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How to keep hackers, snoopers, and thieves out of your iPhone

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iPhones and iPads are, out of the box, quite robust and secure platforms. But with a few tweaks you can harden that security dramatically without adding too much burden to your day-to-day usage of the device.

#1: It all starts with a really good, strong passcode

It all starts with a really good, strong passcode

If you’re using a 4-digit PIN code, stop what you are doing and change it right now. I’ll wait for you.

Good iOS security starts with having a really strong passcode. If this is something that’s easily guessable then everything else you do is pretty much pointless.

No matter whether you use Face ID or Touch ID to access your iPhone, you still need a passcode, and the longer the passcode you can use — and remember — the better.

Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode on older iPhones), enter your existing passcode, and then tap on Passcode Options to get a set of options. Choose between Custom Alphanumeric Code (the most secure) or Custom Numeric Code (second best option), or 4-Digit Numeric Code (I don’t recommend this last option).

#2: Set brute-force protection

Set brute-force protection

Set brute-force protection

iOS has built-in brute-force protection to prevent someone just entering a bunch of passcodes in an attempt to guess the one you are using. Try too many times, and iOS wipes your device. Good for security, not so good if you forget your passcode.

After ten attempts (as you near the tenth there will be a time lockout to slow down the entry process, which is a method that stops pranksters or morons from wiping your iPhone), the encryption key will be deleted and your data wiped.

Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode on older iPhones), enter your existing passcode, and scroll down to Erase Data to check this setting is enabled.

#3: Make sure iOS automatic updates are enabled

Make sure iOS automatic updates are enabled

Make sure iOS automatic updates are enabled

iOS 13 has the ability to keep itself updated automatically, which is a great way to make sure that your iPhone is fully patched. If you can’t think of a good reason not to enable this, enable it!

This should be set up automatically, but you can check it over at Settings > General > Software Update and make sure Automatic Updates is enabled.

#4: Reduce the lock screen timeout

Reduce the lock screen timeout

Reduce the lock screen timeout

The shorter you set the lock screen timeout setting (there are options ranging from 30 seconds to never), the faster your iPhone will require authentication to unlock it, reducing the amount of time someone has to snoop your data. I suggest keeping this at a minute or under.

You can change the auto-lock time by going to Settings > Display & Brightness Auto-Lock.

#5: Password AutoFill and third-party password managers

Password AutoFill and third-party password managers

Password AutoFill and third-party password managers

Password managers are a must nowadays, and iOS 13 now allows password autofill using data stored in the iCloud Keychain and third-party password apps such as LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password. This eliminates any excuse for using weak passwords or reusing passwords.

You can find the controls for feature in Settings > Passwords & Accounts > AutoFill Passwords.

#6: Check for password reuse

Check for password reuse

Check for password reuse

Don’t reuse passwords. It’s just dumb. Yeah, I know, it’s convenient (I used to do it too). If you use the iCloud Keychain to store web passwords, you can now use it to check whether you’ve reused a password for multiple accounts.

Go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Website & App Passwords and authenticate with either Face ID/Touch ID or your passcode.

You will see a grey triangle with an exclamation mark next to any entry that is reused. To change the password, tap Change Password on Website.

#7: Take control over Location Sharing

Take control over Location Sharing

Take control over Location Sharing

Another thing you might have noticed after installing iOS 13 is that you get notifications informing you that apps are using your locations data, and giving you the option of allowing this to continue or blocking it.

Don’t worry, you can change your mind by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, and changing permissions for your apps.

Assuming Locations Services is enabled, you will get a list of apps that use your locations data — any in there that surprise you? — and you can click on the various apps to change its settings.

Choose from:

  • Always
  • While Using the App
  • Ask Next Time
  • Never

Note that not all apps will offer all the options.

The app will also give you a brief explanation as to why it is requesting your location data.

#8: Block apps from having Bluetooth access

Block apps from having Bluetooth access

Block apps from having Bluetooth access

You may have noticed that after you installed or upgraded to iOS 13 you found that a whole swathe of apps such as Facebook started asking you for permission to transmit data over Bluetooth. One reason is that these apps are trying to use Bluetooth as a new way to track you.

You can either allow or deny access when the prompts are displayed, or you can head over to Settings > Privacy > Bluetooth and make the changes there.

Note that this doesn’t affect audio streaming to headphones and speakers.

#9: Control what Touch ID/Face ID is used to authenticate

Control what Touch ID/Face ID is used to authenticate

Control what Touch ID/Face ID is used to authenticate

Do you want the convenience of Face ID or Touch ID, or do you prefer the additional protection that having to enter your passcode offers? iOS 13 allows you to switch Face ID/Touch ID on and off for:

  • iPhone Unlock
  • iTunes and App Store
  • Apple Pay
  • Password AutoFill

Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode on older iPhones), and enter your existing passcode to take control of this.

#10: Set up two-factor authentication

Set up two-factor authentication

Set up two-factor authentication

One of the best ways to protect your data is to set up and use two-factor authentication. This means that, even if an attacker has your iCloud username and password, Apple will send an authentication code to a device you’ve chosen, which should block most attacks.

Go to Settings > and tap your name at the top of the screen, then go to Password & Security, then choose Two-Factor Authentication.

While setting up two-factor authentication you can also set up a Recovery Key.

Once set, without this key, or another device signed in with your Apple ID, you will not be able to reset your password.

#11: Delete your Siri and dictation history from Apple’s servers

Delete your Siri and dictation history from Apple's servers

Delete your Siri and dictation history from Apple’s servers

This is a new feature in iOS 13.2 that allows you to erase your Siri and dictation data from Apple’s servers.

First download and install iOS 13.2 on your iPhone or iPad. Then fire up the Settings app and go to Siri & Search > Siri & Dictation History. From there tap the big, ominous-looking red button marked Delete Siri & Dictation History. Then you confirm that you want to carry out this action by tapping Delete Siri & Dictation History on the popup. You should finally get confirmation that the request has been received by Apple.

You can also opt out of having your voice clips sent to Apple to improve Siri and dictation.

Go to Settings > Privacy > Analytics & Improvements and look for Improve Siri & Dictation and toggle the switch to off.

#12: Control notification data leakage

Control notification data leakage

Control notification data leakage

Notifications displayed on the lock screen can leak sensitive information to passersby.

To stop this go to Settings > Notifications > Show Previews and change the setting to When Unlocked or Never.

#13: More security control with Safari

More security control with Safari

More security control with Safari

Under iOS 13, the Safari browser now has the ability to control access to features such as the camera, the microphone, and current location on a per-site basis.

Go to Settings > Safari and look for the toggles under Settings For Websites.

#14: Block unknown callers

Block unknown callers

Block unknown callers

This is a great way to get rid of the vast majority of nuisance and spam callers. 

To enable this feature, go to Settings > Phone > and toggle to Silence Unknown Callers.

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5 tips for brands that want to succeed in the new era of influencer marketing – TechCrunch

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If I told you a decade ago that a spin bike would be a social community, you’d have had a good laugh. But that’s precisely what Peloton is: A spin bike with a social community where the instructors are the influencers.

Peloton is just one example of how social is being integrated into every aspect of the customer experience in an increasingly digital world. Whether it’s considering a new restaurant to check out, a movie to see or a product to buy, most people look at reviews before making a final decision. They want social proof as an indicator of quality and relevance.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust.

Influencers are a natural byproduct of this desire for social validation, and as social permeates the customer journey, creators have become an essential source of validation and trust. Indeed, social validation is what social platforms are built on, so it’s a significant component of how we derive relevance online — and the deeper integration of social is changing the dynamic between brands and digital creators.

The shifting economy of creator monetization

Brand sponsorships are the holy grail for creators hoping to monetize their online influence. According to an eMarketer report, brand partnerships are still the No. 1 source of revenue for most digital creators.

However, digital creators have a lot more monetization options to choose from, thanks to Patreon, affiliate platforms, paid content platforms and platform revenue sharing, making it easier to earn a living without relying so heavily on brand sponsorships.


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As a result, creators are diversifying their revenue streams, which, for some creators, allows them to be more selective about the brands they work with. What’s more, creators aren’t reliant on just one channel or one form of revenue.

YouTube creators probably have the most diversified revenue, often combining brand sponsorships, subscription models, affiliate deals, tipping/donations, their line of branded products and revenue share. However, it’s important to note that not all monetization options apply to every creator. But with so many options to choose from, making a living as a digital creator is more accessible than ever.

Here are a few of the ways online creators can monetize their content:

Ad revenue sharing: Advertising is the most traditional form of revenue for online creators. With this model, ads are injected into and around the creator’s content, and they make a certain percentage of revenue based on impressions. However, the revenue split can vary based on the platform, and some platforms have a specific threshold creators must hit before they can participate in ad revenue sharing.

Affiliate marketing: Similar to advertising or a brand sponsorship, affiliate marketing is an agreement for a share of revenue based on products sold. This kind of arrangement generally works best when the creator has a blog, website or YouTube account. Affiliate links allow the influencer to proactively choose the products they want to talk about and earn from, rather than having to wait for a brand deal to come their way.

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Instagram’s TikTok rival, Reels, rolls out ads worldwide – TechCrunch

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Instagram Reels are getting ads. The company announced today it’s launching ads in its short-form video platform and TikTok rival, Reels, to businesses and advertisers worldwide. The ads will be up to 30 seconds in length, like Reels themselves, and vertical in format, similar to ads found in Instagram Stories. Also like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment, and save them, the same as other Reels videos.

The company had previously tested Reels ads in select markets earlier this year, including India, Brazil, Germany, and Australia, then expanded those tests to Canada, France, the U.K. and the U.S. more recently. Early adopters of the new format have included brands like BMW, Nestlé (Nespresso), Louis Vuitton, Netflix, Uber, and others.

Instagram tells us the ads will appear in most places users view Reels content, including on the Reels tab, Reels in Stories, Reels in Explore, and Reels in your Instagram Feed, and will appear in between individual Reels posted by users. However, in order to be served a Reels ad, the user first needs to be in the immersive, full-screen Reels viewer.

Image Credits: Instagram

The company couldn’t say how often a user might see a Reels ad, noting that the number of ads a viewer may encounter will vary based on how they use Instagram. But the company is monitoring user sentiment around ads themselves, and the overall commercially of Reels, it says.

Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Reels ads will launch with an auction-based model. But so far, Instagram is declining to share any sort of performance metrics around how those ads are doing, based on tests. Nor is it yet offering advertisers any creator tools or templates that could help them get started with Reels ads. Instead, Instagram likey assumes advertisers already have creative assets on hand or know how to make them, because of Reels ads’ similarities to other vertical video ads found elsewhere, including on Instagram’s competitors.

While vertical video has already shown the potential for driving consumers to e-commerce shopping sites, Instagram hasn’t yet taken advantage of Reels ads to drive users to its built-in Instagram Shops, though that seems like a natural next step as it attempts to tie the different parts of its app together.

But perhaps ahead of that step, Instagram needs to make Reels a more compelling destination — something other TikTok rivals, which now include both Snap and YouTube — have done by funding creator content directly. Instagram, meanwhile, had made offers to select TikTok stars directly.

The launch of Instagram Reels ads follows news of TikTok’s climbing ad prices. Bloomberg reported this month that TikTok is now asking for more than $1.4 million for a home page takeover ad in the U.S., as of the third quarter, which will jump to $1.8 million by Q4 and more than $2 million on a holiday. Though the company is still building its ads team and advertisers haven’t yet allocated large portions of their video budget to the app, that tends to follow user growth — and TikTok now has over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Both apps, Instagram and TikTok, now have over a billion monthly active users on a global basis, though Reels is only a part of the larger Instagram platform. For comparison, Instagram Stories is used by some 500 million users, which demonstrates Instagram’s ability to drive traffic to different areas of its app. Instagram declined to share how many users Reels has as of today.

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Twine raises $3.3M to add networking features to virtual events – TechCrunch

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Twine, a video chat startup that launched amid the pandemic as a sort of “Zoom for meeting new people,” shifted its focus to online events and, as a result, has now closed on $3.3 million in seed funding. To date, twine’s events customers have included names like Microsoft, Amazon, Forrester, and others, and the service is on track to do $1 million in bookings in 2021, the company says.

The new round was led by Moment Ventures, and included participation from Coelius Capital, AltaIR Capital, Mentors Fund, Rosecliff Ventures, AltaClub, and Bloom Venture Partners. Clint Chao, founding Partner at Moment, will join twine’s board of directors with the round’s close.

The shift into the online events space makes sense, given twine’s co-founders —  Lawrence Coburn, Diana Rau, and Taylor McLoughlin — hail from DoubleDutch, the mobile events technology provider acquired by Cvent in 2019.

Coburn, previously CEO of DoubleDutch, had been under a non-compete with its acquirer until December 2020, which is one reason why he didn’t first attempt a return to the events space.

The team’s original idea was to help people who were missing out on social connections under Covid lockdowns find a way to meet others and chat online. This early version of twine saw some small amount of traction, as 10% of its users were even willing to pay. But many more were nervous about being connected to random online strangers, twine found.

So the company shifted its focus to the familiar events space, with a specific focus on online events which grew in popularity due to the pandemic. While setting up live streams, text chats and Q&A has been possible, what’s been missing from many online events was the casual and unexpected networking that used to happen in-person.

“The hardest thing to bring to virtual events was the networking and the serendipity — like the conversations that used to happen in an elevator, in the bar, the lobby — these kinds of things,” explains Coburn. “So we began testing a group space version of twine — bringing twine to existing communities as opposed to trying to build our own, new community. And that showed a lot more legs,” he says.

By January 2021, the new events-focused version of twine was up-and-running, offering a set of professional networking tools for event owners. Unlike one-to-many or few-to-many video broadcasts, twine connects a small number of people for more intimate conversations.

“We did a lot of research with our customers and users, and beyond five [people in a chat], it turns into a webinar,” notes Coburn, of the limitations on twine’s video chat. In twine, a small handful of people are dropped into a video chat experience– and now, they’re not random online strangers. They’re fellow event attendees. That generally keeps user behavior professional and the conversations productive.

Event owners can use the product for free on twine’s website for small events with up to 30 users, but to scale up any further requires a license. Twine charges on a per attendee basis, where customers buy packs of attendees on a software-as-a-service model.

The company’s customers can then embed twine directly in their own website or add a link that pops open the twine website in a separate browser tab.

Coburn says twine has found a sweet spot with big corporate event programs. The company has around 25 customers, but some of those have already used twine for 10 or 15 events after first testing out the product for something smaller.

“We’re working with five or six of the biggest companies in the world right now,” noted Coburn.

Image Credits: twine

Because the matches are digital, twine can offer other tools like digital “business card” exchanges and analytics and reports for the event hosts and attendees alike.

Despite the cautious return to normal in the U.S., which may see in-person events return in the year ahead, twine believes there’s still a future in online events. Due to the pandemic’s lasting impacts, organizations are likely to adopt a hybrid approach to their events going forward.

“I don’t think there’s ever been an industry that has gone through a 15 months like the events industry just went through,” Coburn says. “These companies went to zero, their revenue went to zero and some of them were coming from hundreds of millions of dollars. So what happened was a digital transformation like the world has never seen,” he adds.

Now, there are tens of thousands of event planners who have gotten really good at tech and online events. And they saw the potential in online, which would sometimes deliver 4x or 5x the attendance of virtual, Coburn points out.

“This is why you see LinkedIn drop $50 million on Hopin,” he says, referring to the recent fundraise for the virtual conference technology business. (The deal was reportedly for less than $50 million). “This is why you see the rounds of funding that are going into Hoppin and Bizzabo and Hubilo and all the others. This is the taxi market, pre-Uber.”

Of course, virtual events may end up less concerned with social features when they can offer an in-person experience. And those who want to host online events may be looking for a broader solution than Zoom + twine, for example.

But twine has ideas about what it wants to do next, including asynchronous matchmaking, which could end up being more valuable as it could lead to better matches since it wouldn’t be limited to only who’s online now.

With the funding, twine is hiring in sales and customer success, working on accessibility improvements, and expanding its platform. To date, twine has raised $4.7 million.

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