LAS VEGAS: Two security experts said on Friday they released a tool for attacking smartphones that use

Google Inc's Android operating system to persuade manufacturers to fix a bug that lets hackers read a victim's email and text messages. "It wasn't difficult to build," said Nicholas Percoco, head of Spider Labs, who along with a colleague, released the tool at the Defcon hacker's conference in Las Vegas on Friday. Percoco said it took about two weeks to build the malicious software that could allow criminals to steal precious information from Android smartphones. "There are people who are much more motivated to do these things than we are," he added. The tool is a so-called root kit that, once installed, allows its developer to gain total control of Android devices, which are being activated by consumers at a rate of about 160,000 units per day, according to Google. "We could be doing what we want to do and there is no clue that we are there," Percoco said. The test attacks were conducted on HTC Corp's Android-based Legend and Desire phones, but he believed it could be conducted on other Android phones. The tool was released on a DVD given to conference attendees. Percoco was scheduled to discuss it during a talk on Saturday. Google and HTC did not immediately return calls for comment. Some 10,000 hackers and security experts are attending the Defcon conference, the world's largest gathering of its type, where computer geeks mix with federal security officials. Attendees pay $140 in cash to attend and are not required to provide their names to attend the conference. Law enforcement posts under cover agents in the audience to spot criminals and government officials recruit workers to fight computer crimes and for the Department of Defence. Organizers of the conference say presenters release tools such as Percoco's root kit to pressure manufacturers to fix bugs.

NEW DELHI: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the current high level of inflation at 10.55 per cent is a problem, but it should come down to a comfortable level of 6 per cent by December. "Inflation right now is a problem and the government recognizes that...in my judgment by the end of this year it will not be what it is now. It will be much close to 6 per cent, which most people regard as a comfortable level," Ahluwalia said at a panel discussion organised by a private news channel. For the week ended July 24, food inflation slipped to 9.53 per cent on cheaper vegetables, fruits and sea fish. However, the wholesale price-based inflation stood at 10.55 per cent in June. "What we are seeing today is not something which has not happened before," he said, adding in the past also inflation had touched double-digits. Yesterday, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had told the Lok Sabha both the states as well as the Centre will have to collectively address the issue of fighting inflation and take concrete steps, including revamping of the public distribution system (PDS). Amid exchange of barbs during the reply to the debate on inflation, Mukherjee had said, "I am from a village...I studied under a kerosene lamp till my 10th class...commuted to school by walking, in today's terminology, 10 km everyday. Don't ridicule my sensitivity...sensitivity should not be a temporary thing...". The government, he said, has been keeping the selling price PDS foodgrain for the poor unchanged since 2002.

PORTLAND: Google s Android software outsold Apple s mobile operating system for the first time last quarter among new US smartphone users, according to Nielsen. Android had 27% of the US market in the second quarter, compared with 23% for the Apple iPhone OS, known as iOS, Nielsen said on its website.

Research In Motion clung to its leading position, with 33% share. Manufacturers such as Motorola and HTC used Android in a wider range of handsets, giving new smartphone purchasers more

options. Still, the iPhone retained a higher share than Android among existing smartphone users, according to Nielsen s research. There s a massive hunger for smartphones, and the Android universe came out not just with one blockbuster device but with a whole series of blockbuster devices, Roger Entner, head of telecom research at Nielsen, said.

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