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UK’s Carphone Warehouse fined nearly $540k for 2015 hack

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The UK’s data watchdog has handed mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse a £400,000 fine — just shy of the £500k maximum the regulator can currently issue — for security failings attached to a 2015 hack that compromised the personal data of some three million customers and 1,000 employees.

Compromised customer data included: Names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, marital status and, for more than 18,000 customers, historical payment card details. While exposed records for some Carphone Warehouse employees, including name, phone numbers, postcode, and car registration details.

Commenting on the penalty in a statement, the UK’s information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “A company as large, well-resourced, and established as Carphone Warehouse, should have been actively assessing its data security systems, and ensuring systems were robust and not vulnerable to such attacks.

“Carphone Warehouse should be at the top of its game when it comes to cyber-security, and it is concerning that the systemic failures we found related to rudimentary, commonplace measures.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it identified “multiple inadequacies” in the company’s approach to data security during its investigation, and determined the company had failed to take adequate steps to protect people’s personal information.

Intruders had been able to use valid login credentials to access Carphone Warehouse’s system via out-of-date WordPress software, the ICO said.

Inadequacies in the organisation’s technical security measures were also exposed by the incident, with important elements of the software in use on the affected systems being out of date and the company failing to carry out routine security testing.

There were also inadequate measures in place to identify and purge historic data, it added.

“There will always be attempts to breach organisations’ systems and cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent as adversaries become more determined. But companies and public bodies need to take serious steps to protect systems, and most importantly, customers and employees,” said Denham.

“The law says it is the company’s responsibility to protect customer and employee personal information. Outsiders should not be getting to such systems in the first place. Having an effective layered security system will help to mitigate any attack — systems can’t be exploited if intruders can’t get in.”

A Carphone Warehouse spokesman provided the following response statement on the fine:

We accept today’s decision by the ICO and have co-operated fully throughout its investigation into the illegal cyberattack on a specific system within one of Carphone Warehouse’s UK divisions in 2015. 

As the ICO notes in its report, we moved quickly at the time to secure our systems, to put in place additional security measures and to inform the ICO and potentially affected customers and colleagues. The ICO noted that there was no evidence of any individual data having been used by third parties.

Since the attack in 2015 we have worked extensively with cyber security experts to improve and upgrade our security systems and processes.

We are very sorry for any distress or inconvenience the incident may have caused.

In October 2016 the ICO issued a £400k penalty to UK ISP TalkTalk also for a 2015 data breach — though in that instance only around 157,000 customer accounts were affected.

The maximum fine that data protection regulators in the European Union will be able to hand out will step to step up significantly in a matter of months — to £17M or 4 per cent of a company’s annual turnover — as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulationcomes into force in May.

As well as inflating the maximum penalties for data protection failures, the GDPR imposes an obligation on companies processing EU citizens’ data to bake in data protection by design.

Different times, different places


In the late 1990s, the world was a very different place. Most people didn’t have a mobile phone. Those that did hardly knew how to send a text message. People used to buy contracts that gave them 15 or perhaps 30 minutes of free calls a month. No texts were included; crucially, neither was data. We paid through the nose for those “free” minutes, and they were precious. The massive profit on voice allowed the carriers to offer massive subsidies on handsets, like the “free” Nokias that everybody had back then.

If you wanted email on the move, your only option was a laptop and a dialup modem, which you would plug into a landline’s phone socket. Travelling sales reps would spend around half an hour each evening with their laptop plugged into a cable they had stolen from the hotel fax machine to avoid paying the ludicrous charges for using the phone in their hotel room. (Some things don’t change.)

There was no real money to be made in mobile data back then; it was too slow. A GSM adaptor in a laptop provided just 0.009 megabits per second in today’s speeds. (9,600 bits per second, since you ask. Downloading a megabyte of data took about 25 minutes.

Instead of data, all the telcos made their money from voice calls. A penny a minute for dial-up to the internet made millions for ISPs such as AOL and Freeserve. For mobile phone carriers, the core market was business users and their 100+ premium mobile minutes each month.

Then RIM created BlackBerry. It allowed people to get their email on the move and, critically, it also acted as a phone. Business users climbed over each other to get to this new product, happily ditching their primitive Nokia devices in the process.

Serve one, serve all

Once IT had set up the BlackBerry server, the only cost to the business user might be an extra tenner on their department’s phone bill each month. Oddly, in many employers, phones had traditionally been supplied by Facilities or HR – not IT. Blackberry, in contrast, was purely an IT solution, like a laptop. The phone bills for the BlackBerry handsets therefore often ended up in a different cost centre, one with a much higher budget.


For IT managers the main attraction was that for this minimal charge, the BlackBerry devices also somehow came with global unlimited data. Imagine being in the early part of this century, when 3G had only just been auctioned off but not yet enabled (and certainly not put into use) and being the IT manager who realised that. Instead of supplying global freephone numbers to racks full of analogue modems, you could simply give the management team a BlackBerry device for £40 per month. Better still, they didn’t need a £1500 IBM Thinkpad because these things had a keyboard..

It was clearly a good harvest for BlackBerry. Suddenly RIM had this special, secure APN (Access Point Name – the gateway between the mobile network and the computer network) for which the carriers were prepared to pay a monthly fee on each connection. RIM didn’t need to worry too much about handset profits; carriers would paying for those devices because they were desperate to get one of their SIMs into the BlackBerry of a global traveller.

Why? Because if they succeeded, all of his or her £1+ per minute voice call business was theirs. If you could give a £600/mth Orange mobile phone user a “free” BlackBerry on Vodafone, all that voice business changed hands. For carriers, the “unlimited data” BlackBerry business was effectively a loss leader for voice, and they were making millions from it.

Money for nothing, text for (almost) free

Then the SMS (aka texting) business took off and the carriers realised that, at 10p per text, there was millions more to be made. People were carrying over “free” minutes from one month to the next, but they simply couldn’t get enough inclusive texts. The kids spent all day, every day, texting their friends; but for an extra tenner a month to BlackBerry, they could send unlimited text messages over BBM. BlackBerry became trendy and all the younger generation wanted one; they even started selling them in bright colours to meet the market.

RIM made its money through carriers who wanted to dominate the uncapped voice market. It made more money from those same carriers who then wanted a large chunk of the SMS market.

Fast forward to today, though, and I think the real problem BlackBerry have is not the consumers, it’s those same carriers.

Not carried

In the current age – from the time since the “modern” smartphone has become available – and for carriers, voice minutes are worth nothing; all the money is in data. Likewise, texts have no value – which renders the advantage of BBM worthless. Everybody wants to boost their data business, as it’s used by hungry apps on iPhone and Android smartphones. Customers now have rich email, using more data. They watch video on the bus. All this therefore makes the carriers more money.

Businesses didn’t buy BlackBerry; they were sold them by the carriers as a solution. Likewise, consumers didn’t buy BlackBerry; the networks recommended them to those who sent a lot of texts.

Unfortunately for Blackberry, it has lost its unique selling point (USP). Without one, it’s simply not going to be recommended by the sales representative at contract renewal time. The result – well, you can see for yourself. Any time you need to take out full-page ads to insist you’re not dead, people are going to assume you’re dying.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

The State of Search Marketing Report 2011, produced by Econsultancy, highlights the trends and uses of paid search, SEO, and social media marketing in the world of blogging websites and businesses at large. According to this report, mobile marketing trends are now having the largest impact on search engine marketing, with 79% of surveyed businesses claiming that mobile is either “highly significant” or “significant.”

Google maintains its lead as the chief search engine and search-based marketing platform, with 95% of companies saying that they pay to advertise on Google AdWords. The report also suggests that Facebook continues to dominate the social media landscape, and that the use of social networks for marketing continues to grow. 84% of companies said they now use Facebook for marketing, and this is up from 73% last year. Another study from Social Media Examiner also found that 90% of marketers believe social media is an important part of their business operations.

Photo source GDS Infographics


corporate tablet warfare pits devices like apple ipad 2 against rivals

Tablet devices like the Apple iPad 2 first caught on in the consumer market, but corporations are starting to embrace tablets as well.

So far these devices have gained ground in the financial services sector, which has adopted the most popular tablet at a rate that is three times higher than any other industry. This success is coming at the expense of competing devices, which have seen sales declines in some cases. The quick adoption of tablets by the corporate world is impressive, and it indicates that the growth opportunity for tablets in this area is huge. Future growth will likely be driven by the development of more corporate apps for tablets. Such apps could include business, accounting and finance apps for professionals. The fact that tablets are now taking corporate market share from the latest smartphones shows that these devices offer some unique advantages to companies, although many corporations are deploying both technologies together.

Photo source osde8info


telos corp. receives $19 million contract for wireless lan

Telos Corp. has received a $19 million contract on 16 June in Ashburn to install a wireless LAN at U.S. Air Force bases. Telos plans to include sites around the world in that already have wireless LAN implemented and those without wireless coverage.
Apart from designing both core and expansion wireless LANs; the company will conduct site surveys, procure components, conduct engineering studies, provide on-site training and a round-the-clock call centre for ongoing support. Brendan Malloy, senior vice president of the company believes this wireless LAN contract continues their long history of providing U.S. Air Force with capabilities that enhance their mission effectiveness.
Telos serves as a prime wireless LAN contractor on the 5-year NETCENTS contract vehicle, which was recently extended by the government for an .

Using desktop computers might have been the way to go just a few short years ago, but mobile has recently usurped it as the leading way for people to consume media. In fact, in 2016, more users accessed the Internet via a mobile device as opposed to a desktop for the very first time. So, with such statistics in mind, it should come as no surprise that mobile technology is also having a large impact on how we do business. If you currently operate a company but make limited use of such technology at present, read on for why you should also be embracing mobile and benefiting from it as a result.

It allows growth for those with limited resources. When it comes to scaling (and even starting) a business, mobile technology has made this far easier and more accessible to the masses. This is partly down to cloud-based tools. Thanks to such resources, you no longer need to purchase or maintain expensive technology to grow your online presence for example. Plus, if you experience a dreaded slow patch for your business, using cloud allows you to scale back seamlessly if needed. On the flipside, it also delivers the opportunity to ramp up your needs within an instant when necessary.

Also, don’t disregard mobile payments as the main way for businesses to grow at a rapid rate. The likes of PayPal and Slack supply both convenience and ease of use.

It provides flexibility

Now, while previous topics have already touched upon the flexibility provided by mobile, this section will focus on how it can make things so much more comfortable for your employees. Think about it: if they have access to all of their files, are always on-hand to communicate when needed, and their output won’t be affected, why should an employee be mandated to stay cooped up in an office all the time? After all, research has reported that 91% of employees feel more productive when working remotely as opposed to being in-house. So thanks to mobile technology, you can make your employees happier and also more productive at the same time.

It combines all small items into one package

Although this can often be overlooked, mobiles also utilise many small features that we often take for granted in the business world. For example, with a smartphone you no longer need a physical calendar to check what is on for today’s agenda – you just simply have to input all that info onto your device. Calendars are not the only thing becoming obsolete in the office either. A calculator app means you can throw away your standard calculator and abacus, while the Rolodex’s demise also leads to it being an item of trash.

It removes the need for paperwork

In the large majority of cases, paperwork can become a thing of the past for businesses that utilise mobile technology. Just take a second to think about it: if you’re sending documents virtually over the cloud, is there any need to print those out and produce a physical form of them to employees?

The answer, by and large, is a big fat ‘no’.
That’s right; you can leave those spreadsheets and notes in their digital form. Even documents that require official authentication – such as an agreement or contract – don’t need to receive the printing treatment. That’s because you can use a mobile-based eSignature to sign off on those documents.

While not needing to use your pen to sign things anymore is a benefit, a paperless world for your business also carries plenty of other advantages. Not only is it much better for the environment, but it will also save time and money to an extent – although more on that point with the following topic.

It saves both money and time

If the aforementioned points haven’t signalled it enough for you, going mobile helps with both your budget and time. Plus considering time is money, this means positive things for your business in terms of its bank balance. It is also important to note that going mobile allows you to focus on your core business activities. Forget about spending extensive resources on side aspects such as calculating your finances and updating your tech with the latest firmware. Now you can place a greater emphasis on what you do best, and also push towards expanding and growing your company at a faster pace as a result.

It supplies new ways to market

By that, we primarily mean using your own app to promote your goods and services. At least initially, you might be thinking how this is counterintuitive to the last topic of discussion. After all, surely the creation of an app would invoke the need for a sizeable chunk of cash and time? Well, to answer that question, yes it does (for the most part). Yet, that is only looking at the short-term picture. If you craft an app that is well-designed and filled with relevant content for your intended audience, it could result in some serious traction for your business.

That’s because you shouldn’t underestimate how much various apps are used in daily life on the standard. On mobile devices, for example, their usage far outweighs that of people looking to use a web browser. You have an app, you stay better connected with the audience you already possess, and you open yourself up to a potentially larger audience – especially if the app begins ranking high on those app store charts.

Also, make a note of producing a website that is optimised for mobile. Web browsers might not be used that much on mobile on the whole, but you want to ensure you’re best prepared for people that do visit your site via their smartphones/tablets. Landing on your usual website – i.e. the one that is set-up for desktops – might discourage visitors from pursuing with their initial enquiries. Stay professional, create a mobile-optimized website, and feature a slick interface that is easy to navigate.

(Tutorial) How to flash a Samsung Galaxy phone with custom/stock ROM via computer using Odin?

What is phone flashing?

“Flashing” in terms of mobile phones generally means re-installing the operating system (OS) software of the device. It is just like re-installing Windows in a computer.

Why flashing is required?

Sometimes it becomes necessary to flash (also called refurbish) mobile phones to solve OS software related issues. Especially when the “Reset” option fails to solve the issue. Some possible scenarios when flashing is required are –

  • Dead /soft-bricked phone due to corrupt OS
  • Dead phone due to interruption of update process or failed previous attempt of flashing
  • Deep rooted Malware infection not removed by Antivirus softwares or reset
  • Boot-loop issue (phone restarts again and again)
  • Phone stuck at boot screen
  • Frequent restarts
  • Phone hangs way too frequently and badly (screen becomes totally unresponsive)
  • Phone is locked by password/pattern or any other method


  • Flashing will erase all the data in phone memory so (if possible) backup your important data first before jumping into action
  • Make sure there is no interruption during the flashing process – use genuine USB cable working perfectly, no disconnections from computer, no power failures, no computer restarts, no kids, doggy or cyclones around…….blah blah blah
  • Make sure there is enough free space (at least 5-6 GB) in the phone memory for the process to complete successfully
  • Phone battery must be charged over 50%

Flashing a Samsung phone (Galaxy S7 Edge) via computer using Odin

For this you need to have following –

  • A computer running Windows XP or later
  • USB data cable (preferably the original that came bundled with the phone or any other good quality one)
  • Odin software – it is a free Samsung phone service software (download from here). Note that you don’t have to install Odin in computer – it is downloaded as a ready to be used executable file – just extract the zip file and run the Odin.exe
  • Your phone’s firmware (also called Stock ROM) or a compatible custom firmware – if you don’t know how to download Samsung firmwares then read this post first. Firmwares are downloaded as zip files – you have to extract the zip file to use it’s contents with Odin. Preferably place the extracted files at desktop for easy accessibility

Now follow the steps described below –

1.Launch Odin – and it will look like this (screenshot below)

samsung Odin flashing

2. At the launch screen click BL button – a window will pop up – at “Open”window, browse and open the firmware folder (created by the extraction of zip file) – there will be a file starting with “BL” – select it and click “Open” (or just double click it) – the file will be added in Odin with “BL” option ticked

3. Now click the rest of the three buttons in Odin, one by one and repeat the above process every time – remember to select the correct corresponding file matching the button name

4. The “AP” file is the biggest one in the firmware (3-4 GB depending upon the phone model) – it will take quite some time to add in Odin – so wait for it – Odin may even show as “not responding” for a few second during addition of this file, do not panic in that case – it is temporary and the file will be added any way after a few seconds

5. Unlike AP, BL, CP files – which exist as a single type, there are two CSC files in firmware folder. One is “CSC” and the other is “HOME_CSC” – you have to select any one of these. If you want to leave the current CSC code of your phone intact then select HOME_CSC. While selecting CSC will set the CSC code of the phone as that of the firmware you downloaded. However if you have downloaded the firmware as per your phone model, country (and/or carrier) then it will have the same CSC code as that of your current phone’s. In that case you can select any of the file (CSC or HOME_CSC). So this file matters only if you are flashing the phone with a different country/region firmware. If you are still confused then don’t give a damn – just select CSC file and it will not affect your phone anyhow.
When all the files are added successfully, it’s time to grab your phone. For now, just leave the computer with Odin running in that position.

6. Boot the phone in “Download” mode (also called Odin mode)

Download mode is a special function in Android phones. Odin can flash a Samsung phone only when it is in Download mode. There is a specific method (which may differ from phone to phone) to boot the phone into Download mode. In Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, it is as follows

First switch off the phone – then press “Volume Down + Home + Power” buttons simultaneously (at the same time) and hold them for a few seconds until a “Warning” screen appears – release the 3 keys – now press “Volume Up” button to enter into Download mode. This is required for Odin to communicate and work with the phone. If the warning screen does not appear, try again few times as pressing three buttons at the same time is not an easy task especially with one hand.

7. Now it’s time to connect the phone with computer

While the phone is in download mode, connect it with computer via USB cable. The ID:COM tab will turn blue when Odin recognizes the phone. Do not change the default settings (under Options tab) in Odin unless you are an advanced user and know what these options mean. Now all you have to do is just click the “Start” button at Odin and it will take care of the rest. Just sit back and relax – the flashing process will take time (usually 10-20 minutes). If everything goes well, a “Pass” message (as shown in the screenshot below) will appear in Odin and the phone will restart. Now you can disconnect it from PC.

There you have it! Your Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge as good as new, as if just pulled out of the retail box.

We have also made a video tutorial in case you want to see everything in action –

Notes & FAQs

Will flashing affect SIM/Carrier/Country/Region Lock of the Samsung phone?

Flashing a stock or custom ROM (even if it is from different country/region) DOES NOT affect any kind of lock in Samsung phones i.e. it will not unlock (SIM/carrier or region lock) your phone. So if you are going to flash your phone for this purpose – better forget it.

How does the flashing affects warranty & KNOX status of Samsung phones?

Flashing with a stock ROM will not affect your warranty status – it will not affect the KNOX status either. If you root the phone by flashing a custom firmware and recovery then the warranty will void and KNOX status will be tripped. However you can regain the warranty status by again flashing the phone with an official stock ROM but it will not change the KNOX tripped status.

Can we solve hardware problems by flashing the phone?

No! Hardware related issues are generally not amenable to repair by flashing

That’s it! Any suggestions or queries are welcome.



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