5 Simple Steps To Keeping Your Smartphone (And Data) Safe

Posted by Harshad

5 Simple Steps To Keeping Your Smartphone (And Data) Safe

5 Simple Steps To Keeping Your Smartphone (And Data) Safe

Posted: 21 May 2013 08:01 AM PDT

Smartphones have evolved from being able to just check email and has now allowed us to do so many other things when paired with other devices. Nowadays, we can pay with our smartphones with digital wallet apps are able to store multiple credit cards. Most of our private information (together with other contact information) can be found in the apps on our smartphone through chatlogs, pictures, calendars, and notes.

Mobile Security

This is why we rely so much on our smartphones and store so much sensitive data on it to make our lives easier. With all these sensitive data onboard a tiny device, we should pay more attention to keeping it safe and away from anyone unwanted. Here are some precautions to help you.

1. Set Lockscreen Security That Self-Destructs

Leaving your phone unattended on a desk for a few minutes could lead to someone accessing it to extract lots of vulnerable information. Which is why enabling lockscreen security is essential to keeping your smartphone away from unwanted users.

This is the easiet way to defend you and your data, and pretty much every smartphone has this feature. Manufacturers know privacy is important to users.

Some thieves would try breaking the lockscreen by trying out passwords but to really keep your data safe from brute force hacking, you could enable a feature that erases all data from your smartphone after a preset number of failed attempts.

On the iPhone, it can be enabled under Settings > General > Passcode Lock > Erase Data.

iPhone Lock

By default, this kind of feature is not available on the Android, but you can enable a similar effecf with a free app like Autowipe .


2. Turn Off Settings When Not In Use

Hackers are able to do all sorts of things that will surprise you. Turning off phone settings like Bluetooth, Location Services, Near Field Communication (NFC), Wi-Fi and even Cellular Data when not in use not only conserves smartphone battery but also gives hackers less access to your device.

Location Services and Bluetooth should not be turned on when not in use as apps can use lots of location data without you knowing it. As Bluetooth is constantly transmitting your devices’ location and presence, it is possible for hackers to use it to gain access and extract any kind of information found on your device.

3. Don’t Download Shady Apps

Apps are probably the only thing that can harm you by stealing your personal data. When downloading an app, make sure that all the details of the app comes from the original ‘company’ or correct developer. Some sneaky apps might even trick people to download a "New and improved HD version" of a legitimate app, so make sure you check a few app details before downloading.

For instance a mobile banking app (or any app that handles financial accounts) should come from the bank itself as seen here on the iOS App Store, and not some other seller or developer.


App ratings and comments can also tell a story. If it’s a popular bank or financial service (PayPal) app that has no rating or comments, chances are it might be fake and you should be careful about downloading it and logging in. So be sure to download apps only if it has been rated many times and has multiple comments.


4. Be Wary Of Fishy Apps and Links

Viruses on mobile platforms can be present in many ways. It can be in the form of a ‘dirty’ app that runs in the background transmitting user data. As the Android system allows third-party apps or programs to be installed (very easily), Android users may open their mobile system up to attacks if they are not wary of the apps they download to their phone.

There are however anti-virus scanning apps and other tools on Android that can detect and remove anything that can harm your privacy.

Mobile Security

iOS users do not have anti-virus scanning apps, basically because there isn’t a pressing need for it. Apple is very strict with what gets on the App Store and will take down apps that harm its users in any way. Skip clicking on links in SMS, MMS, or even email attachments from unknown or unauthorised senders. Avoiding anything fishy altogether is very simple and should be practiced.

5. Do Not Lose Your Smartphone!

Not losing your smartphone is sometimes easier said than done. Of course no one wants to lose their smartphone, but unfortunate circustances might happen. You might have left it in a bar, in public transport, someone pickpocketed you during your vacation or you might have grabbed someone else’s phone by mistake. In all accounts, chances are your phone is good as gone.

Lost Smartphone

If these things have a tendency to plague your life (some of us are serial phone-losers), installing apps that can locate your smartphone on your iOS or Android device is essential. These apps can help you locate your phone and some have the option to wipeout the data on the phone so you don’t become a victim of identity theft.


To be fair, there is no one mobile platform that is safer than another. With so many devices but only a handful of platforms to choose from, attackers are able to target any platform they desire and the repercussions can be quite devastating to power users. We, as users have to be cautious with what we do to and with our smartphones.

If you work extensively on with your smartphone, you might want to look to BlackBerry phones as they have encryption features in their devices. Finally, because Android is an open source platform, it is more vulnerable to attacks as hackers can easily find vulnerabilities on each device; iOS or Windows Phone are less vulnerable because their system codes are not openly shared to  the public.


9 Thing You Should Know About Firefox OS

Posted: 21 May 2013 06:01 AM PDT

If you use the browser Firefox instead of Chrome and Safari, chances are you have heard about Firefox OS, the new open source operating system for smartphones and tablets from Mozilla. The organization is serious in working to make the Web open and accessible to everyone.

Though this new mobile OS is an emerging technology, it is quickly catching the eyes of users, developers, and critics. In this post, we will have a look at what’s in store.

Q1: What is Firefox OS?

A: Firefox OS (codenamed Boot2Gecko or B2G) is a mobile operating system based on Linux and Mozilla’s Gecko technology. It is built upon open web standards like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

Mozilla has developed Web APIs so that HTML5 apps can communicate with the device’s hardware, which was only possible for native apps until now, e.g. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Camera, etc.

Mozilla Foundation has always worked to make the Web more accessible to everyone, and apart from Firefox OS, there are other tools such as the Firefox Browser, Firefox Marketplace, etc. However, some critics report that it a Mozilla tactic to reach a bigger mobile audience in order to level up to its primary competitor, Chrome.

Q2: How is Firefox OS different from Existing Mobile OS?

A: Built entirely using HTML5 and other open Web standards, Firefox OS is free from the rules and restrictions of existing proprietary platforms.” – Mozilla

Firefox OS is different – you can think of it as something more than a browser running on a very lightweight Linux-based operating system. Every app in Firefox OS including the Camera and the Dialer is a web app, i.e. a website in the form of an app. Simple!

Web is the platform for Firefox OS – apps are built using HTML5 (along with CSS3 and JavaScript) instead of native languages. For comparison, Android apps are developed in Java; Windows Phone apps are developed in C++, C#, or HTML5, etc. Firefox OS is written entirely using open Web standards, with the exception in the lightweight operating system (codenamed Gonk) forming the base of Firefox OS.

Q3: What is The User Interface Like In Firefox OS?

A: Android is the inspiration for the user interface of Firefox OS. Hence, it has a lock screen, home screen and notification bar. However, there are some changes as compared to Android. The home screen shows a background image (along with the time and date) and has no support for widgets for now.

Sliding right on the home screen shows the list of installed apps; there is no dedicated icon to open the app drawer like on other mobile OS. Sliding left on the home screen shows the list of app categories, which when clicked, shows installed and suggested apps in the chosen category.

Long pressing the home key brings the list of opened apps along. Pressing the power button brings the power off menu. Pressing home and power keys together takes a screenshot.

Firefox OS’s user interface is better than iPhone or Windows Phone OS, but it is not as good as that of Android. Apps share common styling conventions, and thus provide a consistent design factor, making it easy for users to get around the app’s functionality.

Q4: How Are apps for Firefox OS different from apps for other Mobile OS?

A: Firefox OS, powered by Gecko engine, runs only websites in the form of apps, known as web apps. These apps are built using HTML, the same technology that powers the Web. These web apps will run on many operating systems in addition to Firefox OS. Every operating system (including Android and Windows 8) that runs Firefox browser will be able to run these web apps distributed through Firefox Marketplace.

Web apps will come in two forms for Firefox OS: hosted apps and packaged apps. Hosted apps will be hosted on Mozilla’s server and will be downloaded and loaded each time you access them, i.e., they are quite like web pages instead of apps, and they will not run if data connection fails.

Packaged apps will be downloaded once in the form of a compressed package and will be loaded from the local source each time you access them, i.e., they are quite alike apps on other operating systems. This is possible due to the local storage and cache features of HTML5 language.

Q5: What are the different ways to try Firefox OS?

A: Firefox OS, though still in its development stages, is worth a try. However, buying a phone for USD200 just to test the mobile operating system may not be in everyone’s immediate plans. Do not worry as you have other options to play with Firefox OS.

You can try Firefox OS in these four ways:

  1. You can use Firefox OS Desktop client for your operating system. Check the instructions for downloading and building Firefox OS Desktop client.
  2. Download Firefox OS Simulator add-on for Firefox browser (of course, you need to have Firefox browser on your system). Check the Firefox extensions page on Firefox OS Simulator.
  3. You can build Firefox OS Simulator from source and use Firefox OS in a simulated environment. Check the instructions on how to build Firefox OS.
  4. You can build Firefox OS from source and install it on your existing device (only if it is supported – check the question below).

It is suggested to use the Firefox OS Simulator add-on for Firefox browser because it is the easiest and safest method for trying Firefox OS. Building Firefox OS from source is tedious work and the Firefox OS Desktop client may or may not work successfully for you.

Q6: What are the devices that currently support Firefox OS?

A: Mozilla has released two phones with Firefox OS but so far they are only available for developers:

  1. Keon by Geeksphone
  2. Peak by Geeksphone

Firefox OS can be built and installed on some other compatible devices too. Check the guide for installing Firefox OS on a compatible device. It is even reported that Firefox OS can be dual-booted with Android on the Samsung Galaxy S2.

Some of the devices supporting Firefox OS are:

  1. Unagi
  2. Otoro
  3. Pandaboard
  4. Samsung Galaxy S
  5. Samsung Galaxy S 4G
  6. Samsung Galaxy S2
  7. Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Q7: How does it compare with Ubuntu for Phones?

A: Ubuntu for Phones is a mobile operating system built upon the Linux kernel, same as Firefox OS. Ubuntu for Phones makes full use of the mobile’s small screen and touch functionality. The full area of the screen is provided to the app’s content (i.e., options or controls are hidden) and swiping over the corners bring the controls in view. Thus, apps on Ubuntu for Phones provide better user experience to mobile users.

Firefox OS has web apps but Ubuntu for Phones has native apps as well as web apps. Native apps use advance APIs and powerful features, e.g device’s hardware and services, etc. Web apps are developed using HTML5 and CSS3, and lack powerful features that are provided to native apps in Ubuntu for Phones.

Q8: What are the plans for Firefox OS’ Security?

A: Mozilla is actively working on the security of its new mobile OS. Many of the security features are inspired from Google’s Android. These are some of the security features of Firefox OS:

Device screen or SIM can be locked with a PIN.

Permissions required by any app are shown to the user upon installation. Low-risk permissions (e.g., web access, etc.) are provided automatically to the app while high-risk permissions (e.g. location access, etc.) are first confirmed from the user, and then provided to the app.

Permission Manager (or App Permissions) allows the user to manually allow or block permissions for an app. This is something missing in Android.

Mozilla plans to bring device encryption (using a boot-time password) to Firefox OS in near future. (Source)

Q9: What does Firefox OS mean for the Future of Smartphones?

A: Firefox OS, if successful, will change the way we use the Web. We are used to visit websites but Firefox OS will bring an era where we will be using Web apps more than Websites. Ubuntu for Phones will also support Firefox OS to help bring in this change.


Create A Full Android Backup With Orange Backup App

Posted: 21 May 2013 03:01 AM PDT

Note: Android rooting is required.

Android users who want to root their phone are advised time and time again to perform regular backups. It is not uncommon to find a rooted Android device messed up so having a backup to revert to is always a good idea. Don’t want to stress out over the loss of precious data? Then, do a NANDroid backup.

NANDroid backup can only be done in custom recovery and many prefer this method in spite of other new ways of creating backups since it provides the user with a full backup of the entire system. But having to reboot into recovery every single time is a hassle.

Orange Backup allows you to create a full Android backup right from within the app itself with the option to upload your backup to your cloud storage and create a schedule backup exercise at any time you like. Plus, it’s free.

Here are shortcuts for fast access:

Getting Started

Note that Orange Backup only works with the following requirements:

  • Only works for Rooted devices
  • Supports CWM, TWRP, and Ex4 recoveries
  • Supports Android version 2.3 and above

Get the Orange Backup. Install it and open it. You will be requested to permit a superuser request (Root Access). Choose Grant.

After that, let the app detect your device.

If the auto detection doesn’t work you can select your device from the ‘Auto-detected’ list. If you still don’t see your device on the list, manually download the patch and flash it using your custom recovery.

Select the brand. In my case, it’s Google.

I’m selecting Nexus 7 as the device model.

Then choose your backup type, depending on the version of custom recovery that you have. If you are using CWM recovery, I suggest you to choose CWM Full – bigger size (default).

Next tap on CONTINUE.

Then you will be prompted with a ‘Cloud Support’ window where you can connect to your Cloud Storage. Pick the storage support you need or do this later by tapping ‘Later’. The next section will deal with the cloud storage setup.

To start creating your backup, tap on the Magic Brand icon at the top right.

Next, tap on START to start the backup.

Let the backup run till it is done. You can also tap to hide the backup and let it run in the background.

Once the backup is completed you will be prompted with a window like this. And you’re done!

Setup Cloud Network

If you did not setup your cloud network earlier, head to Settings. Choose ‘Cloud network’.

Choose your desired cloud storage. Then, tap on CONFIGURE.

After that you will be prompted with a page requesting for your permission for access. Choose Allow.

How To Upload Backup to Cloud

By default, the upload would be done automatically by the app after you have setup a cloud network. But if you want to do the backup manually, follow these steps.

Return to the backup page, at the top right, there are 3 dots beside the Magic Brand Icon. Choose Upload last backup.

Next choose UPLOAD to start uploading.

When the upload starts, you can watch the progress at your notification bar.

How To Schedule Backup

Head to Settings and tap on Schedule backup at the top of the list.

Pick a time to schedule your backup and tap on SCHEDULE.

How To Restore Your Backup

To restore your backup data, go to the Backup page and you will see your most recently created backup. Tap on it.

To restore your backup simply tap on RESTORE. This will reboot into recovery.

Every recovery should have a similar layout of functions. Head to Restore to start restoring your backup.

Select your recently created backup.

To restore your backup fully, leave all options ticked. Next, ‘Swipe to Restore’.

The process will start.

Congratulations, you have successfully restored your backup.


If you are new to this, there is a chance that you may have a problem or two pop up during the process. One of the more popular ones could be caused by the user selecting the wrong device-specific path. The right path is needed to tell the script where to find the boot and recovery partitions. You can find the patches here.

Backups can be done all at once rather than by selecting particular partitions to backup. Orange Backup will handle backing up all the relevant partitions for you, so unless you know what you are doing, just leave it to Orange.

Be advised that you should only use the SD-EXT option if you use apps like app2sd, link2sd, data2sd, etc. Otherwise leave that option disabled. For more support, click here.



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