TL;DR: As of Aug. 26, get lifetime web protection from BelkaVPN for only $39.99 — a 94% savings.
Any time you enter your credit card information on the internet, you’re putting yourself at risk. The same goes for other private data, like your home address, social security number, or company passwords. Hackers, trackers, and other nefarious internet abusers are lurking around corners, waiting to make their move. But a VPN acts as a shield, stopping them in their tracks.
If you haven’t equipped yourself with a VPN, there’s no time like the present. For a limited time, you can snag a lifetime subscription to BelkaVPN — a trusted VPN with 4.1 stars on Google Play and 4.2 on Trustpilot — for just $39.99.
BelkaVPN uses virtual military-grade encryption to route all of your vulnerable internet activity through a private, secure tunnel. You can access over 120 servers in over 25 locations globally, which essentially disguises your true location and keeps you completely anonymous on the web. This is especially helpful when you’re logged on to public WiFi networks, like at a coffee shop or the airport.
There are no speed or bandwidth limits and you can surf on a variety of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, Socks5, and WireGuard. Plus, you can access streaming sites like Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, HBO, and ESBC without geographical restrictions. So, you can finally watch all the shows Netflix won’t let Americans binge-watch. And if for some reason your connection is dropped, a kill switch will ensure your connection is terminated before being left vulnerable.
With a CleanWeb feature blocking ads, trackers, and malware, and the ability to connect up 10 different devices simultaneously, BelkaVPN is capable of keeping you safe from all angles. And the 24/7 customer support is just a bonus.
While it’s valued at $719, you can save hundreds of dollars and get a lifetime of protection on the web for only $39.99.
The news follows Xiaomi’s announcement in March that it will invest $10 billion over the next 10 years into its upcoming electric vehicle business. “Xiaomi hopes to offer quality smart electric vehicles to let everyone in the world enjoy smart living anytime, anywhere,” the company said in a statement at the time.
Xiaomi made the acquisition announcement after reporting financial results for the second quarter of 2021. The company hit record revenue of 87.8 billion yuan ($13.5) million. In July, Xiaomi has overtaken Apple to become the number two smartphone vendor globally, and in the second quarter it also became the biggest smartphone vendor in Europe. But while the company’s revenue largely comes from smartphones, Xiaomi has been quite aggressive in pushing into other products, including TVs, smart watches, and electric scooters.
TL;DR: A lifetime subscription to Babbel Language Learning is on sale for £145.10 as of Aug. 26, saving you 60% on list price.
Most of us who speak only one language have always wanted to learn a second one, but have never taken the necessary initiative to make it happen. Formal, structured classes are just too time-consuming and don’t make learning enjoyable. That’s why language learning apps have skyrocketed in popularity.
If you’re serious about adding another language to your skill set, one of the best ways you can do that is with a lifetime subscription to Babbel. As the world’s top-grossing language learning app, Babbel gives you the opportunity to brush up on your skills or learn a completely new language from scratch any time you want — forever. There’s a reason why thousands of iOS and Android users alike have given the app 4.5 out of 5 stars and over 10 million users worldwide have joined. Babbel actually makes learning fun. It’s a lot more than just repeating vocabulary words over and over.
Since everyone learns differently, Babbel offers multiple different paths to learning a new language: lessons, podcasts, games, videos, culture bites, virtual group classes, and more. The folks at Babbel build on grammatical concepts shared with your native language and skip over mutual words you already know to streamline the learning experience. They also use real voices of native speakers with various accents, so you can hear how languages actually sound and refine your pronunciation via speech-recognition tools.
With a lifetime subscription to Babbel, you’ll get 10,000 hours of high-quality language education you can access whenever you want and can choose from 14 different languages to learn. It usually costs over £300, but for a limited time, new users can take advantage of a massive price drop and sign up for only £145.10.
SAVE 40%: The Fire Stick 4K is on sale for £29.99 in Amazon’s End of Summer Sale, saving you £20 on list price.
Black Friday is just around the corner, and that means we can expect absolutely loads of deals on everything from 4K TVs to laptops in the coming months. This prospect is exciting for some people, but not everyone is pumped about this busy shopping season.
If you will be avoiding all things Black Friday, you can still secure plenty of savings with Amazon’s End of Summer Sale. There are still loads of deals, but everything is just a lot more chill.
The Fire Stick 4K is on sale for £29.99 in Amazon’s End of Summer Sale, saving you £20 on list price. This is the same price as last year’s Black Friday, so you know you’re getting a good price on a seriously popular device. In fact, all of Amazon’s streaming sticks are down to Black Friday levels:
Privacy Please is an ongoing series exploring the ways privacy is violated in the modern world, and what can be done about it.
The digital window to your soul might just have a Peeping Tom.
Say hello to stalkerware, a noxious class of software designed to surreptitiously run in the background of smartphones. Its purpose is to keep tabs on everything you do, then report it back to whoever decided to spy on the most intimate and personal details of your life.
As smartphones further entrench themselves in our daily lives, the amount of information we both knowingly and unknowingly entrust to these devices likewise grows. This has, in many respects, been a boon — albeit not exclusively to the people we have in mind.
“Stalkerware is especially pernicious because it is such a rich source of information,” explained the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s director of cybersecurity Eva Galperin over encrypted chat. “Stalkerware can track your location, record your phone calls and text messages, steal the passwords to the social media accounts you log into through your phone, reveal your contacts, your photos, your emails, and even your end-to-end encrypted communications.”
And the threat is real. Anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab reports that, in 2018, it found stalkerware on 58,487 mobile devices.
“The use of stalkerware on phones affects people from all walks of life”
As you might expect, journalists and activists are often the target of such attacks. However, that doesn’t mean your average person has nothing to worry about. Far from it, in fact.
Galperin made clear that the use of stalkerware goes hand in hand with modern day domestic abuse.
“Like other forms of domestic abuse, the use of stalkerware on phones affects people from all walks of life,” she wrote. “I have been contacted by men being spied on by women, men being spied on by men, and women being spied on by women, but the majority of cases that I see are of women whose phones are being spied on by a partner or a former partner, who is usually a man.”
While this is a particularly modern concern, it is not necessarily a new one. For a brief stroll down a terrifying stalkerware memory lane, one can look to the great reporting done by Motherboard on the topic. Be warned, it’s not a pretty sight.
Clearly, this is a serious problem with real world consequences. Thankfully, there’s something you can do to protect yourself.
How to check your phone for stalkerware
Stalkerware is designed to run undetected by the victim. Finding such a program on your phone, then, is the first step toward addressing the personal violation and safety risk it poses.
But how to do that? Patrick Wardle, security researcher at Jamf and founder of Objective-See, explained that the easiest way to prevent stalkerware from being installed on your phone is to keep it locked and out of others’ hands.
“Generally, it [is] really hard to install stalkerware on a mobile device [without] physical access … so step 1 is to make [sure] your device is protected against this,” he explained over Twitter direct message. “For example, having a passcode. (That you don’t share!)”
While this is great advice in general, life isn’t always that straightforward. After all, if you’re in an abusive relationship with someone controlling enough to install such monitoring software on your phone, that person may also demand access to your device.
That doesn’t mean you’re helpless, though. If you have a phone running Android, you can scan it for stalkerware with an anti-virus tool from Kaspersky Lab. If there’s a hit, the anti-virus program will alert you.
“We believe users have a right to know if such a program is installed on their device,” explained Kaspersky Lab researcher Alexey Firsh in an April press release. “Our new alert will help them to do that and assess the risk properly.”
“This industry is fucked up and everyone providing these services are one of the worst people on this planet.”
It’s not just phones running Android that are at risk, of course — your iPhone is just as an exciting target for those looking to spy on you.
“For iOS,” explained Wardle, “if there is stalkerware installed it might show up as an app you don’t recognize, or maybe even a malicious ‘profile.'”
To check for stalkerware on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Profiles & Device Management. If you don’t see the last option, it means there’s not a mobile device management profile installed on your phone (this is a good thing). If you do see it, investigate what the profile is by clicking “More Details.”
There should be a “Remove Management” option in the settings, as well.
“Of course,” added Wardle, “[it’s] worth noting that organizationally owned devices or BYOD devices that have company information on them may have MDM profiles installed and this is expected, not concerning.”
If you’re looking for a deep dive on stalkerware, Security Researcher Ivan Rodriguez breaks down the various types and ways it can be installed on your phone in a great blog post. He includes several tips for keeping your smartphone clear: keep it up to date, enable 2FA on you iCloud account, and if someone randomly gives you a new phone as a gift, consider performing a full restore.
Over Twitter direct message, he explained how the average person can check for signs of stalkerware on their phone. While clarifying that his research focuses on iOS devices, he noted that some of the advice applies to Android phones as well.
“Identifying if your device has stalkerware installed on an iOS device is very difficult,” wrote Rodriguez, “even for security professionals because there’s no easy way to search for modifications within the device and Apple doesn’t allow antivirus apps on the App Store.”
He suggested paying close attention to the following: “From one day to another, the device’s battery doesn’t last as long,” “keyboard keys have some ‘lag’ when tapping (Like a letter’s animation getting stuck),” the “device runs out of space quickly,” or “the location services ‘arrow’ is on all the time.”
In general, Rodriguez has an exceptionally low opinion of those who create and distribute stalkerware.
“This industry is fucked up,” he wrote in his blog post, “and everyone providing these services are one of the worst people on this planet.”
Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself being digitally spied on with stalkerware or any other form of invasive tech. But the reality is that this does happen to people, and there’s nothing wrong with taking an extra moment to make sure the blinds on that digital window to your soul are drawn tight.
UPDATE: Sept. 24, 2019, 11:33 a.m. PDT:This story has been updated to include additional information from Patrick Wardle about MDM profiles.
This story was originally published in September 2019 and updated in August 2021.
When it comes to so-called smart gadgets, owning just isn’t what it used to be.
Samsung made that clear earlier this month when it told customers that it can, at any time, remotely disable any and every Samsung TV connected to the internet. The Aug. 6 announcement came in response to the theft of an unspecified number of TVs in South Africa in July, and was likely the first time many customers had ever heard of Samsung’s TV Block Function.
The feature allows Samsung to remotely check if “TV units have been unduly activated,” and “is already pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products.” Apparently “looted” TVs fall into the category of undue activation.
If TV Block gets a hit on an internet-connected Samsung TV’s serial number that it decides shouldn’t be up and running, then Samsung can remotely disable that television. Notably, an internet connection — and the customer surveillance that entails — is a core part of modern smart TVs.
We reached out to Samsung to determine how many TVs it has remotely disabled with TV Block, but received no immediate response.
The company seems proud of itself, however, and made an effort to share its previously little-known ability on Twitter. The responses were less than enthusiastic.
“You can remotely brick my TV? Will definitely not buy Samsung again, and will keep my current TV offline too,” read one such reply.
“Not buying a Samsung TV,” read another. “Thanks for the heads up!”
According to the August 6 statement, “The aim of the technology is to mitigate against the creation of secondary markets linked to the sale of illegal goods, both in South Africa and beyond its borders.”
We asked Samsung about concerns from paying customers on social media regarding TV Block, specifically the possibility that the company might remotely disable a customer’s television by mistake. Again, we received no immediate response.
Samsung does however partially address this scenario in a statement, but its solution sounds like quite the pain.
“Should a customer’s TV be incorrectly blocked, the functionality can be reinstated once proof of purchase and a valid TV license is shared with a legitimate retailer.”
The statement makes no mention of any sort of compensation for customers who have to go through this ordeal.
Samsung’s boast — that it can reach into its customers’ home and, should it so choose, claw back what they’ve purchased — will sound familiar to anyone following trends in the world of “smart” gadgets.
Samsung’s ability to remotely disable all of its customers’ TVs is only one facet of the ongoing debate around company control over internet-of-things gadgets. Another (and it’s one that Sonos customers will likely recognize) is that company after company has made the decision to end support for old smart gadgets that are no longer profitable, rendering legitimately purchased and functioning items unusable.
Because these days, buying an internet-connected smart appliance doesn’t make it yours. It just means you have until the manufacturer changes its mind.
Walmart has announced that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are going to be restocked online Wednesday, Aug. 25. Starting at 6 pm P.T./9 pm E.T., the consoles will get a small restock every ten minutes through the hour, ending at 7 pm P.T./10 pm E.T. The Xbox Series X Halo Infinite limited edition bundle will also be available for pre-order starting at 5:30 pm P.T./8:30 pm E.T.
The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have beenbasically impossible to get for almost a year now, thanks to a microchip shortage and annoying bots. The result has been a hectic, everyone-for-themselves race to snag one whenever they go back in stock — but thankfully, restocks of the coveted consoles are becoming more and more frequent as time goes on.
Though it’ll still be a toss-up if you end up getting one or not, Walmart has announced that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are going to be restocked online yet againon Wednesday, August 25. Starting at 6 pm P.T./9 pm E.T., the consoles will get a small, staggered restock every ten minutes through the hour, with 7 pm P.T./10 pm E.T. being the end of the restock window. And this time around, you’ll even have the opportunity to pre-order the Xbox Series X Halo Infinite bundle starting at 5:30 pm P.T./8:30 pm E.T.
So, we’ll leave you to it. Links for each console being restocked are below.
Airbnb — and their partner nonprofit organization Airbnb.org — announced on Tuesday that it will provide temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide who are fleeing their homes as the Taliban seizes power.
“As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees resettle around the world, where they stay will be the first chapter in their new lives,” Brian Chesky, the CEO and co-founder of Airbnb said in a statement. “For these 20,000 refugees, my hope is that the Airbnb community will provide them with not only a safe place to rest and start over, but also a warm welcome home.”
This comes just a week after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan as the U.S. completes its troop withdrawal from a nearly two-decade-long war. Since August 14, the U.S. has evacuated more than 58,000 people from Kabul, the nation’s capitol and largest city. In the 24 hours preceding Tuesday morning, more than 21,000 more people were evacuated, according to the Washington Post. About 6,500 people, the majority of whom are Afghans, were waiting for evacuation flights inside the Kabul airport on Tuesday morning, CNN reported.
The European Union announced on Tuesday that it would increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by more than $175 million, the Post reported. Also on Tuesday, President Joe Biden will meet with European allies at the virtual G7 summit. CNN reported that international leaders will likely encourage Biden to slow the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and allow for more evacuations, but Biden hasn’t agreed to anything yet.
Last week, Airbnb.org gave emergency funding to the International Rescue Committee, HIAS and Church World Service in support of Afghan refugees and, over the past weekend, it placed 165 refugees in housing after they reached the states.
“As the IRC helps to welcome and resettle Afghans in the U.S., accessible housing is urgently needed and essential,” David Miliband, the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said in a statement. “We are grateful to our partners at Airbnb.org and Airbnb for once again offering their support and infrastructure to meet this moment, providing safe and welcoming places for individuals and families as they arrive in the United States and begin rebuilding their lives.”
Fall is coming, and with it, all new allergens to potentially wreak havoc on our sinuses and fragile emotional states. Indoor humidity levels are an important factor in keeping allergy symptoms at bay. Low humidity levels (below 30 percent) can dry out your nose, skin, and throat. Plus, they can cause dust mites, mold, and bacteria to dry out and become airborne, which you could then inhale. If you live in a dry climate or have been blasting your air conditioner to extreme highs to stay cool, a humidifier can help return some of that much-needed moisture to the air. And as a result, it could clear up that dry, runny nose and sore throat you’ve been suffering from.
The Missed Global Stella Humidifier is wireless and portable, so you can tote it around to any room that needs a little moisture. With dual misting ports that can be used together or separately, intermittently or continuously, you can customize your humidity levels to your home’s specific needs.
Check it out:
Wirelessly, it’ll last you up to six hours on a single charge, and plugged in, you can enjoy up to 12 hours of activity. It’s great for creating a more comfortable atmosphere in your home office during the workday or catching allergens as you sleep. It covers up to 150 square feet of space and barely makes a peep as it moisturizes the air. Plus, cleaning and maintaining this portable gem only takes 30 seconds out of your day.
As a bonus, the Stella packs a built-in power bank that allows you to charge up your phone or other USB-powered devices without an outlet.
For a limited time, you can snag the Stella Humidifier on sale for just $62.99 (regularly $74) and work to eliminate the allergens in your home. And if you spend $50 or more, you’ll even get a $10 credit added to your account automatically within 14 days of your purchase.