Hackers, wearables, and mind tricks

Written by Adam Weiss on 2016-07-28

Check out this week's must-knows in tech: hackers, wearables, and mind tricks; oh my!

The Not So Secure Security You're Forced to Use

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The scenario: You create an online account (i.e. email, bank accounts) but you're denied access until you enter a secret code, which is sent as an SMS (text) message to your smartphone. You wait not so patiently for the special text to light up your phone. Then you quickly memorize the provided code and scramble to type it into the page you're trying to sign in to. Sound familiar?

This is a form of dual factor authentication. Though previously preached as almost necessary, dual factor authentication using SMS is no longer recommended. Why? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a federal agency, says "using SMS is deprecated" because SMS security guidelines are more lax. Therefore, it's easier for hackers to intercept SMS messages and ultimately hack into your account. But, the NIST cannot force companies to stop using SMS in the authentication process, so you'll still see it for a while and be forced to use it.

Hack Attacks: Don't Be Next


Hackers have attacked again. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) joins the ranks of top tech execs and companies like Sony, Home Depot, and Target after it was hacked just prior to the start of the Democrats' national convention this week. And if you didn't think it could get any more heated, yesterday, WikiLeaks leaked voicemails from the DNC. We bet they're really feeling the Bern now. Politics aside, cybersecurity specialists are trying to determine who really is responsible for the attacks.

Cyber attacks clearly keep happening, and we don't think you want your personal emails and voicemails spread across the Internet. While researchers raise a ton of money to reevaluate cybersecurity, the more pressing question: how can you personally protect yourself from getting hacked now?

Up and Coming Apps


Hoping to get upgraded on your next flight? An Australian company, Seatfrog, wants to help you out. The travel tech startup has created an app that lets you enter an auction to snag a better seat. Like eBay, you're notified once bidding starts, and the highest bidder wins. Airlines earn a few extra dollars for unused seats, and passengers can win a better seat for much less than the regular price. Win-win.

Speaking of up and coming apps, can you guess what the most popular mobile apps were from the first two quarters of this year? Note that Pokemon Go came out on July 6th, so it doesn't count.

Wellness Wearables, Women, and Rings


Need actionable wellness advice? Bellabeat, a producer of health trackers for women, is offering personalized guidance through its trendy looking health tracker called Leaf (the newest model is Leaf Urban). By tracking sleep, activity, stress levels, and menstrual cycles, Leaf will provide feedback and offer meditation goals and exercises based on your stats.

Other wearables for women? Check out Ava, a fertility tracking bracelet. If you're sick of all these wearable bracelets, BioRing is one of many companies creating a wearable smart ring to track your wellness.

One wearable we're skeptical of (unless you like raves, EDC, and loud DJs)? The smart bracelet Gemio - it lights up when your friends are nearby and is probably better used to create cool light shows. And for all Pokemon Go fans, looks like Pokemon Plus, the wearable bracelet, won't help you catch them all until September.

Sharing is Caring

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In today's sharing economy, it's only natural to share everything online, like Netflix passwords and Amazon Prime accounts. Google is catching on (two years after Apple) and introducing Google Play Family Library. The free feature lets you connect up to six accounts to share books, apps, music, TV shows, and movies. If you're the main person on the account though, watch out because connected users can use your credit card to make additional purchases.


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Our Web Terms 101 series is back! Check out the latest, Twitter Account Verification

Playing Mind Games


Feeling stressed or need a quick break? Check out these videos of 11 optical illusions. Can you figure out how they work? Videos of 11 Optical Illusions.