Today was my first appearance in the local news, and it was for something positive! This blog post is going to be (somewhat) off-topic. While the subject of this article is about my first experience at a news set, the main subject of my appearance on TV was about smartphone and mobile device security. Today is Privacy Protection Day. This is the annual reminder the industry makes so everyone keeps their passwords safe, complex and original. Something that with recent security breaches and news from break-ins into Target, Neimann Marcus, Michaels, etc is not only relevant but is also happening too frequently. During the 90 minute news cast two IT security specialists and myself answered questions from the reporter Jenn Strathman (Consumer Watchdog for WPTV) and the viewers.
The channel had been announcing over the last few days and highlighted earlier today that there would be a panel of experts answering questions from the viewers. One of those was myself along with some colleagues from other companies. The questions were centered in protecting the users’ privacy, browsing in private and preventing the sites from snooping into one’s settings, location, etc. We had other questions about what apps, services and sites to use in order to keep passwords safe and whether to use public WiFi or not. We even had some questions about anti-virus and malware protection.
Part of the second segment where we were going to appear; about 65 minutes into the whole broadcast, Jen asked me a few questions. What are the alternatives to online password storage and what are some of the recommendations for smartphones in general.
Over the years we’ve heard about LastPass, KeePass and KeyPass as password storage online or on the PC. Storing passwords online has an added risk because users are leaving control over their passwords to a third party; something that may seem OK for a few but still risky. You are essentially trusting the security of your accounts to a third party and that implies that you will be at risk of losing control over those passwords. The main alternative to online is to have the passwords stored on your device (PC, tablet, smartphone, etc). Having the access to your most important online persona near you at all times (such as a smartphone) will make you feel better about those passwords and who is looking after them. Enter apps that store your passwords into your device, for example. These apps can be found in all platforms (Windows Phone, Android, iOS) in the app store and are usually under such keywords as password safe, password storage, padlock, electronic wallet or password keeper. They normally store the password list in an encrypted format so that it is more difficult to access them (read the details to confirm that the passwords are kept encrypted). In order to break into these files; someone would have to break into the device password (your phone unlock), then the app password. Additionally, given the mobile nature of your smartphone, and the number of mobile devices out in use, it is very unlikely that someone will be targeting you personally. Even if your smartphone is lost (which is likely to happen, after all, we’re human) you can remotely wipe and “brick” your device preventing whoever finds it from accessing your information.
The whole crew was great and approached us for additional questions in between segments. Even the anchors (Kelley Dunn, Michael Williams, Shannon Cake and Jay Cashmere) were very interested in chatting with us asking questions, commenting on what we had said and being very nice overall. They seemed a warm, friendly and very smart team… Finally Jenn Strathman, who was in charge of our segment was not only well prepared and informed, she seemed very smart and knew to ask all the relevant questions to help the viewers. Obviously this is what is expected of an investigative reporter and consumer watchdog, but still worth highlighting as not everyone can fill those shoes easily.
One segment was dedicated to a note about birds that had suffered of frostbite (yes, in Florida of all places). A pelican was in the studio and he walked on a table they had for it… it even jumped into one of the control sets used for the weather service PCs. The funny thing was that at some point during this note; the anchors mentioned that we were already answering questions from the viewers and what do you know; the pelican was on camera… we had a new expert helping us!
This was an awesome experience.
Here is a link into the chat session we held with the broadcast viewers.
Here is a link into the video of the interview.