Coronavirus: should patients be geolocated via their smartphones?

Coronavirus: should patients be geolocated via their smartphones?

Israel and China rely on state surveillance tools to fight against the spread of the virus. Other countries are exploring mobile geolocation voluntarily.

Faced with the spread of Covid-19, the Israeli government has taken the radical step of geolocating coronavirus patients as well as those who could be. A government decree has just decided this surveillance and has been entrusted to Shin Bet, the internal intelligence service. The latter intends to rely on ‘advanced technologies generally used in the fight against terrorism,’ explains the daily Haaretz. The aim is to monitor the progress of the disease, to alert people who may have come into contact with a carrier of the virus, and to enforce a quarantine on a case-by-case basis.

Aware that this is a significant intrusion into the privacy of users, the Israeli government specifies in its law that the data collected cannot be used for any purpose other than health and will be erased at the end of the epidemic. Moreover, e-mails and SMS messages would not be monitored. We are reassured.

With this measure, the State of Israel is following in the footsteps of China, which is not only geolocating the sick but also carrying out a probabilistic diagnosis. As a New York Times article showed, every citizen has a mobile application that records movements and displays the risk of having been contaminated using a color code that must be shown to the police. If the result is red, you’re stuck.

In South Korea, mobile applications are also used to geolocate patients, but voluntarily. With apps such as “Corona 100m”, “Corona Doctor” or “Corona Map,” users can see if there are many positive cases in the vicinity and thus adapt their behavior.

These countries are not the only ones looking into mobile geolocation. In Germany, the Hanover Medical University is working with the start-up Ubilabs to develop GeoHealth, a mobile application that, like Chinese software, records movements and indicates the level of risk with color-coding. The head of the Robert Koch Institute of Epidemiology fully endorses this approach, as he believes it would make it possible to combat the spread of the virus better.

In the United States, several projects are emerging. That is the case, for example, of the CoEpi and MIT/Private Kit projects. All these initiatives raise many questions. Who collects the data, and how is it stored? How can we be sure that they are not used for something else? And then, is it efficient?

Indeed, mobile geolocation has, at best, the accuracy of only about ten meters, whereas the coronavirus does not spread beyond a few meters. It is also challenging to take into account all the previous passages of potential patients who could have soiled an object in the surrounding area. But this track seems nevertheless interesting, provided that you don’t think you are Big Brother.

iPadOS has arrived: are are some of new features!

iPadOS has arrived: are are some of new features!

Since the invention of the iPad 10 years ago, the creation of this tablet around iOS has given Apple a head start in terms of performance and ergonomics.

It is almost the end of 2019; Apple introduced iPadOS, an OS dedicated to its iPad. This major update of the iPad is a bit like a third-platform that combines the popular ideas of macOS with the intuitive nature of iOS.

What is iPadOS?

iPadOS is iOS 13, but iOS 13 is not iPad OS. Did you follow it? More simply, Apple has decided to name the OS of its iPad differently from the OS of its iPhone even if both operating systems use the same code base. iPadOS is surely a sign of Apple’s desire to make the iPad sacred as a laptop inspired by the Mac but based on iOS.

What are the main new features of iPadOS?

iPadOS takes advantage of the new features of iOS 13, including the long-awaited dark mode and the redesign of native applications (Reminders, Notes, etc.). But there are some remarkable new features on iPadOS.

These include file management, multitasking, and the integration of external hardware. You can also visit the folder dedicated to the hidden features of iOS 13, many of which you will find on iPadOS.

You can connect external devices such as USB sticks

The iPadOS Files application is another excellent example of how macOS ideas can be integrated with a new design and modern interactions that make sense on iPad. This application has become very practical, especially since Apple has opened access to external USB sticks and SD cards.

Safari has become a desktop web browser

Safari for iPad now defaults to Safari for Mac on all iPad models. You have access to the same websites on your PC or Mac. It’s very convenient, especially for Google Docs, Gmail and lots of web services.

Ipados supports mice and new keyboard shortcuts with more than 30 new shortcuts corresponding to almost all the options available on macOS.

Multitasking is extended

Since iOS 11, it is possible to open two applications simultaneously on iPad Pro. iPadOS goes further: it is now possible to open the same app several times on the entire system. Apple calls them “windows”, like on macOS and Windows. Even if they don’t look like windows as we know them – there is no underlying desktop, and the windows can’t overlap (except for Slide Over) – they behave in much the same way.

To encourage users to use multi-window technology, Apple has chosen to adapt to iOS 11’s drag-and-drop multitasking to introduce different ways to create application windows. More simply, anything that can be moved in iPadOS can become its own window. On Safari, if you want to open a link in a new window, simply move the link.

Force Touch is here

As on iOS 13, Force Touch is everywhere, even on devices that were not compatible with it. The iPad, therefore, inherits Force Touch.

A long press on the icons and various elements opens a menu, like the right click of a mouse. Moreover, you have access to quick actions on the home screen.

Why are public WiFi considered so unsafe for your data?

Why are public WiFi considered so unsafe for your data?

Even though our mobile packages are becoming more and more generous in terms of data, everyone once found themselves without the Internet and had to settle for a public or open WiFi. It often happens during holidays or abroad, where it is not possible to benefit from a 4G connection. However, these open WiFi are potentially dangerous.

A hacker or a novice hacker can easily find out what you’re doing on your smartphones, from visiting websites to passwords to your email or bank account.

Why is open WiFi so easy to hack?

The answer is in the question: because it is open. Most WiFi routers do not by default encrypt the data they receive and transmit. It is necessary for its owner to activate it in the options. If this is not the case, it means that once anyone can connect to a WiFi point, anyone can also look at what a network neighbor is doing. It requires some knowledge and software to do it. But they are neither particularly complicated to find nor complicated to handle.

Man-in-the-middle attacks

This is probably the most common attack that can be found on open WiFi. The principle is simple; the hacker will look at the data that flows between your smartphone or PC and the router and see in real time what you are doing. The latter will suck up all the data that passes through the network and reassemble it using software to visualize what the user has been able to consult on the Internet but also to show what he has entered on these websites. Or, for an experienced hacker, modify the site the user visits to steal his or her credentials.

However, with one limitation: it will be impossible to see what is displayed on HTTPS sites, whose connection is encrypted. The hacker will know that you have logged into a particular site, but will not know what you have seen or the data (password, login) you have entered. Generally speaking, if you have no choice but to connect to an open WiFi hotspot, go to HTTPS sites. The vast majority of websites have already switched to HTTPS, as is the case on FrAndroid.

An excellent way to deploy malware

Connecting to an open and potentially unencrypted network is also a unique opportunity for a hacker to install malware by exploiting one or more vulnerabilities in an operating system. As soon as he can access your PC’s network (this is less the case on smartphones, much more restrictive on the network aspect), he can easily inject malicious code to infect your device.

A threat that does not necessarily target a tourist on the run, but can easily affect travel professionals.

3 connected wristbands for less than $60, our 2019 selection

3 connected wristbands for less than $60, our 2019 selection

The market for connected wristbands is booming in 2019. They are available for all profiles, both for athletes and nerds, as well as for those who are concerned about adopting a healthier lifestyle. Also, there are connected wristbands for all budgets. Here is a selection of the best activity trackers for less than $60.

How to choose your connected wristband?

As with any purchase you wish to make, you must first think about how you will use it. There are multiple types of wristbands connected, so you need to know what needs it will have to meet.

If it is, for example, to control your heart rate, monitor your diet, your weight loss, have notifications from your phone, etc. And then you have to think about the characteristics you could not do without like having good autonomy, having a screen, waterproofing, etc.

The Xiaomi Mi Band 2: our recommendation

Marketed by Xiaomi, the Mi Band 2 has a 0.42-inch OLED display, on which it is possible to consult the time, the number of steps taken, the number of calories burned, but also the heart rate and a 70 mAh battery for ten days of autonomy (20 days in standby). It is also IP67 certified.

Its mobile application, the Mi Fit, compatible with iOS and Android, provides access to various data such as sleep monitoring.

August SWB100: the alternative

The August SWB100 incorporates the essential features of a smart tracker such as a pedometer, distance calculation, and sleep control while integrating some new functions, all with a 5-day autonomy. Among them, we will note the possibility of activating an anti-loss alarm to find your smartphone, but also the addition of the alarm clock and note-taking.
Thanks to FitApp, iOS, and Android compatible, it is possible to receive your call and message notifications directly on the August SWB100 OLED screen.

Misfit Shine 2: the multiple features

This Misfit wristband comes in the form of tablets integrated into a wristband or belt clip. It is powered by a button cell battery, which gives it an autonomy of up to 6 months. It is waterproof to 50 meters and displays the time with twelve LEDs arranged in a circle, activity objectives, distance covered, calories burned and sleep monitoring.

Triggering a specific activity for better overall monitoring is possible. Thanks to its mobile application compatible with iOS, Android and Windows, it is possible to access various features and use it as a remote control to locate the smartphone, take a picture, put music on it, etc.

For the IMF, global growth is becoming “less equitable

For the IMF, global growth is becoming “less equitable

The effects of trade tensions should, so far, remain contained, according to the multilateral institution in its latest forecasts.

The world may well be talking about the risks to the economy of the sharp rise in trade tensions. The figures do not show that. At least for now. The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) new forecast, presented on Monday 16 July, projects global growth to reach nearly 4% in 2018 and 2019. This figure – + 3.9% to be exact – has not changed one iota since the IMF the last forecast in April.

The institution thus maintains its scenario in spite of the protectionist salvos launched, meanwhile, by the United States against all its major partners (European Union, China, Canada, Mexico…), which immediately retaliated. The negative effects of the measures announced and to come should be contained, according to the IMF, since “so far, they affect only a tiny share of world trade.” Moreover, the impact on sentiment in financial markets should be “limited,” the Fund continues.

The fact remains that the threats of a break-up are there. The commercial battle, if it continues and intensifies, “could derail the recovery and reduce medium-term growth projections,” the institution warns. By increasing uncertainty, it risks undermining investment, which has been and remains, one of the primary drivers of global economic recovery.

Warning signals

The worst is not always certain. However, already, the global economic scoreboard is giving warning signals. Overall, growth has become “less homogeneous.” Among the advanced countries first, between on one side the United States and, opposite, all the others. The powerful fiscal stimulus provided by Donald Trump’s administration is driving an already very robust US economy (+2.9% in 2018). The acceleration in activity should enable the unemployment rate to fall to levels not seen for 50 years. At the risk of rekindling inflationary pressures. Moreover, warns the IMF, to increase “global imbalances,” since the United States will import more fuel and increase its trade deficit…

In contrast, the euro area’s growth forecasts are slightly lower: it is expected to grow by 2.2% in 2018, whereas the IMF predicted 2.4% in April. Meanwhile, activity has faltered slightly in Germany and especially in France, whose forecasts are revised (+1.8% in 2018 and +1.7% in 2019, instead of 2.1% and 2% previously forecast). Europe is also suffering from uncertainty in Italy, where political turbulence is likely to affect activity.

Emerging and developing countries have also faced stiff headwinds in recent months. The rise in oil prices had, logically, favored exporters but weighed on others. The appreciation of the dollar (+5% in recent weeks) and the rise in US interest rates have caused the currencies of several major emerging markets to unscrew. The countries with the most unbalanced external accounts were the most shaken. Among them, Argentina, Brazil or India for which the IMF has revised its growth forecasts downwards.

Risk of inflationary pressures in the United States

Currently, financial conditions remain favorable. However, the situation could become more complicated, warns the Fund. There is no shortage of disruptive factors, between the risk of inflationary pressures in the United States, the escalation of trade tensions and the threat of geopolitical shocks. A correction in the markets would put the most indebted economies to the test.

What about the future? While renewing its traditional exhortation to accelerate structural reforms, the IMF launches targeted recommendations. In the United States, asked to press the brake on fiscal stimulus. Germany, too, should use its massive trade surpluses to support growth and reduce global imbalances. The lesson is not new. So is the call to save international cooperation.

To preserve global innovation, productivity and improved living conditions, “countries should work together… to resolve their disagreements without increasing tariff and non-tariff barriers,” the IMF advocates. This advice has been repeated over and over since the election of Donald Trump, to the point of giving the impression that the institution is preaching more and more in the desert…