Category Archives: Mobile News

What can we expect from the mobile industry in 2019?

When Apple records lower than expected sales of their latest handsets, it is easy to think that we have reached the limits of the smartphone. Although attractive, the new iPhone XR, XS and XS Plus have not proven to be enough of a technical leap forward for people to want to replace their existing handsets.

Similarly disappointing sales have been recorded by major Android manufacturers too. So have we finally reached peak smartphone?

Probably not. Smartphone vendors have several new technologies that they hope will restart the market. Here is what to expect during 2019.

Foldable smartphones

At the recent CES electronics show, there was significant buzz around new foldable smartphones. Using a brand-new bendable screen technology, manufacturers are building handsets that can transform from a phone to a tablet and back again.

Obviously this is quite a novel development. Larger screen phones are incredibly popular, but they are also quite unwieldy – it is very hard to fit a Samsung Galaxy Note or iPhone 8s Plus into a trouser pocket for instance. But with a bendable screen, it is possible to build a phone that opens like a book to create a small tablet.

Image © Samsung

Early reviews of folding smartphones have been mixed. The technology certainly shows potential, but it may be some time before these handsets become popular.

A smart flip phone?

Back in 2006, the coolest smartphone on the market was Motorola’s RAZR. The clamshell handset went on to sell more than 130 million units becoming the best-selling flip phone ever.

Since then the Motorola brand has fallen into obscurity, so it’s little surprise that there are plans to resurrect the RAZR product line. Working with notebook specialist Lenovo, Motorola hopes to bring a new RAZR flip phone to market later this year.

The new phone is widely expected to foldable, and to offer true smart functionality which was unavailable in 2006. The device will probably be built on the Android operating system and may even include a folding screen (see above).

There is one problem however – early reports suggest that just 200,000 units will be built, priced at $1500. Even more than Apple’s top-of-the-range iPhone XS Max handset.

Hole-punch screens

Many people were surprised when the iPhone X was released with its characteristic cut-out screen. The “notch” as it became known is vital for housing the camera technology that enables the FaceID security system – but the compromise was widely mocked. Ironically many Android manufacturers have since included notches in their own designs.

This year we will see a number of smartphones released which will see a return to normal rectangle screens. The flagship Samsung Galaxy S10 will sport an all-new “hole-punch” screen. Instead of fitting the front-facing camera above the screen, the Galaxy puts it behind the screen. The screen itself has a round hole to allow the camera to work.

Yes, we will see regular edge-to-edge screens making a comeback, but the picture on the screen will always have a small, round hole in the corner. Like bendable screens, it remains to be seen just how popular the hole-punch design is.

Seeing the future

Predicting the future is always difficult, even more so in the technology sector. But with the exception of the new RAZR handset, these mobile technologies are already on show by manufacturers. We will see these devices available later this year.

And no matter how smartphone hardware evolves, these devices will always need additional cybersecurity protection. Whether you own a bendable screen, a hole-punch Galaxy S10 or an older device, you can download a free trial of Panda Dome to protect yourself now.

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Troy Hunt: the largest data leak in history

The Details of at Least 773 Million People Surfaced on a Free Cloud Storage Service

The details of at least 773 million people surfaced on free cloud storage service last week, reported Troy Hunt, Australian web security expert, and administrator of Have I Been Pwned (HIBP) website. As you might already know, Troy has been collecting data from many data breaches over the last five years. He has been compiling it into a single database, so people have the opportunity to search across multiple data breaches and find out if their details have been compromised at some point in the past. The website allows searches by password and email.

When we heard the news about what Gizmodo calls the ‘mother of all breaches,’ we initially thought that Troy Hunt and his database had been hacked. However, this was quickly debunked as Troy himself confirmed that he is the one who actually found the pile of stolen data. He called the breach ‘Collection #1’ and highlighted that this is the ‘single largest breach ever to be loaded into HIBP.’

This incident shows that Troy Hunt was not the only one who has been piling up information from past data breaches. An anonymous hacker uploaded approximately 12,000 files containing 772,904,99 emails and 21,222,975 unique passwords into a single large database. Troy reported that the 87GB worth of stolen data was published on a free cloud service called MEGA. What makes this breach particularly interesting is that this is the first part of a much bigger database of stolen data. Troy Hunt reported that he is in possession of four more collections, and he is currently reviewing them. He will be making a call on what to do with them after investigating them further. MEGA has since deleted the database.

While most of the data included in ‘Collection #1’ was already in HIBP, the data in collections #2 through #5 may end up making this one of the biggest data breaches ever seen. It is currently unknown if collections #2 to #5 are as big as ‘Collection #1’. If the remaining four collections are as significant as the first one, this may end up exposing details of billions of people.

What should you do?

The database is compiled of old data breaches, so if the data comes from known breaches, you most likely have been notified either by the service or by HIBP to change your password a long time ago. However, quite often data breaches sometimes take years to be discovered, so regular password changes are strongly recommended. Avoid using the same password on multiple platforms. The cybersecurity budgets of some companies are significantly lower when compared to others – we are confident JP Morgan Chase spends more on developing stronger security when compared to a t-shirt store. But if the passwords you use at both organizations are the same, hackers can steal your details from the weak organization and use the login credentials to get unauthorized access to services such as your internet banking.

You can easily check if your passwords or email addresses have been part of ‘Collection #1’ or if they have been pwned in the pat. You can search if your emails have been pwned here https://haveibeenpwned.com/, and learn if your passwords are part of the breach by testing them here https://haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords.

Last but not least, have anti-virus software installed on all your connected devices. Most of the times high-quality anti-virus software comes with a password manager that will help you always know your password. Apart from the password management options, such software could also prevent hackers from stealing the missing piece from the puzzle that would allow them to make you a victim of cybercrime.

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The 10 year challenge is taking the Internet by storm

The first few days of the new 2019 started with a new social media craze that is making its way to the timelines of hundreds of millions of people across all major social media networks – the 10 year challenge. Unless you are one of the few people who does not use social media, you most likely have already noticed the new viral trend that consists of side-by-side memes of people from ten years ago and today. Millions of people have already participated, and a whole list of celebrities have shared their before-and-after memes with their followers. The challenge is about to blow out of proportion as more and more people are entering it by the second.

What exactly is the 10 year challenge?

The challenge consists of people posting then-and-now images of themselves. The old photos go as far as 2008 and are usually compared to recent photos uploaded to social media. The viral social media trend come in many forms. Some of the popular hashtags that reflect the hottest social media challenge are #10YearChallenge, #GlowUpChallenge, #2009vs2019, #HowHardDidAgingHitYou, and #agechallenge. The challenge is currently making its way through all major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Who is behind the challenge?

Currently, it is unknown if someone started the challenge intentionally. Multiple reporters have been speculating that this might be Facebook’s way to collect data that could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition. Nicholas Thompson, the editor of Wired, succeeded in muddying the waters by tweeting “Let’s say you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on aging. What would do? Maybe start a meme like #10yearchallenge”. While this is a question that certainly gives you food for thought, it is still unknown if the challenge was ignited intentionally by a private company and if yes, what might have been its motives to do it.

Why did the 10 year challenge start now?

When Facebook was founded in 2004, the platform’s initial purpose was to be used as a networking tool for students in Ivy League universities. However, a few years after its launch, Facebook become open for everyone. Roughly 10 years ago, in 2009, Facebook started adding hundreds of millions of new users every day. Some say that the 10 year challenge is getting viral right now because of Facebook’s memories tool that brings images from the past to users’ timelines. Social media users are so fascinated by the difference between the 10 year old “memory” they see, and their current profile picture, that they decide to share it with friends and family.

Which celebrities have participated in the 10 year challenge?

The viral trend got popularized by some high profile celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres, Nicki Minaj, Trevor Noah, Caitlyn Jenner, and Tyra Banks. Most of them jumped on the bandwagon to simply show how well they still look and how they haven’t aged at all.

How to enter the 10 year challenge?

If you want to enter the viral challenge all you have to do is dig out a 10 year old photo of yourself and splice it with a current one. The result should be a side-by-side photograph of yourself ten years apart similar to the before-after diet advertisements that we all see all the time on social media. If you want your side-by-side photo to get noticed, you can post it on any social media channels with the following hashtags #10YearChallenge, #GlowUpChallenge, #2009vs2019, #2008vs2018, #HowHardDidAgingHitYou, and #agechallenge.

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AI: New Trends and Threats

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology continues to evolve at an astounding pace. This year we will see a number of new developments which could have implications for home users like yourself.

Trend: AI-enabled chips

Although impressive, Artificial Intelligence systems are somewhat limited by the physical design of current computer chips. Processors like those found in your laptop at home are built for general workloads – playing games, surfing the web, writing emails etc.

The demands of AI applications are remarkably different however, so existing processors are unable to provide optimal performance. In 2019, manufacturers like Intel, NVIDIA, AMD, Qualcomm and ARM are set to release new chips that are optimised for AI. They will be focused on specific demands, like speech recognition and natural language processing.

What it means for you

As these new chips begin to appear in consumer electronics we should start to see features like voice assistants (Siri, Google Now, Amazon Alexa) become a lot more intelligent and effective. We should also see AI appearing in other technologies like cameras too.

Like every new technology, there is potential for hackers to exploit these chips to steal information or to break into networks. This is particularly true of cutting edge technology which may have bugs or security loopholes that are yet to be identified and fixed by the manufacturer.

Automated Machine Learning “let loose”

At the moment, AI takes a relatively long time to set up. This is because the system must first be taught how to work using a process called “Machine Learning” (ML). Usually this involves feeding large amounts of data into the system, then training it to understand what the information means.

Take Google’s Deep Learning system which can help to diagnose cancer for instance. Researchers fed thousands of breast scan images into the program, and then taught the application which pictures were positive for the presence of cancerous cells, and those which were clear. Eventually the system learned how to read the images automatically without needing guidance.

The problem is that this Machine Learning process can take a considerable amount of time to get right. Deep Mind has been years in the making.

2019 will see the release of a new development called AutoML, a technology designed to speed up and automate the training process. In future, developers will be able to define their application and expected outcomes, and AutoML will take care of the training and learning. This will make it much quicker and easier to build and release smart applications.

What does this mean for you?

Examples like Google Mind show how AI and Machine Learning can change the world. But at the same time, if AI is left to train itself without any safeguards in place, it is very difficult to predict potential outcomes. There is nothing to say that every decision or outcome made by the system will be positive or healthy.

Traditional coding errors create software bugs that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Similarly, misconfigured AutoML systems could create their own security weaknesses if not closely monitored by AI developers. If your data is held in one of these AI applications, there may be a risk of information being leaked, lost or stolen.

2019 – an exciting year

Artificial Intelligence systems are finally maturing and beginning to have an effect on day-to-day life. In most cases we will never see AI at work – but we should all begin to benefit in the near future.

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Android devices 50 times more infected with malware compared to iOS.

Android-powered connected devices are fifty times more likely to be infected with malware when compared to iOS.

Android devices are nearly fifty times more likely to be infected by malware than Apple devices, revealed Nokia’s latest threat intelligence report. According to the whitepaper, Android devices were responsible for 47.15% of the observed malware infections, Windows/ PCs for 35.82%, IoT for 16.17% and iPhones for less than 1%. We’ve compiled a list top three reasons that explain why almost half of all malware-infected devices are running the Google-created platform.

Market share

Cyber-criminals are aiming at the largest crowd. Currently, there are more than two billion devices operating the Google-created platform making it the most popular end-user OS in the world. Google claims Android managed to surpass the number of Windows-powered devices back in 2017. The continuously growing amounts of cell phones and tablets is the primary driver for the recent change. The more active devices are out there, the bigger the chances for human error are.

Android’s open source

The fact that Android is open source makes it a fantastic OS option for many vendors. However, granting companies with the ability to modify the Google-owned OS increase the chances for human error. Small tweaks in the OS can end up being potential security holes. And the fact that currently half of the world’s malware-infected devices are running Android means that betting that no one will ever find out about possible security issues is not a good idea. One way or another, someone finds out about the loophole and exploits it until a patch is released.

Updates

Apple is strict on getting its users to keep their OS up-to-date. Many are unhappy that Apple always finds a way to make them update and generally want to control everything that appears on the platform. However, it is a fact that if Android users were more diligent in updating their OS, Android-enabled devices would’ve not been topping the list of most malware-infected products in the world. Making sure that your OS is up-to-date is the first step towards securing your device.

Android Oreo, the eight major update by the Google-created OS, is undoubtedly a step forward towards better protection. Google is doing its best to decrease the number of possible vulnerabilities by making it not as open as its predecessors. However, vulnerabilities are still appearing, and hackers are not thinking of giving up. Even though Apple seems to be well ahead, the fact is that no matter what OS devices you operate, you will end up getting infected if you do not use them with caution and proper protection. End-users who wish to be fully protected must have quality anti-virus software installed on all their connected devices.

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What is a firewall?

You’ve probably heard the word “firewall” a few times in recent years. There was even a 2006 Hollywood movie of the same name starring Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany and Virginia Madsen.

But what is a firewall, and why do they matter?

Keeping the bad guys out

At the most basic level, a firewall is a system that prevents unauthorised access to a network. The firewall acts like a bouncer at the entrance to the network, checking the identification of everyone who tries to enter. Any unauthorised access attempt is blocked automatically.

How does a firewall work?

Before you can properly understand why firewalls matter, you first need to understand a tiny bit about how data is sent between computers.

Say you email a document to a colleague. Your computer splits the document into tiny pieces called packets which are then sent one at a time to your colleagues computer. Each packet contains additional information that tells the recipient’s computer how to rebuild the document from the packets – and where the packets are coming from. This whole process can be completed in a matter of seconds.

Network data transfers aren’t fool proof though. Packets can get corrupted or lost during transfer. Or they can be intercepted and modified by hackers.

A firewall adds an important layer of protection into the data transfer mechanism. The firewall sits between your computer and the recipient’s, checking every packet that passes through. Any network traffic that has been faked, is coming from an unauthorised or unrecognised source, or is otherwise suspicious is blocked automatically.

The firewall does a lot more besides too. It monitors all network traffic, preventing hackers from breaking into your computer or other internet-connected devices.

Why do firewalls matter?

In a business environment, the firewall is installed at the edge of the network; all network traffic has to pass through the firewall, and is analysed in transit. And the same is true of application firewalls like those included with Panda Dome that are installed on home computers.

Effective network security works on the principle of blocking suspicious traffic before it reaches your computer. In a corporate network, that means stopping hackers before they can access the network. At home, you need to drop/block bad network traffic before it can reach the data stored on your computer.

A firewall is not the same as antivirus – it does not check to see whether incoming packets contain malware. But it does automatically block the most suspicious network traffic to keep criminals out. Like antimalware systems however, a good firewall is also regularly updated so that it is capable of blocking the latest threats and suspicious activities.

And this automated checking is an important tool for raising the overall level of protection for your home computer and data.

To learn more about firewalls, please take a look at the Panda knowledgebase. And if you’d like to protect your computer with a firewall now, please download a free trial of Panda Dome Security.

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