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A variation of the recently disclosed attack that can wipe data from Samsung Android devices when visiting a malicious Web page can also be used to disable the SIM cards from many Android phones, researchers say.

Ravishankar Borgaonkar, a research assistant in the Telecommunications Security department at the Technical University of Berlin, recently demonstrated the remote data wiping attack at the Ekoparty security conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The attack can be launched from a Web page by loading a “tel:” URI (uniform resource identifier) with a special factory reset code inside an iframe. If the page is visited from a vulnerable device, the dialer application automatically executes the code and performs a factory reset.

Several Samsung Android devices, including Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Beam, S Advance, and Galaxy Ace were reported to be vulnerable because they supported the special factory reset code.

Mobile users are capable of executing special commands on their phones by typing certain codes through the phone’s dialing interface.

These codes are enclosed between the * and # characters and are known as Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes when they access services supplied by the mobile operator, or MMI (Man-Machine Interface) codes, when they access phone functions.

Not all devices support the same codes, but some are more or less standard. For example, *#06# is an almost universal code for displaying an Android device’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number.

Some devices from other manufacturers besides Samsung might also be vulnerable to the factory reset attack. A simple Google search returned a factory reset code for the popular HTC Desire phone.

Attack can kill SIM cards, too

In addition to the factory reset codes, some other codes can also be dangerous. During his presentation, Borgaonkar mentioned that the same attack can be used to “kill” SIM cards.

This is possible because of a MMI code that allows changing a SIM card’s PIN (Personal Identity Number) number using the PUK (Personal Unblocking Key), Collin Mulliner, a mobile security researcher who works in the SECLAB at Northeastern University in Boston, said Tuesday via e-mail.

If this code is executed multiple times with the wrong PUK, the SIM card is locked permanently and the user needs to get a new one from the operator, Mulliner said.

Instead of using a “tel:” URI with the factory reset code in an iframe, an attacker could have ten iframes with the PIN changing code and wrong PUK on the malicious Web page .

Unlike the factory reset code which is supported only by certain devices from certain manufacturers, most Android phones should support the PIN changing code because it is standardized as a SIM card feature, Mulliner said. “The SIM issue is more problematic in my opinion.”

However, it’s unlikely that all devices vulnerable to the SIM locking attack will receive firmware updates from their manufacturers. It’s a known fact that most manufacturers are slow to issue firmware updates and many phone models are not even supported anymore so they will probably remain vulnerable.

Because of this, Mulliner created an application called TelStop that blocks the attack by registering a secondary “tel:” URI handler.

When TelStop is installed and the phone encounters a “tel:” URI, the user is presented with a dialog to choose between TelStop and the regular dialer. If TelStop is chosen, the application will reveal the content of the “tel:” URI and will display a warning if the content is likely to be malicious.

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Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review: This Is Android

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Here’s the thing about the Galaxy Nexus: It is the best Android phone available now by such a huge margin that I am prepared to say that shoppers should either buy it or steer clear of Android entirely. And that has nothing to do with its hardware.

I am putting forth a call to arms: Let us not care so much about hardware, Android friends. Let us not pay mind to mobile processor clock speed, to millimeters of body thickness, to HDMI-out ports and docking stations and removable batteries. The Galaxy Nexus is the best Android phone because its software was designed for humans. More than any other ‘Droid previous, using the Galaxy Nexus just makes sense. And for that we can thank its stock install of something called Ice Cream Sandwich.


The Nexus line is Google’s “reference line” of Android phones—each one (this is the third) is the first phone to carry the new version of Android, completely unencumbered by the custom interfaces tacked on by most other manufacturers. They’re intended to be the purest version of Android of their generation. The Galaxy Nexus is the first with Android 4.0, called “Ice Cream Sandwich,” or ICS (Android code names use alphabetical dessert names—Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, etc). More phones with ICS will come, and soon—and they will have skins, like HTC’s Sense UI. But this is the phone Google wants us to think of when we think of ICS.

Ice Cream Sandwich is easily the biggest update to the smartphone version of Android since the original Droid’s Android 2.0. A lot has changed—too much to cover everything in detail. But sticking to the highlights:

The look of Android is quite different from before: it’s now cool and blue, with spare lines and black backgrounds. There’s a new, custom-made font. There are friendly animations. The buttons are completely different—instead of the traditional four Android buttons (Home, Menu, Search, and Back), there are…well, technically, there are none. The buttons have been moved to the screen itself, and shrunk to three: Home, Back, and Recent Apps. The camera app has been overhauled. All of the first-party apps, like Gmail and Maps, are new. Icons and folders are more three-dimensional. The keyboard is new. Google Plus is heavily integrated. The list could go on, but it won’t, because it’s long enough already.


Just about everything listed in the section above is a good change. But more importantly, Ice Cream Sandwich comes very close, dangerously close, to the ethereal goal of “just working.” It is fast and responsive as all hell. That is impressive technologically, but for humans, it’s more important as an element of a phone that feels like it’s working with you, not against you. There’s no lag: when you swipe, it moves. This is not as easy as it sounds; I’ve always felt Android had a distinct lag between your finger and what was happening on screen, and throughout most of the Galaxy Nexus, that’s now gone.

The new buttons are great; they save space, but they’re also very functional, rotating when you want to rotate the screen, adding a menu button when you’re using an app that needs one, disappearing when you’re playing a game or watching a video.

Apple stole Android’s swipe-down notifications shade in iOS5, and while Apple’s is prettier, Ice Cream Sandwich seems to say “oh yeah? Enjoy the first generation. Here’s what we’ve done with years of practice.” There’s an embedded settings button in the shade, so you can jump in there and turn Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on and off, or change your brightness, or whatever, in one tap. You can swipe notifications away one by one—just tap and toss them off the phone.

This animation comes from Matias Duarte, the user interface genius behind the beloved and now-extinct Palm Pre, who is now a design bigwig at Google. It is the perfect way to deal with things you don’t want: it’s like grabbing an unwanted piece of junk mail and pushing it off your desk. Now your desk is clean! That same UI trick pops up in a few other places, and it never fails to make your phone feel simultaneously intuitive and transparent, which is not an easy trick.

Galaxy Nexus Apps

On the left: the Recent Apps screen. You can swipe any of these apps to close them, or tap to switch to them. On the right is the app drawer; swiping horizontally browses through apps and widgets.

All the new apps are great; Android’s biggest strength, I always thought, was its Google apps. Maps on Android is in a different league than anywhere else, as is Gmail. The browser has been redesigned, smartly. Tabs can be swiped-to-close, just like notifications or open apps. Pages are rendered very nicely (though I found the tap-to-zoom-in-on-text, as well as pinch-to-zoom, to be less reliable and natural than on the iPhone 4S). There’s a mode to request the desktop, rather than mobile, version of a site—ideal for the sites that, frustratingly, don’t provide such links for you. There’s a “save for offline reading” mode so you can read longer stories later, even when you’ve got no wireless signal. Mobile Flash, recently shuttered by Adobe, is not currently available on ICS—it may come later, but I didn’t miss it, even though it was occasionally nice to have the option.

The keyboard is great. I’ve used Android for a long time, with many different devices, and this is the first time I did not immediately download a better keyboard app from the Market. It’s the right amount of sensitive, autocorrect is unobtrusive and helpful, and it gets what you’re trying to say. Job well done, Android keyboard developers.

There are lots of nice little features, which you’ll discover as you go, ranging from NFC to a new unlock mode that recognizes your face to a new People app that collects info from all your friends. There are tons of goodies in here which you’ll discover as you use it.


Is mediocre. Please, guys, no more cheap-feeling, lightweight plastic phones. The Galaxy Nexus is made by Samsung, and feels like the Galaxy S, or the Focus, or any other modern Samsung phone. It’s wildly thin (maybe a hair thinner than the iPhone 4S at its thinnest point), but it’s still light and plastic-y. It is not impossible to make great-looking and great-feeling phones that aren’t the iPhone—just ask Nokia—but the Galaxy Nexus is just, you know, fine. When I reviewed the Nokia Lumia 800, I kept trying to get other people to hold it. “Feel how great it feels to feel!” I’d sputter. No such illiterate enthusiasm here. It’s not bad either, just nothing special.

Galaxy Nexus Back

The screen warrants some talk. It’s sized at 4.65-inches, which is just insanity. 4.3 inches has become the accepted size of a “big” phone, so I was positive a 4.65-incher would be unusable, but in fact the Galaxy Nexus as a whole is just slightly larger than a 4.3-inch phone like the Droid Bionic (pictured). Partly that’s because a portion of the screen is devoted to the new “buttons,” and partly it’s because the phone has a pretty small bezel. It’s still a little too big, I think—I’d have preferred a Nexus with a 4.3-inch screen that physically is much smaller—but aside from a couple stretches to tap something in the upper-left corner of the screen, I can proclaim the Galaxy Nexus usable for people with average-to-large hands. The extra space is nice for watching videos or reading Kindle books (suddenly a pleasant experience on a phone), and the screen itself is great: ICS mandates a true 720p resolution, and the Super AMOLED display is very clear, with some of the deepest blacks I’ve seen.

The camera’s speed is unparalleled—it’s very fast to shoot and then ready itself for the next shot, even faster than the iPhone 4S. But the sensor in the Galaxy Nexus itself is surprisingly bad. It’s a 5MP shooter, and compared to photos from the iPhone 4S or even other Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II, I found the Nexus’s shots washed out, fuzzy, and without detail. That’s a hardware issue, I suppose. Bummer, though. Future Ice Cream Sandwich phones will hopefully use better sensors.

The Galaxy Nexus will be released on Verizon’s network here in the States, and it’ll boast 4G LTE, which is pretty killer. My review unit is on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network, so I can’t make any judgment about the Nexus’s 4G speeds or battery life (a constant concern with 4G phones). It won’t have a slot for expandable memory (most Android phones do) and rumors indicate it’ll probably have 32GB of internal storage on Verizon. Call quality on today’s phones usually has more to do with the network than the phone itself, but the Galaxy Nexus I tested delivered stellar-sounding calls on T-Mobile.


Android is still not as streamlined as iOS or Windows Phone. Perhaps Android phone fans don’t want it to be. Ice Cream Sandwich is a big step forward, but there are still elements that feel redundant or messy. Having three ways to do something doesn’t make it easier to use; it makes it harder to learn the rules of the operating system, harder to understand why certain things work certain ways and thus harder to perform new actions for the first time, since you’re not sure how it’ll respond. Some apps require a menu button, which will pop up next to the Recent Apps button at the bottom right of the screen. Some don’t need one. Some do, but you’ll find it in the upper right corner instead. Ugh.

Sometimes you scroll through things vertically starting at the bottom (like in the Recent Apps list or browser tabs). Sometimes you scroll through things vertically starting at the top (like every other app ever, including contacts and music). But then the app drawer scrolls horizontally. Every single time I opened the app drawer, I tried to swipe it up, the way non-Samsung Android phones have always worked. Why, Google? Why change that?

Galaxy Nexus and Droid Bionic

On the left, the 4.3-inch-screened Motorola Droid Bionic. On the right, the 4.65-inch-screened Galaxy Nexus. The Nexus is barely larger, and actually thinner.

The home screen is my least favorite part of the entire OS: it not only permits messiness, it encourages it. There are still five home screens, and you can’t change that number. I never saw the need for more than one or two; the complete list of apps is one tap away, so why do you need to litter five homescreens with widgets and multiple redundant shortcuts?

Android is powerful and flexible, yes. You can do all kinds of crazy things! But that’s like saying a huge buffet is always better than a carefully composed dish from a chef. I don’t want to make Android something it’s not, and there are definitely times when it’s thrilling to be able to make my phone look just the way I want it to, but some consistency and limits might help here.

And once you get away from the warm blue glow of Google’s first-party apps, performance takes a hit. Scrolling is noticeably jerkier and less natural in non-Google apps. The app selection is still not very cohesive; it sounds like an unfair claim, but the majority of Android apps are not as pretty or as fun to use as those on Windows Phone or iOS. Functional, sure, and there are an awful lot of apps in the Market. But mostly they are not as good. (Examples: Rdio, Twitter, IMDb, Hulu Plus.) The Music app is still disappointing; I’m not sure what the problem is there, but Android’s default music player has always been curiously ugly and un-fun to use to me. There are lots of replacements in the Market, luckily (I recommend Winamp, although the official Music app is the only one that integrates with Google Music’s cloud-streaming storage feature).


None of the principal folks involved with the Galaxy Nexus (that’d be Google, Samsung, and Verizon) have announced price or availability in the States. Good bet would be soon, though.


I love the direction Ice Cream Sandwich is going: toward a more consistent, simpler, more fun experience, while retaining that tinkerer’s ability to do anything. Finding that balance is as hard as balancing an egg on its end; it may turn out to be impossible to please everyone. But I have no hesitation in recommending the Nexus if you’re leaning toward or curious about Android. It makes other Android phones feel much older than their age, and I mean that in the best way.

Nexus and iPhone

Nexus, left. iPhone 4S, right.


Here’s the Phone app, which has been totally redesigned, and the Market app, which is largely unchanged from Gingerbread, the previous version of Android for phones.


Here are three phones stacked on top of each other, which is both a good way to see their thicknesses and a good way to scratch all of their screens at once. Top to bottom: iPhone 4S, Droid Bionic, Galaxy Nexus.

Keyboard/Face Unlock

On the left: the new keyboard, which is great, if unassuming-looking. On the right: Face Unlock, which lets you unlock your phone simply by looking sort of awkwardly at it.


The bottom edge of the phone, which has a standard microUSB port for charging and syncing, and the headphone jack. I actually like the headphone jack on the bottom; I tend to put my phone in my pocket upside down anyway, because then the phone is right-side-up when I take it out. This is surprisingly hard to explain. I have normal hands, I promise.


In these two apps, you can see how Ice Cream Sandwich handles older apps. On the left is the schmancy new Maps app (which is great). Those three vertical squares on the bottom right, just above the Recent Apps button, is the old Menu button, which gives you more options. On the right is the official Twitter app, which hasn’t been updated for Ice Cream Sandwich–so the Menu button, which is required for all kinds of settings, is in the bottom bar.


It’s kind of hard to tell, because the Nexus tapers a little bit and the iPhone does not, but the iPhone ranges from very slightly thinner than the iPhone to very slightly thicker.

Photo App

Here’s the new camera app. You can see how the Home/Back/Recent Apps buttons fade out to little white dots so as to not distract you (here on the right, since I’m holding the phone in landscape mode). It’s also nicely clean and minimalistic, but there are a fair few options if you like tinkering with your camera settings–just tap on the little settings icon, which is a little hard to see here but is in the bottom-right area of the phone, just to the left of the still/video switcher.

Best Flight Sim Joystick (X

Best Flight Sim Joystick (X-Plane, DCS World, FS2023)

Take to the virtual skies with more than an Xbox game controller as your co-pilot.

Paul McNally

Great leaps and bounds have been made in recent years to make flight simulators more accessible to everybody. Gone are the days you would have to read a 500-page manual before even being able to take off, but one thing hasn’t changed much – they are still a pain to have fun with if you only have a keyboard and mouse at your disposal. With Flight Simulator 2023 coming to the Xbox it has meant Microsoft has had to do a lot of serious work on its mega-sim to get it controller-ready.

For sure plenty of players will be trying it out with a controller, but it is only once you have experienced playing a flight sim (or even a space sim like Elite Dangerous with a Yoke (and you can find our best ones here) or a HOTAS can you fully appreciate the feeling of soaring through the virtual skies.

To read a full review of the VelocityOne Flightstick, find it here.

Products at a Glance

The thing is that most accessories, and peripherals such as joysticks, yokes, rudder pedals, and the like tend to cost a pretty penny. And, unlike buying a new controller, can’t really be used for any other type of game. So it’s a bit of a niche purchase and you have to make sure you a) are going to use it long term, and b) spend the right amount of money in the first place.

With that in mind, we have dug deep to find the best five joysticks out there today across a whole spectrum of budgets and features. There really is something for everybody in here – well everybody looking to buy a joystick at any rate. Let’s crack on.

Our Recommended

Best Flight Sim Joystick (X-Plane, DCS World, FS2023)



Great starter stick

Reasonably priced for what you get

you won’t feel the need up upgrade it quickly


Only easily availble in moire expensive flavor (with the throttle)

Orange detailing spoils the look a bit

You are going to see the name Thrustmaster appear a lot on this page. The company has been around in the flight seem scene for many, many years and seemingly is no reaching the top of the game. The clumsily named Thrustmaster T16000M HOTAS is absolutely brilliant in every department as a starter stick apart from its name. The HOTAS will serve you equally well in Flight Simulator 2023 and DCS World as it will in Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen. It’s been a tough time for gamers looking to buy peripherals for flight sims due to combined problem of the sudden popularity and general supply shortages of, well, just about everything across the board. this means that although the joystick on its own is, in theory, a purchasable peripheral, it’s nigh on possible to pick it up without the throttle as well, which pushes the price up, but, well you will also have a throttle for your flight sim which is great.

The stick is ergonomic and has plenty of triggers, hats, and inputs but we found the orange plastic a strange choice but it doesn’t make any real difference, other than giving the stick a more gamey look than you might appreciate.



Modern design

Modular for both left and right handers


Difficult to find in stock

Great for airliners, not so much for fighters

Thrustmaster’s latest foray into flight sticks is this licensed Airbus controller. In 2023 it announced a partnership to bring branded products to the flight sim marketplace and the opening release is this great stick modeled on the actual sticks found in the Airbus 320 and 320neo. 17 assignable buttons, hats, and switches all make this a worthy competitor to the above, especially if you are intending to fly jetliners in Flight Simulator 2023 rather than fighter jets in DCS World. One of the most standout features is that the stick can be modified with a screwdriver for both left and right-hand use, this is a pretty unique feature and a great touch. You can pair it up with the matching Airbus throttle (assuming you can find it to buy anywhere).

The Officer Pack listed above bundles the two together and is the best opportunity at the moment to actually get your hands on one.



Sturdy as the real thing

All-metal construction

Plenty of inputs


Designed to be incorporated into a larger setup


I remember the Warthog being released around the same time as I was really into Elite Dangerous and looking for a stick but couldn’t really justify its premium price at the time to play a single game. I always looked on admiringly though at its metal construction and even the fact it doesn’t actually come with a base and is intended to be screwed down into your own setup. this obviously risks taking a product for a niche market and making it even, er nicher. That should be a word.

It is based on the plane of the same name – the A-10 and oozes quality and should last a lifetime of flying. 19 action buttons, two POV hats, and plenty more to recommend it. Just make sure it covers all the bases you need before jumping in.



Cheap and cheerful

Rudimentary throttle control

Lots of buttons


You aren’t saving the planet with this much plastic

Won’t survive a lot of bashing around

You simply don’t need to spend hundreds at the outset when you are unsure whether you are going to get the right amount of use out of a flight simulator joystick. The T.Flight Stick X, once again from Thrustmaster is the baby sibling to our first choice item here and can be picked up for around $40 which is insane when you think how much a standard games controller can cost you these days. No, it doesn’t have the durability of something like the Warthog above, but you wouldn’t really expect it to. It’s considerably plastic feeling with plenty of plastic buttons for your inputs. There’s a slider on the base, that while a bit scratchy, is used as your throttle.

A serious deadzone in the center of the stick can be modded to be better if you are prepared to crack it open, but if you can live it it you will still find it about a million times better than not using any joystick at all!

At this price, it’s a serious contender if you aren’t sure how hard the flight sim bug will bite.


Logitech G Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

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Little risk to try out joystick flying

Capable and better than not using it!


Big deadzone

Plastic and lightweight.

We finally get to a stick that isn’t made by Thrustmaster but rather the other bastion of flight simulator peripherals – Logitech. In our other flight sim pages, we have raved about the Logitech G / Saitek collaborations but it is fair to say this stick is squarely aimed at the budget market like the stick above.

The Extreme 3D has a grand name but at a cost of around $30 – although even it is not immune from scalpers tax at the moment. This is not meant as a slur in any way but there really is nothing remarkable about this joystick. It does what it is supposed to for as little investment as possible. If you are looking for a low-risk / low-cost way to get into the flight simulator ecosystem then ta-daaa.

If you think of it as simply a better way of trying out Flight Simulator 2023 then you will be fine – of course, if you decide the game is for you this is quickly going to go onto eBay and be replaced with something more substantial so it might not turn out to be as cheap in the long run as you expected.

What other accessories do you need to play a flight sim?

If you want to play Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023, you technically don’t need any accessories to get your flight airborne. However, as previously mentioned, by not utilizing the plethora of accessories on the market such as yokes and joysticks, you simply won’t be getting the full experience. We recommend at least picking up a joystick at a minimum as you’ll get some feel of what real flying is like without spending hundreds of dollars.

What is the best flight simulator?

Wow, that’s quite the question and the answer all depends on whether, for your gaming experience, you want to be a civilian-style pilot or start buzzing around in military jets. The main game for the former at the moment is undoubtedly the poster boy that is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023, although X-Plane 11 is still highly thought of.

For all things military then check out DCS World. It’s free to get into but if you want to fly the good stuff it can get expensive real fast!

How much is a flight simulator?

So you really want to get into them eh? Many flight sims such DCS World or War Thunder (though some would argue that’s not an out and out sim) offer a free tier to snare you in. Games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023 cost upwards of $50 but can be played for ‘free’ if you an Xbox Game Pass (Ultimate for the PC version) or regular for the newly released Xbox version. Xbox Game Pass is a ridiculously good deal at the best of times but if you want to try a flight simulator, well it’s just paid for itself, hasn’t it?

Our Verdict

Editor’s Choice

Thrustmaster T16000M HOTAS – Joystick and Throttle

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It was actually a pretty close decision between the T16000M and the Airbus joysticks but while the Airbus one feels right for airlines, the Thrustmaster feels right no matter what aircraft you choose so it wins the day. it’s a modern stick that has a loyal following and the cost is not so high as to be off-putting. The biggest deal is being able to find one to buy, but if you see one available then you snap it up immediately.

Ics Android 4.0.4 Update For Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Wi

Continuing the Ice Cream Sandwich updates for the Galaxy Tab line of tablets, Samsung has started rolling out the Android 4.0 update for the Galaxy Tab 7.7 Wi-Fi-only variant, around two weeks after the Wi-Fi+3G variant. The update is currently rolling out in the UK over Kies, but those who want to manually update can do so using the guide below.

NOTE: Only use the guide below to update if you have the UK version of the device i.e you bought the device in the UK, as it’s not supposed to be flashed on devices in other regions.

Let’s see how you can update to Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich on your Galaxy Tab 7.7 Wi-Fi variant.


This ROM and the guide below are compatible only and only with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Wi-Fi-Only variant, model number P6810. It’s not compatible with any other device. Check your device model in Settings » About tablet.


The methods and procedures discussed here are considered risky and you should not attempt anything if you don’t know exactly what you are doing. If any damage occurs to your device, we won’t be held liable.

First, download and install Kies on your computer in order to install the drivers for the tablet. After installing Kies, however, make sure Kies is NOT running. Exit it from the Taskbar at the bottom if it is running as it can interfere with the flashing process.

Important! Don’t forget to at least make a backup of your APN settings, which you can restore later if your data connection does not work after installing the ROM. Use the backup guide to find out how.

Extract the file once to obtain a file named P6810OXALPK_P6810XXLPK_HOME.tar.md5 (the filename may end at .tar, which is normal).


Extract the contents of the file to a folder.

Now, turn off your Galaxy Tab 7.7, then boot into Download Mode. To do so, press and hold the Volume Down+ Power buttons till the screen turns on, then let go of the power button but KEEP holding the Volume Down button till you get a caution prompt asking you whether you want to enter download mode. Here, let go of the volume down button then press the Volume Up button to confirm and enter download mode.

Connect your tablet to the computer. You should get the message “Added!” under Odin’s message box in the bottom left. If you don’t get this message, then probably there is a problem with drivers. Check that Kies is properly installed (but again, make sure it is not actively running even in the taskbar). Also try to switch to another USB port – preferably a USB port on the back if using a desktop computer.

Important! Do not make any other changes in Odin except selecting the required file in PDA as given in step 9. Leave all other options as they are. Do NOT check the Re-partition option.

Now, hit the START button to start flashing the XXLPK Android 4.0 firmware on your Galaxy Tab 7.7. After the flashing is complete, the tablet will automatically reboot. You’ll also get a PASS message in ODIN. You can now safely disconnect your tablet from the computer. What to do if Odin gets stuck: If ODIN gets stuck and doesn’t seem to be doing anything, or you get a FAIL message (with red background) in ODIN, disconnect the phone from the PC, close ODIN, remove battery, re-insert it, turn tablet on in Download mode again, and do the procedure again from Step 7.

If you run into any roadblocks while flashing the firmware, let us know and we’ll help you out.

Keep Your Credit Cards Safe From Skimmers

Artwork: Diego AguirreYou’re in a restaurant, enjoying a deep conversation. Peripherally, you see the waiter take your credit card and return a few minutes with a slip for you to sign. You think nothing of it until a few hours later when you receive a call from your bank: Someone is racking up serious debt on your credit card, mostly for electronics purchases. Is it you?

High-Tech Theft

Older card-skimming devices required criminals to return and collect the information periodically, exposing them to risk of discovery. But newer skimmers can broadcast the card data to the thieves either by Bluetooth (which has a short range) or by GSM cellular. This enables the thieves, who may be sitting in a car nearby or in a building on the other side of the planet, to capture the account numbers live as the account holder makes a purchase or a withdrawal.

Pay at the Pump

Gas stations may be the most vulnerable outposts. Pumps today are largely automated and often unattended, giving criminals plenty of opportunity to embed skimming devices in them late at night. In Grand Junction, Colorado, a maintenance worker found skimming devices inside three gas pumps. And in 2010, a law enforcement investigation found that 180 gas stations from Salt Lake City to Provo, Utah, had skimmers inside their pumps. One Sandy, Utah, customer told the local TV station afterward, “I can’t tell the difference between the fake one or the real one, so yeah I would stick my card in it.”

Skimming attacks became so prevalent in Arizona in 2009 that the governor ordered state patrol officers to inspect gas stations along major highways.

ATMs Problematic, Too

ATMs are vulnerable for the same reasons that gas pumps are: They’re exposed and unattended. Criminal organizations have targeted ATMs throughout Europe and have started hitting major cities in the United States, too. In a presentation at Black Hat USA 2008, security researchers Nitesh Dhanjani_and Billy Rios showed pictures of a warehouse full of ATM card readers and keyboards, in molded plastic of every color to match any ATM on the market today.

Elusive PINs

Collecting credit card data is a relatively simple matter of capturing the account number. But debit cards are even more desirable to thieves because the bad guys can plunder a bank account quickly and completely without the account holder’s realizing what’s happening. The card networks monitor credit card usage, and they have rigorous risk- and fraud-prevention policies in place. In contrast, debit cards are linked directly to a bank account, though obtaining the PIN associated with a debit card is somewhat more difficult.

PINs may be four or six digits long. When you key in your PIN, software at the ATM or point of sale automatically converts it into a one-way algorithm called a hash. Then, if someone captures the data steam, they’ll see only the resulting hash value, not the original four or six digits. By itself, a hashed PIN is a useless string of numbers. You can’t type in the hashed PIN as it appears on your debit card or within a database inside a bank network, because those digits will be converted into yet another value. Instead, you have to find a way to generate that hash value, and until recently that wasn’t practical.

Royal Bank of Scotland

Even if criminals can reproduce the encrypted hash value, they cannot withdraw more than certain amount during a single transaction or within a certain period–unless someone inside the bank’s network adjusts those values. That happened on November 8, 2008, when a gang of criminals robbed the US payment processing arm of The Royal Bank of Scotland group, RBS Worldpay, from both the inside and the outside. Within a 12-hour window they withdrew an estimated $9.4 million from ATMs in 230 cities across the globe. Meanwhile, someone else on the inside increased the daily withdrawal limits on individual accounts–in one instance to half a million dollars.

Ane Estonian suspect was extradited to the US in August 2010. Another suspect, 28-year old Victor Pleshchuk, received four years’ probation from a Russian court the following month. A third, unnamed suspect remains at large.

Protect Yourself at an ATM

Since the 2008 attacks, banks and credit card networks have improved their back-end security systems considerably. ATM manufacturers now offer better data protection through updated technology. For instance, privacy filters cause ATM screens to blur when viewed at an angle, to prevent over-the-shoulder eavedropping. Some ATMs sink the keyboard to prevent spy cameras from seeing your PIN, and jiggle inserted cards to prevent skimmers from reading them.

Safety at the Point of Sale

Compromises at point-of-sale terminals are much harder to detect, especially at gas pumps. Your safest course is use a credit card instead of a debit card when paying for gasoline, since the card networks will detect and stop fraud quickly. Credit card consumers are often covered by zero liability programs; but with debit cards, that may not be the case, depending on your bank.

Skimming is just the latest scam. As word gets out–and as the payment and ATM industry gets wiser–the criminals will move on. Until then, it’s caveat emptor: Let the buyer–or card user–beware.

Further Reading…

• “A 21st-Century Credit Card “

• “What It’s Like to Steal Someone’s Identity“

Samsung Galaxy A9 Update: Android 10 Released With One Ui 2!

Samsung Galaxy A9 family’s existence has been kinda spotty. After the Galaxy A9 Pro released in 2023, the wait took us to Q4 2023 for the launch of the Galaxy A9 2023, a revolutionary smartphone that happens to be the first in the world with a massive four camera lenses.

You can read more about it here, but on this page, we have everything you need to know about the Galaxy A9 family’s software update news, be it minor monthly security updates or major Android OS upgrades.

The Galaxy A9 family costs of:

Galaxy A9 (A900)

Galaxy A9 Pro (A910)

Galaxy A9 2023 (A920)

Galaxy A9 Star (SM-G885)

Note that the omission of the Galaxy A9 Star and A9 Star Lite is deliberate because these two names are only familiar to residents of China. In other markets, the former is known as Galaxy A8 Star and the latter goes by the name Galaxy A6+.

Released for Galaxy A9 2023, model no. A920F, on March 30, 2023

Any other A9 variant is not eligible for the Android 10 update

Samsung has released the Android 10 update for the only eligible A9 variant in Galaxy A9 2023 (SM-A920) on March 30, 2023. The update arrives as build CTCD, with the full software version bring A920FXXU3CTCD.

The old Galaxy A9 handsets, whose model number is A900, A910 and G885, are not eligible for the Android 10 update.

Software update timeline

Date Software version Android OS Changelog

30 Mar 2023 A920FXXU3CTCD Android 10 Installs Android 10 with Samsung’s own One UI 2 UI; also brings March 2023 security patch

… … … …

13 Mar 2023 A920FXXU1BSC5 Android 9 Installs Android 9 Pie update, One UI, and February 2023 security patch

12 Feb 2023 A920FXXU1ASA5 Android 8.0 January 2023 security patch

04 Dec 2023 A920FXXU1ARKK Android 8.0 Camera improvements and November 2023 security update

14 Nov 2023 A920FXXU1ARK9 Android 8.0 October 2023 security update

12 Nov 2023 A920FXXU1ARKG Android 8.0 October 2023 security patch

Date Update Download Link Android OS Changelog

15 Oct 2023 A910FXXU1CRIA Android 8.0 Installs Android 8.0 Oreo update

26 Dec 2023 A910FXXU1BQL3 Android 7.0 August 2023 security patch

18 Dec 2023 A910FXXU1BQL1 Android 7.0 August 2023 security patch

27 Nov 2023 A910FXXU1BQK1 Android 7.0 August 2023 security patch

11 Sep 2023 A910FXXU1BQI1 Android 7.0 August 2023 security patch

28 Aug 2023 A910FXXU1BQHB Android 7.0 August 2023 security patch

20 Jul 2023 A910FXXU1AQG3 Android 6.0.1 July 2023 security patch

19 Jul 2023 A910FUBU1AQG3 Android 6.0.1 July 2023 security patch

24 May 2023 A910FUBU1AQE2 Android 6.0.1 May 2023 security patch

23 May 2023 A910FXXU1AQE2 Android 6.0.1 May 2023 security patch

31 Mar 2023 A910FXXU1AQD1 Android 6.0.1 April 2023 security patch

27 Mar 2023 A910FUBU1AQC2 Android 6.0.1 April 2023 security patch

16 Mar 2023 A910FXXU1AQC2 Android 6.0.1 March 2023 security patch

02 Feb 2023 A910FUBU1AQB1 Android 6.0.1 February 2023 security patch

30 Dec 2023 A910FXXU1APL4 Android 6.0.1 January 2023 security patch

02 Dec 2023 A910FXXU1APL1 Android 6.0.1 December 2023 security patch

01 Nov 2023 A910FUBU1APK1 Android 6.0.1 November 2023 security patch

20 Oct 2023 A910FXXU1APJ4 Android 6.0.1 October 2023 security patch

29 Sep 2023 A910FXXU1API4 Android 6.0.1 September 2023 security patch

11 Aug 2023 A910FXXU1APH6 Android 6.0.1 August 2023 security patch

01 Jul 2023 A910FXXU1APFE Android 6.0.1 June 2023 security patch

21 Jun 2023 A910FXXU1APFC Android 6.0.1 June 2023 security patch

18 Jun 2023 A910FXXU1APFB Android 6.0.1 June 2023 security patch

15 Jun 2023 A910FXXU1APF8 Android 6.0.1 June 2023 security patch

As the OG Galaxy A9 was released only in China, we’re skipping its update and firmware download link here.

Expected Oreo release: Not eligible.

March 13, 2023: Android Pie released for 2023 edition

Galaxy A9 and A9 Pro are not eligible for Pie

Device Model Android 9 Pie Expected Release Date

Galaxy A9 2023 SM-A920 Available Released on March 13, 2023

Galaxy A9 Star SM-G885 Available Released on June 13, 2023

Galaxy A9 SM-A900 Not eligible NA

Galaxy A9 Pro SM-A910 Not eligible NA

Samsung Galaxy A9 2023 received the update to Android 9 Pie on March 13, 2023, while the A9 Star joined the party in mid-June 2023. These two are the only existing Galaxy A9 handsets eligible for the update.

How to install Galaxy A9 firmware

Well, check out the model no. of your Galaxy A9 first, and then download the latest firmware available above for your exact model no. Next, install the downloaded firmware using our Odin Samsung firmware installation guide here.


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