YOU ARE, WE hope, already protecting your phone with a PIN, a fingerprint, or a face (or all three), but sometimes you’ll want to add an extra barrier to particular apps—if you’re lending your phone to a friend, say, or if your kids or partner are always borrowing your phone for whatever reason.
How you want to apply this additional protection is up to you. Some apps come with it built in; in other cases you’ll need to enlist the help of a third-party app. The process is also different depending on whether you’re using Android or iOS, and so we’ve split our guide up into two sections.
Apple doesn’t give third-party apps quite as much leeway on iOS as Google does on Android, so you won’t find any general-purpose locking tools in the App Store. Instead, you’re relying on the individual apps themselves—many apps that can hold sensitive information will give you additional options.
Apple’s own Notes app for the iPhone is one example. You can lock individual notes by tapping the Share button (inside a note) or long-pressing on a note (on the notes list) and then choosing Lock Note. Notes are locked using Face ID, Touch ID, or a PIN code, and you can set this via Notes in the iOS Settings app.
WhatsApp has protections in place as well to keep prying eyes out of your messages. From the main screen, you need to tap Settings, Account, Privacy, and Screen Lock—you’ll then be able to set up Touch ID or Face ID to guard access to your conversations. If either of those methods fail, you’ll get pushed back to your phone’s lock screen passcode.
Another third-party app with this same security measure is Dropbox, which is handy if you don’t want your toddler accidentally wiping all your files with an ill-judged finger push. Tap Account, then the cog icon (top left), then Turn Passcode On. When you’ve set a passcode, you’ll also be given the option to use Touch ID or Face ID as well.
We can’t guide you through every app on iOS, but have a look inside your favorite ones to see if an extra security layer has been included. Evernote, Amazon, and PayPal are three other apps that can be locked with Touch ID or Face ID, and many banking apps now have the same feature too, so even if someone gets access to your phone (with or without your permission), they can’t access all of your apps.
You have a couple of other tools you can turn to in iOS: They weren’t primarily intended for securing apps, but they can do the same job. The first is Screen Time, which you can access from Settings: If you tap Use Screen Time Passcode to set a passcode, then select App Limits and set the daily limit for an app to zero hours zero minutes, you’re effectively locking other people out of the app without the passcode.
Your second option is Guided Access, which you’ll find in the Accessibility menu in Settings. Once you’ve enabled it, open an app and triple-tap the side button or home button—you then won’t be able to switch to any other app without entering the phone’s passcode. It’s ideal if you want to let one of the kids play a game, but don’t want them to venture onto any other apps.
Android does let third-party apps control access to other apps, so you can install one of these app lockers and block access to any apps you don’t want other people snooping around inside. A passcode is usually required to gain access, though some locking tools can work with fingerprint sensors or face recognition.
Let’s Encrypt issued its one billionth digital certificate a few weeks ago. Run by the nonprofit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), the service provides these certificates to websites for free, allowing your browser to create a secure and validated connection to a server that’s effectively impenetrable to snooping. The pandemic hasn’t halted the group’s progress: It says it’s now issued over 1,080,000,000 certificates.
That Let’s Encrypt doesn’t charge for this service is a big deal. A digital certificate for a website—also useful for email servers and other client/server systems—used to cost hundreds of dollars a year for a basic version and even more for a more comprehensive one. For smaller sites, that cost alone was a barrier.
While the price had dropped significantly before Let’s Encrypt began issuing its certificates at no cost in 2015, and some commercial issuers had offered free certificates on a limited basis, encrypting a site was no trivial matter. It required technical expertise and the ability to puzzle through command-line configurations. (Though I’ve been running websites since 1994, renewing and installing certificates had remained one of my bugbears before Let’s Encrypt.)
Let’s Encrypt didn’t set out to launch a price war and thereby destroy an existing marketplace. By making encryption free and simple, the organization has been a large part of an industrywide shift to encrypt all web browsing that has doubled the number of secure sites from 40 to 80 percent of all sites since 2016.
As executive director and cofounder of ISRG Josh Aas says, the organization wants everyone to be able to “go out and participate fully in the web without having to pay hundreds of dollars to do something.” Setting the cost at zero benefits each site’s users and the internet as a whole.
Google tracks opt-in information from Chrome browser users about the type of connections they make. It shows that secure connections rose from 39 percent (Windows) and 43 percent (Mac) in early 2015 to 88 and 93 percent respectively on April 11, 2020. One source indicates that Let’s Encrypt now supplies 30 percent of all website digital certificates. Two hundred million websites now use its certificates, the organization says.
This dramatic increase in web encryption protects people from some unwanted commercial tracking and snooping by malicious parties and government actors alike. It took Let’s Encrypt as a catalyst to put it within the reach of every website.
After the revelation of the scope and nature of wide-scale, routine data collection by U.S. national security agencies added to the already-known and suspected habits of other democracies and repressive countries, tech firms shifted heavily into encrypting connections everywhere they could. That meant more encryption between data centers run by the same company (as Google added starting in 2013), encryption of data at rest stored on servers, and browser makers calling users’ attention to unprotected web sessions.
Most of the insider threats and some very public hacks (Yes I am talking to you, John Podesta) are due to poor password choice. But it is not just the basics of simply changing the default passwords. You have to change it to something complex, upper and lower case, numbers and special characters, it also has to be not easily guessed.
We had a new client that lost his password to his san. He did not remember it, and as he always used the same form of a password – company name with capitalization, a special character, and some numbers – creating a complex password, they thought they were secure. But in reality, it was a false sense of security there was an easily guessed password, and the company data was vulnerable to anyone who wanted to spend the time with a minuscule bit of information about the company.
Because we needed access to the san – I wrote a simple 47 line python script to churn through all the various options. It took us less than a minute to crack the password we were in. It helped me tremendously that they did not turn on any brute force blocking or disabling on failed attempts. It also helped that they had default usernames enabled. I only had to guess just a few of the 12 characters in the password. But because computing is cheap and time is not relevant when your computer does the work for you. I say helped, but for real it made the job of hacking in more straightforward and less time-consuming.
The main lesson learned here for my customer is password security is not hard, it just has to happen. For better security now they use strong random passwords generated by a program. Disable login for all default users. Brute force blocking with time outs of at least 15 min. Where applicable and especially for access to the systems remotely, two-factor logins and biometrics are utilized.
image source: center for disease control
Threat actors are still taking advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 global outbreak by attempting to drop Remcos RAT and malware payloads on their targets’ computers via malicious files that promise to provide Coronavirus safety measures.
Cybaze/Yoroi ZLAb researchers recently spotted a suspicious CoronaVirusSafetyMeasures_pdf.exe executable after it was submitted to their free Yomi Hunter sandbox-based file analysis service.
While the infection vector used by the attackers is not yet known, the most probable method of dissemination is a phishing campaign that would deliver it as an email attachment.
As the Cybaze/Yoroi ZLAb research team later discovered, the executable is an obfuscated Remcos RAT dropper that would drop a Remcos RAT executable on the compromised computer, together with a VBS file designed to run the RAT.