Tag Archives: Wi Fi

Today on international Safer Internet Day, Microsoft Corp. released the results of its second annual Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI), revealing that more than half (55 percent) of global respondents are experiencing multiple online risks, yet only 16 percent say they take multiple proactive steps to help protect themselves and their data. This year the MCSI also examined mobile safety behaviors, uncovering that although less than half of respondents (42 percent) run software updates on their personal computers, only 28 percent run regular updates on their mobile devices, potentially compounding their risk.

 

“Mobile devices often have just as much, if not more, valuable personal information stored on them as a home computer, making mobile devices equally attractive to data-stealing criminals,” said Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft’s incoming chief online safety officer. “The latest MCSI results demonstrate that no matter where or how people access the Internet, exercising safer online habits is essential. There are steps that people can take and technologies that they can employ to help prevent them from becoming a victim.”

 

The MCSI surveyed more than 10,000 PC, smartphone and tablet users in 20 countries and regions about their personal approach to online safety and assigned a point scale of 0 to 100 based on their answers. The global average score was 34 for PC online safety and 40 for mobile. An abbreviated version of the MCSI is available at Microsoft Computing Safety Index Survey for people to check how savvy they are when it comes to online safety.

 

Other key worldwide findings from the MCSI include the following:

 

• Theft of password or account information was cited as a concern for 47 percent of respondents, with 33 percent saying they use secure websites and 28 percent saying they avoid using open Wi-Fi spots on their mobile devices.

 

• Forty-eight percent of respondents said they worry about computer viruses, with fewer than half (44 percent) turning and leaving on firewalls, and just more than half (53 percent) installing antivirus software on their PCs.

 

• Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they worry about having their identity stolen, yet only 34 percent have a PIN (personal identification number) to unlock their mobile device, and just 38 percent say they educate themselves about the latest steps to help prevent identity theft.

 

Microsoft offers a range of online safety tools and resources at http://www.microsoft.com/security, including the following practical steps consumers can take to stay safer online:

 

• Lock your computer and accounts with strong passwords and your mobile phone with a unique, four-digit PIN.

 

• Do not pay bills, bank, shop or conduct other sensitive business on a public computer, or on your laptop or mobile phone over “borrowed” or public Wi-Fi (such as a hotspot).

 

• Watch for snoops. People scouting for passwords, PINs, user names or other such data may be watching your fingers or the screen as you enter that data.

 

• Treat suspicious messages cautiously. Avoid offers too good to be true and be wary of their senders, even if the messages appear to come from a trusted source.

 

• Look for signs that a Web page is secure and legitimate. Before you enter sensitive data, check for evidence of encryption (e.g., a Web address with “https” and a closed padlock beside it or in the lower right corner of the window).

 

• Reduce spam in your inbox. Share your primary email address and instant messaging name only with people you know or with reputable organizations. Avoid listing them on your social network page, in Internet directories (such as white pages) or on job-posting sites.

Microsoft Computing Safety Index Shows Consumers Do Little to Change Online Habits Despite Multiple Risks.

Microsoft Reinvents Wi-Fi for White Spaces

Microsoft has developed a new kind of Wi-Fi network that performs at its top speed even in the face of interference. It takes advantage of a new Wi-Fi standard that uses more of the electromagnetic spectrum, but also hops between the narrow bands of unused spectrum within television broadcast frequencies.

In 2008, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved limited use of “white spaces“—portions of spectrum adjacent to existing television transmissions. The ruling, in effect, expanded the available spectrum. Microsoft developed the new network partly as a way to push Congress to allow much broader use of white spaces, despite some concerns over interference with some other types of wireless devices, such as wireless microphones.

The fastest Wi-Fi networks, which can transmit data at up to a gigabit per second, use as much spectrum as possible, up to 160 megahertz, to maximize bandwidth. Krishna Chintalapudi and his team at Microsoft Research have pioneered an approach, called WiFi-NC, which makes efficient use of these white spaces at these speeds.

Rather than using a conventional Wi-Fi radio, it uses an array of tiny, low-data rate transmitters and receivers. Each of these broadcast and receive via a different, narrow range of spectrum. Bundled together, they work just like a regular Wi-Fi radio, but can switch between white-space frequencies far more efficiently.

That means the system is compatible with existing equipment. “The entire reception and transmission logic could be reused from existing Wi-Fi implementations,” says Chintalapudi.

The team calls these transmitters and receivers “receiver-lets” and “transmitter-lets.” Together, they make up what’s known as a “compound radio.”

The resulting wireless network doesn’t increase data rates in specific ranges of spectrum above what’s currently achieved with latest-generation technology. It does, however, make more efficient use of the entire range of spectrum, and especially the white spaces freed up by the FCC.

The new radio integrates with a previous Microsoft project that provides a wireless device with access to a database of available white-space spectrum in any part of the United States. That system, called SenseLess, tells a device where it can legally broadcast and receive. WiFi-NC then chooses the bands of spectrum that have the least interference, and broadcasts over them.

By sending its signal over many smaller radios that operate in slivers of the available spectrum, WiFi-NC suffers less interference and experiences faster speeds even when a user is at the intersection of overlapping networks. This is important because the white spaces that may be authorized for commercial use by the FCC are at the lower ends of the electromagnetic spectrum, where signals can travel much further than existing Wi-Fi transmissions.

Whether or not Microsoft’s WiFi-NC technology gets commercialized depends on Congress, says Kevin Werbach, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, and an expert on the FCC’s effort to make more spectrum available for wireless data transmission.

“The problem is that many of the Congressional proposals to give the FCC [the authority to auction off currently unused bandwidth] also restrict it from making available white spaces for devices around that spectrum,” says Werbach.

Microsoft hopes WiFi-NC will persuade Congress to approve wider use of white spaces.

“It is our opinion that WiFi-NC’s approach of using multiple narrow channels as opposed to the current model of using wider channels in an all-or-nothing style is the more prudent approach for the future of Wi-Fi and white spaces,” says Chintalapudi. The team’s ultimate goal, he adds, is to propose WiFi-NC as a new wireless standard for the hardware and software industries.

Microsoft Reinvents Wi-Fi for White Spaces – Technology Review.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T17XQI_AYNo]

The Android developer who raised the ire of a mobile-phone monitoring company last week is on the attack again, producing a video of how the Carrier IQ software secretly installed on millions of mobile phones reports most everything a user does on a phone.

Though the software is installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut analyzed its workings, revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience — ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control.

But now he’s released a video actually showing the logging of text messages, encrypted web searches and, well, you name it.

Eckhart labeled the software a “rootkit,” and the Mountain View, California-based software makerthreatened him with legal action and huge money damages. The Electronic Frontier Foundation came to his side last week, and the company backed off on its threats. The company told Wired.com last week that Carrier IQ’s wares are for “gathering information off the handset to understand the mobile-user experience, where phone calls are dropped, where signal quality is poor, why applications crash and battery life.”

The company denies its software logs keystrokes. Eckhart’s 17-minute video clearly undercuts that claim.

In a Thanksgiving post, we mentioned this software as one of nine reasons to wear a tinfoil hat.

The video shows the software logging Eckhart’s online search of “hello world.” That’s despite Eckhart using the HTTPS version of Google which is supposed to hide searches from those who would want to spy by intercepting the traffic between a user and Google.

Cringe as the video shows the software logging each number as Eckhart fingers the dialer.

“Every button you press in the dialer before you call,” he says on the video, “it already gets sent off to the IQ application.”

From there, the data — including the content of  text messages — is sent to Carrier IQ’s servers, in secret.

By the way, it cannot be turned off without rooting the phone and replacing the operating system. And even if you stop paying for wireless service from your carrier and decide to just use Wi-Fi, your device still reports to Carrier IQ.

It’s not even clear what privacy policy covers this. Is it Carrier IQ’s, your carrier’s or your phone manufacturer’s? And, perhaps, most important, is sending your communications to Carrier IQ a violation of the federal government’s ban on wiretapping?

And even more obvious, Eckhart wonders why aren’t mobile-phone customers informed of this rootkit and given a way to opt out?

via Researcher’s Video Shows Secret Software on Millions of Phones Logging Everything | Threat Level | Wired.com.