Connect with us

Tech

Five Tech Commandments to a Safer Digital Life

Published

on

[ad_1]

Tech is always changing, and so is the way we use it. That means we are always finding new ways to let our guard down for bad actors to snoop on our data.

Remember when you shared your address book with that trendy new app? Or when you posted photos on social networks? Those actions may all pose consequences that weaken security for ourselves and the people we care about.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, the chief executive of Pindrop, a security firm that develops technology to detect fraudulent phone calls, said we should always remember that any piece of our identity we post online could eventually be used by fraudsters to hijack our online accounts.

“Your digital identity, which comprises all your pictures, videos and audio, is going to fundamentally allow hackers to create a complete persona of you that looks exactly like you, without you being in the picture,” he said.

So here are some of the most important guidelines — like strengthening passwords and minimizing the data shared by your phone camera — to keep you and your loved ones safe for the foreseeable future. I refer to these as the five tech commandments in the hope that you will remember them as if they were gospel.

Let’s talk about bad password hygiene. About 45 percent of Americans use weak passwords that are eight characters or fewer, according to a survey by Security.org, a research firm. (Fourteen percent used “Covid” in their passwords last year.) The majority of Americans also acknowledged reusing passwords across different sites.

This opens doors to many security issues. Weak passwords can be easily guessed by hijackers trying to gain access to your account. And if you use the same password for multiple sites, like your banking account, Target shopping account and Facebook, then all it takes is for one of those sites to be hacked to make all those accounts vulnerable.

For most people, the simplest solution is a password manager, software that helps automatically generate long, complex passwords for accounts. All the passwords are stored in a vault that is accessible with one master password. My favorite tool is 1Password, which costs $36 a year, but there are also free password managers like Bitwarden.

The other option is to jot down passwords on a piece of paper that is stored in a safe place. Just make sure the passwords are long and complex, with some letters, numbers and special characters.

No matter how strong you make a password, hackers can still get it if they breach a company’s servers containing your information. That’s why security experts recommend multifactor authentication, also known as two-step verification.

Here’s how two-factor authentication has generally worked: Say, for instance, you enter your user name and password for your online bank account. That’s Step 1. The bank then sends a text message to your phone with a temporary code that must be punched in before the site lets you log in. That’s Step 2. In this way, you prove your identity by having access to your phone and that code.

Most mainstream websites and apps, including Facebook and major banks, offer methods of two-step verification involving text messages or so-called authenticator apps that generate temporary codes. Just do a web search for the setup instructions.

If a company doesn’t offer multifactor authentication, you should probably find a different product, Mr. Balasubramaniyan said.

“If a vendor says, ‘All I’m doing is passwords,’ they’re not good enough,” he said.

Many of us rely on our smartphones for our everyday cameras. But our smartphones collect lots of data about us, and camera software can automatically make a note of our location when we snap a photo. This is more often a potential safety risk than a benefit.

Let’s start with the positives. When you allow your camera to tag your location, photo-management apps like Apple’s Photos and Google Photos can automatically sort pictures into albums based on location. That’s helpful when you go on vacation and want to remember where you were when you took a snapshot.

But when you aren’t traveling, having your location tagged on photos is not great. Let’s say you just connected with someone on a dating app and texted a photo of your dog. If you had the location feature turned on when you snapped the photo, that person could analyze the data to see where you live.

Just to be safe, make sure the photo location feature is off by default:

  • On iPhones, open the Settings app, select Privacy, then Location Services and, finally, Camera. Under “Allow Location Access,” choose “Never.”

  • On Androids, inside the Camera app tap the Settings icon that looks like a gear cog. Scroll to “tag locations” and switch the toggle to the off position.

You might choose to turn the location feature on temporarily to document your vacation, but remember to turn it off when your trip is over.

Jeremiah Grossman, the chief executive of Bit Discovery, said we should be judicious about the photos we take and send to others. Explicit photographs could eventually be exposed to the public.

“People break up, and people are jerks,” he said. “Even if that isn’t the case, you give some photos to someone and they get hacked, all of a sudden it’s out there.”

This is a lesson we have to learn again and again: It’s generally not a good idea to give away information about your friends when using websites and apps, especially with unknown brands.

When you share your address book with an app, for example, you are potentially providing the names, phone numbers, home addresses and email information of all your contacts to that company. When you share your address book with an app to invite others to join, you are giving away others’ information even if they choose not to accept the invite.

Typically, when you share your address book with an app, it’s for the purpose of finding other friends who are also using a service. But Clubhouse, the social networking app that became popular during the pandemic, was recently criticized over its aggressive collection of address books.

When signing up for Clubhouse, users could decline to share their address book. But even if they did so, others on the app who had uploaded their address books could see that those new users had joined the service. This wasn’t ideal for people trying to avoid contact with abusive exes or stalkers.

More than 10,000 users signed a petition complaining about the privacy flaw, according to a French data regulator, which said last week that it had opened an investigation into Clubhouse.

Clubhouse updated the app this month, addressing some of the privacy concerns. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There are kinder ways than sharing your address book to find out whether your friends are using a new service — like asking them directly.

All security experts agreed on one rule of thumb: Trust no one.

When you receive an email from someone asking for your personal information, don’t click on any links and contact the sender to ask if the message is legitimate. Fraudsters can easily embed emails with malware and impersonate your bank, said Adam Kujawa, a director of the security firm Malwarebytes.

When in doubt, opt out of sharing data. Businesses and banks have experimented with fraud-detection technologies that listen to your voice to verify your identity. At some point, you may even interact with customer service representatives on video calls. The most sophisticated fraudsters could eventually use the media you post online to create a deepfake, or a computer-generated video or audio clip impersonating you, Mr. Balasubramaniyan said.

While this could sound alarmist because deepfakes are not an immediate concern, a healthy dose of skepticism will help us survive the future.

“Think about all the different ways in which you’re leaving biometric identity in your online world,” he said.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Whole Foods will soon let customers pay for groceries with palm scan

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

Whole Foods will soon let customers pay for groceries using its parent company’s palm-scanning technology.

Amazon said Wednesday its palm-scanning system — currently used in about a dozen of its brick and mortar stores — will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, the first of many planned rollouts at other locations.

The system uses Amazon One technology, which employs high-tech imaging and algorithms to create and detect a “unique palm signature” based on the ridges, lines and veins in each person’s hand.

Its high-tech sensors don’t require users to touch the scanning surface, like Apple’s fingerprint technology does.

Instead, palm-reading tech uses computer vision and depth geometry to process and identify the shape and size of each hand they scan before charging a credit card on file.

Amazon One will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, with many rollouts at other locations planned for the future.
Amazon One will debut at a Whole Foods in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, with many rollouts at other locations planned for the future.
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The company said that the palm-scanning tech will be offered as just one of many payment options at participating Whole Foods Stores and that it won’t impact store employees’ job responsibilities.

“At Whole Foods Market, we’re always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the shopping experience for our customers,” said Arun Rajan, senior vice president of technology and chief technology officer at Whole Foods Market.

Palm images used by Amazon One are encrypted and stored in a “highly secure” cloud, and customers can request to have their palm data deleted.

The company claims palm-scanning tech is more private than other biometric alternatives, such as facial recognition.

Amazon One builds on the “Just Walk Out” technology that Amazon uses in its Go stores, which detects the items shoppers pick up and charges them once they leave — without the need for a checkout line

Amazon is also planning to expand the cashier-less technology to Whole Foods, as reported by The Post.

Meanwhile, the tech could be good for its bottom line. The online behemoth aims to sell its palm-scanning tech to other companies like retailers, stadiums and office buildings.

Amazon One scanner
The scanner uses high-tech imaging and algorithms to create and detect a unique palm signature which is then encrypted and stored in a secured cloud.
Amazon

Last September, it said it was in “active discussions with several potential customers.” But it is unclear if it has progressed on any of those fronts.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Apple’s new iPad Pros and TV remote don’t have U1 locators to help find them in your couch

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

Apple has been quietly sticking special locator beacon chips into some of its new iPhones that’ll let you unlock your car and find lost items through walls — the latter thanks to the $29 AirTags announced today — but sadly, you won’t find that chip in the new M1-based iPad Pros or the long-awaited new Siri remote for the Apple TV.

Apple confirmed to us that the U1 locator chip, which uses pulses of ultra-wideband (UWB) radio to broadcast its precise location, won’t appear in the Siri remote. We’re waiting on final bulletproof confirmation about the iPad Pros, but it also doesn’t appear in their product page, spec sheet, or press release. Last year’s iP ad Pros didn’t include a U1 chip, either.

Is Apple expecting us to stick AirTags to our iPads and TV remotes to escape the jaws of the ever-ravenous couch? Unlikely, but the company has been pretty choosey about which devices get the chip so far. You can find it in the iPhone 11 and newer (but not the iPhone SE) and the Apple Watch Series 6 (but not the Apple Watch SE), but we’re pretty sure it hasn’t made its way to any iPads or MacBooks that have been announced since the chip’s introduction in September 2019.

Theoretically, Apple could build an ecosystem where any Apple device can easily find any other Apple device (not to mention UWB devices from Samsung, which is also deeply invested in the tech and has its own AirTag-like device as well). But for now, you’ll primarily just be using your phone to find AirTags, not other gadgets, except perhaps your future car.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Your iPhone has a completely hidden app. Here’s how to find and use it

Published

on

By

[ad_1]

Apple’s iPhone is full of hidden features and tricks we’re constantly discovering. For instance, did you know the Notes app has a hidden document scanner? Yeah, pretty cool. The latest hidden feature that’s been popping up on Twitter and blogs is another type of scanner, dedicated to QR codes, and it’s better than the one built into the camera app.

Indeed, you would already be able to filter QR codes utilizing the easy route in Control Center, or simply open the camera application and it will check a QR code. Also, you’re correct. Both of those strategies turn out great. However, the committed Code Scanner application accepts the position above and beyond by introducing a greater amount of the data I need to see about an examined code.

For instance, the camera application utilizes a little notice at the highest point of the screen to open a connection or show you data, though the devoted Code Scanner application makes it exceptionally clear what’s inside the QR code you just checked. Yet, here’s the rub: The Code Scanner application isn’t found on your home screen, nor is it found in iOS 14’s new App Library.

As should be obvious, the best way to discover the Code Scanner application is to utilize the iPhone’s Spotlight search include. Go to your iPhone’s home screen and swipe down in the center of the screen. An inquiry bar will show up at the highest point of your screen, alongside application and alternate route ideas underneath. Type either code or scanner. As you type, you’ll see the Code Scanner application symbol appear as an application idea. Tap to open it.

The flashlight icon at the bottom of the screen acts as a flash to illuminate a code if your phone is struggling to read it.

If you don’t have the QR scanner shortcut added to Control Center yet, here’s a post showing you how to customize Control Center to your liking. For more hidden features, check out our list for iOS 14. We also cover more general, but useful features in iOS 14.

[ad_2]

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending