Every UK home and business will have fast broadband.
As the government has already promised to bring fast broadband to 95% of homes via the BDUK programme, this is all about reaching the final 5%.
The digital minister Ed Vaizey gave further detail, explaining that the plan was to bring in a universal service obligation of 10Mbps for “the very hardest to reach homes and businesses.”
But does that mean every home – even those up Welsh mountains or on remote Scottish islands?
Presuming so, just as with the obligation on BT to provide a phone line, there may be some upper limit on the costs involved in hooking up a home.
Broadband campaigners have not greeted the government’s pledge with huge enthusiasm. In particular, they have derided that 10Mbps minimum as woefully inadequate.
There is general agreement that fibre to the home was the technology which should be employed, though a few pointed out that 4G was now providing better speeds in some areas than fixed line broadband.
The problem is that, even at a minimum 10Mbps, a universal service may prove an expensive undertaking and the cost of putting a 100Mbps fibre connection in every corner of the UK could be prohibitive.
When the debate about fast broadband got going, it was calculated that universal coverage might cost at least £15 billion.
A government which is implementing severe cuts in public spending will not be keen to put more money into broadband – although of course it is worth remembering that most of the cash spent so far on the BDUK programme has come from the TV licence fee.
And just about all of that spending has been channelled through BT, which was the only company to apply for the money in most regions.
Now the former monopoly telephone supplier looks likely to be a the centre of the effort to hook up the last 5%.
But even if the government wanted to spend taxpayer funds to make that happen, there will be resistance from BT’s rivals.
Virgin Media has already called for an end to subsidies for rural broadband, claiming the market can now do the job – although it isn’t clear that it will be moving to offer cable to every remote home.
Meanwhile, there are signs of a split opening up between town and country over the subsidy issue.
The director of the free market Institute of Economic Affairs Mark Littlewood told BBC Radio 4’s PM that people living in remote rural areas had made that choice, and fast broadband should not be a right.
Many of those campaigners have been deeply sceptical about BT’s strategy for rolling out fast broadband, and some have joined calls for its Openreach division, which operates the fibre and copper networks, to be sold off.
But here’s the paradox – the move to make fast broadband a right for everyone could end up strengthening BT’s hand. If it is asked to meet a Universal Service Obligation, without being offered subsidies to make that feasible, then the company will want something in return.
It is Ofcom, not ministers, which is currently pondering whether Openreach should be sold off. But the regulator will be hearing strong arguments that a divided BT will not be in good shape to help the Prime Minister fulfil his promises on fast broadband.
Facebook paid just £4,327 in Corporation Tax in 2014 the latest UK results show.
The share bonuses amount to £96,000 on average per UK Facebook employee.
It means Facebook’s UK corporation tax bill was less than the tax the average UK employee paid on their salary.
The average UK salary is £26,500 on which employees pay a total of £5,392.80 in income tax and national insurance contributions.
In January, Facebook reported global fourth-quarter profits of £462 million, a 34% increase on the same period a year earlier. Total profits for the year were £1.4 billion- almost double its profit for 2013.
Facebook said at the time that advertising revenue grew by 53% to $3.59bn, with nearly 70% of that coming from mobile ad sales.
The company says it now has 1.39 billion active users each month, a 13% increase from a year ago.
The latest revelations will reignite the debate about how much UK corporation tax companies pay at a time when several multinational corporations are being investigated by the European Commission over the tax arrangements they have with European Union member states.
John O’Connell, director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be justifiably confused and angry about this tax bill. But Facebook is right to say that it is complying with UK law, which shows that the problem lies with our complex tax code, and that is what politicians should address as a matter of urgency.
“We have to ensure our taxes are simple to eliminate loopholes, and that taxes are low to increase our competitiveness, so that companies choose to base themselves here.”
In his March Budget, Chancellor George Osborne pressed ahead with plans to introduce a diverted profits tax on companies that moved their profits overseas.
He added that firms that aided tax evasion would also face new penalties and criminal prosecutions.
The so-called “Google Tax” is designed to discourage large companies diverting profits out of the UK to avoid tax.
Smartphones use has overtaken laptops as the preferred devices for connecting online in the UK.
Ofcom said the toppling of the laptop was a “landmark moment”.
The smartphone was found to be more popular than the digital camera for taking and storing photos in 2014, with 60% of adults and 89% of 16 to 24 year olds using their phone for photography.
However, just 29% of adults aged over 35 said they backed up their digital pictures, and 70% said they displayed printed copies of their favourites at home.
Ofcom compiles its Communications Market Report every year to monitor the UK’s habits.
UK adults spent nearly two hours a day on average using the internet on their phones, according to its report.
The margin of people who said they thought their their phones were “more important” than their laptops for connection online was small – 19% opted for tablets and 14% for desktop computers – but the change is still significant, said Jane Rumble, director of market intelligence at Ofcom.
“We’ve reached a landmark moment where the smartphone has become the most important way for people to get online – just last year laptops were in first place,” she said.
By the end of 2014, 23.6 million people were using 4G mobile internet and more than half of them were using it to shop online.
The study also found that 4G users did more banking, instant messaging and video clip watching on their phones than those without.
In Britain, 90% of homes now have 4G access and that figure is set to rise to 98% by the end of 2017, said Ms Rumble.
Just 2% of British homes still do not have access to even the most basic 2G mobile internet signal, she added.
While tablet use is up by 10% on the previous year with just over half of households now owning one, the majority are not being used as mobile devices, said Ms Rumble. Just 5% of Brits had invested in a smartwatch.
“They tend to be more family or household equipment, shared in the home, using wifi – they are very much home devices,” she said.
Despite the recent launches of high-profile smartwatches such as the Apple Watch and Pebble, wearables did not feature highly in Ofcom’s report.
“Less than 5% of UK adults own a smartwatch but given the rapid increase in 4G take-up, I think that is likely to be set to continue to rise,” said Ms Rumble.
The report also found that adults watched an average of three hours and 40 minutes of television each day on traditional TV sets – down by 11 minutes on the previous year.
“We have seen a small decline but we are still watching a lot of TV,” said Ms Rumble.
A UK security firm has shown how one phone hacking tool actually works.
Hacking Team’s software was recently stolen from the company by hackers and published on the web.
Almost any data on a phone, tablet or PC can be accessed by the tool and it is fascinating how much it can do.
When Joe Greenwood, of cybersecurity firm 4Armed, saw that source code for the program had been dumped online by hackers, he couldn’t resist experimenting with it.
Although he had to fiddle with the code to make it work, it only took a day before he had it up and running.
The software consists of the surveillance console, which displays data retrieved from a hacked device, and malware planted on the target device itself.
4Armed was careful to note that using it to spy on someone without their consent would be against the law.
After testing the software on his own PC, Mr Greenwood soon realised the scope of its capabilities.
“You can download files, record microphones, webcam images, websites visited, see what programs are running, intercept Skype calls,”.
The software even has some in-built features to track Bitcoin payments, which can be difficult to associate with individuals without additional data about when and how transactions were performed.
In a live demonstration of the system, Mr Greenwood showed how an infected phone could be made to record audio from the microphone, even when the device was locked, and use the phone’s camera without its owner knowing.
“We can actually take photos without them realising. So the camera in the background is running, taking photos every number of seconds,” explained Mr Greenwood.
It was also possible to listen in on phone calls, access the list of contacts stored on the device and track what websites the phone user was visiting.
The tool can record audio from a phone’s microphone, even when the device is locked
Both Mr Greenwood and 4Armed’s technical director, Marc Wickenden, said they were surprised by the sleekness of the interface.
Both point out, though, that customers could be paying upwards of £1 million for the software and would expect it to be user-friendly, especially if it was intended for use by law enforcers on the beat.
For the tracked user, though, there are very few ways of finding out that they are being watched.
One red flag, according to Mr Greenwood, is a sudden spike in network data usage, indicating that information is being sent somewhere in the background. Experienced spies, however, would be careful to minimise this in order to remain incognito.
At present, spy software like this is only likely to be secretly deployed on the phones and computers of people who are key targets for an intelligence agency.
The version of the spyware distributed online is now likely to be more easily detected by anti-virus programs because companies analysing the source code are in the process of updating their systems to recognise it.
Google will demote it’s business Google+ by changing the way users log in.
Brad Horowitz, who manages Google’s photos and sharing services, announced the changes in a blog.
Some had reacted to the news with “glee” as Google had been criticised by YouTube stars over its attempt to integrate Google+ with the video sharing site.
Many argued Google had attempted to integrate Google+ with the more successful YouTube platform to give the struggling social network a boost.
“The initial uproar was just insane. There were songs made about Google+ and how much people disliked it,” said Alex Brinnand, managing editor YouTube magazine TenEighty.
“There was an overriding feeling that we were already swamped with other social media platforms, and people felt that they were forced into the deal.”
Mr Horowitz confirmed that Google+ integration with other websites would slowly be rolled back.
“In the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google,” he said.
He later made additional comments on his own Google+ page, in which he admitted that requiring people to register on Google+ to post comments on YouTube since November 2013 had been a “controversial” decision.
“We want to formally retire the notion that a Google+ membership is required for anything at Google… other than using Google+ itself,” he added.
YouTube clarified that people who were happy with the integration would not have to take any action, but an option to unlink a YouTube account from Google+ would be introduced.
Reaction to the news had been greeted with “glee” by some YouTube video bloggers, said Mr Brinnand.
“For many creators this feel like it’s been a long time coming. People have been rooting for this to happen,” he said. “People felt like they were forced into joining Google+ and be active on it, and that’s not something they accepted.”
“When Google made the announcement on Monday, I could feel a collective sigh of relief. It’s almost as though Google has given up the fight, it has let go. But at least it shows Google is listening.”
“There’s sometimes a presumption that YouTube doesn’t listen to creators, but now it really had. This could be a turning point for the company,” he said.
A VPN is a virtual version of a secure, physical network—a web of computers linked together to share files.
But VPNs connect to the outside world over the Internet, and they can serve to secure general Internet traffic in addition to corporate assets. In fact, the lion’s share of modern VPNs are encrypted, so computers, devices, and other networks that connect to them do so via encrypted tunnels.
You have at least four reasons to start using a VPN.
First, you can use it to connect securely to a remote network via the Internet. Most companies maintain VPNs so that employees can access files, applications, printers, and other resources on the office network without compromising security, but you can also set up your own VPN to safely access your secure home network while you’re on the road.
Second, VPNs are particularly useful for connecting multiple networks together securely. For this reason, most businesses big and small rely on a VPN to share servers and other networked resources among multiple offices or stores across the globe. Even if you don’t have a chain of offices to worry about, you can use the same trick to connect multiple home networks or other networks for personal use.
Third, if you’re concerned about your online privacy, connecting to an encrypted VPN while you’re on a public or untrusted network—such as a Wi-Fi hotspot in a hotel or coffee shop—is a smart, simple security practice. Because the VPN encrypts your Internet traffic, it helps to stymie other people who may be trying to snoop on your browsing via Wi-Fi to capture your passwords.
Fourth and one of the best reasons to use a VPN is to circumvent regional restrictions—known as geoblocking—on certain websites. Journalists and political dissidents use VPNs to get around state-sponsored censorship all the time, but you can also use a VPN for recreational purposes, such as connecting to a British VPN to watch the BBC iPlayer outside the UK. Because your Internet traffic routes through the VPN, it looks as if you’re just another British visitor.
When choosing a networking protocol for your VPN, here’s a quick rundown, including the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is the least secure VPN method, but it’s a great starting point for your first VPN because almost every operating system supports it, including Windows, Mac OS, and even mobile OSs.
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) and Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) are more secure than PPTP and are almost as widely supported, but they are also more complicated to set up and are susceptible to the same connection issues as PPTP is.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN systems provide the same level of security that you trust when you log on to banking sites and other sensitive domains. Most SSL VPNs are referred to as “clientless,” since you don’t need to be running a dedicated VPN client to connect to one of them. They’re my favorite kind of VPN because the connection happens via a Web browser and thus is easier and more reliable to use than PPTP, L2TP, or IPsec.
An SSL VPN server is designed to be accessed via Web browser and creates encrypted channels so that you can safely access the server from anywhere.
OpenVPN is exactly what it sounds like: an open-source VPN system that’s based on SSL code. It’s free and secure, and it doesn’t suffer from connection issues, but using OpenVPN does require you to install a client since Windows, Mac OS X, and mobile devices don’t natively support it.
In short: When in doubt, try to use SSL or OpenVPN. Keep in mind that some of the services highlighted in the next section don’t use these protocols. Instead, they use their own proprietary VPN technology.
How to create and connect to your own VPN.
If you want simple remote access to a single computer, consider using the VPN software built into Windows. If you’d like to network multiple computers together quickly through a VPN, consider installing stand-alone VPN server software.
If you need a more reliable and robust arrangement (one that also supports site-to-site connections), consider using a dedicated VPN router. And if you just want to use a VPN to secure your Internet traffic while you’re on public Wi-Fi hotspots and other untrusted networks—or to access regionally restricted sites—consider subscribing to a third-party hosted VPN provider.
Set up a simple VPN with Windows
Windows comes loaded with a VPN client that supports the PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols. The setup process is simple: If you’re using Windows 8, just bring up the Search charm, type VPN, and then launch the VPN wizard by clicking Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
You can use this client to connect securely to other Windows computers or to other VPN servers that support the PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols—you just need to provide the IP address or domain name of the VPN server to which you want to connect. If you’re connecting to a corporate or commercial VPN, you can contact the administrator to learn the proper IP address. If you’re running your own VPN server via Windows, you can figure out the server’s IP address by typing CMD in the Search charm, launching the Command Prompt, and typing ipconfig.
This simple trick comes in handy when you’re setting up your Windows PC as a VPN server, and then connecting to it so that you can securely, remotely access your files from anywhere.
Windows has a built-in VPN client, but you’ll need to provide the connection information (namely, the IP address) for the VPN server you want to use.
Quick note: When setting up incoming PPTP VPN connections in Windows, you must configure your network router to forward VPN traffic to the Windows computer you want to access remotely. You can do this by logging in to the router’s control panel—consult the manufacturer’s instructions on how to do this—and configuring the port-forwarding or virtual-server settings to forward port 1723 to the IP address of the computer you wish to access. In addition, PPTP or VPN pass-through options need to be enabled in the firewall settings, but usually they’re switched on by default.
More than 60 million people are watching the BBC iPlayer for free outside of the UK by masking their location.
In China alone that figure is thought to be around 38.5 million.
The iPlayer is meant for UK TV viewers only and is funded by the licence fee as a global iPlayer was closed last month.
The report from GlobalWebIndex said that despite VPNs being thought of as “fairly niche tools which are the preserve of the tech-savviest individuals”, around 25% of internet users worldwide now use them, primarily to access better entertainment content.
The research company surveyed more than 45,000 internet users across 34 countries, including China, the US, France, Germany, Ireland, India and Brazil.
It found that while the iPlayer is “geo-restricted to be viewable only by people resident in the country”, the BBC service does in fact have “a huge global audience”.
“The implications for iPlayer are stark,” said Jason Mander, head of trends at GlobalWebIndex, writing in the report.
“However, rather than seeing this as a threat, there’s much good news here for the BBC.”
The report highlighted that 75% of the 65 million already pay for subscription services like Netflix or Hulu, so there was “clear potential” for the BBC to create “new revenue streams”.
“If even a relatively small proportion users could be converted into paid users, the additional revenue it could create for the BBC would be significant.”
A global iPlayer subscription service, which allowed viewers in Europe, Australia and Canada to watch programmes like Doctor Who, was shut down last month.
GlobalWebIndex also found the domestic iPlayer to be the most popular on-demand service in the UK by far – with 45% of internet users aged 16-64 accessing it in the past month, and just 4% being unaware of the service.
Netflix is the second most popular service, attracting 24% of web users.
The BBC’s most recent iPlayer figures revealed there were 222 million requests for TV programmes in May, with Peter Kay’s Car Share the most popular show.
The GlobalWebIndex figures would suggest that 29% of these requests may have come from TV viewers outside of the UK.
Several car infotainment systems are vulnerable to a hacking that could potentially put lives at risk.
Car infotainment systems can allow drivers to see vehicle status updates, play music and videos, view maps and in some cases run third-party apps, but NCC Group said the exploit could be used to seize control of a vehicle’s brakes and other critical systems.
The Manchester based company said that it had found a way to carry out the attacks by sending data via digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio signals.
It coincides with news of a similar flaw discovered by two US researchers.
Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller showed Wired magazine that they could take control of a Jeep Cherokee car by sending data to its internet-connected entertainment and navigation system via a mobile-phone network.
Chrysler has released a patch to address the problem.
However, NCC’s work – which has been restricted to its labs – points to a wider problem.
NCC Group was able to transmit the DAB signal using a laptop and a box made from easy-to-source parts. NCC demonstrated part of its technique to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme at its offices in Cheltenham.
By using relatively cheap off-the-shelf components connected to a laptop, the company’s research director, Andy Davis, created a DAB station.
Because infotainment systems processed DAB data to display text and pictures on car dashboard screens, he said, an attacker could send code that would let them take over the system.
Once an infotainment system had been compromised, he said, an attacker could potentially use it as a way to control more critical systems, including steering and braking.
Depending on the power of the transmitter, he said, a DAB broadcast could allow attackers to affect many cars at once.
“As this is a broadcast medium, if you had a vulnerability within a certain infotainment system in a certain manufacturer’s vehicle, by sending one stream of data, you could attack many cars simultaneously,” he said.
“An attacker would probably choose a common radio station to broadcast over the top of to make sure they reached the maximum number of target vehicles.”
Mr Davis declined to publicly identify which specific infotainment systems he had hacked, at this point.
In many ways, modern cars are computer networks on wheels.
Mike Parris, of SBD, another company that specialises in vehicle security, said modern cars typically contained 50 interlinked computers running more than 50 million lines of code. By contrast, he said, a modern airliner “has around 14 million lines of code”.
Such technology allows the latest cars to carry out automatic manoeuvres. For example, a driver can make their vehicle parallel park at the touch of a button.
Mr Davis said he had simulated his DAB-based attack only on equipment in his company’s buildings because it would be illegal and unsafe to do so in the outside world.
But he added that he had previously compromised a real vehicle’s automatic-braking system – designed to prevent it crashing into the car in front – by modifying an infotainment system, and he believed this could be replicated via a DAB broadcast.
“If someone were able to compromise the infotainment system, because of the architecture of its vehicle network, they would in some cases be able to disable the automatic braking functionality,” he said.
Apple has reported another jump in profits as demand for iPhones has soared.
Profits rose 38% to £6.87 billion, while revenue was up 33% to £33.1 billion.
The third quarter is typically the slowest for iPhone sales because many customers put off buying new phones, on the expectation of a new model.
Despite the strong results, shares fell 6.7%, or $8.85, to $121.89 in after-market trading in New York.
Analysts blamed the fall on disappointment about the company’s revenue forecasts for the fourth quarter, which were slightly lower than expected, as well as the firm’s profits being too heavily dependent on the iPhone.
Apple is forecasting revenue to be between £32.5 billion and £34 billion in the fourth quarter.
Demand for its iPad tablets remained weak, with Apple selling 10.9 million, down 18% from a year earlier.
But Mr Cook also said the Apple Watch had had a “great start”, in the first indication of how well the company’s first piece of wearable technology was selling.
The Apple boss said last autumn that he did not want to reveal detailed figures for the watch, which went on sale on 24 April, to avoid giving competitors inside information.
But Apple said that revenue from “other products”, which includes the watch as well as products such as the iPod and its Beats headphones, came to £1.75 billion – about £635 million higher than the previous quarter.
Chief financial officer Luca Maestri said that revenue from the watch amounted to “well over'” that £635 million increase.
Sales of the watch in the first nine weeks had exceeded those of both the iPhone and iPad after they were first launched, he added.
And Apple said its gross margin – the difference between the amount it spends on making the products versus how much consumers pay – was 39.7%, up slightly on a year ago.
Apple also continued to do well in the China market – defined by Apple as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Sales doubled year-on-year and accounted for more than a quarter of the company’s total third-quarter sales.
The jump should help to reassure investors that demand in China remains robust despite fears the market is close to saturation point.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which smashed iPhone sales records when they were launched last year, are now 10 months old.
An Enigma coding machine which sold at an auction was boosted by a bidding war.
A Sotheby’s spokesman said a telephone bidding war between two unnamed parties had resulted in the Nazis’ cipher creator going for £149,000.
That is not, however, a record. Bonham’s sold another example of the three rotor device for £172,350 in April.
The Oscar winning film The Imitation Game probably helped inflate the sums. The 2014 film recounted the British scientist Alan Turing’s successful effort to break the codes generated by the boxes.
The Enigma machines had 159,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible settings, leading the Nazis to believe it was uncrackable.
However, Turing was able to develop another machine – the Bombe – building on the work of Polish cryptanalysts.
This was capable of cracking 84,000 Enigma messages a month, the equivalent of two every minute.
Although it has been estimated that the Germans built about 100,000 Engimas – including five different mainstream versions – most were destroyed by the Nazis as they retreated, not knowing that their system had been compromised.
The seller of the Service Enigma Machine (Enigma I) sold at Sotheby’s was a European museum, but its identity has not been disclosed.
The Enigma’s Bakelite thumbwheels may have elevated its selling price. Both Sotheby’s and Bonham’s models featured thumbwheels made of bakelite – an early plastic – rather than metal.
The Nazis switched to bakelite towards the end of World War Two because their metal supplies had become diminished.
The fact that surviving models featuring the substance are particularly rare will have contributed to their high selling prices.