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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Nov 2015

Jan Krissler used high resolution photos, including one from a government press office, to successfully recreate the fingerprints of Germany’s defence minister.

It’s an old cliché of security researchers: fingerprints might appear more secure than passwords. But if your password gets stolen, you can change it to a new one; what happens when your fingerprint gets copied?

That’s no longer an abstract fear: a speaker at the Chaos Communication Congress, an annual meeting of hackers in Germany, demonstrated his method for faking fingerprints using only a few high-definition photographs of his target, German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Jan Krissler, known in hacker circles as Starbug, used commercial software called VeriFinger and several close-range photos of von der Leyen, including one gleaned from a press release issued by her own office and another he took himself from three meters away, to reverse-engineer the fingerprint.

“After this talk, politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public,” he joked.

Also reported at the conference was another security hole seemingly straight out of science-fiction: a so-called “corneal keylogger”. The idea behind the attack is simple. A hacker may have access to a user’s phone camera, but not anything else. How to go from there to stealing all their passwords?

One way, demonstrated on stage, is to read what they’re typing by analysing photographs of the reflections in their eyes. Smartphone cameras, even front-facing ones, are now high-resolution enough that such an attack is possible.

Starbug is no stranger to taking on biometric security. In a high profile stunt in 2013, he spoofed Apple’s TouchID sensors within 24 hours of the release of the iPhone 5S. Using a smudge on the screen of an iPhone, he printed a dummy finger using wood glue and sprayable graphene, which successfully unlocked a phone registered to someone else’s thumb.

For that hack, he had to have physical access to the phone he stole the fingerprint from, in order to get a high resolution scan of the print. His latest demonstration suggests that it may be possible to unlock a phone using a fingerprint stolen without ever touching a person or their property – although actually getting hold of the phone is still needed for the last stage, of actually unlocking it.

The increasing number of successful attacks against biometric identification has led to some security researchers advising that people change the way they think about security measures such as fingerprints and photo ID. Rather than treating them as a replacement for passwords, they should instead be used as a second factor of authentication, or even as something similar to a username: a publicly known piece of information which must be linked to a password before a user can log in.

As the ACLU’s Jay Stanley told the Washington Post, “Biometrics are not secrets… Ideally, they’re unique to each individual, but that’s not the same thing as being a secret.”

And Starbug agrees, telling Zeit in 2013 that “I consider my password safer than my fingerprint… My password is in my head, and if I’m careful when typing, I remain the only one who knows it.”

Source: theguardian.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 23rd Nov 2015

The man who guided England to Rugby World Cup victory told Coventry and Warwickshire companies that success in business hinges on the adoption of new technology.

Former England Rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward delivered a keynote speech at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce annual conference.

Woodward, who worked industry before becoming a full time coach, ended a day which was dominated by devolution, new technology and the outlook for the regional, national and world economy in the final event held in the Rugby Fanzone

He said: “I have always said that whoever wins in technology tends to win in business so it was great to speak to an audience interested in growing business through technology.

“Business has always been fascinated by sport but I believe sport has a lot to learn from business too so it was great to hear from all the other speakers and industry leaders on the day too.”

Woodward was joined by BBC’s Tanya Beckett and MPs Marcus Jones and Mark Pawsey as well as 350 local business people.

Two panel debates – one on devolution and one on business in the digital age – included contributions from Coventry City Councillor Kevin Maton, Rugby Borough Council leader Michael Stokes, Prime Accountants Group’s Kevin Johns, LEP representative David Cockcroft, CityFibre’s Andrew Starnes, Twycross Zoo’s Sharon Redrobe, PET-Xi’s Fleur Sexton and Emerald Group’s Sarah Windrum.

The event was facilitated Dr Adam Marshall, executive director policy and external affairs for the British Chambers of Commerce. He also discussed the economic recovery as well as asking the 350 business people in the region to indicate their thoughts on a range of topics with a show of red and green cards.

On devolution, most firms suggested that more information was needed for companies to have an informed opinion on the topic.

Marcus Jones told the conference: “For too long, there has been a gap between the north and the south. The economy has been imbalanced – London has dominated to the detriment of other regions.

“We knew that had to change. We have supported LEPs, Growth Deals and have given local areas the chance to drive growth.

“Now, through decentralisation, areas are able to find creative solutions to their own issues. Nothing is being imposed on local areas – decisions should be from the bottom up not the top down.”

Jones followed Tanya Beckett, who told the audience that her message on the economy was one of optimism and said that the world was only at the beginning of the digital age. She said it was a ‘new industrial revolution’ that hasn’t yet effected productivity but that it will be the next step change.

The event was sponsored by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and CityFibre, the company behind the Coventry CORE gigabit internet speeds in Coventry.

Andrew Starnes, of CityFibre, said: “There are still companies out there who don’t have fast enough internet speeds and that is where we can make a difference. The fact that the Chamber dedicated its conference to growth through technology shows just how important an issue this is.”

Chamber chief executive Louise Bennett said: “It was a great chance to look at the opportunities and challenges facing the region’s businesses and looking, particularly, at how technology can benefit all sectors.

“It was also a chance to highlight how the Chamber can play a key role in supporting businesses’ future growth. We are here to serve the best interests of our members and the local business community.”

The conference was closed by Chamber president Peter Burns, who is stepping down from the role this month.

He said: “This marks the near-end of my two year term office as the president of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and I am certainly going out on a high in light of this brilliant event.”

Source: midlandsbusinessnews.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 18th Nov 2015

More than 55,000 small and medium businesses (SMBs) have received a voucher for high-speed broadband, the UK government has revealed.

Under the £40m Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme, SMBs could apply for a voucher worth up to £3,000 that they could spend on installing faster and better network connections.

The idea behind the scheme was to transform cities to create new jobs and attract investment across the UK.
London-based SMBs ended up with most financial support, with 14,545 vouchers issued to firms in the capital, including more than 1,000 businesses in and around the silicon roundabout area. This is unsurprising considering how many smaller firms and tech startups are based across the city, but is at odds with the government's plans to create business hubs in other areas of the country.

The North West was next in line, with more than 8,000 SMBs in the region getting a voucher, while Yorks and Humber, and the Midlands received around 7,000 each.

After London, Manchester was the most successful city with just over 6,000 vouchers issued.
The East of England and the North East were the losers in the battle for broadband, with fewer than 2,000 vouchers each. Carlisle received the lowest number of vouchers of all the individual cities at just 52.

The successful applicants included architects, estate agents, mechanics, event coordinators, cafés, graphic designers and caterers.
The scheme was open to SMBs in 50 cities around the UK to receive grants of up to £3,000 to cover the cost of installing high-speed broadband services in their premises.

The scheme went live in April and was in high demand. By early September, 40,000 businesses had already been awarded grants, and by 14 October, the government closed the broadband voucher scheme for new applications.

The government was keen to point out that the scheme also benefited small businesses at the other end of the pipeline: the broadband providers. Of the 800-plus suppliers that participated in the scheme, 86 per cent of the funding went to smaller suppliers around the UK.

BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk accounted for only 14 per cent of the total value of the vouchers, the government noted.

The government also boasted that a new job was created for every four new connections.
Despite the scheme's success and apparent value to the economy and country, the government has no plans to relaunch it at a future date it seems.

"Whilst the scheme has now closed, its success has stimulated the market, with some suppliers now offering similar support through offers of free installation and equipment. This means that those eligible businesses who didn't apply for one of the government's Broadband Connection vouchers still have time to apply for a free or discounted broadband boost for their business," the DCMS noted.

The clear demand for faster broadband services comes amid debates in the broadband market about whether BT's Openreach division, responsible for most fibre rollouts in the UK, should become a standalone company or stay within BT.

BT also recently outlined plans for the next five years, citing an ambition to ensure that everyone in the UK can get speeds of 5Mbps to 10Mbps and as many as possible of between 300Mbps and 1Gbps.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 18th Nov 2015

Passwords are crap. Nobody picks good ones, when they do they re-use them across sites, and if you use even a trustworthy password manager, they’ll get hacked too. But you know what’s worse than a password? A fingerprint. Fingerprints have enough problems with them that they should never be used anywhere a password would be.

Passwords are supposed to be secret, like the name of your childhood pet. In contrast, you carry your fingers around with you out in the open nearly everywhere you go. Passwords also need to be revocable. In the case that your password does get revealed, it’s great to be able to simply pick another one. You don’t want to have to revoke your fingers. Finally, and this is the kicker, you want your password to be hashable, in order to protect the password database itself from theft.

In the rest of the article, I’ll make each of these three cases, and hopefully convince you that using fingerprints in place of a password is even more broken than using a password in the first place. (You listening Apple and Google? No, I didn’t think you were.)

The first, and maybe most obvious, problem with using a fingerprint in place of a secret password is that they’re not secret at all. Think about the trope where the cops offer the bad guy a coffee in questioning and then subsequently take the mug down to the forensics lab to read his prints. Busted!

But it’s worse than that. You leave your fingerprints everywhere. They can be picked up off of paper, keyboards, and desk surfaces. You wouldn’t leave your password written down on a sticky-note attached to your monitor at work, would you? If your work is using your fingerprint for authentication, your password is probably on your monitor right now.

fingerprint_talk-shot0011German hacker [Jan Krissler], who goes by [starbug], has been hammering this home every chance he gets. Back when the iPhone 5’s touchID system was just announced, [starbug] started salivating. He bought one immediately, played around with it for two days, and demonstrated that he could fake out the fingerprint reader before the lines around the block at the Apple Store had cleared. In this interview with Ars Technica, starbug complains that it was too easy. An unnamed Apple source said they’d expected it to take two months, not two days.

His technique to mimic a fingerprint is pretty simpel. He takes a copy of a fingerprint, then etches it into copper (as if making a PCB), coats the etching in graphite spray, and finally tops it all off with a layer of wood glue or latex. Where the copper was etched away, the glue-and-graphite finger mold is deeper, simulating the ridges on your finger. The graphite spray gives it the right bulk capacitance. Do this in skin-colored latex, and you’ve made something worthy of Mission Impossible for $5 in materials and one afternoon of your time. All you need is a good fingerprint image lifted from a mug or a book.

Don’t show your prints in pictures. [Starbug] reproduced the thumbprint of [Ursula von der Leyen], Germany’ Defense Minister, from a single photograph taken at a press conference. Whether the thumbprint is good enough to unlock the entire German army remains untested, but you get the point; hopefully they’re not using fingerprints for secret passwords.

[Starbug] discusses the resolutions required and many more hacks against biometrics in general in this great talk at the Chaos Communication Congress (in German), but the point is that with enough resolution and/or a good enough lens, fingerprints can be taken from comfortable distances. The main limiting factors are depth-of-focus and lighting, which is bad news for politicians sitting on a well-lit stage in front a bunch of cameras. Politician or not, unless you’re always wearing gloves, your fingerprints are not good secrets.

So let’s say that somehow your normal password gets leaked. How bad is it? In an ideal world, the website that has been hacked lets you know and tells you to change your password. You replace your dog’s name with your cat’s name, and the year of your birth with that of your kid sister’s. Problem solved!

But if your fingerprints are your password and they get leaked, it’s “impossible” to change them. Indeed in traditional fingerprint applications, uniqueness and immutability are the whole point — tying criminals to the scene of the crime, for instance. If you could just change your fingerprints after each heist, you wouldn’t have to wear those awkward gloves.

A fingerprint stays with you for life. Once I steal your fingerprint, I can unlock your current fingerprint-secured device and every fingerprint-secured device that you’ll ever buy in the future. Fingerprints are half-secrets that can’t ever be changed, and thus make lousy passwords. There’s not much more to say about this point, and it’s pretty damning, but it’s worth emphasizing because of the prevalence of bad policy out there.

opm_letterFor instance, sensitive government agencies have been using personal identity verification (PIV) cards that include a copy of the employee’s fingerprint. In addition to a correct password, federal employees subject to PIV have to swipe their finger, and the fingerprint is compared against the one stored in the card. The idea is to use the password and fingerprint match as a form of two-factor authentication.

And then the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) got hacked and 5.6 million (!) fingerprints of government employees got taken, presumably by a foreign government’s spy agency. So now the Dept. of Homeland Security is possibly going to have to move to “three-factor authentication” because one of their factors is entirely burned. If the government had chosen a revocable second factor for the PIV cards, at least that part of the spill would be a lot easier to mop up.

Passwords need to be changed to remain secret and secure. Fingerprints don’t change.

The problem with fingerprints is that close is good enough, and needs to be. If I press my finger harder into one reader than into another, or swipe differently, or have a cut, I still want the reader to accept my fingerprint. Trained FBI agents make matches with “partials” all the time, and with reasonable accuracy. Close matches are a fact of life with human flesh and real-world scanners. But a fingerprint with a tiny flaw will hash into something entirely different from the reference version. What this means is that fingerprints are not hashable. Hashing makes passwords strong and without it, fingerprint protection is much weaker.

When a responsible website gets hacked these days, and the thieves walk away with the password database, they’re not actually in possession of a list of any passwords at all. Instead, what they get is a list of usernames and one-way hashes of the passwords.

hashingWhen you type your password in, the website hashes the result. If the trial hash matches the stored one, they can be sure that the password was right. Because the hash is essentially one-way, it’s exceptionally hard for anyone to start from the hashes and figure out what your password is. In fact, the easiest way to go from hashes back to passwords is to start guessing every possible password, compute its hash, and check for a match.

Contrast this with a naïve implementation where the website stores everyone’s passwords, but encrypts them with a master password. If the hacker can break the master password, he or she can decrypt the entire database and all of the passwords. And because this master password has to be used every time a normal password is validated, it’s going to be very vulnerable as well as very valuable. Encrypting each user’s data with a different master password just means that they’ve got to maintain a gigantic master password database, which doesn’t help things either. This is why every responsible website only stores hashes of users’ passwords.

Hashes can be made still better than encryption, though. If the security people are doing their job, the passwords are salted with something that’s different (but not necessarily secret) for each user before hashing; this slows down a brute-force mass-cracking attempt, because each person’s password is essentially hashed differently.

If you and I both use the password “!password123”, but my password has “elliot” added on the front and yours has “joe_user” our hashed values will differ. Once the hackers finally guess your password, because of the salt, they won’t automatically know mine.

And if the website’s security is really good, this hashing process will be repeated thousands of times with a slower algorithm which further slows down brute-force attacks. If it takes one half second to validate your login, it’s no big deal for you, but it’s a deal breaker for a brute-force attempt where they rely on millions of trials per second. As an example of best practices, the disclosure when the password manager LastPass got hacked is pretty solid. It’s still lousy that they got hacked, and you should still change your master password, but if it’s a good one nobody is going to be brute-forcing it any time soon.

Fingerprints and the Avalanche Effect
1024px-Avalanche_effect.svgWhat does any of this have to do with fingerprints? Fingerprints don’t hash well, so all of the above security advantages of storing only salted, hashed passwords in the database don’t apply. That’s because in addition to being one-way, a good hash exhibits the avalanche effect: a small change in the password makes a much larger difference in the hash.

The string “!password123” hashed using the MD5 hashing function is b3a2efccbe10c39f2119979a6f9a3ab2, but “!Password123” is d2583f9c75fbc22890d39e7241927511. The two strings differ by one letter, the capitalized “P”, and yet the hashes are very different. This prevents the cracker, who is brute-forcing potential passwords to get a hash match, from knowing when he or she is getting close. If each correct letter in your password got the hash closer to the target hash, they’d guess it in no time. The avalanche effect means that guessing “close” to the password doesn’t help at all.

As I mentioned before, fingerprint technology needs to be “close enough”. A miss is as good as a mile once it’s hashed. Which means that fingerprints have to be stored in plaintext or encrypted but can’t usefully be hashed, because a good hash avalanches. Fingerprint databases are necessarily a weak link; anywhere your fingerprint is being stored, on your iPhone or PIV card or inside your electronic passport, there is a version of your fingerprint that someone could decrypt if they knew the master password.

Electronic Passports
A great example of hashing versus encryption is found in electronic passports. They contain an encrypted representation of your fingerprint and iris images because they’re considered to be sensitive information. But these can only be encrypted because the passport reader will need to be able to decrypt them to compare with your real fingers and eyes.

Us-passportOn top of this, all of your non-sensitive information and the encrypted package are all hashed together, which makes it harder to tamper with any of the info without changing the hash. You might think you could tweak one bit here and apply an offsetting tweak there, but the avalanche effect foils that plan.

At the end of the day, though, this means that the fingerprints on your passport are only secured from reading by encryption, and not a hash function. That’s fine for Customs because they only care that your fingerprint hasn’t been modified. For them your fingerprint is only really used to verify that you are you, and that’s hard to tamper with without breaking the hash that ties it to the rest of your information.

For privacy-minded individuals, on the other hand, it’s a bit more of a concern to have your fingerprints only encrypted. An evil-doer with your passport and the right password(s) could undo the encryption and get your fingerprints out. Although it’s probably easier to just lift your prints off the cover of the passport — fingerprints aren’t good secrets, remember?

Don’t use fingerprints as if they were passwords. Being permanent and relatively-easily verified and obtained makes them great for criminal investigations or for certifying that you are who you say you are. But they’re not passwords because they’re not secret, they’re not revocable, and they’re very difficult to store securely.

Source: hackaday.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Nov 2015

16GB iPhones or iPads don't really have 16GB of available storage. Instead, it's more like 13 GB.

That's because some of your device's storage is being used for important things that make it work, like the iOS operating system.

The following steps will help you maximize the little space you have left on your iOS device, and you should be left with quite a bit if you follow all of them religiously.

Turn off iCloud Photo Library and download Google Photos.

It may seem counter intuitive to download an app when you're trying to save on storage space, but Google Photos is key if you take any photos or videos at all with your iPhone.

With its free unlimited storage, you can save every single photo you take to Google's servers with Google Photos. After that, you can delete them from your phone's storage to free up space.

Sure, Apple's iCloud does the same thing as Google Photos, but you only get 5GB of free storage, which fills up very quickly and often results in annoying popup alerts telling you your iCloud storage is full.

Turn off iCloud Photo Library by going to Settings > Photos & Camera > disable iCloud Photo Library.

Unfortunately, photos don't automatically delete themselves from your phone once they've uploaded to Google Photos, so it'll require some manual maintenance every once in a while.

Delete videos you no longer watch or need.

Having unwatched videos in your iPhone is the equivalent of having a bunch of video reels in a small NYC apartment.
Like that movie or TV show you loaded onto your iPhone or iPad for that flight you took last year. And while you're at it, do you really need that music video? It might be a work of art, but if your iOS device only has 16 GB, you need to set your storage priorities straight if you're running out of space.

Just head over to the Videos app, tap Edit on the top left, and tap the red Delete button next to the video you're deleting.

Don't worry, they'll be saved in iCloud separately from your free 5 GB limit. You can also use Google Photos to upload your videos.

Disable My Photo Stream and don't subscribe to others' shared albums

My Photo Stream will automatically send photos you've taken with one Apple device to any others connected to your iCloud account. For example, a photo you take with your iPad will end up in your iPhone and vice versa.

The iCloud Photo Sharing feature lets you automatically send photos in iCloud to friends and family who subscribe to you. It also works the other way around. Constantly receiving photos from others may be nice, but it'll also fill up your iOS device's storage.

To disable these features, go to Settings > Photos & Camera > and disable My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing.

Check which apps are taking up the most space and delete those you don't really use.

Not only do apps take up space on your home screens, they use up your iPhone's storage. Some only take up a few megabytes, others a few hundred. If you have multiple unused apps, those megabytes can add up to gigabytes pretty quickly.

Go to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage under Storage. This shows you a list of apps that are taking the most space on your phone.

On this iPhone, pictured right, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are large apps that are seldom used, if ever, so they can easily be deleted to free up space. Go down the list and ask yourself if you really need them. If you use the app daily or weekly, then it's probably worth keeping.

But if you're keeping apps because "it'd be nice to have when you need them," you should consider getting rid of them.

On your home screen, press and hold an app you want to delete till all your apps wiggle, and tap the "X" symbol on the top left corner of the app icon to delete it. There's no need to hoard apps you don't use.

Clean up your iMessages.

Over time, iMessage can take up a lot of space, especially if you've received a bunch of photos, GIFs, audio messages, or videos.

Go to the iMessage app and tap "Edit" on the top left. Then tap each conversation and tap "Delete" on the bottom right.

To prevent manually managing your messages in the future, head to Settings > Messages > scroll down and tap Keep Messages under Message History. They're set to stay on your device and backups forever by default, but you can set them to delete themselves after 30 days or one year.

Obviously, 30 days is preferable, but it's understandable if you want to keep them for a year for reference.

Subscribe to iTunes Match or a music streaming service.

Keeping a bunch of music on your iPhone is a sure way to run out of storage space.

You can already stream music you bought on iTunes from iCloud for free, and it doesn't count towards your free 5GB iCloud limit, either. But you can't stream music in your iTunes library that you didn't buy directly from iTunes, like physical CD albums.

That's when iTunes Match comes in. It costs $24.99 per year, and it lets you upload all the music in your iTunes library to iCloud (also separate from the free 5 GB limit) to stream from any iOS device wherever you have an internet or data connection.

However, iTunes Match doesn't let you stream music you don't have in your iTunes library, so you might prefer a music streaming service like Spotify or the upcoming Apple Music, both of which cost $9.99 per month. That way, you'll be able to play your own music and play any track or album in the streaming service's library.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Nov 2015

With the SMB market in the midst of transformation we explain why investing in correct technology is key to maximising productivity.

Want to improve employee productivity, boost your bottom line, increase morale and attract the best talent to your business? Do not underestimate the importance of choosing the right devices for your employees.

Chances are your business is on the move. Yet, if you’re relying on older PCs, it may not be moving as fast as you’d like. If your PCs are over four years old, they can more than double the time spent on support and repairs, which means hours of lost productivity.

Traditionally, SMBs have attempted to save money by holding onto technology long after it’s due a refresh. This short term strategy means SMBs spend an average of $427 repairing each PC that is four years or older1. Not only does this mean that budget is drained by maintaining old hardware, but businesses miss out on productivity benefits the latest technology would provide.

In the digital age there is a shift in employee expectations are they are increasingly having a say in the equipment they use. Across all businesses, four in ten workers have an influence over the technology provided by their employer, according to The Workforce Perspective report, commissioned by Dell and Intel. The SMB market is higher than average with nearly half (49 percent) of employees able to choose the device they want to use vs 36 percent of large enterprise workers.

With so much choice on the market, it’s important to identify the correct tool for the job and below we take a look at the options available for your business.


New technology is empowering a new mobile workforce and smarter, more flexible ways of working – a recent V3 survey revealed that 63 percent of us no longer have a fixed desk in a traditional office and this mobility trend is driving a desire for smarter IT solutions. There are a variety of options available on the market depending on the job role and the requirements of employees:

2-in-1s (http://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/enterprise-security/laptops-for-business.html): Combining the portability of a tablet with the performance of laptops, 2-in-1s are the most versatile form factor available on the market. Devices can be used like traditional laptops in clamshell form and models feature either a detachable or convertible design. The former allows keyboards to be completely removed so screens can be used as a standalone tablet, whereas the latter allows users to twist and rotate screens but keeps keyboards attached.

By investing in a 2-in-1 instead of separate laptops and tablets for employees, business can save up to $1,200 per employee over a three year period2. The ability to run legacy software thanks to Windows and consume multimedia on-the-go means employees can use one device for work and personal use. For SMBs benefits include the ability to manage devices thanks to the option of Intel® vPro™ processors.

There are numerous 2-in-1s on the market catering to specific use cases. It’s possible to buy specialised rugged models such as the Dell Latitude 12 Extreme, opt for a device with optimised stylus input in the form of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or invest in a product offering up to 17 hours of battery life such as the Toshiba Portege Z20tB

Tablets (http://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/enterprise-security/tablet-for-business.html#shopbusinesstablets): Typically used by retail staff, delivery drivers, auditors or engineers who are constantly on the move, tablets are ideal as they offer portable form factors starting at 7ins with all-day battery life. The handheld devices ship without keyboards, but numerous accessories can be purchased to increase functionality.

The Dell Venue 8 Pro 700 Series is the first tablet to include an Intel® RealSense™ Depth Camera. The use of 3D enables users to see precise measurements of objects in a photo as well as the ability to refocus images in post-production – ideal for estate agents or quantity surveyors.

Ultrabooks™: The evolution of traditional laptops, Ultrabooks™ (http://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/small-business/ultrabook-for-business-i-need-video.html) have thin form factors whilst providing high-end performance using Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors. Many devices such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon combine a high-level of portability with performance and security, making them ideal for power users who need to work on the move.

Whilst mobile working is a major trend there are still widespread choices for the office, depending on requirements and job function. Here are the three main options:

Desktops (http://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/enterprise-security/desktop-for-business.html): Focused on performance, desktops remain the best choice for office-based power users such as administrators, designers or video editors. According to Intel, upgrading one PC will free up 30 minutes per week for that employee, allowing them to focus on core business activities. If your small business has ten workers using desktops, this translates to five hours of time saved per week, which can be used to boost business performance.

Ultra-small Form factor PCs: Devices such as Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) PCs aim to offer SMBs with cost-effective, versatile devices. The tiny footprint means they are save space and consume less power making them a good choice for workers who don’t require the extreme performance of desktop PCs or touch capabilities. Small form-factors can be used to power kiosks, digital signage or as thin clients - and can easily hidden from view.

All-in-Ones (https://www-ssl.intel.com/content/www/uk/en/enterprise-security/desktop-for-business.html): These provide a stylish and compact form factor, so are commonly seen in customer-facing areas such as receptions. The main difference between PCs and All-in-Ones aside from the form factor is the fact they combine traditional keyboard and mouse input with touchscreen capabilities. The ability to fold them flat also makes them ideal for collaboration purposes as work can be annotated on-screen in a group setting. It also means they can be used as point-of-sale terminals and self-service stations.

Overall, there are numerous advantages to be gained by executing a timely refresh. For those employees needing mobility, 2-in-1s and Ultrabooks powered by Intel® Core™ 5th Generation processors offer up to 50 percent faster performance and twice the graphics capabilities compared to four year old devices. Those using Intel® Core™ M technology provide increased battery efficiency and silent operation thanks to fan-less designs. Meanwhile, traditional desktops provide extreme performance, whereas All-in-Ones and SFF PCs offer versatility, the ability to maximize office space not to mention the cost savings.

With Intel® Wireless Display and Gigabit technology, all the latest devices will make workplace collaboration easier as wires are gradually phased out. Intel® RealSense™ technology will also introduce new methods of interaction including motion tracking, facial analysis, augmented reality and 3D scanning.

Source: intel.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Nov 2015

Anonymous has declared “war” on Isis, in response to the attacks in Paris that left over a hundred people dead.

Members of the online collective have posted a video . It continues the group’s work against Isis, which began strongly following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January.

In a video posted soon after the attacks, a person claiming to represent the group warns members of Islamic State that it intends to hunt them down. It said that it would “unite humanity” in the operation, which it claimed would use hacking to weaken the group.

“Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down,” said the voice in the video, which included footage of the group’s famous Guy Fawkes mask and was in French. “You should know that we will find you and we will not let you go.

“We will launch the biggest operation ever against you.

“Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared. Get prepared.

“The French people are stronger than you and will come out of this atrocity even stronger.”

The video has been watched almost a million times, and thousands of people have shared tweets about Anonymous’s call to action. Across Twitter, users said that they would shut down social media accounts and websites, as well as claiming to help disrupt communications.

Anonymous has made repeated calls to action against Isis since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. Very shortly after the attacks, it started taking down extremist websites and has been running campaigns on social media ever since.

The group has been particularly active on Twitter, where it has worked to identify Isis social media accounts — often used to distribute propaganda and share news releases — and then report them to the company so that they can be taken down.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Nov 2015

What happens when a crowdfunded project goes wrong?

And do those who back ideas on platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have any rights when they do not deliver on their promises?

That is what the more than 12,000 people who backed the Zano mini-drone project are asking as their hopes recede of ever getting a working product.

Since I wrote about Zano last week things have got worse. The Torquing Group, the company behind it, finally released a statement on Friday but gave no further information on what was happening. After expressing sadness at the resignation of Ivan Reedman, the engineer at the heart of the project, it said: "We are now considering the company's position on how best to move forward."

I then emailed Philip Busby, Torquing's chief executive, with the same questions I had asked before about the nature of the promotional video which had sold many on the appeal of the Zano, and the decision to deliver to pre-order customers before backers. I also asked why Torquing was continuing to accept payments via its website for accessories (I'd tested this by buying a battery pack) when it seemed unlikely that the project would continue.

More than 12,000 people gave a total of £2,335,119 to fund the Zano drone via Kickstarter
I received no answers to my questions, but last night I noticed that my order had been cancelled and my money refunded by the credit card firm.

With no answers from Torquing, I turned to Kickstarter. I wanted to know what kind of due diligence is involved before a project is allowed to go ahead. Does the crowdfunding platform check the claims made in promotional videos, for instance, and is a working prototype needed before a Kickstarter for a physical product is allowed onto the platform?

David Gallagher from Kickstarter said yes: "Creators who want to make and distribute hardware must include a demo of a working prototype on their project page." But no, they do not have the capacity to review any claims made by creators: "Creators are responsible for their projects, and backers decide whether those projects should be funded. We encourage backers to do some research on the creator and their project before backing, and to evaluate their ability to complete the project."

He went on to explain that there will always be an element of risk in a crowdfunding project - that in a way is the whole point - but that Kickstarter does have rules which are stricter than those of rival platforms. The identity of project creators is verified at the start, and promotional videos cannot use CGI, meaning they have to show real footage. What is more, backers' money is not taken until the funding period is over.

But any checks only take place during the funding period - and on occasion Kickstarter can kick projects off the platform at this stage. That happened recently with the Laser Razor, which was removed because its creators did not appear to have a working prototype.

With fewer than 20 staff examining each new product, it seems clear that Kickstarter just does not have the capacity to check out the claims made by creators

Once a project is funded, Kickstarter says it is up to creators and backers to work together to make sure that the product is delivered as promised. That involves constant communication, and for many months Ivan Reedman at Torquing fulfilled that role in a very active way - until his sudden departure last week. Now communication with the backer has come to a complete halt.

Kickstarter says that the final recourse backers have when a project goes wrong is to take legal action for the breach of their contract with the creators. It also points out that regulators may take an interest if consumers can show they have been misled. But the key message is that it is up to backers to do proper research.

That is not going down well with members of a Facebook group of Zano backers."My view is that Kickstarter allowed a misleading promotional video or advertisement to appear on their platform without any due diligence," writes one man. "By allowing this and by actively promoting it as a staff pick, they encouraged people to 'invest'." Another backer, David Black said this would be his last Kickstarter: "If KS don't care about enforcing their own terms and conditions how could I possibly use them again. Once bitten..."

There are currently more than 6,000 projects seeking funding on Kickstarter and the platform continues to grow. It is trying to enforce tighter regulation, but with fewer than 20 staff examining each new product, it seems clear that the site just does not have the capacity to check out the claims made by creators. So, the advice for anyone looking at putting their money into a Kickstarter remains - backer beware.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 17th Nov 2015

Chinese tech giant Huawei has unveiled two prototype removable lithium-ion batteries that can recharge in minutes, using a bespoke charger.

The lower capacity battery charged by 68% in two minutes - but is not big enough to run a smartphone for long.

The higher capacity one charged by 48% in five minutes and could provide up to 10 hours of talk time, the firm said.

Current battery life is a significant limiting factor in the performance of portable devices.

Many tech firms and entrepreneurs are researching the issue.

In March, Samsung announced that the batteries in its new Galaxy S6 handsets could power up to four hours of usage after a 10-minute charge.

Israeli start-up Storedot unveiled a fast-charging device at the beginning of the year which it hopes will eventually be able to charge any smartphone battery in under one minute.

Scientists are also researching alternative battery materials to the traditional lithium-ion such as aluminium and graphene.

Huawei says it used heteroatoms - atoms which are not carbon or hydrogen - which the firm claims can increase charging speeds without affecting the battery's overall lifespan.

"Everyone in the world - consumers and all the manufacturers - would benefit from some unforeseen breakthrough in battery chemistry technology," Motorola president Rick Osterloh told the BBC in July.

"At the moment everyone is getting interesting incremental benefits from changes in lithium-ion batteries but fundamentally there hasn't been a Moore's Law type curve for battery improvements and I think that would be something everyone would benefit [from]."

Moore's Law, which became the bedrock for the computer processor industry, relates to the rate at which processor speeds increase - roughly doubling every two years.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 16th Nov 2015

Microsoft REALLY wants you to upgrade to its latest operating system

Microsoft is getting all up in the faces of Windows 7 and 8.1 users by trying to force their hand on upgrading to Windows 10.

We already knew that Windows Update was downloading massive Windows 10 install files automatically so that it would be ready when users choose to update - but now it appears that it is getting even pushier.

Ars Technica reports that Windows Update has started not just downloading, but launching the upgrade tool automatically, as an added nag to users to get with the programme and join everyone else on Windows 10.

The good news is that Windows isn't being forced to upgrade automatically by Microsoft: It still requires users to click a button to start the final upgrade process. So it won't wreck your computer if there's a specific reason that you don't want to upgrade - it'll just a be a bit annoying.

"Optional update"

"As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update (WU) control panel," Microsoft told the website.

"This is an intuitive and trusted place people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check."

Getting as many users as possible on to Windows 10 makes sense from Microsoft's perspective: Not only does it mitigate the effects of owning a fragmented platform (as developers will not need to worry about compatibility with older Windows if not many people are using it), but it will also further lock users into the Microsoft eco-system and Microsoft services, which are even more tightly integrated into the latest version of the operating system.

Source: techradar.com
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