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Fixing your phone: here is the hidden risk

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A mobile phone is a very private device and when we take it in for repair we have no idea what happens to our personal information. ASHARAF ROGERS, Technical Manager at weFix, gives some tips to make sure our private data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Nearly one in five South Africans don’t have a password on their smartphone. With almost 9 million South Africans reportedly victims of cyber crime in the last year, according to a 2016 study by internet security company Norton, the need for heightened security measures for tech devices becomes abundantly clear.

As the consumer’s desire for convenience continues to grow, devices such as mobile phones become increasingly indispensable. Most people can barely recall a time when the functioning of a mobile phone was limited to making and receiving calls and text messages. Today, mobile phones are our bank teller, our PA, our work and personal email accounts and our family photo album. As a result, they are also our entire life laid open to unscrupulous individuals looking to steal our identity or commit fraud.

One of the most common ways that people render themselves vulnerable to such crime is when taking their mobile device in for repair. While you might think that the phone’s lock screen pin is secure enough to be in the repair shop for a few days, there are in fact data recovery applications that can be used to extract your phone data even when the screen is locked.

Asharaf Rogers, Technical Manager at weFix explains, “Mobile phones, as with most tech devices nowadays, are incredibly private in terms of the volume of personal information they contain. In fact what most people fail to remember is that regardless of how new their mobile phone is, the information stored in their smartphone is way more valuable than the actual device.”

Rogers warns that customers need to be very careful about who they hand their phone to for repair. Many new repair kiosks are popping up in South Africa and customers need to ensure that the technician is both adequately qualified to do necessary repairs and also trustworthy in terms of the data they can access on the device. Rogers suggests these four key steps to consider before handing a phone over:

·       Are you using a reputable technician? An expert will be certified, will fully understand ESD safety requirements and know how to handle dangerous situations such as a swollen or exploding battery. On the other hand, use someone without the requisite skills and you run the risk of a completely different problem appearing on the device, as well as misaligned screens or frames, or a device that was working before (think cracked screen but still functioning) that is now completely unusable.

·       Even though a surprising 30% of people have never backed up (according to Cloudwards), ensure you back up your device to iCloud, Google Sync or to a harddrive. This not only minimizes the risk of complete data loss as a result of an unsuccessful repair or intermittent problem on the device, but it means your private and prized data – including family photos – can be removed from the device for the duration of the repair and then uploaded once you have your device back.

·       Research conducted by Protect Your Bubble shows that 57% of men are responsible for dropping their smartphones down a toilet! A device going in for a camera or battery repair could get substantially worse if information, such as liquid damage, is withheld. So ensure you give accurate and true details to the technician about what’s happened to the device to avoid the exact faults or worse, returning after the repair.

·       Be prepared to surrender your passcode. If needed, you might have to turn off security features to ensure comprehensive diagnosis or repair of your device. This allows a technician to test all functions before and after repair. For example, disabling ‘find your phone’ assists in accurate testing so be comfortable with the technician with whom you’re leaving it.

67% of South Africans surveyed by Norton said they felt it was easier to control personal information before smartphones and the internet. Now more than ever, trust is everything when it comes to getting devices repaired so take the necessary precautions before giving your phone to anyone and avoid becoming a victim of crime.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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