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Google One may soon let you ‘block internet if VPN disconnects’

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A few months ago, Google rolled out a great perk to Google One subscribers on the cloud service’s most expensive tier. For $9.99 a month, you get 2TB of storage and free access to Google’s own virtual private network.

VPNs hide your IP address as well as your web traffic. Google’s VPN encrypts all online activity, regardless of what app you’re using to go online. But if the VPN disconnects or you forget to enable it, that protection goes away. Google is looking to prevent that with the help of a simple fix. The Google One VPN might automatically cut off your internet access as soon as the VPN disconnects.

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In Google One version 1.92 for Android, there’s language suggesting that Google is looking to add an extra layer of security. 9to5Google found lines of code that indicate a future version of the app might allow users to enable a new setting to “block internet if VPN disconnects.” The feature is listed as a beta for the time being.

That’s the kind of functionality that will automate one’s VPN use, assuming you’re using Google One on Android. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it feature that’s meant to protect users in the event the VPN is disconnected. There’s one obvious side effect here. If there’s something wrong with the Google One app that leads to VPN functionality issues, your internet will not work unless you unlock the internet from the app’s settings.

The report notes that the code indicates the phone will try to automatically connect the VPN service upon restart, although that feature is already functional. The only time when the internet connection might not be protected is between the moment the phone restarts and the moment the VPN reconnects, according to the leaked code.

The new setting will appear when tapping View details on the Online protection with a VPN card. Currently, you can only generate a quick settings toggle from the advanced VPN settings.

The Google One 1.92 update is available via the Play Store, but the block internet option isn’t enabled. It’s unclear when Google will roll out the feature to the public Google One release or if it’ll graduate from beta. 9to5Google points out that Android already features options including Always-on-VPN and Block connections without VPN, but they can’t be enabled when the VPN is set up via an app. And Google’s VPN is configured via the Google One app.

Google One isn’t available on iPhone, but Google offers certain iOS users a way to access its VPN service. They have to switch carriers to Google Fi, which comes with a built-in VPN service.

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Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he’s not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.


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Google is about to start automatically enrolling users in 2FA

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In recent months, vulnerable apps, hacked websites, and zero-day exploits have accounted for an increasing amount of the reporting that we do here at BGR. There is risk in everything we do online, but there are many ways to mitigate that risk, such as turning on two-factor authentication (2FA) for any apps, services, or accounts that offer it. Speaking of 2FA, Google decided to take matters into its own hands on that front, as the company announced Thursday that it will soon enable 2FA by default for anyone with an “appropriately configured” Google account.

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“Today we ask people who have enrolled in two-step verification (2SV) to confirm it’s really them with a simple tap via a Google prompt on their phone whenever they sign in,” Google’s Director of Product Management, Identity and User Security, Mark Risher, said in a blog post. “Soon we’ll start automatically enrolling users in 2SV if their accounts are appropriately configured. (You can check the status of your account in our Security Checkup). Using their mobile device to sign in gives people a safer and more secure authentication experience than passwords alone.”

Basically, your account is “appropriately configured” if you have provided Google with recovery information, which could be a secondary email address, a phone number, or an authenticator app. You should already be using Google’s two-step verification, but if you’re not, at least make sure to visit the Security Checkup site.

As Google notes earlier in the blog post, searches for the phrase “how strong is my password” increased by 300% in 2020. Meanwhile, millions of you are still using passwords like “123456” or “password” or “qwerty,” so the resounding answer to that search query is an unequivocal “NO.” Make your passwords strong and difficult to guess, use different passwords for all of your accounts, and take advantage of Google’s Password Manager, which not only stores all of your passwords, but also lets you know when and if they have been compromised.

Google’s dream of killing passwords once and for all is still just that — a dream — but as we slowly work our way toward that glorious day, do what you can to keep your accounts and your personal data safe.

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Jacob started covering video games and technology in college as a hobby, but it quickly became clear to him that this was what he wanted to do for a living. He currently resides in New York writing for BGR. His previously published work can be found on TechHive, VentureBeat and Game Rant.


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Finding Dark Ships Via Satellite

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It would seem that for as long as there have been ships on the ocean, there’s been smuggling. The International Maritime Organisation requires ships to have AIS, the automatic identification system which is akin to a transponder on an airplane. However, if you don’t want to be found, you often turn off your AIS. So how do governments and insurance companies track so-called dark ships? Using satellite technology. A recent post in Global Investigative Journal tells the story of how lower-cost satellites are helping track these dark ships.

Optical tracking is the obvious method, but satellites that can image ships can be expensive and have problems with things like clouds. Radar is another option, but — again — an expensive option if you aren’t a big military agency with money to spend. A company called HawkEye 360 uses smallsats to monitor ship’s RF emissions, which is much less expensive and resource-intensive than traditional methods. Although the data may still require correlation with other methods like optical sensing, it is still cost-effective compared to simply scanning the ocean for ships.

The post tells the tale of an Iranian crude oil tanker. Noting a long gap in the AIS signal from the ship, HawkEye 360 attempted to locate the ship the next time it went dark. Of course, AIS can be off for other reasons, such as equipment failure or fear of piracy. Simply not squawking AIS isn’t a definite sign of malfeasance.

Using the satellite, radio transmissions on VHF channel 16 (156.8 MHz) — the standard calling frequency — were found from the ship and it appeared they were offloading crude oil to a refinery in Syria. With a specific target in mind, commercial satellite imaging picked up 3-meter resolution images of the ships and — apparently there is a database of ships at that resolution — identified four Iranian flag tankers at the site, three of which had arrived in stealth mode.

The HawkEye 360 satellites can pick up radar, emergency beacons, satellite phones, and VHF radio signals. A map shows the difference between the number of AIS signals in the South China Sea and the number of X-band radar signals. The AIS map looks sparse, whereas the radar map shows 3-4 times the number of vessels.

In another example, uses ESA’s Sentinel 1 satellite and synthetic aperture radar to locate ships going from China to North Korea. ICEYE, another smallsat company, is tracing illegal fishing activity around Argentina and smuggling near the UAE.

It is amazing to see how much satellite tech that would have been deep secret a few years ago is now commercially available. It isn’t just useful for law enforcement, either. The resolution is a far cry from the old weather satellites people tend to eavesdrop on.

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Designer modernizes retro iMac wallpapers for the new colourful M1 iMacs

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