Category Archives: Security

Speak Up And Stay Safe(r) Guide Protects You From Harassment

Speak Up & Stay Safer logojpgA group of three women, who have each been targeted and harassed by cyber mobs, have put together a useful guide about online safety. Speak Up and Stay Safe(r) is a guide to protecting yourself from online harassment. The creators describe it as “the guide we wish had already existed when the attacks on us began.” Further description includes:

This guide is for anyone who fears they might be targeted, or who is already under attack, for speaking their mind online, but is especially designed for women, people of color, trans and genderqueer people, and everyone else whose existing oppressions are made worse by digital violence.

The guide includes best security practices for social media, email, online gaming, website platforms, and ensuring privacy of personal information online. It also has best practices for documenting and reporting harassment. In addition, it discusses how to care for yourself emotionally during an online attack.

At the top of the guide are three steps that a person who is feeling overwhelmed by an online attack can begin with. Set up two step verification. Create unique, complex, passwords. Remove potential doxxing information. Each step has a link attached that can quickly give more details about what to do and how to do it.

The creators of Speak Up and Stay Safe(r) are: Jaclyn Friedman, Anita Sarkeesian, and Renee Bracey Sherman. Jaclyn Friedman is the founder and former executive director of Women, Action & the Media (WAM!). She was also the architect of WAM!s Twitter Harassment Reporting Demonstration Project and leader of the #FBrape campaign to apply Facebook’s hate-speech ban to content that promoted gender-based violence.

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the misrepresentation of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on deconstructing stereotypes, patterns, and tropes associated with women in popular culture, and also on highlighting the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces.

Renee Bracey Sherman a reproductive justice activist. She is the author of “Saying Abortion Aloud: Research and Recommendations for Public Abortion Storytellers and Organizations”. She is also a writer with Echoing ida and a board member at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Encryption with Pencil and Paper

1984Given that George Orwell was English, one might think the British would be all too aware of the dangers of a police state. Despite being one of the most surveilled countries in the world with one security camera for every eleven people, politicians in the UK have put forward plans to record the online activities of people in the UK and force companies like Google and Apple to break the encryption on gadgets and apps. It’s clear from both Snowden’s revelations and other sources that the UK’s security services have been routinely collecting large quantities of phone data with little legislative oversight.

As expected, the powers-that-be trot out the usual scaremongering tactics from terrorists to paedophiles, and while politicians aren’t known for their intelligence, the current proposals around encryption seem particularly stupid and at odds with experts in the fields of security and mathematics.

Encryption isn’t always that easy to understand, so this video shows a very simple but secure method for encrypting and decrypting messages using nothing more than paper and pencil. The process is a bit laborious but it illustrates how easy it is to be secure even without a computer and that any attempt to put a back door into digital encryption will only compromise the integrity of the internet for everyone.

The BBC’s “In Our Time” radio programme tackles “P v NP” this week and part of the discourse involves prime numbers and their role in encryption. It’s available as a podcast so it’s recommended listening too.

Be seeing you!

Public Outcry Over New Spotify Terms of Service

Spotify logoSpotify, the Sweden-based media streaming service, received some negative press earlier this week because of some recent changes to its terms of service. Initially, it looked like the company was getting a bit too grabby with users’ personal information. The ToS was updated by adding this language:

With your permission, we may collect information stored on your mobile device, such as contacts, photos, or media files. Local law may require that you seek the consent of your contacts to provide their personal information to Spotify, which may use that information for the purposes specified in this Privacy Policy.

The new terms were first brought to the general public thru a Twitter post by former Minecraft developer Notch. This led to a response from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. From there, Spotify went into damage control mode, starting with a blog post that’s supposed to clarify the situation.

And while these new terms do look a bit overreaching, the key part to remember is that Spotify won’t be doing anything with your information without your consent. Still, the company could’ve done a better job of clarifying exactly what it’s planning to do with your photos, contacts, and other information.

Considering so much recent news in the tech world has revolved around hacks, leaks, and privacy breaches, all companies doing business online need to be super transparent about these kinds of things going forward if they want to maintain (and grow) their customer bases.

Hover Asks Users to Reset Passwords

hover logoI use Hover to handle all of my domain name registrations. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the company asking me to reset my password. From that e-mail:

We are writing to let you know that we reset your password today. If you are unable to log into your Hover account, you will need to use the ‘I forgot my password’ option on the sign in page to change your password.

We did this as a precautionary measure because there appears to have been a brief period of time when unauthorized access to one of our systems could have occurred. We have no evidence at all that any Hover accounts have been accessed, but even the possibility that this could have happened moved us to err on the side of extreme caution.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

I’m never surprised to receive notices like this. It seems like we’re being asked to deal with security breaches in our online accounts on a daily basis these days. But I haven’t been able to find any further information online as to what exactly happened at Hover. The company didn’t post anything about the breach on its blog and none of the usual tech-news outlets have mentioned it. I understand that this isn’t exactly the kind of thing Hover would want to publicize. But the company probably has many customers who’ll never see the notice I received, just due to the nature of e-mail and how people use it.

Regardless, I did change my Hover password today without incident. If you’re also a Hover customer, be sure to create a new password for yourself as well.

Homes Just Got Smarter with Kibbi

British Inventors ProjectWith the Internet of Things and smart homes being all the rage, it’s inevitable that there would be at least one smart home system at Gadget Show Live taking part in the British Inventors Project. Here’s the Kibbi – homes just got smarter.

KibbiThe Kibbi intelligent hub provides round the clock security combined with entertainment. The built-in HD wide angle security camera monitors 24×7 with motion detection and night vision, and saves video footage to either cloud servers or local USB storage. The keyfob-size Kibbi sensors are fixed to doors, windows, fridges and measure movement, vibrations and temperature. The speaker announces alerts and can wirelessly stream music too from smartphones.

The complementary Kibbi app works with Android, iOS and Windows – it’s good to see the Windows app here too.

The Kibbi previously raised nearly $57,000 on Indiegogo and pre-orders (£170) can be made through the Kibbi website with Deliveries expected from May 2015.

Child Angel Keeps an Eye on Children

British Inventors Project

Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Gadget Show Live and the British Inventors’ Project, Child Angel is one of the smallest and most advanced child tracking device on the market. Made to be attractive to the child and easy to use in an emergency, the Child Angel wrist-mounted tracker provides accurate location monitoring by combining GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation.

Child Angel keeps children safe in three ways. First the parent can view the child’s location on a map using the Child Angel app on their smartphone or tablet (both iOS and Android). Second, the child can send a “Help Me!” alert by taking off the bracelet and third, an alert is raised if the child leaves a geo-fenced SafeZone.

The battery life is about 48 hours and the Child Angel can easily be recharged through the micro-USB. The Child Angel bracelet is available in different colours and can be customised with personalised covers, too.

The Child Angel should be available soon with a retail cost around £100.

Child Angel

Slack had a Security Incident

Slack LogoSlack has confirmed on it’s blog that there was unauthorized access to a Slack database that was storing user profile information. If Slack didn’t contact you about this situation, it means they do not believe your account was among the ones that were impacted by the security incident.

The unauthorized access took place during 4 days in February. No financial or payment information was accessed. Slack says there is no indication that the hackers were able to decrypt stored passwords. Slack is using a one-way encryption technique on passwords (called hashing).

As a result of this security incident, Slack has released two new features. Two factor authentication (2FA) is now available for all users and teams. They strongly recommend that everyone use 2FA “both on Slack and everywhere else it is available”.

Team owners will now be able to use a “Password Kill Switch”. It does two things. It allows for instantaneous team-wide resetting of passwords. It also causes forced termination of all user sessions for all team members. This means that everyone is signed out of the team owner’s Slack team on all apps and devices.

Marantz PMD-901V Body Cam


Action cams are great but if we’re really honest, half the attraction is the lifestyle, “You too can be as cool as these fit and good-looking guys and gals that ski off scarily large drops.” Yeah, right. Back in the real world, Marantz Pro have announced the PMD-901V (PDF), a GPS-enabled HD body cam. Jamie and Nick discuss with Eric Palonen how the Marantz camera becomes the objective observer in every day life.

The 901V is aimed at public employees, emergency responders and trades who need a record of their daily activities. Attached to the user’s clothing using a swivel clip, the camera can record up to 10 hours of audio and HD video to 32 GB of  internal tamper-proof storage. The camera is perfect for capturing life; wide-angle 140° field of view, waterproof (30 minutes at 1 m), wide operating temperature (-40 °C to 60 °C) and one-handed operation. There’s a 30 second pre and post recording buffer to ensure that critical moments are captured and footage can be marked as important as it’s being recorded so that’s it’s flagged when the recording is transferred off the camera.

The PMD-901V will be available in Spring 2015 for $499.99 from Marantz Professional stockists.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly and Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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Ericsson Plans to Make the Cloud More Secure

Ericsson logoIt wasn’t that long ago that businesses, and individual people, starting using the cloud. There are those who love the convenience of it, and others who don’t really have a good understanding of how it works. The biggest concern involves security.

Nick spoke with Vance from Ericsson about the company’s plans to make a safer, more secure, cloud. Ericsson is looking towards the future and noting that in 2020 there will be 50 billion devices being connected. The company believes that a lot of that will exist over an industrialized cloud platform.

That platform needs to be highly programmable, highly accessible, highly governable, and controllable. Most of all, it absolutely has to be secure. Ericsson is putting a fundamental paradigm shift into how we think about security in the cloud. Today, the concept people use can be summarized as “build a bigger wall” around your data. If you create an app, for example, you have to spend time working on the security of it.

That is still important, but in addition, Ericsson wants the structure of the cloud itself to provide security. Ericsson is currently at the start of their journey towards that goal. They want to be able to validate for you the authenticity of the data you put into the cloud and to mathematically validate that it has not been breached. Or, if a breach occurs, they will go through a series of events to determine where the data was comprised, how it was compromised, and when the event occurred. All of this should bring peace of mind to people who use the cloud.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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iSmartAlarm Intelligent Home Security

iSmartAlarm Logo

When it comes to making a house a “smart home”, there’s no shortage of products on the market. Many are piling into the space in an unfocussed way, without clearly thinking through what problem needs to be solved. Contrary to this scattergun approach, iSmartAlarm identified a problem, solved that and then expanded out to make a home smarter. Don discusses iSmartAlarm’s approach with Zac Sutton.

While home security systems with external monitoring can provide reassurance, the reality is that there’s a costly monthly fee, alerts are often triggered by false alarms and by the time the monitoring company has gone through the list of keyholders, any housebreaker will be long gone. The iSmartAlarm is an expandable home security system, built around a central hub (“CubeOne”) which can be expanded with cameras, motion detectors, magnetic sensors and smart power switches. It’s all wireless and it’s very easy to setup.

Alerts are sent to the home owner via several different methods, including email, push notification and texts. If present, the camera can be reviewed remotely to see if it’s the dog, a child arriving home from school or a ne’er-do-well taking off with their belongings.

The iSmartAlarm can be purchased now with second generation products becoming available soon, including smoke alarms and multi-sensor units. The “Preferred Package” costs $199, which includes the central hub, motion sensor and door/window sensors.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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