Monday, 20 May 2019

Whatsapp flaw and how to fix it

WhatsApp Security flaw discovered

A security flaw in the popular messaging app, WhatsApp, has been discovered. The flaw has been used to target numerous people and groups already. It is believed that the vulnerability was discovered and exploited by an Israeli company that designs such "spyware" with the supposed intention of assisting governments and their law agencies.

How it works

Attackers would place a WhatsApp call to the intended target. Even if the target did not answer the call, the malicious code would be sent to the phone and the vulnerability exploited. Once the phone has been infected intimate data could be retrieved from the device, even access to the microphone and camera is possible.

WhatsApp engineers have already released an update that fixes the flaw and are urging all users to update their app as soon as possible. It is recommended that you update your mobile operating system as an added precaution.

The flaw exists on all these versions of WhatsApp:
  • Android prior to v2.19.134, 
  • WhatsApp Business for Android prior to v2.19.44, 
  • WhatsApp for iOS prior to v2.19.51. 
  • WhatsApp for Windows Phone and Tizen is also affected.

How to update

To update your version of WhatsApp you need to do the following:

iOS (Apple)
  • Open the App Store,
  • Tap the "updates" icon, 
  • You can either select "Update All" or select WhatsApp on its own and update. 
  • Note if there is no update for WhatsApp shown, you may already have the latest version automatically
  • Open the Google Play Store
  • Hit the menu icon, 
  • Select "My Apps & Games" then tap update.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Sextortion Scam on the rise

I received a phone call from a client of mine the other day, I could hear in the voice that something was not right, there was almost a whisper to the voice and I struggled to hear what was being said. I heard bits and pieces of the conversation but what I heard did not sound good. "Hacked..., extortion..., wants money..." thankfully in the end it turned out all ok.

A relatively new variant of an email scam is doing the rounds this year, it is called sextortion.  Sextortion is when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them with images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.
The way the scam works is basically you receive an email claiming that your computer has been comprised and that your webcam was used to record you viewing porn sites.

The email further goes on to say that you must pay the "hacker" an amount of BitCoin or else they will release the "footage" of your browsing session to all your contacts. What makes this scam scary is that it actually has your password! Well not exactly, but a password you most likely used some time ago.

Thanks to all the data breaches over the last few years, your email address and certain passwords are easily available on the web for those that wish to find them. What these scammers have done is link your password from some time ago that was breached with your e-mail address. When you read the email for the first time you see your password and really think this may be possible.

The emails I have seen from my clients are very similar to the copy below,

“I’m aware that <substitute password formerly used by recipient here> is your password,” reads the salutation.
You don’t know me and you’re thinking why you received this e mail, right?
Well, I actually placed a malware on the porn website and guess what, you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as a RDP (Remote Desktop) and a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen and webcam. Right after that, my software gathered all your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook account, and email account.
What exactly did I do?
I made a split-screen video. First part recorded the video you were viewing (you’ve got a fine taste haha), and next part recorded your webcam (Yep! It’s you doing nasty things!).
What should you do?
Well, I believe, $1400 is a fair price for our little secret. You’ll make the payment via Bitcoin to the below address (if you don’t know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).
BTC Address: 1Dvd7Wb72JBTbAcfTrxSJCZZuf4tsT8V726
(It is cAsE sensitive, so copy and paste it)
Important:You have 24 hours in order to make the payment. (I have an unique pixel within this email message, and right now I know that you have read this email). If I don’t get the payment, I will send your video to all of your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so forth. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I will erase the video immidiately. If you want evidence, reply with “Yes!” and I will send your video recording to your 5 friends. This is a non-negotiable offer, so don’t waste my time and yours by replying to this email.
This scam is unfortunately likely to evolve and as more personal details get leaked / breached the scammers will probably add more data into the mails to make it sound even more believable, we may even see other scams using this method to try and con you. Think of those fake Microsoft tech support calls, now they have a "password" you could be easily fooled into giving them access to your computer.
There are some things you can do so as to not become a victim of sextortion:
  1. Keep your browsing to "safe" sites;
  2. Do not send revealing pictures of yourself to anyone (you never know who is actually getting them);
  3. Turn off or block any webcams when not in use;
  4. Think before opening that unexpected email with the attachment;
  5. If you have not changed your passwords recently, I would suggest you do soon.  

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Nokia Lumia 820 - 2 week review

Lumia Resurrected
Lumia Resurrected (Photo credit: Irish Typepad)

It took some time to decide on a new Smartphone. There are so many leading phones out there and each one has their own pros and con's. My decision was ultimately made for me by the availability of my shortlisted phones from the service provider. I had narrowed my choice down to the Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia range and on the day I went to the store the new Sony Xperia J.

Yes, the Apple iPhone was not on my shortlist. There are many reasons for this but let’s just leave it there. As it turned out my Blackberry 9800 started to give me issues and eventually stopped working so I was forced to go with what was available at the time. What was available was a Nokia Lumia 820.

I had been a fan of Nokia for many years and it was a big move away from Nokia to Blackberry for me. However moving from Blackberry back to Nokia was not that difficult. I have now had my Lumia 820 for a little over two weeks and have gotten to know it quite well.

The first thing that I noticed is the weight of the phone, due to the wireless charging cover the phone is slightly heavier than you would expect for a modern day Smartphone. It actually feels comfortable though, like you are holding something of substance. It is also good to note that Nokia's build quality is still as good as it always was. Wireless charging is very impressive and the Lumia charges quickly wirelessly. Just place the phone the wireless charge pad and it starts charging, no more looking for cables and ensuring the connection is made.

The Nokia-Microsoft partnership is starting to pay off; the biggest draw card for me was the integration with my Microsoft account. Once the details were put in the phone was setup and all my contacts were synced. Likewise with other accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn etc...

It is unfortunately quite a surprise at the lack of integration with a Windows computer and the software available. The Nokia Ovi suite was a powerful piece of software that allowed to you basically control your phone from your pc. Now there is no such thing.

If you are not using an Exchange server it seems like Microsoft don't care about you. Calendar integration with your non-Exchange mailbox is non-existent. There is always a work-around of course but surely being a Microsoft to Microsoft device you would expect better.

Using the phone is very easy and the home screen is extremely customisable. Although there are only two screens to flick through, at first I thought this was very limiting. Now two weeks in I find it very useful. If the app I need is used often I just pin it to my home-screen. Else I flick one screen over and find it there, no need to scroll through five, six screens. What you need is there at your fingertips, and what you don't need at your tips is a flick away.

Sure the home screen can be boring with the colour blocking (one colour) for most apps, but the live tiled apps have constantly changing images and notifications popping up. Again when you have used the phone these minor things don't bother you that much.

A minor bug bear that I do have is that to make a call you have to perform at least three actions. It doesn't sound like much but when you need to phone a lot of people this does waste time. Messaging people is also as cumbersome to text someone. The redeeming feature though is the predictive text is really good and often selects the next word in your sentence before you have even typed the first letter. Something I would like to see though is if you hold down the letter, it should make it a capital letter, it is a nuisance holding shift and the letter.

Internet Explorer on the phone is slick and you can view the original websites almost as easily as mobile websites. You can't configure much though and as such your Internet always opens to the last page browsed and there is no setting for a homepage. Again though you can pin a page to the home screen and use that.

The features that made Nokia phones of old really well have been carried over to the Lumia range. Nokia Maps, Navigation which is free for life are really great tools to have and so far have been 100% accurate. The camera is good and with the now default Carl Zeiss optics you almost expect the camera to be decent for a happy snapper like me.

The new Nokia City Lens is an awesome tool; it has wowed many friends and family and will be of much use on travels to cities that you are not familiar with. The ability to hold the phone and turn around and select where you want to go makes life easier when you need to find the closest Italian restaurant or grocery store.

Nokia Music is really impressive and although I have not upgraded my account to the plus account I still get a lot of music out of this default app. The ability to play a song, purchase it or even take it offline for later listening pleasure is decent. Mix Radio is a great feature if you can’t make your mind up and wish to listen to specific genre of music. Select your genre and hit play.

The benefit of Nokia partnering with Microsoft is seen and felt with Skydive - with 7GB off cloud storage made available for free you can store your Office documents and access them on the phone or pc. Using OneNote helps you make those quick notes that was once reserved for those pesky yellow sticky notes. These features have come in very handy over the last few weeks.

The other integrations that I like is the Xbox integration and games. My Xbox is linked to my phone and with extra apps installed I can basically control my Xbox from my phone. The games available are awesome and the quality of the games that run on the phone is incredible.

The main drawback so far is that you cannot attach documents to e-mails sent from your phone. Maybe Microsoft are trying to drive people to use SkyDrive and share a link to the file from there? Either way it is very limiting and painful that you can only e-mail pictures.

If there was a feature I wish the phone had, which it presently doesn't is the ability to have profiles. To quickly change between silent and other settings would be nice. You are only limited to vibrate and vibrate + ring. If on vibrate other sounds still play which when you have just got your six month old to sleep is not good.

The much debated App store is not that bad. I think Nokia and Microsoft have gone for a quality over quantity approach on this front. There are some really brilliant apps and the apps that have made a name of themselves on other phone systems like Android and iPhone can be found on the Windows Store. Granted not all the apps but then again Windows 8 phone is the relative new comer to the market and the app store will get bigger over time.

Overall the phone is good. It does have a number of shortcoming that's I hope will be addressed in later updates and with Nokia taking a progressive step in setting up a site dedicated solely to suggestions to make the phones better I think they may well be on the way back, albeit against very tough competition.

I would give the phone a 7.5 out of 10 rating. It is still early days though so I look forward to playing with it more and will let you all know in about six months time if things have gotten better or worse.

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

5 Tips to prolong your notebook battery life

Notebooks these days have battery's that claim to last for hours and hours. The Macbooks are generally really good with their long life and the latest Windows pc's are also getting better. A colleague recently replaced is default factory fitted battery with a long life battery in his HP notebook. The battery is giving him a couple of hours now. This brought on a Google search for tips to prolong battery life without buying a new battery.

I came across this article from the guys at DailyFive. DailyFive is in their own words "...the simplest way to read and share breaking tech news, reviews and features on your mobile device. Whether it has buttons or batteries, it's in our backyard." You can get their app from here DailyFive.

They suggest five different ways to prolong your battery life.
  1. Dim your screen - most of the notebooks these days have power-efficient LED displays but if you are using a slightly older model, dim your display. This simple step could save you a couple of extra minutes.
  2. Change your drive - conventional hard drives uses more power spinning those platters than a solid state disk, SSD, does. By changing your disk you could see a saving of up to 30 minutes.
  3. Wi-Fi switch - if you not using your wi-fi then switch it off, either with the physical switch or by using the software. It doesn't make sense to have it on if you are not using it. The same goes for Bluetooth. You can switch your Bluetooth off independently of your wi-fi.
  4. Upgrade your software - the newer operating systems are far more power efficient and are getting better with each release so consider upgrading to the latest software.
  5. Modern day circuitry and chargers mean in it is fine to leave the computer connected to the charger. It is recommended to try and prevent the battery from discharging unnecessarily but once every 4 weeks let the battery discharge fully and leave it for a couple of hours and then follow it up with a full recharge.
There are many other ways to prolong the life of your battery and most of them are inexpensive and easy to do. Windows has a power options function that you can customise what the computer does when on battery and this will also go a long way in increasing the life of your battery.

Thanks again to the guys at DailyFive for the short and concise articles. Go get the app for yourself.
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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What's your Klout?

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase, the website that claims to measure ones “klout” or influence on the web. They manage to do this through some fancy algorithm or other magic means. There are the critics of the site and the site has often being controversial in some of its Klout weightings. Just recently Justin Bieber – he of teenage pop fame – was recently surpassed by President Barak Obama of the Untied States of America.

It would seem odd that the man behind the most powerful country in the world has only recently been rated the most influential. Why only now? Klout is all about web presence and not your real-life day-to-day influential people.  So this is why people like Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber can be rated influential, because they have a very high web presence.

When I signed up for my Klout account within two days I had a score of 47. This is apparently pretty good. How I got that score I have no idea. I have a number of friends that are professional writers and bloggers, they get paid to be on the web. My score was considerably higher than theirs. have just recently changed their algorithm and this seems to be working better now.

I like the concept behind and it feels great to brag to people already using Klout if your score is higher but you do feel like an idiot when discussing your Klout score with someone that has no inkling of what you are talking about. You just get a blank stare and can almost hear the persons mind going “Klout score? He needs a clout against his head!”

There are a number of features to Klout such as being able to nominate who influences you and you can earn more influence in different categories as you get more “Klout” but I am not sure how it all benefits someone? I get that it is a nice metric to view a person’s influence on the web but why? Is it going to help a student get a job if he says his “Klout” score is 56, maybe if he is applying for an online product review blogger position but does it make a difference for an engineer?

Some other nice features are the “Perks” you can earn – mainly US based though – but nonetheless maybe one day the perks will be available outside of the US. Another nice display is where you fit in with your influence, your Klout Style, you can be a conversationalist to celebrity to thought leader. My style has changed three times in the last week though.

Overall, I think it is yet another nice website to play around on. Out of curiosity it is fun to build your score for bragging rights but from a business point of view I do not see the value until it starts to measure brand value then it may have some marketing spin-offs. It seems to be another form of social networking that you will need to deal with on your day-to-day social chore list. Check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest and now your daily check of the Klout Score.

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