Posts tagged Consumer Champion
Earlier this week I appeared on BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs show You and Yours to talk about how to keep your smartphone photos and videos safe and secure.
Following a post on the BBC CBeebies Facebook page, a disturbing number of parents reported pictures had been lost through theft, accident or a broken device.
I say ‘pictures’, but often these are precious, irreplaceable family memories.
Here’s a clip from the show:
Estimates suggest we shared one trillion pictures from our phones in 2014. When smartphone photography is so simple that it requires almost no thought, it’s easy to take the snaps we take for granted.
But that becomes a big problem if when phone begins to run out of storage space, or worse if it gets lost or stolen. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to back up your photos and keep them safe.
The simplest backup of all is to store them in ‘the cloud’, what I often describe as a giant USB stick somewhere on the Internet.
Both of the major phone families – iOS found on Apple’s iPhone and Android installed on Samsung, Sony and HTC handsets among others – provide methods to back up your settings and app data along with photos and videos.
Apps such as Dropbox (and now Carousel), Flickr and Microsoft OneDrive provide seamless background image copy; Google Photos offers unlimited free cloud storage for images up to 16 MP and videos up to FullHD 1080p, more than satisfactory for most smartphone users.
With any cloud storage security is paramount (as some celebs found to their embarrassment recently) so ensure you understand any terms, use secure passwords and two factor authentication where available.
If you want to find out more about securing smartphone photos and videos drop me a line or leave a comment below.
September has been a busy month for television appearances. As well as new seasons of BBC1 Rip Off Britain and Planet of the Apps for Ginx TV, twice I’ve been up bright and early sitting on the ITV Good Morning Britain sofa.
The stories I covered were both Apple-focused but, it’s fair to say, at different ends of the good news spectrum.
The ‘iCloud Celebrity Photo Hack’ (or “The Fappening”, as it has also come to be known) is an altogether different news item, made more difficult because there’s a lot that’s still unknown about how private photos of celebrities came to be leaked in the first place – not least, whether Apple’s iCloud is even culpable.
I’ve uploaded my notes on the iCloud Celeb-gate story (do keep in mind that’s exactly what they are, just notes), and I’ll be sure to update them as regularly as I can while the story develops.
The new series of Rip Off Britain is well underway, airing on BBC1 throughout September and October.
It’s been a busy series for me: as well as appearing in the Popup Shop in the West Midlands I’ve been covering a variety of topics including online password security, nuisance call blockers, how online advertising works, and taking care when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots.
One item that has generated a lot of interest is online password security.
On average we have 26 online logins each in the UK, with 25-34 years old managing up to 40. Most worrying of all is that Experian, who conducted the research, found that despite the number of accounts we manage, we each use an average of just 5 different passwords!
When researching the item I tried to count how many online accounts I owned: I stopped when I reached 90. I know I’ve many more, and it’s a number that’s only going to grow. I also realised that it’s very rare that I go back to delete an account that I no longer use, particularly if it’s with an online retailer I’ve used just the once to buy a gift.
In the show I ran a workshop in a shopping centre to highlight the challenges of safely managing our online accounts. Of course, it’s a big subject with too much to share in a short item on television, so to help further I put together a leaflet.
My “How to manage and remember your online passwords” leaflet contains tips on how to make your online accounts as safe as possible, including choosing passwords and passphrases that are difficult for fraudsters to guess or crack, and an introduction to password management software. You can download the leaflet from the BBC website.
Watch Rip Off Britain on BBC iPlayer or to see clips of the show and further tips visit the BBC Rip Off Britain website. Also, look out for details of the Rip Off Britain Live show on BBC1 from 20th-24th October 2014.
The BBC Rip Off Britain Pop Up Shop opened its doors at the Dudley Merry Hill shopping centre in June and once again I was behind the counter serving up healthy slices of consumer advice on all things technology and telecoms.
Roaming or using your mobile phone abroad was a recurring theme this year as was dealing with nuisance phone calls – in fact I’ve been investigating nuisance call blocker technology for another of this season’s episodes. Among the other items I’ve shot for this series include a film on safe online shopping and another uncovering the ingenuity of online advertising.
This year in Dudley also I ran two public workshops for the show: one on everyday mobile security and safety, revealing how public Wi-Fi hotspots might not be as safe as they seem, and another on how a lock screen passcode still isn’t enough to stop you getting stung if your smartphone gets lost or stolen.
The new series of Rip Off Britain airs on BBC One in September 2014, beginning on Monday the 15th September at 9.15am.
Here’s what we know about Heartbleed (as of today – it’s a developing story) plus some pointers about what you need to do to protect yourself:
What is the Heartbleed Bug? The Heartbleed Bug (or CVE–2014-0160 to give it its official name) is a vulnerability in OpenSSL, the fundamental bit of code used by as many as 500,000 websites to encrypt the data we send online. The upshot is that sensitive data such as our usernames, passwords and credit card details could potentially have been exposed to hackers. It doesn’t matter what device you’re using to connect to the web – a laptop, Mac, Windows, iPhone or Android – the vulnerability is on the web server that you’re connecting to.
Is it serious? Heartbleed is a serious enough vulnerability that it’s forced website owners all over the world to update, to patch their web servers. And we’re talking about the big players, like Yahoo and its services such as Flickr and Tumblr; some banks and even the FBI’s website are impacted too, an estimated half a million sites in total. Some sites such as Google and Facebook managed to patch their services early on or before the vulnerability was made public, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t vulnerable beforehand. And it’s not just websites that use OpenSSL, it’s email and instant messaging services too.
Who has exploited it? Concerningly, even though the Heartbleed Bug has only just been made public (by researchers at Google and Codenomicon) this vulnerability has been around for a couple of years. Perhaps nobody knew it was there until the last week. Perhaps (and this is speculation) some people did know but, having free access to privileged and sensitive data, chose to keep quiet about it. As it’s difficult to trace if and when the vulnerability has been exploited, we may never know.
What can we do? Some of the knee-jerk advice online has been ‘don’t go to work until you’ve changed all of your passwords’, but that might actually put you at more risk until the affected servers get patched with the fixed version of the OpenSSL code. Good advice is to check whether your service was impacted by the bug – this link on Mashable is pretty comprehensive – and as per the advice change your password only when safe to do so. Whatever you don, don’t use the same password for multiple accounts – consider using a secure password manager to keep track of them all. And, as always, keep a close eye on your bank statements for suspicious transactions.