Monday, August 11, 2014

Technology is never totally harmless

Comedian Cheech Marin once said "the reason we're so dangerous is because we're totally harmless." Indeed, we could say that human beings are apparently harmless creatures. But we all have experienced at some point the damage that we can inflict to each other.


The same happens with technology. We normally use many devices and systems which we have at our disposal, but we are not aware of the latent threats that they bring. For example, mobile phones. How many people are unaware of the risks that these gadgets pose to your privacy? In this sense, Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi announced that it has already solved the problem of privacy alerted by security company F-Secure last week. Users were sending without knowing the details of their operator, phone number, IMEI,phone  numbers of their contacts and text messages to the company, even if they had switched off all the options related.

Also the Facebook Messenger app is being criticized for his interference in the mobile user's life. Protests against Facebook argue that those user who install such app in their handsets have to give Facebook the right to access their microphone, camera, contact list, call log... Otherwise, they can not read or write private messages through the social network’s mobile app.

Therefore, even if you are a prudent user who complies with all security measures available for any user, there is always the possibility that your phone tells more than what you wish. In any case, that's not a reason to lower your guard. For example, the lock screen of the phone is one of the basic measures that every user must apply. While it is annoying to enter a pattern or password each time you want to use the device, it is an important first layer of security. The ATAP Google X group and VivaLnk have now launched digital adhesive tattoos that unlock your cellphone when you get close to it, so you can avoid such tedious work.

Furthermore, The browsers that we all use to surf the World Wide Web also seem harmless to most users, but they are a very important source of threats. plug-ins such as out-of-date Java ActiveX controls pose a high risk to the health of our computers. For this reason, Internet Explorer’s development team has announced that this browser will block every out-of-date ActiveX when IE8, IE9, IE10 and IE11 for both Windows 7 and Window 8 are updated next week.

Refrigerators, air conditioners, lighting systems, televisions, coffee machines... all these gadgets have always been harmless from the point of view of information security. But as we told you last week, the tendency to connect these devices to the Internet has increased the concern for its security. BuildItSecure.ly is a project sponsored by small vendors and startups in partnership with researchers in order to increase the security of these devices.

By the way, among the devices that comprise the "Internet of Things" (IoT) there are also medical ones such as defibrillators or droppers. Concerns about the security of medical equipment and healthcare institutions’ networks are a recurring concern even though, as noted by Dan Munro in Forbes, this year the sector managed to avoid being in the spotlight of Black Hat security conference, held last week in Las Vegas.

Now that you know that even the apparently harmless technology it is not, we invite you to follow us through our social channels (find the links at the right sidebar) or here on our blog to keep yourself regularly informed about all the risks and security measures that you can take.

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