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How to defend your Android

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This year has seen some of the biggest hacks in history and all digital devices, if unprotected, become one of the easiest data breach targets for an average hacker. NordVPN offers some of the best Android security apps.

This year has seen some of the biggest hacks in history. For example, Yahoo, who admitted one of the largest breaches last year, announced about another hack in February, which might have affected millions of users. Gmail has been experiencing a large-scale sophisticated phishing scam, and even CNN was hacked.  If big organizations with sophisticated security systems can be broken into, what about any ordinary Internet user?

All digital devices, if unprotected, become one of the easiest data breach targets for an average hacker.

Here’s the list of the hottest security apps for Android in 2017:

Signal is an encrypted messaging and voice calling app that provides end-to-end encryption to secure all communications. The app can also verify the identity of people one is messaging with and the integrity of the channel they are using. When texting with non-Signal users, one has an option to invite them to an encrypted conversation via Signal.

NordVPN (Virtual Private Network provider) is a must-have encryption app. A VPN encrypts the data shared across the Internet, and is the best security mechanism to ensure the Internet traffic remains confidential. NordVPN has a reputation of focusing on security and having a zero logs policy, is fast and easy to use. The developers at NordVPN have launched a powerful new VPN app for Android devices  that is also intuitive and good-looking. The new Android app re-routes and encrypts all Internet traffic making the connection private and secured. For added security, NordVPN offers Tor over VPN and DoubleVPN servers.

Applock is an app that locks down various apps and protects a user’s phone from snooping by a curious co-worker or children. Users activate the app and enter a pin to protect their apps, including photos, Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, SMS and others.

Norton Identity Safe simplifies the task of remembering complex passwords: it saves all usernames and passwords and syncs them across Android devices. The app then securely stores all passwords in an encrypted Vault that only the user can access. Secure passwords can be created within the app. The app also allows for faster checkout as it fills in forms with the user’s bank information. Before visiting any website, Norton Identity Safe shows if it’s safe.

my Secure email is an email app for managing various email accounts from various providers, which puts security first.  It offers encryption of sent emails, lock screen, password-protected digital signature and more.

DuckDuckGo is for those who want more private browsing experience. It’s a search engine that provides information from hundreds of sources, and keeps the search private.

Smart Hide Calculator is an app for storing user’s private photos, videos, notes, contacts and other sensitive data behind an innocent-looking calculator app. Everyone will think it’s just a simple calculator!

Avira Antivirus Pro protects your Android device from malicious apps, banking Trojans, and other mobile threats. It comes with anti-virus scanner, app lock and even phone finder.

Remote Phone Access app saves anyone who forgets their Android smartphone at some location and need to control it remotely. The app locks the phone and restricts unauthorized access, allows to receive phone call and SMS alerts to an email address and can remotely turn on any Internet activity.

NoRoot Firewall is an Android firewall app that helps manage outgoing Internet connections by allowing the user to grant or block access to all apps, one at a time. The user can allow or deny access based on IP address, host name or domain name.

Since most of the our valuable information is stored online, it’s important to know that it’s secure. Besides security and privacy apps, everyone should use common sense when sharing information on their devices, encrypt when using public Wi-Fi and always use strong passwords.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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