Epic Games slams Google for sharing Fortnite Android app exploit info

Google essentially got slapped in the face when Epic Games, the developer of the super popular , decided not to make the game available through the Play Store, but via its own app.

Google warned Epic that doing so could potentially put Android users at greater security risk, but the game developer brushed it off, insisting on going it alone for several reasons — including not having to give Google a cut in-app revenue and “embracing open platforms.”

Well, now the worst has happened. Despite having no obligation to do so, Google recently discovered an exploit within the Fortnite installer app that allowed malicious apps installed on one’s Android phone to hijack the download process so that instead of downloading the game from Epic’s server, it could download and install something entirely different, which could potentially leave the device open to attacks.

SEE ALSO: What You Should Know About ‘Fortnite’ Addiction

Here’s a quick run-down of what happened:

Google first discovered the vulnerability inside of the Fortnite installer app on Aug. 15 and immediately notified Epic. Details for the exploit weren’t public yet. Within 48 hours, Epic patched the Fortnite installer and deployed it to all Android users who installed the app. 

Here’s where things get a little ugly. Even though Epic quickly released a patch for the installer app, it asked Google not to disclose the details of the exploit until after 90 days. Not only would there be more time for users to update their installer apps, but hackers also wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the bug.

However, Google’s bug disclosure guidelines explicitly states the following:

“This bug is subject to a 90-day disclosure deadline. After 90 days elapse or a patch has been made broadly available, the bug report – including any comments and attachments – will become visible to the public.”

Despite Epic’s request for Google to wait the full 90 days before disclosing the exploit, Google abided by its own guidelines and shared the details.

Per a Google rep posting to an Issue Tracker thread on the bug report:

“…now the patched version of Fortnite Installer has been available for 7 days we will proceed to unrestrict this issue in line with Google’s standard disclosure practices”.

Naturally, the Fortnite developer wasn’t happy about Google’s decision at all. Epic provided Mashable the following comment from CEO Tim Sweeney:

“Epic genuinely appreciated Google’s effort to perform an in-depth security audit of Fortnite immediately following our release on Android, and share the results with Epic so we could speedily issue an update to fix the flaw they discovered.

However, it was irresponsible of Google to publicly disclose the technical details of the flaw so quickly, while many installations had not yet been updated and were still vulnerable.

An Epic security engineer, at my urging, requested Google delay public disclosure for the typical 90 days to allow time for the update to be more widely installed. Google refused. You can read it all at https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/112630336

Google’s security analysis efforts are appreciated and benefit the Android platform, however a company as powerful as Google should practice more responsible disclosure timing than this, and not endanger users in the course of its counter-PR efforts against Epic’s distribution of Fortnite outside of Google Play.”

Ultimately, who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong? Honestly, neither company is. 

Google is right that Epic’s decision to not release Fortnite through the Play Store leaves the app more vulnerable. As my colleague, Mashable tech reporter Matt Binder, previously made clear: Android users need to disable certain Android security permissions in order to install Fortnite and there’s no guarantee they’ll remember to turn them back on after doing so.

Maybe Google really is upset at the idea of not getting any revenue from the massively popular game (apps listed on Google Play pay a share of their sales to Google), as Sweeney implied. But the Android gatekeeper maintains that its speedy disclosure of the exploit was done in the name of user security.  

Following Sweeney’s statement, Google had only this to say in response to Mashable’s request for comment: “User security is our top priority, and as part of our proactive monitoring for malware we identified a vulnerability in the Fortnite installer. We immediately notified Epic Games and they fixed the issue.”

And it’s true, Google does have a responsibility to ensure that users are safe. Otherwise, third-party developers could give the entire platform an even worse reputation.

That said, if Google truly cares about protecting its users first and foremost, it should have been more flexible on its bug disclosure deadline so as to not tip off hackers so quickly. That’s why Epic asked for 90 days to begin with.

The disagreements between Google and Epic should not be overlooked. Google may wish to have nothing to do with Fortnite after being shunned by Epic Games, but their paths will inevitably cross because of the Android platform.

It’s possible Google will discover vulnerabilities in future versions of the Fortnite installerm or even other app installers from other companies that decide to follow in Epic’s footsteps and not offer their apps in the Play Store. Will Google have to monitor and perform security audits on all of those as well in order to protect Android users? Hard to say, but it’s sure gonna be interesting to watch from the sidelines.

If anyone’s laughing at this turn of events, it’s Apple. The company’s closed platform means all apps must be released through the App Store. By not allowing apps to be officially released in any other way, Apple has guarded itself against the issue Google’s now facing.

With additional reporting by Adam Rosenberg. 

Sport und Psychische Gesundheit: Bewegung bewirkt Wunder im Kopf

Sport und Psychische GesundheitBewegung bewirkt Wunder im Kopf

Von Hanna Spanhel 

Sport setzt im Körper vielfältige Mechanismen in Gang – und soll daher zum Beispiel  bei Stress, Schlafstörungen und Niedergeschlagenheit helfen. Foto: skumer/Adobe Stock
Sport setzt im Körper vielfältige Mechanismen in Gang – und soll daher zum Beispiel bei Stress, Schlafstörungen und Niedergeschlagenheit helfen. Foto: skumer/Adobe Stock

Wer regelmäßig Sport macht, kann dadurch sein Risiko senken, am Herzen zu erkranken. Was manche nicht wissen: Auch die Psyche profitiert von körperlichen Aktivitäten. Das zeigt eine aktuelle Studie.

London/Stuttgart – Manchmal war es eine Überwindung, gerade dann rauszugehen, wenn es ihr besonders schlecht ging. Doch das Laufen half, sagt Anna, 27. „Danach habe ich mich jedes Mal besser gefühlt.“ Anna war jahrelang schwer depressiv, mehrmals in der Klinik und in Therapie. Noch heute geht sie joggen, wenn sie merkt, dass sie wieder in ein Tief rutscht. Doch hilft offenbar nicht nur Menschen, die psychisch erkrankt sind: Einer neuen Studie zufolge geht körperliche Bewegung ganz allgemein mit einem besseren psychischen Wohlbefinden einher.

Forscher von den Universitäten Oxford und Yale.

Für die Studie befragte das Team mehr als 1,2 Millionen Menschen in den USA über Jahre hinweg mehrfach danach, wie oft sie sich innerhalb der vergangenen 30 Tage schlecht gefühlt hätten. Diese Angaben verglichen die Wissenschaftler mit den Angaben der Teilnehmer zur körperlichen , dem Alter oder dem Beruf. Im Durchschnitt fühlten sich die Teilnehmer demnach 3,4 Tage pro Monat schlecht. Diejenigen Menschen, die regelmäßig körperlich aktiv waren – und dazu zählten neben Sport auch Hausarbeit und Rasenmähen – hatten anderthalb schlechte Tage weniger als jene Teilnehmer, die kaum aktiv waren.

Besonders stark ausgeprägt war der Unterschied der Studie zufolge bei den Menschen, bei denen in der Vergangenheit schon einmal eine festgestellt wurde: Aktive Menschen aus dieser Gruppe berichteten von etwa sieben schlechten Tagen pro Monat, bei den körperlich nicht aktiven Studienteilnehmern waren es knapp elf Tage – ein Unterschied von vier Tagen.

In manchen Studien ist nicht klar, was Ursache und was Wirkung ist

Der Zusammenhang zwischen Sport oder körperlicher Bewegung und seelischer Gesundheit wurde in der Vergangenheit immer wieder untersucht und diskutiert. So veröffentlichte ein Forscherteam der University of New South Wales vor wenigen Monaten eine groß angelegte Studie zu der Frage, ob Sport dabei helfe, Depressionen vorzubeugen. Das Ergebnis: Bereits eine Stunde sportliche Aktivität in der Woche reduziere das Risiko, an Depressionen zu erkranken. Die Wissenschaftler hatten über mehrere Jahre hinweg Daten von mehr als 250 000 Menschen aus unterschiedlichen Ländern und Altersklassen ausgewertet. Andere Studien zeigten in der Vergangenheit, das moderater Ausdauersport dabei helfen kann, besser mit Stress umzugehen, leichter einzuschlafen und seltener niedergeschlagen zu sein.

Doch ganz so einfach sei es nicht, sagt Ulrich Hegerl, Vorstandsvorsitzender der Stiftung Deutsche Depressionshilfe. „Menschen, denen es psychisch schlecht geht, haben häufig nicht den Antrieb, Sport zu treiben.“ Lustlosigkeit und Zurückgezogenheit seien Kernsymptome der Krankheit. Doch in Studien wie jener, die nun veröffentlicht wurde, werde oft nicht klar, was die Ursache und was die Wirkung sei: „Es könnte theoretisch genauso gut sein, dass Menschen, denen es gut geht, insgesamt motivierter sind und deshalb häufiger Sport treiben“, sagt Hegerl.

Zudem müsse man zwischen einer negativen Befindlichkeit und einer tatsächlichen Erkrankung unterscheiden. Denn dass Sport zum allgemeinen seelischen Wohlbefinden beitrage, sei sicher richtig. Ob es aber auch bei Krankheiten wie schweren Depressionen helfe, sei wissenschaftlich schwer zu beweisen. „Es gibt aber Hinweise darauf, dass körperliche Aktivität im Zusammenhang mit Depressionen positive Effekte hat“, bestätigt Hegerl. Er selbst höre durchaus immer wieder von Betroffenen, dass Bewegung ihnen helfe. Man empfehle Patienten daher durchaus, Sport zu treiben, sagt der Direktor der Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie am Uniklinikum Leipzig.

Nur: Bewegung könne die medizinische Therapie von Depressionen oder anderen psychischen Erkrankungen keinesfalls ersetzen, warnt Hegerl. Eine Depression sei eine ernsthafte, mitunter lebensbedrohliche Krankheit. „Es ist gefährlich zu denken, Sport könne eine medikamentöse Behandlung oder Therapie ersetzen.“ Vielmehr müsse Bewegung bei einer Erkrankung eher ein Zusatz zu einer Behandlung sein.

So ist körperliches Training beispielsweise Teil der Nationalen Versorgungsleitlinien Depression – und wird von Ärzten und Therapeuten deutschlandweit als sogenannte therapiestützende Maßnahme empfohlen. Wichtig ist dabei auch die Regelmäßigkeit. Deutschlandweit haben sich unter dem Dach der Deutschen Stiftung Depressionshilfe regionale Lauftreffs gegründet, zu denen sich regelmäßig Betroffene treffen. Mit positiver Resonanz: „Der regelmäßige Termin gibt Struktur und wirkt gegen Antriebslosigkeit“, sagt eine Sprecherin der Stiftung. „Außerdem wirkt die Gemeinschaft stärkend.“

Der Grund dafür, dass körperliche Aktivität sich ganz allgemein durchaus auf das psychische Wohlbefinden und auf die Stimmung auswirkt, liegt wohl vor allem im Gehirn. Denn beim Sport werden dort bestimmte Botenstoffe ausgeschüttet – zum Beispiel Serotonin und Dopamin. Diese häufig als Glückshormone bezeichneten Stoffe können dabei helfen, Stress und Angstgefühle abzubauen und die Stimmung aufzuhellen. Hirnforscher gehen sogar davon aus, dass regelmäßiges Training den Hormonhaushalt des Körpers dauerhaft beeinflusst: Sie soll dazu führen, dass der Botenstoff Dopamin mit der Zeit langsamer abgebaut wird.

Zu viel Sport allerdings, auch das zeigt die neue Studie,ist auch nicht gut: Menschen, die mehr als drei Stunden täglich aktiv waren, fühlten sich demnach häufiger unwohl. Die Forscher vermuten dahinter zwanghafte Züge.

Indie Games Are On The Rise, Bringing Innovation and Creativity to Gaming

Over the past few decades, video game popularity has soared along with its media attention – particularly the topic of whether violent video games lead to increased violence in the real world. Most research, however, concludes no direct, definitive link between them.

Although, there may be another link less explored: are video games – specifically, “indie games” – making people more creative?

Indie Games and Creativity

It’s actually possible to learn many transferable skills from video games that can help us in the real world.

For starters, working on something challenging gives us energy and amps up the dopamine reward centers in our brain which is one of the strongest drivers of work ethic. This can dramatically boost both our motivation and willpower.

In addition, multiplayer games can teach us how to work in a team with other players, how to be a successful leader, and how to confront difficult problems head-on.

Finally, playing games – particularly indie games, which often provide a very unique set of problems that differ from mainstream games – often challenge us in new ways and requires us to find creative solutions and workarounds to problems that we encounter.

For example, a quick YouTube search for ‘Minecraft’ shows tutorials on how to build huge, complex structures from building blocks. Some people have even designed their own games within the Minecraft world.

Meanwhile, indie games like Terraria allow users to build structures to support non-playable characters and help them in their quests. They can also create their own power-ups and armor structures which require either in-depth research or trial-and-error-based creativity to master.

Ultimately, this can provide significant boosts to our creativity, which we can then apply in our everyday lives.

Indie Gaming and Decentralization

Blockchain seems to be a technology with the potential to shake up pretty much every industry imaginable – and the gaming industry is no exception.

Game Protocol is the platform leading the charge in decentralized gaming. It focuses on building a thriving community that allows fans to fund developers and benefit from their success.

At the same time, developers can work together to share ideas and create the best games possible. The GameStarter crowdfunding platform is designed to make crowdfunding easier, faster, and more accessible for all.

It allows developers to raise money for their ideas in as little as 48 hours and access the funds instantly. In addition, unlike all current mainstream gaming platforms that take a significant 30% cut from developers, Game Protocol will take only 10% commission in return for developers using their platform to leverage sales.

Such a platform could prove to be a huge milestone for the industry, taking the $91 billion video game market by storm, and ultimately making the development of indie games easier than ever before.

The platform is already advertising some of the games that will soon be available to users. One example is the Special Guns project, a first-person shooter that will be released on Game Protocol after being successfully funded. The funding goal for this project is 200,000 Game Protocol Tokens (GXT).

The Increasing Popularity of Indie Games

Over the past few years, indie games have become popular. Unlike publishers such as Ubisoft, Blizzard, and Sony, who don’t usually experiment and tend to use one format for games which they know will sell well, indie game developers are much more likely to strike out and create something unique.

Of course, in some cases, this doesn’t work at all, and the game flops. But in an increasing number of cases, it turns out to be a huge hit.

Stardew Valley, the RPG farming simulation game that was designed by a 28-year-old first-time developer and released in February 2016, was one of the biggest success stories of the year.

In the few years the game has been available, it has amassed over 80,000 Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam. It was estimated that within a year of the game’s release, its single developer had earned in excess of $30 million.

Similarly, Don’t Starve, the open world ‘uncompromising wilderness survival game’, and Don’t Starve Together, the multiplayer version of this title, is another game that has witnessed huge popularity and stood the test of time, receiving Over 45,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam since its release back in 2013.

The Future of Indie Gaming

With the rise of crowdfunding platforms like Game Protocol that allows fans to give money directly to developers for creating content they love, getting funding for indie games will be easier than ever before.

As a result, it’s likely we will see a significant rise in the number and variety of indie games available for users to play over the coming years.

Cover Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

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Netflix Debuts First Original Series From India, ‘Sacred Games’

Netflix is finally on its way to conquering one of its largest potential international markets — India.

The streaming giant released its first Indian original series, “Sacred Games,” on Friday. The series ― which was released in 190 countries, and has been dubbed in four languages and has subtitles available in 24 ― is receiving positive reviews for its cinematic quality, compelling production and stellar performances.

“Sacred Games,” based on a book of the same name by Vikram Chandra, is a remarkable take on the age-old gangster-cop trope. The story follows a cat-and-mouse game set up between notorious mob boss Ganesh Gaitonde and police inspector Sartaj Singh. The show is set in Mumbai (including when it was still Bombay), and takes viewers on a sometimes historical, sometimes nostalgic journey through the decades of organized crime, corruption, politics and espionage beneath India’s economic renaissance. It weaves together the lives of the privileged, the famous, the wretched and the bloodthirsty. 

INDRANIL MUKHERJEE via Getty Images

Commuters in Mumbai travel past large billboards for “Sacred Games,” India’s first Netflix original series, on Wednesday. 

Netflix has had its eye on international markets for years. If there’s anything to be learned by the smashing success of series like “Narcos,” it’s that the company’s international subscribers are key to the streaming service’s future.

“Our expectation is that a show like ‘Sacred Games’ will not only be important for India but also the world,” Erik Barmack, Netflix’s vice president of international originals, told BuzzFeed News.

Competition for streaming providers is heating up in India. The country’s online video market is valued at over $700 million, and expected to grow to $2.4 billion by 2023, according to research firm Media Partners Asia. Netflix lags behind several rivals, including Hotstar (owned by 20th Century Fox), Balaji Telefilms and Amazon Prime Video. By the end of 2017, Hotstar reportedly had 75 million subscribers, while Balaji had 2.5 million, Amazon Prime Video had 610,000, and Netflix only had about 520,000 (out of 117 million global subscribers).

With “Sacred Games,” Netflix is hoping to close the gap.

The company tapped top Bollywood actors for the series, including the legendary Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The prolific Radhika Apte also shines ― especially considering she is from an industry and a country that typically do not portray women in a positive light ― as an intelligent, respected and fierce RAW agent (India’s equivalent of the CIA).

Netflix also brought in well-known Bollywood figures to write and direct. Directors Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap experimented with a new style, as they shot scenes for the two lead characters separately: Khan worked with Motwane, while Siddiqui worked with Kashyap. 

Thanks for all the love coming our way as SACRED GAMES dives into the sea of global content that is @Netflix. Here’s a special request while you watch the show. pic.twitter.com/jGjrO3Yekj

— वरुण (@varungrover) July 6, 2018

“Sacred Games” is based on a novel that’s nearly 1,000 pages long, and the eight episodes in Season 1 cover only a fraction of the story. The series is expected to have four seasons, Khan told DNA India.

Viewers can expect more original Indian content from Netflix in the meantime. “Selection Day,” a story about a young boy who tries out for a cricket team, and “Bard of Blood,” a political espionage series, are expected soon. The company also announced in February that it was working on three other original series from India: “Leila,” “Ghoul” and “Crocodile.” And late last month, Netflix announced it would be making by British-Indian author Salman Rushdie.

Niantic is opening its AR platform so others can make games like Pokémon Go

Niantic Labs, the San Francisco-based game developer responsible for creating the massively successful augmented reality game Pokémon Go, plans to open up the underlying AR platform behind its products to third-party developers.

In a meeting with reporters yesterday at its headquarters, CEO John Hanke gave a detailed overview of that technology — what Niantic calls its Real World Platform. It’s the engine behind the AR experiences in Ingress, Pokémon Go, and the that the company is developing alongside Warner Bros. And Niantic says it’s getting better all the time.

acquisition in February of a company called Escher Reality that is now helping Niantic develop cross-platform shared AR experiences that can involve multiple people in the same interactive digital space.

Image: Niantic Labs

In a series of demos, Niantic showed off some of the new and experimental capabilities of its Real World Platform, techniques partly thanks to Matrix Mill’s sophisticated machine learning prowess and others drawing on the shared AR experience skills Escher provides. One involved a new AR visual technique Niantic calls occlusion, which allows virtual creatures like a 3D Pikachu to more realistically blend into real-world environments. That involves using machine learning techniques to train a neural network that can reliably, and in real time, parse a live scene with dynamic parts to make it so people and objects obscure the virtual creatures and hide them from sight when necessary.

“Imagine, for example, that if our platform is able to identify and contextualize the presence of flowers, then it will know to make the tiny bee pokémon, Combee, appear. Or, if the AR can see and contextualize a lake, it will know to make the duck pokémon, Psyduck, appear,” Hanke explained in a blog post. “Recognizing objects isn’t limited to understanding what they are, but also where they are. One of the key limitations of AR currently is that AR objects cannot interact meaningfully in a 3D space. Ideally, AR objects should be able to blend into our reality, seamlessly moving behind and around real world objects.”

Another demo Niantic showed off illustrated how, with the talent and technology its acquired from Escher, it can develop apps that let multiple people interact in a shared AR environment, regardless of what type of device they’re using. To do so, Niantic says it developed a low-latency AR networking technique that removes the need for a smartphone to communicate with a server before establishing a connection to a nearby user. Instead, the network of devices lets each one communicate directly with another through cell tower transmission, allowing for lower latency connections and more immediate interactions with other players. The company built a demo game it calls Neon to show off the technique:

In the future, Hanke says he wants the Niantic Real World Platform to operate much like Amazon Web Services does for cloud computing. In other words, app makers will be able to tap into the power of its platform from anywhere in the world to develop their own experiences and services that utilize AR technology and tools. Niantic has yet to release any concrete information about revenue sharing, or whether the company would take a cut of apps developed using its technology. But the developer plans on releasing more information about the Real Word Platform and any API capabilities in the coming months.

Niantic has put up a website where developers can get more information about its Real World Platform and how to apply to gain access to it. “Because we are so excited about the opportunity in advanced AR, we want other people to be able to make use of the Niantic Real World Platform to build innovative experiences that connect the physical and the digital in ways that we haven’t yet imagined,” Hanke said. “We will be selecting a handful of third-party developers to begin working with these tools later this year.”