Tech Friday


  • Fraud is increasingly common on social media and mobile:
    • The 2019 "Current State of Cybercrime" report from leading security company RSA sayscyber criminals are paying more attention to mobile, and social media based attacks have increased 43% in just the past year
    • Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are increasingly used sell stolen identities, credit card numbers and other information
    • RSA predicts that cyberccrime will rise on these platforms thanks to the "ease of use, absence of fees and other benefits" 
    • RSA also identified an average of 82 rogue apps daily in 2018
    • In this context, a rogue app is one that uses an organization's brand to trick users into providing access to devices and personal data
    • RSA reported that one in five cyberattacks can be linked to rogue apps
    • "As the digital transformation of both business and cybercrime continues, organizations must be increasingly vigilant, and increasingly well-equipped technologically, to protect themselves from sophisticated attacks. In this way, digital transformation becomes both a critical contributing factor in the problem of growing cyberrisks today -- and a critical resource for solving it" RSA said
    • What can you do?
      • Limit your use of social media
      • Limit your online footprint
      • Don't click unsolicited links
      • Don't install any apps that you have not carefully vetted
      • Be sceptical
      • Stay educated and aware
    • You can view the report here:https://www.rsa.com/content/dam/premium/en/white-paper/2019-current-state-of-cybercrime.pdf
  • Amazon is developing technology to read human emotions:
    • Amazon has filed patents for a voice-activated wearable device that can recognize human emotions
    • Designed to be worn on the wrist, it's described as a health and wellness product code-named Dylan
    • The device has microphones coupled with software that attempts to determine the wearer’s emotional state based on their voice
    • Amazon is collaborating withhardware developmentcompany Lab126 who helped with Amazon’s Fire phone and Echo smart speaker
    • It's suggested that at some future point Dylant could help a user interact with others
    • Amazon is known for allowing their teams to experiment.It’s not currently known how far along Dylan is or if it will ever become a commercial product
    • A 2017 U.S. patent says the software analyzes vocal patterns to determine how a user is feeling . It can identify "joy, anger, sorrow, sadness, fear, disgust, boredom, stress, or other emotional states"
    • An image in the patent illustrates a sniffling woman who tells Alexa she’s hungry. Alexa determines woman is sick and asks if she'd like a recipe for chicken soup as well as making other health related suggestions
    • A second patent awarded to Amazon is for technology that can distinguish speech from background noise, which would help this and other voice driven technology work more effectively
    • Amazon and other tech titans such as Microsoft, Apple and Google are racing to take the lead in IoT and automation
    • Machines that can interpret and respond to human emotions have been prominent in science fiction for many years, and it now appears that thanks to rapid advances this technology may soon be a reality
  • Airport USB charging stations are being used to steal data:
    • Security experts are warning travelers not to use USB charging stations in airports thanks to "juice jacking"
    • Unfortunately, USB connections can be modified so that malware is installed and/or your data is stolen when you plug your device into a USB port
    • "Plugging into a public USB port is kind of like finding a toothbrush on the side of the road and deciding to stick it in your mouth...You have no idea where that thing has been" IBM X-Force Vice President Caleb Barlow
    • Barlow also pointed out that even an Apple cord could be hazardous: "If you see an Apple charging cord, you’re likely to grab it or just plug into it. But inside this cord is an extra chip that deploys the malware, so it charges your phone, but now I own your computer."
    •  IBM cybersecurity expert Charles Henderson said"There's really no way to tell, and you have to be really technically savvy to detect such an attack"
    • The transportation industry was the second-most attacked sector according a study from the 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index
    • Experts suggest that you bring your own charger that you can plug into an electrical socket or a portable battery rather than using public USB ports
    • You can also put your phone in "Low Power Mode" or "Airplane Mode" to save power