Apple’s Passcode-Based Security Fairly Useless

Apple’s security as of late is as effective as a one-armed man clapping. Not only can anyone access a password-protected iPad if it has a Smart Cover, Apple’s new brainchild Siri can be used to pilfer personal information despite a passcode lock.

Damn You Siri

A fatal flaw in Siri was recently discovered, tarnishing the reputation of the iPhone’s newest claim to fame. The flaw allows anyone to access an iPhone via voice-activated commands despite screen and password locks, access that includes personal information. By hitting the home screen button a person, using Siri, could have access to texts, the calendar and other services — all without having to unlock the home screen.

Email luckily is not accessible, “the positive thing is that accessing some of the more sensitive services in this manner, such as email, is forbidden,” says Alan Goode of Goode Intelligence, a mobile security firm. “But I could still run up a pretty impressive and annoying phone bill if I had malicious intent and if Apple missed this pretty easy to find vulnerability then what other security threats are hiding in Apple’s latest mobile OS?”.

Users can protect themselves from Siri by manually disabling the option to enable Siri at the password lock. The default setting however makes users vulnerable and should never have been the default to begin with.

Continue reading

Is Linux ready for the masses?

Linux: Is it ready to run far and wide?

Photo by TutuWon

LinuxIs it ready to run far and wide?

Linux is not just used by a particular segment or group of people in a society. Today, it used by people from almost all communities – students, software developers, employees, web designers, system administrators and even users with basic OS requirements of multimedia and entertainment. Is just being free and open source the reason for increase in its user share as compared to its competitors? May be a better reason can be its competitive advantages over others.

Linux provides a platform of freedom and innovation to its users. Every user is a part of the Linux community wherein he/she is free to develop or use software under the Open Source license. This generates a feeling of free/open culture movement for software development and usage, irrespective of their skills and social dimensions. Linux empowers its users with magic of self expression by adding the flavor of “Open Source” to it. Today, Linux is being adopted by masses whereas a few years ago, only users specializing in Linux preferred using it. It also gives a base for prototype testing as well as for interpersonal interaction with many others around the globe who shares similar interests. Linux has helped in broadening the economic potential in various businesses and has opened the package of technology resources for the individual users.

There can be various reasons for people using Linux. A few to list are;

  • It’s Free. People tend to download and use Free Software without having any knowledge about its functions and applications and work on it thereafter. Most of the applications written for Linux are also free to download and use.
  • People trust Linux and its features, as most things are not hidden, so less chance of being spoofed.
  • Linux is for people who like to work on something new and experiment with the drivers, applications and other software products.
  • People are interested in learning Linux. Ubuntu and SUSE are friendly versions which are generally taken up by the beginners for them being easy to use.
  • Linux is pretty resistant to system crashes. Even if it does crash, it usually quits the application and rarely requires a system-wide reboot.
  • Linux has got several flavours which satisfy the needs of diverse users. Red Hat, Open Linux, SUSE, Debian, FreeBSD, Linux Mandrake etc. have several common elements but the difference in the graphical user interface, package managers and the assorted applications makes it more attractive. Different users use different distributions which increases the spread of user base.

If you want to pick up an OS which gives you complete freedom of customization without worrying about upgradation of hardware and memory inefficiency, Linux would be a good choice.

Be super-productive with Linux

Productivity with Linux

Photo by Pigpogm

LinuxHow to be productive with it.

It might sound a bit weird but the kind of Operating System you’re probably using may affect your productivity at work! Though, a user is a more responsible entity when it comes to productivity, but somewhere down-the-line, we can hold your operating system responsible for the same.

Talking about Xbox 360, for example, I doubt you’ll use its processing power to do to something other than playing 3D games! Expecting something else out of it would probably be undesired. Similarly, MS Windows Vista is a multi user, multi purpose operating system which caters a user’s primal needs to tedious tasks. On similar lines, Linux offers a rock solid environment for servers/desktops with a powerful command-line support.

Productivity is a term which involves one’s personal interest apart from the tools/services which an Operating System can offer. However, we being human beings are prone to influences. But small steps towards increase in productivity shall yield big results. One must never forget — “Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.

Before we proceed further, I would like to mention that in my opinion, productivity comes within the user and not the operating system. So do not take this article as an ingredient to help you switch to an alternate Operating System!

Narrowing our discussion to productivity on Linux, we shall now explore some aspects which help increase the productivity and at times, otherwise.

Reasons why Linux may be productive

  • The power of command line: Linux has a powerful command-line shell (Eg. BASH) interface for servers and desktops letting the novice as well as power users accomplish tasks and run applications from a common terminal.
  • Customization: GNU/Linux is customizable to a good extent, based on one’s needs and kind of work he/she is involved into. For example, you can run multiple desktops, create scripts to automate tasks, et al. Such features eventually enhance your productivity off an Operating System.
  • Less prone to distractions: I would not advocate the incompatibility of Linux with the latest 3D games in the gaming arena but when it comes to productivity, the not-so-gaming-friendly Operating System allows you to work with a better concentration. Imagine a game freak user trying to do something else, with his favorite 3D game’s icon residing on the desktop!
  • Viruses: I would not say that GNU/Linux is free from viruses, but when compared to MS Windows, it gives far more stability in this regard. I’m sure, most of you would spend a considerable amount of time in either blocking, removing, or preventing viruses/malwares/spywares/trojans, etc. on your MS machine. When it comes to Linux, you don’t really have to worry about tracing viruses, due to the fact that Linux is not as highly targeted as Windows by the spammers. This means, you shall not have a defensive stand all the time and hence, better productivity.
  • Maintenance: When we talk about a GNU/Linux distro, we do not think of disk-defragmentation or any similar maintenance issue. For a large hard drive, which is very common these days, you might have to leave your system unattended/unusable for long hours while you defragment it. Vis-a-vis on GNU/Linux, all you need to update/upgrade are the security updates and recommended application updates.

We saw some reason which can be a medium to evangelize GNU/Linux for its productivity. However, there are situations where using Linux may make you feel deprived of certain easy-to-handle situations.

Reason why Linux may not be good for

  • There is no substitute to learning: If you’re a firm believer of thesaying, “Hard work pays off in future, laziness pays off now!” then Linux is surely not for you. For people like me, who have switched to Linux from MS Windows or any other Operating System, it’s not going to be a cake walk. There may be times when you’ll need to do a lot of work, which might appear to be pretty lame, like hunting for solutions in forums/IRCs, fixing apps which do not run, compiling source binaries, etc. Being a newbie user of Linux, it is quite likely that you start to accomplish a small task and end up hunting for a solution to another problem, which may not be directly help you get you task completed, in any of the IRC channels! Linux is all about learning, exploring, thinking – it’s a choice, an alternative.
  • Over customization and tweaking: We discussed that GNU/Linux offers a good customization support for the users, both – power and novice. But this may often lead to obsession with tweaking! This has happened to a lot of Linux users who spend a lot of time just to customize their Linux distro, at times unnecessarily. This turns out to be a real productivity killer.

Lastly, productivity comes from within a user, not entirely from an operating system. An Operating System may have support, features and tools enabling a productive work environment, but it’s you, who has to capitalize on it!