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Beware: A Malicious COVID-19 Vaccine SMS Message Is in Circulation



Beware: A Malicious COVID-19 Vaccine SMS Message Is in Circulation

A fake SMS message is in circulation that falsely claims to offer an app to let users register for COVID-19 vaccine in India. However, instead of providing a legitimate way to register for the vaccination, the app is aimed at propagating malware via SMS messages once it is installed on a mobile device. The malicious app was initially named COVID-19, though it later received an update that renamed it as Vaccine Register. Attackers may be able to convince users to install the app as a large number of people faced issues while registering for the COVID-19 vaccine through the official CoWIN portal.

Cybersecurity firm ESET’s malware researcher Lukas Stefanko has tweeted about the SMS message that asks users to download the app to register for the COVID-19 vaccination. The message is targeted at Indian users and is designed in a way that impersonates ‘COVID-19 vaccine free registration’, according to the researcher.


The researcher said that the SMS message, however, carries a link that installs a worm app, which essentially spreads itself via SMS to victims’ contacts with the link to download the malware. The app also gains unnecessary permissions that attackers could leverage to acquire user data.

Although the app was initially called COVID-19, it was renamed to Vaccine Register and received a light mode to reach even further devices over time. It is also found to have support for dual-SIM connectivity. This will allow the malware to propagate using the first available operator available on the device.

Users are highly recommended to avoid to any SMS messages that contain links asking them to download apps. It is also important to note that registrations for COVID-19 vaccines are currently taking place only through the CoWIN portal as well as the Aarogya Setu and Umang apps.

However, there are third-party sites through which you can receive notifications when a slot for the jab is available. The government has also provided the option to find your nearby COVID-19 vaccination centre using the MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot.

The government expanded the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the country last week by starting registrations from people between 18–44 years. The vaccine registrations were earlier open for the people of 45 years and above age.

Is Mi 11X the best phone under Rs. 35,000? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 23:50), we jump over to the Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at Please send in your leads and tips.

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How to Pre-Order PlayStation 5 in India



How to Pre-Order PlayStation 5 in India

PlayStation 5 is back in India. On Monday at 12pm noon, the PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition will go up for sale again in India — that marks the first restock for the former, while the latter launches in South Asia over six months on from its global debut. All of Amazon, Flipkart, Games The Shop, Prepaid Gamer Card, Reliance Digital, Sony Center, and Vijay Sales will have the PlayStation 5 back in stock, while the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition is seemingly exclusive to Sony Center website ShopAtSC. There’s no word on how much stock any of them is, but expect it to be very limited — and hence, will run out in a minute or two if you aren’t quick with your fingers.

Of course, the bigger question for many will be whether they can even get the PS5 delivered where they live, given the ongoing restrictions on non-essential items during the ongoing debilitating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A PS5 pre-order FAQ on ShopAtSC says: “We intend to deliver your allocated stocks around 24th May and onwards — however please expect a delay in our delivery services which might get impacted due to regulations imposed by lockdown/ curfew in your locations. The product delivery shall depend on your location. You may check your order status by contacting your allocated Sony Center.”

PlayStation 5 Review: New Era, Half Jump

How to pre-order PS5 on ShopAtSC

Sony India’s retail shops Sony Center have their own website through which you can buy the PlayStation 5. ShopAtSC offers free home delivery from the nearest Sony Center, but you can also choose to pick up from the nearest store from May 24 onward. If they are open, naturally.

You will need an account to buy the PS5 from ShopAtSC. Create one in advance to speed up checkout. If you previously bought a PS5 in January, you won’t be able to buy another from the same account, ShopAtSC says. The site does have a notify me button in case stocks run out.

Shop at SC offers no-cost EMI on select credit cards, and easy EMI options on most debit and credit cards.

Buy PlayStation 5 at ShopAtSC

Buy PlayStation 5 Digital Edition at ShopAtSC

How to pre-order PS5 on Amazon India

The PS5 restock is also available on Amazon’s India affiliate, which will offer free home delivery across India. You don’t need to be an Amazon Prime member to get free delivery.

You will need an account to buy the PS5 from Amazon. Create one in advance to speed up checkout.

Amazon offers no-cost EMI on HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, and SBI Bank cards, and easy EMI options on most debit and credit cards.

Buy PlayStation 5 at Amazon India

How to pre-order PS5 on Games The Shop

Dedicated games store Games The Shop will let you pre-order the PS5, replete with free home delivery across India.

You do not need an account to buy the PS5 from Games The Shop, but you will need to provide an email address. It too has a notify me button for stock availability.

Buy PlayStation 5 at Games The Shop

How to pre-order PS5 on Flipkart

Walmart-owned Flipkart also has the PlayStation 5 restocked for pre-order in India. It will also offer free home delivery across India.

It’s worth noting that Flipkart had trouble servicing Xbox Series X pre-orders, with customers claiming they were bullied by Flipkart Support to cancel their orders.

You will need an account to buy the PS5 from Flipkart. Create one in advance to speed up checkout.

Flipkart offers easy EMI options on most debit and credit cards. You can avail 12 percent off up to Rs. 1,800 with EMI transactions on HDFC Bank credit and bank cards, and 10 percent off up to Rs. 1,250 on HDFC Bank Credit Card (no-EMI).

Buy PlayStation 5 at Flipkart

How to pre-order PS5 on Prepaid Gamer Card

Bengaluru-based online games store Prepaid Gamer Card also has the PS5 back in stock. It too offers free home delivery everywhere in India, if deliveries are available.

You don’t need an account to buy the PS5 from Prepaid Gamer Card. But the website will create one for you during the checkout process, so you might as well have one. You will naturally need to provide an email address as well if you don’t already an account.

Buy PlayStation 5 at Prepaid Gamer Card

How to pre-order PS5 on Reliance Digital

Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Digital will also offer the PS5 in India. All orders will qualify for free home delivery.

It’s worth noting that Reliance Digital had trouble servicing both PS5 and Xbox Series X pre-orders, going so far to cancel many orders because it had overbooked.

You will need an account to buy the PS5 from Reliance Digital. Create one in advance to speed up checkout.

Buy PlayStation 5 at Reliance Digital

How to pre-order PS5 on Vijay Sales

Mumbai-headquartered Vijay Sales is also offering the PS5 on its website, in addition to its retail store. It too will offer free home delivery on every purchase.

You do not need an account to buy the PS5 from Vijay Sales, but you will need to provide your mobile number and email address as a guest.

Buy PlayStation 5 at Vijay Sales

PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Which is the best “next-gen” console in India? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Top 10 trending phones of week 19



Top 10 trending phones of week 19

After being the dominant force in our trending chart for the past couple of weeks Xiaomi is finally seeing some challange.

While the Redmi Note 10 Pro and Redmi Note 10 still take the top two spots it’s the newly announced Asus Zenfone 8 that completes the podium.

We then have the Poco X3 Pro and Samsung Galaxy A72 to round up the top five.

The Poco F3 is down in sixth ahead of four more Samsung phones. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has overtaken the A52 5G, while the Galaxy A12 retains ninth.

The Samsung Galaxy A52 returns to the chart to round up the top 10.

The Redmi K40 Gaming and the Mi 11 Ultra wave goodbye to the top 10, but it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the last of them.

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Flashback: a brief history of Bluetooth



Flashback: a brief history of Bluetooth

It took years but USB eventually replaced the weird proprietary connectors of early mobile phones. However, years before USB became the norm another data transfer technology wanted to unite all electronics – and it didn’t even use wires.

From Infrared to Bluetooth

Bluetooth was developed by Ericsson in the 1990s. It is named after the 10th century Danish king Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, who united Denmark and Norway. The Bluetooth logo combines the runes ᚼ and ᛒ, which are Harald’s initials.

The name (which was actually proposed by an Intel engineer) signified the ambition to become the unifying standard for all kinds of electronics – phones, computers and various accessories.

At the time data cables (serial or USB) were used to, for example, sync data between your computer and your PDA, infrared was available as a wireless option. However, that required line-of-sight, meaning you had to “aim” the two devices at each other during the data transfer.

Bluetooth was omnidirectional, though it worked at around 10m (30 ft) maximum, so it didn’t really have a range advantage. Nor a speed advantage – version 1.0 topped out at 721 Kbps.

The Ericsson T39 was the first mobile phone with Bluetooth
The Ericsson T39 was the first mobile phone with Bluetooth

That was plenty for the original use-cases planned and so the first Bluetooth-enabled phone was unveiled in 2000 – an Ericsson, of course, the T36. However, that wasn’t the first Bluetooth phone to actually hit the stores (the T36 was canceled).

The Ericsson T39 pioneered the tech, launching in 2001. That same year IBM introduced the ThinkPad A30 laptop with a Bluetooth connection built in. Now you could sync your phone and computers wirelessly.

The first Bluetooth accessories

The first-ever Bluetooth device was a wireless headset unveiled in 1999, which won the “Best of Show Technology Award” at COMDEX. Soon after the first Bluetooth car kits actually came out in 2001

Ericsson's first Bluetooth headset
Ericsson's first Bluetooth headset

Ericsson’s first Bluetooth headset (image credit)

They were mono-only, but they served an important purpose – countries around the world were already looking to ban the use of phones while driving. For example, the UK made it illegal on December 1 2003 with fines starting at £30, but they could rise to £1,000.

The first stereo headphones would arrive in 2004. Strangely, that happened a year after the first Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player hit the market.

The Benefone Esc! from 1999 was the first phone with a built-in GPS receiver, but it would be many years before that feature became standard – Bluetooth to the rescue! In 2002 Socket unveiled the first stand-alone GPS receiver that could send positioning data to a mobile device – a Pocket PC, in this case. It cost $450, almost as much as the Pocket PC itself.

The first-ever Bluetooth GPS receiver for mobile devices
The first-ever Bluetooth GPS receiver for mobile devices

The first-ever Bluetooth GPS receiver for mobile devices

The first Bluetooth mice, keyboards and printers came out in the early 2000s too. Those were more suitable for computers, which were gaining Bluetooth abilities through add-in cards and (soon) USB dongles.

Going faster

Bluetooth 2.0 was unveiled in 2005 with “EDR” (Enhanced Data Rate), which tripled the transfer speed to 2.1 Mbps. It was an optional feature and it was still too slow for heavy duty data transfers. The new standard did also boost the range to 30m (100 ft).

But the true boost to performance would come in 2009 with Bluetooth 3.0 and “HS” (High Speed), which achieved 24 Mbps. This used a Bluetooth link to do the handshaking between the two devices than handed off the data to 802.11 hardware – so it was actually Wi-Fi that did the heavy lifting.

But with things like Wi-Fi Direct on the horizon and ever faster cell network speeds, fast Bluetooth would quickly become irrelevant.

Going further

Bluetooth 4.0, aka Bluetooth Low Energy, came in 2010 and wasn’t – wasn’t Bluetooth, we mean. The project started at Nokia under the name Wibree, but that would be incorporated into the next generation of Bluetooth.

Version 4.0 was slower, it topped out around 1 Mbps, but it was a lot more power efficient, allowing for battery operated accessories to be created (think fitness sensors, healthcare devices, etc.). They could work for years on a single coin cell battery.

Bluetooth 4.0 also extended the operation range to 100m (330 ft.) and lowered the typical latency quite a bit. This release also introduced the Multipoint feature, which allows Bluetooth headphones to be connected simultaneously to two devices (e.g. your phone and your laptop).

Next came version 5.0 in 2016. It significantly improved the maximum range, reaching 240m (800 ft) with line of sight and up to 40m (130 ft.) indoors. That came at the cost of data speed, but at closer rangers 5.0 could double the speeds of its predecessor (up to 2 Mbps).

Flashback: a brief history of Bluetooth

Bluetooth has been used in smart home applications since the early days, but it is now even more prevalent. From smart light bulbs to smart bathroom scales, its low power requirements, impressive range and ability to seamlessly connect two gadgets has made it more popular than ever.

Rapid growth and what comes next

By 2003 Bluetooth had become extremely successful with 1 million BT-enabled devices shipping every week. That grew to 3 million a week the following year, then to 5 million in 2005. By 2006 there were already 1 billion Bluetooth devices out and about with 10 million new ones joining them every week.

Flashback: a brief history of Bluetooth

There’s no sign of Bluetooth 6.0 yet and there’s a new wireless technology that is gaining traction – Ultra Wide Band or UWB. It covers the high-speed data transfer use case that Bluetooth abandoned years ago and has the ability to sense the direction of a connected device (so can Bluetooth, by the way). For now at least Bluetooth and UWB co-exist peacefully, but it’s not inconceivable that the two may clash down the road.

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