Australian airlines approve phone use on flights

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Travellers on Qantas and Virgin Australia will be able to use their mobile phones and other electronic devices during flights from today. The new rule applies to international and domestic passengers flying the two Australian airlines.

It will affect tablets, e-readers and small game consoles, as well as smartphones. Passengers were previously asked to switch off these types of devices during flights for safety reasons.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said it approved applications from both Australian airlines late on Monday.

Some airlines in the United States, Europe and New Zealand already allow passengers to keep their phones on during flights.

Aircraft are now designed and manufactured so that smartphones and other electronic devices do not interfere with with flights.

The new rule for the Australian airlines means passengers can continue to play games or draft emails on their phones during take off and landing.

Larger devices such as laptops, however, will still need to be stowed away during takeoff and landing due to risks of turbulence, said CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson.

“The change does mean that passengers will be allowed to speak on their phones from gate to gate though,” Mr Gibson added. “But at some point crew will ask passengers to put their electronic devices on flight mode, probably before the safety briefing is given.”

Once a smartphone is in its so-called flight mode, it means passengers can no-longer send text messages or make calls.

Mr Gibson said the next step for the two Australian airlines would be the introduction of technology that would allow internet and voice call connections in-flight.

Satellite phone connections have been enabled on flights for many years, but the costs are high.

Newer technology is available to make more affordable in-flight calls and connect to the internet during flights, however neither Qantas nor Virgin have made that investment yet.

“Trials have taken place with that technology with Qantas between Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Gibson said. “But there are a lot of costs involved and it will be a commercial decision for the airlines as to whether they can recover those costs.”

CASA said other airlines in Australia were likely to follow suit and apply to for permission to allow passengers to use some electronic devices during flights.

Kate Bush asks fans not to use mobile devices at concert

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Singer Kate Bush has requested fans do not take any photographs or record footage using mobile devices at her upcoming series of live concerts.

The 56-year-old star said on her website: “I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras.”

The musician added it would mean “a great deal to me” but admitted that it was “a lot to ask”.

Bush’s 22-date run of performances in London begins on 26 August. Tickets for the Before The Dawn gigs at the Hammersmith Apollo sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale in March.

The songwriter, whose hits include Wuthering Heights and Running Up That Hill, last toured in 1979.

She played her most recent concert at the same west London venue.

Bush added on her Fish People website that preparations for the new shows are “going very well indeed”.

“We’re all very excited about the upcoming shows and are working very hard in preparation,” added Bush.

In making her request for fans to desist from filming, Bush said: “We have purposefully chosen an intimate theatre setting rather than a large venue or stadium. It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows.”

“I know it’s a lot to ask but it would allow us to all share in the experience together,” she added.

While it is common practice for concert-goers to take photos and film footage of the action, other stars have also spoken out against it.

The Who’s Roger Daltrey said he it found it “weird” that some music fans spend more time using their phones than watching the actual concert. “Looking at life through a screen and not being in the moment totally – if you’re doing that, you’re 50% there, right?”

 

 

 

HTC reveals cut-price One M8 Windows Phone device

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The handset maker HTC has unveiled a new smartphone that runs a Windows Phone operating system. The modified One M8 is priced at $99 (£60), roughly half the amount of the same handset running Google’s Android.

This is the first time the struggling manufacturer has released a Windows smartphone in more than two years.

One analyst said the new device was “almost certainly financially supported” by Microsoft, in an attempt to gain a foothold in the US market.

The new phone, which comes with Windows Phone 8.1 pre-installed, is available exclusively through US network provider Verizon.

“Consumers love the HTC One M8 and today’s introduction extends that enthusiasm to new audiences hungry for choice in their mobile experience,” said Jason Mackenzie, president of HTC Americas.

He added: “Microsoft shares our vision, and that’s why we committed to bringing the Windows Phone platform to the HTC One M8.”

The Taiwanese firm, which originally made its name selling early versions of Windows phone handsets, has preferred Android devices in recent years. However it has recently lost out to rivals such as Samsung, and while its flagship handset, the HTC One, received good reviews, these did not translate into strong sales.

In April, HTC posted losses of 1.88bn Taiwanese dollars (£37m; $63m) for the first three months of 2014, compared with a profit of T$85m a year earlier. Shares in HTC have dropped by 38% in the past year.

Daniel Gleeson, an analyst at the consultancy IHT, said the move was a “big thing for Microsoft as they want a big push for Windows phones in North America”.

“Microsoft are desperate for other manufacturers to develop Windows smartphones, and they almost certainly financially supported HTC to make this phone,” he added.

“Microsoft needs to kickstart the whole Windows Phone ecosystem. Its apps do not get updated at the same frequency as Android or iOS equivalents.”

As for the pricing of the phone, Mr Gleeson said, this was an attempt by HTC and Microsoft to position themselves as a cheaper alternative to the upcoming new iPhone.

Earlier today, HTC’s chief executive Peter Chou unveiled another new phone in Tokyo, aimed at the Japanese market. The updated J Butterfly model, the HTL23, features a plastic body, but is otherwise similar to the Android One M8.

 

‘FBI call’ is a scam

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American fraudsters are targeting UK victims by ringing them and playing automated threatening messages claiming to be from the FBI.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has received several reports of victims being targetted in the scam, with messages claiming the USA’s FBI has an arrest warrant in the victim’s name.

The victim is then told to call the phone number 3237 592 099 to stop the warrant being executed. Many of the reports state the victims need to do this by a certain time.

Most reports state that the phone number is for a law firm called Walsh & Peters LLP where the victim then has to ask for David Williams in order for the warrant to be stopped.

 Other alternative law firms are mentioned in some reports such as Walter & Peters, Schwartz & Peters and Lodge & Peters.

Some victims that have reported to Action Fraud have attempted to contact the suspect number but the call does not appear to connect, this could potentially be because victims are not putting the internationally dialling code in front of the suspect number.

Open source research reveals the suspect phone number is based in Los Angeles, California.

Action Fraud, is urging anyone who receives any messages of this nature to ignore them, not to call the number and to report them to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

Tesco Hudl and other Android devices face data reset flaw

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Hiding data by using a factory reset option does little to delete potentially sensitive information, suggest researchers.

Three separate investigations of Android’s data deleting systems found it was possible to recover information. In some cases, a reset just removed the list of where data was stored and deleted nothing else.

In particular, Tesco’s Hudl tablet was found to have a flaw that let attackers get at data saved to onboard memory. All the investigations used second-hand devices sold via auction sites such as eBay.

The BBC (www.bbc.co.uk) worked with security expert Ken Munro from security firm Pen Test Partners to get 10 Hudl tablets from the auction site and see how easy it was to recover information from them.

The Hudl was vulnerable, said Mr Munro, because of a known bug in the Rockchip processor at its heart.

All modern gadgets can be flipped into a “flash mode” so the onboard firmware can be updated and data written to the device.
“There’s a flaw in the firmware, which allows you to read from it as well as write,” he explained.

Using a freely available software tool, Mr Munro was able to easily read data from Hudl tablets to which the factory reset facility had been applied.

Getting access was the work of minutes but reading and analysing all the data typically took a couple of hours, he said.

Via this route Mr Munro was able to extract Pin codes to unlock devices as well as wi-fi keys, cookies and other browsing data that could be used to sign in to a website and masquerade oneself as the tablet’s original owner.

In response, a Tesco spokesperson said: “Customers should always ensure all personal information is removed prior to giving away or selling any mobile device. To guarantee this, customers should use a data wipe program.”

The spokesperson added that any tablets returned to Tesco would have all personal data wiped. They also recommended that people get further information about how to remove personal data from smartphones via the government’s Get Safe Online website.

Google said anyone selling a used gadget should follow several steps to protect information. “If you sell or dispose of your device, we recommend you enable encryption on your device and apply a factory reset beforehand,” said a spokesman.

Data encryption systems have been available on Android for years, he added. The next release of Android is expected to enable encryption by default. Currently it is up to owners to enable it for themselves.

While Hudl tablets were particularly vulnerable, other work has shown how straightforward it is to retrieve data from many Android devices. The largest study was carried out by security company Avast, which recovered an “astonishing” amount of personal data from 20 second-hand Android phones.

The company recovered tens of thousands of images, including naked selfies as well as emails and text messages plus contact names and addresses.

“What people think is that when they hit erase or factory reset it’s deleting the underlying source data but it’s not,” said Jude McColgan, head of mobile at Avast.

Independently, Marc Rogers, principal researcher at mobile security firm Lookout, has been cataloguing what happens to data saved on the main memory of Android phones and tablets when they are reset.

“There’s an Android function to wipe data and most manufacturers are using that,” he said. “But all that does is remove the index of where data is and does not delete data at all.”

A secure wipe would both remove that index and overwrite onboard memory with zeroes so it could not be recovered, he added. “As a security professional it blows my mind that people do not do this to get rid of the data.”

While it was not “completely straightforward” to recover data on those reset gadgets it was possible for a motivated attacker and the tools to do it were widely available, said Mr Rogers.

Motivation could come from the amount of cash stolen smartphones command, he explained. Figures shared with Lookout by police forces suggest a street price for a smartphone with data on it can exceed $1,000 (£600).

The potential profit partly arises from the cache of personal, recoverable information people leave on these devices, Mr Rogers said. In London, about 200 phones are stolen every day according to statistics from the Metropolitan police.

Recent work by computer forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski suggests that data held on Apple’s iPhones is also vulnerable to recovery. Mr Zdziarski found that some undisclosed features in the iOS operating system bypass the data encryption system running on the device. This meant, he said, that if an iPhone was caught at the right time it becomes possible to extract information.

With effort, said Mr Zdziarski, using these undocumented features would let an attacker get at “privileged personal information that the device even protects from its own users from accessing”.

Mr Zdziarski’s work has subsequently been independently confirmed by the security firm Stroz Friedberg.

In reaction, Apple has made changes to its mobile operating system that will be fully implemented in iOS 8. These should disable some aspects of the services he identified in order to limit their ability to export information.

Mr Zdziarski welcomed the “progress” Apple had made but said it needed to go further to fix the “significant security threat” faced.

 

 

 

Android KitKat now on 20% of Google phones

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Android KitKat is now being used by 20% of all Google–backed smartphones and tablets, after a sharp rise in recent months.

The new figure, released by Google, covers a week–long period earlier in August and follows a long period marked by slow adoption of the freshly baked version of its platform.

In July, KitKat could only be found on 17.9% of Android phones, up from a mere 15% in June. The release of new top–end Android devices, especially the LG G3, will doubtless have helped push the number up.

But it’s not all happy reading for Google, with 2013’s Android release still well behind previous editions of the software.

Collectively, Jelly Bean-branded versions of the operating system can be found on 54.2% of Android phones, showing that the search giant still has a long way to go when it comes to ensuring all users have access to the latest software.

Reiterating those still very real fragmentation concerns, the positively ancient Android Gingerbread is still found on 13.6% of Google phones.

Google released a developer version of its new Android L software earlier this summer, but has yet to confirm when it will be viable for a full release. It is widely expected to tip up on the company’s new Nexus 6, rumoured for release at the end of the year.

New phone scam that targets the general public and restaurant owners

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Restaurant owners are being warned to stay vigilant as fraudsters are attempting to target their customers in a new phone scam, according to Financial Fraud Action UK.

The scam involves fraudsters, posing as bank staff, phoning restaurants claiming there is a problem with their card payments system. The restaurant is then told to redirect any card payments to a phone number provided by the fraudster.

When the restaurant calls the phone number the fraudster asks to speak with the paying customer and then goes through their security questions. Once sufficient security details have been obtained from the customer, the fraudster will instruct the restaurant to put the transaction through.

The fraudster then subsequently calls the customer’s bank in an attempt to transfer money to their own account using the fraudulently obtained security details.

Katy Worobec, Director of Financial Fraud Action UK, said: “It’s important that restaurant owners are alert. Fraudsters can sound very professional – don’t be fooled. If you receive any calls from your bank claiming there is a problem with payments, make sure you phone them on an established number to confirm the request is genuine.

In addition, always wait five minutes to ensure the line is clear, as fraudsters will sometimes try to stay on the phone line and pretend to be your bank.”

Intelligence suggests that restaurants in London’s West End, as well as Twickenham and Canary Wharf, have been targeted.

 

 

Manchester United bans tablets and laptops at home matches

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Manchester United has banned fans from bringing tablets and laptops to football matches at its stadium. The club said it was reacting to “security intelligence”, adding the restriction was in line with new checks on electronic equipment at airports.

It said that unlike at airports, it would be “impractical” at the stadium to check the devices were genuine by asking for them to be powered up.

Greater Manchester Police said it was not involved with the ban “in any way”.

A statement on the club’s site says the ban extends to large and small tablets “including iPad minis”, as well as larger electronic devices.

Smartphones are still permitted as long as their dimensions are smaller than 15cm by 10cm (5.9in by 3.9in).

“The regulations at each stadium are a matter for the relevant stadium management authorities, however, the scale of Old Trafford and profile of Manchester United mean that the risk at this venue is unique,” it adds.

A spokesman for the club said it had made the move after receiving “advice”, but would not say from whom this had come.

He added the action was unrelated to concerns about fans using tablets to record video of matches, potentially blocking the view of others, as had been reported elsewhere.

A spokesman for the Premier League said: “This is not something we are responsible for or involved in.” The Football Association was unable to provide comment at this time.

The government announced in July that passengers flying to the US or elsewhere who passed through UK airports needed to show that devices carried in their hand luggage were charged and could be powered on. The move followed a warning that US officials had become aware of a “credible” unnamed terrorist threat.

 

The airport restrictions cover phones, MP3 players and cameras in addition to larger kit.

 

 

 

Google helps build ‘Faster’ cable under Pacific Ocean

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Google and five other large companies are teaming up to build a cable under the Pacific Ocean that will deliver incredibly fast internet speeds. The cable, dubbed Faster, will connect the US with Japan and cost about $300m (£179m; 225m euros), the consortium said.

The trans-Pacific fibre cable would deliver speeds of 60 terabytes per second – enough to send more than 2,000 uncompressed HD films a second. The cable will be operational by 2016.

Google is working with a host of Asian telecoms giants – China Mobile, China Telecom, Global Transit, KDDI, and SingTel.

“Faster is one of a few hundred submarine telecommunications cables connecting various parts of the world,” said Woohyong Choi, chairman of the consortium’s executive committee. “These cables collectively form an important infrastructure that helps run global internet and communications.

“The Faster cable system has the largest design capacity ever built on the trans-Pacific route, which is one of the longest routes in the world.”

The cable will connect Chikura and Shima in Japan to the major hubs on the west coast of the US – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

Submarine cables are integral to the structure of how the world wide web works. In 2008, communications between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia were seriously disrupted after submarine cables were severed near the Alexandria cable station in Egypt. Sixty-five percent of net traffic to India was down at the time.

And KDDI, Japan’s second-largest telecoms operator, had to do extensive work to repair undersea cables damaged in the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Google already offers high-speed internet access directly in the US through its Fiber service, with speeds of 1Gbps in cities like Austin, Texas, and Kansas City, Kansas. But the speeds from the new Faster cable far surpass anything consumers can access in most of the US and Europe, though internet speeds are generally much faster in Asia – South Korea wants to see citizens equipped with 1Gbps connections by 2017, for example.

The fastest widely-available speed of broadband in the UK is 152mbps. There are 1,000 megabits in one gigabit – and 1,000 gigabits in one terabit – of data transmitted.

 

 

Super-fast broadband ‘driving online retail boom’

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Superfast broadband is boosting e-retailing and could result in a £740 million uplift in annual online spending once the roll-out across Britain is completed.

The study for Royal Mail revealed that across the UK, online shoppers have increased their annual spending by £225 million since taking up superfast broadband. This equates to an increase in spending of 3.1 per cent, or £23 a year, per superfast broadband user.

The analysis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research found that an additional £515 million could be added to online sales annually once the roll-out reaches the target of between 90 and 95 per cent of the population by 2017[3]. This would take the total increase in online shopping to £740 million each year.

The impact of superfast broadband roll-out on online sales varies significantly across the UK. Online shoppers in Scotland and Wales have increased their spending the most since receiving superfast broadband, at 5.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively. This coincides with lower population densities in those parts of Britain (68 and 148 people per square km, compared with 407 for England) meaning distances from large shopping centres are likely to be greater and hence internet shopping more convenient, the report found.

Meanwhile, the South West of England experienced the lowest average increase at 1.4 per cent. The South West has the highest average age of residents in the UK, and these findings may reflect lower comfort levels with online shopping among those in older age groups, said the study.

The study found that shoppers in Edinburgh are estimated to have increased their online spending by £4.4 million since getting superfast broadband, the highest rise of any local area in Britain. The Scottish capital beat Birmingham into second place and Glasgow into third. Cardiff and Croydon followed in fourth and fifth place in the table of local authority areas which saw the greatest increase in spend by individuals as a result of taking up superfast broadband.

Nick Landon, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels, said: “Royal Mail’s study shows that the investment in superfast broadband networks is having a positive impact on spending online. Superfast broadband is acting as a catalyst, encouraging people to spend more online and the further roll-out of networks across Britain over the coming years can only benefit the online retailing market.

“To support the online retailing market, Royal Mail is continuing to explore ways to improve our flexibility and provide more options for people to receive items they have ordered online. At the end of June our express parcels business, Parcelforce Worldwide, began delivering seven days a week when it launched Sunday deliveries. Royal Mail is to pilot Sunday afternoon opening at around 100 of its delivery offices across the UK. Royal Mail will also trial Sunday parcel deliveries later this summer to addresses within the M25 motorway.”