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numbers_circle.gifThe world has always been a dangerous place, even back when the dinosaurs were ruling the roost. However, the internet makes the world about 10x more lethal than it has ever been, no thanks to the likes of hackers, and mainly, fraudsters.

Fraud is on the high here in the UK, proven by research that has found out that British online shoppers have been victims of fraud totalling £1.5bn in the past twelve months - and sadly, it doesn't look like anything is going to change anytime soon.

This research has been conducted by Barclays and Kaspersky Lab, who also found out that more than four million people here in the UK have fallen into the cruel hands of fraudsters since last December, with an average personal loss of £371 per incident. This is a lot of money to lose, and Cyber Monday as they now call it (December 2nd), could be a field day for online criminals, as 33.6 million people are predicted to start planning and purchasing their Christmas gifts on this date.

Whilst online shopping is now seen as a huge part of British culture, where people are expected to be cautious of the dark side of the net, there are still plenty naïve consumers who could be at risk of being conned, with over a quarter (27 per cent) admitting that they don't take enough care online.

And to prevent the festive period from being an unhappy time, Barclays and Kaspersky Lab are urging the nation to be careful when purchasing online and to pay greater attention to their internet security.

Alex Grant, Managing Director, Fraud Prevention at Barclays, said: "As the number of people shopping online is set to peak this Monday - with 33.6 million of us planning to do our shopping on the web this Christmas - cyber-criminals will have a field day if precautions aren't taken. Our research has shown that internet shoppers will be faced with a high level of threat to their personal and

Barclays are taking the whole sentiment to the next level by offering up the award-winning Kaspersky Internet Security Suite, Kaspersky Mobile Security Suite and Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac free of charge to all its Online and Mobile Banking customers.

Top tips on how to protect yourself whilst shopping online this festive season:

1. Keep contact details up to date: ensure your bank has up-to-date mobile/telephone contact numbers for you so they can speak to you if they spot unusual or suspicious activity on your account.

2. Get up to date security software: make sure your computer and your web-enabled phone are protected with up-to-date internet security software.

3. Look for the 'S': only ever access your internet banking or shopping sites by typing the address into your browser - never go to a website from a link in an email and then enter personal details. Always ensure when transacting online that the URL starts HTTPS rather than HTTP, or has the gold padlock icon, and use only official apps for mobile banking.

4. Treat all unsolicited emails with caution: don't click on links or open attachments in emails you weren't expecting or are not sure about.

5. Use strong passwords: passwords should have a mix of letters (upper and lower case) numbers and symbols -avoid obvious things like your name, birthday or phone number that others can guess.

6. Be cautious with online auctions: for higher value items, such as cars and other vehicles, try to see the items before sending any money and always use the insured methods of payment for the internet site rather than direct payments to a seller. Log out after shopping and save the confirmation email as a record of your purchase, and make sure you have registered your cards with Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode.

magnifying-glass.jpgWe always come across really worrying software and apps designed to help suspicious - and sometimes just actually mental - people stalk their boyfriends and girlfriends and wives and husbands. However, a case over in the US has got people talking because a college student has been granted a civil stalking order against her parents for installing software on her phone and computer so they can keep a close eye on her while she's away from home.

Aubrey Ireland's over-protective parents were worried about her behaviour at college so decided to install software on her mobile phone that would provide them with details about incoming calls and on her laptop that would save Facebook messages and browsing history. Everything then got even weirder when her parents insisted she leave Skype on all night so they could watch her sleep and Aubrey decided to take legal action, which means her parents can't see her until she's back from college and if they attempt to turn up or do anything else with her gadgets they could face criminal charges.

Although it certainly seems like there are a few other more complicated factors at play here - Digital Trends hints at her parents having some serious issues - it's still an interesting case, which could certainly set a precedent for future invasions of privacy, regardless of who you are, who you've been stalking and whether you gave birth to them or not.

[Via Digital Trends Image via Okko PyykA's Flickr]

facebook-makes-you-fat.jpgFacebook's regularly blamed for everything, from making us thicker to breaking up marriages and relationship left, right and centre. But today a new study reveals that it could be making us fat and spend too much as well. Great news.

According to The Telegraph today, interacting with close friends on social networking sites raises your confidence, which then reduces the power of self control and makes you more likely to grab that chocolate bar or splurge on stuff you don't need.

The research comes from a wider study from researchers at Columbia and Pittsburgh Universities, which aims to illustrate the significant effect social networking sites can have on society as a whole. The researchers carried out a series of tests and found that the raising of self esteem by chatting to friends appears to correlate with bad behaviour:

"Using online social networks can have a positive effect on self-esteem and well-being. However, these increased feelings of self-worth can have a detrimental effect on behaviour.

"Because consumers care about the image they present to close friends, social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem leads them to display less self-control."

The research itself seems a bit far-fetched and it's very different to past studies we've come across, which actually suggest that more time on social networks decreases our self esteem. However, the researchers are keen to point out that their studies are focused on "strong ties" with close friends and we'd still bet that interacting with people you don't know so well and "stalking" photos can still make you feel a bit rubbish after a while, because you'll start craving more meaningful interactions. But hey, at least you won't be fat and blow all of your money that way.

[Via Telegraph Image via Deneyterrio's Flickr]

christmas-tree-presents.jpgIt seems we've become a nation of gadget geeks this year as a study into what we're all wishing for this Christmas has found most of us have our fingers crossed for a shiny new piece of tech.

The research, commissioned by www.MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, polled a total of 2,108 adults from around the UK and found that shiny gadgets account for eight of the top ten most desirable things this year.

In at the top spot is the tablet computer (18%) followed by a laptop (15%) and an eReader (12%). When asked why they were so tech-obsessed this year most responded by saying everything's just too pricey to afford by themselves, so they expect other people to fork out for them to stay ahead of the trend. AWH. However, 31% did admit they were spending a lot on loved ones this year and would splurge on something big too.

It's hardly a surprise that the tablet computer tops the list, but if there was ever any doubt that Apple is still as popular as ever, well over half waiting for a tablet said they were specifically expecting an iPad or iPad Mini underneath the tree.

[Image via Alan Cleaver's Flickr]

circle_bird copy.jpgSingle guys and girls no longer meet through friends, dating sites or (god forbid) in real life, but spend most of their time finding new people, flirting and being dirtbags on Twitter, according to a new study.

The research, commissioned by discount website VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, found that out of 1,267 active and single Twitter users more than 45% admitted to using the micro-blogging platform as a way to date and flirt their geeky little asses of.

The study then delved deeper into this Twitter flirting activity (we're gonna coin it flittering, if that's OK?) and found that 66% of those who flitter do so with people they already know, but a bold (read:dirtbag) 24% reached out to those they didn't know and an embarrassing 27% even admitted to sending something a bit naughty to celebrities. Really? REALLY?

As you'd expect most of this flirting takes place in the filthy underbelly of Twitter, known officially as Direct Messaging, with 83% admitting they'd flittered privately. Out of those dirty little DMers 56% said they'd sent sexually explicit messages and hilariously 14% admitted to accidentally sending a public @ mention instead (LOLZ).

We can't say we're shocked by the stats, but do think this proves just how important it is to keep your password private and of course get out once in a while too...

The study was carried out by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk and polled 1,267 active Twitter users from across the UK.

Related: SEXTING: Are we all careless, cheating mobile phone flirts?

crazy-computer-woman.jpgYeah we know, we know, we're a bit sick of the endless Facebook research that proves absolutely nothing too. But this one is quite interesting. And by interesting we mean you should read it before you get even more social media overload and your head explodes.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh Business School have found that the more friends you have on Facebook from different areas of your life, the more stressed out you get about pretty much everything.

The study took an in-depth look at the way 300 people use the social network and found that many of us have seven distinct social circles online, including friends known offline, extended family, colleagues, siblings, friends of friends, exes and current squeezes.

However the stress comes when users post content that they think is acceptable to one group of friends and not another, with many choosing to share statuses, links and photos regardless but then worry they've done the wrong thing or others just don't share as much anymore because they feel like they're walking on eggshells.

Ben Marder, one of the researchers from the University of Edinburgh behind the report, said:

"Facebook used to be like a great party for all your friends where you can dance, drink, and flirt. But now with your mum, dad, and boss there, the party becomes an anxious event full of potential social landmines."

Of course none of this is really that surprising, but does prove why Facebook lists and groups exist and why Google+ created those silly bouncing circles. We imagine it'll be an increasing challenge in the future for various platforms to make sharing with different social groups even easier and more intuitive. Facebook has clearly added a lot of new features for that exact purpose, by automatically grouping people together and creating a new acquaintances list recently too, but for some people it still seems a bit forced and they'll choose to not update rather than faff around with lists and things.

[Via All Facebook]

sex-phone-kissing.jpegThe media likes us to think that it's only over-sexed teens and Scarlet Johansson who send naughty texts, but according to recent research it's actually the over 40s who are the biggest scumbags when it comes to risque messages, dirty chats and naked photos.

The study, commissioned by MobileInsurance.co.uk, found that 37% of those polled in a recent survey about mobile phone usage admitted to sending sexts regularly (so that's 60% who ACTUALLY do it then, right?).

Although all of the different age groups openly admitted to sexting, it seems out of that 37% most are over 40s and only a small proportion are in the 18 to 25 age group.

The research also revealed that sending filth via your phone isn't always fun and games, as 2% claimed they'd accidentally sent something explicit to the wrong person on one or more occasion and 24% claimed to regret having taken part in sexting activity in the past.

MobileInsurance.co.uk polled 2,491 mobile phone users from around the UK.

Related: SEXTING: Are we all careless, cheating mobile phone flirts?


reading-festival.jpegIf you went to a festival this year and dropped your phone down a toilet, left it somewhere in a beer-fuelled daze or accidentally threw it into the crowds never to be seen again then you may be careless, stupid and a bit of a drunk, but you're definitely not alone, as research has found that more than £130 million pounds worth of mobiles are lost at festivals each year. Ouch.

The study, conducted by mobile network giffgaff, estimated that on average more than 650,000 of us have had phones lost or badly damaged at festivals this year. According to the figures around 27% of those unfortunate revellers not returning home with a mobile simply dropped it at some point, 20% smashed it and 15% had them stolen. So there obviously wasn't a "too drunk to remember" option to tick as part of the survey then...

Those polled were also asked how they tend to use their mobiles when they're at festivals and as well as making calls and sending frantic texts to find out where their mates are, unsurprisingly 18% like to upload photos documenting their drunken antics to social networks, 15% tend to be sensible and download torch and map apps in advance and a crazy 1% said they use their over-priced phones to hammer in tent pegs. We're not sure whether that's really resourceful or the stupidest thing we've ever read.

Related: Lost your phone? NeedNumbers.me gets contacts from Facebook

[Image via free-ers flickr]

sex-phone-kissing.jpgIn a bid to prove just how obsessed we all are about Apple products, new research has found that men would be willing to give up all kinds of things they stereotypically love to get their hands on the latest iPhone a little bit earlier than anyone else, including sex, drinking and coffee.

The survey, commissioned by mobile casino RoxyPalace.com, polled 800 men and found that 22% would happily give up coffee, 14% would stop drinking and 9% would remain celibate for a whole month in order to be the first with an iPhone 5. Of course this is all despite the fact we know very little about what the new handset will be able to do, we guess if it's as much as an anti-climax as the iPhone 4S launch a lot of you would live to regret those sacrifices...

Although these results are clearly an interesting testament to how much we all love Apple's latest gadgets, they also makes us question why gender-based surveys are just so damn predictable. God forbid a man might have other hobbies other than sex and getting drunk and why haven't women been polled too? Last time we checked women liked sex and (shock horror) some even care about mobile phones. We know, we know, CRAZY. But let's for a second just wonder what would happen to the world if women were running around enjoying sex AND giving a shit about technology. Mayhem, that's what.

The study was commissioned by mobile casino RoxyPalace.com and polled 800 people.

Related: iPhone 5 pre-orders kick off on 12 September launch day?

iphone-ipad-gadget.jpegMost of us are well aware that we're too attached to our gadgets, just look at the studies that suggest we check Facebook before we do anything else in the morning, text during sex or sit back and watch the world implode later today if O2 doesn't get its act together.

However, new research shows that our gadget addiction is worse than ever and we only actually spend an average of one hour a day away from tech products. It's hardly surprising and for many of us totally necessary, but isn't it just a little bit worrying at the same time? Or is that just us?

The study, commissioned by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, polled 1,239 people and asked them about their relationship with technology in 2012. Once they'd taken into account all of the gadgets they check, listen to and interact with most found they only spend around 1.2 hours away from any kind of technology.

The top device Brits just can't seem to pull themselves away from are our computers and laptops, with 31% saying they spend most of their time tapping away at their keyboards. The mobile phone came in second place with 19% of our time, followed my tablets, radios and then games consoles.

The respondents were then asked a pretty damn scary question, "how often do you go our without your mobile phone?" and 87% said they would NEVER step outside without it strapped to their hand.

[Image via Yutaka Tsutano's Flickr]

couple-kissing.jpegThe fact many of us share so much of our lives online means break-ups can be pretty confusing, do you delete your ex from all your photos? Do you hide all of those cheesy statuses about how smitten you are? Do you go from "single" to "in a relationship" and force your friends to see the little breaking heart symbol in their news feeds (thanks for that btw Zuckerberg)? OK, so it may be the ultimate in First World Problems, but it's hard to know what to do and the new timeline format makes it easy for anyone and everyone (including potential new love interests) to see all the gory details of your relationship history.

Well it seems that although many of us are quick to try and hide exes from our Facebook profiles, a lot of us will sneakily keep old photos of former partners hidden away, according to a recent study.

The research, commissioned by Friends Reunited (yeah, it's still kicking around), has found that 21.6 million Brits have kept photographs of past flames (we're not sure how the research was conducted to come to that conclusion, mind...). It seems that men are more likely to be harbouring a stash of secret images, with 20% of those polled admitting that they have photos of their ex despite being in a new relationship and they keep quiet because they don't think their new girlfriend would approve, whereas only 9% of women do the same.

The research continues to hate on men, as it suggests 17% feel guilty about keeping photos and that could be because 12% admitted they still have feelings for their old lovers. Ouch. Apparently women claim to keep photos because they don't want to forget part of their lives. Hmm.

Call us scumbags, but we don't see the problem with keeping photos of our exes if it reminds us of good times. However, if they feature heavily in a shrine you've made to them complete with locks of hair and nail clippings then that's when your current partner probably needs to worry...

To be honest we're probably all just reading into these statistics and the fact we have photos of exes will most likely be down to the fact many of us (maybe men more than women) don't clear out things from our computers enough. Simple.

[Image via DavidMartinHunt's Flickr]

blu-ray-disc.jpegBlu-ray discs first became available to the public back in the summer of 2006 and since then they've smugly looked down on us from shop shelves across the country, making us feel poor, inadequate and sad about the fact we just have regular DVD players.

Well it seems we're not the only ones who've had enough of the Blu-ray hype, with the majority of Brits admitting they never buy the discs because they're over-priced and some suggesting they've never even been able to tell the difference between a regular DVD and a Blu-ray one anyway. Ooo BURN.

The study, commissioned by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, polled 1,348 people who have all watched a Blu-ray movie at some point over the past few years. But despite the fact they've watched a Blu-ray disc before, 81% said they don't own one and the ones that do only have an average of three, which is crazily low in comparison to the 70 to 100 regular DVDs the majority of them have.

They were then asked the reasons why they decided not to purchase Blu-ray discs and 53% said that they were too expensive, 39% said that they didn't see any difference at all between Blu-ray and standard DVDs and 62% said they've never been able to afford a device that would allow them to play the discs in the first place.

There's no doubt that Blu-ray discs do trump regular DVD's when it comes to the nitty gritty specifications, especially if you're a fan of HD quality movies and action scenes, but when the prices are so high it's no surprise consumers are willing to settle for the humble little DVD in order to save a few pennies.

[Image via Sean McEntee's Fickr]

woman-on-phone.jpegIf you rely on your phone during a normal working day, you'll probably find yourself constantly checking to see if that important email has arrived, looking up what time your next meeting is and staring blankly at your screen waiting for the call from your boss that you've been dreading.

Due to the fact we can respond to emails, take calls and schedule meetings wherever we are from the palm of our hands, the line between work life and home life has become well and truly blurred. Or just erased completely.

However, if you had to guess how much time you spend on your phone doing work-related things out of standard office hours, how much overtime would you guess you're putting in a year?

Well, a new study from Good Technology aimed to find out just how much extra work we've been doing by obsessively checking our phones and scrolling through emails in our own time and it's three WHOLE weeks a year. Three. Whole. Weeks. We want to know two things, how the hell did we manage that and most importantly, who do we invoice for this time?

As mobile technology provides us with access to our emails wherever we are (kinda), then we can stay connected to our work lives whether we're in the office or the bath, so this is bound to have a big affect on our behaviour and working habits. However, the research from Good Technology also showed us some even more worrying stats, like the fact most of us have checked our emails by 6.51am, 29% of us will continuously check our phones over the dinner table and a third of us admit we respond to work emails from bed. Awh, and they say romance is dead.

So why are we just so obsessively switched on? Well according to the research, a quarter of us want to impress our bosses, half want to make sure they stay organised (these are the types that tweet INBOX ZERO in a really proud way) and over a third feel they wouldn't be doing their job properly if they weren't constantly checking their work emails.

So does this make us productive and dedicated little worker bees or sad zombies who really should have spent that three weeks laughing, travelling or just doing anything else?

[Image via Jenny Bunkers Flickr]

woman-laptop.jpegAh social media, first it's making us more insecure then it's making us more confident, later it's improving our language skills and the next minute it's reducing us all to dumb sub-humans that ONLY TLK LYK DIS. Well now it seems linguistics professors believe all the time young people spend texting one another and updating their Facebook statuses is making them much more aggressive, especially girls.

According to Newser, researchers have found that over the past few years young people have begun to talk in a much more straight forward way online due to the fact they've got limited time and space. Although many of us may see this as normal and would never speak that way in real life, professor Deborah Cameron has suggested this could make people come across as much more aggressive than they actually are.

We can't tell whether we're being scared into believing this is a good thing or a bad thing?!

But don't be offended ladies, it's not that females are becoming much more angry and mean, it's just a more noticeable change because according to Cameron we're just really "innovative" or something:

"Girls are the innovative ones, more than boys are . . . The teenage years are a period of life where you find linguistic innovations of all kinds, and girls are generally ahead of the curve."

[Via Jezebel Via Newser Image Via borderlys' Flickr]

jetski-holiday.jpegHolidays used to be about exploring exciting cultural destinations, swimming in the sea or just drinking far too many margaritas by the pool. But, it seems that when we're on holiday nowadays many of us just can't help boasting about what an incredible time we're having online.

According to the research carried out by T-Mobile, four in ten Brits check Twitter and Facebook and least once a day while they're away and 60% are likely to boast online while they're abroad this summer. Whether they'll be checking in so you know that they're in the south of France and you're in Southend, taking overly posed photos with their tummies sucked in or just writing updates about how intense the sunshine is their boasting is guaranteed to make us feel a little jealous.

Although these stats make us a bit sad (go swim, drink, sunbathe and explore, guys!), they're not at all surprising. However, what we do find interesting is why we feel the need to share our holidays with everyone online. Three in ten of those polled say they would write a boastful holiday status just to make people at home jealous (AWH what lovely friends you are). Six in ten defend their boasting by saying they like to shout about being happy, which is fair enough. However, four in ten say they do it purposefully to wind up specific people and 15% do it to make an ex-partner jealous. Oh my, maybe we should have been spending our pennies on therapy, not a holiday.

Psychologist Jo Hemmings gives us all a bit more credit and suggests updating Facebook while we're away is like "sending a postcard":

"We're not an especially boastful nation - we usually tend to play down our achievements but social networking has enabled us to post updates and photos about what we're up to anywhere in the world. Posting updates on social networking sites, while we're on holiday, is the modern day version of sending a postcard - but of course is much more fun, having a wider audience and a far greater reach."

The study, commissioned by T-Mobile, has been taken to co-incide with the company's newly launched Internet and Broadband Travel Boosters, which you can read more about here.

[Image via MOBFD]


blue-troll.jpgA British woman is set to take legal action against Facebook after online trolls set up a fake account in her name and began sending abusive messages to young girls.

The internet may be full of wonderful and magical things, but unfortunately we know all too well that if you're going to get all of the brilliant stuff you have to expect terrible stuff too, like photos of Justin Bieber and of course trolls. Angry, sad little trolls.

If you've spent a considerable amount of your spare time on the internet, then chances are you'll have come across someone who's being agressive and abusive just for the sake of it, it's mean, sometimes it seems personal, but it happens and we all learn to laugh at those picking fights on the interwebz. However, a British woman who's faced a lot of abuse on Facebook recently has decided that enough is enough.

Nicola Brookes, a 45 year old from Brighton, wrote "Keep your chin up, Frankie, they'll move onto someone else soon" on a Facebook page dedicated to X Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza last year. She then experienced a LOT of abuse from people that weren't so keen on the fluffy-haired teen. She had other users swearing at her and sending her death threats, which is awful but hardly a unique incident online. However, the thing that made Brookes REALLY upset was when some of these trolls set up a fake account in her name and began sending explicit messages to young girls. Too far trolls, TOO FAR.

Now Brookes has decided to do something about it and according to The Telegraph has started proceedings to take action against Facebook in an attempt to force the firm to hand over the names and details of those responsible for creating the fake account.

There's no official word from Facebook about the incident, but The Telegraph did publish this statement from a spokesperson:

"We respond aggressively to reports of potential abuse [...] Reports involving harassment are prioritised, reviewed by a trained team of reviewers and removed if they violate our terms."

We're not sure whether this means Facebook will be dealing with this issue ASAP to avoid repercussions, but either way it seems Brookes won't stop until she finds the identity of those responsible. Maybe she'll go on some Liam Neesom-style rampage across Europe to find them?!

We kind of judge Brookes for writing on Frankie Cocozza's Facebook page, but it's a sad state of affairs if we're all not able to express our opinions online (regardless of who does or doesn't agree with us) without becoming a target for angry trolls who have far too much time on their hands shortly after.

[Via Telegraph Image via Cali4beach's Flickr]

crazy-computer-woman.jpgWe don't need some kind of fancy research to tell us we spend far too much time on Facebook, our incessant checking of the news feed and daily stalking of everyone we've EVER met proves that. But, if you did want to find out whether you're an actual addict, then the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale is here to ensure you lose the will to live in a matter of seconds.

Researchers at the University of Bergen have been spending a lot of time analysing how we use social media and unsurprisingly realised that far too many of us have developed a worrying dependency on Facebook.

According to Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Doctor of Psychology at the university, some of the problems she's encountered are so serious that they'll resemble that of an alcohol, drug or chemical abuse addiction. Ah just what we needed. And, if you're an anxious young woman you're most at risk too, she said:

"It occurs more regularly among younger than older users. We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face.

"Our research also indicates that women are more at risk of developing Facebook addiction, probably due to the social nature of Facebook."

So if you're wondering whether you're a hardcore junkie or just naturally inquisitive (yeah right) there's now a handy scale to show us all how sad we really are, OH GOODIE.

To use it, simply read through the statements and answer (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, or (5) Very often.

You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan use of Facebook.
You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
You use Facebook so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

Despite being fairly basic, the researchers believe that if you answer with 4s or 5s to four or more of the phrases then chances are you've got yourself a pretty hefty addiction right there.

The researchers haven't suggested what we do to battle through our scary addiction right now, or whether it's REALLY that damaging. But, we're intrigued to see whether Facebook Junkies Anonymous meet-ups are scheduled in a village hall near us or (as Jezebel points out) whether someone could actually ever overdose on Facebook. Ouch, death by social media would be the most pathetic way to go, right?!

[Via Jezebel via UIB]

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