All posts in “Cybersecurity”

Facial recognition tech spreads to car rentals


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Convenience comes at a cost.
Convenience comes at a cost.

Image: hertz/clear

Why take out your wallet and photo ID if a camera and software program can scan your face, verify your identity, and send you on your way in 30 seconds?

That’s what Hertz rental cars is asking with its new partnership with Clear, the biometric face and fingerprint scanning company you’ve seen at airport security checkpoints. 

At the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport this month, you can check out and drive off in your rental car with just a scan of your face (or a fingerprint reading). The offer only applies, however, if you’re a Gold Plus Rewards program member who’s signed up for Clear. Instead of showing an ID, you just look up at the camera from the car window and after scanning your face it matches the images against the database where your info is already logged.

The Fast Lane service will expand to 40 other airport rental locations in the next six months.

Hertz and Clear executives emphasized in a phone call Tuesday how this was about speeding up the check-out process. Instead of a two-minute average exit time to leave with your rented vehicle, the scan brings it down to 30 seconds, a 75 percent reduction in time. 

“Consumers expect less friction and more convenience,” Clear president Ken Cornick said.

“How it works, I don’t know, but I’m just glad it does,” a woman said in a testimonial video taken at the new check-out lanes last week.

It’s able to work so quickly because the software and cameras identifies you almost instantaneously. Ignorance around how it works, however, can be dangerous, especially if people don’t realize the unintended consequences of having their face or fingerprints trackable and potentially hackable.

“Biometrics are the best way to prove one’s identity,” Cornick said, adding that plastic ID cards are “outdated.”

Just look.

Just look.

Image: hertz/clear

The rental car scans come less than a week after Microsoft president Brad Smith warned about the dangers of facial recognition tech. Privacy issues — like situations recently seen in China with publicly shaming law-breakers — discrimination, and government misuse are all possibilities that stem from this convenience. 

Granted, the Hertz use-case is fairly harmless. But that’s how it always starts. Live Nation started using face scanning at its venues earlier this year, in yet another situation ripe for abuse and misuse. 

On iPhones the pervasive use of facial recognition is becoming mainstream and essentially priming a society for the tech in our everyday tools and devices. Even Facebook uses facial recognition to tag photos and posts.

But as Microsoft warned, “The facial recognition genie… is just emerging from the bottle,” and it might be driving off in a rented Ford Taurus. 

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Save $45 on Norton Security Deluxe on Amazon and secure up to 5 devices

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Image: Pexels

The holiday season presents plenty of “stranger danger” moments for you and your family. The only risk that’s greater than strange people is strange people on the internet, all trying to get ahold of your personal information. And since 2017 saw a 3.5% increase in air travel from Dec. 15 to Jan. 4, you can bet 2018 will be just as busy — with even more opportunities to put your data at risk.

Whether it’s schlepping through airports, snoozing on a Greyhound bus, or simply escaping to a coffee shop to avoid your in-laws, Wi-Fi options this time of year are sketchy at best, leaving many at risk as hackers try to take advantage of vulnerabilities. If you’re not smart about staying safe online, it’s not all that difficult to become a statistic. According to Verizon’s 2018 Breach Investigation, 92% of malware is still sent out by email. Yikes.

Protect yourself against prying eyes and keep those “Nigerian Princes” away from your social security number with a software package from Norton, on sale just in time for the annual holiday rush. 

A subscription to Norton Security Deluxe is currently $34.99, which is $45 off the original $79.99 price and will protect up to five of your devices for one year.

There are few names as trusted in the space when it comes to anti-virus and data protection than Norton, which is why the software routinely tops “best of” lists on both our site and elsewhere. Aside from standard antivirus protection, Security Deluxe will also safeguard you from ransomware, spyware, malware, and harmful websites that could infect your device. It also protects your personal and financial data from potential hacks thanks to its Smart Firewall and the password manager.

Now the only thing you’ll need to worry about is whether you’ll be able to snag the window seat.

National Republican Congressional Committee emails hacked during 2018 campaign

Not good.
Not good.

Image: Ambar Del Moral / mashable

It turns out that hackers are an equal opportunity bunch. 

During the lead up to the 2016 U.S. election, much ado was made of the hack of the Democratic National Committee and subsequent publishing of stolen emails. 

Now, thanks to a report by Politico, we know that in 2018 the National Republican Congressional Committee suffered a security breach of its own. 

Specifically, email accounts belonging to four senior aides working for the House Republican campaign organization were said to have been “surveilled” for months. Yup, you read that right: The Republicans’ emails were hacked, too. 

It’s unclear at this time who or what organization directed the latest digital excursion. The 2016 hack of the DNC has since been blamed on the Russian intelligence agency known as the GRU. No such accusation has been made in the latest hack, at least publicly. 

We also don’t know what information, exactly, was accessed. 

“We don’t want to get into details about what was taken because it’s an ongoing investigation,” a senior party official told Politico. “Let’s say they had access to four active accounts. I think you can draw from that.”

Notably, many senior Republican officials were reportedly not made aware of the hack at the time of its discovery. According to the Washington Post, the breach was discovered in April of this year. 

“The cybersecurity of the committee’s data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter,” NRCC spokesperson Ian Prior told the Post. “To protect the integrity of that investigation, the NRCC will offer no further comment on the incident.”

Interestingly, the media recently asked Donald Trump about the 2016 DNC hack. His response, essentially, was that it was the DNC’s fault. 

“I heard that they were trying, or people were trying, to hack into the RNC, too — the Republican National Committee — but we had much better defenses,” Trump said on Face The Nation in July. “I’ve been told that by a number of people. We had much better defenses, so they couldn’t. I think the DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked.” 

Assuming the Washington Post’s reporting is correct, the fact that RNCC’s hack was detected months before Trump gave the above interview only helps to paint an uglier picture of the head of the Republican party. 

But that reality is just as shocking as the fact that our political parties continue to be the target of malicious actors – that is to say, not very shocking at all. 

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Save on cybersecurity apps: Get 4 for less than $10 per month

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Image: Pexels

Between your streaming service charges, monthly payments to the cloud, regular curated box deliveries, and that gym membership you rarely use, you and your wallet are probably tormented with way too many subscription services. According to a recent survey, one in ten millennials shells out over $200 or more on monthly subscriptions alone. That’s way too much money spent on Netflix and Prime, don’t you think?

But there are services like VPN, password management tools, and antivirus programs that you can’t simply hit unsubscribe to. These are vital subscriptions, and your digital life will be much safer with them in tow. 

In an effort to help you cut costs though, we’re highlighting a sale on Vault, a streamlined way of enjoying the same services for a much cheaper cost. It features four top security apps, and you only have to pay one monthly fee of $9.99 to gain access to all of them. That’s cheaper than two cups of coffee!

They say good things come in small and cheap digital packages, and we concur. If you subscribe to Vault, you’ll get to enjoy these top-rated tools:

An award-winning VPN service

If you wouldn’t let your best-est friend in the world — the one that knows your deepest, darkest secrets — take even as much as a glimpse of your Google search history. So why would you give sleazy strangers on the internet that satisfaction? Without a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you’re essentially exposing your sensitive data to the world and inadvertently allowing hackers to take advantage of it.

NordVPN is a top-rated VPN service that serves as your digital shield online. Bagging the coveted Outstanding rating from PCMag, it offers unparalleled security, fast browsing speeds, and private, unrestricted access to any site. Every morsel of data that goes through NordVPN’s private tunnels is double encrypted to ensure you remain anonymous and your information is safely hidden. It also employs a zero logs policy, so you can rest assured that your data can’t be touched by anyone.

An intuitive password manager

If you’re like any average citizen of the internet, you most likely maintain at least 90 online accounts, which means you also have 90 different passwords to memorize and change every few months. Dashlane eliminates all that hassle — and saves you from contracting memorization-induced insanity — by being your one-stop-shop for all your password-related needs.

It’s equal parts an instant password generator and changer and password manager, supercharged by secure and accurate autofill technology. It allows you to instantly log into any website, make digital payments, securely store vital personal data, and more, without lifting a finger. Best of all, your passwords are stored inside a military-grade encrypted vault, so no else can gain access.

An AI-based cloud drive

Your devices are home to thousands upon thousands of photos, videos, and files, but c’mon, do you actually use them on a regular basis? Probably not. Which is why it’s best to tuck them away safely in the cloud. Deego provides two terabytes (equivalent to around 1,000 hours of movies, 620,000 photos, 2,000 hours of video, 34,000 hours of songs) of storage under ultra-secure 256-bit AES encryption. It automatically backs up all your files and makes sure they’re up to date with automatic file change detection. It even features a top secret feature with zero knowledge encryption which you can use for your most sensitive data.

A powerful antivirus software

You don’t really expect your standard issue antivirus software to bring you all-around protection, do you? Viruses, malware, ransomware, and all other scary-sounding wares are no match to Panda Dome, an all-in-one security solution to protect your identity and your devices. On top of acting as a powerful barrier against threats, it also safeguards access to all your data. Plus, it’s compatible with PC, Mac, and Android, allowing you to enjoy utmost protection across all your devices.

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