Categories
Security

The vice president should not be using Bluetooth headphones

Yesterday, Politico opened its newsletter with an article on Vice President Kamala Harris’ aversion to using Bluetooth headphones. The VP was “Bluetooth-phobic,” the story claimed, “wary” of her AirPods and cautious with her technology use to an extent former aides described as “a bit paranoid.” Proof could be seen in her televised appearances: wires dangling from her ears in an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid or clutched in her hand during the famous “We did it, Joe” call.

But for a high-profile public official, this is a lot more reasonable than you might think. As security researchers were quick to point out, Bluetooth has a number of well-documented vulnerabilities that could be exploited if a bad actor wanted to hack, say, the second most powerful person in the US government.

Some of these attacks come down to the basic mechanics of how the Bluetooth protocol works. With Bluetooth switched on, a phone, laptop or other smart device is constantly broadcasting a signal that can be detected by other devices in range — which provides an unnecessary vector for attack that can easily be eliminated by simply keeping Bluetooth off. Assuming Bluetooth is enabled, a smartphone user generally gets a prompt from any unknown device trying to connect. But in certain cases this can be skirted, as with one exploit that impersonates a trusted Bluetooth device already known to the user in order to connect to the phone, at which point the attacker can request or send data via Bluetooth.

(The complexity of this attack makes it unlikely to affect regular people, but for a figure like the VP — who is undeniably a high-value target for foreign surveillance attempts — there’s a non-zero chance of falling victim. It also affects both Android and Apple devices, the latter of which Harris appears to use.)

Other less severe Bluetooth attacks would let an attacker crash devices through denial of service, essentially overwhelming a phone with connection requests until the processor is unable to respond. Again, such attacks have previously affected both Android and Apple devices, although iPhones are considered to have a more secure implementation of Bluetooth.

In total, the CVE Program, which tracks cybersecurity vulnerabilities, lists 459 current and historic vulnerabilities that mention Bluetooth, suggesting that Kamala Harris is right to be wary. There’s a simple way to mitigate all of these attacks — disabling Bluetooth, sticking to wired headphones — but doing so means swimming against the technological current, and maybe looking like you can’t afford AirPods.

Still, Harris’ justified distaste for Bluetooth is a win for anyone who’s been met with skepticism for suggesting that hey, perhaps they want to carry around a ball of tangled headphone wires instead of connecting wirelessly via a decades-old protocol. If anyone should be shunning the latest technology in favor of the secure option, it’s the vice president.



Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Tech News

How to text iPhone vids that aren’t blurry on Android (and vice versa)

Sadly, our friends don’t all have iPhones. That means some of our Message chats are peppered with green bubbles and send over regular SMS instead of via Apple’s ultra-fast iMessage system. But it’s not just the color and speed that makes iMessage superior: it’s also the clarity and downright watchability when dealing with videos.

If you thought the latest Game of Thrones episode was hard to see, clearly you’ve never sent a video from Messages on your iPhone to a friend with an Android phone. If they responded with something like, “What is this?!”, it probably wasn’t because of the content—it’s because they could barely see what was going on in the clip. By the time it reached their device, the video is a blurry, garbled mess. That carefully edited HD clip you took on your new iPhone was reduced to an unwatchable sludge once it reached your friend’s phone. And the same is true of the videos they send you.

iphone android blurry IDG

Your Android friends will see a blurry mess where a video is supposed to be.

The phenomenon can also affect group messages. As they say, once bad apple can spoil the bunch, so if one of the recipients in your group is on an Android phone, then the entire message will be sent over SMS. Hence, all users will see blurry, barely watchable videos, even iPhone users with iMessages enabled.

What gives? While it might seem like it’s the result of sabotage between platforms, that’s not the case. It has to do with compression. Apple handles the iPhone-to-iPhone delivery of texted videos, so no matter the size, videos are sent and received in their original quality. However, that’s not the case when not using Apple’s system from start to finish—your carrier gets in the way, and that’s when things break down.

Sent Pictures are mostly OK (large ones will be compressed but still viewable), videos files are hit hard. Texting from Android to Android will see minor compression, but it’s compounded when going from iPhone to Android or from Android to iPhone, since Apple’s system gets in the way. Even when sending relatively short video clips (around 15MB to 20MB), they’ll be compressed on one end and stay that way, resulting in a blurry, unwatchable video.

How can you fix it? Convince all of your friends and family to get an iPhone, of course, so everything you send will be over iMessage. Since that’s probably not realistic, here are some workarounds.

Use a third-party messaging app

The reason why texting video between iPhones and Apple’s Messages app doesn’t result in blurry photos is because Apple controls the compression on both ends. The same is true when you’re using another messaging service, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. If you send a video using any of these services, it’ll reach your recipient with its quality intact (as long as you don’t run into any file-size limitations). However, you need to convince your friends to sign up and use the same service you use.

Use email instead

If there’s one messaging service that tried and true, it’s good, old-fashioned email. We all know how it works: launch your client of choice, create a new message, choose the video you want, and hit send. And you’ll be sure that it arrives in the same quality as it was sent.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link