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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 2nd Oct 2019

Email signature ruling 'cost seller £25,000'

A High Court judge has ruled an email sent by a lawyer is legally binding as it includes his automated signature.

The email is part of an exchange between lawyers whose clients were in dispute over the sale of some land.

In his email, the lawyer for the owners set out terms, including a sale price £25,000 lower than the original asking price, which the other lawyer accepted.

But he then said the terms had not been finalised because no paperwork had been officially signed by both parties.

The owners' lawyer, Daniel Tear, argued this fell under Section 2 (1) of the Law of Property Act of 1989, which states: "The document incorporating the terms or, where contracts are exchanged, one of the documents incorporating them (but not necessarily the same one) must be signed by or on behalf of each party to the contract."

However, the judge said Mr Tear's auto-signature at the bottom of the email - although not added deliberately by him - served as a signature.

"The purported signature of the solicitor on behalf of the defendant was by 'automatic' generation of his name, occupation, role and contact details at the foot of an email," wrote Judge Pearce, at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.

He also pointed out not all of the email correspondence from Mr Tear had included the auto-signature and said his use of the words "many thanks" at the end of the email text showed "an intention to connect the name with the contents of the email".

"I am satisfied that Mr Tear signed the relevant email on behalf of the defendant," Judge Pearce said.

Mr Tear said in his defence this had not been his intention.

BBC News has contacted him for comment.

"Be careful what you add your signature block to," said journalist Gareth Corfield, who covered the story on technology news website The Register.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 25th Sep 2019

Google wins landmark right to be forgotten case

By Leo KelionTechnology desk editor

The EU's top court has ruled that Google does not have to apply the right to be forgotten globally.

It means the firm only needs to remove links from its search results in Europe - and not elsewhere - after receiving an appropriate request.

The ruling stems from a dispute between Google and a French privacy regulator.

In 2015, CNIL ordered the firm to globally remove search result listings to pages containing damaging or false information about a person.

The following year, Google introduced a geoblocking feature that prevents European users from being able to see delisted links.

But it resisted censoring search results for people in other parts of the world. And the firm challenged a 100,000 ($109,901; £88,376) euro fine that CNIL had tried to impose.

"Currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject... to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine," the European Court of Justice ruling said.

What is the right to be forgotten?

Also known as the "right to erasure", the rule gives EU citizens the power to demand data about them be deleted.

In the case of search engines, Europeans have had the right to request links to pages containing sensitive personal information about them be removed since 2014.

But the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force in 2018, added further obligations.

Members of the public can make a request to any organisation "verbally or in writing" and the recipient has one month to respond. They then have a range of considerations to weigh up to decide whether they are compelled to comply or not.

Google had argued that the obligation could be abused by authoritarian governments trying to cover up human rights abuses were it to be applied outside of Europe.

"Since 2014, we've worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe, and to strike a sensible balance between people's rights of access to information and privacy," the firm said in a statement following the ECJ ruling.

"It's good to see that the court agreed with our arguments."

The tech firm had been supported by Microsoft, Wikipedia's owner the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the UK freedom of expression campaign group Article 19, among others.

ECJ adviser Maciej Szpunar had also concluded that the right to be forgotten be limited to Europe in a non-binding recommendation to the court earlier this year.

There has been a lot of interest in the case since, had the ruling gone the other way, it could have been viewed as an attempt by Europe to police a US tech giant beyond the EU's borders.

Those wanting to read the full ruling were frustrated in the hour following its release because the ECJ's own website crashed.

A notice on the court's website said it was "unavailable" just before the ruling was due to be published

The court also issued a related second ruling, which said that links do not automatically have to be removed just because they contain information about a person's sex life or a criminal conviction.

Instead, it ruled that such listings could be kept where "strictly necessary" for people's freedom of information rights to be preserved. However, it indicated a high threshold should be applied and that such results should fall down search result listings over time.

"The obligation to demote search results in some cases is particularly interesting as an example of the courts directly interfering with the algorithms used by big tech companies," commented Peter Church from the law firm Linklaters.

Geoblocked results

Google has applied the right to be forgotten since May 2014, when the ECJ first determined that under some circumstances European citizens could force search firms to delist webpages containing sensitive information about them from queries made using their names.

The idea is to hide sensitive information - such the fact a person once committed a criminal offence or had an extra-marital affair - if the details are judged to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive".

Google has said that since that time it has received more than 845,000 requests to remove a total of 3.3 million web addresses, with about 45% of the links ultimately getting delisted.

This involves both removing the results from its European sites - such as Google.fr, Google.co.uk and Google.de - as well as restricting results from its other sites - such as Google.com - if it detects a search is being carried out from within Europe.

However, this means that users can still circumvent the action if they use a virtual private network (VPN) or other tool to mask their location.

Notably, the ECJ ruling said that delistings must "be accompanied by measures which effectively prevent or, at the very least, seriously discourage an internet user" from being able to access the results from one of Google's non-EU sites.

"It will be for the national court to ascertain whether the measures put in place by Google Inc meet those requirements."

News sites, including the BBC, are exempt from the rule, but may find that links to some of their old articles no longer appear on Google or other search engines.

The right to be forgotten should still apply to the UK if it leaves the EU, with or without a deal, at least in the short to medium-term.

"How it's applied might diverge over time, as UK courts no longer follow ECJ decisions and the Supreme Court in the UK wrestles with these points instead," a spokesman for Linklaters told the BBC.

"But day one, we're going to have a UK version of the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation], including a right to be forgotten."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 2nd Jul 2019
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Dec 2018



And to let you know... you're covered this Christmas!

 Although, the Helpdesk will be eating mince pies & drinking sherry on...

Tuesday 25th December 2018
Wednesday 26th December 2018

Tuesday 1st January 2019


We'd just like to say Merry Christmas and hope you have a great 2019

From all the team at Discus

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 4th Dec 2018

We have experienced yet another scam trying to catch you out!

They’ll state a password in the subject which has been exposed on one of the public websites such as the breaches of… LinkedIn, Adobe, MySpace.

Below is an example of an email I received (which includes a password I used about 5 years ago) to give you some idea of how they normally work. You can check if you have a site breach by checking on  HaveIBeenPwned

It is always good to revisit your passwords.  Just imagine if one of the websites you use daily gets hacked, and that password & username is being used on another site you use! It’s always good to make sure you keep a good spread of passwords and even consider using a password manager like LastPass or 1Pass, Roboform etc.

If you need advise give us a call. 



I have very bad news for you.
03/08/2018 - on this day I hacked your OS and got full access to your account damien@discus.co.uk
On this day your account damien@discus.co.uk has password: 50679

So, you can change the password, yes.. But my malware intercepts it every time.

How I made it:
In the software of the router, through which you went online, was a vulnerability.
I just hacked this router and placed my malicious code on it.
When you went online, my trojan was installed on the OS of your device.

After that, I made a full dump of your disk (I have all your address book, history of viewing sites, all files, phone numbers and addresses of all your contacts).

A month ago, I wanted to lock your device and ask for a not big amount of btc to unlock.
But I looked at the sites that you regularly visit, and I was shocked by what I saw!!!
I'm talk you about sites for adults.

I want to say - you are a BIG pervert. Your fantasy is shifted far away from the normal course!

And I got an idea....
I made a screenshot of the adult sites where you have fun (do you understand what it is about, huh?).
After that, I made a screenshot of your joys (using the camera of your device) and glued them together.
Turned out amazing! You are so spectacular!

I'm know that you would not like to show these screenshots to your friends, relatives or colleagues.
I think $826 is a very, very small amount for my silence.
Besides, I have been spying on you for so long, having spent a lot of time!

Pay ONLY in Bitcoins!
My BTC wallet: 1GR7rJfntdcbfhKT1s33RDby4z5ex1ou4Z

You do not know how to use bitcoins?
Enter a query in any search engine: "how to replenish btc wallet".
It's extremely easy

For this payment I give you a little over two days (exactly 55 hours).
As soon as this letter is opened, the timer will work.

After payment, my virus and dirty screenshots with your enjoys will be self-destruct automatically.
If I do not receive from you the specified amount, then your device will be locked, and all your contacts will receive a screenshots with your "enjoys".

I hope you understand your situation.
- Do not try to find and destroy my virus! (All your data, files and screenshots is already uploaded to a remote server)
- Do not try to contact me (you yourself will see that this is impossible, I sent this email from your account)
- Various security services will not help you; formatting a disk or destroying a device will not help, since your data is already on a remote server.

P.S. You are not my single victim. so, I guarantee you that I will not disturb you again after payment!
This is the word of honor hacker

I also ask you to regularly update your antiviruses in the future. This way you will no longer fall into a similar situation.

Do not hold evil! I just do my job.
Good luck.



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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 28th Nov 2018

I was recently asked by a friend of mine “What is ransomware?”


I told him -  Ransomware is a type of malicious software which encrypts your data or files, a user at your place has either run a file or clicked a dodgy link which has run a piece of code on your network.

Once it’s been run on a computer it'll connect to every other computer on the network and infect them.

Every PC it discovers it'll encrypt and make it completely useless unless you pay for the guy who wrote the software to unencrypt it - they will require payment via Bit Coin which is an anonymous currency, i.e. it cannot be tracked or traced.  So you'll never find out or be able to prosecute the malicious coder.

The coder does not care about your data, and will not see your data, all they care about is making money by bribing people to give him/her the money to unencrypt it.  

No hacking has taken place either.  It’s not a hack, someone has run a file on your network – accidently, which is so easy to do.  Whilst you can try to prevent it it’s very difficult, and basically you'll rely upon your backups to get your computers back up and running.

You will have to be sure the ransomware has been cleared before turning any PC on.  In fact, all PCs will need to be cleaned and scanned.

You could be in for a long night... I’d be surprised if you’re back up before the weekend!


If you need assistance let me know.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 27th Nov 2018

We have always questioned if Google are within the data protection laws when tracking users’ location.  This article reports on Google being challenged over location tracking.



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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jul 2018

Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 in 17 months’ time.

Microsoft have recently announced that Windows 7 is to become ‘end of life’ with effect from 14th January 2020, what this means is that all product updates and more importantly, security updates for Windows 7, will cease from that date.

Without security updates, any vulnerabilities found in the software will be left unpatched and this could in turn lead to anyone using Windows 7 being exposed to potential malicious attack.

This is the Microsoft Statement :

“Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that they can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences. The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and automatic updates that help protect your PC will no longer be made available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.”

I would advise you to begin planning your company’s transition to Windows 10 now, well in advance of the 2020 deadline. The sooner you begin these plans the more time you will have to address issues while Windows 7 is still supported.

What do you need to do to prepare?

Upgrading to a new operating system takes time and careful planning, particularly if you have numerous machines and systems to assess. A smooth and successful transition to a new operating system requires you to:

  • Identify machines that need to be upgraded or replaced
  • Identify and consider replacing legacy systems using older operating systems and/or software with updated technology
  • Develop a timeline and budget for upgrades and replacements
  • Implement security controls to separate critical systems from Windows 7 machines that cannot be upgraded or removed
  • Plan for employee training to learn the new system

The Windows Product Life Cycle

All Windows products have a lifecycle, beginning with their release and ending with the end of life announcement.  Previously, these lifecycles terms could last between five to ten years, depending on the product. Normally this would include two maintenance periods: mainstream support and extended support. Mainstream support includes security patches as well as new features and often covers several years. Extended support begins once Microsoft is no longer actively developing the product, shifting instead to the release of updates to keep the product safe.  End of life is the point at which no further support will be extended.

With the introduction of Windows 10, however, Microsoft adopted a new policy for the sustainability and resilience of their products. This model is known as Windows as a Service (WaaS) and incorporates continuous updates and support for current product offerings, like Windows 10.

This is good news for business. From now on businesses using Windows 10 will remain updated with the latest patches and updates. There will be no requirement to upgrade to a new operating system, and there will be no need to be concerned about which one will be the most problematic to use. Windows as a Service (WaaS) will assure a smooth transition between iterations of a single operating system. It’s likely that Windows 10 will look entirely different in the future, but regular updates will take place to the software obviating the need for constant and major upheaval to business systems.

If you’d like help with the above together with more information about Windows 7 and the 2020 deadline please call me us on 0845 4 300 366.


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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 30th Jul 2018

We've had a lot of phishing email recently reporting to customers that they've been hacked and to hand over their money.

It appears a campaign has been started which is using the data from various hacks around the internet (similar to the below)

Check out: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2018/07/sextortion-scam-uses-recipients-hacked-passwords/

and you can check which sites passwords have been exposed on at https://haveibeenpwned.com

Check it out!

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jun 2018

Subject: Lucky 13


I’m not a massive Apple user, but I do have an Apple Watch.

There’s something about smartwatch tech that appealed to me, and 13 months back, I decided that it was time to give it a try.

The Apple Watch seemed the best fit for me, so I ordered one, and it arrived in the usual, pristine Apple packaging.


And for 12 months, it was fantastic.


It made buying things easier, thanks to Apple Pay.

It meant I could reply to texts and Whatsapps in seconds.

It allowed me to time my laps when I went swimming.

In the 13th month though, something went wrong. I say, ‘went wrong’.  What I really mean is that the whole thing stopped working.

Disaster.  I only had a 12-month warranty, so I was thinking that my expensive toy was going to cost me a couple of hundred pounds to get sorted.

Nevertheless, I shipped it off to Apple anyway, to see what they said, fearing the worst.

A couple of days later I got an email telling me that a new watch was on its way to me.

No mention of the expired warranty, and no request for extra funds.  Just a new watch that works again.

This is super smart from Apple. 

If they’d played by the rules, I’d have had to pay for a repair, and to be honest, I might not have bothered. 

Given that a repair would have cost the same sort of price as the watch itself, I may have looked for a cheaper model, or gone for a manufacturer that I thought was more durable.


Instead, I’m still an Apple customer, still using their Apps, still buying from their App store, and still in their ecosystem.


Sometimes it pays to break the rules.


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