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After WhatsApp updated its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service on Monday with additional info on how it handles users' data, the company is now notifying users through the mobile app that, starting February, they will be required to share their data with Facebook. "Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA," the company said earlier this week. "Since we started WhatsApp, we've built our Services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind." However, despite its focus on users' privacy, WhatsApp is now giving its users a harsh ultimatum, with only three options available: to accept sharing their data with Facebook, to stop using the app altogether, or to delete their accounts. The new updates are definitely a 180-degree turn when compared with last year's privacy policy, enforced starting with July 2020, which says that users are able to choose not to have their WhatsApp account info shared with Facebook to improve your company's ads and products. With the new changes to the policy, users will now be forced to accept sharing their data with Facebook to continue using their account or, as an alternative, delete their accounts as WhatsApp says. "By tapping AGREE, you accept the new terms and privacy policy, which take effect on February 8, 2021," WhatsApp's notification says. "After this date, you'll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp. You can also visit the Help Center if you would prefer to delete your account and would like more information." This week's privacy policy updates, however, also state that WhatsApp will now share the users' data with the other 'Facebook Companies' — this will happen even if the users do not have a Facebook account and have never used Facebook before. Facebook companies that will gain access to WhatsApp users' data once the new policy changes take effect in February include Facebook, Facebook Payments, Onavo, Facebook Technologies, and CrowdTangle. "We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products," WhatsApp explains. "The information we share with the other Facebook Companies. includes your account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using our Services, mobile device information, your IP address, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent." Information collected by WhatsApp from its users also includes location data, payment information, as well as device diagnostics data. While WhatsApp previously allowed users to download collected account information, the company was forced to provide additional information on how its apps' are handling user data starting with December 2020, after Apple started requiring it from all applications listed on its App Store. At the moment, the Apple App Store privacy labels on WhatsApp Messenger's entry says that the app is collecting and linking the following type of data to its users' profiles: Follow this thread on OUR FORUM.

CES 2021 is filled with loads of uncertainties. How does the show replace the excitement of hands-on time with gadgets when everything is remote? Is there anything worth tuning in for? Will the heavy hitters of the tech industry show up? But one thing is for sure: 5G will be front and center at the trade show, which kicks off next week in a virtual format. Like last year, 5G will dominate the conversation. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg is the first keynote speaker at CES, kicking things off Monday evening with a talk about the next-generation cellular technology. Capping off the show on Wednesday will be Samsung, which is expected to unveil its Galaxy S21 family -- 5G-enabled, of course -- in a separate event that isn't officially part of CES, but that will capture much of the same audience. In between, expect a lot of 5G. "Wherever you look across the [virtual] show floor, 5G will come up," Steve Koenig, vice president of research for the Consumer Technology Association, said in an interview with CNET senior reporter Shara Tibken. Ultimately, he said, "it will really touch everything we're doing." Also like last year, there won't be too many 5G phones beyond Samsung's offerings. CES has never been a mobile-centric show, with launches occurring later in the year. But the environment is radically different than in last year's show. For one thing, millions more people have a 5G device, thanks to a flood of phones that launched over the past 12 months, including Apple's iPhone 12 family and cheaper options like TCL's 10 5G UW for Verizon. Beyond phones, 5G-connected computers may make an appearance, according to Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. "It's mainstream from a product hype perspective," said Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research. At a show where many of tech's heavy hitters, like Google, will have a minimal presence and showgoers won't have a chance to get their hands on products, discussions about the future of technologies like 5G hold more weight. Networks are far more mature as well, with all three major US carriers offering nationwide 5G coverage. Vestberg was last seen in November on stage with Apple CEO Tim Cook to tout his 5G network with the iPhone 12, and he's likely to press that momentum on the virtual stage at CES. Indeed, 5G could spark a shakeup among the carriers and their respective reputations for network quality, according to CNET editor Eli Blumenthal. While Verizon sports a short-range but super-fast network to augment its slower nationwide coverage, T-Mobile has been rolling out a network using a type of spectrum that offers a good mix of range and speed, potentially giving it the best 5G experience out of the big three. T-Mobile and AT&T have also both deployed that speedy, short-range network, called millimeter wave, but at a smaller scale than Verizon. AT&T and T-Mobile are largely sitting this CES out from a 5G front, giving Verizon the full stage. But that doesn't mean there won't be plenty of chatter about 5G at the show. CNET will hold a panel (quick plug: I'll be hosting it) on how 5G might be used to solve some of the issues exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, from closing the digital divide to making telemedicine more palatable and creating more engaging remote learning experiences. CES will feature nearly 20 sessions on the topic, exploring areas from 5G powering automation to aiding farming technology. Smart cities will also be on the agenda. Follow this and all events at this Virtual CES 2021 on OUR FORUM.

According to an industry leader, Huawei may be the first manufacturer to announce a 3nm chipset Is Huawei about to pull a special card from its sleeve in the battle for smartphone supremacy? According to an industry leader, its flagship processor is about to get a boost, according to a report in GizmoChina. Strangely enough, it has just been a few months since Huawei announced the Kirin 9000 processor. The chipset comes in two variants – the Kirin 9000 and Kirin 9000E – and is found only in the Mate 40 series smartphone, GizmoChina reported. Now, an industry leader has disclosed details about the next flagship Kirin processor which has been reported to be called the Kirin 9010. The info about the new Kirin processor comes from the leaker @RODENT950, and according to the tweet, the next-gen Kirin processor should arrive as the Kirin 9010 and it will be a 3nm chipset, GizmoChina reported. The Kirin 9000 launched as the first 5nm processor for Android devices and after its announcement came the Samsung Exynos 1080 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. While most people will expect Huawei to stick to the 5nm process for at least two years, this leak reveals it is making the jump to 3nm for its next mobile chipset, which if all goes well, should launch this year and possibly appear in the Mate 50 series by Q4, GizmoChina reported. Speculation is that other chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm could follow suit and switch to 3nm for their next-gen flagship chipset if the news about Huawei’s 3nm chipset is true. The San Diego-based company is expected to announce a Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset later this year, which should be a 5nm processor like its sibling but with a higher clock speed, GizmoChina reported. Samsung, on the other hand, has been reported to be skipping the 4nm process and jumping to 3nm. Apple is also expected to announce 3nm processors that will be built by TSMC but it is not expected to arrive until 2022. So there is a chance Huawei may be the first manufacturer to announce a 3nm chipset. Chip processors are defined in nanometers (nm), in which the number defines the distance between transistors and other components within the CPU. The smaller the number, the more transistors that can be placed within the same area, allowing for faster, more efficient processor designs. Smaller transistors also consume less energy, which means lower power consumption. And because of lower power consumption, there’s lower heat dissipation, meaning cooler processors. It isn’t as easy as it sounds though – the process of shrinking these processes. Making smaller transistors requires very precise instruments and machines, which is why processors built on smaller processes will be costlier than older, larger ones.  Moore’s Law, an old observation that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every year while the costs are halved, held for a long time but has been slowing down lately. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, transistors shrunk in size by half every two years, leading to massive improvements on a regular schedule. But further shrinking has gotten more complicated.  To get better informed visit OUR FORUM.

You can get a Microsoft Account for free, but that doesn't begin to describe its value, especially if you use that account for crucial email and cloud storage. Follow these seven steps to establish a solid baseline of security and protect that account from intruders. What's your most valuable online account, the one most deserving of protection? If you use a Microsoft account to sign in to a Windows PC, that account and its associated email address should be the one you guard most jealously. That's especially true if you use that Microsoft account for OneDrive storage and Office 365 documents. In this post, I list seven steps you can take to help you lock that account down so it's safe from online attacks. As always, there's a balancing act between convenience and security, so I've divided the steps into three groups, based on how tightly you want to lock down your Microsoft account. (It's worth noting that this article is about consumer Microsoft accounts used with Home and Personal editions of Office 365, Microsoft 365, and OneDrive. Security settings for business and enterprise Microsoft 365 accounts are managed by domain administrators through Azure Active Directory, using a completely different set of tools.) Baseline Security is sufficient for most ordinary PC users, especially those who don't use their Microsoft email address as a primary factor for signing in to other sites. If you're helping a friend or relative who's technically unsophisticated and intimidated by passwords, this is a good option. At a minimum, you should create a strong password for your Microsoft account, one that's not used by any other account. In addition, you should turn on two-step verification (Microsoft's term for multi-factor authentication) to protect yourself from phishing and other forms of password theft. When that feature is enabled, you have to supply additional proof of your identity when you sign in for the first time on a new device or when you perform a high-risk activity, such as paying for online purchase. The additional verification typically consists of a code sent as an SMS text message to a trusted device or in an email message to a registered alternate account. Baseline precautions are adequate, but you can tighten security significantly with a couple of extra steps. First, install the Microsoft Authenticator app on your iPhone or Android device and set it up for use as a sign-in and verification option. Then remove the option for using SMS text messages to verify your identity. With that configuration, you can still use your mobile phone as an authentication factor, but a would-be attacker won't be able to intercept text messages or spoof your phone number. The most extreme security, add at least one physical hardware key along with the Microsoft Authenticator app and, optionally, remove email addresses as a backup verification factor. That configuration places significant roadblocks in the way of even the most determined attacker. It requires an extra investment in hardware and it definitely adds some friction to the sign-in process, but it's by far the most effective way to secure your Microsoft account. You need a strong, unique password for your Microsoft account. The best way to ensure that you've nailed this requirement is to use your password manager's tools to generate a brand-new password. Generating a new password ensures that your account credentials are not shared with any other account; it also guarantees that an older password that you might have inadvertently reused isn't part of a password breach. The next step is to save a recovery code. If you're ever unable to sign in to your account because you've forgotten the password, having access to this code will save you from being permanently locked out. On the Microsoft Account Security Basics page, find the Advanced Security Options section and click Get Started. That takes you to the not-so-basic Microsoft Account Security page. Don't leave the Microsoft Account Security page just yet. Instead, scroll up to the Two-Step Verification section and make sure this option is turned on. The setup process is a fairly straightforward wizard that confirms you are able to receive verification messages. If you're using a modern smartphone with an up-to-date version of iOS or Android, you can safely ignore the prompts to create an app password for the mail client on those phones. Microsoft recommends that you have at least two forms of verification available in addition to your password. If you need to reset your password when two-step verification is enabled, you'll need to supply both of those forms of identification or you risk being permanently locked out. A free email address, such as a Gmail account, is acceptable if your security needs are minimal, but a business email address is a much better choice. If necessary, you can have a verification code sent to that address. More complete details can be found on OUR FORUM.
It can happen in the blink of an eye. You put your Android phone down on a counter at the checkout stand or feel a slight bump as you get off the subway, only to later realize your phone is missing. Regardless of how you lose it, be it theft or a simple mistake, losing your phone is a stressful experience. Losing your phone cuts off your access to the rest of the world; it is likely the most personal device you own. Replacing it is a costly nuisance. In the event your phone goes missing, don't panic! There are tools built into every Android phone that make it possible to lock and track down a lost phone with ease. But first, you'll need to take some steps now to set yourself up for success if and when your phone does go missing -- even if you only left it in the house. You can take a few steps now to be ready if you lose your phone. Do yourself a favor and turn on passcode and fingerprint authentication. Do yourself another favor and don't use facial recognition on your Android device. On most Android devices, the technology used for facial recognition can be easily tricked with something as simple as a photo of your face. Google's Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are the exceptions here, as they use a more reliable system similar to Apple's Face ID. Next, create your passcode and set up fingerprint authentication in the Settings app under the Security section. I realize scanning a fingerprint or entering a PIN code every time you want to use your phone can be inconvenient, but the idea of someone having access to your photos, banking apps, email, and the rest of your personal info is downright scary. An extra step to unlock your phone is worth the effort when you consider the potential impact of exposing your personal info to a stranger.  Any time you sign in to an Android device with a Google account, Find My Device is automatically turned on. Google's free Find My Device service is what you'll use should your phone ever go missing to track, remotely lock, and remotely erase it. Check to make sure Find My Device is enabled on your Android phone by opening the Settings app and going to Security & Location > Find My Device. Alternatively, if your device doesn't have a Security & Location option, go to Google > Security > Find My Device. Find My Device should be turned on. If not, slide the switch to the On position. Finally, double-check that the ability to secure and remotely erase the device is turned on by going to android.com/find on your computer, selecting your phone, and clicking Set Up Secure & Erase. A push alert will be sent to your phone -- tap it to finish the setup process. Samsung has long offered a Find My Mobile service to help Galaxy phone owners track down their lost phones. The service is separate from Google's Find My Device offering, and is something you can -- and definitely should -- set up. Not only does it give you a backup service you can use to track down a lost phone, but it also gives you tools that Find My Device doesn't have. With Samsung's service, you can do things like forcing remote backups or see if someone has swapped out your SIM card. You'll need to use your Samsung account to set up Find My Mobile. However, more recently, Samsung announced a new service called SmartThings Find. The new feature works like Apple's Find My app by crowdsourcing the location of a lost device, even if it's offline, but telling nearby Galaxy devices to look for its Bluetooth signal and report its location if it's found. All of which, of course, is done anonymously. As for SmartThings Find, you'll need to have a Galaxy device running Android 8 or newer. The setup process should already be taken care of as long as you're running the latest version of the SmartThings app. I had to go into the Galaxy Store app and update it myself, but once I did that the main page of the SmartThings app had a map showing the last location of my Galaxy Buds ($80 at Amazon), along with other Samsung devices that are linked to my account below the map. If it's not set up automatically, you may have to tap on a SmartThings Find button and follow the prompts to register your device. Once it's turned on, you can view the location of your device(s) by opening the SmartThings app and select SmartThings Find. Read this how-to in its entirety on OUR FORUM.

As the 116th Congress comes to an end, the annual defense authorizing legislation (NDAA) is among its most important pending matters — and tucked within it is the most important internet issue that you’ve probably never heard of. While not as visible as COVID relief or continuing government funding, the massive Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA Conference Committee report addresses many important defense and non-defense issues, including the naming of military bases after Confederate officers, limits on the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Germany and Afghanistan, a threatened presidential veto over the absence of a repeal of Section 230 and much more — to say nothing of the roughly $740 billion in military programs the law would authorize for the current fiscal year. Amid these, both the House and Senate bills and the Conference Report address an important internet issue that is not much discussed and not much understood outside of a small circle of industry, scholarly, military, intelligence, and law enforcement experts. The resolution of the issue (which won’t get the kind of attention that creating a new “National Cyber Director” will get) could have an enormous impact on the shape and future of the entire internet — far beyond the military and defense communities. Labeled “information sharing,” to put it most simply, it’s whether the U.S. Government (or any government) should regulate and control information about cyber threats that is shared by internet (and other) companies with U.S. military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies — or whether the sharing of cyber threat information by internet companies should continue to be voluntary and led by industry. The issue is often addressed in vague terms, but at its core, it divides American industry, the tech sector, and even the internet industry itself — and its resolution will establish basic rules for how the internet is regulated by the U.S. government and most other governments. The Fiscal 2021 NDAA Conference Report partly addresses this issue and partly postpones it. That’s not surprising, given its complexity and enormous implications for the shape of the internet. Aside from the political fact that nearly everyone supports “cooperation on cybersecurity” between government agencies and internet companies, the debates over mandatory versus voluntary cooperation is further complicated by the fact that serious cyber threats to the U.S. originate not only from a foreign military attack but also from anyone from a bored high school student to a professional crime ring. Cyber threats from any of these could jeopardize large parts of our economy or social structure. So, a major underlying issue in mandatory versus voluntary “information sharing” is that the problem that’s being addressed is not just defending against a foreign military attack on the United States. It is, arguably, defending against any type of cyber threat from anyone. The details are quite complex, but the core issue has been hotly debated for over a decade and even echoes policy debates over industry regulation that go back to the 1980s. Like several other cybersecurity issues, the issue of “information sharing” was highlighted by the recent report of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which looked at the full scope of cyber threats to the U.S. and set forth a wide range of proposals to improve America’s cybersecurity. The Commission singled out companies that are part of the “defense industrial base” (which could include quite a large swath of the internet industry) and concluded that they and other internet companies need some form of new, mandatory information sharing for the national security of the United States. Historically, there have been many — mostly in intelligence, law enforcement, and the military — who believe that major internet companies should be legally required to rapidly share information about cyber threats with law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies. These advocates of mandatory and regulated information sharing are supported by some defense contractors and many businesses that depend on the integrity of the internet for their business. Generally, their view is that whatever drawbacks this form of regulating the internet may have are a small price to pay for the significant increase in security and stability that mandatory and regulated information sharing would offer. For more visit OUR FORUM