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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 20th Jan 2014

The Telegraph - Technology News - Monday 20 January 2014

At Hove Park School, every child is now equipped with an iPad. The headteacher tells Matt Warman they've made a vital difference.

Can a tablet really help a school child to get better grades? The growing consensus among teachers seems to be that they can, and at this week’s annual London education show, BETT, there will be a plethora of apps, suggestions and case studies on how technology can improve a child’s lot.

One of those case studies, however, sticks out: Derek Trimmer will give a presentation about his experience of taking over at Hove Park School in Sussex, and quickly making it one of the few where every child is now equipped with an iPad.

Trimmer’s is not a scientific study, but it’s the story of a school that is the second most improved school in the south east, and the 12th in the whole country. Since taking over in 2011, each child has either bought or been given an iPad, which they are told from day one is theirs to keep. Trimmer says it’s changed both the children’s and the teachers’ performance.

“We needed a vehicle that would level the playing fields for disadvantaged children,” says Trimmer. “You’d see children losing it 30 to 40 per cent of the lesson – the iPad offers the opportunity to stay engaged. But the thing that got us excited was the impact of taking work home and sharing it and engaging with parents.”

The idea of using any tablet is in part about using clever, specific education apps, says Trimmer, but much of the success comes from updating old-fashioned ideas allowing teachers to encourage children to get their parents more involved in their education. “Even the most simple applications – the camera, taking photos of their work – meant there was a real pride which meant parents were really engaged in it,” he says.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 20th Jan 2014

Trusted Reviews - Jon Mundy 17 January 2014

Google has announced a new smart contact lens project, but it’s got a much more specific and serious application than a simple Google Glass follow-up.

The new project is aimed at helping those with diabetes to monitor their condition more quickly and painlessly.

As explained on the official Google blogspot, scientists are constantly looking into new non-invasive ways for a diabetes sufferer to monitor your glucose levels. One possible avenue is a person’s tears, but these are hard to capture and monitor.

Step forward the Google contact lens, which Google hopes will be able to measure glucose levels in a person’s tears more accurately. Each lens contains "chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair."

This wireless chip and glucose sensor is sandwiched between two layers of soft contact lens material.

Current prototypes can apparently obtain a glucose level reading once per second. Google is investigating the possibility of an early warning system when Glucose levels look set to spike by utilising tiny embedded LED lights.

Google says that it is some way away from devising a definitive solution, but that it’s working with the FDA and actively seeking new expert partners who can help bring this kind of medical product to market.

Some of these partners include developers who could produce apps for relaying the product’s information to users and doctors.

This might not be the next step in wearable smart devices that you might have been hoping for, but it could have far more immediate and important benefits. As Google concludes:

"We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation (PDF) is declaring that the world is 'losing the battle' against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot."

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 15th Jan 2014

 Alastair Stevenson 14 Jan 2014 - V3.co.uk

Microsoft has released fixes for an "important" vulnerability in its Windows XP operating system, just days after announcing it would pull support for its Security Essentials anti-malware tool from the platform.

The fix was released as a part of Microsoft's monthly Patch Tuesday update cycle. The Windows XP fix also relates to the company's Windows Server 2003. Microsoft's security blogger Dustin Childs confirmed the vulnerability has been targeted by a "limited" number of attacks.

"We have only seen this issue used in conjunction with a PDF exploit in targeted attacks and not on its own. This only impacts customers using Windows XP or Server 2003 as more recent Windows versions are not affected," said the security alert.

The cut-off date for Security Essentials support comes just before Microsoft fully ceases support for the decade-old Windows version. The end of support would mean XP users would no longer receive security updates for newly discovered threats. Research from NetMarketShare in December revealed that a third of Windows users are still running XP, despite the looming danger.

Microsoft also released fixes for "important" holes in its Office and Dynamics AX services. The vulnerabilities generally left Windows users open to privilege escalation attacks, though the Microsoft Dynamics AX flaw was listed as leaving Microsoft customers vulnerable to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

F-Secure security analyst Sean Sullivan told V3 none of the fixes are too serious, but predicted that a more robust Patch Tuesday will follow in the near future. "[This release] doesn't look like the kind of stuff that System Admins will need to stress too much over," he said.

"Next month could be busy, as April approaches. The limited number of patches this month could be a consequence of Christmas and the New Year holidays falling mid-week."

Persuading businesses to install new security patches as soon as they are able to has been an ongoing goal of the UK government and its Cyber Security Strategy. The Home Office listed installing new patches as a key way businesses can protect themselves from hackers in its newly launched Cyber Streetwise campaign.


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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 14th Jan 2014

BBC News - Africa - 14 January 2014

This lion cub was photographed by researchers in Nigeria

There has been a "catastrophic collapse" in the number of lions in West Africa, with only around 400 left in the region, a new survey suggests.

With fewer than 250 mature lions of breeding age, there are concerns the entire population could disappear.

The research by Panthera, a non-profit organisation, was carried out in 17 countries, from Senegal to Nigeria, and took more than six years.

West African lions are genetically distinct from others in Africa.

In 2005, West African lions were believed to live in 21 different protected areas. But the survey, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, suggests lions now exist in just four of those sites.

The report says lions now roam in just 1.1% of their historic range in West Africa. The majority of their habitat has been converted for agricultural use, says Philipp Henschel, co-author of the report.

Panthera is calling for the lion to be listed as critically endangered in West Africa.

"Our results came as a complete shock; all but a few of the areas we surveyed were basically paper parks, having neither management budgets nor patrol staff, and had lost all their lions and other iconic large mammals," Mr Henschel told the BBC's Sivaramakrishnan Parameswaran.

The conservation of lions in West Africa have been largely neglected, whereas in eastern and southern Africa where millions of dollars a year are spent, he said.

The researchers discovered that West African lions now survive in only five countries; Senegal, Nigeria and a single trans-frontier population on the shared borders of Benin, Niger and Burkina-Faso.

These lions have unique genetic sequence not found in other lions including in zoos or captivity. If they are lost then a unique locally adapted population will become extinct, researchers say.

Large-scale plantations for cotton and food crops have contributed significantly to the decline of the lions in the last decade, the survey found.

Today, lions are largely restricted to protected areas, and the poaching of animals - usually preyed upon by lions - to supply local bushmeat markets is probably the main threat, said Mr Henschel.

"In some areas, we also witnessed the retaliatory killing of lions by herdsmen that entered protected areas illegally with their herds of cattle and goats," he said.

Funding crisis

A lack of funding for conservation coupled with an increasing human population and impoverished economies, means lions are increasingly vulnerable, researchers say.

"We are talking about some of the poorest counties in the world - many governments have bigger problems than protecting lions," Mr Henschel said.

Wildlife rangers are being trained in Nigeria
West African Lions have special significance in the culture of the region. They are a symbol of pride for the governments and people, and are represented on the coats of arms of several countries.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says concerted international help is urgently needed.

Benin and Senegal are working with the research team to establish a National Lion Action Plan to identify ways and measures to save the lions in their countries.

"Lions have undergone a catastrophic collapse in West Africa. The countries that have managed to retain them are struggling with pervasive poverty and very little funding for conservation," says Panthera's President Luke Hunter.

To save the lion will require a massive commitment of resources from the international community."

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 14th Jan 2014

13 Jan 2014 09:43 | by Nick Farrell  -  Techeye.net

Better to keep quiet and sell the information to the Russians

An Aussie teen hacker is regretting helping a government website fix a security hole after the company in charge of the site reported him to the fuzz.

Joshua Rogers, a 16-year-old in the state of Victoria, found a basic security hole that allowed him to access a database containing sensitive information for about 600,000 public transport users who bought stuff through the Metlink web site run by the Transport Department.

The site was important because it is the primary site for information about train, tram and bus timetables. The database contained the full names, addresses, home and mobile phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and a nine-digit extract of credit card numbers used at the site.

According to The Age newspaper Rogers contacted the site after Christmas to report the vulnerability but never got a response. He decided to call The Age and when a hack rang the Transportation Department for comment, it reported Rogers to the police.

The paper did not say how Rogers accessed the database, but says it was a doddle. It was probably a SQL injection vulnerability, as this is the tool of choice to breach web sites and gain access to backend databases.

The Aussie police have a history of slapping the cuffs on people who reveal security vulnerabilities. In 2011, Patrick Webster suffered a similar consequence after reporting a website vulnerability to First State Super, an Australian investment firm that managed his pension fund.

Webster was arrested after he wrote a script to download about 500 account statements to prove to First State that its account holders were at risk. First State responded by reporting him to police and demanding access to his computer to make sure he'd deleted all of the statements he had downloaded.

Rogers said that the police have not contacted him and that he only learned he had been reported to the police from the journalist who wrote the story for The Age.

Still he is probably regretting doing the decent thing and reporting the flaw.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 14th Jan 2014

Alastair Stevenson 13 Jan 2014 - V3.co.uk

The UK government has launched a new Cyber Streetwise campaign, hoping to educate businesses about how to protect themselves from hackers.

As part of the campaign, the government has launched a new Cyber Streetwise website that offers businesses interactive guides, videos and articles about cyber security. The site is co-sponsored by several private sector companies and agencies including Sophos, Facebook, RBS Group, and Financial Fraud Action UK.

The Home Office claims the site is necessary as recent research shows half of all UK citizens are failing to take even basic measures to protect themselves online.

The research showed that only 44 percent of Brits install antivirus software on new devices and only 37 percent install software patches. It also revealed that 57 percent of UK citizens do not check websites' security credentials before loading their financial details while shopping online.

To counter this the new Home Office Cyber Streetwise site advises businesses to adopt five basic measures. These include, using "strong, memorable passwords", installing antivirus software on all work devices, checking privacy settings on social media, checking the security of online retailers before loading card details and patching systems as soon as updates are available.

Security minister James Brokenshire said the Cyber Streetwise campaign is an essential step in the government's ongoing bid to protect and develop the country's digital economy.

"The internet has radically changed the way we work and socialise. It has created a wealth of opportunities, but with these opportunities there are also threats. As a government we are taking the fight to cyber criminals wherever they are in the world," he said.

"However, by taking a few simple steps while online the public can keep cyber criminals out and their information safe. Cyber Streetwise is an innovative new campaign that will provide everyone with the knowledge and confidence to make simple and effective changes to stay safe online."

The service has been welcomed by numerous security vendors. Global head of Security Research at Sophos James Lyne said the service will be of particular use to small and medium-sized businesses.

"Consumers and SMEs alike are finding new ways to interact online, including via a greater range of devices, but with this enhanced technology comes risk. Sophos Labs finds over 30,000 new infected websites distributing malware every day and, contrary to popular belief, the majority – around 80 percent – are legitimate small business websites that have been hacked,” he said.

“It's therefore vital that small businesses in particular get the basics of security right, from installing antivirus to regularly updating and patching software, using complex passwords and protecting data."

Symantec's UK and Ireland vice president Simon Moor reiterated Lyne’s sentiment, warning that criminals are developing increasingly sophisticated ways to target businesses.

“Online threats are constantly evolving, however people can be lulled into a sense of false security by the sheer ubiquity of connected technology, leaving themselves open to being tricked into downloading malware, or cyber criminals accessing their personal data,” he said.

“Even those tech-savvy people can benefit from a regular reassessment of our usage of web-connected devices. This is why Symantec is supporting cyber streetwise through the provision of information to the site as well as communications to our staff and customers.”

The new campaign is part of the government's ongoing Cyber Security Strategy. The strategy launched in 2011 when the government pledged to invest £650m to bolster the nation's cyber defences. Educating businesses about the threat facing them and cyber best practice has been a staple part of the strategy.

The government launched its Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) in March 2013. CISP is designed to facilitate the sharing of information regarding cyber threats between the public and private sector.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Jan 2014

Techeye.net - 10 Jan 2014  -  Edward Berridge

Privacy advocates are a little worried about a new feature in Google Gmail will mean some users receiving messages from people with whom they have not shared their email addresses.

Google has widened the list of contacts available to Gmail users so it includes both the email addresses of their existing contacts, as well as the names of people on the Google+ social network.

On the plus side, if you excuse the pun, a person can send an email directly to friends, and strangers, who use Google+. The negative means that a person who you not want to get your email address will have it by virtue of the fact they know a friend of yours.

Google is increasingly trying to integrate its Google+, a two-and-a-half-year old social network that has 540 million active users, with its other services. When consumers sign up for Gmail, the company's Web-based email service, they are now automatically given a Google+ account.

Google said in a statement that the feature will make it easier for people who use both services to communicate with their friends.

"Have you ever started typing an email to someone only to realize halfway through the draft that you haven't actually exchanged email addresses?" the company said in a blog post announcing the feature. "You're in luck, because now it's easier for people using Gmail and Google+ to connect over email."

A spokesGoogle said that users who did not wish to receive email messages from other people on Google+ could switch the settings so that they receive messages only from people they have added to their networks of friends or from no one at all.

Some privacy advocates have been moaning that Google should have made the new feature "opt-in," meaning that users should explicitly agree to receive messages from other Google+ users, rather than being required to manually change the setting.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Jan 2014


How do I begin my migration?

Enterprise Customers: Microsoft offers large organizations in-depth technical resources, tools, and expert guidance to ease the deployment and management of Windows, Office and Internet Explorer products and technologies. To learn more about migration and deployment programs, please contact your Microsoft sales representative or Certified Microsoft Partner. Learn how to pilot and deploy a modern desktop yourself, download the free Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and begin your deployment today.

Small to Medium Business: There are many options for small and medium businesses considering moving to a modern PC with the latest productivity and collaboration tools. Small to mid-size organizations should locate a Microsoft Certified Partner to understand the best options to meet their business needs. If your current PC meets the system requirements for Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can buy Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8 Pro from a local retailer or Microsoft Certified Partner. If your PC does not meet system requirements, consider purchasing a new business PC with Windows 8 Pro.




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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Jan 2014


What does end of support mean to customers?

It means you should take action. After April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.

Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:
•Security & Compliance Risks: Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information.
•Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Hardware Manufacturers support: A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests "many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP in 2011; in 2012, it will become common." And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner Research further notes that in 2012, most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models.

Get current with Windows and Office. This option has upside well beyond keeping you supported. It offers more flexibility to empower employees to be more productive, while increasing operational efficiency through improved PC security and management. It also enables your organization to take advantage of latest technology trends such as virtualization and the cloud.




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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Jan 2014


Why is Microsoft ending support for Windows XP and Office 2003?

In 2002 Microsoft introduced its Support Lifecycle policy based on customer feedback to have more transparency and predictability of support for Microsoft products. As per this policy, Microsoft Business and Developer products, including Windows and Office products, receive a minimum of 10 years of support (5 years Mainstream Support and 5 years Extended Support), at the supported service pack level.

Thus, Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will go out of support on April 8, 2014. If your organization has not started the migration to a modern desktop, you are late. Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment. To ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support.




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