Amazon Payments Global Partner Program to Take on Paypal

Amazon is a popular platform for many things, with their websites offering everything from the kindle to mass ordering your pets favourite type of food. With recent steps in the video game market, courtesy of Lumberyard and even sharing educational materials for schools, the company look like it will stop anytime soon with the revelation of the new Payments Global Partner Program.

If this sounds familiar it’s because you probably already use PayPal or something similar, but Amazon’s Payments Global Partner Program looks to go head to head by offering you the same security you get with your amazon account when paying for products on hundreds of other sites.

Amazon states that all the merchants using the new system will be using the same fraud detection technology that Amazon already uses, meaning if you trusted Amazon you can trust them. If this wasn’t enough the temptation, companies are helped by its quick integration and inline basket, meaning no more tedious programming or changing sites to add in your bank details.

It should be noted though that sites using the new system will have access to customers “name and email addresses so you can personalise their on-site experience”, while not a huge issue some people would want reassurances that an easy to opt-in program had some security regarding their details.

New Ransomware Does The Unforgivable – Forgets How To Unlock Your Files

Ransomware is a whole new level of problems for computer users. Previously malicious software, or malware for short, would spread causing chaos and destruction wherever it could, but ransomware is a little more targeted. Ransomware is designed to stop you from accessing your files and in order to gain access you are normally requested to pay an account a sum of money. With the kind of details you store on your computers these days, can you afford not to pay? Even the FBI say pay the ransom, but what happens when they don’t decrypt your files, granting you access which you’ve just paid a lot of money for. It’s a risk many take and many more will have to suffer thanks to the ransomware Power Worm, which forgets how to decrypt your files.

Encryption is the process in which using a key (similar to a password) you jumble up a file, making it extremely difficult to read or access without knowing the password that was used to encrypt it in the first place. Power worm does the usual, gets into the system and then encrypts your files but thanks to a NULL result in its code it forgets to store the key, meaning even if you pay its impossible to retrieve your files.

Please protect your files with regular backups on an external memory device and be careful when downloading or running any software.

Image courtesy of NSK Inc.

Activision Buys Creator Of Candy Crush

On the train, in the car and even at work, people enjoy games on their mobile phones. From the days of the first game boy, the idea behind mobile gaming devices was always to let you play what you wanted, where you wanted and with mobiles phones becoming as powerful as they are, the ability to change your little communications device into a gaming hub is as easy as ever. One of the biggest names in the mobile video games group is Candy Crush Saga and its creator just got a new owner, Activision.

On Monday, Activision Blizzard announced that it had agreed to acquire the rights for King Digital Entertainment, the company behind Candy Crush Saga, for a staggering total of $5.9 billion.

Popular on platforms such as Facebook, Candy crush follows a business model called freemium. You can play the game for free, and you could even complete it for free but if you wanted those little extra bonuses, the boosters or the level skips then it will cost you real world money.

With King stating that it has over 158 million daily users and over 1 billion games played each day it’s not hard to see why this acquisition by Activision Blizzard could see the company getting a rather large foot in the door of mobile gaming.

“Pay The Ransom” Says FBI Ransomware Advice

Ransomware is a significant threat to huge corporations as it is to you and me, the notion of every single byte of your personal files being locked up is a frightening thought to those who have treasured memories in the form of images and documents. How effective is Ransomware? It turns out very considering the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is warning companies that they may be better of paying the ransom to the attackers in order to see their files again.

This centres on the success rate of Cryptolocker, Cryptowall and also other forms of ransomware that utilizes ultra-secure encryption algorithms in order to lock up data.  Joseph Bonavolonta who is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s CYBER and Counter intelligence Program in its Boston office was speaking at the Cyber Security Summit 2015 where he stated that “The ransomware is that good”.

This form of attack has been around for more than a decade which is slightly surprising considering one associates this technique as a newish phenomenon. Although the last three years have seen attacks rise sharply via both malicious email attachments and also drive by downloads which include Malvertising.

According to the FBI, Cryptowall is the most common form of ransomware considering it had received 992 complaints that totalled $18 million in losses. The FBI still wants firms to contact their local law enforcement agency, but, if a company’s data is locked then in all probability the FBI will not be able to retrieve it without a ransom payment.

An interesting element is the feeling that if attackers keep ransoms low for consumers, a bigger percentage will just pay, after all, many people have expendable income and may be inclined to pay.

I am not sure this advice from Joseph Bonavolonta is necessarily helpful, granted, I can understand his sentiments that the FBI may not be able to retrieve any data without a ransom payment, but, if you advise people to pay then this will keep happening over and over again. Criminals partake in these practices in order to make money; if they are making money then I am sure they would feel it’s worthwhile.

Also, there is no guarantee that you would actually gain access to your data once a ransom has been paid, after all, there is no incentive to do so despite Mr Bonavolonta’s reassurances that “You do get your access back”

The best prevention is to be aware of any email attachments or links contained within spam emails and to Not Click on them, if you’re expecting an attachment from a known source, always verify the email just in case said source has been hacked themselves. Any attachments should be scanned to be on the safe side if you trust the email, if you don’t, don’t download or click anything, I know that Nigerian Billionaire sounds tempting, but it’s not worth it, also, always keep your system backed up for a variety of reasons.

Image source

YouTube To Hide Some New Videos Behind Subscription Serivce

YouTube has had a lot of news recently regarding its finance and more particular how people on it have asked for money or how it hopes to make some more money. Recently an indie games studio approached a YouTuber who requested around $22,000 to publicly review their game.

It has long been on the cards that YouTube may look at a subscription based model and most recently there were discussions about YouTube Red, an ad-free version of YouTube. Now it could see YouTube going up against the likes of Amazon Prime and Netflix with a new subscription service with its own programming. Expected to release more details at an event in Los Angeles next Wednesday (October 21st) the subscription service could see them bolstering the revenue they gain from their free to use but ad-supported site.

YouTube has suggested many things about the service, that it will support and contain shows from top creators while also encouraging anyone that makes an income from YouTube ads to join the service.

Are ads more trouble than they are worth? Could you see yourself playing your movies through YouTube? How much would it have to cost to interest you?

 

Ashley Madison Hackers Leaving Behind Footprints

Hacking has been big news in recent years, with everyone from Sony to Apple having breaches and personal information released. The latest in this long stream of hacks is a website titled Ashley Madison. In case you aren’t familiar with this website here is what’s happened so far. The Ashley Madison site is a site designed for people to search for companions, no matter what their marital status. This has resulted in it being a site popular among those who are unfaithful for their partners, a problem for many given that to leave the site you are required to pay a £15 fee. In protest of this though they seem to have been hacked, and as a result, this information has since been released on the internet. Now for the fun parts.

In contrast to the initial “moral” stance taken, of which many suspected the reason the hacked data was made public was in order to force people to be faithful and honest with their partners and in protest to the leaving fee, it would appear that this data is now being used by criminals to extort the people who have had their data exposed online. Demanding roughly 1.0000001 bitcoins (£147.28) from each person or to have their information revealed to their significant others.

All is not lost, as a file containing the emails of Ashley Madison’s CEO was left on an unprotected bittorrent server for hours. By not password protecting or disabling the web management system used in the file sharing system people were able to access and change the server configuration, and if it turns out that this was the original torrent server used to upload the files it could be possible to track down the IP of connecting users and find out who initially uploaded the files.

Hacks are appearing every day now and it would seem that people are using these to their own benefits, turning one crime into hundreds.

Thank you Neowin and Ars Technica for the information. 

Image courtesy of Ashley Madison.

Samsung Pay Users Best Avoid Rooting Their Phones

First you paid in coins, then you paid in notes, then you swiped your card and put in some numbers, now you don’t even swipe your card to pay with it. So what could be next for paying for everything? With the recent release of Apple Pay, the answer seems to be simple, your mobile phone.

Apple pay uses the same technology as NFC (Near field communication) based cards, this means that you can swipe your phone/card/tag and the card reader will receive the information from it, after just a few seconds of being in contact with each other. This means you can pay very quickly but it has raised some concerns, such as the fact that there is no check on who is using the card. Apple Pay addresses this by asking that when you swipe your phone you simply place your thumb on the fingerprint reader and it checks that you are authorized to use that card.

When money is involved people want to be safe, and during its trail run in South Korea Samsung Pay has given a few users a problem. The people involved all have one thing in common, their phones are rooted, a technique where you modify the operating system the phone uses, this means you can gain access to new features which are blocked by the system normally. Samsung pay doesn’t seem to like this and has been throwing up messaging warning users that they can’t use the app because “the system has been modified”. NFC payment systems, such as Google Wallet, tend not to care about rooting because they never physically handle the information about the payment, they just use tokens to point and share the required information.

Samsung Pay looks to accelerate the pace that Apple Pay has set, with not only the ability to pay in an NFC manner but also featuring another three letter acronym technology, MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission). MST enables you to use your phone to act as if you have swiped your card on a magnetic card reader, such as those found on a lot of payment terminals, this means that you could use Samsung Pay on devices and terminals which don’t support NFC, allowing stores all over to benefit from the latest addition to the payment methods roster.

Thank you Phandroid for the information.

Image courtesy of TheTechy. 

Apple Contemplates Targeting Ads Based On Bank Balance

How much do you earn? I expect you to tell me it’s none of my business, and you would be right, this information should be private to each individual. But Apple might see things differently and are contemplating targeting specific adverts which are based on your bank balance.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have awarded Apple a data mechanism by the name of the “targeted ad technology patent” This means that Apple is reported to have devised a way to analyse each user’s available credit in order. This is with the aim of pin pointing said users ability to purchase an advertised product. Basically, Apple is not going to target a Lamborghini at a consumer if they can afford a smart car.

What’s interesting about this patent is how far this ability might go if it’s implemented; would Apple install a tracking piece of software with the aim of analysing each user’s bank balance? Or would it be only confined to own branded services for example Apple Pay etc.

Apples CEO Tim Cook recently gave a speech at a dinner hosted by the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) which he stated; “companies are gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be”. So which Apple will it be, the fun-loving and customer friendly brand, or cash for data and spying on consumers financial affairs conglomerate?

You will know if it’s implemented if you attempt to buy a Rolex and Apple advertises you a Timex.

Thank You Gizmodo and the US Patent and Trademark office for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of E&T

Apple Pay Now Live In The UK

You may have noticed that in the UK contactless payment is becoming a large thing, with many shops now allowing you to use the system to pay for items if their value is under a set amount (normally around £20). This means that in order to pay for your sandwich at lunch all you need to do is hold your card against the card readers top and after the lights are all green you’ve paid for your food without a single button press. Apple’s answer to this system has just been released live in the UK, ingeniously named Apple Pay.

Apple Pay uses not only your card but also your iPhone or Apple Watch (iPhone 6 or 6 Plus required). This means that after you’ve linked your credit/debit card to your apple account all you need to do is tap your phone against the card reader and provide it with your thumbprint. This gets over one of the biggest worries, in that the near field communication (NFC) used by contactless payments doesn’t require any verification, that is that you don’t need to confirm your identity when you use it. This means as long as all I buy is something to drink and some food that comes in under £20, there is nothing stopping me from using another contactless card. Apple Pay uses your thumbprint to confirm your identity and that you have the permission to use the card you’ve selected to pay for the items.

The system has also been taken up by other companies alongside retailers, Transport for London has stated that you can use the system of readers already installed for Oyster card readers to pay for your bus, tube or train tickets. Argos, Dominoes, Just Eat and even British Airways have also said you will be able to use Apple Pay within their apps.

With a rise to £30 for contactless  payments in September, more and more people are being drawn towards using this system as a way of shopping every day. The extra security provided by Apple Pay can’t hurt, it barely adds any time to the experience and keeps your cards safe, just hope you don’t run out of battery while shopping.

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of Buisness Insider.

Apple Pay to Rumoured Launch in the UK in First Half of 2015

Apple Pay is said to be launching in the UK during the first half of next year according to The Telegraph. Banks are reportedly in discussions with Apple, with some questioning the use of users personal and financial information.

“It is understood the bank is uncomfortable with the amount of personal and financial information Apple wants to collect about its customers. Some executives fear Apple Pay and the data it delivers to Apple could serve as a beachhead for an invasion of the banking industry. 

Sources accepted no major bank will want to miss out on Apple Pay, however, as early signs from the United States suggest it may be the service to finally convince consumers to pay with mobile phones.”

Apple Pay has been met with great success in the US, with a significant number of high profile retailers and banks agreeing to take part in the service. Customers have welcomed it too, praising its ease of use and security.

Source: MacRumors

Job Posting Confirms Apple Pay International Expansion

A new job posting discovered by iClarified suggests that Apple is hard at work on expanding Apple Pay across Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa. Apple Pay is currently only available in the United States, with Apple saying that they are “working hard” to bring it to more countries.

The job posting details that there is now a team in London working on bringing the NFC service to more countries.

“Apple Pay is a new and exciting area in Apple that is set to expand across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. Apple Pay will change the way consumers pay with breakthrough contactless payment technology and unique security features built right into their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay in an easy, secure, and private way. The new London-based Apple Pay team will work to drive the roll-out of this technology across EMEIA by working with a variety of internal and external partners, including teams in the US where the product will first launch and the EMEIA organisation, as well as Issuers, payment networks and merchants across Europe.”

The service was introduced in the US to great acclaim, with users finding the system easy to use, efficient and secure. Oddly, it also brought praise from users and supporters of Google’s Android as Apple’s efforts to get the service accepted by banks and merchants has led to the wider use of NFC-compatibale readers that are of course compatible with any type of NFC payment system, including Google Wallet.

Source: iClarified Via: MacRumors

Square Bringing Apple Pay to Small Businesses

We’ve recently reported on Apple Pay coming to your mobile phone through their technology advancements, now news has come to light that a credit card processing service for small firms called Square is looking to bring it to the wider audience. The original list of participating Apple Pay stores was completely dominated by big names, leaving the small fish in some hot water.

In basic terms, Square is described as a mobile credit-card reader that allows a small business to process payments without needing a terminal. Originally seen as a competitor to Apple Pay, Square’s founder Jack Dorsey has publicly stated that his companies service is designed to function as  “a [cash] register, and this register accepts all these forms of payments”, not a competitor to Apple’s newly announced technology. Adding to this, he is planning to integrate Apple Pay compatibility into his existing model with development said to commence in 2015.

CNN reported that this change will require a hardware update into Square’s existing technology, which currently serves as a module that plugs into smartphones. However, we’ve come to learn that most smartphones with NFC capabilities will quite possibly allow Square’s Apple Pay integration to work flawlessly without touching any hardware upgrades. If you’re a small business and are planning to use Apple pay, it’s about time you grabbed yourself a Nexus 5 or later model phone.

This is some good news for small business owners for sure, once again opening up another portal for their customers to pay with ease. We’re waiting with baited breath to see if, when and how Apple Pay takes off in the mainstream market.

Image courtesy of Engadget

Apple’s Eddy Cue Makes Rare Appearance on Local TV

In a bizarre move for the usually private Apple Senior Vice Presidents, the company’s SVP for Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, was seen in a local news report demoing Apple Pay yesterday (Monday).

The very open report focuses on the new payment system, with Eddy and the reporter going on a shopping trip together. Apple Pay was first released in the US last month to good reviews, with some suggesting that the new system could be the death knell for credit cards. Although NFC systems such as Google Wallet have existed before it, Apple’s force in negotiating agreements with banks has meant big changes have come rapidly to US merchants, leading to a significant number of stores that previously didn’t accept NFC payments now doing so, at the benefit of all NFC services.

Source: MacRumors

Uber Launches Business Feature, Lets Companies Pay for Your Business Travels

Uber, the app that lets you hail a cab from your smartphone, has announced the addition of a new Business feature aimed at employees who are travelling on business trips a lot.

The app is said to now allow companies pay for their employees’ travel expenses by adding the option to pay with a company card, instead of having them pay for the trip and expense it on their own.

Employees whose company uses Uber are said to already have noticed a second payment option inside the app, allowing them to quickly switch between the personal and business payments on the fly. Uber is also said to be teaming up with Concur, the expensing service, to automatically file receipts for those who use the service.

The Uber for Business feature is said to work best for small companies, since the app requires each employee to be added to an account manually. However, Uber has stated that it will add a feature this summer which will help activate business expensing company-wide.

It is said that various analytic features are included in the app in order to help companies see how many trips are being taken and how much they are spending, as well as allowing companies view the information for each employee’s individual trip.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Crytek UK Employees on Strike, Refusing to go to Work

It has been said that Crytek UK’s employees were paid £700 for a month’s work, but despite that, the company still was able to release Warface, the free-to-play FPS Crytek promised to release some time ago. The latest rumors coming from the UK headquarter points to the staff refusing to go to work entirely.

Sources over at Kotaku indicate that work at Crytek UK, which was currently working on the new Homefront: The Revolution title, has been halted due to the unfair pay. Employees apparently claim that they are still owed back pay on previous work and to show they concerns regarding the current situation, they are said to have handed letters of grievance before going home.

It is said that most problems at Crytek are the result of the shortcomings brought by Ryse: Son of Rome’s Xbox One launch. The title has been reported to do well, but users apparently were unsatisfied and complained that the gameplay was too stuffed with quick-time events. Despite its graphics and gameplay, it is said to have failed in capturing users’ attention, resulting in Crytek going through the current financial problems.

Other rumors out of the headquarters speak of Deep Silver, Homefront’s publisher and Dead Rising franchise owner, attempting to buy out at leas the British developers who have left and/or are currently unsatisfied with the current measures Crytek is using to deal with the crisis. However, nothing is clear at the moment. Crytek is the only one who can share more solid information about what is going on, that is if and when they will release an official statement.

Thank you KitGuru for providing us with this information