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ESET closes the window for webcam hackers

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Security software maker ESET has rolled out new Internet security products for home users, becoming one of the first to include specific Webcam protection.

In June this year, a photo of Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, taken when he was celebrating his growing user base on Instagram, sparked massive interest.  An eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed that, in the background, one of the most powerful men in tech had his laptop camera and microphone covered in tape.  Why? Because even a man like Zuckerberg is not immune to security breaches.

With a new line of products rolled out last week, security software company ESET has emphasised the need for privacy while operating PCs and laptops. ESET Webcam Protection, available with ESET Smart Security Premium and ESET Internet Security, regulates access to the camera so users are fully protected.  They will be able to see and block or allow processes and applications, as well as turning off the computer’s camera so processes won’t be able to access it.

People who are not billionaire or CEOs are not without risk. The threat of people scanning the internet for accessible webcams results from a range of motives, from voyeurism to extortion. This has been one of the most popular types of malware on every operating system for a while.

These threats are addressed directly in ESET’s premium line of security solutions for home users launched in South Africa last week. It includes ESET Smart Security Premium, built upon its award-winning NOD32 technology that offers the best mix of detection, speed, and usability.

The new ESET product portfolio for home users has many proven features, such as Banking & Payment Protection,  Antispyware, Anti-Phishing, Exploit Blocker, advanced Personal Firewall, and the ESET LiveGrid Reputation System.

“As internet threats get more diverse, users need more complex internet security features based on individual preferences,” says Steve Flynn, an ESET director. “Our new product portfolio fully reflects this trend.”

Webcam Protection is a feature that controls processes and applications that access computer connected web cameras and displays notifications when unwanted applications try to access the camera.

Home Network Protection enables users to test home routers vulnerabilities, such as weak passwords or out-of-date firmware, and offers them options for remediation. It also provides an easy-to-access list of connected devices, with devices categorised by type and shows who’s connected. This helps users see how safe their home networks are.

ESET Password Manager employs AES‑256 encryption – the world’s leading standard – to store and pre-fill all users‘ passwords. It also generates and stores extra-strong new passwords each time the user needs one.

Script-Based Attack Protection detects attacks by malicious scripts that try to exploit Windows PowerShell. It also detects malicious JavaScript that can attack via the browser; all major browsers are supported.

ESET Secure Data protects against data theft in the event of USB-key or laptop loss, and allows for secure collaboration and data sharing.

* Visit www.eset.com to learn more about ESET flagship products and the new ESET Smart Security Premium.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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