Operation: Protect your phone!

As we have determined, the risk of exposure plays a threat to everyone with a mobile device in today’s day and age. Of course this may be creepy, or even frightening to some, but there are ways to protect yourself.


CryptoPhone | CBS News

CryptoPhones,” developed by the German company GSMK, allow users to have encrypted conversations by alerting them when someone is trying to attack or hack their personal information remotely. You may be wondering, who would want to hack your personal information? Well, lots of people, including certain government facilities when you get to close to them. How? Les Goldsmith, CEO of ESD America, a company which specializes in counter-surveillance technologies demonstrated by taking 60 Minutes correspondent, Sharyn Alfonsi for a drive through the desert near a secure government facility. Because Alfonsi was using a CryptoPhone, a red line appeared on the phone indicating her privacy was compromised; however, if she were using a regular cell phone, the government agency would have been able to hear her call and read her text messages.


This may sound like a great alternative, but a single CryptoPhone costs as much as $3,500 and each party on the line must be using CryptoPhones in order to achieve a secure conversation. So, what are regular-phone carrying folks, like you and I supposed to do? Turns out, the best option is to forego your phone’s standard calling feature in favor of communication apps which offer what’s called “end-to-end encryption.” In doing so, your conversations are secured from the time they are sent, to the moment they are received.


Signal App Messaging Services

If you want to give a communication app a try, try Signal, the popular private messaging app which “fits in your pocket.” With fans including Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras, Bruce Schneier and Matt Green, the brand remains reputable and a feasible alternative to safer, private messaging.


Fan Reviews | Signal

As marketers, how do you protect consumers from security hacks within your brand?

Strangers can hack your phone, and it’s easier than you may think

When speaking with 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi about the dangers of cell phone hacking, mobile security expert John Hering says, “In today’s world, there’s really only two types of companies or two types of people which are those who have been hacked and realize it and those who have been hacked and haven’t.”60 Minutes shocked its viewers Sunday evening when it showed a team of hackers listening in on a phone call between a reporter and a congressman. The hack was carried out with the politician’s consent and was meant to demonstrate a security flaw in the global communications grid.

According to Time Magazine, the German-based hackers pulled off the stunt by targeting a system called SS7 which allows phones on various wireless carriers to exchange information with one another, in-turn enabling roaming, cross-carrier billing and other features. The hackers claimed “Everything is hackable” and for well over two years the hackers were challenged to take it to another level and prove their suspicions.

One hacker, Jon Oberheide, showed 60 minutes an app he created which may have looked legitimate, but allowed him to take control of a phone and “suck out the information.” Furthermore, Oberheide demonstrated for Alfonsi how he could instantly locate her contacts, recent purchases and even text messages.

Another hacker, Adam Laurie, uses radio frequency identification to hack phones. For this hack, Laurie didn’t need Alfonsi’s phone number. Instead, he just needed to physically touch her phone. Laurie demonstrated by brushing by her in the lobby of her hotel and using a special hand-held device to push a credential across to her phone so it trusted his Bluetooth and actually called Laurie, allowing him to listen in on anything discussed in the room with Alfonsi’s phone.


Adam Laurie, left, brushes by Sharyn Alfonsi, center, for a hacking demonstration | CBS News

While this may all seem creepy, there are in fact ways to protect yourself. Stay tuned for ways to avoid the “60 Minute Hack.”

Smartphones keep getting smarter


With nicer displays, sharper photos and longer battery, smartphones aren’t just getting better, their getting smarter.  Apple ad Google have each been trying to make the smartphone experience more natural- Apple with proactive Siri suggestions in iOS9, and more recently Google with its “Now on Tap” available on Android Marshmallow.

“Now on Tap” is part of Google Now- an intelligent assistant to Android users. Have a bunch of meetings lined up, or a long drive ahead of you? Google Now will automatically tell you what time you need to leave in order to beat traffic, where your next meeting is and how to get there. According to Sundar Pichai, Google SVP, “You’re deluged with a lot of information on your phones. We have the biggest investment in machine learning over the last few years, and we believe we have the best capabilities in the world.”

“Now on Tap” functions as an opt-in feature, allowing users access to more information from directly within an application. For example, you no longer need to leave one app to run a search in another, or use a mobile web browser. The Verge says, “The most interesting part of Now on Tap might be that Google is actually giving you a way to eschew organic search; other options are right there for you.”

Google Now understands over 100 million places, and it’s not just simple business listings. Not just “geometry,” but when are they busy, when are they open, and what are you likely to need when you’re there? Users can easily ask for information relating to their favorite band, movie or musician and receive an instant response. If Now on Tap can bring someone from a restaurant page directly to an Open Table booking, it doesn’t appear unfeasible that the feature may eventually take you to more purchasing options.

Peeple: The Yelp App for Humans


Personal ratings. Professional ratings. Romantic ratings- there’s an app for that, and a very controversial one to say the least.  Peeple, a people-rating mobile app similar to “Yelp for People” has officially been released after a number of tweaks to the concept first introduced back in October.  According to the creators, the idea is to provide “a reference check for the people around us,” allowing consumers to best choose who to hire, who to do business with, who to room with and even who to date.

What was initially launched as a 5-star rating has since been revamped to be more user friendly by offering just Positive, Neutral and Negative review options.  Similarly, while negative reviews are permitted, they won’t be posted until the person on the other end approves them- a positive change since its initial development which allowed anyone to review at any time.  Peeple’s creators continue to portray it as a “positivity app” and advise future users to use it how they would any other social network.

Peeple appears to be one of the first apps geared toward rating people and having reviewers take ownership for their comments- many other apps have focused on anonymous reviews in more niche areas.  “It’s already a popularity contest on social media with how many friends and followers you have” says Christian Warren, Los Angeles restaurant owner.  “And now you have to worry about how your own person is getting rated?”  While the app has come a long way from its beta launch in October, it’s still receiving backlash.  On the official Peeple Facebook page, one commenter wrote: “When character becomes currency, humanity suffers. We are not metrics, and you cannot ethically justify ranking humans against normative social ideas. We are #PeopleNotPeeple.”  Out of 142 reviews, it has a 1.5 star rating in Apple’s App Store.

From a professional standpoint what are your thoughts? Would you use Peeple to assist in your hiring process? Would you feel comfortable with coworkers rating you?


The Negative Affects of IoT

IMG_5698.pngThe phenomenal, yet sometimes ridiculous advances in smart devices and technology have become increasingly popular. As consumers we are constantly reminded of the threats associated with smart objects, but, when kids are involved, this threat becomes increasingly more realistic and worrisome.

You may recall a traumatic experience several years ago when a man hacked the baby monitor of a 10-month old sleeping baby.  Shortly thereafter, the family released a graphic, disturbing video which further emphasized the extent to which the hacker acted.

More recently, a similar situation occurred when a family awoke to the sound of a males voice coming from their three-year old’s bedroom.  To their horror, they noticed the cameras night vision was being controlled in order to follow their movements. The family immediately filed a complaint against Foscam, the manufacturer of the product, who explained their baby monitor was hacked and was being controlled by a smartphone or tablet.  CBS News describes this crime as “becoming more and more frequent.”  Due to the Internet connect and smart phone capabilities that many baby monitors now come equipped with, it is possible for strangers to hack such devices.

What would you do? Do you trust emerging media and digital connections when it comes to your kids? How do you ensure safety within your household?


Social Media and Wedding Planning


How often do engagement rings pop up in your news feed? Do your friends utilize Instagram hashtags as a means to organize their wedding photos in one convenient place? Even wedding websites are slowly eliminating the need for traditional wedding formalities such as invitations and save-the-dates!

Social media is taking over and it’s officially affecting the events industry one bride at a time.  According to a study conducted by Mashable, 28% of newly engaged couples update their Facebook status within hours of saying “yes.” This may sound soon to some, but in reality, the wedding planning process began long before the ring was even received due to the conveniences of popular planning sites such as Pinterest.  In fact, 89% of brides-to-be make use of wedding apps to stay organized and on track. Even music platforms such as Spotify and iTunes are gaining in popularity as couples browse libraries to determine first dance, parent and overall dance selections.

The wedding industry is essentially a goldmine of killer apps, wearable tech and social platforms.  If we’re getting technical, its $300 billion globally. The $55 billion US wedding market alone drives more than 500,000 business, putting 750,000 people to work in over 55 unique products and services.  As someone who not only works in the events industry, but is also in the midst of planning my own wedding, I can certainly relate to the unlimited number of vendors, combined with the overwhelmingly inundated wedding planning social market.

How has social media impacted your event planning? Are you able to see a change in the planning process today, than 20 years ago?




Can mobile apps really determine your basic demographics?

What if you could determine your consumers age and income based solely on the apps downloaded on their smartphones?  According to a recent study conducted by Verto Analytics and the Qatar Computing Research Institute, not only can marketers determine age and income demographics, but marital status and gender as well, with 61-82 percent accuracy.


Demographic prediction accuracy based on a user’s apps.

In conjunction with this research, The Washington Post developed a survey to determine how these predictive models work on each individual consumer. While the results are not 100-percent accurate, they certainly illustrate just how much we inadvertently allow advertisers and app-makers to know about us. How did you do?

Generally speaking, if you have Pinterest on your phone, you’re definitely a woman and if you have Uber, you’re probably single.  Similarly, single adults get their music from Sound Cloud, while older adults prefer iHeartRadio.  Likewise, people who earn more than $52,000 a year trust Yelp and those who make less than that resort to Foursquare.

As you can imagine, based on the traits studied, gender was the easiest to determine, while income remained the most difficult.  However, when alternative forms of personal data are added to the equation- such as location, contacts and phone usage, it becomes easier to see how targeted ads can feel so “creepily” accurate.  No wonder Facebook knows you better than your own friends and family.


“Studying the predictability of demographics … points out privacy implications of users allowing apps to access their list of installed apps. Many users undoubtedly do not carefully review the permissions that the apps they install require, and even less, understand the scope of the information that can be inferred from the data accessible by the apps.”

How will mobile apps impact your businesses digital connection with consumers?

From Flip Phones to Smart Phones


Samsung Flip Phone

How often do you actually notice advances within emerging media?  If you’re like me, maybe never.  When I was sixteen I purchased my first cell phone,  (ten years later than the average age today).  It was bulky, grey, and flipped open with a giant antenna retracting from the upper right-hand corner.  I thought, this is so cool!  Sure, text messages may have taken forever to type, characters were limited to 150- oh, and how many times did you flip your phone upside down in an attempt to find service?  BUT, as millenials, this was virtually our very first taste of privacy, and in reality, who cared if we had to consciously keep track of each and every text message we sent in the hopes of not exceeding our monthly limit?  Did we really know any different?


Samsung Galaxy S6

Fast forward a few years and I am the proud new owner of a much more modern device fully equipped with a standard keyboard, color display and a camera.  I can distinctively remember thinking, “What more can they possibly come out with?”  Little did I know, this was only the beginning.  In fact, just last week I purchased the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and honestly, I couldn’t help but laugh as I utilized the phones latest fingerprint technology to secure my personal information.  When did this happen!?  How did we get from ABC text messaging to top-notch security?  Honestly, I couldn’t tell you.

Let’s break it down.  ABC text messages became T9, T9 became qwerty keyboards, and before we knew it, cameras were standard and the world wide web was available at our fingertips.  While these enhancements may have seemed minimal at the time, they each have contributed to perhaps the most influential phenomenons relating to new media and its direct interactions with consumers on a day-to-day basis.  Lets face it, the world as we know it is forever evolving and these digital enhancements continue to alter the ways in which we respond and interact with the public.

How has emerging media impacted your day-to-day lifestyles?