If you’ve just received an Android gadget as a gift, we’ve got all the info you need to get started.
There’s nothing quite like unwrapping a new gadget — whether it’s that latest flagship phone you’ve been wishing for, a shiny new tablet, a stylish smartwatch or even a Chromebook. So if you’re one of the many new Android owners getting started with your new device today — welcome!
There world of Android is vast and varied. Lots of different types of device run Android, and each has its own quirks. Luckily this is Android Central, and we’re here to help you get the most out of your new phone, tablet, watch or laptop.
So here’s a quick guide to getting started with your shiny new gadget this holiday season — from the basics to more advanced Android mastery, we cover it all.
First stop — “How do I…”
Our homepage is a constant stream of information on every little Android thing we can find, but there’s a lot more to Android Central than just news. We’re all about taking each thing we get a hold of and exploring every facet of it, explaining how it all works and showing you how to get the most out of your experience with the hardware and apps we use every day. As a result, there’s a whole lot here for you to check out.
Check out our Android devices gallery and find your new phone or tablet.
Explore our Help and How-to section for detailed looks at getting the best photos, making sure your battery lasts as long as it should, and so much more.
Read through our Reviews and check out our YouTube channel for more detailed thoughts and videos on just about everything.
Got a Android phone or tablet? Check out our favorite apps of 2016 to find out what you should be installing on your new device.
For Chromebooks, our Chromebook hub is a great place to start.
Next stop — The Android Central Forums
The Android Central forums are home to an incredible community of Android owners like you, supported by our fantastic ambassadors and moderators. Whether you’re looking for help and advice, or you just want to chat with people who own the same device as you, the forums are where you’ll want to go.
There are forums for just about every Android device, including the latest Samsung, LG and Google Pixel phones, Android Wear and Android Auto.
Find out what’s ‘the best’
If you’re still shopping for Android-related tech — or looking for top apps and accessories for your new device — you’ll want to check out our guide to the best of Android. And we’re constantly updating our Android smartphone buyers guide with recommendations from our team of Android experts!
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Thanks for being part of team Android, and enjoy your new gadget!
It came to my attention late this week that I would be writing the final Editor’s Desk column of the year.
Come next Sunday we’ll be kicking off 2017. I’ll be on a plane headed toward Las Vegas to get a jump start on CES (which doesn’t officially start until January 4) and another year of covering Android, Google and everything even tangentially related. Alex had a nice Editor’s Desk column looking at the trends going forward in 2017, but today I’m still thinking retrospectively about the year that was.
Daniel, Jerry and I had a nice little end-of-year podcast this week in which we looked back at the biggest storylines of 2016, and obviously had plenty to talk about. The Galaxy Note 7 saga, Pokémon Go being a massive hit, the impending death of smartwatches, Google becoming a hardware company and many other storylines.
The Note 7 is no longer headline news, but people haven’t forgotten what happened.
I’m honestly still trying to wrap my head around the whole Note 7 situation, and though it’s nearly put to bed at this point we know it’ll all come back to the front of our minds when we start to near the Galaxy S8 launch. Samsung finally weathered the storm and is just about done getting every Note 7 back to Korea, but the questions about how it’s handling safety will (rightfully) be brought back up the next time Samsung tries to sell a flagship phone. And the “Note” brand has to be well and truly dead, right? I don’t see how it isn’t.
I have no doubt that Samsung will be able to “turn things around” so to speak — if not by Galaxy S7 standards then at least by general industry standards — and make the Galaxy S8 a hit.
This was easily the most exciting year in Google products.
As Samsung tries to work out that situation, Google is having a hardware renaissance of sorts. The most important part of this new hardware initiative — which of course kicked off with the “Made by Google” marketing — is that it’s a centralized effort that reaches into all other parts of Google’s business. This is no longer the Chromecast team or the Nexus team or the OnHub team … it’s “Google Hardware” and that spans across software platforms, strategies and business segments. It’s a massive undertaking, but this is how you have cohesive hardware that works together and makes sense to the end consumer.
This is easily the most exciting time in the short history of Google products, ranging from software to services and now its own hardware. Just think what the landscape will look like this time next year when the group has had even more time to tie things together.
A few more thoughts to close out the year:
- I’m still wearing my Gear S3 Frontier, but I have to say my actual usage of it is decreasing. I’m still checking notifications as they come in, and rejecting unwanted calls, but that’s about it. At least the watch faces are nice.
- My Pixel XL Places Live Case has started to settle down just a little. The button works sometimes, and doesn’t activate accidentally anymore. Still mostly a crapshoot, though.
- And yes that means I’m using the Pixel XL still. For as much as I love the Pixel’s smaller size, the XL’s extra battery is a huge deal.
- I now have a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (terrible name), and am therefore completely living the #donglelife.
- So far dealing with these adapters is entirely worth it for the plain fact that USB-C is amazing. Using one charger and cable for multiple devices is great for travel.
- You may have seen that I’ve tried out some of my new dongles on the PIxel C — and hey, they work well!
Happy holidays to everyone, and hope this long weekend is an opportunity for you to relax and spend some time with friends and family. See everyone next year.
It’s been a festive week and, for once, not a complete socio-political trainwreck. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are, but some good things really did happen. Like, we found an effective vaccine against Ebola, Super Mario Run broke iOS download records, both the UK and France have come to embrace renewables and Canada set some impressive broadband speed rules. Numbers, because how else are we going to count down the million years until Sweet Meteor O’Death finally comes calling?
Nike and Adidas aren’t the only lifestyle brands designing their retail spaces with technology in mind. Others such as Rebecca Minkoff, a fashion label based out of New York City, are taking similar steps by implementing things like smart mirrors and, most recently, self-checkout at its boutiques. Although the latter feature is far less advanced than what Amazon’s Go grocery stores will offer, it’s yet another example of how the brick-and-mortar landscape is changing across different industries.
Rebecca Minkoff CEO, Uri Minkoff, says it’s not only about making the experience feel more futuristic for shoppers, but also removing some of the human interaction that commonly takes place at physical locations. The latter, he says, stems from the idea of “the Pretty Woman moment,” where some customers would prefer not to be judged for their purchases. To see this in practice, I took a tour of Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, which also happens to be home to Nike’s new massive tech-infused space and Google’s NYC pop-up shop. In other words, this is the place to be if you’re looking to spend a lot of cash.
Aside from chic women’s clothing and accessories, the first thing I noticed when I visited the Rebecca Minkoff store was a large (5 x 12 feet) digital wall that lets you order a drink or request help from an employee. Personally, I don’t find it that hard to look around the store for assistance, but the touchscreen does let you enter your information and get a text message when someone’s on their way to you. I can see how that might be more appealing than wandering aimlessly, or having to deal with an associate asking how they can help every time you make even accidental eye contact.
Rebecca and Uri Minkoff.
Back when the store opened in 2014, Rebecca Minkoff partnered with eBay to install connected mirrors in fitting rooms. Customers can use these interactive displays to browse and order different styles or sizes. Plus, you can use it get a staff member bring you a different size if the one you picked out is too big — quite handy when you’re semi-naked in the dressing room. I didn’t get the full effect, since Rebecca isn’t a menswear designer, but I can imagine it would be useful to have something similar at stores I do shop at. It would save me both energy and time, and no one can say no to that.
By far, the feature that intrigued me the most was self-checkout, though I would later find out it wasn’t what I expected. The system, developed in part by a startup named QueueHop, uses Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chips and iPads to give shoppers a different way to pay for items in store. But, rather than offering a “Just Walk Out Shopping” experience like Amazon Go, Rebecca Minkoff’s version of self-checkout is more akin to what you see at conventional grocery and big-box stores.
That said, you do need to interact with an employee if you want to get a shopping bag or receipt, otherwise you can get through it all on on your own in less than five minutes. If you’re wondering why you can’t just grab a bag yourself, apparently Minkoff thinks it’s more aesthetically pleasing this way.
Rebecca Minkoff’s self-checkout system.
Based on my demo, it’s obvious that the system is a work in progress. Once you’ve placed the items on an RFID-powered table, it sends product details to the iPad used to check out, you enter info such as your email address and swipe your credit card to pay. It’s seamless up until that point. The problem is, before you can walk away from the self-checkout station, you have have to manually take the alarms off of the stuff you’ve purchased, be it a purse, dress or pair of sunglasses. Yes, I’m talking about those annoying plastic tags that are there to make sure you don’t steal anything.
After inserting each alarm piece into a small machine, it took the store associate who gave me the demo a few tries before she was able to fully remove them. And she’s a trained professional. A representative for the brand says this was done for security purposes, as it didn’t want to take the chance of someone walking out with a $500 handbag or any other item. If someone does try to do that, the RFID tags will set off a sound alerting associates as soon as you attempt to step out the door. It’ll be interesting to see if Rebecca Minkoff could find a way to fix that tedious step and, at the same time, keep its security measures in place.
Right now self-checkout is only available at Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship location in NYC, but the service is expected to rollout to Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the near future. I have a feeling customers who try it won’t be too impressed, at least not if they walk in thinking it’s going to be another Amazon Go. Honestly, I was expecting something more in line with what the online retail giant teased a couple of weeks ago, especially because both firms made their respective announcement on the same day. Unfortunately that’s not the case.
Amazon’s vision requires zero interaction with other humans, relying heavily on sensors and deep machine learning to create a true self-checkout experience for shoppers. Basically, all you need is an app, your grocery bags and the Go store does the rest (i.e. make sure you paid for everything you took). If you want to imagine what the future of retail will look like, this is a solid example. That’s not to say Rebecca Minkoff’s system isn’t convenient, it’s just not as smart as what Amazon created. “They [Amazon] probably had a much bigger budget than we did,” says Minkoff half-joking.
The digital wall and smart mirrors, on the other hand, are a little gimmicky but not to the point where you completely question their purpose. It helps that they’re not obtrusive and, with the latter, it is helpful to be able to browse a lookbook and remotely order clothes from inside the fitting room. According to Minkoff, customers love these features, although he wasn’t clear on whether they lead to increased sales or more foot traffic.
Rebecca Minkoff’s approach to technology isn’t revolutionary, but its willingness to explore it is notable when you consider how slow the fashion world has been to embrace it. Things are changing fast though, leading designers and brands to look to tech to make their products more innovative. While not perfect, maybe the ideas from Rebecca Minkoff will inspire others to use them as a building block to change the retail landscape as we know it.
If you’re new to the HTC Vive or a VR veteran, this is your ultimate guide!
Earlier this year HTC debuted it’s first virtual reality headset, the HTC Vive. With the intention of providing high quality experiences to the masses, the headset has emerged as a consumer favorite as of late.
Whether you’re just starting out with the platform or been rocking a headset since launch, we’ve complied the best tips and tricks to take your experience that extra bit forward. From buyer’s guides, tutorials and troubleshooting, we’re sure to cover your needs!
Read more at VR Heads!
You’re probably reading this because you own a Chromecast but don’t know what to do with it beyond casting YouTube or Netflix videos from your device to a TV. Well, Pocket-lint is here to help.
You can use Chromecast to magically turn on your TV, play motion-controlled games, stream locally stored video to your TV, mirror websites, and more. If you’d like to learn more about these little-known features, keep on reading. We’ve detailed several tips that will immediately enhance your Chromecast streaming experience. Be sure to check out these reviews for more tips, too:
- Chromecast 2 review: Make any TV smart, effortlessly
- What is Google Cast for Audio?
- Chromecast now has a guest mode: Here’s how to turn on the feature
- What is Google Chromecast and why should you care?
- Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast
- Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Google Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick
- What is Google Chromecast and why should you care?
- Google Chromecast: How to set up Chromecast and get started with it
Turn on your TV and Chromecast without a remote
You can simultaneously turn on your TV and Chromecast and even change to the correct HDMI input without ever touching your TV remote. This is possible because Chromecast supports a common technology called HDMI-CEC. Although most HDTVs and modern sets offer HDMI-CEC, you might have to enable the feature under TV settings.
Once CEC is enabled on your TV, you will be able to cast anything from your computer and mobile device. Your TV will automatically turn on, then switch to the correct HDMI input for Chromecast, and begin streaming your content. Magic, right?
Stream local video using a keyboard shortcut
You could use apps like RealCloud Player, Plex, or Videostream to cast video saved on your computer to your TV. You can use a keyboard shortcut, too. First, download the Google Cast extension for the Chrome browser. Once it’s installed, open your Chrome browser and simply press Control+O (Chromebook and Windows) or Command+O (Mac). Use the pop-up box to find and select your video.
Keep in mind you can select files from your local drive, connected external drive, and even network locations. After picking your file, it should load in your browser. You’ll want to go to the Cast icon in the browser bar and select your Chromecast to instantly begin streaming.
Stream local video stored on Android devices
We’ve already discussed how you can stream local video stored on your computer, but this tip is slightly different: You can send photos, music, and videos stored on your mobile device to your TV. All you need to do is download an app on your Android smartphone or tablet that’ll let you do that. AllCast, for instance, but you’ll want to pay $4.99 for the premium version to remove all viewing limits.
You can also mirror your Android phone or tablet to the TV, meaning you can stream whatever is on your mobile screen to the big screen, such as apps or photos, by selecting Cast Screen from the navigation drawer in the Chromecast app. You’ll also need to select your Chromecast device. Nexus device owners will notice the feature under their Quick Settings menu.
Mirror your entire screen or tab
This one should be well-known among Chromecast users, but it is still worth mentioning to all the newbies reading: You can beam whatever your looking at in the Chrome browser to your TV. You must first download the Google Cast extension for the Chrome browser. Once it’s installed, open your Chrome browser and select the Cast icon in the browser bar. A small menu will appear, with a little arrow in the upper right-hand corner.
Click on the arrow to reveal options for casting your browser tab or your entire screen. The tab option will obviously only mirror what’s visible in your browser tab, while the entire screen option will mirror your entire computer screen. Once you’ve made your choice, click on your Chromecast device name to start mirroring. This is a really handy feature for presentations.
Cast full-screen content in the background
It is fun to cast from your computer. But you must keep video and different things in full screen mode within the Chrome browser at all times in order for it to display in full screen on your TV. That’s not so fun, because it makes playing with your computer while watching TV impossible.
Luckily, there is a workaround. When casting from your Chrome browser, press Alt+Tab to switch tasks. This will still stream your content in full screen…but in the background, enabling you to use your computer freely.
Adjust streaming quality
Did you know there’s a secret settings menu for Chromecast? You must first download the Google Cast extension for the Chrome browser. Once it’s installed, click on the Cast icon in your browser bar and select Options. A page will open with a few settings you can adjust such as tab casting quality. Simply select from Standard (480p), High (720p), or Extreme (720p high bitrate). Extreme is for people with newer computers and speedy Wi-Fi.
Similarly, you can also adjust the streaming quality for anything you want to cast. While casting, go to the Cast icon in your browser bar and select the gear icon in the bottom left-hand corner. You will again see options for Standard (480p), High (720p), or Extreme (720p high bitrate).
Add Emoji or symbols to your Chromecast name
This is a silly one that doesn’t necessarily enhance your streaming experience but it does make you feel cooler. You can use Emoji and character symbols to change your Chromecast name into something more imaginative. Go to your Chromecast options (using the Google Cast extension for Chrome browser), then click on your device name, and select Edit.
Under the Edit pop-up box, you will see a field for your device name. You can add Emoji (like these) by simply copying and pasting then from your browser and into the device name field. Alternatively, while using the Android or iOS Chromecast setup and configuration app, you can add Emoji to your Chromecast name using Emojis within your default keyboard.
Android and iOS support Emoji natively.
Play motion-controlled games
You can play motion-controlled games using your smartphone and Chromecast. Don’t expect to play Halo or something like that, because these are Chrome Experiments. Many games do support multi-player functionality however. One example title is Google’s Super Sync Sports.
Go to Super Sync Sports in your Chrome browser, then cast the page from your computer to your TV, and sync your Android device to your computer. From there, follow the game’s on-screen instructions. You’ll be able to wave, flick, and swing your smartphone to control the game, kind of like Wii.
Cast Facebook Live broadcasts
Facebook Live has added support for Google’s Cast tech. That means you can send a Facebook Live broadcasts to a TV. Just make sure your mobile device and the TV with Chromecast are on the same Wi-Fi network. Then, simply open a Facebook Live broadcast and hit the Cast icon that appears on the screen. It’s like casting any other content from your phone, such as a YouTube video, only it’s a Facebook live stream.
Cast Netflix shows using Google Now
This tip is a hack for people good with programming the app Tasker. More specifically, use Tasker to set-up voice actions for Google Now. Implement an action that allows Google Now to cast Netflix shows from your mobile device to your TV upon a voice command.
The variable will be whatever show you want to watch. Once done, you’ll be able to say, for instance, “Play Dr. Strangelove on the TV” to auto-launch the Netflix mobile app and cast your show.
Check out the video above for a demonstration.
Cast Netflix and YouTube using Google Home
Now you can ask Google Home to pause House of Cards on your TV.
Google Home could easily beat Amazon Echo – if it offered more integrations and skills. The addition of Netflix support is a major step in the right direction. Google’s voice-activated speaker now recognises when you ask it to play Netflix shows. With your voice, you can ask its assistant to skip episodes, pause and resume playback, switch on captions, and even rewind what you’re watching.
To get started, you’ll need the $129 Google Home and the latest version of the Google Home app. You’ll also need a Chromecast device plugged into your TV (the 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra version costs $69). You’ll then need a Netflix account to link to your Google Home. In the Home app, go to Devices > Home > Settings > More > Videos and Photos. From there, link your Netflix account to your Google account.
Keep in mind you can also do all this with YouTube videos. All you have to do is sign into your YouTube account through the Google Home app. Once you’re all set, you can start controlling Netflix or YouTube using your Google Home. You can say things like “OK Google, play House of Cards from Netflix on my TV” or “OK Google, pause Stranger Things on my TV” or “Play John Oliver videos from YouTube on my TV”.
Mirror VR using Google Daydream
It’s not really fun to watch someone experience virtual reality… After all, they’re in a closed environment of a headset.
But you can also see what the person wearing the goggles sees, if you use Google’s new Daydream View headset and a Chromecast, because you can mirror – or send – what’s on the headset to a television. The two devices just have to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
To get started, open the Google Home app on your mobile device, select Cast, and then choose the Chromecast device you want to display your VR images. When you’re done, put the phone into the headset, and then everyone can see what you see in the virtual world.
Get an Ethernet adapter
Chromecast requires a strong Wi-Fi connection, and so Google now has an $15 Ethernet adapter for Chromecast. It looks like the Chromecast power cord, but the plug end has a small Ethernet port to connect an Ethernet cable. Just make sure that the Ethernet cable is connected to your modem as well, and then plug the USB end of the adapter into the Chromecast, and attach the Chromecast to the HDMI port on your TV.
Switch up those Chromecast photos
You can now use your own photos – or you can choose from Google’s selection images – to switch up your Chromecast background. In the Google Home app, go to the Devices tab, then select the Chromecast you want to customize, and tap the hamburger menu in the corner. From there, select Backdrop Settings. You can pick a photo from Google Photos, Facebook albums, or Flickr, or opt to display news, satellite images, etc.
Enable a guest mode
You can let guests use Chromecast without giving them access to your Wi-Fi. Just turn your Chromecast to Guest Mode in the device settings, and anyone with the Cast Ready app can cast once the option shows up on their device (if they’re within 25 feet of the Chromecast).
Factory reset Chromecast
You may never need to use this tip, but it’s handy to know nonetheless: in case your Chromecast develops an issue where it doesn’t work or function properly, you can revert the device to factory settings.
Just access the Settings menu in the Chromecast app on your PC, Mac, or mobile device, and then select Restore Factory Settings. Simples. You can also restore the factory settings by holding down the Chromecast’s button for 25 seconds.
Join the Chromecast Preview Program
If you join the Chromecast Preview Program, you will get the latest Chromecast features before they’re released to the public. Google said the program is not a beta. It’s a preview of stable features. To sign up, open the Google Cast app on Android or iOS, then tap Devices, and select the one that you want to use for the program. From there, select Device Settings, then Preview Program.
Use the slider to select if you want to receive email notifications of updates as they are pushed to your Chromecast device. When you’re done, select Join Program and tap Okay.
And that’s it. Let us know in the comments if we missed any nifty tips.
The LG V20 is one of several flagship phones you can buy right now. And though we like it — we gave it a score of 82 — we recommend it with more caveats than usual. On one hand, the phone packs a Quad DAC and support for 24-bit high-resolution audio, making it a great choice for people who care about sound quality. Being a flagship, it also offers top-shelf components and it’s one of the only phones available right now that runs Android Nougat. The 5.7-inch Quad HD display is also bright and crisp, though we’re not sure the tiny secondary screen really adds much.
That all sounds great, but keep in mind that the dual camera setup trails the imaging experience you’ll get on rival devices, including the iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 or either of Google’s Pixel phones. What’s more, the V20 isn’t waterproof — a feature we’ve come to expect on high-end handsets — and it’s also difficult to use one-handed. All told, then, it’s a good phone, just not necessarily your best option.
Christmas tends to be a time of pretty lights and low-lit rooms to take full advantage of those lights, which in turn results in images full of random shadows and colours.
To help you out, we have compiled a few tips to give you better photo results when using a camera in low light. First step is taking it out of auto, and then follow these tricks to make sure you capture every moment. If you’re using a smartphone, you can check out our feature six tips on smartphone photography to help you out.
Use the scene modes
The scene modes are a good place to start and many cameras feature an intelligent scene setting, which detects when you are taking a night shot so this feature is worth keeping on.
You can also manually set your camera to night mode, which will more than likely still give you a flash, but it is a step in the right direction for a better shot.
Some cameras also have a low light mode, which not only turns the flash off, but automatically sets the right shutter speed, aperture, ISO, among other features necessary for a good shot.
Set the maximum image stabilisation
As the flash is your enemy when it comes to low light shots, when you turn it off your shutter will need to stay open as long as possible for each photo to get as much light into the sensor as possible.
The only problem is, any movement you make in that time will result in blurring, which you don’t want unless you are looking for a super arty shot.
To help avoid the blur, you need to find the image stablisation setting in the camera and set it to the maximum. The camera will then use a range of techniques and algorithms to counteract any shaky hands.
Alternatively, find somewhere stable to rest your camera – a table or wall, for example.
When you zoom in, you reduce the amount of light that can be let into the camera at any one time, unless you have a high-end model, that is.
If you have a camera that allows you to adjust the aperture, you’ll notice the maximum size, which is the smallest number available, will be selectable. For the majority of compact cameras, this won’t be the case when you are zoomed in.
For the best low light shots, you need a large aperture and therefore you need to move yourself closer, rather than hitting that plus button to zoom in.
Consider setting the maximum ISO possible
Since you have taken your camera out of Auto mode, it is likely the device will stop adjusting the ISO for you, or at least let you alter it yourself.
The ISO is the measurement for how sensitive your camera is to light. For low light shots, a higher ISO will give you a photo without using a really long, slow shot, which is difficult to keep steady handheld.
At the top settings you’ll probably see some more noise or speckles on your images, with a lack of clarity and possibly the odd artifact, but if all else fails, you’ll get that night shot.
Try the manual option
You might just be a point and shoot photographer, but if your camera has a manual mode, then it is worth giving it a go.
For low light conditions, you need that large aperture mentioned above and a long shutter speed, meaning you will need low numbers for both settings.
If you are unsure, many cameras will show you how you are affecting the image as you change the settings on the LCD display, so keep an eye on it and stop when it looks right.
Take the time to experiment and you’ll find the best combination of all the techniques above.
PayPal is offering 10% off iTunes e-gift cards until December 30 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. Available denominations include a $25 iTunes e-gift card for $22.50, $50 iTunes e-gift card for $45, and a $100 iTunes e-gift card for $90. The gift cards are not physical but instead delivered electronically via email.
iTunes gift cards can be used to purchase apps, games, music, movies, TV shows, books, and more on the App Store, iTunes Store, the iBooks Store, and the Mac App Store. The credit can also be used towards an Apple Music subscription. The gift cards can be used on iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, Mac, or PC.
Here’s the fine print summarized: Valid U.S. PayPal and iTunes accounts are required. The deal is valid only on purchases made in the United States from the U.S. iTunes Store. The offer is valid while supplies last. Limited quantity is available. Electronic delivery only. No returns or refunds are accepted.
While iTunes gift cards can occasionally be found for 15% off, this is one of the best deals currently available.
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The US’ Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation hasn’t had an easy time of things in recent years: it’s been the subject of numerous hacks in recent years, starting in 2010. And now, the FBI wants answers. Reuters sources understand that the law enforcement agency is investigating how the intruders got in, and that the FDIC believes the Chinese military sponsored the attacks. While the full details of the initial hack aren’t available, it took a while to recover. The FDIC took until “at least” 2012 to make sure that its systems were clean, according to an internal probe.
The FBI isn’t commenting, and the Chinese government tells Reuters that it’s “very hard” to determine where an attack came from without evidence. You’re not about to get firm answers about those hacks, we’re afraid. However, there’s no doubt that online security is still an ongoing problem. Official disclosures show that there were 159 instances of unauthorized access in the FDIC’s fiscal 2015, 20 of which were data breaches.
The corporation is fixing at least some of the underlying problems. It should be conducting vulnerability scans in a sensitive part of its network, and (like other departments) it’s preventing staff from simply walking away with sensitive info on thumb drives. There’s also a question of whether or not the threat is as large as it was in 2010 given a recent US-China agreement that theoretically limits hacking campaigns. Still, it’s entirely possible that the FBI investigation will not only reveal the nature and scope of the FDIC hack, but lead to important changes in government security.