Costa Coffee suspend cards after hack

April 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

costa coffee Costa Coffee suspend cards after hackCosta Coffee have suspended millions of Coffee Club Card online accounts after a load of their loyalty scheme members fell foul of a security breach.

The drink vendors said that they’d identified “some unusual activity” on some customers accounts while they were doing security checks.

A Costa spokesperson said that the number of people affected was in the “low to mid-hundreds”, but were confined to the UK. It will take a couple of days to reset everyone’s passwords and, until they’ve completed this, all online accounts will be suspended.

Mercifully, Costa don’t hold any customers financial data.

“We have already contacted those customers affected and emailed all registered Coffee Club members to make them aware of the situation. Customers can still continue to collect and redeem points as usual,” Costa Coffee said in a statement.

Now, feel free to complain about people spending too much money on coffee in the comments.

Holidaymakers conned out of billions

April 13th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

holiday 300x233 Holidaymakers conned out of billionsGoing on holiday this year? Lucky you. Unless, that is, you’re being swizzed out of money by internet ne’er-do-wells.

A report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has fired off a warning to you sun-worshippers, saying that some holidaymakers who have booked vacations online have been collectively conned out of £2.2m in 2014.

Crims have been targeting online booking firms to swipe money from unsuspecting folk, and many of those only find out that they’ve been had once they arrive at their hotel, who tell them that there’s no record of their booking.

The NFIB report shows, during a 12-month period, that 1,569 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the police’s fraud squad, with most complaints relating to plane tickets, hacking accounts, posting fake adverts online and setting-up bogus sites. Two groups particularly targeted were sports fans and religious groups, paying for fake tickets to religious sites and/or sporting events, where places are limited and people can charge more.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Holiday fraud is a particularly distressing form of fraud as the loss to the victim is not just financial but it can also have a high emotional impact. Many victims are unable to get away on a long-awaited holiday or visit to loved ones and the financial loss is accompanied by a personal loss.”

“We would also encourage anyone who has been the victim of a travel-related fraud to report it so that the police can build up a case, catch the perpetrators and prevent other unsuspecting people from falling victim.”

Chrome snoop-apps banned by Google

April 8th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

spy title cropped Chrome snoop apps banned by GoogleA number of Chrome add-ons have been stealing your sensitive data. Google have noticed this and shredded over 200 of them from the Chrome store.

These small extensions can be helpful additions to Chrome and Firefox when it comes to browsing, but some of them were problematic when you get under the hood of them. Google teamed-up with the University of California to analyse and nix a number of these apps.

They found that 5% of everyone visiting a Google page have at least one malicious extension, and most of those have a number of add-ons which are malicious.

One of the problems, according to researcher Alexandros Kapravelos, is that the dodgy extensions use the same techniques to collect your data as the legit ones.

“Even when we have a complete understanding of what the extension is doing, sometimes it is not clear if that behaviour is malicious or not,” he said. “You would expect that an extension that injects or replaces advertisements is malicious, but then you have AdBlock that creates an ad-free browsing experience and is technically very similar.”

Investigation launched into pensions

March 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

pensions 300x187 Investigation launched into pensionsAn investigation has been kicked off by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after claims were made that the data of millions of people’s pensions are being sold to cold-calling firms and shady fraud types. The ICO have said that the rumours they’ve heard are “very worrying” and they will be talking to regulators and the police.

As you’ll know, there’s been changes which means that, from next month, people can cash-in their savings when they retire, rather than buying an annuity. These changes have seen increased concern about an upswing in fraud.

According to reports, people’s pension details are being sold off for as little as 5p without consent. Over at the Daily Mail, reporters said they were offered information about 15,000 pensions without checks being made. This backs up previous ICO warnings that these reforms could lead to more scamming.

Steve Eckersley, the head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “It suggests a frequent disregard of laws that are in place specifically to protect consumers. We will be launching an investigation immediately. We’re aware of allegations raised against several companies involved in the cold-calling sector, and will be making inquiries to establish whether there have been any breaches of the Data Protection Act or Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.”

If any company is found guilty, there could be fines of £500,000 dished out and criminal prosecutions could be brought forward to anyone found obtaining personal data.

Eckersley added: “The information we’ve been shown supports the work we’ve been doing to target the shady industry that operates behind the nuisance of cold calls and spam texts. We’re already aware of the potential for a huge spike in the number of scam texts and calls linked to pensions when the law changes in April, and have already taken action against a company that was sending out misleading messages.”

“What we’ve seen here confirms those fears. Personal data is such a valuable asset, particularly financial information. The worst case scenario here is this information getting into the wrong hands and being used to target individuals at a critical point in their financial lives.”

twitch 300x300 Twitch hacked: credit card details stolen along with other informationTwitch, bought by Amazon last year which allows people to make money from streaming themselves playing video games, has been hacked.

Everyone is looking at Lizard Squad, who hacked Xbox as well as Lenovo. They’ve got previous with Twitch as well, when they carried out a DDoS attack, which was only resolved when (get this) four Twitter users gave in to the Squad’s demands to post selfies with “Lizard Squad” daubed on their foreheads.

However, this latest hack doesn’t look like the handiwork of Lizard Squad because, mainly, they crow about their actions very readily and they’re not really about stealing personal information, which is what’s happened here.

It appears that login details, passwords and some credit card information has been stolen in this particular hack. Twitch themselves have confirmed the hack, saying that all users will be forced to reset their passwords. They said: “For your protection, we have expired passwords and stream keys and have disconnected accounts from Twitter and YouTube. As a result, you will be prompted to create a new password the next time you attempt to log into your Twitch account.”

There’s no word on just how many people have been affected by this, but seeing as Twitch has over 45 million monthly viewers and in advance of 1 million people streaming videos, it is likely that this’ll be a large number of people who have had their security breached.

Twitch say that they’ve warned users and told them that the information that may have been swiped includes usernames, email addresses, the IP addresses from where people last logged in, credit card types, truncated card numbers and expiration dates, first and last names, phone numbers, home addresses, and dates of birth.

If you’re a Twitch user, it’d be worth changing the password for any sites you use that has a similar password to the one you use with this lot.

Apple and Android vulnerable to Freak Attack!

March 4th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple android Apple and Android vulnerable to Freak Attack!Another day, another attack on people using gadgets to get on the internet. This time, something called Freak Attack (which sounds like an ace ’80s horror b-movie) is causing a headache for users of Android and Apple devices.

The good news is that there are no reports of this weakness being exploited (yet) and that the relevant companies are working quickly to shore up the flaw… but where has all this come from? Well, researchers reckon that the problem comes from code that came about from old government policies which required software developers to use weaker security in encryption programmes, thanks to that old chestnut of ‘international security concerns’.

The flaw is to do with web encryption technology, which could potentially enable bad people to spy on what you’re doing if you use Safari or Google’s Android browser.

Around a third of all encrypted sites were vulnerable as of yesterday, as sites continued to accept this weaker software, which affects Apple’s browsers, the Android browser, but not Google Chrome browser or the latest versions from Firefox or Microsoft.

Apple and Google have both said that they’ve fixed the Freak Attack flaw, with Apple rolling theirs out next week and Google saying that they’ve sent out the goods to device makers and wireless carriers.

Obviously, this highlights the problems with governments interfering with encryption codes, even when dealing with national security. This old policy has come back to bite it on the arse, as it could well do the opposite of what it was intended to do, and actually give a helping hand to criminals.

Until a rollout occurs, you’d be wise to use Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft’s browser or, indeed, ride your luck until the new security measures are in place, if you’re feeling saucy.

TalkTalk customer data stolen in hack

February 27th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

TalkTalk 300x225 TalkTalk customer data stolen in hackAnother day, another hack and this time, customers of TalkTalk are being warned after a load of account numbers, names and personal details were stolen from them. Be on the lookout for people trying to scam you, basically.

In an email sent to all TalkTalk customers, the company said that ne’er-do-wells were using the swiped details to try and trick people into handing over their bank details. If you received the email, you’ll find a special phone line to call if you’ve been targeted.

The number is 0800 083 2710.

This scam was discovered after TalkTalk found that there was a very sudden spike in people complaining to them about scam calls at the end of last year. A spokesperson said: ”We have now concluded a thorough investigation working with an external security company, and we have become aware that some limited non-sensitive information may have been illegally accessed in violation of our security procedure.”

It seems that the hack came about via a third-party who also had access to TalkTalk’s network and, as a result, the company will be taking legal action against the aforementioned third-party.

“We are aware of a small, but nonetheless significant, number of customers who have been directly targeted by these criminals and we have been supporting them directly,” said a statement from TalkTalk.

The scam in question involves customers getting called up and, with the stolen details, the scammers are trying to convince you that they’re a legitimate TalkTalk representative who tries to sell them security software. So, if you’re a customer and someone from TalkTalk rings you up and asks for your bank details, tell ‘em where to sling it.

Nuisance calls and texts to be met with massive fines

February 25th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

telesales telephone Nuisance calls and texts to be met with massive finesThose irritating gits who run companies that mither everyone with nuisance calls and texts are looking at some new regulations that will slap them with huge fines. We’re talking penalties of (up to, of course) £500,000.

The current laws don’t do much to discourage these spam merchants, but that’s apparently going to change, as new rules will make it much easier to penalise them.

They come into play from April 6th and they mean that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) won’t have to prove that unwanted messages are causing a “substantial damage or substantial distress” any more.

In addition to that, the Government are also looking at bringing in new rules which will see that executives on the board of these businesses will also be held responsible for these calls and messages.

“For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm,” said digital economy minister Ed Vaizey. “This change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on.”

We all know how slippery these cold-callers are, so it would be wise to avoid holding your breath until we actually see someone getting a massive fine. Still, this is, initially, very good news for everyone.

RBS warning about ‘Free Trial Scams’

February 9th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

rbs RBS warning about Free Trial ScamsThere’s a number of products and services out there that give you a free trial before biting you on the seat of your pants. We warned readers about the trial with The Sun+ which ended up taking money off people.

Well, the Royal Bank of Scotland are now calling on regulators to do something about firms that offer free product trials before taking consumers for mugs. The RBS said that, since last June, they’d helped 37,000 customers to stop charges that had been hidden in the small print in 30-day ‘free trial’ deals for beauty and nutrition products.

The bank said that these deals “took advantage of consumers” who believed they were only handing over a small fee for postage: ”Clever advertising and pop-ups on social media websites lure customers into what they believe to be a free trial of a cream or tablet. They are asked to enter their card details to pay a small fee to cover postage and packaging.”

“In reality, by providing their card details and entering the free trial they are agreeing to a recurring subscription, if they do not cancel within the trial period.”

“At its worst point, RBS and NatWest were receiving over 390 calls a day from customers to complain of charges of around £80 a month being applied to their accounts that they did not recognise.”

“Customers receive the goods but don’t know about the recurring costs associated or that they have to stop the trial.

“Subscription details and charges should all be laid out in the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of the agreement, but the bank has found instances where the T&Cs only appear after the customer has agreed to them, where they’re hidden at the bottom of the page or where they’re greyed out making them near impossible to find.”

“The bank estimates that at its peak this was costing customers over £30k per day and over £2.9m in fees since June last year.”

So, as ever, stay vigilant and remember – always read the T&Cs and, if it looks too good to be true, it almost invariably always is too good to be true.

Google continue the fight against bad-ads

February 6th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

google plus logo Google continue the fight against bad adsThere’s nothing Google hates more than bad adverts – mainly because they make such a dizzying amount of money from advertising, so the nasty stuff doesn’t help them at all.

So with that, they’re continuing the fight against bad advertising practices, and Google’s Adwords platform, disabled over half a billion adverts last year. That’s a whopping amount! In addition to this, over 214k advertisers were banned and 250k sites were removed from the network because they’d been hiding malware, spyware and other forms of internet bleakness inside themselves.

Things that were most prevalent were 4.3m adverts that violated AdWords copyright infringement policies (over 4.3 million ads), adverts that employed trick-to-click approaches (over 43 million), advertisers trying to sell knock-off goods (in advance of 7k), those that practised phishing (more than 5k) and adverts for healthcare related violations (over 9.6 million).

That’s a lot of admin.

“Overall, we disabled more than 524 million bad ads and banned more than 214,000 advertisers in 2014″ said Vikaram Gupta, Director of Ads Engineering.

Sadly, you’ll still probably see weird muscle-men and women’s buttocks with blue dotted lines drawn on them all over your Facebook feed for the foreseeable.

Man buys photocopy of MacBook for £300

February 5th, 2015 7 Comments By Mof Gimmers

If you think a deal is too good to be true, chances are, it is. Unless you’re looking in our Deals of the Day, of course. Either way, if someone is offering you a MacBook for £300, you’ve got to be wary.

One man who wasn’t, was Paul Barrington who saw the deal on eBay and thought he’d got himself an absolute steal! He parted with his money and waited. When it arrived, he found he’d spent all that money on a photocopied picture of a MacBook instead.

Look at his sad face.

paper laptop scam 500x356 Man buys photocopy of MacBook for £300

Of course, MacBooks set you back around £1,500 if you’re buying them new and, if you’re getting one second-hand, they’re not going to be much cheaper.

Paul had apparently sold his treasured surfboard to buy the device, as he wanted to start gigging as a wedding DJ.

He said: “I sold my pride and joy for a piece of paper. It’s the first time I haven’t had a surfboard since I was 10 years old but I need a laptop so I checked the listing and the seller’s rating.”

“He’d been a member for a few years, so there was nothing to be suspicious about. I was excited about winning the auction and just thought, ‘I’ve got a laptop so I can start the business. The package was as light as a feather. Why bother sending a picture in a box? It doesn’t make any sense. I almost had to laugh.”

Paul has of course, reported this scam to eBay who are going to get back to him. Anyone who has dealt with eBay before, stop laughing. Here’s the auction.

Passwords: still terrible

January 21st, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

password 300x225 Passwords: still terribleRejoice, for the most popular (and worst) passwords of 2014 have been unveiled! And it’s a list that makes security experts weep, as the most popular are the most obvious.

As with 2013, variations on passwords like 123456 continue to be the most popular passwords. Other obvious choices such as “password” and “qwerty” are also in the top five.

There’s new entries for the likes of “baseball” (8), “dragon” (9), “football” (10) and, ahem, “Master” (19).

Superheroes such as Superman (21) and “batman” (24) proved popular, as did the winning “Michael” coming fresh in at No.20. We especially like that “trustno1″ is hanging on in there gamely, proving that irony is lost on the Cyberdog/conspiracy theorist set.

The list was compiled by password company SplashData, and combed from leaks from North America and Western Europe.

The ideal password that SplashData recommends, is one of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. They also “helpfully” suggest not using the same password on all of your sites.

The full list of the worst passwords (with last year’s ranking in brackets) is:

1 (1) 123456
2 (2) password
3 (20) 12345
4 (3) 12345678
5 (4) qwerty
6 (6) 1234567890
7 (16) 1234
8 (-) baseball
9 (-) dragon
10 (-) football
11 (7) 1234567
12 (17) monkey
13 (14) letmein
14 (5) abc123
15 (7) 111111
16 (-) mustang
17 (-) access
18 (18) shadow
19 (-) master
20 (-) michael
21 (-) superman
22 (-) 696969
23 (11) 123123
24 (-) batman
25 (24) trustno1

Millions lost in investment scams last year

January 13th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

scam Millions lost in investment scams last year£212 million was lost in investment scams last year, a rise of 20%, according KPMG’s Fraud Barometer.

(You could quite easily imagine someone named Fraud Barometer, couldn’t you?)

This increase lost to investment fraud came alongside a £824 million pound drop in the total to £717 million.

Now KPMG reckon that the numbers indicated that “victims are now being targeted because of vulnerability rather than wealth,” according to a report in the FT.

KPMG also said that part of this increase could be traced to such things as rising incomes and as investors search for ‘yield-bearing’ alternatives.

“You’ve got a generation of pensioners that actually has money but is not getting great returns on that money,” said KPMG partner Hitesh Patel.

“Pensioners effectively become targets for organised crime. A lot of people are being targeted by quite sophisticated criminals with compelling explanations of the ‘investments’.”

Apple’s Spotlight opening you to hacks?

January 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo Apples Spotlight opening you to hacks?On OS X Yosemite, you may have noticed that Apple’s Spotlight search function is rather sophisticated, allowing you to search the web as well as peering into your machine for content too. All very clever.

However, it also has a flaw that could well expose your local information to nefarious types. Not so clever.

So what’s going on? Well, the weakness focuses on Apple Mail. Basically, as Spotlight Search indexes emails that have been received within Apple’s email service, it also shows previews of your emails, your images and such.

All a hacker would need to do is to insert a tracking pixel into one of your email’s images and hey presto! They could well be enjoying access to your data!

While the email is in your inbox, you can ignore scams, but Spotlight’s preview function opens up a vulnerability. Seeing as Spotlight opens previews of your junk and spam messages, this could be a problem. Even if you have switched off the “load remote content in messages” feature, it doesn’t exactly fix the problem.

Until Apple issue a fix, the best thing for you to do is to go to your Mac System preferences and switch off email indexing.

iPod Nano: Now a spy camera on cash machines

January 9th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spy title cropped iPod Nano: Now a spy camera on cash machinesThieves eh? They’re tricksy buggers. The latest scam that’s afoot (which reports like this will advertise to other sods to try out themselves, where once they wouldn’t have thought of it) is using iPod Nano devices as spy cameras on cash points!

The police were notified of an ATM in Gatley near Stockport and there, they found a camera fashioned from an iPod Nano, duct tape and a home made plastic front.

GMP Stockport tweeted a number of photos of the device and obviously, warned everyone about them, while asking us all to keep an eye out for them.

They said: “Reports of an ATM in #Gatley being found with a card reader and mini camera attached to it. Be vigilant when using them….It was the one on Northenden Road.”

“From experience they tend to leave the devices on for only a short time…First pic shows the ATM with devices attached. Second the fake front. Third pic shows the camera. We find most of them in the evening. They are usually placed near pubs and restaurants etc.”

B63CBroIcAEmplp 500x281 iPod Nano: Now a spy camera on cash machines

Obviously, if you see them and want to scupper some criminals from spying on you, contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.