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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 15th Feb 2017

Man with data computerImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Schoolchildren in England will be offered lessons in cyber security in a bid to find the experts of the future to defend the UK from attacks.

It is hoped 5,700 pupils aged 14 and over will spend up to four hours a week on the subject in a five-year pilot.

Classroom and online teaching, "real-world challenges" and work experience will be made available from September.

A Commons committee last week warned that a skills shortage was undermining confidence in the UK's cyber defences.

The risk that criminals or foreign powers might hack into critical UK computer systems is now ranked as one of the top four threats to national security.

'Cutting-edge skills'

Russia in particular is suspected of planning sustained attacks on Western targets.

Cyber security is a fast-growing industry, employing 58,000 experts, the government says, but the Public Accounts Committee has warned it is proving difficult to recruit people with the right skills.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is providing £20m for the lessons, which will be designed to fit around pupils' current courses and exams.

Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock said: "This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies.

'Pipeline of talent'

"We are determined to prepare Britain for the challenges it faces now and in the future and these extra-curricular clubs will help identify and inspire future talent."

The government is already providing university funding and work placements for promising students.

An apprenticeship scheme has also begun to support key employers to train and recruit young people aged 16 or over who have a "natural flair for problem-solving" and are "passionate about technology".

Steve Elder, 20, who is a cyber security apprentice with BT, told BBC Radio 5 Live that educating young people about the risks and vulnerabilities of the cyber security world would help the UK prepare for the future.

He added: "Getting young people involved and getting them taught from a young age will allow them - even in their home environment - to protect themselves, before it has to come to people at a specialist level."

Finger on computer keyboardImage copyrightPA

Mr Hancock told the BBC he wanted to ensure the UK "had the pipeline of talent" it would need.

Cyber security expert Brian Lord, a former deputy director at GCHQ, told BBC Breakfast that the scheme was an "essential initiative" to recruit more people into the profession.

He added: "There is perception that cyber security is all about techno geeks who have long hair, glasses, wear heavy metal t-shirts and drink red bull.

"There are those, and they do an extraordinarily good job. But there is a whole range of other activities... that can appeal to a wide cross section of children, graduates and apprentices, and at the moment they don't know what [is on] offer.

"The more exposure [children] can get [the more it will] prepare them for a future career and, as that generation needs to understand how to be safe online, you get a double benefit."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Feb 2017

Helen of Troy played on stage by Maria CordaImage copyrightGENERAL PHOTOGRAPHIC AGENCY

Image captionHelen of Troy, played here by Maria Corda, was reputedly the most beautiful woman in the world

Technology of Business

Helen of Troy may have had a "face that launch'd a thousand ships", according to Christopher Marlowe, but these days her visage could launch a lot more besides.

She could open her bank account with it, authorise online payments, pass through airport security, or raise alarm bells as a potential troublemaker when entering a city (Troy perhaps?).

This is because facial recognition technology has evolved at breakneck speed, with consequences that could be benign or altogether more sinister, depending on your point of view.

High-definition cameras combined with clever software capable of measuring the scores of "nodal points" on our faces - the distance between the eyes, the length and width of the nose, for example - are now being combined with machine learning that makes the most of ever-enlarging image databases.

Applications of the tech are popping up all round the world.

In China, for example, fried chicken franchise KFC recently unveiled its first "smart restaurant" that uses facial recognition to predict what meal customers are likely to want, based on their age, gender and the time of day, while payments giant Alipay is experimenting with "smile to pay" tech.

Woman's face superimposed with face detection pointsImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionSome facial recognition software can measure scores of individual characteristics

In the US, medical technology company NextGate has developed facial recognition that can identify patients and link them to their medical records.

In Israel, meanwhile, "facial profiling" firm Faception even claims its technology can tell if you're a terrorist, extrovert, paedophile, genius or professional poker player by analysing 15 details of your face that are invisible to the naked eye.

It then uses the information to determine your personality traits, with the firm claiming it has an 80% accuracy rate.

And Russian app FindFace lets you match a photograph you've taken of someone to their social media profile on the country's popular social media platform Vkontakte. In theory, you could track down a complete stranger you snapped on the bus or train.

Woman demonstrating Alipay facial recognition technologyImage copyrightALEX WONG

Image captionChinese payments giant Alipay is experimenting with "smile to pay" tech

"There are many potential applications of robust and reliable facial recognition technology," says Prof Josef Kittler from the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing at the University of Surrey in the UK.

"Uses include security and surveillance of business, identity verification for business transactions, personalised treatment of regular customers, and analysing a customer's reaction to displays for marketing purposes."

The university is currently heading a £6m ($7.5m) collaborative research programme funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop next-generation facial recognition technology.

If the face fits

One of the principal drivers of the tech is the security sector.

Carl Gohringer, founder and director at Allevate, a facial recognition firm that works with law enforcement, intelligence and government agencies, says: "The amount of media - such as videos and photos - available to us as individuals, organisations and businesses, and to intelligence and law enforcement agencies, is staggering.

"We're well beyond the point where all of it is usable or viewable by us as human beings. So technology will be applied that results in new and interesting mechanisms of accessing, analysing, ordering, structuring and processing this visual minefield."

Kikoo robots for kidsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionEven these Kikoo robots for kids from Hanwuji Intelligence have facial recognition built in

Machine-learning algorithms can sift through this vast store of data and improve as they go. Tools such as FaceSearch, from Vigilant Solutions, analyse more than 350 aspects of the human face, enabling suspects to be matched to a cloud-based database of more than 15 million "mugshots".

But Roger Rodriguez, director of public safety business development at Vigilant Solutions, says this technology has plenty of business applications too.

"Want to cater to those high-spending VIPs when they enter your store?" he says. "Facial recognition technology can send instant alerts when that VIP enters.

"Or it could be used on cruise ships to check passengers back in after they've disembarked the ship for a land excursion."

Businesses looking for a competitive edge see the technology as a "game-changer", he says.

Privacy backlash

But what price privacy?

A report by Georgetown Law Center for Privacy and Technology estimates that about half of US adults - more than 117 million people - have their images logged in a facial recognition network of some kind - a trend civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation describes as "a real and immediate threat" to privacy.

The US National Security Agency has been harvesting such images for years.

Camera's eye view of people walking through an officeImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionAre we happy to trade our privacy for security?

And authorities seem keener than ever to use the tech, citing security and law enforcement as the main reasons. It was recently revealed that the city of New York plans to install facial recognition tech on its bridges and tunnels to scan and identify people driving in and out.

In the European Union, such technology has to comply with the EU's Data Protection Directive and, from May next year, the General Data Protection Regulation.

But Ruth Boardman, data privacy specialist at international law firm Bird & Bird, says individual rights still vary from one EU state to another.

And the automation of security vetting decisions based on facial recognition tech raises serious privacy issues.

"In some countries this is not permitted at present," she says. "In others, like the UK this is permitted, as long as appropriate safeguards are in place - for example, ensuring that anyone who believes this is in error can ask for the decision to be reviewed."

Reassuring perhaps, but little comfort if you find yourself barred from a venue because some facial recognition software has mistaken you for a modern-day Al Capone.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Feb 2017

Teen using a tablet computerImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionMany children now spend more time online than watching TV

Like many parents, I am the unofficial IT manager in my house. And, like many IT managers, my users are never happy with the service they get.

The complaints have got louder over the past few months as I have tried to manage how much time two of them (my teenage children) spend online and to restrict what they see.

A patchwork of different technologies help me do this. It includes:

  • rules on the router to limit net time
  • apps on tablets to watch content
  • software on PCs to spot malware and filter searches

It works, after a fashion, but I know it has holes and that is why I also use a lot of sneakernet.

This involves me walking around the house, kicking my kids off the game console, tablet, phone or TV (delete as appropriate) they are using when they should be doing homework, cleaning out the rabbit or getting ready for school.

Locked off

Research suggests I'm not alone in using tech to oversee online time - both to limit it and to help them stay safe.

About 44% of parents use apps to oversee online activity, 39% check browser histories and 37% put controls on the router, suggests statistics gathered by security company Symantec.

I use all three of those and want to use more. And it looked like technology was going to get even more useful as electronics companies released products with comprehensive parental controls onboard.

Girl receiving a nasty message with girls in backgroundImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionTalking to children about their online habits can help limit cyber-bullying

It's perhaps no surprise that parents are keen to turn to technology to help manage time online, says Nick Shaw, European general manager at security company Norton, because it's one area where they struggle to find help.

"When people have a parenting problem with their children, they might go to their own parents for advice," he says, "but this is the one area where your parents are not as clued up as you are."

And, he says, children are even more clued up and easily capable of running rings around their parents.

"A lot of parents are very naive about this," he says.

Even I got complacent because none of the tech I had put in place was sending me alerts. I thought it was all working fine and my children were browsing and gaming in an impenetrable bubble of safety.

Wrong.

Slowly I found out that by fiddling with system clocks, using safe mode and putting home PCs into sleep states, my two teenagers could avoid most of the locks and blocks.

My schoolboy error, says Mr Shaw, was to let the hardware do the heavy lifting.

"Technology is going to help you," he says, "but it's not going to get away from the fact that you should be having more conversations about this with your kids."

Norton CoreImage copyrightSYMANTEC

Image captionThe parental controls of Norton's futuristic looking Core router are controlled via a smartphone

What I should be doing, he says, is helping them to understand why the controls are needed.

Explaining the reasons, he says, can help to defuse some of the objections.

It is fair to say that my children and I have had some of these conversations. But they have been more of the "play-less-games-and-do-more-maths" type rather than the "anti-virus-stops-your-YouTube-account-being-stolen" sort.

Rights and respect

Tony Anscombe, security evangelist at anti-virus company Avast, says talking to children about safe ways to use the web is better than just imposing restrictions.

"Sure," he says, "set some rules about how they should use it, but you should also educate your kids about basic security principles.

"A lot of parents just do not have the conversation, talking to them about what is acceptable and what is not."

This should cover not sharing passwords and thinking before they share personal data such as contact information, images and videos.

Naivety puts many children at risk, he says, and it is worth reminding them about what can be done with that information and who might want it.

Father with daughter and tabletImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Image captionOfcom suggests UK parents are doing more to protect their children online, but threats remain (stock photo)

It might not just fall into the hands of cyber-thieves, he says, it might also expose them to cyber-bullying or just be inappropriate to share.

Warnings about the hidden features in popular apps are worth passing on, he says, as they often seek to scoop up more information than they really need.

"The biggest and most important thing that parents can do is run the apps their children do," he says.

This will help parents understand what information children might share and uncover any hidden features the apps possess.

Some, he says, look innocuous but are designed to help children conceal what they are doing.

"Gadgets are only half the story, if that," says Dr Sonia Livingstone, from the London School of Economics, who studies how children use the internet, as part of her work with the long-running EU Kids Online project.

Companies should concentrate on doing less selling and more on designing services that do not need the protections they peddle, she says.

In addition, she says, parents should encourage children to do the right thing by doing it themselves, rather than just by dictating terms.

It's about respect too, she says, helping children make good decisions instead of arbitrarily imposing rules.

If they can see the benefits of the rules, they are more likely to follow them.

"I am not very keen on the idea that parents have lots of control over their children," she says. "Children have rights too."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Feb 2017

man in hoody with computerImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Personal and financial data is being traded on a "huge scale" - and sometimes illegally - according to an investigation by Which?

Undercover researchers from the consumer group contacted 14 companies that sell data.

They managed to access personal information about half a million people over the age of 50, including details about their salary and pensions.

In some cases the data was on sale for as little as 4p an item.

Such information can be instrumental in helping scammers who con people out of their pension savings, or persuade them to move money from their bank accounts.

Ten of the firms failed to carry out proper checks to see if the researchers were from a registered company, according to Which?

And it said many of the companies appeared to be in breach of guidelines from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Cold calling ban

To share such data, companies have to show that the consumers concerned have given their full consent.

Such consent has to be "knowingly and freely given".

During its investigation, Which? found:

  • a company prepared to sell 500,000 pieces of personal information for 4p each. This included phone numbers and addresses.
  • another firm listed more than 2000 people with incomes of more than £35,000 for 66p an item
  • a company which sent a list of phone numbers, even though most of the owners were registered with the opt-out Telephone Preference Service

"Our investigation highlights that sensitive personal and financial data is being traded on a huge scale, with some companies apparently willing to sell to anyone who comes calling," said Harry Rose, Which? Money editor.

Which? advises consumers never to share their data with third parties.

The government has already announced plans to ban cold calling, even to individuals who have inadvertently opted-in to receiving marketing calls.

The new laws, announced in the Autumn budget, could see fines of up to £500,000 being levied on perpetrators.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Feb 2017

Wii in a retirement homeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThe Nintendo Wii was hugely popular - from retirement homes to living rooms

From the Game Boy to the Wii, Nintendo has created some of the world's most memorable games consoles.

Some were big hits, but others have been big misses.

Ahead of the release of its next games machine, the Nintendo Switch, these are the main devices that have brought players the likes of Super Mario, Tetris, Zelda and Pokemon.


Game & Watch

Game & WatchImage copyrightNINTENDO

Image captionThe Game & Watch range, launched in 1980, were many players' first handhelds

Released: 1980

Sold: 43.4 million

The Game & Watch was Nintendo's first breakout video game success.

Its inspiration came when developer Gunpei Yokoi saw a bored businessman punch buttons on a calculator to amuse himself on a train, says Katharine Byrne, news editor at video games publication MCV.

Up to that point, Nintendo had largely been a toy company. Its hits had included a Love Tester, which told couples how compatible they were.

But with the Game & Watch, it came up with a handheld console that introduced millions of players to now-longstanding Nintendo characters, such as Donkey Kong, Zelda and the Mario Brothers.


Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Nintendo Entertainment SystemImage copyrightNINTENDO

Image captionNintendo sold the NES as a premium video games console

Released: 1985 (first released as Famicom in Japan in 1983)

Sold: 61.9 million

When Nintendo released the NES in North America, no-one thought it would succeed, says Tristan Donovan, a games industry writer.

"The industry had collapsed. There had been an enormous boom following the release of Space Invaders and Pac-man, but the bottom had fallen out of the market."

The company went ahead with the console anyway - which unlike the Game & Watch was hooked up to people's televisions.

It paid off. Towards the end of the decade, the NES had almost a complete monopoly in the US home video games market, Mr Donovan adds.


Game Boy

GameboyImage copyrightNINTENDO

Image captionThe Game Boy and block puzzle Tetris became synonymous in the 1990s

Released: 1989

Sold: 118.7 million

The next big hit was the Game Boy, which remains Nintendo's second-highest selling console.

"It brought hand-held gaming to the world," says Mr Donovan, author of the book, Replay: The History of Video Games.

That was despite "looking quite dated, even at the time", he says. The screen was in black and white, compared with Sega's Game Gear and Atari's Lynx.

"But it had Tetris and a long battery life," he adds, and went on to be one of the best-selling toys in the 1990s.


Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Super NES consoleImage copyrightCÉRÉALES KILLER

Image captionThe SNES was a big hit in Europe - along with Sega's Mega Drive

Released: 1990

Sold: 49.1 million

By the start of that decade, Nintendo faced growing competition for its NES console from rival Japanese games maker Sega.

Nintendo's answer was the Super NES, or SNES. "That was when it lost its stranglehold on the market, with Sega targeting older teenagers," says Mr Donovan.

Nintendo's strict policy against violence in its games gave it more of a family-friendly image, whereas Sega had more "blood and guts", with games such as Mortal Kombat.

Still, the SNES was a big success in Europe, where - together with the Mega Drive - it brought home video consoles into the mainstream, Mr Donovan adds.


Virtual Boy

Nintendo Virtual BoyImage copyrightEVAN AMOS

Image captionGamers complained that Virtual Boy made them feel ill

Released: 1995

Sold: 770,000

Where the Game Boy and NES had been big successes, the Virtual Boy - Nintendo's virtual reality games console - proved to be a major dud.

The console was quietly discontinued about a year after it came out.

Among the issues, gamers complained of motion sickness and vomiting from the wraparound headset and black and red graphics.

Its failure also accelerated the departure of Nintendo designer Gunpei Yokoi, who along with creating the Game & Watch, was a major force behind the Game Boy, says Mr Donovan.


Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64 consoleImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThe N64 popularised multi-player gaming - but was still outsold by the PlayStation

Released: 1996

Sold: 32.9 million

By the time the Nintendo 64 came out, it faced another big competitor - Japanese electronics giant Sony.

The N64 enjoyed some success - with popular games such as Mario Kart and the James Bond shoot-em-up Goldeneye - but came second in sales to Sony's PlayStation.

One of the main criticisms was that N64 games still used cartridges, which were more expensive than the CDs used by Sony, says Ms Byrne.

Mr Donovan agrees, adding that Nintendo was also "outgunned" by Sony on marketing, timing and appeal to older players.


GameCube

Customer buys a Nintendo GamecubeImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThe GameCube failed to close the gap with Sony's PlayStation consoles

Released: 2001

Sold: 21.7 million

The GameCube saw Nintendo fall further behind Sony, selling about 22 million consoles compared with an estimated 155 million of Sony's PlayStation 2.

"Apart from looking distinctive, the GameCube didn't do much more than the N64. It was not one of their great ideas," says Mr Donovan.

It replaced cartridges with CDs, but was outflanked by the PlayStation 2, in part, because that console enabled users to play DVDs.

"The PlayStation 2 was the beginning of game consoles as home entertainment," says Ms Byrne. "It was two things in one, which helped it pull even further ahead."


Nintendo DS 2004

Nintendo DSImage copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES

Image captionSeen as different to traditional games consoles, the DS found its way into the classroom

Released: 2004

Sold: 154.0 million

Then came the Nintendo DS - to date the company's best-selling console.

With adverts featuring actors Nicole KidmanJulie Walters and Patrick Stewartplaying its mind quizzes, the DS looked to appeal beyond traditional gamers.

It also did well with the core players of its handheld devices - "teens, tweens and children", says Lewis Ward, a gaming analyst at tech research company IDC.

"At that time, if you wanted to play a game on the move, there was no other place to go," he adds, with the boom in smartphones coming four years later.


Wii

Player using Wii consoleImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThe Wii's motion sensors tracked a player's movements in the game

Released: 2006

Sold: 101.6 million

"A big part of Nintendo's strategy with the Wii was to make something mums wouldn't be annoyed at," says Ms Byrne.

Despite reports of the motion-sensor controls flying into TV screens, the strategy seemed to work.

The small white consoles and its games - which followed players' movements - had broad appeal, from retirement homes to office staff rooms, and helped Nintendo overtake Sony again.

"The innovation of motion controls was something so different and so fun for users of all ages that it reached people who had not previously thought of buying game consoles," says Mr Ward.


Wii U

Wii UImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThe Wii U has failed to live up to the success of Nintendo's previous console

Released: 2012

Sold: 13.4 million

The same could not be said, though, for the follow-up Wii U, which is the second worst-selling of Nintendo's main consoles.

There weren't enough non-Nintendo games available on it, Mr Ward says, and Nintendo failed to explain the benefits of the Wii U GamePad, which tried to popularise the idea of dual-screen gaming.

However, Seth Barton, editor of MCV, has another explanation.

If you look back through, from the N64 to the GameCube, then the Wii and after that the Wii U, Nintendo consoles are like Star Trek films, he jokes - every good one is followed by a bad one.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 13th Feb 2017

Smartphone microscopeImage copyrightUCLA, STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY AND UPPSALA UNIVERSITY

Scientists have built a DNA-analysing smartphone attachment that is a fraction of the cost of lab-based kit.

The creators of the phone-powered pathology microscope believe it could be mass produced for less than $500 (£406) a unit.

They say it could help doctors treat cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases more effectively than is sometimes possible in the developing world.

But a UK firm says it is developing a more advanced and cheaper alternative.

Details of the peer-reviewed project are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Drug resistance

The prototype microscope attachment was 3D-printed and developed as a joint effort by the University of California, Stockholm University and Uppsala University.

One of the researchers involved said the tech could help medics examine tissue samples without having to send them to what might be a remote laboratory.

"It can use the information that is carried in our DNA to make diagnoses," Prof Mats Nilsson told the BBC.

"There are two main areas where this is done today.

"In cancer, where certain mutations in tumours confer resistance to drugs, it can be used to prescribe the right treatments.

Smartphone microscopeImage copyrightUCLA, STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY AND UPPSALA UNIVERSITY

Image captionThis image shows lung cells with genetic mutations captured by the smartphone-based microscope

"And in infectious diagnostics, it's the fastest way to work out if an infection is viral or bacterial, and, if it's bacteria, to figure out if it carries antibiotic resistant genes or not."

To use the device, a sample of the patient's tissue is put in a container and then placed under a special lens attached to the smartphone's own camera.

Two laser diodes and a white LED then beam light into the sample in a pre-set sequence, and the resulting images are fed into an algorithm for analysis.

A Nokia Lumia 1020 was used in the experiment - a model known for its picture quality when it was released, in 2013.

But Prof Nilsson said the equipment could be adapted for use with newer smartphones.

And he suggested that an immediate use could be to treat tuberculosis in India and elsewhere.

India tuberculosis clinicImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionProf Nilsson said the smartphone-powered kit might prove useful in Indian tuberculosis clinics

"Currently it's a trial and error thing - they start with the first-line drugs even if one knows that only 50% of the patients will respond, since resistance is so widespread," he said.

"Then it can take three months to follow up, in which the patient can spread the disease.

"So, one should stop doing that and treat patients with the right antibiotics at the time of diagnosis, and the only way to figure that out in the short-term is an affordable and simple DNA test."

The charity Cancer Research UK suggested the tech could also have use in developed nations.

"Revealing the precise make-up of a cancer can help patients get treatments that are most likely to benefit them, but tests can be expensive and time-consuming," said Dr Justine Alford, the organisation's senior science information officer.

"This early study suggests mobile phone technology could potentially speed up this process and reduce costs, but much more research is needed to find out if it's reliable and accurate enough to make its way into the clinic."

Smaller rival

If the equipment does go into production, it will face competition.

SmidgIONImage copyrightOXFORD NANOPORE TECHNOLOGIES

Image captionA UK-based medical tech company says it is developing a more advanced smartphone DNA sequencer

Oxford Nanopore Technologies has already developed handheld equipment that can analyse long sequences of DNA data and other biological molecules, which it says provides a richer set of information than looking for mutations at a single point.

The company is in now in the process of adapting this to create a matchbox-sized device that can be plugged into smartphones, which it plans to release before the end of the year.

Because the forthcoming device will rely solely on electronics-based tests, rather than using camera lenses and lasers, the company believes it will be cheaper to make than the US-Swedish proposal.

"Nanopore-based electronic devices, including those attached to mobile phones such as SmidgION, allow anybody to sequence anything, anywhere," the company's chief technology officer Clive Brown told the BBC.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 8th Feb 2017

London - 8th February 2017 - Repairly - the on-demand technology repair service - has today announced it has closed a £265,000 Seed investment from various investors to expand their service throughout London.

 

Repairly is disrupting the billion-dollar technology repair services industry by offering collection and delivery. Repairly’s mission is make it ridiculously simple to get your phone, tablet or laptop repaired.

 

The introduction of Repairly means that people no longer have to go to the expensive Apple Store or inconvenient corner shops. Customers don’t even have to leave their desk. Repairly collect, repair and return within an average of 2 hours and 6 minutes.

 

Richard Edwards, co-founder of Repairly, says: “We ensure busy people with broken technology are back up and running as soon as possible.”

 

“We saw how much technology had advanced but the support for that technology was lagging behind. People were waiting for up to 2 weeks without their phone. That seems crazy in today’s technology-reliant society.”

 

The business was started in 2015 after Fraser Williams dropped out of University. Richard Edwards was an early team member of the online cleaning marketplace, Hassle.com, which was acquired by Rocket Internet in July 2015.

 

Repairly is a graduate of the UK accelerator programme Virgin Media Techstars. The Seed investment came from investors such as Richard Fearn, Daniel Murray (CEO, Grabble) and Richard Pleeth (Ex-Google).

 

Richard Fearn, investor, comments: “Repairly's business is growing quickly into a large market, with strong unit economics and great customer reviews”

 

Fraser Williams, co-founder and CEO at Repairly, says: “Over 32,000 phones get broken every day in the UK alone. People don’t know where to turn when this happens. Repairly turns people’s negative experience into a positive one, and if you can find delight in a phone repair, you can find it anywhere.”

 

About Repairly

Founded by Richard Edwards and Fraser Williams, Repairly is an on-demand technology repair service. It allows you to order a phone, tablet or laptop repair via it’s online platform and your device will be collected, repaired and returned in an average 2 hours and 6 minutes.

 

Repairly is disrupting the billion-dollar technology repair services industry. Repairly’s mission is to make it ridiculously simple to get your phone, tablet or laptop repaired.

 

Repairly has been backed by leading investors including Virgin Media, TechStars, Richard Pleeth (ex-Google), Daniel Murray (CEO, Grabble) and Richard Fearn.

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 7th Feb 2017

NATO must have more money to boost defences

Russia is using cyber attacks to influence the West

Russia is using cyber attacks to influence the West

Russia is using cyber attacks to disrupt critical infrastructure and manipulate democratic institutions, according to a stark assessment of the threat the resurgent nations poses to the West from the UK's defence secretary.

Speaking at St Andrews University, Sir Michael Fallon said that it was clear Russia was becoming increasing belligerent in its actions against the west, both physical in terms of troops on the ground, and in the digital sphere.

"There is the use of cyber weaponry to disrupt critical infrastructure and disable democratic machinery," he said.

He cited attacks on TV5 Monde in France, against the lower house of the German parliament and various Dutch institutions, although he stopped short of mentioning the recent US elections, perhaps wary of offending president Trump.

"Meanwhile, the Head of the German BfV intelligence agency warned the Kremlin is "seeking to influence public opinion and decision-making processes" ahead of this year's German elections," he added, underlining the dangers still posed to the West.

In response, Fallon said NATO must double down on its commitments to one another, especially by ensuring all nations in the alliance commit to the promise of spending two percent of their GDP on defences for the organisation, in part to help boost defences to cyber attacks.

"It means supporting reform to make NATO more agile, resilient, and better configured to operate in the contemporary environment including against hybrid and cyber attacks," he said.

"Cyber defence is now part of NATO's core task. NATO must defend itself as effectively in the cyber sphere as it does in the air, on land, and at sea. So adversaries know there is a price to pay if they use cyber weapons."

He noted too that it was important the West got better at responding quickly to lies put out by Russia media, usually under the 'guidance' of the state, to ensure it could counter mistruths that cause panic among citizens.

"Part of our response is for NATO and the West to do more to tackle the false reality promoted through Soviet-style misinformation. Whatever else we do on deterrence and dialogue we must counter Putin's Pravda with a faster truth."

Given the way in which the US administration is playing fast and loose with the truth, though, this effort may be undermined by NATO's most important member.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 7th Feb 2017

Hijacked printer message

Image captionMany people posted pictures of the hijacked printer message to social media, asking for help

A hacker has briefly hijacked more than 150,000 printers accidentally left accessible via the web.

The attacker made the devices print a warning urging their owners to cut off remote access.

Large printers in offices, domestic devices and tiny receipt printers in restaurants were all caught up in the hack.

The attack came soon after a German academic study found vulnerabilities in a wide range of printers.

Fixing problems

Over the weekend, a hacker using the alias Stackoverflowin ran an automated program that scoured the internet for printers that did not have basic security controls switched on.

Once it discovered a vulnerable device, the program made them print a page announcing the invasion and telling the owner to close the "port" used to hijack it.

"For the love of God, please close this port, skid [script kiddie, ie novice coder]," said the message.

Early versions of the program also added ASCII art depicting different robots or a computer.

Also included were an email address and a Twitter handle for Stackoverflowin.

Many people posted pictures of the printed messages to social media and asked questions about what was happening on technical support forums and social networks such as Reddit.

Printers made by HP, Brother, Epson, Canon, Lexmark, Minolta and many others were hit by Stackoverflowin's program.

The hacker said he did not intend to abuse the access he had gained to the printers.

"I'm about helping people to fix their problem, but having a bit of fun at the same time," he told the Bleeping Computer tech news website.

"Everyone's been cool about it and thanked me to be honest."

Last week, computer security researchers Jens Muller, Vladislav Mladenov and Juraj Somorovsky, from the Ruhr University, in Germany, released an academic paper summarising work they had done on printer security.

The trio tested 20 separate printers and found that all of them were vulnerable to at least one type of attack.

They found ways to put the printers in to an endless loop so they were never available to users, or to hijack the devices so they could be used as an entry point to the computer networks on which they sat.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 6th Feb 2017

Although disparate devices than can run Windows 10 skew data somewhat

More and more people are using Windows 10

More and more people are using Windows 10

Windows 10 has reached 25.3 per cent market share, according to the newest data from Net Applications' Netmarketshare data.

The data also shows a significant drop in Windows 7 usage down to 47.2 (-1.14) against Windows 10's 25.3 (+0.94).

It's worth noting that Windows 10 is not just one desktops but also devices ranging from the Xbox to Raspberry Pi, so this skews the figures somewhat.

 

Meanwhile, Windows 8.x has held remarkably steady at 8.52 (-0.04) reflecting the behaviour we've seen from other parts of the Windows family that have been left on the vine. You only have to look at Windows XP, which is end of life and remains fairly constant, at around the 10 per cent mark.

In fact, Windows XP has gone up a smidgen this month to 9.17 (+0.1) because as well as having a loyal consumer fan base, it's still being used in everything from customs halls to CAT scanners around the world.

Microsoft isn't making a big deal of the end of Windows Vista, which will be end of life in less than two months, partly because the number of people with the fairly well hated OS stalled a long time ago. It has taken a bit more of a dive this month to 0.84 (-0.22). Perhaps lots of people got new computers for Christmas, as Vista certainly wasn't widely used in the enterprise.

Away from Windows, Linux continues to hold steady with a slight climb this month to 2.27 (0.06). macOS 10.12 has made progress to 2.75 (0.44) while version 10.11 has stayed almost stationery at 1.73 (-0.1). Other versions of macOS (10 and below) are now standing at 1.51 (-0.33).

There's word on the grapevine that Microsoft is planning a "Cloud" version of Windows 10, which would basically be a new reimagining of Windows RT as a combatant to Chrome OS. If that were the case, it would likely show up as part of Windows 10's market share, while Chrome OS does not, which would likely skew the numbers even further.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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