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Something on the Side: Improved accuracy with Apple’s Pencil

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In his overview of the latest tech accessories, SEAN BACHER highlights Apple’s Pencil, Plugz Bluetooth Earbuds, Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse, Dynamic Virtual Viewer and the BSX LVL fitness tracker.

Apple Pencil

Although pens or pencils for tablets are nothing new, Apple’s pressure sensitive Pencil offers a touch of style to the tablet. It was designed to work specifically with the recently launched iPad Pro, meaning that the iPad’s screen recognises when the Pencil is in use and becomes more sensitive and accurate than when using normal fingers. When the Pencil is in use the screen automatically blocks out any other screen inputs, so users can rest their hands on the display and draw or write much like they would do with an ordinary pen and paper. The Pencil’s battery status is shown on the iPad’s screen and it is charged directly through the tablet’s Thunderbolt port.

Stockists: www.zastore.co.za

Expect to pay: R2 000

 

Plugz Bluetooth Earbuds

As the name suggests, the Plugz Bluetooth Earbuds connect to most Bluetooth phones and tablets. The earbuds include a magnetic control that clips to a shirt or collar, and it can be used to control volume, answer calls or skip tracks. Although these earbuds are advertised as being wireless, they are not entirely so. Running from the left and right earbud are wires that connect to the control unit, so wires will still get caught and earbuds accidentally yanked from ears. Included with the Plugz are three interchangeable ear tips – allowing the listener to find the size that fits his or her ear.

Stockists: www.takealot.com

Expect to pay: R500

 

Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse

The Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse is designed to offer long-lasting comfort thanks to its lightweight, ergonomic design. Rubber grips on the left and right sides give gamers added control and the 10g removable weight lets one adjust the mouse’s weight. The G403 mouse has button tensioning that helps keep the left and right buttons primed to click, reducing the force required to click and delivering improved responsiveness. The mouse can be used directly out-of-the-box or, with the included software, users can fully customise lighting, button functions and DPI settings.

Stockists: Most electronics retail outlets nationwide.

Expect to pay: R1 000

 

Dynamic Virtual Viewer

The Dynamic Virtual Viewer is a virtual reality headset that works with most newer smartphones and, unlike other VR headsets, uses a fan to keep the smartphone from overheating during long periods of use. Once it is connected to the phone, users can watch videos in full VR and play VR games. Automatic eye distance and focal adjustment mechanisms are provided to give an optimal viewing experience with little strain on the eyes. The headset also uses anti-misting lenses and offers a headphone jack.

Stockists: www.gammatek.co.za

Expect to pay: R500

 

BSX LVL fitness tracker and hydration monitor

Fitness trackers have got to the point where most of them perform the same functions. However, while the BSX LVL fitness tracker monitors all the usual stuff like steps taken, heart rate and sleep cycles, it goes one further and measures the wearer’s hydration level. It is able to do this because of its near-infrared light or NIRS, which is said to be able to “look” 10 times deeper into the body than the standard green light found on other trackers. This allows it to measure hydration levels in the blood, match them with an athlete’s current activity, and provide an accurate measure of how much fluid should be taken at that time. The BSX LVL tracker launched earlier this month on Kickstarter, and the company says the tracker will be available at the end of this year.

Stockists: Visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lactate-threshold/lvl-the-first-wearable-hydration-monitor for up-to-date information on the product and its progress.

Expect to pay: Although not confirmed yet, BSX says the price will be in the region of R3 000.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Wannacry still alive

One and a half years after its epidemic, WannaCry ransomware tops the list of the most widespread cryptor families and the ransomware has attacked 74,621 unique users worldwide.

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These attacks accounted for 28.72% of all users targeted by cryptors in Q3 2018. The percentage has risen over the last year, demonstrating more than two thirds growth against Q3 2017, when its share in cryptor attacks was 16.78%. This is just one of the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q3 IT threat evolution report. 

A series of cyberattacks with WannaCry cryptor occurred in May 2017 and is still considered to be one of the biggest ransomware epidemics in history. Even though Windows released a patch for its operating system to close the vulnerability exploited by EternalBlue 2 months prior to the start of the attacks, WannaCry still affected hundreds of thousands devices around the globe. As cryptors do, WannaCry turned files on victims’ computers into encrypted data and demanded ransom for decryption keys (created by threat actors to decipher the files and transform them back into the original data) making it impossible to operate the infected device.

The consequences of the WannaCry epidemic were devastating: as the victims were mainly organisations with networked systems – the work of businesses, factories and hospitals was paralysed. Even though this case demonstrated the dangers cryptors pose, and most of PCs around the world have been updated to resist the EternalBlue exploit, the statistics show that criminals still try to exploit those computers that weren’t patched and there are still plenty of them around the globe.

Overall, Kaspersky Lab security solution protected 259,867 unique users from cryptors attacks, showing a substantial rise of 39% since Q2 2018, when the figure was 158,921. The growth was rapid yet steady, with a monthly observed increase in the number of users.

The rising share of WannaCry attacks is another reminder that epidemics don’t end as fast as they start – there are always long-running consequences. In the case of cryptors, attacks can be so severe that it is necessary to take preventive measures and patch the device, rather than deal with encrypted files later,” said Fedor Sinitsyn, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

 To reduce the risk of infection by WannaCry and other cryptors, users are advised to:

  • Always update your operating system to eliminate recent vulnerabilities and use a robust security solution with updated databases. It is also important to use the security solution that has specialised technologies to protect your data from ransomware, as Kaspersky Lab’s solutions do. Even if the newest yet unknown malware does manage to sneak through, Kaspersky Lab’s System Watcher technology is able to block and roll back all malicious changes made on a device, including the encryption of files.
  • If you have bad luck and all your files are encrypted with cryptomalware, it is not recommended to pay cybercriminals, as it encourages them to continue their dirty business and infect more people’s devices. It is better to find a decryptor on the Internet – some of them are available for free here: https://noransom.kaspersky.com/

·         It is also important to always have fresh backup copies of your files to be able to replace them in case they are lost (e.g. due to malware or a broken device), and store them not only on the physical object but also in cloud storage for greater reliability (don’t forget to protect your cloud storage with strong hack-proof password!)

·         If you’re a business, enhance your preferred third-party security solution with the newest version of the free Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool.

·         To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees and IT teams, keep sensitive data separate, restrict access, and always back up everything.

·         Use a dedicated security solution, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business that is powered by behaviour detection and able to roll back malicious actions. It should also include Vulnerability and Patch management features that automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and installs updates. This reduces the risk of vulnerabilities in popular software being used by cybercriminals.

·         Last, but not least, remember that ransomware is a criminal offence. You shouldn’t pay. If you become a victim, report it to your local law enforcement agency.

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Nokia 6.1 gets slice of Pie

HMD Global has announced that the Nokia 6.1 will start receiving Android 9 Pie – the second smartphone in the portfolio to receive the latest version of Android less than a month after the update arrived on the Nokia 7 plus.

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Packed with Google’s newest software and building on the features of Android 8.0 Oreo, Android 9 Pie’s focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning gives owners a more customised and tailored experience.

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 Mobile Platform, the Nokia 6.1 is over 60% faster than its predecessor. Also, now offering enhanced Dual-Sight, ZEISS optics, USB-C fast-charging, Nokia spatial audio and pure, secure and up-to-date Android Oreo.

The Nokia 6.1 has been selected by Google to join the Android One family and therefore users get exclusive access to Apps Actions – a feature only available to Android One and Google Pixel devices.  App Actions helps users get things done faster by predicting their next move and displaying the right action on right away.

Now with Android 9 Pie, the Nokia 6.1’s already impressive battery life is further complimented with the introduction of Adaptive Battery, an update that uses deep learning to understand usage patterns and prioritise battery power on the most important apps.

Other key features of Android 9

·       Slices – Identifies relevant information on favourite apps to make them more easily accessible when needed

·       Adaptive Brightness – Automatically adapts phone brightness by learning from interactions with different settings

·       New system navigation – Features a single home button that provides intelligent predictions and suggestions (user enabled)

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