Tech & Gaming

Computeractive 517

Computeractive is the UK’s best-selling computer magazine and your friendly guide to PCs, gadgets and the web! It includes regular news updates, project ideas, help and advice on popular reader queries, articles on anti-virus software, features on consumer rights, and a whole lot more to help you get the very best out of your computer. Get PC advice in plain English today – get Computeractive!

United Kingdom
Dennis Publishing UK
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26 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
from the editor

Around this time of year you get lots of predictions from tech ‘experts’ who are paid far too much to imagine what the future might look like. Their utopian forecasts usually involve more robots, more driverless cars, more talking gadgets and so on. Rarely do they focus on the ‘boring but useful’ stuff that ordinary people rely on – software, extensions, apps, downloads. I guess that job falls to Computeractive, and we’re happy to take it on. In our Cover Feature we recommend tools (all free) that’ll be particularly useful throughout 2018. One tech boffin whose judgement I do trust is Simon Brew, former editor of Micro Mart. In his new Keep Your Brain Active column (page 74) he’ll be testing brain-training games that claim to keep you mentally fit. I…

2 min.
millions of bank customers were using unsafe apps

Customers of some of the UK’s leading banks, including NatWest, HSBC and RBS, have been using phone and tablet apps that hackers could have infiltrated to steal log-in details. Researchers at Birmingham University’s School of Computer Science ran a tool to test the security of 400 Android and iOS apps, including many from banks that customers use to check their account and transfer money. They found that several banking apps contained a critical flaw that would let an attacker connected to the same network perform a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, intercepting what’s being sent from the user to the bank. Around 10 million users are thought to have been at risk. The flaw was identified in the use of certificate pinning, a technique that gives apps and websites a guarantee they are using a…

1 min.
banks ‘must do more’ to fight web fraud

Banks have been accused of not doing enough to help victims of online fraud, after a damning report from MPs revealed it’s the most prevalent crime in England and Wales. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said victims lose an estimated £10bn a year. However, the true figure may be much larger, the report said, because only around 20 per cent of crimes are reported to the police. It said “the emotional impact” of the crime leaves many victims reluctant to come forward. The PAC blamed the Home Office for being “too slow” to respond to the threat of online fraud, but also called for banks to take greater responsibility to tackle it, saying it’s “too vast” a task for Government alone. Banks are “unwilling to share information about the extent of fraud with…

1 min.
password-sharing mps ‘put uk at risk of attack’

MPs have been warned they could be unwittingly helping foreign hackers access Government secrets after admitting they share their work computer passwords. It follows tweets from three Conservative MPs claiming their staff regularly used their login details. The Information Commissioner’s Office, which protects data-privacy in the UK, said it was making enquiries. Commons officials emailed MPs to warn them that such actions “put the entire parliamentary network at risk”. The House of Commons handbook says MPs’ staff must not share passwords, but this does not appear to extend to MPs themselves. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries (pictured) was the first to reveal she shares her password. She was defending First Secretary of State Damian Green who has been accused of having pornography on a work computer. The Mid Bedfordshire MP said it was “utterly…

1 min.
google tells you when peeping toms spy on your phone (using rainbow ‘vomit’!)

Google has claimed to have invented a system that tells you when nosey parkers are looking over your shoulder at your phone. Powered by machine learning, it uses a phone’s front-facing camera to pick out faces that don’t belong to the owner. Its creators, Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff, say it can protect you “from onlookers in a crowded space such as the subway or an elevator”. In a video they published on YouTube (www.snipca.com/26380), the camera on a Google Pixel phone detects the stranger’s face, then frames it inside a red box (see screenshot). It also adds rainbow ‘vomit’, which is a popular special effect in online videos. The researchers, who call the feature an ‘electronic screen protector’, claim it works in many different lighting conditions and with several…

2 min.
in brief

OFFICE APPS COME TO CHROMEBOOKS Microsoft has released its Office apps on Chromebooks (laptops that use the Chrome OS operating system rather than Windows). They are free on Chromebooks with a 10.1in screen or smaller. On larger devices, you’ll need to pay for an Office 365 subscription (from £5.99 a month) in order to edit documents. The apps are available now on Google’s Play Store: www.snipca.com/26402. 300 DRIVERS BANNED FOR PHONE USE Nearly 300 drivers were banned for using mobile phones between March and August this year after tougher laws were introduced. These doubled the punishment to six penalty points, which is enough to disqualify motorists with less than two years’ experience. According to figures released by the DVLA, 15,752 drivers in total received six penalty points for using a phone between March…