Categories
Tech

You Will Have to Update to Zoom 5.0 by May 30 Because Video Calls Move to The New Encryption

You Will Have to Update to Zoom 5.0 by May 30 Because Video Calls Move to The New Encryption

Once the new AES 256-bit GCM encryption is active, you will see a green shield icon in your video call window to confirm that the conversation is being encrypted with the new standard.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 25, 2020, 9:26 AM IST

Zoom, the incredibly popular video meeting app, is asking all users to update to the new Zoom 5.0 version before the end of the month. In an email communication with existing users, Zoom says they must update to the Zoom 5.0 version to take advantage of the new AES 256-bit GCM encryption. This comes at a time when Zoom is seeing usage skyrocket, but concerns remain about the privacy and security issues regarding video calls and user data. Zoom has more than 300 million daily users around the world.

The GCM (Galois/Counter Mode) encryption method will be enabled for all Zoom calls from May 30 onwards, and anyone using a Zoom app version older than Zoom 5 will be unable to join. Zoom had released this update late last month. “Beginning May 30th, 2020, Zoom will be enabling GCM encryption across the entire Zoom platform, providing increased protection for meeting data,” says the email sent to Zoom users.

Till now, Zoom has been using the 128-bit AES keys and with ECB (Electronic Code Book) encryption, which is less secure. Once the new AES 256-bit GCM encryption is active, you will see a green shield icon in your video call window to confirm that the conversation is being encrypted with the new standard. “A new encryption shield appears in the upper left of your Zoom Meeting window and indicates a secure, encrypted meeting. After May 30, the shield will be green for all users, denoting enhanced GCM encryption. Clicking the icon also takes you to the Statistics page for additional encryption details,” says the company. All parties in a Zoom call need to be on the Zoom 5 version of the app for the encryption to work.

Zoom has since also received new features, including the ability to report a user who may be misusing Zoom, updated Leave Now or End Meeting options and select data center regions when scheduling a meeting. Zoom is available for PCs, web browsers, Android devices, Apple iPhone, Apple iPad and Google ChromeOS. At a time when millions around the world are working from home to stay safe from the Coronavirus pandemic, video calling apps are more relevant than ever before. Zoom is competing with the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, Houseparty and more.




https://pubstack.nw18.com/pubsync/fallback/api/videos/recommended?source=n18english&channels=5d95e6c378c2f2492e2148a2&categories=5d95e6d7340a9e4981b2e0fe&query=You,Will,Have,to,Update,to,Zoom,5.0,by,May,30,Because,Video,Calls,Move,to,The,New,Encryption,data,privacy,encryption,&publish_min=2020-05-23T11:11:58.000Z&publish_max=2020-05-25T11:11:58.000Z&sort_by=date-relevance&order_by=0&limit=2

Next Story

Categories
Tech

Apple & Google COVID Exposure Notification API: This is How Contact Tracing Will Work

When Apple and Google announced last month that they would be working together to develop one of the most critical tech solutions of all time, that could only be classified as an unprecedented announcement. And perhaps timely too, considering the world is fighting the COVID outbreak. Now, that partnership has taken a crucial step forward, with Apple and Google releasing the COVID-19 Exposure Notification API for iPhones and Android phones, something they have been testing for a while now. The iOS 13.5 update now rolling out for the Apple iPhone line-up includes this new API, that for public health agencies (PHAs) and the contact tracing apps they make and deploy. Apple and Google say 22 countries in five continents have requested and received access to the API, and more are expected to join in the coming weeks.

The API will allow PHAs to define what constitutes an exposure event, the number of exposure events an individual has had, factor transmission risk of positive cases into their definition of an exposure event and data that users voluntarily choose to input into the app allows PHAs to contact exposed users.

“Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps,” Apple and Google said.

The contract tracing solution that uses the Bluetooth technology in iPhones and Android phones, and will allow government and health agencies around the world to track and notify you in case you have met with or have come in close proximity with someone who is now confirmed to have been affected by the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Apple and Google have also detailed the privacy aspects and how the data will be collected, time and again. This will work seamlessly across Android phones and the iPhones.

 This is How BLE Tracing works

The contact tracing is essentially a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) service registered with the Bluetooth SIG with 16-bit Universally Unique Identifier, UUID 0xFD6F, that is designed to enable proximity sensing of Rolling Proximity Identifier between devices for the purpose of computing an exposure event. The two phones, which could be your phone and someone else’s phone in your proximity, will exchange anonymous identifier keys. All the discovered data shall be kept on the device, which is your smartphone. These logs will be uploaded with the user’s consent in case they are confirmed to have been infected by Coronavirus, or COVID. These logs will then be downloaded by your smartphone and matched against the logs your phone has collected via Bluetooth tracing over time. If your logs match any smartphone user who has now been confirmed with COVID, you will see a notification on your phone alerting you about it with steps on what to do next.

If you have met someone who has now been confirmed with Coronavirus, or COVID, your phone will be able to notify you and the health authorities. (Image: Apple and Google)

If you have met someone who has now been confirmed with Coronavirus, or COVID, your phone will be able to notify you and the health authorities. (Image: Apple and Google)

You do not require any location data for this to work

Apple and Google say that at no point does the Bluetooth based contract tracing require any location data access. It can work very well without it too. “The Contact Tracing Bluetooth Specification does not require the user’s location; any use of location is completely optional to the schema. In any case, the user must provide their explicit consent in order for their location to be optionally used,” they have said.

All the data stays private

Privacy remains a very important part of this new COVID contact tracing API.

Apple and Google also take pains to emphasise on the point that the list of contacts never leaves your phone, list of people who you may have come in range with never leaves your phone and at no point is the data shared with Apple or Google, in case of a positive test. Only public health authorities will have access to that data—though Apple and Google will have no say in who these authorities then share the data with.

The device location details are not collected at any point. Random Bluetooth identifiers are used to indicate proximity and no identifiable information is shared or logged. Users decide whether they want to report a positive diagnosis and the user identities are not known to other users, Google or Apple. Matching for exposure notifications is only done on device, which means that data isn’t saved or processed on the cloud.

The roadmap for Apple and Google’s Contact Tracing Rollout

Remember, this is not an app in itself. This is an API that public health agencies around the world can integrate into their own apps. For instance, India’s Aarogya Setu, Austria’s Stopp Corona app, Czech’s eRouska, Iceland’s Rakning C-19, Israel’s HaMagen, Singapore’s Trace Together and Norway’s Smittestopp, Australia’s COVIDSafe, CovTracer from Cyprus, Italy’s Immuni and Poland’s ProteGO are all contact tracing app examples that can use the new API—whether they do it or not remains to be seen.

The second stage would be where Apple and Google will work on a Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform which will also be used by apps made by health authorities to track user proximity data—and this will be built into iOS and Android and the option will be available to all users without having to download another app.

This is why Contract Tracing is critical

Contact tracing is critical in curbing the Coronavirus spread around the country and indeed around the world. A person who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus may not show any signs or symptoms for as many as 14 days more but can spread the infection in the meantime through cough, for instance. As and when a confirmed COVID case is taken in for treatment, health authorities scramble to track as many people this infected person may have met in the past few days. “Contact Tracing makes it possible to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus by alerting participants of possible exposure to someone who they have recently been in contact with, and who has subsequently been positively diagnosed as having the virus,” Apple had said.

Earlier, Apple had released a beta version of Xcode 11.5 and the third beta of iOS 13.5—the Xcode includes tools that developers would need for building iOS apps that incorporate the COVID API, and iOS 13.5 integrates the code needed by apps that will be developed by health authorities around the world. Google has also released similar updates for developers via updates to Google Play Services and the Android Developer Studio.

 



https://pubstack.nw18.com/pubsync/fallback/api/videos/recommended?source=n18english&channels=5d95e6c378c2f2492e2148a2&categories=5d95e6d7340a9e4981b2e0fe&query=Apple,&,Google,COVID,Exposure,Notification,API:,This,is,How,Contact,Tracing,Will,Work,aarogya,setu,android,&publish_min=2020-05-22T02:50:07.000Z&publish_max=2020-05-24T02:50:07.000Z&sort_by=date-relevance&order_by=0&limit=2

Categories
Tech

Apple & Google Exposure Notification API For COVID Contact Tracing Has Privacy at Its Core

The much-awaited Exposure Notifications System developed by Apple and Google have been released as part of the new iOS 13.5 software update for the iPhone. This comes at a time when the world is struggling to contain the Coronavirus, or COVID-19 pandemic. The release of this new application programming interface (API) is for public health agencies (PHAs) and the contact tracing apps they make and deploy. Apple and Google say 22 countries in five continents have requested and received access to the API, and more are expected to join in the coming weeks.

The new API will allow PHAs to define what constitutes an exposure event, the number of exposure events an individual has had, factor transmission risk of positive cases into their definition of an exposure event and data that users voluntarily choose to input into the app allows PHAs to contact exposed users. The same feature set is expected to be released for Android phones in the coming days, though Google will be relying heavily on smartphone makers to release this for their phones.

Remember, this is not an app in itself. This is an API that public health agencies around the world can integrate into their own apps. For instance, India’s Aarogya Setu, Austria’s Stopp Corona app, Czech’s eRouska, Iceland’s Rakning C-19, Israel’s HaMagen, Singapore’s Trace Together and Norway’s Smittestopp, Australia’s COVIDSafe, CovTracer from Cyprus, Italy’s Immuni and Poland’s ProteGO are all contact tracing app examples that can use the new API—whether they do it or not remains to be seen.

“Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps,” Apple and Google said.

Privacy remains a very important part of this new COVID contact tracing API. The device location details are not collected at any point. Random Bluetooth identifiers are used to indicate proximity and no identifiable information is shared or logged. Users decide whether they want to report a positive diagnosis and the user identities are not known to other users, Google or Apple. Matching for exposure notifications is only done on device, which means that data isn’t saved or processed on the cloud.

Apple and Google have time and again taken pains to emphasise on the point that the list of contacts never leaves your phone, list of people who you may have come in range with never leaves your phone and at no point is the data shared with Apple or Google, in case of a positive test. Only public health authorities will have access to that data—though we must note that Apple and Google will have no say in who these authorities then share the data with.

In the coming months, Apple and Google will also develop and enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms—in this case, iOS for iPhones and Android OS for Android phones. “This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities,” Google had earlier said.



https://pubstack.nw18.com/pubsync/fallback/api/videos/recommended?source=n18english&channels=5d95e6c378c2f2492e2148a2&categories=5d95e6d7340a9e4981b2e0fe&query=Apple,&,Google,Exposure,Notification,API,For,COVID,Contact,Tracing,Has,Privacy,at,Its,Core,aarogya,setu,android,&publish_min=2020-05-22T02:17:23.000Z&publish_max=2020-05-24T02:17:23.000Z&sort_by=date-relevance&order_by=0&limit=2

Categories
Tech

Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Zuckerberg said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 9:24 AM IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is worried about the influence China is having in terms of regulating the internet and fears other countries might follow a similar example. In fact, he has urged western countries to counter China’s model with a democratic approach. He says the Chinese approach is “really dangerous”. China’s censorship of content on the internet and the fact that many global tech platforms are banned in the country, including Facebook, is often referred to as ‘The Great Firewall’.

“What I worry about is, right now I think there are emerging two very different frameworks underpinned by very different sets of values,” Zuckerberg said in a livestreamed discussion with EU official Thierry Breton. This is not the first time Zuckerberg has warned about the Chinese influence and the Chinese way of regulating the internet. He said it is the responsibility of the western countries to have a clear data privacy framework in place.

Zuckerberg in fact praised the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which implemented changes for how tech companies and social media platforms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter collect and handle user data in the EU region. He also said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

In October last year, Zuckerberg had not held back in criticizing TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance. While speaking at the Georgetown University on free speech, he had criticized TikTok for what he called “mentions of these protests are censored, even in the U.S.” referring to the censorship around the anti-China or pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “Just to be blunt about it, I think there is a model coming out of countries like China that tend to have very different values than Western countries that are more democratic,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook only recently got a 20-member oversight board which has the power to correct or overrule the social media platform’s content moderation policies, including instances of hate speech and misinformation, if it feels the need to do so. The board will start hearing cases later this summer.




https://pubstack.nw18.com/pubsync/fallback/api/videos/recommended?source=n18english&channels=5d95e6c378c2f2492e2148a2&categories=5d95e6d7340a9e4981b2e0fe&query=Mark,Zuckerberg,is,Worried,About,China’s,Influence,on,The,Internet;,Many,Would,Agree,With,Him,bytedance,China,&publish_min=2020-05-21T02:58:58.000Z&publish_max=2020-05-23T02:58:58.000Z&sort_by=date-relevance&order_by=0&limit=2

Next Story

Categories
Tech

UPDATE: Aarogya Setu App And E-Pass Could Become Key For Interstate Travel And Movement in India

Aarogya Setu App

Aarogya Setu App

Government sources tell News18 that for interstate travel and movement, the Aarogya Setu app could be used for self-certification, following which the e-pass will be confirmed.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 17, 2020, 9:11 PM IST

UPDATE: As per the recent directives given by the home ministry dated May 17 for Lockdown 4.0, the Aarogya Setu enables early identification of potential risk of infection, and thus acts as a shield for individuals and the community. To ensure safety in offices and work places, employers are advised to ensure that Aarogya Setu is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones. District authorities have also been given permission to advise individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible mobile phones and regularly update their health status on the app.

The Aarogya Setu app could become the key facilitator for travel in India, as the Government of India is working on whether the app can be used to facilitate interstate travel. This comes just after the Indian Railways made it mandatory for all passengers on trains to have the government’s Aarogya Setu app installed on their phones. Government sources tell News18 that for interstate travel and movement, the Aarogya Setu app could be used for self-certification, following which the e-pass will be confirmed.

It is believed that once the lockdown is over in individual states, there may be a centralized e-pass which will be issued after self-validation using the Aarogya Setu app. However, it is not confirmed yet whether this will include all types of personal travel or will focus instead on modes of transport such as trains and interstate buses. It is also not confirmed yet how movement of commercial goods will be impacted by this.

Have you also read?

PM Modi Says Aarogya Setu Can Facilitate Travel: Future of The App Beyond Covid-19 Contact Tracing

Govt Mulling to Resume Domestic Flights by May 15, Only Healthy People Allowed

Government sources also say that strict legal provisions could also be in place, which would mean false or incorrect declarations on the Aarogya Setu app could land individuals in jail. It is believed that the Government will discuss the plans with all stakeholders soon.

Ahead of the special train services which started earlier this week, the Indian Railways made it mandatory for all passengers to have verified their declarations on the Aarogya Setu app before boarding. “Indian Railways is going to start few passenger train services. It is mandatory for passengers to download Aarogya Setu app in their mobile phones, before commencing their journey,” the Indian Railways had said in a tweet at the time. Tickets can only be booked via the IRCTC website. It is also mandatory to use the Aarogya Setu app if you live in or travel to the city of Noida, where being outdoors without the app installed on your phone, is a crime. It is expected that airlines will also make it mandatory for passengers to self-certify via the Aarogya Setu app before they board a flight.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the first hints that the Aarogya Setu app could be used to facilitate travel within the country.




https://pubstack.nw18.com/pubsync/fallback/api/videos/recommended?source=n18english&channels=5d95e6c378c2f2492e2148a2&categories=5d95e6d7340a9e4981b2e0fe&query=UPDATE:,Aarogya,Setu,App,And,E-Pass,Could,Become,Key,For,Interstate,Travel,And,Movement,in,India,aarogya,setu,Aarogya,Setu,app,&publish_min=2020-05-20T07:01:00.000Z&publish_max=2020-05-22T07:01:00.000Z&sort_by=date-relevance&order_by=0&limit=2

Next Story

Categories
Tech

Aarogya Setu App Could be Your Ticket For an E-Pass For Travel: Here is How an E-Pass May Work

Aarogya Setu App

Aarogya Setu App

It is also not confirmed yet whether this will include all types of personal travel or will focus instead on modes of transport such as trains and interstate buses.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 15, 2020, 11:04 AM IST

The Aarogya Setu app could become the key facilitator for travel in India, now in the lockdown because of the COVID pandemic, but also potentially in the post COVID world as well. It is believed that once the lockdown is over in individual states, there may be a centralized e-pass which will be issued after self-validation using the Aarogya Setu app. The indications are there already. The Indian Railways made it mandatory for all passengers on trains to have the government’s Aarogya Setu app installed on their phones—and that is applicable for the special trains and Shramik trains that are operational at this time. But what does this all mean?

The Government is potentially working on a system whereby travel is linked to your health, and your health data is not only logged but also can be helpful in indicating a possible health threat. Government sources tell News18 that for interstate travel and movement, the Aarogya Setu app could be used for self-certification, following which the e-pass will be confirmed. This means that before you travel, you must certify your health with the Aarogya Setu app. We at this time still do not know whether this self-certification process also involves sharing data about the travel details—destination, time and date of travel, mode of transport etc. At this time, indications suggest that this could be applicable for interstate travel.

Have you also read?

PM Modi Says Aarogya Setu Can Facilitate Travel: Future of The App Beyond Covid-19 Contact Tracing

Govt Mulling to Resume Domestic Flights by May 15, Only Healthy People Allowed

The question also arises about whether this will also be mandatory for those may cross state borders daily to travel to work or home. It is also not confirmed yet whether this will include all types of personal travel or will focus instead on modes of transport such as trains and interstate buses. We do not yet have details on whether movement of commercial goods will be impacted by this. To iron out the details, the government intends to meet with all stakeholders in the coming days to work out how this can, if at all, work.

Government sources also say that strict legal provisions could also be in place, which would mean false or incorrect declarations on the Aarogya Setu app could land individuals in jail. It is believed that the Government will discuss the plans with all stakeholders soon.

Ahead of the special train services which started earlier this week, the Indian Railways made it mandatory for all passengers to have verified their declarations on the Aarogya Setu app before boarding. “Indian Railways is going to start few passenger train services. It is mandatory for passengers to download Aarogya Setu app in their mobile phones, before commencing their journey,” the Indian Railways had said in a tweet at the time. Tickets can only be booked via the IRCTC website. It is also mandatory to use the Aarogya Setu app if you live in or travel to the city of Noida, where being outdoors without the app installed on your phone, is a crime. It is expected that airlines will also make it mandatory for passengers to self-certify via the Aarogya Setu app before they board a flight. Those who may be considered a health risk will not be allowed to board.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given the first hints that the Aarogya Setu app could be used to facilitate travel within the country.




https://pubstack.nw18.com/pubsync/fallback/api/videos/recommended?source=n18english&channels=5d95e6c378c2f2492e2148a2&categories=5d95e6d7340a9e4981b2e0fe&query=Aarogya,Setu,App,Could,be,Your,Ticket,For,an,E-Pass,For,Travel:,Here,is,How,an,E-Pass,May,Work,aarogya,setu,Aarogya,Setu,app,&publish_min=2020-05-19T17:09:25.000Z&publish_max=2020-05-21T17:09:25.000Z&sort_by=date-relevance&order_by=0&limit=2

Next Story

Categories
Tech

Aarogya Setu App Gets Just 2 Out of 5 stars in MIT Technology Review for COVID Contact Tracing Apps

As India attempts to emerge from the various stages of lockdown in an attempt to flatten the COVID curve, there is a renewed push to get the citizens to download and install the Aarogya Setu app on their smartphones. Official numbers suggest that the Aarogya Setu app has been installed on 9.8 crore smartphones so far. But there has been a raging debate about the privacy and surveillance aspects of the app, with critics alleging that the app with its access to your location and Bluetooth proximity data, can be used for illegal surveillance. New and fresh fuel has been added to the fire.

A Covid Tracing Tracker has been launched by the renowned publication MIT Technology Review and they are working with experts around the world to understand what each COVID contact tracing app offers, and the issues around it. At this time, they have compared and ranked the Contact Tracing apps launched in 25 countries, including India’s Aarogya Setu. The apps are being ranked on five parameters—is it voluntary or not, is it being solely used for public health purposes or there are usage scenarios for law enforcement, is the user data collected by the app deleted within a reasonable amount of time and whether the entire process is transparent.

“India is the only democracy making its app mandatory for millions of people”

Have you also read?

Aarogya Setu Flaw Can Allow Any User to be Tracked Down, Claims Hacker

Aarogya Setu ‘Highly Encrypted’, Data Only Shared with Select Govt Officers: Kant

This is how the MIT Technology Review describes each of the parameters.

– Is it voluntary? In some cases, apps are opt-in—but in other places many or all citizens are compelled to download and use them.

– Are there limitations on how the data gets used? Data may sometimes be used for purposes other than public health, such as law enforcement—and that may last longer than covid-19.

– Will data be destroyed after a period of time? The data the apps collect should not last forever. If it is automatically deleted in a reasonable amount of time (usually a maximum of around 30 days) or the app allows users to manually delete their own data, we award a star.

– Is data collection minimized? Does the app collect only the information it needs to do what it says?

– Is the effort transparent? Transparency can take the form of clear, publicly available policies and design, an open-source code base, or all of these.

In case of every answer that is a yes, the app gets a star. For any answer that is a no, or the data for the same isn’t clear, there is no star.

The apps that get five stars are Austria’s Stopp Corona app, Czech’s eRouska, Iceland’s Rakning C-19, Israel’s HaMagen, Singapore’s Trace Together and Norway’s Smittestopp. Following these with four stars are Australia’s COVIDSafe, CovTracer from Cyprus, Italy’s Immuni and Poland’s ProteGO.

India’s Aarogya Setu only gets stars for the policy which suggests that data that is collected is deleted after a period of time and that the data collection is minimal

China’s contact tracing system gets no stars. One of the reasons for that is the complete lack of transparency around how it works, what data is collected and how that data is handled, encrypted and deleted. “There is very little information available to the public about how China’s technology works,” say the researchers.

India’s Aarogya Setu only gets stars for the policy which suggests that data that is collected is deleted after a period of time and that the data collection, as far as user inputs go, is minimal. However, the app doesn’t score any points (or stars) for being voluntary, for its usage being limited to public health and for transparency. “India is the only democracy making its app mandatory for millions of people,” says the research.

There have been significant concerns about Aarogya Setu, that it’s potential usage far surpasses the COVID contact tracing angle that is attached with it right now. It is not voluntary, which means it is being forced on to millions of users in the country. The fears that its location data will be used for tracking and surveillance, refuse to go away. The policies and communication around the app also don’t come across as entirely transparent.

Similar fears have been voiced in other countries. Apple and Google, in an unprecedented partnership, are developing a COVID contact tracing platform for iPhones and Android phones, which these apps will rely on. The two tech giants say they will limit location access to these apps.

As for the voluntary bit—a few hours ago, the Indian Railways made it mandatory for anyone who wants to travel on its trains, must have the Aarogya Setu app installed. It is expected that airlines will also have similar guidelines in place when air travel resumes. In the city of Noida, it is now illegal to step outside without the Aarogya Setu app installed on your phone.

Contact tracing is critical in curbing the Coronavirus spread around the country and indeed around the world. A person who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus may not show any signs or symptoms for as many as 14 days more but can spread the infection in the meantime through cough, for instance. As and when a confirmed COVID case is taken in for treatment, health authorities scramble to track as many people this infected person may have met in the past few days.

However, the MIT Technology reports that Iceland isn’t seeing the benefits of high penetration of the COVID contact tracing app in the country. The country has the highest penetration of any automated contact tracing app in the world, which sees about 40% of the population using the Rakning C-19 app. “The technology is more or less … I wouldn’t say useless,” says Gestur Pálmason, a detective inspector with the Icelandic Police Service who is overseeing contact tracing efforts. “But it’s the integration of the two that gives you results. I would say it [Rakning] has proven useful in a few cases, but it wasn’t a game changer for us.”

@media only screen and (max-width:740px)

.quote-boxfont-size:18px; line-height:30px; color:#505050; margin-top:30px; padding:22px 20px 20px 70px; position:relative; font-style:italic; font-weight:bold

.special-textfont-size:24px; line-height:32px; color:#505050; margin:20px 40px 20px 20px; border-left:8px solid #ee1b24; padding:10px 10px 10px 15px; font-style:italic; font-weight:bold

.quote-box imgwidth:60px; left:6px

.quote-box .quote-namfont-size:16px; color:#5f5f5f; padding-top:30px; text-align:right; font-weight:normal

.quote-box .quote-nam spanfont-weight:bold; color:#ee1b24



https://pubstack.nw18.com/pubsync/fallback/api/videos/recommended?source=n18english&channels=5d95e6c378c2f2492e2148a2&categories=5d95e6d7340a9e4981b2e0fe&query=Aarogya,Setu,App,Gets,Just,2,Out,of,5,stars,in,MIT,Technology,Review,for,COVID,Contact,Tracing,Apps,aarogya,setu,Aarogya,Setu,app,&publish_min=2020-05-18T07:58:18.000Z&publish_max=2020-05-20T07:58:18.000Z&sort_by=date-relevance&order_by=0&limit=2

Categories
Tech

What is WhatsApp Aiming For? Rule The Video Meetings Space? Be a Super App? World Domination?

WhatsApp and mind-boggling numbers go hand in hand. As of February, WhatsApp had crossed 2 billion users worldwide. It is by far the most popular instant messaging app in the world, followed by its own sibling, Facebook Messenger. Chances are everyone you know is using WhatsApp. It is to instant messaging what Xerox is to photocopying. That being said, Facebook isn’t about to let a low hanging fruit get away. WhatsApp could very well be in the prime position to become the default name for the video calling, group calling and video meeting requirements for millions around the world. While the competition remains busy trying to compete with each other.

Look at the traction that the Coronavirus pandemic has translated into. Zoom clarified and said they clocked 300 million users in April. Houseparty, an app owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games, clocked more than two million downloads in early March, as the first stages of the lockdown around the world kicked in. Facebook says video-calling on Messenger had straight doubled since last year. Microsoft has said that there are more than 200 million meeting participants in a single day in April, and there were more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes generated. Teams now has more than 75 million daily active users, confirmed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

WhatsApp builds from a foundation of strength. It has a massive user base, like no other.

Messenger Rooms is one part of the plan

It was just last month that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said how as many as 700 million users around the world are using Messenger and WhatsApp for calls. That’s voice calls and video calls to colleagues, friends and family. It is not surprising then that Facebook wants to do everything to not only keep this user base engaged, but also away from rivals such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype and others. That would be true for the business use case and for personal users as well. What arrived on the scene was Messenger Rooms. It allows a maximum of 50 participants in a group video call. That’s the same limit as Skype’s Skype Now. Even though Zoom offers the ability to get 100 people to join as part of the free subscription tier, WhatsApp has the added advantage of familiarity, almost everyone has it and well, Zoom has been haunted by privacy issues for a while now.

The fact is that Messenger Rooms is so versatile, you can start or join a Rooms chat from Messenger, Facebook, Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, or even the Portal smart display. That is the power and extent of Facebook’s ecosystem of apps truly making their presence felt.

The thing is, when we talk of video calling apps and video conferencing solutions, we immediately visualize a meeting that has 100+ people, all trying to get their message across as part of a corporate jamboree. That is not always the case. More often than not, it is smaller teams that need to connect, for a quick brainstorming session, for a status update, quick guidance or simply to drop in and say hello. For that to work, it is just clunky and ostentatious to have to set up a meeting, share a meeting link and a password and download a separate app on your phone or PC.

Simplicity is what really is WhatsApp’s strongest point here. It is as simple as picking up your phone or opening WhatsApp web, ticking off the list of contacts you want in the meeting and making a call. You spend lesser time on the riffraff. Be it for the Messenger Rooms or for the now more-powerful Group calling.

Simplicity is WhatsApp’s strongest point. It just works.

Group Video Calls are equally brilliant for work and fun

A few days ago, a new update for WhatsApp for Android phones and the Apple iPhones landed with the more powerful group calling feature. Instead of 4, you can now get 8 people on a group voice or video call. “Over the last month, people on average are spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic, WhatsApp had said at the time. More friends can be part of the social distancing catch-up. More colleagues can join in and share brilliant ideas on how to go about things. This will work even on Android phones or iPhones that are old and not as powerful anymore—it is priceless for those who may still be rocking older smartphones. The same flexibility cannot exactly be vouched for, for the other video meeting apps. Except perhaps FaceTime, which works brilliantly on all iPhones, no matter how old.

All that being said, it is still lesser than 32 participants that Apple FaceTime allows, the 12-person limit that Google Duo now has and Skype which supports 50 participants. If that really a limitation? Perhaps not.

End to End Encryption remains its strongest suite

If you don’t really want a scenario where the privacy of your calls is not exactly a certainty and the promises sound a bit dodge, chances are you’ll stay away from Zoom. In that regard, WhatsApp has pushed the end-to-end encryption capabilities extensively over time. “And just like written messages, all those calls are protected with end-to-end encryption,” they did the same with the new group calling too.

In fact, Messenger Rooms will also have end-to-end encryption enabled for all calls. Simply put, it makes it extremely unlikely that anyone will able to eavesdrop on your conversation as it traverses the depths of the world wide web, without your knowledge.

With Rooms and Group Calling, Facebook’s idea is simple. It is not to try and be the platform that tries to appeal to casual users, small groups, smaller teams, medium sized meetings and large enterprises—basically redevelop the app to a one-size fits all. It is to be versatile enough for different use cases, and that is where the volumes could very well be.

Facebook’s idea for WhatsApp is not to be a one-size fits all. It is to be versatile enough for different use cases

WhatsApp builds from a foundation of strength. It has a massive user base, like no other. It has usage statistics and insights that tell exactly how people use video calling and group calling features. It has something for pretty much everyone now.

Ads in WhatsApp are coming, no two ways about it

While WhatsApp is like no other instant messaging app in the world, it does have one glaring shortcoming. From the business side of things. It doesn’t make money for Facebook. It has to be monetized at some stage. That is how a business makes financial sense. There has been talk for a while now that ads would eventually make their way into the WhatsApp app. It hasn’t happened so far, but don’t bet on the status quo for too long. Ads in WhatsApp Status could be the start. How Facebook manages opening doors to its platform for advertisers and yet be able to secure user data privacy is a matter for another debate.

That is where Facebook’s plan to unify WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook with one encryption platform could help.

WhatsApp Pay could provide the big boost

Last but not least is the final piece of the jigsaw for WhatsApp. Digital payments. This will be particularly good in developing economies such as India, where mobile based payments are a big deal. The much-awaited UPI mobile payments service got the approvals from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in February, for what will be a phased roll-out. The first phase will mean 10 million users. This will also fit in perfectly with the Government of India’s push for digital payments, as part of the Digital India mission.

Facebook surely has Paytm, the incredibly popular mobile payments and shopping platform, in its sights. As of August, Paytm had planned an injection of Rs 750 crore to clock 250 million monthly users by the end of the financial year. That is the user demographic that Facebook will be looking at. It won’t be a challenge to find these users though, because chances are high that almost every single one of these 250 million Paytm users will also have WhatsApp installed on their phones.

@media only screen and (max-width:740px)

.quote-boxfont-size:18px; line-height:30px; color:#505050; margin-top:30px; padding:22px 20px 20px 70px; position:relative; font-style:italic; font-weight:bold

.special-textfont-size:24px; line-height:32px; color:#505050; margin:20px 40px 20px 20px; border-left:8px solid #ee1b24; padding:10px 10px 10px 15px; font-style:italic; font-weight:bold

.quote-box imgwidth:60px; left:6px

.quote-box .quote-namfont-size:16px; color:#5f5f5f; padding-top:30px; text-align:right; font-weight:normal

.quote-box .quote-nam spanfont-weight:bold; color:#ee1b24



Categories
Tech

How I Got My Work Machine Just Right: Apple MacBook Pro, Microsoft 365, Google Drive & More

Sync. The Oxford Dictionary describes being in sync is defined as ‘moving or working at exactly the same time and speed as someone or something else’. Over time, it has not only used when referring to people, ideas or things, but is equally applicable to the technology that we use too. In fact, being in sync is one of the primary requirements of the modern-day productivity workflow that may involve a computing device, a smartphone, a tablet and even a smart watch. Quite complicated then, for beginners. The thing is, it shouldn’t be, if you have the right tools in place. Right, being used subjectively here, of course. For me, I am yet to find an ecosystem as slick and reliable as the one that Apple has, to provide the very foundation of this experience. Foundation being the operative word. As it is, this has been reaffirmed with the whole work from home routine that we are all a part of.

That being said, I do attempt to create a picture of how exactly I manage to weave all the computing devices I use into the same web of productivity and utility—and believe me, there are many that keep changing regularly, since that is part of the job. The default however remains the Apple MacBook Pro, the MacBook Pro 16 at the time of writing this. On the software side, it can all be a rather complex web that involves a variety of apps and services, including Microsoft 365, Google Drive, Pocket, Spotify and more.

The matter of hardware: I have reasons to trust the Apple MacBook

Let us get this out of the way first. The choice of computing device, for me, does entirely depend on what I find more comfortable to use on a daily basis. And more reliable. There are things about the macOS, which simply fits like a glove. It is not just the fact that we don’t have monthly updated on macOS which break basic functionality, such as Wi-Fi or VPN access (looking at you, Microsoft). One such example is Mission Control, and the ability to have multiple desktop windows with separate apps assigned to each—and the simple swipe gestures that let you switch seamlessly. For instance, I keep my web browsers on one window, a document editor on another, an image editor on the third, Apple Music on the fourth and so on. Hot Corners let you configure macOS to quickly glance at and switch application windows, put the display to sleep and so on. Over time, Microsoft has considerably improved Windows, but Windows 10 still does not allow this slick functionality for what I need, and in the way Apple macOS does.

Then there is the small matter of the keyboard. For me, the MacBook keyboards over the years, have offered just the sort of responsiveness, travel and spacing that I find comfortable. Yes, including the Butterfly keyboard, which has been very reliable for me. In the Windows ecosystem, Microsoft Surface Laptop and some HP notebooks come close, but the jarring change with most others is just an unnecessary learning curve which keeps me away from using them as a daily driver.

Safari Has Thrown Instagram Off my Scent & Microsoft Edge is Quite Lovable

For web browsing, there are two tiers of web browsers that I prefer. Apple’s own Safari has improved leaps and bounds when it comes to privacy features. While this also helps me keep everything in sync, including open tabs across devices, on my Mac, iPhone and iPad, there are some observations over time which do indicate my web browsing history is more secure than before.

The Safari web browser, for instance, has something known as Intelligent Tracking Protection. “It works by separating the third-party content used to track you from other browsing data, so what you look at on the web remains your business — not an advertiser’s,” says Apple. The AI and machine learning work is done on the device itself (which means no data is shared with any third-party services) and this feature is on by default on all Safari browsers. I can say with certainty that with Safari as my default browser on the iPhone, iPad and on the Mac, apps such as Facebook and Instagram have been completely thrown off my scent. I browse for some product on the web or search something on a shopping website, and unlike before when using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browsers, no eerily similar and targeted adverts pop up for me on Instagram and Facebook. Even the adverts that other websites serve up aren’t an ode to my actual web searches.

The thing is, and it is quite funny—Facebook and Instagram as well as online adverts that I get are still stuck in the past, and they have no clue what I am searching for now. Except the ads that I may click on either of the platforms, and they latch on to that with great hope!

Yes, Safari may be a bit restrictive for you if you rely heavily on extensions and add-ons. I prefer to keep my browser streamlined, with the Pocket extensions (earlier known as Read it Later) to save web links for reading later, being the only extension. If you still need a web browser that lets you bolt things on in greater variety, I’d recommend the Microsoft Edge web browser.

Microsoft Edge is the second, and a very reliable, tier for my web browser preferences on the iPhone, Mac and iPad. But if it is an Android phone or a Windows PC, then Edge becomes the default web browser. It is lighter on the resources than Chrome, which means better battery life—yes, I don’t use desktops, which is why battery life is important for me. This does not load the system as Chrome so often does, slowing everything down and heating everything up in the process. And it also offers more detailed tracking prevention. I’ve chosen Strict, needless to say, across devices.

If you still want choices, Mozilla Firefox, the new Vivaldi and Brave are some very capable options available across all of your devices.

Gone Overboard with Google, OneDrive and iCloud Storage

Then there is the small matter of cloud storage services, to keep my files synced across all devices. This is absolutely critical, because at times, some document from work needs to be accessed while at home, and vice-versa. And l like backups, properly sorted. Here, I have gone a bit overboard, admittedly. My cloud storage requirements for work are handled by Apple iCloud and Google Drive, the latter being important because the app is available for Android too. And it is still the free tier for Google Drive, which I am using purely for the recent documents—you’ll run out of the 15GB of storage, which also includes Gmail, quite quickly. Though if Android devices are never in the mix for you, iCloud does equally well on iOS, macOS, iPadOS and Windows 10 devices.

Then there is OneDrive, as a backup for the backups, because I have the Office 365 subscription, and that bundles cloud storage as well. However, and I’ve tried this time and again, the OneDrive app just doesn’t work as well on Macs as Google’s Backup & Sync app and of course, the integrated iCloud. If it did, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the humongous 1TB of cloud storage. Get that macOS app sorted, Microsoft.

There was a time when Dropbox was my go-to cloud storage, but last year they decided to add limits to the free subscription tier, and that wasn’t entirely appreciated. It now charges $9.99 per month for 2TB storage, something I don’t feel the need to splurge on with robust alternatives already in place.

Paying For Microsoft 365 Family Subscription Simply For The Convenience

The Microsoft 365 Family subscription costs me Rs 530 per month and is a critical link in my workflow chain. Microsoft Word and Excel are two apps I need more often than not, and to be honest, I’m not exactly the most comfortable accessing Google Docs via the web browser all the time. I prefer an uncomplicated offline solution, with access to my files and a document editor to work on when needed even if there is no internet connectivity available.

As for Apple’s own Pages, Numbers and Keynote, they work perfectly fine. That being said, word editor Pages still only save files with the “.pages” extension, for instance, and there is no option to set that to save files as “.docx” if you want that. In an environment where I need to also share files with others who use Windows machines and Microsoft Word, this just becomes incredibly inconvenient.

Noting it all down on Notes and Microsoft To-Do

While I prefer the Apple Notes app, there are times when I need to access some data on an Android phone or a Windows PC, for instance. That is where the Microsoft To-Do app just works very well for me. Syncs across all devices you have signed in with the app, can share lists with colleagues and family and more.

For some reason, I’ve tried but never really taken to Google Tasks. It is a neat app, no doubt, but To-Do seems more intuitive and powerful.

The soundtrack for work and play shifts between Apple Music and Spotify

Quite often, music is what you need to calm your nerves. Or take your mind off things. Or to simply just ignore what is unfolding around you. Or simply for the life beyond work. Music streaming services aplenty, but long before most of these concepts became fancy and cool, I’ve been an Apple Music subscriber—the Family subscription too @Rs 149 per month, mind you. That ropes in the music requirements of everyone else at home as well. Apple Music as an app on a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, just simply works. All my music is there, painstakingly curated over the years.

It is also not easy to simply let go of one music streaming app in favor of another. That is the challenge which I had when Spotify arrived in India last year. I am a subscriber there also, because Spotify has that rather unique way of curating the music recommendations, that I end up discovering more music. That’s building the Spotify library as well, and soon enough, I’ll have Apple Music and Spotify equally armed.

Apple Music also can be set as the default music source on the Amazon Echo smart speakers and smart displays too—and that is exactly what I have done. And if you have an Apple HomePod smart speaker at home, then the choice really isn’t up for debate anymore.

This is not rocket science

There you have it. Using a MacBook Pro doesn’t mean you are restricted in terms of services or apps, just as you wouldn’t be if you replaced it with a Windows 10 PC and replicated the services and apps that I use. It is all about having hardware that you think is powerful enough for your usage scenario and topping that up with the best possible apps to use. Some will be paid, but that is very much a reality.



Categories
Tech

Why So Sneaky Xiaomi: Preloaded Apps, Ads, Browser Breaches and More

Xiaomi is in the line of fire. A recent report pointed out a major security flaw where the company’s phones send a large amount of user data to remote servers outsourced by certain Chinese partners. The report said that data collected through preinstalled apps on Xiaomi’s MIUI interface include browsing history, accessed services, app usage behaviour as well as music listening preferences.

Xiaomi India did respond to the allegations in an official statement, saying that the claims are “incorrect and not true.” While the long statement might be enough to reassure consumers’ faith in the brand, the information given out by independent cybersecurity researcher Gabi Cirlig cannot be ignored. Considering I have reviewed a few Xiaomi smartphones in the past, there are certain things that do give the undeniable feeling that the company’s MIUI interface is flawed. And it is a consistent experience which makes me say that. I am absolutely not alleging that Xiaomi is saving user data to some remote servers, but there are certain things that make it pretty evident that some data is being collected. Even if it isn’t, doesn’t help with the privacy sentiment which consumers are now becoming more aware of. Also, there is a lot of clutter and preloaded stuff on the custom Android ROM that is a bit of a nuisance.

ALSO READ

Xiaomi Users, Beware: Your Data is Being Read by Chinese Servers

THE TEST

I did a quick experiment by resetting a Redmi Note 9 Pro and going through the setup procedure in detail. Things look pretty much in order, the phone asks me to sign into my Google account and the regular set of permissions. Things start to get interesting once I get a prompt to log into my Xiaomi account. There is an Additional Settings page asking you to enable certain services. These include Location as well as prompts for User Experience Programme, sending diagnostic data automatically, personalized ads and Glance for Mi.

While the first one is straightforward, the user experience and diagnostic data is essential information sent to Xiaomi so they can analyze it and improve on bugs and issues in future updates. Now, this is something that a lot of manufacturers do and it doesn’t seem suspicious to a large extent.

Then there are personalized ads, for which the company has faced a lot of flak in the past. Xiaomi has given users the option to disable this, however, when you do so, a warning pops up saying that while you won’t get personalized ads, you will still get ads that are irrelevant to your interests and you can seek further information by reading the company’s privacy policy.

Lastly, there is the Glance for Mi which is an information tab sitting on the left-most home screen of the phone. This gathers information to offer personalized content including app shortcuts, news, sports updates, calendar events, as well as suggestions to download apps.

In my opinion, you should switch off the personalized ads toggle during the setup, especially if you don’t want to be spammed with annoying notifications and pop-ups. If you plan to use the Glance with Mi feature, then keep the toggle on, else switch it off as well. As for the company accessing your data for User Experience and diagnostic data shouldn’t be an issue, but if you are privy of your data, you can turn them off and they shouldn’t affect the functioning of the device.

ALSO READ

Xiaomi India Says it is Not Collecting Any More of Your Data Than What You Allowed

The issues don’t stop here. The phone setup then asks whether you want to download additional apps, specifically from Xiaomi’s own app store. This is a problem in itself as a bunch of recommended apps having a size of over 1GB are pre-selected. I highly recommend to deselect all of them or skip this step altogether to avoid your device to load up unnecessary apps. Through this, Xiaomi is technically force-feeding its own app store called ‘GetApps’ to customers. Xiaomi has confirmed that the app store has security certification based on tests carried out by Avast, Tencent, and Kingsoft. Having said that, Xiaomi’s app store still has certain apps that run in the background, display full-screen ads, and even monitor screen unlocking functionality. On top of that, unless you revoke notification access, the app store also throws random suggestions of apps for you to download. It is best to completely block all notification access form the GetApps store.

Despite skipping the optional installation of apps, you will notice that some apps are already installed on the phone. In my case apps like Facebook, Amazon India, Helo, Zili, Opera Browser, and so on. Thankfully you have the option of completely removing these apps.

As for the pre-installed Xiaomi apps, which cannot be completely removed from the device, are yet again a nuisance. Apps like Mi Music and even the Clock app seek permission and ask you to agree to certain privacy policies. Unless you agree to them, you cannot use the app. The Music app, just like the GetApps store, will generate many notifications, hence revoking all notification access is advised.

Last but not the least, the default Xiaomi browser app. I suggest you completely disable this app. Long press on the app icon, and revoke all permissions, notification access, clear data, and uninstall updates. Not only does this browser send you unnecessary notifications, but it also potentially sends user data to Chinese servers, even in Incognito Mode.

THE SOLUTION

In case you own a Xiaomi smartphone, especially any of the Redmi or, a Poco device that runs on the company’s MIUI interface, chances are that you will face a similar experience. It is best to remove or disable the apps that you are less likely to use. Additionally, make sure that you disable notification access from all such apps. There shouldn’t be any issues with the company’s A-series phones as well as the Redmi Go, as they come with stock Android, although the ‘Mint Browser’ is a Xiaomi product.