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Archive for December, 2010

Millions of mobile phone users overpay finds Which watchdog

December 31, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Uncategorized

Millions of mobile phone uses are paying more than they need to for their mobile service, according to Which?, the consumer watchdog.Millions of mobile phone users overpay finds Which watchdogA survey by Which? Mobile found that around 10 million people are regularly paying for calls, text messages and data on top of their monthly charge.

Although the survey found that 70 per cent of people check their mobile bill at least once a month, Which? estimates that six million people have only a vague idea of their monthly allowance of call minutes and five million are unsure of their text and data allowances.

Tom McLennan, head of Which? Mobile, said: “If you regularly spend more than your line rental, check your bill to see where you’re incurring extra charges as you may be able to save money by moving to a tariff with more minutes, texts or data.

“If you never go over your agreed line rental, it’s because you’re not using up your allowance so you may be able to save money by finding a cheaper tariff that reflects your usage.”

Which? Mobile also found that 39 per cent of people had never switched mobile phone provider.

Apple sued over iPad and iPhone app personal data leaks

December 30, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, data security, internet, Mobile Marketing, Uncategorized

Two groups of iPhone and iPad users are suing Apple saying apps for the gadgets leak personally identifiable data.
Apple sued over iPad and iPhone app personal data leaksThe groups want to stop personal data being passed around without owners being notified or compensated.

Apple is just one of six application makers being pursued by the two groups of consumers.

The legal firm putting together one class action lawsuit said it might also take action against Google over data leaking from Android applications.

Backflip Studios, the Weather Channel, and others were named in court papers supporting the lawsuits.

The papers allege that many applications collect so much personal data that users can be individually identified.

This is despite Apple operating a policy that allows data to be shared with third parties only if an app requires the information to keep running.

The complainants said many firms, including advertisers, were managing to track and identify individuals via the unique device ID Apple assigns to every gadget.

Apple does not do enough to enforce its privacy policy or restrict use of unique IDs, they allege.

Apple has yet to respond to requests for comment.

The law firm behind one of the class action lawsuits said it was considering whether to prepare a case against Google, saying that many Android applications leak personal data too.

Million UK children lack access to computers

December 29, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: internet, Social Media, Uncategorized

More than a million school children in the UK still lack access to a computer at home new research finds.
Million UK children lack access to computersAnd almost 2m are unable to go online at home, according to leading digital education charity, the E-Learning Foundation.

It also claims those from the poorest families are two and a half times less likely to have the internet at home than children from the richest homes.

The government would not comment on the findings.

The E-Learning Foundation, which works to ensure that all children have access to the internet and a computer at home, has analysed the latest government spending survey.

It found that while computer access is growing in better-off households, those from low-income families are being left behind.

It is warning that many of the UK’s poorest children face being severely educationally disadvantaged by their lack of access to technology as a result.

In November more than half of teachers who took part in a survey for the Times Education Supplement said pupils without access to internet or a computer at home were hampered in their learning.

The foundation’s chief executive, Valerie Thompson, said: “With so many children swamped with gifts from family and friends over the Christmas period it is important we reflect on the fact that millions of children live in poverty in this country.

“For those at school, this translates into very tangible disadvantages when it comes to completing homework, researching topics, independent learning, and communicating with teachers and classmates on the school learning platform.

“Without the use of a computer and the ability to go online at home the attainment gap that characterises children from low income families is simply going to get worse.”

Search Clinic wishes you a Merry Christmas

December 24, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Search Clinic, Uncategorized

Search Clinic wishes you a Merry Christmas!Search Clinic wishes you a Merry Christmas

Facebook status updates are burglary risk warn police

December 24, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, Facebook, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

Publishing your Facebook status updates could increase the risk of your home being burgled, West Midlands Police have warned.Facebook status updates are burglary risk warn policeThe force said anyone who published details about their whereabouts could tip off thieves.

Sgt Andy Gregory said the amount of information people shared about their lives on social networking sites was a real cause for concern.

He said by sharing information with friends online, people could unwittingly also be giving strangers information about their whereabouts, if they were indiscriminate about accepting friend requests.

“The issue for us is that they need to ensure that their profiles are locked down, so only your trusted friends and family have information about your personal movements.”

In a statement Facebook said the risks of sharing information online carried the same risks as sharing information with people in a face-to-face conversation, phone call or e-mail.

“What it means is that both online and offline, we all need to control who we’re friends with and what information we share,” a spokesman said.

Web attacks target human rights sites Harvard University research finds

December 23, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, data security, internet, Social Media, Uncategorized

Human rights groups and campaigners are being hit hard by huge web attacks launched by those opposed to their views research published by Harvard University finds.Web attacks target human rights sites Harvard University research findsAlthough the Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites report was published on 19th December the research period covered ended in September 2010- before the recent furore surrounding WikiLeaks occurred.

It found that many web based campaigning groups are being knocked offline for weeks by the attacks and the researchers expect the tempo of attacks to increase as the tools and techniques become more widespread.

It urged human rights groups and independent media groups to beef up their defences to avoid falling victim.

The research by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University tried to get a sense of how often human rights groups and independent media organisations are hit by what is known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

DDoS attacks try to knock a site offline by overwhelming it with data.

In the 12 months between August 2009 and September 2010 the research found evidence of 140 attacks against more than 280 different sites. The report acknowledged that these were likely to be the most high profile attacks and that many more had probably gone unreported.

“These attacks do seem to be increasingly common,” said Ethan Zuckerman, one of the authors of the report.

While some attacks were triggered by specific incidents such as elections, others had no obvious cause, he said.

The report cites a sustained DDoS attack on Novaya Gazeta, the website of Russia’s most liberal indepedent newspaper. Deputy executive editor Sergey Sokolov is not certain who attacked his website but suspects government-sponsored Kremlin Youth organisations.

The report finds that DDoS is increasingly being used as a political tool and as a form of protest.

The report gives the example of the organisation ‘Help Israel Win’ which recently invited individuals to install a software package, dubbed Patriot DDos, on their computers so the machine could be used to launch attacks, on what the authors assume would be Palestinian targets.

The most recent example of a volunteer DDoS comes from Anonymous, a loose-knit group of activisits, who used the method to launch attacks on the websites of firms it perceived to be anti-Wikileaks.

DDoS attacks could hit small media groups and campaigners hard because the organisations have such limited resources, said Mr Zuckerman. The attacks did not have to be prolonged, he said, to cause real problems for small campaigning groups.

The work of some groups only appears on the web, said Mr Zuckerman, so knocking them offline effectively silences the campaigners. It can take a long time for some to find a new host, upload content and re-build a site.

He said: “We see sites that do not come back online for two to three weeks.”

The report also found that DDoS attacks are often only the most visible element of a much broader attack against a site or group.

“There’s a very good chance that if you are experiencing DDoS you are also being filtered, sent targeted email to get access to your system or to snatch your passwords,” he said.

Mr Zuckerman said some DDoS attacks logged in the report used hundreds or thousands of PCs in a botnet – networks of hijacked home computers – but others had just as big an effect with far fewer resources.

“There are certain attacks that seem to work if you have only one or two machines,” he said.

What might cause problems in the future, he suggested, would be easy-to-use tools like those employed by Anonymous activists in support of Wikileaks.

“It seems like DDoS has become easier for more people to engage in,” he said. “The threats do seem to be increasing.”

In response, he said, rights groups needed to work hard to understand the threats and prepare in case they were hit.

“This community needs to get much, much smarter and much more knowledgeable,” he said.

Lord Chief Justice allows Tweeting in court

December 22, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dr Search, internet, Search Clinic, Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

Further to the Search Clinic’s post on Friday – Tweeting- Judge to issue guidance on court tweeter updates the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales has ruled that Tweeting a live court case is allowed. For now.
Lord Chief Justice allows Tweeting in courtHe said live communication would be allowed as long as the judge believed it would not interfere with the administration of justice.

Lord Judge’s ruling was prompted after journalists used Twitter at the bail hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to give live updates.

The interim guidance has immediate effect but a review will be conducted.

The interim guidance covers the use of mobile, email and social media such as Twitter, and internet-enabled laptops.

Lord Justice Judge’s ruling said: “The use of an unobtrusive, hand-held, virtually silent piece of modern equipment for the purposes of simultaneous reporting of proceedings to the outside world as they unfold in court is unlikely to interfere with the proper administration of justice.”

Recording sound or images during a court hearing is illegal, but sending electronic communications has not been.

Use of Twitter in court had been contentious because it is a form of public broadcasting and potentially readable by anyone.

At the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court hearing on Mr Assange’s bail application on Tuesday last week, journalists asked the judge whether they could tweet.

District Judge Howard Riddle said he had no objection and several reporters then proceeded to give regular updates as the hearing unfolded.

However, later in the week at Mr Assange’s next bail hearing at the High Court, Mr Justice Ouseley said Twitter could not be used.

Legal analysts say the practice has been going on “quietly and surreptitiously for some time”.

Internet porn censorship not possible claim ISPs

December 21, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, data security, internet, Uncategorized

UK Government plans to censor pornographic websites are unlikely to prove effective claim ISPs.
Internet porn censorship not possible claim ISPsThe proposal to cut off access to pornographic material was floated by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey in an interview with the Sunday Times.

The government is talking to ISPs to set up a meeting at which the proposal will be discussed.

But, say experts, technical challenges mean any large scale filtering system is doomed to failure.

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, confirmed Mr Vaizey’s plan to talk to ISPs about setting up an age verification scheme to govern access to pornographic sites.

“This is a very serious matter,” said Mr Vaizey. “I think it’s very important that it’s the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children.”

“I’m hoping they will get their acts together so we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.”

In response to the government proposal, Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Ispa industry body, said: “Ispa firmly believes that controls on children’s access to the internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down.”

Mr Lansman said its members provided parents with many different means of controlling what is accessible via the computers in their homes.

“Online safety is a priority issue for the internet industry and ISPA will be discussing the options available to protect children with Government,” he said.

“ISPs currently block child abuse content which is illegal and widely regarded as abhorrent,” said Mr Lansman. “Blocking lawful pornography content is less clear cut, will lead to the blocking of access to legitimate content and is only effective in preventing inadvertent access.”

BT, the UK’s largest ISP, said it would be “happy” to take part in any discussion of the issues, but added: “There are many legal, consumer rights and technical issues that would need to be considered before any new web blocking policy was developed.”

He said the sheer volume of pornographic material online and the number of ways that people access it, via the web, file-sharing networks, news groups, discussion boards and the like, made the job impossible.

While some proponents of a national pornographic filtering scheme cite the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) as an example of how such a scheme might work, Mr Davies said it was not a good guide.

The IWF circulates a list to ISPs of sites found to be hosting illegal images of child sexual abuse.

However, said Mr Davies, the IWF draws up its list largely using information passed to it by the public. In addition it only tackles illegal content found on websites.

Such a system would not work if it was used to deal with millions of porn sites, chat rooms and bulletin boards, he said.

Experience with filtering systems, he said, shows that they are a very blunt tool that often blocks access to sites that could be useful.

“You end up with a system that’s either hugely expensive and a losing battle because there are millions of these sites or it’s just not effective,” he said.

Mr Davies also feared that any wide-scale attempt to police pornographic content would soon be expanded to include pirated pop songs, films and TV shows.  “If we take this step it will not take very long to end up with an internet that’s a walled garden of sites the governments is happy for you to see,” he said.

His comment was echoed by Jim Killock, chair of the Open Rights Group which campaigns on digital liberties issues.

“This is not about pornography, it is about generalised censorship through the back door,” said Mr Killock. “This is the wrong way to go,” he said. “If the government controlled a web blacklist, you can bet that Wikileaks would be on it.”

Tweeting- Judge to issue guidance on court tweeter updates

December 20, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Social Media, Twitter, Uncategorized

The country’s top judge will issue legal guidance today on the use of Twitter to report live proceedings in court cases.
Tweeting- Judge to issue guidance on court tweeter updatesLord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, will give an interim guidance ruling on the use of Twitter and “electronic devices”, pending the outcome of a consultation process with the media on the issue.

The announcement that he would be giving the guidance was made last week and was prompted after supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were banned from posting updates from their court case while a High Court judge was deciding whether he should be granted bail.

Mr Justice Ouseley, who went on to give Mr Assange conditional bail that day, ruled at the start of the proceedings that supporters and journalists should not send Tweets to give a blow by blow account of what was happening.

At an earlier bail hearing, District Judge Howard Riddle had allowed Tweeting from City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which some commentators proclaimed as a legal first.

He said journalists could send messages as long as they were discreet and did not interfere with the judicial process.

Last week the judicial communications office said Lord Judge would issue new guidance for all courts at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today.

Three quarters of all UK downloads are illegal claims music industry watchdog

December 17, 2010 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, internet, Mobile Marketing, Online Marketing, Uncategorized

Britons downloaded 1.2bn digital music tracks this year, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) claimed- as it produced research showing online piracy is still growing.Three quarters of all UK downloads are illegal claims music industry watchdogThe industry body said just under three out of every four tracks downloaded in 2010 were illegally acquired, citing a report it commissioned from the market research company Harris Interactive.

That is more than the entire number of individual tracks ever to be downloaded legally in the UK to date, which stands at about 1bn, according to the BPI.

The BPI also said that sales of digital singles could top 160m in 2010, comfortably beating last year’s record of 149.7m. Digital services accounted for 24.5% of UK record industry revenue in September 2010 – up from 19.2% a year earlier.

Harris Interactive found that nearly one in three Britons with internet access between the ages of 16 and 54 are engaged in some form of illegal downloading activity.

A survey of more than 5,000 people found that 29% of them – equivalent to 7.7 million people – were regularly acquiring music from rogue sites.

The cost to the industry of illegal downloading was £984m in lost retail sales, the BPI claimed.

It based that calculation on an assumption that every track would have sold for 82p, the average price of a digital single, although it conceded not everyone who downloaded tracks illegally would have paid for them if they had been unable to obtain them illegitimately.

While the notional worth of the 1.2bn illegal downloads was almost £1bn, the BPI estimated the actual loss from “forgone spend” was £219m in 2010. That is based on separate figures supplied by Jupiter Research.

About 500m singles and a further 50m albums have been bought digitally from legitimate outlets in the UK since downloading began, the BPI said.

Assuming that an album averages 10 tracks, those 50m sales amount to a further 500m songs, which gives a total figure of 1bn.

Ofcom is working on a code of practice on copyright infringement that will determine how the so-called “three strikes and you’re out” rule contained in the act will be enforced.

Internet service providers will have to send three warning letters within 12 months to customers suspected of consistently downloading a large number of files illegally, before handing their personal details to the owner of the copyrighted material so they can be sued.

The code is expected to be published in early 2011, but the BPI is concerned that the timetable is slipping.

The means of illegal downloading, including “cyberlocker” sites, have grown rapidly. Those sites are more commonly used legitimately to share large documents with other internet users, but they are increasingly being employed by companies or individuals to share music files illegally.

More than one in 10 respondents – 13% – admitted using cyberlockers for that purpose. A further 12% said they used MP3 sites based overseas to obtain tracks.

Such sites resemble legitimate digital music sites such as iTunes and charge far less for tracks, but do not give any of the profits to record companies.

They are mostly based in Russia and other eastern European countries and are usually financed and run by criminal gangs.