Serious About Tech

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Episode 5 – New Google Devices; KRACKing WiFi




Google announced new devices on October 4. These include the Pixel 2 phones, Pixelbook, Home Mini, Home Max, and Google Clips camera.

Google Pixel Phones

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Phones by Google

Image from GSMArena

The new Pixel 2 smartphones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, were products from this event most waited for. The new phones run Android 8.0 Oreo and deeply integrate Google Assistant. The Pixel 2 has a 5 inch display, whereas the Pixel 2 XL has a 6 inch display. These devices have OLED screens and improved cameras over the original Pixels. The Pixel 2 starts at $649 and the Pixel 2 XL starts at $849. A special feature of these phones is the Active EdgeTM that allows users to gently squeeze the device to activate Google Assistant. Something that is no longer a feature is the headphone jack, which Google has removed from their Pixel 2 smartphones. But, Google released their Pixel Buds to ease the pain. The Pixel Buds are Bluetooth earbuds that will cost $159.

Update 10/26/2017: The Pixel 2 XL smartphone’s OLED display has some burn-in problems.

Google Pixelbook

The Google Pixelbook is a premium notebook running ChromeOS. Pixelbook comes with a special stylus that can be used to draw or tap on the screen. You can also summon Google Assistant, which is included on this laptop. Pixelbook has a 12.3 inch touchscreen and the laptop can be folded to use as a tablet. This laptop uses 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, and can be configured with 8 or 16 gigabytes of RAM. You will also have plenty of  storage with a choice of 128GB, 256GB,or 512GB solid state hard drives. This device goes on sale starting at $999.

Google Home Mini and Max

Also announced were two new smart speakers, the Mini a competitor of the Amazon Echo Dot, and the Max a competitor to Apple’s HomePod. The $49 Home Mini is a smaller version of the original Google Home speaker. The $399 Home Max is a smart speaker similar to the Google Home, but has much better sound and bass output and is built specially for streaming music.

Google Clips camera

If you wanted a camera that uses AI to capture photos of your kids or pets, Google Clips might be something to look at. This $249 camera is aimed to parents who can’t seem to capture that perfect picture of their child. It stores the pictures and bursts it captures on its 16GB onboard storage. You can then copy those to your phone or delete them using the Clips app.

Sources: Business Insider, Google, Fortune, and Geekwire,

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KRACKing WiFi – is it really that bad?

There is a new attack on Wifi called KRACK (stands for Key Reinstallation Attacks). This security vulnerability affects all Wifi connected clients. (Clients mean devices connected to the network, such as phones, laptops, and IOT devices.) Someone on the network works as a man-in-the-middle and breaks your WPA2 encryption. They may also be able to break TLS communications on that client as well. This would allow them to peak into HTTPS content. FYI, a VPN (virtual private network) protects attackers from seeing your private communications.

Because they implemented something wrong in their WiFi client software, Microsoft’s Windows OSs and Apple’s operating systems are not vulnerable. Other operating systems and wireless clients have fixed this problem, such as Ubuntu, OpenBSD, OpenWRT, Amazon Echo, and more listed on BleepingComputer’s page on Krack. Android is vulnerable to this attack, and Google is testing updates to fix this problem.

According to the KRACK FAQ, routers, or access points, do not need to be updated, as the vulnerability is exploited in the client. However, if you have a mesh network, or a network repeater, those do need to be updated, so watch your manufactures’ firmware websites for updates.

Sources: BleepingComputer, Security Now! podcast.