Geekly Update - 23 January 2020
Can you get a decent Android smartphone for around a hundred bucks? Is your DirecTV satellite dish about to explode? Is it okay to open a WhatsApp message from the crown prince of Saudi Arabia? What factor was the root cause of one third of all ransomware infections in 2019? And will this 35-year-old cure for smartphone addiction work for you? 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
Google has released three new apps to help you spend LESS time with your phone. "Envelope" will temporarily transform your smartphone into a simpler "feature phone" device that only allows phone calls, photos and videos.
If you realize you need something more than a home-made paper envelope to tame your smarpthone addiction, you'll find this article by NY Times writer Lisa Wells very interesting. In I Quit My Smartphone, Wells starts off with "About a year ago, I noticed a distressing tendency in myself to drift off while the people I loved were talking." Wells had quit smoking previously, and used the same technique from Allen Carr's 1985 book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, to beat her smartphone addiction.
The United Nations has released forensic evidence linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the hacking of an iPhone owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post newspaper. A WhatsApp message sent to Bezos contained a photo indicating that the Prince had knowledge of Bezos' secret affair, and allegedly contained malware that exposed both photos and text messages on the phone for months.
Voters in King County, Washington, this week were able to vote via their smartphones. It was the first election in the country in which any registered voter could cast a ballot online. The experiment was only for the election of the King Conservation District Board of Supervisors, but if it is deemed a success, we can assume it will
open the floodgates to massive voter fraud be used a model for other online voting initiatives.
A hacker has published a list of login credentials for more than 500,000 servers, home routers, and "smart" devices. It didn't take any devious or advanced hacking skills to compile the list. The hacker simply ran a scan for devices that were exposing their login port, and then attempted to gain access via default or commonly-used usernames and passwords. So-called "Internet of Things" devices that may be at risk include thermostats, video doorbells, smart door locks, light bulbs, power outlets, and speakers. Changing the factory-supplied password for any connected device is the solution to this problem.
Are you thinking about getting a home security system, but not too sure what features you need, or how much it will cost? SafeHome just reviewed all the major home security options, both do-it-youself and professionally installed models, to help you determine which is the best system for you. See their report on the Best Home Security Systems of 2020.
According internet guru Dave Taylor, you needn't spend $750 or more for a smartphone, if you're willing to sacrifice a few bells and whistles. See Dave's review of the XGODY Mate 30 Android smartphone, which does a lot and sports a surprisingly low $118 price tag.
According to a report by PreciseSecurity, weak passwords were responsible for 30% of ransomware infections last year. Other factors were phishing scams, lack of cybersecurity training, user gullibility, malicious websites, and clickbait.
Two years ago, Apple reportedly cancelled plans to allow users to fully encrypt iCloud backups of their iPhones, bowing to pressure from the FBI that it would slow down criminal investigations. The iPhone itself has encryption that can only be unlocked by the user. Apple does not store the encryption keys for the physical devices. But the iCloud backups (which can contain almost all of the data stored on a phone) are different -- they are encrypted but can be unlocked by Apple. Apple turned over data for 90% of the 18,000 law enforcement requests it received in the first half of 2019. The fact that iCloud backups are accessible by Apple is not disputed, but one Apple watcher makes a credible argument that the FBI had nothing to do with that decision.
The “Apple Watch Connected” gym initiative is a partnerships with fitness facilities that makes it easier for Apple Watch owners to earn rewards for working out. One gym chain offers a discount of $3 to $4 per week on memberships if Watch-wearers meet workout goals for the month. Just think, you could recoup the cost of your $1400 Hermes Stainless Steel Apple Watch in 7 years!
Microsoft has revealed that a "misconfigured" customer support database was accessible for 14 years to anyone, no password required. Almost 250 million Customer Service and Support records were exposed to the world, some containing customer email addresses, IP addresses, locations, and internal notes marked as confidential. Maybe this is why we have such a big problem with scammers posing as Microsoft support reps.
One DirecTV satellite in geostationary orbit is likely to explode soon, due to battery issues. The company must take the Spaceway-1 satellite out of service within a month, so it doesn't nuke other nearby satellites if it goes boom.
Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Jan 2020
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 23 January 2020 (Posted: 23 Jan 2020)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved