Holiday Cybersecurity Tips – Spotlight #364

Good Monday morning. It’s November 30th. The National Christmas Tree Lighting cermony is Thursday night. Here’s the official link where you can watch the livestream or play it on demand at any time.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,171 words — about a 4 minute read.

1. News to Know Now

a. Walmart will fulfill some online orders via its 4,700 stores instead of distribution centers. You’re correct if you remember Walmart delivery news about drones and self-driving cars. They’re doing everything possible in their e-commerce battle with Amazon. And just like that, they’ve reinvigorated the concept of a local store’s delivery driver. (Official announcement)

b. Uganda used facial recognition technology from Huawei in the violent beginning to its presidential election season that has left nearly fifty people dead. And yes, that sentence could easily have been written about Dallas or Atlanta. The Ugandan government has 83 facial recognition monitoring centers and employs nearly 500 people. (Quartz)

c. U.S. presidential candidates spent $53K+ on advertising per electoral vote during the campaign’s final week. Yes, week. That number swelled to $554K and $505K in the battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin. The presidential campaign accounted for nearly $1.8 billion while all races accounted for $8.5 billion. (Ad Age-paywall)

2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News

Great Trackers
Johns Hopkins Dashboard or Animations
COVID-19 Forecast Hub
Google County Level Mobility Reports
Long-Term Care COVID Tracker

COVID-19 Tech News

3 Ways Tech Can Help the World Weather COVID-19 – World Econ Forum
Ad Council’s Challenge: Persuade Vaccine Skeptics – New York Times
AI Can Run Your Meetings Now – Wired
Facebook Group Connects Long Haulers – Bay News 9 
Facebook Group for Victim Puts Name to Number – Sun Journal
MN Co. Using Viral Sign Technology for Detection – KSTP Minneapolis
People Weak Link for Apps Tracking Exposure – US News & World Report
Universities tracking COVID through Facebook surveys – Denver 7

EXTRA: What I Told George Mason University Students

I recently had an opportunity to judge the capstone business case competition at my alma mater, George Mason University. I’ve been a coach and a judge often over the last twenty years, but this year’s virtual competition was different because of the pandemic. 

We know that the semester starting in January will be tough for all educators. Check in with yours to see if there are some ways you can give a little bit of time to help the students get through this strange time to learn.

Here are the final comments I sent for the students after the presentations.

About Presenting to Others

  1. Case studies aren’t about checking off a requirements list. Show us that you thought hard.
  2. Stay smart, creative, and reasonable.
  3. Follow the rules. We didn’t bother debating about a team we disqualified for using new info in the case.
  4. The most important outcome is profit. Your boss should tell you otherwise if necessary. Better: confirm by asking.

About Video & Slides

  1. Tech happens. Watch every second of your presentation again even if you’re bored.
  2. We hate typos. One is okay. Three will discredit your ideas.
  3. Don’t use full sentences in slides. 
  4. Show your face like streamers do.
  5. Don’t force things. A list with nine items is fine.

3. Search Engine News

You knew that Google could provide information on how to care for a Christmas tree. Now it is helping Los Angeles municipal staff care for an area’s tree canopy. 

The Google Tree Canopy Lab combines aerial images with machine learning to display maps of trees as part of its Environmental Insights Explorer. Why trees? They help fight urban heat island effects and provide more sustainable living in an area. You can see the live data here. Think back twenty years ago and imagine someone telling you that there would be maps of trees accessible to anyone anywhere in the world.

Google Maps is also testing a display of street address numbers directly on Google Maps. Sterling Sky’s Joy Hawkins tweeted a screencap of a map showing the test on the day before Thanksgiving.

4. In the Spotlight — Holiday Cybersecurity Tips

“Due to the pandemic, this holiday season may look and feel a bit different …”

— The federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency demonstrating their gift for understatement in an otherwise great Holiday Cybersecurity tip sheet.

On this Cyber Monday, the usual warnings seem intuitive and old hat, but they bear repeating. CISA’s holiday tip sheet includes important reminders about not using unsecured public Wi-Fi, how to identify legitimate websites, and using a credit card instead of a debit card.

Access all the holiday cybersecurity tips here, and don’t forget the additional resources section. 

5. Debunked — Election Videos

There is a staggering amount of election disinformation coming from the administration and some Republican members of Congress. As of this writing, President Donald Trump’s campaign has lost 39 out of 40 lawsuits that it has filed since the election.

Reuters sorted out the ongoing social media blitz of disinformation in this fact check that it titled, “Dominion is not linked to Smartmatic, Antifa or Venezuela, did not switch U.S. 2020 election votes in Virginia and was not subject to a U.S. Army raid in Germany.”

It’s OK to have doubts or wonder if there’s some truth to the falsehoods.

Read the fact check here.

6. Following Up — Amazon Sidewalk

We told you about Amazon Sidewalk back in September. This new Amazon function uses Echo and Ring devices to extend the range of your home network so that it works in a backyard, driveway, or elsewhere around your home.

Privacy experts immediately hated the idea. Now security experts are joining them. 

How-To Geek shows you how to opt-out of the automatic function.

7. Protip — Google Chrome’s New Features

There are two new features in the latest Google Chrome upgrade for you to consider.

Upgraded PDF viewing is now available, but optional. Tech Radar shows you how to turn on the feature for your browser.

Search all open tabs at once is also available in extreme beta. You can use the function in Google Chrome’s Canary build or see images and read about it here in Bleeping Computer.

Screening Room— No, You’re Crying

You’ll want to spend two minutes with this sentimental holiday commercial for Portuguese mobile company NOS. There are no spoken parts so you’ll be fine without a translator.

9. Coffee Break — Hidden Biden Employment Ad

Anyone snooping in the source code of the Biden Build Back Better website found an intriguing offer from his team. According to the person I first saw post it online, it hearkens back to the days of spy agencies recruiting via puzzle competitions.

See the image for yourself.

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