Samsung Galaxy Security Breach : How Users Can Reduce Their Risk

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A random sampling of the popular Samsung Galaxy S4 and S6 phones, from around the Everon office.

According to reports released on June 16th, over 600 million Samsung mobile devices are vulnerable to a security risk that stems from a flaw on a pre-installed keyboard software produced by SwiftKey. If exploited, the device’s predictive text software can allow hackers to remotely access the phone’s GPS, camera, microphone, and even eavesdrop on inbound/outbound calls. Hackers can attempt to access personal data, including texts and pictures, and could install malicious applications without the user’s knowledge.

According to ABC News, Ryan Welton, a security researcher at NowSecure, discovered this flaw back in December 2014. He notified both the Samsung and Google Android Security Teams, and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT). Samsung has not publicly commented on the security flaw, but reports have stated that patches have been released to mobile network providers. Whether those providers have released those patches to devices is unknown.

Unfortunately, there’s not much Samsung Galaxy users can do to prevent this breach. The keyboard is already pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, S4, S5 and the newly released S6. This flawed application cannot be uninstalled by users. However, NowSecure, which has released a list of affected devices, states that there are a few remedies Samsung Galaxy mobile device users can take for protection:

  • Avoid insecure wi-fi networks

  • Use a different mobile device

  • Contact carriers for patch information and timing

If you’re unsure how to avoid insecure wi-fi networks, call Everon at 888-244-1748. We’ll do everything we can to help you reduce your risk.

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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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New “Tech Support” Scam for Mac Users

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Recently we have been hearing news stories about how Mac computers are being compromised. But there is another, more subtle compromise that has also been going on. The common element to these other issues happens when users visit a site in Safari, and they get a warning page pop-up:

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The message will continue to pop up about the infection – even if you hit okay, it will reappear about a second later – and you can not get it off your screen until you call, according to the information in the image. From this, most users are concerned because they believe that their computer is infected. But what is really going on is the work of scammers. (If you call the number, they will ask you to pay a few hundred dollars to have their “technicians” remove your “virus.”) Here are some steps to get rid of these messages, as your computer has not been infected, it is your browser that has been compromised and is getting re-directed, and a web program that runs once you get to this site, that has caused the problem.

Steps to get rid of the message:

  1. Force Quit from Safari. In order to do this you can Force Quit a couple of ways. Go the the Apple icon with Safari as the program highlighted.forcequit
  2. Another option is to open the Force Quit Applications menu. (Combination of keys: Alt/Option + Command + ESC will bring up the Force Quit Menu.)
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The reason the popups keep happening even after you close multiple times is because Safari re-opens the last session by default. In order to remove the message, we need to open Safari in a new session. To do that, hold down the Shift key, then click on the Safari icon. This will bring Safari up with no more error message. To clean this from your system, you need to clear out your browsing history.

  • Choose History > Show History, select history entries and daily sets of entries, then press Delete.

For the most part Macs do not get viruses or malware easily because of the security features that Apple has implemented. There are still some that are getting around that, but most of the time the application has to get your permission to install on your system.

If you are concerned about viruses, malware, or other potential dangers on your work Mac or PC, give us a call at Everon. Our techs are available for our clients 24/7, 365. Call us at 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com. We’re here for you.

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New iPhone/Mac Vulnerabilities That Can Impact Your Business

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Recently Apple was hit with two big issues in the same month. These gave rise to concerns that Apple products might not be as secure as most think. The first of the two came in the form of a text message that can be sent to Apple iPhones.

The text, which is entirely in Arabic, can be sent to anyone with an iPhone, and it will immediately shut down the phone. While this is more of an annoying bug than a security concern (although it definitely can be viewed as a security concern, depending on the owner of the phone and his/her need for uptime), it doesn’t seem to be harmful to the devices. Users in the  Reddit.com forums found the bug, and it appears they did so by accident.

Credit: parts of this image are reproduced with permission from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unibody_Macbook.JPG.

Credit: parts of this image are reproduced with permission from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unibody_Macbook.JPG.

If your phone receives the dreaded text message, you will need to turn on your phone and delete that message. One workaround to the text issue is to go into the settings,and turn off text message previews that appear on the home screen. Apple is aware of the bug and will resolve the issue in its latest update, which should be coming very soon.

The second security concern, and one that is very critical to businesses is the latest exploit which allows someone to put a permanent backdoor onto your Mac by rewriting the firmware for the BIOS to allow remote connection to the device. This affects all Macs older than mid-2014.

The reason this security concern is so troubling is, unlike other types of exploits, where if you were to be hacked you could wipe your hard drive and start clean with the appropriate updates, this targets the BIOS, meaning no matter how often you wipe your hard drive, hackers can exploit the vulnerability over and over again.

The vulnerability can be enacted as soon as a machine is woken from Sleep Mode. The security researcher who found the exploit, Pedro Vilaca, stated you can stop your machine from going into Sleep Mode to bypass the exploit. However, Apple is aware of the exploit and should patch it soon. Vilaca also stated that this is very similar to last year’s “Thunderstrike Proof-of-Concept” exploit.

While nothing will protect against this current exploit (i.e. antivirus, anti-malware), it does show that as Macs become more popular, holes are being found in the OS and, in this case, in the hardware itself. Business owners must be aware of both where their employees go on the Internet and how to protect their assets from hacking attempts.

Everon offers antivirus for Macs, as well as PCs, with a product called Webroot Secure Anywhere. We can assist in setting up hardware proxies that will prevent unauthorized access to the Internet. If you have any questions about what we can do for your Apple environment, feel free to call our techs at 1-888-244-1748 (or email at info@everonit.com). We’re here for you. Twenty-four/seven, 365.

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Chrome Extensions – Taking Your Web Browser to the Next Level

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Google_Chrome_icon_(2011).svgYour web browser is probably the most used piece of software on your PC, tablet, or phone. They are our chariot to a nearly limitless amount of information on the web. While finding information is their main function, you can supercharge your browser by using extensions or plug ins. Here are few examples of how you can get more out of Google Chrome. (Don’t worry if you are an Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox user: those browsers also have the abilities to take on similar-type plugins.)

YoWindow Weather

Weather extensions are pretty common, and there are a lot out there. But not all are created equal. This is one I recently started using. I like that it adds a little icon, which displays current temperature, to the right of your address bar. Clicking on the icon expands the extension, so you see an extended forecast, along with a ton of other information. You can change backgrounds, which also reflect current conditions, for an extra visual. Overall, YoWindow does a great job of quickly telling you what the weather is doing in one or multiple locations.

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Search by Image

This is great if you find an image and want to find others similar to it, one of better quality, or find out more about it whatever is in the picture. You simply right-click on the image and search Google (look for the blue camera), which will go out and bring back all kinds of related information. For example, I right-clicked on this picture, and the Search Image brought back a plethora of useful information about Albert Einstein.

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Momentum

This extension helps spice up a new tab when you open it — along with providing some nifty features — instead of just showing the plain white background with previously-visited sites. It will greet you, provide the time, temperature, a daily goal set by you, a to-do list, and an inspirational quote. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery!

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Of course, these  plugins only scratch the surface of what’s available. Extensions are easy to install and can usually be done in a click or two.  Head over to the Chrome webstore to check out all of the extensions, apps, and themes available. And remember, if you need help getting any of these installed on your work computers, give us a call at Everon (888-244-1748). We’re here for you, 24/7, 365.

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