Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Huawei Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro are released

Huawei has released two varieties of its smartphone; the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro. Both are high-end phones with modern designs, big displays, and advanced software.

Design and Display of the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro

Huawei isn’t making use of its characteristic all-metal uni body design. The front and back of these phones are glass while the frame remains aluminium. The Mate 10 has a 5.9-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) LCD display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The Mate 10 Pro, however, has a 6-inch Full HD+ (2160×1080) OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. That makes the Mate 10 Pro slightly taller than the Mate 10. However, it is lighter. In addition, the Mate 10 Pro’s OLED display benefits from HDR10 support.

Spec sheet of the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro

Huawei created minor differences in design but made both equally powerful. The phones feature a Huawei-made Kirin 960 with 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. A 20MP and a 12MP camera are on the back. On the front is an 8MP front-facing camera. 4000mAh battery powers the device and Android 8.0 sitting behind EMUI 8.0.

Camera of the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro

There are two cameras on the back. They are both co engineered by Leica. One of the cameras is an RGB lens while the other is a monochrome lens. Together they merge two versions of the same picture for better clarity and colour accuracy. They do not provide enhanced zoom like the iPhone or the Note 8.

Huawei is also hyping up its neural processing unit. The NPU in the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro handles artificial intelligence. This means the phones can deliver real-time responses to users when handling scene and object recognition in addition to translation. The AI will learn the user’s behaviour as time goes on.

Apple Pencil in consideration for future iPhone

Apple is said to be pondering the inclusion of an Apple Pencil in the future iPhones. The accessory might launch with the 2019 edition of the iPhone.

Why is Apple considering the use of an Apple Pencil

Apple has always been against the use of a stylus. Late founder and CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, whole heartedly hated the idea of using a stylus with an iPhone. However, recent years have shown how popular the accessory is among consumers. The Note series from Samsung has always included their stylus. They are the only phone manufacturers who make use of a stylus. This has helped propel the series up and is extremely sought after by consumers. For years the South Korean rival has used the stylus on the Galaxy Note to separate itself from Apple’s phone.

Now with Steve jobs out of the picture, Apple can go ahead and directly challenge Samsung. It already makes use of a stylus for the iPad Pro.

Which company will make the Apple Pencil?

Apple makes the iPad Pro’s stylus. However, that may not be the case for iPhone in 2019 or beyond. The iPhone’s smaller body could prove to be difficult for implementation. This means an outside company might have to step in and partner with Apple to create a custom stylus. Samsung, for example, works with Wacom to produce the stylus for Galaxy Note devices.

Another leak says Apple might use super capacitor technology over electromagnetic resonance technology due to cost and realism. The former is cheaper and gives a more natural writing experience for styluses.

Apple’s A-series processor will have to undergo major improvements to accommodate for an advanced stylus. There has been chatter that the iPhone X has reduced touch performance due to lacking horsepower in the new A11 Bionic. Improvements over the A10 from 2016 are not impressing analysts.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Hands On: LG V30

What started out as an experimental branch of LG’s mobile division has quickly turned into the very face of LG’s flagship device. After the launch of the impressive but ultimately forgettable G6, LG has come up with a device that could easily be the best device of the year; the LG V30

Design of the LG V30

LG’s latest flagship follows the current design trend of bezel less phones to present an all screen design on the front. It looks very much like the screen design of the G6 but with additional tweaks to the final design. The screen is a huge 6 inch OLED Display at a resolution of 2880 x 1440.

The dimensions are set at 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm with a weight of 158 grams. The LG V30 comes with a headphone jack that lets you experience the Hi-Fi audio capabilities of the device.

On the back is a gently curving glass where the fingerprint sensor sits right in the middle. This placement is much cleverer than Samsung’s implementation. The fingerprint sensor doubles as the power button of the device. A little above that is the phone’s dual camera set up.

Features of the LG V30

The LG V30 has wireless charging and impressively comes with IP68 protection against water and dust. Added to that the smartphone has military graded protection for additional durability. Of course, this does not guarantee that the screen will never crack. However, you can be assured of some degree of safety.

The iconic second display of the V series is missing. It has been turned into a software feature in the form of a floating bar.

There is a 3300 mAh battery that is said to easily last a day or more. Thanks to the waterproofing, the battery is sealed and not removable. On the

On the back, the main camera is 16 MP with an aperture of f/1.6. On paper, this should give it better low light shots than all the other smartphones currently on the market. The other lens handles the wide angle shots and comes in at 13 MP with an aperture of f/1.9. on the front is a 5MP Camera. Even though megapixels do not tell the complete story, 5 MP is quite poor by 2017 standards. While LG has installed plenty of fun features, the picture quality is not up to par with the rest of the competition.

The LG V30 is also the first phone that will be readily available around the world. Unlike the previous generations which launched solely in the US, Australia and some regions in Asia, the new model will be available in more areas.

Microsoft Surface Book Design review

Microsoft has been dabbling in laptop hardware for a very short time but they have quickly risen to the top to become the trend setter for devices running Windows. It convinced an initially sceptic public and greatly gained a reputation after the release of a stellar Surface Pro 3. Now they are back with the Surface Book. Similar to the Surface tabs in the previous year, this edition also comes as a unique two in one hybrid.

Design wise, the Surface Book has an extremely futuristic design. The snake like hinges and the silver aluminium design gives this laptop a minimalistic and yet eye catching design.

The interior of the laptop completely consists of metal except for the glassy touchpad. The same story applies to the exterior with a complete metallic design, save for the mirror Windows badge and the camera. The unique hinge adds to the futuristic appeal and holds up the laptop quite well.

The keyboard is a joy to type on thanks to the 1.6 mm key travel not to mention the tactile noise you hear when you press a button. As mentioned above, the touchpad has a glass finish and is quite precise and easy to use.

Turning your laptop into a tablet is also quite easy. Although many companies already offer this feature, Microsoft’s implementation is the most seamless by far. All one has to do is press the eject button on the keyboard or the button on task bar. The screen will turn off for a sec and you will then get a notification saying it is safe to remove the screen.

Another feature that sets the Surface Book apart is its inclusion of a graphics processor into a 2 in 1 system. The NVidia GeForce GPU makes it easier for the laptop handle media as well as gaming. This sort of implementation has been seen in previous machines but again, none have perfected it as Microsoft has done. In the previous cases, the laptops had to be restarted if you planned to detach the laptop. In the case of Microsoft’s Surface Book, it only needs about a second or two to accomplish the same feat. What makes this feature more exciting is that it offers plenty of room for future upgrades to expand the usage.

The Surface Book does weight quite a bit with a weight of 1.51 kilograms. This is without the optional graphics card that increases the weight to 1.58 kg. The laptop has an aspect ratio of 3:2 and comes with a 13.5 inch screen that delivers great images.

Ring announces a cheaper home security system

Ring put out an announcement today about a product that will bring together its array of security cameras, lights and doorbells. It will be a complete home security system that can help you keep an eye on your living space.

What is most interesting about this announcement is the time at which it has arrived. Around a fortnight ago, Nest announced plans for a fully fledged home security system. It was called the Nest Secure and has a number pad and sensors to cover a couple of entrances. The price was $499.

Information on the Ring Home Security System

Ring names its system the Ring Protect and the major advantage it has over Nest’s product is the price tag. Available for $199, the starter package comes with sensors for one entrance, the main unit as well as a motion detector. An additional sensor for an entrance will set you back $20 while a motion sensor costs $30. To put the pricing into context, you can put up sensors for ten entrances and 5 rooms before you equal the price of the starter package from Nest.

Ring also provides a monitoring service. It works in a subscription manner which is also quite when compared with the competition. Costing $100 per annum, the company offers a service. This service calls your house in the event that the alarm is triggered. As of yet, there is no information regarding the monitoring system by Nest while the monitoring service by ADT will set you back four hundred and fifty dollars for the cheapest option.

Doubts on the Ring Home Security System

We still do not know the quality of the monitoring service that the company offers. We don"t know if it will be as good as the competition or will it be better. ADT has been delivering the same system for years with no major changes to the system. Ring along with Nest have been trying to change it, but so far there has not been much of a change.

Currently, Ring’s home security system does not offer many smart features. The sensors monitor the house and they can all be accessed or viewed through the app. Ring CEO and founder Jamie Siminoff says that over time Ring will be developed to do more and that the company will add more smart features. Unfortunately, he did not specify the details of this.

Another advantage Ring has over Nest is that it is releasing much sooner than Nest. The line of products from the latter is releasing on November while Ring’s products are scheduled to release in October.

SpaceX aims to land Spaceships on Mars by 2022

Elon Musk has spoken more about his envisioned plan to colonize the planet of Mars. The owner of Tesla says he is aiming to land a minimum of 2 cargo ships on Mars by the year 2022; a mere five years away. These cargo ships will put in place power generators as well as mining and life support frameworks that will assist endeavours. He further added that ships with crew members will reach two years after that. Musk revealed these plans during the International Astronautical Congress set in Australia.

In order to reach these deadlines, the rocket company will start building the first of its spaceships by mid 2018.  The rocket is called the BFR, an abbreviation for Big Falcon Rocket. It is made by SpaceX. In the event that Musk reaches his deadlines, the people who look to live in Mars will go there in comfort thanks to the BFR. It can take up to one hundred passengers thanks to its 40 cabins. The rocket will also house many common areas and an entertainment system.

Elon Musk claims that his SpaceX company has figured out ways to pay for these expensive trips but he chose not to reveal any information about the methods or the cost of everything. The company currently focuses on launching satellites and services and maintains the International Space Station and they think they can make enough money from these ventures to sponsor their goals of colonizing Mars. They are also looking into ways of making the rocket reusable. This can help reduce the overall cost associated with the missions.

The CEO has grand plans that surpass his goal of exploring the Red Planet. He says he wants to make use of the rockets to establish a base on the moon. He refers to this as Moon Base Alpha. Another goal of his plan is to use the Big Falcon Rocket to clean up the outer space. He hopes to do this by taking old unused satellites and other debris that floats in the space outside Earth.

As he continued his presentation, Musk spoke about using rockets right on Earth to cover large distances in extremely short time spans. This means one could go from New York to China’s capital in an astounding thirty nine minutes.

Of course, there are many other companies that have their eyes set on putting crews on Mars. NASA, Boeing and Lockheed have all revealed plans to send crew members to the Red Planet.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Critical DNS Flaw Exposes Windows Computers to Hacking

The security updates released by Microsoft Oct. 10 fix a critical vulnerability in the Windows DNS client that could allow attackers to compromise computers on local networks without user interaction.

The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2017-11779, affects all Windows versions starting with Windows 8 and Server 2012. It stems from the way the Windows DNS client library—DNSAPI.dll—handles responses from DNS servers; in particular, the NSEC3 record that’s part of the DNSSEC protocol.

Attackers can exploit the vulnerability if they are able to control or masquerade as the primary DNS resolver used by computers and can send malformed NSEC3 records to them. Successful exploitation can result in remote code execution in the context of the local system account, leading to a complete compromise.

primary DNS

“This means that if an attacker controls your DNS server (e.g., through a man-in-the-middle attack or a malicious coffee-shop hotspot), they can gain access to your system,” said Nick Freeman, a consultant with security firm Bishop Fox who found the vulnerability, in a blog post. “This doesn’t only affect web browsers—your computer makes DNS queries in the background all the time, and any query can be responded to in order to trigger this issue.”

A limiting factor for this vulnerability is that it cannot be exploited from a DNS server higher up in the resolution chain because recursive resolvers will drop the corrupted NSEC3 response before it reaches the computer. Therefore, the only way to exploit it is to control the primary DNS resolver used by the computer.

This can be done on an unprotected Wi-Fi network or through a compromised router, so it’s more likely to be exploited in a targeted attack. For example, an attacker could compromise the Wi-Fi network of a popular restaurant or coffee shop in a business district and hack the laptops of various employees who use the network and then wait for them to take their computers back to their corporate networks.

“New functionality always brings new vulnerabilities, and the introduction of DNSSEC to Windows was no exception,” Freeman said. “The last mile (between your computer and its DNS resolver) will remain a weak point in DNS, so consider the use of a Virtual Private network (VPN) or using your phone as a personal hotspot to reduce the likelihood of an attacker interfering with your DNS traffic.”

The Bishop Fox researchers posted a video with more details about the vulnerability’s impact.

Microsoft Fixes 28 Critical Flaws in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer

During this most recent Patch Tuesday, Microsoft fixed 62 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and Edge. Thirty-three of these vulnerabilities can result in remote code execution and 28 of them are rated critical.

“Top priority for patching should go to a vulnerability in Microsoft Office, CVE-2017-11826, which Microsoft has ranked as ‘Important’ [and] is actively being exploited in the wild,” said Jimmy Graham, director of product management at Qualys.

As far as Windows is concerned, remote code execution flaws have been patched in NetBIOS, SMBv1, the Windows Shell, Windows Search and the Scripting Engine. Security bypasses have been fixed in the Device Guard code integrity protection mechanism and the integrity-level check in Windows Storage.

The company has also issued an advisory for a security issue in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips made by Infineon that could result in weaker cryptographic keys. TPMs are used for important enterprise security features in Windows, such as BitLocker disk encryption and biometric authentication. Users should obtain TPM firmware updates from their computer vendors to address this flaw.

1 Million-Plus Internet Exposed Routers Affected by Dnsmasq Flaws

Security researchers have found more than 1 million SOHO routers and other networking devices that are affected by critical vulnerabilities patched recently in dnsmasq.

Last week, security researchers from Google announced they found and reported critical vulnerabilities in the dnsmasq software package, which is used on Linux, BSD and macOS systems to provide services such as DNS and DHCP for networks. The flaws were fixed in dnsmasq 2.78, released Oct. 2 and Linux distribution maintainers released updated packages.

However, there are many routers and other networking devices out there that use Linux-based firmware but are unlikely to receive patches in a timely manner. Moreover, even if firmware updates do become available, users rarely update their routers because it usually requires a manual process.

Security researchers from Trend Micro used the and Shodan search engines to look for routers, cable modems and other networking devices that run the community-built OpenWRT, DD-WRT and Tomato firmware and to determine how many of them are running a vulnerable dnsmasq version. They identified more than 1.1 million devices that had dnsmasq running and had port 53 (DNS) opened to the internet. They were able to download Shodan data on a sample of 754,458 of those devices and determined that more than 99 percent of them were running a vulnerable dnsmasq version.

Fortunately, even though they are theoretically vulnerable, not all of these devices can be exploited directly because the vulnerabilities require special conditions such as IPv6 being enabled or the attacker being in control of an upstream DNS server. Some of these limitations can be solved by attackers by tricking users behind vulnerable routers to click on a URL under a domain they control—so they can serve a DNS response for it—or by exploiting a different vulnerability that allows changing the router’s DNS settings. However, such techniques don’t scale very well.

This research, however, shows the poor state of patching in routers at a time when attackers are actively compromising such devices to build botnets capable of launching crippling distributed denial-of-service attacks. It will only take a critical flaw in a widely used remotely accessible component for millions of routers to be at risk.