Monthly Archives September 2015

Skype Available on Android Wear

skype_logoA new version of Skype has been released for Android Wear devices, and is also compatible with a range of smartwatches powered by Google’s Android operating system. Anyone with an Android watch now has the ability to compose, read and respond to messages directly from their wrist.

Video calling doesn’t quite work the same on the watch as it would on a phone, however. Users can decline calls at any time from the watch with ease, but accepting a call via the smartwatch sends the video call to the user’s phone or mobile device. Once on the phone, users can mute, pause or end their call by using their Android Wear device.

Skype 6.0 for Android can be downloaded for free in the Google Play store. It has been recently updated to deliver ease of navigation, and enhanced search and messaging. “Mojis”, short video clips from movies and TV shows, are also newly available to be used in Skype messaging.

Don’t Share Facebook Privacy Status – It’s a Hoax!

facebook_2015_logo_detailYou can’t believe everything you read on Facebook. While this should go without saying, a large majority of people have likely seen statuses about privacy being shared recently on Facebook, if you haven’t shared it yourself.

Once again, rumors have started swirling about Facebook charging a monthly fee to keep data private. This hoax claims to be a disclaimer that will keep both your wallet and privacy safe. Share this text to your timeline, or be left to pay the fee if you don’t want your personal data shared with the world.

One popular version of the disclaimer reads:

As of September 29, 2015 at 10:50 p.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.

Or perhaps this version has popped up on your timeline:

Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 ($9.10) to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private.” If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.

Don’t believe a word of it. Hoaxes like these have plagued the social media site for years. In 2012, a similar hoax flooded Facebook statuses.

However, Facebook’s privacy policy clearly states: “You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”

Privacy-Focused Android Device Blackphone 2 Launches

blackphone 2Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2 is now available for purchase. The Android-based device comes pre-installed with a variety of apps focused on security and privacy.

The apps allow users to make encrypted calls, send private texts, control what information the phone’s apps can access and maintain separate profiles with varying security levels.

The phone itself comes equipped with a 5.5 inch Gorilla Glass screen, an octa-core processor, 3GB of Ram, 32GB of storage and a 13-megapixel camera.

“People and enterprises want to take back control of their privacy but too often they don’t know how, or they feel they must compromise too much – that’s why the time is right for Blackphone 2,” President and CEO of Silent Circle Bill Conner said in a statement.

At the core of the device’s security features is Silent Phone, which enables users to make private voice calls and send encrypted messages. The device has also been designed so it can be remotely wiped, and allows for precise control of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.

Blackphone 2 can now be purchased around the world for $799.

Samsung Pay a Hit in South Korea

Samsung-BIG-LogoIn its first month of use in South Korea, Samsung Pay has done incredibly well. The service which allows its users to pay for items with their smartphones at participating vendors has proven to be both popular and profitable, according to the smartphone maker.

Samsung reported more than $30 million in transactions were made between August 20 and September 20. More than 1.5 million individual transactions have occurred and approximately 36 percent of Samsung users in South Korea are actively using the service, with ten percent using it every day.

“Although the details on Samsung Pay usage are constantly being updated, the response we’ve received so far has been beyond our expectations,” Samsung Pay head Injob Rhee said in a statement. “We knew Samsung Pay would be a game-changer in the mobile payments industry and now with user data, we are seeing the greater impact it is having on consumer behavior and on the lifestyle of our customers.”

Samsung Pay will launch in the United States September 28, where it will be in direct competition with Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay. Despite the head start of the other U.S. systems, Samsung Pay has one distinct advantage: Samsung Pay does not require merchants to have NFC (near-field communications) technology. This means vendors will be more likely to support the service, since they would not be required to upgrade their equipment.

Samsung Pay is expected to make its way to China, Spain and the United Kingdom in the near future.

Instagram Replaces Twitter as Second Most Popular Social Media Site

Instagram_Icon_LargeThis week, after hitting a milestone 400 million active monthly users, Instagram surpassed Twitter to become the second most popular social networking site in the world. Now, at only five years old, Instagram is more used than all social media sites aside from its parent-company Facebook.

Instagram is also growing at the most rapid rate. In December of 2014, the company announced its 300 million monthly user milestone. Less than a year later, Instagram has added another 100 million to that number. In comparison, Facebook has a billion users across the globe, and Twitter reported 316 million active users in June.

“Given that Facebook owns Instagram, that certainly makes them the kind of the social networking mountain,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “Instagram is aimed squarely at mobile devices, and that makes it very easy for users to shoot and post very quickly. It also has the patina of ‘cool’ with hip users – mainly arising from young users adopting it as their own.”

Instagram is also gaining the same global recognition that Facebook and Twitter possess. Of the last 100 million people to join, more than half live in Europe and Asia, according to the company. Brazil, Indonesia and Japan are among the countries to hold the most Instagram users.

“While milestones like this are important, what really excites us is the way that visual communication makes the world feel a little bit smaller to every one of us,” Instagram blogged. “Our community has evolved to be even more global, with more than 75% living outside of the U.S. To all new Instagrammers: welcome!”

HP Innovates with Printer Security

hpHewlett-Packard has announced three new  LaserJet Enterprise printers, each made with the goal of increasing protection against malicious attacks. This is a part of HP’s plan to provide the deepest security in both the PC and printer market. According to the popular computer manufacturer, security is the most prominent issue in the tech-world today.

“Protecting against security breaches is one of the biggest challenges our customers face,” said Tuan Tran, HP’s vice president and general manager for LaserJet and Enterprise Solutions. “HP is helping customers secure their devices, documents, and data by defending our enterprise printers with the strongest protection in the industry.”

Printer security is an issue not everyone knows about, but it’s very real. According to the Ponemon Institute, 64 percent of IT managers say their printers are likely infected with malware. Further to that point, an alarming 56 percent of enterprise companies ignore printer security in their overall strategies.

In an effort to combat this issue, HP’s new printers will have industry-leading security features built directly into the machines. These features include detection of, and self-healing recovery from, malicious BIOS attacks, as well as whitelisting to assure only good firmware can be loaded and executed on the printer. These set of features will now come standard on new HP LaserJet Enterprise and OfficeJet Enterprise X printers.

The three new printers being released by the company are the HP LaserJet Enterprise M506 series for monochrome printing, the HP LaserJet Enterprise MFP M527 series for monochrome printing and two-side scanning, and the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M577 series for colour printing, two side-scanning and dual-sided printing. The HP LaserJet Enterprise M506 will be available in stores on October 1, while the other two models will be available by November 2.

Google Wallet Redesigned as Peer-To-Peer Payment App for iOS

Google-Wallet-bannerThe new Google Wallet for iOS was recently launched with a new focus on peer-to-peer payments. The completely rebuilt app went live on Android in September, and is now also available on iOS.

Android Pay was launched by Google earlier this month in an attempt to turn Google Wallet into a peer-to-peer payments service. Google Wallet allows users to send money to anyone in the U.S. using only an email address. An added bonus is the person accepting the transfer does not need to be a user of the Wallet service to receive payments.

A Google Wallet Card can be ordered from within the app. The card allows users to physically spend the money in their account in stores, or withdraw it from an ATM. Users also have the option to “cash out” the amount in their Google Wallet to a bank account or debit card linked to their account.

The new version of Google Wallet is available for download here.

Apple Removes Malware Infected Apps from Store

Available_on_the_App_Store_(black)Apple is cleaning up its iOS App Store after iPhone and iPad programs were identified as being infected with malware. The first large-scale attack on the App Store was reported by several cyber security firms after finding an embedded program called XcodeGhost in hundreds of legitimate apps.

Only five malicious apps have ever been found in the App Store prior to this attack. Hackers were able to get their malware past Apple’s diligent app review process by convincing developers of legitimate apps to use a counterfeit version of Xcode, the software used to create iOS and Mac apps.

“We’ve removed the apps from the App Store that we know have been created with this counterfeit software,” said Apple Spokesperson Christine Monaghan in an email. “We are working with the developers to make sure they’re using the proper version of Xcode to rebuild their apps.”

Cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks did not uncover any examples of data theft or harm resulting from the attack. Ryan Olsen, Director of Threat Intelligence for the firm, maintains the attack was still “a pretty big deal.”

“Developers are now a huge target,” Olsen said.

The malicious version of Xcode was downloaded from a server in China. Developers would have used it because it allowed for faster download time than Apple’s U.S. servers. Chinese security firm Qihoo360 Technology Co. reportedly uncovered 344 apps infected with XcodeGhost.

Popular chatting app WeChat was one of the largest programs affected by the malware. An investigation revealed no data theft of leakage of user information had taken place, and the app has immediately been updated to remedy the issue.

Microsoft Previews Send App for Android Users

sendA preview version of Microsoft’s messaging app Send has been released on Android devices. Microsoft launched Send for iOS back in July, and Android users will now be able to enjoy the app provided they are Office 365 users with business and education accounts. The app is also being made available in more countries than just Canada and the United States, appearing in app stores in Brazil, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

“As well as new features, our customers have been asking us to increase the availability of Send,” said a recent Microsoft Office blog. “Specifically, there are requests for Send to be on more platforms and available in more countries.”

Send combines the best of instant messaging and emailing. The app allows users to send someone an instant message by using their email address rather than their phone number. The message can contain a subject line, signature, or anything else you might find in an email. Perhaps most convenient is that only the users sending messages are required to have the app.

Microsoft has added some new features to Send, including the ability to delete conversations, add users to chats, share locations, make phone calls and more. The app now also has GIF support, which Microsoft says will, “Express more than words ever could.”

Apple Will Let Users Delete Default Apps

iOS 9Apple products including the iPhone come preloaded with a copious amount of apps that, while theoretically useful, prove to be a nuisance to many users. In response to Twitter complaints, Apple CEO Tim cook recently announced the company may finally allow iPhone users to delete these applications.

Cook admitted these apps were triggering some controversy in an interview with Buzzfeed, where the topic of deleting them arose. “I recognize that some people want to do this, and it’s something we’re looking at.”

Standard iOS apps have been impossible to remove since the inception of the operating system in 2007. The only option for users who don’t want to use them is to create a “junk” folder in which to hide unwanted apps.

Cook has said, “We’ll figure out a way [for you to remove them]… It’s not that we want to suck up your real estate; we’re not motivated to do that. We want you to be happy.”

He also explained if the native app were deleted, it could disrupt other iPhone functions to which they are linked. For example, deleting the Phone app would make your iPhone unable to make calls. Deleting the maps app could disable Siri from giving you directions.