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Security

Smart Speaker Spies

Amazon and Google both offer smart speakers that provide a variety of services based on voice activated commands. They also both allow third party developers to create voice apps utilizing the functionality of these devices. In the past there have been concerns over employees of Amazon or Google utilizing the always on microphone feature to eavesdrop on users. With third party developers being allowed to create and deploy apps for these devices the concern is multiplied by every third party app developed.

While Amazon and Google have vetting protocols in place to ensure that criminals can not publish malicious apps for these devices, recently Security Research Labs found two possible hacking scenarios that apply to Amazon Alexa and Google Home. You can see a full description of both these hacks here https://srlabs.de/bites/smart-spies/

SRL reported these hacks to Amazon and Google before they made them public, so that the companies could work to resolve these issues.  As with all connected devices criminals will attempt to use these smart speakers to gain valuable information. Keep in mind that unless you have muted or unplugged these devices the microphones are always on. These devices should never request your password, and if they do you should log into your account from another device to confirm the request. Also using 2 factor authentication for accounts linked to these devices will help to mitigate security concerns.

 

Pa$$Words

Strong passwords are extremely important to your personal cyber security. The list of accounts and passwords we are required to use is constantly growing. From your bank account to Amazon or Netflix, you have passwords for almost everything you do online.

As security concerns become more prevalent many of these accounts require minimum levels of password strength, and at the very least will inform you when you are using a weak password. Remembering all these complex passwords is very difficult. Especially if you take proper security precautions and use a different password for every account.

With the passwords we use becoming more complex many options have appeared to help you  keep track of the ever increasing list of passwords. Most of the browsers that you use offer the ability to store your passwords for you, and automatically log you in. While some of these are more secure than others, they are not usually the ideal solution from a security perspective.

There is another option, password managers are becoming increasingly popular, and are generally a more secure option. Some charge a monthly fee, but most offer free versions.

Below I have listed a few different password managers. They have free versions, but also offer paid versions with more features.

Bitwarden http://bitwarden.com

Last Pass http://lastpass.com

Dash Lane http://dashlane.com

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