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Tips and Tricks

Android Apps that spy on your text messages

The whole idea of stealing messages comes from an entity bearing the name Taomike SDK, provided to Android app developers for displaying ads in their Android apps.

Taomike SDK is one of the largest advertisement providers in China using which Android Apps developers inflict and display an advertisement within their Android Apps and also offer IAPs (in-app purchases) and this way, the developers make money / generate revenue.

WHAT REALLY IS HAPPENING

What is basically thought/ found to be happening is that the newer versions of Taomike SDK have a malicious SMS stealing library as a part of it within the in-app purchases option.

Once the customer presses to one of these infected in-app purchases, the SMS stealing library does what it is designed to do: steal incoming messages from that particular mobile device.

These stolen messages are then uploaded to Taomike API Server.

Over 63000 Android Apps reportedly use this Advertisement giant Taomike SDK (software development kit).

And about 18000 android apps out of these 63000 are estimated to be infected with the SMS stealing library.

WHAT PALO ALTO RESEARCHERS SAY

“We recently identified that the Chinese Taomike SDK has begun capturing copies of all messages received by phone and sending them to a Taomike controlled server. Since August 1, Palo Alto Networks WildFire has captured over 18,000 Android apps that contain this library. These apps are not hosted inside the Google Play store, but are distributed via third party distribution mechanisms in China.”

Researchers at Palo Alto networks provide the following end result after their huge and revealing study.

  • Only the Android Apps that contain the embedded URL given as hxxp://112.126.69.51/2c.php   contain the SMS stealing library.
  • This URL gets uploaded with the stolen messages.
  • The IP Address in this URL belongs to Taomike API Server.
  • You can even expect Adult content within these IAPs.

However, little is known about what Taomike really does with the stolen messages.

Good news: But the good news is that in all Android Versions 4.4 and above, Google can prevent apps that capture user SMS messages unless they are defined as “default” Android apps.

And of course, this malicious SMS stealing library is present only in the newer versions of Taomike SDK, all of its previous versions are safe and secure.

HOW THE MALICIOUS TO MAKE SDK WORKS

The SMS stealing library of Taomike SDK requests both SMS and Network access permissions while downloading any of the infected Android apps.

It registers the receiver name com.zdtpay.Rf2b for both the SMS_RECEIVED and BOOT_COMPLETED actions.

Rf2b does the job of reading the incoming messages collecting the message body and also the sender.

These stolen SMS messages are stored in a Hashmap and then sent to a method that uploads the message to 112.126.69.51 address.

TO WHOM IS TA MAKE SDK NOT A THREAT?

All the customers who live outside of China and all the people who only download Android apps (paid or free) only from Google Play Store.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Rip off app stores like Blackmart offer paid Play store android apps free of cost. But such too-good-to-be-true ap stores come with a lot of bugs and threats like the SMS stealing library of Taomike SDK.

Hence it is highly suggested to refrain from using such app stores.

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Tips and Tricks

Irritatingly slow wifi melting your brain ? Boost Wifi Signal now!

Like I already mentioned in one of my previous posts, Battery life and WiFi are the two most important things for survival in the tech era. There is nothing more irritating than slow speeds, bad reception, and other Wi-Fi issues. We’ve already seen how to improve battery life. In this post, let’s check out some tips to boost WiFi signals at home.

1.Out with the old, in with the new

It is likely that your old router is giving you much of the WiFi connectivity problems. Replace it with a new one and watch your issues vanish.

2.Location, location, location!

If you hide away your router in some corner of the last room in your house or keep it below several layers of material, you are obstructing the signals and weakening them in this process. Try placing the router in a central location such as your living room or in a room where you are most likely to use the internet a lot. also, keep your router off the floor and place it on some high shelf or wall mount it.

3.Point your antennas

Certain routers with external antennas can upgrade for a high-gain antenna. They can be separately purchased from amazon.com and the likes. One more step is to change the position and direction of the antennas. Most work better if the two antennas are perpendicular to each other. i.e one horizontal and the other vertical. Make sure they are not blocked by anything.

4.Your router hates competition

Look around the router to see if you have any other electronics like cordless phones, microwave ovens or Bluetooth enabled devices. Get rid of them and place them elsewhere. They are causing bandwidth interference. If you cannot relocate them, invest in a good dual-band router that is not  much affected by interference.

5. There are certain open source software tools like DD-WRT  that can hack your router and help unlock the full-potential of your router. They also provide a ton of security features and boost your transmitting power. You could try them out.

6.Bust those thieves

If your WiFi still seems slow, chances are that someone is hugging yours. Keep a check on unauthorized access by creating a strong WiFi  WPA security password. You may know that WEP and WPA/WPA2 are security algorithms that keep hackers from breaking into your network. However, WEP is known to be less secure. So switch to WPA/WPA2 as soon as possible.

If you want, you can also hide your WiFi’s presence to outsiders. To do this go to access point’s admin page and uncheck “Enable SSID Broadcast.” Now your WiFi’s name will not be visible to any passer-by.

7. Make your transmission Stronger

Apart from having just a simple router, a repeater or a wireless bridge (also called an Ethernet converter) is used to get better reception for wired devices. They extend your coverage without the trouble of more cords.

8. Limit devices using your wifi 

The fewer devices your WiFi has to support, the faster it can transmit signals. You can do this by creating a device access list of MAC addresses. Media Access Control creates an identifier for each of your devices. Find out your devices MAC addresses and got to your access point’s configuration screen and set which addresses get the green light.

If all else fails, buy a WiFi repeater which is a piece of hardware you can use to boost the signal between the router and your device. While following these tips, be careful when meddling with your router as some may void its warranty.

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Tips and Tricks

Secure iphone with these easy tricks

We spend most of our time on our smartphones. Be it for fun and entertainment, or carrying out your office work, or to make your life easy using a conglomerate of apps like google maps, artificial intelligence guide, social media apps etc.

So, it logically follows that we literally have our life’s worth information/media stored in our phones. Such a thing needs a little more than personal discretion to secure iphone. It needs virtual protection too. An intelligent system with intelligent settings to prevent anyone and everyone from breaking into or otherwise trespass your smartphone.

So, follow these simple adjustments you can employ on your iphone to give it the much needed fine-tune to secure iphone and keep hackers at bay.

DISABLE SIRI : Siri can be very revealing, if it slips its tongue. Just kidding, Siri never can be attributed to such a thing. It just does what it does the best: say things out loud, with little or no caution. It can reveal a lot even when the iphone is locked. When you are not around to handle your phone, an intruder can ask questions that could certainly disclose a lot of personal information. So, better late than never, just disable siri to secure iphone.

Go to settings -> ‘Touch ID and passcode’ -> turn off the ‘allow access when locked’ option on siri.

TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS : Again, when you are not attending your phone, and even if it is locked, notifications can still be viewed on the lock screen. And imagine, if one of your very intimate acquaintances sent a message, it can be viewed by an intruder by swiping the screen down. It could give away other such sensitive data too. So, turn your notifications off. Check everything yourself.

SET AN UNPREDICTABLE PIN/ FINGERPRINT SECURITY : We can’t stress enough on why you should be using a PIN or a fingerprint security. And, so, naturally you can’t afford to not have a security measure such as this. But what’s more important is to set a totally un-guessable PIN. It can go a long way, because people can be real good at making an educated guess.

According to a study, most common password usages are something like this : 0000 , 1234 , abcd etc.

Use a series that is totally unrelated to secure iphone. It doesn’t have to have a connection.

USE A LONGER PASSPHRASE : The four digit PIN can seem to offer  limited amount of security, given the 1/10000 chance the intruder has to guess the right passcode. I mean, if the intruder tries 100 combinations everyday, he could clearly find the right passcode in / under 100 days. I’m sure, he can wait that long.

Hence, if you need a code that allows for a greater length password to secure iphone, then

go to settings ->  ‘Touch ID and passcode lock’ -> turn off ‘simple passcode’ 

This makes it possible to have a longer password/ passphrase , that will require you to use uppercase words, lower case words, numericals, symbols. Gets all the more difficult to guess.

SELF DESTRUCT YOUR DATA : Desperate times call for desperate measures. And iphone security isn’t an exception. If you are willing to go to great lengths to protect your sensitive information and secure iphone, then it has just the security tool you need.

go to settings -> enable “erase data”.

Doing this will make your iphone erase all data, information on your iphone if the PIN gets ten incorrect inputs. And instead, if you have enabled Touch ID, it will only offer 3 chances to get the right fingerprint, after which, the screen redirects to PIN entry.

DISABLE A SUSPICIOUS APP’S ACCESS : Every time you installed a particular app, it might have asked your permission to access your phone’s camera, photos, or even some sensitive information. So, if an intruder or hacker is using your iphone instead of you, he could run into all such information while using one of the installed apps. It’s the last thing you want.

So, go to settings -> privacy tab -> check which apps have access to what -> turn them off.

All these tricks can account for significantly to secure iphone.

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Tips and Tricks

Gmail Tips Make The Most Out of Your Mail

Gmail Tips : Almost everything on the internet requires a Google Account. Be it for a  social networking site, a blog or even a simple e-commerce registration. Gmail or email by Google is ubiquitous and for good reason too. Its easy to navigate and versatile features make it a hot favorite. The most efficient ways to optimize your mail are often tucked away in obscure little hard to reach areas.So login into your Gmail and try these out for yourself.

1. Label them

Gmail provides the flexibility to label your mails such as Work,Personal,Garden party etc., Make good use of these to cluster all related mails under a label. It makes searching for and retrieving mails faster and way easier. Some mails may fall under more than one Label and that’s okay ! simply  check the mails you wish to label and add multiple labels by clicking the labels drop-down menu->Create new->Type label name->OK

2. Vacation mode

I must admit I was often worried about how I’m going to tell each sender that I’m away on a vacation andcannot respond immediately. But fret not! Google thinks of everything ! Turn on the Vacation Responder to send a default reply to people who email you between the set dates. To do this, go to Settings->Vacation Responder->On->Type default message->Save changes.

3.Larger attachment? No worries

By default the maximum attachment size is 25MB. But by using Google Drive, you can send files upto 15GB. To do this go to Google drive Icon in the Compose window and then select a file you want to send and press Insert. This works only if you already have the required file in the Google Drive.

4.Use signature

Here’s a tip that’ll add a personal touch to your email. Add your own signature to be written at the bottom of every email you send. Go to Settings-> Signature-> Enter the text-> Save changes.

5.Use shortcuts

Work your way through Gmail easily without much shift from keyboard to mouse and then back to keyboard again. Just press Shift+? to get a pop-up list of shortcuts. Better yet, customize your shortcuts by going to the Settings->keyboard shortcuts tab->personalize it the way you like with your own set of keys.

6.Block out the noise

Unwanted spam messages and promotionals filling your inbox? One quick solution is to click on the downward arrow beside the mail and “Block User”. Another traditional way is to mark as Spam but they will still be received into the spam folder. So blocking lets you retain your peace of mind.

7.UNDO !

This one’s my Absolute favorite tip! After all who doesn’t make mistakes? Sending an email to the wrong recipient and being able to do nothing about it is traumatizing. Google to the rescue again! Next time this happens, quickly click the undo button that appears for a blink on the center top of the page. Be aware though, this only works within the next few seconds of sending a mail.

8.Multiple Gmail accounts 

Using Google Chrome, you can access multiple accounts by switching between tabs. This is especially useful when you need to do a double check or use your personal and professional accounts at the same time. Each account will occupy a tab and will stay signed in.

9.Create Events right from your mail

Select the date,day name etc that is present in the mail and navigate to the more menu on the top and click on “Add to Tasks” and you’re done!

While this list of Gmail tips can go on forever, it is advisable to also check out the Google Help Forum for a super set. Feel free to start a Discussion Thread  below or ask queries !

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