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Archive for the ‘WiFi’

Dangers of constantly on wifi smartphone apps

March 28, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Cyber Security, data security, Hackers, mobile phones, Personal Security, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

The dangers of constantly keeping your smartphone’s always on has been revealed.

Dangers of constantly on wifi smartphone appsMany smartphone users leave the wireless option constantly turned on on their smartphone. That means the phones are constantly looking for a network to join – including previously used networks.

Once the user has joined a disguised wifi network, the rogue operator can then steal any information that the user enters while on that network – including email passwords, Facebook account information, and even banking details.

This is also why smartphones and other devices that use wireless technology – such as Oyster cards using RFID (radio frequency identification) or bank cards with chips – can betray their users.

Mr Wilkinson – who began developing the Snoopy software three years ago as a side-project – gave the BBC a preview of the technology ahead of its release.

Pulling out a laptop from his bag, Mr Wilkinson opened the Snoopy programme – and immediately pulled up the smartphone information of hundreds of Black Hat conference attendees.

With just a few keystrokes, he showed that an attendee sitting in the back right corner of the keynote speech probably lived in a specific neighbourhood in Singapore. The software even provided a streetview photo of the smartphone user’s presumed address.
DJI phantom SensePost has used the Snoopy software attached to cheap commercial drones like DJI’s Phantom

Drones- not just flying cameras:

  •     Drones are controlled either autonomously by on-board computers, or by remote control
  •     They are used in situations where manned flight is considered too dangerous or difficult
  •     Also increasingly used for policing and fire-fighting, security work, and for filming

For instance, the Snoopy software has been ground-based until now, operating primarily on computers, smartphones with Linux installed on them, and on open-source small computers like the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black.

But when attached to a drone, it can quickly cover large areas.

“You can also fly out of audio-visual range – so you can’t see or hear it, meaning you can bypass physical security – men with guns, that sort of thing,” he says.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which an authoritarian regime could fly the drone over an anti-government protest and collect the smartphone data of every protester and use the data to figure out the identities of everyone in attendance.

Mr Wilkinson says that this is why he has become fascinated with our “digital terrestrial footprint” – and the way our devices can betray us.

He says he wants to “talk about this to bring awareness” of the security risks posed by such simple technologies to users.

His advice? Turn off the wireless network on your phone until you absolutely need to use it.

Vodafone’s Italy and Spain businesses written off

November 21, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Vodafone has written down the value of its units in Spain and Italy by £5.9 billion which the firm has blamed on the tough market conditions in the two countries.Vodafone's Italy and Spain businesses written offThe news came as the mobile phone firm reported a pre-tax loss of £492 million for the six months to 30 September, against an £8 billion profit a year earlier.

But there was better news from Verizon Wireless, a US business of which Vodafone owns 45% as it said on Monday that it would pay an $8.5 billion (£5.4 billion) dividend.

The dividend is due to be paid to its owners – Verizon Communications and Vodafone – by the end of the year.

It is the second dividend that Verizon Wireless has paid this year-  following a $10 billion one in January.

For several years before that, Verizon Wireless had been using its spare cash to pay off it’s debts instead of paying dividends.

Vodafone said it expected to receive £2.4 billion of the Verizon dividend and plans to use part of it to start a £1.5 billion share buyback programme.

Under such a programme a company buys its own shares and cancels them which increases the value of the remaining shares.

Announcing its latest results, Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “Our results reflect tougher market conditions, mainly in southern Europe.”

But he added that he was positive about longer term opportunities, partly as a result of the group’s “attractive and growing exposure to emerging markets”, such as India and Turkey.

Revenue in southern Europe fell 17.5%, including an 8.2% decline due to the euro weakening against the pound.

Vodafone said the pressure from price competition and continuing economic problems in the eurozone had been partially offset by improved revenue from data services, as more people had smartphones.

It said customers in Italy and Spain had been reducing their spending on mobile phone tariffs because of economic weakness in those countries.

TalkTalk most complained about telecommunications company

September 28, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, internet, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

TalkTalk remains the most complained about telecommunication landline and broadband provider- according to the official UK regulator Ofcom.TalkTalk most complained about telecommunications companyIt has topped the charts since Ofcom began publishing them in October 2010.

Complaints about its broadband service often related to line faults while landline quibbles focused on billing and customer service Ofcom found.

For mobiles, Ofcom received the most complaints about 3, while BT Vision was the most complained about pay-TV service.

The regulator said that generally complaints were falling, with all broadband and landline providers generating fewer issues between April and June 2012, compared to previous periods.

This is Ofcom’s sixth quarterly report on the state of complaints in the mobile, broadband and landline markets.

It aims to help consumers make informed choices when choosing new services.

During the second quarter of 2012, it received 0.53 complaints per 1,000 of TalkTalk’s customers.

TalkTalk was the only provider whose complaint levels were above average for landline services, although Ofcom pointed out that this quarter saw the fewest number of complaints since it had begun publishing the data.

In the same period, Virgin Media was the least complained about with 0.14 per 1,000 customers.

In broadband, TalkTalk generated 0.42 complaints per 1,000 customers, again above the industry average. BT Retail also had above average levels of complaints during the last quarter.

Despite TalkTalk topping the charts again, Ofcom said it was not planning to take any action at present. In the past TalkTalk has been fined £3 million for incorrectly billing customers for services they had not received.

It is also currently under investigation about the number of silent calls received by its customers.

Ofcom said it had seen a rise in complaints about this type of call – which occur when automatic dialer systems used by call centres make more calls than they have people to take them.

UK 4G gets go ahead from Ofcom

August 24, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has authorised Everything Everywhere- the company behind Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, to use its existing bandwidth to launch fourth generation (4G) mobile services.UK 4G gets go ahead from OfcomThe move means 4G, which allows much faster downloads, could launch in the UK earlier than previously planned.

Ofcom said the move would deliver “significant benefits” to consumers that outweigh any competition concerns.

But Vodafone and O2 expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision.

Ofcom plans to auction 4G bandwidth to other providers next year.

Everything Everywhere will be allowed to offer 4G services from 11 September.

But, as the regulator pointed out, the timing will be a commercial decision for the company itself. The operator has been trialling 4G services at a number of local businesses in Cumbria in the north of England since the end of June.

Ofcom said delaying the mobile operator from launching 4G would be “to the detriment of consumers”.

“4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK,” the company said.

The firm’s two main competitors in the UK mobile market were less than pleased with the ruling.

They claim that they are disadvantaged as only Everything’s spectrum can be reconfigured to handle 4G, while they will have to wait to buy spectrum at an auction next year.

“We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of customers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services,” said a spokesperson for O2.

Vodafone was more forthright, saying it was “shocked” at Ofcom’s decision.

“The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market,” a company spokesperson said.

Analysts said the two companies were right to be concerned, with the examples of other countries suggesting those network providers that got a head start on their rivals were often able to build successful 4G networks.

Everything Everywhere has also announced that it will sell some of its 4G spectrum to rival Three.

This was a condition of the European Commission allowing the 2010 merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK.

Three’s chief executive Dave Dyson said this deal would “more than double the capacity available to customers”.

As Everything is not obliged to make the spectrum available until September 2013, this deal will not give Three a head start in launching its own 4G services, however.

Ofcom has issued Everything Everywhere with licences to launch what are called Long-Term Evolution (LTE) services. This is one of a number of broadband technologies that allow the transfer of high-bandwidth data such as video streaming and mapping services.

Other mobile phone networks will be allowed to bid for 4G bandwidth early next year.

The auction will offer the equivalent of three-quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use – some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in 2000.

Ofcom wants to see at least four wholesalers of 4G mobile services, so that consumers will benefit from better services at lower prices.

The auction will sell chunks of radio spectrum to support 4G, which will allow users to download data such as music and videos at much faster speeds.

Google’s data snooping hit with record fine

August 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, data security, Google, internet, search engines, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Google has been fined £14.4 million ($22.5 million) by the US Federal Trade Commission after monitoring web surfers using Apple’s Safari browser who had a “do not track” privacy setting selected.Google's data snooping hit with record fineThe penalty is for lying about what it was doing and not for the methods it used to bypass Safari’s tracker cookie settings- misusing cookies so that a user’s web activity can be monitored.

The government agency launched its inquiry after a Stanford University researcher noticed the issue while studying targeted advertising.

He revealed that the search engine was exploiting a loophole that let its cookies be installed via adverts on popular websites, even if users’ browsers’ preferences had been set to reject them.

This allowed the firm to track people’s web browsing- even if they had not given it permission to do so.

Apple’s browser automatically rejects tracking cookies by default. But Google deliberately got around this block by adding code to some of its adverts to make Safari think that the user had made an exception for its cookie if they interacted with the ad.

At the same time as using the exploit the search engine said on its help centre that Safari users did not need to take extra steps to prevent their online activities from being logged.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch in Google hit by record fine wrote that it was right that Google should be penalised.

“It’s an essential part of a properly functioning market that consumers are in control of their personal information and are able to take steps to protect their privacy,” he said.

“The size of the fine in this case should deter any company from seeking to exploit underhand means of tracking consumers. It is essential that anyone who seeks to over-ride consumer choices about sharing their data is held to account.”

Ofcom finally reveals 4G mobile auction plans

July 25, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has finally revealled plans for the auction of fourth generation (4G) bandwidth for mobile phone services.Ofcom finally reveals 4G mobile auction plansThe sales process will start later this year but bidding will not begin until early 2013, which Ofcom said was in line with its previous timetable.

The regulator says it expects consumers to start getting services in late 2013.

It wants to see “at least four credible national wholesalers of 4G mobile services” to promote competition.

The auction will sell chunks of radio spectrum to support future 4G mobile services, which will allow users to download data such as music and videos at much faster speeds.

The regulator has previously said that the spectrum to support 4G services will not be available to use until 2013.

It says its plans should see mobile broadband rolled out to at least 98% of people in rural areas across the UK.

The auction will offer the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use – some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in 2000, Ofcom said.

It now wants to see at least four wholesalers of 4G mobile services so that consumers will benefit from better services at lower prices.

“In the interests of competition, Ofcom has decided to reserve a minimum amount of spectrum in the auction for a fourth operator. This could be either Hutchinson 3G or a new entrant altogether,” Ofcom said.

Everything Everywhere – the merged operator of Orange and T-Mobile – Vodafone and Telefonica, which owns O2, are the other three operators.

Osborne announces more funding for broadband rollout

December 19, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, internet, Online Marketing, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Chancellor George Osborne announced £5 billion of spending on infrastructure projects such as roads, railways and broadband networks with £100 million of that is set to boost broadband coverage in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff.Osborne announces more funding for broadband rolloutA further six cities will be identified later.

“For the first time we are identifying over 500 infrastructure projects we want to see built over the next decade and beyond. Roads, railways, airport capacity, power stations, waste facilities, broadband networks,” the chancellor told the House of Commons.

“It means creating new superfast digital networks for companies across our country. These do not exist today. See what countries like China or Brazil are building, and you’ll also see why we risk falling behind the rest of the world,” he said.

“Our great cities are at the heart of our regional economies. And we will help bring world leading, superfast broadband and wi-fi connections to 10 of them – including the capitals of all four nations.

The plan is to create a hub of super-fast cities with broadband speeds of between 80 to 100Mbps (megabits per second) and city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity.

The current average broadband speed in the UK is 6.8Mbps.

Firms including BT and Virgin will be able to bid for the money, which they can use to fill in urban notspots or increase wi-fi coverage, a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said.

The government wants the UK to be the best place for broadband in Europe by 2015.

BT recently accelerated its superfast broadband rollout and now plans to offer fibre services to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014.

Virgin Media has also turned up the speed dial on its services, which is available to half the homes in the UK.

Broadband rollouts in rural areas have been far slower with critics complaining that the £530m set aside by the government to encourage investment in these areas is insufficient.

Much of that money has been allocated to local councils identified as having broadband blackspots but few have yet got projects up and running.

UK superfast broadband worries companies

November 15, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Broadband firms have warned that a new superfast digital divide is emerging.UK superfast broadband worries companiesSpeakers at the Westminster eForum said that around 10% of the UK will not be able to get superfast broadband in the next decade.

Government funds set aside to address so-called notspots were insufficient, they said.

BT said that EU targets for all citizens to have speeds of at least 30Mbps (megabits per second) by 2020 were “impossible to achieve”.

Meanwhile Fujitsu revealed more about its plans to fill in the UK’s broadband blackspots.

The Japanese electronics giant burst onto the UK broadband scene in April, pledging to offer a fibre-to-the-home network to the third of the country bypassed by commercial broadband rollouts.

Using the £530 million pot of government money set aside for rural broadband, it said that it could create a fibre-to-the-home 1Gbps (gigabit per second) network for around 5 million users within five years.

But it has been slow progress. So far Fujitsu has bid to build fibre networks in just three areas – Wales, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.

In two areas, including the Highlands and Islands, it decided that the sums simply did not stack up.

“Even with government funding there are parts of the UK where the business case will not work,” said Bill MacKenzie, Fujitsu’s business unit director.

The money has been divided out among local authorities who in turn put out tenders to network providers.

Geographical areas benefitting from broadband investments

  • Cumbria: £17m
  • Devon and Somerset: £31.3m
  • East Sussex: £10.6m
  • Kent: £9.87m
  • Lancashire: £10.8m
  • Lincolnshire: £14.3m
  • Norfolk: £15.4m
  • North Yorkshire: £17.8m
  • Suffolk: £11.68m

It was a view backed by rival BT, which is bidding to provide fibre networks in the same areas.

Sean Williams, group director of strategy and policy at BT, told delegates that current funding would reach 90% of the UK.

For those in the 90% the future was bright. He predicted that “over half would have speeds of more than 100 megabits” before 2020.

This would put the UK on schedule to meet an EU goal that half of its citizens should have access to at least 100Mbps by that time as well as propelling the UK to the top of the European speed league tables.

But the other key EU broadband target – to have all member-state citizens on a minimum speed of 30Mbps by 2020 – was “not achievable for any country”, said Mr Williams.

In the UK the 10% left behind might be a small minority but the gap between them and the others would be huge said Alastair Davidson, Arqiva’s managing director of mobile.

“The 90% will have a Ferrari and the 10% a bicycle,” he said.

Free Wifi access- fact or fiction?

September 16, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Ecommerce, Email, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Free wi-fi access in the UK is supposed to be a global leader- but how “free” is the internet access?Free Wifi access- fact or fiction?Recent research by the Office for National Statistics showed that 4.9 million people connected through hotspots such as hotels, cafes and airports over the last year in the UK, up from 0.7 million in 2007.

But there’s a big catch.

These hotspots usually either come with a charge or require you to be a customer – buying a superfluous sandwich or a beer in order to get your internet access.

Wi-fi provider The Cloud serves many cafes and restaurants, including Pizza Express, Eat and Pret A Manger – but their users must be prepared to pay to eat.

And BT recently announced a partnership with Heineken pubs where wi-fi is on the house – starting with 100 pubs in London and expanding to 300 throughout the UK by 2012. But again, you have to be a customer.

Many councils have realised the potential benefits of community wireless access and tried to launch free wi-fi schemes. Many have failed.

Probably the most trumpeted example was in Swindon, which aimed to have free wi-fi emanating from the top of lampposts for the whole town by April 2010. A loan was made to a private provider, but the money ran out and private sponsors were hard to come by, the council says.

Now only one small section of the town is covered.

But while councils and other bodies have struggled in the UK, there are many successful free wireless internet projects around the world.

Many US cities – including Denver, Raleigh and Seattle – have free access in some areas, usually the centre. Bologna in Italy has a similar set-up.  Taipei in Taiwan currently has major public sites covered.

NYCwireless is a non-profit organisation that builds free public wireless networks in parks and open spaces in New York City, including a newly announced outdoor space covering the area between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

There is some progress in the UK where Bristol has a free and open network in much of the city centre.

The council says this is done at minimal cost because decades ago they purchased old cable ducts allowing them to create their own broadband network.

In 2007, the City of London initiated “free” wireless access, touting its importance for traders, bankers and brokers to access data on the move – but only the first 15 minutes are actually free.

Virgin Media plans to roll out free public wi-fi in London to compete with BT’s Openzone – the catch being that customers must subscribe to Virgin’s broadband service at home to access the fastest speeds at no cost.

Of course, there would be many people who would question the need for free public wi-fi, even in city centres. We don’t expect free electricity or free public transport, so why should people get free internet?

But the advocates see it as a move that could stimulate business and provide a boost to quality of life. But the powers-that-be can’t seem to agree on whether funding of any sort should go to free wi-fi, particularly in these straitened times.

And this attitude is why some people say the private sector is a more viable route. For now, most Britons will have to fork out for the paying for their emails and browsing..

HTC sues Apple after Google transfers mobile phone patents

September 09, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Google, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

The mobile phone patents wars are escalating as Google is backing up HTC in its continuing war with Apple over patent infringement.HTC sues Apple after Google transfers mobile phone patentsHTC has used patents it bought from Google to lodge a fresh complaint against Apple with the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

It has alleged that Apple’s computers and mobile devices infringe patents involving wi-fi capability and processor communication technology.

This is the third complaint that HTC has filed against Apple.

“We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones,” said Grace Lei, general counsel of HTC.

HTC is not the only smartphone maker involved in a legal tussle with Apple.

Samsung Electronics, which makes the Galaxy series of smartphones and tablet PCs, has also been fighting a legal battle against Apple.

It is becoming an Apple versus Android war.

Apple has filed complaints against the South Korean manufacturer, accusing it of infringing its patents. It said that Samsung had copied the design and look of Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices.

Samsung has counter-sued Apple, saying it infringed Samsung’s wireless patents.

Both HTC and Samsung use Google’s Android operating system in most of their smartphones.

Analysts said that HTC’s latest legal action, which uses patents it acquired from Google, indicates that the tussle is becoming a much bigger issue than just a simple fight between two manufacturers.

Apple has accused Samsung of infringing its patents with the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. The companies have been stepping up their legal action against each other this year.

And in the early salvos, Apple seems to have got the upper hand.

Last month, a court in the Netherlands banned Samsung from selling three models of its Galaxy smartphones in a number of European countries after Apple filed a claim for patent infringement.

Earlier this week, Samsung pulled out its new Galaxy Tab 7.7 from the IFA electronics fair in Berlin, one the world’s largest electronics shows, after a court blocked sales of the product in Germany.

Analysts said the regularity with which these companies have been taking legal action against each other was also an indicator they may be using it as a competition tool.