Category Archives: Mobile &Phone

Signal 2.8.3 adds video calls and a can of worms

Signal 2.8.3 adds video calls and can of worms

By Russ Imrie March 25, 2017

Popular iOS 10+ encrypted messaging app Signal has added Video Calling to its toolkit–and no it’s not THAT bad. The first surprise you’ll see in your contacts (iOS contacts, not those in your signal app) when phone integration is activated is that a “signal” option is listed for contacts with an iPhone number. #1 below. Not to worry too much. Click on one and it doesn’t work unless they are one of your verified real Signal contacts and/or have Signal installed.

Surprise in your norma iOS contacts

#1 Surprise in your normal iOS contacts

But wait, there’s more. Basically, what has happened is that Signal, to maximize convenience and video quality for video calls, has incorporated Apple’s CallKit. This makes various apps like Signal and Skype work better right through the phone app while still using data over your phone carrier, or wifi.

To quote Signal’s blog info on what this all means…

CallKit is an iOS 10 feature that brings apps like Signal to the same level as the native iOS calling experience. It makes Signal calls answerable with one touch directly from the lock screen, allows initiating Signal calls through the native contacts app, and displays Signal calls in the system’s “recent calls” list.

That “recent calls list” they mention above is the thing. So for the truly paranoid, what that COULD mean is that anyone digging through your unlocked phone can see you made some Signal Calls. There are options that can minimize information revealed then and that comes later. Also what a notification in your lock screen [about an incoming call or message] can reveal also has control options, that is if you have general preferences in iOS set to show notifications or not.

Another phone integration issue is that everything in your phone app is routinely backed up to iCloud. Apple COULD be compelled (or hacked) to reveal your call history, now including Signal’s. You might be ok with that, or not.

The Signal app’s setting panel is accessed by tapping the gear icon which opens the preferences pane, where you can control the new Signal. Privacy, Notifications, and Advanced are what you use.

#2 Preferences Panel

#2 Preferences Panel

2. Now, the Biggie: Activate Phone Integration in Privacy settings. Or not. You should turn this off immediately until the following settings are done right. You can turn it on later if you want. Here’s what that option looks like. “Off” pictured.

CallKit on/off phone integration

CallKit on/off phone integration

3. What your notifications can or can’t reveal if activated. Located in Notifications in preferences/settings pane/Background Notifications options.  I want NO information revealed in any notification, just a beep alert.

Pick No Name or Content in Notifications

#3. Pick No Name or Content in Notifications

4. More privacy… I disable screen previews here. Also, and this can affect performance with video, I choose Always Relay via Signal’s proprietary server. Yes traffic is totally encrypted but is routed through the public networks. Signal’s server can be bogged down if you are pushing a video call through it. Your choice.

4. Suggest Secure

#4. Suggest Secure

5. The dreaded “oops”… Clear history Logs will wipe everything in Signal – all your messages and your contacts will look as if they have vanished. But open a new message and there they are (contacts, that is – message are his-to-ry. And seriously, if you are in a bad space and want to totally (and remember Signal doesn’t do caches) kill all old messages, this is the one.

Require Approval is good – if for some reason one of your contacts deletes and re-installs the app. This makes absolutely sure you are not being pranked and the contact is genuine.

5. Dreaded Clear Logs

#5. Dreaded Clear Logs

Questions? Suggestions? Stuff I missed? Send me what you think in the comments box below.

Now, if you want, go back and activate phone integration 

distant US Capitol dome

U.S. Capitol SOTU eve, 2011 – photo Russ Imrie

Russell Imrie is a  Networking and Content Specialist, craft beer enthusiast, webmaster and an American Indian blogger living in the Washington DC area. For a decade Imrie built systems and lived totally off the grid in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California near Silicon Valley. More opinion pieces are at China Daily Mail (under nom de blog supTweet)

Copyright Russell Imrie 2017

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Apple El Capitan, Hotmail, and Charlie Brown

Like Charlie Brown’s nemesis Lucy, Apple’s newest OS X El Capitan 10.11 mail app  pulls the football out and Charlie (Apple’s loyal user) goes whoops! again, never learning.

The connection between Jobs’ Lucy model and the girl who pulls the classic stunt is purely coincidental, or is it? As are the widespread, much discussed and pondered, problems connecting Apple’s mail application with an existing Hotmail account; the “enter password” message pops up (and fails) despite deleting the account in System Preferences/Accounts and attempting to add it in again—and again. iOS 9.1 on mobile devices has a similar issue. After finding a way to work around the issue,  one can credibly assume this is not a real bug but more a complication of increasingly complex security practices.

I’ll go through step by step (with pictures even) about how I fixed it.

First login into your Hotmail account via web browser (I’m using a Mac). https://outlook.live.com

First-ViewAccount

Under your profile image a drop-down menu (above) lets you select “View Account.” Do it.

SecurityAndPrivacyInAccountsBar

Select “Security and Privacy” from the blue task bar.

SelectMoreSecuritySettingsOption

Select “More security settings.” Then scroll down in the options to App Passwords.  By the way, I have two-step verification activated but that may not be necessary.

ChooseCreateANewPassword

Select “create a new app password.”

UseThisPassword

Create a password. Important note: You will need to create a password for each device you are using Apple Mail and Hotmail on. I used three—iPad, iPhone, Mac Mini. So COPY the password right away.

I copied each generated password and pasted them into a new note that would sync with all three devices.

Copy one password from the note and use THAT for the much-requested password in one device and check it, select options mail, notes, etc, and away you go. Use one unique password for each device. 

distant US Capitol dome

U.S. Capitol SOTU eve, 2011 – photo Russ Imrie

Russell Imrie is a  Networking and Content Specialist, craft beer enthusiast, webmaster and an American Indian blogger working in the Washington DC area. For a decade Imrie built systems and lived totally off the grid in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California near Silicon Valley. More opinion pieces are at China Daily Mail (under nom de blog supTweet)

Copyright Russell Imrie 2015