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Track any device with RFID tags: phones, bags, tablets

Keeps tabs on your vital professional devices with RFID enabled devices, whether you travel or not and even if you’re not forgetful – you never know what can happen to your beloved iPhone, laptop or leather briefcase.

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What is all of this RFID talk about?

A RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) is a small device used for tracking or identification. A typical tag consists of a chip, memory and antenna. Most new RFID tags utilize Bluetooth technology.

Why do you need RFID?

How many times have you misplaced something? Something like your keys, phone, tablet, wallet, or remote; if you are anything like me, at least a few times. If you place an RFID tag on these items, you can track them. There are several companies that offer tags that work along with smartphone apps to track your things. This is especially useful for business professionals always on the go.

You can tag your phone, briefcase, laptop, and even your luggage and your smartphone will alert you when the item is out of a set range (say 100 feet) and when it returns. RFID devices are even used with pet doors. If you place a device on your pets’ collar, the pet door reads the chip and allows them to enter, but only your pets. This will keep out those pesky raccoons that try to come in and help themselves to your refrigerator.

Four RFID options:

There are several companies that offer RFID devices; the following four can get you started as you find the option best for you:

StickNFind is one company offering these devices. The device is about the size of a quarter. It costs $25. And you can track anything you tag with a device via your smartphone. You can have up to twenty active stickers (devices) at a time. The smartphone application also allows users to trigger an alert if a sticker moves out of a specified range. This is called the “Virtual Leash” feature; users can set a distance range for each sticker. So, if you want to keep your pets or children within a certain range while they are outside, you can place a sticker on them and the phone will alert you if they go outside that range.

Bikn (“Beacon”) is another company offering a “lost and found” system. For $59.99 you get an iPhone case and tag. The tag can attach to your keys, your pet, your backpack, anything you want, really. And the best part is that your iPhone will find your tagged item, but the tagged item can also find your iPhone, even if it is dead or turned off. Currently Bikn only works for iPhone and you will have to remove any other cases you have (Otterbox, Armor, etc.) so the Bikn case can be in contact with your phone. But, if you are prone to losing things, this could be worth it.

ItemTrackr can track any Bluetooth device such as cars, headsets, low energy tags (like SticknFind) and much more. You can ring your lost Bluetooth device from the app. It will also record the GPS map and time you lost your item. This is especially helpful when you need to remember where you parked your car or left your keys. There is also something called, “separation alert”: if you are about to walk off without your Bluetooth device, the app will play a reminder so that you do not forget it.

InRange by Phillips is another Bluetooth enabled leash system. For $49.95 you get a similar system to Bikn’s. You will receive the Bluetooth device, a pouch for the tag, batteries and a pin to release the battery door. Items are tracked via the iPhone/iPad app and can be paired with up to three InRange devices. This device also allows you to still make calls via Bluetooth without any interference.

There are many other options available to suit your needs. All of them serve the same basic function: to track your possessions and help you insure they do not get lost. This seems like something worth investing in if you have a hard time keeping up with your belongings, or travel extensively.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Tinu

    June 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    #frustration – I had this idea a few years ago. At least someone is doing it, and I’ll be able to find my stuff again. *walks off bitterly*

  2. JonaD

    July 2, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Yeah, people will be able to find their stuff… and ‘I’ will be able to find your stuff and YOU too. RFIDs are EASY to hack. Also because their antenna are inductively coupled… I can find out more! I can discover if other people are between my sensor and an RFID device, I can uncover other things too… like if there is a chunk of metal close to your device and so it could act as a roving detector to identify where someone is wearing a gun. Think of these as old fashioned ‘ theremins’, and imagine… your life playing to the world as creepy sci-fi music, that anyone can investigate you with. Lovely.

  3. Guest

    July 2, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Yeah, people will be able to find their stuff… and ‘I’ will be able to find your stuff and YOU too. RFIDs are EASY to hack. Also because their antenna are inductively coupled… I can find out more! I can discover if other people are between my sensor and an RFID device, I can uncover other things too… like if there is a chunk of metal close to your device and so it could act as a roving detector to identify where someone is wearing a gun. Think of these as old fashioned THERAMINS, and imagine… your life playing creepy sci-fi music that people can investigate you with. Lovely.

  4. John Andry

    May 30, 2015 at 11:41 am

    You can Track Most of things with RFID Tags! Radio Frequency Identification devices are mostly used for the purpose of tracking. Giant companies and offices use this device to easily get access to their products. The devices are also used in many other cases like that of people tracking. The components that an RFID device consists are:
    RFID Microchip/ Tag: This microchip has an antenna through which it transmits information that it consists or that is fed in it by a programmer.
    RFID Reader: The information that the microchip transmits by the help of its antenna is being read by a reader.
    RFID Middleware: It is software that resides in between the software of enterprise and RFID interrogators.
    RFID Software: The information which the reader reads is then converted into digital form which can be used by software system for processing. Thank you!!

  5. jamyy

    July 22, 2015 at 4:22 am

    RFID is very useful tracking chips, by using those tracking chips you can track many things also saves lots of time.

  6. danny

    November 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Does any one know if any of these devices use passive RFID chips?

    • Guest

      December 8, 2015 at 3:54 am

      RFID tags can be passive, but you will need an active RFID reader. At the moment this reader will be a bulky device and is not available as a small and affordable add-on to your phone (dec 2015). To overcome this problem and keep the tags small, you can use an active RFID scanner/reader (e.g. built into your bag) that communicates with your phone via Bluetooth/GPS/WiFi
      Btw: All the devices in this article do not use RFID, but active Bluetooth tags. Bikn uses active Wifi tags.

      • Guest

        December 8, 2015 at 4:05 am

        One adjustment to my earlier comment: RFID tags can be passive, but you will need an active RFID reader. At the moment this reader will be a bulky device and is not available as a small and affordable add-on to your phone (dec 2015) >> This is if you want to read tags over a distance more then 8 cm. Otherwise you can use the NFC reader function of most new phones

  7. Pingback: RFID technology's resurgence and why you need it - The Real Daily

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Tech News

Want to know how your passwords could get hacked?

(TECH NEWS) While we all know that passwords can be hacked, it is rare that we know how they’re hacked.

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Ever wonder how passwords get stolen? I like to imagine a team of hackers like The Lone Gunmen from The X-Files, all crowded in some hideout conducting illegal computer business based on tips from rogue FBI Agents.

Turns out there’s a little more to hacking than waiting for Fox Mulder to show up with hints.

Most of the common tactics involve guessing passwords utilizing online and offline techniques to acquire entry. One of the main methods is a dictionary attack.

This method automatically tries everything listed in a small file, the “dictionary,” which is populated with common passwords, like 123456 or qwerty. If your password is something tragically simple, you’re out of luck in a dictionary attack.

To protect yourself, use strong single-use passwords for each individual account. You can keep track of these with a password manager, because no one is expecting you to remember a string of nonsensical numbers, letters, and characters that make up a strong password.

Of course, there are still ways for hackers to figure out even complex passwords.

In a brute force attack, every possible character combination is tried. For example, if the password is required to have at least one uppercase letter and one number, a brute force attack will meet these specifications when generating potential passwords.

Brute force attacks also include the most commonly used alphanumeric combinations, like a dictionary attack. Your best bet against this type of attack is using extra symbols like & or $ if the password allows, or including a variety of variables whenever possible.

Spidering is another online method similar to a dictionary attack. Hackers may target a specific business, and try a series of passwords related to the company. This usually involves using a search “spider” to collate a series of related terms into a custom word list.

While spidering can be devastating if successful, this kind of attack is diverted with strong network security and single-use passwords that don’t tie in easily searchable personal information.

Malware opens up some more fun options for hackers, especially if it features a keylogger, which monitors and records everything you type. With a keylogger, all your accounts could potentially be hacked, leaving you SOL. There are thousands of malware variants, and they can go undetected for a while.

Fortunately, malware is relatively easy to avoid by regularly updating your antivirus and antimalware software. Oh, and don’t click on sketchy links or installation packages containing bundleware. You can also use script blocking tools.

The delightfully named (but in actuality awful) rainbow table method is typically an offline attack where hackers acquire an encrypted list of passwords. The passwords will be hashed, meaning it looks completely different from what you would type to log in.

However, attackers can run plaintext passwords through a hashtag algorithm and compare the results to their file with encrypted passwords. To save time, hackers can use or purchase a “rainbow table”, which is a set of precomputed algorithms with specific values and potential combinations.

The downside here is rainbow tables take up a lot of space, and hackers are limited to the values listed in the table. Although rainbow tables open up a nightmare storm of hacking potential, you can protect yourself by avoiding sites that limit you to very short passwords, or use SHA1 or MD5 as their password algorithms.

There’s also phishing, which isn’t technically hacking, but is one of the more common ways passwords are stolen. In a phishing attempt, a spoof email requiring immediate attention links to a fake login landing page, where users are prompted to input their login credentials.

The credentials are then stolen, sold, used for shady purposes, or an unfortunate combination of all the above. Although spam distribution has greatly increased over the past year, you can protect yourself with spam filters, link checkers, and generally not trusting anything requesting a ton of personal information tied to a threat of your account being shut down.

Last but certainly not least, there’s social engineering. This is a masterpiece of human manipulation, and involves an attacker posing as someone who needs login, or password, building access information. For example, posing as a plumbing company needing access to a secure building, or a tech support team requiring passwords.

This con is avoidable with education and awareness of security protocol company wide. And also you know, not providing sensitive information to anyone who asks. Even if they seem like a very trustworthy electrician, or promise they definitely aren’t Count Olaf.

Moral of the story? Your passwords will never be completely safe, but you can take steps to prevent some avoidable hacking methods.

Always have a single-use password for each account, use a password manager to store complex passwords, update malware, keep your eye out for phishing attempts, and don’t you dare make your password “passoword.”

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Should social networks fear Jumbo, the new privacy app?

(TECHNOLOGY) Although iOS only (for now), Jumbo has launched and could put a dent in some of the nefariousness of social media networks…

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Like virtually every other online outlet, we’ve both talked about web and app privacy and complained bitterly about the invariable fall of online rights. However, while we’ve been talking the talk, a company called Jumbo has been cyber-walking the cybersecurity walk.

Jumbo – an iPhone app focused on keeping your online trails as private as possible – has a simple premise: allowing social media users to manage their online privacy with a few taps rather than having to navigate each individual service’s infuriatingly complex labyrinth of privacy settings. Instead of having to visit each individual app you want to clean up, you can simply open Jumbo, select your preferences, and wait for the magic to happen.

Jumbo’s features range from cleaning up social media timelines and old posts to erasing entire searches or resetting privacy information; while it currently varies depending on the social media service in question, Jumbo’s one commonality is its simplicity.

The star of Jumbo’s presentation is its aptly-named Cleaning Mode—a feature which allows users to wipe anything from tweets to old Google searches. Jumbo’s developers also assure users that the ability to remove things like Facebook photos is in the works, making Jumbo’s efforts to clean up your digital life that much more ubiquitous.

It is worth noting that some users have encountered limitations on the number of tweets they can delete, so you may have to batch-remove information until this bug is resolved.

When using Jumbo, you’ll also find an encrypted back-up feature that allows you to download—or use cloud storage for—old photos and files. It isn’t as dramatic as Jumbo’s primary functions, but anyone looking to make a dent in purging their online footprints will surely benefit from being able to encrypt and save their information for a rainy day through one interface.

At the time of this writing, Jumbo is prepared to assist with privacy options related to Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon Alexa, but the app’s developers intend to incorporate support for platforms such as Tinder and Instagram in the future.

While Jumbo is currently restricted to iPhones, Jumbo’s maker Pierre Valade has mentioned that an Android version is “on [their] list”. In the meantime, iPhone users should strongly consider taking Jumbo for a spin.

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Tech News

How to opt out of Google’s robots calling your business phone

(TECH) Google’s robots now call businesses to set appointments, but not all companies are okay with talking to an artificial intelligence tool like a person. Here’s how to opt out.

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You know what’s not hard? Calling a restaurant and making a reservation. You know what’s even easier? Making that reservation though OpenTable. You know what we really don’t need, but it’s here so we have to deal with it? Google Duplex.

Falling under “just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should do it,” Duplex, Google’s eerily human-sounding AI chat agent that can arrange appointments for Pixel users via Google Assistant has rolled out in several cities including New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Francisco which now means you can have a robot do menial tasks for you.

There’s even a demo video of someone using Google Duplex to find an area restaurant and make a reservation and in the time it took him to tell the robot what to do, he could’ve called and booked a reservation himself.

Aside from booking the reservation for you, Duplex can also offer you updates on your reservation or even cancel it. Big whoop. What’s difficult to understand is the need or even demand for Duplex. If you’re already asking Google Assistant to make the reservation, what’s stopping you from making it yourself? And the most unsettling thing about Duplex? It’s too human.

It’s unethical to imply human interaction. We should feel squeamish about a robo-middleman making our calls and setting our appointments when we’re perfectly capable of doing these things.

However, there is hope. Google Duplex is here, but you don’t have to get used to it.

Your company can opt out of accepting calls by changing the setting in your Google My Business accounts. If robots are already calling restaurants and businesses in your city, give your staff a heads-up. While they may receive reservations via Duplex, at least they’ll be prepared to talk to a robot.

And if you plan on not opting out, at least train your staff on what to do when the Google robots call.

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