Week Ending: 16th October - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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The headlines have been flooded with COVID-19 news this week as the country gets divided into tiers. However, amidst all the turmoil, the world of Tech and I.T. continues to deliver, bringing us some exciting new developments.

In this week’s blog we delve into phishing attempts spiking on Amazon Prime Day, O2 launching its first driverless cars lab, Microsoft Edge’s newest instant video calls and iPhone 12 working on 5G networks.

Let’s get you up to date.

Amazon Prime Day leads to spike in phishing attempts

Who doesn’t like a deal on the latest technology, games, or clothes? Amazon Prime Day offers massive discounts on our favourite brands, some as large as 75% off. However, with all this excitement, data from Bolster Research has revealed that the number of phishing and fraudulent sites using the Amazon brand and logos has increased – the biggest spike since August and the most significant since lockdown began in March.

Shashi Prakash, CTO of Bolster, said,

“The huge spike in phishing and fraud sites in September is a strong indication that cybercriminals will be active and trying to profit from the Prime Day frenzy. Shoppers need to stay alert to avoid giving up their personal information or buying products on fraudulent sites for things they will never receive. The best way shoppers can protect themselves is by understanding how to discern safe, secure activity from concerning warning signs that sites are fraudulent to avoid scams."

With the ongoing issues surrounding the pandemic, shopping online is one of the safest ways to treat yourself without having to go outside. And it’s this change in behaviour that these cybercriminals are taking advantage of.

Hank Schless, Senior Manager, Security Solutions at Lookout, a San Francisco, Calif.-based provider of mobile security solutions, also commented, he said:

“We saw a massive spike in COVID-19-related scams when the pandemic first broke out. So, it makes sense that there would be a spike in Amazon-related URLs, especially at a time when online shopping has become the primary way people are purchasing things."

This demonstrates just how careful we need to be when opening an email, clicking on a website link, or even purchasing.

Always think before you click, take a moment to ask yourself, does this look like a real email? Is this text from a number I recognise? To protect yourself from mobile phishing attacks you should never tap a link from a number or person you don’t recognise.

Phishing sites often use URL spoofing to look like the official website, but when you view the full URL it’s actually something very different. You should also protect your phone and your personal data by using a mobile security app that offers phishing protection. Not only will this keep your personal data safe, but it also helps protect any work data you access from your personal smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook.

Read more on how to stay safe online here.

O2 Launches UK’s First Driverless Cars Lab

Driverless cars have become a hot topic in the tech world, and now O2 has decided to join the party.

This week the telecoms provider launched the UK’s first commercial lab - the Darwin SatCom Lab, allowing innovative businesses to test these technologies and bring us another step closer to putting self-driving vehicles safely on our roads.

Backed by funding from the UK Space Agency, the new lab will be based at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, where O2 have already begun their work, converting two Renault TWIZY electric cars into driverless cars. These cars have been dubbed ‘Connected Autonomous Vehicles’ or CAVs and are fitted with LIDAR sensors which allow them to be controlled from the Lab and driven around the Campus.

By using 5G equipment provided by Nokia, and geosynchronous communication satellites (GEOs) provided by Hispasat, O2’s team can remotely track the status of each TWIZY, including their position, movement and speed. Using 5G can address some of the technical challenges driverless cars often face. By having a reliable connection, the vehicles can operate safely in areas that may have poor mobile phone signal.

Derek McManus, COO at O2 said.

“We’re delighted to announce that the Darwin SatCom Lab is now open for business at Harwell Campus, allowing companies to put theory into practice and test innovative ideas using our connected and autonomous vehicles. The Lab is further proof that O2 is at the forefront of connectivity and accelerating Britain’s recovery by helping British businesses to harness the power of 5G and satellite communications in order to benefit their customers. It’s the next step in getting autonomous vehicles on the road and making the UK’s transport network greener.”

Read more about this exciting development here.

Microsoft Edge tries to get one-up on Chrome with instant video calls and more

Video calling during the pandemic has become one of the most popular ways to keep connected, whether it is staying in touch with family or for conducting business meetings. And Microsoft has taken advantage of its popularity, and this week announced it has included a quick video call feature, amongst others, that surpasses Chrome’s, without having to add extensions.

The new feature, Meet Now, will be available as a button on the new tab page, once clicked you’ll be able to create a link to start a video call with up to 50 people, without special software required. This feature will be rolled out to Edge this month and will be available on Outlook and on the Windows 10 taskbar in the next few weeks.

And this isn’t the only feature Microsoft Edge has introduced, there is also a screenshot tool which allows you to select specific parts of the website to capture as well as being able to scroll down the website to capture extra-long images.

Discover more here.

iPhone 12: Apple makes jump to 5G

Apple has recently confirmed that the new iPhone 12 will be the first of the Apple products to work on faster 5G networks. This new feature will allow the level of performance for downloads and uploads, as well as having higher quality video streaming.

And this isn’t the only update, for the first time ever, none of the devices will be bundled with headphones or a charger, Apple stated this is to reduce its impact on the environment. This may come as a shock to most Apple users, not seeing any headphones or a charger, but there are many other updates that should impress.

Depth sensors have also been introduced, by creating depth-maps of the immediate environment allows autofocus in dim setting up to six times faster. It can also be used for augmented-reality (AR) tasks.

Will you be getting your hands-on Apples latest release?

Read more here.

Those were some of this week’s biggest stories in I.T. and tech, but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels.