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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 7th Jun 2016

6 June 2016 · By Zen Terrelonge

Virgin Trains has seemingly taken inspiration from Netflix with the launch of BEAM, a free on-board entertainment platform designed to deliver luxury and convenience with some 200 hours of content for passengers, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, House of Cards, Top Gear and Frozen.

“At Virgin Trains we pride ourselves on continuously improving our customers’ on-board experience"
The complimentary service will run as an app available for Android and iOS from Google Play and the App Store respectively.

With the BEAM platform designed to offer a spot of luxury, customers have a huge of array of new and old films alike to choose from, with everything from The Wolf of Wall Street to breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Passengers can also tune into TV shows such as House of Cards and Poldark, while kids can view Peppa Pig and Ben 10. There are also magazines to read too, with Top Gear, Total Film, Grazie and Men’s Health among them.

Patrick McCall, co-Chairman for Virgin Trains, said: “The new BEAM app will make our passengers’ journeys fly by, feeling like they’ve arrived at their destinations before they know it. We’ve worked really hard to provide a fantastic range of entertainment to cater to all of our customers’ tastes and are really proud to offer this service that is the first of its kind to the train industry.”

The travel company teamed with GoMedia for the app’s development, while content will be updated on a monthly basis. Downloading the app to a smartphone or tablet before boarding means passengers can board and view content until leaving the train, and viewing can be continued from the same point during the return journey.

Virgin Trains is marking its entertainment-centric push with a celebration of the release of Independence Day: Resurgence. Director Roland Emmerich and stars Liam Hemsworth and Jeff Goldblum witnessed the unveiling of a new train design that revolves around the sci-fi movie.

McCall continued: “At Virgin Trains we pride ourselves on continuously improving our customers’ on-board experience and so will continue to update the content on BEAM to guarantee our passengers have the latest entertainment on offer.

“The new service is more advanced than the systems currently available on planes as customers use their own devices, which normally have larger screens with better picture quality than standard seat-back devices.”

Source: realbusiness.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 1st Jun 2016

CFO also departs after major blunder

An Austrian plane manufacturing company has fired its CEO of 17 years after he fell for an email scam that cost the company $56.79m (£39m).

Waltar Stephan was the CEO of FACC when he fell for a 'fake president' scam in which criminals pretend to be someone high up in a company and send a personalised email to someone equally high up in the company talking of the need for a secret transaction.

The company said: "In the supervisory board meeting, held on May 24 2016, Mr Walter Stephan was revoked by the supervisory board as chairman of the management board of FACC AG with immediate effect.

"The supervisory board came to the conclusion that Mr Walter Stephan has severely violated his duties, in particular in relation to the 'Fake President Incident'. Mr Robert Machtlinger was appointed as interim CEO of FACC AG."

The company has managed to recover about a fifth of the stolen money, but the rest has disappeared into accounts in Slovakia and Asia, wiping a huge chunk off the company's share value, which bounced back on news of the sacking.

The company's chief financial officer has also left the firm in the wake of the debacle.

FACC can take some comfort, though, as a Belgian bank lost its shirt in the same scam to the tune of $75.8m.

The scam relies partly on ego, i.e. the assumption that a senior person is important enough not to double check a huge financial transaction, possibly the result of a takeover.

Snapchat admitted earlier this year that employee details were accidentally sent to a scammer after a staff member fell for a phishing email that purported to come from the CEO.

These attacks, often dubbed 'whaling' because they go after high-profile targets, are increasingly common as the pay-off for a successful attack is enormous, and has to succeed only once.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 1st Jun 2016

V3 looks at some of the biggest phishing scams to date

Phishing or spear phishing has been around for many years but, unlike many other cyber attacks, they aren't overly sophisticated. The idea is to get someone in a company or a group of people to click on a bogus link in an attempt to acquire sensitive information or access to systems.

The method is being increasingly used around the world. Nearly 100,000 people reported receiving phishing emails in 2015 in the UK alone, which equates to nearly 8,000 a day.

Here are some of the biggest phishing attacks so far:

5. The UK's biggest phishing scam

The Met Police's Action Fraud unit estimated that £59m worth of fraud was prevented in the UK after three men were convicted of launching sophisticated phishing scams to access the accounts of bank customers in 14 countries.

About 2,600 phishing pages that mimicked banking websites were analysed by the Met Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the US Secret Service.

The men behind the scam were traced to the UK, where they stayed in plush hotels in London while continuing to scam victims.

They were eventually caught using laptops to log-in to servers storing compromised banking data.

Officers later discovered servers containing details of 30,000 bank customers, 12,500 of which were in the UK, and 70 million customer email addresses to be used in phishing scams.

The men were jailed for a total of 20 years. Investigating officer DI Jason Tunn said at the time that it was the "biggest case the PCeU has dealt with to date and is likely to be the biggest cyber phishing case so far in the UK".

4. Operation Phish Phry

US and Egyptian authorities charged 100 people in 2009 for using phishing scams to steal account details from hundreds, possibly thousands, of people and transferring about $1.5m into fake accounts.

A two-year investigation dubbed Operation Phish Phry led to the discovery of a group of fraudsters who targeted US bank account holders using phishing techniques.

The bank fraud charges alone could have meant some of those charged would spend 20 years in jail.

The director of the FBI at the time called it the "largest international phishing case ever conducted"

3. CEO phishing for a new job after being scammed

Forrester suggests the CIO isn't respectecd by some business peers

Plane part manufacturer FACC fired its CEO of 17 years after he fell for a phishing scam that cost the company $56.79m (about £39m).

Criminals pretended to be someone high up in the company and sent an email to CEO Waltar Stephan talking of the need for a secret transaction. Stephan fell for the scam and was fired with immediate effect.

"The supervisory board came to the conclusion that Mr Walter Stephan has severely violated his duties, in particular in relation to the ‘Fake President Incident'," the company said.

The firm did manage to recoup about a fifth of the money, but the rest disappeared into accounts in Slovakia and Asia, wiping a huge chunk off the company's share value.

Stephan wasn't the only one to suffer as a result of the scam, as the firm's CFO also left the company.

2. Target data breach began with a phishing attack

The huge data breach that affected 110 million customers in 2013 is thought to have stemmed from a phishing attack.

The breach is likely to have been initiated through Fazio Mechanical Services (FSM), a heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor in Pittsburgh. The firm was connected to Target's systems to provide electronic billing services, contract submissions and project management services.

Reports suggest that network credentials were stolen in an email malware attack at FSM that began at least two months before thieves started stealing card data from thousands of Target cash registers.

The breach cost Target hundreds of millions of dollars, and the firm fired its CEO and CIO. CIO Beth Jacobs, was accused of knowing about the flaws in her department, but doing too little to minimise the risks, while CEO Gregg Steinhafel was criticised for taking computer security too lightly.

1. Security firm gets hit by a phishing scam

What's worse than a CEO falling for a phishing scam, or indeed a huge retailer like Target suffering a colossal data breach? Yep, a security firm getting hit by a phishing attack.

RSA suffered a data breach in March 2011 but kept tight-lipped about how the attack occurred. Weeks later, the firm revealed that a spear phishing attack exploited an Adobe Flash vulnerability that was unpatched at the time.

The attack enabled criminals to get hold of master keys for all RSA SecureID security tokens, which were then subsequently used to break into US defence suppliers' networks.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st May 2016

The BBC Micro Bit, the tiny computing device designed to get children coding, is going on sale to the general public.

The device is already being delivered, free, to one million Year 7 children in schools across the UK.

Now it will also be available to buy from the various partners in the project for £12.99.

Commercial availability of the Micro Bit follows the signing of a licensing deal with the device's manufacturer, the Leeds-based company, element 14.

The firm says it will only sell them in batches of 90.

But retailers including Microsoft, the Technology Will Save Us organisation and Sciencescope will offer individual devices.

Owners of the Micro Bit can write code for it via a website designed by Microsoft

Element 14 is part of Premier Farnell, one of the distributors of the very successful Raspberry Pi barebones computer. Richard Curtin, strategic alliance director at element 14, is expecting a similar reception for the Micro Bit.
"It's going to be huge," he told me."We've already got a pipeline of orders including foreign governments who've seen what has happened in the UK."

The Micro Bit was meant to be the flagship of the BBC's Make It Digital season last year but suffered a number of delays. It started arriving in schools this spring and the BBC says it has now been delivered to about 80% of schools and roughly 750,000 Year 7 children (11 and 12-year olds).

While I have heard plenty of enthusiasm from those children who have got their hands on it - and there are already plenty of exciting projects on display - there have also been frustrations from teachers.

A number have told me that the Micro Bit has arrived far too late in the school year to be of much use - "starting after half term, it's come far too late to get proper use out of it, plus concerns about handling/failures" was one comment this morning.
But another teacher said this: "Got ours just before Easter hols. Kids are loving using them and are even buying add-ons for them, building projects at home etc."

It is late in the year - although the Micro Bits belong to the children who will take them home over the summer holidays.

Until now, only Year 7 schoolchildren in the UK had access to their own Micro Bits

The hope must be that their enthusiasm will continue as they join Year 8 in September, though of course there is a risk that their devices will be lost or broken by then.

The real test, however, will be whether schools and parents decide that the next Year 7 children will benefit from getting their own Micro Bits.

They could decide it is worthwhile investing in the devices now they are going to be available to buy. And there is also the prospect of some being made available for free again.

Element 14 tells me it is paying a licensing fee for the use of the BBC and Micro Bit brands - but that all of that money will be going to a charitable trust with the aim of providing an educational legacy.

The Micro Bit is entering what is now quite a crowded market for simple educational computing devices.

But if it does prove as good a seller as the Raspberry Pi, then a windfall for the charity could mean more Year 7 children getting their hands on one.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st May 2016

Since the nineties, Apple and Microsoft have been racing to get a computer into the living room.

By the end of 2015, it finally looked like both had succeeded: The new Apple TV supports the Apple App Store; Microsoft updated the Xbox One to run a version of the Windows 10 operating system.

And this week, a report came out that indicated that the Apple TV will soon be getting an upgrade that turns it into a smart Siri-powered home assistant, a lot like the smash hit Amazon Echo.

In the past, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that its Xbox One games console will fill a similar role, starting with the arrival of Cortana in a forthcoming update.

It means that for once, the long-time frenemies have aligning philosophies: Microsoft and Apple see the television as the most-desired real estate in the home. And if people want a voice-powered home assistant that can control their connected home appliances, that's where they're going to deliver it.

But Amazon and Google are going in an entirely different direction.

With the Amazon Echo and the recently-announced Google Home assistant, these relatively newer companies are betting on something a little more ambient — a gadget that's always on and standing by, unlike a television, and that can be comfortably stashed anywhere with a power outlet. Amazon even sells mini, hockey-puck sized versions of the Echo so you can have one in every room.

This great philosophical divide, with Microsoft and Apple on one side and Amazon and Google on the other, seems to come from their histories.

Apple and Microsoft got their starts in the early days of the personal computer, decades ago. For most of their histories, "computer" meant "mouse, keyboard, and monitor," in varying configurations.

It wasn't so very long ago that the television seemed like the most logical thing in which to incorporate a computer, given that it's very often the largest screen in the home. And both Apple and Microsoft have strong existing investments in the software developer ecosystem who are already adept at enhancing the capabilities of something with a screen.

Meanwhile, Amazon and Google both rose to prominence in the early days of the internet era, when the network was far more important than any single computer. While both of them have dabbled in device manufacturing, the thing that made Amazon and Google special in the first place was their intelligence they used to power their online services.

Apple and Microsoft are betting that people still want to make the television the center of their lives. Amazon and Google are trying to provide a little more intelligence, everywhere, with or without a screen.

Are Apple and Microsoft too old-fashioned? Or are Amazon and Google too avant-garde? With the whole voice control-slash-conversational interface game still very much in its infancy, there's room for everybody to be right. But as we get more used to talking to our gadgets like they're human, a shakeout seems inevitable.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 31st May 2016

Google was caught by surprise. Last week, nearly 100 employees of France’s equivalent of the IRS (Direction générale des Finances) raided Google’s office in Paris for a tax non-compliance investigation. French financial prosecutor Éliane Houlette told Europe 1 that her team had been secretly working on this raid for nearly a year. Google may be facing a $1.8 billion fine (€1.6 billion).

Houlette and her team have been a bit paranoid with this investigation. Given Google’s size and reach, the team has been extra cautious, as Google couldn’t know about an upcoming raid in its office in Paris. You don’t want the company to start obfuscating files before you even have a chance to look at them.

That’s why most people at the DGF didn’t even know Houlette was getting serious about this investigation. Her team used the codename “Tulip” when talking about Google, referring to the flowers in the Netherlands.

“We’ve dealt [with this investigation] in complete secret given this company’s business,” Houlette told Europe 1. “In order to protect this secret, we decided that we would give another name to Google and never pronounce Google’s name — Tulip. And we’ve worked offline on this investigation for nearly a year. We used one computer, but only as a word processor.”

The end result is terabytes of data. It’s going to take months, or even years to process all this data, according to Houlette.

Many have asked whether France is willing to do a tax deal like in the U.K. French finance minister Michel Sapin told Reuters that there won’t be any deal. Houlette went even further and said that France’s legislation doesn’t work this way and there’s no way the French government could make a deal with Google.

So it leaves one possibility — a trial. Things could get ugly as this trial could go on and on for years. It would hurt France’s image when it comes to doing business in France. Houlette is also aware of that, so let’s see if the financial prosecutor can find an alternative that won’t be a deal nor a trial.

France’s investigation against Google’s tax schemes started in 2011. According to Google, the company doesn’t do much business in France. It has an office and a marketing team, but no sales team. That’s why most of Google France’s revenue goes to Google’s European HQ in Ireland and the company doesn’t pay much tax in France.

Google then sends most of Google Ireland Limited’s money to Google Netherlands Holdings BV, so that this other subsidiary can send the money to Google Ireland Holdings.

Despite the name, Google Ireland Holdings’ cost center is in Bermuda and is called Google Bermuda Unlimited. And that’s how you end up making money in France while keeping your bank account in Bermuda, where corporate tax doesn’t even exist.

Many European companies use more or less the same process to lower tax rates — and it’s legal. But the main issue with Google in France is that the DGF thinks Google is doing more than just marketing in France. Some Irish contracts could be French and could be subject to French taxes. Hence the investigation.

Source: techcrunch.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 25th May 2016

Finding new, productive tasks for staff is the real challenge, not just cutting costs

Automating tasks with technology can save staff lots of time, cut costs and improve morale, but firms need to think about how this free time is used in terms of productivity to achieve the true benefits of automation.

Marcus Austin, an analyst at research firm Quocirca, said at a web seminar hosted by V3 sister site Computing that this planning needs to happen far earlier than it does now.

"There isn't a lot of thought put into the next step for the business when automating," he said.

"They've put systems in to reduce complex tasks, but what do staff do with that saved time? Firms need to understand it's a stepped process. Automation isn't a solution in itself.

"You need to start thinking about [how to use this saved time] as you're putting these systems in."

But this saved time is one of the principal benefits of automation, as Donnie MacColl, director of EMEA technical services at HelpSystems, explained.

"When I ask people what I can do to make their working life better, most say 'time'. They want a single pane of glass. They have multiple screens, devices, databases, applications, and it would be good to bring them all together into one screen," he said.

"So bring all those systems into single pane. Bring in all the messages and alerts you need to do something with. Put them into an easily repeatable, automated task, then non-IT people can be empowered to do them.

"For instance, a sales person might want their sales figures at 5pm every day. If it's automated they can run that task themselves at 5pm. It doesn't need a request to go to IT every day."

Computing's own research into automation found that 69 per cent of respondents cited cost reduction as the main driver, while 66 per cent cited increased productivity.

MacColl, however, pointed to other statistics from the research showing that 47 per cent cited increased reliability and 22 per cent less downtime. "If you add those together it becomes joint top," he said.

He added that automation can reduce mundane, repetitive tasks which can lead to improved employee morale and lower staff turnover.

"That leads to reduced costs, but perhaps not in the direct, tangible way you may have expected upfront," MacColl explained.

So what are the first steps to introducing automation into a business? MacColl advised firms to start with the simplest processes first.

"I recommend people start with mundane, boring, repetitive tasks. That's the low-hanging fruit. It's checking servers are OK, applications are up and running, network ports are open and that people have access to the systems they should. Automate that easy stuff first then move on to the more complex stuff," he said.

Further research by Computing found that 54 per cent of those surveyed said that routine maintenance and patching could most usefully be automated, while 51 per cent cited backups as the top choice.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 25th May 2016

More problems in Europe for search firm

Google’s offices in Paris have been raided by as many as 100 tax officials after the company was accused of failing to pay tax returns amounting to £1.3bn, according to the BBC.

French regulators confirmed the raids, as reported by Reuters, and Google has said that it is cooperating with the investigation.

“We comply with French law and are cooperating fully with the authorities to answer their questions," the company said in a statement.

The move comes amid growing scrutiny of Google in Europe concerning tax payments and alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

The UK government was criticised last year for agreeing a £130m deal with Google over unpaid taxes, which was a fraction of what was owed and of the revenue and profit that the firm generates.

More recently, the European Commission filed a Statement of Objections against Google concerning alleged abuse of its search market dominance to favour its own services at the expense of others.

Google faces the possibility of a €3bn fine if the firm cannot convince the regulators that this is not the case.

Google is also at loggerheads with French authorities over the Right to be Forgotten after the nation's privacy watchdog, CNIL, ruled that successful requests must be applied to the firm's entire search database, not just in EU nations.

However, the company has appealed to the highest court in France, arguing that the ruling would create a dangerous precedent and block access to search results in regions where that access is perfectly legal.

“As a matter of law and principle, we disagree with this demand. We comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate," Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel at the company, said last week.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd May 2016

Google has patented a technology that will attach people to the front of your self-driving car after a collision, The Mercury News reports.

The adhesive layer would coat the front of a self-driving car but be covered by something that's not sticky. When you hit someone, the outer layer would be removed, exposing the glue.

After a crash, the victim would be stuck to the front of the car, preventing them from another injury as they're thrown backwards.

The existence of a patent about gluing people to cars doesn't mean that it's actually going to happen, though. Large technology companies like Google patent lots of ideas, but only a few actually make it to production.

Self-driving cars are, in theory, safer than cars driven by humans. But they still get into accidents. In February one of Google's driverless cars hit a bus in Mountain View. And the owner of a Tesla Model S claimed earlier this month that his car crashed into a trailer while in "Summon" mode.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd May 2016

Queen's Speech promises compensation for any household unable to get at least 10Mbps broadband

The government has outlined plans in the Queen's Speech for every household in the UK to have "the right" to high-speed broadband and automatic compensation for those that get left behind.

The plans were outlined by the Queen in the State Opening of Parliament today. She said that the government's proposed Digital Economy Bill will "make the UK a world leader in digital provision", in which the country would be "ceaselessly" transformed by technology.

"Legislation will be introduced to ... make the United Kingdom a world leader in the digital economy," the Queen said.

The broadband promises will be underwritten by a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation which expects minimum UK broadband speeds to be 10Mbps initially. The Bill would also, however, deliver direct power to Ofcom to "review the speed over time to make sure it is still sufficient for modern life".

Ofcom will also be given the power to release data on customer complaints and actual broadband speeds to help customers better navigate the market. Automatic compensation is also promised for when things go wrong with a broadband service.

The Bill lays out welcome developments for UK customers still suffering from poor quality connections, especially in low bandwidth areas, while certain government ministers regularly tout their own apparent success with fast broadband rollouts.

However, the so-called "new" nature of the Universal Service Obligation is slightly strange in that 10Mbps has been the government's supposed service standard since prime minister David Cameron's speech on the matter in November.

Cameron also spoke at the time of access to superfast broadband as a "right".

Ofcom laid out its own spin on the plans on 12 May, mentioning an idea to harness a sub-band in the 5GHz frequency range (most routers currently use the 2.4GHz frequency) while ensuring protection for other users, such as satellite services.

The government seems to be presenting old promises as new, but it is encouraging to see realistic broadband provision in rural and other ‘notspot' areas of the UK to counter the ongoing bluster of politicians.

However, 10Mbps per second still seems a low target for a rural UK filled with such digital promise.

Paul Evans, CEO of internet speed boosting company Boosty, is also concerned that the UK's infrastructure isn't robust enough to support such changes in the timeframes envisaged by the government.

"Realistically, even if the government's plans are pushed through, it could still take up to five or six years to roll out superfast fibre broadband," he said.

"By then the broadband infrastructure may not be sufficient to support a new generation of digital services."

Source: v3.co.uk
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