Category: WiFi

Android and Windows smartphones to get ‘kill switch’

Google and Microsoft have both revealed that they will integrate a ‘kill switch’ into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems, allowing customers to disable their devices if they are lost or stolen.

Google told Bloomberg that it will add a “factory reset protection solution” to its next version of Android

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s vice president for US government affairs, Fred Humphries, said that the company would be adding new anti-theft capabilities to its Find My Phone feature in Windows Phone before July 2015.

“With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology – as part of a broader strategy – can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place,” Humphries said in a blog post.

The news comes after Apple introduced ‘activation lock’ and ‘delete phone’ to its Find My iPhone app in September 2013.

As a result, robberies involving the company’s products reportedly decreased by 19 per cent in New York in the first five months of this year. San Francisco and London have also seen Apple-related robberies drop.

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said the statistics illustrate the “stunning effectiveness of kill switches”, and has called for other smartphone companies to add theft-deterrence features to their devices.

US Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, have both introduced bills that would require phones sold in the US to include kill-switch technology.

Last summer, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson also wrote to eight companies – including Apple, Samsung and Google – stating that about 10,000 handsets are stolen every month in London, and manufacturers have a “corporate responsibility” to help tackle thefts.

“If we are to deter theft and help prevent crimes that victimise your customers and the residents and visitors to our city, we need meaningful engagement from business and a clear demonstration that your company is serious about your corporate responsibility to help solve this problem,” Mr Johnson told manufacturers.

“Each of your companies promote the security of your devices, their software and information they hold, but we expect the same effort to go into hardware security so that we can make a stolen handset inoperable and so eliminate the illicit second-hand market in these products.

“We hope you would support this objective. Customers and shareholders surely deserve to know that business cannot and must not benefit directly from smartphone theft through sales of replacement devices.”

Source: The Telegraph

If You Have a Smart Phone, Anyone Can Now Track Your Every Move

Location services company Navizon has a new system, called Navizon I.T.S., that could allow tracking of visitors in malls, museums, offices, factories, secured areas and just about any other indoor space. It could be used to examine patterns of foot traffic in retail spaces, assure that a museum is empty of visitors at closing time, or even to pinpoint the location of any individual registered with the system. But let’s set all that aside for a minute while we freak out about the privacy implications.

Most of us leave Wi-Fi on by default, in part because our phones chastise us when we don’t. (Triangulation by Wi-Fi hotspots is important for making location services more accurate.) But you probably didn’t realize that, using proprietary new “nodes” from Navizon, any device with an active Wi-Fi radio can be seen by a system like Navizon’s.

Navizon’s technology is also reminiscent of the location data provided to retailers and marketers by Skyhook’s Spotrank system, which has a different set of pros and cons: That data is available for every point on the planet, but it only includes devices running Skyhook software.

The rollout of this technology means there are now at least three ways that users can track their locations indoors, where GPS is generally useless — bluetooth beacon, Spotrank (and proprietary vendor) databases of Wi-Fi hotspots, and Navizon’s I.T.S. nodes. It also marks the second way (that I know of) for you to be tracked via the location of your phone, whether you want to be or not. (The first requires access to your cell phone carrier, and is used for example to locate your position when you make a 911 call.)

It shouldn’t be surprising that carrying around a little RF transmitter in your pocket makes you visible to all sorts of tracking technology. Maybe it’s simply the (inevitable) commercialization of this fact that is somehow unnerving.



Source: Technology Review

Tether: Wireless tethering for only $30 per year

For those of you constantly traveling and unable to access a Wi-Fi connection for your Mac or PC, but unwilling to dish out the $360 a year that some carriers will require for native tethering, you can download Tether’s application for $15 for the first year and $30 for the years following.

While jail breaking is one option for avoiding the cost of tethering, other people may find that paying $30 per-year is worth avoiding the hassle of hacking a phone. Plus, for those of us who have a tendency to drop our phones, voiding the warranty and keep customer support and geniuses at bay is also reason enough to avoid the hack — which is why Tether is such a great service.

Initially launched in November 2011, Tether was originally accepted into Apple’s iTunes App Store. But the app was taken down only a few days later because it violated Apple’s terms. Since then, the team had been creating a workaround. And now, they’ve unveiled the latest version of Tether, built using its patent-pending technology, made possible by HTML5. This time around, the team decided to forgo the app’s submission to Apple altogether, seeing as how acceptance into the iTunes App Store was highly unlikely. Instead, Tether is entirely We-based, letting it bypass Apple’s scrutiny.

The service is available for Blackberry, iPhone and Android, and will currently work for any carrier throughout the world. But it’s a game of cat and mouse. Once the major carriers discern how to distinguish a tethered phone using HTML5 from a non-tethered phone, Tether users will run the risk of being forcibly upgraded to the carrier’s tethering plan, or risk being charged extra for the data sent while being tethered to your computer as per the carrier’s terms of service.

Using Tether isn’t too difficult as the video below will show you. You’ll need to download and install the appropriate software for your operating system, and proceed to create an ad-hoc network on your computer by entering in a password (if desired) for the auto-generated SSID. Note that if once Tether is open on your desktop, your current Wi-Fi connection will be disabled to make way for the tethered connection.

On your phone, find and select the ad-hoc network from list of available Wi-Fi. Then, using your mobile browser, you will be required to log into your paid account on After logging in, you’re tethered and able to browse the Web on your computer right away.


Source: DigitalTrends

Wi-Fi-Connected Laptop Hurts Sperm, Study Suggests

A computer with a wireless Internet connection hurts sperm, but not because the machine can heat up your lap, a new study suggests.

The findings showed that sperm cells collected in lab dishes and placed beneath a laptop with a wireless Internet connection for four hours had less motility and more DNA damage than sperm placed in another room, away from electronic devices but kept at the same temperature.

“It is well-known that increased temperature may decrease sperm quality, and the use of portable computers on the lap increases scrotal temperature,” the researchers wrote in their study.

But the findings suggested it wasn’t the temperature beneath the laptop that was affecting sperm; instead, the radiation from the laptop was slowing the swimmers, according to the study.

Laptops emit radiation

The researchers in Argentina and Virginia used semen samples from 29 healthy men, whose average age was 34. The laptop was set to download and upload information over the course of the experiment, so the wireless connection was actively being used. The temperature under the laptop was held constant at 77 degrees Fahrenheit by an air-conditioning system.

Wireless Internet connections use radio-frequency electromagnetic waves. When the researchers measured the radiation coming from a laptop wirelessly connected to the Internet, they found it was at least three times higher than an unconnected laptop, and seven to 15 times higher than radiation in a general setting, according to the study, though the levels varied over the course of the experiment, depending on the flow of information coming to or from the computer.

There was no difference between the sperm samples held under the laptop and those kept away from it in terms of the percentage of sperm that were dead at the end of the experiment, according to the study.

Still, sperm motility and having undamaged DNA are important for fertilizing an egg.

“We speculate that keeping a laptop connected wirelessly to the Internet on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

Why sperm cells are vulnerable

Sperm cells are different from other cells in the body — their DNA is highly condensed into a small area, the researchers noted. This could make them more vulnerable to the effects of such radiation.

It’s plausible that the magnetic and electromagnetic fields produced by the radio waves damage molecules in sperm called phospholipids, which are a needed to keep membranes within a sperm cell intact, the study researchers wrote.

It is not known whether all laptop computers might have the same effects as those seen in this study, nor is it known what other factors might heighten or lessen the damage, the researchers wrote in their conclusion.

“However, we cannot discard the possibility that damage to sperm is caused by the low radiation produced by the computer without Internet connection,” they wrote, and this possibility should be studied further.

The study was published online Nov. 23 in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Pass it on: Radiation from wireless internet connections might damage sperm cells.

Source: Yahoo! News

Smartphone scams: Owners warned over malware apps

Get Safe Online says that there has been an increase in smartphone malware as the market has grown.

Criminals are typically creating Trojan copies of reputable apps and tricking users into installing them.

Once on the phone, the app can secretly generate cash for criminals through premium rate text messages.

Get Safe Online, a joint initiative between the government, police and industry, said it was concerned that users of smartphones, such as Android devices, were not taking steps to protect their devices.

Get Safe Online said fraudsters are designing apps which generate cash secretly in the background without the owner realising until their monthly bill.

A typical scam involves an app designed to send texts to premium rate services without the user knowing.

Apps can appear to be bona fide software or sometimes masquerade as stripped down free versions of well-known games.

Rik Ferguson, a hacking researcher with internet security firm Trend Micro, said: “This type of malware is capable of sending a steady stream of text messages to premium rate numbers – in some instances we’ve seen one being sent every minute.

“With costs of up to £6 per message, this can be extremely lucrative. The user won’t know this is taking place, even if they happen to be using the device at the same time, as the activity takes place within the device’s back-end infrastructure.”

Online banking

Another major security firm, Symantec, recently warned in its annual threat assessment that Android phones were at risk and that it had found at least six varieties of malicious software.

Minister for Cyber Security Francis Maude said: “More and more people are using their smartphone to transmit personal and financial information over the internet, whether it’s for online banking, shopping or social networking.

“Research from Get Safe Online shows that 17% of smartphone users now use their phone for money matters and this doesn’t escape the notice of criminals.”

Tony Neate, head of Get Safe Online, urged people to check their phone’s security.

“Mobile phones are very personal. I have talked to people who are never more than a yard away from their mobile phone. Because of that attachment, they start to think that they are in a way invincible.

“It’s the end user that picks up the tab – it’s your phone that incurs the costs. Whether you have pay-as-you-go or a monthly account, that money is going to come from the account and go to the criminal.”

Source: BBC News

TouchPad’s Lesson: Tablets Cost Too Much

Sure, HP’s TouchPad fire sale could take sales away from low-volume tablet makers and further solidify Apple’s market share. Then again, maybe those low-volume tablet makers — HP included — have been hurting themselves with a pricing structure that isn’t attractive to most consumers.

After dropping the TouchPad’s price to $99 for the 16Gb model and $149 for the 32GB variation, HP has sold an estimated 350,000 units this weekend. That’s comparable to launch weekend sales for Apple’s tablet. Granted, HP’s tablet is discontinued and on clearance, but it shows that many consumers are willing to forget about the iPad, if the price is right.

Here’s the problem with the current system: many entry-level tablets cost somewhere around $500 and that’s the same price as the iPad. I’m guessing most consumers that decide to spend a $500 on a tablet will opt to get an iPad. If other manufacturers want to be competitive with Apple’s tablet, which is in many ways the definitive device on the market, they need to give consumers a reason to pick up their device instead.

That hasn’t really been done until now.

HP offering its discontinued tablet for a one-fifth the cost of Apple’s tablet seems to have registered with many price-conscious and deal-hunting consumers.

Sure, I get that everyone likes a deal, myself included. (I picked up a TouchPad at my local BestBuy yesterday.) Obviously, HP’s price drop is a unique situation that other tablet makers probably don’t want to emulate, but maybe more thought should go into the tablet designing process than “let’s make
something like the iPad, that costs the same amount as the iPad.”

If nothing else, the fire sale shows that there is a lot of consumer interest in tablets and a lot of missed opportunities by other tablet makers. There are some tablet options under the $300 price point, but not too many that are mainstream.

Source: PC World

Android App Turns Smartphones Into Mobile Hacking Machines

Dangerous hacks come in small packages.

Or they will, perhaps, when an app called Anti, or Android Network Toolkit, hits the Android market next week. The program, which Israeli security firm Zimperium revealed at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas Friday and plans to make available to Android users in coming days, is designed for penetration testing–in theory, searching out and demonstrating vulnerabilities in computer systems so that they can be patched. Anti aims to bring all the hacking tools available to penetration testers on PCs to smartphones, with an automated interface intended to make sniffing local networks and owning remote servers as simple as pushing a few buttons.

“We wanted to create a penetration testing tool for the masses, says Itzhak “Zuk” Avraham, founder of Tel-Aviv-based Zimperium. “It’s about being able to do what advanced hackers do with a really good implementation. In your pocket.”

Anti, a free app with a $10 corporate upgrade, will offer a wi-fi-scanning tool for finding open networks and showing all potential target devices on those networks, as well as traceroute software that can reveal the IP addresses of faraway servers. When a target is identified, the app offers up a simple menu with commands like “Man-In-The-Middle” to eavesdrop on local devices, or even “Attack”; The app is designed to run exploits collected in platforms like Metasploit or ExploitDB, using vulnerabilities in out-of-date software to compromise targets.

A screenshot from Anti displaying target machines on the local network.

For now, the demonstration app Avraham showed me was equipped with only a few exploits: One aimed at a bug in Windows–the same flaw exploited by the Conficker worm in 2009–another targeting default SSH passwords in jailbroken iPhones, and a third exploiting a vulnerable, older version of Android. Zimperium has also built a Windows trojan that allows Anti to perform automated commands on hijacked machines like taking a screenshot, ejecting a CD, or opening the calculator, a common penetration-testing demonstration.

Even in its current form, the app raises the possibility of dangerous, stealthy attacks. A hacker could, for instance, walk into a coffee shop or a corporate office with his phone and start sussing out machines for data theft or malware infection. But Avraham says Zimperium will ask users in its terms of service to limit their hacking to “white hat” penetration testing.

Another screenshot showing command options on a target machine, including “man-in-the-middle” and “attack.”

“Hacking is not for the chosen few,” reads one description in the app’s documentation, formatted in Star Wars-style scrolling text. “Anti is your perfect mobile companion, doing it all for you. Please remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Use it wisely.”

Penetration testers who saw the app at Defcon were impressed. “It’s just sick,” says Don Bailey, a researcher with security firm iSec Partners. “The way it populates the screen with vulnerable targets…it’s really elegant.”

Another professional penetration tester for a defense contractor firm who asked that his name not be used called the app a “quick and dirty Swiss army knife for mobile pen testing.” “It’s so polished it’s almost like playing a video game,” he says, comparing it to penetration testing suites that cost thousands of dollars.

With its sheer simplicity, Anti’s impact could be comparable to that of Firesheep, a proof-of-concept tool released in October of last year that allowed anyone to easily snoop on devices on unsecured wi-fi networks that connected to unencrypted web pages. That tool was downloaded more than 1.7 million times, and no doubt used in some instances to spy on web users unawares. But it also helped inspire both Twitter and Facebook to encrypt traffic to their site and prevent such eavesdropping.

“People might use it in dangerous ways,” Avraham says with a shrug. “I really hope not. But I know this might be the risk to help people increase their security, and that’s our goal.”

Ryan: Great, now every kid that owns an Android phone can play wannabe hacker. Just what this world needs.

Source: Forbes

Men build small flying spy drone that cracks Wi-Fi and cell data

Built by Mike Tassey and Richard Perkins, the Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform (otherwise known as the WASP) is a flying drone that has a 6-foot wingspan, a 6-foot length and weighs in at 14 pounds. The small form factor of the unmanned aerial vehicle allows it to drop under radar and is often mistaken for a large bird. It was built from an Army target drone and converted to run on electric batteries rather than gasoline. It can also be loaded with GPS information and fly a predetermined course without need for an operator. Taking off and landing have to be done manually with the help of a mounted HD camera. However, the most interesting aspect of the drone is that it can crack Wi-Fi networks and GSM networks as well as collect the data from them.

It can accomplish this feat with a Linux computer on-board that’s no bigger than a deck of cards. The computer accesses 32GB of storage to house all that stolen data. It uses a variety of networking hacking tools including the BackTrack toolset as well as a 340 million word dictionary to guess passwords. In order to access cell phone data, the WASP impersonates AT&T and T-Mobile cell phone towers and fools phones into connecting to one of the eleven antenna on-board. The drone can then record conversations to the storage card and avoids dropping the call due to the 4G T-mobile card routing communications through VoIP.

Amazingly, this was accomplished with breaking a single FCC regulation. The drone relies on the frequency band used for Ham radios to operate. Not wanting to get into legal trouble with AT&T and T-Mobile, they tested the technology in isolated areas to avoid recording phone conversations other than their own. The duo play to discuss how to build the WASP at the DEFCON 19 hacking conference.

Source: Digital Trends / Yahoo! News

Vonage offering unlimited international calling via mobile phones

Vonage’s international calling plan is stepping up to be a more affordable and flexible option as the service extends to mobile.

The new Vonage World plan is as follows: Subscribers can call land-line numbers in over 60 countries from either their own land-line or mobile phone using the VoIP service for $25.99 per month. Users can also call mobile numbers in up to 10 countries on the same plan.

Vonage suggests that anyone who already conducts international phone calls for a little as an hour a week could save up to $250 with this option.

Mike Tempora, senior vice president of product management for Vonage, said that the mobile option was in high demand from its customers, citing that “70 percent said they make international calls while their away from home either by using a calling card or paying high carrier rates.”

Additionally, the revamped plan includes the new Extensions feature, which enables customers to add any U.S. phone number (mobile, home or office) as another number on the plan. (Note that fax numbers as well as 800/887 and virtual numbers are not supported). That number can then double as a virtual calling card to re-route calls over the Vonage’s network.

For example, this makes the most sense if a subscriber has Vonage World at home or work, and wants to add his or her cell phone number to the plan, or vice versa.

The process to take advantage of this might seem a bit complicated on paper, but it’s rather straightforward. Once the user registers the number on his or her online account page, the user will then have to select a PIN number for validating the subscriber and the phone line later on. From there, when the user wants to make an international call, he or she just dials an access number, the PIN number and then the international phone number he or she is calling.

Tempora added that customers who use virtual numbers and/or international calling cards will find the process to be quite similar and intuitive.

Although this service is supported by any mobile device, there will be apps for iOS and Android in the coming weeks with a one-touch solution to streamline this process.

Ryan: Good news for people looking for a cheaper alternative to call overseas. I will be definitely downloading the app once it hits the Android Market.

Source: ZDNet

BlackBerry ‘planning Apple TV rival’, Codename “BlackBerry Cyclone”

BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion is rumoured to be about to launch a new product that will   plug in to users’ televisions and stream online video.

The ‘media box, similar to Apple’s TV and products from Sony and LG, is rumoured to be codenamed the ‘BlackBerry Cyclone’.

Media boxes have become increasingly popular because they allow users to put the growing amount of online TV content onto their televisions easily. Most use either a wired or wireless internet connection and an HDMI cable, but   they do not generally offer internal storage.

According to the Nerdberry  website, the BlackBerry Cyclone will be able to stream NetFlix and YouTube content, as well as access a user’s WiFi network devices.

Ryan:  Good news for BlackBerry, but again a little late on the launch of this service compared to competitors in the market already.  RIM, you need to keep up with the times.

Source: The Telegraph

How to stop freeloaders from using your WiFi

If a stranger successfully gets onto your WiFi network, they may be stealing more than bandwidth. After all, they have access to your computers. Your home network should be more secure than the café’s down the street.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that no one can get into that network easily. That means setting up your router to use WPA, or better, WPA-2 security.

Because I don’t know what kind of router you have, I can’t tell you exactly how to do that. Check your router’s documentation. Generally you enter a particular IP address into a browser, which will take you to an HTML-based configuration program located inside the router’s firmware.

Setting up security will require you to create a password. Make it a strong password that no one will be able to guess. But remember that you’ll have to enter that password into every computer, smartphone, Blu-ray player, or other WiFi-equipped device in your home, including overnight guests’ laptops. HDTVs and Blu-ray players are the worst for entering passwords – remote controls just aren’t friendly for text entry.

Okay, I’ve told you how to control who gets access, but I didn’t actually answer your question: How do you see if someone is on your network who shouldn’t be?

Once again, you turn towards your router’s configuration program. Somewhere in there, probably in a menu called Wireless or Status, you’ll find a list of all current wireless clients. You won’t be able to identify those clients at a glance, but you will be able to see how many there are. That can tell you if there’s an extra.

But before you count too many and panic, think hard about what devices may be legitimately using your WiFi. When researching this article, my router told me I had five wireless clients. I could only identify four. Turns out my daughter’s iPhone had WiFi turned on.

You can identify the clients you know via their MAC Address, which has nothing to do with Apple Computers (although Macs do have MAC addresses). These numbers are unique for each device that can get onto a network. You can go to each legitimate WiFi client and find its MAC address, although how to do it depends on the device. For instance, on a Windows PC, go to a Command Prompt window, type ipconfig /all, and press ENTER. The MAC address is listed as the “physical address”.

If you’re wondering about past freeloaders, your router’s configuration program should have a log somewhere. It should also have a tool for blocking undesirable MAC addresses.

Source: Tech World