Huawei and Google have finally split ways. After months of uncertainty, Huawei has finally confirmed the first Google-less smartphone. Unlike its predecessors, the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro will ship without Google’s officially licensed products. That said, a pressing question remains: what will replace Google in Huawei’s devices?
The Chinese company has already discussed several alternatives including an open-source version of Android. Huawei’s most compelling alternative is its in-house software, Harmony OS. Currently, Harmony OS is in development in preparation for an eventual application for mobile devices. However, despite the seemingly positive developments, Huawei has lacked something critical: a new ally.
So far, Huawei’s potential solutions are either developed in-house or still clinging on to the Android ecosystem. Fortunately, Huawei’s lone battles are coming to an end.
The company is now discussing a potential partnership with an unlikely ally: the Switzerland-based ProtonMail. Notably, Switzerland is a neutral territory, allowing Swiss companies like ProtonMail to do business with Huawei.
In an official blog post, the Swiss company has extended support for Huawei’s official app store, AppGallery. According to a Bloomberg interview with the company’s founder, “what [Huawei sees] from [ProtonMail] is having an alternative to Google in case they can’t offer Google anymore.”
“As Huawei devices are especially popular in developing countries where Proton has many users, publishing on the Huawei AppGallery could become essential to continue supporting these user communities,” according to the blog post.
Additionally, ProtonMail has commented on Google’s shadier practices. “Google doesn’t respect users’ privacy,” the post further said. The company has notoriously gone off against Google in the past.
In contrast, ProtonMail offers an email service with end-to-end encryption and open-source cryptography. The company also offers an accessible VPN service called ProtonVPN. The company’s founder, Dr. Andy Yen, has continuously advocated for stricter privacy in digital communication. His team aims to add ProtonCalendar and ProtonDrive to their products in the future.
UPDATE [09/10/19]: ProtonMail has posted a follow-up blog post explaining the situation. Despite the emailing service’s support for Huawei’s AppGallery, both companies are not currently pursuing an official partnership with each other.
Apple is trademarking the slofie
Is the slofie a thing now?
“Selfie” will always be a part of our everyday lexicon. Even if you don’t like taking selfies, you still know what a selfie is. Since the invention of the front-facing camera, everyone has taken a selfie in one form or the other. Likewise, most people also know what a groufie is — the selfie’s group-oriented cousin. Both the selfie and the groufie have seemingly covered all the bases in the front-facing phenomenon. Besides, we have enough of these terms to last us a lifetime.
Apparently, Apple doesn’t think so. At its latest iPhone 11 launch event, the company introduced another monstrosity into our packed vocabulary — the slofie, a selfie but shot in slow motion. The slofie promotes Apple’s newest camera feature. The iPhone 11 Pro’s front-facing camera packs in a slow-motion shooting capability. The camera shoots at an astonishing 120 frames per second.
As with the Animoji years ago, Apple is going all-in on the slofie. The company has applied for a trademark on the term. The trademark application covers all software involved in shooting the slow-motion selfie. Basically, Apple wants to control the market when the iPhone 11 drops. If the slofie does gain traction, it will likely face competitors and imitators. (For example, the Animoji had its fair share of imitators.) A trademark can prevent that from happening.
In another vein, Apple is still trying to make slofies a thing. Apple, please don’t make slofies a thing.
SIM card vulnerability puts your sensitive information at risk
It’s called the SIMjacker
SIM cards are very important. However, a new SIM card vulnerability found out by AdaptiveMobile Security might be putting our information at risk. The Simjacker exploit, which was recently found out and still being investigated on, allows malicious hackers to steal sensitive information from your phone through a SIM card.
Mechanism of attack
How does the Simjacker vulnerability work?
First, a hacker sends a malicious code to your phone through SMS. Then, the malicious code is read directly by your SIM card. The code then causes the [email protected] browser to send sensitive information to an accomplice device through SMS.
According to the report pulished by AdaptiveMobile Security regarding the vulnerability, the [email protected] browser is found on most SIM cards even though its development was abandoned many years ago. [email protected] browser was never updated, so it carries the risk of sending sensitive information to hackers when exploited successfully.
Sensitive information retrieved and transmitted by the [email protected] browser include location and the IMEI of an exploited device. The IMEI is a shorthand for International Mobile Equipment Identity, which is a 15 digit number unique to your smartphone that has some information about your device including its brand and model. As such, hackers can determine your exact location if you have a compromised SIM card, regardless of what device you have.
And the worst part of the attack is that you have no way of knowing that it has already been done since it all happens within the SIM card.
Origin and scope of the attack
The purpose for carrying an attack varies. However, the report traces the origin to an unspecified private company that works with governments to monitor individuals. So, there is a real possibility that it has been used to spy on us. And rightly so, since specific individuals were targeted in a certain country.
The report also warned that over one billion smartphones across all continents could be at risk to the vulnerability — and you could be one of them.
Response to the attack
In response to the discovered vulnerability, industry association SIMalliance has already put up recommendations for network providers to secure their networks. At this point in time, you can’t do anything to secure yourself from the vulnerability, unless you decided to go SIM-free.
But as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t just give your smartphone number like a free lunch. It also pays to update your smartphone once in a while, since some updates are designed to secure your phone from these kind of vulnerabilities and attacks.
Huawei thinks about selling its 5G business
Will hopefully appease Western tensions
Once again, Huawei is weighing all its options. As time rolls by, the company is slowly losing its grip on the Western market. Even after a temporary wave of full support, the US government has gone cold turkey. Huawei is still on the blacklist. In the meantime, the company’s temporary operating license is merely receiving extensions. Unfortunately, extensions don’t mean much without a definitive end.
Huawei is in dire straits. According to a recent interview with The Economist, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is mulling over a drastic move: selling its 5G business to the highest bidder.
Throughout the entire controversy, Huawei’s detractors have often decried the company’s 5G technology as a potential security threat. According to the detractors, the Chinese government can seize control of the company at any time.
Hence, a potential sale can alleviate geopolitical pressures. If a sale is concluded, the purchasing customer will have access to the technology’s inner workings. The customer can check if the network does have a Chinese backdoor built into it. Further, they can tailor the technology in any way they want.
Since plans are plans, the Huawei boss still doesn’t have any potential customers in mind. Likewise, the company has not announced a price yet. If you’re eyeing your wallet for a huge purchase, you’ll have to wait for when Huawei announces the sale.
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