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What devices should you never connect to the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a glorious web of technology, but some devices remain vulnerable – which should you avoid connecting to the IoT?

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We love the Internet of Things, but there’s a catch

The Internet of Things has changed our personal environment, giving everyday objects the ability to transmit and receive data, and also creating new vulnerabilities to our privacy, children, and even our own safety. In 2014, a study conducted by researchers at HP Fortify found that there were at least 25 vulnerabilities per device. These devices ranged from webcams, sprinkler controllers, home alarm systems, to even remote power outlets.

Daniel Miessler who led the study said, “When you think about what all is involved in an Internet of Things device, you’ve got the device itself, network access, authentication, the Internet component; and all these pieces together are what stack up to be the Internet of Things device. If you’re not looking at the big picture, you’re missing a lot of stuff.”

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Between the years 2013 and 2015, the nation had its first large scale “Internet of Things” cyber-attack, and hackers were able to send 750,000 phishing/spam emails from refrigerators. Samsung Fridges were the most vulnerable to being attacked from their own software’s lack of security, and hackers took advantage of this vulnerability when they used back doors to send your information like passwords, and data about your buying habits without verifying the SSL certificate, which means that your fridge doesn’t know who it’s talking to.

Either it is your worst enemy or best friend; your fridge doesn’t care, and it wasn’t made to keep your information secure, just to keep your food cold.

Refrigerators, fitness trackers, and baby monitors

Buying a GPS-connected running shirt might seem like a great idea, but did you know that hackers can actually use that information to find out when you’re not going to be home?

One horrifying fact is that connected baby monitors are not safe from attack either. It has been reported that it is ridiculously easy for a novice to hack into the browser of your baby monitor by using brute force attacks on IP addresses, found on sites like Shodan. Your baby’s video and audio can be intercepted easily and a novice hacker can even talk to your baby.

Smart locks are vulnerable

Something that you will find ironic is the fact that smart locks are not isolated from this threat either. In 2013, Wired reported that millions of Kwikset locks were open to being hacked. Yes, a lock can most likely be broken using explosives or a sledge hammer, but if we are allowing them to replace our conventional locks to secure our valuables, we need to have a comprehensive approach to securing our information, and our livelihood.

A lot of banks, shops, and offices rely on sophisticated encryption to secure themselves from attack, but relying on that false sense of security has given way to millions of opportunities for breaching security.

It’s not all doom and gloom

My tone might seem ominous, but it comes with a logical sense of protecting our privacy. Technology is vertical, changing our infrastructure, and in its nature it is disruptive, changing society and our economy.

We have to be conscious of the causes and effects, the niches, and industries that emerge from human progression. With further separation of our most rudimentary tasks, comes a lack of control, and always those looking to take advantage of our momentary lapses of reason.

#InternetOfThings

John Linneman is a Portland, Oregon native who owns and operates small digital marketing business. He went to school at Portland State where he studied business, and writing. He majored in writing and theater at PSU, and still holds these things true, but has since moved on and transferred his talents to the business, and marketing world. Connect with him on Twitter or on his blog.

Tech News

This phishing simulator tests your company’s (lack of) readiness

(TECHNOLOGY) Phishero is a tool which tests your organization’s resistance to phishing attacks. Pro tip: Most companies aren’t ready.

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In the wake of any round of cyberattacks, many organizations question whether they’re prepared to defend themselves against things like hacking or other forms of information theft. In reality, the bulk of workplace data thievery comes from a classic trick: phishing.

Phishing is a catch-all phrase for a specific type of information theft which involves emailing. Typically, a phishing email will include a request for sensitive data, such as a password, a copy of a W-4, or an account’s details (e.g., security questions); the email itself will often appear to come from someone within the organization.

Similar approaches include emailing a link which acts as a login page for a familiar site (e.g., Facebook) but actually stores your account information when you sign in.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to test your business’ phishing readiness.

Phishero, a tool designed to test employee resistance to phishing attacks, is a simple solution for any business looking to find any weak links in their cybersecurity.

The tool itself is designed to do four main things: identify potential targets, find a way to design a convincing phishing scheme, implement the phishing attack, and analyze the results.

Once Phishero has a list of your employees, it is able to create an email based on the same web design used for your company’s internal communications. This email is then sent to your selected recipient pool, from which point you’ll be able to monitor who opens the email.

Once you’ve concluded the test, you can use Phishero’s built-in analytics to give you an at-a-glance overview of your organization’s security.

The test results also include specific information such as which employees gave information, what information was given, and pain points in your current cybersecurity setup.

Phishing attacks are incredibly common, and employees – especially those who may not be as generationally skeptical of emails – are the only things standing between your company and catastrophic losses if they occur in your business. While training your employees on proper email protocol out of the gate is a must, Phishero provides an easy way to see how effective your policies actually are.

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Tech News

Domino’s asks Supreme Court to take up web accessibility case

(TECHNOLOGY) Domino’s is going all the way to the top to ask the Supreme Court to decide if ADA applies to their (and your) website.

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As long as your company is following the rules and regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), customers with disabilities should be able to access your brick-and-mortar store. The ADA ensures that stores have parking spots, ramps, and doors wide enough for folks in wheelchairs.

But does the ADA also extend to your business’s website? That’s a question that the Supreme Court may soon have to answer.

As an increasing number of services and opportunities are found online in this day and age, it’s quickly becoming a question that needs answering. Several New York wineries and art galleries, Zillow, and even Beyoncé have been sued because their websites were unusable for people who are blind.

In 2016, Domino’s Pizza was sued by a blind customer who was unable to order a pizza on Domino’s website, even while using the screen reading software that normally help blind people access information and services online. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled that Domino’s was in violation of the ADA and that the company was required to make their sites and apps accessible to all. Three years later, Domino’s is petitioning SCOTUS to take on the case.

Domino’s argues that making their sites and apps accessible would cost millions of dollars and wouldn’t necessarily protect them or any other company from what their lawyer called a “tsunami” of further litigation.

That’s because the ADA was written before the internet had completely taken over our social and economic lives. While the ADA sets strict regulations for physical buildings, it has no specific rules for websites and other digital technologies.

The Department of Justice apparently spent from 2010 to 2017 brainstorming possible regulations, but called a hiatus on the whole process because there was still much debate as to whether such rules were “necessary and appropriate.”

The Domino’s case proves that those regulations are in fact necessary. UsableNet, a company that creates accessibility features for tech, reports that there were 2,200 court cases in which users with disabilities sued a company over inaccessible sites or apps. That’s a 181 percent increase from the previous year.

While struggling to buy tickets to a Beyoncé concert or order a pizza may seem like trivial concerns, it’s important to consider how much blind people could be disadvantaged in the modern age if they can’t access the same websites and apps as those of us who can see. Christopher Danielsen from the National Federation of the Blind told CNBC that “If businesses are allowed to say, ‘We do not have to make our websites accessible to blind people,’ that would be shutting blind people out of the economy in the 21st century.”

If the Supreme Court decides to take the case, it could set an important precedent for the future of accessibility in web design.

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Tech News

Slack video messaging tool for the ultra lazy (or productive) person

(TECHNOLOGY) Courtesy of a company called Standuply, Slack’s notable lack of video-messaging options is finally addressed.

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Slack — the popular chat and workflow app — is still going strong despite its numerous technical shortcomings, one of which is its notable lack of native video or audio chat. If you’re an avid Slack user, you might be interested in Standuply’s solution to this missing feature: video and audio messaging.

While it isn’t quite the Skype-esque experience for which one might hope when booting up Slack, Standuply’s video messages add-on gives you the ability to record and send a video or audio recording to any Slack channel. This makes things like multitasking a breeze; unless you’re a god among mortals, your talking speed is significantly faster than your typing, making video- or audio-messaging a viable productivity move.

The way you’ll record and send the video or audio message is a bit convoluted: using a web browser and a private Slack link, you can record up to five minutes of content, after which point the content is uploaded to YouTube as a private item. You can then use the item’s link to send the video or audio clip to your Skype channel.

While this is a fairly roundabout way of introducing video chat into Slack, the end result is still a visual conversation which is conducive to long-term use.

Sending video and audio messages may feel like an exercise in futility (why use a third-party tool when one could just type?) but the amount of time and energy you can save while simultaneously responding to feedback or beginning your next task adds up.

Similarly, having a video that your team can circle back to instead of requiring them to scroll through until they find your text post on a given topic is better for long-term productivity.

And, if all else falls short, it’s nice to see your remote team’s faces and hear their voices every once in a while—if for no other reason than to reassure yourself that they aren’t figments of your overly caffeinated imagination.

At the time of this writing, the video chat portion of the Slack bot is free; however, subsequent pricing tiers include advanced aspects such as integration with existing services, analytics, and unlimited respondents.

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