Can you trust the personal Internet of Things?
Some of us are really excited about a world of human-implantable Internet of Things (IoT). I’m not keen on it. You see, a few years back, in the TV series Homeland, the US Vice President was assassinated by a terrorist who hacked into his heart pacemaker.
Could that really happen? Yes.
Also: The internet of human things: Implants for everybody and how we get there
Fatal security problems
In 2017, MedSec, a medical technology security company, found that Abbott Laboratories’ St Jude Medical defibrillator or pacemakers could be remotely attacked by hackers. At about the same time, Johnson & Johnson admitted one of its insulin pumps had a security vulnerability, which could be exploit to overdose diabetics with insulin. Since then, these Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs) have been patched. But who knows how many other such potentially fatal security problems may lie hidden within medical devices?
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Actually, Karen M. Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, has a good idea of how many: Too many. As she explained, “All software has bugs and all software is vulnerable.” We know that. But did you know that, according to the Software Engineering Institute, there is one bug for every 100 lines of software? And did you know that pacemaker in your chest has about 70,000 lines of code? Scary, isn’t it?
But, as Sandler pointed out, “free and open software tends to be better and safer over time.” Unfortunately, all IMD software is proprietary.
What does it run?
Sandler, aka the cyborg lawyer, is close to this problem. You see, she has an enlarged heart from a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This mean she could suddenly die at any moment. But, thanks to a pacemaker/defibrillator, she should be OK. When she first saw one, her question to her doctor, who had implanted thousands of these, was: “What does it run?”
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The doctor, of course, didn’t have a clue. He wasn’t even sure it had software in it. Next, the company representative came in, and he didn’t know either. But, he assured her that “these devices are very, very safe and fully tested.” To make a long story short, she found medical professionals hadn’t even thought about software issues and IMD vendors won’t talk about their software.
Don’t think anyone is checking up on IMD software outside the vendors. They’re not. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t review IMD source code, nor does it keep a repository of source code. You have to trust your device vendor, which Sandler compared to having a cat guard a fish store.
A black mystery box
Sandler’s OK with having a device in her body — after all, it’s keeping her alive. But she’s “not comfortable with the idea of having proprietary software literally screwed into her heart.”
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Think about it. How would you feel about having a black mystery box in you? I know I’d hate it.
As Sandler explained, these medical “devices are the worst of both worlds. They have closed and proprietary software on them that no one can review, and at the same time, they are broadcasting remotely without any real security.”
Sandler noted that you can’t turn off most IMD defibrillator wireless functionality. The same is true of most personal IoT devices.
Sandler explained that it’s important to have a “right to not broadcast or be connected.” She said, “One of the main points is that we cannot really consent to something we have no viable alternative to.” This is a real worry, because with a network connection with unknown security, your device is much more vulnerable to attacks.
She wants to have the opportunity to examine the code and its algorithms, but with the proprietary software used in her body, she doesn’t have it. And neither does anyone else. Also, as she pointed out, with “IoT software which talks to everything else, often unnecessarily, we are introducing even more vulnerabilities.”
Sandler came out about her search for IMD source code and safety in 2012 at the linux.conf.au conference. Since then, she’s always asked, “Hey, did you ever get your source code?” And the answer is: “No, she hasn’t.”
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So, for me, at least, I’ll get a IMD with proprietary software if I must. But volunteer to have an implantable device with no idea what’s going on in its software, and it could be attacked wirelessly? No thanks.
Zoom Just Added New AI-Powered Features, Here’s What They Do
Zoom is also adding an AI-assisted auto-framing system called Intelligent Director to its Zoom Room system. This one relies on a multi-camera setup and picks up the best camera angle to depict a person in a video conference. The company says it paves the way for a “more equitable meeting experience for remote and in-person attendees.” Interestingly, Zoom is borrowing the idea of huddles from Slack, which itself introduced video chats to huddles last year that look a lot like Zoom. Introduced earlier today, Zoom Huddles is a video-centric virtual coworking space with a healthy bunch of collaboration features.
Zoom also wants to offer its very own email inbox and calendar so that users don’t have to jump between the video calling platform and other apps. The result of those ambitions is Zoom Mail, which is now available to all users as a client that can be connected to your existing Gmail or Microsoft inbox. Additionally, if you want Zoom’s very own email service, the company is also offering something called Zoom Mail Service with its very own hosting, but it is limited to paid customers only. Then there’s Zoom Calendar, which lives in the main sidebar and aims to replace rivals from Microsoft and Google that are currently a part of your workflow.
How To Schedule Or Automate iPhone’s Always-On Display
Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the first iPhones with an always-on display. The setting is enabled by default in currently-available iOS builds, but you cannot schedule or automate iPhone’s always-on display. That changes with the latest iOS 16.4 beta, adding an option to automate the feature.
That sounds exciting, but here’s a caveat. Since iOS 16.4 is available as a release candidate to registered developers or public testers, you might find getting your hands on it challenging. Even if you decide to download it to automate your iPhone’s always-on display, you might experience some performance issues or bugs, ranging from worse battery life to iOS crashes.
Nevertheless, if you’re sure about trying the new features, head to the Apple Beta Software Program page and follow the instructions to install the latest iOS 16.4 beta, which has a new feature to schedule always-on display on the iPhones.
Automate always-on display using Focus Filters
Two ways to automate iPhone 14 Pro’s always-on display in iOS 16.4 are via Focus Filters and Shortcuts. First, let’s discuss the steps in enabling the feature via Focus Filters.
- First, head to the Settings app on your iPhone and tap Focus.
- Create a new Focus by pressing the plus icon in the top right corner. Select Custom from the available options and name the Focus mode. Tap on Customize Focus and head to the next screen.
- Swipe down and select Add Filter under Focus Filters.
- Under System Filters, select Always On Display. Ensure the Filter is enabled and tap Add in the top right corner.
- Now, under Set A Schedule, do one of the following things.
- Enable Smart Activation, which applies the Focus Filter at relevant times of the day based on your app usage, location, and other metrics.
- Select Add Schedule and set when you want the Focus Filter to be active, enabling the always-on display.
You’ve successfully linked the always-on display to the Focus mode, which will now be active during the schedule you set.
Set up a Shortcut to activate always-on display
You can also connect your iPhone’s always-on display to a Shortcut.
- Head to the Shortcuts app and press the plus icon in the top right corner.
- Select Add Action and locate and select the Set Always On Display option through the search bar at the top.
- By default, the Turn and On buttons activate the always-on display when you access the Shortcut.
- Tap Done in the top right corner.
- Accessing this Shortcut will trigger the always-on display.
Now that you know how to schedule or automate always-on display on your iPhone, here are a few things to remember. Currently, the feature is only available in iOS 16.4 beta, so regular users can’t access the feature. Although Apple is expected to release iOS 16.4 as a stable build for everyone soon, we can’t give an exact date. Second, using the always-on display might deplete your iPhone’s battery faster than usual, which is normal.
Revamped Microsoft Teams App For Windows Is Leaner, Sleeker
Aside from the sluggish performance, older versions of Microsoft Teams have also received criticism for their rather bland, unimpressive looks. Thanks to a major design revamp, Microsoft is changing all that. The new look — besides being pleasing to the eyes — has been infused with several intuitive elements that were missing in the older version. Some of the significant changes include the simplification of the navigation and settings menu, and the ability to customize the interface with new themes, colors, and backgrounds.
The new Microsoft Teams app borrows a lot of design cues from Windows 11, a move intended to make it feel like a native Windows app. The infamous purple color generally associated with Teams is less prominent now. Microsoft has improved the visual experience of group chats thanks to the newly added group profile pics and group theming options.
One of the major pain points of using Microsoft Teams was its inability to stay logged into multiple workspaces or accounts. The newest version of Teams fixes that. This ensures that users can stay logged into multiple workspaces simultaneously. More importantly, they will continue to receive notifications from all the spaces they are part of. These new features align with Microsoft’s efforts to enhance Team’s collaboration features.
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