September 23, 2016 9:18 am

According to a projection by Statista, the number of people using smartphones worldwide in 2016 is expected to be nearly 2.08 billion.  While the advantages of smartphones are numerous, they also present numerous opportunities for harmful attacks.

Malicious apps can transmit metadata to ad agencies, cyber criminals and identity thieves.  Hackers can access your phone’s native functions, such as the camera and voice-recorder.  These are merely a few examples.  There are numerous ways in which your phone can make your information vulnerable.  That said, there are several steps you can take to make your data more safe.

For example, recently Edward Snowden, and Andrew “Bunnie” Huang launched a malware detecting smartphone case, that can help protect your information and make you aware if your phone is at risk of unwanted surveillance.

In their paper titled “Against the Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance,Snowden and Huang discuss the implications of smartphone attacks with specific regard to journalists, stating that surveillance and access to metadata from unwanted third-parties “leaves journalists, activists, and rights workers in a position of vulnerability.” – Snowden, Huang 

Snowden and Huang developed an open-source tool called the introspection engine, to be attached to a phone and used to determine if the device is secure.

“As the project is run largely through volunteer efforts on a shoestring budget, it will proceed at a pace reflecting the practical limitations of donated time.” – Snowden, Huang

According to the article, Snowden and Huang plan to prototype throughout this year.  Although the introspection engine was designed specifically with regard to the iPhone, the processes involved could potentially be applied to other mobile devices. Snowden and Huang proposed that in the future these processes could be more quickly retrofitted for other operating systems.

References: Andrew ‘bunnie’ Huang, Edward Snowden.  “Against the Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance.”  PubPub, (2016)

Featured Image Source – Flickr

May 17, 2016 4:27 pm

It is hard to picture the ideal creative space, because artists and event planners are so different in the spaces that inspire them. Whether you’re planning a birthday party or fine art gallery showing, shooting a film or hosting a company mixer, having an appropriate creative space is essential to the event’s success.    

Peerspace, an app launched in 2014, is helping to connect event planners, visionaries and companies with personalized creative spaces. 

Through a website and mobile app, Peerspace links people looking for short-term spaces with hosts who have a space to share. Renting permanent space can be pricey, especially in metropolitan areas like New York where there is high demand.

Peerspace helps alleviate these difficulties by providing a streamlined method of communication.  Event planners can find a place to host gatherings. Production teams can find an off-site work area.  Hosts can bring guests to their space and make some money in the process.

Rather than exclusively offering expensive galleries or production studios, Peerspace provides access to all types of venues. For example, on the Peerspace Blog, one section is devoted to unusual repurposed spaces, offering a selection of locations ranging from a vintage trailer to an unoccupied airport hangar.

For people worried about security, Peerspace has taken measures to ensure that the interaction between hosts and guests remains positive. They offers automatic, free-of-charge liability protection guaranteed up to $1,000,000. That said, this coverage only applies to hosts who make arrangements using the Peerspace platform, so when setting up a host and guest arrangement it is essential to keep communication within Peerspace.

Peerspace does not stop at providing communication between hosts and guests. Guests can use to supply their events with additional amenities, including furniture rental, event staffing, catering and audiovisual equipment rental. 

The Peerspace interface is sleek and intuitive to use. Users select a location, and the type of event they are planning or workspace they desire, and are provided with an interactive map that shows spaces that match their criteria. 

Users can narrow their specifications by selecting specific price-points and the number of guests that will be attending. After selecting a space, users are directed to a page where they can view information about the space, venue rules, customer reviews and other necessary details.

Peerspace is taking a refreshing approach to venue listing, allowing creative people to explore numerous possibilities when selecting a unique space. For events as diverse as weddings, film-shoots, music video sets or gallery showings, Peerspace is a good place to start. 

March 10, 2016 12:10 pm

The next revolution will not conspire in a dingy tavern. The jury’s out on whether or not the next revolution will be televised. More than likely though, the next mass protest will be orchestrated via text message.

Open Garden is an innovative little tech firm based in San Francisco that are tinkering with our very preconceived notions of the internet.

Their flagship product FireChat is a mobile application that allows you to communicate without access to the internet or a mobile network.

FireChat uses the radio inside your phone to connect directly with adjoining phones within a 210 foot radius, otherwise known as an off-the-grid mesh network. The more devices that are connected to the network, the larger the web gets. This makes it easy to build ad hoc networks to get the buzz going at conventions and music festivals like Burning Man and SXSW. But perhaps where FireChat has the most impact are in isolated areas where internet is limited, such as the tropical paradise of Tahiti, or situations in which conversations are being heavily monitored, such as the pro-democracy protests in Honk Kong.

Open Garden was founded by a group of renegade technologists, and ex-engineers of the file-sharing tool BitTorrent. CEO Micha Benoliel was instrumental in creating telecommunications mainstay Skype. The company has been backed by a handful of high-profile investors, including Mark Cuban. In total their investment capital amounts to over $12.8 million.

So you’re the one at the party that likes to share. You know who you are. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep doing you. Now you can share your internet access with outsiders as well. FireChat lets you dictate how much data you are willing to share, and with whom you are sharing it with.

For the most part accessing this app is fairly simple, just find it at the App Store or Google Play and download.

Next it’s time to create a profile: pick a username, add a photo and a short bio, you know the drill. Don’t fret too much over this step–you have the option of keeping your identity anonymous when you join a network. Once you’re up and running it’s time to join a chatroom. Like Twitter and Instagram, FireChat utilizes hashtags to denote various chatroom categories (#AtypicalBeasts). This also makes it a lot easier to share your chatroom or a chatroom you’re participating in with friends online.

Lastly, a few additional features to keep in mind. You can block nuisances or creeps. You can also disperse photos. You can even send private messages if you don’t want to engage the entire surround community into your conversation. it’s a simple tool with a lot of flexibility.

Open Garden has already inspired a host of new internet services. An emerging market abound with buzz on the blogosphere these days is the so-called Internet of Things, commonplace items like light bulbs and thermostats that will soon be part of our internet ecosystem. These items might run more efficiently and more cost-effectively if they could periodically key into a network emitted from a nearby device rather than have to constantly be connected to WiFi.

Another area of interest are emerging markets, such as Africa. Off-the-grid networks could be particularly useful in markets where cellular coverage and internet access is scarce, or where it might be more economical to share a single cellular service. Open Garden wants to help connect the next 1 billion devices to the internet and are actively seeking partners to help them deploy their FireChat MeshKits.

Open Garden is certainly proving to be a force in the telecommunications game and it seems the possibilities are endless.