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New Variants Of Android Spyware Are Targeting Middle East Users

Sophos recommends Android users to never install apps from untrusted sources and avoid ignoring available OS and app updates.

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new variants of android spyware are targeting middle east users

British security software and hardware company Sophos has recently revealed that new variants of Android spyware used by the C-23 group are actively targeting users in the Middle East.

C-23, also known as GnatSpy, FrozenCell, or VAMP, is what cybersecurity professionals refer to as an advanced persistent threat (APT) adversary. Such adversaries are typically well-funded and well-organized, which allows them to quickly evolve their tactics to overcome even the most sophisticated cybersecurity defenses.

The C-23 adversary has been known for targeting individuals in the Middle East since at least 2017, with a particular focus on the Palestinian territories.

The latest variants of its Android spyware are most likely distributed via a download link sent to victims as text messages. The link leads to a malicious app that pretends to install legitimate updates on the victim’s mobile device. When the app is launched for the first time, it requests a number of permissions that let it spy on the victim. It then disguises itself to make removal more difficult.

c-23 gnatspy frozencell vamp android spyware middle east

“The new variants use more, and more varied, disguises than previous versions, hiding behind popular app icons such as Chrome, Google, Google Play, YouTube, or the BOTIM voice-over-IP service” explain Sophos. “If targets click a fraudulent icon, the spyware launches the legitimate version of the app, while maintaining surveillance in the background”.

Also Read: Dubai Establishes $272 Million Future District Fund To Attract Tech Companies

The information the new spyware can steal includes everything from text messages to the names of installed apps to contacts from all kinds of apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp. The spyware can even dismiss notifications and toggle “Do Not Disturb” settings.

Sophos recommends Android users to never install apps from untrusted sources and avoid ignoring available OS and app updates. The company’s own mobile antivirus app, called Sophos Intercept X for Mobile, can detect the new spyware as well as all kinds of other malicious software.

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Saudi Firm Launches World’s First Handheld Ultrasound Device

Abdul Latif Jameel Health has partnered with Butterfly Network to bring the world’s first handheld, single-probe, complete body ultrasound system to the MENA region.

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saudi firm launches world's first handheld ultrasonic device
Butterfly Network

In many parts of the world, access to well-equipped healthcare facilities is greatly limited. Healthcare professionals often have to travel long distances to see their patients, and they can’t bring with them most of the equipment they have access to in hospitals. Without it, making the right decisions in difficult medical situations can be extremely challenging.

The good news is that a new generation of medical devices is making advanced capabilities available in a variety of portable form-factors, much like modern smartphones can perform many of the tasks that could traditionally be performed only on large desktop computers.

Now, Abdul Latif Jameel Health has partnered with Butterfly Network to bring the world’s first handheld, single-probe, complete body ultrasound system to the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey, and India.

butterfly iq+ handheld ultrasound device

Called Butterfly iQ+, the compact ultrasound system consists of three pieces: a probe with a patented on-chip digital micro-beaming technology and optimized electronics with power-efficient FPGA, a compatible iOS or Android mobile device to which the probe connects to, and the Butterfly iQ+ mobile application.

“The capabilities of this innovative, portable and versatile handheld ultrasound solution know no bounds, and we are committed to delivering this technology to serve more than 2 billion people” said Dr. Akram Bouchenaki, Chief Executive Officer, Abdul Latif Jameel Health.

Also Read: Mobile App Helps Turkish Women Fight Domestic Violence

Because the ultrasound system provides sharp imaging with true-to-form color flow, 3D visualizations, cloud storage, and other advanced capabilities without taking up much space or requiring too much power, it was selected to provide medical imaging on the International Space Station. An earlier version of the device was delivered as part of the 22nd SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply payload in June 2021.

Hopefully, Butterfly iQ+ will soon be helping healthcare professionals address all kinds of health issues that people young and old experience not just in space but also in some of the poorest regions here on Earth.

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