Articles about Consumers

New booze guidelines: We'd rather you didn't enjoy yourselves

New alcohol advice published today reiterates that the recommended maximum intake weekly for male adults should fall from 21 to 14 units - barely enough to fill a bowl with electric soup*. “To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis,” the guidelines …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Aug 2016
shark

Muddying the waters of infosec: Cyber upstart, investors short medical biz – then reveal bugs

Analysis A team of security researchers tipped off an investment firm about software vulnerabilities in life-preserving medical equipment in order to profit from the fallout. Researchers at MedSec Holdings, a cybersecurity startup in Miami, Florida, found numerous holes in pacemakers and defibrillators manufactured by St Jude Medical. …
Iain Thomson, 26 Aug 2016
Wi-Fi

MIT brainiacs triple the speed, double the range of Wi-Fi

Video Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) think they have perfected a system that dramatically improves Wi-Fi connections by eliminating signal interference. Dubbed MegaMIMO 2.0 (multiple-input and multiple-output), the technique uses a processor, a real-time baseband processing system, and …
Iain Thomson, 25 Aug 2016
A farm and house

Just a little FYI: Small town ISPs want out of FCC privacy rules

An advocate group for rural broadband providers is asking the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to omit small ISPs from its planned privacy rules. The WTA (formerly known as the Western Telecommunications Alliance) has written [PDF] to secretary Marlene Dortch to request that the regulator omit small ISPs from rules …
Shaun Nichols, 24 Aug 2016
Millennials snap pics of their food with smartphones for Facebook/Twitter/instagram. Photo by shutterstock

Honor 8: Huawei targets millennials with high-spec cheapie. 3 words – Food pic mode

Hands on Huawei might be the third biggest smartphone seller on the planet but it has very little traction outside Asia. The Chinese firm is hoping the Honor 8 will change that. The handset, which was launched in the US last week and will be formally launched in Europe at an event in Paris on Wednesday, is being aimed firmly at the …
Iain Thomson, 22 Aug 2016
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

LTE-U’s window is closing and bigger 5G disputes may be coming

One of the presumed outcomes of the 5G process is full convergence of licensed and unlicensed spectrum, with one or more air interface standards which can span both, using frequencies entirely flexibly according to requirement. This is a very long way off, if the current quarrels over extending LTE into licence-exempt bands are …
Wireless Watch, 22 Aug 2016
Android strapped to rocket. Photo by shutterstock

Two-speed Android update risk: Mobes face months-long wait

Motorola pushes out Android updates faster than any other manufacturer bar Google Nexus manufacturers, according to a new study. Mobile app metrics firm Apteligent examined device data for Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Motorola, and ZTE to determine which manufacturer pushes out OS updates the soonest. It compared the time it took …
John Leyden, 19 Aug 2016
Smartphone user photo via Shutterstock

iPhone: Apple's Mac battle with Windows rebooted

Apple under Tim Cook has delivered six new makes of iPhone, with a further four derivations based on the overall brand. The future, according to Cook this week, looks an awful lot like Apple’s recent past – especially if you happen to live in India, which is the new China in terms of tech firms looking to tap a vast and …
Gavin Clarke, 19 Aug 2016
cable

Scared of mobile banking

Some banking customers are reluctant to go mobile because of fraud and security concerns. More than a third (36 per cent) of 1,000 consumers quizzed in a survey said they didn’t use mobile banking. Three out of four of these refuseniks (74 per cent) cited security as the major reason. Security concerns could slow the overall …
John Leyden, 18 Aug 2016
A stomach feeling bloated

Verizon fingered in Android bloatware-for-cash cram scandal

Verizon has reportedly approached app developers about pre-installing their software on customer handsets in exchange for cash. A report from Ad Age cites marketing industry execs who say that, since late last year, they have been approached by the nation's largest carrier with offers to install their mobile apps on millions …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Aug 2016
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£11bn later: Smart meters project delayed again for Crapita tests

There has been yet another delay in the ongoing saga of cash-burning that is the UK’s national smart meter initiative. While the communications infrastructure was due to be switched on today, the £11bn project’s turn-on has now been delayed again until September, the BBC has reported. The Data and Communications Company (DCC …
Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program

Watt the USB-C logo?

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has created a new logo for chargers. There it is, under this paragraph. Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program The new Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program is designed to give consumers confidence that chargers won't fry their USB-C hardware. Certified Logos will …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Aug 2016
Auctioneer with hammer

FCC airwaves auction opens bidding

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has formally opened the bidding process on a spectrum auction that looks to raise billions in revenues and expand the coverage and quality of wireless broadband networks. The Commission on Tuesday kicked off the "clock phase" portion of the auction, in which telco providers submit …
Shaun Nichols, 16 Aug 2016
Cables containing fibre, etc. Photo by Shutterstock

Colour us shocked: ISPs not that keen to sign up for Universal Service Obligation

Telco regulator Ofcom has admitted that internet service providers are not particularly eager to sign up to the government's Universal Service Obligation. The USO is intended to give everyone the legal right to request 10Mbps by 2018. However, in its summary of responses for its call for input to the plans earlier this year, …
Kat Hall, 16 Aug 2016

EU privacy czars mull privacy regulation for Skype, WhatsApp

The tussle over the future of the ePrivacy Directive is warming up: while tech and telcos want the directive relaxed or scrapped, the European Union is considering extending it to cover services like WhatsApp and Skype. Last month, the GSMA published a joint industry statement asking Europe to scrap the e-Privacy Directive; …
Tim Cook, photo2 by JStone via Shutterstock

Tim Cook's answer to crashing iPhone sales: More iPhones

Apple’s plan to tackle the great iPhone sales slump is for it to produce, yes, more iPhones. CEO Tim Cook, in a scripted Q&A with the Washington Post, dismissed the six-month drop-off in sales of iPhones – and slowing smartphone sales in general. Apple is now expected to release the iPhone 7 in September. Cook reckons …
Gavin Clarke, 15 Aug 2016
Little girl holds bluray discs up. photo by shutterstock

'Daddy, what's a Blu-ray disc?'

Vinyl LPs aren’t the only antiquated disc format that’s enjoying a revival. So is the almost forgotten Blu-ray disc. Although little noticed, sales of the pricey movie disc have continued on an ever upward trend. But its popularity has been eclipsed by OTT streaming services which brought movies and TV on demand into the …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Aug 2016

Acer: 'We made a profit!' Yeah, but your sales figures are shrinking

Over-the-hill PC maker Acer is still under-performing, its latest set of shrinking product sales figures have confirmed. The Taiwanese biz, among the two biggest shifters of notebooks in Europe a decade ago, is still searching to regain the formula that propelled it – but people just aren’t buying cheap lappies in the volumes …
Paul Kunert, 11 Aug 2016

UK local govt body blasts misleading broadband speed ads

The representative body for 370 councils in Blighty has hit out at Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for advertising misleading broadband speeds, particularly in rural areas. Current rules allow providers to promote "up to X" download speeds if they can demonstrate that at least 10 per cent of their customers can achieve them …
Kat Hall, 10 Aug 2016
Woman uses card reader at coffeee shop. Photo by Shutterstock

Speaking in Tech: Nope, sorry waiter. I won't pay with that card reader

Podcast speaking_in_tech Greg Knieriemen podcast enterprise This is the first week of our "Podcast Idol" competition at our weekly tech podcast – with Fred "Spike" Nix, Ed Saiptech and special guest, John Williams, President of Reduxio. This week the group discusses Delta's power outage, AWS at the top of Public Cloud and Oracle's …
Team Register, 10 Aug 2016
Mobile banking, image via Shutterstock

Funny story, this. UK.gov's 'open banking app revolution'. Security experts not a fan of it

Analysis UK banking industry regulators are pushing banks to offer customers access to their data through shared smartphone apps. The new rules from the Competition and Markets Authority are designed to promote transparency and clarity while providing an incentive for customers to switch providers. The model is taken from the UK's …
Apple iPhone 6s

Apple says banks can't touch iPhone NFC without harming security

Apple has argued that allowing banks to use iPhones NFC chips independently of Apple Pay would compromise the phones' security. The argument has been aired in Apple's response to the four Australia Banks who have requested permission to negotiate with Apple as a bloc rather than join Apple Pay. The banks want their own apps to …
Simon Sharwood, 10 Aug 2016
Tony Montana on the phone in Scarface

AT&T dinged for $7.75m after letting scammers gouge customers (again)

US telco giant AT&T has been fined $7.75m after scammers were found sneaking bogus charges onto customer bills. The punishment was levied by America's comms watchdog the FCC. The regulator said the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was to thank for uncovering the scam in which criminals were duping landline customers into …
Shaun Nichols, 08 Aug 2016

Ofcom cans Virgin Media's Premier League live footy match probe

Blighty's communications regulator Ofcom has dropped its probe into how the Premier League sells live UK audio-visual media rights for football matches. The investigation, carried out under the Competition Act 1998, considered whether the selling arrangements of the Premier League restricted or distorted competition. In …
Kat Hall, 08 Aug 2016
Windows 10 droplets, photo by Anton Watman via Shutterstock

Breaking 350 million: What's next for Windows 10?

After 12 months of “free” upgrades, it's now business for usual for Microsoft and the hard work begins on trying to shift paid-for Window 10. Microsoft closed the door on free upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 on July 29. The Anniversary Update of Windows 10 arrived on August 2. From now on, if you want to …
Gavin Clarke, 08 Aug 2016
Blackberry DTEK 50

BlackBerry DTEK 50: How badly do you want a secure Android?

Review There’s something immediately odd about BlackBerry’s second Android phone, apart from the geeky Sci-Fi name. Something you can’t at first put your finger on. It’s the first BlackBerry ever not to have the BlackBerry name on the front. Perhaps in the consumer market now, the BlackBerry brand is so unfashionable, this omission …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Aug 2016

Ofgem sets up database so energy companies can spam Brits

The UK's energy regulator is creating a database service that farms out information on Britons' energy tariffs to rival companies for the sake of ensuring a “competitive market”. Earlier this year the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) published a mammoth 1,423-page report (PDF) followings its two-year investigation into …

UK telco market worth £37.5bn, Ofcom reports

Total UK telecoms revenues grew for the first time in five years – increasing by £0.2bn to £37.5bn between 2014 and 2015, according to research from communications regulator Ofcom. This was partly due to a sharp increase in people switching to superfast broadband, with 9.2 million homes having speeds of up to 30Mbps in 2015 …
Kat Hall, 04 Aug 2016
Indian rupee

Mobile banking for the poor has flopped in India

India is trying to figure out why it has failed in efforts to replicate the success of mobile banking programs that have succeed in other countries. The nation noted with admiration programs like Kenya's M-Pesa, which made it possible for people living in rural and remote areas to access banking services with feature phones. …
Simon Sharwood, 03 Aug 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: This design needs a dictator

Hands on If you’ve travelled at all around suburban or rural Greece, Turkey or North Africa you’ll wonder why almost every other house seems to be permanently under construction. There’ll be a house extension underway that can take decades to complete. Sometimes it’s because there just aren’t enough builders or because more tax has to be …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Aug 2016

US state sues Comcast for $100m in row over 'worthless' repair plans

Washington state is suing Comcast and demanding $100m in damages for allegedly misleading customers. At a press conference on Monday, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson claimed the US cable giant's Service Protection Plan (SPP) had cheated at least 500,000 people out of their money. People who take out the optional $4. …
Iain Thomson, 01 Aug 2016

Google-backed Thread, OCF form alliance for Internet of Things sanity

The internet of things standards mess has become a little saner, with the news that the Google-backed Thread Group will interoperate with the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). The two clans have said they will "work together in their mission to advance the adoption of connected home products" and make their technologies " …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Aug 2016
His master's voice

Hello, Barclays? Why hello, John Smith. We meet again

Barclays is abolishing passwords for its telephone banking customers in favour of voice recognition. The UK high-street bank – which has been trialling voice recognition technology with a limited number of customers for three years since 2013 – said that technology that identifies a caller based solely on their voice is a “ …
John Leyden, 01 Aug 2016

SentinelOne's $1m ransomware guarantee dismissed as PR stunt

A “ransomware guarantee” from security outfit SentinelOne has been dismissed by critics as a marketing stunt. Ransomware is currently the biggest scourge of internet security, affecting corporates and consumers alike. So self-styled next generation endpoint security firm SentinelOne unsurprisingly created waves with a pledge …
John Leyden, 29 Jul 2016
Still from tv show three's company  copyright  	DLT Entertainment The Program Exchange FremantleMedia /cbs

Three owner Hutch lobs sueball at EU over failed O2 buy

The owner of mobile network Three UK, CK Hutchison, has lodged a legal challenge against the European Commission. The Telegraph, which broke the story, says a filing has been filed with the General Court (formerly the Court of the First Instance), after the European Competition Commission blocked the acquisition by Hutchison. …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jul 2016
Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Microsoft buries the bad Windows Phone news: Mobile sales collapse

Microsoft has revealed how badly its Windows phone business has crashed via paperwork filed with America's financial regulator, the SEC. Nokia was shipping 7.3 million Lumias per quarter when the deal to acquire its phone unit was announced in September 2013. Nokia was shipping over 90 per cent of Windows Phones sold. But in …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jul 2016
Mobile banking, image via Shutterstock

Not enough competition in payment processing tech, thunders regulator

A UK government regulator is calling for greater competition in banking payment infrastructure provision. The Payments Systems Regulator’s (PSR) market review into the ownership and competitiveness of infrastructure that supports the three major UK payment systems – Bacs, Faster Payments Service (FPS), and LINK – concluded …
John Leyden, 29 Jul 2016
Nvidia GeForce

Bought a GTX 970? Congrats, Nvidia owes you thirty bucks

Graphics goliath Nvidia has agreed to a settlement that will see it pay $30 to American gamers who purchased its GTX 970 graphics cards and can file a valid claim. The pay-out deal [PDF] settles a class-action claim accusing the company of misleading consumers on the specs of the gaming card's memory and processor capabilities …
Shaun Nichols, 28 Jul 2016

Osram's Lightify smart bulbs blow a security fuse – isn't anything code audited anymore?

Nine security holes, four of them still unpatched, have been found in the Osram smart light bulb system, potentially giving attackers access to a home or corporate network. The issues in the Lightify Home and Pro systems range from cross-site scripting (XSS) to problems with the ZigBee and SSL protocols to insecure encryption …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Jul 2016

Oz regulator eyes broadband marketing

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is setting its sights on broadband speed claims, again. It's almost a perennial: providers who used to routinely use 24 Mbps to spruik ADSL2+ services that mostly limp along at under 10 Mbps have been jumped on before. Now, as the ACCC's chairman Rod Sims says, “ …
shutterstock_mobile_theft_648

Anti-theft kill switches in smartphones just got a little less creepy

Some of the largest smartphone vendors and mobile carriers in the US say they have hit a milestone in the use of privacy-friendly anti-theft tools. The 16 members of the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Committee said Tuesday that as of the end of the month, all smartphones they ship and activate in the US will not only be pre- …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Jul 2016
Password

O2 customer DATA GRAB: Not-a-hack creds for sale on dark web

Hackers have gained access to customer data on UK telco O2 – and put it up for sale on the dark web. The compromised data was likely obtained by using usernames and passwords stolen from gaming website XSplit three years ago in order to log onto O2 accounts. When the login details matched, the hackers could access O2 customer …
John Leyden, 26 Jul 2016

Yahoo! She said yes. Verizon confirms $4.8bn acquisition

Verizon has today confirmed it will splash out $4.83bn (£3.7bn) buying Yahoo, with the deal expected to close in the first financial quarter of next year. The telco was one of 40 suitors rumoured earlier this year to be interested, including Google parent Alphabet, Time and even Daily Mail parent DMG. Yahoo! has been on a …
Kat Hall, 25 Jul 2016
phishing_648

Is digital fraud big in UK? British abacus-botherers finally have some answers

Reports of fraud have doubled, according to official statistics – because the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is now including cyber crimes in its figures. The UK's ONS reckons, in crime statistics released last week, that more than two million computer misuse offences and 3.8 million online fraud offences took place in …
John Leyden, 25 Jul 2016
Woman looking sceptical. photo by shutterstock

They kept that quiet. PC sales via distributors DID rise in Q2

It is a Friday and El Reg is pleased to be able to answer the burning question on the lips of readers across the land - just how did PC sales via distribution do in the second quarter? They went well. Though retailers and wholesalers bought in stock conservatively, as recorded by Gartner and IDC, channel analyst Context …
Paul Kunert, 22 Jul 2016
Broken phone

Tight-wad Apple repair techs swapped our damaged iGear with used kit – lawsuit

Apple has been presented with a class-action lawsuit filed by customers who say the expensive electronics giant replaced their damaged devices with used models. More specifically, the suit [PDF] filed to the Northern California District Court alleges the Cupertino behemoth has been replacing damaged or defective devices with …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Jul 2016

EFF declares anti-piracy DMCA unconstitutional in new legal showdown

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a lawsuit claiming that a controversial anti-digital-piracy law in the US is unconstitutional. Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – which became law 18 years ago – has long been controversial due to its heavy restrictions on what people are allowed …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Jul 2016

Apple Watch craze over before it started: Wrist-puter drags market screaming off a cliff

Smartwatch shipments are in freefall thanks to slowing sales of the Apple Watch. Research house IDC says that year-over-year shipments were down 32 per cent in the past quarter, with Apple far and away taking the biggest hit as its Watch shipments fell an eye-watering 55 per cent from last year. Analysts say that the drop is …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Jul 2016

GOP delegates suckered into connecting to insecure Wi-Fi hotspots

A Wi-Fi hack experiment conducted at various locations at or near the Republican National Convention site in Cleveland, US, underlines how risky it can be to connect to public Wi-Fi without protection from a VPN. The exercise, carried out by security researchers at Avast, an anti-virus firm, revealed that more than 1,000 …
John Leyden, 21 Jul 2016
Curser icon over a news paper folded

IoT baby monitor style hacks still a threat

Lessons have not been learned from an incident where a Russian website provided links to access baby monitor cameras, according to the UK’s data protection watchdog. The website allowed people to watch footage from insecure cameras around the world, prompting a warning from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) back in …
John Leyden, 19 Jul 2016