Snakeoil AcademySpeak at PyCon AU 2021

Cracking open the COVIDSafe

Yaakov Smith

he/him

Yaakov is a Senior Developer at WiseTech Global, and has an unfortunate habit of sticking his nose in all the wrong places. He has been writing and breaking code for many years, and has reverse-engineered everything from mobile apps to the Steam client. In his spare time he can often be observed ~roving around Sydney trying to catch Pokémon~ staying at home.

Cracking open the COVIDSafe

Content Warnings

  • This talk briefly discusses the COVID-19 pandemic.

What exactly is contact tracing, and how can Bluetooth help to slow the spread of a pandemic? How can I balance my own privacy with communal health? Can a simple app actually make it safe to go back to the football?

As health authorities raced against the clock to restrict the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, bringing cities to a standstill, software developers too were racing to build a technological innovation. Their solution was ⁎✧˚₊ an app ༚⁎✧⁺ that would mystically allow you once again to go to the footy, hang out in pubs, return to work, and re-open the economy.

With the Australian Government running an unprecedented campaign to get as many people as possible to download their particular app, what this app actually does is still widely misunderstood. Furthermore, the app is somehow supposed to be safe and protect your privacy, whilst still being useful enough to track you and provide that information to medical contact tracers. How can that even work?

In this talk we will: - discover what contact-tracing is and why it is vital to curb the spread of the coronavirus - explore how technology can be used to assist in the contact-tracing process - analyze the COVIDSafe mobile apps for iOS and Android, - discuss why you should, or shouldn’t, install COVIDSafe, and how contact-tracing apps try to balance personal security and privacy with the health needs of the greater community

Those who attend this talk will learn about bluetooth-assisted contact tracing, exposure notification, and the shiny new new COVID-19 settings on their mobile phone

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