5 security mistakes you’re probably making
File photo: An illustration picture shows a woman looking at the Facebook website on a computer in Munich February 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

File photo: An illustration picture shows a woman looking at the Facebook website on a computer in Munich February 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

You don’t think about your car until you get a flat. You don’t appreciate your phone until the screen cracks. Cybersecurity is something you take for granted — until someone hacks your account, steals your bank info and spreads compromising pictures of you all over the internet.

Most people know about virus protection. They avoid weird websites and spammy messages from mysterious people. But some things we just don’t think about: Are you sure no one has access to your webcam? If you live in a high-tech home, are you aware that strangers can hack your smart appliances?

Here are five ways you may still be vulnerable, along with tips on how to safeguard your family, your finances and your personal data.

1. Leaving your webcam exposed

Your daughter is spending a semester in Italy. No problem! You can still chat with her, see her face and be a part of her life, all in real time, thanks to the magic of the webcam. These little cameras have been standard desktop equipment since the 1990s, but their global immediacy still feels miraculous.

That is, until a hacker commandeers your camera and captures video of you in your bedroom. Losing your Social Security number is a pain, but nothing is quite as terrifying as intimate images of your family distributed infinitely through the internet. Remember, your camera may not give any indication that it’s been hacked.

The easiest defense is also incredibly simple. Just put a piece of masking tape over your webcam. You won’t damage the lens, and you can always remove it when you want to use Skype or FaceTime.

There’s also the high-tech solution. You can install free software that alerts you when someone tries to access your webcam remotely. If you’re an Apple user, you can download OverSight. Click here to learn more about OverSight.

Windows users can turn to the aptly named Who Stalks My Cam. Both of these programs are free to download and easy to set up. Click here for more information about Who Stalks My Cam.

2. Letting Alexa run freely

People love Alexa. More specifically, they love telling Alexa what to do. Amazon Echo has single-handedly invented the virtual assistant, and other companies are racing to catch up with the company’s versatile little tower.

A favorite feature is called “Voice Purchasing,” which enables you to order products orally. You say, “Alexa, I need more paper towels,” and the device places the order with, say, Amazon Pantry. This feature is available to anyone with Amazon Prime and, of course, an Echo.

Just make sure you don’t keep Voice Purchasing open when you’re not using it. Here’s how to turn off Voice Purchasing from your Alexa app. Go to Settings >> Voice Purchasing >> turn off Voice Purchasing. You can require a confirmation code, too, that you’ll say out loud to Alexa when you’re shopping on Amazon.

You can also turn off Alexa’s mic. In June, Amazon introduced the “Drop In” feature. Once enabled, other Echos automatically connect to another Echo to start a conversation. The other party doesn’t even have to pick the call, the line is automatically open, and it works similarly to an intercom system. Click here to learn how to lock down these settings.

3. Staying signed in all over, all the time

If you’re like most people, you check your Facebook account many times a day. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat,

YouTube, Google+ and so many other apps and social media accounts. Most of the time, you don’t log into your accounts, because they’re already open. This convenience leaves you vulnerable to hacks, of course.

Just make sure you’re the only one accessing your account. You can actually check recent activity on your account to make sure no one else is logging in.

Each social media platform is different; same for your apps. But on Facebook, click on the down arrow in the upper-right corner >> Activity Log >> Filters.

On Twitter: If you’re using a laptop or PC, go to >> Tweets. If you’re using the Twitter app on an iPhone or Android smartphone >> click on the analytics icon from your tweets.

On the topic of signing into your accounts, there is one essential security setting you must enable. I have the steps for the major sites including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others on my website. Click here and do it now before it’s too late and hackers, scammers and snoops get into your accounts.

4. Not reading an app’s terms and conditions

Do you read all those little alerts when you’re installing a new app? If you’re like most people, you probably just click through all those questions.

Well, you might want to review the fine print. You may be giving apps access to track your location and putting yourself at risk in other ways, too. Fortunately, you can check apps to see what permissions you’ve granted. You can see permissions on your iPhone or Android.

Click here for the exact steps along with screenshots on how to make sure your apps are not gathering your private data.

5. Putting off installing security updates

No matter what operating system you use, you’ll want to always have the latest version. Hackers work around the clock to find chinks in your computer’s armor, and they’re often successful. Your operating system will remind you to install security updates, but remember to follow through and download them because they are designed to protect you from the latest threats.

To check to see if you have the latest updates on Windows 10: Click on Start (window icon in the lower-left corner of your screen) >> Settings >> Update & Security >> Check for Updates.

On your Mac, click the Apple logo at the top left of your screen >> About this Mac >> Software Update.

Bonus Tip:

Hackers are also breaking into routers to have unlimited access to your devices, files and network. Unfortunately, the majority of router manufacturers don’t alert you when there is a security update. It’s up to you. Click here to make sure your router is using the latest firmware.

What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2017, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at

Zego picks up £6M Series A led by Balderton for its gig economy worker insurance

Zego, the London-based startup that appears to have spotted a gaping insurance hole in the so-called gig economy, has raised £6 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Balderton Capital, with participation from existing backers, including LocalGlobe and unnamed angel investors in the insurance sector. The company plans to use the new capital to increase engineering and other headcount as it launches further insurance products and expands internationally.

Founded by Harry Franks, Sten Saar and Stuart Kelly in 2016, Zego has set out to re-invent commercial insurance for self-employed people, with a particular focus on contractors powering various parts of the gig economy. Its first product is pay-as-you-go scooter and car insurance for food delivery workers utilising platforms such as the Deliveroos of the world.

Unlike traditional insurance, which can work out prohibitively expensive as a proportion of income for food delivery drivers who may only work part time and even sporadically, Zego charges by the hour, with drivers only buying cover for when they are logged in to the various on-demand food ordering services they contract for.

This sounds like an incredibly simple proposition on the surface and a bit of a no-brainer, but, CEO and co-founder Franks tells me, is quite challenging under the hood, not least creating a frictionless user experience while also wrestling with the way traditional insurance underwriting is configured. This, he believes, makes Zego somewhat defensible.

The startup has also developed good relationships with the platforms it supports, meaning its insurance app is able to connect to those on-demand food delivery platforms so that Zego-insured drivers don’t need to manually tell Zego when they are and aren’t working. Instead, the cover kicks in as soon as they log on for a delivery shift.

And because Zego knows when a person is or isn’t out driving and where, it is potentially able to use this data to adjust its risk assessment accordingly. The startup is also exploring telematics — the use of tracking hardware and software — as another way of more accurately pricing its pay-as-you-go cover or helping to reduce risk by perhaps warning drivers when they are being unsafe.

It’s go-to-market strategy is pretty convenient, too, as platforms like Deliveroo have had to defend their use of self-employed drivers as the wider gig economy comes under regulatory scrutiny. Commercial insurance is mandatory for food delivery drivers but platform companies, since they maintain they aren’t employers, can’t offer insurance cover direct. They can, however, demand to see proof of commercial insurance before signing up a driver to their platform, making it harder for a gig economy driver to work without the correct cover. This has seen Zego able to pick up plenty of slack.

Meanwhile, Franks, who previously worked at Deliveroo, says the bigger vision is to provide a whole suite of insurance products for gig economy workers, including the addition of personal injury and sickness cover. If the insecurity of gig economy work is here to stay, it seems that Zego and similar insurtech upstarts have plenty of mileage yet.

Silicon Valley could be the next hotspot for SEC whistleblowers

Jordan A. ThomasContributor

Jordan A. Thomas, chairman of the whistleblower representation practice at Labaton Sucharow, is a former assistant director in the SEC’s Enforcement Division and had a leadership role in the development of the SEC Whistleblower Program.

In recent years, the SEC has had greater success policing wrongdoing due in large part to the implementation of its whistleblower program, which allows individuals to anonymously sound the alarm against corruption while benefiting from robust employment protections and monetary incentives.

But the whistleblowers’ crosshairs are not limited to Wall Street. Individuals are beginning to come forward in a new sphere of the business world, one with its own reputation of a problematic, win-at-all-cost culture: Silicon Valley.

While Google, Facebook, Apple and other large public tech companies are standard bearers within the U.S. economy, Silicon Valley is largely comprised of startups at various stages, as well as venture capital firms, many of which fall under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Commission. That includes nearly every unicorn — a private company valued at more than $1 billion — which has taken investments from mutual funds and retail investors, such as Uber, Dropbox, WeWork, Airbnb and other firms that have grown into household names.

Potential minefields

Silicon Valley firms can engage in the same violations as any other entity subject to federal securities regulation. For instance, violations involving corporate disclosures and financials may well be a hotbed of misconduct, an area which already represents a significant portion of whistleblower tips received by the SEC.

In the Silicon Valley universe, some are already raising concerns regarding the potential dangers of retirement money invested in private early-stage companies. Given the risk of harm to the public, law enforcement will be swift in bringing enforcement actions against bad actors playing fast and loose with Americans’ retirement savings.

Further, the SEC has specifically signaled that it is closely scrutinizing the way in which mutual funds calculate valuations of their holdings in these companies. Notably, in early 2017, a former employee of social networking company Snap filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming the company lied about its user metrics ahead of its initial public offering in March. The case highlights the importance of user-metrics in valuing tech startups, particularly social media companies, and the huge incentives for bad actors to alter them in various disclosure and financial forms.

The SEC also has expressed concern regarding the propriety of a growing tech investment trend — blockchain startups, cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. There are currently more than 70 hedge funds alone focused on investing in cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICO), many of them backed by major venture capital funds. New companies in this field have raised more than $1.3 billion in 2017 alone.

Silicon Valley is on notice. Its culture of silence is poised to crumble.


Any entrepreneur with an idea for a blockchain-based technology can solicit capital via an ICO, with little to no immediate safeguards in place for investors. The SEC has taken note, pursuing clear-cut ICO fraud cases in which operations and potential returns were misrepresented or exaggerated. In addition to pursuing cases of fraud, the SEC has also strongly suggested it will treat ICOs as securities, subject to all applicable federal securities laws. To better police this rapidly evolving area, the SEC established the Cyber Unit, a specialized enforcement unit dedicated to targeting cyber-related misconduct.

An industry exposed

For decades, potential whistleblowers in Silicon Valley have been suppressed by a culture of silence, similar to the prevalent “omerta” culture at many Wall Street firms. Speaking out has, in the past, often resulted in retaliation and blacklisting by an entire industry. This is an especially significant risk given the many years it can take to acquire the required skills and develop a network within the relatively insular concentration of Silicon Valley.

The widespread use of non-disparagement clauses in employment agreements has further exacerbated this culture of silence and hindered potential whistleblower activity. Recently, several brave individuals have upended the status quo by revealing startling misconduct at Silicon Valley companies. While illustrative examples such as Susan Fowler’s blog post about Uber and Ellen Pao’s revelations regarding the venture capital industry have focused on gender discrimination and harassment, the courageous exposure of a culture of silence is the first step toward taking it down.

And it must be taken down. Those working in Silicon Valley occupy a unique position due to their expertise in a rapidly growing, highly complex and ever-evolving field. Similar to Wall Street, tech industry insiders have a heightened responsibility to speak out against misconduct because the general public may not fully grasp the funding structure of these new companies and their financial instruments.

The SEC whistleblower, the dark horse

The SEC Whistleblower Program, with its robust employment protections and the ability to report anonymously, challenges a corrupt status quo. And the program’s significant financial incentives — eligible whistleblowers can receive 10-30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected in an enforcement action where sanctions exceed $1 million — quell fears of speaking out.

That said, in the current information age, the program also recognizes that intelligence can come from a much wider range of sources than employee insiders. Nearly everyone is eligible. Successful actions have been brought by professors, analysts, reporters, industry competitors and other sophisticated observers who spotted irregularities and misleading information.

As the program has successfully stretched beyond Wall Street, Silicon Valley is on notice. Its culture of silence is poised to crumble as individuals come forward empowered by the protections and benefits of the SEC Whistleblower Program. Individual bad actors who have flouted the law are no longer free to operate with impunity. Now, somebody is always watching.

Featured Image: Images trains students become venture capitalists

There are very few black and Latinx investors, with only 2 percent of investment team members at VC firms identifying as black and just 1 percent identifying as Latinx, according to the National Venture Capital Association. This is where comes in., a pivot from HBCU to Startup, aims to diversify the white, male-dominated world of venture capital.’s program works with students attending historically black colleges and universities to teach them the fundamentals of venture capital and entrepreneurship.

The goal of the remote-based program is educate underserved communities about VC and to build the next generation of venture capitalists and entrepreneur.

“We haven’t seen racial diversity in venture capital and realize how it has a huge impact on the overall tech ecosystem,” founder Hadiyah Mujhid told TechCrunch. “What currently happens is investors invest within their network — people they know. Those people then turn around and hire people they know within their network. There are these systematic structures in place that, by design, have locked out people of color.”

Through the program, students are paired with a VC mentor, work as interns at a venture capital firm and act as investors in their local college communities. The year-long program teaches students how to identify investment opportunities, conduct market research and make real funding decisions. mentors include Lo Toney of Google Ventures, Carolina Huaranca of Kapor Capital, Monique Woodard of 500 Startups, Richard Kerby of Venrock and others.’s first batch includes 11 students from three universities: Fisk, Florida A&M and Prairie View A&M. Students were not required to have any type of past experience in the startup and venture capital ecosystems. Instead, Mujhid said she “wanted to see a natural curiosity and passion around learning the industry.”

For this academic school year, the students have internships at firms like Cross Culture Ventures, Indie.VC, Kapor Capital and 500 Startups. Their internships entail doing a lot of the work an associate VC would do, Mujhid said. That means researching startups and trends, providing analysis and bringing more startups into the firm’s portfolio.

“We seem them as an extension of the funds they’re working with in their local communities,” Mujhid said. “We want to empower them as mini VCs to support entrepreneurs.”

Down the road, the plan is to get to 100 associates. Next year, is aiming to be at 12 universities with 40 students and then the following year get to 20 universities with 100 students.

“The model is going to change and we’re currently investigating what it looks like for us to have our own independent venture fund and work directly through our venture fund as associates,” Mujhid said.

The program, which is totally free to students, is currently supported via a $100,000 grant from an organization that Mujhid was not able to disclose to me., a non-profit organization, also accepts donations through its website.

Featured Image:

Tap tap tap

We are now walking through a media desert. While access to content is astronomically high, the content that we read is dead, lifeless, and derivative. Yes, I see the irony in posting my criticism of the state of online media on, well, online media, but I want to explore how we got here and what we can do about it.

We begin in about 1983.

The education necessary to interact with media of that era was at once very high – it took decades to learn to read some books and understand the context and importance – and wildly low. Hollywood, after decades of aiming at Baby Boomers who preferred neurotic Woody Allen and musicals over space aliens, were targeting younger demographics. Television was moving to towards a younger audience with a plethora of Saturday morning cartoons elbowing Masterpiece Theatre and Dynasty off of the airwaves. For the first time, thanks to the success of Star Wars and its associated toys, the easy media was attacking the easiest target: kids.

It was in this era that the founders of the Internet – the late stage boomers like Gates, Jobs, and Berners-Lee – met the infant Gen Xers. They began to form their ideas about interactivity and used the tools available – screens, keyboards, and mice – to iterate up to our smartphones. A defining image for many of that era was the Magic Mirror. Children around the world watched Romper Room, a children’s show featuring a cheerful teacher and a group of smiling kids. The show itself was like a day at pre-school but at the end, when Miss Jean or Miss Nancy or Miss Rosemary (they had different hosts in different states) bid us all adieu, she would look into her Magic Mirror and enchant us.

“Romper, stomper, bomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play?” the hostess would intone.

The Mirror disappeared into a swirl colors that bled onto the whole screen. When the swirl was finished we were presented with the hostess looking at us though an empty frame. She called to us.

“I see Robert and Sally and Alex and John.” Parents would send inin their children’s first names on their birthday but, if your name was in the daily list, you were ecstatic. After all, she saw you.

She knew we were watching. She spoke to us.

It’s not hard to extrapolate a straight line from that one media moment into the world we live in today. Children and young adults growing up in the overlap between broadcast media and digital media brought with them a specific set of yearnings. One of those yearnings – the desire for the person on the other side of the glass to see you – defines our interfaces today. We want to be seen on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Skype. We want to be seen on Medium and Twitter and Chaturbate. We yearn for a connection that is almost impossible through the technology as it currently exists and the unadulterated failure of that medium to offer even a simulacrum of true, human interactivity is what is killing our discourse, our culture, and our minds.

Deep stuff, to be sure, but listen: over the past two weeks I’ve seen two people actively “interacting” with Instagram. First there was was a young woman in Oman. She wore a conservative black Abaya and headscarf and she was using an iPhone in a crowded bus. Her interactivity style was simple: swipe down, double tap on something that looked nice, and continue. Tap tap, swipe, tap tap, swipe. Images rolled past of Bollywood stars and Arabic women. Movie posters, makeup ads, fashion, all of it received the same treatment. Tap tap, swipe. Tap tap, swipe. It was a way to pass the time on a boring bus ride but it epitomizes the state of interactivity today. She did not see as much as sip, taking in an undifferentiated stream of content.

I saw the same behavior, this time in a sports-loving guy on a flight to Chicago. Tap tap, swipe. Tap tap, swipe. He’d stop once in a while to look at a video or comment but that was it – the tap. This paradigm defines all of our interactions with the web. Except for, perhaps, Pokemon Go, the Internet asks nothing from us except our attention. It is the basest form of interaction. We are prisoner in a dark cell tapping out Morse code that no one will hear.

What people are really doing when they type “I’m crying” at a funny gif

— John Biggs (@johnbiggs) November 17, 2017

Tap tap tap.

Gillmor Gang: Dream On

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Esteban Kolsky, Kevin Marks, Denis Pombriant, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Sunday, November 12, 2017.

G3: Safe Sex — Elisa Camahort Page, Lisa Padilla, Francine Hardaway, and Tina Chase Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, November 10, 2017.

@stevegillmor, @fradice, @ekolsky, @DenisPombriant, @kevinmarks

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

Liner Notes

GoCater spins out from La Belle Assiette to build a corporate catering marketplace

GoCater is a marketplace with hundreds of catering companies accessible from a single platform. It makes it much easier to organize events in your company. As for caterers, it’s a great way to find clients and optimize your workflows.

The startup first started as a spinoff from La Belle Assiette. I’ve covered La Belle Assiette multiple times over the years. and the company is still around. La Belle Assiette lets you order in-home chef service so that you can have a restaurant-like experience in your home.

There are now 800 chefs working on La Belle Assiette in five countries. It’s a highly curated premium marketplace that is now profitable. The company has raised $5.3 million (€4.5 million) in total, with Elior (EGEE Venture) acquiring a minor stake in the company. But the team behind La Belle Assiette found a bigger opportunity while thinking about the future of the company.

Catering is a fragmented industry with very little technology. Usually, you have to call someone to place an order and there’s no way to centralize all your invoices. You don’t really understand why it costs so much and finding a new caterer takes too much effort.

GoCater aggregates hundreds of caterers on the same platform in France and Germany. Chances are you’ll find your existing partners on the platform as the startup is working with small and big companies, such as Le Pain Quotidien and LeNôtre.

Selecting your menus feels like ordering on Deliveroo, but GoCater doesn’t add any fee for corporate clients — it would cost you the same to order through GoCater or the catering company directly. You can easily find your usual caterers, create a whitelist and look at past orders. The platform also lets you manage multiple users with central billing and an optional approval system for managers. And finally, you’ll only get one invoice every month, even if you order 15 times on the platform.

Catering vendors also get all the tools they need to manage their business — accounting, billing, CRM, inventory control and more. The idea is that caterers can switch to GoCater as their only back office platform for both online and offline orders.

GoCater has raised $710,000 from Nicolas Brusson, Thibaud Elziere, Guillaume Cuvelier, Laurent Plantier, Cabiedes & Partners, ACM and more. The startup now has the opportunity to create the missing technology brick that can help catering companies adapt to a rapidly changing market.

Canadian grocery chain orders 25 Tesla electric Semi trucks

Tesla’s Semi is off to a promising start, despite there being no official pricing information available yet: In addition to a Walmart pilot, Canadian grocery giant Loblaw is purchasing 25 of the heavy duty all-electric transport trucks (via Canadian Press), with a $5,000 deposit for each upfront even though pricing is TBD for the vehicle, which is supposed to start shipping in 2019.

Loblaw has a target of running a fully electric vehicle fleet to support its stores, as part of a goal of reducing its emissions impact by 2030. The plan is to eventually have as many as 350 zero-emission vehicles in operation by that time, and taking those diesel cars off the road could help it reduce its carbon footprint by the equivalent of taking around 20,000 consumer cars with internal combustion engines off the road.

Tesla has said that its cost of operation for the Semi will help shippers save money on a per mile basis right away, and that’s likely meant to help lessen the impact of sticker shock when it finally does reveal the upfront price. But as I mentioned with the Walmart pilot, which will involve a trial of 15 Semi trucks across the U.S. and Canada, there’s additional value in helping these major shippers meet their green targets.

This Loblaw backing is another sign that Tesla’s crazy truck dreams likely aren’t all that crazy after all, and could be perfectly timed to take advantage of a business climate where major retailers with significant logistics operations are looking for ways to minimize their carbon footprint, while also hoping to achieve cost benefits over the lifetime of their fleet.