Monthly Archives: March 2016

App of the Week – BAE

Bae-LogoOnline dating is how people meet in the digital age. More and more dating relationships and marriages start online than every before. But would it surprise you to learn that black singles have a tougher time on dating sites than whites? That is why  Before Anyone Else is the App of the Week.

BAE Founders

BAE founders Jordan Kunzika, Brian Gerrard and Justin Gerrard.

 

 

Before Anyone Else is a mobile dating app created by Jordan Kunzika, Brian Gerrard and Justin Gerrard. The objective of the app is to improve the online dating a experience for black people. Jordan Kunzika, is CTO of BAE and a first generation Angolan-American. As a senior at Dartmouth College he was often the only black person in his computer science classes.

Kunzika is  Google Generation Scholar and has been an intern at Microsoft and Intel. Kunzika chose the entrepreneurial route after college and help found BAE.   “I was honored to get full-time offers from Microsoft and Google before even turning 21, but I knew that I could serve a higher calling to represent a paradigm shift in what a tech entrepreneur could look like,” he says.

According to Pew Research over 30 million Americans have used an online dating service or mobile dating app.  A survey conducted by OkCupid  of 25 million OkCupid accounts revealed that when users rated their matches they penalized African-American men and women. 

The BAE selection process works like this, users swipe right for brothas or sistas that appeal to them and left for those that don’t. BAE is different because of a proprietary algorithm built by Kunzika. “What users like the most about BAE,” he explains, “is the quality of the matches and that it helps you find those you’re most interested in.”  If the user prefers to match with someone with an equal or higher educational achievement BAE will learn that over time as you swipe right for those potential matches.

The app proved to very popular and within a few weeks of their April 2015 launch, they reached 17,000 downloads and have grown over ten times since. 

BAE is free and available for Apple and Android devices

Bad Spelling Could Get You Hacked!

Cybersquatting 2Are you a bad speller? Well misspelling the name of a popular website could get you in a lot of trouble. A  recent a study conducted by cyber security firm Endgame found more than 300 well-known companies, such as Netflix, YouTube and Google have been targeted in an attempt to trap bad spellers online. You don’t have to be a really bad speller to get caught up. You can be a little careless and find yourself on a dangerous website.

Hackers and cyber criminals have been registering domain names like googgle.com, googlw.com and Netflix.om. If you look closely you will see these names are close fakes to the real thing. This is nothing new. Its commonly know as cyber-squatting or typo-squatting.

Some of these fake websites take users to sites registered in Oman which is where the .om domain is registered. These websites are exact duplicates of the real thing but these sites are loaded with malware and other nasty stuff including ransomware that could destroy the data on your computer. Cyber criminals may also attempt to convince the user to share their personal details. All because you’re a poor speller.

Cyber-squatting and typo-squatting has a rich history on the web and some the biggest companies have been victims including Microsoft.

But the real danger of cyber-squatting or typo-squatting is finding yourself at some place like www.bankamerica.ru. or welsfargo.ng. Many people have landed on duplicate or replica sites that look like the real thing and enter their username and password. That is all the cyber criminal needs to rob your bank account. Bad spelling can cause a lot of problems including financial catastrophe. Be careful what you type in your address bar.

Now you know.

 

Safer Online Shopping with Burner Credit Cards

visa-full-colour-reverseAfrican-Americans hold almost a trillion dollars in buying power.  Much of that money is spent online. Black people do more online shopping than any other group and as a result we are more vulnerable to retail tracking and credit card fraud.  

Privacy and security is hard to come by in the digital age. Seems like everything is stored in somebody’s database and tracked; and these are the good guys.  The bad guys are hacking something everyday. Your credit card information is always vulnerable to theft. If it is stolen you get stuck with the hassle of calling your bank for a new one, or waiting to see if yours is misused. 

A new service known as Privacy.com lets you create virtual, disposable credit card numbers or burner cards, that deactivate instantly if stolen. Privacy.com actually creates a disposable card number that protects your security and privacy when you shop online. Privacy.com is a VISA card that can be used at any online store or anywhere VISA debit cards or gift cards are accepted. The cards are locked to a single merchant and you can make it a single-use or set transaction or monthly spending limits on them. The Privacy.com burner card does not require a credit check because it is not a credit card but works like a debit card. Spending limits are set at $1,000 a day and $2,000 a month.

Money on the card come directly from your selected account but the merchant does not see your account number or the credit cad number. The transaction process is completely anonymous.

People choosing to use the Privacy.com cards need to have an account at one of the following financial institutions;

According to the Privacy.com website the number of banks is growing. If you don’t see your bank on this list send them an email at  hello@privacy.com.

The Privacy.com service is only supported on  Google Chrome and Mozilla FireFox and the app is available in the iOS App store. The company is working on getting other browsers on board with the service. 

Now you know.

 

 

 

Car Hacking is Real!

2016-bmw-7-series

2016 BMW 7 Series Sedan

As you know cars are more and more reliant on technology. Internet connected cars provide everything from GPS directions, to entertainment to monitoring how well you and your engine are performing. And anything connected to the Internet can be hacked.

Recently the FBI issued a public service announcement warning  that cars are increasingly vulnerable to hackers and are encouraging victims to report incidents. The warning  was issued jointly with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and cautioned consumers and manufacturers to be aware of the risks of car hacking.

 Car hacking is real!  In July of 2015 a group of researcher demonstrated how  they could take control of a vehicle including braking and steering while it was traveling at 70 MPH.

Technological advancements in cars are simply amazing. On board computers control numerous vehicle functions including steering, braking, acceleration, lights and windshield wipers.  Cars also have wireless capability, including smartphone and  Bluetooth syncing,  keyless entry, ignition control, tire pressure monitoring, and diagnostic, navigation and entertainment systems; all vulnerable to hackers.  Many new cars offer autonomous systems for emergency braking and even steering. The new BMW 7 Series sedan allows the driver to release the steering wheel for up to 15 seconds. Audi  is offering a car that can drive in traffic jams and even find a parking space and park itself without the driver even being present. Not in the future, TODAY!

The FBI warned car owners that wireless vulnerabilities could be introduced by third-party aftermarket devices often used by insurance companies to monitor drivers. Devices likProgressive Insurance’s Snapshot come with Internet or cellular access and plug into your car’s diagnostics ports. These devices are an open gateway to automobile control systems.

The FBI and NHTSA urge consumers and manufacturers to take action to minimize the vehicular cyber security threats related to vehicle technologies.

Consumers are urged to maintain awareness of the latest recalls and updates affecting their vehicles. But criminals are also aware of these updates and it is possible criminals may exploit this delivery method. The FBI has warned that online manufacturer updates are vulnerable. Hackers using social engineering tricks could send an email messages to vehicle owners searching for legitimate software updates. These messages could trick them into clicking on links to malicious websites, opening attachments containing malware, or installing malware from USB drives. To minimize the potential risks vehicle owners should always verify any recall notices received, check on the vehicle manufacturer’s website to verify to if any software updates have actually been issued. Owners are warned to avoid downloading software from third-party websites, and use only trusted USB drives.

Is your car vulnerable? There is a list of the most hackable cars on the road available.

Breaking It Down

Cars have changed. All those wonderful luxuries you enjoy in your new car come at price that is a bit more than money. Hackers are not likely to take over your car trying to kill you. That is possible but not likely. But there is the danger of some childish asshole hacking cars for fun and creating a situation where someone  could get hurt or killed. It’s more likely a hacker will hack your keyless entry system to unlock your car to steal it or something out of it.  They could also potentially disable your car the same way they disable a computer and force you to pay to get your car back. It will probably happen and may already have.

When buying a new car with all the cool new technology you need to sit down with your salesperson and have a nice long conversation about your car’s security features. Make sure you understand how software upgrades are handled. Make sure you also understand how those driver monitoring things from the insurance company works. Another vulnerability you need to look out for is connecting your smartphone to your car via Bluetooth. Everybody has a few apps on their phones. Apps carry malware and one of those apps may interact with your car in ways you were not expecting.

The bottom line is you need to understand more about your car than just keeping it on the road and operating the stereo and air conditioning. Those days are long gone. When shopping for a car do your research and know what technology you are getting and how secure it is. 

Boeing Expands Duties of CIO Ted Colbert

Ted Colbert, Boeing CIO and SVP of Information Analytics

Ted Colbert, Boeing CIO and SVP of Information Analytics

Ted Colbert, Chief Information Officer for Boeing Aerospace, has stepped up to take over the duties of Senior Vice President of Information and Analytics.

Boeing is one the most successful aerospace companies in history holding a current market value of $96 billion dollars. At just 41 years of age, Colbert’s profile at Boeing is rising significantly as the company works to expand the use of analytics in inventory management of commercial and military aircraft fleets, helping customer airlines schedule flight crews and develop flight plans and numerous other areas.

Colbert’s new responsibilities come as Boeing completes a shake up of its Chicago-based aerospace executive team that was announced last week. Colbert takes over his new duties next month the company said.

Colbert, who has been working as Boeing’s CIO since 2013 said, “Boeing has data science expertise, deep domain knowledge and experience in aerospace in both commercial and defense fields. We also have extensive data about large scale systems integration, manufacturing, security, cyber and other areas where Boeing has unique expertise.” Colbert went on to say, “We see a significant opportunity to convert that data and information into real-world results that influence the design and operation of airplanes and the entire aerospace industry.”

As Boeing’s  CIO Colbert highlighted his IT priorities for the coming year that include ensuring systems integration, security and integrity across the entire value chain while at the same time investing in the highest priority technologies to accelerate growth, improve productivity and streamline IT service.

Colbert also plans to focus on the continuous employee development to stay “ahead of the curve in rapidly changing business and technology environments,” he said. According to Boeing, Colbert currently manages roughly 6,500 technology-related employees.

Colbert is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology where  he completed the Dual Degree Engineering Program. At Atlanta’s Morehouse College ,Colbert graduated with degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Interdisciplinary Science. Colbert also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Insitu Inc.

Colbert previously worked for Citigroupas a senior vice president of Enterprise Architecture, based in the New York metro area. He also held positions focused on Enterprise Architecture and Strategy & Planning in the Global Architecture & Engineering organization. Before joining Citigroup, Colbert spent 11 years with Ford Motor Company’s Information Technology organization.

App of the Week – Jasmine’s Playroom

Jasmine's PlayroomEducating your children is a parent’s prime responsibility after food and clothing. Our children are growing up in a smaller and more multi-cultural world. Speaking a second language can give black children a key advantage in school and eventually the job market. That is why Jasmine’s Playroom is the App of the Week.

Jasmine’s Playroom is a Spanish language learning app for children. Learning a second language can be fun and this app sparks your child’s interest by making it fun and easy. The app is designed to engage the child in a story that immerses them in the language.

The child is invited into the story by Jasmine and her mother, characters in the story. Your child sees how the mother and child interact before and after each lesson. Lesson’s include learning Spanish alphabet sounds, vocabulary, number and colors.

Too often learning apps are nothing more than advertising vehicles aimed at our children, not so with Jasmine’s Playroom. Parents can rest easy because the app is advertising free and there are no in app purchases.

rodrick warren shayla warren

Rodrick and Shayla Warren, Creators and Developers of Mi Hija Jasmine App Series

Special Note: The AACR  is proud to declare Jasmines’s Playroom as the App of the Week. The app was created and developed by Rodrick and  Shayla Warren, an African-American couple. There no greater service to a black child from a parent than an education. Using technology in the process is vital. We live in a technology age and black children need those skills to survive and thrive in the future workplace. Special thanks and shout out to Rodrick & Shayla Warren.

Jasmine’s Playroom is $2.99 and available for Google, Apple and on Amazon Apps.

 

 

The Newest Way to Pay, A Selfie

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Photo Courtesy: Chris Sharp

Lets face it, user names and passwords are easily compromised. Credit card data theft and data breaches are commonplace. Paying for anything by credit or debit card is simply a dangerous action and if something goes wrong it could change your life. So what is the alternative? It may be your smiling face that secures your next payment.

On Tuesday Amazon filed for a patent  for an image based payment authentication  system. Pay by selfie may be a future harbinger of  online purchasing. Amazon’s patent uses image-authentication technology to identify the user. The technology demands the user perform a movement or motion to verify the user is alive and not a photo used to possibly fool the technology.

Last year, MasterCard introduced a similar system called MasterCard Identity Check. That system is scheduled to be introduced to the U.S.  market sometime in the middle of this year. China-based online retailer Alibaba is also testing a facial recognition-enabled payment system.

Its no secret that selfies are extremely popular. What is also extremely popular is mobile computing among African-Americans. Blacks use their mobile devices to do banking, shopping and other business more than any other group. But these mobile devices are extremely vulnerable to attack and hacking. Throw in the free wifi or the infected app and you could experience financial ruin. Pay by selfie could be a major payment revolution putting an end to cards, user names and PINs.

But personal authentication is moving beyond user names and PINs with other new technology. MasterCard’s is researching other forms of biometric authentication including electrocardiogram or heartbeat recognition. The company’s conducted consumer trials with the Nymi Band, a heart rate tracker, in Canada and the Netherlands. The biggest advantage of heart rate tracking is that is constant verification by taking readings in the background.

ATMs are also about to see advancements in identification. Chase recently announced it will be introducing card-free ATMs that use smartphones for identification. Using their smartphones Chase customers will open an app enter a pin number that activates the ATM.

Another new ATM being tested by Citigroup also discards the card and PIN but instead allows a user to authorize ATM withdrawals using iris-scan biometric technology and a smartphone.  The technology is being developed by Diebold. The machine is one of two new concepts presented at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas.

Like it or Not; You’re Getting Windows 10!

Windows 10Microsoft is serious about updating every PC with its latest Windows 10 operating system; whether you like it or not. The OS was first launched in July of 2015 as an upgrade and replacement for the less than popular Windows 8.

Users of older Windows operating systems have complained that the new upgrades were implemented without warning or their approval. Users have been posting complaints for the last few days on Reddit and Twitter after Microsoft’s last Patch Tuesday. Patch Tuesday is the day when Microsoft issues upgrades and patches to its software via the Internet. Users of Windows 7 and 8 were caught by surprise by the unwanted upgrades. 

Microsoft’s master plan is to upgrade all PC to the new operating system and has reclassified the new OS to “recommended.” That reclassification began on February 1, and Microsoft has been aggressively pushing auto-upgrades ever since. Many Windows users are familiar with the Windows 7 and 8 operating systems and are not happy with the way Microsoft is forcing Windows 10 on them. Microsoft understands it’s annoying people with its aggressive Windows 10 push, but it doesn’t seem to care and not denying it.

In an interview with the Inquirer a Microsoft spokesperson said; “For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade.” 

The updates first appear as a notification informing users their PCs are scheduled for the Windows 10 upgrade in the next three or four days. Users are given the option of declining the update by clicking a link to cancel or postpone the update.  But Microsoft doesn’t give up that easily. Closing the window only causes the notification to re-appear again one hour before the scheduled update time. If users don’t cancel or postpone within that timeframe, the update will begin automatically. If you still refuse to upgrade you can do so by declining the End User License Agreement. That causes your computer to revert back to the original operating system but that could take some time.

If you have not yet received an upgrade notice you are one of the few. It is possible to avoid installing Windows 10 completely  by going to Windows Update in the Control Panel, and unchecking the box under recommended updates, which reads “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates. ” 

According to Microsoft Windows 10 is safer more secure operating system with new features that include; 

  • A new start menu that utilizes tile images of apps and programs.
  • Cortana personal digital assistant that responds to voice commands and can perform search functions of the Internet and your hard drive.
  • New Microsoft Edge web browser.
  • Device Guard blocks zero-day attacks or previously unknown vulnerabilities, by screening applications that try to access Windows 10 machines and/or its network. 
  • Windows Hello, a biometric technology that uses your face, iris and fingerprint as password alternatives to launching Windows.
  • Windows Passport utilizes two-factor authentication (a biometric sensor such as fingerprint scan or facial recognition or PIN) and grants password-free access to applications, websites and networks on specific enrolled devices. 
  • Windows Store for trusted apps that require a Microsoft or trusted vendor signature.

Now you know.

Breach Brief – 21st Century Oncology

21st centuryA Florida based cancer treatment facility announced that an unknown hacker has stolen more than 2 million patient records. In a statement 21st Century Oncology said the data breach took place on October 3, 2015, but was not discovered until November 13. The company was notified by the FBI who spotted some of the records being exchanged on hacker websites.

The stolen data contains information on both staff members and current and former cancer patients.

21st Century reported the stolen included patient names, social security numbers, physician names, diagnosis details, treatment information, and insurance plans details and affects patients in all fifty states.

Details of the breach have been withheld until now because the FBI wanted to investigate leads that might have uncovered the culprit.

Tidal Music Continues to Struggle

tidal-share.239a2bdcTidal music streaming service is still struggling to find its place in the music streaming game. Jay-Z’s baby is taking some serious body blows and its days could be numbered. Tidal has again had to shake up its leadership in the hopes surviving in this hyper competitive market. To make matters worse the company is currently fighting a lawsuit over royalties.

According Norwegian Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv  two of Tidal’s top executives, Chief Operating Officer Nils Juell and Chief Financial Officer Chris Hart have been shown the door.

Jay Z spent $56 million in 2015 to acquire Tidal. Since that time it has seen three CEOs and a host of high-level executives jump ship. After only two months Senior Vice President of Label Relations Zena Burns departed. Then former Chief Investment Officer Vania Schlogel also took a walk.

Inside the company things are getting pretty ugly. Tidal’s was once valued at $250 million. Now that number is about $100 million and Tidal is looking ripe for the picking as some companies are looking to purchase it.

Samsung, the Korean tech giant, has been eyeing Tidal for over a year.  Tidal and Samsung have been been rumored before to be ready to conclude a deal but nothing has happened. According to the New York Post the company is in negotiations to purchase the company again. Samsung has ongoing relationships with several of Tidal’s artists including Rihanna. Samsung spent $28 million to sponsor Rihanna’s new album and tour.

But Samsung is not the only player in the game. Google and Spotify are also eyeing the struggling music service. Tidal, for all its struggles, does have a nice artist collection and potential buyers see them as nice additions to their streaming offerings.

Current CEO Jeff Toig, who came over from struggling Sound Cloud,  has begun laying off staff and consolidating operations in the New York office. Tidal is also facing accusations that it failed to pay out royalties on time resulting in a class action lawsuit. Yesh Music hit Tidal with a $5 million lawsuit claiming the company stiffed them and John Emanuele​, a member of The American Dollar.

Tidal responded in a statement denying any knowledge of Yesh’s complaint. “Tidal is up to date on all royalties for the rights to the music stated in Yesh Music, LLC and John Emanuele’s claim and they are misinformed as to who, if anyone, owes royalty payments to them.”

Tidal has also fumbled the release new music. Critics blasted the company over the botched release of Rihanna’s latest album Anti, and Kanye West’s exclusive launch of his latest release “The Life of Pablo”  on Tidal. The criticism has been so harsh that some say this may go down as the worst release effort in the history of recorded music.

Jay-Z may have bitten off more than he can chew with Tidal. Music streaming is a highly competitive business and Tidal needs to get some traction quick. But that’s not to say the game is over. Jay-Z only paid $56 million for a company now worth $100 million. If he sells it for that much he still comes out a winner.