Quick Bytes News – Autumnal Snippets

Here we go again with the Autumn release…

Back to school and an oncoming Christmas, but with Halloween & Guy Fawkes double spook shows in the way. I may try celebrating the Equinox this year for a change on some hilltop if the weather permits, (well, got to try it once!).

Talking of spook shows I see that GCC (our local retrograde County Cabal) are continuing with their mass burn monster incinerator at Quedgeley, where peaceful protestors are arrested for trying to keep our air breathable and our poll tax charges lower.

Caring is carrying a high price these days.

To attempt a brightening up the scenery now, I offer you this;


Android Mobiles Security

 

In today’s world most of us carry a smart phone or tablet, the majority of which are based on Google’s own Android operating system. Many of us began using these for web based functions like browsing and email. Then also along came thousands of Apps and games which often are free which according to their creators ‘enhance the online experience’ for us when using smart devices.

If  that is all there is too it then this post ends now, which it doesn’t.

With an historic headline like this …

“Android Was 2016’s Most Vulnerable Product”

Android needed a big review. >source<

 


So some clever and well intentioned people decided to run tests on how safe it might be to do your online banking or other sensitive personal data transfers from an Android smart device and they were concerned. Its so easy to say ‘yes’ to download an App and then grant it access to all centres of your device when it asks for permission. But what have you done?

Firstly the App may not behave as it appears to offer, remember ‘free’ has its price so beneficiaries will exist somewhere to it being on your device.

Did it come from Googles own Play Store? If not how sure of it can you be when it hasn’t been independently verified by them? Even then caution is advised. Do you really need the App anyway?

If you do need it and would like it tested before installing it you could upload it here for AV-C online analysis

Its creators, AV Comparatives have written of it as follows;

…. “malware analysis tool, which is available free to all users. It is a static analysis system for detecting suspected Android malware and adware and providing statistics about it. Users can upload APK files and see the results in various analysis mechanisms”…

AV – C’s regular bulletins are a very useful and detailed source of their testing of security and privacy vendors products, for example this came from their Aug 2017 report on Mobile Security.

a pic

In their own words ….

“The review mainly focuses on the security features – anti-malware, anti-theft, and privacy – and only mentions further functionalities briefly. The structure of each product report is identical, allowing readers to compare products easily.
The main purpose of a mobile security product is to protect users and their devices from potential harm inflicted by malicious apps, fraudulent mails, or phishing URLs.”


Google Play Protect

Is a new set of protective features that Google have bundled into their ‘Play Services’ feature as of July 2017, so its a good idea to check that it is running on your Android phone. From an article …

“Google Play Protect combines various Android security tools, like app scanning, previously known as Verify Apps, browser protection and an anti-theft feature in the form of Google’s Find My Device app.

Google Play Protect was first launched at the company’s I/O Conference in May and will roll out to all Android devices running Google Play Services 11 or higher” source

One thing though …
“Smartphones often contain a lot of personal data. Luckily Google continuously adds new security to Android. Unfortunately, only 7 percent run the latest Android version (Nougat)”

Manufacturers of smart devices are notorious for delaying for long periods the fixes to security that Android has proved needed to lock them down against malicious code on the web.


“Project Treble”

This may be fixed with Google’s “Project Treble” sometime ahead soonish says this article from Slashgear. So better times ahead but what about now?

If your manufacturer hasn’t got around to updating your phone to ‘Nougat’ yet your best off following the best practice principles of;

  • Remove all junk and unnecessary Apps on the device
  • Install a quality Anti Virus/Malware App (see above) and check it occasionally to be fully functioning
  • Don’t click on links sent to you in texts, Apps and emails that you don’t feel right about, listen to your instincts first.
  • Beware of using unsecured (no password or WEP encrypted) WiFi connections in public places especially for anything sensitive, they are not safe! Best to always do your important stuff at a trusted location like home or office if you can.

 

You might be wondering if having an Android at all is a good idea? I think my answer would be that it will be once new developments above are in place throughout the manufacturer supply chain.

If waiting for that seems like a worrying idea then an iPhone iPad may well be better for now and there are many available in second use markets if a new one is prohibitively expensive. Though again, always use Apps you download only from the Apple Store.

That is all for now.

 

Greg

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Quick Bytes News – Autumn Edition

Greetings to you all

The undeclared and yet obvious evidence on trees everywhere on this sunny day is that Autumn has at last arrived. A little late and now a bit chilly but at least its here and so Westonbirt Arboretum will be happier that their gates will soon be frequented by tree and leaf spotters en-masse! (or for brexiteers, ‘by the bundle mate‘).

Another interesting arrival which I have yet to watch my way fully through is another  fascinating new documentary of epic length  (3 hours) by Adam Curtis which is now on BBC iPlayer named HyperNormalisation. So far I’ve only seen 20 minutes of it but in that small part I am already hooked on it! If its half as good as Adam Curtis’s last documentary Bitter Lake it will be fascinating. I will give the link to it at the bottom of this QBN post.

These days reality has become bigger than fiction across politics as we witness daily with the US elections pit dogfight, and our own rather ‘different’ pre brexit, shape shifted government, so nothing surprises me now (though Adam Curtis may change that).

So how can we be safer and sleep better in this concerning world?


a-typical-picture
Take Five Campaign

I discovered TakeFive during a visit to my local building society and picked up a leaflet showing this very helpful resource which has a wealth of Video and other written downloadable materials on it. These offer very sound and easy to understand advice on how to spot and avoid fraud. You can watch their short introductory video here

The TakeFive website is friendly and easy to navigate and can be found here

So please do follow their guidance and perhaps share it with other family members who might also benefit from it.


a-typical-picture
WiFi Hot Spot Advice

Although this website is written for an American audience the technology is essentially the same and so I have included it.

WiFi is everywhere now and because many people walk around with a portable pad, laptop or smartphone and they like to use the internet on these wherever they are, its now important to draw attention to using these devices with a better degree of security than is offered by many WiFi hot spots in metropolitan areas.

Not all are properly secured with WPA2 encryption and so another person could intercept data between your device and the router and so possibly raid your privacy, or worse!

Their website article is here


But all may not be completely safe at home or office if you use one of these WiFi Extenders ….

a-typical-picture

From an article by ISP Review “The network security gurus at Pen Test Partners have warned owners of BT’s Wi-Fi Extender 300 (Broadband Extender 300 Kit) adapters to update its firmware after they uncovered a string of vulnerabilities that could result in your home WiFi network password being leaked. The 300 series WiFi extenders are single band (2.4GHz) 802.11n spec devices that offer a headline maximum wireless network speed of 300Mbps (150Mbps in 20MHz mode and 300Mbps in 40MHz mode) and as such they’ve largely been superseded by the dual-band 600 and faster series. Never the less you can still buy them for only £19.99 a pop.”………

So do beware of these devices, the full details of the models involved are here and the good news is that BT have issued a firmware fix to close the vulnerability which is mentioned at the base of the ISP Review web page.


ZZZzzzzz …

And finally – a ‘did you know’ question that is topical as we now have the lights on more until next Equinox. ‘Did you know that bright lights are wrecking your sleep  and possibly also your health?’

According to this article from HowToGeek our devices are too bright and we look at them too late into the evenings for quality sleep to be guaranteed!  In it is written “to break all the research down into a single sentiment: We’re happiest and healthiest when we experience crisp blue-white light in the morning and afternoon, dimmer and warmer light in the evening, and sleep in a truly dark room.”

As you would expect there are technical fixes for the various portable devices suggested here and if you like, even special glasses but I guess that the real fix is to know when to obey natural instincts and let your body simply relax!

Sleep well!


TTFN

I hope you found this issue of QBN helpful and informative and if you would like to discuss any articles in it or seek any additional help from me, then please do call, I love a chat!

PCT Door Magnet

btw – the Adam Curtiss documentary I mentioned earlier, that might keep me up too late if I fail to watch the clock is viewable for free from the BBC here

Greg