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What are Coronavirus Contact Tracing Apps?

Two of the biggest tech companies, Google and Apple, are pairing up to build software that could tell people if they were recently in contact with someone with coronavirus. This tool is due out in a couple of months, and it will be built into iPhones and Androids. People would have to opt in to use the tool, and if they become infected, they must voluntarily report it.

coronavirusIt is pretty unusual to see these tech giants partnering up, since they are generally rivals who are constantly working to outperform the other. This shows us that the coronavirus is a pretty serious thing.

This software could be highly significant in regard to slowing down the spread of the virus. In fact, public health authorities have implied that better tracking of those stricken with coronavirus could absolutely slow the pandemic.

This all sounds well and good, but think about this, too. We can now see that two of the largest tech companies on the face of the Earth have a huge impact on our lives. A tool like this could raise some privacy issues, of course, and it won’t be the only solution, but it could help in the long run.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, confirms that the goal of this software is to track the virus, but he also says that they are focused on respecting “transparency & consent.” The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai said that the software has “strong controls and protections” in place for the privacy of the users.

With this tool, a person who has been infected with coronavirus would send a notification to an app, which would then send an alert to the phones of people who had been close to that person’s device. Sounds cool, but there is a catch; Google and Apple have to get public health authorities to agree to letting this information get accessed.

There are also a number of third-party tools already out there for contact tracing. This is why Apple and Google are stepping up and trying to reach more people. The companies also said that they would offer up the technology they were using to other apps, in order to make them even more reliable.

The goal, here, of course is to make us safer…we just have to make sure that our privacy isn’t being compromised in the process.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program and the home security expert for Porch.com

Social Engineering: How to steal Brand New iPhones from Apple

Looks like there’s some worms in Apple.

3DNot too long ago, dozens and dozens of iPhones were stolen from two Apple stores. How could this happen, what with Apple’s security? Simple: The thieves wore clothes similar to Apple store employees and obviously knew the innards of the stores.

They sauntered over to the drawers that held the new phones, acting nonchalant to avoid attracting attention. In fact, a new face in Apple attire at one of the stung locations wouldn’t raise eyebrows since new employees are trained there.

What mistake did Apple make to allow these robberies? The introduction of new uniforms, perhaps? They came up with the idea of “back to blue, but all new” attire. But really, that shouldn’t be so easy.

This meant no one and only uniform, but rather, a variety of options that fit within a color and style concept. This makes it easy for someone off the street to visually blend in with store employees. There are six styles of just the top alone. You can pick up a strikingly similar top, including color, at Walmart. And unlike previous attire, which changed seasonally, this new line is meant to be permanent.

Have you yourself ever been mistaken for an employee at Walmart or Target (blue shirt, red shirt), or asked someone for assistance who replied, “I don’t work here”? See how easy it is to blend in—without even trying?

The theft at the two Apple stores are believed to be related, but the thieves are not known. It’s also not known if the thief or thieves were wearing an actual Apple top or just a look-a-like.

This ruse can easily be pulled off by anyone appearing to be in their early to mid-20s, clean-cut, wearing glasses (to look geeky), and with calm, cool and collected mannerisms—and of course, a royal blue shirt.

The solution would be for Apple to require a line of tops with a very distinct color pattern, and only two choices (short and long sleeved).

The lesson here: Not everything or everyone appears to be what they actually are. Social engineering is a confidence crime. As long as the thief has your confidence either in person, over the phone or via email, you are likely to get scammed.

Always be suspect. Always challenge what’s in front of you. Never go along to get along. And put systems, checks and balances in place to prevent being scammed. In this situation, proper, secure identification and authentication with proper checks would have prevented this.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Apple’s bizarre Crashing Text and how to fix

Of all the weird things that can happen to your iOS device, the latest is a relatively benign situation in which a string of text is sent to the phone…and it causes the phone to crash.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-online-risks-sign-road-banner-image34668294The phone will reboot if the particular nonsensical text string is received while the phone is locked.

Data won’t be stolen; nobody will gain remote control of your device (yet); but heck, who wouldn’t be very annoyed that their phone crashes? And this is going on all over the world. The text characters can also be sent from any device. Apple says it will get this problem fixed.

But in the meantime, there are things you can do to undo the problem.

Mac Users

  • Reply to the gibberish text in iMessage, and the reply can be any string of text.

If you don’t have a Mac:

  • Send a text message via a third-party application by using its share feature.
  • Ask Siri to issue a reply or “read unread messages.” Then reply to free your Messages.
  • When you’re in Messages, delete the whole chain.
  • If you know who sent the crazy message, ask them to send a follow-up message.

A software update will soon be coming from Apple that will include a fix to this situation.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Cloud Home Security is Here

A burglary occurs every 15 seconds. The chance of your home being broken into is higher than you’d think. The good news is that today’s alarm systems are “not your father’s alarm.” Twenty years ago, a contractor had to spend a week tearing up your walls, ceilings, and windows to retrofit a messy, hardwired security system. These alarms were so expensive that they were mainly used by businesses, rather than in private homes.

Since then, home security systems have dropped in price. They are now mostly wireless, right down to the cellular phone signal. But what makes home alarms even more exciting is that the majority of the functions are cloud-based.

I have the “ADT Pulse,” which marries home security with automation. From almost anywhere — on the road, in your office, or even at the beach — you can access your cloud-based smart home system. Depending on the plan you select, this system can provide an unprecedented level of control with Z-Wave wireless technology, your own personal command center, compatible mobile phone, and interactive touch screen security system.

Using my iPhone or any computer, I can access a cloud-based server that allows me to watch live footage from each of the 16 cameras I have installed in and around my property. The cameras also begin recording automatically whenever motion is detected, and that footage is stored in the cloud and available to me anywhere, any time. It’s amazing how often I access these cameras when I’m on the road.

With home automation, I can use the cloud to remotely switch lights on and off and adjust the temperature control system. I also get alerts in the event of an intruder or even a broken water pipe!

Having a cloud-based, Internet-connected home security system certainly provides an excellent layer of protection, not to mention peace of mind.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

The Cloud of Clouds: Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services is a cloud-based service hosted by Amazon.com, which provides numerous tools for web-based businesses. The service’s primary function is to help businesses of any size compute and store data.

Solutions available to both businesses and consumers include:

  • Application Hosting
  • Backup and Storage
  • Content Delivery
  • Databases
  • E-Commerce
  • Enterprise IT
  • High Performance Computing
  • Media Hosting
  • On-Demand Workforce
  • Search Engines
  • Web Hosting
  • Media and Entertainment
  • Life Sciences

Let’s say you run a small business that is rapidly expanding. You probably already have a basic website, and perhaps a local or national company to handle your data traffic. But when your traffic is suddenly growing exponentially and you find yourself needing more bandwidth, that’s where Amazon Web Services comes in. Their cloud is ready and waiting to handle whatever your clients can throw at it.

But what really makes Amazon’s cloud stand out from the rest is that it isn’t just a “server.” The features listed above include software and other tools that allow developers to work seamlessly with Amazon’s platform. They have created a service that almost any business can plug into, right out of the box.

Security is paramount. Amazon states: “In order to provide end-to-end security and end-to-end privacy, AWS builds services in accordance with security best practices, provides appropriate security features in those services, and documents how to use those features.” More here.

Google has applications and user-friendly web services that we, as employees or consumers, use on a daily basis to administer, communicate, and organize information.

Apple has their proprietary platform, and they make certain code open to developers who create games and software for iPhones and iPads.

Amazon Web Services provides cloud-based platforms and software, which makes it possible not only for businesses to function, but for developers to create exciting new technologies. That’s what makes their cloud the cloud of clouds.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

What Apple’s iCloud Means for All of Us

If you use Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, you know your email is accessible from any computer or smartphone. That’s because your messages are stored “in the cloud.”

What is iCloud? Apple puts it like this: “iCloud stores your music, photos, apps, calendars, documents, and more. And wirelessly pushes them to all your devices — automatically. It’s the easiest way to manage your content. Because now you don’t have to.”

If you take a picture on your iPhone, it appears on your Mac. If you write a document on your iPad, it appears on your iPhone. If you buy a song on iTunes, it becomes available on all your devices.

The cloud isn’t new, but when Apple pushes out a product, they often find a new and improved way to utilize existing technology.

iCloud was designed with three things in mind: convenience, portability, and consolidation. It allows you to keep your devices in sync, to access your data from anywhere, and do it all within a single, central hub. That last design feature gives Apple a certain degree of control over the user base.

Apple’s iCloud and its consumerization of centralized, cloud-based data and services will undoubtedly result in even more consumers connecting to even more devices.

Better yet, iCloud will spur even more innovation among Apple’s partners and competitors. Soon, we will see more products and services consolidated in “the sky,” which other cloud services will connect to. Consumers will also have more options for creating their own personal clouds, in the form of smarter home-based servers, making it easier to manage all of their devices and keep them secure.

And for all you PC lovers, there will surely be many more offerings to keep your digital life in sync, because, well, not everybody likes apples.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

 

Myth: Apple Products Don’t Get Viruses

Have you ever bitten into an apple and found a worm? I have, and it’s yummy! Anyway, how many times have you heard, or even said, “I won’t get that computer virus because I have a Mac”?  While Mac users tend to feel somewhat insulated from viruses, it’s time for anyone who owns an Apple computer, iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device to listen up.

The growing popularity of Apple products has inspired cybercriminals to create viruses that will harm Macs. Until now, Macs have been immune to these threats, but McAfee Labs is seeing the very first wave of fake programs targeted at Mac users. In other words, there are an increased number of programs known as “scareware,” which claim to protect users from viruses, but users who attempt to install the supposed antivirus software are actually downloading malicious software. This malware can damage the user’s computer or compromise personal information, including banking details.

Mac users are also equally susceptible to phishing and other social engineering scams, if not more so, since they may have an inflated sense of security that can lead to riskier behavior.

It’s important for Mac users to be aware of these emerging threats and take the appropriate precautions.

To avoid becoming a victim, download Mac updates as soon as they’re available, so you’re protected from these latest threats.

Never download or click on anything from an unknown source.

When searching the web, use the safe search tool, which tells you if a site is safe to click on or not, right in your search results.

Keep your computer safe by installing security software.

With more than 11 million victims just last year, identity theft is a serious concern. McAfee Identity Protection offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your financial accounts. Educate and protect yourself by visiting CounterIdentityTheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him explain how to protect yourself from identity theft on CounterIdentityTheft.com. (Disclosures)