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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 27th Feb 2018

Image result for Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky

  • Airbnb is adding hotels to its platform as it attempts to broaden its appeal.
  • The 10-year-old company wants to have one billion bookings a year by 2028.
  • It's also launching a rewards scheme, "Superguest."


Airbnb is trying to move into the mainstream.

The $31 billion holiday rental business is adding hotels to its platform as part of a major overhaul that it hopes will get it to one billion bookings a year by 2028.

On Tuesday, the 10-year-old company announced that it is broadening its selection of options available to customers to include vacation homes, "unique" properties, bed and breakfasts, and "boutique" hotels.

While some hotels and B&B's have previously listed on the platform, the update will directly list them under a dedicated category for the first time. These will be "professional hospitality businesses that usually have a unique style or theme," CEO Brian Chesky said at an event formally announcing the news in San Francisco, California.

Airbnb is also introducing higher-end options: "Airbnb Plus," properties that have been individually vetted by the company; and "Beyond by Airbnb," a luxury tier of properties.

And starting with a trial of 10,000 customers, it is introducing a rewards scheme called "Superguest" that will offer benefits to frequent customers.

Collectively, the changes represent an attempted broadening of the company's appeal. Historically, Airbnb has had a combative stance towards the traditional hotel industry — but with the update, it aims to directly target its customers.

"We think we finally do have a home for everyone," Chesky said.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 27th Feb 2018

Vero is the Instagram rival that's topping the App Store.

The ad-free app lets users share photos, add links, and recommend books, movies and TV shows to friends.

It has jumped from 99 to number one in Apple's UK store in the past week, suggesting social media users may be looking for alternatives to established social media platforms.

But with some users reporting problems, people are questioning if claims about the app are too good to be true.

Vero bills itself as a social network "that lets you be yourself".

It was launched back in 2015 by Ayman Hariri, a billionaire businessman and son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In an interview with CNBC, Mr Hariri said he started the app because he was frustrated with how many adverts appear on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

But with the app's growing popularity, some users are confused about how it works.

Skip Twitter post by @blogbynoelle

By Noelle@blogbynoelle

Vero is literally like cryptocurrency. I've got it but I have no idea how to use it

10:15 AM - Feb 27, 2018

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Skip Twitter post by @Edwin_Honoret

Edwin Honoret 🍍✔@Edwin_Honoret

Wait so can someone explain what “Vero” is 😂

4:49 AM - Feb 27, 2018

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Skip Twitter post by @laurDIY

lauren ✄✔@laurDIY

ok I got Vero, now what

12:41 AM - Feb 27, 2018

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Some people have complained about adverts on Instagram, which have been introduced to the platform gradually since 2013.

Users have also been annoyed by changes to the app's algorithm, which now highlights posts that have more likes, comments and shares, instead of showing them in chronological order.

Vero sorts posts in reverse chronological order.

The app is free at the moment but eventually users will have to pay a subscription fee, which the makers say will keep it free of advertising.

But the company has been forced to apologise after users reported problems with it.

Skip Twitter post by @verotruesocial

Vero@verotruesocial

We apologize for the late update.
We are scaling our servers to meet the increasing demand.
We appreciate your continued patience while we work to restore service.

9:46 PM - Feb 26, 2018

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Skip Twitter post by @mpiccaro

Michele Piccaro@mpiccaro

I like the concept of @verotruesocial but it is so slow for me. Anyone else?

10:17 AM - Feb 27, 2018

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Skip Twitter post by @dumblydore

Jen@dumblydore

I felt as a digital marketer I needed to check out what the fuss with Vero is about. It is definitely in beta stage, let's just say ...

10:17 AM - Feb 27, 2018

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Skip Twitter post by @ScoobyDoofus

Brad Hombre@ScoobyDoofus

So I’m interested in because I miss Instagram, but after creating an account I’m unable to actually post anything. 🙄

10:16 AM - Feb 27, 2018

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Skip Twitter post by @KryticZeuz

Zeuz@KryticZeuz

So I tried using that new Vero app... I can officially say it’s broken. Can’t even update my bio

6:55 AM - Feb 27, 2018

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The challenge for Vero now is to maintain its current surge in popularity.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 27th Feb 2018

Image result for Morse code shoes

A pair of smart shoes has been created to let industrial workers keep in touch via toe-typed coded messages.

The footwear was inspired by Morse code, but made possible by the latest communication technologies.

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones meets the firm responsible at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 26th Feb 2018

Image result for children looking at social media

Concerns about the harm caused by "too much" screen time - particularly when it is spent on social media - are widespread. But working out what a "healthy" amount might be is far from easy.

Headlines rarely soothe nerves.

Apple's Tim Cook recently said he would not want his nephew on a social network, while child health experts wrote to Facebook warning excessive use of digital devices and social media "is harmful to children and teens".

There are many other such examples.

Some negative experiences on social media - like bullying, or becoming worried about how your appearance compares to others - can and do affect some children and young people.

However, this does not mean that technology use in general is harmful and it is difficult to make claims about how it will affect different people.

Indeed, some studies suggest that using social media can bring benefits, or have no effect on wellbeing at all.

An inquiry into the impact of social media and screen use on young people's health was announced this week by UK MPs, who hope to separate "understandable concerns from the hard evidence".

For now, anyone thinking about how much time using screens and social media is "OK" will ultimately have to make a personal judgement.

Consider the picture painted by a Unicef review of existing research into the effects of digital technology on children's psychological wellbeing, including happiness, mental health and social life.

Rather than stating that social media was harmful, it suggested a more complex effect.

The Unicef report highlighted a 2017 study by my colleagues at the University of Oxford that examined 120,000 UK 15-year-olds.

Among those teenagers who were the lightest users, it was found that increasing the time spent using technology was linked to improved wellbeing - possibly because it was important for keeping up friendships.

In contrast, among the heaviest users of technology, any increase in time was linked to lower levels of wellbeing.

The researchers suggested that for those teens, technology use might get in the way of taking part in other important activities.

The point at which the use of technology flips from having a positive effect to a negative effect was different for each category at which the researchers looked.

For example, more than two hours of smartphone use on a weekday, and more than four hours on a weekend day, was linked to lower wellbeing.

This effect, however, was small and only predicted 1% of a teenager's wellbeing.

The researchers suggested that the positive effect of regularly eating breakfast, or getting a proper night's sleep, was three times stronger.

Overall, the Unicef study suggested that some screen time could be good for children's mental wellbeing.

"Digital technology seems to be beneficial for children's social relationships," it said. The impact on physical activity levels, however, was "inconclusive".

Similar trends for technology's effects on wellbeing were found in a subsequent study among large numbers of teenagers in the US.

However, the researchers warned that social media and technology use negatively affects teenage wellbeing.

The findings made headlines.

One of the authors, professor of psychology Jean Twenge, suggested "excessive" use of devices was the problem.

But again, the effects were small, with the positive effects of exercise being more significant.

In contrast to the authors of the Oxford study, Dr Twenge recommends less screen time for children.

"Half an hour, an hour a day, that seemed to be the sweet spot for teen mental health in terms of electronic devices," she said.

A broader look at evidence provided by some other high quality studies again suggests the story is not clear-cut.

An early study in 2013 looked at how the television and video game habits of 11,000 UK five-year-olds affected them two years later.

It is one of few studies actually tracing the effects of technology over time.

It suggested that, compared with children who watched one hour of television or less on a weekday, a small increase in conduct problems was seen among those who watched more than three hours each day.

Playing electronic games, however, was not seen as leading to a greater risk of hyperactivity, or friendship or emotional problems.

Image captionParents will need to use their own judgement on how much screen time is "OK"

So how much time should we, or our children, spend looking at screens?

It is difficult to be precise as different people spend time online in such different ways.

For example, someone enjoying their time chatting with friends is using social media very differently to someone worrying about their own life as they flick through contacts' photos.

It appears to be the case that much of the debate about social media oversimplifies the reality.

A useful comparison might be with sugar.

Broadly speaking, people agree that excessive amounts of sugar can be bad for your health.

But the effect it might have can depend on many factors, from the type of sugar - fruit, or refined; to the person - athlete, or diabetic; and the amount - one gram, or many.

We would not readily trust anyone who claims to predict how someone is affected by consuming one gram of sugar.

The same could be said for social media usage: the outcomes depend on so many factors that only very crude predictions are possible.

Research about social media can sometimes help us navigate the debate, but concrete evidence does not yet exist.

This situation could improve significantly as more research is conducted in the coming years.

But for now, we will need to rely on our own judgements to decide about just how much time we - and our children - spend on social media.

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About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from an expert working for an outside organisation.

Amy Orben is researching the effects of social media on human relationships at the University of Oxford. Follow her @OrbenAmy

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Edited by Duncan Walker

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 26th Feb 2018

Image result for documents in the cloud

  •  

A website created by anonymous hackers has been launched that allows anyone to search for unsecured sensitive data stored in the cloud.

Buckhacker is a tool that trawls servers at Amazon Web Services (AWS), a popular cloud computing platform.

AWS provides data storage to private firms, governments and universities, among others.

Exposed data has been found on it before, but Buckhacker makes searching for it much easier.

The name comes from the fact that AWS Simple Storage Servers (S3) are known as "buckets" - this is the part of AWS that Buckhacker accesses.

The BBC alerted Amazon to Buckhacker shortly after it went live, but the firm has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Offline 'for maintenance'

On Wednesday afternoon, Buckhacker went offline "for maintenance", though it had previously been working allowing a number of cyber-security experts to explore it.

"We went online with the alpha version [too] early," said a Twitter account associated with the Buckhacker site.

Security expert Kevin Beaumont told the BBC: "It's a goldmine of stuff which shouldn't be public."

He pointed to one example that appeared to be of encryption keys for a cloud customer at a different cloud computing service.

"S3 buckets have been a problem for years," added Mr Beaumont.

"The search engine is the first easy to access ways of looking inside them... companies are losing control of their data in the cloud."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 14th Feb 2018

By Padraig BeltonTechnology of Business reporter

  • 13 February 2018

  • Image result for valentine day couples

How many couples will have met online this Valentine's Day? More than ever before is the safe answer, as online dating continues to sweep the world.

But is data crunching the best way to find a partner?

In the future, a computer program could dictate who you date, and for how long. This was the premise of a December 2017 episode of Black Mirror, the dystopian sci-fi TV series.

But technology already has radically changed romance, with online dating growing massively in popularity ever since Match.com blazed a trail in the mid-90s.

Now apps, such as Tinder, with their speedy account set-ups and "swipe to like" approach, have taken dating to another level.

Tinder launched in 2012 on the back of the explosion in smartphone use. Just two years later it was registering more than a billion "swipes" a day.

In America's last presidential election, the Democratic campaign logo encouraged voters to "swipe right for Hillary".

Jordan Brown, a 24-year-old blogger, says she "had a bit of a swipe" in October 2016, and met her current boyfriend, who lived an hour-and-a-half away. She would not have met him otherwise, she says, adding that the two bonded over a shared love of Disney.

When 30-year-old Sara Scarlett moved to Dubai in 2015, she joined Tinder to meet new people. She met her last boyfriend after a month. But converting swipes to dates can be difficult, she says.

"You spend ages chatting to these guys and then they don't even want to go for a coffee," she says.

Swapping swiping for supper dates also proved a problem for Jordan.

"There are hundreds of timewasters, losers, and just general muppets on there who have nothing better to do than mess you around," she observes.

Despite such frustrations, dating apps have grown relentlessly. Worldwide spend was £234m in 2016, but nearly double that - £448m - in 2017, says app research firm App Annie.

Pew Research found that 59% of adults now think online dating is a good way to meet people. Even in 2005, 20% of same-sex couples were meeting online. That rocketed to 70% by 2010, say sociologists Michael Rosenfeld and Reuben Thomas.

Online dating has been particularly useful for gay men, as homosexuality is still punishable by death in five countries and parts of two others, says Grindr's Jack Harrison-Quintana.

"The fundamental reason dating apps were created in the gay community was to protect users and create a safe environment, no matter where they are located," he says.

Dating apps made up three of the top 10 apps by consumer spend last year in the UK, says Paul Barnes, a director at App Annie. In France, home of romance, they accounted for six of the top 10.

"There's a lot of money here and it's a lot more competitive now," says Mr Barnes, "so app makers really have to understand their users very well, and find ways to keep them engaged."

Traditionally, dating services required members fill in exhaustive questionnaires. Now machine learning is also being marshalled in the quest for better matches.

A small amount of text - 300 to 400 words from Twitter posts - is enough for their software to decide how much two people will have in common, claims Daigo Smith, co-founder of LoveFlutter.

LoveFlutter has paired up with Toronto-based natural language processing firm Receptiviti to create new approaches to matching people that they will start using this year.

These draw on research by James Pennebaker, a social psychology professor at the University of Austin, Texas. Prof Pennebaker studied 86 couples and found partners using similar frequencies of function words - articles, conjunctions, and pronouns - were most likely still to be together after three months.

Another data-based approach is to use your smartphone's location to find potential dates.

Paris-based app happn analyses where you have been during the day, then shows you people who passed within 250 metres of you. These people will be easiest to meet in real life, says Claire Certain, happn's head of trends.

"It's really just about meeting and giving it a try. If it's going to be a good match or not is very mysterious, chemistry is very surprising."

But if proximity solves the problem of endless swiping but no suppers, it can also mean we stay within our social silos, warns sociologist Josue Ortega. Whereas online dating has increased the incidence of interracial dating, he says.

Rachel Katz, an American who studied Tinder for her master's degree at Cambridge University and is now studying Grindr for her doctorate, agrees.

"Once, most people married people who lived within four miles of them. Then we had the internet, and all these infinite possibilities for soulmates across the world; it didn't matter where they were."

But in 2018, physical location is of primary importance again, says Ms Katz, "so you're going to meet someone who's conveniently close - but this also replicates boundaries of class."

The next tech wave in online dating will feature augmented and virtual reality, the experts believe.

Imagine scanning people with your phone in a nightclub and seeing how many have made their dating profiles available, says happn's Claire Certain.

And LoveFlutter's Daigo Smith says: "Rather than going to a bar, you'll spend your evening going into virtual bars buying other avatars virtual drinks with your cryptocurrency."

But one enduring complaint against dating apps is that they're not very female friendly.

The percentage of women on dating apps "never goes above 35%", says Jean Meyer, founder and chief executive of Once Dating. Men, it seems, often don't behave like gentlemen.

On Mr Meyer's app, women leave feedback about the men they've dated. And maybe men will learn from this feedback, he says.

Austin-based Whitney Wolfe Herd, a former Tinder vice-president, launched an app called Bumble which relies on women to make the first contact with men. The firm - where 85% of staff are women - is now valued at over $1bn, according to Forbes magazine.

So online dating is here to stay - and will embrace new technologies as they emerge - but when it comes to love, there are no guarantees.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Feb 2018

All year round, here at Discus, we collect our postage stamps, especially on the run up to Christmas. We then send them to RSPB who  convert them to cash, and together we can save albatrosses.

Image result for albatross

How it works

It’s really easy to do and here’s how:

  • Send RSPB your used stamps
  • They use stamp dealers and auction houses to get the best price
  • The money helps save albatrosses out at sea.

Each year, your stamps help raise thousands of pounds for albatross conservation. Not bad for some little bits of paper that would end up in the bin! 

Save the stamps from your Christmas cards and help save albatrosses.

Help us stamp out albatross deaths

15 out of 22 albatross species are threatened with extinction. The main threat to albatrosses is death on a hook at the end of a fishing long-line. 

The Albatross Task Force is helping to save albatrosses from extinction both at sea and on land. They show fishing crews how to stop albatrosses from being killed and share the best techniques and tools.

With BirdLife International partners and other organisations, we're working to stop the needless slaughter of these amazing birds and bring them back from the brink of extinction. 

Working with stamp dealers and specialist auction houses, we can raise money for this vital work. Each stamp has a very small value, but in large quantities they're still valuable. When you send in your stamps, you're helping give albatrosses a brighter future.

How to send your stamps

RSPB accept any used stamps – whether common, rare, from the UK or abroad. Please cut the stamp from the envelope, leaving about a quarter of an inch (6mm) border of paper.

  • Send your loose stamps to: RSPB Stamps, PO Box 6198, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9XT. 

(This is the address of our stamp warehouse, not an RSPB office, so please do not send any non-stamp-related correspondence or donations to this address.)

  • If you have first day covers, stamp albums or rare stamps, please send them to: Save the Albatross Stamp Appeal (Special Stamps and Albums), RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, Beds, SG19 2DL. Please do not send loose stamps here.
  • If you have a large number of stamps, you can drop them off at one of our nature reserves and stay for a visit. Most of our reserves will accept your stamps but please contact them in advance to confirm (find your nearest reserve). You are also welcome to drop them off at one of our offices.

We’re sorry, but we are unable to collect stamps from you.

Be a stamp saving super hero

If you would like to collect used stamps at your workplace, school or organisation, we can supply you with a collection box and stickers to create your own collection point. 

Please send your address and contact details to CommunityMarketing@rspb.org.uk, and ask for a used stamp collection kit.


Read more at https://www.rspb.org.uk/join-and-donate/other-ways-to-help/save-your-stamps#Hf6pJCR5PCIWBgl8.99
 

Source: rspb.org.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Feb 2018

By — Posted on February 12, 2018 - 3:00AM

 

Image result for used phone scam

Maybe your phone is scratched up, the battery won’t hold a charge anymore, or you’re just plain sick of it. Whatever the reason, you start to shop around for a new phone, but all your budget will allow is a bland, mid-range device. So you hop online to see what kind of bargain you can pick up second hand. Someone is selling last year’s flagship iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, barely used, at a drastically lower price. You pounce and secure yourself a shiny new smartphone at a steal.

The phone arrives in a couple of days, as described, and you pat yourself on the back for your bargain-hunting skills. But you can’t activate it. Or maybe you use it for a month or so, and then it gets blocked. Upon further investigation, you realize your new phone has been reported lost or stolen. The seller won’t respond to your messages. To make matters worse, no one wants to help you – not your carrier, not the website you bought on, not even the police.

The used phone scam is frighteningly simple.

We’re sorry to say, you’ve fallen victim to a horrifyingly common used phone scam. A quick Google search reveals countless threads on forums across the world going back years, where victims appeal for help because they bought a phone that turned out to be blacklisted and unusable. Read through them and you’ll see the vast majority don’t have a happy ending. The victim typically has to eat the loss, with no prospect of getting their money back.

The used phone scam is particularly pernicious, because it doesn’t rely on a victim’s gullibility, and it’s not as well-known as something like the white van speaker scam. Everything appears to be perfectly legitimate right up to the point your new phone gets blocked. If it has happened to you, sadly there’s nothing we can do to help you, but read on if you want to learn more about the scam and how to avoid it in future.

How it works

The used phone scam is frighteningly simple. Perpetrators range from criminal gangs to insurance scammers to the morally dubious down on their luck. In some cases, the phone you’ve bought will actually be stolen. The thieves who snatched $370,000 worth of new iPhone X handsets, for example, likely tried to sell them as quickly as possible, before the phones were blocked.

Sometimes the scammer will be selling a new phone they legitimately got, probably as a contract upgrade, but then claim for it on insurance. That way they can sell the phone for cash and double their money when they claim it has been lost or stolen.

Another possible scenario is the seller got the handset legitimately as a contract upgrade or as part of a new contract, sold the handset to you, and then defaulted on the monthly payments. They got the cash from you, for a phone they didn’t yet own, and then stopped paying for it, leaving you with a blocked device.

The phone can be reported lost or stolen within a few days or it could be three months later. The result is the same – you end up with a blocked phone.

The nightmare part of this scenario for victims of the scam is that there’s no way for you to get the phone unblocked. Only the person who reported the phone lost or stolen can get it unblocked, and even then, it usually takes a few days, weeks, or even months.

How to avoid the used phone scam

There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about best practices for selling and buying smartphones, so it can be a real minefield. While you can take steps to reduce your risks, it’s difficult to ensure you’re completely protected when you buy a phone from a private individual you don’t know.

“Before you buy a phone, you want to get as much information as possible,” David Dillard, managing director at Recipero (part of the Callcredit Information Group), told Digital Trends. “Do more homework upfront, and don’t take unnecessary risks.”

“Before you buy a phone, you want to get as much information as possible”

Recipero runs a service called CheckMEND where you can pay $1 to find out about the history of a phone. This is currently the most comprehensive service around to check on a phone’s history. It will tell you if a phone has been blacklisted or blocked with a carrier, but it also draws on data from law enforcement, the insurance industry, various retailers, and other sources.

“We aggregate multiple data sets and let the consumer make their own decision,” Dillard said.

You can find out if a phone has been reported lost or stolen for free using the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) stolen phone checker, but it relies on the Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA) for data, which comes from participating operators worldwide. It doesn’t factor in some of the sources CheckMEND can access.

“There’s a danger of false positives,” Dillard said. “You could use the CTIA phone checker and find it’s green, then the phone gets reported stolen three days later, and now you have a blacklisted phone that’s stolen property.”

CheckMEND also tracks things like inventory in transit and enterprise devices out on lease. If thieves steal from an existing inventory, there’s a delay between the device being stolen, people noticing that it’s gone, and then reporting it stolen. That delay is often long enough to sell a device. Or if someone sells you a device that has outstanding finance on it, you can’t tell that from the CTIA blacklist check.

But for all its sophistication, sadly, the CheckMEND system isn’t a cast iron guarantee of safety either.

The trouble with IMEI numbers

Every phone has a unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. It’s easy to check your IMEI number. When you report a phone lost or stolen, the IMEI number is blacklisted, so cell service is blocked on that device.

To run a CTIA stolen phone check, or get a CheckMEND report, you need to have the IMEI number of the device. The idea is that a prospective buyer can ask the seller for the IMEI number and then run a check on it, allowing them to buy with confidence. But then criminals started using IMEI numbers to clone phones and run new kinds of scams.

“If you buy second-hand from a retailer, make sure they have a good return policy.”

It used to be quite common to post IMEI numbers on sales listings. But if you look online today, in countless forums, you’ll see people asking if it’s okay to post an IMEI number, usually followed by numerous comments warning about the risk of cloning. It all sounds a bit paranoid.

“I heard about the paranoia, so I did a test,” says Dillard. “I placed a phone up for sale in an online marketplace, published the IMEI in the listing, and within 72 hours it was used in a commission fraud.”

A wireless employee took the IMEI and activated the device for the commission money and it took David approximately three months to have it restored once it was blacklisted.

“Never publish your IMEI on the web,” he said. “If you’re going through a trusted network and the buyer calls or messages privately and wants to check the IMEI; that’s probably okay; use your intuition. But never put it on the web, like in an eBay or Craigslist listing.”

Another scam that’s proving very tough to combat is “credit muling”. A criminal persuades someone to activate multiple lines with a carrier and take several phones. They pay the “mule” a tempting sum for their time and trouble and tell them to cancel the contracts in a month. Meanwhile the criminal sells the phones, all with clean IMEIs, through eBay, Craigslist or wherever and makes a tidy profit.

When the mule tries to cancel the contract, they find out that they can’t without returning the phones or paying a hefty cancellation fee and they’re on the hook for the full amount. The buyer only finds out 45 to 60 days later when the payment is defaulted, and their new phone gets blocked.

In this kind of scenario, even if you got a CheckMEND report beforehand, you’re still going to be out of pocket with little recourse. You have a certified report that the phone wasn’t stolen when you took ownership, so you’ve done your due diligence, but it’s not going to be much use unless the cops subsequently catch the criminal, and that’s a lot easier said than done.

While some sellers, perhaps understandably, won’t share IMEI numbers, you can always ask them to get a CheckMEND report to prove the device they’re selling is legitimate.

What else can you do?

“You’ve got to know who you’re buying from, so you have recourse if something goes wrong” Dillard said. “If you buy second-hand from a retailer, make sure they have a good return policy.”

Most places offer a 30-day returns policy. With PayPal, you have 45 days to dispute. We recommend making purchases with a credit card, as you can dispute charges if the phone ends up being blocked. If you buy in cash from a stranger you met through Craigslist, then there’s really nothing much you can do. It’s a gamble.

GameStop, Gazelle, and Sprint all use the CheckMEND system, so at the time of purchase, you can be sure that the phone you’re buying isn’t blocked. However, as we’ve discussed, that’s no guarantee it won’t be blocked down the line.

The top three carriers in the U.S., AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all rely upon the GSMA system. We contacted all three, but they either didn’t reply or declined to be interviewed for this piece. We also reached out to the CTIA, as well as Gazelle and Swappa, but have yet to hear back.

It appears this is a major problem, and no one wants to be held accountable. An industry-wide effort to pool resources and share data on phone status in real time would undoubtedly reduce the risk for the phone-buying public. It’s something CheckMEND is trying to work towards, but unless everyone buys in, it’s never going to give people purchasing used phones 100 percent confidence, and the scams will continue.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Feb 2018

Internet giant takes on UPS and FedEx as it seeks full control over package delivery

Image result for amazon delivery

Amazon delivery lorries could become a more common sight

Amazon is reported to be testing a service to ship its sellers' goods directly, putting it into competition with delivery firms such as UPS and FedEx.

According to an unnamed source quoted by Reuters, Amazon has just started running its "Shipping with Amazon" service in Los Angeles amid reports that trials are already under way in London.

The new scheme is thought to be due for a full launch later this year.

Under "Shipping with Amazon", the company will send a lorry to pick up sellers' packages, and take them either directly to an Amazon fulfilment centre, or to postal services or couriers depending on what's most cost-effective, according to the Reuters source.

Considering Amazon's size, scale and reach, such a delivery service could encroach on the businesses of established courier companies. Indeed, the rumours about "Shipping with Amazon" sent shares in UPS and FedEx tumbling on Friday.

However, if Amazon believes it can take a large chunk of their business it is mistaken, said FedEx spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald.  Amazon's plan "demonstrates a lack of basic understanding of the full scale of the global transportation industry," he said.

"There is tremendous opportunity in the business-to-customer market and more growth coming to the sector and UPS, irrespective of how other companies shift strategies," said Glenn Zaccara, a spokesman for UPS.

While it has not yet commented on the reports this would not be the first time Amazon has tried to change the way goods are delivered. Ongoing plans include the use of drones and self-driving cars. Drones have already been tested in the skies of the UK and have the potential to be much faster and cleaner than the current use of trucks, especially in cities, according to Amazon. 

In 2016, the UK government gave permission to Amazon for the testing of drones, covering deliveries in rural and suburban areas. That approval followed similar permissions by the US Federal Aviation Authority.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Feb 2018

Image result for winter olympics 2018

It has now been confirmed that the 2018 Winter Olympics was the subject of a cyberattack. On Sunday, game organizers verified rumors that the Olympics were hacked during Friday’s opening ceremony. However, the source of the attack has yet to be revealed. While systems including the internet and television services were affected on Friday evening, organizers assured media that the breach “had not compromised any critical part of their operations,” according to a Reuters report.

Cybersecurity experts noted in January that there were early suggestions that Russia-backed attackers may have been planning a hack as a retaliation against the nation’s ban from the Pyeongchang Games. The Russian federation has not been allowed to compete as a result of anti-doping regulations (though Russian athletes have been taking part of the games as the Olympic Athletes from Russia, or OAR).

That said, Russia has fervently denied any suggestion of hacking. A few days before the Olympics began, the government noted that any claims linking Russian operatives to hacks on Pyeongchang were “unfounded.”

North Korea may also serve as a prime suspect, given the games’ proximity to the long-isolated nation. However, the North Korean team marched alongside the South Korean delegation for the first time at an Olympics opening ceremony since 2006, perhaps as a symbolic olive branch.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), for its part, is staying mum on the issue. “Maintaining secure operations is our purpose,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “We are not going to comment on the issue. It is one we are dealing with. We are making sure our systems are secure and they are secure.”

Adams added that while he did not know who was behind the attack, “… best international practice says that you don’t talk about an attack.”

Luckily, it would appear that the hack was short-lived and quickly addressed. “All issues were resolved and recovered yesterday morning,” Pyeongchang organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you told press. “We know the cause of the problem but that kind of issues occurs frequently during the Games. We decided with the IOC we are not going to reveal the source (of the attack),” he added.

Still, news of the attack makes a number of sponsors even warier, having already been concerned about the possibility of such an event at the Olympics. A number of sponsors have insured themselves against hacks, and now, it would seem as though that was a very necessary precaution.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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