2-Factor Authentication? Yes, you should!
Let’s acknowledge right up front that 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) is a bit of a hassle. However, the bigger problem is that getting hacked can change your life. Data wipes and ransomware are just the beginning. A hacked social security number, for instance, opens every aspect of your life to devastating intrusion and financial catastrophe.
So is 2-step verification perfect? No way. But it adds an important second layer of protection as the name implies. A hacker would not only need to know your email and password, say, but would have to know, for instance, a current and randomly generated code accessible only to you, the actual account holder.
How Does 2FA Work?
In a nutshell, in addition to your common procedure of entering your email and password to access a service, you would now be asked to enter a secondary code. This code is randomly generated for one-time use and generally sent by SMS to your mobile or another device for entry into the second data field – It can also be sent by a dedicated authentication app. Authentication apps are preferred as a more secure method, but some services such as Twitter only provide SMS authentication.
Enabling 2FA For Your Online Destinations:
Google, Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Apple and numerous other sites all have implemented 2FA. You can find a primer of how to access each site’s 2FA procedures, at a Cnet list of popular destinations, and another at Verge. There is also a large, yet necessarily, incomplete list of sites that offer 2FA at TwoFactorAuth,
Forget Batteries. Now There’s Nano Yarn.
Harness Ocean Waves or Create A Unique Self-Powered Respiratory Shirt.
An international research team led by scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas and Hanyang University in South Korea has developed high-tech yarns that generate electricity when they are stretched or twisted creating electricity from mechanical energy.
Dubbed “Twistron,” the nanoyarn is made up of carbon nanotubes, – hollow cylinders of carbon 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. The researchers first twist-spun the nanotubes into high-strength, lightweight yarns. To make the yarns highly elastic, they introduced so much twist that the yarns coiled like an over-twisted rubber band. When coated with an electrolyte and stretched, they generate electricity without the need for batteries.
While not ready for prime time just yet, potential applications abound, especially those that could benefit from “wasted” energy such as the enormous energy generated from ocean waves.
In another example, researchers sewed Twistron harvesters into a shirt. Normal breathing stretched the yarn and generated an electrical signal, demonstrating its potential as a self-powered respiration sensor.
While at present these harvesters are most suitable for powering sensors and sensor communications for, say, the Internet of Things (IOT) – the future awaits!
Android Oreo Arrives.
Oreo has come to town. The new Android operating system isn’t revolutionary but it’s touted as having some welcome tweaks and updates. One nifty feature puts your video call or another video in a picture-in-picture frame just by pressing the home screen. Other updates include new emojis, notifications dots on apps, a revamped settings screen, app safety scanning, and much more. You can see CNET’s take on the best 15 features here.
And don’t forget that Google Assistant is now available.
USB Connections Give Snoopers an Earful!
USB-connected devices, which include keyboards, cardswipers and fingerprint readers, are often considered relatively safe as a direct connection, but are “leaky” and easier to compromise than often thought.
Australian researchers tested more than 50 different computers and external USB hubs and found that over 90% of them leaked information to an external USB device.
“It has been thought that because that information is only sent along the direct communication path to the computer, it is protected from potentially compromised devices.
According to Dr Yuval Yarom, Research Associate with the University of Adelaide’s School of Computer Science,” . . . research showed that if a malicious device or one that’s been tampered with is plugged into adjacent ports on the same external or internal USB hub, this sensitive information can be captured. That means keystrokes showing passwords or other private information can be easily stolen.”
In one experiment, The researchers used a modified cheap novelty plug-in lamp with a USB connector to “read” every key stroke from the adjacent keyboard USB interface. The data was sent via Bluetooth to another computer.
The cautionary tale? Use only a trusted device on a trusted machine and use an encrypted transmission – all somewhat easier said than done.
You can read more here.
Traveling Abroad? Secure Your Devices!
The Star, CA
Data privacy laws at checkpoints are murky at best whether in the US or abroad. Border control officers can now ask travelers to turn over email logins, and social media passwords, search devices and make forensic copies of data.
An alarming uptick in complaints is depicted in this article from The Star, a Canadian news source.
Before traveling, Computerworld has some helpful tips for Windows, iOS and Android devices in a 3-part series on how to help keep confidential personal or corporate information safe.
If you are traveling across borders, take heed!