Education

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April 03, 2016

Pinnacle Bank SMS Scam Hits Nebraska

 

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The people of Columbus, Nebraska, and nearby areas have been targeted by a text message scam. The local police department used social media to issue a warning, asking people to be especially weary of text messages requesting users to reply with personal banking information. 

 

What Is Text Fraud?

Text fraud, or phishing, has become increasingly popular among online criminals. This particular scammer targeted random phone numbers in and around Columbus and posed as local Pinnacle Bank. The text asked users to tap a link that would prompt them to verify their account information (even if they weren’t a bank customer), which gave the criminals access to users’ personal information. 

This isn’t the first time bad SMS news has hit the mainstream. Text fraud in particular is increasingly invasive on our mobile phones, and a serious problem for financial institutions around the world. Just last month, several banks in Australia were pawns in an SMS scam; 9 banks in total were part of an elaborate and sophisticated ploy that asked bank customers to check or verify private account information. 

The text messages alone don’t do any damage, but they’re designed to look and sound like the real deal. The Federal Trade Commission advises anyone who receives these types of text messages to delete them immediately. According to the FTC website, “Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels.”

Needless to say, text messaging is not a secure form of communication, even though 80 percent of text-savvy consumers use text for business. Working with banks or other private institutions via text isn’t the problem, and people shouldn’t be afraid to engage in SMS activity if they prefer that form of communication. However, everyone should be aware that the service businesses are able to provide via text are very limited, and they should never ask for private account information via text.

Online criminals commonly request things like usernames, passwords, and social security numbers; even something as simple as your address, phone number, or date of birth could compromises your identity. They’ll often use aggressive tactics to urge you to action, threatening to close accounts or discontinue service if the user does not respond. 

 

Protecting Yourself

The best thing to do if you ever suspect text fraud or a phishing scam is ignore the communication and notify the business the text claims to be coming from. The FTC also recommends that you protect yourself with security software, and keep your phone as updated as possible. Keep an eye on your credit reports and financial information. If you see anything that looks suspicious, catching it early can save you a lot of time and grief. And finally, report text fraud to the proper authorities, like The Anti-Phishing Working Group, which includes ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies. 

April 01, 2016

How User Behavior Causes Common Mobile Device Issues

 

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It’s increasingly evident within the mobile device industry that many of the operating issues are due to user behavior. What’s more, customer service representatives, IT support staff, and repair specialists are frequently without mobile device-specific knowledge, as well as diagnostic tools indicating whether the issue is user or hardware based. This has resulted in the return of “un-repairable” devices, making it imperative for device manufacturers and network operators to gain a deeper understanding of which issues can actually be rectified and which can’t, and to further train employees so they may resolve problems quickly and efficiently. 

 

Asia: The Highest Failure Rate

According to the State of Mobile Device Performance and Health trend report for Q4 of 2015 by Blancco Technology Group, device failure rates are highest in Asian countries. The fourth quarter of 2015 saw 50 percent of iOS and Android device issues coming from Asia, resulting in a 50 percent ‘No Trouble Found’ return rate. Social networking apps are among the most popular in apps in Australia, Indonesia, and India, while messenger apps are frequently used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. News, search, and weather apps are heavily used in Korea and Japan. 

Social networking and messenger apps are thought to cause the most issues with mobile devices in Asia rather than hardware. For example, Asian citizens who use numerous social media apps per day, and fail to close them properly, are “eating away” at their devices’ resources, including device memory, battery, and overall performance. Texting services such as messaging apps also devour device resources, particularly in terms of group chats. Such text services usually involve sending messages every few minutes, an action which injures device performance in addition to draining battery power. 

 

Europe: Device Failures Increasing Dramatically

Mobile device issues with users residing on the North American continent lowered from 27 percent in Q3 2015 to 26 percent in Q4. Europe did not fare as well, with device issues rising from 14 percent in Q3 2015 to 29 percent in Q4. App usage increased 58 percent in Europe in 2015, thanks mainly to emoji and productivity apps. For example, teens and college students favor Google Docs, Slack, Quip, and the Microsoft productivity suite. Emoji and productivity apps are considered the two app categories causing mobile device issues in Europe as well as North America, with emoji apps frequently slowing mobile devices, if not causing them to crash. 

Productivity apps such as Outlook may result in easier access to mobile email, however they often interfere with device performance due to the accessing, creating, and sharing of sizeable files. 

 

Avoidable Returns

More than 50 percent of the devices returned in 2015 were “avoidable” and subsequently placed in the No Trouble Found category. NTF devices cost manufacturers and mobile network operators about $50 to $100 per device to return them to the market as “used.” The Blancco Technology Group report noted that NTF returns cost organizations millions in 2015. 

Blancco offers numerous tips for reducing NTF return rates, including refraining from overcharging the battery, avoiding installation of numerous anti-virus apps, and “power cycling,” or shutting the device off and restarting it, at least twice a week. Turning application notifications off and avoiding unnecessary Wi-Fi use are also recommended, as is manufacturers, enterprise organizations, and carriers focusing more on customer service and proper issue diagnosis. 

March 31, 2016

Diabetes Treatment Finds Ally in Texting Services

 

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Texting services are increasingly being utilized by the healthcare industry, as they provide a number of helpful applications, such as reminding patients about appointments and sending tips that contribute to health. Text service health applications now include those relating to diabetes, with Arkansas-based nonprofit corporation ARcare using text messaging to improve its treatment services. 

 

A Valuable Educational Tool

ARcare added SMS texting services to its treatment program for diabetes patients, resulting in a cost-effective way to educate patients about the disease. “Interactive SMS” is utilized to provide patients with vital diabetes information. ARcare CIO Greg Wolverton recommends healthcare organizations focused on population health management recognize messaging tools’ role with regard to electronic health records and care coordination across numerous facilities. He also emphasizes the supreme scalability and efficiency texting services present. 

 

Increased Revenue Options

Implementing text services has been shown to help both the patient and the provider, as it offers an increase in operational revenue. For example, texting diabetic patients about their next appointments significantly reduces chances of no-shows, as most people have their phones with them constantly and look at text messages much sooner than emails. The reduction in no-shows and the ability to easily reschedule should a patient not be able to make the appointment are some of the ways text services are helping the healthcare industry financially. 

 

More Helpful Applications

In addition to its use among diabetic patients and their healthcare providers, text messaging is also increasingly used to treat smoking addiction and pregnancy issues. A recent Swedish study suggested text services make it easier to quit smoking, as the implemented text messaging program “doubled the rate” of self-reported smoking abstinence “with occasional lapses.” It also encouraged quitting cigarettes entirely, though not to the same degree. 

In regard to pregnancy issues, texting was found to help maternal and child mortality problems in Rwanda. The African country’s health workers use text services to keep track of pregnancies, report related health issues, and provide emergency alerts. The latter helps pregnant women obtain emergency care when needed. Health workers also text information about their pregnant patients’ histories for database storage purposes, let women know when it’s time to come in for checkups, and provide doctors with information about any complications. 

 

Part of the Mobile Health Movement

Diabetes, smoking, pregnancy, weight loss, HIV….texting services are part of the mHealth, or mobile health, movement for all of these, according to David Finitsis, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology and author of the February 2014 article Text Message Intervention Designs to Promote Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). The article was published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. Finitisis found text messaging of great assistance to HIV patients, as it improved “adherence to drug regimens” among other benefits. The author remarked that the possibilities connected to text messaging and healthcare are endless, and that smartphones, tablet computers, and social media platforms provide many more avenues for treating the chronically ill. 

Is text service a huge part of the healthcare industry’s future? It certainly seems so. 

 

March 14, 2016

Top New York Hospital Embraces Mobile Technology

 

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People use mobile technology in many aspects of their lives, from ordering to-go meals and finding the closest coffee shops to banking and getting consumer ratings. Now, folks can turn to mobile technologies, including apps, to help them with something else: healthcare.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is adopting mobile platforms, such as apps, to take care of many patient needs and to make providing healthcare easier for doctors. The No. 1 hospital in New York recently launched the NewYork-Presbyterian app for phones and tablets, which enhances the experience of patients and gives them more ways to communicate with the hospital. 

They’ll be able to get in touch with physicians through the application and use an online payment system to settle bills. The app offers assistance navigating around the hospital, viewing information about services and medical professionals, and connecting with NewYork-Presbyterian’s social media channels.

 

A Health Care App for the Way We Live Our Lives

Since mobile technology has become so integrated in day-to-day living, the NewYork-Presbyterian app makes sense. It’s in its infancy, so there’s room for it to grow and become more perfect, but it’s a useful tool for people looking for a simple way to stay informed and correspond with those assisting with their care.

“If you were to come in for an operation, you would be able to give your loved one’s phone number to the registration desk and while you are having your operation, it sends automated messaging to your loved one’s phone number,” says NYP Chief Innovation Officer Peter Fleischut. The app allows you to make sure friends and family members are updated in real time, so that they always know what’s going on. 

Future updates to the NewYork-Presbyterian app will include a telehealth feature that allows for scheduling of follow-up visits and remote patient monitoring. The anticipated version of the application will also have a visitor’s guide and a way for users to request second opinions from doctors.

 

The InnovateNYP: Pediatric App Challenge

Along with the NewYork-Presbyterian app, the hospital has recently launched the InnovateNYP: Pediatric Challenge, a contest that asks techies and forward-thinkers to come up with games, creative tools, and activities to encourage the best healthcare for our kids. The Challenge is open to hospital employees and the public, and it’s the first of its kind, bringing designers, developers, technologies, and clinicians together in an effort to advance new ideas in pediatric care. The kick-off activity for the Pediatric Challenge is a 10-week InnovateNYP: Pediatric Appathon that will have participants from around the world creating what will hopefully be the next huge advancement in healthcare for children.

 

Patients Are Embracing Mobile Technology to Make Important Health Decisions

Fleischut says that patients are embracing the hospital’s mobile offers, in particular the text feature that lets them get in touch with the hospital when they need to. However, the actual usefulness of this feature, as well as the importance of future additions to the app and the hospital’s technology, is yet to be determined.

“It’s one thing to get initial downloads but I’m more interested in being able to engage with our users,” Fleischut stated. “How long are they staying in the application? How frequently are they coming back to the application?” 

With the tech community involved in the venture, there’s likely to be constant monitoring of the processes to build technology for the hospital that focuses on exactly what patients and medical staff need.

 

January 05, 2016

Smartphones Helping Us Cut 180 Million Tonnes of Carbon Emissions

 

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Mobile technology is helping us drastically reduce our C02 emissions, according to a new study from the Carbon Trust. The research, jointly funded by international telephony companies and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), claims 180 million tonnes of emissions are saved annually - five times greater than emissions caused by the operations of mobile networks and mobile tech developers.

The study examined 60 carbon-saving mechanisms in 10 different categories, and evaluated a variety of uses for mobile technology, including uses for machine-to-machine and Internet of Things applications.

In an impressive, wide-ranging report, smartphones are shown to have made significant savings in areas like building management, route planning and employee carbon footprints, as an increasing number of workers conduct the majority of their business from home. 

Furthermore, the research highlights a number of areas for future emissions reductions. In a  survey of 4,000 smartphone users from the USA, UK, Spain, Mexico and South Korea, more than half the respondents said they would be willing to reduce their emissions by using mobile technology to recycle more products and encourage insurers to lower premiums in return for more ecologically sound driving habits. Nearly half said they would be more likely to use public transport if they had an app to tell them when the next bus or train would arrive. 

But it’s the emissions savings already being made on a daily basis that is most encouraging. For example, 84% of smartphone users who drive a car regularly use satnav and other GPS apps to reduce congestion and generally plan and execute their trips in a more eco-efficient way; 40% would consider using a self-driving vehicle in the future. Nearly half of respondents said they purchased digital books and newspapers, rather than the more environmentally-costly print versions. 

Other carbon-cutting lifestyle changes that a majority of respondents said they would be willing to make include mobile apps that control home heating and cooling (68%) and mobile-accessed public services (63%). Around half said they would cease using cash and credit/debit cards if they could pay for goods with their smartphone, and 63% said they would consult with doctors remotely for non-urgent issues. 

The list of eco-efficient applications goes on. But what’s even more exciting is the potential for developing economies to completely bypass high-carbon infrastructures by using mobile technology. For a world facing critical climate change, that would be the most sustainable move we can make.

November 24, 2015

Saving Lives with Mobile Technology

 

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The thought of surgery being performed by a robot might be a bit too close to science fiction for folks to stomach. However, the healthcare industry is quickly approaching the intersection of once far-fetched medical technology and a global need for better healthcare. 

Mobile technology is a huge part of this growing trend in health sectors across the country, and the world. In fact, mobile advancements in healthcare are predicted to play a large role in saving lives, and influencing preventative medicine. Here’s a closer look at some of the specific mobile advancements on the cusp of this fast-approaching technological horizon:

 

Healthcare and Gamification 

Along with making medical technology more available, creating ways to empower and proactively engage patients for long-term success is just as important as medical prognosis. 

Gamification involves adding game elements to the outpatient process and preventative repertoire to help patients stay on track with a diet, take their medicine, and maintain healthy habits.

We’ve already seen great examples of this in mobile apps like Luminosity, for brain stimulation, and HAPIfork, which monitors healthy eating. By incorporating mobile technology into the medical paradigm, doctors can help patients well after they leave the hospital. 

 

Comprehensive Communications 

Mobile is also a unique tool in healthcare because of the communication access it delivers and its ability to spread information democratically. The Internet and digital resources play a large roll in this as well, but mobilizing these resources has added millions of new Internet users to the healthcare network.

In 2014, mobile Internet access surpassed desktop usage—in other words, the mobile community is farther-reaching than ever before, making it possible to share, crowdsource, store, and gather pieces of medical information on a globalized network.

 

Saving Lives 

Aside from these abstract healthcare improvements, mobile technology has the ability to save lives immediately. For example, UNICEF has implemented a mobile communication system in one of the most dangerous and densely populated areas in the world: the Gaza Strip. 

Using mobile technology, school children in these areas are able to attend school more regularly, and safely, by allowing school administrators to communicate with parents directly. School administrators can send out SMS messages warning parents of potential treats, as well as let them know when school will resume. Since 2011, 29 schools have used this program regularly, and more than 11,000 students are benefiting from the results. 

From 3D printing and robotic nurses, to wearable tech and live-streaming surgery, the future may be in fact be closer than we think, and mobile technology has found a relevant niche within this growth to do its part in making the world a healthier and safer place to live. 

November 04, 2015

Can Smartphones Help Manage Bipolar Disorder?

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Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by mood swings that vary from extreme elation to severe depression. Patients suffering from this mental illness experience extreme highs and hyperactivity, and at other times suffer devastating lows and lethargy. Because symptoms of most mental disorders can only be seen as changes in a person’s behavior, rather than a chemical or biological change, treating these mood changes can be extremely difficult. But recent studies indicate that phone apps may be able to help people with bipolar disorder manage their conditions so that they can live more productive lives.

 

Research

Italian researchers have found that smartphones can be used to diagnose and manage mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder. Thanks to their built-in sensors, sudden mood changes can be tracked easily. Just recently, computer scientist Venet Osmani of the Trento, Italy-based Centre for Research and Telecommunication Experimentation for Networked Communities (CREATE-NET) used data mining to study human behavior and health. He knew that people with bipolar disorder often demonstrated signature behavior patterns and used smartphones to measure these patterns. According to Osmani, the behavior patterns associated with bipolar disorder can be accurately detected by smartphone sensors, which allow changes in mood to be spotted as they occur. This is amazing news for patients, as it could lead to faster treatment and better outcomes for sufferers.

 

How the Smartphone App Works

How will the smartphone app work? The bipolar manic phase is often characterized by physical hyperactivity, which can be measured by an accelerometer and a GPS; symptoms like rapid speech could be measured by sound analysis software, and frequent conversations monitored through phone call patterns. Similarly, slow movements, fewer locations travelled, sluggish speech, and fewer conversations with others can be signs of the depressive phase. The app includes GPS information to localize the user in case of a manic crisis, and it can be used either as part of a treatment with a therapist or as a standalone app. There are currently a number of different apps on the market being used to detect mental and physical ailments as they occur. This is just the beginning of how innovation is changing medicine.

 

Patients 

All of this is good news for bipolar sufferers. Patients with bipolar disorder are more susceptible to stress events or changes in their routine. With a smartphone app, the possibility of early detection in a patient’s state could mean facilitating timely intervention and getting him or her the best treatment possible. 

For the most party, treating bipolar illness comes after the fact. Patients are usually given questionnaires after an episode has already occurred. An accurate way of diagnosing mood changes in real-time would be hugely useful, both for patients and their health providers to predict oncoming symptoms. 

With technology continuing to change, and innovation creating better and faster ways to communicate, many of today’s health problems might soon be more easily detected. 

 

Written by Jeremy Pollack

 

October 28, 2015

Mobile Tech as CPR Guide

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It’s always nice to see technology working for the greater good and not merely motivated by profit. Some apps, like PulsePoint, aren’t working for profit at all—they’re in the business of saving lives. The non-profit app has been endorsed by a number of agencies including the American Heart Association and the Red Cross for delivering updated CPR guidelines and empowering the public to become more than bystanders at the scene of an emergency.  

Did you know that almost sixty perfect of US adults have had training to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use an automated external defibrillator (AED)? What’s more, these trained individuals would be willing to put their skills to good use in the event of an emergency. However, it’s been estimated that only 11 percent of these people ever use their training. 

These numbers have become a viable resource in the fight against heart diseases and the struggle to protect patients who succumb to cardiac arrest. Using mobile technology, PulsePoint has modernized the CPR guidelines while finding a way to tap into this trained population. 

In the event that someone goes into cardiac arrest, the time it takes the EMS team or paramedics to arrive can greatly impact that person’s chance of resuscitation. Starting CPR quickly can double and sometimes triple the rate of survival. Now, imagine a well-trained and mobilized populace that could provide assistance during this critical window.

 

How the App Works 

That’s where PulsePoint comes in. Individuals trained in CPR, or the use of an AED, register with the app and are notified if they’re ever in the proximity of someone experiencing cardiac arrest. The app is also equipped to notify the trained individual where they may locate the nearest public AED. 

Once the EMS workers arrives, they’ll take over—but until then, having help there a few moments sooner could be the difference between life and death. As soon as someone calls 9-1-1 with a cardiac arrest emergency, the app alerts anyone nearby that has installed PulsePoint and is trained in CPR.

The app is already working in cities both big and small, including places like Cleveland and Fargo, North Dakota.


One of the most interesting features of this app is that it has a lot of crossover potential into other areas of public health, education, and security. Depending on how well the app does in assisting with cases of cardiac arrest, we might see variations of this software developed for other civil service functions.  

October 20, 2015

Be Wary of the Latest Text Message Bank Fraud Scam

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Internet scams make the news fairly regularly, spurring conversations about prevention with advice from experts as well as victims. While most of us know not to provide personal information via email, or when asked to do so by a pop-up window, few practice the same caution with regards to their smartphones. 

The latest scam involving identity theft is presenting itself to mobile users via text messages. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently got involved after several complaints surfaced regarding text massages from alleged financial institutions requesting data verification through a live link in the message. The BBB warned consumers about the fraudulent texts and reminded them of a similar case back in 2012. 

 

How it Works 

According to the BBB, mobile users were receiving alerts from their personal banks, asking them to verify their names, online IDs, and passwords at a site linked in the messages. In most cases the URL had the bank’s name included (or some variation of the name) and appeared to be almost identical to the legitimate website. Unsuspecting users would enter their personal data into the fraudulent site and would become at rick of identity theft and subsequent financial loss.  

Scams like these are, in essence, very similar to those we regularly encounter on laptop or desktop computers—usually via email or pop-up window. Over time most people have learned to avoid these scams and report them to the appropriate authorities.

So, what makes this so different? The success of this scam is tied to the emotional and irrational belief that our smartphones are safer because they are typically in our possession at all times. The intimate space of text messaging is falsely perceived as secure, more trustworthy, and relevant. 

This is unfortunately not the case. Just like unwanted push notifications, incoming solicitations and scams are very real threats if certain settings are left unchecked on a smartphone.

 

How to Combat Text Scams 

Most of have learned to deal with dubious emails and pop-up windows by deleting suspicious messages. Use the same caution on your smart device. Ignore the instructions of a text message asking for your participation to retrieve or verify personal data via text.

Further, you should check your phone bill every month. Check for services you haven’t ordered. Fraudulent changes may appear as one-time charges or be labeled ‘subscriptions,’ and may appear on each monthly bill.  

Commercial text messages, push notifications, and text subscriptions should lawfully provide you with an easy way to unsubscribe from them. If the option doesn’t appear to be available to you, check with your service provider to ensure your account hasn’t been compromised.  

Finally, ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. Most phone carriers allow third parties (app companies, special ringtone services, etc.) to charge you for their services. Some carriers also have a way to block third parties from making charges. 

Don’t be afraid to call your service provider if you ever have any questions or suspect fraudulent activity. The worst thing mobile users can do if they suspect they are being scammed or unlawfully charged for services they don’t receive is nothing. Be proactive about your mobile safety, and you won’t become a victim of mobile scams. 

October 14, 2015

Infographic: Breast Cancer Awareness

 

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we decided to look at the role mobile technology has to play in fighting the disease. 

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