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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.

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iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts

(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!

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Amazon Music Transcripts

Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.

According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.

Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.

Amazon Music Homescreen

To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.

Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.

So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.

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UX design: If you don’t have it, get yourself an audit made easy

(TECH NEWS) UX design is important. By conducting a simple audit to make sure your site is accessible, you can minimize the number of people that quickly go away.

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Two UX design people standing in front of a whiteboard with a UX map.

A good UX design is essential in attracting and retaining customers. A seamless and positive experience will keep customers happy and bring your business many benefits, like increasing audience engagement and sales.

But, how do you know if your user experience is in need of help, so people don’t bounce away quickly? Well, if UX is not your forte, the best thing to do is to hire a good UX designer. Unfortunately, sometimes hiring one isn’t always within the budget.

So, what do you do then? The next best thing is to conduct a UX audit of your website or app. Not sure where to begin? Fulcrum’s Do It Yourself UX Audit kit is one place to start.

According to the website, this DIY UX audit “can help you gain valuable insights about the usability of your product.” The tool detects problems in your UX, prioritizes them for you, and finds out how you can fix any existing issues.

The tool is made out of free easy-to-use Notion templates. These UX audit checklists are all customizable, and you can print them or save them on your Notion dashboard to use later.

Inside each template, there are cards with descriptions and examples. Depending on if you meet certain criteria or not, you drag and drop the card into the “Yes” or “No” column. When you’re finished, you will easily see what issues you have, and you can work on fixing them.

The templates are divided into Junior and Middle-level templates.

The Junior level has templates for things such as field and forms, login, mobile UX, and architecture. Most of these templates help make sure you cover your basic UX bases. For instance, it looks at whether your website is desktop and mobile-friendly, and if each element makes sense and is easily identifiable.

The Middle Level dives in a little deeper. The “Visibility of system status” audit checks if you are keeping your audience informed on what’s going on. Things like battery life, loading, or Wi-Fi connection indicators can make a huge difference. No one wants to stare at a screen with no clue if what they clicked on is working or not.

If you can afford it and want a UX virtuoso to do the work for you, you can get a UX audit from Fulcrum. The experts will conduct a full-fledged UX audit and create wireframes with solutions for your UX issues.

However, no matter how you go about it, a good UX design is important. Higher rate conversions and user retention won’t happen if your product is just pushing people away.

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