Geekly Update - 08 July 2020

Category: Tech-News

Is the U.S. government trying to make strong encryption illegal? Why are home routers so vulnerable to hackers? And are security cameras actually making it easier for burglars to figure out when you're not home? Get answers in today's Geekly Update -- it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. This issue is guaranteed to make you 146% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is providing internet service to 35,000 people in parts of rural Kenya with a fleet of "Loon" balloons. The balloons hover at 20km (about 12 miles) above the Earth, enabling email, web browsing, voice and video calls, and of course cat videos.

One Apple watcher claims that the company is hard at work on Apple Glass, a $500 augmented-reality pair of glasses that Google and others couldn't seem to get right. Jon Prosser claims the release may come as soon as March 2021, and that a future model may be able to identify impaired vision and make corrections without prescription lenses.

The EARN It Act currently being debated in the US Senate promises to combat the scourge of online child sex abuse materials. But is it really just a thinly-veiled attack by government on privacy and end-to-end encryption?

Security researcher Brian Krebs reports that the Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify website offers something called "SSN Lock", but it doesn't live up to its promise to help protect you from identity theft.

Geekly Update 07-08-2020

ZDNet says almost all home routers are "riddled with known flaws" and run old, unpatched versions of the Linux operating system. And installing the latest firmware from the vendor may not fix these vulnerabilities which leave them open to attackers. One model, the Linksys WRT54GL router, still runs a Linux kernel from 2002.

Apple's AirDrop feature makes it easy to share files wirelessly between iPhones and macOS computers. Google is catching up with Nearby Share, a similar file sharing option for Android phones. Google hints that Nearby Share may also support Windows 10.

This just in from the Takeshita Department: Have you ever had to call someone, but weren't sure how to pronounce their name? LinkedIn wants to help, giving users the option to upload audio clips that tell people how to pronounce their name.

Garmin has announced solar editions of its popular smartwatches. The Fenix 6 Pro Solar and Fenix 6S Pro Solar have a "Garmin Power Glass" lens over their dials, which can boost battery life by about 15%.

Security cameras are supposed to protect your home, but new research indicates they could instead be telling burglars the times that you're away from home by looking at how much data a given feed is generating.

Astronomers are puzzled as to why a huge star, about 3 times brighter than our Sun, seems to have disappeared without a trace.

Your thoughts on these topics are welcome! Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 08 July 2020"

Posted by:

08 Jul 2020

Of all the devices used in a home network,the router is the last thing anyone thinks to keep updated.We are reminded to update our desktops and smartphones,but the router is forgotten.Common users just buy a router,but don't realize the router need to be updated like their desktop.

For one thing,it can be a hassle to update a router,so you have to know what you are doing.The DD-WRT open source firmware is handy,but it doesn't work on all routers,so you need to proceed with caution.

Posted by:

08 Jul 2020

Some gentle guidance on the direction or products that would improve the situation would truly be appreciated

Posted by:

08 Jul 2020

Fensterlips: ditto.

Posted by:

10 Jul 2020

Thanks once again BOB.
I am sure it is not only our ISP that requires us to buy off a list of approved routers if we don't want to use theirs.
As this list does not appear to change, only knowing how to update for ourselves appears to be our option.
I concur with Fensterlips and Will, please could you do an article that will help us update our routers ... and yes I realize there are many and they will all be different.

Posted by:

11 Jul 2020

Ditto, to Lucy etc. My ISP (ATT) has only ONE router (purchase from them) that they support. I have had it since 2015. ATT says there are no updates for it. No newer models. Need guidance, if I can move beyond them.

Posted by:

21 Jul 2020

It seems to not matter whether you rent your router or bought a compatible router as prescribed by your ISP. Vulnerability updates to the ISP provided routers sometimes take months (if not over a year) to verify and then push to customer routers. Conversely, If you bought (and maintain) your own router, then you are in worse trouble: Because the ISP will not provide any support if things go wrong during updates which may even be incompatible at the time of update with the ISP network. Using DD-WRT is not for the faint of heart nor the solution, if your ISP has handcuffed you as above.

Posted by:

21 Jul 2020

I thought Home Security Cameras (HSC) "tipping off robbers" was fake-news, especially for those who use wired (network/video) cameras. I found it interesting that the PopMech article made no mention of the severe vulnerbaility of WiFi HSCs. In the referenced 10-page paper, these "experts" make the following statements:

• We adopt an attack model, where the attacker has similar capabilities to an ISP.
• Our adversary is able to monitor all network traffic in/out of home gateway routers (e.g. via WiFi sniffing).
• The attacker can utilize metadata including IP packet headers and traffic rate, which are routinely gathered by major ISPs for operational purpose.
• We also assume a targeted attacker, who has an approximate understanding of the camera’s context (e.g. if it is mounted in a house), and who owns it.
• Attacks are equally applicable to other cameras that use Variable Bit Rate (VBR) encoding, including Nest.
• The root cause of the three risks show premium (paid cloud storage HSC) users are most at risk, due to their heavier usage pattern and the motion triggered replay feature available to them.

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