All posts in “Google”

How to send spam calls straight to voicemail with Google’s phone app

PSA: Enable Google's new spam prevention feature now.
PSA: Enable Google’s new spam prevention feature now.

Image: Getty Images.justin sullivan

Google just gave us another good reason to use its phone app: better protection from spam callers. 

The company’s phone app for Android has a new setting that can automatically detect spam calls and send them straight to voicemail so your phone never even rings.

The app now has a “filter suspected spam call” option in its settings. When enabled, suspected spam calls will be routed straight to your phone’s voicemail. Your phone won’t ring, and you won’t get a missed call notification.

If the caller does leave a voicemail, you also won’t get a notification, though you’ll have the ability to view missed calls and voicemails that have been “filtered.”

Google’s phone app has had built-in warnings about suspected spam calls for some time, but this change takes things to the next level as these calls can now be muted automatically. To enable the setting, you first need to make sure you have Google’s phone app installed (it comes standard on some phones, like the Pixel, but for some phones you’ll need to download it separately and set it as your default phone app).

Then, simply go to Settings -> Caller ID & spam -> Filter suspected spam calls.

Of course, robocallers are only getting more and more sophisticated, so even Google may not be able to catch all the offenders. 

But the app also provides a way to report phone numbers that may have made it through its systems, so future calls may be easier to block. 

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Google Chrome’s new protection against Meltdown and Spectre bugs will slow your computer down

Time to switch to a different web browser?
Time to switch to a different web browser?

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Good news! Google has added new safeguards to its Chrome web browser to protect you from the critical Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities discovered in January.

The bad news: Chrome is now an even bigger memory (RAM) hog than before. So if your computer’s already feeling the performance pinch because it doesn’t have a bountiful amount of RAM, it’s only gonna get worse.

In a security blog post, Google details how the latest version of its browser, Chrome 67, implements a feature called “Site Isolation” to shield against Meltdown and Spectre.

Originally available in experimental versions of Chrome, Site Isolation is now enabled by default for 99 percent of Chrome 67 users on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. The extra security will arrive on Android in Chrome 68.

So how exactly does Site Isolation protect your data from being stolen? Though Google goes into the weeds on its blog, it’s really quite simple. 

Instead of using a single render process to load up a website and all of its included data, Chrome 67 splits a website’s rendering into multiple processes. 

By splitting a website’s data into different rendering processes, Chrome’s essentially isolating your private information from an attacker’s website or scripts.

Still a little confused? Google’s made a handy graphic:

See how a website is rendered using multiple processes to better isolate potentially damaging data from your private data?

See how a website is rendered using multiple processes to better isolate potentially damaging data from your private data?

Image: Google

These additional render processes come at a cost: Chrome needs to use more RAM to create them. Google says “there is about a 10-13% total memory overheat in real workloads due to the larger number of processes.”

That may not seem like a lot, but if you’ve got a computer with little RAM to begin with, it could be the difference between being able to opening a few more tabs in Chrome, or running multiple apps or processes runnin

Users with computers with, say, 4GB of RAM will almost certainly feel the squeeze if they try to open many tabs or multi-task. 

Our advice: If you can upgrade your computer’s RAM, definitely do it, especially if you’ve got a laptop. Many laptops (like MacBooks) are non user-upgradeable these days, but do your homework and see if it is. RAM upgrades are pretty cheap and aren’t difficult to do even for non-tech heads.

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Ransomware technique uses your real passwords to trick you

A few folks have reported a new ransomware technique that preys upon corporate inability to keep passwords safe. The notes – which are usually aimed at instilling fear – are simple: the hacker says “I know that your password is X. Give me a bitcoin and I won’t blackmail you.”

Programmer Can Duruk reported getting the email today.

The email reads:

I’m aware that X is your password.

You don’t know me and you’re thinking why you received this e mail, right?

Well, I actually placed a malware on the porn website and guess what, you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as a RDP (Remote Desktop) and a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen and webcam. Right after that, my software gathered all your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook account, and email account.

What exactly did I do?

I made a split-screen video. First part recorded the video you were viewing (you’ve got a fine taste haha), and next part recorded your webcam (Yep! It’s you doing nasty things!).

What should you do?

Well, I believe, $1400 is a fair price for our little secret. You’ll make the payment via Bitcoin to the below address (if you don’t know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google) .

BTC Address: 1Dvd7Wb72JBTbAcfTrxSJCZZuf4tsT8V72
(It is cAsE sensitive, so copy and paste it)

Important:

You have 24 hours in order to make the payment. (I have an unique pixel within this email message, and right now I know that you have read this email). If I don’t get the payment, I will send your video to all of your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so forth. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I will erase the video immidiately. If you want evidence, reply with “Yes!” and I will send your video recording to your 5 friends. This is a non-negotiable offer, so don’t waste my time and yours by replying to this email.

To be clear there is very little possibility that anyone has video of you cranking it unless, of course, you video yourself cranking it. Further, this is almost always a scam. That said, the fact that the hackers are able to supply your real passwords – most probably gleaned from the multiple corporate break-ins that have happened over the past few years – is a clever change to the traditional cyber-blackmail methodology.

Luckily, the hackers don’t have current passwords.

“However, all three recipients said the password was close to ten years old, and that none of the passwords cited in the sextortion email they received had been used anytime on their current computers,” wrote researcher Brian Krebs. In short, the password files the hackers have are very old and outdated.

To keep yourself safe, however, cover your webcam when not in use and change your passwords regularly. While difficult, there is nothing else that can keep you safer than you already are if you use two-factor authentication and secure logins.

Tell your boss to get bent with Google’s ‘working hours’ feature

Sigh.
Sigh.

Image: Frederic Cirou/getty

You work a 9-to-5, and yet some jerk in the office keeps scheduling you for 8 a.m. meetings. 

This madness has to stop, and, thanks to Google’s new Working Hours feature that prevents people from adding you to meetings on Google Calendar outside of your pre-set available times, it just might. JK, your bosses are going to do whatever the hell they want with your time, but the new feature is at least a wonderfully passive-aggressive way to tell them to get bent. 

Working Hours, announced by Google on June 27, is pretty straightforward. 

“People who will try to schedule meetings with you outside of these hours will be informed that you are not available at that time,” explains the company’s blog post. “You can already set your working hours to one interval for all days of the week. With this launch, you can now customize your work hours for each day separately.”

"Time, time, time. There's time enough at last."

“Time, time, time. There’s time enough at last.”

Image: google

This is just the latest addition in a series of mindfulness features rolled out by tech giants over the past year. Think of Apple’s “Do Not Disturb during Bedtime,” or Screen Time. Or all the nonsense from Facebook about “time well spent.”

The problem, tech’s message seems to be, is not with our hyper-connected society and definitely not with our addictive products, but rather that you don’t have enough features to use the products the right way

Well, now you do. So, go ahead and set your working hours as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Google Calendar. It is, after all, the best way to ensure that your boss texts you at 7:30 a.m. wondering why the hell he can’t add you to that 8 a.m. meeting. 

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Google Chrome is getting a major redesign, and you can try it out right now

Shiny new Chrome.
Shiny new Chrome.

Image: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

In the bowels of Chrome experimental development, a new version of the web browser brews. It has a new tab shape, single tab mode, and so much more. And you can try it out now.

The redesigned Chrome is now available on Canary for Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS. Canary is an experimental version of Chrome that has the latest features in development.

Please note: Chrome Canary is designed for developers and early adopters — so download it at your own risk, and don’t be surprised if the program occasionally crashes.

Spotted by Engadget, the news comes via self-described “Chromium Evangelist” François Beaufort. Chromium is the open-source version of Chrome, that contributors like Beaufort work on. It’s where a lot of ideas and features get tested and kicked around before making it into Canary, and ultimately the stable version of Chrome.

The redesigned Chrome in Canary.

The redesigned Chrome in Canary.

Image: screenshot: jake krol/mashable

The redesign is part of Google’s Material Design push, which is a toolkit to unify User Interface across Google products. A side-by-side comparison of the three dots drop-down menu in the upper right corner shows the design differences.

Old Chrome design.

Old Chrome design.

Image: screenshot: Jake krol/mashable

Shiny new Chrome, with Material Design.

Shiny new Chrome, with Material Design.

Anyone can try out the redesign now with Chrome flags in Canary. Flags allow users to enable experimental features like the redesign. 

“Users can set experimental flags chrome://flags/#top-chrome-md  to ‘Refresh’ and enable chrome://flags/#views-browser-windows to try it out now,” Beaufort writes.

So what’s in the update? According to Beaufort, it’s “tab shape, single tab mode, omnibox suggestion icons, tab strip coloring, pinned tabs, and alert indicators.” Using the new browser, it also seems faster, though there isn’t documentation that specifically addresses that.

It’s hard not to notice that the more rectangular tab shape looks a biiiit like Mozilla Firefox. But OK.

Happy experimental browser testing!

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