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Setting up a Secure Phone: A Complete How-To Guide for Privacy Paranoids and Whistleblowers (2020)

VPN

Using a public (coffee shop or airport) Wi-Fi is a sin but you may be tempted to use it and surf the web. VPN encrypts online activities. Trust me, it saves you from eavesdroppers or hackers. In the Android world, you can use:

Smart Lock

Use it on and off. Keep updating or off it when not auto-fill is not needed. This is because hackers could take benefit of it. Security > Sign in > Saved Passwords > Toggle On/Off per need.

How to get a secure phone – iPhone?

Like every clockwork, every year a new iPhone is launched with a new iOS for the pre-existing models. This is a great excitement for users – as well as – hackers. Recently, a renowned hacking team has launched a new “jailbreak” technique that unlocks every “walled garden” iPhone – even the latest iOS 13.5. New features help to minimize cyber risks. Here are some tips to do so:

On your automatic iOS updates

Updating OS is important, as these address software (past) weaknesses. A specific code by a hacker can target this vulnerability, if you don’t frequently update your operating system. You can auto-on it: Go to Settings > Press general > Tap software update to turn on automatic updates

USB Restricted Mode

This prevents juice jacking. At simplest, it means when you can install a malware or information could be stolen by plugging in an USB port. You can on it by: Go to settings > Scroll down to Touch ID & Passcode > Please type in your passcode and scroll further down to USB Accessories not permitted on the lock screen > Turn it off in case it is on.

Toggle on built-in Find my iPhone

This is a tracking software that uses GPS to locate a stolen phone. The activation lock prevents hackers from using your iPhone and to gain access to your useful data. If you want to get a hold of it, use your Apple ID and password because without it a hacker cannot turn off your Find My iPhone feature. You can enable it by: Go into your settings > User name > iCloud > Scroll down to Find My iPhone > Turn it on and activate it to send your recent location > Since you are asked to login, use your Apple ID here.

Get rid of specific widgets in your lock screen

Widgets is a shortcut to features like Wi-Fi, wallet, Bluetooth, and camera, since it is part of iPhone lock screen hackers can swipe up your personal information. To disable you can: Toggle on to settings > control center or Toggle off those widgets that you do not want in your lock screen.

Make yourself habitual of VPN while using public Wi-Fi

It allows you to serve the internet safely while using coffee shop Wi-Fi or airport Wi-Fi.

Privacy settings bi-weekly or periodic monitoring

Audit your iPhone where you would want to delete unwanted applications that consume more space. Most notably, you can find an email regarding changes in privacy policies, keep a close eye to it. You are just two clicks away from privacy – go to settings > tap privacy. You can revise the permitted applications and revoke them where unnecessary.

Unique passwords

Make unique alpha-numeric passcodes, a password generating tool can help. Instead of auto-filling it (by saving the information) you can write down the unique password on paper for future use. You can set the passcode by: Going to settings and Touch ID & Passcode > Enter Passcode > You can select a custom numeric code or generate it online and type here (while writing it down on a piece of paper).

Opt SMS 2FA

It adds a second layer to your privacy and security. You can either choose a PIN, password, or pattern. You can opt for fingerprint or similar biometric authentication. Thirdly, you can opt a credit card, phone, USB token as an additional identity verification. You can follow the prompts after: Sliding to settings > Press on your name, and go to Password & Security > Scroll down to find 2FA and turn it on.

Choose Auto-Lock

You can limit the screen activity time by opting auto-lock, click on settings > Scroll down to general button > Select Auto-Lock.

iOS 12 feature: Password Audit

As the name suggests, it asks you to frequently change your pre-used passwords. It is hefty work to select an alphanumeric or unique password for each account, the rule is least followed. This feature helps to manage your password in an easier manner. The stored passwords will be audited to spot any of the repeated patterns. The report will let you know. You can opt to audit or change your reused passwords: Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Look up for Website & App Passwords > Click it to enter your passcode > A red “warning” triangle will let you know if duplicate password > You can then revise it using password generating tool.

Backup encryption is needed

We back-up our business chats regularly, we pay less attention to encryption. If you encrypt your valuable back up data, it will reduce the vulnerability to hacking. The best encryption is to connect it with iTunes, which can encrypt your backups. This also allows you to maintain a separate password for this encryption. Connect your device to open iTunes > The Backup section contains the “Encrypt iPhone Backup” option, click it to create a separate password.

Do not share location information

iOS 13 allows you to limit image location metadata, to enable it when you share your image click on option, where you can see location option, toggle it off or deselect it.

Turn off Siri

As talkative Siri is she can pass on your data to hackers without your permission, she asks for verification to get access to sensitive information but hackers are smarter and can fool around Siri. Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Turn off the allow access when locked option.

Auto-fill should be off

This is the easiest way for hackers to get access to your information. To disable it please visit your settings > Safari > Autofill > disable each permission.

Conclusion

This guide was to educate you with the approaches of being highly private and have a secure phone when you are a journalist or associated to such profession where leaks are common and can cost you your life. To be open, the above links were not just shared for some traffic generation or affiliation; they are here because they are accurate and give you a vast overview of what to expect, and how to compete with it. Today SIM hacks are very common even among the famous ones like Jeff Bezos, or the celebs like Amanda Cerny or King Bach. Thanks to the services of Efani for providing military grade protection , and above and beyond services! Even I as a writer is following the above the guide as a result of my research for being as secure as I can because you never know what to expect or who’s watching you.Source

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Poor Wi-Fi Signal on your iPhone XR? Lets Fix It! (2020 Guide)

poor wi fi signal on your iphone xr lets fix it 2020 guide
iphone xr poor wi-fi
Apple

The distance between a wireless router and your device could disrupt the iPhone signal. The Wi-Fi reception gets weaker with each distance made. It is suggested to move in closer proximity to the source of your Wi-Fi reception, while checking if the strength of the signal gets better.

The distance factor is just one consideration – there are other factors to consider as well, for instance, the Wi-Fi interruptions and software related factors. It could even be the hardware damage that disrupts the Wi-Fi signal on your iPhone XR.

What to do when you counter such issues on your iPhone XR?

Let’s take a walk together.

Turn the network equipment off and then on

This process is known as power cycling. Just like smartphones, power cycling of this equipment is necessary because there is a potential that these devices, for example, modem and wireless routers also give into system crashes and random firmware errors.

There are numerous symptoms that could transpire to interconnected devices. It could range from WiFi drops (intermittent connection) to no internet connection, or slow internet. It is prescribed to power cycle or turn OFF and then ON your device.

Turn it off for at least 30 seconds, just like you reboot your computer or reset your device. This act will eliminate any firmware errors causing the modem or router to mess up or trigger weak Wi-Fi on your phone.

Illustration:

  1. Toggle off the power button on your wireless router once you have located the power switch.
  2. Unplug the AC adapter for at least 1 minute or minimum 30 seconds.  
  3. Turn the device back ON when the time has elapsed.
  4. Let’s wait until your Wi-Fi signal indicator is stable.

Wait for your phone to revert back to the Wi-Fi network connection. Test if the bug has been fixed. Reboot your iPhone XR as a last resort.

Mess with your Airplane mode

Resort to perform the Airplane mode trick. It is alternative to power cycling your WiFi connections on your phone. Try these steps:

  1. Tap on Settings from your home screen and select airplane mode (you can see an airplane symbol).
  2. Turn ON this airplane feature. This will switch off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi option by default.
  3. Once the airplane mode has been enabled, turn off your iPhone.
  4. Turn back this Airplane mode ON.
  5. Hold on till your iPhone boots up.
  6. Go to settings from your home screen and airplane mode, turn the feature ON.
  7. Wait till your Wi-Fi network connects, then check the signal strength.

Reconnect: Forget your Wi-Fi network

Phone connects to your Wi-Fi network by default, and could even connect to unsecured WiFi networks such as your neighbor’s network. Despite the connection, you may notice the signal strength getting weaker.

Tip – forget all saved WiFi networks, here’s how to do it:

  1. Tap on settings from your home screen and select Wi-Fi.
  2. Tap the “i” from the information icon next to the WiFi networks or the list you want to forget.
  3. Tap on the Forget this network option.
  4. Tap on forget to confirm – you can also select the Wi-Fi network that you want to delete.
  5. Delete all the save Wi-Fi networks.

Reset the network settings

Apply this option when the aforementioned has failed. This will have an impact on the current bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, similar server settings, APN and restoring the default networks.

Here’s how to reset network settings:

  1. Navigate settings option from your home screen and select general.
  2. Tap reset (scroll down to find the keyword reset in general settings).
  3. Enter the passcode/PIN/pattern etc when you tap on the reset network setting option and confirm reset option.

Your XR version will instigate the network resetting settings and restore the options that are default. Once the reset has been completed, the device will be rebooted automatically in order to apply the changes you have made. Go to your wi-Fi settings to reconnect it (after re-enabling it) once the device boots up.

Reboot your iPhone XR Network as the last resort [Soft Reset]

This case is also applicable when the response of your iPhone to your network connection is fine initially but it starts acting up next moment, this means there are miscellaneous glitches impairing the performance of your iPhone’s signal system.

Here’s how you can soft reset it:

  1. Simultaneously hold the power and volume buttons for few seconds.
  2. You can see a slide to power off option as soon as you release the buttons → drag it to the right.
  3. Press Slide Button again once the phone boots up after 30 seconds.

For soft network reset try:

  1. Go to Wi-Fi menu after tapping on settings option and enable Wi-Fi if required.
  2. Select Wi-Fi network and add password, if prompted.
  3. Tap connect and see if the problem has been resolved.

Miscellaneous factors affecting the signal connections

  1. Make sure you have the later iOS version – the latest software update can fix Wi-Fi signal issues. This will also fix interrelated bugs and system errors. There’s a possibility that you may miss to view and download over-the-air updates because of your Wi-Fi interruptions on your iPhone. The synonym to this problem would be to use iTunes on your desktop version to check for the latest update. You can then download and install it.
  2. Thank you, iTunes! A master or factory reset may help clear out issues like connection errors and you can reset and restore your device through iTunes. You can restore the factory defaults and install the latest iOS update on your iPhone XR.
  3. Is your network reliable? There could be unscheduled or unposted outage problems other than device issues. You can call your provider and troubleshoot further. They can also reset your wireless router from their end if needed. Refresh once the desired actions have been performed and here you go!

BONUS – Manual DNS Setup on iPhone

This creates a massive impact, it is not always Wi-Fi reception but other issues like altering the DNS setting that would fix your issue. This is not a method to boost your Wi-Fi reception but a way to go through some other DNS to obtain data from the internet.

Here are few options and how to do it:

  1. Navigate to settings and tap on Wi-Fi and the ‘i’ icon to the right of Wi-Fi network connected name.
  2. Tap DNS and enter the DNS addresses:
    – Google – 8.8.8.8; 8.8.4.4
    – OpenDNS – 208.67.222.222; 208.67.220.220
  3. Restart the Wi-Fi.

This is the optimal thing, where automatically opted DNS does not always work, which is why using an OpenDNS (public version) or Google is suggested.

Hope this issue is now resolved and you are enjoying a better Wi-Fi connection on your iPhone! Hint: these steps can fix your iPad connectivity issues as well. Let us know in the comments section. Please also make sure that certain updates or immediate updates due to COVID-19 is in response to rising cyber threats amongst which is SIM swapping. Once you embed Efani in your device, you’re free of SIM swapping threats. Remember, privacy is a fundamental right! Stay safe.

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All About Vanity Numbers (2020)

all about vanity numbers 2020
vanity number
All About Vanity Numbers (2020) 6

It is not all about “vanity” only, instead a practical approach to advertise your business. The most memorized and popular number 1-800-FLOWERS stick to customer’s memory to this day with little to no effort at all. This attracts people around the globe.

Vanity numbers are best for your business branding and easy-to-remember for your prospective clients. We will be looking for a brief understanding of vanity numbers in this article and its usefulness for a business. The factors or consideration are to determine if the selected vanity number is appropriate for a business.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

What is a vanity number?

Since many businesses still consider telephonic channels to reach their potential clients, the mnemonic vanity numbers play well with the customer’s psychological behaviors. Regardless of your customer base substantially being internet-users, an impressive vanity number will attract them – no matter what.

In many cases, businesses won’t have an option to pick their own vanity number from scratch, whereas, few business independent entities are given the choice to choose their toll-free number and vanity numbers themselves. The options also include transferring self-made vanity numbers to carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T, if they like.

Numbers with the numeric pattern – a 10 random digit number is quick to remember, it could either follow the sequence of double digits such as 6677 or sequential like 2345, repeated 4444, even/odd sequence like 2468 – all are fruitful and imprint on users’ memory. You can also choose from years/dates (which are special to you) since people are wise enough to remember special characters than numbers.

Numbers with spellings of your brand – when you pick a number, pay attention to special spells on that number of the phone keypad. A number spelling out a brand (or a word/phrase) is worth millions for a business. If you pay attention, Facebook Indian number is 92FACEBOOK, which means it is 92-3223-2665 on the dialer keypad of a phone. Popular numbers like 1-800-LAWYERS are mostly taken, be creative with what you chose.

Toll-free number – it is a free number that can be called from any area code, the charges are levied on the business and not the caller. These toll-free numbers work in specific areas or from a number dialed from anywhere.

The 800 series – the toll-free prefix ranges from 800; 888; 877; 866; 855; 844; and 833. Local vanity numbers would be demanded by some businesses rather than toll-free because of coverage and cost issues.

Why do you need a vanity phone number?

Branding is the most important aspect of business and these easy to recognize numbers displayed on billboards, radio ads and other similar programs plays a great role. These are not too easy to remember, but their sequencing and catch phrase piques your customers.

Customers pay attention to branding consistency across all communicated mediums and this generates more leads.

The correct advertisements

The best mediums to communicate to the users regarding vanity numbers (like mentioned before) include billboards, trucks, TV ads, podcasts, and internet advertisements on different websites. This means consumers will see numbers passing by, or hear on a podcast and will remember eventually. Random sequential numbers are quick to adopt and many people quickly write it down as well. The medium of advertisement would vary per business goal and emotional contact remains the same.

Top-notch reasons to have a vanity number

why you need a vanity number

Everyone wants to go beyond numbers. People try to add meanings to the phone number, the classic instance would be BEechwood 4-5789, and Adams & Swett Rug Cleaning Company gets recognition through this question:

How many cookies did Andrew eat?

Focus, Andrew ATE (8) – 8,000, this means the number would be ANdrew 8-8000, although the companies have vanished since long but the posts jingles to this date. You see marketing still work even after 50 years?

It’s no more 1960’s, we are in modern world with so many digital options, when memorized customers can reach you via text or social media platforms, email you and can go to your website. Irrespective of these mediums, vanity numbers still remain relevant.

It is certain people remember vanity numbers but most importantly YOU. Modern people have to remember a lot, pins, passwords and vanity numbers in place make things easier. Most notable example is 1-800-GoFedEx for package delivery.

Vanity numbers reinforce your brand and lend credibility to your business. For instance, 1-866-QUIT-4-LIFE is a symbol for life, where smoking needs to be quit. Vanity numbers are your brand reflection. Customers not only show interest but do word of mouth marketing on your behalf. Vanity numbers show your business ideology in one fell swoop and can be your competitive edge.

Conclusion

Although modern businesses have virtual phone numbers or VoIP, but vanity numbers still pay an important role and are irreplaceable. The only investment is a lovely truck with a vanity number in display so the value proposition is delivered with a concise message.

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Series 3 – 2FA; How to Set Up Authy

series 3 2fa how to set up authy
2fa authy
Series 3 – 2FA; How to Set Up Authy 9

Strong passwords suffice? Think twice about it, as strong passwords don’t exist anymore – using 2FA is recommended (as observed in series 1 and 2). In simplest terms, it means to use an authenticating codes generator, where in series 2 recommends Authy. It is convenient, powerful, and compatible with all devices.

We have also discussed with the SMS based 2FA. Authy is a more civilized application that provides you with a better encrypted password option linking to your cloud, with an option to restore backup to your new phone. Authy is compatible with Google Authenticator, where you can scan the same code to Authy as well. Interestingly, some sites offer Authy-specific integrations as well.  

Is Authy handy?

Authy is simple and easy to use. You can download it from Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Once installed, you need to fill the gaps, your phone number and your email address. Afterwards, you will receive a PIN on your number for confirmation. Congrats, Authy has been enabled on your device!

Simply visit 2FA setup page which is available on the account service of choice and QR code will be pulled up, just click the add button (on the bottom of Authy screen) and scan the QR code. The account will be needed to Authy. Open the Authy app and you can tap on the account you need a code for. 

There’s a copy paste option for your code on your device rather than typing. You can even add a protection pin (or Touch ID for an iOS) if you want to prevent individuals from accessing your phone, especially when you have signed in. You can go to settings and then to my account to protection PIN to enable it.

How to Back Up and Sync the Codes from Authy

Authy can create automatic encrypted backups of your data and store it on the servers – FYI, data is encrypted with the provided password. There is an option to skip this feature if you want to. However, if your phone is lost, you won’t be able to recover your codes using Google Authenticator app. This is why Authy works wonder.

Open Authy – then go to Settings and Accounts – ensure Authenticator Backups on the top screen and enable it.  For backup decryption, you will need a password link and you can access these codes while signing into your Authy account. Authy can sync codes on different devices, while offering code access on Chrome app on any computer.

There is an announcement to be made for a macOS beta app and a Window app. This information can be obtained on the download page of Authy. Syncing up your code between a phone and a tablet is your choice. If you want to add devices to your accounts, go to settings and then devices in authy option where you can toggle on the multi-device switch.

Pro-TIP: You can also create an encrypted backup password in the cloud, in order to access them in the future. The 2FA scheme for Authy is different and is only available for you to sign up. You can also make changes to your codes (for instance, removing or adding accounts) will be synced. The list of devices can be seen by tapping on settings > devices screen in Authy > remove/add devices.

Once you add the device you can head back to disable the multi device option in devices in authy in the settings section. Just to inform you, the multi feature sync feature will routinely function but the option to add more devices will be disabled. This actually combats the risks of adding devices via SMS. But if you are adding a new device you can toggle on this option and disable afterwards.

Please also note that if you have disabled this option you will need to sign in on your new device, as you won’t be able to continue with Authy if your phone was stolen, lost or damaged. You will need to re-enable the disabled multi-device feature. If you have Authy on a single device, you won’t be able to access codes and have an account recovery option, it may take 12 to 24 hours to get a response.

This is a start over option, this step will be reverted if you have your data backed up, you will get your codes afterwards. It is recommended by the Authy officials that adding more devices to your Authy account, while disabling the feature once the controlled devices are added to the Authy account. No one will gain access unless multi-device have been re-enabled.

This is beneficial as if you lose one of your added devices, you can remove it and add a new device instead. However, if you have a single device, you will still want to keep backups of code in case you lose your main device.

Conclusion

Privacy should never be compromised. EFANI understands how precious your privacy is and is aiming to provide a solution that not only prevents you from critical cyber threats like SIM swapping but to give you mental peace.

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Series 2 – How to move Your Google Authenticator to Your New Phone

series 2 how to move your google authenticator to your new phone
google authenticator
Series 2 – How to move Your Google Authenticator to Your New Phone 12

In series 1, we understand the concept of two-factor authentication which is undoubtedly a famous and handy security precaution for many individuals, but at the same time it is an additive anxiety that adds to more cyber threat vulnerabilities. Since, you must have upgraded your smartphones with the Google Authenticator changing cellular devices require manual migration of Google Authenticator to your new phone – as the codes do not migrate automatically.

Fast-Forward:

  • You can migrate Google Authenticator to your new upgraded device in order to obtain maximized security through two-step verification.
  • You have the option to set up Google two-step Authentication on your device in use.

Gratefully it is not that technical to move the codes obtained from the Google Authenticator from one device to the other one. However, admittedly, the process can be time taking and cumbersome for the few.

Brief history to traditional single password

Two-step authentication provides greater accounts check and balance for your accounts, unlike the convention single password method, as it requires “two steps” to get into your applications powered by Google.

Google Authenticator is a step forward to verify two-step codes before accessing your accounts, it’s an identity check to mitigate the risk of identity thefts.

Migration from older to newer phone

Since, you are an old user of Google Authenticator 2FA, you will require to move it from one phone to another. Here are some straightforward steps:

  1. Install the Google Authenticator app to your iPhone or Android device,
  2. Open Google’s webpage for two-step authentication on Mac browser and login, when you get in your account, you can see the option to “Move to a different phone,”
  3. Click on the move to a different phone and then click continue,
  4. You will be prompted to show a QR code displaying on your screen,
  5. You need to open your phone, not an older one but newer one, and follow the instructions shown on your screen. You can tap on the QR code of “scan a barcode,”
  6. A six-digit code pops up immediately after you successfully scan the barcode. The code is subject to revision every few minutes because of security concerns, please type the code on your desktop and then clicks “verify,”
  7. Congratulations, it is all set on your new device.

The whole premise of these actions were to retrieve codes only from authenticated or registered devices (especially those devices which are under your control), otherwise the value of the entire 2FA concept would be moot. The migration steps listed above would not have any issues IF you are jumping from one universe (iPhone) to another Galaxy – Android.

The steps were straightforward or plain easy, the only cumbersome part is to connect other applications to Google Authenticator, please migrate each application one-by-one. This is why we labeled this process as time consuming.

The point of concern here is that we perform such measures to secure ourselves from cyber threats, most notably – SIM cloning/hijacking/swapping or whatever you call it. Despite having 2FA, your phone is still vulnerable to SIM Swap so criminals can get into your accounts. Your current carrier will not protect you so switch to EFANI who are experts in preventing this attack. Make better choices and as a second resort you can use Authy with Efani as a blend of both make things easier.

With your new phone you can choose Efani – a new carrier with 60 days’ money-back guarantee and with Authy codes syncing across the device is convenient. You do not have this (flexible) sync option with Google Authenticator. Authy works as 2FA on multiple devices. The codes and the provided passwords are encrypted and the cloud system stores this data. This makes migration easier – offering a balance of convenience and security. We will be talking about syncing cloud codes in the next blog.

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Series 1 – All about 2FA (Two-Factor Authorization)

series 1 all about 2fa two factor authorization
2fa
Cloudways

2FA is a real thing. Passwords are frangible walls keeping unauthorized hackers far away from your accounts. Preserving our digital wallet containing hard-earned dollars is our keen concern in the 21st century. In response to these protective measures, 2FA is the most famous yet effective defense available.

What is 2FA?

Two-factor authorization is often shortened as 2FA and it is basically a security login that is required as a second “separate” factor beyond the password (as a second piece of information). So this independent piece of information is a code (which expires in a few minutes) and it is delivered by a device which is under your control – say, your mobile phone. This doesn’t mean it is an SMS generated code, it could be biometric, such as fingerprints.

Please note that you might have heard about interchangeable terms such as multi-factor authentication or two-step verification, but in this guide we will focus only on 2FA.

Why should you use 2FA?

In the modern world of cyber attacks, where the password breaches are more frequent on a larger base – and it continually takes place – your precious information is sold for minimal bucks and swapped in the dark web market (or hacker forums).

The motives of hackers could ideally be:

  • These attackers break into the source for entertainment or harassment;
  • Some for $$’s or payday (especially during virtual working environment – it is typically not a personal but financial attack);
  • In one of the rare circumstances, the targeted individual must be in the crosshairs.

Did you know?

Email accounts are most worthy, why? This is because your emails are the second source for your (potential) accounts recovery. Here’s how the mechanics work when your account is likely to fall for hijacking:

  • Your passwords are predictable, so most of the time intruders guess are successful;
  • These large-scale password breaches make things easier for trespassers. These attackers will use the script (that is available on dark web) to try to login. These hacked credentials are useful because they can be perused on multiple accounts.
  • Attackers are impersonators and crafty – they create fakes pages to trick aka phishing experiments. This indulges you and at some point they ask you to share your credentials. Let me explain in detail – grab a cup of tea/coffee/water. Bookmark it in the meantime. So the hackers will send you an email that could be in your spam/junk folder. This will come from a trusted source (for instance, Twitter). This will direct you to a credible website, but unfortunately “all that glitter is not gold” this website is under hacker’s control. This means you have to look closely at the sender field, or the login page URL. This is what we call phishing.
  • One of its forms is targeted phishing or spear phishing. It is important to understand that hackers always do their homework, especially when they have targeted someone. Your secured information is gathered from public records or your holy grail social media. This helps them create a brilliant pretext for the spear phishing email. Modern hackers are born impersonators (perhaps?), while they impersonate someone in order to direct you to a forged page (login). 

These regular phish-y emails disrupt the email services, where enabling of 2FA is deemed to be useful (especially for emails). Make sure to check if your favorite service works in liaison with Twofactorauth.org, where you can follow the handy instructions to Turn On 2FA.

A pretty handy option (both for user and hackers): SMS based 2FA

This is one of the painless ways to access your device, but it is as trustable as your network. This option is useless when you travel around the globe or where there are network issues. When you login to your account, you receive a “ping” on your device, containing a treasure i.e. a confirmation code which could expire if it remains unused. You need to enter the code when you’re prompted while logging in.

Illustration – One of the hackers convinced Verizon to redirect phone messages to a newer sim card on a remote device, this person is none other than Deray McKesson, BLM activist. The interception was made easy by enabling SMS based 2FA.

Did you notice that the password guess work was much of a pain as compared to SMS-based 2FA? Instead of hackers, looking for your physical device, they are looking for remote attacks of stealing your number instead, how? Tricking people is easy. Just in case, if you are wondering how the sim swap works, here is a guide for you: https://www.efani.com/blog/everything-about-sim-swap/

In order to turn on 2FA for Gmail, you have to click on the top right corner (account icon) which will give you an option to open my account, then you can click on sign-in & security, while signing into your Google you can click on two-step verification to get things started.

Punch in your seven digits’ number once your device has been registered. You have the option not to use your number, as you can remove it subsequently. For confirmation you will enter the code sent on your device. Now you can use SMS based 2FA.

Why SMS based 2FA is not too successful?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular method is the least secure. Wait a minute – what? Trust me, the juicy details won’t end here. SMS based 2FA has too many insecure vulnerabilities deprecating the SMS 2FA use. 

If you lose your device and your precious SMS-based 2FA is within it, this means you lost it all, especially when you do not have 2FA recovery codes, correct?

Indeed, therein lays the rub.

People can obtain these valuable short-lived codes in numerous ways (as listed in the next segment). Sim cloning makes it easier for hackers to obtain not your smart phone but your valuable connections, money (subverting SMS 2FA on crypto accounts) and even worse – blackmailing. SS7 phony protocol intercepts make things easier for the hacker who can get rid of all in a few seconds and hack YOU.

What is the better option?

Privacy is precious and costless. There are many options such as Authy, Duo Mobile, Google Authenticator, etc. that works well with the temporary code generation. This is where multifactor authentication helps, where multiple authentication could be attached to web services. They work well without the network as well. These solutions cannot be easily intercepted either, unlike SMS based solutions.

In order to activate the authenticator app, you need to download it (per your choice). You have an option to select from Authy to Google authenticator or Duo Mobile. You can scroll down to the authenticator app, where you can click set-up on the 2-step verification page. If you want to register a new service, you will need to scan a barcode that displays on your screen.   

This doesn’t mean that multifactor authentication is an absolute answer but these could be entered into phony websites with the premise to steal your login details. We need to think ahead. 

Security keys

These are efficient USB based (physical options to attack with your device) used for account authentication. The most successful and popular (yet cheaper) one’s are Yubikey giving you a sense of security for 20 bucks only. In order to set Yubikey as an option, you first need to purchase it and scroll down to security keys where you can see an option to add a security key. You can rename your newly registered device and physically insert it to Yubikey to tap it when prompted.

NOTE – it is a little expensive to afford Type-C Yubikeys which are used for the Macbooks 2016 and beyond. For USB 2.0 and 3.o port holders, you have the option to use security keys with a Type-C USB adapter.

This is easy when you just have to attach your device or insert security key to the trusted device instead of typing regular codes. Their resistance to phishing attacks make them popular amongst all. Okay, so the problem is you will want to use Yubikeys for everything, but they cannot be used everywhere. These are used to login into Dropbox, Facebook, Google and major other browsers.

Bonus option – Backup codes

If, on a bad day, you lose your authenticator app or security key you have the option to use backup codes. You need to scroll down to backup (numeric) codes and click on set up. Keep these valuable codes.

You can also use a password generator for your accounts, as a second you can secure your deviceas well.  

Tip – EFANI

Since everything roams around sim swapping, every second, 3 Americans like you become a victim of cyber-criminals from across the world. Criminals are trading your personal information such as where you live, who you live or work with, your call and SMS records, and your family and relatives’ information. All of this is sold for as little as 20 cents. Criminals use your personal information to steal your number & get into your accounts to drain your finances, disrupt your business and destroy your reputation. We guarantee you protection against these criminals & back it with a $5M Insurance Policy. Our proprietary technology provides 11 layers of client-side integrity, privacy and authentication.

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How To Remove Bloatware from Android? (2020)

how to remove bloatware from android 2020
bloatware android
How To Remove Bloatware from Android? (2020) 17

Congratulations – for your new android phone. Is it in contract with any wireless provider or an OEM? If your answer is yes – this means it could be a home to preinstalled apps in your device. This process is known as bloatware, since most of the users won’t require it at all. The second issue here is that these are impossible or very difficult to uninstall, but we can still crack here. 

Brief background

Most of these unwanted apps come with no use but take precious space – at worst, worsening your device’s productivity and efficiency. It would have been nice if these apps were straightforward and “easy to uninstall”.

The issue is that it is really not stupidly easy to get rid of these bloatware – unless you have completely jettisoned or rooted the device. This guide won’t teach you how to root your device but will help you hide these apps from sight on unrooted devices.

Advice – please have a full backup of your device, and to use caution while deleting apps. Do not delete critical system applications, this will disrupt with a non-functioning phone.

What is a software bloatware?

The term software bloatware means that the preinstalled software on your device by carriers. These “value-added” applications are the revenue streamers for carriers as they need you to pay extra to use them.

The pre-installation is because of the contracts numerous carriers have with the manufacturers, leaving you with little to no choice to uninstall it. This bloatware often gets attention as bad reputation even though they are necessarily not malicious or bad.

How can I get rid of bloatware?

Don’t fret because you cannot get rid of them. Some of these bloatware can be uninstalled, but not deleted. We have options for you.

  1. You can disable bloatware on your device;
  2. Purchase device without bloatware

Let’s get into the details of both specified options.

Disable mobile bloatware apps

These bloatware disability steps are for devices running on Android 4.X and latest versions. The steps are as follows:

  1. Go to your device settings à you need to slide on the screen top and select icon with five squares “settings”
  2. Click on Apps and swipe right to highlight All at the top (to enter the app drawer)
  3. Simply scroll to the app you need to disable and tap on it, then Press disable
  4. When the warnings open, tap OK and once done, you can see the app removed from your home screen. This means it will not run in the background as well.

NOTE: You can also delete applications using the same steps but it will show you uninstall sign rather than deleting, you need to click YES or OK to the disclaimer and continue the process.

Purchase new devices without bloatware

If you are looking to upgrade your current device, you have the option to purchase a device free from bloatware. There are devices that can be purchased separately from carrier-interruptions, this means phones will won’t have carrier-specific or value added apps. 

Bonus – System app remover and root app delete (unique approach)

It is a free bloatware removal tool. This contains ads. You need to grant access to root your device when you open this app and categorize all apps you want to get rid of. Click on the uninstall button to remove the bloatware apps. The app will be contained in the recycle bin and you can restore them whenever needed. There is a unique approach offered by Root App Delete dealing with bloatware apps primarily. On the System Apps button, you will be given two options – Pro or Junior route. The Junior route of to hide or disable apps. The Pro route is to delete or completely remove these apps with no backups. It is advised to go for pro route as it is safe, but if you are virtually certain to delete an app (or more than one app) you can opt for the Pro route.

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The COVID-19 feature: Is there an unwelcome tracking application in your device?

the covid 19 feature is there an unwelcome tracking application in your device
covid apple application
Photograph – Apple

There has been a flood of new applications during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, one of the innovations (i.e. the Apple-Google Contact Tracing Plan) has called for privacy concerns and the newer exposure to COVID-19 logging is unsettling to many. However, other half of the world has discovered the tool has already been in place and has been used by the governments (as well as tech companies) to keep a track on people’s health.

What is this application Apple-Google Contact Tracing Plan all about?

Apple and Google rarely work together, however, because of this pandemic solely they formed a partnership enabling contact tracing API to limit the spread of coronavirus. Few misconceptions have limited the views of the “real rationale” for the development of such applications, these are presented in the next paragraph.

Let’s arrange the facts behind the pantomime:

  • Social media has created buzzing complaints from individuals that the update has not been authorized and has been updated without permission.
  • The “track and trace” rant took over the internet like a gazing fire. This application has been downloaded automatically under COVID-19 exposure notifications.

Facts: Privacy Nightmare or COVID-19 Panacea?

The claim that the application has been downloaded “on its own” is false and theExposure Notification API has been added to both devices – Android and iPhone. It is wrong to label this underlying developed technology as an application. In fact, this underlying technology has allowed the creation of a coronavirus tracking application which is needed by the health professionals.

Fast Forward: Google and Apple have also suggested to work on the creation of an environment that operates without the application need. They, however, are unclear of how it will work in the current capacity.

Learning point: Based on the fact, we have learned that neither Google nor Apple have uploaded the application without the explicit permission, ensuring that no automatic installation has taken place.

How can I turn on or off this update?

For Android: There is an entry in the settings section at the top of Android phone that states “COVID-19 exposure notifications.” Or you have to tap on Google and then onto the option COVID-19 Exposure Notifications. You will gradually see a lot of ways about how this tracking feature works. You will then see two settings that need your intervention to install the app compatible to your device. In other words, once you click it in your settings panel, you will be given an option that takes you to a screen detailing the need to install and finish the setting up to a level unless the activation to exposure notification has been made. One of the options is to delete the ID’s (random in nature) that your device has actually collected. The other salient feature is to turn off this feature entirely. The picture referenced below shows how the image looks in the Google Play Store section.

google application
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google support
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For the iPhone, this notably altered and improved the face recognition features, while fixing bugs. The settings can be installed by going to General > Software Update. Once the update has been done, the Face ID will promptly display your PIN in case of inability to recognize. Recently it has been an issue that Face ID keeps displaying PIN multiple times when it fails recognizing your face, especially when you are wearing masks in public.

apple google app
Apple/Google

This feature is also part of iOS 13.5 and you can find the feature by tapping on Settings > Privacy > Health > Covid-19 Exposure Logging. This provides you alert based on the recent (14-days based) contacts and based on these contacts there is a possibility that you could test positive for coronavirus. You can toggle this on or off. In order to get rid of the random IDs within your phone storage, you have to just click the Delete Exposure Log option, which can be seen at the bottom of the page.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m concerned about my privacy; will it breach privacy concerns?

A.   There are privacy concerns, however, most countries are adopting this and are placing health concerns above privacy concerns. The concerns have been raised that the data must be limited to healthcare professionals/ agencies and anonymity has to be respected, yet protected, while using the information.

This statement is important – “Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders,” the companies (Google & Apple) said in an April joint statement announcing the partnership. “We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze.”

Will this application drain my battery?

A.   There are concerns that Bluetooth is not accurate and not everyone uses it. On the other hand, Bluetooth drains the battery. Location details can be fetched from other sources such as GPs and cell towers, other than Bluetooth. GPS is more accurate and gets down to (>5 and to 20 meters).

What do I have to do to keep this feature working on my device?

A.   You need to have your location and Bluetooth on for this tracking feature. Relax, your actual location is not tracked – the app has nothing to do with how many times you left your home or where in the world you are. The rationale of the app is to know which random ID your device came in contact with, that’s all.

How does the app work?

A.   God forbid, if you are tested positive, this application will record the information and send it to the server through rotating ID’s, this in turn will get other devices notified about the situation. Those who have been in contact with you will be notified via an alert. This will prevent the coronavirus spread as those individuals will start taking test and self-isolation precautions – therefore, ceasing its transmission.

As of now, we are not aware of the number of devices using this app and it varies state-to-state in the USA. For instance, Utah is not interested in the implementation of this collaborative framework and is looking to work on its own tracking app. The steps we have learned from this guide are:

  • We have the choice either to download the application or not,
  • If installed, you have the option to notify those you have been in close proximity to,
  • If you met someone who has contracted COVID-19, your phone will notify you accordingly, please note that this feature will not display the name of the individual who has been tested positive or which location they last visited, the alert is subject to your concern/ risk only,
  • No personal information identified will be accessed by Apple/ Google.
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How to Secure Your Important Voicemails? (2020)

how to secure your important voicemails 2020
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The preservation of voicemails could be emotionally important to you or have a scholastic value to it. Unfortunately, hackers could disrupt it with one SIM swap. In this quick guide, we will teach you on securing your important voicemails [indefinitely] on any device, either Android or iPhone.

Gone are the days of preserving valuable voicemails on a cassette tape. Since digital space occupied all medieval modes, securing voice mails is simply too precious – or perhaps, too important to delete.

This is inevitably important to secure a voicemail, and you can technically keep voicemail saved in your mailbox, but this is not a viable long-term option. There is an option that the voice mailboxes may fill up and the apps will automatically delete older messages. There are chances you could lose your valuable voicemails if you buy a new device, or swap to another carrier.

Saving voicemails on iPhone

Let’s start with iPhones. Apple provides certain ways of securing/ saving your voicemails and sharing them, as well.

voicemails on iphone
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Pro Tip: You should enable your iCloud backup throughout.

NOTE: Sync your iPhone with iTunes for automatic backup of your Voice memos. This will backup it with your iTunes Library. This is only possible if syncing is ON, this way you can export files to Dropbox and other cloud storage services, like Google Drive and AirDrop.

  • Simply go to the phone app, and then Voicemail that is available on the far right bottom of your screen.
  • Tap on the voicemail you wish to save, after that click the share button (share button resembles an arrow that is pointing out of the box).
  • The sharing option gives you an option to share your Voicemail via Voice Memo, Messages, Mail, AirDrop.
  • Click on the Notes or Voice Memo, in order to save your voicemail. You have the option to access saved voicemails again in other apps and play it whenever you want to hear it. The apps will automatically backup, only if you have enabled iCloud backup.
  • In order to save the voicemail to your PC, desktop, or computer, you need to select AirDrop and then tap on your computer’s name, please note that the devices should be connected to the same network. After accepting AirDrop on your computer, you can proceed with saving your voicemail wherever you want.
  • If you want to send the voicemail to another individual, you can select the contact and send via Messages or Mail or AirDrop.

The procedure is different when it comes to visual voicemail from FaceTime. You have the option to save it from the Files app.

  • Open the file you want to store and tap select, file name and subsequently organize
  • Under “On My [name of device],” choose folder or you can tap o the folder icon with a “+” sign to create a new one.
  • Tap Copy and you’re welcome.

Saving Voicemails On Android

voicemails on android
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There are numerous manufacturers who manufacture android phones, so saving voicemail would vary slightly. Here are some notable guidelines:

  • Open voicemail app, tap and hold the voicemail you want to save;
  • You can see save, export, archive option that appears in the menu;
  • Tap “OK” or “save” to save the voicemail in the selected storage location.
  • There are not all providers offering voicemail apps safety that is compatible with your android device. Some third-party applications will prompt the Voicemail saving option, while others will cost you a few bucks. For instance, Google voice gives you a featured option to send your voicemail via email as an MP3 option. To opt this, you will need to sign up for this service and enable the setting, the messages you received previously will be stored in some other manner. You can also use VoicemailSaver that costs $3.99 only, but it saves your voicemails even if your phone is stolen or broken. For cost-free options you can try InstaVoice or HulloMail.
  • There is another option to store your voicemails to HDD, SD cards and other physical storage like USB flash memory.

Retrieve Voicemails from an Older Phone

voicemails on older phones
How to Secure Your Important Voicemails? (2020) 33

There might be circumstances that you won’t be able to save your voicemail through your device (neither the apps you trust) and would require the intervention of a PC or desktop to save them. This option is available for both of your devices. You may require some software and equipment.

If you have your voicemails saved in a non-smart device, it is best to save them on your desktop device or your smartphone devices. You need to have a male-to-male 3.5mm audio cable that connects the device to your computer.

  • Download Audacity (audio recording program) to your PC, you can use something similar as well; Garageband is applicable if you use MAC.
  • Find out the headphone and microphone port on your old device.
  • Jack in your 3.5mm cable in your old device and the other corner into your computer jack.
  • If you prefer to use Audacity, you first need to:
  • Do change your source of recording to “Line-In mic
  • Furthermore, proceed with clicking on Edit>Preferences>Recording
  • Then click on software playthrough.
  • Open your voicemail service on your phone. Click the red button on audacity and put the speaker on the phone if you are recording it through mic. Audacity’s timeline will show you the captured audio.
  • You can use the editing tools of Audacity to trim and save it by clicking on file>export to the designated file you want to save it to.
  • Open your phone’s voicemail that you want to save, click record on your audio recording program and play message, stop the recording when the message is done.
  • Save your computer file to preserve it.

NOTE: The audio quality won’t be perfect, but the message will be saved forever.

Bottom line

Whatever you save on your device needs to be private unless someone has permission to go through your device, images, apps, and files. Unfortunately, the embedded settings structure isn’t secure or password-protected. It is advised to protect your device from any malware activities and protect your privacy.

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