Contact Tracing, Privately

As health services and society in general struggle to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, people are desperately seeking new and inventive ways to curb the spread of the disease. A tried and true tool of epidemiologists is contact tracing: interviewing infected subjects in order to create lists of people they’ve had contact with in recent days and weeks. But people’s memories are notoriously sketchy and they may not even know all the names, let alone contact information. Google and Apple have united to propose a technical solution. Android phones and iPhones will silently record anonymous identifiers of every other device they come near, in hopes of eventually notifying those device owners if a person later tests positive for COVID-19. But doing this in a way that preserves privacy and resists mass surveillance is difficult. I’ll walk through the technical and social implications of their proposal.

In other news: Zoom is working hard to fix their privacy and security issues (and repair their reputation); bad guys are capitalizing on Zoom’s popularity to trick users into installing malware along with the app; smart locks can actually be pretty stupid (and insecure); and now that we’re all working from home, it’s a good time to review standard security practices to keep your company’s data and devices secure. (And by the way, this is good practice for your personal stuff, too.)

Further Info: