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Google Criticised for Spy Apps

Researchers say that Google is ‘cashing in’ by offering spy apps that help stalkers keep track of a victim via their smartphone.

According to a report in The Times, there are more than 3,000 spy apps in Google’s Play Store with subscriptions of up to £30 a month for installing the technology on a target phone.

Google takes between 15% and 30% on all purchases made in Play Store.

The apps reveal the phone’s GPS location, the call logs, text messages and give access to its microphone and camera.

Researchers in the US reveal there are 3,450 apps that are capable of tracking the user’s movements with 500 apps available on Apple’s App Store.

Since the research was published, Google has now stopped adverts appearing when searches for abuse-related terms are carried out and it’s removed a number of apps for violating its policies.

Researchers say there are still nearly 3,500 apps capable of spying that remain.

Football fans warned over World Cup cyber security

With the World Cup starting in Russia, football fans are being warned about their use of public and hotel Wi-Fi and consider how they secure their personal data.

The National Cyber Security Centre says football fans should keep their smartphones on them at all times with fears that Russian agencies may try to access personal data or carry out a cyber-attack.

In a blog, the NCSA says that anti-virus software and all apps should be up-to-date and backed up before heading for the football tournament.

They say that devices should always be protected with passwords and for important accounts have two step of authentication enabled.

Phone-to-phone AR to debut

Industry watchers say that Apple is about to debut the tools that will enable two iPhone users to share augmented reality while limiting the amount of personal data being sent to servers.

Using similar technology to that used in Pokemon Go, the augmented reality would enable the viewer to see a virtual structure being superimposed on their surroundings on a smartphone and other devices.

The market could become big business and Apple last year released tools that enable software developers to create AR apps.

In other mobile phone app news …

Public Health England has launched a new Active 10 app aimed at encouraging adults to become more active. The app encourages users to build a 10 minute brisk walk into their daily routine.

Research from consumer magazine Which? found that Internet connected appliances are collecting huge amounts of data worth a fortune to corporations who are surveilling people in their home. Most of the devices using apps ask for permission to access other items including photos and cameras with questions over some including a smartwatch that wanted to reboot a user’s phone and a vacuum cleaner that wanted to record audio on the user’s smartphone.

Researchers in Australia are calling into question the effectiveness of health apps currently available and point to one Swedish government app that was created to curb drinking among young people but led to them drinking more. The researchers from Queensland’s Bond University found that only one app worked – it’s called Get Happy.

Brits are being urged to tackle the slave trade when they visit a car hand wash by using a free mobile phone app if they have any fears for those working there. The app has been launched by the Catholic Church and the Church of England.

Warning Over Apps Leaking Personal Data

Internet security firm Kaspersky is warning that nearly four million smartphone apps are leaking sensitive data about the app’s user.

The data being lost includes phone numbers and email addresses which is being transmitted unencrypted over the HTTP protocol.

This was, researchers say, instead of using HTTPS, a more secure way for data communication.

The firm says that careless design means that a user’s data can be easily intercepted.

In the worst case scenario, they say this data could be used for blackmail purposes.

More Windows phone apps killed off

Microsoft has revealed that more apps for its Windows phone are to be killed off.

From May, support for Teams, Yammer and Skype for B usiness will be dropped.

Users have been told that they have a month to find alternative apps or use the functions using a web browser.

Yammer will still be available as an app for Android and iOS phones and the firm says it will still continue investing in Skype for Business as well as Microsoft teams.

Phones and apps are crucial for British job hunters

Nearly 90% of jobseekers in the UK looking for new jobs believe that their smart phone is crucial in the jobhunting process.

Research from Textlocal reveals that 89% of those questioned agreed with this sentiment and the firm says there’s been a 55% rise in people opting into recruitment communications.

The firm says that 45% of jobseekers are looking for new jobs on their mobile phones every day and 59% of those questioned us saving a potential job to apply for later.

Crypto crackdown questioned

Researchers say that despite Google’s best efforts to prevent any crypto currency apps being available on Play Store, there are still lots of these apps available.

TheNextWeb says that even after Google took action recently to clamp down on crypto currency apps, many are still available.

The research also highlight that there was a malicious app available, it mimics MyEtherWallet, and it received 500 downloads before Google took the app down.

As part of their research, the firm says that across the mobile phone app sector they uncovered 661 malicious apps and most of these appeared on Google play.

In other mobile phone app news …

Over the past year, around half of adults in the US have increased their use of mobile banking apps with one in three using their banking app more than any other app on their phone, a survey has revealed.

Swiss drugs firm Novartis has unveiled a mobile phone app that will collect data from those taking part in eye disease studies. The ‘FocalView’ app has been put together using Apple’s ResearchKit and will enable researchers to track eye disease progression from patients without them needing to visit a doctor.

The new Gmail app will feature the ‘snooze’ button, says Google. The function will resend emails when the user chooses – or when they can deal with the emails properly.

Research from Ofcom has revealed that nine in 10 Brits believe that using the Internet has more benefits than risks but nearly all are turned off by digital advertising. The average time spent online is 24 hours a week which has doubled from what it was 10 years ago. The research also highlights that using apps and smartphones is an important part of this growing popularity, with 74% of those aged under 24 saying they could not live without their phone.

Google Rolls-out New Chat Messenger

Google has revealed that it has begun the global roll-out of a new Chat messaging service which they have designed to replace text messaging on Android phones.

The firm has also revealed that it is pausing development of its Allo app.

The Chat messaging service will have features including group text, read receipts and videos, currently not available with text messaging.

The new service will eventually be integrated as the default messaging app for Android.

However, it still needs mobile phone operators to enable the service and it will not offer encrypted messages.

The Chat messenger is the latest after several failed attempts by Google to create a feature-rich mobile messaging app but these have, so far, failed to attract a large audience.

TaskRabbit app hit by ‘cyber security incident’

The popular app which helps people find a handyman for hire, called TaskRabbit, has been taken down after a ‘cyber security incident’.

Professionals and customers alike have been left in the lurch after those behind the app said they are working with police and IT experts to work out what has happened.

Now, app users cannot access their account and service professionals cannot be contacted.

The app works in four locations in the UK: Manchester, London, Birmingham and Bristol, but there is no indication of how many customers or service providers have been affected.

Also, there’s no indication of what information may have been breached in the incident – though users are being warned to change passwords on other accounts.

The TaskRabbit website has also been taken down and the California-based company, which is owned by IKEA, says it’s working hard to resolve the problem.

Netflix launches mobile previews on iPhone

Netflix has revealed that iPhone users can watch previews of its shows and the app will soon be available for Android phones as well.

The mobile previews are available to boost the video browsing experience on mobile phones and users simply use a slideshow and swipe to find the preview they want to see.

The previews load quickly and have been personalised to the user’s own tastes, Netflix says.

New Smart Pension app is a ‘game changer’

Smart Pension, a workplace pension platform, says it is launching an app that will prove to be a ‘game changer’ and transform the way a new generation saves for a pension.

The app enables users to track in real time their pension balance from their phone and then encourages dynamic engagement so they can opt for self-selecting their own funds and increasing contribution levels.

The app will replace paper annual reports and there’s a planned daily video along with animated financial illustrations and talking avatars.

The firm’s co-founder Will Wynne said: “The young organise their lives around their phones and have high expectations of how transparent and intuitive their mobile interaction is, particularly for their money.”

In other mobile phone app news …

A drug dealer is the first to be convicted after an image he sent of himself holding ecstasy tablets on WhatsApp led to his identification through a pioneering fingerprint identification technique by South Wales police.

The winners of a competition to design technology that would rectify a social challenge saw students from Worcestershire’s Bishop Perowne College winning for an antitheft bike app they developed.

An Australian tech firm has launched a legal action in the UK accusing Google of abusing its dominant position. The firm, Unlockd, rewards customers for watching adverts on a smartphone but Google is seeking to cut the advertising content to the app.

Facebook Unveils Terms Revamp

Facebook has unveiled a number of changes to its terms of service, including those that cover using its apps, in a bid to make its data policies clearer.

The firm also urges users to check regularly for updates.

The social network has enjoyed a torrid time in recent weeks with revelations that huge numbers of its users’ personal data was being harvested by app developers and the firm itself.

The data policy changes also extend to Instagram and Messenger with Facebook saying that these terms will make clear that it will personalise the service it offers to users by using the choices, connections and settings that the user’s select.

Skyscanner app expands in UK

Skyscanner has unveiled that its iPhone app users are now not just able to access flights and hotel booking information but they can buy cheap rail tickets in the UK.

The firm’s mobile apps have been downloaded by more than 70 million users and these mobile devices account for 60% of the firm’s traffic. The new offering is only available in the UK currently.

Skyscanner says as an Android phone app is still in development.

Parents warned over dangerous apps for children

Parents are being warned that there are 10 potentially dangerous mobile phone apps being used by children and they should ensure their offspring stay safe.

The warning comes amid growing fears that youngsters are being exposed to danger online and several regional newspapers have been highlighting the work of a US-based blogger.

In their research, it’s claimed that there are some apps that are ‘off-limits’ and parents should ensure that their child has not downloaded them.

The first is a calculator app and while it looks like a calculator, it’s really a secret photo vault.

This means a user can hide private videos and photos in plain sight with the app is also able to store private notes and surf with a private browser.

The Omegle app has also been highlighted since this gives children a chance to chat online to strangers and Yubo (formerly Yellow) which enables youngsters to swap photos and text with a stranger nearby.

Other apps highlighted include Ask.fm, Whisper, Burnbook, Hot or Not, Wishbone and Kik Messenger.

Checkout-less shopping app being developed

Sainsbury’s has revealed that it is developing an app for mobile phones to enable customers to pay without using the checkout.

The app follows in the steps of the Amazon Go stores in Seattle and other apps are also being developed by Budgens and the Co-op in the UK.

Now, an in-house team at Sainsbury’s is looking to deliver a faster and seamless shopping experience without the need to queue at checkouts.

It has already been trialled at the supermarket’s store at London Euston station for meal deal offers.

Meanwhile, queue management systems firm, Qmatic, has unveiled an app that enables shoppers to join a vertical queue while they are shopping without having to stand with other shoppers physically.

The customer uses an app to scan a QR code and they select a service from a menu including the option of virtually queueing.

In other mobile phone app news …

Growing numbers of teachers say that mobile phones should be banned in school since pupils are using apps to take upskirt and down blouse shots to publish on social media websites. Some teachers have also had images posted on YouTube. One union says that teachers have been targeted on Facebook while others have had to endure threats online.

The popular battle shooter game Fortnite is now available on the iOS app store. However, the app is only available for those phones that aren’t older than the iPhone SE or 6S.

Popular dating app Grindr has hit the headlines after it was revealed that the app was sharing its users HIV status with outside companies. The firm says ‘these are standard practices’ for the mobile app ecosystem and no information is being sold.

Facebook Faces Lawsuit Over its Messenger App

Three Facebook Messenger app users have launched a lawsuit against the online giant over privacy concerns.

They claim that the social network violated their privacy by compiling phone call logs and their text messages.

The lawsuit follows Facebook’s acknowledgement that it has been accessing text and call logs from Android phones since 2015.

The firm says that only those users who gave permissions have been affected and it did not collect the contents of calls or messages and users can opt of data collection.

Meanwhile, while giving evidence to MPs, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie claimed that Facebook is using user’s mobile phone microphones to listen to their user’s conversations and tailor adverts to their needs when using the firm’s apps.

BBC announces an app to capture children’s audience

The BBC has responded to growing on-demand viewing habits by unveiling an app aimed at children.

The broadcaster says it is currently running the risk of ‘being overtaken by competitors’.

In its latest Annual Plan, it says that 82% of children are going to YouTube to enjoy on-demand content, around 50% head to Netflix and 29% use the BBC iPlayer.

Now, the BBC is launching an app aimed at 6 to 12-year-olds to provide a ‘daily diet of funny, inspiring and fascinating facts’.

The app will also help users build social communities around their passions.

In research, it’s been revealed that children aged between 5 to 15 are spending more time online than they do watching TV; it is 15 hours 18 minutes for online viewing and 14 hours for TV. Also, 43% of those aged between 12 and 15 are using their mobile phone for watching TV.

Mobile phone app only bank moves into business

The award winning Starling Bank is the first UK licensed mobile only bank to unveil a business account for entrepreneurs and small firms.

The app is easy to use and enables small business owners to open their account in under 10 minutes, direct from their mobile phone.

The bank account carries no fees for running the account and there are no fees for making payments or withdrawing cash.

The bank says customers can manage their bank account from their mobile phone and can pay suppliers, including international payments, directly from the app.

In other mobile phone app news …

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of spying on millions of voters using a mobile phone app that was downloaded more than 5 million times. The app apparently sent user’s personal data to third-party websites without permission.

Traders in the Shropshire town of Bridgnorth are using their WhatsApp messaging app to fight against a wave of shoplifting by communicating effectively between businesses warning them of shoplifters.

The TPS Protect app, launched last August, has been updated to help users block unwanted scam and nuisance calls – and now it helps protects against those selling cryptocurrency investments.

New AR Apps and Games Unveiled

Google has unveiled a raft of new augmented reality apps and games for Android phones.

The tech giant has unveiled more than 60 ARCore apps that are now available in its Play Store.

ARCore is the platform that enables app developers to create augmented reality experiences for Android smartphones.

Essentially, by using the phone’s camera, and app will track the user’s position in real time and place them into digitally rendered worlds.

This week has also seen Google unveil its Instant Apps to attract game developers to use will allow its services.

Google Play Instant allows a game demo to be played on an Android device by simply clicking a link rather than the user installing a full game.

Google is also highlighting improvements to its gamepad ecosystem and an improved way to create multiplayer game servers.

Security flaw discovered in Siri

A serious security flaw has been discovered in Siri which means it can read out private notifications even when the phone is locked.

Apple says it is working on an iPhone fix for the phone’s next software update.

While Siri will not read out notifications on iMessage, the flaw means that messages received via Signal, Slack and Facebook Messenger could be.

Wagamama’s launches tasty app

The world’s first Uber-style bill free app has been launched by Wagamama and diners will save around 12 minutes on every visit.

The restaurant app allows diners to order and pay automatically without having to deal with a waiter.

The restaurant chain says its app is the first ‘frictionless payment app’ in the world.

The new system is about to go live in all of their 129 restaurants.

Details of new EU immigration app revealed

With 3.7 million EU citizens, along with their non-EU partners, needing to apply for ‘settled status’ when the UK leaves the European Union next year will see a new app being created.

The Home Office has unveiled plans for the app to make the process easy since they will need to deal with 5,000 people every day over two years.

The aim is to create a hassle-free and simple system for those who want to remain in the UK.

The Home Office is now consulting widely to design a system that will help people pass the settled status test rather than rejecting them.

Behind the app will be a complex, interlinked database which will link the applicant’s submission to evidence of their current presence in the country.

In other mobile phone app news …

Small firms wanting a digest of lots of data could use a new app called Ikoolo which brings together sales software, invoice and social media. It has been launched by a British entrepreneur.

Researchers have launched an app to help farmers in Africa combat the spread of a maize-eating pest, funded by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation.

A new mobile app from developers at the University of Turku in Finland will help smartphone users monitor their risk of suffering with a stroke.

After an update, Google Lens is now available on iOS. The app is a visual search engine and will provide information about a landmark or artwork when pointed at it. Also, Google’s Files Go app has had a search bar added.

Vodafone has unveiled an app called Get the Flow which helps those who suffer with stuttering deal with it with a rap. It’s available in the Netherlands and uses well-known Dutch rappers to help children who stutter practice with others to help boost their confidence.

Fears That Malware is Preloaded on Phones

Security experts have raised fears that some popular Android smartphones have malware preloaded on them.

The warning comes from Check Point who say that RottenSys is disguised as a tool to help users manage their wifi connections.

They say the ‘aggressive’ type of malware has infected nearly five million devices.

The malware asks for sensitive permissions and has entered devices from the supplier chain.

The phones infected have been made by Samsung, Honor, Huawei and Vivo, among others.

Checkpoint says that RottenSys is an aggressive ad network which has, over a 10-day period, created 13.2 million impressions and nearly 550,000 clicks.

NHS staff disciplined for using apps

It has been revealed that NHS staff have been disciplined because they have been relying on various apps to communicate with other staff members and also patients.

Among the apps being used include Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Apparently, around one in 50 of the NHS personnel who have been disciplined have been for issues including confidentiality threats and malicious uses.

However, around 43% of NHS staff say they rely on instant messaging apps while at work.

In a report, the staff are using consumer apps to communicate and for those staff aged between 18 and 24, the usage of apps to communicate was greatest.

Those who admitted to using communication apps said they did so because the NHS channels provided were unsatisfactory and patient care has not suffered.

One in four Americans are ‘online constantly’

Research has revealed that more than a quarter of Americans admit to being almost ‘constantly online’.

The Pew Research Center says numbers have risen since 2015 by 4%.

However, internet habits are affected by age, race and income level and only 11% of Americans say they never go online.

Of those going online most often, their use of apps is a major attraction, say researchers.

Co-op rolls out payment app technology

While tech giants have grabbed the headlines for making paying for groceries easier, for instance Amazon Go’s checkoutless stores, the Co-op has unveiled its own plans.

The six largest supermarket in the UK has launched its Pay in Aisle technology.

The app will enable customers to pay for purchases on their phone without needing to visit the till. The app utilises MasterCard’s secure digital payments platform.

It’s currently under trial in Manchester with a roll-out starting in the summer.

In other mobile phone app news …

It’s likely to be one of the biggest games apps of the year, and Fortnite will, this week, go live on smartphones after its maker Epic Games began sending out invites to players.

The next step for Australia’s Department of Defence after they barred staff from using Chinese-made smartphones is to ban them from using the WeChat app. The move follows a warning to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, from the FBI, over issues of firms that are run by, or are close to, foreign governments.

A security flaw on Facebook Messenger enables fraudsters to exploit the opportunity to impersonate users of the app to target friends and family. While it is possible to use Messenger with just a mobile phone number, users cannot report another person for impersonating them on Facebook and must sign up and do so via their profile. Facebook says it is aware of the issue and is looking to fix it.

A day of silence was ordered in the Indonesian city of Bali where social media was shut down for a day of silence to mark New Year. Phone companies agreed with the request, for the first time, to turn off the island’s mobile internet connection.

Venmo says Millennials are increasingly signing up to their app because they want to watch their money more carefully after experiencing a recession.

A row has broken out in Leeds after it was revealed that motorists are forced to pay more to park if they use an app for doing so. Motorists say they are unhappy given there aren’t enough cash machines available.

‘Faster, Fresher’ Phone Apps With Flutter

Google has released a beta of the tool designed to make programmers’ lives easier when writing apps for iPhones, Android and the tech giant’s new Fuchsia OS.

The firm says its tool will help programmers to easily bridge the divide for iPhones and Android smartphones.

Flutter will now give apps a native look for either of the two platforms, the firm announced this week.

The beta will receive new updates every few weeks so those who contribute to the open source project can complete the final version which has no scheduled release date yet.

Google points out that Flutter could lead to a raft of fresh looking apps as most apps currently use native components including text boxes and buttons styled by the developer to match the core software offering from Google or Apple.

However, the interface widgets on Flutter will enable styling to go in different directions.

Apps continue to dominate ecommerce

A report has revealed that apps for North American retailers have dominated ecommerce transactions in the final quarter of 2017.

The findings from Criteo reveal that 44% of all ecommerce transaction were by retailers’ apps. The mobile web accounted for 23% and desktop users accounted for 33%.

Apps could now, say the firm’s researchers, lead the way for a boom in mobile sales as these have a better conversion rate than the mobile web and desktop.

Malware with potential for blackmail

Malware researchers say that RedDrop has the potential to blackmail smartphone users and also run up big bills on Android phones. The malware can also listen to user’s conversations.

The researchers at Wandera say that once the malware is installed it can collect huge amounts of personal data including files, contacts, photos and live recordings.

The malware also submits expensive text messages to premium services without the victim knowing.

The firm says that there are more than 53 innocent looking apps that are acting as a front-end for the malware and it is one of the most sophisticated yet aimed Android they have ever seen.

Malware thrives as hackers focus on mobile

The use of malicious apps by cyber-criminals has rocketed with growing use of banking apps and other mobile phone apps.

This is despite Google and Apple introducing security patches that have reduced firmware flaws.

Trend Micro say that after hackers successfully targeted enterprise IT systems and also personal desktop last year, they have now modified their malware for infecting modern smartphones.

In their report the firm states that the number of ransomware attacks on mobile phones rocketed from 120,000 in 2016 to nearly 469,000 last year.

In other Miratrix mobile phone app news …

Smartphone users at the Fat Boar pub in Wrexham could earn 25% off their bills by leaving their phone at the door and not using apps while dining so they engage in conversation. More than 92,000 viewers have watched a video that explains the challenge.

The Land Rover Explore is a new Android smartphone that will survive underwater, including salt water, endure vibration and deal with extreme temperatures. It has been developed by the carmaker and Bullitt.

China’s App Economy Surges Ahead

The world’s largest app market is in China with revenues expected to reach $42 billion (£29.9bn) by 2020.

That’s an increase from 2016’s figure of $25 billion (£17.8bn).

The app economy in China also outpaces nearly every other market in terms of consumer spending, the overall time spent on apps and the number of apps being used, says App Annie.

Spending on apps in China has rocketed by 207% in the last two years to reach $33 million (£23.5m).

Also, the average Chinese smartphone user has more than 100 apps on their phone compared with 80 apps, on average, for other smartphone users around the world.

Police trail fingerprint scanner app

West Yorkshire Police has unveiled plans to trial a smartphone fingerprint scanner app.

The force is working with the Home Office on the new system with a rollout of 250 scanners taking place over the coming weeks. Already, 5,500 frontline police officers have access to the smartphone app.

When using the app on their phone and the handheld scanner, officers will be able to check instantly against immigration and criminal fingerprint records.

By the end of this year, it is predicted that another 20 police forces around the UK will also begin trials of the system.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Policing, said: “This is one of a series of systems nationally the Home Office is designing to give police officers information faster than before.

“By removing unnecessary trips to and from police stations, mobile technology will help save valuable time and enable officers to cut crime and keep us safe.”

West Yorkshire Police say that the system will be secure and all fingerprints will be automatically deleted from the officer’s device once the system has checked them.

Payment apps will grow in popularity

The number of payment apps will continue to grow as countries and phone users move towards cashless societies, says one survey.

ForexBonuses says that Sweden, Canada and the UK are the world’s most cashless countries.

Sweden tops the list with 59% of all money transactions being cashless. The country now has 70 million fewer bank notes in circulation than four years ago as a result.

China is also seeing a surge in cashless payments with tech giants introducing apps.

Google unveils chatbot for apps

Google has unveiled a new chatbot that will fool friends into thinking they are communicating with the smartphone owner.

The tool is called ‘Replay’ and will work with a range of popular apps including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter.

The bot will interpret what friends are saying on an app and suggest replies that match the respondent’s usual conversation.

It will also use other data from Google including the user’s daily schedule and location to give any replies a touch of authenticity.

In other Miratrix mobile phone apps news …

Some of the most popular apps are among those guilty of draining batteries for smart phones, says security firm Avast. They point to Facebook, Netflix and Snapchat as being the biggest offenders. However, the two worst offenders are Samsung  apps while Google maps, and WhatsApp also feature in the top 10.

Mobile phone industry watchers are pointing to the remarkable resurgence of Nokia which is seeing sales rocket and has already, in one year, overtaken Sony and looks set to enter the top 10 of the biggest smartphone makers.

Researchers in America have developed a child detecting algorithm which will lock a smartphone when it detects it is being used by a child. The algorithm has been developed by researchers at the University of South Carolina who say there is no need for an activity monitoring app as this will need to be switched on whenever the device is handed to a child.

Smartphone users in the Congo can use an app called ‘Dr Love’ to learn about safe sex. Aimed at younger users, the app will answer a range of questions.

Fitness App Lights Up Military Bases

Security fears have been raised after the Strava fitness app was revealed to ‘light-up’ the running routes used by users on military bases.

Strava has published a heat map that reveals where its users have logged where they are running or cycling.

Now, the data appears to reveal the structure of military bases in many countries including Afghanistan and Syria with soldiers using the app when moving around them.

US military chiefs say they are now examining the heat map for potential security issues.

The app utilises the mobile phone’s GPS to track the user’s exercise activity so they can check on their performance levels and also compare them with others.

There are around 27 million Strava users around the world.

Ransomware attacks rise by 93%

A security report has revealed that incidents of ransomware attacks have rocketed by 93%.

The findings from Malwarebytes, an antivirus offering, says that these attacks will continue to increase.

The firm looked at the activities of hackers last year in their attempts to steal or lock personal data.

The report reveals that hackers are becoming more persistent and are targeting PCs and Macs as well as Android smartphones.

There has been a big rise in ransomware  attacks where the hacker uses a virus to lock a computer or its files and then demands an extortion fee so access can be recovered by the victim.

One incident major incident last year occurred when NHS computers, as part of a worldwide ransomware attack, fell victim to the WannaCry virus.

Of the threats, Malwarebytes reports that adware is responsible for 40% of all the threats detected, an increase of 132% on 2016’s figures.

Young children increasingly own smartphones

A report reveals that around one in five children aged 5 to 6 now owns a mobile phone.

By the time they are seven or eight, this figure jumps to 41% and rises again to 59% for those aged nine and 10, says the Childwise Monitor.

By the time they are 11, 90% of children have a mobile phone.

On average, children are spending around three hours every day using their phone for various activities including messaging, going online and playing games.

Child safety raised over popular app

Parents have been warned to monitor their children’s app activity if they are using the popular smartphone game Roblox which is aimed at young children and dubbed the new Minecraft.

The app is a popular multiplayer game that enables users to design their own games and play different ones and has attracted more than 30 million players aged between eight and 12.

However, there are fears that children are receiving inappropriate messages from strangers online.

Children also report that they have seen naked characters in the game, some doing ‘adult things’, and now parents are being urged by Internet safety groups to check their children’s inbox for messages from strangers.

Questions raised over phone use at petrol stations

With so many warning signs in petrol stations for users not to use their smartphone, questions have been raised over actual safety levels with the unveiling of new apps that enable drivers to pay for their fuel without leaving their car.

The BPme app from BP has been launched this week to following in the steps of Shell’s Fill Up & Go so drivers can pay for fuel without queueing up in the station.

The apps work when the motorist pulls up alongside a pump, logs into their app, confirms the pump number as well as their payment method and the petrol station’s location service will then pinpoint where they are.

The question was raised by The Sun newspaper and the UK Petroleum Industry Association says drivers don’t have to worry about using phones when at a filling station.

They say that phone use should, however, be restricted when refuelling.

The BP app does make clear that users should only use it from inside their car.

In other mobile phone app news …

Apple has revealed that it is bringing iOS apps to Macs this year which have the ability of natively running. This is part of the firm’s project called Marzipan which simplifies the developer tools to enable the porting of apps from iOS to macOS.