Tonight was our AGM and we have a new committee member,
Michael Smith who joins Roger Foulds, Dennis Campanella, John Lucke, John Mathews, Tim Kelly, and Ray Allum on our new committee.
We also have a new life member. “In recognition of the contribution he has made to conduct of the group in numerous ways over many years as a leader of several Special Interest Groups, as a member of the Committee for over ten years, and the initiator of a number of successful projects undertaken by the club”,
John Lucke was unanimously voted in as our newest life member.
This month we had two presenters. Immediately after the AGM
BitDefender's Senior E-Threat Analyst, Bogdan Botezatu
presented “The Box”. Bogdan was in Sydney for a conference and Alex persuaded him to give the group a sneak look at this yet- to- be- released smart device protector.
You may have read about Samsung spying on conversations in homes through the voice recognition built into their smart TVs
So many devices in the modern home these days have a computer chip - the TV, the Fridge, even my new washing machine has one. It’s not just entertainment devices. These days a smart home will have fire protection, baby monitors, and even a smart locking system. These devices are wirelessly controlled and none of them have any protective software. All these connected devices have become known as the “internet of things”.
The problem is that a lot of those devices also have an internet connection but you have no way to install even a simple anti-virus program.
Without any protection it is easy for those with any reasonable knowledge to hack these devices.
Two example Bogdan spoke of were, a nanny who found someone taking control of the baby monitors camera and yelling “Wake up baby” through the speaker in the baby’s room.
The other was a researcher who hacked into 420,000 unprotected devices in an attempt to map the internet of things.
Companies have developed huge hardware devices to protect their own hardware but until now there was no solution for the home.
Luckily, BitDefender has stepped up to the plate and invented “The Box”, a clever device which sits between your internet and your router.
The box is designed to act like a firewall for all the devices you have connected to the router, protecting them not just from viruses but malware, spyware, and hacking.
Here are the details from BitDefender’s US site.
The device is not currently in Australia but Bogdan is hopeful of a release date around May this year at CEBIT.
Currently the US prices are $199 for the box with a one year subscription, and renewal is $49. This ensures the software is kept up to date.
You can read Alex’s article and see his interview with Bogdan here
After the break Tyler Harris from Armourcard took to the stage to tell us about this innovative Australian invention.
We have had many talks on cyber security but a real growth area now is financial card fraud and identity theft. From the introduction of “Bankcard” with its simple magnetic strip we have seen an exponential rise in the use of financial cards. Credit cards, debit cards, even the old passbook account has disappeared in favour of online or electronic account management.
The newer cards now have a little electronic chip in them, sometimes even replacing the old magnetic stip. The latest innovation is pay wave or “tap and go”. You don’t even have to key in a pin number to make a purchase, but all this comes at a cost. Less security!.
It gets worse. Even your new passport has a chip in it. Now they don’t even need to steal your passport they can just scan it and create a new you. This is real identity theft.
Tyler and his co-director Richard Teece recognized the problem and designed this unique Australian hardware, Armourcard. It took two years of development.
Tyler started the talk with a description of how this new technology works. Tap and go uses RFID or “radio frequency identification” to connect your card to the reader. Smartphones use NFC or “near field Communication” and this is where the real vulnerabilities start to show up.
Tyler discussed what RFID and NFC does. It’s a wireless non-contact system. The radio wave is like an FM signal it goes through walls, clothes and closed doors. The problem is it is broadcast on an open airwave anyone can intercept. With a powerful scanner your card can be read from across the street, in the coffee shop, or riding the escalator in the mall.
This technology was originally a spy tool. Tyler told us how the Russians installed a chip in plaque they gave the US embassy in German. It was never detected because it never gave out a signal. The Russians then parked a van outside the embassy and scanned the chip, turning on the microphone and eavesdropped on the meetings. It was not found for ten years. The same technology is in your cards. It’s passive too, just waiting for a signal from the merchant’s reader, or any reader.
As the technology became accessible to the public, it then moved into inventory tracking “where is your parcel now?” Later we placed them in pets. The microchip - councils now demand it is placed under the skin of any cat or dog. Great if you’re lost your pet, any vet can scan the chip and your moggy can be returned home.
Now it’s in credit cards and passports, even clothing tags. Walk into a store wearing one and they know all about you size, colour type etc, now for the sales pitch, “We have a new style in your size!” The EU have a citizen card with a chip, all your details name and address, age, everything just awaiting a reader.
Tyler recommended a book on why the big end of town and governments are so keen on this technology. It’s called SpyChips by Dr Katherine Albrecht. Here is a brief Youtube video she made.
For around $20 scammers can buy a card scanner and simply scan anyone’s card. They only have to have been in range of your card, just across the street, the other side of coffee shop, and you won’t know it’s happened until your money’s gone.
Until now your only defence against this was passive measures like wrapping your cards in aluminium foil, or buying a card shield or one of those small aluminium card cases.
Armourcard changes all that. This Australian designed invention with its patented jamming technology will actively jam the scanner’s signal.
The Armour card is the size of a credit card, so it fits in with your cards. It has a field of around 5 cm back and front of the card so all the cards in your wallet are protected.
A little red LED lights up if you are scanned.
The battery is not rechargeable or replaceable, but it has a life of at least two year. The battery life is dependent on the number of scans you receive and therefore it could last longer. There is a battery test and you can disable the card if you need too.
Tyler organised two Armourcards for our raffle and Bogdan brought a range of Bitdefender goodies.
Our winners of the Armourcards
And here are a few of our other winners
and Ray picked up the door prize.
Tyler had a few cards available for purchase on the night and they were gone in a few minutes. He then generously offered a 20% discount to all members until the 8th March. So members, check your e-mail for details.