Wednesday, 27 August 2014

BT to increase phone bills - another reason to change your phone provider?

BT made a shocking announcement over the weekend that they will be increasing phone bills by 6.5%  from December this year with broadband prices increasing by up to 6.49%. 

This means that line rental for direct debit customers will be £16.99 per month and the rate for calling UK landlines will increase by 6.44%. A massive increase over the current rate of inflation at 1.6%.

BT are however ensuring that less well off customers are not affected by leaving BT basic at £5.10 per month. 

Sky are also due to increase some of their tariffs from September this year.

There are plenty of providers out there who are NOT increasing their fees and who do not tie you into long contracts.  The best providers only work on a 30 day rolling contract, so you are free to move if their service is not up to scratch.

With this in mind we wanted to point out just how easy it is to move phone line and broadband to another provider, but first:-
  • Shop around before committing yourself
  • Ensure you are not trapped into a lengthy contract
  • Make sure you find a provider who has a great service record and are even personally recommended to you by another customer
  • Check to see if you will incur any penalties with your current provider for early termination
Then to shift your broad band-
  1. Ask your current provider for your MAC (migration access code) 
  2. Give this to your new provider
  3. The transfer should take approximately five days
  4. Sit back and enjoy the  savings!
To move your land line-

  1. Simply ask your new provider to move the line. You will need to give them your name, address and current telephone number.  You may be asked for a copy of your latest telephone bill
  2. This should take approximately 10 days.
  3. Sit back and enjoy the savings!

Monday, 18 August 2014

So you think your broadband is slow?

It seems that  the 512K bug may well cause data disruption over the next few weeks.  Interesting information provided by Omar Santos from Cisco regarding  internet growing pains.

Apparently the amount of entries on the global routing table have exceeded 524,000 entries.  This means there could well  be problems with routers that hit their  memory limit causing them to crash, lose data or slow down, resulting in slow or non existing internet.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

How secure is your password?

Did the recent news about the Russian crime ring stealing 1.2 billion usernames and passwords leave you with an uncomfortable feeling?

I am sure an instant reaction would be to change all passwords used for online shopping sites and if you do, here are some tips to help you create much more robust passwords for the future.
  • Avoid using obvious ones such as “Password” and “000000” or “1,2,3,4,5,6,”. You would be amazed just how many people rely on these standard passwords!
  • Don’t use words that can be guessed easily i.e. your own name, or family member names, pet names, parts of your address or birthdates as these can easily be looked up.
  • Best to make your passwords long and use a combination of letters and numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols. However some websites have a limit on the number of characters, so if this is the case, make them as complex as possible.
  • Use symbols or numbers instead of letters i.e $ instead of S, 0 instead of o, 3 instead of E.
  • Also good to think of a phrase such as “you get what you pay for” and take the first letter of each word YgWyP4!
  • Choose a word and add numbers i.e. COMPUTER = C12O34M56P78T9ER
  • Never use the same password for several sites. Okay I hear you say, but how do I remember them all??? Easy. A good solution is to download some encryption software such as KeePass. I am a great fan. Not only is this a totally free open source (OSI certified) password manager, but you can put all your passwords in one database which is locked with one master key. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure algorithms currently known.
Check out the link above and read the features page - well worth it!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Free Wi-Fi - but it'll cost you your privacy!

At Merlin Telecom, we aim to share the very latest developments in telecoms industry updates with you - to protect your business, help improve your efficiency and also make you aware of risks that might not be widely shared.

The following article references a recent post by Naked Security about the commercial benefits of providers putting free WiFi in place, but it also raises a key issue of what you have to give in order to get it. It truly seems that “nothing is for free”!

The UK city of York is currently rolling out, citywide, the sweet, sweet candy of free Wi-Fi.

All you have to do to get it is to roll over and expose your personal data.

Roy Grant, CIO for the City of York Council, told the BBC that the free service has already enabled his team to ascertain such choice data nuggets as:
  • Who's using the Wi-Fi;
  • Where they're coming from, in terms of origin; and
  • Where they're going.
Businesses are already getting a better insight into footfall, he said - as in, how much time they spend browsing certain products and where do you go for your lunch or stop for a coffee?

How does it work? Well, your mobile device carries a MAC addresses - or Media Access Control address, which is unique and connects you to networks. They can be altered via software, but generally they're not and are stable enough to be considered as a permanent ID that lasts for the lifetime of the device.

When your phone has Wi-Fi switched on, it will search for Wi-Fi networks: a process that involves sending a wireless broadcast that includes the device's MAC address.

This all happens even if you don't actually join a WiFi network.

The collection of anonymous data through MAC addresses is legal in the UK, though it exists in a grey area.

That's because the UK and the EU have strict laws about mining personal data using cookies - small bits of data sent from a website that can be used to uniquely identify people and then monitor their behaviour across different websites.

Under UK and EU law, companies that want to use cookies to track us in the virtual world must gain our consent to do so. However, no such consent is required by UK and EU law to track us in the real world using our devices' MAC addresses.

As far as the US goes, October 2013 saw the emergence of a "code of conduct" (PDF) for mobile marketing firms which they themselves agreed to (note, however, that the retailers who want to use data for marketing purposes didn't actually show up at the code's unveiling).

The code of conduct stipulates that shoppers should clearly know when they're being tracked through their phones in stores and will receive instructions for opting out.

If you don't want to share that data - either by opting in to the free Wi-Fi or having it sucked out of your phone as you wander by - here are some privacy tips shared by Naked Security.

Wi-Fi privacy tips:
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you're not using it. You can also use "flight mode" (although you won't be able to receive calls in flight mode).
  • Apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram use geo-tagging. Turn geo-tagging off if you don't want to give away your location.
  • Don't accept prompts to remember Wi-Fi networks - if you automatically connect to networks, you could leave yourself vulnerable to Wi-Fi sniffers, including marketing location analytics firms but also spies or criminals, who can see who you are and track you. An attacker could also create a network with the same name and use it to launch a Man-in-the-Middle attack.
  • Encrypt your devices and data. You should always use a VPN (virtual private network) for a secure connection when you sign on to an open Wi-Fi network.
  • Make sure you're using WPA2 encryption on your wireless networks. Don't use the outdated WEP or WPA encryption protocols.
  • Download the free Sophos UTM Home Edition. It comes with a VPN for both iOS and Android.
If you have any concerns or would like guidance on how best to manage your data security, mobile telephony and business telecommunications, you can call us on 0800 877 8810 or email us via We’re here to help you get the best service, with the best support and the best value.