Dear old and new friends of F-Secure Lokki!
Hei F-Secure Lokin ystävät!
In Finnish / suomeksi: Tämän tekstin lopussa on suomenkielinen yhteenveto uudesta F-Secure Lokki –sovelluksesta! Voit lukea tekstin alkuosan englanniksi tai hypätä suoraan loppuosaan.
F-Secure Lokki is the most accurate and battery friendly personal location sharing app to connect you with your friends and family members. Across the world thousands of people have been taking Lokki into use since mid August when we launched the first version for iPhone and Android devices. We have this week launched a major update to Lokki for iPhone and Android. You can download the new 3.0 version from iTunes and Google Play. For more information on Lokki please visit the F-Secure product page.
We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from all over the world towards Lokki 1.0 and 2.0. This has been really fantastic as it has helped us to improve Lokki. Some of the feedback has been somewhat contradictory so we have decided which way to go. We have read all emails and we have met with a large number of Lokki users during the last couple of months. BIG THANKS to everyone who have spoken with us or sent us messages! Keep them coming! We are making this product for YOU!
Let me tell a few words about this new version 3.0, especially for the old Lokki users out there.
The new Lokki 3.0 in a nutshell
A short summary of the changes in Lokki 3.0 goes as follows: The location accuracy has gone up and the battery consumption has gone down. This has been accomplished by re-writing the software that connects your phone with the Lokki servers. The old Lokki app in your phone was reporting your location every 5…15 minutes to the server, all the time, and especially when there was no WiFi coverage this was consuming quite a lot of battery. The new Lokki reports your location to the Lokki servers only when you or someone in your Lokki group is requesting your location. As you can imagine, most of the time during the day and night there is nobody requesting this information, so your phone does not need to check its location that frequently from the GPS satellites and WiFi networks. A side effect of this change is that we no longer can show the ”has arrived” and ”has left” notifications — they are likely to come back partially in a future version of Lokki, though.
We removed the chat functionality we had built into Lokki after most Lokki users told us that our chat is not on par with the messaging apps they prefer to use. Lokki is primarily about private location sharing so we decided to put our focus on that area and not start competing against the existing chat apps out there. We will be smoothening the interplay of the Lokki app and the messaging app in your phones in the future releases of Lokki.
The most visible change in Lokki 3.0 is that we have replaced the places with a map view. This was a really difficult decision for us because we had feedback from many people that they were really in love with the cool-looking places. However, we also heard feedback that the places were a bit complicated to use, there were false reports of people arriving and leaving places, some people preferred the map view in general, and some people said that the places look a bit childish. The main reason for our design decision was the drive to simplify the new Lokki version and to get it launched as soon as possible, since we had a continuous flow of feedback indicating that quite a many people were not satisfied with the location accuracy or the power consumption in Lokki 2.0. We have an initial plan of bringing the places back, perhaps a bit simplified, in an upcoming release of Lokki.
As a bonus we are happy to tell that the new version of Lokki on Android has now been built so that it also works in the older Android devices (version 2.3.3), and those are very common among children.
Finally a replacement for Google Latitude!
We have heard from some Lokki users that Lokki has become a Google Latitude replacement for them. Google discontinued their highly popular Latitude service earlier this year and we are happy to see Lokki taking that role now. The new Lokki 3.0 is actually a very compelling Google Latitude replacement, coming from a reputable European security software house, and working on both Android and iOS devices.
That was the SHORT summary! ;-) Below you will get a more detailed description of the new things in the new Lokki 3.0. Parts of that description are somewhat technical because we know that some of the very early users of Lokki 1.0 and 2.0 are somewhat technically-minded, some might even call them nerds, in a positive way. Others may leave this text now, and we say thank you! :-)
From phone numbers to emails
The old Lokki used your phone number as your username or identity and in the new Lokki we have changed to use the email address for this purpose. You need to use a unique email address per device i.e. if you have an Android phone and an iPad, you need to use different email addresses in those to sign up to Lokki. We debated this change internally a lot and eventually chose the email because it is more commonly used in online services as the user ID and it will allow us to e.g. send Lokki users informative updates more easily than over text messaging. In the old Lokki we did not have the email address of users at all, and there are countries in the world that do not allow service providers to send mass postings via text messages, even if there is no direct marketing content in the messages.
When you allow other people to see you in Lokki, Lokki will show you the people names with email addresses it retrieves from the contacts list in your phone. If a person does not have an email address defined, she or he won’t be visible in the Lokki invitation list, and you need to add the email address first via the Contacts app in your device. We plan to simplify this further in the upcoming Lokki releases.
Lokki and kids
Children can still use Lokki legally (with the exception being the 13 year age limit in the USA due to the Children Online Privacy Protection Act a.k.a. COPPA) so also they will need to have an email address when signing up for Lokki. Or to be exact, the device they are using to sign up needs to have a unique email address. In any case, it is good to be aware of what kind of apps your kids are installing and using in their mobile devices. Have you checked the age limits of some of the wildly popular social media sites or chat apps your kids may be using, by the way?
Read the small print — a.k.a. the Frequently Asked Questions
Many of the detailed issues around the new Lokki 3.0 are covered in the Frequently Asked Questions and you can find that in the F-Secure community knowledge base.
Lokki for Nokia Lumia and other Windows Phones
A word about Lokki on Windows Phone 8. We have an early test version of the Lokki app that runs in a beautiful yellow Nokia Lumia 520 phone. We hope to be able to release the Windows Phone 8 version in the near future when it is fully tested and free of glitches. The Windows Phone operating system is a bit different from Android or iOS and this has introduced some extra hurdles during the development process.
Beta, lean startup and pivot
We fully realize that the changes introduced with this new 3.0 version of Lokki may look awkward for many of you. You need to sign up again to Lokki and your friends and family members need to do the same. All Lokki users will need to have an email. Plus if you liked your places, you no longer can see them. :-/ However, after you are done with the initial setup, we believe you will love the new Lokki! We began to develop Lokki as a free app last spring with the goal to build the world’s best people location sharing app that is secure and fun. In the summer we had F-Secure fellows testing the beta version and in August we launched the app to the world. In “lean startup” style we have been continuously listening to Lokki users and improving the app. By early November we realized that we will not be able to satisfy Lokki users with our GPS location tracking solution; the continous location reporting simply ate too much battery and the battery consumption optimizations had an impact on the location reporting accuracy. In lean startup terms we decided to “pivot” Lokki into a new direction. Many Lokki users liked the product concept but expected it to work like Sports Tracker or RunKeeper i.e. continuously tracking the location of everyone on your display but at the same time they expected there to be negligible impact on the phone battery life. This unfortunately cannot be done on modern smartphones, especially when the service needs to run reliably on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. We really like the new Lokki and feel it is superior in many ways to the earlier version, and we will be incorporating elements from the old design to the app in the future releases.
To trace or not to trace — what is your opinion?
Our short-term priorities now include a ’family pack’ functionality for Lokki, in addition to the Windows Phone 8 support. One feature that we are debating is people tracking history. As a security software company we are cautious about any ’big brother’ functionalities — yet we get requests that people would like to be able to see where their children have been. How do you feel about this? And is there some other family feature you would like to see in Lokki?
One more thing
Old users of Lokki probably noticed that Lokki 3.0 now has a new app icon. We felt that since the places are gone from this version, at least for a while, we should evolve also the icon a bit to reflect the changing functionality in the app. We hope you like the new icon!
Thanks for your support and please let us know how you feel about the new Lokki! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org as before.
Harri and the Lokki team at F-Secure in Helsinki, Finland
In Finnish / suomeksi lyhyt yhteenveto uudesta Lokki 3.0-versiosta:
Lokin paikannustarkkuus on parantunut ja puhelimen virrankulutus laskenut. Tämän saimme aikaiseksi toteuttamalla puhelimen ja palvelimen välisen paikkatietojen välityksen uudella tavalla. Vanha Lokki lähetti puhelimen paikkatiedon palvelimelle joka 5…15 minuutin välein kellon ympäri ja uusi Lokki lähettää paikkatiedon vain silloin kun joku oman piirini Lokki-käyttäjä sitä kysyy. Kolikon kääntöpuoli on tässä se, että aiemmat ”on lähtenyt” ja ”on saapunut” –viestit on jouduttu jättämään pois — saatamme tosin tuoda niistä jatkossa Lokkiin yksinkertaisemman version.
Jätimme uudesta Lokista myös pikaviestimen pois. Suuri osa käyttäjistä kertoi meille, että Lokin chat ei ole tarpeeksi hyvä, joten me päätimme keskittyä turvalliseen ja tehokkaaseen paikkatiedon jakamiseen ja jättää pikaviestimen kehittämisen muille. Jatkossa Lokista pääsee helposti hyppäämään puhelimessa oleviin pikaviestinsovelluksiin.
Näkyvin muutos uudessa Lokissa on paikkasymbolien korvaaminen karttanäkymällä. Todella moni on kertonut meille pitävänsä näistä paikoista paljon, mutta vielä useampi on kritisoinut paikannustarkkuuden ja virrankulutuksen tasoa. Halusimme tuoda nämä parannukset Lokin käyttäjille mahdollisimman nopeasti, joten jouduimme jättämään paikat pois tästä Lokki-versiosta. Jatkossa saatamme tuoda paikat takaisin, ehkä vähän yksinkertaisemmassa muodossa.
Uusi Lokki toimii nyt myös vanhemmissa Android-puhelimissa (käyttöjärjestelmäversio 2.3.3) ja myös Windows Phone 8 –versio on meillä työn alla.
Lähitulevaisuudessa keskitymme lisäämään Lokkiin toiminnallisuutta perheitä varten. Haluaisimmekin kuulla teiltä, mitä toivoisitte! Olisiko Lokissa vaikkapa hyvä nähdä, missä lapset ovat olleet menossa vaikka viimeisen parin tunnin aikana, vai olisiko tämä tarpeeton tai jopa ei-toivottu ominaisuus?
Kiitos teille kaikille, jotka jaksoitte lukea tänne asti. Kertokaapa meille, mitä mieltä olette uudesta Lokki 3.0 –sovelluksesta! Saatte meidät kiinni osoitteesta email@example.com kuten ennenkin.
Harri ja F-Securen Lokki-tiimi Ruoholahdessa Helsingissä
[Image by Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York via Flickr]
UK child protection charity the NSPCC this week published research into children’s online porn-viewing habits. The results are shocking. One in ten 12-13 year olds are worried they are addicted to porn. This goes beyond children stumbling across inappropriate content, though could be how the addiction started. Tackling the issue head-on, the NSPCC has published advice for parents and calls on the government to educate children in the dangers of online porn. It notes that its discussion forums on the subject get 18,000 hits per month. You can see its advice here. There is no silver bullet to tackling this issue. Your approach will depend on your child. A two-way conversation with them to educate them to the dangers is as important as using technology to limit the risks. So, from a technical perspective, what can you do to protect your children from online porn? The simplest measure is to activate parental controls on your internet security software. This will take two minutes, but will protect your child for years. How do parental controls work? Parental controls are a very useful way to adapt a smartphone, tablet or computer’s settings to only allow content and usage which you, as a parent, feel are appropriate. Suitable content F-Secure’s parental controls start with giving parents the option to choose settings which are appropriate for either a teenager or a younger child. These allow different categories content. For example, it’s unlikely you would want a child of any age viewing information about dating, gambling, drugs, violence or porn – so these are blocked by default (but can be unblocked if you wish). However, teens are not automatically blocked from using email and social networking. Time-limits Time-limits are a very useful tool to curb the amount of time a child spends on different applications on their smartphone or tablet each day. You may choose to only allow an hour of time of Facebook, compared to unlimited access to Wikipedia. On our desktop version, you can also set homework time, by only allowing access to educational sites during certain times of the day when you know your child should be working and are worried about online distractions. There is also the capability to set the amount of time the child can spend online for that week – a particularly useful tool during school holidays. Call blocking For mobile phones, call blocker is a handy tool for parents of children who are being bullied. Incoming calls from specific phones numbers can be blocked, meaning the dialler will receive an engaged tone and then disconnection, with no option to leave a message. Numbers can be added to this blacklist from the incoming call register or the contacts database. Parents can also gain access to the list of blocked calls which have been received. Locate, lock and wipe Our anti-theft feature means a phone can be located when lost – or when a parent wants to check on their child’s location. Of course, this should form part of an open discussion with the child, so they are aware of the phone’s capability. It also means that, should a phone be stolen or lost, the phone can be locked and the data deleted remotely, meaning it can’t fall into the wrong hands. Our parental controls are password-based, which means they can’t be circumvented by a tech-savvy child. Of course, the password needs to be strong for this to work, but that’s another blog post!
Online surfing has been around for a while now, and it keeps getting better as technology continues to improve. Websites are better, responsive to different devices, more interactive, and feature a more diverse range of content. All in all, online surfing has managed to stay cool for a very long time. In fact, during a recent interview, Mikko Hypponen specified online surfing as the thing that he’d miss the most if the Internet were to suddenly disappear. The Internet may not suddenly disappear tomorrow, but it is in danger of slowly eroding. While technologies have been steadily improving what people can see and do online, other interests have been trying to develop new ways to regulate and control people’s behavior. Questions about what you can see and do online used to face technical constraints, but now these are transitioning to issues about what other people want you to see and do. Noted anthropologist and author David Graeber recently remarked in an interview with the Guardian that control has become so ubiquitous that we don’t even see it. Geo-blocking is a regulative measure that seems to confirm Graeber’s views. PC Magazine concisely defines it as the practice of preventing people from accessing web content based on where they are (determined by their IP address). Geo-blocking and other types of regional restrictions are used by both companies and governments, and for a variety of purposes (for example, enforcing copyright regimes, running regional sales promotions, censorship, etc.). Freedome is a user-friendly VPN that gives people a way to re-assert control over what they can see and do online. It encrypts communications, disables tracking software, and protects people from malware. It basically gives people the kind of protection they need to surf the web while staying safe from the more prominent forms of digital threats. It also helps people circumvent geo-blocking by letting them choose different “virtual locations”. Virtual locations let people choose where they want to appear to be when they’re surfing online. So if a user selects Canada as their location, the websites they visit will think they are located in Canada. If they select Japan, websites will think they’re in Japan. I’m sure you get the idea. Choosing different virtual locations lets web surfers bypass these geo-blocks so that their access to content remains unrestricted. They can watch YouTube videos reserved for American audiences, access Facebook or Twitter when vacationing in a country that blocks those services, and avoid other measures that attempt to prevent them from enjoying their digital freedom. Freedome recently added Belgium and Poland as new choices, giving Freedome users a total of 17 different places to surf from. But the list needs to keep expanding to keep the fight for digital freedom going, so the Freedome team wants to know: where do you want to do your online surfing? [polldaddy poll=8754876] [Image by Sari Choch-Be | Flickr ]
"Securing the future" is a huge topic, but our Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen narrowed it down to the two most important issues is his recent keynote address at the CeBIT conference. Watch the whole thing for a Matrix-like immersion into the two greatest needs for a brighter future -- security and privacy. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFoOvpaZvdM] To get started here are some quick takeaways from Mikko's insights into data privacy and data security in a threat landscape where everyone is being watched, everything is getting connected and anything that can make criminals money will be attacked. 1. Criminals are using the affiliate model. About a month ago, one of the guys running CTB Locker -- ransomware that infects your PC to hold your files until you pay to release them in bitcoin -- did a reddit AMA to explain how he makes around $300,000 with the scam. After a bit of questioning, the poster revealed that he isn't CTB's author but an affiliate who simply pays for access to a trojan and an exploit-kid created by a Russian gang. "Why are they operating with an affiliate model?" Mikko asked. Because now the authors are most likely not breaking the law. In the over 250,000 samples F-Secure Labs processes a day, our analysts have seen similar Affiliate models used with the largest banking trojans and GameOver ZeuS, which he notes are also coming from Russia. No wonder online crime is the most profitable IT business. 2. "Smart" means exploitable. When you think of the word "smart" -- as in smart tv, smartphone, smart watch, smart car -- Mikko suggests you think of the word exploitable, as it is a target for online criminals. Why would emerging Internet of Things (IoT) be a target? Think of the motives, he says. Money, of course. You don't need to worry about your smart refrigerator being hacked until there's a way to make money off it. How might the IoT become a profit center? Imagine, he suggests, if a criminal hacked your car and wouldn't let you start it until you pay a ransom. We haven't seen this yet -- but if it can be done, it will. 3. Criminals want your computer power. Even if criminals can't get you to pay a ransom, they may still want into your PC, watch, fridge or watch for the computing power. The denial of service attack against Xbox Live and Playstation Netwokr last Christmas, for instance likely employed a botnet that included mobile devices. IoT devices have already been hijacked to mine for cypto-currencies that could be converted to Bitcoin then dollars or "even more stupidly into Rubbles." 4. If we want to solve the problems of security, we have to build security into devices. Knowing that almost everything will be able to connect to the internet requires better collaboration between security vendors and manufacturers. Mikko worries that companies that have never had to worry about security -- like a toaster manufacturer, for instance -- are now getting into IoT game. And given that the cheapest devices will sell the best, they won't invest in proper design. 5. Governments are a threat to our privacy. The success of the internet has let to governments increasingly using it as a tool of surveillance. What concerns Mikko most is the idea of "collecting it all." As Glenn Glenwald and Edward Snowden pointed out at CeBIT the day before Mikko, governments seem to be collecting everything -- communication, location data -- on everyone, even if you are not a person of interest, just in case. Who knows how that information may be used in a decade from now given that we all have something to hide? Cheers, Sandra