Tech Friday

posted by Brian Thomas - 

  • Amazon's Alexa randomly laughs at users:
    • Alexa users have recently reported that their devices will start laughing randomly
    • The devices are designed to listen for a "wake word", either "Alexa" or "Amazon"
    • Once engaged, it records your voice and transfers it to Amazon servers to process the request
    • In these particular cases, users are not using the wake word, the device just starts laughing
    • One user reported that when they tried to turn on their lights, Alexa kept turning them off and laughed
    • Alexa is programmed to laugh which can be activated by asking "Alexa, how do you laugh?" 
    • It's not clear why the devices are laughing randomly and so far Amazon has not responded to requests for comment
  • Cellebrite claims every iPhone can be unlocked:
    • Cellebrite, a US government contractor has recently claimed that they can unlock and extract data from any Apple phone
    • The capability is part of their "Advanced Unlocking and Extraction Services" a lab-based service the company offers to law enforcement
    • Despite the fact that Apple recently improved the security of its operating systems, they claim they can can unlock even Apple’s the newest phones
    • Cellebrite contracts with government agencies including the FBI and Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE) to unlock phones
    • Some experts have have scoffed and suggested that they have found a way to bypass the limits on PIN entry by interfering with the code that counts the number of failed attempts
    • This would allow a brute force attack to discover the passcode without erasing the device rather than breaking the encryption
    • Their claim was first discovered in marketing material that said "Cellebrite can retrieve (without needing to root or jailbreak the device) the full file system to recover downloaded emails, third-party application data, geolocation data, and system logs. Agencies can either provide the device already unlocked, furnish the known passcode, or use Cellebrite's Advanced Unlocking Services to unlock the device."
    • So far, Cellebrite has not revealed the nature of their approach
    • It's likely that their technique depends on a brute-force attack to discover the PIN. You can defend against that by using a longer alphanumeric password
    • Biometric authentication can help as well
    • Learn more here: https://www.macrumors.com/2017/02/24/cellebrite-lawful-unlocking-iphone-6/
  • Beware of a Google Chrome tech support scam:
    • Security company Malwarebytes reports that fake Chrome browser alerts asking users to contact fake tech support services have increased recently
    • The scam can make the browser freeze then prompt the user to call a fake support line with their credit card information
    • Sadly, these scams are not new. In January 2017, the first link on a Google search for "Facebook customer support," was a scam
    • With these attacks increasing, it's important to be aware that this type of activity in your browser may be a scam
    • Before you call a "tech support" number that pops up unsolicited, contact your IT people
    • If you don't have IT support handy, close the browser and/or reboot the computer
Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

Based in Cincinnati, OH, the Brian Thomas Morning Show covers news and politics, both local and national, from a conservative point of view. Read more

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