Hurricane Sandy Cell Service

Cell service said to get worse in Hurricane Sandy’s wake

By on October 31, 2012 at 10:25 AM.

Cell service said to get worse in Hurricane Sandy’s wake

Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast this week, leaving millions without power and causing billions of dollars in damage. As traditional landlines and Internet connectivity began to die, users turned to their cell phones to contact loved ones and receive news updates regarding the storm. Many users were faced with poor service in the wake of Sandy’s destruction, however. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said on Tuesday that cell service could get much worse before it gets better. More →

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Mandatory ‘big brother’ black boxes leave drivers with privacy concerns

By on May 17, 2012 at 8:05 PM.

Mandatory ‘big brother’ black boxes leave drivers with privacy concerns

Black Boxes For Cars

The United States Senate has already passed a bill that would require data-recording “black boxes” to be equipped on every vehicle for the 2015 model year, and the House is also expected to approve the bill. The primary function of the black boxes, which are known as Electronic Data Recorders (EDRs), would be to “capture and store data related to motor vehicle safety,” and access to the EDR’s information is only through an “interoperable data access port.” Interestingly enough, EDRs are already found in almost 80% of all vehicles, including models from GM, Ford, Kia, Hyundai, and many others. More →

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Two-thirds of Americans unwilling to spend over $50 on mobile data

By on April 26, 2012 at 10:45 PM.

Two-thirds of Americans unwilling to spend over $50 on mobile data

A new study from Parks Associates found that two-thirds of U.S. consumers are unwilling to spend more than $50 per month on mobile data plans, while almost half of smartphone users were unsure how much data they consumed each month.  The report highlights the risks carriers face as they try to shift consumers from unlimited data plans to usage-based ones. “Moving mobile users to usage-based plans will be difficult and painful, but changes are necessary for operators to maintain revenues,” said Harry Wang, Director of Mobile Research at Parks Associates. “Operators would benefit by recasting mobile data services as experience-driven in order to reduce price sensitivity, fend off competition, and keep their mobile data revenue engine humming.” The firm believes that in order for carriers to maximize their revenues, they should tie in their offerings to popular apps and services, including TV, music, books, newspapers, games, location-based services, and social activities, rather than charging consumers per megabyte. Read on for Parks Associates’s press release. More →

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Thousands rally against CISPA cybersecurity bill

By on April 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM.

Thousands rally against CISPA cybersecurity bill

The controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is supported by more than 100 members of the House of Representatives, is scheduled to be discussed in Congress on Friday, where it will be the first bill to go to a vote since the collapse of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in January. The bill looks to give businesses and the federal government legal protection to share cyber threats with one another in an effort to prevent online attacks. Internet privacy and neutrality advocates, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, feel the bill does not contain enough limits on how and when the government may monitor private information, however, and they fear that such power may be used to locate and punish file sharers and those who infringe on copyrights rather than hackers. More →

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Verizon announces new global data plans for international travelers

By on April 18, 2012 at 8:25 PM.

Verizon announces new global data plans for international travelers

Verizon Wireless on Wednesday announced new “easy-to-understand” Global Data Plans that will become available starting April 23rd. The nation’s largest carrier will offer U.S.-based customers 100MB of data for $25 per month, allowing users to access email, browse the Web and update social networks while traveling abroad. Verizon’s coverage includes 120 countries and destinations, including all of Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada. Customers who require more data can purchase an additional 100MB for $25 or choose a pay-per-use plan with rates of $0.02 per kilobyte. Read on for Verizon’s press release. More →

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Wireless data traffic grew 123% in the U.S. last year

By on April 17, 2012 at 6:50 PM.

Wireless data traffic grew 123% in the U.S. last year

As sales of smartphones and tablets reach all time heights, consumers in the United States are streaming more movies, downloading more apps and viewing more websites on their wireless devices. According to a recent report from the CTIA, annual wireless data traffic in the U.S. grew 123% from 388 billion megabytes in 2010 to 866.7 billion megabytes in 2011. The survey also found that the number of active smartphones in the U.S. increased by 43% to 111.5 million units in 2011 compared with 78.2 million in 2010. “As the President, bipartisan members of Congress, FCC Chairman and Commissioners and other policymakers have repeatedly advocated, the U.S. wireless industry must have access to more spectrum so we can continue to improve our nation’s economy and meet our consumers’ demands,” Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA, said in a statement. In order to handle the massive demand for wireless data, U.S. mobile carriers are continuing to invest in their networks through 4G upgrades and increased coverage and capacity with more cell sites. Read on for CTIA’s press release. More →

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FCC fines Google $25,000 for unauthorized data collection and impeding investigation

By on April 16, 2012 at 7:55 PM.

FCC fines Google $25,000 for unauthorized data collection and impeding investigation

The Federal Communications Commission has fined Google $25,000 for impeding a U.S. investigation into the data collection scandal surrounding its Street View project, in which the Internet giant allegedly accessed unsecured networks and collected personal information without users’ permission. The FCC said the Mountain View-based company did not cooperate with the investigation and refused to reveal the names of its engineers associated with the project. “Google refused to identify any employees or produce any e-mails. The company could not supply compliant declarations without identifying employees it preferred not to identify,” the FCC said. “Misconduct of this nature threatens to compromise the commission’s ability to effectively investigate possible violations of the Communications Act and the commission’s rules.” More →

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Sprint confirms 4G LTE network will have unlimited data

By on April 4, 2012 at 11:10 PM.

Sprint confirms 4G LTE network will have unlimited data

Sprint is known for its unlimited data plans and it is currently the only major carrier that doesn’t throttle excessive data use. Following the announcement that Sprint planned to discontinue its WiMAX buildout and switch to the more widely used LTE standard, however, the company never mentioned whether its upcoming LTE network would continue to offer unlimited data plans. To clarify the issue, Sprint on Tuesday confirmed to TechHog that its 4G LTE devices “will be available on Sprint’s network featuring unlimited data.” While the carrier’s initial 4G LTE rollout will be limited, data-hungry users who are not pleased with AT&T and Verizon’s 2GB and 5GB plans may be tempted to switch to Sprint when the carrier’s LTE services begin to go live in the coming weeks and months. More →

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MasterCard and Visa warn of possible massive security breach

By on March 30, 2012 at 2:30 PM.

MasterCard and Visa warn of possible massive security breach

The world’s two largest credit card processors have notified U.S. banks of a potential security breach that may affect more than 10 million cardholders, Reuters reported on Friday. MasterCard and Visa have said that the issue was the result of a third-party vendor and not their own internal systems. MasterCard said it has taken the proper steps by alerting law enforcement officials and hiring an independent data-security organization to review the possible breach. “MasterCard is concerned whenever there is any possibility that cardholders could be inconvenienced and we continue to both monitor this event and take steps to safeguard account information,” the company said in a statement. “If cardholders have any concerns about their individual accounts, they should contact their issuing financial institution.” Visa made sure to emphasize that its customers are not responsible for any potential fraudulent charges. More →

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Selling used Android phones poses huge identity theft risk, expert says

By on March 30, 2012 at 1:25 PM.

Selling used Android phones poses huge identity theft risk, expert says

Android users who are looking to sell their old devices should be wary of the possible consequences. McAfee identity theft researcher Robert Siciliano warned that personal data from Android devices is not completely removed after a user activates the built-in wipe option, The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday. “What’s really scary is even if you follow protocol, the data is still there,” Siciliano said. If you have a BlackBerry or Apple device, Siciliano said your data can be fully deleted by following the manufacturer’s directions. As for smartphones running the Android operating system and computers running Windows XP, Siciliano recommends that people don’t bother with selling them at all. “Put it in the back of a closet, or put it in a vise and drill holes in the hard drive, or if you live in Texas take it out into a field and shoot it,” he said. “You don’t want to sell your identity for 50 bucks.” To test the security of various platforms, Siciliano purchased 30 smartphones and computers from Craigslist. The researcher was able to access personal data from 15 of the 30 devices through his own hacking efforts and the help of a forensic expert. The data obtained included bank account information, Social Security numbers, child support documents and credit card account log-ins. More →

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iPhone passcode security can be bypassed in less than two minutes [video]

By on March 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM.

iPhone passcode security can be bypassed in less than two minutes [video]

As a standard security measure, Apple’s iPhone can be set to require a four-digit passcode  whenever the phone’s screen is powered on in order to prevent unauthorized access. With passcode security enabled, a user’s information is theoretically kept private if his or her device ever falls into the wrong hands. A recent Forbes report reveals that law enforcement agencies can bypass the iPhone’s passcode requirement in less than two minutes, however, gaining access to all of the private data stored on the devices. Read on for more. More →

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iPhone user who sued AT&T receives new settlement offer

By on March 13, 2012 at 5:25 PM.

iPhone user who sued AT&T receives new settlement offer

A judge in Southern California last month awarded $850 to an iPhone user who was throttled on AT&T’s network. The plaintiff, Matt Spaccarelli, filed a small claims case against AT&T, arguing that the carrier unfairly slowed speeds on his iPhone 4 despite his unlimited data plan. According to a report from the Associated Press, AT&T is offering Spaccarelli a new settlement, however the company declined to comment on the matter. If Spaccarelli does not want to sit down with the carrier, it will reportedly look into shutting off his service. Earlier this month AT&T amended its data throttling policy for unlimited users, stating that LTE phones will be slowed after a 5GB monthly allowance, while non-LTE devices will be limited to 3GB of full-speed data. More →

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Forget 3G and 4G, terahertz could make cell phones 1,000 times faster

By on March 9, 2012 at 11:40 AM.

Forget 3G and 4G, terahertz could make cell phones 1,000 times faster

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh announced that they have discovered a means of wirelessly transmitting data thousands of times faster than current standards, PCMag reported on Wednesday. The team is led by Hrvoje Petek, a physics and chemistry professor at the university, who has theoretically found a way to transmit data between devices in the terahertz frequency. Petek’s discovery of “a physical basis for terahertz bandwidth” could potentially be used to leverage the “portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between infrared and microwave light” and transmit data at rates 1,000 times faster than today’s wireless standards, which are limited to the gigahertz frequency. “The ability to modulate light with such a bandwidth could increase the amount of information carried by more than 1,000 times when compared to the volume carried with today’s technologies,” Petek said. “Needless to say, this has been a long-awaited discovery in the field.” More →

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