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Banning China's Huawei & ZTE Key to National Security, Urge India to Act Accordingly: US FCC Chairman

Image for Representation
(Reuters)

Image for Representation
(Reuters)

The chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission underlined the act of replacing Huawei and ZTE’s communications equipment in USA with ‘more trusted’ companies.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: July 3, 2020, 8:15 PM IST

Ajit Pai, chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission, stated that the labelling of Huawei and ZTE as ‘national security threats’ is a key move that has been taken after considering data and submissions collated from all stakeholders, and is one that all allies of USA are being urged to take. In conversation with Zakka Jacob, executive editor of CNN-News18, Pai clarified the scanner that Huawei and ZTE came under in USA, the premise for it, the on-ground repercussions of it in USA, how this may affect India, and also answered questions regarding allegations of USA preventing the two companies from getting a “level playing field” in one of the largest technology markets around the world.

“We asked companies that we fund to stop using their technologies after listening to multiple stakeholders – companies, intelligence agencies, as well as Huawei and ZTE,” said Pai. Explaining how the ban would work in terms of the technological deployments as well as employee operations, Pai said, “From our perspective, it means that for the $8.3 billion that we at FCC distribute to private companies every year – that money will not be allowed to be spent on Huawei or ZTE equipment. Our regulations won’t extend to the regular life of employees – we are solely focused on the federal funding. In addition, we’ve also been working with the Congress on a ‘rip and replace’ programme, where we’re working with relevant companies, identifying telecom equipment that already uses components from Huawei and ZTE, and substitute them with secure replacements.”

With India set to take a decision on which companies would it allow to participate in 5G trials, Pai said that on behalf of USA, he has urged Indian officials to proceed with caution and take a responsible call. “Even during my visit to India, I highlighted that the equipment that will be used in network infrastructure in the near future would be extremely important for national security across all sectors of the economy. Think very careful about equipment vendors and suppliers, and especially operators who may be subject to pressure from the Chinese communist party, the PLA etc. They represent an unacceptable risk to us, and we hope that the Indian government will act responsibly too. My early discussions with officials on this note have been very productive,” Pai said.

As a parting comment, Pai also underlined that it is “ironic” that the Chinese communist party, which heavily controls the operation of foreign companies in China and subsidises its own companies, has complained about the US preventing Huawei and ZTE from gaining a “level playing field” in the country and in the world. Pai also said that technological innovation does not necessitate compromising security, and entirely denied that preventing Huawei and ZTE would cause consumers to pay higher prices for network devices.


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TikTok CEO Says App Meets All Privacy, Security Laws in India, Offers Support to Creators

Image for representation (Reuters)

Image for representation (Reuters)

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has also stated that the company is extending ‘assurance’ to its 2,000-odd workforce in India, in light of the government’s ban of 59 Chinese apps.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: July 1, 2020, 5:40 PM IST
  • Edited by: Shouvik Das

After being named in the list of 59 Chinese apps being banned in India, TikTok said yesterday that it will be hoping to resolve the issue, and will address any security and privacy concerns that officials of the Indian government would raise. Earlier today, Kevin Mayer, CEO of TikTok and COO of its parent group, ByteDance, has addressed the TikTok India ban and stated that the app remains compliant with “all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law”.

“We stay resolved and committed to our mission, and are working with stakeholders to address their concerns. TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and places the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” Mayer added to his statement.

Mayer further raised an assurance to over 2,000 employees who work with TikTok in India, stating that the company will attempt to “restore the positive experiences and opportunities”, which he underlines as an integral part of TikTok.

The better part of Mayer’s note is addressed to TikTok’s original video creators, who seemingly hail from all corners of India. Many TikTok creators have spoken out on social media stating that the ban has hurt their creative freedom on a platform where they did not feel judged and scrutinised. Taking note of this, Mayer said, “These are unprecedented times but we remain committed to supporting the welfare of our TikTok creator community till this interim order is in effect. Our creator managers are actively engaging with our top creators to reassure them of our efforts and updates about path forward.”

Mayer’s note also observes how TikTok’s India community largely came from smaller cities, which led to a paradigm shift in digital influencer campaigns run by companies in India. “Today, it is a staple and reality for TikTok users even in remote cities, towns and villages across the country. Empowered individual creators have become the most sought-after for digital marketing campaigns. Small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs have been able to realise their growth ambitions and dreams by reaching out to thousands of potential customers and consumers on a daily basis, through the platform,” added Mayer.

TikTok India is expected to meet with the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss their ban further. The app has been pulled off the Google Play Store and Apple’s iOS App Store in India, and users are being served a pop-up notice stating that the service is no longer operational in India. Going forward, it remains to be seen if TikTok’s India ban becomes permanent, and which platform do established TikTok creators shift to, in a bid to find similar audiences and user engagement.


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TikTok, Shareit, UC Browser and 56 Other Chinese Apps Banned by India over National Security Concerns

India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.

The ban, which comes in the backdrop of current stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh with Chinese troops, also includes WeChat and Bigo Live.

The list of apps that have been banned also include Helo, Likee, Cam Scanner, Vigo Video, Mi Video Call, Xiaomi, Clash of Kings as well as e-commerce platforms Club Factory and Shein. This marks the largest sweep against the Chinese technology companies.

The Information Technology Ministry in a statement said it has received many complaints from various sources, including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”.

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the statement said.

The IT Ministry said it has invoked its power under section 69A of the IT Act and rules, and has decided to block 59 apps in view of information available that they are “engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.

The move will “safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”, it added.

The list included prominent names like TikTok (which has over 200 million users in India), SHAREit, WeChat, UC Browser, Helo, Likee and Cam Scanner, among others.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs, has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps, the statement said, adding that there has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of citizens. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside Parliament.

“On the basis of these and upon receiving recent credible inputs that such apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” it added.

Comments from these companies could not be immediately obtained.

“There have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country,” the statement said.

Over 2015-19, Chinese investors including Alibaba, Tencent, TR Capital and Hillhouse Capital, have invested over USD 5.5 billion in Indian startups, according to Venture Intelligence that tracks private equity, venture capital, M&A transactions and valuations, in India.

Union Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said the move was taken to ensure the country’s integrity and protect data and privacy of Indians.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel also welcomed the decision, adding that the government has to take more substantial measures in light of the Chinese intrusion and unprovoked attack on Indian Army.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said the ban will be a big support to its ‘Boycott Chinese Goods’ campaign.

“This huge unprecedented step will go a long way in strengthening the ‘Boycott China’ campaign of CAIT. Boycott China movement is now well and truly a national reality and seven crore traders of India stands in solidarity with the Union Government,” CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said in a statement.

ShareChat Director Public Policy Berges Malu also welcomed the move. “This is a welcome move from the government against platforms that have had serious privacy, cyber security and national security risks. We expect the government to continue their support for the Indian startup ecosystem,” he said.

The full list of banned apps is as follows:

TikTok, Shareit, Kwai, UC Browser, Baidu map, Shein, Clash of Kings, DU battery saver, Helo, Likee, YouCam makeup, Mi Community, CM Browser, Virus Cleaner, APUS Browser, ROMWE, Club Factory, Newsdog, Beauty Plus, WeChat, UC News, QQ Mail, Weibo, Xender, QQ Music, QQ Newsfeed, Bigo Live, SelfieCity, Mail Master, Parallel Space, Mi Video Call – Xiaomi, WeSync, ES File Explorer, Viva Video – QU Video Inc, Meitu, Vigo Video, New Video Status, DU Recorder, Vault- Hide, Cache Cleaner DU App studio, DU Cleaner, DU Browser, Hago Play With New Friends, Cam Scanner, Clean Master – Cheetah Mobile, Wonder Camera, Photo Wonder, QQ Player, We Meet, Sweet Selfie, Baidu Translate, Vmate, QQ International, QQ Security Center, QQ Launcher, U Video, V fly Status Video, Mobile Legends, DU Privacy.

(With inputs from PTI)


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Microsoft Acquires CyberX, to Ramp Up Security in Its IoT Ecosystem

The logo of Microsoft Inc is seen atop one of its major global offices. (Photo: Reuters)

The logo of Microsoft Inc is seen atop one of its major global offices. (Photo: Reuters)

With CyberX, customers can discover their existing IoT assets, and both manage and improve the security posture of those devices, Microsoft said.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: June 23, 2020, 10:51 AM IST

Microsoft has acquired a security startup called CyberX to accelerate and secure customers Internet of Things (IoT) deployments. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but media reports said the acquisition could be around $165 million. “CyberX will complement the existing Azure IoT security capabilities, and extends to existing devices including those used in industrial IoT, Operational Technology and infrastructure scenarios,” the tech giant said in a statement on Monday.

With CyberX, customers can discover their existing IoT assets, and both manage and improve the security posture of those devices. “With CyberX, customers can see a digital map of thousands of devices across a factory floor or within a building and gather information about their asset profile and vulnerabilities,” said Microsoft. Security researchers this month discovered serious vulnerabilities that could expose IoT devices worldwide to hackers.

The vulnerability affects hundreds of millions of IoT devices that could potentially allow nefarious actors, including nation-states, to remote take-over of these devices, according to JSOF, a boutique cybersecurity organization. Microsoft said that gaining this visibility is not only critical for understanding where security risks may exist and then mitigating those risks, “but it is also a fundamental step to securely enable smart manufacturing, smart grid and other digitization use cases across production facilities and the supply chain”.

IoT today provides real-time insights into assets, enabling businesses to reduce operational expenses, unplanned downtime and unnecessary servicing. Two years ago, Microsoft announced a $5 billion investment in IoT to further its commitment to build a trusted, easy-to-use platform for its customers and partners. “We will continue to deliver more value to our customers as CyberX is further integrated with Microsoft’s broad portfolio of IoT security offerings in threat protection that span users, endpoints, applications, data and more,” said the company.


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Huawei Under Scanner of Telecom Department For Security Flaws And Spying Allegations

In the midst of the ongoing military dispute and the border skirmishes with China, the Government of India sources have confirmed that the Department of Telecom has asked BSNL not to use Chinese equipment manufacturer’s gear in the upgradation of its 4G mobile networks in the country. The DoT is also going to rework the 4G telecom equipment tender floated by state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL), in order to keep the Chinese company out.

It is also believed that the DoT wants private mobile service providers to avoid using network equipment made by Huawei and ZTE. It is believed that persistent reports of security concerns with network equipment manufactured by Huawei, which is believed to enable the Chinese government to snoop in, also played a role in these decisions. There will be a requirement for private mobile companies to also reduce the usage of existing Huawei equipment, if any, gradually. Govt sources also say that the security features and ownership pattern of HUAWEI and ZTE are a sticking point in India’s network upgradation plans.

Huawei is one of the world’s leading mobile network equipment manufacturers and competes for the same businesses as European telecom companies Nokia and Ericsson. Huawei is also one of the few companies that are capable of building 5G networks. However, over the past year, a number of countries now see Huawei as a potential threat to cybersecurity and the privacy of their citizens, amidst multiple reports that the company’s equipment offers a backdoor to facilitate cyber espionage by the Chinese government, to which it is said to have close links. Huawei have consistently denied such reports.


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Airtel Payments Bank Rolls Out Suraksha Salary Account to Offer Financial Security to MSMEs

Airtel Payments Bank on Monday launched ‘Suraksha Salary Account’, designed specifically for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). India’s MSME sector has over 60 million units and accounts for 29 per cent of India’s GDP. These units employ a large number of informal labour force who are not eligible for social and healthcare benefits as part of their salaries, and lack of any financial protection makes them vulnerable, particularly in the current times, Airtel Payments Bank said in a statement.

“Suraksha Salary Account has been designed specifically for this consumer cohort. Through this innovative account construct, MSMEs and other organisations will be able to make cashless payments and also provide a financial security blanket to their employees,” it said. The account offers benefits such as Hospicash Insurance and personal accident insurance cover, keeping in mind the low penetration of insurance in India.

The account has no minimum balance condition. Account-holders will be able to make cash withdrawals at Airtel Payments Bank’s 500,000 banking points across India. Customers will also be able to make cash deposits and transfer money at these points.

“There are no charges on cash withdrawals of up to Rs 50,000 and deposits of up to Rs 20,000 in one month,” the statement said. On Hospicash Insurance feature, it said that in the event of hospitalisation, the account holder would be entitled to a fixed cover of Rs 400 a day up to a maximum of 10 days. “The policy will cover COVID-19 as well and mitigate the impact on the account holder due to potential loss of pay and savings during hospitalisation,” it said.

Commenting on the offering, Airtel Payments Bank CEO Anubrata Biswas said, “Our research reflected how lack of protection makes the workforce susceptible to financial setbacks, particularly in case of illness. With this consumer insight, we developed the Suraksha Salary Account to enable MSMEs to offer financial protection and formal banking experience to their employees.


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OnePlus Already Has an Android 11 Beta For OnePlus 8 And OnePlus 8 Pro Owners to Try Out

OnePlus Already Has an Android 11 Beta For OnePlus 8 And OnePlus 8 Pro Owners to Try Out

Google says the three key themes for Android 11 are People, Controls and Privacy.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 12, 2020, 8:47 AM IST

Just a day after Google released the first public beta of Android 11 for users to try out if they have certain Pixel phones, other smartphone makers are also getting into action. OnePlus has already rolled out a public beta for anyone who has a OnePlus 8 or a OnePlus 8 Pro smartphone. That was quick! This comes after Oppo also confirmed yesterday that they will have the first ColorOS Android 11 Beta available for the soon to be launched Oppo Find X2 smartphone, later this month.

You will need to head to the OnePlus Developer Preview website (Read more here) for Android 11 to download the latest beta. The idea is to get feedback from app developers as well as users on the functionality, bugs, possible performance issues and even improvements that may eventually be integrated into OxygenOS. But there is the usual cautionary note for those who may not be very tech savvy, stay away from testing versions of Android 11, for the time being. They are still in the early stages of development and may have bugs that could seriously hamper the smartphone usage experience.

Have You Also Read?

Android 11 Public Beta is Here: Brave Folks With Pixel Phones Can Try These New Features

Oppo Confirms ColorOS Android 11 Beta Arrives This Month With The Find X2 Smartphone

“This build offers access to an early build of Android 11. It is targeted at early adopters and developers so that they can create and optimize apps for the platform as well as report early feedback. As it is still in an early stage of development, we do not recommend flashing this ROM if you have little experience in software development. Proceed at your discretion,” says OnePlus.

Google says the three key themes for Android 11 are People, Controls and Privacy. A lot of what you will see in the public beta has come from the feedback from developers who have been testing various versions of Android since February. There are new conversation notifications, voice access, device and media controls, auto-reset of permissions for apps you haven’t used in a while, Google Play system updates and more. As with all beta and public beta software versions, do expect bugs, performance issues and eccentricities as a part and parcel of the experience. We would recommend you try this out on a secondary phone, and not the primary phone, that you may rely on for work and more.

The first public beta version Android 11 is now available to download, on the Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL phones. The public beta roll-out comes after multiple delays, more recently because of the #BlackLivesMatter protests not just in the US but around the world.




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Android 11 Public Beta is Here: Brave Folks With Pixel Phones Can Try These New Features

Google says the three key themes for Android 11 are People, Controls and Privacy

Google says the three key themes for Android 11 are People, Controls and Privacy

Android 11 gets new conversation notifications, voice access, device and media controls, auto-reset of permissions for apps you haven’t used in a while, Google Play system updates and more.

  • Last Updated: June 11, 2020, 10:04 AM IST

It is that time of the year again when the countdown to the next big Android release gets underway. This year, it’ll be Android 11. The first beta version for the public is now available to download, on the Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL phones. The public beta roll-out comes after multiple delays, more recently because of the #BlackLivesMatter protests not just in the US but around the world. You can now enroll for the Android 11 public beta. There are significant changes that are incoming with Android 11, which has a big job on its hands as it follows up the improvements and stability that Android 10 brought to the table.

Google says the three key themes for Android 11 are People, Controls and Privacy. A lot of what you will see in the public beta has come from the feedback from developers who have been testing various versions of Android since February. There are new conversation notifications, voice access, device and media controls, auto-reset of permissions for apps you haven’t used in a while, Google Play system updates and more. As with all beta and public beta software versions, do expect bugs, performance issues and eccentricities as a part and parcel of the experience. We would recommend you try this out on a secondary phone, and not the primary phone, that you may rely on for work and more.

Google has iteratively made notifications better in Android over the years. What we have with Android 10 at this time is significantly better than what we had two years ago. Later this year, with Android 11, things go a step further. Conversation notifications will appear in a dedicated section at the top of the shade, particularly for messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Messages. The idea is to not let them get lost in the flurry of notifications that may land on your Android phone—that is why the differential treatment. You can also make a bubble for these conversations which you can place near any corner or edge of the screen. Well, Facebook Messenger chat heads if you will, but for pretty much any and all messaging apps on your phone.

Google is now making it easier to manage media playback as well as connected devices. Right now, media playback, for instance, shows up in the notifications. Now, this will be integrated in the Quick Settings. Music streaming and media apps can use this API to integrate this functionality as well. When everything is in place, the controls here will be able to show you the complete details of what is being played, the album art and the scrub bar to move forward or go behind in the playback. You can also choose which headphones or speakers the audio is being sent to.

It is extremely interesting that the Google Home functionality as well as your Google Pay options are now quickly accessible when you long-press the power button on your Android phone. You will get quick access to payment options, particularly for the tap-to-pay environments and also list out all your smart gadgets with the ability to control them from here itself. This will be incredibly convenient if you have smart lights at home, for instance. Having said that, while it is easy to see what Google is going for here, it may not be as slick and smooth once other Android phone makers decide to add their creativity into the mix.

Google is, as expected, focusing on enhancing the privacy of Android 11. A lot of that has to do with permissions that apps have, something that has for long been a mighty security concern with certain apps and developers not exactly being forthcoming with what they do with the system permissions. Android 11 will now enable one-time permissions for access to microphone, camera or the phone’s location for instance, and if you do that, the app must ask you the next time you open it for permissions again. Secondly, Android 11 will automatically reset the permissions for apps you may not have used in a while and block off the app’s access to the phone’s microphone, camera and location for instance—and the app will have to ask for them again as and when you open that app again.

Google is also adding more modules as regularly updatable with Google Play System Updates, which means more core OS components can be updated with the latest security and performance improvements between larger Android updates.

Last but not least is the Voice Access, which now understands the content on the screen at the time and also context. Not exactly sure how well it’ll be able to deliver on that promise, but we will believe it for the time being!

From what we can gather, Android 11 isn’t looking for redesign the wheel. It isn’t taking everything Android 10 has, chuck it out of the window and attempt to redefine a smartphone operating system. Instead, everything is being looked at again, with minor and major tweaks as required. There is a lot of under-the-hood housekeeping and some visual rearrangements as well. That being said, this is just the first public beta for Android 11 and expect even more changes in the coming weeks ahead of the final release of Android 11 later this year.



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Android Users Beware! Setting This Gorgeous Image as The Wallpaper Will Render Your Phone Useless

Android Users Beware! Setting This Gorgeous Image as The Wallpaper Will Render Your Phone Useless

A simple, innocuous-looking image is crashing Android mobiles once it is set up as a wallpaper. Read to know more.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: June 1, 2020, 10:59 AM IST

You must have heard it many times before, of instances where malicious text messages and shared files can be used to cause smartphones to reboot or cause system crashes. Android smartphone users should be a bit more worried because now, it seems that an innocuous-looking image has the ability to soft-brick your Android phone if you set it up as the wallpaper. From what we understand so far, this is particularly potent on many Samsung Galaxy smartphones. The exact reason for the wallpaper-led crash isn’t clear and Google has not released a statement yet.

The flaw was first flagged by a leaker named Ice Universe who said in a tweet that this wallpaper is causing some smartphones to crash or soft-brick. So, what exactly is soft-bricking? This happens when your phone can’t be used in way or rendered useless, till the time you reset the device completely. Strangely, this simple, idyllic image is actually leading some Android phones to crash and then go into this condition called “soft-bricked” when the image is set up as a wallpaper. After being used as a wallpaper, the device crashes and the bug causes the display to switch on and off while on the lock screen.

Although this doesn’t affect all Android devices and OnePlus as well as Huawei smartphones were found to be immune of these issues while setting up this image as wallpaper. Having said that, some users pointed out that the issue was present on Google Pixel 3 XL running on Android 10. However, it was not there on the Pixel 4 XL running on Android 11. Whatever the hardware and software combination you have on hand, it is highly recommended you don’t use this image as your wallpaper.

We’ll update this article when Google comes up with a response or if any further insight is revealed on the topic. Until then, you would definitely be going to want to avoid this image, let alone setting it up as your mobile wallpaper.




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Akita Home Security Review: You Are Probably Not Monitoring Your Smart Home, But You Should

No, we are not reviewing the cute, bold and loyal dog that is usually very wary of strangers. But the concept seems similar. Here, Akita is a security device that is wary of strangers and anyone with a malicious intent who may be eyeing the smart devices in your Internet of Things (IoT) home. All the devices that connect with the internet at some point, can be used by hackers to spy on you or take control of smart home functionality, for instance, or can be the target of botnets, AI powered malware and crypto hijacking.

But why do you need one? Chances are, your home as more smart devices, and by that we mean connected devices, than you probably noticed. A smart TV, media players connected to the TV, smart lights, smart appliances, smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, smart displays such as Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub, smart cameras, a water purifier or air purifier that connects with the internet and so on. The thing is, none of these smart devices have any security built in. That is where Akita steps in and adds a layer that analyses the data packets being to and from these smart devices on your network—and immediately raises an alarm if something is amiss. It is priced at Rs 9,000 and one Akita is what you need for an entire home Wi-Fi network.

Akita1

It looks very complicated. Is it?

It doesn’t take long to set up if things go well, but you need to be careful to be doing things right during this process. You need to keep some basics in mind when you do set up Akita. The hexagonal design does come across as rather attractive and cool. First, it needs to be connected directly to the modem that is hooked up to the internet line coming into your home. Use one of the LAN ports on the router (depending on your router, there will be between one to four ports) to connect to the Akita—and plug the ethernet cable into the yellow LAN port on the Akita. This is when you power on the Akita and wait for up to 10 minutes for the server connection to be established with the device. You can, in the meantime, download the Akita app on your iPhone or Android phone (free downloads on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store) and begin the processing of connecting this with your Wi-Fi network.

You have to scan the QR code on the bottom of your Akita device to set it up. The app will guide you through the process. The one limitation with Akita is that is it only connects with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. That should not be a problem with most recent Wi-Fi routers that allow you to set up an SSID (basically your network name) and it has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands enabled. If your router is slightly older or one of the more affordable ones—there should be the option to enable 2.4GHz band. The app will tell you what all networks you can connect to.

Once everything is set up and the server connection is established—you’ll get the blue light on the notification LED on the Akita—the app will list out all the smart devices on your network. Mind you, while Akita itself connects to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, it can and will detect smart devices connected on 5GHz networks as well, as long as the network name or the SSID is the same. Be it Amazon Echo speakers, smart TVs, smart lights, the lot. It is not a very well designed or slick app, but you find your way around soon enough. However, leave the Akita hard-wired to your router anyway for the server connection to remain established and stable.

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What does it do?

Akita monitors traffic on each of these devices. If it notices something that is out of the ordinary, which is usually when someone is attempting to do mischief with your smart devices such as smart cameras or smart thermostat, Akita will detect the incoming packets of traffic on the network for intrusion attempts and block access before notifying you. During this time Akita also sends the info from these packets back to its server for analyzing, to verify if it’s a genuine threat or not.

But I have a Mesh router? Will it work?

Yes, Akita works with traditional single unit routers as well as the newer mesh Wi-Fi systems for larger homes. It worked very well for me with the single unit router, the trusty old Netgear Nighthawk X6 and also the uber-cool Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD mesh system. Both these routers have different styles of controls for enabling and disabling 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, and it worked seamlessly with both as long as the 2.4GHz network was available for it to scan and connect to.

So, is Akita a firewall?

Well, yes and no. It is a firewall in the sense that it will detect if something is amiss with your IoT gadgets. But that is where it does more—it proactively takes action to analyze and respond to threats. It is also not a firewall in the sense that it isn’t a piece of software or an app that you can manually control or install someplace.

Will this change the way I connect to the internet?

Akita runs a Qualcomm QCA9531 processor clocking at 650MHz, with 64MB RAM and a bunch of security software that runs on the device and from the cloud—Akita network scanner and monitor, Akita cloud system and more. At no point does Akita have any bearing or impact on your internet speed, or the connectivity of your laptop, PC, phones etc. to your home Wi-Fi network.

Is the protection free forever?

Yes. You have the option to sign up for one of the premium subscription options, but even if you don’t, the Akita service and the basic security prowess is available to you. The free plan will give you complete monitoring of all malware, botnets, crypto hijacking and hacking attempts.

There is the Advanced Protection Plan for $3.99 per month that enables access to human assistance in case you need to fix something in your IoT home that has been targeted. And then there is the one-time service that costs $24.95 as a one-time subscription fee that will give you the option of letting the Akita experts fix anything that is flagged or broken in your smart home security protocols.

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The Last Word: Your smart home definitely needs this

It was incredible to note that after setting up the Akita for the review process and testing it thoroughly, I had powered it down because not many smart devices were active at the time. The Akita support team sent me multiple emails to remind me that my Akita seems to be offline and in case I’m not able to fix it, I should connect with them for help. That is the level of attention to detail which simply adds to the trust factor about a security device designed to keep your smart gadgets safe from those with malicious intent. As a device and as a concept, Akita is quite interesting. It may sound like a complex addition to your smart home ecosystem, but it isn’t. in fact, once this is up and running, it needs absolutely no attention—till it may notify you about something. It is the sort of insurance that I would recommend you get for your smart gadgets. The peace of mind knowing someone is monitoring your smart cameras, smart lights and smart speakers, is priceless.



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