Tech round-up for May 15: WhatsApp vulnerability patched, online Security Planner, Canada Border Services Agency and your digital devices, Days Gone will have you running

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, how to be safe online, protesting what can happen to your devices at the border, and fleeing a zombie horde. But first, watch for spyware on your smartphone.

Update your WhatsApp software now

This week we learned about a vulnerability in the messaging software WhatsApp that allows spyware to be installed on smartphones.

Researchers at University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab suspect that the spyware is the product of NSO Group, which has been accused of selling its Pegasus software to Saudi Arabia and other countries with records of human rights abuses.

The New York Times reported that a lawyer from London who was targeted by the WhatsApp security flaw contacted the Citizen Lab for help.

Meanwhile, a patch for WhatsApp was released on Monday.

Get advice about being online from Citizen Lab’s Security Planner

The Citizen Lab is all about “the intersection of information and communication technologies, human rights, and global security.”

One of its projects is the Security Planner, which can help you be more secure online by giving you personalized advice.

At the website, you answer a few questions about the devices you use, your chief concerns about online security, and any special conditions, and the system kicks out an action plan with specific recommendations on what you can do to be more secure.

Tips include things like enabling two-factor authentication, how to detect suspicious emails, and installing a password manager.

Advocating for changes to what Canadian border agents can do with your devices

The WhatsApp security flaw comes on the heels of a story out of Toronto earlier this month of a lawyer who’s mobile phone and laptop were seized by Canada Border Services Agency.

He had refused an order by a CBSA officer to provide passwords to allow a search of his devices on the grounds that they contained information that was protected by attorney-client confidence.

The CBSA claims that it can examine all digital devices and media, along with digital documents and software.

OpenMedia has since created a website where you can learn about what rights you have when coming into Canada. You can also sign a petition to pressure federal politicians to update policies around digital privacy at the border.

Days Gone gives us a new zombie horde to run from

Available now as an exclusive to PlayStation 4 is a new post-apocalypse survival set in Oregon. And while the creatures that threaten you are called “freakers” they are similar enough to zombies that you’ll have a sense of what you’re in for. They move slow during the day and fast at night.

The game was developed by Bend Studio and the studio has come up with solid mechanics for riding a motorcycle, battling horrific creatures, and sneaking around. Days Gone is genuinely fun to play and it requires that you conserve your supplies and plan carefully how you’ll approach threats.

It can feel tedious, though, if you’re the kind of gamer who quickly tires of action games that have you repeating missions for non-player characters.

My major quibble with Days Gone is that it leans far too heavily on tired tropes and cliches. In the game you play as an army veteran turned biker outlaw named Deacon St. John. Imagine all of the stereotypes that character description brings up and you’ll find them here.

Even the conspiracy tale that’s woven here feels recycled. And as you discover the source of the pandemic that created the freakers the game sets itself up for the story to continue.

The world is astonishing, though, and the contrast between the stunning Pacific Northwest geography and the masses of freakers that populate it is unnerving.

And when those hordes start chasing after you, you’d better be prepared to fight them or ready to run. The freakers in Days Gone do not relent.


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