CategoriesReviewsSmart Phones

iPhone 6 and 7 Users: Should you Upgrade?

The iPhone X has everything you’ve been wanting in a phone: The Face ID, the huge screen, and wireless charging. There’s only one problem… price. You may have already determined that you cannot afford a phone that costs $1K, which is what the price tag on the iPhone X is at the time of this writing. So are there any other options that will satisfy your desire for a modern, high-tech smartphone?

The hype over the iPhone X is all the rage right now, but could there be a different option that meets your needs? The iPhone 8 has many upgrades that would be very apparent and palatable to any smartphone enthusiast upgrading from the iPhone 6… but what if you have an iPhone 7? Will you notice much difference then? Let’s compare some of the features between the two phones.

Similarities and Differences between the iPhones 7 and 8.

Presentation. The sleek look of iPhones have always been a selling point for many users. The iPhone 7 and 8 are both very similar in appearance, with one major difference: glass. The iPhone 8 has a glass back, much like the iPhone X does. The user will notice a difference in weight (the iPhone 8 is 7% heavier than the 7), and thickness (a difference of .2mm). Some users might complain of a heavier phone, or more surface area to crack.

Display. There isn’t a great deal of difference between the displays on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. The one change is that the iPhone 8 now has the “True Tone” display technology which means your phone will adjust its color temperature based on the lightness or darkness of your surroundings. The purpose of this feature is to make reading text easier on the eyes. There is a lot of manual adjusting you can do in the iPhone 7, however, to achieve a similar effect.

Battery and Charging. If you were excited about the wireless charging option for the iPhone X, then you’ll be very happy to hear that this feature also comes with the iPhone 8! The main setback is that it does not include its own wireless charger with the original packaging, you will have to purchase that separately. It does however, come with a standard USB wall cable charger. You can also use a USB-C connector and power adaptor for a “fast charging” option – but those are a separate purchase also, and can cost upwards of $75.

Performance. Now we’re getting into the main advantage the iPhone 8 has over the 7. The processor in the iPhone 8 has the same processor that is in the iPhone X, the A11 bionic chip, which is Apple’s fastest smartphone processor to date! According to Tom’s Guide, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X are the fastest phones in the world. Apple says the iPhone 8 will operate 25% faster than its predecessor when performing at high efficency. It can even go as high as 70% faster when multitasking between different applications.

Camera. The iPhone 8 doesn’t have any difference specs in its camera than the iPhone 7 does. The only difference is the A11 bionic chip that we discussed under the performance section. The chip should help the camera produce better quality pictures by adjusting the low light focus and reducing noise levels. If you’re a photographer, these would be helpful features, but the average user might not notice them.

Conclusion

If upgrading from an iPhone 6, the user will see a significant difference if they decide to purchase an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. The improvements would not only be with faster performance, but there is also an upgraded camera, and display.

However, if you are upgrading from an iPhone 7, there may be good reason to wait until you can afford the iPhone X. The cheapest model of the iPhone 8 plus is nearly $800, so you wouldn’t be seeing substantial savings anyway. The main difference you will see is in the performance speed. As you learned in our review, the camera, appearance and display are not that much different.

Photo Credit: Aaron Yoo

CategoriesNewsPrivacySmart PhonesTechnology

What is Alphonso? Game Apps Use Smartphone Mics to Track Users

Gaming apps are widely used on many smart phones as a way to pass the time. Seemingly innocuous, mini games like bowling and pool can be addictive and fun for a variety of users. If you’re not paying close attention, however – you may be giving these apps more permissions than you bargained for.

A company called Alphonso is a service that provides software to app developers known as Automated Content Recognition or “ACR”. This ACR software, once installed, collects data about TV-viewing habits for advertisers by using the smartphone’s microphone. Yes, Alphonso actually listens to the sounds coming from your tv in order to target more relevant ads to you later.

Gaming app developers are using Alphonso in their apps in order to share data with advertisers. They are able to “listen in” in this way because the user gave permission to the app to use the microphone.

From Alphonso’s Privacy Policy for app Developers:

With your permission provided at the time of downloading the app, the ACR software receives short duration audio samples from the microphone on your device. Access to the microphone is allowed only with your consent, and the audio samples do not leave your device but are instead hashed into digital “audio signatures.” The audio signatures are compared to commercial content that is playing on your television, including content from set-top-boxes, media players, gaming consoles, broadcast, or another video source (e.g., TV shows, streaming programs, advertisements, etc.). If a match is found, Alphonso may use that information to deliver more relevant ads to your mobile device. The ACR software matches only against known, commercial audio content and does not recognize or understand human conversations or other sounds.

A big concern is that kids are being “tricked” into downloading these privacy-invading apps because they don’t always understand what they are agreeing to. There are some apps using Alphonso that are directed specifically toward kids. (Engadget)

According to Engadget, Alphonso says that its software doesn’t record human speech and they are in full compliance with the law. Others say that just because it is legal, doesn’t make it any less creepy and maybe is even unethical.

Over 250 games are currently using the Alphonso software.

For those interested, Alphonso does provide a “Mobile Opt-Out Guide” (found here) that will help explain how you can use your mobile device controls to revoke your consent for them to access your microphone.

Photo credit: Esther Vargas – “Smartphones”

CategoriesHackingNews

Rhino Horn Auction Page is Hacked

A webpage for a Rhino horn auction in South Africa looks like it has been hacked.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/26/rhino-breeder-auction-horns-south-africa-rhinoceros

A breeder planned an auction of rhino horns in South Africa. This is what the Guardian tells us about the auction:

A rhino breeder in South Africa is planning an online auction of rhino horns to capitalise on a court ruling that opened the way to domestic trade despite an international ban imposed to curb poaching.

The sale of rhino horns by breeder John Hume, to be held in August, will be used to “further fund the breeding and protection of rhinos”, according to an auction website.

Hume has more than 1,500 rhinos on his ranch and spends over $170,000 a month on security for the animals, in addition to veterinary costs, salaries and other expenses, the auction website said.

“Each rhino’s horn is safely and regularly trimmed by a veterinarian and capture team to prevent poachers from harming them,” it said, adding that Hume has a stockpile of more than six tonnes of rhino horns.

As of right now it appears that rhinohornauction.com is hacked. The site now reads: “Oops, your website has been seized! Everything on your website and server have been erased! Your lack of common compassion for animals is outrageous and has been dealt with properly. We have downloaded all your credentials and removed your files. Next time, do not run a website that auctions off animals, or we will auction off your data.”

Guess they were not running web hosting security from SiteGround 😉 Looks like the site is back up and running, but for how long?

The twitter account NFAgov is providing some information about the hack.

*Update 8/12/2017, 2pm EST:  it looks like the Rhino Horn website is back up and in tact. However, the NFAgov twitter account promises, “they won’t be shortly”

CategoriesInternetNewsPiracy

ExtraTorrent Says Goodbye

Farewell, ExtraTorrent

ExtraTorrent is probably gone for good. Our friends at Torrentfreak gave us the bad news this morning that one of the more popular torrenting sites, ExtraTorrent, has decieded to shut down permanently.

We already recently lost KickassTorrents and Torrentz.eu. Isohunt also shut down a couple of years ago “indefinitely” after years of court battles over copyright issues with the MPAA.

Demonoid has been on and off for years as well.

Many of our readers are wondering what will be left?

As of now, The Pirate Bay (thepiratebay.org) still functions, but they have had a rocky ride the last few years – many of the main players have faced raids, prison time and are still tied up in courts. TPB seems to live up to its slogan, however, “The galaxy’s most resilient BitTorrent site“.

ExtraTorrent Closes on Wednesday

The beloved torrent site left us with this message on their home page: “ExtraTorrent has shut down permanently ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline.. We permanently erase all data. Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to be…. May 17, 2017″

No one knows yet if the contributers to ExtraTorrent are under legal pressure, but it would follow the trend in relation to pirate sites in recent years.

The internet reacts to the loss:

🙁

What’s left to do?

Dumped!

Interesting Theory

We’re all struggling bro

Techworm_in has some alternative suggestions:

An update from Torrentfreak:

Update: We were informed by SaM that ExtraTorrent’s release group ETRG is gone now. “Ettv and Ethd could remain operational if they get enough donations to sustain the expenses and if they people handling it ready to keep going,” we were told. (Read more…)

Like our Facebook page to get updates as they come in.

More news stories like this here.

CategoriesNewsSecurity

Wannacry Ransomware Attack – Updates From Top Sources

WannaCry? Ransomware Spreads Globally…

A ransomware attack began last week in Europe, targeting thousands of computers running Windows. Ransomware is malicious software that makes it impossible for the user to access their computer files unless they pay a ransom. Ransomware attackers frequently ask to be paid in bitcoin. Often times, even after the ransom is paid, the user still does not regain access to their files. The name of the worm that targets the Windows OS is called Wannacry (or WannaCrypt, WanaCrypt0r 2.0, Wanna Decryptor)

Here are some updates about the Wannacry ransomware attack from some top tech sources as well as clever comments from the internet:

NSA says ransomware was like “fishing with dynamite”

Quick guide on how it all works:

More leaks coming….

Leave Wannacry Hero Alone!

“A stealthy cryptocurrency-mining malware that was also using Windows SMB vulnerability at least two weeks before the outbreak of WannaCry ransomware attacks.”

IBM Suggestions to protect yourself from ransomware

Microsoft be like

“The Wannacry Starter Pack”

VXShare claims to have access to Wannacry samples

Some Linux users are gloating

See more news stories like this.

Photo Credit: christiaancolen

CategoriesNewsSocial Media

2600 Magazine Offers $10K for Access to Donald Trump’s Tax Return

The Twitter account that represents 2600 Magazine – The Hacker Quarterly says they will offer $10K for first access to Donald Trump’s tax return. They also say that identities will be protected and provide a PGP key.

Twitter users responded with several funny comments:

There have been many recent attacks on the Democratic National Committee including the Guccifer 2.0/Wikileaks release of DNC emails and more recently a possible hack of some of the party member’s phones. Some say that hackers have been focusing too much on exposing the DNC and not enough on the RNC. Perhaps this is the opportunity they have been waiting for.

2600 has also extended the offer to Trump himself:

CategoriesHackingNewsSocial Media

Hackers Find Exploit and Reactivate LizardSquad’s Twitter Account

On September 2, hackers calling themselves “Spain Squad” used an exploit to take control of several previously suspended Twitter accounts. Among these accounts were usernames like @Hitler, @botnet, @LizardSquad and @1337. Twitter re-suspended all of the breached accounts shortly after the hack, but it is unclear whether or not they are still vulnerable to this exploit.

One of the hackers aligned with Spain Squad tweets about reactivated accounts.
One of the hackers aligned with Spain Squad tweets about reactivated accounts.

“It could be a vulnerability in Twitter’s software, a compromised staff account, or some other explanation. It’s also unclear whether the exploit is still active, or was patched concurrently with the banning of the hijacked accounts.” (Business Insider)

A spokesperson for the hacking group has stated they can do even more than recover old accounts with the exploit they found:

“The new exploit allows Spain Squad to change to suspend active accounts, change a user’s Twitter handle and even take control of active accounts. So far, the group has only demonstrated the ability to recover officially suspended accounts — though all of those have already been re-suspended by the social media company.” (Engadget)

Twitter actively suspends accounts that violate their Terms of Service (TOS). Sometimes these suspensions can be temporary and the user is able to restore their account after acknowledging broken rules and promising not to violate TOS again. Often, the user must delete offending tweets before the account will be restored. Alternatively, a Twitter account can become permanently suspended, which means the account is never to be restored under any circumstances. Restoring access to accounts that were thought to be never again accessible could prove to be profitable for hackers selling screen names that may be valuable. However Spain Squad claims to be non-malicious. Whatever their intent, they were definitely doing some of it for the lulz when they took control of the LizardSquad account:

socialhax hackers poodlecorp lizardsquad skids hack exploit twitter suspended accounts

CategoriesHackingSecurity

Are The Shadow Brokers Like Snowden? Theory Suggests Insider Hack

By now, most of our readers have heard of the Shadow Brokers, the hacker group who obtained a large trove of data from the National Security Agency (NSA) and leaked information about the NSA’s cyber tools. The cyber tools were apparently stolen from the Equation Group, a cyber attack operation who experts believe are part of the NSA.

(Watch a quick overview about the NSA hack – “NSA Reportedly Hacked By Group Called The Shadow Brokers”):

Initially, evidence suggested that the Shadow Brokers were Russian, but a new theory is emerging that whoever is leaking this data might be “a second Edward Snowden… albeit one with different motives” (Fortune). James Bamfield, a journalist who is well known for his publications about United States intelligence agencies, believes that Russia would not want to publish these hacks if they obtained them, because companies would quickly patch their vulnerabilities and the information would soon be worthless to anyone trying to sell the data. He also brings up that the bad English used by the hackers seems to be phony. Furthermore, he suggests that the hacker(s) could be linked to the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) which is a unit of the surveillance agency that gathers intelligence related to cyber-warfare. He states:

“Rather than the NSA hacking tools being snatched as a result of a sophisticated cyber operation by Russia or some other nation, it seems more likely that an employee stole them. Experts who have analyzed the files suspect that they date to October 2013, five months after Edward Snowden left his contractor position with the NSA and fled to Hong Kong carrying flash drives containing hundreds of thousands of pages of NSA documents.

So, if Snowden could not have stolen the hacking tools, there are indications that after he departed in May 2013, someone else did, possibly someone assigned to the agency’s highly sensitive Tailored Access Operations” (Reuters).

As of now, the “second Snowden” theory is just that – a theory. Most experts still say Russia is behind the hacks. Nevertheless, as Bamford puts it in his commentary – the “NSA may prove to be one of Washington’s greatest liabilities rather than assets.”

CategoriesHackingNews

Hacker Steals User Data from Epic Games Forums

The usernames and email addresses of over 800,000 Epic Forums users were stolen by a hacker. According to Leakedsource.com, the attack happened on August 11. The hacker obtained the data by exploiting “a known SQL injection vulnerability found in an older vBulletin forum software, which allowed the hacker to get access to the full database” (ZDNet). In addition to the usernames and email addresses, the database contains scrambled passwords, IP addresses, birth dates, and activity such as posts, comments and private messages. Access tokens for Facebook were also breached. Epic Games has stated that the scrambled passwords will not be not easily crackable.

An Epic Games Spokesperson says that passwords do not need to be changed for the Unreal Engine and Unreal Tournament forum but a “compromise of our legacy forums covering Infinity Blade, UDK, previous Unreal Tournament games, and archived Gears of War forums revealed email addresses, salted hashed passwords and other data entered into the forums. If you have been active on these forums since July 2015, we recommend you change your password on any site where you use the same password.”

Epic’s Forums were also hacked last year.

CategoriesHackingNews

Did Another Hacker Steal NSA Exploits from the Shadow Brokers?

A Twitter user who goes by @1×0123 claims to have stolen the data that The Shadow Brokers hacked from the NSA.

nsa hacker

Gizmodo reached out to the hacker and were unable to verify their claims. However, back in April, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, gave them praise for reporting a vulnerability which may lend some credibility.

The hacker says they just need “some money to pay bills and stuff” and offered to share 50% of it with Gizmodo if they wanted to make an offer.