It’s hard to believe that it’s already December. But if the iTunes App Store is anything to go by, all the Christmas-themed apps can mean only one thing – the holidays are just around the corner. From games and stories for the little ones, to recipe and planning apps for the grown ups, there’s something for everyone, to ensure that this Christmas season is a tasty and fun-filled holiday.

To get you in a festive mood, here’s a list of 10 Christmas themed iPhone and iPad apps and games, available for download for free from the iTunes App Store.


Christmas!! [iTunes link] is an iPhone-specific app with all sorts of goodies packed into one little app. With a Christmas countdown, an Advent Calendar filled with surprises that you can unlock each day, including iPhone wallpapers, jokes and a gift list. The app is the perfect companion to get you into the Christmas spirit as you count down the days to Christmas Eve.

christmas iphone apps

Christmas Tale

An interactive Christmas story for kids of all ages, Christmas Tale is available in both iPad [iTunes link] and iPhone versions [iTunes link]- although it really comes to life on the iPad screen. Have the story read to your kids, or have them read it themselves, while also discovering little gems hidden in the gorgeous pictures on each page of the story from a Christmas wish list to helping Santa get the presents under the tree.

christmas ipad

Amateur Surgeon Christmas Edition

It may not be entirely Christmasy but the developers behind Amateur Surgeon (the $2.99 iPhone game) have, strangely enough, put together a free Christmas edition [iTunes link] of their popular game. Rather than pull out shards of glass and nails from your patients (starting with an elf), how about Christmas lights, candy canes and crackers instead? You might never have imagined a Christmas take on the grizzly game, but they’ve somehow managed it, and are sharing the cheer for free.

christmas ipad

Christmas Sound Shelf Free

Want to get some Christmas sound effects going? The Christmas sound shelf [iTunes link] has a variety of sound effects that you can play against the background of either Jingle Bells or Silent night. From sleigh bells, to a crackling fire, kids will have fun creating all the sounds that come with Christmas. Unfortunately, recording or continuous playback are features that are sorely missing from the free app.

christmas ipad

Christmas Tree Maker

Decorating the Christmas tree is probably one of the main events for kids in any family. Why not let them practice with the iPhone/iPad app, Christmas Tree Maker [iTunes link] which lets them choose the tree, lights, and decorations. When they’re done, they can share the tree with their friends via email.

christmas iphone

Christmas Snow

ChristmasSnow [iTunes link] is another kid-friendly iPhone/iPad app perfect for holidays. Throw snowballs across the screen to uncover where the presents are hidden. The game is simple, and so is suitable for the much younger children in the family.

christmas iphone

Waitrose Christmas

From the UK supermarket chain comes an app, suitable for mum and dad – Waitrose Christmas [iTunes link]. Jampacked with Christmas recipes, tools, planners and gift guides, the app has left no stone unturned. Avoid any disasters in the kitchen this Christmas with their Turkey Timer and Canape Calculator.

christmas iphone

Fuzzle Christmas

Another developer to release a free version of their paid game, Candy Cane are offering Fuzzle Christmas [iTunes link] for free. The free version does have its limitations – not all levels are available – but if you want to keep your kids busy for a bit with the ornament themed game – it will do the trick. Align five ornaments next to each other to make them disappear, while making sure the board doesn’t fill up.

Yummy Christmas

If you want to get your kids involved in Christmas cooking, try some of the easy, child-friendly recipes in the free iPad app, Yummy Christmas [iTunes link]. From pineapple christmas trees to ice cream santas, the recipes are easy and will be lots of fun for the children. A word of warning, you may want to mute the music after a while, as the one song playing over and over could easily grate on your nerves.

Removem Christmas

Removem is yet another iPhone game offering a free Christmas edition [iTunes link], packed with Christmas music and pictures, from snowmen to Christmas tree to ornaments. Play the traditional removem game, removing balls from the screen of the same colour that are side by side. The aim of the game is to clear the screen, or at least get the highest score possible.

christmas iphone apps

Authot:  Nancy Messieh

Source:  http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-free-christmas-iphoneipad-apps-festive-mood

Categorized in Others

Presents under the tree or in the stocking, like health devices, smart watches and virtual reality kits all have huge potential for marketers but could also pose problems

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is warning marketers to fully consider the ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ aspects of the multitude of smart devices that are set to be given as presents this Christmas.

This year’s Black Friday sales indicated that there will be a lot of smart devices making their way down chimneys this Christmas, promising new ways to connect with customers, opening up interesting fresh lines of communication and engagement.

However, the CIM is warning that although new technologies offer exciting new prospects, putting them to use won’t be without its pitfalls. Three key technologies will step into the mainstream this Christmas: health apps and devices, smart watches and Virtual Reality (VR).

These have the potential to be both ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ for marketers, as the CIM explains:

1) Health apps and devices – fitness trackers are hitting the mainstream, with more brands competing to offer a way to track your exercise, diet and more.

Naughty: Brands need to be careful because health apps and devices grant them access to data of a personal nature.

This is potentially incredibly sensitive and every step must be taken to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands and that data is secured appropriately.


It seems not a day goes by without a data breach being reported in the press, and with research showing 57% of consumers do not trust organisations to use their data responsibly, marketers need to ensure they are handling data in a sensible, secure manner.

Nice: However, these can provide a great opportunity for brands, and their partners, to offer incentives or rewards, such as discounts, based on health targets being met.

Some insurers are already using health trackers to encourage people to lower risk by exercising more in exchange for lower premiums and lifestyle rewards.

There is also potential to personalise the customer experience using this type of data, for example using geo-location to target regional consumers.

2) Smart watches – research has shown that more than half of smart watch owners use them every day, so clearly there’s potential for a regular flow of data and interactivity points from them.

Naughty: Just like when there was the move from desktop to mobile, marketers need to take the time to understand the best way to interact with customers through their watch – you cannot just take your mobile offering and think it will work on a smart watch.

Smart watches allow consumers to activate and control them with their voice, useful when the screen fits on your wrist.

This is why it will be vital for brands to take a ‘watch-first’ approach to areas such as app development and watch-friendly marketing if they are to succeed.

Nice: Gone are the days when watches were just used merely for telling the time.

Now they are starting to take on many functionalities of smart phones, making them increasingly practical for use on the go.

Reaching smart watch users can provide a way to engage consumers outside of their phones, and offers a novel way to reach them.


3) Virtual reality – between cardboard offerings and Oculus’s full virtual reality platform, mid-range virtual reality sets are finally here, making them a realistic option for Christmas.

Naughty: Just because the technology is available, it doesn’t mean marketers should rush to implement it without fully considering how it can be used.

VR is an expensive technology to use and so marketers need to establish how valuable it is for their brand and whether using it will add value to the bottom line.

Essentially, is virtual reality an appropriate way to engage your customers, or are you just jumping on the bandwagon?

Nice: The immersive experience of VR offers a great opportunity for marketers to interact with their customers, allowing them to experience the brand in a unique way.

For example, John Lewis has tied its Christmas advert to a VR experience in-store, allowing consumers to be part of the advert and building the relationship with the brand.

Maria Heckel, marketing director, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, commented that “It’s exciting to see technology continue to provide new opportunities for marketers to engage with consumers”.

“If people are viewing data as ‘the new oil’, smart devices are wells they can use to pull it from the ground. However, just as drilling for oil carries great risk, these new data sources must also be treated with caution and handled in the right way to ensure accidents don’t happen.”

“It’s vital for marketers to ensure that they have fully considered the use of this tech, including the potential positives and negatives, before launching into a full roll-out.”

Author:  Nick Ismail

Source:  http://www.information-age.com/privacy-digital-age-123463728

Categorized in Internet Privacy

This year delivered a chilling warning as we witnessed distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on a scale that few thought possible.

These attacks - where massive volumes of data are thrown at online systems so they can no longer deal with legitimate requests - underwent a step change this year as attackers learned to harness vulnerable devices that constitute parts of the so-called internet of things (IoT).

One nightmare vision for the future is an internet plagued with DDoS attacks based on IoT devices, including some sitting under your Christmas tree this year.

Perhaps what we now need is the modern-day equivalent of Dickens's Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come to scare device-makers and the public into changing their ways before it's too late.

The IoT holds great promise. We have the potential to network a whole new generation of smart devices: everything from fridges, kettles and toasters to the systems that heat your home and keep an eye on your cat.

The value of being able to control these devices remotely seems obvious, and new forms of convenience will emerge as people think of new ways in which the technology can be used.

Unfortunately, the technologies that enable these devices to be "smart" can pose a security threat. No one is suggesting that hackers will want to break into your toaster to steal personal data, although some IoT devices will hold data that has value we may not yet understand.

Santa hackerImage copyrightTHINKSTOCKImage captionHacked IoT kit can cause disruption to others trying to use the internet

But your white goods could be co-opted by hackers to take part in an onward attack, in which the products send huge amounts of junk data and/or a flood of requests to the target, causing it to be overwhelmed. The DDoS attacks we have seen this year were launched by a zombie army of IoT devices formed into what is called a botnet.

The more devices that can be recruited into these botnets the larger the volumes of useless data that can hurled. The largest attack of 2016 saw hundreds of thousands of devices being used simultaneously in what became known as the Mirai botnet, mounting what was a frighteningly simple attack.

A key lesson from Mirai was that default usernames and passwords are not a secret, and if you use the same ones on every instance of a device it is just asking to be hacked.

Router manufacturers have had to learn this lesson the hard way but many IoT device manufacturers clearly did not hear the story.

Manufacturers will always struggle to make internet-enabled devices that are secure for several reasons.

Firstly, these products are sold as commodities and the Scrooge in all of us sees price as an important factor for such purchases. Designing technology to be secure takes money and when you are selling items where pennies matter, security is likely to be the first area for compromise.

Secondly, even if a security problem is found, the ability to update the software built into the device - known as firmware - is often very limited. Few owners would, or should be expected, to know how to update firmware, and manufacturers will not always do so, again because there is a cost involved.

It does happen with high-end products, such as smart TVs, as well as IoT kit from big-name tech firms - such as Philips Hue, Amazon, British Gas's Hive division and Google's Nest.

But some of the cut-price products from the more obscure brands do not get the same treatment.

Lastly, devices such as those likely to comprise the IoT are often forgotten about once in operation. Unlike phones or laptops, owners don't typically look to buy a newer version until it physically stops working.

Wi-fi graphicImage copyrightTHINKSTOCKImage captionSome IoT devices automatically update their firmware via wi-fi, but this is not always the case

As you can expect something like a fridge to last many, many years we have the spectre of an IoT in 10 or even 20 years' time that is populated by devices being bought now, or in the very near future, whose manufacturers may no longer be in business or - even if they are - not interested in updating decades-old kit.

However, when it comes to DDoS attacks, a partial solution has been available since 2000.

In that year, a draft standard was issued (with the catchy title BCP 38) that provided network operators with a means to significantly lessen the effects of DDoS attacks. All that was missing was for the providers to co-operate and put it into operation - a situation that may now happen at the prompting of the UK government. Even so, it does not solve this new variant of DDoS attack outright.

You could take the bah humbug approach and say that you will never buy a device that is either smart or connected, but that won't work. This technology will be present by default.

Even if you simply try to ignore the smart features you could end up contributing to the problem because owners will need to do a certain amount of checking to ensure they are not unwittingly contributing to online attacks.

Ghost of Christmas FutureImage copyrightTHINKSTOCKImage captionHacked smart home kit could ruin Christmas - or other days of the year

So, if you are lucky enough to receive a smart networked device this Christmas the first thing you should do is check to see if it has a default username and password that needs changing.

Don't assume that the manufacturers have heard the horror stories of Christmas past, and, don't let it become the neglected, dusty box in the corner that is adding to the ever increasing background noise on the internet. Merry Christmas to one and all.

Author : Professor Alan Woodward

Source : http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38364077

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Christmas is almost upon us, and chances are you haven't even made a dent in your shopping list yet. Fortunately, there's a whole bunch of apps designed to help you. Counting down the days until the 25th won't just help you get in the spirit, it could also help you organise yourself a little better.

NORAD Santa Tracker

There are lots of these now, but NORAD (Yes really the North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been tracking Santa for 60 years. Lots of fun watching the big man make his way around the world. Available on Android and iOS.


Create and send Christmas cards in under three minutes this year with app, Inkly. There are hundreds of designs to choose from or you can even create your own by uploading your favourite family photos.

To give a personal touch, Inkly uses handwriting technology. Write your message on a piece of paper, take a picture of it with your phone and transfer your handwriting (and even sketches too!) inside your chosen card. Available on Android and iOS.  

Fire Place 3D lite

Fireplace 3D Lite from iTunes will make you feel cosy this Christmas. If you don't have your own fireplace, there's no need to worry as this app will make you feel like you're sitting in front of a warm wood fire in the comfort of your own home.

There are three different fireplaces to choose from: rustic, traditional and Victorian, each of which have realistic images to make you feel cosy and festive. This app is free and available for Apple iPhones and tablets.

Manage Christmas – Christmas Gift List manager

There's no need to worry with this Manage Christmas app, which helps you stick to your budget, keep track of what you've already purchased and log any gift ideas that might spring to mind.

Create your own shopping list by adding in your family and friends, setting a budget for each and adding in the gifts that you've bought or intend to buy. There is also a continuously updated gift ideas section, so if you're out of ideas, you might find one of the recommendations useful. This app is free and available for both Apple and Android.

Price Spy

A price comparison app that helps you find the best bargains available online and on the high street. Users can search for a product, filter by categories, and create lists of items to monitor their prices.

It also features a barcode scanner, which will instantly display product information, reviews, and the best web price. Perfect for the ‘oh God, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping’ phase of the month. Available on Android and Apple.


Christmas is the season of good will and as the cold weather kicks in, StreetLink provides a way for members of the public to inform local authorities about rough sleepers in their area and help get them off the streets.

Over the last year there have been almost 11,000 alerts to local services, and StreetLink has directly helped 4,000 rough sleepers in the first year since its launch. Get it on iTunes or Google Play.

Good Food Festive Recipes

The BBC's Festive Recipes app features a collection of over 180 tried-and-tested recipes to get you through Christmas and New Year’s. There’s something for every course, plus drinks and canapés and a diverse selection of vegetarian options.

All recipes have clear instructions and photographs to help you get the best results. There is also a selection of videos to help you improve basic skills, like chopping onions and making mayonnaise. Get it on iTunes.


It's Boxing Day and after all those frantic Christmas preparations you simply can't face cooking another meal. With the Ruffl app you are only three ‘taps’ away from finding a local restaurant with a free table.

You can choose your price range, and the app will even provide a map with directions to your selected restaurant. Some establishments even offer extra incentives to entice you through the door. Available on iTunes and Google Play.


A package tracker: Sick of that one troublesome gift which is unavoidably going to be delivered too late for Christmas? Never again!

Deliveries keeps a watchful eye on all of your packages ordered from multiple retailers, tracking everything within a single app and spelling the end of accidentally missing a delivery time. Available on Apple and Android.

Hello Fresh

If it’s the supermarket assault course that’s getting you down, apps like Hello Fresh will send weighed measurements of all necessary ingredients as well as handy recipe cards, promising a Christmas dinner with minimal fuss. Available on iTunes.


Fantastic Services is offering a helping hand to stressed out workers by introducing a new service – Fantastic Elves, a team of helpers bookable by the hour to take care of Christmas chores such as cleaning, shopping, wrapping and decorating. Available on iTunes.


If you've decided to get away from it all this year, hotel app Top10 offers a stress-free way to book a bespoke Christmas getaway, using your preferences to recommend ten stunning hotels at the best available price. Available on iTunes.

Auhtor : Kevin Lonergan

Source : http://www.information-age.com/automating-change-growth-and-disruption-through-internet-things-123460674/

Categorized in Internet Technology

Cyber crime continues to dominate the headlines and significant numbers of individuals and businesses are still falling victim to the stealthy attacks by cyber criminals

In 2015, UK Christmas shoppers spent £24 billion shopping online, and as the popularity of online shopping increases, so does the likelihood of falling foul of cyber criminals, not necessarily because they are putting in extra effort during the festive season, but simply because more of us are doing more online shopping at this time of the year.

For cyber criminals, events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday provide a great opportunity to take advantage of consumers looking for a good deal or a gift for someone special, online.

In 2015, £3.3 billion was spent over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Over a third of this was spent online, signalling the seismic social shift to shopping online during the busy Christmas season.

However, this opens the door for cybercriminals to prey on data, such as credit card details and passwords.

In their bid for your data, cybercriminals are becoming craftier than ever before.

You may have seen, for example, emails circulating recently claiming to be from Amazon, and asking for information about a recent order.

The email claims that there has been an issue processing an order, and asks the victim to click a link to confirm the account, which then takes them to a fraudulent website that very often is identical to the real thing.

This type of phishing scam dupes unwitting individuals into giving out sensitive information, such as bank details, credit card numbers or personally identifiable information, to cybercrooks.

Those that fall for it are unknowingly allowing cybercriminals to use their credit card details for future fraudulent purchases or to put them up for sale on the Dark Web, along with thousands of other people’s personal data.

However, it’s not just consumers who are at risk in the run up to Christmas – businesses are too.

When a small business, which may lack the resources for a dedicated security or IT team, receives an unknown email with an attachment that reads ‘invoice’ or ‘shipping confirmation’, they may be more inclined to open it – which could open up the company’s network to an attack if it turns out to be malicious.

If a business doesn’t have the proper security measures in place to provide a holistic picture of the organisation’s network, it may be too late once you’ve clicked ‘open’.

During this online shopping season, Sophos has put together some top tips to ensure you’re as safe as you can be – even when the post-Christmas sales begin:

If an online deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

This age-old saying still holds true online. Cyber criminals are using multiple methods to try and scam people out of their money, including phishing, DDoS, and malware, to name a few.

The possibility of a free iPhone, or a cheap TV may seem tempting, but don’t give in – it’s a total scam. With Hatchimals quickly becoming the impossible-to-get toy of the season, it’s becoming increasingly common for scammers to post on social media that they are selling one.

However, very quickly you’ll find after transferring the money, that you won’t hear from them again.

Cyber criminals know the lure of anything that may be discounted or ‘free’ will invite a click or two, which may take you to a phishing page, or an unintentional malware download. Regardless – it’s not worth the risk.

IoT products may make great gifts, but a cyber attack doesn’t

IoT products are set to be some of the hottest Christmas gifts this season – however, these kinds of devices are often vulnerable right out of the box.

The most recent hack on IoT devices demonstrated how connected devices like wearables can be just as vulnerable to attacks as your PC or laptop.

Unfortunately, the true vulnerabilities are in the devices themselves. Industry has rushed into launching these internet-enabled ‘things’ without considering the major security consequences of them.

Make sure you check the security of devices you’re purchasing and be sure to change the default password before using.

Spyware from Santa – make sure you have security software

Cyber criminals have more opportunity to intercept data with spyware during the Christmas period.

Protect against all malware, including spyware, which logs your financial data while you type it into your keyboard, with security software.

Of 1,250 consumers polled in the US, UK, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in a recent Sophos survey, 54% perceive spyware as an extremely large cyber security threat.

31% of those surveyed consider themselves unprotected, are not familiar with spyware or are unsure if they’re protected. The lesson here is to always make sure there is up-to-date security software running in the background.

Security isn’t only about keeping the bad stuff out. It’s also about keeping the good stuff in.

In the lead up to Christmas, remember one thing – be extra vigilant against cyber crimes. Nobody has malware or a phishing attack on their Christmas list this year, so make sure you don’t get it on yours.

And if you make it through the holiday shopping season unscathed, all of these tips will still be valid in 2017 so remember to keep your security guard up 24/7/365.
Sourced by John Shier, senior security expert at Sophos

Source : http://www.information-age.com/trust-set-become-latest-attack-victim-123463649/

Categorized in Others


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