Archive for Cloud

Microsoft Launches Free Version of Collaborative Chat App ‘Teams’

Microsoft has announced the launch of a free version of its collaborative chat app ‘Teams’ which doesn’t require an Office 365 subscription.

What Is Teams?

Introduced back in November 2016, ‘Teams’ (as the name suggests) is a platform designed to help collaborative working, and combines features such as workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments. Described by Microsoft as a “complete chat and online meetings solution”, it normally integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite, and Teams is widely considered to be Microsoft’s answer to ‘Slack’.

Slack is a popular, multi-channel collaborative working hub that offers chat channels with companies and businesses you regularly work with, direct voice or video calls and screen-sharing, integrated drag-and-drop file sharing, and an App Directory with over 1,500 apps that can be integrated into Slack.

Teams is now believed to be used by around 200,000 organizations.

Free Version

The free version of Teams, which does not require an Office 365 account, offers the same basic features as regular Teams to anyone who wants to try it out. The hope is, of course, that this will increase user numbers, and tempt users away from Slack. Microsoft is also extending 365 cloud suite with the free version of Teams to try and bridge Microsoft 365 with Office 365.

Space and Features

The free version of Teams offers 10GB of team storage plus an additional 2GB for each user, with up to 300 people supported. Also, users have unlimited messages and search, there is guest access, as well as audio and video calls and screen sharing.

Within the Teams app, users can collaborate with colleagues on Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

What’s Missing?

Even though the free version offers quite a lot of storage space, the full version would offer users a massive 1TB. Also, unlike the full version, the free version doesn’t come with Yammer, Planner, SharePoint and OneDrive, plus the free version lacks some of the security features of the full version. This could make it less attractive to enterprises that are also looking to maximise compliance.

Warning To Help With Team Etiquette

One interesting aspect of Microsoft’s approach to the collaborative working platform is to build-on features that warn a user when they are doing something that goes against good practice and etiquette within teams. One key example of this is, with MyAnalytics, which works as an intelligent collaboration assistant in Outlook, is where users are warned / alerted if they are sending emails to co-workers outside their normal working hours.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

One good way to increase user numbers quickly, gain some ground in a battle with competitors, and to entice people to try and perhaps switch to a new service is to offer a good, usable, value-adding version of that service for free. That’s exactly what Microsoft is doing with its version of Teams.

Although larger enterprises may already be a long way down the road with their chosen collaborative working platform, and might be a bit put off by the idea of using a free version of a platform that is not quite on a par with the full version in terms of security features, a free version of Teams may be very attractive to SMEs looking to move into collaborative working with a low risk, trusted, scalable solution.

$13.5 Million In Customer Tokens Lost To Bancor Hackers

Hackers are reported to have stolen $13.5 million of user crypto-currency tokens from the Israeli start-up and decentralized crypto-currency trading platform Bancor.

What Happened?

It has been reported that on Monday, hackers were able to access and compromise a wallet on the Bancor platform that is used to upgrade smart contracts. These smart contracts have been likened to digital vending machines which manage crypto-currency transactions so there is no need for a middle-man.

This compromised wallet was then used by the hackers to steal different types of crypto-currency tokens from Bancor’s customers. The stolen tokens are reported to comprise 24,984 ($12.5 million) in Ethereum tokens, and 229, 356, 645 NPXS (approx. $1 million).

The total loss in the hack would have included an extra 3,200,00 of Bancor’s own token BNT (approx. $10 million), had Bancor not frozen the $10 million of its own Bancor tokens (BNT) as soon as it found out about the hack.
Bancor, which raised over $150 million in an ICO last year, is reported to have taken its exchange offline while it conducts an investigation of the incident.

Criticism

Following reports of the incident, some commentators have criticised Bancor for advertising itself as decentralized, and yet responding to the hack with strategies like those of a centralised system.

Centralised exchanges have received criticism for demanding large fees up front to list tokens, while not appearing to use those fees to help security, judging by the number and frequency of hacks.

User of MyEtherWallet Crypto-currency Also Hit By Hack

In the same week as customers of Bancor took a hit form a hack, so did one of the internet’s most popular services for managing crypto-currencies, MyEtherWallet. MyEtherWallet (MEW) is used to access crypto wallets and also to send and receive tokens to and from other wallets.

For the MEW hack, it has been reported that the hackers compromised ‘Hola’ for about 5 hours. Hola is a free VPN that plugs into browsers, and claims to have nearly 50 million users. Compromising Hola meant that any users who navigated to MEW and accessed their wallet with the VPN switched on are likely to be those who fell victim to the hackers.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Many businesses and individuals have been deterred from investing in and using crypto-currencies after the bad press surrounding the Bitcoin bubble and the associated crypto-jacking schemes, media reports of multiple hacks to different exchanges / platforms and crypto-currencies, and a general lack of knowledge and confidence about crypto-currencies. The Bancor and a MyEtherWallet hacks are just two more indications of the many existing security issues (particularly with centralised systems), and may be two more reasons why businesses may shy away from all things crypto-currecncy.

The fact is, however, that crypto-currencies could have many advantages for some businesses, such as the speed and ease with which transactions can take place due to the lack of central banking and traditional currency control. Some crypto-currencies e.g. Ripple, are actually products of banks. Crypto-currencies generally mean easier, faster and more convenient cross-border and global trading, but traditional currencies tend to have the backing of assets or promises of assets of some kind. Crypto-currencies, therefore, tend to be less trusted and more volatile in the markets and governments and banks don’t like the fact that they have no real control over them.

In the case of the MEW hack, this is also an example of why it is better to pay for a VPN service rather than use a free one.

New ‘No Cheat’ “Locked Mode” For Classroom on Chromebooks

The Google Forms Quiz in its free, browser-based educational software “Classroom” now features a “locked mode” on Chromebooks which prevents students from cheating during quizzes.

What Is ‘Classroom’?

Google Classroom is a free web service (app) for schools, non-profits or indeed anyone with a personal Google Account, that aims to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way. It is reported to be used by over 30 million students globally.

Used in an actual educational setting, it enables teachers to ‘create’ classes (set up a class online), distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organised, all in one place. Teachers can invite students and co-teachers, and in the class stream, they can then share information, assignments, announcements, and questions. They can also see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and give direct, real-time feedback and grades.

Classroom works with Google Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Drive, and Forms.

What About Chromebooks?

In the context of this story, Chromebooks are laptops that are sold with the sole purpose of being used in the classroom. They run Google’s Chrome OS and are designed to be used while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents stored in the cloud.

Cheating?

The problem that many teachers have reported experiencing is that in order to answer questions during Classroom quizzes and tests, some students are tempted to use the Internet connection on Chromebooks to look up the answers (also known as cheating).

Cheat-Proof Feature: Locked Mode

The newly added “locked mode” feature in the Google Forms Quiz prohibits students from surfing the web or opening apps until the answers are submitted. This is the first feature added to the app that’s exclusive to managed Chromebooks, and as such, it has meant that specialised controls have been added to what was basically a standardised system.

Other Features

Other features that have also been added include the ability to organise by topic or unit in the Classwork page, whereas everything was previously just categorised by date. Also, a new People page lets teachers add and remove fellow teachers, students and guardians. The Stream and system settings pages have also received some small improvements.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For educators and trainers who use the system, the “locked mode” gives them greater control, and allows them to get a more accurate view of the level of knowledge of their students. More accurate measurements can help with the better planning and application of teaching resources, and can highlight areas that need improvement.

For Google, with such a popular system that has made inroads into the teaching / training market, it makes sense to keep their customers loyal and happy by introducing value adding improvements that solve long-running problems.

Tech Tip – Alexa Skills Commands That Could Help At Work

Amazon’s Echo speakers may be used mainly in the home, but putting the listening / privacy fears aside, they can be useful in a business setting, particularly in small business settings / home offices. With this in mind, here are four skills commands that could help you:

Create Reminders – Alexa can act like a personal assistant. For example, you can tell Alexa exactly what you need to remember e.g. business appointments on certain days / times and it will remind you of that task and time. To create a reminder, say the task and its time such as, “Alexa, remind me to review customer accounts 10 a.m. every Monday”.

Create Distinctive Voice Profiles – By setting up voice profiles, Alexa can distinguish who is issuing the command e.g. different people in the office can ask “Alexa, what’s on my calendar?” Ask Alexa for details of how to do it.

ChatBot Skill – By enabling the ChatBot skill, workers can audibly request Alexa to post on their behalf. This can aid productivity. It can be achieved by linking an Amazon account to a Slack account. Users can then post to a specific channel by asking simply Alexa.

Find Your Phone – You can use Alexa to help you find your phone by using your voice. This is a free skill available from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076PHYQD2?ie=UTF8&ref-suffix=ss_rw. The phone should ring even if it is on silent. It may not work if your phone is in Do Not Disturb mode, but you can add multiple people by name to call different phones instead of just one.

7-Fold Rise in Mobile Fraud

It seems that as we spend more time using mobile devices, the fraudsters are following us as a new RSA Security report shows a massive rise in mobile fraud over the last 3 years.

Up Nearly 700%!

The latest quarterly report by fraud and risk intelligence experts at RSA Security shows that as the volume of mobile app transactions has risen by 200% since 2015, accordingly the growth rate for fraudulent transactions has increased to a massive 680%.

New Accounts and ‘Burner Phones’

One of the key trends at the heart of the rise in mobile fraud is the apparent rise of the use of fake new accounts and ‘burner / burn phones’ to commit fraud.

A burner / burn phone is a mobile phone handset that is acquired for temporary use, is usually prepaid / without a contract in order to retain the user’s anonymity, and can be discarded if necessary.

Alongside the burner phone, fraudsters are also known to use stolen identities to set up fake ‘money mule’ accounts, purely for the purpose of collecting the cash from their fraudulent activities.

The RSA report shows that new accounts and new devices have been used in this way in 32% of all the fraudulent transactions in the last quarter.

Phishing Still Top

The report shows that phishing is still the top fraudulent activity accounting for 48% of all fraud attacks in Q1 of 2018.

Trojan Malware & Payment Card Compromise

Other popular frauds involve the use of Trojan malware to steal financial credentials. This method was used in one in four fraud attacks in Q1 2018.

Also, using details from compromised cards is still a very common activity among fraudsters, and the RSA researchers who compiled the report claim to have recovered more than 3.1 million unique compromised cards and card details (which included verification numbers) on offer from online sources in Q1.

Mobile App Security

It is believed that poor security in mobile apps is allowing many criminals to hijack mobile applications and siphon off credentials and funds from many unwitting users.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

These figures show that our increasing use of mobile devices and apps has opened the door to even more channels for fraudsters. There is clearly a responsibility among mobile app developers and those commissioning mobile apps to deliver their services to ensure that security is built-in from the ground up. This should mean making sure that all source code is secure and known bug-free, all data exchanged over app should be encrypted, caution should be exercised when using third-party libraries for code, and only authorised APIs should be used. Also, developers should be building-in high levels of authentication, using tamper-detection technologies, using tokens instead of device identifiers to identify a session, using the best cryptography practices e.g. store keys in secure containers, and conducting regular, thorough testing.

As users of mobile devices and apps, we also need to pay attention to our own levels of security. For example, we can take precautions to stop ourselves from falling victim to mobile fraud by using mobile security and antivirus scan apps, only using trusted apps / trusted app sources, uninstalling old apps and turning off connections when not using them, locking our phones when not in use, using 2-factor authentication, and using a VPN rather than just the free Wi-Fi when out and about.

Police Face Recognition Software Flawed

Following an investigation by campaign group Big Brother Watch, the UK’s information Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has said that the Police could face legal action if concerns over accuracy and privacy with facial recognition systems are not addressed.

What Facial Recognition Systems?

A freedom of information request sent to every police force in the UK by Big Brother Watch shows that The Metropolitan Police used facial recognition at the Notting Hill carnival in 2016 and 2017, and at a Remembrance Sunday event, and South Wales Police used facial recognition technology between May 2017 and March 2018. Leicestershire Police also tested facial recognition in 2015.

What’s The Problem?

The two main concerns with the system (as identified by Big Brother Watch and the ICO) are that the facial recognition systems are not accurate in identifying the real criminals or suspects, and that the images of innocent people are being stored on ‘watch’ lists for up to a month, and this could potentially lead to false accusations or arrests.

How Do Facial Recognition Systems Work?

Facial recognition software typically works by using a scanned image of a person’s face (from the existing stock of police photos of mug shots from previous arrests), and then uses algorithms to measure ‘landmarks’ on the face e.g. the position of features and the shape of the eyes, nose and cheekbones. This data is used to make a digital template of a person’s face, which is then converted into a unique code.

High-powered cameras are then used to scan crowds. The cameras link to specialist software that can compare the camera image data to data stored in the police database (the digital template) to find a potential ‘match’. Possible matches are then flagged to officers, and these lists of possible matches are stored in the system for up to 30 days.

A real-time automated facial recognition (AFR) system, like the one the police use at events, incorporates facial recognition and ‘slow time’ static face search.

Inaccuracies

The systems used by the police so far have been criticised for simply not being accurate. For example, of the 2,685 “matches” made by the system used by South Wales Police between May 2017 and March 2018, 2,451 were false alarms.

Keeping Photos of Innocent People On Watch Lists

Big Brother Watch has been critical of the police keeping photos of innocent people that have ended up on lists of (false) possible matches, as selected by the software. Big Brother Watch has expressed concern that this could affect an individual’s right to a private life and freedom of expression, and could result in damaging false accusations and / or arrests.
The police have said that they don’t consider the ‘possible’ face selections as false positive matches because additional checks and balances are applied to them to confirm identification following system alerts.

The police have also stated that all alerts against watch lists are deleted after 30 days, and faces in the video stream that do not generate an alert are deleted immediately.

Criticisms

As well as accusations of inaccuracy and possibly infringing the rights of innocent people, the use of facial recognition systems by the police has also attracted criticism for not appearing to have a clear legal basis, oversight or governmental strategy, and for not delivering value for money in terms of the number of arrests made vs the cost of the systems.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It is worrying that there are clearly substantial inaccuracies in facial recognition systems, and that the images of innocent people could be sitting on police watch lists for some time, and could potentially result in wrongful arrests. The argument that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear’ simply doesn’t stand up if police are being given cold, hard computer information to say that a person is a suspect and should be questioned / arrested, no matter what the circumstances. That argument is also an abdication from a shared responsibility, which could lead to the green light being given to the erosion of rights without questions being asked. As people in many other countries would testify, rights relating to freedom and privacy should be valued, and when these rights are gone, it’s very difficult to get them back again.

The storing of facial images on computer systems is also a matter for security, particularly since they are regarded as ‘personal data’ under the new GDPR which comes into force this month.

There is, of course, an upside to the police being able to use these systems if it leads to the faster arrest of genuine criminals, and makes the country safer for all.

Despite the findings of a study from YouGov / GMX (August 2016) that showed that UK people still have a number of trust concerns about the use of biometrics for security, biometrics represents a good opportunity for businesses to stay one step ahead of cyber-criminals. Biometric authentication / verification systems are thought to be far more secure than password-based systems, which is the reason why banks and credit companies are now using them.

Facial recognition systems have value-adding, real-life business applications too. For example, last year, a ride-hailing service called Careem (similar to Uber but operating in more than fifty cities in the Middle East and North Africa) announced that it was adding facial recognition software to its driver app to help with customer safety.

TSB Computer Meltdown – Problems Nearly 2 Weeks On

Customers of TSB are reportedly still experiencing difficulties with internet and mobile banking services nearly 2 weeks after problems first began.

What Happened?

TSB, which was acquired by Spanish bank Sabadell in 2015, tried to fully migrate its computer systems from its old Lloyds Bank systems to its new core banking system, known as Proteo4UK. Proteo4UK is basically a version of Sabadell’s in-house core banking platform Proteo which has been designed for TSB.

The system had already been rolled out to staff in November 2017, and the full rollout to customers was also supposed to have happened in November but was put back until April to avoid potential confusion of the expected interest rate rise.

Why Migrate?

The expected benefits behind TSB’s decision to migrate were cost savings through not having to pay £160 million per year to Lloyds Bank for hosting, and the opportunity to be able to implement its own customer-facing systems offering digital banking services.

TSB had already launched a mobile app for Android and iOS devices to enable customers to use banking services via the new system in a convenient way, and was in the process of offering iPhone X users the opportunity to use their faces as identification.

Meltdown

Unfortunately for 1.9 million TSB customers, the bank staff, and TSB’s reputation, the migration did not go to plan and resulted in what some commentators have described as a ‘meltdown’ of its banking systems.

Some of the problems experienced by customers have included not being able to access their own money, no access to any mobile and online services, problems with direct debits, and amounts of money appearing and disappearing. It was even reported that one customer was mistakenly credited with £13,000. TSB has also been deluged, understandably, with complaints, with TSB staff facing hostility, and the reputation of the bank taking a battering in the media.

Response

Several apologies later, and even though TSB’s CEO Paul Pester announced in BBC Radio 4 interview that he would take direct control from the banks’ platform, and that he’d drafted in a team of global experts from IBM, and although the mobile app is now reportedly fixed, some customers are still reported to be experiencing problems. Some have appeared in tv news reports telling of their experiences and of their fears that important bills may not have been paid as a result of the system’s problems.

Treasury Committee Wants Answers

Executives from TSB and parent company Sabadell have been asked to appear before MPs to respond to questions and give evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on Wednesday 2nd May over the ongoing IT system outage.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It is well known that many banks run on old systems which have led to glitches in the past i.e. customers not being able to access their money, and have been the cause of worries about security. The case of TSB illustrates how the company had good commercial intentions as a challenger bank in migrating its systems to reduce costs and meet the modern customer’s digital expectations, but ended up creating a PR disaster for itself. It is thought that the problems could cost the bank millions in lost customers, compensation, and damage to the brand.

Some commentators have criticised the bank for mismanaging the migration and for focusing too much on creating fancy apps rather than focusing on just getting the migration to happen as smoothly as possible.

It has also been suggested that, if joining or switching to a new bank, customers could do worse than to ask their proposed new bank what their plans are in terms of core banking platforms, whether they have any major IT projects planned, and how up to date is the core banking system is.

The problems with TSB’s banking systems will undoubtedly have impacted many businesses as customers were unable to access funds or to spend as they normally would, or to pay existing agreements, and this all adds up to extra costs, reduced profits, and stress for business owners.

This story is also a reminder to businesses that unforeseen and potentially costly IT problems can happen, particularly with cyber-crime activity, and that having a good Business Continuity Plan and Disaster Recovery Plan is important.

New Google ‘Chat’ SMS Message Replacement Rollout Begins

Google has begun the rollout of ‘Chat’, the messaging service that, it is hoped, will replace SMS text messages on Android phones, and bring it into the same ballpark as WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage.

What’s The Problem?

The SMS messaging system for Android phones has suffered over many years from being simply a succession of poorly supported, different apps all using the same basic the short message service (SMS) from the1990s to send text messages over a mobile network. The result has been that none have been particularly popular among android users, who have been envious of the simplicity and ease other messaging services e.g. iPhone that have better features and send messages over the internet instead of using SMS.

New System, New Features

The solution to the problem for Google has been to take many years to develop a whole new messaging system that is based on a standard called the “Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services” (instead of simply making another app), which allows Android users to send messages and image files over a data network.

The new ‘Chat’ service offers many more features such as group texts, videos, typing indicators and read receipts. Since RCS is a communications standard, it will be up to mobile operators to enable the service, but Android will still have SMS to fall back on anyway.

Carrier-Based Service

Chat is a carrier/network-based service (i.e. not a Google-based service), so one of the key ways that Google has gone about making sure that Chat will work is to try to convince as many carriers as possible to take the new standard, and make the Chat services interoperable between carriers.

If you text someone who doesn’t have Chat enabled, or who is not an Android user, your messages will revert back to SMS, in the same way that an iMessage does.

It is thought that Google has done enough work with 50+ carriers to ensure that most of them will enable the use of the Chat service this year, which is handy since the global rollout by Google is already underway.

Au Revoir ‘Allo’

Another indicator of Google’s commitment to getting Chat ‘out there’ is the pausing of its work on its ‘Allo’ messaging service.

Data Plan Instead of SMS

Since Chat messages will be sent over the data network i.e. sent with your data plan instead of your SMS plan, it is expected that charges for messages could be less, although this will be up to the networks.

Security Flaw

One flaw in the Chat service could be the fact that messages are not encrypted, and could, therefore, be a security risk if intercepted.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Business and individual users of Android will be pleased to hear that at last there may be a messaging service that is built-in, allows plenty of modern functionality, and is up there with competing services e.g. WhatsApp and iMessage.

Hopefully, the main networks will support the service as soon as possible, and with messages being sent over the data network the hope is also that costs for the service could be kept at a very reasonable level (depending on the network).

The one question mark for many users may, however, be the lack of encryption of the messages, especially at a time when data security is at the forefront of their mind with the introduction of GDPR next month.

Digital Number Plates

Dubai is once again in the news for being an adopter of new technologies after an announcement that it will be hosting a trial of digital vehicle number plates next month.

Smart Plates

The ‘smart plates’ will have digital screens, GPS and transmitters, and according to the head of the Vehicle Licensing Department at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the digital plates will make life easier for drivers.
The trial of the new plates is scheduled to start next month and end in November, and one of the key things that is being tested, as well as the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) Tag2Connect (T2C) platform, is thought to be whether any issues / problems may be caused to the hardware and operation of the plates by Dubai’s desert climate.

The smart plates system incorporates Blockchain technology, the same technology behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Why Have Digital Number Plates?

In reality, the plates will have benefits for Dubai’s government as well as for drivers e.g. through being able to track vehicles (via transmitters in the plates), and for the police to gather detailed information quickly about cars and their drivers.

Ways in which drivers could benefit from using the plates include:

  • Allowing real-time communication with other drivers about traffic conditions or any accidents ahead.
  • Contacting the police and ambulance services if the vehicle is involved in a collision.
  • Enabling plates to be changed using the RTA’s app or website.
  • Enabling automatic deductions from users’ accounts for e.g. payment for fines, parking fees or renewing registration plates.

Other Technologies Adopted In Dubai

Dubai is making a name for itself internationally as a place that is proactive in adopting the latest technology. For example:

  • Back in February 2016, Dubai committed to putting all its documents on Blockchain’s shared open database system by 2020 in order to help to cut through Middle Eastern bureaucracy, speed up civic transactions and processes, and help bring a positive transformation to the whole region.
  • In February last year, it was announced by Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Agency, that passengers could be able to use Ehang 184, electric-powered, pilotless, self-flying drone taxis. The app-hailed taxis can travel at 100 mph / 160km/hr top speed, this means that it can travel 31 miles in one trip.
  • Plans for high-speed Hyperloop pods to open by 2020. These pods should be able to transport passengers to the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes (covering distances of over 120km / 75 miles).
  • Plans to expand the use of technology in transport, and hopes for self-driving vehicles to be making a quarter of all journeys by 2030.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Some may say that given the wealth of Dubai and the speed of its development in recent years, it is not a big surprise that it is able to afford trials and adoption of the latest technology, and that its road network and geography make it well-suited to driverless vehicles, drones etc.

Some commentators, however, have expressed concerns about the tracking of drivers, and potential issues surrounding privacy and information security.

New transport technologies that are planned for Dubai, such as driverless vehicles, have also experienced some bad publicity recently with the woman killed in Arizona last month when she was hit by an autonomous Uber car.

Smart number plates are an example of how smart technology is providing business opportunities, and bringing simpler, more centralised systems around the world. For example, it is thought that the smart plate system in Dubai will bring together on a single platform all stakeholders e.g. manufacturers, dealers, workshops, insurers, licensing authorities, police and vehicles owners. This could be an example of how greater transparency could be brought to an industry using technology.

Wearable Tech Could Help Solve Murder

Police in Australia are reported to be using data recorded by a murder victim’s Apple smartwatch to help catch her killer.

Murder

The victim and owner of the smartwatch was Grandmother Myrna Nilsson, who was found dead in the laundry of her Valley View home in Adelaide’s north-east in September 2016.

The prime suspect in the murder case is daughter-in-law Caroline Dela Rose Nilsson, who was found gagged and distressed at the scene, and who told Police that her mother-in-law had been followed home by (and had argued at length with) a group of men in a car.

How Could The Watch Data Help?

The Apple watch contains sensors that can measure fitness signals such as heart rate. The watch can also track a person’s movements and, being a watch, it can link the other signals to the exact time.

It is believed that this data could indicate when the victim’s heart rate indicated a loss of consciousness as well as the actual time of death.

Contradiction

Reports about the case so far indicate that while the daughter-in-law’s testimony puts the time of death at around 10pm, and that her mother-in-law allegedly argued with the men for 20 minutes, the data from the watch is not consistent with this version of events.

Reports about evidence uncovered by the Prosecutor in the case, Carmen Matteo, show that watch data shows activity consistent with the victim being ambushed and attacked as she walked into her home just after 6:30pm. The watch is also reported to show activity and heart rate measurements consistent with her body going into shock and losing consciousness.

According to the Apple watch, the deceased must have been attacked at around 6:38pm and had died by 6:45pm, some 3 hours earlier than the time stated by the daughter-in-law.

Bail Denied

The strength and apparent reliability of the watch data has been enough to lead Magistrate Oliver Koehn to deny bail to Ms Nilsson.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Our phones and gadgets are now tracking devices, and can store or transmit a lot of data about us and our activities. In the right hands, as in this case and in situations where mobile phone signals have been used in legal cases, this information can be valuable for some very important reasons i.e. in the interest of justice for victims and their families.

In the wrong hands e.g. ‘sports wearables’ possibly leaking our login credentials and transmitting our activity tracking information in a non-secure way such as that identified back in February 2016 in Canadian research by Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, could make us more vulnerable to crime.

This story should also, therefore, be a reminder to manufacturers of wearable technology that security and privacy of the data stored and transmitted about us should always be a priority, and it is in the interest of the manufacturer and the customer that correct safeguards are taken. After all, as this case proves, you never quite know how useful the secure, uncorrupted data from a mobile or wearable device could turn out to be.