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CBBC Newsround

BBC Newsround: How to Stay Safe in Video Chats

If you’re parent, you’ll know how much your children are missing their friends at the moment.

Video chat apps like Zoom, Houseparty and Facetime are a great way for children to keep in touch with their schoolmates – but sometimes things can go wrong.

Here’s a piece I filmed with BBC Newsround to help children and their parents learn how to stay safe when using group video chat apps.

A dedicated page on the website features these video group chat tips and some further online safety resources. It also includes a chat with my daughter about how she is keeping in touch with school friends while school is closed.

Newsround is something of an institution here in the UK. For many of us as we were growing up the John Craven-hosted daily show was our main window on the world.

As a parent now, I’ve once again found Newsround to be an invaluable resource, providing my children with just the right balance of information, reassurance and distraction when things outside are so confusing. The Newsround website is also filled with uplifting, informative and topical stories, and has helped us to talk about some big world topics as a family.

Head over to the CBBC Newsround website or watch the latest bulletin.

The Metro

Metro: Is There a Gadget Doctor in the House?

Is there a Gadget Doctor in the house? There is now.

New for 2020 in the Metro newspaper is the Gadget Doctor column where every week we find answers to readers’ most pressing tech troubles.

In my surgery I mostly cover online safety and cybersecurity. Recently I’ve shared tips on video chat app safety, smart speaker privacy, and how to set up group calls for relatives who aren’t on the internet.

Needless to say, with many of us relying on technology at the moment to keep in touch with family, friends and work colleagues, we very have a busy mailbag right now.

Also on the Gadget Doctor rota are fellow experts in gaming, home entertainment, smartphones and photography – between us, we have most tech topics covered.

Need help with a tech tongue-twister? Drop the team a line at ku.oc.ortemnull@rotcodtegdag

BBC Radio 4 Money Box

BBC Money Box Live: Video Game Loot Boxes and Addiction

On BBC Radio 4 Money Box Live today I spoke about the jaw-dropping rise of the video game industry – and the human and financial impact on those who play.

The numbers behind video gaming may come as a surprise to many: with a revenue of around $150 billion worldwide in 2019, video gaming dwarfs Hollywood ($43 billion) and the music industry ($19 billion) combined – as it has for the last decade.

Yet many of the industry’s leading video games are billed as “free”. 2019’s biggest title, Fortnite, earned publisher Epic Games $1.8 billion despite not charging to download or play.

How? Welcome to a colourful world of in-game purchases where virtual coins, currencies, power-ups and “loot boxes” make the digital worlds go round.

Altogether less welcome are the stories of addictive behaviour, debt and theft we heard from Money Box Live listeners today.

I’m not anti-video games – far from it, I play Fortnite on my iPad, was (once) a whizz on Pro Evo and enjoy fewer things more than a round of Mario Kart with my kids.

But what concerns me is an unregulated gaming industry that makes hundreds of billions of pounds yet frequently shirks its responsibilities around duty of care, refuses to acknowledge its game mechanics – yes, loot boxes, among others – are gambling in all but name, and misses opportunities to put controls in place to protect younger and vulnerable gamers.

Keen to make sure your family enjoys video games safely responsibly? Here are two excellent resources:

  • AskAboutGames – answering questions from parents and gamers on safe and responsible gaming
  • Family Gamer TV – family-friendly gaming reviews and advice from gaming journalist and expert Andy Robertson
Deliveroo Logo

Deliveroo Scams on The One Show

When I first spoke about Deliveroo scams for BBC Watchdog in 2016, I had hoped the fast food delivery service would have taken away some tips on how to keep its customers’ accounts safe from fraudsters.

Yet here we are in 2019 and once again I’m investigating – this time for The One Show – why Deliveroo can’t seem to be able to keep its customers’ accounts secure.

Delivering Distress

Investigating Deliveroo Scams

Three years on and it seems little has changed at Deliveroo HQ.

Desperate Deliveroo customers are still finding orders being placed without their consent and delivered to addresses they know nothing about. Victims are still discovering that their email address is being changed, passwords updated, payment details changed, refunds issued – and even their name changed – without any apparent verification or controls.

Deliveroo vehemently denies that its own systems have been hacked. Instead it deflects responsibility back to its customers, admonishing them for reusing passwords across multiple online services.

Deliveroo: You Get Stuffed

Deliveroo claims that criminals are using “credential stuffing” attacks to take over customer accounts. It says usernames and passwords leaked from other online services are used to try and log in to Deliveroo accounts. Because many of us use the same passwords for multiple services, this can be a fruitful method of attack for criminals looking to hijack others’ accounts.

In my opinion, this victim-blaming doesn’t let Deliveroo off the hook. Other online services also acknowledge that these kind of attacks take place – and take further sensible precautions to protect their users.

One method used by many online services to add an extra layer of security is two-factor authentication. With “2FA”, a text message containing a one-off security passcode is sent to the account owner’s smartphone. It works because even if a hacker has identified a potential victim’s username and password, it’s unlikely they will have access to their smartphone too.

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BBC One - Rip Off Britain Logo

Attack of the Facebook Clones: BBC Rip Off Britain

The new series of BBC Rip Off Britain kicks off this week and once again I’m helping to shine a light on the digital shams and scams that have been plaguing viewers across the country.

Such as this one, where Facebook fraudsters buy or cultivate pages with thousands of likes, then rename the page and clone their victim’s shopfront before defrauding their customers:

It can be difficult for shoppers to know which pages are real and which are fakes.

For this film I created an almost identical clone of the BBC Rip Off Britain Facebook page within a matter of minutes. It’s also a challenge for owners of Facebook pages who feel can powerless to stop scammers ripping off both their business and their customers

My advice for Facebook page owners – and for visitors to those pages – is to look out for Facebook verification badges. These grey or blue ticks alongside the profile name indicate that the page has been vetted by Facebook, with official documentation provided in some cases, and can reasonably be expected to be the real deal. Page owners can request a grey tick by following Facebook’s verification process.

To find out more about this – and other digital rip offs – tune in to BBC1, weekdays 9.15 to 10.00am or watch on-demand on BBC iPlayer.

Smashing Security Podcast

Smashing Security: UK Porn Passports

I am a regular guest on the award-winning Smashing Security podcast hosted by the inimitable Graham Cluley and Carole Theriault.

The weekly podcast takes a lighter look at the serious business of cyber security, and I appear to have been pigeon-holed as the show’s resident cyber-sex reporter. Oh well.

In last week’s episode I reported on AgeID, the latest attempt by a leading adult-content outlet to adhere to the UK’s upcoming age verification legislation which seeks to protect under-18s from accessing explicit online material.

Clearly, there are a lot of challenges with this piece of law – practically, technically and morally – which is why the UK government has struggled with guidance and deadlines. At the time of writing, we’re still no clearer when the go-live date will be or how effective any block may prove.

Also in the episode we ask when it makes sense to pay off that ransomware fee, and uncover the ‘$150 million mansion hijack’.

Tap here to catch the full episode, or find it in your favourite podcast player.

Bitcoin Logo

Fake News: Bitcoin Scams and Cryptocurrency Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

Earlier this year on BBC Rip Off Britain I reported on how Martin ‘Money Saving Expert’ Lewis had found himself the unwitting face of adverts for bitcoin and cryptocurrency get-rich-quick schemes.

Understandably angry, Martin embarked upon a public campaign – and legal proceedings against Facebook – to make it clear that he in no way endorses any of these schemes.

Then, last week, I began receiving messages asking about a bitcoin scheme that I was apparently supporting. A quick web search and scan of social media revealed that it was my turn to be the face of dodgy cryptocurrency money-making schemes:

This advert is fake - I do not endorse any cryptocurrency trading platforms

This advert is fake – I do not endorse any cryptocurrency trading platforms

To be absolutely clear: these adverts are fake. In no way do I endorse any bitcoin or cryptocurrency money-making schemes. And as for me making ‘millions of pounds every month’? I’m still working on it.

The photos are genuine, though not the captions. The irony is that the scammers now using my face in those fake ads had the cheek to come to my website to steal the images.

There’s also an entire website now dedicated to my endorsement of the so-called trading platform. It goes so far as to provide a fabricated transcript of a conversation between me and Susanna in which I explain how the scheme works.

When I perform a web search on some phrases on the site, I find it’s identical to another site on the web in which Martin Lewis is the proponent.

It’s desperately frustrating that my face may now be helping to rip people off, and that there’s little I can do to stop it from happening.

However, what I can do is to help spread the word that these adverts should not be taken at face value. Also, steer well clear of any get-rich-quick schemes like these – whoever appears to be endorsing it. And be very cautious of any screenshot of a new story – they’re very easy to fake.

Recently, I shared some tips on how to spot fake adverts.

BBC Rip Off Britain: Live

Fakebook: How to Spot Fake Facebook Adverts – BBC Rip Off Britain: Live

Whether it’s fake news, fake likes or fake adverts, Facebook hasn’t been far from the top of the news agenda over the last few months.

Rip Off Britain - Fake Facebook Adverts

Don’t trust an advert just because it features a trusted face (Image: BBC)

On Monday’s Rip Off Britain: Live (BBC1, 9.15am) I addressed the fake Facebook adverts issue which has recently seen money-saving expert Martin Lewis sue the social network for damages after his face appeared in fake adverts for scam financial products.

The fake Facebook adverts I see generally fall into three main categories:

Fake Celebrity Endorsements

Advertisers have long worked with trusted names to grow reach and sales – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, as Martin Lewis and others have found, it’s a doddle for rogue advertisers to mock up fake celebrity endorsements, fake news reports – even entire fake websites – in an attempt to ensnare unwitting readers into their sales funnel.

MY ADVICE: Don’t trust an advert just because it features a trusted face, or appears to be a news story from a reputable news site, do your own research first.

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