Encryption Delayed, Shopping Scams, Smart Device Protection & More



Meta has suspended the introduction of encryption for its Facebook and Instagram apps until 2023.

The tech giant had planned to introduce encryption sooner, but its plans have been delayed following concerns raised by politicians and children’s organisations that the facility would make it harder for child sexual abuse material to be detected.

The encryption facility prevents anyone other than the sender and recipient of a message from viewing it and means police and security services would have to unlock a mobile device before they can access messages.

Writing in the Telegraph Facebook’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, played down the effect that encryption had on tackling online child abuse and other online crimes.

“Our recent review of some historic cases showed that we would still have been able to provide critical information to the authorities, even if those services had been end-to-end encrypted.”

“While no systems are perfect, this shows that we can continue to stop criminals and support law enforcement.”

Head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, Andy Burrows, said Facebook should only proceed with the plans if they can demonstrate children are not at greater risk of child abuse.

“More than 18 months after an NSPCC-led a global coalition of 130 child protection organisations raised the alarm over the danger of end-to-end encryption, Facebook must now show they are serious about the child safety risks and not just playing for time while they weather difficult headlines,” he said.


Online shoppers are at risk of falling victim to Black Friday deal scams with criminals posing as major brands Nike, Playstation and Apple, according to research.

An analysis by London-based cybersecurity firm BrandShield found that there was a surge in domain registrations relating to Playstation and Nike in October to November 2020.

Scammers replicate the domains of major brands with small spelling differences, tricking consumers into thinking they are buying direct from the brands. Social media messages and posts are also tactics used by scammers in an attempt to lure customers to the fake websites.

“We anticipate cybercriminal activity targeting online shoppers to intensify further this year, and we have already begun seeing an uptick of fraudulent product listings and websites,” CEO of Brandshield, Yoav Keren,told the Evening Standard.

Online shopping scams cost shoppers over £15 million in the 2020 Christmas period, according to research by Action Fraud,the UK fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.

The level of fraudulent activity represents an increase of almost two thirds on the previous year, as customers increasingly opt to buy Christmas presents online rather than in-store.

Action Fraud also found evidence that almost £1 million has been lost in lottery fraud in the last 7 months, of which almost half related to impersonations of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

“Remember, you can’t win a draw that you haven’t entered so if you’re contacted out of the blue claiming you’ve won a prize draw but can only access these winnings by paying an advance fee: stop and think as it’s likely to be a scam,” said Temporary Detective Chief Inspector, Craig Mullish, from the City of London Police.  “This could protect you and your money.”


The UK government has introduced new legislation to help protect consumers’ smart devices against threats by hackers.

Dubbed the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, the proposed law covers internet-of-things appliances such as smart TVs, smart speakers and fitness trackers, and aims to penalise manufacturers of the devices with fines of up to £10 million in the event they fail to identify security flaws in their products.

The announcement follows research by Which? that set up and monitored a mock home containing smart devices purchased online.  It found that such homes could be exposed to up to 12,000 hacking or scanning attempts in a single week, with several devices unable to block all the attacks they were exposed to.

“Most of us assume if a product is for sale, it’s safe and secure. Yet many are not, putting too many of us at risk of fraud and theft,” said Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure Julia Lopez.

“Our Bill will put a firewall around everyday tech from phones and thermostats to dishwashers, baby monitors and doorbells, and see huge fines for those who fall foul of tough new security standards.”

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