Life without a smartphone is getting harder and harder

I’ve always gotten by fine without owning a smartphone – until now. Covid has made my already obsolete 90s-designed Nokia flip-phone nearly useless. I’m suddenly surrounded by QR codes. There are now Airbnb doors I can’t open, cars I can’t start, menus I can’t read. Paper menus have vanished; ordering food has become an ordeal.

At a recent dinner with friends, after some initial chatting, everyone stared at menus on their phones. I sat there for a minute looking around the table and then whispered to my neighbor, discreetly asking to look on. When I eat out alone, I show my flip-phone to the waiter and ask for a proper menu. After an eye-roll, they’ll either bring out a paper menu from some vault in the back or hand me their own phone to use.

It’s awkward when I ask a stranger for directions and they pull out their smart phone, looking at me as if to say, “where’s your phone?” My brother says I’m like a smoker who won’t buy her own pack, but smokes everyone else’s. I never wanted to start smoking at all, but the world is conspiring to make me bum one. If I bought my own, I know I’d be smoking a pack a day.

Americans check their smartphones an average of 96 times a day, which works out to once every 15 minutes. Two-thirds of Americans check their phones 160 times every day. Social

— source theguardian.com | Jen Wasserstein | 4 Nov 2021

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Digital Farm Technology Is Not the Climate Panacea Corporations Want You to Think It Is

Smartphones have revolutionised our way of living. No need to visit a library when looking for information—we just go online. Convenience is convincing. But can digital technology solve all the problems in the world?

The idea of going high-tech in agriculture gained traction as a silver bullet against world hunger and climate breakdown during the corporate-backed UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) last month.

“New and innovative technologies such as biotechnologies, precision agriculture and digital agriculture […] need to be harnessed to improve food systems,” in the words of the UNFSS Scientific Group.

Conglomerate

While technology is often associated with the pursuit of comfort and progress, it isn’t always so. Not everyone ends up as a winner.

— source theecologist.org | Astrud Lea Beringer | Oct 19, 2021

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S.Korea fines Google $177 mln for blocking Android customisation

South Korea’s antitrust regulator has fined Alphabet Inc’s Google $176.64 million for blocking customised versions of its Android operating system (OS), in the U.S. technology giant’s second setback in the country in less than a month. The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said on Tuesday Google’s contract terms with device makers amounted to an abuse of its dominant market position that restricted competition in the mobile OS market. The bill was passed in late August and it bans app store operators such as Google from requiring software developers to use their payment systems. The requirement had effectively stopped developers from charging commission on in-app purchases.

— source reuters.com | Sep 15, 2021

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An explainer on the Pegasus Spyware

The recent Pegasus Project revelations of about half a lakh people across the world, including several in India, being targeted for cyber surveillance has firmly brought the spotlight on the Pegasus spyware, which is widely understood to be the most sophisticated smartphone attack tool. The revelations also mark the first time that a malicious remote jailbreak exploit had been detected within an iPhone.

Pegasus is a spyware (Trojan/Script) that can be installed remotely on devices running on Apple’s iOS & Google’s Android operating systems. It is developed and marketed by the Israeli technology firm NSO Group. NSO Group sells Pegasus to “vetted governments” for “lawful interception”, which is understood to mean combating terrorism and organised crime, as the firm claims, but suspicions exist that it is availed for other purposes.

NSO Group’s majority ownership vests its co-founders Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulo, and the European private equity fund Novalpina Capital. An American private equity firm,

— source theleaflet.in | Prashant Pandey | 21 Jul 2021

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Digital Evidence in the Shadow of Pegasus

In the recent Arjun Khotkar ruling, the apex court laid down the law relating to section 65B of the Evidence Act, 1872. However, after the Pegasus controversy, coupled with other episodes that reveal how easy it is to invade the electronic devices of any individual, more elaborate directions are needed.

Pegasus, the spyware developed by the Israeli cyber arms firm NSO Group, can easily infect electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones. It can then read messages, track the location, access the device microphone and camera, etc of an unsuspecting user. It can avoid detection by antivirus and get deactivated remotely.

Considering how sophisticated Pegasus is, the only probable way to deal with this virus is to get rid of the phone. The gravity of the matter is such that after a hacking episode, WhatsApp admitted the data of its users was compromised and filed a suit in

— source theleaflet.in | Abhay Nevagi | 03 Aug 2021

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A Look at How Pegasus Brings the Best of Technology to Achieve the Worst

The NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware adds new layers and unique capabilities to a highly sophisticated and booming surveillance software industry to overcome modern challenges posed by encryption, masking and frequent SIM card replacement.

In this regard, the Pegasus marketing brochure, made public as part of WhatsApp’s filings in a US court case against the Israeli company, provides an insight into the spyware’s tech stack, architecture, and features.

Though this marketing brochure is likely outdated, and thus does not represent the leaps that have likely been taken over the last few years, it still provides an important glimpse into the different layers of data collection, transmission, presentation and analysis built into the spyware.

Dissecting Pegasus: Understanding different layers of the spyware

— source thewire.in | Devesh Kumar | 02/Aug/2021

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Phone Numbers of 14 World Leaders on Pegasus List

The Washington Post on Tuesday revealed that three presidents, 10 prime ministers, and a king are among the more than 50,000 individuals whose phone numbers appeared on a leaked list of potential targets of Pegasus, the military-grade spyware licensed by Israeli firm NSO Group, prompting human rights defenders to call for a global crackdown on the surveillance industry’s invasive technologies.

According to the Post, the phone numbers of hundreds of public officials, including 14 heads of state and government, appeared on the list. It was not possible to confirm if the world leaders’ smartphones had been infected with Pegasus, however, because none agreed to a forensic analysis of their iPhones or Android devices.

The newspaper reported that the list included three siting presidents (France’s Emmanuel Macron, Iraq’s Barham Salih, and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa) and three current prime ministers (Egypt’s Mostafa Madbouly, Morocco’s Saad-Eddine El Othmani, and Pakistan’s Imran Khan). Also on the list were seven former prime ministers, whose numbers were added while they were still in office, according to time stamps.

— source commondreams.org, washingtonpost.com | Jul 20, 2021

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#pegasus

Smartphone gaming can be harmful for some seeking relief from boredom

Smartphone gaming can be harmful to players who game to escape their negative mood and feelings of boredom, a new study has found. Researchers at the University of Waterloo found that bored “escape players” — those who have difficulty engaging with the real environment and sustaining attention — may seek “flow,” which is a deep and effortless state of concentration in an activity linked to loss of awareness of time and space. individuals who game to escape boredom by using smartphone games such as Candy Crush become more immersed in gameplay than non-escape players. However, when escape players find these games more rewarding as a relief from boredom, they may play more frequently and for longer periods. Those who play to escape experience greater flow and positive affect than other players, which sets up a cycle of playing video games to elevate a depressed mood. This is maladaptive because, although it elevates your mood, it also increases your urge to keep playing. Playing too long may lead to addiction and means less time is available for other healthier pursuits. This can actually increase your depression.

— source University of Waterloo | Jul 21, 2021

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From dangerous tunnels in Congo to consumers’ mobile tech

The sun was rising over one of the richest mineral deposits on Earth, in one of the poorest countries, as Sidiki Mayamba got ready for work.

Mayamba is a cobalt miner. And the red-dirt savanna stretching outside his door contains such an astonishing wealth of cobalt and other minerals that a geologist once described it as a “scandale geologique.”

This remote landscape in southern Africa lies at the heart of the world’s mad scramble for cheap cobalt, a mineral essential to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles made by companies such as Apple, Samsung and major automakers.

But Mayamba, 35, knew nothing about his role in this sprawling global supply chain. He grabbed his metal shovel and broken-headed hammer from a corner of the room he shares with his wife and child. He pulled on a dust-stained jacket. A proud man, he likes to wear a button-down shirt even to mine. And he planned to

— source washingtonpost.com | Todd C. Frankel | Sep 30, 2016

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LinkedIn sued over allegation it secretly reads Apple users’ clipboard content

Microsoft Corp’s LinkedIn was sued by a New York-based iPhone user on Friday for allegedly reading and diverting users’ sensitive content from Apple Inc’s Universal Clipboard application. According to Apple’s website, Universal Clipboard allows users to copy text, images, photos, and videos on one Apple device and then paste the content onto another Apple device. According to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court by Adam Bauer, LinkedIn reads the Clipboard information without notifying the user. According to media reports from last week, 53 apps including TikTok and LinkedIn were reported to be reading users’ Universal Clipboard content, after Apple’s latest privacy feature started alerting users whenever the clipboard was accessed with a banner saying “pasted from Messages.” According to the complaint, LinkedIn has not only been spying on its users, it has been spying on their nearby computers and other devices, and it has been circumventing Apple’s Universal Clipboard timeout.

— source reuters.com | Jul 11, 2020

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