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What’s New In iOS 13

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Here's Apple iOS 13 roundup
Photo: frankieleon | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2019 felt like another typical Apple event — introducing new updates, particularly iOS 13, that’s set to make its user-friendly devices more efficient, smarter, and friendlier.

Apple’s 2-hour keynote passed by like a snap — with Apple introducing new additions to its latest OS. Hence, here’s the complete roundup of Apple’s iOS 13 that’s coming this Fall.

Dark Mode

Apple iOS13
Screenshot From: Apple

Confirming speculation, iOS 13 will come with a system-wide Dark Mode feature for all iOS devices.

The Dark Mode feature can be turned on or off via settings or through a new control center toggle. Once enabled, Dark Mode will immediately invert all colors on your iPhone. Apple’s first-party apps will all support the feature—including Apple Music, Notes, Messages, Photos, Calendar, Music, and more.

Also, Apple iOS developers will be able to customize their apps for Dark Mode through Apple’s newly announced framework, SwiftUI.

Dark themes have been a growing trend in smartphones that allows extending your device’s battery life by saving power consumed by OLED screens to project brighter displays like the typical white background. Mainly, this is visually the most noticeable change coming to with the iOS 13.

Apple Apps Updates

Apple’s apps only get updated annually or sometimes, bi-annually. However, updates coming to iOS 13 aren’t merely performance and bug fixes — Apple is introducing a ton of new things in individual applications that should allow more versatility among its first-party apps.

Preferential Changes

  • Mail is set to get new desktop formatting with richer text editing.
  • Safari is getting per-website preferences settings—allowing you to adjust things like font size.
  • The Notes app is getting folders and a new gallery view for looking at all your notes at once.
  • The Music app brings a lyric mode that shows the words live alongside the song.

Apple Maps

Apple is introducing new features to its Apple Maps app that should function like Google Street View — Look Around provides 360-degree street view visuals on chosen locations. You can zoom in and out on any locations.

But unlike Google Street View, Apple Maps allows you to share your locations to friends, your ETA, or favorite places to your friends.

Reminders

Reminders have been completely redesigned that should make the app functional in terms of actually reminding you of impending tasks.

There’s a new quick type bar to add a task. You can indent tasks below bigger tasks. You can also involve other people with your reminders, and they will receive a notification via iMessage.

iMessage

iMessage is set to become a more personal and more enjoyable experience for messaging. With iOS 13, you will be able to set a profile picture and share it with your contacts — much like WhatsApp — but you’ll get to control who can see it.

In typical Apple fashion, you can use Memojis as your profile picture. Apple is also using this opportunity to introduce improvements in the face-altering feature through more customization options. There are a ton of beauty and customization tools — elaborated in the video above.

Photos

Apple is adding a new portrait lighting effect — and portrait lighting will become more customizable. The camera app is getting more pro features with buttons to control saturation, highlights, shadows, etc. All of this will be available for videos, as well.

Finally, there’s also a rotate feature coming to videos.

When it comes to your photo library, iOS automatically hides duplicate photos to keep the best shots. There’s also a new tab to explore your photo library. Navigating your library feels more fluid with auto-playing video vignettes. There’s a new tab bar so that you can see highlights from the past years, months, and days.

Privacy

Photo From: TechCrunch

Apple is known for implementing security features way ahead of its competitors, like Google and Facebook. Today, during the WWDC, Apple wants to take it farther.

Apple is putting an end to location tracking in apps that continuously becomes a controversy starter. Apple will only allow users to share their locations once. Third-party developers soon won’t be able to share details about your Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth signal.

Also, quite interestingly, Apple is implementing its version of “Sign in with Facebook” or “Sign in with Google” with “Sign in with Apple.” Users will no longer have to succumb to lazy account making — by allowing third-party applications to access your personal information. You can even share a randomly generated email address that relays emails to your real email address.

There are extended security protocols for HomeKit, too, including a new Secure Video mode that encrypts video footages locally before sending that information to the cloud and will store them there for a maximum of 10 days without consuming memory space. Apple will not be able to see footage stored in your cloud — as they do not have the keys to access them.

To make HomeKit devices more secure, Apple is bringing HomeKit to routers, so that connected devices don’t always have to talk to the internet directly.

Siri

The voice that started the conversation on automated smart assistance is getting a revamp. It is now generated entirely by a neural text-to-speech technology rather than a human-based recording.

Siri will also be more functional with other Apple hardware such as the AirPods — where it will be able to read text messages for you and lets you respond immediately.

Moreover, CarPlay support is now compatible with more third-party apps like Waze. Siri can formulate suggestions based on your activities, connected apps, and smart home devices.

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These Series Of Ransomware Attacks Is More Than Just For Ransom — And The Government Should Listen And Investigate

Experts warn that the series of ransomware attacks against US City and state agencies is a message that the government should listen to. Click To Tweet

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Experts warn that the series of ransomware attacks against US City and state agencies is a message that the government should listen to.
Ransomware are plaguing city governments and experts warn that it will get worse. Photo: Christiaan Colen | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The ransomware epidemic is growing stronger, and researchers and tech experts warn that it will get much worse. Many ransomware attacks have been launched against city governments, private businesses, and have effectively shut down the system and social services in different states across the U.S.

According to a report by a cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, the recorded attacks rose from 38 in 2017 to 53 in 2018, and researchers noted that those numbers are expected to rise in the next few years.

Ransomware is not a new phenomenon. While malware remains to be the biggest threat in cybersecurity, ransomware is gaining traction in notoriety. In a typical ransomware attack, the attacker will send a Trojan, a worm, or malware to a system — to demand payment in exchange for the remedy to the ransomware. Sometimes, attackers threaten to publish the victim’s database or other secured information hidden within its system in exchange for a ransom.

Starting from around 2012, the use of ransomware scams grown internationally. There were 181.5 million ransomware attacks in the first six months of 2018. This result marks a 229% increase over the same time in 2017.

In June 2014, vendor McAfee released data showing that it had collected more than double the number of samples of ransomware that quarter than it had in the same quarter of the previous year. CryptoLocker was particularly successful, procuring an estimated $3 million before it was taken down by authorities, and CryptoWall was determined by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to have accrued over the $18 million by June 2015.

Atlanta ransomware attack

Probably one of the most significant and most damaging ransomware attacks in recent U.S. history, Atlanta had become one of the latest victims of ransomware attacks back in March 2018. The offense has knocked almost all of the city’s agencies offline, causing most of the social services to freeze including scheduling court cases and paying utility bills online. Furthermore, the ransomware has effectively caused decades worth of official correspondence to disappear in thin air.

Reports reveal that it took the city more than $17 million in costs to recover from the devastating effects of the ransomware.

Several tech experts have said that other cities should take the case of Atlanta to be a “wake-up” call for how vulnerable local and state governments were to these types of cyber crimes – and how underprepared they are to resist them. However, it seems like these calls have fallen to deaf ears.

More and more cities are being attacked

Just over 12 months later, Baltimore is in the throes of its costly ransomware attack. Now in its sixth week, the attack has left officials unable to process payments and even respond to emails. And Baltimore is not alone. In just the last two months, there have been ransomware attacks in Greenville, North Carolina; Imperial County, California; Stuart, Florida; Cleveland, Ohio; Augusta, Maine; Lynn, Massachusetts; and Cartersville, Georgia.

Related: Social Services Paralyzed Following A Ransomware Attack On Albany, New York

Increasing security defenses in companies shifted the target to government agencies

As corporations improve their security firewalls to prevent attacks like malware and ransomware against their systems from happening, hackers have found new ways to infiltrate vulnerable municipal and city systems whose defenses are much weaker. Add to that the fact that many cities and states are starting to digitize their records and services in recent years, making their juvenile systems vulnerable to all sorts of cyber crimes.

Read: Ransomware Are Plaguing American Cities And Experts Warn That It Will Get Worse

“The government knows it needs to change, but they move slowly compared to how quickly private business can pivot to manage their exposure to a new threat,” Gary Hayslip, a cybersecurity expert who previously acted as a chief information security officer for San Diego, said. “Until it is mandated that cities, counties, and states meet a specific level of security and have to demonstrate it as is done in business for compliance periodically, government entities will continue to be low-hanging fruit and cybercriminals don’t mind eating them for lunch.”

Moreover, because of improvements in technology and the availability of information online, it has become easier for cybercriminals to launch an attack. “On the dark web, there are lots of available tools for relative novices to craft together pretty effective pieces of ransomware technology,” said Chris Kennedy, chief information security officers at cybersecurity company AttackIQ. “It’s the ‘Idiots Guide to Hacking.’”

Read More: Ransomware Outbreak In Arizona Shuts Down Businesses

But with the growing number of cities and state agencies falling victims to ransomware attacks, will the government now listen? Maybe.

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A New Strain Of ‘Houdini’ Malware Is On Sale For $50 Per Month In The Black Market

The new Houdini malware targets financial institutions and their customers.

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A new strain of the Houdini malware known as Hworm has been discovered and it is now on sale in blackmarkets for $50 per month subscription.
A new strain of the Houdini malware known as Hworm has been discovered. Photo: Christoph Scholz | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

When someone mentions Houdini, it is almost instantly recalled to the world’s greatest magician and escape artist. But, cybercriminals have found a way to transform the man’s legacy into something feared and unwanted. A new strain of the Houdini worm has been detected by security researchers and has launched a new series of campaigns against financial institutions and their customers.

A few days ago, a report from cybersecurity researchers from Cofense confirmed that a new strain of the Houdini malware – also known as Hworm – was released by its creators on June 2, 2019.

The new Houdini malware only took five days to start wreaking havoc and seek out victims via malicious phishing campaigns. According to the report, the main goal of the malware is to steal online banking credentials which the culprits could later use to make fraudulent online purchases. It uses a tool dubbed as WSH Remote Access Tool (RAT).

“Houdini Worm (HWorm) – a misleading name because it has more in common with a bot or RAT than a worm – has existed since at least 2013 and shares extreme similarities with what is undoubtedly its malignant siblings: njRAT and njWorm. This new iteration comes ported to JavaScript (JS) from HWorm’s original codebase of Visual Basic. WSH is likely a reference to the legitimate Windows Script Host, which is an application used to execute scripts on Windows machines,” wrote the researchers in a blog post.

How does it work?

The cybercriminals masqueraded the phishing campaign as legitimate emails from various financial institutions and banks. One particular bank used by hackers is HSBC. The fraudulent emails contain .MHT web archive files which act the same way as HTML files.

The phishing email delivering WSH RAT within an attachment . Photo: Cofense

“The email attachment contained an MHT file that is used by threat operators in the same way as HTML files. In this case, the MHT file contained an href link which when opened, directed victims to a .zip archive containing a version of WSH RAT,” they added.

When the MHT file, which contains a web address link, was executed, it directs the victims towards a .zip archive containing the WSH RAT payload. WSH RAT uses the same configuration structure that Hworm uses for this process.

WSH RAT is a version of HWorm which has been ported to Javascript from HWorm’s original Visual Basic setup but acts in the same manner as the original malware. The Trojan not only uses the same Base64 encoded data — which Cofense describes as “mangled” — but also the same configuration strings, with default variables named and organized in the same way for both types of malicious code.

The Trojan first communicates with a command and control server, controlled by the cybercriminal, request three additional .tar.gz files. These files, however, are PE32 executables which provide the Trojan with a Windows keylogger, a mail credential viewer, and a browser credential viewer module.

It is also noteworthy that these modules were developed by other third parties and cannot be attributed to the original creator of the Houdini worm. Furthermore, reports reveal that the malware is being actively sold in underground forums and the black market. The price point for the infection is said to be at $50 per month subscription basis. Sellers are marketing their product by waxing eloquent about WSH Rat’s Windows XP and Windows 10 compatibility, evasion techniques, credentials-stealing capabilities, among others.

New malware variants are sprouting

Only recently, researchers from Google has discovered a Linux-based strain of another prevalent malware, Winnti, which was attributed to the high-value attack against a Vietnamese gaming company a few years back by some Chinese hackers.

Researchers made the discovery from the Chronicle, Alphabet’s cybersecurity department. The researchers revealed that they found a Linux variant of the Winnti malware that works as a backdoor on infected hosts, granting attackers access to compromised systems.

According to the Chronicle, the malware that they have discovered comes in two parts: a rootkit to disguise the malware in the infected host and the actual backdoor Trojan. Further analysis the discovered Linux variant of the Winnti malware bears a lot of similarities to the malware’s Windows version. Other connections with the Windows version also included the similar way in which the Linux variant handled outbound communications with its command-and-control (C&C) server — which was a mixture of multiple protocols (ICMP, HTTP, and custom TCP and UDP protocols).

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‘Pavlok’ SmartTech Bracelet Stops Bad Habits With Electric Shocks

Need a stronger approach to stopping your bad habits? Pavlok is ready to zap you into good behavior. Click To Tweet

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Photo: Fitnish Media | Unsplash.com

Studies suggest that it takes 21 days to make or break habits. The truth is, it’s not the longevity that most people struggle with — it’s the consistency. Enter Pavlok, a wearable tech that uses aversive conditioning — a kind of negative reinforcement — to keep you from your bad habits is now available in Amazon.

How does it work?

Pavlok is made of two parts: a one-size-fits-all wristband and an app that is available in Android and iOS. The band uses electric shocks, ranging from low to high setting, to enforce negative stimuli when you engage in your bad habits. It is the digital form of snapping your wrist with a rubber band when you bite your nails or sneak a quick cigarette break.

According to its Amazon webpage, Pavlok has sold more than 50,000 units since its official launch in 2015. Behavioral Technology Group Inc., the company responsible for the product, has since released two versions of Pavlok. It has also released a new product called Shock Clock, an alarm clock that zaps its user awake.

History of Pavlok

Maneesh Sethi, the CEO, and founder of Behavioral Technology Group, Inc. claims to have the idea for Pavlok when he created an experiment back in 2014. He shared in a blog post that he hired a girl from Craiglist to slap him whenever he went on Facebook. Based on his experiment, he increased his productivity and concluded that aversive conditioning worked for him.

In 2014, Sethi put up Pavlok on crowdfunding website Indiegogo to create their initial prototype. It targeted to get funding of $50,000 and walked away with more than $250,000 with a total of 1,763 backers.

Despite success in crowdfunding, Pavlok’s popularity soared only on May 20, 2016, when it was featured on the last episode of Shark Tank‘s season 7. Sethi refused Kevin O’ Leary’s offer because he doesn’t want to work with him. Even though Sethi’s venture on the popular hit show was amiss, he continued working on his digital aversive conditioning technique.

Mixed Reviews

Users on Amazon and blogs have mixed reviews with this unconventional wearable tech. Testimonials are available on Pavlok’s website, boasting success on breaking bad habits like nail biting, stopping cookie addiction, and eating too many sugary snacks.

While others swear by the results, others felt that Pavlok’s expectations fell short. With Pavlok 1, users have to manually zap themselves when they engage in a bad habit. Users reported that after some time, they learned to ignore the electric shocks or forget to zap themselves.

As an improvement, Pavlok included a feature which would allow your friends to zap you when they caught you red-handed. Aside from that, they integrated an IFTTT feature, which would allow users to input conditions for when they will receive their shocks. For example, if you are trying to remove your nail biting habit, you can simply input Pavlok to zap you when you lift your hand to your mouth. Of course, it only works when you use the hand which has the Pavlok device.

Future of Wearable Tech

Pavlok is just one of the hundreds of wearable tech designed to improve users’ quality of life. Apple is set to release Apple Watch OS 6, which includes a menstrual cycle tracker. It is a much-awaited update after the launching of Apple Watch Series 4 last September 2018.

Starkey, a company focused on producing hearing aids, launched Livio AI last year as well. It is a hearing aid marketed for people who do not need any hearing aids. It features integrated sensors to detect noisy environments and lessen them, thereby reducing the user’s exposure to noise pollution. It also boasts an almost perfect language translation app that lets you understand 27 languages.

With the rise in popularity of these products, wearable tech has a bright future.

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