Weekly News Roundup 24/10/2016

Google has a new (good) phone, YOU probably killed the internet last last week and a new emergency website launched in time for the WA bushfire season.

Google has sent a clear message to the other big players in the smart phone market by releasing the Google Pixel and Pixel XL and I was fortunate to have a front row seat as I got my hands on a Google Pixel for myself.

imag0250The new pure-android phone is Google’s first real push into the top end of the smart phones by making it’s own smartphone much like Apple and Samsung do. Before anyone pipes up and calls me out on this I would like to remind them that Apple does not assemble their own phones, Foxconn does. Apple designs the phone, sources the hardware and contracts another company to put the pieces together. Google has done exactly the same so we can all get over that.

The phone is a serious contender although it may lack the water resistance of the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge it makes up with a very fast and capable competitor. The Pixel boasts the following advantages.

  • Better camera than any other phone on the market.
  • An extra hour or two of battery life.
  • Fast charging going from 0% to 70% in 15 minutes.
  • Intelligent Assistant that outperforms Google Now (Samsung) and Siri (Apple) with a more conversational style.
  • Unlimited cloud storage of all photos and videos on Google Photos in full resolution.
  • Security updates and patches issued directly from Google like Apple does.
  • Easy migration from any phone using a single cable and adapter between phones. No need to mess with backups or additional equipment.
  • Ready for VR with the new Daydream VR standard set by Google.

This is now my smartphone of choice even though I would have loved to have seen water resistance built in, we can keep our fingers crossed to see that in the Pixel 2. Take a look at the video below to see what is in the box and my fumbling around to transfer from my old phone.

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL is available outright from the Google store or JB Hifi. Telstra is the exclusive carrier for the Google Pixel and Pixel XL starting at $99/month.

Large parts of the Internet went dark last week and you might have had a part in it.

l3outage-580x330Late Friday night Perth time, people had problems accessing services like Twitter, Reddit, Amazon and even Netflix. It was an unprecedented outage caused by a DDoS attack that stunned the experts with it’s sheer volume and set alarm bells ringing that had been sounding for years now in the IT security world.

It was all due to the millions of internet connected devices including routers, internet connected security cameras, DVRs and so many other internet connected things.

The problem has its root in default usernames and passwords and the ability to have their code altered. A classic example is an internet connected security camera.

It is often configured to run and security is rarely thought of because most people think “I have nothing of value to take” when in fact the thing of value to the hackers is the spare processor time on the smart camera that they can leverage to execute DDoS attacks on any target they choose.

Last Friday, that target was the DYN DNS servers responsible for directing user requests to large chunks of the internet and when these servers were overwhelmed with garbage requests, they could no longer keep up and legitimate requests simply could not get through.

The worrying part is that experts believe that this was just a test run and the worst is yet to come as billions of potentially compromised devices are still out there waiting for the next command to strike.

I outline more of the problem and give an immediate solution in this post.

Just in time for the Bushfire Season, the emergency services of WA launches the best way to track bushfires yet.

ce9eb4b544214b8133a0793a68bd2780_400x400With the warmer weather finally approaching we also face the annual threat of bushfires. Previously I tracked threats using a number of tools including the Geosciences Sentinel satellite tracker, weather forecasts and google maps.

Now, Emergency services has released its new website that tracks calls to 000 for bushfire advices as well as current status and responses from fire and rescue crews.

A website well worth putting in your favourites as it is simple to use and up to date.