If you’re one of the millions of users of a Samsung Galaxy phone, you might be a potential target for a malicious hacker.
A report released today by NowSecure, a security firm located in Chicago, found that a glitch in Swift, the keyboard software used by default on all Samsung Galaxy devices could allow a remote attacker to compromise your phone.
This particular bug makes the phone vulnerable to what is known as a “man in the middle” attack. The Swift software consistently sends requests to a server, checking for updates. To someone with the right knowhow, though, it’s possible to impersonate Swift’s server and send through software that can be used to gain control of the device.
The main problem with this vulnerability is that there’s no real solution. The Swift keyboard is so integrated into Samsung’s software that it cannot be removed or disabled — even if it is switched out with a different keyboard app. Steering clear of unsecured Wi-Fi networks will make you less likely to be targeted, but it won’t render you invulnerable.
Swift runs with elevated permissions, giving it pretty much free rein around the phone. This means that a hacker that worms his way into it can also access the Galaxy’s microphone and camera, track the user’s location or listen to their calls. They can even install apps.
NowSecure claims to have made Samsung and Google’s Android team aware of this vulnerability in late 2014, and Samsung reportedly has made a patch available to network providers. It’s not clear, though, whether providers have pushed out the patch to users yet. Many networks have a record of being notoriously slow to push through updates and security patches, and NowSecure’s tests found a number of Galaxy phones on different carriers were still vulnerable as of Tuesday.
If you’re of a more technical bent, you may be interested in seeing the details of NowSecure’s report on their blog. If you’re of a less technical bent, you might want to check with your carrier and try to avoid insecure Wi-Fi networks.
At an event in Kentucky to discuss tax reform, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted Monday that Congress will raise the debt ceiling by late next month, in time for the U.S. to avoid a default that could roil the global economy and markets.
The key quotes, per Roll Call:
McConnell: "There is zero chance — no chance — we won't raise the debt ceiling. No chance. America's not going to default. And we'll get the job done in conjunction with the secretary of the Treasury."
Mnuchin: “We’re going to get the debt ceiling passed. I think that everybody understands this is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democrat issue. We need to be able to pay our debts. This is about having a clean debt ceiling so that we can maintain the best credit, the reserve currency, and be focused on what we should be focusing on — so many other really important issues for the economy.”
Mnuchin reiterated his “strong preference” for a “clean” increase to the debt limit — one without other policy proposals or spending cuts attached to it — but some House conservatives continue to press for such cuts.
Bonus McConnell quote on what tax breaks might be eliminated in tax reform: “I think there are only two things that the American people think are actually in the Constitution: The charitable deduction and the home mortgage interest deduction. So, if you’re worried about those two, you can breathe easy. For all the rest of you, there’s no point in doing tax reform unless we look at all of these preferences, and carried interest would be among them.”
In an interview with USA Today, Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles said the agency is bumping up against federally mandated salary and overtime caps in executing its mission to protect the president and his family.
USA Today’s Kevin Johnson notes that 42 people in the Trump administration have Secret Service protection, including 18 of the president’s family members. Under President Obama, 31 people had such protection.
“The compensation crunch is so serious that the director has begun discussions with key lawmakers to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents, from $160,000 per year to $187,000 for at least the duration of Trump's first term,” Johnson reported.
In a statement, Alles said the agency has the funding it needs for the rest of the fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, but estimated that 1,100 employees run into statutory pay caps as a result of overtime work during this calendar year.
“This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current Administration’s protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo," Alles said in the statement.
Despite all the thorny questions swirling around President Trump's nascent tax reform plan, 29 of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg in a monthly poll said they expect Congress to cut taxes by November of next year.
The hitch: The economists don’t expect the cuts will help the economy much. The median projection of a larger group of 71 economists is for 2018 growth of 2.3 percent, up only slightly from 2.1 percent this year — and by 2019, the economists see growth slipping back to 2 percent.