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TikTok security questioned as fake Coronavirus videos spread

Hackers could spread misinformation via WHO’s official account

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TikTok is one of the most widely used apps across the world today. Backed by Chinese giant Bytedance, the app poses serious competition to Facebook-owned Instagram. However, the platform has been mired in controversy over privacy issues and now a report alleges it’s compromised and can help spread misinformation about Coronavirus.

Developers Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry have shared a post detailing how TikTok relies on an unsecured path to deliver content to your phone. In simpler terms, there’s a vulnerability in the way content is delivered to your phone from TikTok’s base server.

HTTP is a standard protocol that’s the backbone of modern internet for data transfer from the origin (TikTok server) to a source (your phone). But, it’s not secure. For ensured privacy, an encrypted protocol is used — HTTPS. The “s” stands for secure.

The developers said TikTok’s CDN (Content Delivery Network), a complex practice that ensures data gets delivered to you faster, relies on HTTP and not HTTPS. It’s like a middleman between the base server and your phone. The problem is, data from the CDN isn’t secure when it gets delivered to you.

Hence, man-in-the-middle attacks are possible. Any hacker can exploit this insecure path and push content they want you to see. To demonstrate an example, the developers injected fake Coronavirus videos into the World Health Organization’s TikTok account, making it look like official communication. The same trick also worked for the Red Cross account.

The developers often called White hat hackers had no intention of causing harm and alerted the platform about its weakness. They said, “we directed the app to our fake server. Because it impersonates TikTok servers, the app cannot tell that it is communicating with a fake server. Thus, it will blindly consume any content downloaded from it.”

The same trick did not work on apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Simply because they rely on HTTPS protocol for data transfer.

Apps

Next Android update is Android 12.1, not Android 13, rumor says

Just a minor update

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One of the highlights of the year is a new Android update. Like clockwork, Google updates the biggest mobile operating system in the world. It’s gotten so popular that the entire industry speculates on the codename each update is attached with even if the company stopped doing them years ago. The hype is there. However, Android users might have to taper their expectations next year. Instead of Android 13, Google might launch Android 12.1 next year.

Reported by XDA Developers, the rumor speculates that next year’s Android update will just be a minor one of the upcoming Android 12 this year. According to one of the publication’s recognized developers, Google attached an “sc-v2” tag for the next Android update, instead of “T” for “Tiramisu,” the internal codename for Android 13. For those who still follow the internal codenames for Android, “sc” refers to Snow Cone, the internal codename for Android 12. As such, it’s natural to assume that the next update is just Android 12.1, rather than Android 13.

It’s been a while since Google released minor updates in lieu of major updates. However, it’s no surprise. Android 12 is already a big update, relative to the past few updates. The update features a revamped design called Material You. Google can believably improve the new update more before launching a major one.

SEE ALSO: Android 12 is Snow Cone

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Google starts rolling out Material You apps

More coming this month

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There is no one more excited for Google’s upcoming products than Google itself. Though the company hasn’t officially launched its products yet, Google has persistently teased everything in the weeks and months leading to their debuts. Now, the company is slowly rolling out Material You apps ahead of the Android 12 launch.

Material You refers to Android’s design revamp for the upcoming Android 12 update. An evolution of Google’s smooth Material Design, the new design personalizes the user interface and the phone’s apps according to the user’s preferences. Android 12 is all about customization.

Of course, since the update also affects apps, Google is also rolling out apps that reflect the new design. Despite the lack of Android 12, the new apps are coming out ahead of time. Officially announced by Google’s Workspace blog, Google Drive will start the new push with its rollout starting today. After Drive, Google Meet will come out on September 19, and Google Calendar will launch on September 20. Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets have already rolled out a week ago.

The new apps will feature new navigation bars, floating action buttons, and a new font called Google Sans. The new font will make readability easier for smaller font sizes.

Android 12 is set to launch soon. Additionally, Google is already launching teasers for the upcoming Pixel 6 series featuring the new, in-house Tensor chipset.

SEE ALSO: Android 12 will make Chrome more colorful

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Spotify launches new recommendation feature, Enhance

Personalize per playlist

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Adding new songs to your Spotify playlist can be quite a monumental task. Trying to grab songs from a recommended playlist might not always mix and match well with a personal playlist’s mood. Spotify is improving recommendations with an all-new feature rolling out today: Spotify Enhance.

Launching in several countries all over the world, Enhance will automatically add songs which fits a playlist’s mood. Users who have the feature can toggle the feature on every playlist. The recommended song will then pop up in the playlist’s songs. Likewise, users can toggle the feature off to get rid of the recommended songs.

However, rather than dumping the recommendations at the start or at the end of a playlist, Spotify will sprinkle them after every two songs, providing a healthy balance between old and new songs. The feature will add only 30 songs at a time.

Additionally, these songs aren’t officially added to the playlist yet. If a user finds a song they like, they can link a plus icon beside the song. Added songs will be in the playlist permanently.

The feature will come only to Premium subscribers. Likewise, not every country will have the feature at first. Spotify hopes to roll out the feature for more countries in the coming weeks and months.

SEE ALSO: 3 eargasmic podcasts to listen to on Spotify’s Music+Talk

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