Senate launches investigation into Nigeria’s controversial 5G


Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber, has launched a probe the controversy surrounding the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) network in Nigeria.

The Senate, which disclosed during the plenary has also ordered the federal government and its Ministries and agencies to put on hold any execution or deployment of 5G, which in the last few weeks generated a lot of controversy.

#5G network #legislative chamber

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FRSC Clarifies its Stand on Use of Google Maps While Driving After Nigerians React on Twitter – Technext

cell phone person

Reactions broke out on Twitter after the sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Ayuba Gora, was quoted to have said that using Google maps while driving was a serious traffic offence.

Gora made the statement at the 2019 Ember Months Campaign which was held in Abuja by the Lugbe Unit on Wednesday.

The campaign was made with the aim of sensitizing people about the need to drive safely and be conscious of other motorists during the busy and festive month remaining in the year.

Haba. So what about in car navigation? Must we advertise our ignorance in this country?
FRSC has become an MDA in government that does the opposite of their name.

— Odjugo E C (@EretareCO)

This headline is really embarrassing and shameful… You see why some westerners still think we swing around through trees? Headlines like this have far reaching implications

— novo abere (@novorious)

This is a country that is about to launch 5G network and claims to be the first to do so in Africa. The statement by the FRSC official shows how backward Nigerians think. It’s so sad that we still think the use of tech to aid driving is an offence. Are we ready for the new age?

— OjoOluwa Ibiloye-Ohjay (@OjooluwaIbiloye)

Nigerians’ reactions to the FRSC official’s message expressed their disappointment in the disposition of Mr Ayuba Gora and therefore the FRSC to the use of technology in navigation.

FRSC Clarifies

In announcements made on its official twitter account, the FRSC through its Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, said that its spokesperson must have been misquoted and misinterpreted.

“The Corps wishes to state that the Sector Commander must have been misquoted and his statement outrightly misrepresented because the Federal Road Safety Corps as a technology driven organisation is not and has never stood against the use of google map by motorists.”

In the twitter address, Kazeem went on to re-emphasize the stand of the FRSC on the use of mobile phones while driving.

She said motorists could be distracted while driving if they were handling their mobiles for any reason which include setting a location on their google map. Such distractions cause accidents on the road, hence FRSC’s warnings on the use of mobile phones while driving.

“We therefore call on all motorists who intend to deploy the use of google map on their phone especially during the festive season when traffic density is high, to activate such before setting the vehicle in motion so as to ensure 100 percent concentration on the wheels.”

From FRSC’s clarification, use of Google maps while driving is not an offence, however, it should be set before the journey commences.

As an aid, while driving, mobile phones can be held by the car phone holder and the voice control activated so directions can be read out from the phone.

In spite of the reactions to Mr Ayuba’s misinterpreted statement, the FRSC campaign holds goodwill towards Nigerians and the safety measures being emphasized should not be ignored, especially regarding mobile phone use.

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Samsungs New Galaxy Note Now Comes in Two Different Sizes

When Samsung first introduced the Galaxy Note smartphone back in 2011, it stood out because of two key features: a stylus pen and a screen so large that the phone was dubbed a “phablet.” Somewhere between a phone and a tablet, the Note was derided at the time for being comically huge.

Smash cut to present day, and millions of people have grown comfortable with phone displays larger than 5.5 inches. The Galaxy Note, despite its ever-increasing size, no longer seems to stand out. And the growth of smartphones, in general, is slowing.

Samsung’s response to the industry’s stagnation: How about two Galaxy Notes? How about three?

Earlier today, the company revealed its new Galaxy Note10 smartphone. It’s the second flagship phone launch of the year for Samsung, which typically releases a new Galaxy S phone in February and its Galaxy Note phone in late summer. This year, the Galaxy Note10 is both larger and smaller: One version of the phone has a plus-size 6.8-inch display, while the other has a 6.3-inch screen—and is almost the exact same size as the Galaxy S10 from earlier this year. Both Galaxy Notes work with a stylus pen, called the S Pen, and both phones are supposed to be vehicles for what Samsung considers to be its latest innovations in mobile.

They’re expensive, as flagship smartphones are these days: The Galaxy Note10 starts at $950, while the larger Galaxy Note10+ starts at $1,100. That means the Galaxy S10 smartphone is slightly less expensive—ranging from $900 to $1,000—but not by much. (The iPhone XS also has a base price of $1,000.) Both new Notes will be available starting August 23.

Later this month, the Galaxy Note10 will also be available as a 5G phone through Verizon Wireless, but neither Samsung nor Verizon have released pricing details for this faster version of the phone.

Samsung’s second flagship phone announcement this year also comes just as analysts are forecasting a decline in smartphone sales in 2019. According to research firm Gartner, worldwide sales will experience a 2.5 percent decline from last year, with Japan, Western Europe, and North America showing the greatest slumps.

“To me, Samsung’s approach is all about segmentation,” says Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “The smartphone industry has slowed down in terms of growth, and the best way to keep revenues high and give people what they want is to segment out different versions of the same product, the way the auto industry has done.”

Big Time

Samsung positions its Galaxy Note line as ultra-premium phones, with ultra-loyal customers who come back year after year. It’s the phone for creative professionals, hyper-productive multitaskers, and gamers, according to Samsung. All external signs point to the new Galaxy Note10 fitting that description, though I haven’t had the chance to review the phones yet.

Last year’s Galaxy Note 9 had a 6.4-inch display; the Note10+ now has a 6.8-inch display, while the Note10 has a 6.3-inch screen. The latter has about the same body size as the Galaxy S10, but with slightly more screen. This is partly due to its new bezel-less design and its tiny, hole-punch camera on the front of the phone.

The corners of the Galaxy Note phones are still hard angles, unlike the soft, rounded edges of the Galaxy S line. Samsung says it has also redesigned the Galaxy Note10 phones with “symmetry” in mind, so that they feel more balanced when you hold them, even if the actual weight difference from last year’s Note9 to this year’s Note10 is mere grams.

The new phones have aluminum chassis, with glass backs (Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6). Because Samsung likes to follow trends and also get a little weird, the new phone colors are explicitly iridescent, building on the prismatic color tones introduced with the Galaxy S10. There’s Aura Glow—a silverish, iridescent finish so reflective that you can check your teeth for food by just looking at the back of the phone. There’s also Aura Black, Aura Blue, and Aura White, which is creamier than the Prism White on the S10.

The new Galaxy Note10 phones charge via a USB-C port, which also serves as an audio port. Yup: No 3.5mm headphone jack on the Galaxy Note10. Wireless charging is also an option with these Qi-compatible phones, but if you opt to charge by plugging in, Samsung is promising super fast charging—you can achieve a full day’s worth of battery life after charging the Galaxy Note10 for just 30 minutes, the company claims.

The screen on the Galaxy Note10 is what you might expect from a Samsung display. There are incredibly minor differences between this high-resolution display and the one on the Galaxy S10, but, it’s still what Samsung calls “Dynamic AMOLED,” with support for the HDR10+ display standard and a reduction in potentially harmful blue light. The Galaxy Note 10 also has an in-display fingerprint sensor, something we’ve seen on previous high-end smartphones.

The front-facing camera, as previously mentioned, is a tiny lens and a 10-megapixel sensor placed inside a hole punched into the top-center of the display. The kind of rear camera you’ll get depends on whether you go with the Galaxy Note10+ or the regular Galaxy Note10. The former has a quadruple-lens camera on the back of the phone, with an extra depth lens, while the latter includes three lenses. Samsung is boasting ultra-wide image capture, an improved night mode, and even the ability to shoot super slow-mo video. And an extra microphone added to this year’s phone helps support directional audio capture, while software reduces background noise.

The new phones ship with Google’sAndroid 9 Pie OS, and are running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 mobile chip, a 7-nanometer, 64-bit octa-core processor. This chip can also be integrated with a Qualcomm X50 5G modem, making that upgrade to a 5G version of the Galaxy Note10+ possible—whenever 5G networks are fully operational, of course.

Play Pen

Given the size of the “regular” Galaxy Note10, it’s natural to wonder what exactly sets this phone apart from other Samsung handsets. And the most obvious answer is the stylus pen. The S Pen is getting an upgrade again. Last year, the Pen became a Bluetooth-equipped remote control: You could open your camera app, position the phone, and use the S Pen in your hand as a wireless shutter button, tricking your colleagues into accidentally taking selfies as they peered at your new phone (not that I did that). This year, the S Pen is getting gesture control, thanks to a new accelerometer and gyroscope inside the stylus.

Samsung calls these “Air” actions, but you can essentially control your phone’s screen, and certain apps running on it, by holding down the side button on the S Pen and swiping it through the air. During a brief demo, I was able to change music playlists and manipulate the phone’s native camera app just by swiping the Pen in the air. I could draw a circle in the air to digitally zoom in while using the camera, and reverse circle to zoom out.

This isn’t entirely limited the Galaxy Note10; it also works on Samsung’s new Tab S6 tablet. But Samsung—like Google—seems to believe there’s a lot of potential for gesture control, and plans to allow game developers to take advantage of the stylus actions too.

There are other new things you can do with the S Pen too, like edit videos with it (which sounds terribly onerous) or convert your hand-written notes to text and export it directly to Microsoft Word. For people who rarely use the S Pen, Samsung is attempting to differentiate the Galaxy Note10 by shipping it with more base storage and RAM, including an advanced vapor chamber cooling system, and optimizing the software in certain ways.

In the Spotlight

Samsung is coming off the heels of an embarrassing foldable phone launch, the thing that was supposed to further solidify the Korean electronics company as the bearer of whiz-bang innovation in an increasingly boring mobile market. And, of course, it was just a few Notes ago that Samsung ended up in a literal firestorm of quality assurance issues around lithium ion batteries. So at this particular moment in time, with this particular phone line, Samsung still has something to prove.

Samsung insists it’s moving the needle again with the Galaxy Note10, that it’s pushing boundaries, and that Note10 customers will be able to “do things with this device that they can’t do anywhere else,” as Suzanne De Silva, Samsung’s head of mobile product strategy and marketing, said in a briefing with WIRED a week before the phone’s unveiling. Certain elements of this are true, although in many ways the biggest leaps with this phone—the support for 5G, the gesture controls, even new built-in AR applications—are still a long way from being embraced by the masses.

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Smartphone sales expected to drop 2.5% globally this year

Smartphone sales have continued their global decline. New numbers from Gartner forecast a drop of 2.5% down to 1.5 billion. The biggest hits to the industry are Japan, Western Europe and North America, which saw drops of 6.5, 5.3 and 4.4%, respectively.

It’s all part of a continued trend we’ve highlighted several times before: slowed upgrade cycles, pricier phones, a bad economy. Even the world’s largest smartphone market, China, saw a drop for the year, as it battles its own economic headwinds.


The Huawei ban has also impacted some of the larger numbers, though Huawei itself has continued to grow, thanks to healthy continued adoption in its home market. The company, however, is still suffering from negative connotations abroad, while cutting off access to U.S.-based companies will likely halt things further.

The good news for manufacturers in all this is a rebound set for the second half of next year, driven by 5G. The first handsets have started to arrive this year, with others (including the iPhone) not expected until next. A lot’s going to have to happen for sales to reverse the downward trends — even temporarily. That’s going to take more handsets, wider 5G availability and lower prices, with many topping out well over $1,000 here in the States.

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5G Is Hereand Still Vulnerable to Stingray Surveillance

High-speed 5G mobile data networks may still very much be a work in progress, but they've already started rolling out in some US cities. As researchers comb through the 5G standard to see if it delivers not just on lightning speeds but improved security, they're finding that it still needs some shoring up.

At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next week, a group of network communication security researchers will present findings on flaws in the 5G protections meant to thwart the surveillance devices known as stingrays. Also called "IMSI catchers" after the international mobile subscriber identity number attached to every cell phone, stingrays masquerade as legitimate cell towers. Once they trick a device into connecting to it, a stingray uses the IMSI or other identifiers to track the device, and even listen in on phone calls.

"One good thing in 5G is it was developed to fix the issues that allow fake base station attacks," says Ravishankar Borgaonkar, a research scientist at the Norwegian tech analysis firm SINTEF Digital. "The idea is that in 5G, stealing IMSI and IMEI device identification numbers will not be possible anymore for identifying and tracking attacks. But we found that actually 5G does not give the full protection against these fake base station attacks."

In the Clear

One of the 5G network's main improvements to thwart stingrays is a more comprehensive scheme for encrypting device data, so that it doesn't fly around in an easily readable, plaintext format. But the researchers found enough lapses in this setup to sneak a pair of 5G stingray attacks through.

When a device "registers" with a new cell tower to get connectivity, it transmits certain identifying data about itself. As with the current 4G standard, 5G doesn't encrypt that data. As a result, the researchers found that they could collect this information with a stingray, and potentially use it to identify and track devices in a given area.

The researchers found that they could use that unencrypted data to determine things like which devices are smartphones, tablets, cars, vending machines, sensors, and so on. They can identify a device's manufacturer, the hardware components inside it, its specific model and operating system, and even what specific operating system version an iOS device is running. That information could allow attackers to identify and locate devices, particularly in a situation where they already have a target in mind, or are looking for a less common model.

That degree of data exposure is problematic but not necessarily urgent, since it's general enough that only some devices would be specifically identifiable. Fifteen CCTV cameras in an area, or nine iPhone 8s, would likely be difficult to differentiate. But the researchers also found a second problem that compounds the issue.

It turns out that the same exposure that leaks details about a device also creates the opportunity for a man-in-the-middle, like a stingray, to manipulate that data. The telecom industry divides types of devices are divided into categories from 1 to 12 based on how sophisticated and complex they are; something like a smartphone is a 12, while simplistic Internet of Things devices might be a 1 or 2. One purpose of that categorization is to signal which data network a device should connect to. More complex, higher-category devices look for the 5G or 4G network, but low-category devices only accept 2G or 3G connections, because they don't need faster speeds.

The researchers found that they could use their first stingray attack to modify a device's stated category number during the connection process, downgrading it to an older network. At this point, older stingray attacks would apply, and a hacker could move forward with communication surveillance or more specific location tracking.

"For the attack, you are, say, connecting an iPhone as a simple IoT device," says Altaf Shaik, a researchers at the Technical University of Berlin. "You downgrade the service and bring the speed down. At that point a classic IMSI catcher will work again. This should not happen."

The ability to modify category data is actually not a flaw in the 5G specification itself, but an implementation issue perpetuated by carriers. If the system were set up to launch its security protections and data encryption earlier in the connection process, the attack would be moot. But carriers are mostly leaving this data in the clear and at risk for manipulation. Out of 30 carriers the researchers evaluated in Europe, Asia, and North America, 21 offered connections that were vulnerable to downgrading attacks. Only nine elected to build their systems for launching security protections earlier in the connection process.

The researchers even found that with a similar attack they could block devices from entering a "Power Saving Mode" usually triggered by a network message. Once a device has a stable data connection, it will often wait for a message from its network saying that it can stop scanning for cell connectivity and trying to reconnect, a power-hungry endeavor over time. But the researchers found that they could manipulate the unprotected device information exposed in 5G to suppress these messages and drain a device's battery five times faster than if it were in power saving mode—a potential safety issue for embedded devices like sensors or controllers.

Pencils Up

The researchers disclosed the issues to the telecom standards body GSMA and hopes to work with carriers to encourage 5G implementations that apply security and data protections to the cell tower connection process as early in the interaction as possible.

"The GSMA is aware of these findings and is working with the wider community and relevant standards body (3GPP) to revise the specifications," Jon France, GSMA's head of industry security, told WIRED. "The revision will prevent this type of attack, as outlined, as it requires encryption to be setup before the information is sent."

Previous research has found other 5G protocol flaws that could have also been exploited for a stingray attack, but those have since been fixed. The hope is that these will be as well.

"GSMA acknowledged that they need to take action," SINTEF Digital's Borgaonkar says. "We weren't sure how 5G would change, but now we know that basically we can still build an IMSI catcher for 5G and pinpoint a target. Discussions are going on now, so hopefully they will change the standard."

There’s no doubt that 5G introduces many important, and long-needed, security protections. But with hundreds of millions of devices on the verge of joining the new network, there's precious little time left for rough drafts.

Updated August 5, 2019 at 2:30 pm ET to include comment from GSMA and to clarify that SINTEF Digital is a Norwegian company.

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