newsletter-big-two-for-april-28

NEWSLETTER: BIG TWO FOR APRIL 28

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

McAFEE IS MAKING ‘HACK-PROOF’ SMARTPHONE.


THE STORY

Cybersecurity pioneer John McAfee to create an ultra-secure smartphone.

TELL ME MORE?

Apparently, the grand old man of System Security has become fed up of the laxity shown by smartphone makers; and has taken it upon himself to come up with a phone that will take device security more seriously. In his April 27 blog post, McAfee wrote: “We have given the keys to the kingdom, blindly and willingly, to the world’s hackers. Pleas from the cybersecurity community to smartphone manufacturers to fix this horrific problem by returning to the less ‘cool’ air gapped physical switches have fallen on deaf ears. In desperation, I decided to do it myself.”

AND WHEN IS THIS PHONE GOING TO HIT THE MARKET?

McAfee’s blog post went on to clarify that the first version of the phone’s prototype is not going to be (completely) hack proof. However, it allegedly gives the user ‘enormous power over his or her privacy and it is light years ahead of the Blackphone or any other phone claiming to be secure.’ Version two of the prototype is expected to be available in early 2018. This version has been touted by McAfee thus: “as hack proof as humanly possible.”

OK, SO HOW MUCH IS THIS PHONE GONNA COST?

It’s not going to come cheap! The phone will roughly cost about $1,100. It’s target market will be enterprise customers and, to quote McAfee, will be the most “hack-proof” smart phone in the market. Yeah, so as much as you like the idea of an ultra-secure smartphone, it’s not going to easy to get your hands on one.

HOW EXACTLY IS THE PHONE GOING TO BE ‘HACK-PROOF’?

The smartphones will have switches on the back cover which will let users physically disconnect the battery, the antennas for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and geolocation, the camera and microphone, etc. Also, the phone won’t be allowed to connect to a Stingray or any other IMSI catcher for further protection.

IS THE PROBLEM OF SMARTPHONE SECURITY THAT SERIOUS?

Yes! Here’s what Stephen Coty, chief cybersecurity expert at AlertLogic, has to say: “Securing smartphones is critical for day-to-day business for most enterprises as they can contain corporate chats, email, contacts and notes related to projects or corporate meetings. There is absolutely a need for a privacy-focused smartphone, or at least corporate controlled phones like the Blackberry Enterprise Server, where [the firm] has full control to remotely wipe, remove malicious applications, and insure patches are deployed. This phone is a great concept, but until you lock it down to stop the actual user from being able to compromise themselves, there’ll always be potential vulnerabilities.” (As reported in International Business Times)

FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE GOT MUGGED. BIG TIME!


THE STORY

Facebook and Google conned out of $100m in phishing scheme.

DID I READ THAT RIGHT?

You bet! Even tech giants aren’t immune to the alarmingly sophisticated online stealth attacks. Earlier today, The Guardian reported that the Social Networking platform and Search Engine Service provider lost about $100 million – each – in a phishing scam.

BUT DID THEY ACTUALLY LOSE ALL THAT MONEY?

Technically, no! “We recovered the bulk of the funds shortly after the incident and has been cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation,” Facebook said in a statement. Google too stated, “detected this fraud against our vendor management team and promptly alerted the authorities. We recouped the funds and we’re pleased this matter is resolved.”

IS THIS SORT OF LARGE SCALE HACKING COMMON ENOUGH?

It is not uncommon. In March this year, a 48-year-old Lithuanian man called Evaldas Rimasauskas, tricked two well-known tech companies into sending him over $100 million. The man was eventually charged with wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft for posing as Quanta Computer – a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer which counts Google, Facebook and Apple as its clients. In January, financial service providers KPMG estimated the value of frauds involving cybercrime to have exceeded £1.1bn – a 55% year-on-year rise underlining an alarming increase of theft and swindling in the cyberspace.

HOW ARE CYBERCRIMINALS BEATING TECH COMPANIES AT THEIR OWN GAME?

Because Internet is integral for every operation. And it’s impossible to decode and intercept each threat that lurks in there. There’s no guaranteed way to bypass hacks, data breaches, and other related intrusions. Last year, Yahoo officially announced mass data breach of its user accounts. With no credibility left, the Internet pioneer had to go in for a merger with Verizon. The three major ways in which enterprises expose themselves to the possibility of getting hacked are confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It is next to impossible to ensure all three parameters are foolproof. Hackers will always figure out some vulnerability. Besides, downloading malicious codes – unknowingly – compromises security too.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION THEN?

For enterprises? Well, you can’t be too careful. It’s one evil you’ve got to live with. The only thing that can be done is to be as careful as possible. Nothing’s sacrosanct. From costly conveyancing scams to fake IT support, it’s more important than ever to double-check anything asking for personal details or money. Watch your step!

Gargi Sengupta

Gargi is working with Systweak Software as Content Editor and Strategist. She believes Technology laced with Pop Culture, makes for an interesting combination. Beyond her work space, she fancies herself as a left-brained, right leaning conscientious individual with a weakness for good food, films, and fiction.

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