Stolen passwords, iPad security, 5G networks
Bob's Tech Talk
April 1, 2019
Q. Is two-factor authentication worth the effort every time I log on to an account?
A. I agree that two-factor authentication is more work, but that is its most valuable feature. The extra work keeps accounts more secure.
Password theft is rampant. Data breaches have become so common and the number of victims involved so large it is easy to overlook as someone else’s problem. That is an understandable point of view, but it is a mistake.
Security techniques that were state-of-the-art a few years ago are not enough any longer. We have to keep ahead of the criminals.
I advise using two-factor authentication on every account that matters. Avoid using a cell phone number and text messages as the second factor, because text messages can be hijacked. Instead, use a special verification app such as Authy or Google Authenticator.
For iCloud/AppleID accounts, register the devices themselves. If a change is made to one of the devices, all of the other devices are automatically notified. Even when it seems like extra work, I am convinced that two-factor authentication is worth the effort.
Q. I love to play games on my iPad. Several weeks ago a popular game publisher sent me an email invite to become a beta-tester. I feared the unsolicited message might be trouble, so I never replied. But now I wonder, did I miss out?
A. Congratulations on your suspicious nature – it probably saved you a great big headache.
Apple keeps tight control over the App Store, but there is a new security breach making the rounds: abuse of enterprise profiles. These profiles permit companies to distribute apps for internal use, like an employee handbook or a private message system.
Instead, some companies misused the Apple Developer Enterprise Program profiles to authorize apps that would never be acceptable in the App Store. Profiles are a big security risk, especially if the device is used by a child.
To check if your device has a profile, ask Siri to “open general settings” on each iPhone and iPad you own. Once open, scroll down until you see the item “iTunes Wi-Fi Sync” followed by “VPN.” There may be a third item in that group titled “Profiles.”
If the “Profiles” item does not exist, the device is good. If it does exist, tap on it to reveal the Profiles screen.
The screen may be blank, which again is good. If not, you should probably delete any item or items listed. Once deleted, the app that needs a profile will stop working. But your phone will be much more secure.
There is a recognized beta test program for App Store apps. Participation is by invitation, and you are directed to install an app from the App Store titled “TestFlight.” This approach does not open up the entire device to malicious software.
Any invitation that does not mention TestFlight is likely fraudulent. In this case, your good judgement to not click on strange links paid off.
Q. My friend’s new Android phone shows 5GE instead of LTE. What are the benefits of 5G and should I consider it for my next upgrade?
A. Those little icons at the top of smartphone screens are the “jumbo
shrimp” of cellular networks. Which is to say big words that mean little.
No doubt if you follow tech you have heard that 5G networks are coming. To get a jump on the competition at least one cell network provider has decided to relabel its existing network. Another cell carrier cried foul and hauled the first company into court because, well, big companies have lots of lawyers.
Widespread deployment of 5G networks remain at least a few years off. At present, that 5G icon is little more than a mirage.
While we wait, save your money for something real. Maybe try some jumbo shrimp.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Everything is Worse Now
The idea that technology is spoiling everything is not new. This podcast covers moments in history when conventional wisdom was sure new inventions like the bicycle or the umbrella would bring ruination upon us all.
Netflix Search Engine
Netflix already has a search box, but it does not have the power that this site does. Flixable finds movies to focus on by searching specific data points, such as release dates, genres or subject guides.
Wash the Bad News Right Out of Your Head
This is the site you visit after stumbling on something awful. Recover your wits with soothing images of dogs. Tap the space bar for more.
A tech enthusiast his entire life, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.