Jailbreaking Devices Makes You Easy Prey

Everyone who has ever played Monopoly covets the “Get Out of Jail Free” card. It’s instant freedom. Some people like to “jailbreak” their cellphones for the instant freedom of doing something a manufacturer or carrier never intended. But if you jailbreak a phone or other device, you’ll likely never pass go and collect $200 – nor will you find free parking. You and others are more likely to pay a lot of rent.

Here’s why, and it’s very simple. Most updates for phones, tablets and computers – if not all – revolve around security. With so many more hackers using more sophisticated tools to get inside of any system, security is a preoccupation. Whenever you jailbreak a device, you open a hole for someone to breach.

It wouldn’t be that bad if a security issued affected the owner who jailbroke a device. Unfortunately, this can go viral very fast. Let’s look at one possibility – and you may never look at your babysitter the same way after this.

People jailbreak devices to get application feature sets, among other reasons. It could be that a high school or college student jailbreaks a phone to download music. Now, let’s say you and your babysitter use smartphone apps so you can transfer funds to pay up at the end of the night. There is no way for you to know if someone has used that security breach in the download app to get into your babysitter’s financial information. If they have, they could use that information to trace your bank account that’s associated with your phone.

But it’s not just your babysitter. Anybody who uses the convenience of paperless money transfer can be vulnerable to a security breach if one of you has jailbroken your device. We recently saw an article in a British newspaper about 250,000 iPhones being hacked as the result of Apple Pay transactions. The article had a sensationalistic tone, but once you got past that, it was easy to see that all hacked phones had been jailbroken.

If you use Google Wallet, the Android platform, you face the same hacking risk if you jailbroke your phone. In our “tap-and-go” world of speed and convenience, it won’t matter how secure the payment system is if your phone is the weak link.

So, your safety is very simple. Don’t jailbreak your phone, and be very careful about where and with whom you do on-demand business. I, for one, have a pretty high level of understanding about what goes in the electronic netherworld where hackers play, and I would never be foolhardy enough to think I could beat them at their game.

If you have a jailbroken phone and want to relock it, we can walk you through a procedure. However, be aware that once you start the process, it’s irreversible, and you will delete all information, files and settings on your phone. If you want to re-lock a SIM card, it must be done by your carrier. Only they have the software to restore factory settings for their network. If you are buying a used cell phone, we can help you with the process to make it safe and secure. We can answer any questions you may have about cell phone security. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or send us an email

Connected Cars Have Blind Spots

As computers and connectivity become prevalent in the automotive industry, we’re finding more ways in which your “electronic tires” can be slashed. It goes beyond leaving your personal information footprints in a rental car – or even having a hacker stop you cold on an interstate highway – as we discussed earlier this year.

Technology is lapping the car companies’ capability to keep up with the latest developments. With Internet connectivity just about anywhere in the US, it’s easy for any automotive service provider to “talk” to your car. In fact, Tesla has made a point about that. Because their system is so software-driven, they can make repairs directly through an Internet connection while the car sits in a garage.

The manufacturers of more mainstream cars, though, are still increasing their use of the Internet to avoid you having to return to the dealer just for a software update. While your first thought is probably getting updated maps or upgrades for your factory-installed navigation system, it can go much farther than that.

According to an article in Auto Connected Car News by Brian Jonston, over-the-air (OTA) software updates can reduce warranty costs, potentially increase overall completion rates for software-related recalls, improve customer satisfaction by eliminating trips to the dealership for software upgrades or fixes, and provide the ability to upgrade functionality and add features to automotive infotainment systems over a vehicle’s lifetime. He cites a report from IHS Automotive that estimates auto manufacturers worldwide could save $35 billion in recall and update costs by 2022, mostly for telematics and infotainment system updates.

“Japanese OEMs have been pioneers in navigation map updates in Japan via their telematics systems. BMW, VW and Tesla have all recently announced OTA procedures for updating navigation maps,” Jonston writes. “Hyundai and Ford both have proof of concept systems for OTA map updates, and will also likely deploy such systems in the near term. Total vehicles in operations that are enabled with map OTA updates are projected to grow from approximately 1.2 million units in 2015 to nearly 32 million units by 2022, according to IHS forecasts.”

Jonston adds that Infotainment software OTA updates are much larger and more complex than software app updates and need to use Wi-Fi rather than LTE 4G service because of mobile network limitations. This category is emerging and will be a growth segment in the next five years, with players like Ford, Chrysler and GM expected to adopt these systems. Infotainment software updates, such as updates to the infotainment OS and user interface, will grow quickly over the next six years to more than 96.4 million enabled vehicles by 2022.

The OEMs that use software platforms most effectively will be able to save costs and improve sales and customer retention. But they need to get into the fast lane on the information superhighway. My car lease, for example, is up in the very near future, and the level of technology is stopping me from getting a new model. I’ve experienced numerous problems, especially with Bluetooth compatibility with my cell phones and infotainment systems.

It all makes me wonder if the auto manufacturers can catch up to companies such as Apple and Google, who seem to be able to do a much better job of integrating their systems. With the new model year for cars generating excitement (and generating deals for clearing out last year’s models), you might be thinking about a new car. We can help you look at the infotainment features of the cars you are considering and help you integrate your devices with the car – avoiding multiple trips to the dealer or an aftermarket systems provider. Knowing how you use technology, we can help you buy and install the technology you need to get full benefits and enjoyment from your system. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to answer your questions and get you on the road.

Public Beta Testing is Here to Stay

Today’s computing environment is making everyone a test pilot. IT support specialists are accustomed to getting early versions of new software, such as the new Windows 10 and Apple’s El Capitan operating systems, and putting it through its paces. It helps us learn about issues we can expect to affect our clients while offering feedback to the publishers. But now, we have testing partners: you, the user.

Here’s why it’s better for everyone.

IT specialists, developers and high-level power users all know enough to see some problems and sometimes work around them. We also know how to explain the problems to a software publisher’s tech staff to help them better pinpoint the issue and find the solution.

The vast majority of users, however, just know something isn’t working properly – as we’ve seen in the releases of Windows 10 and El Capitan. You likely don’t know why, and it’s even less likely that you care about why. You just want it to work so you can do what you need to do.

To me, that makes you highly valuable to software publishers. When a large number of you point out a problem with the software, it gets somebody’s attention. In our data-driven world, a manager can see the size and scope of a problem and set a priority for its solution.

Your public pressure on software publishers, too, moves them to publish the patch or update in a timelier manner. While some of us professionals can grouse in our various forums, the publishers know that thousands and thousands of paying customers can add a sense of urgency to solving the problem. Then, they can push out the fix as soon as it’s ready – or ready enough – to make sure it works or see what else they need to do.

In that respect, this is a benefit of our on-demand way of life – especially when our need for instant gratification or using software and devices in ways not intended create other problems. Regardless of fault, a software publisher’s reputation relies on its product being functional and safe. The faster the fix is delivered, the better it is for the publisher and its users.

That, in part, is one reason why Microsoft eliminated Patch Tuesday in favor of sending and installing updates as soon as they’re ready. You make huge investments in technology. If you make them for your business, you can lose a lot of money if your apps and drivers don’t work right. If you make them at home, you can get awfully upset when you can’t play with your newest toy.

IT support specialists like immediate updates, too. When you call with a problem that ultimately relates to a glitch, we either suffer the pain of not being able to fix it or we provide some sort of temporary fix that may require us to come back again – which also doesn’t make us happy.

Every new product in any industry goes through a shakeout period before it runs smoothly. But if you join the beta brigade and provide feedback, you do yourself and fellow users – and their service providers – a big favor. We check the discussion groups and forums and learn about problems and fixes so we can serve you better. You see faster improvements. That’s why public beta testing is here to stay.

Of course, if you have a problem with your technology, don’t sit back and wait. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us if you have a problem. We likely have the solution because people like you helped us find it faster.