The Dangers of Public WiFi

Woman looking at Security Cameras

WiFi is a miraculous invention that allows for simple and effective public internet usage over a wireless connection. With so many public establishments offering free wifi, it has become very easy to simply log in while you’re sitting at your local coffee shop and browse away.

Of course, there are some dangers that every user should be aware of while using the internet, especially if they are using public wifi. Although many public wifi providers employ stringent security measures to help curb illicit activity over their services, the use of public wifi still poses a very real danger to those who browse on it unawares.

So what kind of things should we be aware of when we’re using public wifi? What kinds of risks are we taking when we log on to public wifi hotspots unprotected? And what are some of the ways we can protect ourselves? The solutions can range from simple habit changes to finding the best VPN services out there to help protect your connection.

What are the risks?

The most obvious risk that goes along with unprotected wifi usage is identity theft. Hackers and other malicious actors are very proficient at scraping identifying information from little slip-ups in public and are ready to use that information to access your bank accounts and other secure services.

Another thing that you’re at risk of is the loss of privacy. People may be able to gain access to your private emails, documents, pictures, and video without your knowledge. Certain types of attacks can even give hackers access to your webcam and microphone long after you’ve logged off of the hotspot you were using!

These types of things can be very scary and unwanted, so it’s definitely important to try and curb these risks whenever you use public wifi. The first step to protecting yourself here is to stay informed. Knowing is half the battle, so you’ll want to know exactly how these hackers and no-goodniks plan on stealing your data.

How does this happen?

There are a number of crafty ways that hackers have of getting into your stuff and stealing what they want. Being aware of these strategies is going to be your main weapon against unsafe wifi usage. Keeping these sorts of malicious strategies in mind whenever you use risky wifi hotspots will cause you to act more cautiously as you connect and browse.

  • Malware and spyware. This is malicious software that actors will try and illicitly install on your machine. With stuff like this, the possibilities are endless. The malware may just brick your computer, or it could hijack part of its processor for international espionage. Spyware is bad too and allows the attacker to mine data from your machine and potentially access sensitive information.
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks are an attempt by a hacker or other entity to place their access in the middle of a connection that their victim believes is secure. The best way to think of this is to consider it similar to eavesdropping. The methods behind this can range from brutish to ingenious, but the end result is typically a loss of sensitive information.
  • Malicious hotspots are wifi hotspots set up by hackers or other no-goodniks with special hidden settings that give them access to traffic moving through the hotspot, and potentially even the devices that connect to it. This one can be especially insidious because any hotspot you connect to in public can potentially be compromised. One thing to look out for is hotspots with names that don’t look right, or that are simple misspellings of trusted establishments.
  • Snooping and Sniffing is similar to malicious hotspot usage but doesn’t require a compromised hotspot in order to work. Basically, hackers use special software kits designed to allow them to spy on wifi signals. Using this method, attackers can potentially gain access to everything you do online, so it’s important to always be vigilant.

There are a few easy steps you can take to make your connection more secure right off the bat;

  • Disable any file sharing settings on your device. This will stop your computer from automatically sending and receiving files, which obviously makes it that much harder for malicious people to access them.
  • Only use websites with “HTTPS” next to the URL. These websites employ encryption for security purposes and are safer to log into over public wifi channels.
  • Always remember to turn off your wifi and Bluetooth when you’re done using them. This will prevent your computer from automatically connecting to illicit hotspots and compromised devices.
  • Use a VPN. A virtual private network, or VPN, allows you to tunnel your connection through a private secure server. This lets you keep your identity safe while browsing and can also have other perks like unblocking region-locked content. The best VPN services also have malware protection features.

What the Crypto: The Availability of Cryptocurrency

Over the past several years, cryptocurrencies have suddenly become quite popular. People from all parts of the world trade and invest in it, and some even make millions. The market value of each cryptocurrency also bolsters the fact that they are not going anywhere soon.

There are more than 2,000 cryptocurrencies available in the crypto market, set at different prices. You can get familiar with the top 25 by taking a look at the infographic provided below.

The prices are determined by how popular the cryptocurrency is and how many people are trading with it. The more people that trade, the higher the value.

The most popular and oldest cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. It was created in 2009 by a pseudonymous cryptographer. It has the best value because one Bitcoin sells at over $6,500, making it the most expensive cryptocurrency. At some point in 2017, one Bitcoin sold for as much as $19,000. However, it seems to have stabilized at the current price.

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Technology for the Elderly

The population is aging more rapidly than at any point in history. Healthcare improvements along with a better understanding of good nutrition and healthy habits allow us to advance to older ages with greater health than ever before. 

However, even with the best care aging can present problems. Thankfully, technology has been keeping up with the evolving needs of an aging population and the latest advancements have the potential to make our retirement years far more enjoyable than you may have imagined possible only a few decades ago. 

Aging in Place

Aging in place was often impossible. As people age their mobility becomes more limited and walking up and down a flight of stairs repeatedly simply becomes impossible. Because of this, many elderly homeowners would sell their home and move to a single-story residence or transition into a retirement community. Even if this wasn’t what they necessarily wanted, it was frequently the only logical option. 

Fortunately, technology has made elevators and lifts for elderly homeowners a possibility for an increasing number of individuals. Originally, this technology was cost prohibitive for the average person but it has been refined extensively over the past decades and is now an affordable option for many more retirees.  

Another innovation which has made aging in place a more viable solution for homeowners is the ability to work from home. In the past, many retirees would find their decreased income made it impossible to remain in the larger home they had once easily afforded. Working outside of the home in lower paying jobs was an option, but not as enjoyable or rewarding in many ways as their previous careers. The internet has made it possible for retirees, and anyone else, to create a business they love from the comfort of their own home which can provide the needed financial resources to age in place while continuing to do meaningful work.

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PlagiarismCheck – is it worth your time and money

The present-day digital world gains the upper hand when it comes to writing and publishing content online. Everyone can create and share them with the public, so the issue of plagiarism and copyright infringement becomes essential more than ever. To make sure they write original works and no one duplicates them, writers consider plagiarism check tools and services to protect content from copy-pasting.

One of them has strong chances to become your own plagiarism curation tool, which belongs to a new-generation service complemented with technology and advanced algorithmic solutions.

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Some of the Best Phones and Apps for the Elderly

Elderly & Technology

For various reasons, many seniors have been left behind with regard to the digital revolution. They never could get those clocks to stop flashing 12:00. Then they had to figure out how to turn on a computer, and why was important to do so. After that, the internet. And now we have the smartphone, a bridge too far for many seniors.

They see the modern smartphone as yet another unhealthy obsession. They are deeply suspicious of any technology so apparently addictive. They push back by not having anything to do with it.

Being on fixed incomes, many seniors have a hard time understanding the value proposition. They know what a phone is because they have used one all their lives – a cheap one. They can hardly imagine how the experience is improved by spending hundreds of dollars on a handset that has to be charged every day.

There is also a matter of trust, they do their banking in person, not on a pocket computer with who knows who’s on the other end. Their friends are people they talk to, not people they text to. Smartphones represent one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in the age of the digital divide along generational lines.

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Design Leaders

Leader

Design Leaders aren’t super-designers. Their role is NOT to ‘approve or disapprove’ other designers. Nor is it to dot the final pixel-perfect or sweat the final details to a design.

Many organizations make the common mistake of confusing design managers with design leaders. Design leaders touch upon the organization, and not just the design department. The role is strategic and needs to align with the organization’s strategy and plans.

C-suite Design Leaders who can take decisions

Organizations, in search for a competitive advantage over their counterparts, should have more visible acts of advocacy for design leadership. Hiring design leaders such as “Chief Design Officer” or similar C-suite Vice President design roles is a good start.

A successful design leader brings in a design harmony, patterns, frameworks, and guides across the organization. From the very deep core of visual and experience designs to brand messaging to treating people, a design leader has a meaningful impact. She can have a successful and meaningfully designed product, by working with the team, without herself ever opening Photoshop or Sketch. She might just be sketching on a napkin but she connects the dots and get the team to execute the best of designs.

Erstwhile Craftsman & Practitioner

One key measure of a successful design leader is her effective presentation skills. She should be able to talk with confidence and drive everyone involved towards a common goal. She should have good management skills and leverage the best of design managers. Finally, she should mentor and help more designers become leaders.

Marcin Treder said it beautifully, “Great design leaders are seasoned practitioners, ready to give up the craft.”

A design leader leads and drives discussions with the design team, management and beyond. She initiates dialogue, both good and bad, to achieve the common goal of producing good meaningful designs. She instills an inquisitive mood of asking “what” driving organizations to produce better-designed products. She is confident in leaving the “how” of designs to the designers and the team.

The Right Person

It is sad but many organizations try to bring in design leaders who are not designers but carved out of seasoned managers. Without design leaders, organizations cannot achieve good designs. Without a design leader, even the best designers will just be answering to the whims of managers to fulfill client and customer demands that might not be good in the long term.

A design leader continues to be actively involved in design disciplines, remain driven to design, coaches others, is a team player, always open-minded, is not afraid of change, and is always ready to give actionable feedback. Last, but not the least, a design leader is committed to integrating design and design thinking throughout the organization.

“Design leaders succeed by designing indirectly – through the work of their teams. The key task of a design leader is to become the worst designer on the team.” — Marcin Treder

Here are some good references for further reading;

Photo by Jehyun Sung.

3 Ways AI is Contributing to Businesses Success

Tech innovations like artificial intelligence are no longer the stuff of science-fiction. Thanks to advancements made in machine learning, we now have AI that can complete notoriously difficult university entrance exams 12 times faster than the average human. That’s just one example of how far this technology has come.

Luckily, access to these technologies isn’t restricted to a few elite individuals or organizations. Machine learning, AI, and automation are all set to revolutionize the way companies do business in the near future, and businesses of nearly all sizes can benefit.

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Free Lectures (videos) from Princeton on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin

You have definitely heard of Bitcoin and wanted to know all the details. Bitcoin is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. It was the first practical implementation and is currently the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence.

Here are a series of lectures from Princeton University on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency. The lectures are technical and address some important questions about Bitcoin, such as:

How does Bitcoin work? What makes Bitcoin different? How secure are your Bitcoins? How anonymous are Bitcoin users? What determines the price of Bitcoins? Can cryptocurrencies be regulated? What might the future hold?

After this course, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects.

Here are the 11 video lectures.

1. Intro to Crypto and Cryptocurrencies

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Education Centers should think like big businesses when it comes to technology

Education Technology

Education centers, especially higher education centers, should take technology cues from the nation’s leading businesses. To be successful, the latest technology has to be leveraged to improve attendance, garner new students, retain current students, and improve the student’s overall experience. The following shows how big businesses are driving sales and gaining new customers, and how education centers can follow suit:

Leverage Data Visualization Software

The nation’s largest organizations understand the power of business intelligence, which is why they invest in data analytics and visualization software. Colleges, especially small technical schools, can benefit from using industry-leading software, such as Tableau or Microsoft Power BI. For a detailed comparison of these solutions, check out – Power BI vs Tableau. Comparing them is essential to learning which system provides the most benefit for a particular institution.

Basically, these programs incorporate all the big data collected from spreadsheets, storyboards, and other software. It then places it in a user-friendly space where it can be analyzed and interpreted by anyone. The benefits are immeasurable. It can help schools identify successful student traits, advertise more effectively, and reveal opportunities previously unseen.

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New and Interesting Augmented Reality (ARKit) Apps for iPhones and iPads

Augmented Reality

Robert Scoble published a list of ARKit Apps (Augmented Reality). I found it interesting and listing it here, in no particular order, for the records. You need an ARKit-enabled iPhone or iPad to play with these apps.

  1. Sketchfab – drop 3D objects near you.
  2. Orb – pull out basic shapes and then sculpt, rotate, and paint them to create your own Orbs.
  3. PuzzlAR: World Tour -puzzle game.
  4. Holo – see the quality of holograms.
  5. Army of Robots – you must destroy the robots that are invading your REAL WORLD.
  6. Paint Space AR – draw in the air with all sorts of brushes and colors.
  7. Math Ninja AR – get kids involved in learning math.
  8. World Brush – paint with brushes on the world around you.
  9. Follow Me Dragon – Say hi to your new dragon! He breathes fire, does tricks, and follows you anywhere you go!
  10. Insight Heart – explore the human heart; rotate and scale the high-resolution heart floating in front of you.
  11. Monster Park – Dino World – Would you like to make a hilarious photo with dinosaurs, those who ruled the Earth long time ago?
  12. Nitro Nation – For those who live life 1/4 mile at a time, Nitro Nation is the most addictive drag racing game!
  13. aCen – a target shooting game.
  14. Fitness AR – explore your Strava bike rides and runs in augmented reality.
  15. powARdup – a fast-paced arcade survival game.
  16. Magic Sudoku – aim this app at a sudoku board game and it’ll solve it for you.
  17. Dronetopolis – Fly a virtual drone around.
  18. Dance Reality – Learn to dance in AR.
  19. My Very Hungry Caterpillar – caterpillar game.
  20. Conduct AR – a train game.
  21. Color BlastAR – find the paint buckets and treasure chests hidden in your room and start blasting life-sized zombies with color.
  22. AR Runner – gets you to run around.
  23. Splitter Critters – Split the world with a swipe of your finger and then rearrange it to guide critters back to their spaceship.
  24. ARrived – The player assumes the role of a deity who must lead followers through key decisions and interacts with real environment in order to guide them reach prosperity and to all kinds of crazy stuff.
  25. GIPHY World: AR GIFs+Stickers – Get ready to fill the world around you with GIFs & stickers in glorious AR powered 3D!
  26. AR Sports Basketball – basketball game.
  27. AR-Basketball – basketball game.
  28. Drive Ahead! Minigolf – Minigolf.
  29. Mammoth Mini Golf AR – a wacky caveman themed world of mini golf right into your home.
  30. Stack AR – Stack up the blocks as high as you can.
  31. CARROT Weather – a crazy-powerful weather app that delivers hilariously twisted forecasts.
  32. Zombie Gunship Revenant – zombie shooter where you take control of a heavily-armed helicopter gunship and obliterate zombies from the sky.
  33. Pigeon Panic – run haphazardly into large flocks of pigeons.
  34. Phantogeist – first person shooter game.
  35. The Machines – bring an AR battlefield to life in front of your eyes.
  36. YuME: Alice’s Dream – a story about a dream within a dream – story, puzzles, games.
  37. Domino World – create incredible virtual domino courses quickly and easily in the world around you, using an assortment of tiles, props and toys.
  38. shARk – lets sharks enter your world and swim with you.
  39. Twilight Pioneers:Dragon ARena – a story about a dragon soul controller fighting with the Dark Lord.
  40. AR Balloons – pop Balloons in augmented reality.
  41. Knightfall – places you into the world of Knights Templar as they seek to defend the city of Acre from an invadaing army.
  42. The Box – every day you get new functionality.
  43. Mancala FS5 – a board game.