Tech round-up for February 13: Data breaches, password security, Netflix's smart downloads, Blomkamp's 'Conviction'

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, Netflix brings smart downloads to iOS and Neill Blomkamp brings a short film based on Anthem to YouTube. But first, news on the latest data breaches and why a subscription to 1Password is the way to go.

Data breaches and stolen account details proliferate online

Early this year, the website, Have I Been Pwned reported that some 773 million email addresses and passwords had been discovered on a hacking site by Troy Hunt, a security expert who runs HIBP.

Many of the email addresses in that collection had already been revealed, leading Hunt to posit that this data dump was an amalgamation of different data breaches.

Then, this week, the Register reported that “Some 617 million online account details stolen from 16 hacked websites are on sale from today on the dark web, according to the data trove’s seller.”

This includes data from companies – Canadian photography site 500px among them – that had not previously disclosed data breaches to customers.

These incidents simply underscore how necessary it is to be vigilant with your passwords. Use different ones for every account and change them regularly.

Using a password manager helps. I use 1Password.

Why I’ve subscribed to 1Password

I’ve been using 1Password to manage my passwords for years, but I’ve just upgraded to a subscription. Previously, I’d just pay for a license when a new version of the software came out. Like many other software companies, though, 1Password has added the option of getting password management as a service, instead of a standalone product.

This means that I’ll always have the latest and best version of the software, and it also means that I have access to 1Password on all of my devices and operating systems without having to purchase additional licenses. Before, I’d have paid for the macOS software and the iOS software separately.

The math was actually simple. It’s cheaper to subscribe if you’re purchasing the software on multiple platforms and upgrading with every release.

I’ve gone one better with my subscription, though, by getting a Family subscription. This gives five people in my family the full service I’ve been enjoying. As my kids get older and start creating their own online accounts, this is critical.

It’s also helping me with my parents. Now, instead of trying to teach them how to stay secure while using the internet, I can just help them understand how to use 1Password. Plus, I can set up a separate vault for their passwords and I can be an administrator, to help them if they need it, and so that if the worst actually happens, I have access to critical information.

Because you don’t just store passwords in 1Password. I’ve got identity information, credit card and banking details, and all kinds of account data locked in the 1Password servers.

And I know they are secure. Matt Davey, the “Chief Operations Optimist” for 1Password, told me that their cloud solution has a $100 million bounty to whoever is able to break into the system. It remains unclaimed.

The cloud service that comes with the 1Password subscription is how I can access my information from anywhere. And with the travel mode, I can flick a switch when I hit an international border, and all of that login information disappears from my mobile devices. Once I’m across, I flick the switch again, and the data floods back onto my device.

It’s painless. It’s useful. And all I need to do is remember one password.

Smart downloads from Netflix makes watching easy

It’s not like tapping on screen is difficult, but Netflix has made it easier to watch shows on your mobile devices with the introduction of “smart downloads”. And while it’s a small, minor thing, it’s appreciated. Smart downloads has been available to Android users since last summer, but now it’s available on iOS, too.

Here’s how it works. When you’re watching episodes of a show, I suggest “Russian Doll”, when you’ve finished an episode Netflix will automatically download the next episode and delete the one you’ve just finished.

If you’re concerned about data usage, you can set it to download only over Wi-Fi (or you can disable the feature entirely), but not having to manage episodes and data storage on your mobile devices is just another thing that Netflix is doing to keep audiences happy. And watching.

Neill Blomkamp creates live-action short film based on Anthem video game

Tomorrow, Conviction will premiere on the YouTube channel of Neill Blomkamp’s Oats Studios.

The live-action short film is set in Fort Tarsis, the city that is the hub of action in Anthem, the video game developed by BioWare and being published next week by Electronic Arts.

The Vancouver-based director had been tapped by Peter Jackson to direct a movie set in the Halo universe. When that project died, Blomkamp went on to direct District 9, Elysium, and Chappie.

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