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7 things data privacy experts wish you knew about app security – CNET

Keep your data safe from prying phone apps. James Martin/CNET Can you really trust the apps on your phone? When it comes to data privacy, smartphone apps are notoriously tough to trust. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell at face value if an app is tracking you, even when you say stop, and no protection is…

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7 things data privacy experts wish you knew about app security     – CNET

Keep your data safe from prying phone apps.
James Martin/CNET
Can you really trust the apps on your phone? When it comes to data privacy, smartphone apps are notoriously tough to trust. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell at face value if an app is tracking you, even when you say stop, and no protection is foolproof in today’s world of ever-evolving technology. An app that behaves well today could turn into a bad actor tomorrow if the company behind the app is sold, changes its direction or winds up compromised because of a flaw. There are ways to find and delete the data Google has saved about you, along with some new privacy settings in Android 12 and iOS 14 to stop apps from tracking you. And Apple also launched a “privacy nutrition label” in iOS 14, which allows you to see what kind of data an app collects before you download it.Read more: Apple boosts your privacy in 4 new ways on iOS 15But there’s more you can do to protect your data privacy and improve your smartphone security. We reached out to data privacy experts for their top tips to protect your personal data when using apps. Here are their seven suggestions.1. Use a password manager
Brett Pearce/CNET
The strongest passwords are random strings of characters. A series of letters, numbers and symbols in no particular order is less likely to be found in the dictionary and harder for a computer to crack with brute force. The downside is that these complex passwords are much harder to remember.This is where a password manager app comes in handy. Password managers keep all your passwords in one encrypted and password-protected app. They also generate and remember strong passwords. While apps like Google Chrome and Samsung’s proprietary phone app will offer to save passwords for you, security experts always go to the password manager.It’s also best to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. If one account is compromised in a data breach, all the accounts are compromised. With a password manager, each one of your accounts can have a different, complex and hard-to-crack password. Some will even generate passwords for you.We recommend one called Bitwarden, but there are many other password managers to choose from.
James Martin/CNET
2. Use a VPN on public Wi-FiIf you’re going to get on a public Wi-Fi network while on your phone instead of using your mobile data, experts suggest using a VPN. A virtual private network can keep your data from being snooped on by other people lurking on the same public network. They can also mask your data transmissions, avoid filtering and censorship on the internet and allow you to access a wider variety of content around the world. For our purposes, it can shield you from having to get on a free public network that others can use to gain access to your phone. When looking for a provider, it’s important to research the company to find out if it’s well-known and trustworthy. The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store have dozens of VPN apps that are free, but some have questionable practices, so take care.Regardless of how frequently you plan to use a VPN, it’s important to read through the service agreement so you know what data might be collected and where it will be stored. See CNET’s guide to the best VPNs.

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3. Be mindful of app permissionsOne tip that almost all of the experts mentioned was double checking which permissions the app asks for. You should also ask yourself whether it makes sense for an app to ask for certain permissions. An app asking for access to data that isn’t relevant to its function is a major warning sign.”[If] you’re downloading a simple app for a pocket calculator for instance and the app is requesting access to your contact list and location,” said Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher. “Why would a calculator need to see your contact list and location? Requests like that should ring some alarm bells.”
Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET
In addition to paying attention to permissions that you grant to an app, it’s also important to monitor how your phone behaves after you download it. Shlomie Liberow, a technical program manager and security guru at HackerOne, said that drastic changes in your device’s battery life are another red flag, since malicious apps can constantly run in the background. “If after installing an app, you notice your battery life decreasing faster than usual, that may be a tell-tale sign that the app is up to no good and is likely operating in the background,” Liberow said. Here’s how you can keep your app permissions in check.4. Research the app or companyWhile you can’t tell at face value if an app has sinister motives, a quick Google search can supply more information. The experts suggested searching the name of the app and the phrase “data scandal” or “scam.” Hart said the results should tell you if the company has experienced any recent privacy or data leaks.”This search should also tell you if data breaches are a common occurrence at that company and, if they have experienced any, how they have responded to them,” Hart said. “If the company has been affected several times and done nothing to address the problem, steer clear of the app — it suggests that they aren’t taking the issue seriously.” Joe Baker, an IT Systems Administrator at Anderson Technologies, said it’s wise to avoid an app if it’s the only one a developer has produced or if the developer was responsible for any other shady apps.5. Limit social media exposureFacebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal put the popular social network in hot water. But even people who’ve freed themselves from Facebook’s siren call after the fallout (or never created a profile in the first place) might still be at risk for privacy invasion. If you appear on a friend or family member’s account, you’re still visible online. After those accounts are observed, companies can construct a “shadow profile” that details a person’s likes, dislikes, political leanings, religious beliefs and more.

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It’s wise to limit the amount of information you share on social media, regardless of what the site asks for on your profile. The more information you share, the more data that’s available to create advertisements for you. Only fill out the absolute minimum amount of information necessary. The more information is at risk in the event of a data breach.”Smartphone apps are generally more ‘thorough’ when it comes to targeted advertising. There’s even concern among some about those programs accessing your phone’s microphone (presumably for more targeted advertising),” Bobby Kittleberger, head of Legal Software Help, told CNET. 6. Keep software up to dateMaking time to update your smartphone’s operating system is critical to keeping your data safe, according to Walsh. The updates let you stay a step ahead of hackers and the latest exploits they’re spreading across the internet. Hart suggested adjusting your phone’s settings so it’ll update automatically.”Think of software updates like vaccinations for your smartphone,” Hart said. “The methods that criminals use to hack into your phone and steal your data are constantly evolving, so the ways that we protect our smartphones need to evolve too.”While you can side-load apps, it’s more secure to only install them from the Google Play Store or App Store.
Angela Lang/CNET
7. Only download apps from Google and Apple’s storesNot all the apps in the App Store or the Google Play store are 100% trustworthy, but experts still say you should only download from the official stores, rather than side-load an app.”Apps available on these platforms will have been vetted to ensure that they meet a standard quality of data protection and will also be required to produce a dedicated privacy policy for you, telling you just how they protect your data,” Hart told CNET.Downloading an app from unofficial or insecure sites increases the risk of ransomware, malware, spyware and trojan viruses infecting your device, according to Walsh. He says in the worst case scenario, the hacker can take full control of your device.In addition to avoiding apps that are the only one a developer as produced, Baker encourages users to see how long an app has been available and take a look at the reviews before downloading.”A natural assortment of reviews should include varied rankings,” he said. “Some fraudulent apps will also display fraudulent reviews.”You should question irregular patterns of speech, high ratings with no description or explanation. Baker also said to check if an app has been written about on a third-party site.”Long-form reviews from peers are going to be the best and most reliable source of information here,” Baker said. For more, check out how to stop apps from tracking you in iOS. 

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Huawei’s new flagship P50 series has Snapdragon 888 and two camera bumps – CNET

Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET Huawei has taken the wraps off its latest superphone series. It unveiled the P50 and P50 Pro in an online event Thursday, each of which are getting a China-only release for now. The main superpower of Huawei’s phones has long been their cameras — and the P50 is no exception. In fact, you…

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Huawei’s new flagship P50 series has Snapdragon 888 and two camera bumps     – CNET

Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram/CNET
Huawei has taken the wraps off its latest superphone series. It unveiled the P50 and P50 Pro in an online event Thursday, each of which are getting a China-only release for now. The main superpower of Huawei’s phones has long been their cameras — and the P50 is no exception. In fact, you can see the emphasis Huawei put on the cameras as soon as you look at the phones: Both the P50 and P50 Pro have not one but two camera bumps, which together take up more than a third of the phone’s rear width. This wasn’t entirely a surprise, since Huawei had teased images and videos of the lineup ahead of the event, but it does make for an eye-catching new design, which does away with the dual hole-punch design of the P40 series.The P50 Pro has four cameras on its rear: a 50-megapixel main, a 64-megapixel telephoto, a 40-megapixel monochrome and a 13-megapixel ultrawide lens. The P50 has a similar camera bump, but it has one less lens. There’s a 50-megapixel main camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto and a 13-megapixel ultrawide. Surprisingly, the base version has better optical zoom than the Pro version (5x versus 3.5x optical zoom). Each has 13-megapixel selfie cameras.Huawei’s P50 lineup was launched in China on Thursday.
Huawei
Beyond the camera, the P50 series stacks a range of enviable features, as expected (see the specs list below for more details). A crisp and smooth OLED display, a large battery, fast charging (66 watts) and powerful processors. The P50 series comes in two variants — one powered by the company’s own Kirin 9000 chipset and the other by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 4G CPU. Qualcomm was granted permission to sell chips to Huawei last year. These chipsets are backed up by 8GB of RAM and 256 or 512GB of flash storage. You may recall Huawei phones no longer feature Google apps — a consequence of crippling US sanctions. But the P50 series is one of Huawei’s first new lineups to debut the company’s own operating system, Harmony OS, which the Chinese telecom had developed in-house to replace Google Mobile Services in its smartphones. When the P50 launches internationally, it should provide Huawei with the opportunity to gauge consumer response to the company’s in-house software and whether it’ll gain wider adoption among international shoppers amid the backdrop of Huawei’s eroding smartphone market share.  Huawei’s Richard Yu unveiled the company’s P50 series in a virtual launch event.
Huawei/Screenshot by Sareena Dayaram
Huawei is starting out with a China release before the series gets an international rollout (if it ever does), though specs may vary slightly based on your country. The P50 Pro starts at 5,988 yuan (roughly $930, £665 or AU$1,256), while the P50 starts at 4,488 yuan (roughly $695, £500 or AU$940).Key specsHuawei P50 Pro 4GDisplay: 6.6-inch OLED, 120Hz, 2,700×1,228 pixels, 450ppiDimensions: 158.8×72.8×8.5mmCamera: 50-megapixel main, 64-megapixel telephoto, 40-megapixel monochrome, 13-megapixel ultrawideProcessor: Snapdragon 888 4GBattery and charging: 4,360 mAH, 66-watt charging, 50-watt wirelessWater and dust resistance: IP68 ratingHuawei P50 4GDisplay: 6.5-inch OLED, 90Hz, 2,700×1,224 pixelsDimensions: 156.5×73.8×7.9mm Camera: 50-megapixel main, 13-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel telephotoProcessor: Snapdragon 888 4GBattery and charging: 4,100 mAh, 66-watt chargingWater and dust resistance: IP68 rating

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Grab a Ring Doorbell and an Echo Show 5 bundle for $65 today – CNET

ring Having a Ring Doorbell is one of the best ways to know what’s happening at your front door when you’re not home, because it lets you see what’s happening right from your phone. When you are at home, however, you may not always have your phone om hand. This is one of the best…

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Grab a Ring Doorbell and an Echo Show 5 bundle for $65 today     – CNET

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Having a Ring Doorbell is one of the best ways to know what’s happening at your front door when you’re not home, because it lets you see what’s happening right from your phone. When you are at home, however, you may not always have your phone om hand. This is one of the best reasons to pair your Ring doorbell up with an Echo Show, as it lets you immediately see what’s happening from that camera. It’s why you frequently see Ring products and Echo Show products bundled, but it’s rare to see those bundles as heavily discounted as the one available today. The wired version of the Ring Doorbell is perfect for anyone who already has a doorbell system in their home and wants to make it a little smarter. And when you pair an Echo Show 5 with it, you have a screen that lets you peek outside from wherever in the house you set it up. This setup is incredibly handy for people who work in a room that isn’t near the front door of their house, or if you’re elbows deep in meal prep in the kitchen and can’t clean your hands off fast enough to reach for your phone. This huge discount is a great way to make your front door safer, and if you have an Amazon login you can purchase from the Ring website as though you were purchasing from Amazon itself. 

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How to use the automatic responses on Ring Doorbells – CNET

Chris Monroe/CNET Ring’s video doorbells can talk to the delivery person at your door when you don’t feel like it. They can even tell your annoying neighbor to go away. Ring’s Quick Replies feature debuted recently and is rolling out on newer models like the Ring 4. It’s even available via an update on older models…

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How to use the automatic responses on Ring Doorbells     – CNET

Chris Monroe/CNET
Ring’s video doorbells can talk to the delivery person at your door when you don’t feel like it. They can even tell your annoying neighbor to go away. Ring’s Quick Replies feature debuted recently and is rolling out on newer models like the Ring 4. It’s even available via an update on older models dating back to the Ring 2. From the app, you can pick from a variety of automatic responses and then, when your doorbell rings, your smart gadget will do the talking on your behalf. 

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Check out the video to see it in action. Here are the steps to enable the feature and customize it to your liking. From the main page of the app, click on the settings icon on your device. You can also tap the image from your doorbell cam to pull up a menu specific to your device, then tap the settings icon. The icon itself will in the top right corner in both cases and looks like a gear wheel.Once in the settings menu, look for a button labeled “Smart Responses” and tap it. Everything else is pretty intuitive.You can turn the feature on and off with the toggle at the top. Turn it on and you’ll see options for response time and what message to relay. You can set the response time to “immediate” to have the doorbell talk right away or you can give yourself a few seconds delay if you want to respond most of the time. If you answer the door, the quick reply won’t also join in.  Ring has a variety of generic messages to pick from. You can have it say things like “leave the package” or “we’re not interested.” You can also prompt the person to leave a message, but you’ll need to subscribe to Ring’s premium service to be able to watch the clip later on and see what they said.

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That’s all you need to know to use this simple but helpful feature. I do wish Ring offered a little more customization or conditional responses so it only gave an automated answer at night, for instance. As it stands, the feature is easy to flip on or off, so when you’re expecting a delivery, you can quickly prep an automatic response from the friendly robotic helper inside your Ring Video Doorbell. 

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