Facebook to give you Back Some Privacy

Facebook to give you Back Some Privacy
According the Daily Mail, Facebook has bowed to pressure and will tighten privacy settings to stop strangers seeing posts intended only for family and friends. It will switch off the default which left many users inadvertently making private pictures and messages accessible to anyone online.

From next Thursday, anyone joining the network will only share posts with selected friends unless they choose to allow public access.

Users have reportedly put Facebook under sustained pressure to take action as many did not realise their personal profiles could be open to all. The 1.28billion worldwide with already with accounts will be prompted to do a ‘privacy check-up’. Facebook first allowed posts to be made public in 2009.

Web Shoppers Spend £107BN

Web Shoppers Spend £107BN
Online shoppers in Britain have broken through the £100 billion barrier for the first time. The total this year will hit £107 billion, driven by the spread of smart phones and tablets making buying on the World Wide Web easier. A third of all purchases are now made online.

Barclaycard said that the amount spent by online consumers is rising at 11% on average per year. Its research shows that music downloads are the fastest growing sector, with sales more than doubling over the past year.

Another poll by the Money Advice Service has found that Internet Shoppers typically hoard more than £100 worth of goods which they have never used since purchase.

A survey for Google found that more than 30% of Britons have now made a purchase using a smartphone, the highest in Europe. More than two thirds of UK residents now use such a device according to the Google research. This growth of business is set to continue with an ever increasing number of shoppers continuing to use the Internet Search engines to locate a product or service, and then order the product or service online.

Is your business making the most of this opportunity? Is your website working hard enough for you? Direct Submit offer a uniquely affordable and effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Internet Marketing service to their client base, providing a particularly effective ‘local SEO’ service.

Why not visit the Direct Submit website for more information or give one of our team a call on 0845 2722350. We don’t practice the ‘hard sell’, we offer friendly no obligation advice and will be happy to discuss your potential Internet marketing project.

Mobile Zipline Hire for the Summer

Mobile Zipline Hire for the Summer
As the weather improves and summer is approaching, why not consider hiring a mobile zip line for your outdoor event. Climb, Zip and Adventure with their fast and thrilling Mobile Zip Line. It makes the perfect attraction for any indoor or outdoor event – and setup time on site can be around 30 minutes.

Direct Submit are working with the Corporate-Funfairs group who are an events and entertainment company offering a unique mobile zip line and already work with a number of festivals and blue chip companies.  The Zip Line would be perfect for any event type including Fun Days, Festivals, Funfairs, Corporate, Promotional, Education Sectors, Parties & Charities / Groups.  For further information please visit the mobile zipline hire website or call them on 0191 427 5188.

Facebook Introducing Autoplay Adverts to UK

Facebook Introducing Autoplay Adverts to UK
Facebook is introducing automatically playing video adverts to the UK. The social network initially trialled the features in the US and the first ads are expected to play in Britain within weeks. They will run without sound unless clicked on and, on mobile devices, will load only over wi-fi.

Facebook will hope to continue its recent success in increasing ad revenues, having seen a significant rise in the past 12 months.

The company said on Wednesday that it would be introducing the ads with a “limited group of advertisers” in the selected countries, including the UK, Australia and France.

It is also unveiling the feature, called Premium Video Ads, in Brazil, Canada, Germany and Japan. But Facebook did not reveal the companies that would be advertising.

Facebook said the introduction would be tentative and, while the first ad could appear in June, most would not run until later as it attempted to control quality. “We’ll roll out Premium Video Ads slowly and monitor how people interact with them,” said Facebook in a statement. “This limited introduction allows us to concentrate our efforts on a smaller number of advertisers with high-quality campaigns.”

Each video advert will be 15 seconds long and will start playing without sound as it appears on the screen. The ads will stop playing if users scroll past them. But, if people tap or click on the video, it will expand into a full-screen view and sound will start, Facebook said.

Facebook’s figures for the first quarter of 2014 showed it made $2.27bn (£1.34bn) from advertising, an 82% increase on the same quarter last year. And it said that mobile ads, which have generated very little return until recently, represented about 59% of the company’s total advertising revenue for the quarter. That was up from about 30% of advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2013.

Jeremy Arditi, UK managing director of online video ad tech company Ebuzzing, said it was a good move for Facebook. But he said: “Most online video ads annoy people and interrupt their browsing experience,” adding that industry estimates indicated that “around 60% of online video ads don’t get seen”. He pointed out that there was an element of risk to brands, which could conceivably end up appearing next to inappropriate content posted by other users.

Organic Search Engine Optimisation

A quick introduction to ‘Organic Search Engine Optimisation’
This is a question we were recently asked by one of our clients with the answer perhaps helpful for all those looking to optimise their website for the major Search Engines. In summary, organic traffic is traffic that arrives via the search engines. And the answer to the question what is organic Search Engine Optimisation is the accumulation of the many applied to a webpage / website with the intention of increasing the ranking of website pages within the search engine pages for specific search terms  / keywords / key phrases.

This approach achieves traffic from the search engines without using Pay per Click models such as Google adwords. It typically involves on-page optimisation such as keyword selection and placement, Meta tag optimisation, SEO friendly coding and appropriate navigation links.

We must also consider effective off-page optimisation when looking to achieve organic search engine traffic. This is now considered a very important element of the organic search engine optimisation process.

For example, inbound links. When other website pages make reference to your website and include a link, then Google will often interpret this as a recommendation. Article submissions can also prove a valuable asset. They must be unique and include ‘authoritive’ content relevant to your website content.  Note, it is very important hat your content is original and unique.

The recent Google updates such as the Panda update are thought to indicate Google removes low quality and copied content from its search engine results. The recent Google updates are shown to be rewarding web base content delivering good quality, original and ‘authoritive’ articles.  You can also help your organic SEO project by using some techniques such as blog posting, directory submission and social bookmarking.

By using these methods you can help your website be found using the natural Search Engine listings and increase traffic to your website. Thereby potentially increasing traffic and business opportunities.

eBay Faces Backlash on Hack Delays

eBay Faces Backlash on Hack Delays
Online marketplace eBay is facing questions over its handling of a hack attack that exposed millions of passwords and other data.

A promised feature obliging members to reset passwords when they next logged in has not yet been made available. Instead the auction site has added a notice to its homepage, simply recommending users update passwords “as a first step”.

Security experts said its reaction raised “serious questions”. “We know that customers are concerned, and want us to fix this issue straight away, and we are working hard to do just that,” eBay told the BBC. “Our first priority is and always has been to protect our users’ information and ensure we correctly deal with the technical challenges such a situation brings, and that is why as a first step we have requested all users change their passwords. “Other steps, including email notification, will follow, and we will ensure all eBay users have changed their passwords over the coming days.”

Many of its users were angry about how slowly the firm had dealt with the problem.

Alan Woodward, an independent security consultant, was also unimpressed. “It shouldn’t take this long to have something in place that forces users to change their passwords, and it should have let people know what was happening – it doesn’t take much time to send an email out for goodness sake,” It built a picture of a firm with “serious questions” to answer, he told the BBC.

The Californian-based company, which has 128 million active users, revealed that a database had been hacked between late February and early March.

The attackers had accessed a database containing encrypted passwords and other data after obtaining a small number of employee log-in credentials, the firm disclosed.

The other data included: 

email addresses
physical addresses
phone numbers
dates of birth

Data for its money-transfer service, PayPal, was stored separately and had not been compromised, the firm said.

There has been widespread criticism from the security industry, with many asking why phone numbers, addresses and dates of birth stored on the database were not encrypted. “We provide different levels of security based on different types of information we’re storing and all financial information across all of our business is encrypted,” eBay told the BBC. “We also have no indication of increased fraudulent activity on our site or that the encryption on passwords has been broken.

Illia Kolochenko, chief executive of security firm High-Tech Bridge, thinks it is highly likely that the encrypted passwords have been broken. “Over 80% of encrypted hashes [used on web applications] can be brute-forced within 48 hours,” he said.

Big tech firm needed to give serious thought to how to prevent their staff accounts being compromised in the way eBay’s had been, said Paul Ayers, vice-president at security firm Vormetric. “A common theme of many of these breaches is that they involve cybercriminals actively seeking to compromise insider accounts – focusing most heavily on privileged users like IT administrators – in order to infiltrate systems and steal data using their credentials,” he said.

Prof Woodward said that if details suggesting the database had been accessed just using staff member’s stolen username and passwords were correct, then it suggested “eBay is not valuing our personal information as much as it should do”.  “The crown jewels of a firm should be protected by two-factor authentication,” he said.

Two-factor authentication requires more than just a password, such as sending a Pin code to a smartphone.

eBay Warns Customers to Change Passwords After Database Hacked

eBay Warns Customers to Change Passwords After Database Hacked
EBay asked customers to change their passwords after a database containing personal information was cracked by hackers, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

The database contained encrypted passwords and was compromised in late February into March. The hacked database contained customer information including phone numbers, birth dates, and email addresses. It did not include financial information, the online auction site said. “Cyber attackers compromised a small number of employee log-in credentials, allowing unauthorized access to eBay’s corporate network,” the company said in a statement. EBay has seen “no evidence of any unauthorized access to financial or credit card information, which is stored separately in encrypted formats.”

The breach was discovered about two weeks ago, according to eBay, leading to a probe that identified the hacked database.

EBay users will be contacted by the company on Wednesday asking them to change their passwords. A notice asking users to change their eBay passwords was first posted on the company website for PayPal, which is owned by eBay and handles its online payments.

Users who use the same password on eBay and other websites should change their passwords on all sites, the company said.

PayPal released a statement saying that an investigation has not uncovered any evidence that information for its customers was hacked. “PayPal customer and financial data is encrypted and stored separately, and PayPal never shares financial information with merchants, including eBay,” PayPal said.

Royal Mail to Pilot Sunday Parcel Delivery Service

Royal Mail to Pilot Sunday Parcel Delivery Service
The Royal Mail is to trial a Sunday parcel delivery in response to the increasing demand for goods ordered online.  Later this summer it will open around 100 offices on a Sunday afternoon for customers to pick up their parcels.

Delivery offices with the highest parcel volumes across the UK will take part in the scheme. The company will also try out parcel deliveries to addresses within the M25 motorway.

“Through these new Sunday services we are exploring ways to improve our flexibility and provide more options for people to receive items they have ordered online,” said Royal Mail’s chief executive Moya Greene.  “The support of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has enabled us to respond quickly to a changing market, ” she added.

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “Royal Mail’s announcement about expanding delivery and collection services to seven-days-a-week is an exciting innovation which we welcome.

“We have worked closely with Royal Mail to develop how best we can go forward to grow the company together and improve the services for customers.”

Royal Mail’s express delivery service, Parcelforce Worldwide, which tends to deal with larger and more valuable parcels, will also offer a Sunday service to retailers from June. It will be up to the retailer to decide whether to offer it to customers.

The BBC’s John Moylan says that rival firms, including Hermes and DPD, have already announced plans to deliver on Sundays and that some have been undercutting Royal Mail, which increased the price of posting letters and parcels earlier this year.

Royal Mail was privatised last year. The company reports its first annual results as a public company on Thursday.

BlackShades. Arrests in Computer Malware Probe

BlackShades: Arrests in Computer Malware Probe
Seventeen men have been arrested in the UK as part of a worldwide crackdown on a malicious computer program. The FBI-co-ordinated operation targeted BlackShades software which can remotely control computers and webcams. The “malware” was said to have infected more than 500,000 computers since 2010.

The UK’s National Crime Agency said 15 arrests took place in England and two men were held in Scotland.

Eighty others were held in 15 countries including the US, France and Germany.

The NCA said the inquiry focused on the developers and “prolific users” of BlackShades. It said investigators believe about 200,000 usernames and passwords of victims across the world may have been taken by UK users of BlackShades. The software typically infects computers when people click on external links on social networking sites and in emails that purport to lead to pictures, videos or other items of interest, said the NCA.

Once installed, criminals can use the software to capture personal information, or take photographs of computer users – which may be used to blackmail them. BlackShades also allows users to take control of a computer secretly and encrypt its data, which is only released on payment of a ransom.

The worldwide operation is reported to have come after the FBI arrested two BlackShades developers and obtained a list of the malware’s customers.

The software was advertised on forums for computer hackers and copies were available for sale for about $40 (£23) each on a website maintained by Blackshades, US officials said. The FBI said BlackShades has been bought by several thousand people since it was created in 2010, generating sales of more than $350,000 (£208,000).

US officials said more than 500,000 computers in more than 100 countries had been infected by BlackShades. Security experts have also linked the program to attacks on Syrian dissidents in 2012 and attempts to steal data from more than a dozen French organisations.

Details of the raids were outlined at a press conference by Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who announced charges against five men. He described BlackShades as a “frightening form of cybercrime” saying the program’s capabilities were “sophisticated and its invasiveness breathtaking”. Blackshades “enabled anyone anywhere in the world to instantly become a dangerous cyber-criminal able to steal your property and invade your privacy,” he said. The malware could also be used to bring down websites and send out “ransom notes” to extort cash after telling a user they had lost control of their computer, he added.

The Association of Chief Police Officer’s lead on e-crime, Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, said the operation “sends out a clear message to cyber criminals that we have the technology, capability and expertise to track them down”.

The NCA said its officers were also to warn people who had downloaded the malware but not deployed it that they were now known to the agency.

In total more than 300 properties were searched across the world and 1,000 data storage devices seized.

The arrests in the UK took place in Derbyshire; Birmingham; Halesowen; Wolverhampton; Newcastle-under-Lyme; Brixham, Devon; Andover, Hampshire; Ashford, Kent; Liverpool; Manchester; Warrington; London; St Andrews; Glasgow, and Leeds.

Further arrests abroad took place in Moldova, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, Chile, Croatia and Italy.

Labour’s minimum Wage Plans – Ed Miliband

Labour’s minimum Wage Plans – Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband says a Labour government would set a statutory minimum wage target linked to average earnings, as he sets out plans to tackle low pay. The party will announce an exact figure – covering the years 2015 to 2020 – nearer the general election.

Mr Miliband told the BBC it was a “scandal” that five million people in work were “unable to make ends meet”. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have already said they want a rise in the minimum wage.

However any major increase is likely to be criticised by business groups worried that it would drive up costs and damage competitiveness.

The Labour leader is due to unveil a report by Alan Buckle, the former deputy chairman of KPMG International, which details proposals to overhaul the Low Pay Commission. Mr Miliband is pledging to increase the national minimum wage so it gets closer to average hourly earnings.

Labour will not say what the final level for the minimum wage would be, but a source said it would be a “stretching target”.

In a speech following the launch of the report, Mr Milliband is expected to tell party activists in the West Midlands: “Britain is still one of the lowest-paid countries among the world’s advanced economies. “So we have to go further. We have to write the next chapter in the history of Labour’s battle to make work pay.

“That’s why, today, I am proud to announce that the next Labour government will take new radical action against low pay: a new five-year ambition to restore the link between doing a hard day’s work and building a decent life for your family. “A Labour government will establish a clear link between the level of the minimum wage and the scale of wages paid to other workers in our economy.”

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This gets at what is a terrible scandal in this country, which is that we have still five million people in paid work unable to make ends meet… “We’ve got to go further in tackling the problem of low pay.”

Mr Miliband said he wanted the minimum wage to rise in proportion to average earnings during the next parliament. He emphasised that he was setting out a “framework” rather than an exact figure, and that Labour would consult businesses.

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has also proposed setting a long-term target and Chancellor George Osborne has called for the minimum wage to rise to £7 an hour.

The minimum wage will increase by 19p an hour to £6.50 from October.

Katja Hall, chief policy director of the CBI business group, told Today: “I think we need to recognise that the system we have at the moment has been really successful and that system involves the setting of the minimum wage by an independent Low Pay Commission. “They have done a really good job and we think it’s much better the job is left to them rather than given to politicians.”

Mr Miliband said the European Parliament election this week was “very unpredictable” and that the recent increase in support for the UK Independence Party was was due to “discontent with the system”.

It was up to Labour to show voters that the country “can be better” in the run-up to next year’s general election, he added.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said that if, after four years of austerity, Mr Miliband did not win what is a national election, he would “have some questions to answer”.