tecweekWelcome to this week’s edition of Liberty Nation TecWeek, a weekly column that will catch you up on all things tech related  — specially designed for those who do not consider themselves tech savvy. TecWeek focuses on news stories and topics that affect you, like digital security, government and corporate surveillance, privacy, and much more.

In this week’s column:

  • A new holster sensor automatically starts body cams when gun is drawn
  • Proof mode for smartphones combats ‘fake pictures.’
  • Nine password managers have security holes, is yours one of them?
  • New Tor Browser version update

This week, testimony in the trial for those who participated in the 2014 armed standoff with federal agents near Bunkerville, NV focused on body cams.  Attorneys for the defense asked agents with the Bureau of Land Management why they turned their body cams off during a particularly tense time during the standoff with armed ranchers and protesters. One agent admitted he was “angry,” thought they were about to be in a firefight with American citizens, and did not want it to be recorded. The defendants claim that had the body cams stayed on; the recording would show that the federal agents were the aggressors and the citizens were acting in self-defense.  According to Ars Technica, a new holster sensor would make that entire situation a thing of the past.

The Signal Sidearm, made by Axon, is a sensor that will fit most existing holsters. Here’s how it works:

When a weapon is drawn from the holster, the Signal Sidearm tells any Axon camera within 30 feet to start recording. If there are multiple Axon cameras present, they all start recording, providing video footage from a variety of angles.

The sensor isn’t the only product of its kind. In fact, Axon makes two other similar products for car and holster.

Signal Vehicle can be configured to broadcast a wireless “start recording!” message when the car door opens, or when the police lights or siren are activated. And the Signal Performance Power Magazine is a replacement battery pack for the Taser X2 and X26P that tells nearby cameras to start recording when the weapon is armed, and also logs the exact moment the trigger is pulled.

Does this mean citizens will be better protected in cases like Bundy, where a “he said, she said” between law enforcement and the public often results in no proof? Will it cut down on accusations of police brutality? Or is it just one more step to a total surveillance society? Let us know your thoughts in our Liberty Nation comment section.

As long as we’re discussing cameras, there’s a new app for smartphones that seeks to combat “fake news” accusations by embedding data “proof” that says a photo is real.  Security researcher Bruce Schneier reports that the app not only digitally signs the photo and encrypts it, but also embeds “GPS location, wifi and mobile networks, altitude, device language, hardware type, and more” into the photo itself.  While the idea of “proof” photos sounds like a great idea on its face, keep in mind that “proof” is also what is used by law enforcement and the justice system to convict people of crimes.  Data works both ways.

Protecting your private information is a big deal — and it just got harder.  A new report by security researchers Team Sik found that nine of the most installed password managers on the market all have massive security holes.  The affected managers are:

  • LastPass
  • Keeper
  • 1Password
  • My Passwords
  • Dashlane Password Manager
  • Informaticore’s Password Manager
  • F-Secure KEY
  • Keepsafe
  • Avast Passwords

The Hacker News has the list of vulnerabilities in layman’s terms; users are advised to go update their managers as soon as possible since all affected programs have now been patched.  Or, you could start using KeePassX, which doesn’t have those problems.

As long as you’re downloading software that’s better for you, pick up the latest version of the Tor Browser as well.  It’s available on the Tor Project website, along with a changelog so you can see what’s in the new version and how it differs from previous iterations of the software.

That’s it for this week! Tune in next Friday for more tech news that matters.