Android Current Affairs - 2020

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What is StrandHogg that affects Android OS?

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent an alert to all States warning them about the vulnerability of Android operating system to a bug called ‘StrandHogg’, which allows real-time malware applications to pose as genuine applications and are able to access user data of all kind. The information was shared by Threat Analytical Unit, Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (ICCCC) so as to take steps to create awareness among public on vulnerability of Android to ‘StrandHogg’.

About StrandHog

While all versions of Android (including Android 10) are vulnerable to this bug, but it may not be apparent to affected users that malware applications are already on board their device.

How does it affect? This malware can then potentially listen to users conversations, make calls, record conversations, access photo album, read or send messages, as well as get login credentials to various accounts. Such malware can also access private images, files, contact details, call logs, and location information.

Warning signs? Pop-up notifications in phone, asking for permission to send notifications, messages etc., are one of the main entry points for ‘StrandHogg’ to launch the attack. An app in which user is already logged in asking him/her to login again is another anomaly pointing to possibilities of a cyberattack. Once such requests are approved by users, the malware would instantly access mobile phone/ tablet for specific purposes. It can then activate microphone, allowing a hacker in a remote location to listen to live conversations and even camera could be switched on to capture visuals.

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HarmonyOS: Huawei launches its own Operating System

Chinese telecom giant Huawei launched its own operating system called HarmonyOS or HongMeng in Chinese. It was revealed by Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s consumer business at a press conference in Dongguan.

This unveiling comes at a time when telecom giant is facing threat of losing access to Google’s Android platform, amid escalating U.S.-China trade tensions, although Huawei has reportedly been working on its own operating system since 2012.

About HarmonyOS

HarmonyOS is future oriented and designed to be more smooth and secure, and is completely different from Android and iOS.

The first version of this operating system would launch in late 2019 in its smart screen products and would later be expanded to across a range of smart devices, including wearable technology, over next 3 years.

Backup Plan: Although Huawei had no plan to launch a smartphone with HarmonyOS but the company has a backup plan ready i.e. if in future Huawei would cannot use Android then the company can immediately switch to HarmonyOS. This is because without access to full version of Android/other popular services offered by Google (including applications available on Google Play store), Huawei may face trouble in convincing its consumers outside China to buy its phones.

Importance: This highly anticipated operating system is considered crucial for Huawei’s survival as it confronts a looming White House ban on U.S. companies that are selling technology products to Huawei, which could possibly remove Huawei’s access to Android.

Background

In May 2019 Huawei was swept into deepening trade war between China and US which has seen punitive tariffs slapped on billions of dollars of two-way trade.

US President Donald Trump amid suspicions that Chinese telecom giant Huawei which is considered world leader in superfast fifth-generation (5G) equipment and is also world’s number 2 smartphone producer, provides a backdoor for Chinese intelligence services, blacklisted the company. However firm denies US accusations.

Blacklisting of Huawei by US, has resulted into restrictions on American companies which are theoretically no longer allowed to sell technology products to firm, however a 3-month exemption period (which ends in second week of August), was granted by US before measure came into force.

Ban could prevent Chinese tech firm from getting hold of key hardware and software which includes smartphone chips and elements of Google Android operating system (OS), which equips vast majority of smartphones in world, including those of Huawei.

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