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Cloud backup is fine, but it also has several inherent weaknesses. Should an attacker be able to compromise a backup account it is easy enough to wipe out all the backups, or even more if you happen to live in the Apple centric eco-system with remote wipe capability. With the advent of cryptolocker ransomware the issue of good backups becomes even more critical.Maybe seven years is too long to expect software updates to a TV set – but I'm pretty sure that we shouldn't be seeing key apps vanishing from devices within two years, either. And at the very least, I think it's about time that certification schemes or subscription services make clear their commitment to updates.For instance, could Freeview make it a condition of certification that a manufacturer commits to maintaining not just the main set firmware, but the smart services increasingly built in too? Couldn't services like Amazon and Netflix show 'Guaranteed compatible until...' next to each device on their sign up pages?

Should the likes of Freeview mandate support periods, or withhold certification? It might be a bit of a minefield for manufacturers, especially where there's a reliance on third parties like Google and so on. But if Panasonic, Sony, and everyone else had said “We won't include YouTube in our TV unless you guarantee the API will carry on working for five years, because otherwise we can't get certification for the UK,” would the plug have been pulled quite so quickly?As consumers, it seems to me, there's not a lot we can do individually. You might be able to claim a set hasn't been “reasonably durable” in court, but it's not going to be easy to set a precedent. If consumer electronics manufacturers are going to use smart services as one of the selling points of their kit, then they need to be prepared to back those up, and make sure that the service providers are holding up their end of the bargain.Much as consumer entertainment makers may like to wash their hands of this, and say “we're powerless,” I don't think they really are. As far as the punters are concerned, it's the CE companies that have let them down. Those companies need to stand up to Google and Amazon, and point out the damage to their brands caused by early removal of online services. It's not good enough to put a YouTube logo on the box, and then walk away.

Back when smart TVs appeared, some of the people pushing them seemed to have fond ideas that they, not traditional broadcasters, would become a new sort of gatekeeper. They'd not only make money selling us a TV, but by doing deals with people who wanted to their apps and channels to appear on the TV home screen. It was never going to work, not least because none of them really seemed to put their heart into anything beyond the whizzy press launch.So here's an idea for the big consumer electronics companies. Quit with the Smart TV nonsense, and just support casting from tablets and phones. Or perhaps not even that; I'd be happy if my AV receiver included something like Miracast and allowed that to be output via the HDMI port.If you can't give a guarantee of a reasonable duration of support for fancy services built in to a TV, then you should stop including them, as they're no more than a box ticking exercise for the marketing department. Just make a damn good screen, and leave the rest to us. The second issue is that as some have found that cloud backup services promise to protect a user and their data, and tend to wither when accosted by the G-men. Why bother with the expense and complexity of hacking/stealing a user’s laptop if there is a backup copy in the cloud.To counter both scenarios I have a backup routine that isn’t particularly complex but it works for my needs. Firstly, I use SpiderOak for continuous backup of daily work stuff. I control the crypto phrases as a key tenet of SpiderOak’s philosophy if they can’t recover, or reset your password, nor read your files.

This still isn’t enough for me. All that SpiderOak get is a Truecrypt file. This means that should they have to hand over my files (or they are stolen) the perpetrator has to get through two layers of strong encryption. It means that even if SpiderOak doesn’t live up to its promises I have Truecrypt to fall back on.Next, I have an offline weekly backup. I have a regular routine to backup my data to removable hard drives. The external hard drives are also heavily encrypted with Truecrypt. Someone feeling the need to look at my drives won’t get very far. All this means I have several generations of backup both online and offline so I am pretty well insulated against provider data loss, ransomware or just third-party incompetence.In these modern times everyone needs to be careful with passwords. Re-use of passwords can cause a world of hurt. All too often we see that some e-commerce vendor has been compromised. If you re-used the same password, it’s going to be an issue you have to sort out real quick.Also “auto saving” of passwords is also a big mistake. It may well be unpopular but it means that critical passwords aren’t stored on the local device. Password re-use is a potential issue but preventing saving passwords helps ensure security.

In light of the LastPass hack I advocate either using tools such as PassEto, which rather than record information uses a strong but simply implemented crypto system and a unique password for each site.For other things I do keep them in an Excel spreadsheet. That may sound bad but it is placed in an encrypted container that is only decrypted when needed and then the Truecrypt volume is unmounted.The browser is a user’s route into the internet. It is also the route scumware takes to infect PCs and networks. I tend to have one browser for known trusted work related sites (although this isn’t infallible by any means, given that high profile sites can be infected by drive by infections).I have a virtualised Windows 7 machine that I can roll back once I have finished browsing for anything other than the sites I trust explicitly.Without revisiting what has been said many times previously, disabling Java and avoiding plugins as well as sensible defaults goes a long way to preventing browser-related infection. It should go without saying that the browser and OS should be kept up to date with security patches.

Being a bit of a paranoid type I also have two machines. One for business and another for personal use. At the end of the day, it’s about keeping work and home separate. The last thing you want is for your business files to be pilfered or your contacts harvested because you fancied a bit of something interesting and visited the wrong site.These are just the steps I take to prevent any damaging data loss incidents or compromise.Some aspects of security are beyond our control, while the strength of what you can deploy is governed by (almost literally) the law. In this piece I’ve also skirted over the obvious, like not downloading random .exes, crack files while making educated use of firewalls and antivirus software.Also, bear in mind that the number of steps a user or an admin can take before the measures they take become exceptionally disruptive, expensive or both.A former games company executive, who allegedly tried to steal trade secrets from his old bosses and flee to China, has been arrested and charged by the FBI.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) claims Jing Zeng, formerly the director of global infrastructure at Machine Zone, stole confidential information from the games maker, and was set to board a China-bound flight. He was cuffed last week at San Francisco International Airport.Zeng was charged Tuesday with felony theft of trade secrets, a crime carrying maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.Based out of Palo Alto, California, Machine Zone's lone product to date is Game of War: Fire Age. The massively multiplayer online (MMO) strategy game boasts of millions of players worldwide using its Android and iOS apps – but it is perhaps best known for its borderline NSFW web adverts featuring busty supermodel Kate Upton.According to the FBI affidavit [PDF], Zeng worked at Machine Zone from March of 2014 to July of this year, when a failed transfer attempt left him without a position in the company.Toward the end of his tenure and after his termination, the FBI alleges, a disgruntled Zeng downloaded confidential information relating to Game of War's in-app payments system. Among that data was the Tableau database, a collection of strategic data on how players interacted with the game and where they spent money.

Though Zeng had wiped his company laptop, the FBI said he kept Machine Zone's confidential data on three USB drives that were not wiped and, allegedly, were being held by Zeng in hopes of getting a severance agreement signed with Machine Zone. He was arrested while preparing to board his flight and charged with theft of trade secrets.The DoJ said the 42 year-old Zeng has been released on bail, but has been placed on electronic monitoring pending the criminal hearing. Leicestershire – slap-bang in the middle of rural England – has leapfrogged London as the UK’s electronic device-theft capital, according to a comparison of police force stats.A series of FoI (Freedom of Information) requests by ViaSat showed 51 per cent of thefts in Leicestershire were of electronic devices, compared with 27 per cent in London and 19 per cent nationwide.The stats covered reports of the theft of devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets that could store sensitive personal information. Electronic kit accounted for 31 per cent of thefts reported to West Midlands Police.Similar research from last year revealed that London was the undisputed champion of device thefts by number and proportion. ViaSat concludes that other areas of the country outside London are no longer the safe havens they once seemed.

“Whether a corporate smartphone, a personal tablet, or your bank manager’s laptop, there is a huge amount of information stored on electronic devices that can compromise our privacy,” said Chris McIntosh, chief exec of ViaSat UK.“The simple fact is that, for many thieves, the most tempting target isn’t necessarily the device itself, but what it contains," he added. "From access to your bank records, to blackmail, to flat-out identity theft, a lost or stolen device can still damage its owner long after it’s stolen."Combined data from the Metropolitan and City of London police forces showed that thefts of electronic devices had fallen 37 per cent from the number reported last year to the Metropolitan Police alone.Nationwide, there was a 34 per cent fall. This coincided with a drop in the number of thefts in total, which fell by 20 per cent in London and 24 per cent nationwide.McIntosh cautioned: “Two years’ worth of data isn’t yet enough to begin drawing conclusions that our streets are getting safer.”

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