Apps

Zoom isn’t as safe as you might think

Doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption, leaks personal emails

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As working from home finally rises in popularity, teleconferencing apps are also getting their share of the limelight. Amidst all this, Zoom has become one of the most popular choices today, upending Skype and Google Hangouts for the top spot. The app offers ease of use and convenience in the work from home era.

Convenience, of course, is just one aspect of good app development. Cybersecurity, especially now, is another. Unfortunately, new investigations have revealed the software’s dubious caveats.

First reported by The Intercept, Zoom is not offering true end-to-end encryption, contrary to what it’s advertising. Conventionally, end-to-end encryption ensures that only the meeting’s participants can access the information shared in a call. Ideally, no one can access the call’s video, audio, and text messages.

According to the company’s website, Zoom offers this exact service. However, from a spokesperson’s exact words, the platform can’t provide this service at all. Instead, it offers the more rudimentary TLS encryption.

In contrast, TLS encryption is a step below true end-to-end. Though it still protects the information from malicious third parties, it does not protect data from Zoom itself. The company can still access your call. If anything, its only truly encrypted feature is text messaging during calls.

Of course, Zoom emphasizes its respect for cybersecurity. “Zoom takes its users’ privacy extremely seriously. Zoom only collects data from individuals using the Zoom platform as needed to provide the service and ensure it is delivered as effectively as possible,” the company said in a statement.

Now, in a completely different report, Zoom is taking a more reactive approach to cybersecurity. Reported by Vice, the company is potentially leaking everyone’s personal emails to other users.

The platform offers a feature called “Company Directory,” which collates all users using the same domain. Naturally, the feature is helpful for companies with its own email addresses. For example, if you own an “@companyxyz.com” email, you’ll be able to see other Zoom users with the same email.

However, if you use a personal email, this can lead to weird consequences. In the report, several users who did just that have seen unknown persons appearing on their Company Directory. Thankfully, Zoom doesn’t list more popular domains in this feature. Gmail and Yahoo users are safe for now. Still, if you use a non-standard domain for your personal email, you might be in for a surprise.

Fortunately, Zoom is blacklisting domains as they get reported. The domains listed on the report have already been removed from the feature. Regardless, Zoom’s recent hiccups can turn into a warning call. Even in the age of telecommuting, take care of your own security online.

SEE ALSO: WhatsApp usage rises significantly due to Coronavirus

Apps

WhatsApp delays roll-out of new privacy policy until May

Signal and Telegram are trending instead

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Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy that clearly specifies how the instant messaging app will leverage your data for monetization. But the new privacy policy is on hold.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has announced that it will delay enforcing its new privacy terms from February 8 to May 15. In the blog post, the company says that none of its privacy-focused features are changing.

“We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15,” the statement said.

It faced massive backlash as users are worried about their personal data. When the privacy policy changes went public last week, the response from the public was downright brutal. Alternative apps like Telegram and Signal started trending worldwide as users started joining it in hopes of ditching WhatsApp.

Even though WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, Facebook will still fetch some crucial information like your transactions, location, and other behavioral data from linked Instagram profile. And, we all know Facebook has a nasty reputation as far as personal data management is concerned. What makes it even more outrageous is that the policy is leave or take, and there’s no third option.

In the wording used, WhatsApp says the new privacy policy will change how it partners with Facebook to “offer integrations” and that businesses can use Facebook services to manage WhatsApp chats. It said that hat all private messages between friends and family members will remain end-to-end encrypted.

According to a CNBC report, India’s technology ministry also asked WhatsApp to withdraw planned changes to its privacy policy that has drawn widespread backlash.

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Apps

Ultrahuman is an all-in-one fitness app

Workout, meditate and sleep soundly

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Staying physically and mentally fit is extra challenging during a pandemic, but it’s become essential now more than ever. Ultrahuman is a fitness app launched that offers a very convenient platform that targets the three main health points: physical exercise, meditation and sleep. It helps you stay fit from the moment you wake up until you go to bed!

This newest app, which debuted on CES 2021, features different content per category. It includes home workouts and yoga programs from world-class athletes and professional trainers to focus on your physical strength. You can choose from various workouts — from running and yoga to weightlifting and HIIT. The app is designed for all fitness levels.

With the app’s biofeedback technology, you can also track your heart rate and calories burned in real-time.

There’s also content focusing on mindfulness, including guided meditations, bedtime stories, calming meditation music, nature and sleep sounds, breathing exercises, among others. Manage stress and anxiety better by improving your mental health and sleeping patterns with the help of this series.

You can also listen to “brain music”, a section where you can find songs curated by “neuro-musicians” that aids focus, sleep and productivity.

Ultrahuman also partnered with UCLA, Mindsize, and Unified Mindfulness to bring the best of mind science and technology together.

The app is available on iOS and Android, and is already rolled out across 50+ countries globally. It’s been recognized by Apple as one of the top apps they love. Apple Watch users can also integrate their app to track their health progress real-time.

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Apps

Prepare your meals through your phone, fridge using Samsung SmartThings

The kitchen, simplified

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With everything going on in the world, it’s no surprise that people are spending more time in the kitchen and looking out for new recipes.

The good news? Samsung has just the thing to get it sorted quickly and easily. They’re bringing in Family Hub features into mobile users through the SmartThings app.

Samsung’s SmartThings Cooking service helps bring all of your Samsung kitchen appliances together. How? It lets you search, plan, purchase, and meal prep seamlessly through your phone or fridge through the SmartThings app.

On top of that, it recommends customized recipes based on your taste and preferences while considering ingredients available to you. You can scroll through recipe collections when you’re undecided or quickly zero-in on meals that suit your cravings.

SmartThings Cooking, powered by Whisk, is accessible through Samsung’s SmartThings. If you’ve got the Family Hub in your smart kitchen arsenal, there’s no need to fret.

The fridge keeps tabs of what you have and don’t, adding missing ingredients directly to your online grocery cart for at-home deliveries. Not to mention, you can shop through Walmart, Kroger, Instacart, and Amazon Fresh, using the Whisk network.

With SmartThings added to the Family Hub smart fridge, you get to enjoy all the cool features and more! You get to access your other smart kitchen gadgets through widgets on the screen, prioritize most used apps, and feature family photos, notes, and recipes.

And, if cooking is what you’re worried about, Samsung has you covered for even that. SmartThings guides you through easy cooking steps and lets you control cooking modes, temperatures, and time settings with one touch. Leaving you with little room for error.

So, with all that in mind, was it really a surprise to see Samsung’s Family Hub win its sixth consecutive CES Innovation Award this year? For us, not quite.

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