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    Oracle’s TikTok acquisition reportedly “shelved” indefinitely / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 10 February - 18:15

A casually dressed young woman shrugs while holding the logos of two competing companies.

Enlarge / ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images )

The weird deal Oracle arranged at the behest of the Trump administration to buy TikTok without actually acquiring it has been permanently back-burnered, according to a new report.

The transaction, which has gone effectively nowhere since it was first announced, is now "shelved," the ever-popular "people familiar with the situation" told The Wall Street Journal . This effectively puts an end to a saga that played out over many months and many tweets.

Back in August 2020 (roughly a hundred years ago, it now feels like), former President Donald Trump issued an executive order declaring TikTok and another China-based app, WeChat, to be a "national emergency." A week later, a second order ( PDF ) gave TikTok's parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, 90 days to divest the app to a US owner or cease operations in the States.

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    Update Your Slack Passwords Now, Android Users / LifehackerAustralia · Tuesday, 9 February - 20:37 · 1 minute

Over the weekend, some Slack Android users received a seemingly random email urging them to update their passwords. The email claims a bug in the Android app incorrectly logged password data as plaintext that could be easily scooped up by hackers.

I don’t blame you if you ignored the email — it has many signs of a phishing scam — but it’s legit. Android Police confirmed with multiple Slack representatives that the emails originated from Slack, the security issues are real, and the links within the message are safe to click. While there’s no evidence passwords have been stolen or accounts hacked, Slack is proactively asking users to update their passwords.

Slack’s email includes instructions for changing your password and clearing your app cache, but it’s unclear if all affected users were alerted, so it’s wise for anyone using Slack on Android to follow the company’s suggestions, even if they didn’t get the email. Here’s what you need to do:

First, update your password with the link in Slack’s email, or under your account settings on Slack’s website.

Next, make sure you have the right version of Slack installed. This part is simple: If Slack works on your phone, you have the right version; if not, you can safely download the latest build from Google Play. Google removed the bugged version of the app from Google Play, which also disabled it on devices that had previously downloaded it, so there’s no risk in using the app anymore.

With the correct version of Slack installed on your device, the last step is to clear the app’s data cache to ensure the improperly-stored password data is removed. There are two ways to do this:

( Note: Clearing the app cache logs you out of Slack, so make sure you sign back in afterward.)

  1. In your Android settings, g o to Settings > Apps > Slack > Storage and select “ Clear Data or Storage .
  2. Long-press the Slack icon from your app launcher. Tap App Info , then Storage , then select “Clear Data or Storage.”

The post Update Your Slack Passwords Now, Android Users appeared first on Lifehacker Australia .

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    Is Not Wearing a Mask on a Flight Worth $US250 ($324) to You? / LifehackerAustralia · Tuesday, 9 February - 15:30 · 1 minute

At this point in the pandemic, we shouldn’t need to tell you (again) why it’s important to wear a face mask while on a plane. This is not a new concept — but what is new is the fine structure the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on Friday.

If wearing a mask to protect yourself from getting infected and/or for the greater good wasn’t motivation enough, maybe the risk of a fine will be. Here’s what to know.

How TSA will implement the federal mask mandate

Many airlines have had policies requiring passengers to wear face masks since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, unlike after 9/11, when there were federal mandates requiring significant changes to airport security, individual airlines haven’t been held to an industry standard.

That changed on February 2, 2021, when President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating face masks across all transportation sectors went into effect. This mask mandate will be enforced starting when you drop off checked baggage at an airline’s desk or proceed through the TSA security screening process. There are two exceptions: for children under the age of 2, as well as for people with disabilities who are unable to wear a face mask.

How the fine structure works

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask at the TSA checkpoint will not be permitted to proceed to the terminal and gate area, and will be subject to a civil penalty. On Feb. 5, the TSA announced that the civil penalty will be enforced in the form of fines — starting at $US250 ($324) for a person’s first offence, and going up to $US1,500 ($1,946) for repeat offenders.

However, there appears to be a little wiggle room for the TSA: “Based on substantial aggravating or mitigating factors, TSA may seek a sanction amount that falls outside these ranges,” the agency said in a statement.

TSA has also provided instructions to airlines and other transportation system operators for how to report violations to the mask mandate so it can issue penalties when necessary.

The post Is Not Wearing a Mask on a Flight Worth $US250 ($324) to You? appeared first on Lifehacker Australia .

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    How To Discreetly Report Safety Issues on the Uber App Mid-Trip / LifehackerAustralia · Tuesday, 9 February - 03:03 · 1 minute

In an update that is likely to be quite encouraging for ride-share users, Uber has announced that as of February 9, 2021 (i.e. today) the service will have a new safety feature available to its customers .

The new On-Trip Reporting feature enables passengers to alert the business of any behaviour that leaves them feeling uncomfortable as their ride unfolds. While the app has inbuilt systems designed to address urgent circumstances already, this new function would seemingly act as a means of supporting passengers with issues that are not emergencies, but still deserve attention.

In a statement on the news, Uber wrote:

“Aussies will now be able to discreetly and conveniently report non-emergency safety issues through the app on a trip, instead of waiting until after the trip has ended. Perhaps your driver is manoeuvring carelessly around traffic or driving a little too fast for your comfort levels?”

The ride-share app stated that its research indicates passengers don’t always report “uncomfortable experiences” post-ride because once a trip is over, the details of it may no longer be front of mind. This new approach is designed to curtail that hole in the passenger’s safety experience.

So, how do you use on-trip reporting?

Once on your trip, if something leaves you feeling a little off , simply visit the app’s Safety Toolkit and select the “report safety incident” option (tap on the blue shield icon).

From here, you’ll be able to report a non-emergency safety issue to the app. This will get you a follow up from Uber’s Safety Team post-trip.

If you’d like more guidance, check out the explainer video on the new feature below:

For emergency situations, Uber asks that you contact their safety team by using the Emergency Assistance button in the app.

On-trip reporting joins existing safety features in-app Emergency Assistance button (referenced above), the Share My Trip function, Check Your Ride push notifications, and the option to Verify My Ride with a pin code while riding.

The post How To Discreetly Report Safety Issues on the Uber App Mid-Trip appeared first on Lifehacker Australia .

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    Why You Should Pay More Attention To Your Online Privacy / LifehackerAustralia · Monday, 8 February - 22:12 · 3 minutes

A sense of apathy is causing Australians to place themselves in harm’s way when it comes to online threats. While Aussies are aware that protecting their privacy online is important, they show a distinct lack of vigilance when it comes to actually putting that awareness into action.

What Is Windows BlueKeep And Do We Need To Freak Out?

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According to Norton Australia’s Project 360 Data Report, 93 per cent of Australians surveyed agree that online privacy is important to them, but only one in four surveyed (28 per cent) uses a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This leaves them vulnerable to cyber criminals seeking access to the data being sent to and from their devices and can act as a welcome mat for malware.

While 83 per cent of Aussies surveyed agree they are concerned about the level of privacy they have when online, self-protection can be quickly compromised when they are faced with a little inconvenience. For example, while more than half of Australians (55 per cent) do not believe their information will be safe while using a public Wi-Fi network, almost the same figure (53 per cent) would risk using public Wi-Fi without a VPN to avoid additional charges on their phone bill.

This is troubling, as the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi networks unprotected can be immense – attackers will often create fake Wi-Fi hotspots purporting to be legitimate networks to catch unsuspecting users.

While a VPN would help to reduce risk by automatically switching on whenever the user accesses public Wi-Fi, even without this protection almost half of Australians surveyed(44 per cent) confess they would risk their personal data being compromised by connecting to public Wi-Fi if it was more convenient than finding a secured connection.

This is particularly true of the younger generations’ digital natives, who are so at home in the online world that they can be unwilling to take potential risks seriously, with 56 per cent of Gen Z and 53 per cent of Millennials willing to risk compromising their personal data to access public Wi-Fi, compared with just 36 per cent of Boomers and 38 per cent of Gen X.

Below are some tips Australians can follow to help protect themselves:

  • Use a VPN to help ensure your privacy and anonymity are protected when you use public Wi-Fi. A VPN can help encrypt the data that you send and receive while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, preventing it from being intercepted or tracked.
  • Turn off automatic connectivity. Most smartphones, laptops, and tablets have automatic connectivity settings, which allow you to seamlessly connect from one hotspot to the next. This is a convenient feature, but it can also connect your devices to networks you ordinarily would not use. Keep these settings turned off, especially when you’re traveling to unfamiliar places.
  • Don’t shop online when using public Wi-Fi. Sure, shopping doesn’t seem like it involves sensitive data, but making purchases online requires personal information that could include bank account and retailer login credentials. As a rule, it is best to avoid accessing bank accounts or sensitive personal data on unsecured public networks.

Mark Gorrie is Norton LifeLock’s ANZ Security Expert.

The Five Best VPNs For 2019

We last updated our list of best VPN providers in early 2018, but a lot has changed since then. Some popular choices have fallen out of favour of late, so we've had a look at what VPN users in Australia are recommending now and which services they have moved from.

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This article was originally published in January 2020.

The post Why You Should Pay More Attention To Your Online Privacy appeared first on Lifehacker Australia .

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    How Does Google’s Rumored Android Anti-Tracking Feature Compare To iOS? / FossBytes · Saturday, 6 February - 12:47 · 2 minutes

Google Android Anti-Tracking Feature

It’s possible in the coming future that we might witness the launch of an Android anti-tracking feature from Google in the wake of the privacy features being implemented by Apple in the iOS 14 update.

To recall, Apple’s iOS anti-tracking features have become a controversial topic and have faced a backlash from tech giants like Facebook. The reason — it might take a toll on the ad revenue generated by internet companies and developers. These advertisements enable us to use their services for free.

But at the same time, the privacy buzzword has become more visible than ever and people are concerned about how and where their data is being used. That’s why, as reported by Bloomberg , Google is also following Apple’s footsteps and reportedly having internal discussions on anti-tracking features for Android.

What are the rumored Android Anti-Tracking Features?

As per reports, the upcoming anti-tracking features for Android will limit the tracking being done for ad targeting. While the exact details remain uncovered, the company is expected to reduce cross-app tracking and data collection on devices.

How will it be different from Apple’s privacy features?

Google, being a company whose bread and butter depends on the ad business, is obviously expected to keep its Android anti-tracking feature less policing than iOS. For example, Android may not provide an opt-out option to the users to prevent cross-app tracking, thereby, seesawing between users’ privacy needs and the tracking features needed for ad targeting.

The search giant has previously emphasized that Apple’s privacy features might have a “significant impact” on developer revenue. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Google would go to the same extent when (or if) the feature gets implemented.

“We’re always looking for ways to work with developers to raise the bar on privacy while enabling a healthy, ad-supported app ecosystem,” a Google spokesperson said.

Google is already working on some privacy features for its web browser Chrome, which includes doing away with third-party cookies. These cookies are often used to track user activities across websites, which, in turn, fuel the ad business.

The search giant has said in the past that it would phase out third-party cookies on Chrome over the next couple of years. It’s working on an alternative called Privacy Sandbox that will rely on less-specific data collection.

Nonetheless, creating a fence on its own seems to be a wiser move than waiting for the lawmakers to step in who might introduce something harsh enough to upset the tech giants.

What does all of this mean for the end-user?

It’s now an established fact that tech companies rely heavily on cross-device user tracking and the resulting ad revenue to continue offering free services. They want to keep it free in order to attract more userbase and choose to charge the businesses promoting products and services. Since the end users have become more vigilant over the years, ad companies will have to loosen their grip on the data a little. Also, won’t these businesses pass on the extra cash expense onto our shoulders?

So, what’s the end game to achieve privacy? While the closest thing is going for the paid model, but the question still needs an answer. Maybe, for now, limiting the ad tracking will allow the existing systems to continue to work as intended.

The post How Does Google’s Rumored Android Anti-Tracking Feature Compare To iOS? appeared first on Fossbytes .

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    Chrome users have faced 3 security concerns over the past 24 hours / ArsTechnica · Friday, 5 February - 21:21

Chrome users have faced 3 security concerns over the past 24 hours

(credit: Chrome )

Users of Google’s Chrome browser have faced three security concerns over the past 24 hours in the form of a malicious extension with more than 2 million users, a just-fixed zero-day, and new information about how malware can abuse Chrome's sync feature to bypass firewalls. Let’s discuss them one by one.

First up, the Great Suspender, an extension with more than 2 million downloads from the Chrome Web Store, has been pulled from Google servers and deleted from users’ computers. The extension has been an almost essential tool for users with small amounts of RAM on their devices. Since Chrome tabs are known to consume large amounts of memory, the Great Suspender temporarily suspends tabs that haven’t been opened recently. That allows Chrome to run smoothly on systems with modest resources.

Characteristically terse

Google's official reason for the removal is characteristically terse. Messages displayed on devices that had the extension installed say only, “This extension contains malware” along with an indication that it has been removed. A Google spokesman declined to elaborate.

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    North Korea hackers use social media to target security researchers / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 26 January - 16:04

North Korea hackers use social media to target security researchers

Enlarge (credit: Dmitry Nogaev | Getty Images)

Google has warned it has uncovered an “ongoing” state-backed hacking campaign run by North Korea targeting cyber security researchers.

The Silicon Valley group said its threat analysis team found that cyber attackers posing as researchers had created numerous fake social media profiles on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. To gain credibility, they also had set up a fake blog for which they would get unwitting targets to write guest posts about actual software bugs.

After establishing communication with an actual researcher, the attackers would ask the target to work together on cyber vulnerability research and then share collaboration tools containing malicious code to install malware on the researcher’s systems.

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