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HackNotice launches as the first way to truly know what hackers have on you

(TECH NEWS) Consumers find out about hacks only when there are major breaches, and typically way too late. HackNotice is fighting back by quickly making indices of breaches public.

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We all know that our identities are at risk of being stolen, we’ve all grown tired of hoping a company will fess up when they’ve been breached, and we’ve all heard the horror stories of credit being unknowingly destroyed by strangers.

And so far, the only real solution is to remain vigilant and changing all of your passwords when you hear that a major company (be it a file storage company or a major retailer) has had a breach.

Today, there’s another solution. Enter HackNotice, a service that allows you to be proactive with your identity by finding out what hackers know about you and what they’ve recently stolen that is yours.

The co-founder of PwnedList is the brains behind HackNotice and sought to create a meaningful tool for consumers, noting that businesses have ample tools available, but individuals are nowhere near as empowered.

“Learn what hackers know about your digital identity and where you’ve been showing up in what dumps, leaks, and credentials,” Thomas explained.

So we’re not hackers here at The American Genius, and it’s all scary, but what we learned from HackNotice Founder, Steve Thomas, is that the real need is to address the blind spot in the security industry and to acknowledge that there are hacks every day that never make headlines.

Thomas combs the internet (including the Dark Web) as part of the hacker community, finds credentials and data dumps, indexing that and making the data totally public. That is far more impressive than getting an email from a retailer a year after a hack that says “oops, sorry.”

The problem as it exists today is that if your credit card is stolen, for example, you won’t find out until charges start popping up on your account. That information is typically sold once by a hacker, in bulk at $1-5 per credit card number, used to commit fraud by money mules who will steal what they can before the account is blocked.

Thomas advises that any time you find out you’ve used your credit card at a retailer, or sign in credentials on a website that has been hacked, don’t wait until you feel the ramifications, treat those accounts as if they are stolen (get a new credit card number and/or change your password). That’s the power of HackNotice – you don’t have to pray that you eventually learn about a particular vulnerability to address, you can learn through the site’s public index of secret hacks.

HackNotice brings threat intelligence to everyone, even us mere lay people mortals.

But we noticed by using the service that you can’t just insert your Social Security Number in and generate a list of vulnerabilities. Thomas said, “you should never put that number into anyone’s system,” even if you trust them.

Thomas himself, a longtime hacker community member, had his own info stolen last year. He says several of his passwords were freely shared, his SSN was publicly available, and charges were hitting his banks by the thousands. He can’t get a new social security number, and the data on him was repetitively stolen and shared, even his wife’s credit card pin number.

“Even I couldn’t keep track of all of the breaches last year,” he said, and he’s constantly combing for them. Which is the inspiration for HackNotice, to accumulate that data and make it publicly available, from the darkest corners of the internet.

Even the cyber security sector, which is typically a cynical bunch, is reacting positively to the HackNotice launch and Thomas’ efforts to fight back.

There’s a major knowledge gap, and Thomas is “taking a stab at solving that.” He notes that the current problem is that this is a “highly technical, nuanced security area,” and their mission is to “explain good security, and offer advice anyone can follow.”

Get ahead of the hackers by heading over to HackNotice to learn what they know about you, and be prepared to change your passwords and possibly request new credit card numbers.

Tech News

Get all your digital organization in one place with Routine

(TECH NEWS) Routine makes note-taking and task-creating a lot easier by merging all your common processes into one productivity tool.

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A desk with a laptop, notepad, smartphone, and cup of coffee settled into an organized routine.

Your inbox can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Without organization, important emails with tasks, notes, and meetings can become a trash pile pretty quickly. Luckily, there are a lot of tools that aim to help you improve your efficiency, and the latest to add to that list is Routine.

Routine is a productivity app that combines your tasks, notes, and calendar into one easy-to-use app so you can increase your performance. Instead of having to switch between different apps to jot down important information, create to-do lists, and glance at your calendar, Routine marries them all into one cool productivity tool. By simply using a keyboard shortcut, you can do all these things.

If you receive an email that contains an actionable item, you can convert that email into a task you can view later. Tasks are all saved in your inbox, and you can even schedule a task for a specific day. So, if Obi-Wan wants to have Jedi lessons on Thursday, you can schedule your Force task for that day. Likewise, chat messages that need follow-up can also be converted into tasks and be scheduled.

To enrich your tasks, notes can be attached to them. In your notes, you can also embed checkboxes, which are tasks of their own. And if you have tasks that aren’t coming from your inbox, you can import them from other services, such as Gmail, Notion, and Trello.

To make sure you can stay focused on the events and tasks at hand, Routine makes it easy to take everything in. By using the tool’s keyboard-controlled console, you can access your dashboard to quickly see what tasks need to be addressed, what’s on your calendar, and even join an upcoming Zoom session and take notes about the meeting.

Routine is available for macOS, iOS, web, and Google accounts only. Overall, the app centralizes notes and tasks by letting you create and view everything in one place, which helps make sure you stay on top of things. Currently, Routine is still in beta, but you can get on a waitlist to test the product out for yourself.

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The paradox of CAPTCHAs: Too smart for humans vs AI?

(TECH NEWS) AI is catching up to our cybersecurity technology and often tricking humans too — so what’s next for CAPTCHAs and the internet?

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Person using phone with laptop to verify CAPTCHAs and code.

We’ve all encountered it before: The occasional robot test that feels impossible to beat. If you’ve felt like these tests, also known as CAPTCHAs, have gotten harder in the last couple of years, you aren’t wrong—and the reason is as ironic as it is baffling.

Simply put, AI are just as good as—and often better than—humans at completing CAPTCHAs in their classic format. As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the fundamental human attributes that make consistent CAPTCHA formats possible become less impactful, raising the question of how to determine the difference between AI and humans in the future.

The biggest barrier to universal CAPTCHA doctrine is purely cultural. Humans may share experiences across the board, but such experiences are typically basic enough to fall victim to the same machine learning which has rendered lower-level CAPTCHAs moot. Adding a cultural component to CAPTCHAs could prevent AI from bypassing them, but it also might prevent some humans from understanding the objective.

Therein lies the root of the CAPTCHA paradox. Humans are far more diverse than any one test can possibly account for, and what they do have in common is also shared by—you guessed it—AI. To create a truly AI-proof test would be to alienate a notable portion of human users by virtue of lived experience. The irony is palpable, but one can only imagine the sheer frustration developers are going through in attempting to address this problem.

But all isn’t lost. While litmus tests such as determining the number of traffic cones in a plaza or checking off squares with bicycles (but not unicycles, you fool) may be beatable by machines, some experts posit that “human entropy” is almost impossible to mimic—and, thus, a viable solution to the CAPTCHA paradox.

“A real human being doesn’t have very good control over their own motor functions, and so they can’t move the mouse the same way more than once over multiple interactions,” says Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former click fraud expert from Google. While AI could attempt to feign this same level of “entropy”, the odds of a successful attempt appear low.

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Move over, Clubhouse: Slack adds their own audio chat rooms

(TECH NEWS) Slack planning to co-opt Clubhouse’s synchronous audio rooms has lead to mixed response. Did it really need to be done?

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Woman in green cardigan and headphones listening to audio chat room on mobile, where Slack becomes a competitor.

Slack is adding a synchronous audio chat room feature similar to what Clubhouse already has. While not everyone is happy about it, the addition is true to Slack’s ongoing form—if a little redundant.

Slack’s audio rooms would work similarly to Clubhouse’s current feature of the same persuasion. The rooms themselves would be ongoing for as long as they were open, and users would be able to drop in and out of calls at their leisure, even joining the conversation when permitted by the host or settings. In theory, it’s a cool way to round out Slack’s platform and make for yet another way for people to engage during the work day.

But not everyone is stoked about the addition. Pocketnow’s Nadeem Sarwar makes a strong point about the redundancy of adding a Clubhouse feature to the already-packed Slack deck: “…from a regular remote worker’s perspective, I’d rather use services such as Telegram, Discord, or Google Meet that we’ve grown accustomed to using for jumping into a group call with my teammates.”
“…[T]he need for audio chatrooms to get in a chaotic chat with colleagues, with whom you already chat over work and share memes five days a week, doesn’t make much sense,” he adds.

Sarwar also references research about remote meeting fatigue from Stanford and The Washington Post, positing that—since video conferences are already played out at this point—adding another quasi-conference option to Slack doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

He isn’t wrong. There are multitudinous conference options on the market now, many of which are free. One could argue that Slack, having marketed itself as a text-first communication hub, has no business entering the audio chat landscape.

That argument falls on its face when you consider Slack’s model—something both Sawar and the Slack CEO himself mention—involves “stealing” and implementing “good ideas” from others in order to make their own platform as comprehensive as possible. If one is able to use Slack for the majority of tasks that Google, Discord, and Clubhouse offer, that makes the platform a lot more attractive to users who are on the fence.

And, perhaps more importantly, it ensures that current users won’t migrate to a comparable platform in the future—especially if their colleagues are making the same choice.

It’s a smart move for Slack, especially given Clubhouse’s lack of Android support at this time—something Clubhouse has said probably still won’t launch for a couple of months.

The Clubhouse team, for their part, continues to add new features in efforts to maintain the platform’s upward mobility. One such feature is the option for paid subscriptions to content creators, allowing for people to monetize their presence on the platform. At the time of this writing, Clubhouse is valued at around $1 billion.

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