- OpenPhone gives you a separate business line for $10 per month - The Verge
- Google Hits Back: ‘We Do Not Work With The Chinese Military’ - Z6Mag
- Google Voice VoIP calls will be live for everyone by next week - Android Police
Posted: 03 Aug 2019 06:00 AM PDT
If you're a creative or other freelancer work, at some point you may start thinking twice about giving out your personal phone number to your clients or business contacts. Besides the possible privacy issues, do you really want your business connections to be able to call you at any hour of the day or night — and on the same number you give your family and friends? A new service called OpenPhone says it can solve that problem by providing cloud-based business numbers for $10 per month.
There are, of course, several cloud-based services that provide secondary phone numbers which can be used alongside your primary carrier-based number. To begin with, there is Google Voice, probably the best-known such service, which gives you a phone number that is associated your Google account. Voice has been available from Google since 2009 (when the original service, GrandCentral, was acquired), and is still free; however, it hasn't undergone a whole lot of updating since. Other services, such as Hushed and Burner, also provide separate phone numbers for reasonably low fees; they market themselves as alternatives for users who want temporary, easily deleted numbers.
OpenPhone, on the other hand, is pushing itself as a resource for independent workers or small businesses that want to separate their business and personal calls and texts. It distinguishes itself from Google Voice by touting its customer support, the availability of toll-free numbers, and the ability to have more than one number per phone. It is currently only available in the US and Canada.
How to register for OpenPhone
To begin with, you get to choose a phone number. You can select any US or Canada area code; be aware that some codes will offer more choices than others. You can also, if you want, choose a toll-free number, or even try to find a number with a word embedded in it — I was able to find a number that had "0GYM" as its last four characters.
Once you've chosen a phone number, you create an account, and verify it with your phone's carrier number (you can't use another VoIP number, such as Google Voice). You then have the option of providing your company name, number of employees and which industry you're in. (If you're just registering as an individual, you can skip this step.)
OpenPhone offers a seven-day free trial, although you do have to provide your credit card data in order to sign up. After the trial, OpenPhone costs $10 per month for an Individual account. A Team account, which costs $15 a month, adds a dedicated account manager and priority support.
And then, if you haven't already, you download the app to your phone, and you're ready to go.
A nicely simple UI
The interface is almost Spartan in its simplicity. The home page lists your recently-used contacts. If the person you want to contact isn't there, you can swipe left to tap in the phone number, or swipe right for the features list, which includes access to your contact list.
OpenPhone has its own contact list, which you can sync with your phone's. Once you've chosen the person you want to contact, you simply use the field at the bottom of the screen to send a text or the phone icon on the upper right to make a call. Records of phone calls and text messages for each contact are all on the same screen, making it simple to see all your previous conversations. You can also (via a menu) copy the number, block it or delete the conversation.
The apps has several nice options. One is the ability to set business hours; calls that come outside of your set hours will go straight to voicemail, and you can record a separate voicemail for those hours (such as "Our office is currently closed, but leave a message, and someone will call you back in the morning"). You can also forward calls to another number if, for example, you are going on vacation and want someone else to get the calls. A "Do Not Disturb" feature lets you temporarily mute calls.
You can have as many as five phone numbers associated with your carrier number (Google Voice only allows one). It's very easy to request another number straight from the features menu, but be aware that you'll pay $9.99 for each additional number.
I tried out OpenPhone and found that service worked perfectly well. In fact, the quality of the voice calls, using an internet connection, was better on my end than my usual Google Voice calls.
Can still be glitchy
Anyone trying out this service should be aware that it is still very new, and this shows. To begin with, the feature set is still a bit tentative. One example: OpenPhone boasts that it lets you you can link your OpenPhone number to your phone carrier rather than Wi-Fi or your data plan. However, there are still so many restrictions attached to this method that it's not really viable: you can't make outgoing calls, you can't attach more than one number to your carrier number, and it's only available for iOS phones.
In addition, there were a few coding glitches that popped up here and there. After my couple of calls, the names of the two contacts I had recently contacted were garbled together on the main page. Once I closed and opened the app, that resolved itself; still, something like that is a sign of an app still in development.
There are other cloud-based business solutions out there with more features, but they tend to charge $30 / month per user or more. For freelancers and startups, OpenPhone could be a good way to provide yourself with a separate business line. Just be aware that, since it's a startup, there could be an occasional hiccup along the way.
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Posted: 16 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT
A researcher claims to discover Honda's ElasticSearch database that exposes the internal system and device data. The discovery revealed a database containing 40GB of internal system and data services that are unprotected and unencrypted by Honda's Security.
Belonging to Honda Motor Company, the unsecured database was found leaking sensitive information about its global system, which includes the devices which aren't up-to-date or protected by security protocols.
The said exposed ElasticSearch database accommodated approximately 134 documents that amounted to an estimate of 40GB of data belonging to Honda, one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world. The data could have helped and provided attackers with an easy map for locating the security "soft spots" of the company, said security researcher Justin Paine, who discovered the leak of the database.
"The data contained within this database was related to the internal network and computers of Honda Motor Company," he said in a post on Wednesday about the incident.
"The information available in the database appeared to be something like an inventory of all Honda internal machines. This included information such as machine hostname, MAC address, internal IP, operating system version, which patches had been applied and the status of Honda's endpoint security software."
The leaked information seems to go back as far as March 13, and this also includes significant information on endpoint security vendors that protects Honda's machines (which Paine did not name). The leak also pointed out machines with endpoint security software that are enabled and up-to-date. What is more disturbing is that it also pinpoints machines that do not have any endpoint security enabled at all, or are using older operating systems.
"If an attacker is looking for a way into Honda's network, knowing which machines are far less likely to identify/block their attacks would be critical information," stated Paine. "These 'uncontrolled machines' could very easily be the open door into the entire network."
Aside from finding sensitive system information, Paine also discovered a dataset that contains employee information like names, email addresses, department, last login, employee number, and account names. It also gives out specific employees' machine IP address, MAC address, hostname, operating system, machine type, endpoint security state and which Windows patches had been applied.
One data test also revealed the CEO's full email account, account name, and ID; the last time they logged in the system, and as well as the device data such as MAC address, patching history, OS version, endpoint security status and the IP — it also specifies what device type the user is using. Attackers could use these data to locate an employee and keep tabs on them to identify ways to launch targeted attacks, Paine warned.
In a statement given by the researcher, he said that Honda claimed that there is no evidence that the data was leaked. Honda did not respond right away to a request for any further comments.
"The security issue… identified could have potentially allowed outside parties to access some of Honda's cloud-based data that consisted of information related to our employees and their computers," according to Honda's statement.
"We investigated the system's access logs and found no signs of data download by any third parties. At this moment, there is no evidence that data was leaked…We will take appropriate actions in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, and will continue to work on proactive security measures to prevent similar incidents in the future," the carmaker added further.
Unsecured databases still continue to be a security problem in companies. In June, for example, three publicly accessible cloud storage buckets from a data-management company, Attunity, leaked more than a terabyte of data from its top Fortune 100 customers, which includes internal business documents, system passwords, and some sensitive employee information.
There were also some instances that occurred in May, where IT services provider, HCL Tech, inadvertently exposed passwords and other sensitive project reports and other private data of thousands of customers and internal employees.
And in April hundreds of millions of Facebook records were found in two separate publicly exposed app datasets.
This information highlights how data security could be at risk. A single flaw in the system could lead to significant exposure of private information to the public. Security protocols should be tightened and fortified, said Paine.
Posted: 24 Jan 2019 12:00 AM PST
Google took a long, long break from Google Voice a while back. After letting the app fall into disrepair, Google expressed a renewed commitment to Voice in 2017. It has since announced a handful of feature updates, including VoIP calling in 2018. However, that feature never actually rolled out to everyone. Google's Scott Johnston says it's almost time, though.
We know that some Voice users got VoIP calling as far back as September. Like far too many Google features lately, this is a server-side change and not controlled by an app update. For some unknown reason, Google has dragged its feet rolling it out to everyone. According to Johnston, things are back on track and the VoIP calling feature will be live for all users by next week.
There's an important distinction to keep in mind here. Google Voice hasn't had VoIP calls before; although it had many VoIP-like capabilities, Voice has always worked over a traditional phone line connection. When you get the update, you'll be able to place calls on your Voice number via a mobile data or WiFi connection.
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