Your Phone, Your Kryptonite – Keep Your Information Safe

mobile-phone-security

We hardly think about the stuff we have on our phones. But we should, right now. In the wrong hands it has the power to damage or even destroy us. We’ve seen it happen before and we’ll see it happen again, but we tell ourselves, ‘it won’t happen to me’, until it does.

When people think of losing their phone, they think of losing a pricey device. The real loss, though, is priceless information and privacy. There is no excuse to not take action and protect your information.

Here are some things you can do, right now, to be safe.

  • Screen Lock Password

This is the easiest to implement. Make it at least 16 characters long, containing capitals, simples, numbers and symbols. Random is best. This will make password cracking almost impossible. You can set it up so your device cannot be accessed via USB if it is locked.

  • Suspicious Links

Don’t just click like a fool. Always read before you click. Anything suspicious, just delete. Most attacks require the user to click something that allows the intrusion.

  • Don’t Blindly Install Apps

Especially if they’re not from a trusted source, be careful. Again, read before you click. Comments left by others can save you. Even apps from trusted sources have been known to contain malicious code.

  • Encryption

Encrypt the device and any SD Cards you might have. Make sure you know the key and note it down somewhere other than the phone. Use encrypted communication as far as possible.

  • Keep the OS Updated

Keeping software updated means closing known security loop holes. Leaving them open leaves you vulnerable.

  • Lock Your Apps or Logout

In our quest for ease we leave ourselves logged into apps. Some people even remain logged into banking and other high risk apps. Log out, use a password manager or lock the apps.

  • Free Wi-Fi

Avoid open Wi-Fi networks unless you know for sure that the network is safe. Even then, avoid using things like banking and other sensitive services while on unknown networks. Use a VNP, if you can, for further protection. See people being scammed on free Wi-Fi.

  • Note Your IMEI Number

If your phone is lost, knowing this number can help you locate it or at least make life difficult for the person who stole it.

  • Security Software

Use anti-virus software. Use phone tracking and remote wiping software or features.

  • Nude Selfies/Sex Tapes

Just don’t. But if you must, encrypt the files, lock them and don’t share them.

Your information can be used to rob, blackmail or humiliate you. People ignore information safety claiming they have nothing to hide. But it’s not about hiding; it’s about whether you make an easy target for a thief.

You don’t leave your home unlocked just because you have nothing to hide, do you? So why your phone?

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Have an Artistic Vibe? Checkout the Viber Design & Win Competition, Sri Lanka.

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Did you know that there are more than 5 million people in Sri Lanka that use Viber regularly? That’s almost 25% of Sri Lankans. So, the odds are that you’re a Viber user too. Realizing that Sri Lanka is a significant market, the cool guys (and girls) at Viber have decided to host a design contest in which participants, like you, hopefully, will have a chance to come up with their own cool and maybe even quirky Viber Stickers.

Viber is launching the contest after having massive success with their recently launched collection of Sri Lankan themed Viber Stickers. Did you know that there are 96 million Viber Stickers exchanged in Sri Lanka every month? How many Viber Stickers have you sent out so far this month?

If you’re a designer, illustrator, visual artist, student or just someone who likes to get creative, then this is a challenge you should take up. Viber is looking for local talent and the top 3 finalists will receive an Apple iPad. That’s one for each of them. They’ll also get the cool opportunity of becoming part of a panel of Official Designers of Viber Stickers in Sri Lanka. For the top 10 finalists, each will get a Certificate of Participation and have their stickers featured across the Viber Platform.

The only condition for entry is that you’ve got to be above 18 years of age and of course you need to have sticker design to submit :-P. Sketches or digital designs will need to be submitted as a photo, a .jpeg file or a scanned document. Along with that, you’ll need to include your name, a short description of the artwork and your mobile telephone number.

Submit your entries to partnerships.srilanka@viber.com on or before Monday the 12th of October 2016. Winners are scheduled to be announced by the 24th of October 2016.

See here for full details and entry guidelines. Good luck.

World Trade Comes To Sri Lanka – WEDF 2016 – 12th and 13th October 2016

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Are you a small or medium-sized business owner looking to make international connections and broaden your horizons? If so, WEDF 2016 may be just the platform for you. The World Export Development Forum (WEDF) is the flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC) and will be held in Colombo on the 12th and 13th of October 2016 in partnership with the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade of Sri Lanka through the Sri Lanka Export Development Board. The event is in its 16th edition.

The ITC is the only UN organization that focuses solely on small and medium-sized businesses, which are seen as a cornerstone for economic development by the UN, G7 and G20. WEDF will bring together more than 600 business leaders, policy makers, heads of trade and investment support institutions and international trade development officials. At WEDF 2015, small and medium-sized businesses signed declarations of intent valued at USD 80 million.

The theme of the event is, ‘Trade for Success: Connect, Compete, Change’. Sri Lanka fits in perfectly with this theme because over 80% of businesses in Sri Lanka are small and medium-sized businesses. Sri Lanka’s GDP growth has been resilient over the past several years at around 6.7%. The economy is driven by a skilled, educated workforce and Sri Lanka’s geographic location at a major crossroads of shipping routes in the Indian Ocean offers attractive investment opportunities.

Go to WEDF 2016 and you’ll get in touch with the latest consumer trends, business strategies and trade policies. You’ll be able to connect with experts on trade and gain a full understanding of standards, trade facilitation, logistics and related information. You’ll find solutions to overcome key barriers to trade, increase competitiveness and be able to sign new business deals with partners from Sri Lanka and the world. With high-level panel discussions, practical workshops and B2B meetings, WEDF 2016 is something we think that no discerning business person should miss out on.

The world of business is more exciting now than ever before. Did you know that by 2030, two-thirds of the world’s middle class will be in Asia? Yes, and we in Sri Lanka are right smack in the middle of it. Traditional markets are changing and the only way to keep up is by being current and meeting the right people.

Business today isn’t easy because the very nature of the consumer is changing. Consumers are now using their purchases to support what they believe in, quality, standards, labour rights, human rights and transparency. Added to this, digital technology has totally changed trade and opened up new opportunities and so trade and business policies must adapt to this new reality. How better than for business people and trade officials to meet with each other and, ‘connect, compete and change’?

If you are ready to Connect, Compete & Change, register for WEDF 2016, here.

A(SUS) Vs. A(pple)

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ASUS, the computer and mobile phone manufacturer, looks game, set and ready to tackle Apple’s range of ultraportable laptop computers with the new ZenBook 3. The machine is only now beginning to roll out and is due to be available to Sri Lankan consumers towards the end of September 2016. Despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to get our hands on a demo machine, but with the specs and performance ASUS is promising, the new ZenBook 3 is likely to be a game changer.

ASUS has not released a line of totally new ultra-portables for some time now, previous releases being merely upgrades. The ZenBook 3 will be a 12.5” clamshell ultraportable. It’ll come in different configurations but we found the machine with the top end specs to be stunning.

It’s 30% thinner than the MacBook Air, 9% thinner than the MacBook and features a 32 step spun-metal finished, uni-body made of an aerospace-grade alloy. It’ll be available in Royal Blue, Rose Gold and Quartz Gray, which we think is a bit more adventurous than Apple’s offering. It’s supposed to weigh in at around 900 grams.

Under the hood, the promised top end configuration of the ZenBook 3 is absolutely stunning. 6th Gen Intel Core i7 Processor, Intel Graphics, 16 GB of LPDDR3 RAM, 1 TB of SSD Storage and a brand new cooling system to deal with it all, along with all of the other usual features. The 12.5” full HD display claims to have a 178 degree viewing angle and is protected with Gorilla glass 3. It also boasts some super built-in audio with 2 stereo speakers and 2, 5-magnet speakers.

We are supposed to see a USB C port for peripheral connectivity/charging which can be expanded with ASUS’s Universal or Mini Docks.

The device is supposed to ship with the Windows 10 Platform pre-installed. Both Pro and Home versions are available. Other bells and whistles include a full size, edge-to-edge backlit keyboard and fingerprint recognition on the touchpad for use with Windows Hello.

While we haven’t been able to get our hands on an actual machine, based on our past experience with ASUS machines, we expect them to deliver a robustly built, sturdy piece of hardware that looks great. The display though, may not impress. Apple is likely to retain its glory in that area. ASUS tends to install lower quality displays and bump up performance with their Splendid software. A truly stunning display will be a pleasant surprise. Given their track record with audio though, this should be great. Also, for such a cool high end machine, a VGA webcam is a let-down.

We think the ZenBook 3 will bring serious competition for Apple and other ultra-portables. Running the Windows platform will give users the flexibility Apple doesn’t, along with the style that Apple does. We can’t wait to get our hands on one of these and have a go at it. The Lankan launch can’t come soon enough.

What’s App? Well, Losing Your Privacy

A Whatsapp App logo is seen behind a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone that is logged on to Facebook in the central Bosnian town of Zenica

Today, we live public lives in private. Face it. Someone could be watching you or listening to you right now and you’ve given them the keys to your world, whether you like it or not.

Sometime last week, WhatsApp changed its long standing privacy policy and will now share your telephone number with its parent, Facebook. Of course, you can opt out, but seriously, how many times have you clicked ‘agree’ without even reading the first word, let alone paragraph?

If you’ve done just that, know that until 30 days from the change, you can go to settings and still opt out. Opt in or out, we think that there are arguments for both sides, which we’ll take a look at here.

Ok, so with free online services, first know that you are not the client. You are the product. The client is an advertiser that pays for the ‘privilege’ to bombard you with their marketing material, solicited or otherwise.

If you opt in, you’ll get to know what’s happening around you and maybe even come across something you’d like and want to be a part of. If you opt out, well, there’ll still be plenty of people to sell things to you, who’ve gotten your personal information in less than savoury ways. At least WhatsApp is being nice about it. How many times have you received SMS messages from people you never gave your number to?

Besides, with all the stuff we post on Facebook and other social media, it’s likely that anyone with a computer can find out more about you with a simple Google search than is good for you.

From Facebook’s point of view, they’re quite entitled to this new change. Nobody pays 19 billion dollars for fun. 2 years after acquiring it, it’s no surprise that Facebook is looking to monetize WhatsApp.

Ultimately, it comes down to a moral question of whether it is right for large organisations to share your personal information willy-nilly. The truth is that your information is out there anyway for anyone to find.

Online advertising and its methods are a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s a miracle. People can sell you stuff you’re likely to buy, wasting less of your time and theirs. But on the flip side, your personal information is being traded like a commodity.

People will say, ‘so what, we have nothing to hide’. The moral argument, however, is that just because we have nothing to hide does not mean that we should live in glass houses. The real, painful questions are these, what if someday you do have something to hide, but nowhere to hide it and are you really comfortable with what anyone can find out about you with a simple Google search?