StageFright Exploit Awareness : What You Need to Know

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Do you think sending and receiving video text is risk free? Believe it or not, it is now as easy as getting a common computer virus. There is a new exploit called ‘stagefright’ that is sent via video within a text message. The virus uses the android process named ‘libStageFright’ (which is built into every android device) to steal information. Android Central states, “the gist is that a video sent via MMS (text message) could be theoretically used as an avenue of attack through the libStageFright mechanism (thus the “Stagefright” name), which helps Android process video files. Many text messaging apps — Google’s Hangouts app was specifically mentioned — automatically process that video so it’s ready for viewing as soon as you open the message, and so the attack theoretically could happen without you even knowing it.”

Since it is exploiting a function on the device, a high number of android devices are vulnerable, but for the most part, there is a built in defense on about 95 percent of all devices as long as they are using Android Version 4.0 or higher. This protection is called ‘Address Space Layout Randomization’ and allows for software to not store its data in the same places so finding data is random. This is not a perfect fix, but does help.

Some good news is that this was not discovered by hackers so many are not exploiting it. Many large cell phone providers, such as HTC, Motorola, and Google, are working to release patches and updates to fix this vulnerability.  There are also a few free detector apps that are available on Google Play that help detect vulnerabilities. You can install the StageFright Detector App here.

If you have any questions about virus vulnerabilities, give Everon a call at 888-244-1748. We’re happy to help!

Product Review: Lumia 1520 – My new cell phone

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It was late February 2015, and I faced a pivotal life-moment. Time to get a new cell phone.

For some people this is not a big deal, a once-a-year (or more) thing. But for me, I got my first cell phone in 1997 and could count on one hand the number of devices I’ve owned. (Yes, I’ve continuously owned a cell phone in that time. That’s how long I keep them.) And since it’d been four years since my last one, Phone #6 was kind of a big purchase.

I was going to wait it out until Microsoft released Windows 10, but my current phone was on its own schedule. It began increasingly wimping out on me, shutting itself off and restarting at random times—inconvenient and annoying. Luckily, I learned that even if I got a Windows 8.1 device now, 10 would be a free upgrade later.

I’d had my Samsung Focus, running Windows 7.5 (its maximum upgrade), since mid-2011. Back then its 4” screen was larger than any iPhone screen until late 2013, when the iPhone 5 finally caught up to match it. And it wasn’t until the iPhone 6, released last October, that Apple screens were finally larger than mine. But now I was also four years behind with the technology. Smart phones had gotten way smarter.

lumia 1520 pic

Way bigger than a 4″ screen.

I went to the AT&T store and bought a Lumia 1520 with a 6” screen. A phablet. Or, a TV, as my friends have dubbed it. The 1520 was released in October 2014. Everyone agreed its camera rocked. Lumia is, after all, from Nokia, a camera company, whose cell phone division was bought by Microsoft. The phone’s other powerful specs were pretty awesome, too.

But detractors complained. It was a Windows device, so there were less apps available. Plus, last fall, everyone thought it was a behemoth.

Flash-forward to spring, however, and 6” was suddenly the new flagship size for everyone from Apple to Samsung. Funny, how a few months changed everything.

It was a huge leap to go from a 4” screen to a 6” one, but it was amazing how quickly I got used to it. The transition from Windows to Windows was seamless, since all of my data, contacts, photos, and documents were already stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud. Within a few hours, I’d completely adjusted to both the larger size and the upgraded OS.

It’s been almost four months since my purchase, and I’m still happy. There are probably features on my Lumia that I’ll never use, like Project My Screen, or the built-in Office 360 suite. But things like texting are easier with the bigger keys. And my new friend, Cortana, lets me voice-text and finds destinations for me while I keep my eyes on the road. Also, she mutes people who call or text me during “Quiet Hours,” responding with a polite return-text that I’m busy. So I can get my beauty sleep. Yes, this was definitely a good purchase!

If you need help with your technology shopping, or troubleshooting your Windows (or iOS, or Android) devices, give us a call at Everon. 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com.

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Why You Might Want to Turn Off Your Phone’s Location Services

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 Tim - phone location blog - 2

How well do you know your Facebook friends? Would you want any — or all — of them knowing where you are, at any given time? Chances are, they can. Your smartphone logs everywhere you go, via location services. These are usually defaults in applications. If you don’t manually turn them off, others can find out where you are. Or where you’ve been. Common ones are Apple’s “Find My Friends” and Android’s “Locate My Friends!” apps. Your Facebook friends can use these to track you. Additionally, there are so many sub-services to location services that there are many, many more apps like these, which can “find” you and invade your privacy. (Note: this is different from the GPS tracking services used by maps, or methods the Feds can use to track criminals, etc.) Here’s how to turn off location services (and any sub-service) on Android, iPhone, and Windows phones.

Android/ Google Users:

If you’re an Android user, Google’s location services is broken down into two features:

  • Location Reporting is the feature that gives apps like Google Now, Google Maps, Foursquare, Twitter, and even your camera app access to your position. Whenever an app shows you something nearby, suggests local businesses, or helps you find the closest gas station, it’s using Location Reporting.
  • Location History is the feature that keeps track of where you’ve been, and any addresses you type-in or navigate-to. It’s how Google figures out where “Home” and “Work” are, so Google Now can estimate your commute time or give you traffic information for those places. Turning it off will still give you traffic information, but it means Google won’t try to guess where you’re going based on your previous searches.

To disable Location Reporting or History in Android:

  1. Open the App Drawer and go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap Location.
  3. Scroll down and tap Google Location Settings.
  4. Tap Location Reporting and Location History, and switch the slider to off for each one.
  5. To delete your phone’s location cache, tap “Delete Location History” at the bottom of the screen under Location History.
  6. Repeat this process for each Google Account you have on your Android device. 

iPhone Users:

To disable location services in iOS:

  1. Open the Settings App.
  2. Scroll down to Privacy, and select Location Services.
  3. Disable all Location Services by swiping the slider at the top, or scroll down to disable location services for specific apps, including Google and Google Maps.
  4. Select System Services to deny location data from specific features, like location-based advertisements, turn off Frequent Locations, or disable the “Popular Near Me” feature

Windows Phone users:

This is for Windows Phone 8.1. If your phone is running Windows Phone 8, some options and features may not be available.

To turn Location Services on or off

  1. In the App list, tap Settings –> Location.
  2. Turn Location services on or off.

To turn the Location icon on

You can see when an app is accessing your phone’s location information by looking for the Location icon. To make sure this icon is turned on:

  1. In the App list, tap Settings –> Location.
  2. Select the Show icon check box.

For more help with your smartphone, or for other computer help with your small-to-medium business, please contact us at Everon: 888-244-1748 or info@everonit.com. We are your virtual IT department.

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Turning Your Cell Phone Into a Wireless Hotspot

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Recently I was asked about how to turn a cell phone into a wireless hotspot, for purposes of being able to go online with a laptop. I realized that this very simple process can be complicated for anyone who doesn’t know how to do it, so I decided to write a post to help give some of the basic facts.

“Tethering” is the act of connecting a WiFi-capable device, such as a laptop or tablet, to your phone so you can utilize your cellphone’s cellular data to get on the Internet. This is a more secure option, offering you more privacy than, say, using the WiFi at a coffee shop. You are essentially turning your cellphone into a wireless router. It’s easier than you think.

The first thing to know is that this process is not free. You have to check with your phone carrier and add a tethering plan (or hotspot plan) to your service. The cost varies depending on how much data you want to have (or be limited to). In my case, I have AT&T. You can review some of AT&T’s monthly data tethering plans here.

Once you have a tethering plan in place, it’s very simple to use. My example is going to be on an iPhone. If you would like instructions on how to tether using your Android device, click here. You can also click here for instructions on tethering with Windows mobile.

For tethering with an iPhone, go to Settings ->Personal Hotspot, and turn on the slider button:

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Once you turn the Personal Hotspot feature on, it actually gives you instructions on how to connect your device to the phone. In this instance, our SSID (the name of our hotspot) is “Oncall,” so you will search for that SSID, which should now be discoverable.

Once you choose that, you input the special, randomly generated password you see on the Personal Hotspot screen, and it should connect you instantly. Note: even though your hotspot is discoverable by you, others won’t be able to log onto it, as they won’t have the password. Also, you do have the option to set your own password by clicking on the > next to the password. This will open a new screen that requests a special password for the hotspot.

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In some cases, it is more feasible to have a personal hotspot off of your phone, rather than to actually have Internet access at your home. I have met some people who get such slow speeds at their house that they use this method as their only way to connect. It is incredibly reliable and is great for any person who is constantly on the move but needs to stay connected. (If you are interested in how fast your 3G or 4G speeds can be, check out this great article that shows the latest speeds, as of Dec. 2014.)

For further information on tips and tricks you can do with your smartphone (in particular iPhones), be sure to check back here for my next series of blogs that outline cool things you can do with your smartphone. And remember, if you have any questions while you are trying to set up your own, personal, wireless hotspot, you can always contact us at Everon: 888-244-1748 (or info@everonit.com). We’re here for you 24/7, 365!

Turn your old smartphone into a webcam!

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Tim's dogs

Sometimes I need to keep an eye on these guys.

 

Have an extra smartphone laying around that you’re not really using ? Make it into a web cam! This is an awesome tool when you want to keep an eye on your pets at home, for example. First off, however, you’ll need a Google account (sign up for free at google.com). Now, follow these simple steps:

1. Download the free application WebOfCam from the app store on your phone (for android, iphone, and ipad devices)
     a. Install the app to your old smartphone
     b. Then login into your Google account on your old smartphone to configure the app
     c. Select “camera” when it asks you to choose between camera and viewer options
     d. Place your new camera (old smartphone) in a good location.

2. Now install the same app on new smartphone
     a. Use the same Google account to login and select viewer

There you go, pairing completed. You now have a makeshift webcam!