Virtual Private Networks (VPN) maximizes a private network to a public system enabling users to receive and send data and information in a shared network. It involves links that are shared across public networks and is mostly used to access restricted websites in a region.
Accordingly, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are not more popular than it was before but not for its original purpose. It was mostly used to connect and secure business networks over the internet or allow access to businesses at home. Today, VPNs are used to bypass some geographic restrictions on streaming videos or audios or websites, protection from untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots and hiding your location and identity. These are just some of the usages of Virtual Private Networks (VPN). However, it can also be used to carry out the traffic in Voice-over-IP or VoIP.
It is possible to use VPNs as lines for VoIP especially in closed or restricted areas as mentioned earlier. But, there are some things that we need to know when using Virtual Private Networks (VPN)to carry traffic in Voice-over-IP or VoIP. There are specific requirements to make the traffic in VoIP work in a business network like the understanding the ability to reduce latency and leverage of Quality of Service (QoS). Doing so will help minimize the tendencies of undesirable network disturbances such as jitters, drops in services and unreliable connections.
The need for QoS is necessary since it allows you to know that your voice traffic has its bandwidth to function. Because without having QoS, there will be network congestion along the way and may interrupt your voice calls or may degrade the call service and not hear anything. Having a VPN connection for your QoS will make it work as it extends relationship outside and to the other end of the line.
And lastly, avoiding the “jitters” in your voice calls will also be happening once you set up a VPN on your VoIP. Jitters are problems that we often encounter during voice calls which makes us dissatisfied with our experience with it. These happen when packets come with latency that is differing or out of order, some can be dropped, and the other line of the voice call has delays while the other line does not. However, using a VPN to avoid the jitters and traffic in voice calls will make it work differently.
There are specialized VPNs and are specifically engineered for VoIP, and you need to ensure that you are working with the right provider.
AMCA Breach: 200 Million Victims, 19 Class Actions
More than 20 million and not 200,000 have fallen victim to a massive data breach that has seen medical clients using the services of healthcare billing company, American Medical Collection Agency (AMCA), to pay for their laboratory tests in different blood testing labs across the U.S. were confirmed by the SEC filings of affected medical institutions amidst the earlier claims of AMCA that there were fewer victims.
The data breach was a result of a cyber attack that aims to phish for financial information from the website of the AMCA. The exposed data belongs to Americans who paid laboratory services at several clinical and blood testing labs and institutions and used the AMCA billing portal.
What happened in the AMCA breach?
Data that were stolen from the victims include their names, phone numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other bank details. The said information was auctioned off by the hacker in several financial hacking forums.
According to DataBreaches.net, the organization who first reported about the incident, AMCA officials, following the notification of the breach confirmed that their system has been compromised and has remained undetected for more than eight months. AMCA corroborated that the breach took place between August 1, 2018, and March 30, 2019.
Notifications have been sent by several of AMCA’s corporate partners and clients to their customers following the disclosure of the security breach that has seen information from millions of Americans compromised.
The list of impacted testing laboratories includes Quest Diagnostics (11.9 million patients), LabCorp (7.7 million patients), BioReference Laboratories (Opko Health subsidiary, 422,600 patients), Carecentrix (500,000 patients), and Sunrise Laboratories (undisclosed number of patients).
However, neither the AMCA nor its five clients have yet to notify ALL impacted citizens by the breach making them vulnerable to a lot of cyber crimes and their financial data could be used by anyone who gets hold of the information against the persons of those who still don’t know that their financial information is floating around the internet.
The companies involved in the breach are facing several lawsuits
Appropriately, the lawsuit came into the direction of AMCA, Quest, and LabCorp regarding the incident. More than 11 class-suite actions have been filed against the three companies for their inability to protect consumer data. The 11 lawsuits were recorded at The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 3. Since then, eight more lawsuits were filed against the companies in federal courts from New Jersey, New York, and California.
According to litigation experts, “If many cases are filed in federal court, any of the lawyers on any of those cases can file a motion with the JPML [..] to centralize the various federal cases that have been filed by sending all of them to a single judge for coordinated pre-trial proceedings.”
“Healthcare companies are especially susceptible to data breaches not only because they aggregate a tremendous amount of important and sensitive data, but also because they tend to be less focused on cybersecurity protection than other industries,” said John Yanchunis of Morgan and Morgan, one of the firms who filed lawsuits against Quest Diagnostics.
“These companies, like Quest Diagnostics, know they are at an increased risk and yet have not taken the proper steps to protect their patients’ data. We will fight for justice on behalf of those impacted by this breach,” added Yanchunis.
Lawmakers are demanding an explanation
The U.S. government, led by attorneys general from Connecticut and Illinois has also opened an investigation on the matter. Furthermore, lawmakers and other politicians have sent letters to the responding companies to ask for an explanation of why an eight-month data breach remained undetected and to demand accountability from them.
In Washington, US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) also sent a letter to Quest Laboratories demanding the company explain its vetting process for selecting AMCA as a billing vendor, and what requirements a third-party vendor has to pass. Democratic New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez also sent letters to AMCA, Quest, and LabCorp, seeking official answers on how a breach of this severity went undetected for eight months.
“The months-long leak leaves sensitive personal and financial information vulnerable in the hands of criminal enterprises. Moreover, such breaches force victims to contend with identity theft that may lead to irreparable harm to their credit reports and financial future,” said the letter sent by the NJ senators.
A Malware Has Been Pre-Installed In Some Cheap Android Devices, Google Confirms
In every purchase, sometimes you can get your money’s worth, sometimes you get something more. In a recent confirmation from Google, purchase of cheap and low-end Android devices also comes with pre-installed malware and has run undetected for a couple of years.
In a press release, Google, for the first time in history, has discussed in detail the malware that is called Triada, which the tech company has confirmed have been pre-installed in several low-end Android devices including Cherry Mobile, Leagoo, and Doogee. The malware, which was first discovered and published by Kaspersky Lab back in 2016 have been pre-installed in the affected devices, meaning, the malware already existed in the device even before someone buys it.
It was believed previously that the malware was added and installed to the affected devices at some point in the supply chain process. Now, Google has revealed that cybercriminals indeed managed to compromise Android smartphones and installed a backdoor while the supply chain process of the phones was underway.
Back in 2016, Triada was simply a rooting trojan that tried to exploit the device, and after getting elevated privileges, it performed a host of different actions. To hide these actions from analysts, Triada used a combination of dynamic code loading and additional app installs. According to the press release from Google, “Triada’s first action was to install a type of superuser (su) binary file. This (su) binary allowed other apps on the device to use root permissions.”
According to Google, Triad’s purpose is to install spam apps on a device by gaining root access. However, as Google’s security feature, Google Play Protect, improves in detecting malware, Triada was able to evolve to adapt to the new challenges posed by updated security firewalls by Google. Triada is known for downloading additional Trojan components on an infected device which then steals sensitive data from banking apps, intercepts chats from messengers and social media platforms, and there are also cyber-espionage modules on the device.
“The binary accepted two passwords, od2gf04pd9 and ac32dorbdq. This is illustrated in the IDA screenshot below. Depending on which one was provided, the binary either 1) ran the command given as an argument as root or 2) concatenated all of the arguments, ran that concatenation preceded by sh, then ran them as root. Either way, the app had to know the correct password to run the command as root,” Google said.
“This Triada rooting trojan was mainly used to install apps and display ads. This trojan targeted older devices because the rooting exploits didn’t work on newer ones. Therefore, the trojan implemented a weight-watching feature to decide if old apps needed to be deleted to make space for new installs.”
According to recent reports, the malware has affected over 40 devices. These devices include:
- Leagoo M5
- Leagoo M5 Plus
- Leagoo M5 Edge
- Leagoo M8
- Leagoo M8 Pro
- Leagoo Z5C
- Leagoo T1 Plus
- Leagoo Z3C
- Leagoo Z1C
- Leagoo M9
- ARK Benefit M8
- Zopo Speed 7 Plus
- UHANS A101
- Doogee X5 Max
- Doogee X5 Max Pro
- Doogee Shoot 1
- Doogee Shoot 2
- Tecno W2
- Homtom HT16
- Umi London
- Kiano Elegance 5.1
- iLife Fivo Lite
- Mito A39
- Vertex Impress InTouch 4G
- Vertex Impress Genius
- myPhone Hammer Energy
- Advan S5E NXT
- Advan S4Z
- Advan i5E
- STF AERIAL PLUS
- STF JOY PRO
- Tesla SP6.2
- Cubot Rainbow
- EXTREME 7
- Haier T51
- Cherry Mobile Flare S5
- Cherry Mobile Flare J2S
- Cherry Mobile Flare P1
- NOA H6
- Pelitt T1 PLUS
- Prestigio Grace M5 LTE
- BQ-5510 Strike Power Max 4G (Russia)
Reportedly, Leagoo and Cubot have already removed the malware from their affected devices since March 2018. Cherry Mobile also confirmed that they removed the malware from the affected devices in 2018.
Google also said that they worked with OEMs to remove the malware from devices and rolled out the fix through OTA updates.
“By working with the OEMs and supplying them with instructions for removing the threat from devices, we reduced the spread of preinstalled Triada variants and removed infections from the devices through the OTA updates,” said Lukasz Siewierski, Android Security & Privacy Team.
“The Triada case is a good example of how Android malware authors are becoming more adept. This case also shows that it’s harder to infect Android devices, especially if the malware author requires privilege elevation.”
With Android Out, There Are Still Other Alternatives For Huawei
When Huawei was subjected to a witch hunt by the US government for allegedly aiding the Chinese government in its efforts to spy on the country, and as a pivotal player to potentially economically sabotage the country, an executive order was launched against the China-based tech giant that effectively forced U.S. tech companies to sever ties with Huawei.
And to comply with this, Google revoked Huawei’s license to use its open-source operating system, Android.
The ban from Google has brought Huawei’s future into limbo; making it uncertain for users, especially concerning security updates for their Huawei and Honor phones —or the general idea whether their devices will still be able to run altogether. Following the announcement, Huawei assured its users that all phones that were sold ahead of the banning and those that are already in stock will continue receiving updates from Android.
But now that more and more companies and U.S. tech giants are starting to enforce the ban against Huawei, what is left for Huawei to do to continue competing in the competitive global market of smartphones? What alternatives does it have in place of Android?
Does it still stand a chance?
Hongmeng, Huawei’s own operating system is on the move
One of the most obvious choice for Huawei to continue their business in the smartphone arena is to develop its operating system. And reports revealed that it has been doing so — as the Beijing company has already foreseen circumstances like a Google/Android ban.
Following the announcement of Google that it will be revoking Huawei’s Android license, rumors about a Huawei-exclusive operating system has been developed by the company since 2012. They called it Hongmeng.
The company has been testing the new OS on selected devices under closer door and closed environment. The source also said that the testing was accelerated for the new operating system to be ready for situations just like this.
One massive problem with this option, however, is that since it is a new operating system, it may be a challenge for Huawei to create an applications environment as robust as that of Android. But Huawei also has a solution to this problem: to release its own App Gallery.
A report from Bloomberg has said that the Chinese phone maker has been sweet-talking developers and networks to get on board. The story says that Huawei is offering considerable amounts to developers and systems to install their app store in new phones. While it is still unclear if the new app marketplace will be for all new phones or if it will be exclusive to its models only, this seems like a sound solution for Huawei’s predicament.
Even if Huawei can convince developers to develop apps for its OS and app gallery, another challenge is to make sure that porting apps on its OS becomes sustainable for developers to update. To survive this, Huawei should be able to sell enough phones and create enough demands for the developers to earn from it and prevent them from abandoning the platform altogether.
Or they can use Sailfish OS Fork
Another viable OS alternative for Huawei instead of the Android operating system fiasco is tapping into the Linux-based open-source operating system Sailfish OS Fork. Some reliable reports suggest that Huawei might use an existing smartphone OS named as Sailfish OS on its smartphones and tablets. Sailfish OS can be used as a base to develop the new Aurora OS for international Huawei smartphones.
And Huawei is seriously considering this OS as an Android alternative. Huawei CEO Guo Ping discussed the possibility of using Sailfish OS on Huawei devices with Konstantin Noskov, the minister of digital development, communications, and mass media of Russia.
One primary advantage of using Sailfish OS Fork over Huawei developing its OS is that this Linux-based operating system is also compatible with most Android apps. This means that Huawei does not need to create an entirely new app ecosystem for users to use their apps. At present, Sailfish OS is installed on only four devices, namely Sony Xperia X, XA2, XA2 Plus, and XA2 Ultra.
And since privacy is one of the most talked about issue in the tech world today, another advantage of the Sailfish OS Fork is precisely that. The OS does not store nor use user data against their consent and also, Sailfish OS only stores data to run its services and not sold to third-party services.
Android can find a way to work with Huawei again
The thing about Android OS that makes it a complicated venture when it comes to Huawei is that, although the operating system is open-source — meaning anyone can use it freely for their project — the source code is still licensed by Google, an American company that is required to comply with the Huawei ban EO. But reports suggest that Google is against this decision and is working on finding ways to continue working with Huawei amidst the controversial legislation. For one, Google has urged the US government to lift the ban against the Chinese smartphone manufacturer — citing security threats can be more viable with the policy.
In the short term, the company has secured a temporary license to continue to supply software updates to existing phones. The permit allows Huawei to take action “necessary to provide service and support, including software updates or patches, to existing Huawei handsets that were available to the public on or before May 16, 2019.” The license will also allow Huawei to maintain its existing network equipment, and to receive security vulnerability disclosures. Reports suggest that Android is working to extend this license.
With these moves from Google and Android, it is possible that companies can find a workaround that would allow them to work with Huawei in the future indefinitely; but this remains uncertain.
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