Are you ready to forfeit your laptop when flying?

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Since 9/11, airline passengers have had to deal with the full panoply of security measures: bans on liquids, inspection of laptops at security gates, taking shoes off, not to mention coping with shrinking legroom and most recently, passengers getting dragged off planes.

Now, the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security are contemplating a laptop ban that could cause even more tension between passengers and airlines.

Are you ready to forfeit your laptop when flying?

Google fixes two serious Android security flaws

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Google’s mobile security team has definitely been busy cleaning house this week. The company has released an Android update that closes two security holes that could pose a major threat if intruders found a way to exploit them. The first was only designed for “research purposes” and would only have been malicious if modified, Google tells Ars Technica, but it wouldn’t have been hard to detect or weaponize.

The other flaw behaved similarly to the well-known Stagefright exploit, letting an attacker send an altered JPEG image through Gmail or Google Talk to hijack your phone. The issue, as SentinelOne researcher Tim Strazzere explains to Threatpost, is that it’s both easy to find and capitalize on this vulnerability.

There’s more. Security company Check Point also revealed that Google Play had been hosting apps containing two forms of malware (CallJam and DressCode). CallJam both steered phones to websites that made bogus ad revenue and, if you granted permission, would call paid phone numbers. DressCode would also visit shady ad sources, but it could also compromise local networks. Google has since removed the offending apps, but the infection rate may have been high when users downloaded the software hundreds of thousands (or in a few cases, millions) of times.

Google fixes two serious Android security flaws

Opera’s free unlimited VPN service is coming to Android

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Opera previously launched an unlimited VPN service for iOS earlier this year as a result of its 2015 acquisition of SurfEasy, and now it’s doing the same for Android users.

Opera VPN will let you appear as if you’re in a different country such as the US, Canada, Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands in addition to allowing you to block ad trackers. You can effectively bypass content restricted by location with the VPN, and without a data limit you can use it as much as you want.

If you’re not well-versed in VPNs, the app automatically handles setting Android VPN settings for you and will also check the security and integrity of your current Wi-Fi connection. This feature may slow down your internet speed while you’re using it, as TechCrunch attests, but not so much that it’s too problematic to use while surfing.

If you’re interested in trying out the app, you can pick it up via the Google Play Store now.

Opera’s free unlimited VPN service is coming to Android

Nucleus Home Intercom Gets Alexa Advantage

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The smart home of the future could be a wee bit smarter with the addition of the Alexa-powered connected intercom system Nucleus announced last week.

The Nucleus intercom, which last fall made its debut without Alexa, is a tablet that connects to a home network through WiFi or Ethernet to allow family members to communicate with each other both inside and outside the home.

The inclusion of Amazon’s Alexa technology in the US$250 Nucleus lets it understand voice commands. For example, users can ask it to play music from services like Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. They also can call up the latest weather report by saying, “Alexa, what’s the weather?” or add an item to a list, for example, “Alexa, add milk to my shopping list.”

The Nucleus intercom has an 8-inch touchscreen with 1280 x 800 resolution, a 5-MP camera with a wide 120-degree viewing angle, a microphone for two-way conversations, and stereo speakers for streaming music.

It can be paired with a smartphone through an iOS or Android app.

The promotional material for Nucleus suggests a potential target market for the intercom, observed LSA’s Sterling.

“The reason that multiple generations are featured in its promotional video is that this may be an easier solution for older adults and grandparents than navigating Hangouts, FaceTime or Skype,” he said.

“The appeal for this might be in connecting remotely with people who are technically challenged,” said ABI’s Collins. “They can go to a simple device for a simple application.”

Nucleus Home Intercom Gets Alexa Advantage