Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work . . .Daniel H. Burnham, Quoted in Charles Moore (1921) Daniel H. Burnham, Architect, Planner of Cities, Volume 2
If you received a new Alexa device over the holidays and are working on setting it up, be warned that a fake Alexa setup app has been making its way up Apple’s App Store charts. The app is called “Setup for Amazon Alexa” and it’s from a company called One World Software that, as 9to5Mac points out, has two other shady apps in the App Store as well. As of writing, the app was ranked at #75 in the “Top Free” apps list and #6 in the list of top utilities apps.
This is, frankly, one of my biggest fears on mobile platforms. For example, when I opened a new account with a bank recently, there were several apps that came up in the Google Play store when I searched for my bank’s app.
None of the other apps were scams (I think), but rather they had names similar to my bank. But it wouldn’t be difficult to fool users with similarly named apps as this fake Alexa app illustrates.
SplashData looked at the passwords of 5 million accounts that were leaked by various breaches in 2018, and found that many users are still using very simple, easy-to-guess passwords.
The top 10 most common passwords, for example, were:
According to SplashData, 2018 is the fifth year in a row that “123456” and “password” were #1 and #2 respectively on their list of common passwords based on analysis of breaches in that year. SplashData offers sensible steps to better create and manage passwords,
1. Use passphrases of twelve characters or more with mixed types of characters.
2. Use a different password for each of your logins. That way, if a hacker gets access to one of your passwords, they will not be able to use it to access other sites.
3. Protect your assets and personal identity by using a password manager to organize passwords, generate secure random passwords, and automatically log into websites.
But, fundamentally, the systems that are in widespread use these days are far too difficult for end users to easily secure.
Illnois and New York have previously enacted bans on the use of elephants in circuses or other traveling entertainment acts, but New Jersey has become the first state to ban the use of any wild or exotic animals in traveling entertainment acts.
Assembly Bill No. 1923, approved by the New Jersey legislature and signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, says,
Notwithstanding any other law, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, no person shall use an elephant or other wild or exotic animal in a traveling animal act.
In a press release, Murphy described his reasons for signing what is referred to as Nosey’s Law, after a 36-year old African elephant that performed in traveling animal acts,
“I am proud to sign ‘Nosey’s Law’ and ensure that New Jersey will not allow wild and exotic animals to be exploited and cruelly treated within our state,” said Governor Murphy. “This law would not have been possible without the years of hard work and advocacy by Senator Ray Lesniak, whose legacy on issues of animal rights is second to none. These animals belong in their natural habitats or in wildlife sanctuaries, not in performances where their safety and the safety of others is at risk.”
Chilling look at China’s Black Mirror-esque “social credit” system.