TrustR Identifies Smartphone Security Concerns


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Have you ever gotten a virus or had someone hack your account? With all the private data you store on your computer, it can be a gut-wrenching feeling. Today’s smartphones offer the same worries. Your phone can contain all of your contacts, web browsing history, private messages, photos, videos, and access to lots of online accounts. Luckily, the likelihood of your phone data and access being compromised is minimal, but it’s always better to play it safe. There are several options out there to help you protect your smartphone from potential threats, but the one I am going to review today is called TrustR from Rookie Systems.

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Identify Smartphone Security Threats

TrustR is an app that scans your device to locate security issues found in other apps. The system that it uses is based on a large database of known security issues and is updated by security professionals daily, according to the developer. The operation couldn’t be easier. After installing the app, you press a giant button (aptly labelled “Press”) and it scans your device, comparing installed versions applications against their central database. From there, it identifies matches in three categories:

Existing Security Problems – These are all the apps that have some level of insecure data or some other issue that may compromise your data or device.

Malicious Apps – These are apps with known malicious behavior such as theft of information or spying built into the app.

Patched Apps – These are apps that had a problem at one point that has since been resolved.

The free version shows the first three threats, and the paid version ($3.99) shows you all threats. After you’ve discovered potential threats, it is up to you to upgrade or remove an app or decide that the threat doesn’t warrant removal or upgrading.

How Well Did It Work?

As mentioned, the app is incredibly easy to use, which is refreshing for a security application. This is because Rookie Systems smartly decided to stick to what’s important.

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I was not too surprised to see a few popular apps I use daily had very minor infractions that I’m not worried about. I was a little surprised to find that my PayPal app had a pretty serious man-in-the-middle hole in it several upgrades ago. It’s been fine for a while, but I wonder how long the hole was there before I upgraded.

Although it wasn’t listed as a paid feature, the paid version of TrustR asked for permission to send me push notifications. I agreed, thinking that this would generate a warning when I installed a new app. Sadly, when I removed and then re-installed the WordPress app, there was no notification. I can only imagine, then, that this allows TrustR to periodically alert me if a new threat is added to their database that matches an already installed app. The more I think about it, it would be great if TrustR did both.

Over all, four bucks seems like a jump from free without additional features (other than the unlimited warnings) but it also feels like a good price for piece of mind. Download the free version and list your top three problem apps in the comments below.

This review, although sponsored, contains my honest opinions of the product reviewed.

How To: Root Your Nook Color


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Rooting your Nook Color will allow you more control over the device and its functions. Essentially, “rooting it” lets you put a different OS on it, that removes the limitations put in place by Barnes and Noble, and allows it to run like any other Android tablet. So if you want a cheap tablet that will run full blown Android OS, grab yourself a Barnes and Noble Coupon, pick up a Nook color and root it. Be aware that rooting your device, while allowing you complete control, can damage your device and void your warranty. With that being said, rooting can be completed in just ten simple steps:

Step #1: Make sure that your nook is fully registered with Barnes and Noble.

This is essential, because it will not be able to communicate with the Barnes and Noble site for ebook downloads after you root it unless you’ve registered and set up that aspect of the device before completing rooting. During this process, you should also upgrade your Nook’s operating system to the newest available version.

Step # 2: Connect the Mini-SD card to the computer.

The micro SD chip must have at least 128 MB of memory to complete the rooting process. Using a larger SD chip will give your tablet an expanded memory for storage of apps and other data after the rooting is complete. Slide the chip into the bottom right hand corner on the back of the Nook, and then hook the Nook to a Windows-enabled computer by a USB connection.

Step # 3: Copy the image for your card/download the img file for your card.

You will need the clockwork image file for your sized SD card. Image files can be found here. Once downloaded it will be in the image or zip directory and will look something like *gb_clockwork-0.1-ext4.tar.gz. Write the image to your card. This is done with Win32-image-writer (file, and instructions can also found here), though other firmware like Auto-Nooter can also be used. From the image writing program of your choice, select “write” to transfer the image onto the card. For an 8 GB card, this will take approximately a half-hour. The larger the mini-SD card, the longer the image writing will take.

Step # 4: Allow the overwrite.

Most image write programs will signal Windows to issue a warning. The warning will say “Writing to a physical device can corrupt the device. Are you sure you want to continue?” Answer Yes.

Step # 5: Download the latest signed version of Cyanogen Mod ROM for Nook Color.

This is available from http://www.cyanogenmod.com/devices/nook-color, among other Cyanogen Mod distributors. It is essential that you download a signed version, otherwise your device may become unstable and certain functions will fail.

Step # 6: Copy the ROM to the SD card for operation.

Copy the Mod ROM to the micro SD card. For example, if your computer is recognizing the card as drive F:, then place the ROM in F:/ in the computer view, and not inside a folder within F:/. It is essential that F have full access to the ROM, and that there not be folders to penetrate.

Step # 7: Download the Google Apps zip file.

Look for one that is signed. Just like the ROM file, an unsigned version may create instability. Place it in the main root directory, beside the ROM. Avoid placing it inside a folder. Disconnect the tablet from the computer after this download is complete.

Step # 8: Reboot your device and delete all data.

When rebooting your device, you should see the Mod Recovery come up. Select “Wipe data/ Factory Settings reset” from the menu and press n. Confirm the selection by scrolling down to “Yes – Delete all user data,” and press n.

Step # 9: Clear the partitions and install new data.

Wipe the cache partition. Scroll down until “wipe cache” is highlighted and then press n. Then select “Install from SD card” from the menu and press n.

Step #10: Install the Google Apps file.

Select “choose zip from SD card” from the menu and press n. Select the Google Apps file you downloaded and press n. Confirm you want to use the selected file by pressing n again. Once the Google Apps file has fully downloaded you are done. Power off the device and restart it. You may have to power it off and on once or twice before the new programming takes effect and the tablet runs correctly. This is a common glitch and is not a major cause for concern.

Google Brings Offers To Maps For Android


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If you’re a fan of offer sites like Groupon, you might already know that Google has it’s own discount offer site, Google Offers. While still in Beta, Google Offers has already shown me a few great offers, so what they’re doing now is great. Google is bringing Offers to your mobile Google Maps application.

Offers For Beginners

For those unaware, here’s a summary of how these offer sites work. A business decides to give a really good deal on their product or service and offers it through the offer site. The site then approves and features some of the better offers and puts these offers in front of people. Enticed by a great deal, consumers buy offers and redeem them with the company. Many of the consumers are first-time customers, willing to take a chance on a new product or service because the cost risk is greatly reduced. The company provides this discount in hopes that they will gain many new loyal customers. This works very well for dining because, as a consumer, you can try many new places without spending a lot.

Why Integrate With Maps?

That’s a silly question, really. Perhaps we should ask why it took so long. It makes a lot of sense to have offers available to you right in your map application while you’re on the go. I use a couple apps that show me where I can eat nearby, but it would be better if I could see what new places I can try at a discount nearby. Honestly, I’ve already been doing this to some degree with FourSquare. When I’m out, I always check for a special anywhere I am already going to be, but I often also look at who has specials near me. I can’t wait to see this with Google Offers.

What About Mobile?

Google is already rolling out the update for their Maps application in Android, but us iPhone users will have to wait for the update. How long? It’s unknown, but it’s no surprise that Google would favor Android users for this update. At least I can convince my wife to let me play with it on her Android phone while I wait.