Geekly Update - 21 November 2019

Category: Tech-News

How much of your 'private information' could a white-hat hacker dig up using legal tricks and publicly available databases? Can those popular DNA testing kits reliably predict your chances of getting cancer, diabetes, or Alzheimers? And what should you do if your Roku TV starts asking for your credit card and other personal information? 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

Still searching for the perfect Avocado Tree Growing Kit? You can find that, and other more traditional holiday gift ideas in Amazon's Holiday Gift Guide. You can browse for deals on Electronics, Holiday Toys, Stocking Stuffers, or shop Gifts by Price.

Sometimes crime does pay. Hope Olusegun Aroke, a Nigerian national, was convicted of online fraud and serving a 24-year sentence in a maximum security prison in Lagos. Somehow Aroke gained access to internet and mobile phone services in the prison, and was able to carry out an international scam that netted over a million dollars. In a non-related story, I have $150 million in an overseas account, and I'm having trouble transferring the money to my local bank. Can anyone help?

Drop the mouse and back away slowly... Watch out for rogue popup notices, urging you to download updates to Flash Player and fonts. The ThreatLabZ team at Zscaler says these campaigns take advantage of unpatched plugins, themes, and extensions on Wordpress-powered websites. Even if you click the "Update Later" button, you're hosed.

Stephanie Carruthers hacks people, not computers. She is an IBM social engineer, a white-hat hacker who is hired to test a company's cyber security defenses. See how she discovered 20 pages of sensitive information on two CBS reporters who volunteered to be hacked.

Geekly Update 11-21-2019

Perhaps you've heard about RCS messaging, and how it's supposed to replace SMS texting any day now. It's just another example of how some techies love to muddy the waters with jargon. Don't worry, it's still texting, just with a few new bells and whistles.

Are hackers using the camera on your Android smartphone to spy on you? Researchers at Checkmarx have discovered a flaw that could allow an attacker to take photos or record videos without a user's permission. Here's how to find out if your phone is vulnerable.

Home DNA test kits from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage are hugely popular, but are they accurate? The tests claim they can determine a person’s ancestry, health risks, and other proclivities. But Gizmodo says much of the information in those reports is "complete bullsh*t."

If you have a Roku TV, you may find that during an "update" your television is locked until you provide a credit card, enter viewing preferences, and suffer through an attempt to trick you into a trial of paid services. There's a way out, but it's hard to find.

Sometimes you want to know before sending a text message if a phone number is a landline, VoIP, or mobile phone. Here are several tools to help you find out.

DoNotSign is a “robot lawyer” service that helps you decipher those interminable license agreements filled with legal jargon. Upload the text of the agreement, or provide the URL, and the app will highlight any potential "gotchas" and provide tips on how to opt out from data collection. DoNotPay is a related robo-lawyer service that helps people contest parking tickets and sue people in small claims court.

DIPLE is a portable kit that promises to turn your smartphone into a powerful microscope, capable of giving you 1000x magnification, and the ability to take pictures and videos of teeny tiny creepy crawlies.

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

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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 21 November 2019"

Posted by:

Sarah L
21 Nov 2019

Home DNA test kits from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage are hugely popular, but are they accurate?
The article at the link is only about 23 and Me, which is the only one promising health-risk-related information. The other two give you a way to find relatives by DNA matching and building a family tree. Cousin matches seem to be quite accurate -- I match people I know are my cousins, a good sign. Ancestry also tries to determine ethnic background, a few generations back. They modify their methods as they get more data. It is hard to find people who are "purely" one ethnic group, and then decide what is unique. I have fun with what they tell me.

Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
21 Nov 2019

Disappointing Gizmodo article. 23andme "and other companies" may very well make fraudulent claims, but this article implies does as well. When I got my test, they made no claim to tell me anything about my possible health issues, none to "find me a compatible match" only to help me find possible "long lost" relatives which I have done and easily verified the relationships.

Posted by:

21 Nov 2019

Since I was adopted, my children wanted to know their complete heritage.They had their mother's side, but, of course, they don't have mine.They all took the Ancestry DNA test. My two daughters got results back, but my son received a notice stating that they could find no DNA in his specimen, so he re-submitted a speciman with the same results. Is HE the alien, or am I?

Posted by:

21 Nov 2019

Only if your blood is green goo!

Posted by:

Saffron J Bright-Rawlings
22 Nov 2019

The biggest problem I find with the article "Consumer DNA Testing May Be the Biggest Health Scam of the Decade" is the premise that the FDA is the final word on what is acceptable in health care/diagnosis. Anyone with any reasonable skepticism of government agencies knows that they are largely formed and promoted by private lobbying. Big money creates the "healthcare truths" of this country. That's all I need to say about that!

Posted by:

22 Nov 2019

For those inetrested in DNA tests, CBC TV has a program called Marketplace, and had an episode where they tested the results using identical twins. The following is the episode.

After the results, the DNA companies responded to the "results"

This will be very enlightening for those interested in DNA tests.

Posted by:

mark smith
24 Nov 2019

I tried the PhoneValidator (link from on 2 numbers and it was wrong both times. Both numbers were ported to other services years ago. The info provided was for the service that originally put the number into use. Free service that is worth what you pay for.

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