From December 2021 UK mobile networks will be forbidden from selling network locked mobile handsets.
Communications industry regulator Ofcom believe locked-handsets is anticompetitive, and prevents customers switching mobile providers easily.
Network providers have claimed locked handsets are a deterrent to phone theft, although Three mobile, O2, Sky mobile and Virgin mobile have already ended the practice.
Mobile providers also argue locked handsets help justify better promotional rates (blocking customers exploiting the cheapest handsets deals and then swapping networks) although consumers often claim it is an attempt to hold onto customers who would otherwise have switched provider anyway, such as after the end of their contract.
Unlocking a phone typically costs around £10, but customers must normally find a third-party provider to assist, and face a delay or technical problem during switching – which Ofcom believes is unfairly difficult.
The change to consumer law brings the UK into line with the rest of the EU, although the UK changes have been under consideration since before recent EU rulings on the mobile market.
In addition a number of other changes are planned or June 2022, including more accessibility provisions for disabled customers and greater exit-rights where contract terms change unexpectedly.
Lineal’s Ian Meredith has been awarded DrayTek Certified Network Admin Certificate, adding an additional qualification to Lineal’s networking experience.
DrayTek’s ‘Dray School’ requires network engineers to pass a series of advanced network and security configuration tests using DrayTek devices, routers and access points, including best practice for firewall settings, fault-finding and other detailed network tasks.
DrayTek’s business-grade Router range have won praise from across the IT Support sector recent years, with the provider winning a PC PRO Technology Excellence Award for five successive years (2014-18). DrayTek router models have proved highly popular with businesses, with intelligent features such as 4G fail-over increasingly in demand for business continuity requirements.
As a part of the 2-day examination procedure, each engineer’s router is attached to a testing network which judges whether the engineer has managed the device correctly, and automatically passes or fails based on a series of security checks.
Well done Ian!
For Networking and Security Expertise, contact Lineal today.
Technology firms are urgently issuing fixes for the WPA2 KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack) thought to compromise the WPA2 encryption used in most WiFi routers and other wirelessly enabled devices.
The exploit, discovered and published by Mathy Vanhoef, a Belgian security expert for Imec-Distrinet, Ku Leuven, has caused serious alarm amongst cybersecurity professionals due to the widespread use of WPA2 across millions of items of networked hardware around the World.
Security guidance remains to continue using WPA2 (rather than reverting to an older encryption standard) and to install the latest WPA2 KRACK security updates from manufacturers as soon as they are available.
A number of key technology vendors were notified in August, giving them some time to prepare. Microsoft are reported to have adjusted “how Windows verifies windows group key handshakes” to fix the issue. Apple and Android are yet to specify exactly when patches will be available, although both are understood to be working on a secure fix to be made available in coming weeks. The more responsive hardware developers, including Cisco and Ubiquiti, yesterday began issuing guidance and new firmware for their wireless equipment.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, the international organisation dedicated to developing Wi-Fi technology, have essentially argued that there is no need to panic. There is no evidence of the extremely serious hack being deployed outside test conditions (yet) – although it’s probably only a matter of time before someone attempts to do so. Because Wi-Fi relies on physical range, it’s likely this could target public Wi-Fi and other easily accessible networks. For this reason, users are (as always) reminded not to use public networks for sensitive tasks, such as online banking.
It’s clear from the increased publicity surrounding the discovery that major vendors of network equipment will be under pressure to issue the required WPA2 KRACK security patches.
However, the underlying vulnerability also threatens a wide range of wirelessly connected internet-of-things (IOT) devices – including everything from CCTV to smart-fridges – such that it’s unclear just how widespread this latest security flaw will actually prove.
For IT support and cybersecurity expertise: get in touch with Lineal today.
Lineal recently rescued a London-based business from its own private cabling nightmare, with a complete network overhaul.
In a 48-hour marathon rebuild, network engineers from Lineal replaced dozens of faulty cables, analysed every area of the network, adding new switches and other network equipment.
The picture above shows just one of several cabinets, before (left) and after (right) Lineal’s rebuild. The equipment had previously been patched and re-patched over ten years without clear planning, resulting in slower internet access and overheating rooms.
Network engineer Martyn Kay explained: “This company rightly realised that they had to address the problem rather than ignore it – and fortunately we were able to overhaul the entire system.”
The team quickly discovered other unexpected problems, including mystery fibre-optic cables that led nowhere, stray power cables, long-dead switches and improvised cabling ‘borrowing’ internet access from neighbouring departments.
Lineal reconnected every cabinet, replaced every cable with new lines, standardised the colour scheme for data and phones, and added reliable backup switches to improve network resilience and business continuity.
For expert network, cabling and IT infrastructure support, click here.
Web filtering provider Bloxx have announced that they will be ceasing support for their products and services, following a shock email from the company’s Chief Executive.
The move comes as part of a cash deal takeover bid by cloud services firm Akamai Technologies, announced on 2nd November 2015, and will see an end to the sale of all Bloxx products.
Bloxx has a good reputation in the UK and beyond for delivering a strong feature set in their appliances that are used to filter online content delivered in sensitive environments. Their products are commonly implemented by educators, healthcare providers, local authorities and businesses.
Although existing contracts will be honoured, those who have invested in physical Bloxx hardware may well find the lifespans are now limited, with little indication of whether Akamai will offer suitable replacements.
With online security stories dominating the news in recent weeks, wider awareness of the need for web, social media and email monitoring is likely to only increase demand for such products. It remains to be seen whether interested parties will consider a cloud-based offering from Akamai to be sufficient, especially when it comes to security and bandwidth management.
Need help with online content filtering and network security for your organisation? Speak to Lineal today: call 01271 375999 or email [email protected]
Cyber crime is finally set to become the UK’s most common crime type, following inclusion in the latest crime figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This re-classification comes only days after news headlines emerged that an Eastern European crime group successfully used ‘Dridex’ malware to steal over £20m from UK bank accounts via thousands of infected PCs in the UK.
The 2015 National Strategic Assessment from the National Crime Agency estimates that losses due to cyber crime in the UK now amount to a staggering £16 billion annually. The NCA also asserted that the theft of large amounts of private companies’ data still faces ‘considerable under reporting.’
Nowhere is this more threatening than for those in the financial services industry, where both reputations for reliability and access to funds make IT security of paramount importance, requiring compliance with the strictest procedures for identity validation, network safety and fraud detection.
All businesses need to be prepared for the future, where cyber crime is likely to become more sophisticated and UK companies may be expected to demonstrate greater data protection measures. This week Microsoft promoted it’s Financial Services Compliance program in connection with Office 365 – making assurances (aimed squarely at businesses in the financial sector) of direct access to staff and resources to ensure that Microsoft Office cloud services comply with financial security regulations.
Greater awareness of cyber crime amongst Government figures, the media and the public can only be a good thing, but ultimately it still remains very much up to the individual to ensure their IT systems are secure – before the worst happens.
More than 70% of businesses fail after significant data loss. Lineal can install a range of security measures to safeguard your business IT systems and data – enquire today via: http://www.lineal.co.uk/contact/
Data breaches can lead to a massive loss of trust among customers, so how do you ensure your IT remains secure?
Despite what many online sign-up forms would suggest, the ‘strongest’ password is not necessarily long and complicated. Whilst complexity makes a password harder to guess or crack with a ‘brute force’ testing of combinations, most security breaches occur from stolen passwords, either physically or by malware attacks.
Very complex passwords do not help in this respect: users still need other IT security, such as antivirus software, errors are more common when typing (particularly on handheld devices) and employees may find complex passwords harder to remember – undermining data security by writing down their login details. The ubiquitous sticky note attached to the monitor is still a trusted solution to working with complex password policies in some organisations!
Routine password changes are a sensible precaution for most businesses, but can make it harder for employees to remember their passwords, leading to the same problem in which users are locked out of work accounts, copy passwords across accounts, or write passwords down at risk of theft.
Phrases can help avoid this problem by making passwords easier to recall: ‘Lineal15theB3st’ is preferable to a 15-digit numeral because a touch of personality adds memorability. Beware profanity though – just imagine trying to explain it to technical support later on!
Here at Lineal we’d also advise against ‘Remember Me’ automated sign-in functions, as well as Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi password sharing ‘Wi-Fi Sense’ Feature, as these make your chosen password redundant.
If you want to see where the future of online security is going, follow the money: most online banking incorporates a two-stage authentication process, requiring both a password and a unique alert code texted to the customer’s mobile phone for identification. This is already a free optional setting for Google, Facebook, Twitter and other popular websites.
Lineal’s advice is to stick to the following basics:
Avoid physical theft:
Don’t write your passwords down on a post-it note on your desk! Microsoft has a practical tip: if you absolutely must write a password down, do so in a safe place, without labeling it as a password or to which account it refers. Substitute words should also be used to hide the true password, for example writing ‘Fruit8£’ could refer to a password of ‘Apple8£’.
Don’t use an easily guessed word, such as your name, your company’s name, 1234, the name of something on your desk, the word ‘password’, or anything similarly obvious.
Never tell anyone your password, and change your password if you suspect it has been compromised.
Ease of Access:
If you struggle to remember your passwords, use a password storage program to store some of them. Remember to use a secure password for the program.
Mitigate against your own forgetfulness by setting up alternate password recovery options, allowing you to choose more varied, difficult passwords.
Consider where users will need to log in from – take full advantage of using numbers and special characters ( ! , £, %, * etc.) for keyboard users.
Preventing digital theft:
Use different passwords for your most important accounts, such as online banking.
Use two-stage authentication.
Maintain up to date anti-virus security software and firewalls on your work desktops, and don’t download untrusted software or open suspicious emails which could be phishing or contain password stealing malware.
Consult IT specialists to ensure office networks are protected from outside attacks.