Apple iDevices hijacked and held to ransom

Owners of Apple iPhones and iPads have experienced a hijacking hack using Apple’s “Find My Phone” feature. Cyber attackers have used the feature to lock the devices’ screens and are refusing to unlock them until money has been sent to a PayPal account. This raises huge concerns over what personal information the attackers have access to and Apple are recommending that affected users change their passwords as soon as possible. The attacks were initially confined to Australia but have spread to users in New Zealand, the US and Canada. As one of the biggest providers of mobile devices worldwide this is likely to become a global issue.

Life insurers breach data protection rules 

The Information Commissioner is launching an investigation into concerns that Britain’s leading life insurers are being given full access to GP records as opposed to only the relevant data consented to, in breach of data protection rules. The British Medical Association is concerned that customers may be providing their consent without realising how much information might be release and that data excessive data is being disclosed.

Consumers call for a privacy charter to protect their data

The anger felt by consumers at the legal situation allowing apps and websites to access their personal data has become apparent from a survey conducted by KPMG and Censuswide: 82% of more than 1,000 surveyed called for a privacy charter. With the almost daily news of companies, both large and small, being hacked consumers are calling for more stringent regulation to protect their personal information. This is a response not only to the safety of personal information in a general sense, but also to increasingly intrusive marketing techniques employed by retailers to target customers.

Facebook launches new privacy policy

In an “important cultural shift” the new default for Facebook users will be that posts will only be shared with friends. Additionally its existing 1.3 billion users will be offered regular “privacy check-ups” to help them monitor their privacy settings more easily. This is a direct reversal from the policy introduced four years ago, under which users’ status updates were public by default. This comes as Facebook faces increasing competition from rivals such as Snapchat and WhatsApp. Critics are wary of the change, warning that it is “a façade” which “does not address the underlying privacy concerns of users”.

Spotify latest company to suffer cyber attack

Last week the music streaming service Spotify AB, which is expected to seek an IPO soon, found evidence of hackers accessing one user’s data. Though this did not include any payment or password information some of its 40 million users will be asked to change their passwords and upgrade their Google Android app as a precaution: no action for Apple Inc iPhones or Microsoft Windows devices has been recommended. This is the latest in a string of attacks on major tech companies, with online market place eBay, the previous victim, still reeling from the fallout.

Cyber security issues between China and the US escalate

China is threatening to introduce a new “cybersecurity vetting system” to uncover secret spying and surveillance activities. Companies who fail to pass the test will be prevented from selling IT products in China. The announcement of the new regulations comes amid rising tensions with the US on security issues. Cisco Systems Inc, a California-based IT firm, was the first to respond to the government announcement stating that their products “meet the highest global, quality and security requirements and standards” and it looks forward to continuing to serve its customers in China, as it has for the last 20 years.

3D Imaging pods to be rolled out in Australia’s shopping centres 

Australia’s first 3D imaging pods, developed by mPort, use infrared technology to record body measurements. Customers enter the pods, provide their details and have a near-naked body scan taken. A naked avatar is produced, which can be used to create custom-made clothes, and the personal information is stored with the company. Although the information is encrypted and “no one ever sees the avatar” there is concern that customer’s data will be at risk. Pods are scheduled to be placed in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, with parties in Perth also expressing interest.