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QR codes serve up a menu of security concerns

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QR codes serve up a menu of security concerns

Quick Response (QR) codes are booming in popularity and hackers are flocking to exploit the trend. Worse, according to a new study, people are mostly ignorant to how QR codes can be easily abused to launch digital attacks.

The reason QR code use is skyrocketing is tied to more brick-and-mortar businesses are forgoing paper brochures, menus and leaflets that could accelerate the spread of COVID-19. Instead they are turning to QR codes as an alternative.

MobileIron warns that these QR codes can be malicious. In a study released Tuesday, the mobile device management firms found that 71 percent of survey respondents said they cannot distinguish between a legitimate and malicious QR code.

QR codes – the “QR” is short for “quick response” – allows a user to scan a special code with their phone’s camera, to automatically perform an action. These shortcuts usually open a website, but can be programmed to perform any number of mobile actions, including drafting emails, placing calls, opening marketing collateral, opening a location on a map and automatically starting navigation, opening a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn profile page or starting any action from any app (such as opening PayPal with a pre-seeded payment handle).

According to a survey from MobileIron, of more than 2,100 consumers across the U.S. and the U.K., QR codes are becoming fully entrenched in people’s lives, especially as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on. Sixty-four percent of respondents said that QR codes make life easier in a no-touch world. For instance, a common application is for restaurants to link to virtual menus rather than provide physical ones.

In all, 47 percent of respondents have noticed an increase in their QR code use since COVID-19 hit. About 84 percent of people said they have scanned a QR code before, with 32 percent having done so in the past week and 26 percent having done so in the past month.

The problem is that QR codes are appealing targets for hackers because the mobile user interface prompts users to take immediate actions, while limiting the amount of information available. Meanwhile, mobile users are less vigilant than they are when using a laptop or desktop. In fact, 51 percent of respondents in the survey said they don’t have (or don’t know if they have security software installed on their mobile devices).

“Hackers are launching attacks across mobile-threat vectors, including emails, texts and SMS messages, instant messages, social media and other modes of communication,” said Alex Mosher, global vice president of solutions at MobileIron, in new data released Tuesday. “I expect we’ll soon see an onslaught of attacks via QR codes.”

Sample attack scenarios include an attacker embedding a malicious URL containing custom malware into a QR code, which could then exfiltrate data from a mobile device when scanned, he added. Or, the QR code could point to a phishing site that looks to harvest credentials, or other personal and corporate information.

While 67 percent in the survey are aware that QR codes can open a URL, they are less aware of the other actions that QR codes can initiate. Only 19 percent of respondents believe scanning a QR code can draft an email; 20 percent believe scanning a QR code can start a phone call; and 24 percent believe scanning a QR code can initiate a text message. And a third — 35 percent – said they don’t know whether hackers can even target victims using a QR code.

It’s an area of security that deserves more focus, especially given that 53 percent of survey respondents said they would like to see QR codes used more broadly in the future. This includes potentially risky applications, like voting – in fact, 40 percent of people in the survey said they would vote using a QR code received in the mail. And Apple Pay users may soon be able to make payments via QR codes, using Apple Wallet.

“Companies need to urgently rethink their security strategies to focus on mobile devices,” said Mosher.

Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/qr-codes-serve-up-a-menu-of-security-concerns/

Big Data

U.K.’s Wise to join the New Payments Platform in Australia

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Digital money transfer group Wise Plc will join an Australian payments network which should allow transfers to be settled in the country faster and at lower cost, Chief Executive Officer Kristo Kaarmann said on Friday.

The company will become a direct participant and shareholder in Australia’s New Payments Platform (NPP), Kaarmann said.

Wise said that joining the NPP will allow it to lower its average price of money transfers in or out of Australia by bypassing middlemen to clear and settle real-time payments instantly.

Kaarmann did not say how much lower its rates would be after joining the NPP. It charges about 0.56% on its Australian transfers currently, the company said.

That compares with the average 5% to 6% the country’s major banks charge, according to Wise’s calculations.

The 10-year old financial technology company is regulated in Britain, the United States, Singapore, and among others, Australia, where it also holds a banking licence. But in many of the over 80 countries where it offers remittances, Wise partners with banks to hold deposits, which increases its costs and prices.

“Our average cost … is already many multiples cheaper than the banks,” London-based Kaarmann said. “We want to get as close to zero as possible, in terms of cost.”

The firm, whose market debut in July became the London stock exchange’s largest ever tech listing, estimates it handles about 1% to 2% of transfers by consumers and small and medium-sized businesses globally.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/uks-wise-join-new-payments-platform-australia/18166

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Google to slash amount it keeps from sales on its cloud marketplace- CNBC

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(Reuters) -Alphabet Inc’s Google will take a smaller cut when customers buy software from other vendors on its cloud marketplace, CNBC reported on Sunday.

The Google Cloud Platform is cutting its percentage revenue share to 3% from 20%, CNBC said, citing a person familiar with the matter. https://cnb.cx/2XZp7ep

“Our goal is to provide partners with the best platform and most competitive incentives in the industry. We can confirm that a change to our Marketplace fee structure is in the works and we’ll have more to share on this soon,” a Google Cloud spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.

Earlier this year, Google cut the service fee it charges developers on its app store by half on the first $1 million they earn in revenue in a year.

(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/google-slash-amount-keeps-sales-cloud-marketplace-cnbc/18165

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Canada foreign minister says eyes wide open when it comes to normalizing China ties

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TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s “eyes are wide open” when it comes to normalizing its relationship with China, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said on Sunday, after three years of rocky ties with Beijing since the arrest and Friday’s release of a Huawei Technologies executive.

Garneau told CBC News the government is now following a four-fold approach to China: “coexist,” “compete,” “co-operate,” and “challenge.”

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, flew back to China after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors to end a bank fraud case against her. That resulted in the scrapping of her nearly three year extradition battle in a Canadian court.

Soon after Meng flew to China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – the two Canadians detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest in December 2018 – were released by Beijing.

“There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained,” Garneau said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Garneau received the two Canadians on Saturday when they arrived in the western Canadian city of Calgary after spending more than 1,000 days in solitary confinement.

Trudeau, who won a third term on Sept. 20 election after a tight race, had vowed to improve ties with China since he first became prime minister in 2015, building on his father’s success in establishing diplomatic ties with China in 1970.

But even before Meng’s arrest, Canada’s repeated questioning of China’s human rights issues has irked Beijing, and the two countries have failed to come closer.

China has always denied any link between Meng’s extradition case and the detention of the two Canadians, but Garneau said, “the immediate return of the two Michaels linked” it to Meng’s case in a “very direct manner.”

Garneau also said he didn’t think the timing of the men’s return had anything to do with the timing of the federal election.

“I think it just worked out that way.”

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; editing by Grant McCool)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/canada-foreign-minister-says-eyes-wide-open-comes-normalizing-china-ties/18164

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EU says U.S. trade, tech council to boost its clout, set rules for 21st century

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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will give Europe more clout and set standards and rules for the 21st century, the EU’s trade and digital chiefs said, underscoring global concerns about China’s growing power.

The comments by Valdis Dombrovskis and Margrethe Vestager came ahead of the first TTC meeting in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and as the United States and Europe face off with China in areas ranging from trade to defence to technology and human rights.

“There is real strategic and geopolitical importance to this new platform as a way in setting standards and rules for the 21st century. So we need this Council to amplify our status,” Dombrovskis told reporters.

Dombrovskis insisted, however, that the platform was not targeted at any particular country.

“TTC is not about any specific third country, it is about cooperation and coordination on a number of policy areas between the United States and the EU,” he said.

The Council’s 10 working groups will focus on technology standards, green technology, supply-chain security, data governance, export controls, investment screening and global trade issues, among others.

All these areas are key for the EU, Vestager said.

“What we have achieved is a package that covers, I think, both offensive and defensive interests,” she told reporters.

Dombrovskis said French fury at Australia’s decision to scrap a $40 billion submarine deal for one with the United States and Britain should not deflect the EU from its long-term interests.

“We are allies, partners and friends, and yes friends can easily from time to time make mistakes and we have seen this in recent weeks, but we knew this issue should not cloud our judgment on our strategic alliances,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be the co-chairs of the meeting with Dombrovskis and Vestager.

The EU hopes to hold a second meeting next spring in Belgium.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/eu-says-us-trade-tech-council-boost-clout-set-rules-21st-century/18163

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