Category Archives: Tech Tips

Texting or chatting while walking, the new phone addiction you need to stop

James Wanzala , Reporter for the Standard Group (StandardMedia, StandardDigital News)
20th Jan 2019 00:00:00 GMT +0300

You might have been hit by a person busy chatting or texting as he or she walked along the street. Or, you might have seen someone hitting a pole, a transparent window or falling into a pool of water while using the phone while walking. This is the new smartphone addiction that experts are warning is costing people their lives or leaving them with injuries. Experts now say distracted walking is a growing problem around the globe, as people of all ages become more dependent on electronic devices for social and professional engagements. The advent of smartphones that comes with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has accelerated this problem. Multitasking is common, and can be dangerous if one is not careful. “The phone distracts you from minding your safety while walking. We used to call out the youth for this behaviour but now it spans nearly all age groups,” says Sam Wambugu, an information specialist. Authorities in some countries have come up with laws to curb texting or chatting while walking. In South Australia for instance, the Under the Road Traffic Act states that a person “must not walk without due care or attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road,” lest they face a $105 (Sh10,500) fine.

Banned texting

In 2012, Fort Lee, a municipality in New Jersey, banned texting while walking. Violations come with an $85 (Sh8,500) ticket. Back home, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) traffic rules only prohibit a driver from using a phone while driving, which sets him back Sh2,000. According to a study published in 2012 by researchers from New York’s Stony Brook University, 60 per cent of people texting while walking veered off their walking path. Over a decade’s time, texting and walking has caused more than 11,100 injuries. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths numbered 5,376 — and were the only group of road users whose fatality numbers increased. A report from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons also revealed that 78 per cent of American adults believe that distracted walking is a serious issue — but only 29 per cent owned up to doing it themselves. Our brains have evolved to focus attention on primarily one task at a time, a phenomenon psychologists refer to as inattention blindness. Wambugu adds: “People get carried away while texting and miss their flight at the airport because they become oblivious of their surroundings despite repeated calls to board the plane. Some people text while riding on a fast-moving boda boda, possibly another reason for increased road accidents.” Sociologist Kiemo Karatu agrees that chatting and texting while walking is a life risk and a solution must be found. “A lot of us are oblivious of the dangers we are exposing ourselves to. Inability to know when to stop doing two things at the same time is the challenge,” says Karatu. He proposes creating awareness probably through posters on the dangers of using one’s phone while walking. The Washington DC-based Safe Kids Worldwide organisation report dubbed Walking Safely, A Report to the Nation in 2012 found that pedestrian deaths among teens aged 15 to 19 now account for about 50 per cent of pedestrian fatalities. The study discovered that one in five high school students were found crossing the street distracted either by texting, playing video games or listening to music. “We suspect one cause of this disturbing trend is distraction; since the increase in teen injuries seems to correlate with the prevalence of cell phone use, both among walkers and drivers,” says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. Just like children at school are taught how to wash their hands regularly to stay healthy, Wambugu says healthy use of the now ubiquitous mobile phones and other hand held devices may be an important addition.

10 tips on Wi-Fi for vacation renters and guests

By Jane Reuter, Corporate Communications Writer – ViaSat | Mar 13, 2019
via Inside ViaSat, the official company blog

How to offer or get good service while staying secure with Wi-Fi at a vacation rental

 

Whether you’re the host for a vacation rental or guest at the same, a solid internet connection is as important as a comfy bed.

Before you press “book” on your next getaway, or open your door to travelers, put some thought into that Wi-Fi experience. These small steps just might head off a lot of headaches, and make the lodging experience more harmonious for all.

For hosts

1. Set up a guest network with a strong but simple password.

That’ll keep guests from accessing your private network, and potentially your bank account and other personal information, too.

The Viasat Wi-Fi Modem (and most others) includes an option for creating a separate guest network. This gives visitors a unique avenue for tapping into your internet so they can browse, check email and online shop to their heart’s content – all without using your personal network, learning your password or passing along any viruses or malware.

2. Get a higher-speed plan and advertise that in your listing.

Small things can boost your rental’s popularity, and for most, connectivity’s an important consideration. So check your options and consider upgrading to a higher-speed plan. (Viasat offers residential internet plans with speeds up to 50 Mbps in many areas of the country.) The higher price can easily be offset by more bookings and might justify a per-night rate increase. And don’t forget to highlight your guest network fast speeds in your listing.

3. Check your signal strength throughout the home.

If your rental room or unit is far removed from where your modem or router is, your Wi-Fi signal might need a boost. Consider creating a mesh network or buying a higher-powered router. Also, you can check Wi-Fi signal strength with an app such as NetSpot.

4. Hide or lock up your Wi-Fi router to prevent guests from tampering with it.

5. Establish data limits.

On a limited data plan and worried about a guest draining your monthly allotment? Most routers – including the Viasat WiFi Gateway – will let you set time limits on usage as part of the Router Access Restrictions or Parental Controls options. Find out how here.

For guests

1. Use a VPN

If you’re not reasonably comfortable that your host’s Wi-Fi connection is safe, use a VPN. A guest with nefarious intent and access to the router could infect a host’s Wi-Fi connection, potentially giving them access to your information. Using VPN or your phone as a hotspot can also lessen that possibility.

2. Avoid online banking or checking confidential email on a host’s connection.

Most people think about this when they’re using public Wi-Fi, but can be lulled into thinking a private home’s connection is safe.

3. If speed is vital to you, ask the host what their internet speed is before you book.

Tell them you must have a certain level and if they’re not sure theirs meets it, ask them to test it using speedtest.net. A host who wants your business should be willing to take this extra step for you.

4. If the Wi-Fi connection is poor or not available, use your phone as a hotspot. Just keep an eye on data if you’re not on an unlimited plan.

5. Don’t assume your host has unlimited data. Some of the most desirable vacation spots are also among the most remote, and that means hosts may not have the option for an unlimited internet plan. Ask before your stay, and if data’s restricted, either book elsewhere or extend your vacation to include a screen break, too.

This Is the Best Way to Keep Your Smartphone Clean

By Ari Notis  February 2, 2018

Bad news: You’ve been carrying around a petri dish in your pocket.

You may not know this, but your smartphone isn’t just your window to the world around you. No, it’s also a veritable breeding ground for bacteria. According to a study in Germs, your phone has more than 17,000 different “gene copies”—or germs—on it, and research out of the University of Arizona posits that that is ten times dirtier than a toilet seat. Among the most common bacteria? Staphylococcus, or the stuff that gives you staph infections. Wonderful.

Luckily, you can clean it—and there’s a right and wrong way to do that. For starters, don’t ever spray anything directly onto your phone, unless you want to risk ruining the electronics inside. Instead, take a microfiber cloth and dampen it with either hand sanitizer or a mix of rubbing alcohol and water. (You could also pick up some dedicated electronics wipes for a few bucks on Amazon.) Then, gently wipe down your phone all over. Considering you likely take out your phone 47 times per day, according to a study from consulting firm Deloitte, you should go through this process daily. If you need a reminder, just set an alarm—which you can do on your phone.

But simple wiping alone won’t do the trick. To get things to a truly pristine level, you’ll need to make use of a toothbrush. Here’s how.

Per the folks at CNET, you’ll want to grab a dry, unused toothbrush. Then, you’ll want to rub gently at all the “ports” on your phone—the headphone jack, the charging port, that sort of thing. Take care to rub extremely gently; otherwise, the bristles may end up breaking the ports. A few seconds for each port should do the trick. This process will get all the tricky-to-remove debris from areas that a cloth isn’t able to reach.

Finally—because safe is better than sorry—always be sure your device is off before you clean it.

Or, if you have a will as strong as iron, you could simply quit using your smartphone altogether.

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Here’s How to Protect Your Data Privacy When You Sell or Recycle Smartphones and Computers (Video)


Video

 

Alyssa Newcomb

By Alyssa Newcomb, Business and Technology Contributor to Fortune   March 19, 2019

 

When it comes to data privacy, there’s more to security than changing passwords and encryption. You’re at risk if you do good by recycling computers and smartphones too. Research from security company Rapid7 shows that tech sold in secondhand shops are filled with the previous owners’ personal data, according to new research from security company Rapid7.

Over the course of six months, Josh Frantz, a researcher at Rapid7, purchased old electronics from businesses that sell refurbished computers, or accept donations, and promise to wipe the devices before they are sold. He spent $650. His haul included 41 computers, 27 pieces of removable media, which included flash drives and memory cards, 11 hard disks, and six cell phones.

What he found was the equivalent of people serving up their data on a digital silver platter. Frantz retrieved more than 366,000 files, which included documents and images. Perhaps most troubling was the load of personal information he was able to access. He found 41 social security numbers, 19 credit card numbers, six driver’s license numbers and two passport numbers.

“Whenever I brought a computer back, I booted it up to see whether it was bootable and whether it required a password to log in. I wrote a script in PowerShell that would run through and index all the images, documents, saved emails, and conversation histories through instant messengers. It would then zip it up nice and organized on the desktop, and I would pull it off with a USB drive,” he wrote in a blog post.

While many businesses promise to wipe donated old electronics, Frantz said the best way to prevent your data from leaking to potential thieves is to clean any device as best as you can before handing it over to a recycling program or a re-seller.

Performing a factory reset sometimes isn’t enough to keep experienced hackers from finding old data. Frantz shared a guide to how to wipe an Android device, which involves first using an app to encrypt your data before performing a factory reset. An iPhone or iPad can be reset by going to settings > general > reset > erase all content and settings.

And if you are planning to recycle your old computer, Frantz recommends a few different methods for destroying it, including a drill, hammer, or setting it on fire, as long as there aren’t any toxic byproducts.

“If you’re worried about your data ending up in the wrong person’s hands, destroy the data,” he said. “If you wish to do a good deed and donate your technology so others can benefit, make sure it’s at least wiped to an acceptable standard. Even if you get it in writing that your data will be erased, there’s no good way to know whether that’s actually true unless you perform the wipe yourself.”

Only One-Third of Android Antivirus Apps Work Properly

By Tom Fogden, Writer for Tech.Co
March 20, 2019  8:36am (London)

 

According to a report from Austrian antivirus and security experts AV-Comparatives, only one-third of Android antivirus apps actually give you effective antivirus protection.

AV-Comparatives’ Android Test 2019 report shows how only 80 of the 250 most popular Android antivirus apps can detect over 30% of threats, with no false positive results. A false positive is when antivirus software incorrectly labels something as a threat when it is, in fact, safe.

The report demonstrates that, despite the company’s efforts, Google still doesn’t have adequate quality control over the Play Store. What’s more, it shows just how dangerous downloading the wrong app can be for careless users.

Which Apps Can I Trust?

There are only 23 apps from the 250 tested by AV-Comparatives that managed to pass the company’s strict testing regimen with a perfect score. These 23 apps were able to correctly identify and deal with the more than 2,000 threats sent to them, with no false positives.

AV-Comparatives considers “apps that block less than 30% of common Android threats to be ineffective/unsafe,” and found 170 of these, 138 of which are still available on the Play Store.

Those that passed this fairly low bar, detecting above 30% of threats, brings the total number of useful apps up from 23 to 80 — and includes Google’s own antivirus software.

Fortunately, the 23 apps that managed to identify 100% of threats includes a lot of big names in the world of antivirus — so you might be able to bundle these apps with any services you have on your home PCs.

Here are the apps rated as 100% safe by AV-Comparatives:

AhnLab Antiy Avast AVG AVIRA Bitdefender Bullguard Chili Security
Emsisoft ESET ESTSoft F-Secure G Data Kaspersky Lab McAfee PSafe
Sophos STOPzilla Symantec Tencent Total Defence Trend Micro Trustwave

Why isn’t the Play Store Completely Safe?

The Google Play Store is the biggest app store in the world, and is growing significantly quicker than the Apple App Store — back in 2017, almost twice as many apps were added to the Play Store compared to the App Store, according to AppFigures.

This is largely thanks to Android’s open source design, basically meaning that anyone with enough know-how (which is easy to gain from online research) can create and publish their own apps. This can make the Play Store a bit of a wild west at times.

That’s not to say that Google isn’t keeping an eye on the Play Store, it is, and it regularly removes shady apps. However, the issue here isn’t that these antivirus apps are malicious, they’re just a bit useless — and Google can’t remove an app just because it isn’t very good.

What’s more, many of the poorer antivirus apps use the same core threat detection engine with only minor tweaks, meaning that it is very easy to reproduce them. This makes them very easy to reproduce, and leads to the large amount of bad antivirus apps.

If you want to stay safe using your Android phone, make sure you download one of AV-Comparatives top-rated antivirus apps. Then combine it with a VPN like PureVPN to give you even stronger security.

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Did you know?

Consumers reportedly lost $905 million to fraud in 2017, with more millennials reporting losing money to scams than senior citizens (marketwatch.com).
Be safe online.

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