source: wired.com

THE SHADOWY WORLD of private spyware has long caused alarm in cybersecurity circles, as authoritarian governments have repeatedly been caught targeting the smartphones of activists, journalists, and political rivals with malware purchased from unscrupulous brokers. The surveillance tools these companies provide frequently target iOS and Android, which have seemingly been unable to keep up with the threat. But a new report suggests the scale of the problem is far greater than feared—and has placed added pressure on mobile tech makers, particularly Apple, from security researchers seeking remedies.

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How to Make Sure Your Browser Extensions Are Safe

source: wired.com

As useful as all those add-ons can be, don’t get complacent when it comes to making sure they’re also secure.

BROWSER EXTENSIONS CAN be hugely useful, plugging gaps in functionality, adding cool new features and options, and generally just making life on the web more convenient.

At the same time, they have the potential to be a serious security risk—many ask to see everything you see online, some change key settings inside your browser, and they can operate and communicate with their developer (or with advertisers or other parties) in the background without your knowledge.

We don’t want to discourage you from using your favorite extensions, but you should definitely make sure the ones you’re using are safe. 

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How to Wipe Metadata From Any File

source: popsci.com

When it comes to guarding your privacy online, your first instinct might be to protect your content—by being careful what you write and choosy about what’s in the images you post. But even though you’re being careful, it may not be enough. 

Everything you upload to the internet has metadata attached to it. This is everything related to a file that’s not the content itself—format, what program it came from, its creation date, and sometimes even the name of its author. 

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8 Free Streaming Services to Save You From Subscription Hell

source: wired.com

You may not have heard of Tubi, Pluto TV, or Kanopy—but they’re the perfect cure for subscription fatigue.

THE MAIN CASUALTY of the streaming wars so far has been your wallet. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+, Discovery+: They all demand a monthly tithe. Toss in a live service like YouTube TV, the music app of your choice, and whatever gaming concoction suits your needs, and you’re suddenly ringing up a pretty grim bill. But wait! Recent years have seen a bumper crop of free streaming services as well. They’re the perfect cure for subscription fatigue.

The old adage that you get what you pay for does apply here to some extent. Free streaming services typically don’t have as many viewing options as their paid counterparts, and most make you watch a few ads along the way. But they’re also better than you might expect, and they continue to improve. Some even include original programming, or something close to it; the Roku Channel acquired the rights to dozens of shows that originally appeared on the ill-fated Quibi streaming service, and it began showing them on Thursday.

While you shouldn’t expect any of the following free streaming services to replace Netflix in your streaming regimen, you shouldn’t count them out either. Each almost certainly offers at least something you want to watch, and they won’t cost you an arm and a leg—or anything at all—to take advantage.

 

 

OK, this could potentially be confusing, since Roku is made up of thousands of “channels,” including the majors like Hulu and HBO Now. But it also operates the Roku Channel, which offers an eclectic mix of movies and TV shows. Typically it doesn’t have much that’s new new, although you can find plenty of older hits like Troy and The Queen, along with slightly musty television classics like Alias and 3rd Rock From the Sun. (Most notably: It has the full run of The Prisoner, the original 1967 version, which you should watch right now if you haven’t already.)

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How Amazon Sidewalk Works—and Why You May Want to Turn It Off

source: wired.com
It promises connected convenience. But the ecommerce giant doesn’t exactly have an inspiring record when it comes to privacy.

AFTER MONTHS OF testing and delays, Amazon announced last Friday that it would finally launch Amazon Sidewalk on June 8: The new service will keep your Echo, Ring, and other Amazon devices connected to the internet, even if your internet service provider goes out. And as usual, your devices will be automatically enrolled in the program unless you opt out. Here are the potential benefits and the potential privacy issues to consider.

Amazon bills Sidewalk as “a new way to stay connected.” Simply put, it uses Amazon smart-home gear to create a series of mini mesh networks, meaning your devices can stay connected further away from your router, and even stay online when your Wi-Fi goes down.

To do this, Amazon uses Bluetooth and unused slices of the wireless spectrum, with Ring cameras and Echo speakers acting as the main bridges (actually called Sidewalk Bridges) to keep everything connected. For something to work with the network, it’s going to need to be compatible with the Sidewalk standard, so expect Amazon to make and market devices that meet that standard soon (for example, Tile is already on board. More on that in a moment.)

Young Adults, Seniors Over 75 Most Susceptible to Cyber Fraud: Report

source: technewsworld.com

The most vulnerable cybercrime victims are young adults and adults over 75, according to the latest research revealed in the LexisNexis Risk Solutions biannual Cybercrime Report.

Released Feb. 23, the report tracks global cybercrime activity from July 2020 through December 2020. The report reveals how unprecedented global change in 2020 created new opportunities for cybercriminals around the world, particularly as they targeted new users of online channels.

LexisNexis’ research found a 29 percent growth in global transaction volume compared to the second half of 2019. This growth came in the financial services (29 percent), e-commerce (38 percent) and media (9 percent) sectors. The number of human-initiated attacks dropped in 2020 by roughly 184 million, while the number of bot attacks grew by 100 million.

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LastPass vs. 1Password: Two top password managers, compared

source: cnet.com


It wasn’t long ago that I raised an editorial toast to the reigning champion of password managers, LastPass, recommending it not only for its broad suite of premium features but — most crucially — for its refusal to let down its veteran fanbase of free users, even as it faced sweeping scrutiny over an ownership change. 

The move tragically undermines a key security principle that’s made LastPass’s free version so effective at core security — its seamless multiplatform integration. Using a password manager to boost security, perhaps more so than many other privacy products, pivots on a fulcrum of maximum user convenience. If not immediately and consistently visible during all browsing, a password manager can quickly be forgotten, and your ever-increasing number of passwords become more readily stored in a browser itself (a much less secure option). 

With more types of internet-connected devices in users’ hands — and with a digital divide contributing to a broader shift toward accessing the internet via phone — internet use is becoming more fluid. So a free password manager that can’t adroitly pivot between a user’s devices just isn’t going to cut it. 

Read the full article here

 

The best Windows 10 antivirus protection for 2021

source: cnet.com

Your Windows PC needs protection against malware, and free antivirus software may be enough. Here’s the best antivirus protection for Windows 10, and what’s worth paying extra for.

An online security quiver needs plenty of arrows — a VPN to protect your internet traffic, a password manager to keep track of login credentials and an end-to-end encrypted messaging app to stop others from spying on your communications. But if you’re running Windows, that list should also include antivirus tools such as malware protection and antivirus software that monitors downloads and observes your system’s activity for suspicious behavior and malicious software.

If you’re looking for the best malware protection and antivirus software, here’s the first thing you need to know: Microsoft Defender Antivirus — the free internet security software and virus protection program that comes with Windows 10 and until recently was called Windows Defender — does a decent job of protecting your PC and offering internet security. (Amazingly, Microsoft provided no built-in protection for Windows back in the days of Windows 98 and XP.) Using Microsoft Defender for threat detection should be your starting point for the best antivirus security on Windows, and most people will find they don’t need to go any further when it comes to nailing down an antivirus solution.

However, keeping your personal data safe and guarding your privacy extends beyond virus protection, and that’s where third-party antivirus software shines. A full protection package can monitor your Windows computer as well as MacOS, iOS and Android devices and include a password manager, a VPN, parental control, secure online backup, identity theft protection, protection against phishing and malicious websites and more — all worthwhile tools that can guard your privacy and keep your data secure.

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Strong Passwords Aren’t As Easy As Adding 123. Here’s What Experts Say Really Helps


source:  cnet.com

Creating a good password isn’t as simple as putting an exclamation mark at the end.

You’ve seen all the familiar rules for strong passwords almost every time you create an online account. Use capital letters, numbers and special characters, and make it at least 8 characters long (or 10, or 12). These requirements are designed to make it harder for hackers to get into your accounts. However, they don’t really make your password stronger, say researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Usable Security and Privacy Laboratory at CMU, says her team has a better way, a meter that websites can use to prompt you to create more-secure passwords. After you’ve created a password of at least 10 characters, the meter will start giving suggestions, such as breaking up common words with slashes or random letters, to make your password stronger. 

These tips set the password strength meter apart from other meters that provide an estimated password strength, often using colors. The suggestions don’t come from a checklist, but instead respond to common pitfalls Cranor’s team has seen people make when they set up passwords during experiments run by the lab over several years.

One of the problems with many passwords is that they tick all the security checks but are still easy to guess because most of us follow the same patterns, the lab found. Are numbers required? You’ll likely add a “1” at the end. Is it capital letters? You’ll probably make it the first one in the password. And special characters? Frequently exclamation marks.

CMU’s password meter will offer advice for strengthening a password like “ILoveYou2!” — which meets the standard requirements. The meter also offers other advice based on what you type in, such as reminding you not to use a name or suggesting you put special characters in the middle of your password. 

“It’s relevant to what you’re doing, rather than some random tip,” Cranor said. 

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8 Ways to Get More Done in Microsoft Word With Less Work

source: fastcompany.com

 

Love it or hate it, at 37 years and counting, Microsoft Word is old enough to run for president or have gotten divorced (maybe a couple times). It might even experience unexplainable back pain in the morning.

Word not going anywhere—at least not for a while. And even if you use it every day, there are still probably plenty of super-helpful tips, tricks, and shortcuts you haven’t discovered. Here’s a quick list of some of the more useful ones.

Note: I’m using Microsoft Word for Office 365 on a Windows 10 PC but I’ll list Mac equivalents where available.

AUTO-GENERATE SOME GIBBERISH

If you’re the type of person who likes to get something—anything—on the page just so you don’t have to stare unblinkingly into all that white space, you may be happy to know that Word puts a couple forms of dummy text close at hand.

Should you be a fan of the classic Lorem ipsum prose, simply type =lorem(4,3) and hit Enter to get four paragraphs of Lorem ipsum at a length of three sentences each. Replace the digits in the parentheses to get however many paragraphs and sentences you need, respectively.

If you’re not a fan of Lorem ipsum, then replace lorem with rand instead—for example: =rand(4,3)—to get what appears to be documentation lifted from Word’s help file.