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TikTok and other apps are accessing your mobile clipboard. Why?

One of the new features of iOS 14 is a more honed control over the live permissions that apps receive. Among the new notifications is an alert when an app accesses your clipboard data. This has created an uproar in the Apple user community as more and more apps are discovered to be accessing the clipboard, seemingly without need. Some apps have a legitimate use for accessing the clipboard, some do it for convenience purposes, and others do it for no real reason at all. So far, 54 high profile apps are in question.

For some apps, clipboard data makes sense. An app like TrueCaller accessing the clipboard to see if you have a phone number stored can make it easier for you to check the history of that phone number. But, it could be just as easy to paste the phone number into a textbox and TrueCaller can continue to just be what it is. Other apps, like New York Times and Wall Street Journal have no reason to access the clipboard except to snoop on that content.

The original concern, and possibly the most glaring, is the controversial app TikTok. There are a number of reasons why there is great concern over the app's behavior. It is a Chinese app with strong ties to the Chinese government. It has been actively used to censor content and regularly discriminates against people the Chinese government disagrees with, such as the LGBT community. Giving the Chinese government access to additional content on your device could create a privacy issue unlike any other.

The company has said that they have already removed the clipboard access, but users are reporting that the app is still throwing notifications about clipboard access. For a platform that is so well-known for privacy violations, this is not surprising.

June 28, 2020 - Episode 565 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, TikTok wants your mobile clipboard, Nintendo doesn't want your mobile gaming, and Microsoft wants you to use Facebook.

GaN Laptop Chargers - Episode 230 (Piltch Point)

One of the most interesting new technologies we experienced at CES this year was in the form of GaN chargers. That is because, not only is the technology fascinating, it makes for some incredibly practical products. Using this technology, for example, manufacturers can produce laptop chargers that are less than a quarter of the size of a traditional power brick. The new chargers are so small, in fact, that we can't even call them a brick anymore. Some of them are as small as a 2-outlet phone charger. For those who travel a lot, or really for anyone who brings a laptop with them, these chargers will make the experience better.

However, it is not just portable chargers where the technology could shine in the future. We've all seen power products, whether it be wall outlets, surge protectors, or even power towers, that include USB charging ports. These are only powerful enough to be able to charge small devices like phones and tablets if you're lucky. They simply cannot produce enough power to charge something bigger, like a laptop. However, with this now miniaturized charging technology, we could potentially see the chargers built into these types of power products. Imagine checking into a hotel room and, on the desk, there is a USB-C outlet ready to power your laptop. Beautiful.

As these new chargers are released, Avram has been putting them to the test with his handy new load tester, Using this device, he can see exactly how much power the chargers are able to produce. If the company says it's a 65-watt charger, are you actually getting that amount of power, or does it fall short? Or, more interestingly, does it over-deliver? It's always exciting to get more than you thought you were paying for. The round-up for GaN chargers will be available soon on Tom's Hardware.

Monster Smart IlluminEssence Prism Modular 3D LED Art Panels (PLUGHITZ Live Unboxed)

Prism is a modular lighting system that allows you to easily design your own illuminated 3D LED art. Build your own stunning structures with customizable lighting effects and patterns.

Our custom engineered mounting system allows for effortless reconstruction through interlocking brackets, repositionable magnets, and damage-free adhesives. With multiple warm white and RGB color ranges, Prism's color possibilities are seemingly endless.

Prism's lighting effects can be controlled through your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to access all of Prism's features through your smartphone or voice assistant devices via the Monster Smart app. This method gives you the greatest control of color, brightness, speed, patterns, and color-changing modes for all your Monster Smart lighting devices simultaneously.

Monster Smart IlluminEssence Digit Modular 3D LED Art Panels (PLUGHITZ Live Unboxed)

Digit is a modular lighting system that allows you to easily design your own illuminated 3D LED art. Build your own stunning structures with customizable lighting effects and patterns.

Our custom engineered mounting system allows for effortless reconstruction through micro USB ports, repositionable magnets, brackets, and damage-free adhesives. With multiple warm white and RGB color ranges, Digit offers over 16 million color possibilities. Create everything from intricate designs to personalized messages.

Digit's lighting effects can be controlled through your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to access all its features through your smartphone or voice assistant devices via the Monster Smart app. This method gives you the greatest control of color, brightness, speed, patterns, and color-changing modes for all your Monster Smart lighting devices simultaneously.

Monster Smart IlluminEssence Orb Portable LED Light (PLUGHITZ Live Unboxed)

Monster Smart Illuminessence, an industry leader in home lighting décor, announces a new line of Smart products including the portable and multi-functional Orb. This new LED lamp offers a modern approach to ambiance and personal expression.

Due to its custom design, Orb creates fun and compelling atmospheric impressions in any setting. Orb can be used on tabletop surfaces, suspended from ceilings, or held in hand by the built-in handle. This multi-functional design gives the user free rein to implement Orb in creative and interesting ways in any environment. Orb is rechargeable and water-resistant, so it can be used outdoors without the need to plug into an outlet.

Orb's lighting effects can be controlled through your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to access all its features through your smartphone or voice assistant devices via the Monster Smart app. This method gives you the greatest control of color, brightness, speed, patterns, and color-changing modes for all your Monster Smart lighting devices simultaneously. Pair multiple Orbs together for uniform control or control each unit individually.

Monster Smart IlluminEssence Neon Multi-Color LED Strip (PLUGHITZ Live Unboxed)

Monster Smart Illuminessence, an industry leader in home lighting décor, announces a new line of Smart products including the water-resistant Smart Indoor/Outdoor Multi-Color LED Light Strip.

This LED Light Strip features vibrant diffused light and is a staggering 5 meters (16.4 feet) long, which gives you the range to cover large spaces such as decks, walkways, or living rooms. Breathe new life into your environment with the addition of vibrant designs or subtle mood lighting. The flexible water-resistant material makes this LED Strip perfect for adding ambiance to both outdoor and indoor entertaining areas. With multiple warm white and RGB color ranges the color possibilities are seemingly endless.

The Smart LED Light Strip can be controlled through your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to access all of its features through your smartphone or voice assistant devices via the Monster Smart app. This method gives you the greatest control of color, brightness, speed, patterns, and color-changing modes for all of your Monster Smart lighting devices simultaneously. Use the included mounting clips to mount the Light Strip to any surface that you can fasten a screw into, such as wood or drywall. To power the device, plug it into an in-wall outlet, no batteries or recharging necessary. This LED Strip makes it easier than ever to add some ambiance to your indoor or outdoor environment!

June 14, 2020 - Episode 564 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, the FCC is trying to fine robots, Sony is inspired by your router, and the internet library is closed to the public.

Proposed robocall fine would be largest FCC fine ever uncollected

The world may be divided on most topics, but there is one thing we can all come together on: our hatred of robocalls. We've all been close to destroying our phones when the voice on the other end of a call says, "We've been trying to reach you about your car's extended warranty." The FCC has implemented some regulations to try and cut down on the annoyance. Among the regulations are an end to caller ID spoofing and the Do Not Call registry. While the measures may have actually resulted in fewer deceptive calls, some still work around it.

One such pair that ignored all of the rules is John C. Spiller and Jakob A. Mears, who operated a health insurance scam ring. They operated brands such as Rising Eagle and JSquared Telecom, making more than 1 billion robocalls claiming to sell short term insurance options. According to the FCC's proposed fine against the duo,

The robocalls falsely claimed to offer health insurance plans from well-known health insurance companies such as Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and UnitedHealth Group. For example, one call stated: "Are you looking for affordable health insurance with benefits from a company you know? Policies have all been reduced nationwide such as Cigna, Blue Cross, Aetna, and United just a quick phone call away. Press 3 to get connected to a licensed agent or press 7 to be added to the Do Not Call list." If they did press 3, consumers were transferred to a call center with no affiliation to the named companies, where call center representatives then would attempt to convince the consumer to purchase an insurance product sold by one of Rising Eagle's clients. Rising Eagle's largest client, Health Advisors of America, was sued by the Missouri Attorney General for telemarketing violations in February 2019.

As part of the action, the FCC will be asking for a $225 million fine. The FCC, however, does not have the authority to issue the fine on its own, so it will need to go through a process. Traditionally, an agreement is reached somewhere lower than the proposed maximum. However, the FCC is not known for success in actually collecting on its fines. According to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel,

Over the last several years the FCC has levied hundreds of millions in fines against robocallers just like the folks we have here today. But so far collections on these eye-popping fines have netted next to nothing. In fact, it was last year that The Wall Street Journal did the math and found that we had collected no more than $6,790 on hundreds of millions in fines. Why? Well, one reason is that the FCC looks to the Department of Justice to collect on the agency's fines against robocallers. We need them to help. So when they don't get involved-as here-that's not a good sign.

So, do these policies work? For some, it may simply be the fear of any retribution that stops them from acting. For others, it appears the knowledge that nothing will happen that keeps the calls coming.

Some users defend Zoom's decision not to encrypt all meetings

When it comes to privacy and security, Zoome has not been a success story. A year ago, an issue in the software allowed anyone to turn on a Mac's webcam without the owner's permission or knowledge and uninstalling Zoom didn't remove the exploit. This year, we have seen Zoom bombing become the norm, with people joining meetings that they are not invited to. To combat its image, the company has announced that it intends to encrypt meetings from end-to-end, but that new feature comes with a caveat: not everyone gets it.

Unfortunately, only paid Zoom users will be able to use encrypted meetings. However, many of the people who use the software and are at risk are the ones using it for free. The internet has generally not been kind to the company in response to the announcement. The general consensus is that the reasoning behind the decision is to encourage users to pay for the software. It's a fairly common sales plan to make features that are in high demand paid. However, it is not common to hide security behind a paywall.

While most have been unhappy with Zoom's decision, a small group has defended the company's decision. That is because of the bizarre justification that the company'gave for the decision. Rather than saying that it is a sales move, which of course it is, they cloaked it in child protection. By leaving these conversations unencrypted, they will be able to work with law enforcement in instances where child exploitation content is involved.

The biggest issue with this theory is that the only publicly documented cases where Zoom meetings have involved any child exploitation content have been meetings where people have Zoom bombed. That would mean that the lack of encryption would be there to turn over information about the end result of the company's own security flaws. Either way, it's not a good look to have known security flaws in your product and only offer a partial patch to some people.

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