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Posts Tagged ‘security

Yesterday I had a meeting at a Starbucks with someone who just learnt that its free wifi expired after 30 minutes.

I realised that what I took for granted was news to others, so I decided to type out a few of the many things that make a local road warrior’s office tick. I focus on wifi today and an assortment of tips tomorrow.
 

 
Wifi is the lifeblood of the road warrior. But if you use the free wifi offered by places like Starbucks or McDonald’s, you pay for the convenience with some inconvenience.

Starbucks in Singapore currently partners with MyRepublic and wifi access is free after you register. However, you are limited to 30 minute sessions and must reconnect in between. (Disclosure: This is not a sponsored piece.)

If you do not want your workflow interrupted, you might do what I do — I set a timer for 29 minutes by Googling “timer for 29 minutes” as a reminder.

At other eateries, you might be able to set up a mobile phone and laptop for automatic connection to Wireless@SGx. The mobile and laptop apps that facilitate this process and can be downloaded here.

M1's FAQ #8 on Wireless@SGx.

Note: There is the Wireless@SG variant (no “x” at the end) that requires a manual login via SMS, but this service is less secure according to one local telco’s FAQ.

Most malls offer free wifi in exchange for some personal information. I do not risk abuse of this information, so I recommend avoiding them. If you must connect, use temporary email and generic contact numbers. These are good options if messages are not sent to the email and number for verification.
 

 
Regardless of the wifi source, it is always a good idea to use a VPN service to protect your connection. I have used Private Internet Access (PIA) for years. It costs me only about SGD3.50 a month for peace of mind. (Disclosure: I have not been paid in any way by PIA to mention this.) Here are some paid and free VPN alternatives.

If you are not on VPN, do not conduct transactions like banking, billing, or otherwise logging into sensitive sites.

Using VPN is not without its hiccups. One mall I frequent blocks VPN services on its free wifi. Some online services like Google Drive, Google Photos, and macOS Notes might not sync or work properly when connected to public wifi protected by VPN. For me this happens on my laptop, but not on my phone (VPN is on all the time), so I am not sure what it going on.

Where public wifi is not available, you may need to tether your phone to a laptop with a suitable cable or use your phone as a hotspot.

To ensure that my laptop sips data instead of gulps it, I make sure that background processes are shutdown or paused. File sync and media streaming services can rack up your bill.

We have it relatively easy in Singapore with free wifi almost everywhere. But the convenience should not lull road warriors into a false sense of security. Better to be safe than sorry.


Video source

What would you do if you found out that someone could activate your webcam and record what you were doing without your knowledge?

If you did not know this could be done, you should read these articles in the BBC, Daily Mail, and the Washington Post.

I present a simple solution to counter this potential problem in my last episode of Happy New Gear.

 
What do some people cite when they do not want to adopt new ICT tool or strategy? Security.

Bear in mind that the context of that tweet was using more open and social tools for exchanging ideas on education.

It dawned on me at this week’s #edsg chat that “security” is a replacement and misnomer for:

  • privacy
  • confidentiality
  • a sense of control
  • fear of change (HT to @engrg1)
  • fear of the unknown (HT to @hsiao_yun)
  • paranoia (HT to @hsiao_yun)

If you mention that something is a “security concern” or needs to be investigated as a “security issue” then what gets frozen in their tracks are logic and forward-thinking change.

The only things that keep going are the status quo, fear, and ignorance.

Security is a fuzzy but powerful enough word to throw about because very few people understand what it means. The few that do a) find it hard to explain it to those who do not, and b) generally do not understand the world outside security.

It is like having a conversation with someone in the financial world who only thinks in monetary terms or counts beans. You could talk about topics as diverse as the haze, education, and terrorism, and everything boils down to numbers.

If that person has the numbers and can weave a good story around them, it is hard to argue against them.

Likewise for anyone clutching a security blanket, except they do not even have to explain security. If they shout fire, you are expected to listen and then run. You are not supposed to have discussion about the history of fire or its merits and demerits.

But often something just does not click when you listen to these numbers or stories.

It is like how folks in Singapore look out the window at the heavy haze but see a low PSI reading online. What they experience is out of sync with what is officially published because of the time lag.

Likewise, security concerns with ICT are often out-of-sync with new or currently evolving mindsets. The old guard may want to maintain a walled garden. But their stakeholders want to enjoy an open field or a more natural looking forest.

Why create your own versions of YouTube, Dropbox, or Edmodo when these tools and platforms already exist? If these tools do not provide some form of meaningful security, they would not have the critical mass or business they have now.

I am not saying we throw caution to the wind. I am saying we stop using security as an outmoded excuse.

Recently, a blogger shared what he thought were the top five security settings for iOS. I think there should be at least two more.

You should deactivate the ability to change accounts and the untoggle the change location settings.

Once you have entered all email and iCloud account information, you should prevent the settings from being deleted or changed. Likewise, to prevent Find My iPhone from being deactivated, you should lock down location settings.

You start by tapping on Settings -> General -> Restrictions. I am making use of the new WordPress photo carousel feature to illustrate the other steps.


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