iTWire - iTWire - Latest News iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs Fri, 22 May 2015 21:32:04 +1000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb ‘Sniffing’ and tracking wearable tech, smartphones a privacy concern‘sniffing’-and-tracking-wearable-tech-smartphones-a-privacy-concern‘sniffing’-and-tracking-wearable-tech-smartphones-a-privacy-concern ‘Sniffing’ and tracking wearable tech, smartphones a privacy concern

Concerns about privacy and confidentiality have been raised by researchers who have discovered how easy it is to monitor and record signals from mobile phones including the iPhone, and wearable devices like watches and fitness monitors.

The concerns come from researchers at UK-based Context Information Security who have demonstrated the ease of monitoring and recording Bluetooth Low Energy signals transmitted by many of the mobile devices.  

“Many people wearing fitness devices don’t realise that they are broadcasting constantly and that these broadcasts can often be attributed to a unique device,” said Scott Lester, a senior researcher at Context.

“Using cheap hardware or a smartphone, it could be possible to identify and locate a particular device – that may belong to a celebrity, politician or senior business executive – within 100 metres in the open air.

{loadposition peter}“This information could be used for social engineering as part of a planned cyber attack or for physical crime by knowing peoples’ movements,” warns Lester.

To highlight the issue of privacy and security, Lester cites recent reports that soldiers in the People's Liberation Army of China have been warned against using wearables to restrict the possibility of cyber-security loopholes.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) was released in 2010 specifically for a range of new applications that rely on constantly transmitting signals without draining the battery. Bluetooth beacons, using Low Energy protocols, transmit broadcast signals that can be heard by compatible or smart devices.  

Lester says that, like other network protocols it relies on identifying devices by their MAC addresses; but while most BLE devices have a random MAC address, the Context researchers found that in most cases the MAC address doesn’t change.

“My own fitness tracker has had the same MAC address since we started the investigation, even though it’s completely run out of battery once.

“Sometimes the transmitted packets also contain the device name, which may be unique, such as the ‘Garmin Vivosmart #12345678’, or even give the name of the user, such as ‘Scott’s Watch’.”

Lester points out that BLE is also increasingly used in mobile phones and is supported by iOS 5 and later, Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 8, Android 4.3 and later, as well as the BlackBerry 10.

He notes that the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has predicted that, “By 2018, more than 90% of Bluetooth enabled smartphones are expected to be Smart Ready devices,” supporting BLE; while the number of Bluetooth enabled passengers cars is also predicted to grow over to 50 million by 2016.

Voicing further concern about privacy and confidentiality with the use of  BLE, Lester has this to say:

“iBeacons, which also transmit BLE packets in order to identify a location, are already used in Apple Stores to tailor notifications to visiting customers, while BA and Virgin use iBeacons with their boarding pass apps to welcome passengers walking into the lounge with the WiFi password.   House of Fraser is also trialing iBeacons on manikins to allow customers to look at the clothes and their prices on their phones.

“The current model for iBeacons is that they should not be invasive; you have to be running the application already, for it to detect and respond to a beacon.

“But the researchers have concerns - it doesn’t take much imagination to think of a phone manufacturer providing handsets with an iBeacon application already installed, so your phone alerts you with sales notifications when you walk past certain shops.”

Lester says the current version 4.2 of the Bluetooth Core Specification makes it possible for BLE to implement public key encryption and keep packet sizes down, while also supporting different authentication schemes.

“Many BLE devices simply can’t support authentication and many of the products we have looked at don’t implement encryption, as this would significantly reduce battery life and increase the complexity of the application.”

Lester says it is clear that BLE is a “powerful technology, which is increasingly being put to a wide range of uses.”

He warns that while the ability to detect and track devices may not present a serious risk in itself, “it certainly has the potential to compromise privacy and could be part of a wider social engineering threat”.

“It is also yet another demonstration of the lack of thought that goes into security when companies are in a rush to get new technology products to market.”

For more information on the Context report click here.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Security Fri, 22 May 2015 16:21:38 +1000
Initiative exposes students to 3D design technology Initiative exposes students to 3D design technology

A joint initiative by government, industry and the National Science and Technology Centre, Questacon, has given students from secondary schools in three states experience with the cutting-edge of design technology.

The students in Western Australia, the ACT and Victoria have been working with 3D printers. The groups were provided with bodies with snap-in sockets and a blueprint ball-joint design to build upon, and created heads, arms, legs and even wings for the body to create figurines in 3D.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science, Karen Andrews, says the Questacon project has given 46 lucky students a first-hand look at an “emerging technology that has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing worldwide.”

“I commend schools right across Australia that are embracing 3D design and printing in classrooms – I was recently at Ironside State School in St Lucia, Queensland, and was amazed by the 3D printers the kids were using every day to complement their STEM based subjects.

{loadposition peter}“Along with valuable practical experience, students have honed their problem solving and design thinking skills. These skills are in high demand by employers across a range of industries and will underpin the jobs of the future.”

Andrews acknowledged key partner Raytheon Australia for their support in delivering the program, which is one of a series of programs supported under a three-year partnership between Questacon and Raytheon Australia.

“This unique initiative is an example of how government and industry can collaborate to bring tangible examples from business and research, and inspire young people to become the innovators of tomorrow.”

Andrews said Questacon’s initiatives are a key part of the delivery of the Government’s broader science agenda, including the development of Australia’s first ever national policy to secure Australia’s skills base in STEM.

“These informal learning opportunities are a vital part of the broader STEM policy we are developing to help secure a highly skilled workforce and cultivate the science literate society that is essential for Australia’s ongoing productivity and prosperity.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Government Tech Policy Fri, 22 May 2015 14:14:37 +1000
Bigcommerce, PayPal collaborate on payment processing Bigcommerce, PayPal collaborate on payment processing

PayPal has extended its instant checkout service One Touch to merchants using the Bigcommerce e commerce platform.

The newly-released payment option will be made available to all Bigcommerce merchants in the United States in the coming weeks, with international rollout expected later this year.

BigCommerce announced the integration with PayPal and Braintree at the Commerce:Rewired event currently being staged  in the US, with the deal enabling shoppers to pay across more than 90,000 online stores in a single touch, without needing to enter user IDs or passwords after their first login.

The joint integration gives Bigcommerce merchants one of the most seamless ways to access the broad capabilities of PayPal and Braintree. It connects Bigcommerce’s ecommerce platform with a comprehensive suite of payment services and tools from PayPal, including support for digital wallet payments both online and on mobile, consolidated business management tools and automated fraud protections.

{loadposition peter}Merchants using One Touch  for web and mobile will benefit from expedited transfers on sales through their online stores, a potential increase in conversions and average order values, as well as early access to all new payment methods supported by PayPal, across all devices, through a single integration.

PayPal SVP of Global Merchant and NextGen Commerce, Bill Ready, said the partnership with Bigcommerce offered an end-to-end ecommerce solution that makes it easier than ever for their merchants to launch and grow their businesses.

“Together, we are giving merchants everything they need to open an online store in just minutes rather than weeks -- all bundled into a single integration.

“PayPal takes a partner-based approach to payments to help merchants and consumers connect more easily.”

Bigcommerce co-founder and CEO Machaalani said, “This collaboration reflects our shared vision to deliver seamless experiences that help merchants grow their businesses and sell more.”

“What PayPal has delivered through One Touch for the web is a future-proof payments solution that will enable our merchants to stay at the forefront of innovation while streamlining the day-to-day management of their businesses.”  

PayPal says by using One Touch for web, Bigcommerce merchants will benefit from business-accelerating features, including built-in payment processing with support for all major credit and debit cards plus PayPal Express Checkout, mobile-ready payments, straightforward pricing and expert support, and automated support for new payment methods.

For more information about PayPal and One Touch for web click here

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Fri, 22 May 2015 13:19:34 +1000
Huawei launches Agile IoT architecture Huawei launches Agile IoT architecture

Huawei has launched its Agile Internet of Things Architecture at the Huawei Network Congress 2015.

According to Huawei, there will be an explosion of Internet of Things network activity over the next ten years with hundreds of billions of connections and new sensors.

Huawei's IoT Solution, includes LiteOS, a lightweight IoT operating system (OS).

{loadposition stan}According to Huawei, LiteOS has a tiny 10KB footprint and requires zero configuration while supporting auto-discovery, and auto-networking. It is aimed at a variety of areas including smart homes, wearables, connected vehicles and across industries.

LiteOS will be an open OS so that any developer can create IoT products.

Huawei says it is committed to establishing an industry application-oriented IoT ecosystem through collaborating with upstream and downstream partners and developing industry solutions.

"We have been involved in industry alliances, working with standard organisations in the area of IoT, and establishing innovative research centers, open labs, and development communities to foster industry development," Yan Lida , President, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei, said in a keynote address to the conference.

]]> (Stan Beer) Internet of Things Fri, 22 May 2015 08:31:27 +1000
International cybersecurity coordination is ‘poor’‘poor’‘poor’ International cybersecurity coordination is ‘poor’

A major new global report says cybersecurity efforts globally are ‘disjointed’, and calls for greater coordination.

The Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG) suggests a Geneva-based ‘coordination committee’ to improve global policy discussions on critical Internet policy issues, including cyber security and online privacy and data protection.

In a new report called ‘Solving the International Internet Policy Coordination Problem, GCIC’s Nick Ashton-Hart says key global Internet-related policy discussions are being independently developed in global forums, by governments and stakeholders, generally with only ad-hoc inter-process coordination.

“With cyber security, human rights, law enforcement and economic discussions taking place in several hundred different places and processes, the complex environment is making it confusing for stakeholders and governments to resolve Internet-related policy issues in a holistic way,” he says.

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Ashton-Hart documents how more than 200 processes and mechanisms address online security issues, including dozens of international and UN-based processes and many more regional initiatives developing policies that affect all Internet users. He argues for holistic ‘light-touch’ coordination based upon elements of an existing global coordination system that handles complex humanitarian emergencies.

“Just as in the Internet policy space, the humanitarian community is composed of many UN agencies with different operational mandates and priorities, but also thousands of independent non-governmental actors,” says Ashton-Hart. “Ensuring that all can respond within their mandates and expertise quickly and in a way that minimises duplication and gaps in coverage is literally a life-and-death matter.”

Ashton-Hart warns that continuing to address Internet-related public policy in subject-area silos, independently developing and implementing policy with ad hoc efforts to coordinate related activities, is a serious mistake. “At a practical level, there is a genuine and pressing need to address stakeholders’ calls for clarity on where to turn in solving practical issues.” He says the proposed Coordination Committee could fill that void.

The GCIG is a two-year initiative launched by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). It is chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt. The paper is available at

]]> (Graeme Philipson) Security Fri, 22 May 2015 05:18:10 +1000
Dallas Buyers Club to sue other ISP customers, takes action in Singapore Dallas Buyers Club to sue other ISP customers, takes action in Singapore

ISPs want the owners of the Dallas Buyers Club movie to pay $108,000 but Justice Nye claims it’s a bit much, while DBC’s owners target other ISPs.

The Dallas Buyers Club saga continues, with several websites reporting the news that ISPs are asking for $108,000 from DBC’s owners to gather the data on the 4700+ IP addresses and the account holders these relate to.

Justice Nye Perram, the Federal Court judge presiding over the case expressed his thoughts that the task could be automated and that the amount requested seemed excessive.

And while iiNet suggested in its blog post that downloaders could be hit with a $10 fee, the question of what uploaders of the movie - which is virtually everyone who used BitTorrent to download the movie as uploading is part of the BitTorrent equation - could pay as-yet undetermined higher fees.

Mashable also pointed out that DBC intends asking other Australian ISPs for the details of alleged downloaders and uploaders as identified by IP addresses, with some of the ISPs contacted stating they would abide by the law and court orders.

CNET and SMH have additional details, while iTWire wrote earlier this week on iiNet’s plan to potentially offer free legal advice to those who receive DBC letters. 

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reports that Voltage Pictures is asking Singaporean ISPs for the details of IP address owners who it claims have downloaded the DBC movie.

Finally, Voltage Pictures, the company behind DBC, is itself the subject of copyright infringement claims via Togo, the license holder for Godzilla.

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The Hollywood Report says Voltage’s new movie Collasal, which sees a character played by Anne Hathaway somehow mentally connected to a giant lizard create invading Tokyo. Who knew the world needed yet another giant lizard movie. Perhaps Anne Hathaway is secretly one of the lizard people?

In any case, you'd be forgiven for asking: who watches the pirate watchers who themselves may well be doing a bit of alleged intellectual property theft of their own?

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Entertainment Fri, 22 May 2015 01:57:26 +1000
Lax attitude by employees to workplace cyberthreats Lax attitude by employees to workplace cyberthreats

The growing risk of cyber threats to companies around the world is being ignored by employees who visit ‘inappropriate’ websites like porn sites while they are at work.

According to a global study commissioned by Blue Coat Systems, and undertaken by Vanson Bourne, there’s a global trend of employees ignoring cyber risks to their companies and organisations, despite typically being fully aware of the risks.

Over 60% of global respondents to the survey view using a new application without the IT department’s consent as a serious cyber-security risk to the business, but in Australia just 14% admitted doing it without permission.

And, Blue Coat CISO ANZ, Damien Manuel, says the research found the actions of employees at odds with their awareness of the growing cyber threats facing the workplace.

{loadposition peter}Manuel said this risky behaviour can leave both sensitive corporate and personal data open to being stolen and used immediately, stored for future use, or sold into a thriving black market where compromised corporate and personal identities are traded globally.

“While the majority of employees are aware of cyber security risks, there are still some who take chances; thereby potentially jeopardising corporate network security,” Manuel said.

“The consumerisation of IT and social media carry mixed blessings to enterprises. It is no longer feasible to prevent employees from using them, so businesses need to find ways to support these technology choices while simultaneously mitigating the security risks.”

Blue Coat points out that one source of cyber threats is the practice of phishing, with cyber criminals continuously conducting extensive research on employees’ social profiles to find information that can be used to attack organisations. For example, an attacker may create a seemingly personalised email targeted at an IT administrator for a large enterprise using information found on social media profiles, such as the recipient’s alma mater or favourite sports team. That email may contain malware that is downloaded once the recipient clicks on a link included in the document.

Pornography continues to be one of the most popular methods of hiding malware or malicious content, according to the study, and even though awareness is high of the threat posed by adult content sites, workers are still visiting these potentially dangerous sites.

The Blue Coat survey found that at 19%, China has the worst record for viewing adult content sites on a work device, with Mexico (10%) and the UK (9%) not far behind.

The majority of global survey participants admitted understanding the obvious cyber threats when downloading email attachments from an unknown sender, or using social media and unapproved apps from corporate networks without permission, but knowing this, did not curb their risk-taking.

Other findings include:

•    Although 65% of global respondents view using a new application without the IT department’s consent as a serious cyber-security risk to the business, 26% admitted doing so

•    In Singapore 37% of respondents used new applications without IT’s permission, compared to 22% in China and Korea, and just 14% in Australia

•    Obvious risks such as opening emails from unverified senders still happen at work. Nearly one out of three (29%) of Chinese employees open email attachments from unverified senders, even though nearly three out of four (72%) see it as a serious risk, whereas Korean (63%) businesses view the threat less seriously yet open far less unsolicited emails, at 11%

•    Nearly two out of five employees globally (41%) use social media sites for personal reasons at work – a serious risk to businesses, as cyber criminals hide malware on shortened links and exploit encrypted traffic to deliver payloads

•    While globally, 6% of respondents still admitted viewing adult content on work devices, China ranked the highest with nearly one in five (19%) employees admitting to viewing adult content at work, compared to Singapore and Australia at 5% and 2% respectively.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Security Thu, 21 May 2015 23:57:54 +1000
Kogan’s latest Atlas laptop shrugs off higher prices’s-latest-atlas-laptop-shrugs-off-higher-prices’s-latest-atlas-laptop-shrugs-off-higher-prices Kogan’s latest Atlas laptop shrugs off higher prices

Kogan’s latest laptop delivers better specs for less money, beating a similarly specced Dell on price, screen res and more.

Kogan is the king of value pricing, taking it right up to competitors and slapping them in the face with better prices, whether with Kogan’s own brands or competitors’ own models.

Examples in the branded space are cheaper branded smartphones and tablets than the companies themselves are able to offer at retail in Australia.

The latest example, although you can find endless such examples at Kogan’s website is the new Kogan Atlas X14FHD laptop

Key specs:

Intel Pentium N3540 Quad-core CPU @ 2.16GHz
Full HD 1920x1080 res 14-inch screen
1 x USB 3.0 port
3 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet Port
802.11 b/n/g and AC Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.0
500GB hard drive
9-in-1 card slot
0.3 megapixel webcam
Up to 9.5 hour battery (4 cell 32W battery)
Windows 8.1 with Bing

This model is $359 plus $19 deliver to most metro postcodes.

Need more RAM?

Then Kogan offers the same model with 4GB for just $10 more here at this Kogan store listing

Kogan’s website says either model will ‘leave the warehouse in 3 to 7 days’.

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It’s thin and light, has the faster AC wireless standard, the promise of long battery life and naturally qualifies for a free Windows 10 upgrade when Microsoft makes Windows 10 available for download.

The closest competitor I could find at retail from major stores was at JB Hi-Fi for the Dell Inspiron Y510130au.

The Dell costs $398 for a 1366x768 res 14-inch screen - which is a lower resolution. The other specs seem similar but JB Hi-Fi’s site doesn’t specify the type version of Bluetooth.

So, you could get the Dell and get it immediately by walking into a store, paying your money and walking out, or you could save some money and get a better configuration with the Kogan laptop, waiting up to a week or so to get it.

It’s your money, and at this price range you’d want the best value you can get, so what you do next is up to you.

That said, shop around - there are always sales, other stores and more.

As usual, do your own homework before making purchase decisions, although if it’s homework you want to do, as well as run general Windows software to do everyday computing tasks on a budget - the latest Atlas laptop should hold up nicely enough!

]]> (Alex Zaharov-Reutt) Home Tech Thu, 21 May 2015 23:44:33 +1000
Call for less haste on site blocking legislation: Internet Society Call for less haste on site blocking legislation: Internet Society

The Internet Society wants the federal government to delay for at least a year its proposed Copyright Legislation forcing ISPs to block access to pirate websites, while undertaking an independent study on the “real extent” of video piracy.

CEO Laurie Patton said the society does not believe that there is sufficient international proof that piracy can be eliminated via government regulation.

The society does say, however, that it supports the need for content to be made available speedily, at reasonable cost and on multiple devices and that the community needs to be educated about the damage piracy does.

"Our concern is that ad hoc government interventions such as the proposed site blocking legislation will not address the problem but will create adverse unintended consequences that are entirely counterproductive and potentially damaging to the Internet," Patton said.

{loadposition peter}Patton cites reports that in 2013 ASIC "inadvertently" blocked access to around 250,000 innocent websites when attempting to block one particular site it alleged was defrauding people.

"This is the sort of unintended damage that we risk reoccurring if the site blocking legislation goes through.

"Requiring more than 400 ISP's to manually block websites will incur significant costs that will inevitably have to be passed on to consumers by way of increased charges."

According to the society, the first response should be timely release of content. “Internationally this is regarded as the best way to discourage unauthorised access. Here in Australia we have only just seen the introduction of streaming (SVOD) services, so it is too early to be taking the "blunt instrument" approach of site blocking," Patton said

"The Internet Society believes that we should wait for at least a year and have a reputable independent organisation undertake research to see if there is a real problem needing action. In the meantime we should introduce a national public awareness campaign to encourage people to access content via legitimate means".

"We also support the Copyright Notice Scheme Code which is about to be introduced. This is the first step in educating people about piracy."

Under the Copyright Notice Scheme, ISP's will send up to three written warnings to households where downloading of pirated content is alleged to be occurring.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Telecoms & NBN Thu, 21 May 2015 22:43:03 +1000
Shift to digital fuels increases in mobile advertising spending Shift to digital fuels increases in mobile advertising spending

The rise and rise of the digital marketplace has fuelled an increase in mobile advertising spending in the Australian financial services, automotive and healthcare industries.

A study of global brands with a combined budget of $7 Billion, in all major industry sectors and 13 countries and regions by Marin Software, found that in Australia, mobile banking led the way in finance mobile ad spending in the first quarter this year – with 67% of consumers clicking on a mobile banking ad.

Globally, mobile banking users are predicted to spend $1.75 billion by 2019.

According to the survey, Australian financial brands spent 14.6% more on mobile ads in the first quarter of this year than they did for the same period in 2014. This represented a 24% year-over-year increase in mobile ad impressions and received 8.5% increase in clicks during this time.

{loadposition peter}Marin managing director APAC, Jay Revels, said increased demand for fast mobile banking and payment services, has expedited interest and demand for mobile financial services delivering convenience and easy ways to pay.

As consumers lives become more mobile, Marin predicts financial brands will focus on creating mobile-first apps, delivering speed, security and accessibility for almost any transaction.

“We predict financial services companies will spend more on mobile ads than desktop ads by the end of 2015”, Revels said.

Marin reveals that healthcare brands are embracing the so-called global ‘fittech’ trend, with 33% consumers never remove wearable tech (eg FitBit, JawBone Up, Smart Watches), while 20% want 24/7 contact with their doctor.

According to Marin, healthcare brands spent approximately 13% more on mobile ads in Q1 2015 than a year earlier, and there was a 27.5% year-over-year increase in mobile ad impressions and over a 10% increase in clicks during the same quarter.

And, Marin predicts consumer adoption of health wearables such as fitness trackers and smart watches will accelerate in this year as more of these highly anticipated devices hit the market. Says Revels, “Increasing interest in tracking immediate, on-the-go fitness and health data has driven huge growth in consumer fitness wearables, mobile health trackers, making this is a key focus for Australian health brands and marketers.”

In the automotive industry, Marin says pre-purchase research is essential for the industry as 33% of auto buyers “start their path to conversion to a mobile ad.”

Automotive brands increased their spend on mobile ads by 10% in Q1 2015, compared to the same quarter in 2014, and there was an 11% year-over-year increase in impressions and an 8.8% increase in clicks during the same quarter.

Marin predicts this could drive automotive mobile ad spend to reach parity with desktop by the end of year 2015.

“Consumers increasingly use smartphones at dealerships to research and validate brand choices pre purchase, driving a surge in mobile auto app usage in 2015,” Revels says.

“As automotive brands recognise the importance of mobile in the product research and conversion lifecycle, we’ll see a spike in activity with brands continuing to invest in mobile ads.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Mobility Thu, 21 May 2015 17:31:12 +1000