News Tech

VidMate WARNING: Report Shows The App Drains Battery, Charges Users and Exposes Personal Information

Vidmate has been installed by over 5 million users until now, lured by the promises of offline streaming. With the app, Android users could download any video from YouTube, Vimeo, and other platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. While it was a great service, offering users with a low or unreliable internet connection, users that had an expensive data plan a way to stream videos on mobile phones. The popular video downloading app was developed by a subsidiary of UC Web (which is owned by the Chinese tech giant Alibaba) and got very popular in Asian countries, like India.

Upstream’s Secure-D Reported VidMate as Being a Dangerous App

However, the service came with a high cost that users had no idea they were paying. According to security searchers at a mobile tech firm from London, called Upstream, VidMate had a suspicious activity. At the Upstream Secure-D security lab, researchers unveiled the suspicious activity at VidMate in their report:

“A hidden component within the app delivers invisible ads, generates fake clicks and purchases, installs other suspicious apps without consent and collects personal users’ information. Consequently, it depletes users’ data allowance and brings unwanted charges.”

The app is not available in Google Play Store but can be downloaded as an APK from various sources.

The CEO of Upstream, Guy Krief, said that whoever downloaded and opened VidMate, has surrendered “control of their phone and personal information to a third party,” adding that while users cannot see the ads displayed, the “phone and its connection become part of a botnet and are used to commit ad fraud, at the expense of its owner … and his privacy.”

The app also requests suspicious permissions, such as:

  • allows the app to create windows on top of others
  • allows the app to install and download other unknown apps without asking or notifying the user
  • allows the app to read and write system settings
  • allows the app to access the user’s device log files, which contain sensitive information.

Delete VidMate to Protect Your Privacy, Data, and Money

The Upstream report urges users to delete VidMate to remedy the issues of battery drainage, charges of premium content without the users’ knowledge, data usage and privacy breach, adding that installing apps from outside Google Play Store is dangerous:

“VidMate is a reminder of the serious dangers of installing software from sources other than the official Google Play Store. The financial and privacy risks of letting misleading and abusive apps onto your device are simply not worth it.”

Here’s a short video from Upstream on VidMate’s suspicious activity:

A VidMate spokesperson was interviewed by BuzzFeed and stated that the app has no such knowledge of the suspicious activity, but they will investigate it. The spokesperson used the name Jiatao Chen and didn’t provide basic information of the funders and executives of the app, refusing to confirm his name or title. However, he stated:

“No only do we not program such practices into our core app, we have a zero-tolerance policy because it is in VidMate’s interest to protect our users against such detrimental practices.”

Chen also added that they are investigating the issue and VidMate has terminated the relationship with a partner (Nonolive) that was included in the Upstream report.

VidMate Spokesperson about Mango’s SDK: “Vidmate will terminate relationship with and blacklist this company”

The suspicious activity began with Vidmate installing a software development kit from Mango, which loaded the hidden ads and signed up users to premium services. The activity would take place when users didn’t use their phones. One spokesperson from VidMate stated that if the “SDK really is performing ad fraud, Vidmate will terminate relationship with and blacklist this company.”

UCWeb and VidMate responded to BuzzFeed News, with a UCWeb spokesperson saying that the app and trademark were sold to a start-up called Guangzhou Nemo Fish Technology Co., in 2018 and that they are not involved in Vidmate’s operations, but have maintained a business collaboration.

VidMate’s Suspicious Activity Started Long Before It Was Sold to the Start-up

The issues with VidMate were first revealed by Upstream when the company began providing security services to mobile carriers in some developing countries, and Krief found that VidMate “was number one in terms of block attempts over the past six months” compared to other apps monitored by Upstream. Guy Krief stated that Upstream saw and blocked suspicious transactions from VidMate before UCWeb sold VidMate:

“We saw some first small volumes of suspicious transaction requests in October 2017 and it progressively ramped up until April 2018 when it then started being at a different scale.”

As a response, the UCWeb spokesperson stated in an email that they could not respond to these accusations until they see the data and all the details, adding that Upstream didn’t contact them to give them the information.

Keep your personal information safe and use trustworthy apps that you can find on Google Play Store. Alternatively, use the Lite versions of social media apps to save data.

News Tech

Google Tests Out The Material Theme Redesign For Google Play Store

Lately, Google has been busy expanding its new version of Material Theme to all of their domains. Apps like Google Photos, Gmail and Google Drive have recently been through redesigns. The company is still testing out their new Material Theme to more apps.
As the list of redesigned apps continues to expand, the most recent addition being Google Play Store.

The latest Google Play Store update brings to the table version 12.5.53. Activating the Material Theme redesign makes significant changes, including the following:

  • A bottom bar with tabs for Home, Games, Movies, and Books
  • Rounded corners for the search bar
  • Lack of nested tabs and icons for categories
  • Rounded square icons in the homepage
  • Larger Buttons for Installing Apps
  • Circular download indicator around the app icon

Google Tests Out The Material Theme Redesign For Google Play Store

The website 9to5Google found some interesting strings within the app, which have been interpreted as support for installing Android system updates straight from the Play Store. Other rumors say the strings are actually meant to give users the option to install APEX packages.

Android Q currently has six APEX packages and, according to some sources, OEMs will be forced to use Google’s packages. The new Google Play Store user interface has been tweeted by Kieron Quinn, a software developer who was among the lucky ones that had the chance to test out the new version. Here are some screenshots of the new design:

According to Quinn, the version does crash sometimes, but it is quite stable for a prototype. Another issue is that the toolbar keeps disappearing. We are hoping to see the final version of the Google Play Store Material Theme redesign at Google’s I/O event next week.

Crypto News Tech

Cryptocurrency-Stealing Malware Spotted On Google Play Store

IT security specialists from ESET discovered a new type of cryptocurrency-stealing malware, a so-called “Clipper,” in some Google Play Store applications. ESET reported their worrying findings to Google which was quick to remove the infected apps.

It seems that the new type of malware employed a very straightforward method to steal cryptocurrency from wallet users. To transfer crypto to another account, users need to enter the recipient’s address in their wallet application. But, these crypto addresses are long and challenging to enter manually, so many users copy-paste them.

The cryptocurrency-stealing malware steps in and replaces the copied address with the one operated by its developers. It does that by surveying the system’s clipboard, and the replacement takes place automatically when the malware detects something looking like a crypto wallet address. Besides, this malware also stole the user’s credentials and private keys off the system’s clipboard.

Cryptocurrency-Stealing Malware Spotted On Google Play Store, Removed By Google

The so-called “Clipper” cryptocurrency-stealing malware has been affecting Windows users since 2017. However, its Android variant came out in mid-2018, but it was only affecting Android apps outside of Google Play Store. Now, ESET spotted the cryptocurrency-stealing malware known as “Clipper” in several apps on Google Play Store.

One of the apps ESET revealed as infected with “Clipper” is the MetaMask App. The thing is the original and legitimate MetaMask, an Ethereum-based DApp, is not having an Android app. So, the MetaMask application on the Google Play Store is a third-party application designed by cyber criminals to steal cryptocurrency funds. “We would appreciate if Google Play Devs would reserve trademarked names for apps, especially repeat phishing targets like us,” the original MetaMask DApp’s devs said on Twitter.

Undoubtedly, keeping the security of Google Play Store apps is a challenging task for Google since dozens of new apps are coming out daily. In our case, luckily, thanks to ESET, Google removed MetaMask and other apps affected by the “Clipper” cryptocurrency-stealing malware.

Games News Tech

PUBG Mobile Is The Most Popular Game On Google Play Store

While Fortnite is not going to fall behind, as every year Google Play Store is publishing the list of its selection of the best Android applications, movies, TV series, and books, the users have chosen PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG Mobile) as the best game of 2018.

PUBG Mobile Is The Most Popular Game On Google Play Store

The list of best apps has been organized in seven categories, among which stands out the recently released “Fan Favorites,” in which users are the ones who vote for their most preferred option. In this new category, PUBG Mobile has managed to be the most favorite game by the users.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the first Battle Royale game, but, soon after, Fortnite has become the most popular title of the genre. Since then, Bluehole and PUBG Corp have been trying to get their video game back into the spotlight. As Google Play Store named PUBG Mobile as the most popular title of 2018, the game developed by Tencent is finally beating the Epic Games’ title, Fortnite, at least on Android.

YouTube Is The Most Appreciated Application On Android Operating System

PUBG can be played on Xbox One, PC, Android and, PlayStation 4, more recently. Officially nothing is known, but there is information that points out to a PUBG release on PS4. A month ago, PSNProfiles, said that PUBG was already in the database of the Sony store, but for the moment, we got nothing from the Japanese company.

The award for best app of the year, according to Google Play Store, has been for Drops, an application that allows the learning of a total of 31 different languages. Other recognized apps have been Vimage, Slowly, Mimo, and Buzzfeed’s Tasty as the best app “for day to day.” As for the users’ favorite application, they voted for YouTube.

News Tech

Google Play Store is the Biggest Virtual Store in the World

Have you ever wondered who would win if we were to start a competition between Google Play and Apple’s App Store? It seems we finally might have an answer to this dilemma. Modern conversations usually start with a few general questions and don’t miss the opportunity to find out more about the other person’s mobile – what the manufacturer and its operating system are.

Both Android and iPhone users have access to an interactive app store which constantly brings them updated versions of their favourite apps. However, it looks like Google Play is more popular than the virtual store powered by Apple, since it is used on more than 2 billion devices which are powered by Android systems.

Google Play is so popular because it comes preinstalled on the devices that use it. In this case, people can simply look for the app they need, download and install it. According to AppBrain, Android fans can choose from 2.5 million apps existent in Google Play’s library nowadays. Most of them are free, but not all of them.

An updated version of Google Play APK is available for download

There’s no doubt that Google Play is Android users’ best friend. Here they can find everything they need: apps for communication, music, movies, e-books, health, cooking and many more. If you are curious to see which the top choices for each category are we will mention them now:

  • When it comes to games most Android users installed Candy Crush Saga;
  • Facebook is the most popular choice when it comes to social apps;
  • The most popular song is Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran;
  • Adele’s 25 is the most common choice when it comes to music albums;
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James seems to be the most popular book.

Those who want to keep their devices up to date should know that a new update for the Google Play APK is now available for download. This time, is 12.1.18 and before you start downloading it make sure that your software can support the new version.

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