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GulfNews Business

Strange new orange or green dot on your iPhone? It's not a bug

DUBAI: Ever wondered what “cookies” do to your phone? How you can have a better grip on them? What security issue do they cause? First off, cookies are the key to online tracking, which helps advertisers with "geo-targetting". So if you wonder why certain ads pop up on your phone fit your own tastes and interests perfectly, it's down to cookies. They're helpful in some sense. It's how websites remember your preferences from one visit to another, or from one device to another? Cookies, used by apps, help advertisers keep tabs of device fingerprinting and cross-device tracking. That’s how insidious some apps can be. Fortunately, there’s a way to control, or stop, it. Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 14, comes with new security features. Now, you can have a better handle on protecting access to your phone’s camera and mic (will explain this later). What is a cookie? A cookie is information saved by your web browser, the software program you use to visit the web. When you visit a website, the site might store a cookie so it can recognize your device in the future. Later if you return to that site, it can read that cookie to remember you from your last visit. By keeping track of you over time, cookies can be used to customise your browsing experience, or to inject ads targeted to you, based on your preferences or search behaviour. A host of features and security enhancements are now in place, such as: ensuring that screen locking really keeps other people out of your device, turning on (or off) site and Wi-Fi trackers, configuring local network access settings. With iOS 14 now out, dive deep into ways you can have a more secure, safe phone use. The more familiar you are with these features, the better you can put these protections to work. iOS rollout Recently (on September 16, 2020) Apple released its fourteenth-generation operating system (iOS 14) for their iPhone and iPod Touch lines. iOS 14 is the fourteenth major release of the iOS mobile operating system developed by Apple for their iPhone and iPod Touch lines. The “beta” (test) version was originally announced at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 22, 2020 as the successor to iOS 13, while the “alpha” (commercial) was released on September 16, 2020. Design-wise, the new OS also marks the first big change to the home screen since the iPhone’s inception (in 2007), with home screen changes and widgets. Following are the key security updates you need to know and to make full use off: 1. Safari tracking report While browsing using Safari (Apple’s web browser), now you can see who is tracking you. As a result, you can now go to each website you visited and find out which ones are tracking you (with their cookies). You can then pick which site you allow to track you or not. It also draws up a list of all the prevented trackers. How it works: Hit the address field on top of iOS your device. It reveals several options, including “Tracking Report” when you scroll down. On pressing “Tracking Report” it shows the number of known trackers prevented and the percentage of websites that contacted trackers. How online tracking works When you visit a website, your browser sends it a message known as an HTTP request. The website responds to your browser's message with both the content you asked for and any cookies it would like your browser to save. Modern websites use cookies for two main purposes: keeping you logged in and tracking your behavior. Image Credit: Screengrab 2. Recording indicator Whenever the camera or microphone are being used by any app, a recording indicator will appear at the top of your screen. This new security feature in iOS 14 comes without a menu or option screen attached. It’s just little indicator button, up in the top right-hand corner of the display. How it works: Simply check the little dot on the top right of your device (either green or orange). When you see the colored dot on the top of the iPhone screen after updating to iOS 14, that is an alert that the app you're using has started to use either your camera (green) or microphone (orange). Now you know when the camera (green) or the microphone (orange) is activated when using a certain app. The small dot can be seen right above the battery icon in the control centre. A green dot signifies that your camera is being accessed, and a yellow dot signifies that the microphone is being used. How to know? Just go to the Control Centre to know which app recently used the phone's mic or camera. TRA's advice: If you notice that the marks appear even though it is not needed, this may mean that the application is trying to open the camera or microphone without your permission. Image Credit: Gulf News On this particular feature, here’s the advice of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA): If you notice that the marks appear even though it is not needed, this may mean that the application is trying to open the camera or microphone without your permission. When this happens, it is recommended that you either contact the application developer for clarification or deleting the application and reporting it to the App store. 3. Another app reads your Clipboard? You also get notified when an app or a widget reads your clipboard. The new iOS14 comes with a pop-up notification that shows when data is copied and pasted. How it works: Copy the site’s URL from Safari to the clipboard. Test this by opening the Chrome browser. If message on top shows “Chrome pasted from Safari”, it shows that, yes, Google Chrome is reading your clipboard. 4. Wi-Fi private address Set your Wi-Fi address to private. This allows you to keep your Wi-Fi access private. How it works: Go to “Settings”, and click “Wi-Fi, there’s a blue “i” inside a circle. When you click that, it shows “Use Private Address”. Turn that on, to enable private address. This will prevent phone companies from tracking your device. 5. Privacy for Photos Now, you can have more granular permissions for access to your photos. When an app would like to access your photos, you can allow access to all photos, to only selected photos, or not allow photo access at all. How it works: When you open an app and states “[So and so] App Would Like to Access Your Photos”, you can now select only specific photos, or all photos, or no photos at all (when you hit “Don’t Allow”). Allowing only selected photos means the app gets to access only those specific pictures, instead of your entire photo library). You must pick the photos and hit “Done”. Next time you open the app, it will you to “Select More Photos” or “Keep Current Selection”. What is “private browsing”? Many browsers offer private browsing settings that are meant to let you keep your web activities hidden from other people who use the same computer. With private browsing turned on, your browser won’t retain cookies, your browsing history, search records, or the files you downloaded. Privacy modes aren’t uniform, though; it’s a good idea to check your browser to see what types of data it stores. 6. Tracking Now, with the new security enhancements on iOS 14, the decision to allow an app to track your behaviour — or not — depends entirely on you. How it works: Go to phone Setttings > Privacy > Tracking options section. You can then allow which apps can track you. Alternatively, you can keep this “On” in order for you to know which apps want to track you. Set it “Off” and no apps can track you. 7. Password monitoring A new feature in the new iOS 14 as well as macOS is a password monitoring system. This will alert you if any of your credentials are spotted in a data breach, which means access to your accounts could be compromised. How it works: Go to Settings > Apple ID > Password & Security. The very top option on the iOS Settings menu leads to your Apple ID profile, and you can access account-level password and security options here. Within Password & Security, click “Change Password” if you think it’s leaked out somewhere, and make sure Two-Factor Authentication is turned on (it’s much safer, adding an extra level of verification on top of your username and password). It’s also worth checking out Apps Using Apple ID — these are third-party apps (email, fitness, banking) connected to your account. From a security standpoint, you should keep this list as short as possible, and remove apps you’re no longer using. You may do this via the Edit button and the red “delete” icon. 8. Manage your face ID and Fingerprints This allows you to set up faces and fingerprints that control access to your iPhone. It allows you control which apps and features these biometric security features control access ( (provided, of course, the face and fingerprints are your, and not somebody else’s). How it works: Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode) Now, you can control which apps and features these biometric security features control access to (from Apple Pay to Password AutoFill). If you prefer to use a passcode, instead, you can change that in this field. From the same menu, you can also control the information that shows up on the lock screen, including the Notification Center, Siri, and the Reply with Message feature (replying to an incoming text with a preset response). Most important, you can turn off anything you don’t want to be accessible without unlocking the phone. 9. Local network privacy A new iOS 14 feature allows you to grant permission to apps when they need to connect with devices on your local network. How it works: In Settings > Privacy > Local Network. Local network privacy provides added transparency when apps connect to devices on a person's home network. If your app interacts with devices using Bonjour or other local networking protocols, you must add support for local network privacy permissions in iOS 14. 10. Proximate location access control Image Credit: Apple This feature allows you to have a finer-grained control over location access. In the past, iOS users could either grant or deny location access to an app, and that location was precise right down to the physical address. Now, there’s a new option to give access to the "proximate location”. How it works: Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Then tap on an app you like to change location access, from precise to approximate. For example, with Chrome, you can set Precise Location “Off”. If you use the star-gazing app, for example, you will get the right information, by giving it a general idea of where you are (exact location is not necessary). (Sources: Apple, US Fair Trade Commission) 

GulfNews Business

Insurance stocks are ruling on UAE indices, with Salama leading the pack

Markets|: UAE investors widely share the view that insurance sector shares have performed oustandingly this year. An analysis of the sector will however throw some interesting findings. Among insurance companies with a market capitalization higher than Dh300 million and a Trailing Twelve Month (TTM) revenue greater than Dh200 million and net profit margin higher than 10 per cent, only two companies delivered 30 per cent plus price gains in the year-to-date (YTD). Or to be precise, a majority did not even give a positive YTD performance.. See More UAE: 10 natural hidden gems in the country Photos: Stand Up Paddle Surfing festival in Moscow Picturesque terraced rice fields of Mu Cang Chai, northern Vietnam Photos: Palestinian female travel bloggers promote local tourism It must be noted that a total of 29 insurance sector companies were studied for this purpose and the two companies which came out on the top are Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company (ADNIC) and Islamic Arab Insurance company (Salama). It can be said these two companies are fundamentally strong and one good feature is they have zero long term debt as per their latest financial statements. Net gains Salama has improved its liquidity position significantly and recently sold 4.5 million shares of Salama Cooperative Insurance Company, a Saudi joint stock company, to raise nearly 66 million riyals. This amount will be used to issue dividends as well as pursue investment opportunities in the UAE insurance market. Salama currently has an annual dividend yield of 3.66 per cent. The strong fundamentals of Salama is reflected in its valuation as well. When compared to Salama’s TTM revenue of Dh225 million, RAK National Insurance has Dh416 million and Al Ain Ahlia Insurance company has Dh399 million. Nonetheless, when it comes to market capitalization, Salama is a clear winner with Dh966 million, while RAK National Insurance and Al Ain Ahlia have Dh363 million and Dh527 million, respectively. It’s pretty evident that investors have a big liking for Salama which has assets to the tune of Dh4.4 billion. Heavy hitter Make no mistake, Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company is no slouch. With TTM revenue of Dh1.68 billion, it is the second largest, behind Oman Insurance which has Dh1.98 billion. The revenue of ADNIC has grown from Dh1.32 billion in 2017 to Dh1.69 billion in 2019. ADNIC has in fact doubled its revenues from 2010. Investors in ADNIC are rewarded with a dividend yield of 7.79 per cent. Total assets amount to Dh8.4 billion. One factor supporting UAE insurance industry is the demographic growth. Unlike Saudi Arabia which has adopted a restrictive labor policy, UAE is liberal. Once the pandemic crisis is over, UAE should again see population growth that would support the industry. - Vijay Valecha is Chief Investment Officer at Century Financial.

GulfNews Business

Mubadala and Barings in alliance to offer financing for mid-market European businesses

Business|: Dubai: Mubadala has partnered Barings, the financial services firm, to launch a new company that will provide financing solutions to mid-market businesses in Europe. The Barings Mubadala Enterprise (BME) and its capital partners aim to provide $3.5 billion in financing over the next 18 months. BME will focus particularly on opportunities in the United Kingdom, France, Benelux and the Nordics. Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, Mubadala’s Deputy Group CEO and CEO of Alternative Investments & Infrastructure said: “Mubadala has a long history of establishing strong, value-creating partnerships with leading global organizations. The partnership with Barings is consistent with this approach." The partners reckon there is "growing corporate demand for flexible capital solutions" in Europe. The partnership is anchored by Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala) and will invest alongside MassMutual and Barings’ capital.  Barings’ Chairman and CEO, Tom Finke, said: “This partnership will leverage our significant capabilities in origination and alternative credit to help strategic capital partners such as Mubadala invest with scale. We are looking to take advantage of middle-market direct lending opportunities, focusing on senior secured loans as borrowers shift focus from traditional bank financing to institutional capital providers to fund acquisitions and growth projects.”

GulfNews Business

Investors should time their switch back to cyclical stocks

Analysis|: The pandemic has created an unprecedented scenario in global capital markets that cannot be compared to any other crisis known in modern times. Unlike in 1929 and 2008, this is not a financial crisis but a pandemic that directly affects supply channels, consumption capacity and domestic demand. Unlike earlier financial crises, central banks and governments have reacted quickly and effectively by implementing policies that uphold the functioning of the financial system by flooding the market with liquidity. This enormous amount of liquidity was the main cause of the spectacular rally in stocks that, in some cases, have surpassed the highest levels reached prior to the crisis. See More Dubai’s five-year Retirement Visa: It just got easier to apply COVID-19: Wedding, funeral protocols that need to be followed in the UAE COVID-19: The guidelines you need to follow for desert safari, camping in Abu Dhabi UAE: Can my employer enforce a non-compete clause against me? The stocks that have especially benefited from this meteoric rise are tech stocks, the so-called FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) the weighting of which in the S&P500 index is greater than 20 per cent. The increase in the use of technologies in an environment of social distancing is the reason why these companies have seen their earnings increase during the crisis, causing their performance to diverge sharply from cyclical stocks that depend to a greater extent on economic growth. The stocks most negatively impacted by the social distancing protocols mainly operate in services, retail, travel and tourism, and fast moving consumer goods. They have been relegated from this upward wave with stocks of airlines and hotel chains struggling to rebound from levels brought about by the March crash, which, in many cases, reduced their value by more than 50 per cent. Go counter? Is it time to buy the stocks hardest hit by the crisis? There are some considerations to examine before we jump on this bandwagon. First, from a risk management point of view, diversification of investment portfolios is always advisable. Maintaining a high percentage of the portfolio in just one sector exponentially increases its vulnerability, even more so when this sector has experienced an atypical performance, as is the case with tech stocks - and which is beginning to show signs of exhaustion. In fact, the market has experienced abrupt corrections in the Nasdaq100 index motivated by an excess of institutional long positioning - through financial derivatives such as options - that threaten a downward movement precipitated by forced closures of positions. Second, the investment rotation process that investors will begin to carry out sooner or later will obviously be directed towards those securities that have lagged behind in this latest purchase flow, balancing market behavior and erasing differences between stocks. Stick with stocks? This move would only occur in a generally positive or bullish environment on the stock markets. Is this environment a realistic possibility? From a point of view of monetary and fiscal policies, the circumstances could not be more favorable. The large amount of liquidity in the market is an unparalleled boost for markets to rise, but we must also add the historically low interest rate factor, especially in the US. It makes company valuations more attractive due to low financing costs. These exceptionally low interest rates make the investment alternative to the stock markets, which is fixed income, a more attractive proposition for investors. For instance, if we analyze a 10-year US government bond in terms of price-earnings ratio, we reach up to 180x, which is well above the better performing stocks. There is only one unknown in the equation to be solved, this is the evolution of the pandemic. For stocks hardest hit by the crisis to gain ground again, domestic consumption needs to return to previous levels or at least begin to show signs of growth. And for this, the epidemiological situation must improve. Despite the fact that the numbers of infected have worsened again in what is considered a second wave, we have seen a more cautious policy responses to prevent closing down economies once again. Meanwhile, given the number of vaccine trials, the moment when at least one vaccine against the disease will be proven as safe and effective is getting closer. These two aspects are fundamental for the gradual recovery of consumption, the improvement of the labor market and the end of the social distancing measures. In conclusion, it is quite reasonable to think that an increase in the exposure of portfolios to cyclical stocks - the ones most hit by the crisis - is in line with both fundamental assessment and risk management criteria. - Miguel A. Rodriguez, Chief Market Analyst at Capex.com.