Your Phone, Tablet, and Computer Screens Aren’t Safe from Hackers

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Pixels on your gadgets’ screens act as accidental antennae that constantly broadcast screens’ contents. A new paper says the industry needs to fix this security risk before hackers can exploit it.

This hack is possible because the internals of every computing device we own give off electromagnetic radiation. It leaks from the cables and circuitry that carry the display signal from the processor to the screen, and it’s even emitted by the screen pixels themselves. These pixels [Correct? Else what?] become accidental antennas that transmit the display signal into our surroundings—one that a would-be hacker could tune into.

via AGU Highlights – Radio Science – Your Phone, Tablet, and Computer Screens Aren’t Safe from Hackers

DOI: 10.1002/2016RS006034

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Hack Academy – French Awareness Project on Online Security

Video

Below are 4 interesting videos for the “Hack Academy” raising people’s awareness on the basic techniques “crackers”, rather than “hackers”, use to exploit you.

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Purism introduces the “Pure OS” and its “Pure” privacy-respecting laptops

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Purism Offers Free (as in Freedom) Laptops (Video)

Purism uses its own OS, PureOS, which is a Debian derivative by way of Ubuntu and other members of the Debian-derivative family, but with no taint of proprietary code. Now imagine all the binaries stripped out of the Linux kernel, making it closer to the FSF ideal of a 100% free operating system than the Linux kernel in use almost everywhere else.

They’re still using a proprietary BIOS, but have people working on a Free one. The main thing, though, is that Purism is working to give you all the privacy and freedom they can — with more coming as they keep working to replace proprietary bits of the OS, BIOS, and hardware drivers with Free Software. Best of all, even if you don’t need a new laptop right now, you can download PureOS and run it on any compatible hardware you already own.

This is something nice to hear. What’s even more appealing is the hardware switches for the microphone/webcam and bluetooth/wireless and the focus on the screen hinges.

PS: The 15″ model doesn’t come with an RJ45 but does come with a usb adapter, as per the website.

Official Website

When power is provided, all hardware components spin up, and load the firmware they have burned onto them, such as the hard drive or solid state drive, the BIOS then loads firmware for additional components, be that the memory controller, system management controller, embedded controller, USB, and/or GPU. At this point the BIOS hands off to a boot loader, Purism uses GRUB, which is a completely free boot loader. A boot loader is the first software program that runs when a computer starts. It is responsible for loading and transferring control to the operating system kernel software, Purism uses a completely free version of Linux. The kernel, in turn, initializes the rest of the operating system, Purism uses a completely free version of GNU. GNU allows for thousands of free software applications to run on top of it, and the distribution that Purism uses to bundle completely free software applications is Trisquel.

Stagefright Android MMS Vulnerability (July 2015)

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A security researcher discovered a vulnerability in the Android MMS system which could be exploited to control Android phones without the user doing anything. It was reported to Google in April and a patch was release.

Unfortunately, as is the case with most manufacturers, the Android system rarely gets more than one or two upgrades.

The vulnerability affects Androids 2.2 to 5.1.1 which is the majority of smartphones currently in use.

To reduce the risk of being exploited you should disable MMS auto-retrieval in you SMS app, Hangouts app, and any other apps that deal with your SMS & MMS. To do this go into the settings of each app and disable MMS auto-retrieval. See the images below as a demonstration as well as the link at the end of the post.

For more on the topic and to stay updated follow the topic on Quora and these threads & articles:

Stagefright Android MMS Vulnerability (July 2015): What is Stagefright Android MMS vulnerability?

How do I protect my Android phone from the Stagefright vulnerability? FAQ

How To: Protect your Android device from the MMS-hack (Stagefright exploit)

Latest news about Stagefright

Online Security: Rules to stay safe online

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Some basic rules of thumb to use when online to increase your safety online, ordered in order of

  • General
    • Never open or reply to any email from an unknown. Consider it suspicious.
    • Never click a link given by a stranger or even by a friend if you’ve not asked for it.
  • Browser related
    • Disable redirects (links might redirect you to fake pages!)
    • Use HTTPS instead of plain HTTP
    • Block JavaScript & Java
    • Block Ads
    • Block 3rd parties in web pages (most of which are hidden)
    • Control cross-site requests
    • Erase internet history, private data, cookies
    • Erase Flash Local Shared Objects (LSO), also known as long-term Super-Cookies

Note: Pages might not load well enough with the above; you will often need to allow some services & parties, but at least its under your control!

  • Chatting
    • Follow the “General”
    • Use a good Instant Messenger
    • Use encryption

And remember, a computer is as smart as its user is & secure as cautious its user is!

Disclaimer: Please be warned that following the above rules increases your online security but it is by no means guaranteed to be completely safe! As a matter of fact, there’s nothing as being completely safe online!

Thanks for reading

last update: 2013-09-15