5 Easy Ways to Max Your Hard Drive Space

Avid Usenet users fear the wrath of a maxed-out hard drive.

You: No more file space?! Us: No. MORE file space!

In other words, we’re here to help max your hard drive space as well as your Usenet experience. Ready? Here we go.

Clean all the things hard drive tips

Step 1: Basic maid service

Windows Search Start

You might not realize that surfing the Internet without downloading files is taking up valuable digital real estate, but cleaning it up could make all the difference. Look for a trusted disc clean-up tool (or disk clean-up, depending on your spelling preferences). In fact, your computer may already have a built-in option — try searching within the Start Menu or Control Panel.

You can manually select what type of files to keep or trash, or get as granular as individual file types. Most programs also have recommendation settings.

Step 2: Scoop the poop

CCleaner

Sorry, we couldn’t resist. CCleaner is short for C— Cleaner. Lifehacker recommends it, and it’s life changing. If you are a frequent user or have an older computer, you’ve likely built up a large amount of miscellaneous garbage you don’t really need. Use the Analyzer and then carefully review what CC recommends cleaning up, then select what can stay and what can go and get to work!

Step 3: Remove bugs, worms, and binoculars

Spybot

Malware, adware, spyware, and viruses can take up a large amount of room on your laptop. Programs that constantly run in the background undetected are a problem whether or not they affect your hard drive, so get rid of them!

An anti-virus program is helpful, but you’ll want something all inclusive to pick up some of the trickier programs. We use Spybot, which received 4/5 stars out of 5,000+ reviews on CNET. The self-proclaimed all-in-one tool covers malware and spyware in its free version, though for an extra ~$10/month, you can also try their anti-virus and backup CD creator.

Spybot also provides guides for manual removal of many programs.

Step 4: Give up the bells and whistles

Uninstall iTunes

Sure, it’s nice to know you could play the original Sims desktop version if you wanted to, but do you really need to? It’s time to prioritize your applications. Would you rather have that really, really important work software, or that iTunes catalog of 257,439 songs you don’t listen to, you know, just in case? Choose your battles. If you don’t need it, uninstall it.

If you really think you might need said music, games, etc., in the future, see Step 5.

Step 5: Invest in (digital) therapy

Cloud Storage

We’re not saying to purchase your computer a shrink, although we’re not saying not to either, if you think that would help.

The digital equivalent of an emotional and mental cleansing is an external drive. There’s no reason not to back up your data. It’s insanely easy, free, and smart. While an external drive is usually preferred, there are plenty of cloud-based options for file management, and most of them are free. Think Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Best Buy, Amazon, etc., if you prefer a physical box. Your computer will be good as new-ish, for less than the cost of a psych eval.

What other digital cleaning tips would you recommend? Share yours in the comments!

Love our recommendations so much, you want to hear more? Sign up for a free trial of Newshosting Usenet today!

Usenet 101: Newsgroup Basics

Usenet 101Logging in to Usenet for the first time can be overwhelming. With so many newsreader options, over 100,000 discussion groups, and all the features to automate your account, you might be left with more questions than answers. Our Usenet 101 series is dedicated to clearing up the confusion and clearly outlining everything you need to know about Newshosting and Usenet.

Today’s topic: Usenet newsgroup basics.

You can read our first Usenet 101: Usenet for Beginners here.

What is a newsgroup?

A Usenet newsgroup is similar to a message board that can hold anything from discussion groups to shared, user-generated binary files. Newsgroups are generally public for all subscribers, but some are moderated or private altogether.

Though the name is misleading, newsgroups don’t usually discuss news (though they certainly can). Messages within a newsgroup are known as articles, and are accessed using a software client known as a newsreader.

Who can use a newsgroup?

Usenet subscribers worldwide can access newsgroups. If a user can’t find a newsgroup they’re looking for within the hundreds of thousands available, a new newsgroup can be created. Unlike discussion boards, newsgroups are not heavily moderated by admins.

If a user is interested in a particular topic, they can monitor that category’s newsgroup, read previously posted content, and even contribute to the discussion. The best way to get started with your favorite newsgroup is to sign up for a free trial of Newshosting. You can get started by creating a new Newshosting Usenet account here.

How are Usenet newsgroups organized?

Usenet newsgroups are easy to navigate thanks to an organizational system called a hierarchy. Each level of the hierarchy is labeled by a decimal system, for example, soc. would identify social issue discussions, and comp. indicates computer/technology groups.

While there were only 8 original newsgroups, aka the ‘Big 8’, there are now over 100,000+ additional newsgroups in a variety of languages covering almost any topic you could think of. The description after the original newsgroup name provides more information about that particular newsgroup (i.e. alt.business.consulting would be related to…business consulting; rec.animals.wildlife covers, you got it, wildlife animals).

How is information shared in newsgroups?

Newsgroups use a standard called NNTP, or Network News Transfer Protocol. This is how news servers create, read and post articles by an end-user.

There are a variety of 3rd-party newsreaders that can be used to access Usenet. NZB is a common format for accessing and reading Usenet user generated content. NZB files are a quick, easy way to download user generated content. As Usenet messages are typically divided into multiple files with small packets of information in each, an NZB client will download and translate the messages into what is known as a text or binary file. A text file is exactly what it sounds like. A binary file is the combination of characters that your selected client interprets into readable text, audio, a photo or video, depending on the selection.

We’ll get into a more detailed discussion of newsreader clients including NZB downloaders, text readers, and binary posting clients in a future post.

How long can I access a newsgroup with a Newshosting subscription?

Unless a newsgroup is terminated by a moderator or closed for lack of use, it will exist on Usenet indefinitely. The content within the Usenet newsgroup, however, is only stored for a finite amount of time. This is because the servers hosting the information only have a certain amount of space. The amount of time a reader can access files on Usenet is known as retention. It’s important to pick a trusted Usenet provider like Newshosting that provides a large amount of retention (currently 2712 days, or 7.4 years, and counting!).

Important factors to consider

Like any purchase, Usenet users want to ensure they receive a good value for their subscription fee. Here are some other benefits Newshosting offers to keep in mind, and why they’re important:

Data Transfer

The speed and amount of file storage from the Usenet provider’s server to the user’s computer.

  • Depending on which plan you select, Newshosting offers from 50 GB with rollover to unlimited data transfer!

Retention

The amount of time posts are accessible on Usenet.

  • Newshosting currently offers 2712 days of retention, which increases daily!

Encryption

The ability to securely send and receive files.

  • Newshosting provides free 256-bit encryption for all plans!

Speed

How fast files can be transferred from Usenet servers to a user.

  • While speeds will vary for individuals based on their ISP (Internet Service Provider), Newshosting Usenet provides unlimited speed on all plans.

Connections

The number of simultaneous requests that can be made for newsgroup downloads and access.

  • Newshosting provides up to 60 connections per user.

Customer Support

  • If you’re a new Usenet user, odds are a bit of help will be needed to navigate the system. Our support team is available 24/7/365 to assist. We also provide video tutorials, FAQs and a Usenet Learning Center if you prefer to navigate Usenet solo.

Freebies

  • Not all Usenet providers provide free trials, but we want to make sure you’re happy with our service. Try Newshosting for 14 days or 30 GB for free.
  • In addition to a free trial and 256-bit encryption, our XL Powerpack subscribers have access to a free Easynews account for web browsing, free VPN to securely browse usenet, and unlimited data transfer and speed!

Interested in learning more about Usenet? Submit your questions in the comments section and sign up for a free trial of Newshosting now!

Your Car Is Spying On You – A Digital Privacy Alert

This is not a conspiracy theory: your car is watching your every move.

While connected cars may sound appealing and convenient, remember that every digital device comes with some kind of price tag. In this case, it’s your privacy; and to date, there’s a serious lack of legislation to regulate what kind of information automakers can collect from drivers.

You may be familiar with insurance surveillance in cars, like Progressive’s Snapshot® that record accident and vehicle data. Other ‘nanny cams’ are more common in law enforcement vehicles, though they are becoming more widely used in consumer automobiles. In Europe, for example, insurance companies are using the data obtained to change premium rates based on speed, mileage and location (you can read the full report from FIPA – the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association – including vehicle information disclosure and access).

Car surveillance in these cases can hurt (or help) your premium. But what if a less obvious surveillance system is collecting your data? 

Car Surveillance

Car Surveillance courtesy of ETC News

Technology advancements have made tracking relatively easy for auto manufacturers. Data collection can be hidden within an electronic toll booth pass, GPS navigation or satellite radio system. Consider all the fine print in the contracts you sign when purchasing or leasing a vehicle – average car buyers wouldn’t know if they gave permission to collect such data. Law makers haven’t caught up with the technology, either. The same privacy legislation that applies to Internet data disclosure does not include vehicle data. As a Ford marketing exec mentioned at CES according to Bloomberg Business, ‘we know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you’re doing it.’

The initial purpose of vehicle black boxes is to record accident data similar to aircraft crashes, and will become standard according to government mandates in the near future. The accident recorders will log details such as vehicle speed, airbag deployment, brake usage, impact site/severity, and seat belt usage. Theoretically this will make driving safer, but again, the tradeoff for some users might be too high.

Though there are no current plans to collect data for marketing purposes or criminal surveillance as a standard, some automakers are already attempting to do so. Some frightening examples of privacy breaches include:

  • CTV News Canada reported previously on GM’s OnStar updated their terms briefly last year to provide collected data to its partners for both current and previous customers using free trial and paid subscriptions.
  • Navigation system manufacturer TomTom was cited for selling vehicle data to the government, as reported by BBC News.
  • Car monitoring smartphone apps, including Nissan’s Leaf program collects vague information including ‘other spot data to assist in identifying and analyzing the performance of the Nissan Leaf’ according to USA Today.
  • Allstate records your stereo volume according to Jalopnik.
  • The Independent alleges Volvo marketed their service station based on location data in the Netherlands.
  • Automakers including Tesla, Mercedes and Hyundai have used data to update vehicle electronics remotely, states Consumer Reports.
  • Your rental car isn’t a safehaven, either. Hertz installed surveillance cameras in their NeverLost dashboard assistant in at least 1 in 8 vehicles starting in 2014, according to Main Street.
  • The Huffington Post notes that a Yahoo Autos report claims more than 96% of new cars have data records that ‘reveal the details of a vehicle before an accident’.

Several court cases involving black box data have been overturned in drivers favor, but the bigger issue here is not guilt or innocence, it’s user privacy and security. What other instances of digital privacy violations have you heard about? Share your story in the comments.

7 Scary Stories That Will Give You Nightmares This Halloween

scary halloween pumpkins

Holiday season is upon us, and it officially kicks off with Halloween. Naturally, scary stories are being posted on reddit by the masses. And they aren’t just your run of the mill, all in good fun tales either. If you want to freak yourself out with some truly spellbinding tales, you’ve come to the right place. These seven scary stories are just skimming the cream of what reddit truly has to offer, and they’re sure to unsettle even the most unflappable of souls.

The first story comes from reddit poster rwbingham and it might be the most terrifying of the bunch:

It was near Halloween time when my friends and I were telling ghost stories. My friend said she was going to tell a story about her parents’ first date. She said she didn’t like telling the story, since it was actually true, but we prodded her on. To cut to the chase, the parents had spent a nice, if awkward first date, and around the time that they would have said “good night,” the male in the situation–my friend’s dad–suggested that they go for a midnight hike up Provo Canyon. He apparently knew the place, since he had done a fair amount of rock climbing in the area. So the two drove up the mouth of the canyon, got out of their cars and started hiking under just the light of the stars, since it was a new moon. At some point, the male starts getting a “bad feeling,” since the pathway ahead, which would pass under some trees, would be dark, and because it was getting to be quite late. He ignores the feeling and presses on.

 

In later rehearsings of the story, the female would say that she had felt the same feeling at what was probably the same time, though she didn’t know the trail like he did. A minute later, the feeling came back to the male. He ignored it again, and started walking a bit of the way into the trees when his foot hit something “soft” in the middle of the path. Under the trees, it was too dark to see just what this soft thing was, and the feeling came back stronger than ever. Instead of finding out what his foot had bumped into, he and the female both agreed to hightail it out of there… Years later, after being married for some time, they were watching an interview with the serial killer, Ted Bundy. In response to a question asking him to describe the time that he felt the closest to being caught, he explained about the night that he lured a girl into Provo Canyon, and had just killed her when he heard some people coming up the trail. He explained how he hid in the trees just in time, only to watch some guy walk right into the body, and for some reason, just turn around and walk away. TL;DR. Friend’s parents stumbled onto a fresh corpse left by Ted Bundy on their first date.

Game of Thrones gif

 

This story from redraven1978 should give you chills:

So a few years back, probably 6-7 years, my family was living in our previous home. This was our second house in we had in Ohio, the first house was about two streets over from our second house. Well one night my mom woke me up and was acting really panicked. She grabbed my brother, who was probably 5 at the time, and told me to go outside. It was about 4 in the morning, and once we all got outside my dad tried to calm my mom down. He asked her what was wrong, and she had explained that she had a dream that we were all gonna die from carbon monoxide poisoning if we stayed in the house. Then my dad told her that all the detectors were working perfectly fine and we decided to go back inside. We didn’t smell anything nor did the detectors go off, so we went to bed.

 

The next day my mom was watching the morning news before we went to school. The first story for the day was that a local family was rushed out of their home because of a carbon monoxide leak in there home. Which could have been just coincidence, but then the news station showed the house. It was our old house that we just moved out of.

Jack Sparrow Screaming gif

 

The next story, from a since deleted reddit user, is pretty disturbing: 

I live near a camp that I used to attend as a child. When I was 7, there was a counselor at the camp who was Russian (the camp has a very large staff exchange program with many different countries), and very weird at that. Counselors said he was incredibly fast, and during staff-only campfires he would catch, skin, and eat live rabbits. He could do this crazy, sleeper hold move. It essentially was a strangling move that knocked you out for a few seconds, you came to, and were fine a minute later. I saw him do it on a counselor once, the guy was out for about 10 seconds. He was forbidden to do it after that. However, kids got curious and started asking him to do the move. He would do it in secret, but he would increase the severity of his holds which would in turn, keep the kid knocked out for a longer period of time.

 

One day, a camper went missing. He wasn’t in his bunk, despite going to bed with his cabin that night. They did a camp-wide search, keeping us all on the soccer field for about two hours. The counselors had to start searching the water. They found his body under the sailing dock, completely out cold (EDIT: He was alive, but very unconscious). He had the strangle marks around his neck. Everyone knew who it was. They arrested the Russian guy, and deported him back to Russia. Turns out they never even sent an exchange counselor. Nobody knew who the f–k he was.

Harry Potter gif

 

The fourth story is harrowing account from Kahzgul:

I used to date a girl in college who lived 3 hours away. We would trade weekends – one at her school, one at my school. One day she got upset because she had driven all the way to see me and I was in an all-night study session (which she had known about) and couldn’t be home to see her. She texted me that she was going back to her place and then I never heard anything from her ever again.

 

After 3 days of texting her trying to make sure she was okay, the texts started coming back as “number not found.” I sent her the stuff she’d left at my apartment in the mail and it returned as “no forwarding address.” Her instant messenger account (which I never messaged, but knew the name of) disconnected. And it gets weirder. I called her apartment land line and was told the people who had lived there had moved out (she had 3 roommates) and didn’t leave a number as to where they went. I got really freaked out and asked friends who worked in school admin to pull some strings, just to make sure she was alive. The school she was at didn’t have any records of her as a student. The license plate to her car wasn’t registered to anyone. None of our mutual friends ever saw her again. I called the police, but there were no car accidents involving anyone who fit her description in the stretch of road between our two schools that night, or in the two weeks after (I didn’t ask for a longer time frame because at that point she was already missing). Cops wouldn’t file a missing person because I wasn’t a family member. To this day I have no idea what happened, why she freaked out on me so bad, or if she’s still alive or in witness protection or was erased from all time by an evil wizard. She literally disappeared without a trace.

Scream Queens gif

 

The next story is a retelling from burninrock24:

This one is from a teacher of mine. Great guy but he swears on his pride that this one is true. It was during his college days. He was living in an apartment with 3 other guys. They had been living there for a couple weeks when weird stuff started to happen. It all started in one of the bedrooms. The

bed was on a huge wrought iron bed frame and was in front of a wall outlet. This was the outlet that the bedside light had to be plugged into. Every so often the lamp cord would be unplugged and thrown out of place. He thought it was just his friends being clever (emphasis on the plural because this thing was HEAVY).

 

Weird s–t happened for the next couple weeks, but it was an older apartment and neighbors will be neighbors and old buildings have their quirks, so they wrote it off as nothing. One night they had some friends come over so one of them had to sleep in the futon in the living room. The friend was woken up in the middle of the night for no real reason but when he opened his eyes, there was a thin blonde girl hunched on the ground next to him. Now not much can make a 6’4″ 250 lb tough guy panic, but this did. He just stared hollering and yelping for his friends to come out as he grabbed for every square inch of the sheets. His friends thought he was just messing with them, but his face said otherwise. They just hung out for the rest of the night until he calmed down. They eventually ordered pizza just because they were no longer tired. When the delivery guy got here he was surprised, “Hey this was my old place when I was in school.” My teacher chuckled “hey did weird s–t happen when you lived here?” The pizza guy went blank. “Oh f–k, you’ve seen her too?” They moved out the next day.

Nope gif

 

Here’s one from a since deleted user that’s pretty unnerving:

My 4 year old daughter was supposedly asleep when I heard noised coming from her upstairs bedroom. I tried to listen, but could not make out what was being said. I approached the room, and she stopped talking. Thinking I alarmed her, I went into the room. At the time she was sharing it with her 3 year old sister. I walked in and saw the 4 year old sitting up in bed. I smiled and said is everything o.k.? She said fine, but her sister said they were keeping her up. I asked who? My 4 year old said sorry but that she was talking. When I asked her who she was talking to, my 3 year old sat up and said “the girl in the window, she said you were coming.”

 

After I s–t a brick, I asked who the girl was and they both said a girl comes and stands in front of the window at night and talks to them. Not knowing what to say, I said o.k., tucked them in and hung around outside their door. The next day I asked about the girl. They said she came back but was mad! I waited a few days and asked again. My 4 year old said the girl in the window was still mad. I forgot about it for about a week, when my wife said, who are the girls talking to upstairs. Freaked out I ran upstairs and both girls were sitting under the window looking up. They turned and looked at me and asked if I wanted to meet the girl. When they turned around, disappointed, they said the girl left. It has been about 5 years since and I have not heard about the girl in the window since then.

Boy Meets World gif

 

The final story from dslice16 contains a truly horrifying premonition:

My grandmother’s entire life she had a recurring nightmare. In this nightmare, she would be walking down a long, dark hallway, turn to the left, open a door, and see something terrible. She’d always wake up before seeing what it was.

 

In her 40s, she, her husband, my dad, and my aunt were on vacation. They booked the hotel at the last minute, so they ended up having to get 2 rooms with 2 twin beds on opposite sides of the floor. My dad wakes up around 3 AM and can automatically tell something’s not right. He calls out in the darkness “dad?”. No response. He turns on the bedside light. “dad?” he says, a little louder this time. Still no response. Getting worried, he slides out of bed and shakes his father. He doesn’t wake up. My dad ran down the hotel hallway to my grandma’s room and started banging on the door. My grandma worriedly opens the door, and my dad shouts “something’s wrong with dad!” He leads her down the hallway. A long hallway. To the last door on the left. My grandmother reaches the door, turns to left, and sees her husband dead in bed. Heart attack. She never had the dream again.

Ferris Buehler gif

If you can’t get enough of these creepy stories check out this thread on reddit to really get you in the Halloween mood. If you still haven’t gotten your Halloween fear-fix, here’s another Reddit thread that’ll keep you from sleeping.

 

Windows 10 Support for Free Usenet Browser

Newshosting Browser Update

The Newshosting Usenet developers have been tinkering behind the scenes to bring you the best version of our client yet. We strive to offer the most inclusive Usenet browsing software, and we’re proud to release a new update for all Windows systems. While this update primarily focuses on optimizing performance across Windows 10 operating systems, providing full support for all users that have made the upgrade, we’ve ensured that our software is supported for operating systems including Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 9, and Windows XP.

This update provides:

  • Full support for Windows 10
  • The latest version of UnRAR
  • Improved crash reporting
  • Bug fixes
Install this upgrade immediately by logging into the control panel, clicking on ‘Download the Newshosting Newsgroup Reader‘ and following the prompts for Windows. For more information on the Newshosting browser, visit the Newshosting Client QuickStart Guide.
This Windows release also comes just after Newshosting hit a major milestone of 2,595 days of binary retention and over 4000 days of text article retention. Binary retention is the length of time that a binary post is available to subscribers. That means Newshosting subscribers can access binaries that were added to Usenet newsgroups up to 7 years ago and text articles up to 12 years ago, with 99% completion.

 

Not a Newshosting user?

Get a free account here and then install our free, easy-to-use Usenet Browser and begin exploring the Usenet right away! If you need help deciding which Newshosting account is right for your needs, head on over to our Newshosting Plan Customizer and we’ll help you pick the plan that fits you. With built-in search, file previewing, and download automation, you can browse, read, converse, and download from our 100,000+ newsgroups at superior speeds and with some of the industry’s best retention.

Got an idea for an upgrade? Post it in the comment section below!

5 Things Darth Vader Can Teach You About Data Security

Even the Dark Lord of the Sith can teach you a valuable thing or two about data security.

Over the last three decades, Star Wars has maintained an Empire of geek-pop-culture dominance. While George Lucas’ creation is an epic piece of science-fiction, many have found the mythology of the popular works as a source of inspiration for everyday life. In the case of Kellman Meghu, head of Security Engineering for Check Point Technologies, Star Wars is a case study in data security.

What really sank (or, to be more exact, detonated) the Death Star wasn’t the usual suspects of Rebel scum, Storm Trooper incompetence, or even the Dark Side’s unavoidable loss to the good guys. Instead, explained Meghu, it was a series of common data security blunders made by the Sith Lord himself that doomed the ultimate battle station. Take these data security tips to heart, young Padawan, to ensure a long, illustrious reign over your information.
Continue reading

Configuring NewsLeecher for Newshosting

How to Configure NewsLeecher for Newshosting

A Usenet Client to Rule them All

Newcomers to Usenet looking for a simple yet powerful Usenet search experience should check out our free Newshosting Usenet Browser. It’s the perfect companion for users just beginning to get their feet wet with Usenet. Our more seasoned Usenet users looking for a powerful search coupled with greater results filtering flexibility should give NewsLeecher a try. NewsLeecher is a fully-featured, Windows-based Usenet client capable of downloading and browsing messages using good old-fashioned headers and grabbing articles via NZBs on the fly. What really makes NewsLeecher stand out above the crowd, though, is its searching capabilities. NewsLeecher’s free built-in search engine, dubbed SuperSearch, is a massive catalog of NZBs created from all of the available binary posts across all of the most popular binary newsgroups. As if this was not enough to set our Usenet world on fire, NewsLeecher also allows boolean searches and video filter options to narrow results down to a particular video resolution. Just when it seems NewsLeecher has given up all the goodies, this beast of Usenet companions yields yet another exciting feature: SuperLeech. SuperLeech lets us set up preprogrammed searches that will run automatically each time a new search result is available and will download it right away. All these features combined make NewsLeecher an excellent tool for a wonderful Usenet experience.

Installing NewsLeecher

  1. Visit the NewsLeecher website and download the installer.
  2. Open and run the install file.
  3. Click Next to start the install process.Newsleecher Setup Dialog
  4. Select “I accept the agreement” and click Next.Agree to terms and conditions
  5. Set the destination folder for the NewsLeecher install and click Next.Set install location for Newleecher
  6. Set the name of the “Start Menu Folder” for NewsLeecher and click Next.Set start menu folder for Newsleecher
  7. Check the box to “Create a Desktop Icon” and click Next.
  8. Click Install.Ready to install Newsleecher
  9. Check the box to “Run Application” and click “Finish“.Finish Install
  10. Click “Add Server” to configure Newshosting Usenet access. Add-usenet-server
  11. Copy the settings shown below to configure Newshosting and click “OK.” Configure Newhosting Usenet Server Access

Not too sure about NewsLeecher? Well give Newshosting’s Free Usenet Browser a try! Start now!

 

What Usenet client or add-on feature do you want us to write about next? Post your answer in the comment section below!

Top Tips to Secure Your Smartphone

Top Tips to Secure Your SmartphoneSmartphones have come a long way — not only do they allow us to make calls, listen to music, and surf the Internet, but they also contain our personal data, and lots of it. Emails, photos, text messages and private documents stored on smartphones are at a high risk, especially when there is no form of security to prevent them from leaking onto the Internet or falling into the wrong hands. Securing your smartphone requires common sense, and taking certain precautionary measures will drastically minimize your privacy risk. Here are a few tips we’ve put together to help you secure your smartphone.

1) Set Up A Lock Screen

This is the first thing to do before you start using your smartphone. Locking your screen prevents unauthorized users from accessing your phone. You can use either a PIN, password, pattern, face unlock, fingerprint or other vendor-specific locking mechanism to lock your phone.

iOS

Lock screen display for Apple iPhone devices

  1. Go to Settings > General > Touch ID & Passcode.
  2. Follow the procedures to create your passcode.

For Fingerprint security on iPhone 5S and later

  • Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode.
  • First set up a passcode and then follow the prompts to enable Touch ID.

iOS Screen Lock Tips

  • Disable the Simple Password option to use more complex, alphanumeric passcodes.
  • Enable Erase Data to automatically erase your device after ten failed attempts.
  • Set the Require Passcode option to immediately.

Android

Photo of an Android device lock screen

 

Setting up screen locks on Android is not as straightforward as that of iOS since it varies vendor-wise, but searching for terms like Security or Lock Screen in the settings will lead you to set up your lock screen. These steps are, however, based on stock Android L.

  1. Go to Settings > Lock Screen > Screen Lock.
  2. Select Pattern, PIN, Password, Fingerprint, etc.
  3. Follow the procedures to complete the screen lock setup.

Android Screen Lock Tips

  • Avoid using easy patterns like a “Z.”
  • Clean your screen regularly to wipe your greasy finger-trails.
  • Don’t use lame PINs like 1234 or 1111 — choose codes that can’t easily be guessed.
  • Don’t use facial recognition if your front camera does not perform well in low-lighting.
  • Set the screen to lock immediately when the phone sleeps.

 

2) Encrypt Your Phone

The majority of smartphone users fail to encrypt their phone, which is very important to do. Encrypting your phone prevents people from accessing your data offline, either through Recovery or another mode. The latest versions of Android and iOS, however, come with out-of-the-box encryption. To encrypt your phone, follow the steps below.

iOSEnsure that data protection is enabled for iPhone

  • Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode.
  • Create a passcode if you haven’t yet or move to the next step if you already have.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the screen and ensure that “Data Protection is Enabled” is visible.

 

AndroidAndroid device encryption

  • Go to Settings > Security > Encrypt Phone.
  • Select Encrypt Phone at the bottom of the screen.
  • Confirm the encryption and follow the instructions displayed on the screen.

 

3) Turn off Wireless Protocols When Not in Use

Many people leave their Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or NFC on more often than not. Aside from draining your battery quickly, it opens a door for bad guys to use rogue wireless access points, sniffing tools, and other sophisticated techniques to extract data from your smartphone. Disable your Wi-Fi and other wireless radio once you’re done using them. Also, never accept requests from unknown devices trying to connect to your phone. If you don’t know how to disable your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc., follow the guide below.

iOS

iPhone control panel

  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to view the Control Center.
  • Tap the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth icon to turn it off. You’ll know it’s off when it grays out.

 

Android

Android device protocol settings

  • Swipe from the right-hand side (Or down from the top depending on  version of Android) of the screen to access the Quick Settings panel.
  • Tap the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC icon to turn if off. It will gray out once it’s been turned off.

 

4) Avoid Root / Jailbreak / Custom Roms

Jailbreaking your iPhone or rooting your Android grants you full access to the operating system, which, by default, is restricted to guarantee your safety. Rooting and jailbreaking does provide you with a wide range of tweaking possibilities, but in turn, exposes your phone to malware, hackers, and all the bad stuff you can think of. Although Android’s SuperUser app protects the phones from unauthorized access to root privileges, that’s still not good enough.

While most of us techies love custom mobile setups, it’s impossible to tell which servers’ custom roms communicate with and what data are being sent. Although they offer a better experience, it comes at your own risk.

Android developer options: always keep root access disabled

While there is no comparative for Apple device, Android users should keep “Unknown Sources” disabled unless you are installing an app you trust. Always install applications from the Google Play Store or App Store.

 

5) Update your Operating System Regularly

Smartphone manufacturers release regular updates to improve upon the User Interface, provide more features, and most importantly, patch security and stability flaws. Refraining from updating your smartphone exposes it to these flaws and then leaves it to the mercy of attackers. Make it a priority to update your operating system whenever it’s available. Also update your downloaded applications regularly since they may sometimes contain bugs which could be dangerous to your smartphone. These steps will guide you in updating your OS:

iOS

iOS Software Update

  • Make sure your phone is fully charged and connected to Wi-Fi access point with a working Internet connection.
  • Go to Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Tap Download and Install.
  • Tap Install to update your OS once it’s finished downloading.

Android

Android device operating system update

  • Make sure your phone is fully charged and connected to a working wireless network.
  • Go to Settings > About Phone > Software Update.
  • Tap Update Software and wait for the update to download.
  • Choose Install when asked to install the update.

If your support for your phone has ended, which is usually seen in the Android system, downloading a security app can help improve your phone’s security to some extent.

 

 

6) Use A VPN

Everybody loves free Wi-Fi, but some of the most dangerous cyber attacks originate from public Wi-Fi access points at restaurants, bars, and hotels. Malicious attackers can use their technical knowledge to perform Man-In-The-Middle attacks and gain access to your personal information. If you can’t avoid using public networks, you better use a VPN. A VPN allows you to connect to the Internet through a secure, encrypted private tunnel. Newshosting offers a VPN service as both a standalone service and as an add-on to Usenet subscriptions. Want to configure your Android or iOS device with our VPN? Look no further! (See also: New to Newshosting? Start a free VPN trial today!)

 

7) Use a Remote Control Service

All the major mobile operating systems have now incorporated remote control and killswitch features to enable you to interact with your phone if it’s been stolen or missing. This service enables you to track, lock, wipe and even contact your phone by using another device connected to the Internet. With this, your data is kept out of the wrong hands even if the device falls into them. Apple’s Find my iPhone and Android’s Android Device Manager gives you remote access to iOS and Android devices respectively. To set these up, follow the instructions outlined below.

 

iOS

Screen display of Apple's Find my iPhone application

  • Go to Settings > iCloud. Sign in with your Apple ID or sign up for one if you don’t have one.
  • Flick the “Find My iPhone” switch to the right to turn it on.
  • Go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID.
  • Use the controls in the dashboard to send specific instructions to your iPhone.

 

Android

Screen interface for Android Device Manager

  • From the app drawer, open Google Settings.
  • Tap Security.
  • Under Android Device Manager, turn on “Remotely locate this device” and “Remote lock and factory reset.” Go to Settings and turn on Location.
  • Go to http://www.android.com/devicemanager and see if your device shows up.
  • Use the controls to interact with your device remotely.

As long as your devices are connected to the Internet, you can’t enforce 100% privacy on them; however, these strategies will go a long way in keeping your smartphone secure at all times.

 

Do you have more tips or experiences in securing smartphones? Share them in the comments section below!

The Rise & Fall of “Just Do It”

The Rise & Fall of Chances are, you read the last part of that title in Shia LaBeouf’s screaming voice. And if you’re wondering why someone would do that, it won’t be long before you learn why and find yourself doing the same thing. A video of the actor’s intense and very bizarre motivational speech went viral over the span of a few weeks in early June, leading to an explosion of memes, mashups, gifs and remixes that grew just as popular as the video itself.

As with any viral sensation, social sharing mediums like Reddit and BuzzFeed caught on and shared the video, originally posted on Vimeo, for the rest of the world to watch with hilarious confusion. Shia roars into the camera, “DO IT. Just DO IT! Don’t let your dreams be dreams. Yesterday you said tomorrow. So just DO IT!” all while squatting down in some kind of fitful Dragon Ball-Z-esque fighting pose and making angry hand gestures to the point where you think he’ll combust. You don’t know if you should fall to the floor in a fit of laughter or actually heed his advice. It is that absurd. And the best part of the video? Shia’s rant was filmed in front of a green screen, prompting internet trolls and skilled video editors alike to take the opportunity and run with it. As a glorious result, parodies galore popped up right and left, transforming Shia’s speech into everything from a Ted talk to a full-blown Star Wars hologram. It was even mashed up with the Internet black hole we all get sucked into otherwise known as  yup, you guessed it  cat videos.
See also: New to Newshosting? Sign up for our VPN and Usenet plans today!

 

While the viral video may appear absolutely random and ridiculous in typical Shia fashion, the backstory to it explains that it was quite the opposite.

Here’s the deal: the video is actually part of a series of 35 other videos  all featuring Shia  for an art project called #Introductions for Central Saint Martins, a London arts college. So while many think this is just another good ole’ weird Shia stunt, he’s just doing what we originally knew him for: acting. This speech was completely scripted and performed, and the abstract oddity of it all is simply (what else?) a form of art. This isn’t the first time the actor has found himself as the center of an artistic project. Remember his notorious red-carpet appearance wearing a paper bag over his head scrawled with the words, “I am not famous anymore”? That was the work of the same artists behind this video, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö. And as it turns out, there’s a reason for the actor being filmed in front of the greenscreen  the artists purposely made the background alterable and released it with a Creative Commons license, meaning anyone can do as they please with it for non-commercial purposes. Judging by the ridiculous number of parodies that came about from this, you can just imagine the Internet’s gratitude for that.

As with any online sensation, the peak of this video’s popularity has nearly fizzled out, slowly being replaced by the next up-and-coming throng of viral videos. There’s no doubt, though, that it won’t be long until the Internet is graced once again by another stunt from the always entertaining Mr. LaBeouf, rattail and all. But until then, enjoy this lovely scenery made entirely of Shias. You’re welcome.


A picture just made from Shia LaBeoufs
Source: Tumblr

 

Do you have a favorite “Just Do It” parody? Post the video in the comment section below!

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