Posts in Uncategorized

Check Out Our Top Five Tips on Data Safety

October 30th, 2018 Posted by Latest News, Uncategorized

Our Five Top Tips to Keep Your Data Safe 

Data safety has been in the news a lot recently with high profile businesses such as Facebook and Google falling victim to data hackers.  As a result,  around 30 million account holder details were accessed because of flaws in Facebook’s code and a bug in Google+ API.  This meant that third party app developers were able to access data of not only users, but also their friends. 

So how can you protect your data from not only being accessed and harvested, but also from cyber viruses which can be devastating to your business? 

 

Here’s our top five tips to keep your data safe on and offline.  

 

1.Schedule regular backups using the 3-2-1 backup rule.  This is a great start to securing your data and backing up your files. 

  • Make 3 copies of data.  Keep the original file and make 2 extra copies. 
  • Use 2 different types of media.  It’s a good idea to store one on a hard drive and the others on external storage systems, such as a removeable data stick. 
  • Store 1 offsite.   There’s still a risk of more than one copy being wiped out if they are stored in the same place.  Therefore, it’s good practice to store a third copy in an offsite location, like the cloud.   

 

2. Security Applications 

  • Antivirus:  As the name suggests, a computer virus ‘infects’ computers with software designed to replicate itself by amending other computer programmes and inserting its own malicious coding. This can bring down systems and destroy or distort data by spreading from one computer to another.   To prevent this from happening, we strongly advise that you install antivirus software on your computer and choose one that will continually scan for viruses (as they can attack at any time), rather than one that requires you to manually scan. 
  • AntiMalware:  Malware is also malicious software, but encompasses more than a virus because it also includes, computer worms, spyware, adware, ransomware, trojan horses, keyloggers and other malicious software.  Malware is intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server or a network.  Anti-malware software prevents, detects and repairs programming of such attacks.   There is different anti-malware software available, but Malwarebytes is a next-generation for Windows antivirus replacement and the first of its kind for home users.  It includes four independent technology modules:  anti-malware, anti-rasomware, anti-exploit and malicious and fraudulent website protection. 
  • Updates to your servers and clients:  Ensure that your servers and clients are updated to aid further protection against cyber attacks.  Regular updates mean better security.  

 

3. Secure your perimeter:  Simply put, don’t let anybody access your data who shouldn’t be able to!  You can ensure your cyber safety which includes network security, wifi security and multi-factor authentication, by working with a company like WatchGuard.

 

4. Redundant Systems 

  • Duplicate servers – cloud or physical 

Do you have a have a system ready to go in the event of a disaster?  If not, we highly recommend that you do so if the worst happens, business will run as usual.  A physical server could be located on your site or replicated elsewhere (subject to bandwidth and other’s requirements). A cloud server could be serviced through Microsoft Azure or located at Microcomms and leased.  Not sure where to begin?  Just give us a call and we’d be happy to talk it through with you.  

 

 5.Testing, Testing, Testing 

  • Regular testing of disaster recovery (DR) plans to ensure they work as expected  

To ensure that you can recover as expected from a disaster, it is critical to test the plans and processes that have been put in place.   By testing the DR setup regularly, you can test everything is working, should you ever need to use it.  If you don’t have a DR plan in place, your data safety could be it risk.  Microcomms can help you plan, set up and test your DR plan, ensuring you understand what processes to follow if/when the need arises.  

If you have none or only some of the above in place, it’s definitely time to review your cyber safety and we can help you with that.  Give us a call to discuss implementing regular health checks on your computers and systems by one of our skillful engineers.  What’s more, book by end of November and we’ll do it for FREE (up to 5 systems), and we’ll include a recommendation of improvements to be carried out in December.   

Don’t delay…get cyber safe today!  Give us a call on 03300 020 000. 

 

 

 

 

The low-cost mini satellites bringing mobile to the world

March 2nd, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized

Large chunks of the planet are still of out of reach of mobile phone signals – billions are still without access to digital communications. But this could change thanks to shrinking satellite sizes and costs.

Lower-cost, space-based mobile phone services will soon be a reality thanks to one firm’s fleet of nano-satellites that will bounce your voice or text signal from one spacecraft to the next and finally down to the person you’re calling.

“People were thinking of using nano-satellites for Earth imagery but nobody had thought of using them for voice or text communications,” says Israeli former fighter pilot Meir Moalem, the chief executive of Sky and Space Global (SAS).

“We were the first.”

His firm is aiming to offer customers mobile phone connections via a constellation of 200 shoebox-sized satellites weighing just 10kg (22lb) each.

Meir Moalem, of Sky and Space Global
Sky and Space Global’s Meir Moalem wants to bring affordable mobile services to the world

The fleet is set to be operational by 2020 and will provide text, voice and data transfer services to the Earth’s equatorial regions – including much of Latin America and Africa – to a market of up to three billion people.

“Affordable mobile services are critical for the economic and social development of many developing countries,” says Mr Moalem, who believes SAS’s nano-satellites will shake up the space-based communications market.

“Our total constellation costs just $150m (£108m). That’s less than the cost of a single standard communications satellite. This is what we mean when we talk of a disruptive technology.”

But SAS is just one of a number of companies with big plans for space right now.

Perhaps the most ambitious is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is aiming to build a huge 4,400-satellite constellation offering global internet coverage. It will be using its own Falcon-9 rockets to launch its fleet and plans to have the network operating by 2024.

SpaceX technicians inspecting part of a Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceX has ambitious plans of its own for space-based communications

And OneWeb has an 800-satellite constellation set for 2020, again focused on global broadband, while Google and Samsung are also mulling similar initiatives.

With all these satellites, low-Earth orbit – an altitude of 2,000km (1,200 miles) or less above the planet – is becoming an increasingly crowded space. This could make future launches potentially difficult and dangerous with space debris.

Then there is the issue of finance. Not every planned constellation is going to find the investors with deep enough pockets to back it, though David Fraser, research director at APP Securities, says SAS could be “an attractive alternative option” given its low capital costs. Vincent Chan, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, believes that satellite miniaturisation and cheaper launch vehicles mean that the “nano-sat is ready to serve the public”.

Such lower-cost infrastructure could bring much-needed mobile communications to the world’s poorer regions, he says, helping to reduce the digital divide.

But, he adds, SAS’s focus on voice and text services rather than broadband internet, suggests that “the digital divide will be narrower but not disappear”.

Artist's impression of Virgin Orbit's Boeing 747-400 carrier aircraft with LauncherOne rocket on inside port wing
Virgin Orbit’s modified 747 will carry a launcher rocket that will blast the satellites into space

For its part, SAS is using a non-traditional method of getting its satellites into orbit. They will be air-launched in batches of 24 by Virgin Orbit, part of Richard Branson’s Virgin group.

Virgin’s modified Boeing 747-400 will fly up to 35,000ft (10,000m), then LauncherOne, a two-stage liquid oxygen-powered expendable rocket, will blast the payload into orbit.

It’s one of a number of air-launch-to-orbit systems under development.

The advantage of launching from an aircraft is that the rocket can be launched in exactly the direction to suit the satellite’s planned orbit. Virgin is planning its first launch later this year, while SAS’s craft will be launched in 2019.

Launch costs will typically be about $12m, much less than a traditional launch, says Virgin. It is “all about helping the small satellite community get into orbit,” says Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit’s president and chief executive.

Such lower-cost launch services will open up space to “a whole host of communications [and] remote sensing applications,” he says.

SAS has already proved that its communications systems works with three pilot satellites, and is now signing deals with partners in Africa and Latin America – including one of the biggest satellite-communications providers in the Americas, Globalsat Group.

Still from video of a nano-satellite being assembled by hand
Nano-satellites are not much bigger than a shoebox

Globalsat’s chief executive, Alberto Palacios, says his firm’s current customers – in the mining, energy, defence banking, and government sectors – can afford the costs of traditional satellite phone calls.

But he believes nano-satellites are a game-changer.

“Some customers invest several hundreds of dollars in the hardware for a satellite phone terminal and will pay $50 a month for the service. But if you can offer a solution for half of that – then the price can be compared to conventional mobile phones,” he explains.

SAS says it is going for the gap in the market between existing satellite communications operators, such as Iridium, Inmarsat and Globalstar, and land-based mobile networks such as Vodafone, Telefonica, Airtel and Safaricom.

It is targeting customers earning less than $8 a day.

Akua Gwamfua harvesting on her farm in Amankwaatia village, Ghana
SAS’s satellites will help Ghana monitor cocoa production across the country

In Ghana, the company has just signed a five-year deal with telecoms provider Universal Cyberlinks to help government agricultural projects and public services, including monitoring cocoa production across 5,000 buying centres and checkpoints.

“When you travel outside of a city in Africa, often you lose your phone signal because it is not cost-effective to put up phone masts everywhere. That’s where we come in,” says Mr Moalem.

“In the West, we tend to forget that in many parts of the world people are not concerned about high-speed internet, they want to make simple phone calls, texting or money transfers. It’s a basic need.”

Africa is certainly becoming a key market for mobile services. There were 420 million mobile subscribers in 2016 and by 2020 there will be more than 500 million, around half the population, says industry body GSMA.

The future is now – the Cornwall Lecture 2018

February 6th, 2018 Posted by News, Uncategorized

Last night Microcomms had the pleasure in attending the newly realaunched ‘Cornwall Lecture’ at Hall for Cornwall. The very first lecture happened in 1997 with the key speaker Sir Nicholas Grimshaw discussing the future of environmentalism, buildings and global responsibility. Last night the keynote was delivered by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, space scientist and co-presenter of ‘The Sky at Night’. The focus was “Innovation – the big picture” focusing on the space and technology sectors.

We heard Dr Aderin-Pocock’s life story, how her ‘desire to aspire’ pushed her through child-hood barriers such as dyslexia, 13 schools and growing up in a world where space scientists were still very much thought of as nerdy boffins with massive brains. It was an inspiring story and very much spoke to the heart of the blossoming space sector here in Cornwall. Our country is known for it’s beautiful natural landscapes, surfing and tourism – it’s not often spoken of as a tech hub  – even though through Superfast, we are one of the best connected places in Europe. We also have a long history of space innovation at Goonhilly – scientists there received the first messages from the Telestar programme. Cornwall gets overlooked and left in the ‘remedial class’ as Dr Aderin-Pocock put it, because our underlying potential is hidden by what people see on the surface.

At the Q&A session after the lecture, a very pertinent question was asked “If Cornwall wins the Spaceport bid, what will that mean for local businesses? What jobs will it create?”. This was answered by Toby Parkins of Headforwards, who said that if we are successful in the bid, it will be time for local companies to start thinking laterally – what transferable skills do we have to move into this  sector? How can we take the knowledge and expertise that already exist in Cornwall and translate them into commercial space ventures? We may not think we have anything to offer – but many companies do.

This is a really exciting opportunity. Here at Microcomms, we are going to be putting our heads together as a whole team to look at our collective skills and knowledge and look at where we are best placed to work within the market. There are many complex challenges faced by space progress and it will be a mixture of skills and disciplines that work together to overcome them. 

 

UK homes to get faster broadband by 2020

December 20th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized

Homes and businesses will have a legal right to demand high-speed broadband by 2020, the government has said after rejecting a voluntary offer from BT.

Openreach, owned by BT and responsible for the infrastructure, offered to speed up improvements to 1.1 million rural homes.

The government has promised that the whole of the UK will have access to speeds of at least 10 Mbps by 2020.

BT said it respected the government’s decision.

The government believes the regulatory Universal Service Obligation offers “certainty”.

Under the plan, broadband providers will face a legal requirement to provide high-speed broadband to anyone requesting it, subject to a cost threshold.

‘On-demand programme’

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital policy at the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said on the BBC’s Today programme: “Access means you can phone up somebody, ask for it and then someone has the legal duty to deliver on that promise.

“It is about having the right to demand it, so it will be an on-demand programme.

“So if you don’t go on the internet, aren’t interested, then you won’t phone up and demand this.”

In response to the announcement, BT said: “BT and Openreach want to get on with the job of making decent broadband available to everyone in the UK, so we’ll continue to explore the commercial options for bringing faster speeds to those parts of the country which are hardest to reach.”

‘Right’ decision

Rival firms, which had talked of legal action if the government accepted BT’s offer, welcomed the decision.

Both TalkTalk and Sky said the government had made the right decision.

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk chief executive, said: “By opting for formal regulation rather than weaker promises, ministers are guaranteeing consumers will get the minimum speeds they need at a price they can afford,” she said.

“The whole industry now needs to work together to ensure customers see the benefits as quickly as possible.”

Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “Government have made the right decision by choosing a fair and transparent approach that maintains competition, keeps prices fair and gives consumers a legal right to request broadband.”

Regulator Ofcom said this month that 4% of UK premises, or about 1.1 million, could not access broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps.

It said poor connections were a particular concern for small businesses, with almost 230,000 unable to get a decent service.

Following the introduction of secondary legislation next year, it is thought it will take another two years before the right is enforced by Ofcom.

Ethical hackers to boost NHS cyber-defences

November 28th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized

The NHS is spending £20m to set up a security operations centre that will oversee the health service’s digital defences.

It will employ “ethical hackers” to look for weaknesses in health computer networks, not just react to breaches.

Such hackers use the same tactics seen in cyber-attacks to help organisations spot weak points.

In May, one-third of UK health trusts were hit by the WannaCry worm, which demanded cash to unlock infected PCs.

Essential step

In a statement, Dan Taylor, head of the data security centre at NHS Digital, said the centre would create and run a “near-real-time monitoring and alerting service that covers the whole health and care system”.

The centre would also help the NHS improve its “ability to anticipate future vulnerabilities while supporting health and care in remediating current known threats”, he said.

And operations centre guidance would complement the existing teams the NHS used to defend itself against cyber-threats.

NHS Digital, the IT arm of the health service, has issued an invitation to tender to find a partner to help run the project and advise it about the mix of expertise it required.

Kevin Beaumont, a security vulnerability manager, welcomed the plan to set up the centre.

“This is a really positive move,” he told the BBC.

Many private sector organisations already have similar central teams that use threat intelligence and analysis to keep networks secure.

“Having a function like this is essential in modern-day organisations,” Mr Beaumont said.

“In an event like WannaCry, the centre could help hospitals know where they are getting infected from in real time, which was a big issue at the time, organisations were unsure how they were being infected”.

In October, the UK’s National Audit Office said NHS trusts had been caught out by the WannaCry worm because they had failed to follow recommended cyber-security policies.

The NAO report said NHS trusts had not acted on critical alerts from NHS Digital or on warnings from 2014 that had urged users to patch or migrate away from vulnerable older software.

 

Thanks to the BBC for this story.

GDPR will change data protection – here’s what you need to know

August 18th, 2017 Posted by News, Uncategorized

General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, will overhaul how businesses process and handle data. Wired’s GDPR guide explains what the changes mean for you.

 

What is GDPR exactly?

The GDPR is Europe’s new framework for data protection laws – it replaces the previous 1995 data protection directive, which current UK law is based upon. After publication of GDPR in the EU Official Journal in May 2016, it will come into force on May 25, 2018. The two year preparation period has given businesses and public bodies covered by the regulation to prepare for the changes.

Don’t we already have data protection laws?

Each member state in the EU operates under the current 1995 data protection regulation and has its own national laws. In the UK, the current Data Protection Act 1998 sets out how your personal information can be used by companies, government and other organisations.

GDPR changes how personal data can be used. Its provisions in the UK will be covered by a new Data Protection Bill, which has been announced by the government.

Is my company going to be impacted?

In short, yes. Individuals, organisations, and companies that are either ‘controllers’ or ‘processors’ of personal data will be covered by the GDPR. “If you are currently subject to the DPA, it is likely that you will also be subject to the GDPR,” the ICO says on its website.

Both personal data and sensitive personal data are covered by GDPR. Personal data, a complex category of information, broadly means a piece of information that can be used to identify a person. This can be a name, address, IP address… you name it. Sensitive personal data encompasses genetic data, information about religious and political views, sexual orientation, and more.

These definitions are largely the same as those within current data protection laws and can relate to information that is collected through automated processes. Where GDPR differentiates from current data protection laws is that pseudonymised personal data can fall under the law – if it’s possible that a person could be identified by a pseudonym.

GDPR2

So, what’s different?

In the full text of GDPR there are 99 articles setting out the rights of individuals and obligations placed on organisations covered by the regulation. These include allowing people to have easier access to the data companies hold about them, a new fines regime and a clear responsibility for organisations to obtain the consent of people they collect information about. Here’s the low-down:

Accountability and compliance

Companies covered by the GDPR will be more accountable for their handling of people’s personal information. This can include having data protection policies, data protection impact assessments and having relevant documents on how data is processed.

Under GDPR, the “destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to” people’s data has to be reported to a country’s data protection regulator – in the case of the UK, the ICO – where it could have a detrimental impact on those who it is about. This can include, but isn’t limited to, financial loss, confidentiality breaches, damage to reputation and more. The ICO has to be told about a breach 72 hours after an organisation finds out about it and the people it impacts also need to be told.

For companies that have more than 250 employees, there’s a need to have documentation of why people’s information is being collected and processed, descriptions of the information that’s held, how long it’s being kept for and descriptions of technical security measures in place.

Additionally, companies that have “regular and systematic monitoring” of individuals at a large scale or process a lot of sensitive personal data have to employ a data protection officer (DPO). For many organisations covered by GDPR, this may mean having to hire a new member of staff. In this job, the person has to report to senior members of staff, monitor compliance with GDPR and be a point of contact for employees and customers.

There’s also a requirement for businesses to obtain consent to process data in some situations. When an organisation is relying on consent to lawfully use a person’s information they have to clearly explain that consent is being given and there has to be a “positive opt-in”.

Access to data

As well putting new obligations on the companies and organisations collecting personal data, the GDPR also gives individuals a lot more power to access the information that’s held about them. At present a Subject Access Request (SAR) allows businesses and public bodies to charge £10 to be given what’s held about them.

Under the GDPR this is being scrapped and requests for personal information can be made free-of-charge. When someone asks a business for their data, they must stump up the information within one month.

The new regulation also gives individuals the power to get their personal data erased in some circumstances. This includes where it is no longer necessary for the purpose it was collected, if consent is withdrawn, there’s no legitimate interest, and if it was unlawfully processed.

GDPR fines

One of the biggest, and most talked about, elements of the GDPR is the power for regulators to fine businesses that don’t comply with it. If an organisation doesn’t process an individual’s data in the correct way, it can be fined. If it requires and doesn’t have a data protection officer, it can be fined. If there’s a security breach, it can be fined.

Smaller offences could result in fines of up to €10 million or two per cent of a firm’s global turnover (whichever is greater). Those with more serious consequences can have fines of up to €20 million or four per cent of a firm’s global turnover (whichever is greater).

 

What to do if your business Social Media account is hacked

August 16th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized

Even if you’re embarrassed, it’s important to let people know that you’ve been hacked – and most importantly, set up your accounts and educate staff to avoid it happening again.

If a business’s social media accounts are hacked, it can be hugely detrimental to its reputation and relationship with the public.

Here, security experts and social media professionals share advice on how to handle a hack and restore your company’s image.

Change passwords on all accounts

First, determine whether you’re still able to log into the hacked account.

“If you can log in, change the passwords on all your social media accounts – not just the ones that have been hacked,” advises Romain Ouzeau, chief executive of Iconosquare, an Instagram analytics company. “As some social media platforms offer the ability to log in via other sites and services [Tweetdeck, for example], you may be compromised on additional networks.”

As a general rule, Rob Brown, vice president of the Chartered
Institute of Public Relations
 (CIPR), advocates the use of a different password for each social media platform. “Update passwords every two months, choosing longer passwords that contain different characters, and use two-step verification if a social media service offers it,”
he says.

If you’re not able to log in, head straight to the social media company’s contact pages and tell the relevant team that you’ve been hacked.

Clean up the mess

If you’ve been hacked, there’s a chance that communications will have been sent from your account by the offender.

“If this happens, take a screen grab of the content before removing it,” says Lee Campbell, cyber computing lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire. “Then report the breach to the social media provider.

“If the compromised social media account includes content of a threatening, or abusive nature, report it to the police via Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.”

Communicate and take control

Even if you’re embarrassed, it’s important to let people know that you’ve been hacked.

“Post an update from the reclaimed hacked account, stating what has happened and that unauthorised changes and/or communications may have occurred,” says Blaise Grimes-Viort, chief services officer for social media business, The Social Element.

“If any private or direct messages have been sent, contact those who received them directly to tell them what happened and that they shouldn’t click on any of the links that were sent.”

It’s also worth checking to see which third-party apps (auto post tools, for example) are connected to your social media profile. Review the list and delete any that you no longer use. If you keep seeing unwanted content posted through your account, you may want to revoke access for all third-party apps.

Prevention is the best plan

“If you have a response plan in place before an attack happens it means there are clear actions for employees to take – this helps members of staff act quickly and can help with damage limitation” recommends Microcomms in-house Cyber Security expert Richard Howard.

“The majority of cyber attacks are caused by human error – deliberate or not – so employee training and communication is vital and should also cover advice on spotting suspicious activity, such as phishing emails.”

There are also some simple things that you, as a business owner, can do to improve security across your network. Use the latest antivirus software, run frequent scans for malware (malicious software) and perform a regular off-site backup of your systems.

You can manually adjust the settings on your [social media] account profile pages, restricting who can see your posts, photos and user profile. Also, tighten access to your mobile devices by setting a pin number of at least six digits on each.

Microcomms carry out cyber security health checks, staff training and will provide advice and recommendations to keep your business well protected from attack.

Smart Homes – fun ways to techno charge your kitchen

June 13th, 2017 Posted by Overview, Tech Talk, Uncategorized

In our techno-savvy, ultra-connected society, there is always something greater — cooler, better — just around the corner, shouting at you from a screen. Our kitchens can connect, be controlled from a distance and be responsive via the ‘Internet of Things’. There are ovens that can be pre-heated from an app, refrigerator cameras which we can access at the supermarket to see what we’re running low on and many other exciting innovations. A couple of our members of staff are currently involved in home renovations and they’ve rounded up favourite ‘smart kitchen’ gadgets featuring on their technology wish-lists:

iSommelier Smart Decanter

isommelier-1459558383-YJ8a-column-width-inline

iSommelier promises to soften up the tannins mature wine that normally requires years of cellaring through aerating your wine with highly concentrated purified oxygen. There’s also a smart base with a digital screen that shows you the name of the wine, vintage and aeration progress bar.

There’s an app that connects with the decanter to let you control the device, add aeration programs and gather information about different winemakers.

Portable version available at John Lewis for £349.00

Pantelligent Frying Pan

pantelligent-smart-frying-pan-c

While visually the Pantelligent will fit right in with the rest of your home cookware, hidden inside it is an impressive set of features that will change the way you cook — in a way your standard frying pan never could.

The base of the pan has heat sensors that can measure the surface temperature of your food, and a Bluetooth setup tucked away in the handle allows the pan to sync up with your phone through an accompanying app. Together, the tech works to make cooking an easier, tastier experience for new chefs looking to improve their skills.

Available at The Fowndry £170

 

Drop – smart scale

2015-Home-Guide-drop-smart-scale

This ‘smart’ weighing scale connects with an app on your iPad/iPhone using Bluetooth (not yet available on Android). It allows you to scale recipes up or down according to your needs. If you want to feed more people, for example, or if you don’t have as much of a key ingredient as you thought you did. There are hundreds of recipes available on the app, each with clear step by step guides, images and tips.

Available at Currys for £41.99

 

HAPIfork

hapifork-2

Eating too fast leads to poor digestion and poor weight control. The HAPIfork, powered by Slow Control, is an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast. Every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth with your fork, this action is called: a “fork serving”. The HAPIfork also measures:

* How long it took to eat your meal.
* The amount of “fork servings” taken per minute.
* Intervals between “fork servings”.

This information is then uploaded via USB or Bluetooth to your Online Dashboard on HAPI.com to track your progress. The HAPIfork also comes with the HAPIfork and HAPI.com apps plus a coaching program to help improve your eating behavior.

Available from Hapi.com, priced $49+$25 international shipping.

Google Docs users hit with sophisticated phishing attack in their inboxes

May 5th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized

A Google Docs scam that appears to be widespread began landing in users’ inboxes on Wednesday in what seemed to be a sophisticated phishing or malware attack. The deceptive invitation to edit a Google Doc – the popular app used for writing and sharing files – appeared to be spreading rapidly, with a subject line stating a contact “has shared a document on Google Docs with you”. If users click the “Open in Docs” button in the email, it takes them to a legitimate Google sign-in screen that asks to “continue in Google Docs”.

Clicking on that link grants permission to a bogus third-party app to possibly access contacts and email, which could allow the spam to spread to additional contacts.

Google has said it is aware of the issue and investigating it. The company encouraged users to report the email as phishing within Gmail.

“We have taken action to protect users against an email impersonating Google Docs, and have disabled offending accounts,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve removed the fake pages, pushed updates through Safe Browsing, and our abuse team is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again.”

The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment on how many people had been affected by the attack and where it may have originated.

Web

Phishing scams typically involve emails, ads or websites that appear to be real and ask for personal information, such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, bank account data or birthdays. Google says it does not send out emails asking for this type of data and encourages users not to click on any links and to report suspicious messages.

As the Verge noted, Wednesday’s attack seemed to be more advanced than standard email phishing scams, because it doesn’t simply take users to a bogus Google page to collect a password, but instead is working within Google’s system with a third-party web app that has a deceptive name.

If users have already granted permission through the phishing email, they can go to their settings and revoke the app.

Mobile payments struggle to make impact on contactless card use

April 19th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized

The widespread popularity of contactless cards is stunting the adoption of mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Android Pay in the UK, according to research.

Just 1pc of British consumers would choose to use mobile payments in everyday scenarios such as buying lunch or shopping for clothes, far below those who would opt for cards or cash.

The study, based on polling of more than 2,000 people from ICM on behalf of marketing group HH Global, counted security concerns among the reasons for slow adoption of the technology.

Apple Pay, which launched in the UK in 2015, and Android Pay, which followed last year, allow shoppers to make instant payments using their phones as with a contactless card.

While contactless spending in the UK more than trebled last year to £25bn, many consumers have failed to see the benefit of using the equivalent technology with a phone. Adoption of mobile payment services has been higher in some other countries where contactless cards are less common.

Android Pay
Android Pay came to the UK last year CREDIT: BLOOMBERG

Figures from Transport for London released in February, showed that mobile payments now make up 8% of all contactless journeys, a figure that had increased from 3.5p% a year earlier before the Android Pay service launched.

“Just because the technology is there, it doesn’t mean consumers will change their behaviour immediately,” HH Global’s Robert Macmillan said.

“Mobile payments are suffering from security concerns, but equally consumers may feel there is not enough availability, or just that it is not that important when contactless cards do the same thing.”

Mobile payments supporters argue that the technology is safer because it requires fingerprint identification to activate it and the credit card information is encrypted, protecting card details. But 61% of those surveyed claimed believed newer forms of payment were less secure than cash, compared to 26% who disagreed.

According to Loup Ventures, a US research firm, just 13% of the world’s 680m iPhone users have tried Apple Pay. The service exists in 16 countries, although it does not work on phones older than two and a half years.

Our thanks to James Titcomb for this article.