Apple withdraws some China apps after malware found

Updated 21 September 2015

Apple withdraws some China apps after malware found

BEIJING: Apple Inc. has removed some applications from its App Store after developers in China were tricked into using software tools that added malicious code in an unusual security breach.
Apple gave no details of which companies were affected. But Tencent Ltd. said its popular WeChat app was affected and the company released a new version after spotting the malicious code. Chinese news reports said others affected included banks, an airline and a popular music service.
The malicious code spread through a counterfeit version of Apple’s Xcode tools used to create apps for its iPhones and iPads, according to the company. It said the counterfeit tools spread when developers obtained them from “untrusted sources” rather than directly from the company.
The malicious software collects information from infected devices and uploads it to outside servers, according to Palo Alto Networks, a US-based security firm.
It was first publicized last week by security researchers at Alibaba Group, the e-commerce giant, who dubbed it XcodeGhost.
The creators of the malware took advantage of public frustration with Beijing’s Internet filters, which hamper access to Apple and other foreign websites. That prompts some people to use copies of foreign software or documents that are posted on websites within China to speed up access.
“Sometimes network speeds are very slow when downloading large files from Apple’s servers,” wrote Claud Xiao, a Palo Alto Networks researcher, on its website. Due to the large size of the Xcode file, “some Chinese developers choose to download the package from other sources or get copies from colleagues.”
Companies with apps that were affected include taxi-hailing service Didi Kuaidi, Citic Industrial Bank, China Southern Airlines and the music service of NetEase, a popular Web portal, according to the newspaper Yangcheng Evening News.
The incident is the only the sixth time malicious software is known to have made it through Apple’s screening process for products on its App Store, according to Xiao.


10-year-old Bangladeshi’s communication app creates buzz

Updated 20 January 2020

10-year-old Bangladeshi’s communication app creates buzz

  • “I thought we should have something of our own, which inspired me to start working on my communication app”: Ayman Al-Anam

DHAKA: A Bangladeshi fifth-grader’s new communication app — Lita Free Video Calls and Chat — has created a huge buzz among local internet users. Already, 10,500 people have downloaded the app from the Google Play Store since Saturday.

Ayman Al-Anam submitted the app to Google on Dec. 27. After scrutiny and manual verification, Google uploaded the app on its Play Store on Dec. 31.

 “Currently, Bangladeshi internet users are mostly dependent on apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Imo for communication overseas,” Al-Anam told Arab News.

“I thought we should have something of our own, which inspired me to start working on my communication app.”

It took the 10-year-old 10 months to create the app, which he said he accomplished by himself, without the help of any mentor. “I learned the process through different YouTube tutorials. The rest was just trial and error,” he added.

 The app provides better-quality, high-definition video calls to its users. It also works for transferring big data in a shorter amount of time compared to similar apps.

Al-Anam’s success at such an early age has surprised his parents. “From a very early age, my son had a knack for technology, and I encouraged him to pursue it. He used to spend his free time in front of computers, smartphones and other devices,” said proud father Tauhedush Salam Nishad. “I always supported him, but I never dreamed that he’d see this sort of success so young.”

Recalling the first successful test run of the new app, Nishad said: “One night, I returned home from work and Ayman took my smartphone and installed the raw file of the app. Later, he did the same with his mother’s phone and connected the two devices with a video call. It was the best moment in his life. He shouted with joy, ‘I did it!’” 

Al-Anam named the app after his mother Lita. The young inventor is currently studying at South Point School and College in Chattogram, 248 km from the capital. He dreams of becoming a software engineer and wants to work at Google headquarters.

His creation has drawn much attention from local experts. “We should nurture this sort of extraordinary talent very carefully,” Prof. Mohammad Kaikobad of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology told Arab News.

 “This new generation will lead the technology world of tomorrow if they’re guided and encouraged properly.”