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Daily Dose - Researchers Slam Android Over Apps that Leak GPS data

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A study from researchers at Duke University, Penn State University, and Intel Labs has discovered that 15 out of 30 popular Android applications selected at random were sending GPS data and phone numbers to advertisers and remote servers.  Several months ago, it was discovered that one app was sending phone numbers to a server in China, but this week's news suggests a more widespread problem with Android applications.  Researchers blame Google for this situation saying, "Android's coarse grained access control provides insufficient protection against third-party applications seeking to collect sensitive data." 

Microsoft an Unlikely Champion Against Patent Trolls
A new day is dawning when Microsoft has the support of Apache, Google, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a patent case, but this time Microsoft is on the receiving end with i4i's claim over XML features used in Word.  Even Wal-Mart came out in support of Microsoft saying that the patent system is destructive to business and innovation.  A ton of other major companies submitted briefs asking the US Supreme Court to hear the case, which i4i won in the Federal Circuit Court.  All of them are echoing the same point - that the US patent system isn't fair to defendants.

Google's Next Idea to Make the Web Faster
It's a pretty simple idea: Google wants to encourage an alternative to the popular JPEG image format.  The search gurus unveiled a new image format based on WebM technology called WebP.  Their research shows that it uses 40% less bandwidth than a JPEG image, and since images make up about 65% of the bytes transmitted in the average web page, widespread usage could result in a dramatic speed improvement on the web.

The next version of GNOME, 2.32, is here this week with a bunch of bugfixes and a few new features.  While most of the developers have moved to GNOME 3 development, this 2.x version got a nice cleanup and improvements to Empathy instant messaging.  The document viewer, Evince, also got improvements and can now speak SyncTeX. 

The Dark Art Of Software Estimation: How Do You Estimate?
If there's one surefire way to make a developer uncomfortable it's to ask for an estimate for work to be done.  Check out James Sugrue's new post!
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Fabrizio Giudici replied on Sun, 2010/10/03 - 7:04am

I welcome security researchers, in all cases. But I'd really like to read some comparative survey (*) - when one focuses on a single system e.g. on Android, it's easy for people to misinterpret (or to spread FUD) that the specific system is worse than others. My opinion is that all systems are more or less subject to the same (in)security levels, also because the user is always the weaker ring of the chain. For instance, the referred chinese malware is a wallpaper that reads your personal info: I mean, it's up to the user to understand that a wallpaper doesn't need GPS, connectivity and personal information access, so he shouldn't install it. It's a tough problem that has more to do with education than technology.

(*) I didn't read the whole PDF paper, but I searched for iPhone and iOS and only found a single reference in the bibliography. So I think I can safely assume it's not a comparative survey.

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