Top Tip: How to keep your iPad Safe from Phishing Scams

Phishing Email 3It turns out the email was legit, but it reminded me of how difficult it can be at times to tell when you’ve received a phishing email. So, I’ve got a few suggestions for how to identify fake email addresses and web links within an email that you receive.

Phishing is when someone tries to get personal information, like usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, and banking data through email. The email will usually have links to fake websites or even include forms for you to fill out that include a virus. Clicking links and opening attachments from “phishers” could result in the download of malicious software, opening security holes for someone to access your computer, and the theft of your personal information.

Oftentimes, phishers (or hackers) will try to reel you in (pardon the pun) with news that your account may be compromised, or you may have one something or been invited to participate in some event. One email I received was to join a beta test for a game. It looked nearly identical to one I had received a week prior, so I almost fell for it.

Hackers will use popular businesses and services to trick you. For example, Ebay and PayPal are often used as the mask for fake emails. You may receive a message from PayPal asking you to update your password. Apple has also been used to trick users into offering up personal information. The email might read something like, “Your Apple ID was recently used to update your credit card information. If you didn’t make these changes, please reset your password by going to the following link [link].”

It sounds legitimate, right? Here are a few red flags to warn you that an email is not real. First, check the sender’s address. In the picture above, I received an email from the social networking service, WhatsApp. However, the email address came from “cofa.biz.” If the email address does not match the sender’s name (info@apple.com or support@paypal.com, for example), it is most likely fraudulent.

Also, I have never signed up for WhatsApp, so there is no way I would have messages from the service. Another red flag.

Phishing Email 2Another tell-tale sign that an email is fake is by hovering over the link included in the message to see the actual URL. Different email clients show the URL in different ways. Airmail, which I use on my MacBook Pro, shows the URL at the bottom of the page. Some email clients will display the URL in a pop-out window right next to the link.

In one phishing email I received, I was supposedly receiving an iBooks credit for Apple’s e-books settlement. When I hovered over the link that was supposed to be linked to Apple’s support page, I noticed that the URL was actually for a website that began with “smtr.qgemall.” Obviously, that was not a link to an official Apple website.

Scammers have gotten better at tricking victims into clicking on links or opening attachments that are malicious. Emails used to be rife with grammatical errors, but that doesn’t seem to be as prevalent anymore. Sender addresses used to look obviously foreign (most phishing attempts come from outside the U.S.), but these days I regularly receive emails from .com addresses, which have no distinguishable origin. It is important to have a discerning eye.

Most email clients will redirect emails that look like they could be a scam to your junk folder, but not always. If you receive a message from some company that says you’ve won something from a contest that you never entered, assume it is fake. If you receive an email from a business you are familiar with, asking for updated account information, don’t click on the links in the email. Instead, go directly to the site (PayPal, for example) through your web browser and sign in from there.

Hopefully, you are already familiar with how to spot a phishing email, but if not, keep these tips in mind the next time your red flag goes up.

How to Connect Siri with Twitter

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Siri used to be somewhat useless as a personal assistant. When she first arrived on the iPhone, she was able to make appointments, call friends, and set reminders, but it has taken a few years for her to get good at her job. Now, Siri can be male or female, can open Google Maps for you, can direct you to buy movie tickets, and has access to your emails messages and can even dictate responses for you.

Siri also has access to Twitter so you can see what is trending or check your friends’ feed without having to open the app. We’ve got a short tutorial for how to access Twitter from your virtual personal assistant.

It is incredibly easy for you to access Twitter from Siri. You just have to follow a few steps to get started.

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First, you must integrate Twitter with your iPad. To do so, go to your Settings app and select Twitter from the sidebar. Then, enter your username and password. If you don’t have the official app installed, you can do so from the Settings app. After adding Twitter to iOS, you can select Siri from the available apps that you would like to allow to use your account.

If you’ve already connected Twitter to your iPad, but have never tried to access it from Siri, you don’t even have to open the Settings app to activate the feature. Simply ask Siri to tell you something about Twitter and you will automatically be asked to allow Siri to access your Twitter feed. When you tap “yes,” you will automatically connect Siri to Twitter.

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Then, ask Siri something like, “What is trending on Twitter,” or “What is Padgadget saying on Twitter” and she will connect you with those tweets.

Unfortunately, you still can’t get Siri to show you your personal Twitter feed or mentions, but she will check Twitter direct messages for you.

Don’t forget to send Siri a bouquet of flowers on National Administrative Assistant day so she (or he) doesn’t feel unappreciated for all her hard work.

NodeBeat HD Helps Turn Anyone into an iPad Musician

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Since the existence of computers, developers have been working on ways to make music that is compatible with technology. Combining the digital world with the musical world has opened up many new opportunities. One of them being the ability to create beautiful music without needing to know how to play a single note on an instrument.

NodeBeat HD is one such app that allows users the ability to control and manipulate objects on the screen that will pulse rhythmically and change pitch as you move them around. No music theory necessary.

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The nodes are made up of various notes and beat generators. Place a node on the screen and the notes will automatically appear, attached to the node. Stretch the note out to alter its pitch. Move it around to create different sounds or let the notes float around and create sound automatically. Add more notes and attach them to the node to create new rhythms.

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Each note you place on the screen can be adjusted with different waveforms, keys, and octaves. You can also change the echo, attack, decay, and release. There are 12 musical key signatures with 20 scales and seven octave ranges.  For the nodes, adjust the tempo and beat style for a variety of sound options.

You can record and save your music, create ringtones, upload to SoundCloud, and play it live to other compatible apps via Audiobus.

Here’s How to Block iMessage SPAM on your iPad

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Have you received any spam messages on your iPad recently? There have been reports of a handful of spam attacks on iOS users’ devices. Wired published an article earlier this month claiming that Apple’s Messages app is “being taken over by spammers.” It turns out it isn’t the apocalypse that Wired made it out to be. However, Messages spam is real. I have not personally experienced the issue as of yet, but I do have friends who have noted the issue to me recently.

While there isn’t much we can do on the user end to stop spammers from bombarding our Messages app, we can at least let Apple know it is happening and block the sender from ever being able to bug us (from that particular ID) ever again.

Here’s how.

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In order to report unwanted Messages to Apple, you’ll need to send a screenshot of the offending message to imessage.spam@icloud.com. First, open the Messages app and select the spam message. Then take a screenshot of that message.

To take a screenshot, Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button at the top of your iPad and the Home button at the same time. When pressed simultaneously, the screenshot feature is triggered. You will hear the sound of a camera shutter.

Then, send your picture with the email and address of the sender of the spam along with the date and time you received the message. You can find the time by dragging the message window to the left. The exact time that the message was sent will appear next to it. With the above-mentioned information, send an email to Apple to report the sender.

After reporting the spam, you’ll also want to block the sender in order to avoid having more unwanted messages sent from that address or phone number.

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Go back to the Messages app and select the spam message again. Then, tap the Contact tab in the upper right corner of the screen. Then, tap the Info button to call up the sender’s contact information. Scroll to the bottom of the window and select “Block this Caller” and then tap Block Contact.

Now, you should be free from spam from at least that one sender. Plus, Apple will know about the antics from that specific address and hopefully be able to ban the person from being able to use the account to spam people in the future.

How to Turn a Chopstick into an iPad Stylus

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These days, you can get a basic touch screen stylus for practically nothing. However, Apple still doesn’t give them away with new iPhone or iPad devices. So, if you are playing with your new, larger sized iPhone 6, or simply looking for a customize stylus for your iPad, we found a project that will cost practically nothing. In fact, if you have the right materials lying around the house, it won’t cost a dime.

For this DIY stylus by hixair on Instructables, you’ll need four items, a small piece of conductive foam, a bamboo chopstick, threaded copper wire, and crazy glue.

The first thing you will need to do is cut the conductive foam to fit the tip of the chopstick. You can make this any size and shape you want. It just has to be large enough to have the copper wire wrapped around it near the base.

These days, you can find conductive foam practically everywhere. It comes packed into many electronics. If you don’t have some in your house, you can ask your local electronics store for some. Chances are, they’ve got a bit of it in their garbage can right now.

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Fold the foam strip over the top of the chopstick and then glue it down using the crazy glue.

Then, wrap the copper wire around the base where the conductive foam meets the chopstick. Wrap it a few times so that the materials are properly conductive. Then, continue wrapping the wire up the chopstick so that it covers the entire stick. It doesn’t have to be tight, but make sure the distance between one wrap and the next is less than the width of your fingertip. The goal is to make sure that the copper wire always touches your skin.

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Then, cut the copper wire and glue it to the other end of the chopstick.

That’s all you need to do to create a touch screen stylus for your iPad, or even your new iPhone 6. Thanks to hixair for posting such a simple project on Instructables.

Keep your iPad and iPhone Safe with Apple’s Two-Step Verification Feature

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With all the hacking scandals going on many readers have been asking how to better secure their favorite Apple device from the prying eyes of hackers.  While security features have been improved inside iOS 8, the best step is to enable Apple’s two-step verification in order to protect devices from future attacks. If you’ve never enabled two-step verification on your iPad, or don’t know what it is, we’ve got a tutorial that will help explain it all and show you what to do.

In general, two-step verification means that a person must follow two different actions in order to confirm that they are authorized to access information. It could be a password followed by a text message that must be responded to, or a fingerprint scan followed by a retina scan. There are many two-step verification systems. Apple’s involves entering a passcode, followed by entering a four-digit code that is sent to a separate device. With it, your personal information attached to your Apple ID is more secure. Additionally, Apple sends a 14-digit recovery code so that, if you are locked out of your software program, you can regain access to it, even if someone has hacked in and locked it.

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You must activated two-step verification online by first visiting the Apple ID manager page, called MY Apple ID. Follow the link to access the site. Click on “Manage Your Apple ID” and sign in. This username and password is the same one you use to buy content on your iPad.

Next, select “Password and Security.” You will be asked to answer two security questions that you designated when you first created your Apple ID. I have to admit, it had been so long since I filled out the security questions, that I actually got the answers wrong. Luckily, you can reset your security questions if you’ve forgotten them.

Once logged into your account, click on “Getting started…” under the Two-Step Verification headline. The process will be explained to you and you will be prompted to accept or cancel the set-up process. You will always need your password and a trusted device or your recovery key in order to sign in to manage your account, make content purchase, or get Apple ID related support.

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Apple goes through additional steps to clarify that, after two-step verification has been enabled, you can no longer reset your password without your recovery key and a trusted device to reset it.

At this point, to continue to two-step verification set up, click “Get Started.”

You will be asked to register one or more trusted devices. This could be your iPhone, your spouses, iPhone, or even your boss’s iPhone. The device must have SMS capabilities or is connected with Find My iPhone/iPad. It must also be a device that you can have access to at any time, just in case you need to authorize something in the middle of the night.

Once registered, any time you sign in to manage your Apple ID at My Apple ID or make an iTunes, App Store, or iBooks Store purchase from a new device, you will be sent a four-digit verification code to the registered trusted device.

You will be prompted to enter the verification code after entering your passcode in order to continue. If you don’t have the verification code and your passcode, you will not be able to access your Apple ID account.

The 14-digit Recovery Key is necessary when you have forgotten your password, lost your trusted device, or have been locked out of your mobile operating system. This password must be printed out or written down and saved somewhere easy to remember. Apple even suggests that you make two copies and save them in different, secure locations, just in case one gets lost. Do not lose your 14-digit Recovery Key or Apple support will not be able to help you at all.

So, now that you have two-step verification enabled, be sure to always have your 14-digit Recovery code, your password, and at least one of your trusted devices on hand. You’ll be just a little bit safer from attack with this extra security measure in place.

Direct Your Music with iRing, the First Motion Controller for the iPad

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Whoever says you can’t use an iPad as a musical instrument has never heard of the iRing by IK Multimedia. This interesting and unique set of touch less controllers makes it possible for you to mix loops, trigger beats, and set parameters using the special iRing Music Maker app.

The iRing system consists of two pedestal-like objects that fit between two of your fingers. One side has three linear dots and the other has three dots aligned like a triangle. Each side has a different pattern that the iRing Music Maker recognizes. Waving your hand in different directions produces different control results. It’s quite fascinating.

You’ll need the iRing Music Maker or iRing FX/Controller app in order to use the iRing itself. Once you’ve downloaded the free apps, open them up, register your iRing, and start making music.

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The triangular ring should be worn on your left hand and the linear one on your right. The left side controls the parts, while the right side controls the patterns. You can make things easier on yourself at first by activating the front facing camera. This will help you pay attention to where your hands are and where they should be.

Use the triangle pattern ring to speed up or slow down the beat by moving your hand closer to and further from the iPad camera. You can also switch the “groove” to a bass line by tapping the Bass button. The iRing lets you control what type of bass line you will use. You can randomize the loops by rotating your hand 90 degrees.

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The linear side of the iRing controls the patters and effects. Move your hand closer and further from the screen to switch between them.

It takes some time to get used to the motion when using the iRing system with the Music Maker app. The patterns are controlled by how close or far you are from the screen. When you are furthest from the screen, the iRing will trigger the bottom parts and patterns. When you are closest to the screen, the iRing will trigger the top ones.

In addition to the various parts and patterns that come free with the iRing Music Maker, you can add a variety of deejay loops through an in-app purchase. You can also export your sound through Audiobus and Apple’s Inter-App Audio.

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The iRing is also compatible with the FX/Controller app. This companion app allows you to connect to your MIDI instrument and controls sounds using the iRing system.

Overall, the iRing is a fun way to play around with music. The free version of the Music Maker app is limited, but the in-app purchase can cure that limitation. The iRing system is inexpensive and a good buy if you are looking for something fun to play around with. Thanks to its interconnectivity with both Audiobus and Apple’s Inter-App Audio, you can perform a whole lot of tricks and make some pretty interesting music without having to touch the screen.

The Ring system is available for $24.99. Visit the IK Multimedia website today to order yours today.