Thursday, 10 March 2011

"SmartPhones" Security

If you have a Blackberry or an iPhone/iPad (or you have younger family members who do) there are some apps that you can download to locate your device if it is lost or stolen.

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone is now free for anyone with an iPhone 4, iPad, or 4th generation iPod touch (and older iPhones - iOS 4.2 required). Just sign in with your Apple ID on your qualifying device and turn on Find My iPhone to enable your device to be located. Then use the same account to enable Find My iPhone on your other iOS 4.2 devices including iPhone 3G, 3GS, or iPod touch (2nd generation or later). Find My iPhone is also included in the paid MobileMe subscription.

If you lose your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch while on the go, simply install the Find My iPhone app on another iOS device, launch it, and sign in with your Apple ID (Find My iPhone must already be configured on the missing device).

You’ll see your device’s location on a map and you can choose to have it display a message or play a sound, remotely lock the device, or wipe it to permanently delete all of your data if you think that it won’t be returned. For added security, the app will automatically sign you out after 15 minutes, or you can manually sign out at any time.

• Locate your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch on a map
• Display a message and optionally play a sound for two minutes at full volume (even if your device is set to silent)
• Remotely set a passcode lock on your device, or lock it using your existing passcode
• Remotely wipe your device to permanently erase all of your personal data

Please note that you must first set up and turn on Find My iPhone on each device you want to locate (installing this app is not required).

iOS 4.2 and iPhone 4, iPad, or iPod touch (4th generation) for free Find My iPhone
iOS 3.1.3 or later for paid MobileMe accounts

Find my blackberry

Software: E-GPS (via blackberry app world)
An application for the BlackBerry(R) Smartphone. If you have ever lost, misplaced or had your phone stolen, or want to cover yourself in case it happens in the future, then this is the app for you.

It allows you to remotely send a command to your phone that will have your phone email you, its GPS location, your address book with all your contact information, as well as remotely wipe your phone and SD card to protect all of your information. Also if you have misplaced your phone at home or office, you can send an alert command, and have it ring, even if the sounds are turned completely off or set to vibrate. Once downloaded and activated, it runs in the background, and works by command, through email or SMS.

How it works:
Once you Enable the program, you can send remote commands to your phone to make it back up your contacts, send its GPS location, sound an alert even when your phone is muted/on vibrate (so that you can locate it), as well as remotely wipe the phone and memory card.
The commands are as follows:
contactsxxxx (where xxxx is the pin you set) - to back up your contacts to your email.
locationxxxx (where xxxx is the pin you set) - to send the GPS location of the phone.
alertxxxx (where xxxx is the pin you set) - to sound an alert so you can locate your phone.
wipexxxx (where xxxx is the pin you set) - to remotely wipe your phone and SD card.
The commands can be sent via SMS or email.
Other useful software (via blackberry app world) : Where's My Phonee, BlackBerry ER--Recover Your Stolen BlackBerry, Berry Locator, BuddyGuard, Roblock Anti , Theft Recovery, Tyfish Safe and Secure, Cell Seeker, Guppa, PhoneBasics, e-Mobile GPS FindMe

Thursday, 3 March 2011

ASO is coming - and so are the cowboys ...

ASO? Analogue Switch Off, part of the DSO - Digital Switch Over - process which happens in Redbridge next year.

As the ASO/DSO process has moved from area to area around the country, there is evidence to suggest that vast sums of money are being extorted from those most vulnerable - many, but by no means all, elderly - with the veiled threat that they will lose all TV reception if they do not do so.

This example of the kind of thing we can expect comes from Bill Wright, a long established aerial installer 'oop north' and acknowledged expert in the field:

In Yorkshire we have DSO in few months, so all the old people have had a fat and important looking envelope through the letter-box telling them about the help scheme. Although the thing is not worded to cause alarm, it is causing confusion and already the reports of outrageous rip-offs by aerial firms are coming in.

A friend rung me tonight to tell me that his mum and dad had paid £300 for a 'digital aerial', and did I think it was 'reasonable'? I did not, because they live 11 miles from Emley Moor near Barnsley and my memories of the area (I used to fix aerials for Barnsley DER) tell me that you can see the mast from their front door.

Apparently other people in the bungalow complex have also had 'very big' aerials fitted, all by the same local installer. Trading Standards will be informed.

An installer near here has been leafletting all the council bungalows in his village, offering 'digital aerials' at £150. The leaflet does not say that to continue without such an aerial will result in a blank screen at switch-off, but there's a clear implication.

The following happened over the weekend. Having received the fat and important looking envelope two elderly friends of my wife's decided to buy a new TV set. Being old and stubborn they didn't bother to discuss it with anyone. The existing TV set was analogue-only, but perfectly all right. The new TV set arrived and was installed by the delivery man for a fee. Having tuned-in the TV set he demonstrated five channels and said that if they wanted the extra digital channels they would need a new aerial. He then gave them the mobile phone number of an aerial installer and went on his way.

Only then did they ring my wife to ask her what she thought. She told them I'd pop round, which I did. Well, we both did. Little china cups and digestive biscuits...

The new telly was tuned for analogue, but pressing the A/D button gave a message to the effect that the set had never been tuned in. That little squirt from xxxxxxxx must have deliberately done an analogue tune only, so that his mate could go round and sell an aerial. I did the digital install and demonstrated the channels.

Of course the old pair were so wound up they were reluctant to let me escape without replacing the aerial! I had to promise that if they had any problems I would go back and fit a new one, despite the one they had being only two years old. If it hadn't been for the chance that they they were friends with my wife I think they would have shelled out for a totally unnecessary new aerial. They were gagging for it. I wanted to report all this to the head office of the shop, but the old pair pleaded with me not to. Anyway, I now have a nice Sony CRT set sitting in the shed. Any takers?

The government's attitude has always been that rip-offs are 'collateral damage' and are unavoidable. Could you all spread the word about this, warning any vulnerable people you know? It isn't just the elderly; the adult mentally handicapped living independently are also targets.



There is a government help scheme for those aged over 75 but the government's own web site isn't exactly helpful with what must be the smallest print of any web page on the internet!

A 16 page leaflet from Help the Aged, now Age UK, who have recently released an 11 page updated version may still confuse many, who will become prime targets for anybody offering what appears to be an easy way out - at a (substantial) cost.

Nobody in this area who has reasonable reception of the analogue channels but has, so far, resisted the idea of upgrading to digital, should need to spend more than about £20 for a digital set top box and, despite what they might hear, There - Is - No - Such - Thing - As - A - Digital - Aerial, so they won't need one!

If you know any neighbours, friends or relatives who you think might fall into the vulnerable category, now might be the time to broach the subject - before the cowboys start rounding them up!