

… placing its AI employees in its public cloud project Microsoft Azure while also acquiring further talent such as Bonsai, Lobe, and Semantic Machines.

This article was first published by MyWallSt. Get your FREE guide to our top 2 pot stock picks!

In recent years, the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has progressed at a rapid rate. Once confined to the realm of science fiction, these intelligent “thinking” machines are all around us now. However, they don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and they aren’t trying to kill us. In fact, most are just making our lives a little more convenient (for now).

A child shaking hands with an android robot.

Image source: Unsplash.

The usual names — including Apple, Amazon.com, and IBM — crop up when thinking of AI industry leaders. Two companies with a lot of experience in AI, albeit in different ways, are Microsoft(NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG). While AI is not the first thing to jump to mind when thinking of these behemoths, there is no denying their investment in creating a system of artificial intelligence to dominate the market for years to come.

The only question left, then, is how they are going to use it.

Microsoft

It’s no surprise that one of the world’s leading software developers is at the forefront of AI creation. In 2016, the tech giant established the Artificial Intelligence and Research engineering group following a restructuring of the business. In its end-of-year report, Microsoft listed AI at the top of its priorities, marking a shift in focus for the company.

In 2018, it took a step further, placing its AI employees in its public cloud project Microsoft Azure while also acquiring further talent such as Bonsai, Lobe, and Semantic Machines. It seems it has now added another bullet to the chamber in the form of a visionary leader with years of experience in a competing AI program. I am, of course, talking about Bill Stasior.

Stasior left his position as head of Siri at Apple in May, and has now been made corporate vice president of technology in the office of the chief technology officer, Kevin Scott, at Microsoft. Formerly the vice president for AI and Siri, Stasior spearheaded the Siri virtual-assistant program for Apple.

Microsoft will apply Stasior’s AI experience to its current programs such as Cognitive Toolkit, the company’s deep learning framework that helps describe artificial neural networks, allowing programs to “learn” and expand on performed tasks. The company also provides an AI platform that harnesses a set of application programming interfaces (APIs); this is geared toward the futuristic approach of using speech, language, and vision at the core of the process, streamlining traditional methods.

With all the tools and resources to create a sustainable AI, all Microsoft needed was a leader to head it, and now it has its man. It will be interesting to see if the company ventures into the virtual-assistant program soon with Stasior’s expertise in the field.

Alphabet’s Google

In 2002, “digital prophet” Kevin Kelly sat down with two relatively unknown young men to discuss their free-to-use web search business and questioned how they expected to make any money from this. Their response was simple: “Oh, we’re actually building an artificial intelligence company.”

These two men were Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google.

The legitimacy of this quote has been disputed, but in a world full of technological advancements in mass data and AI, you cannot look past Google and the arsenal of information it has collected in two decades. Google’s stated mission is “to organize the world’s information.” However, there’s an argument some have made about Google’s secret mission: “‘to monitor the world’s interactions with the world’s information,’ which is how machine learning ‘learns.'”

At its 2018 I/O developer conference, Google shocked the crowd with Duplex, a human-like voice assistant that could make phone calls on behalf of its user. In the year since this display, little more has come from a product that was little more than a fun experiment, yet clearly Google has begun looking into the creation of an AI that resembles something from the movies, with the ability portray emotional intelligence, a distinctly human trait.

Google has put a lot of effort into reassuring the public of its ethical approach to AI, but unlike Microsoft and other companies, Google has amassed decades’ worth of data at an immeasurable scale, which, if applied to programs such as Duplex, could potentially lead to a bona fide emotionally intelligent AI. This thought can be quite disconcerting, and one would hope that Google will keep all of its AI research within the bounds of ethical practice regarding artificial intelligence.

In short, what we have seen are two very different AI programs, with Microsoft opting for the standard machine learning approach with business applications, and Google potentially looking into a more personal, emotionally intelligent form of AI, built on the back of years of collected consumer data.

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