Month: June 2014

European Bank ‘Hit by Sophisticated Cyber Thefts’

European Bank ‘Hit by Sophisticated Cyber Thefts’

European Bank ‘Hit by Sophisticated Cyber Thefts’
A security firm has reported uncovering evidence of cyber-thieves robbing more than 190 customers of a European bank.

Kaspersky Lab said it had detected a computer server in January being used to co-ordinate an attack that appeared to have snatched more than 500,000 euros ($700,000; £400,000) over the course of a single week. The firm said it believed most of the victims were based in Italy and Turkey. It said that it had alerted the authorities to the problem. However, it added, the criminals managed to delete any evidence that could have been used to trace them before they could be identified.

The firm declined to identify the bank involved.

Kaspersky has codenamed the campaign Luuuk, and said that it believed a Trojan program was used to intercept financial data and allow fraudulent transactions to be made as soon as each victim logged into their online bank account. But it acknowledged there were still gaps in its knowledge.

“On the command-and-control server we detected there was no information as to which specific malware program was used in this campaign,” said Vicente Diaz, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, in a statement. “We believe the malware used in this campaign could be a Zeus flavour.”

Zeus is the name given to a type of Trojan malware first detected in 2007, which allows data to be stolen from computers running the Windows operating system. It has been linked to previous bank thefts that ran into the millions of pounds.

Kaspersky said that it thought the way Zeus was used in this attack involved inserting rogue information into the bank’s webpages when they were downloaded, allowing confidential data to be stolen. It said that according to the computer logs it had obtained, the sums stolen from each account appeared to range from 1,700 euros to 39,000 euros.

While the detected computer server has now been shut down, the firm warned that it believed the thieves could strike again, adding that it planned to search for evidence of the Luuuk campaign continuing.

“This looks to be very significant – it’s not so much the absolute amount reported to be stolen, but the speed at which it was taken out,” Alan Woodward, an independent security consultant, told the BBC. “The way you have to get this money into the real world involves sending it to real accounts and getting ‘money mules’ to take it out, so would require significant organisation.”

Improve your Home with a New Staircase

Improve your Home with a New Staircase

Improve your Home with a New Staircase
Improving your property or home with a new staircase is very often one of the most essential parts of any home, also having a very significant impact on the feel of the property. It is one of the most significant elements that give the home a character and a complete look.

For houses which are a little older, stairs and the staircase parts are often likely to wear out through time and frequent use, thereby needing to be improved or for those who would like to redesign their staircase, if the original design is not appropriate for the house or they just fancy a change, then staircase replacement may also be done to improve its look.

Location of the stairs
The first thing to consider is do the stairs or staircase needs a complete overhaul or if just requiring improvement. These changes may include updating some or all of the staircase parts such as spindles, newel posts, caps, bases or handrails. To choose appropriate staircase parts it is important to take note on some things so as to prevent buying the inappropriate stair parts.

An obvious first step is to consider the location of the stairs – if the stairs is located inside or outside the house or property. Staircases located outside of the house need staircase parts that will withstand the weather, particularly in climates such as the UK, where they may be exposed to the elements. Moreover, one of the most important stair parts for outdoor staircases would include the handrails, bases and newel posts, which should provide protection and safety to prevent falls.

For interior staircases, consider using a specialist supplier such as Stairparts Direct who specialise in the manufacture and supply of high quality stairparts, offering staircase spindles, newel posts, caps, bases and handrails, as well as offering expert advice and support. Using a specialist supplier such as Stairparts Direct l very often saves time, money and reduce levels of stress with any staircase renovation project.

Type of Material to be Used
Staircase parts may be made from different materials; the most common is metal and wood. Metal stair parts may be steel and wrought iron. These types are a good choice since these are strong and durable. These staircase parts are also suitable for both indoors and outdoors.

Wooden stair parts are also a good choice for a more classic look. These may be made of hard wood or soft wood, available in wood such as Pine, Sapele, Ash and Oak.

One of the latest trends in home improvement and renovation of a stair case is to mix of both materials such as wooden steps and iron railings. This affords an elegant feel that jives with any home décor. Some also incorporate glass to stairs for a modern look. Wooden spindles may be replaced with glass panels.

Staircase Colour and Design
One important thing design aspect when fitting a new staircase is that the staircase parts and accessories should complement each other. For wooden stair parts, there is a choice of staining them or painting them. Staining the staircase parts gives a warm and rich atmosphere while painted ones are lighter and airier. Darker stair parts look more formal while painted ones are more casual. People may also opt for customized ones. No matter what stair case parts design homeowners choose. The important thing is that it complements the house design and furniture.

People now have a lot of options available to them when looking to improve their home with a new staircase or other DIY improvement. There are many staircase part designs available nowadays which are ready made and companies such as the UK online staircase parts provider, Stairparts Direct are likely the best place to start for most people.

If you are planning a new staircase project and would like to include help in the design and planning, then send staircase parts your plans and we can offer you a quotation for stair treads and the required components to suit your theme. Simply contact us via the Stairparts Direct website or email us on

Business:             Stairparts Direct


National Roaming Plan to Tackle Mobile Phone Blackspots

National Roaming Plan to Tackle Mobile Phone Blackspots

National Roaming Plan to Tackle Mobile Phone Blackspots
Mobile phone operators could be made to share their networks in rural areas of the UK where signals are weak under plans being considered by ministers.

Some parts of rural Britain have just one or two of the main mobile phone networks available, or none at all, leaving some people without any signal. It is hoped so-called national roaming could be used to plug blackspots. However, mobile phone companies say this would remove their incentive to build more masts to improve coverage.

New Culture Secretary Sajid Javid wants mobile phone companies to introduce national roaming which would allow customers to switch to an alternative network if their own was not available, as happens when they are abroad.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which oversees telecommunications, said the government was already spending £150m in areas with no coverage and was looking at doing more.

A mobile phone industry source told the BBC the government might be able to force the big operators to share their networks using existing legislation.

But the companies are likely to argue that national roaming will be a brake on their investment because there will not be an incentive to build new phone masts in remote areas if the service has to be shared. They have also warned there would be costs involved in such a scheme which could result in higher charges for consumers.

Mobile operator Three insisted it was widening its coverage. A spokesman said: “We’ve invested heavily to bring coverage to around 98% of the population.
“We support the principle of expanding coverage to address areas less well served and are in discussions with government about the most effective means to deliver that.”

A DCMS spokesman said: “The government has made clear it wants to ensure the UK has world-class mobile phone coverage as part of our investment in infrastructure for the long-term economic plan. “We are investing up to £150m to improve mobile coverage in areas where there is currently no coverage from any of the Mobile Network Operators. “Of course we want to look at what more can be done in areas with poor coverage.”

Ellen Conlin Hair – Protect the Skin with Antioxidants

Ellen Conlin Hair – Protect the Skin with Antioxidants

Protect the Skin Inside and Out with Antioxidants
They say that the two worst things for your skin are too much sun and smoking. If you smoke, you should cease and desist. Long gone are the days of smoking making anyone look more sophisticated, and with smoking being banned in more public places than ever, it has become an increasingly unfeasible habit to maintain. Since smokers and non-smokers alike are affected by exposure to the sun, it is also important to know how antioxidants can protect your skin from within and from without.

You can do yourself a great deal of good by consuming foods high in antioxidants to help prevent or reverse free radical damage caused by excessive sun exposure. Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, but be advised that consumption of more than one glass daily for women can negate the antioxidant benefits.

Other foods high in antioxidants include chocolate (another one to consume in moderation) and a wide variety of nuts, fruits and vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, spinach and other leafy greens and beans, peas and lentils. As a rule, foods high in vitamins and minerals are also high in antioxidants, and foods with a high water content will also help to keep your skin well-hydrated.

In addition to consuming foods rich in antioxidants, you will want to seek out appropriate skin treatments to keep your skin protected as the days grow longer. Many of the foods listed above contain vitamin E, and as a topical application, it can absorb energy from UV rays, providing yet another skin protection benefit. And according to the latest scientific research, some of the most effective antioxidant skin applications contain idebenone, a derivative of coenzyme Q10.

Amazingly, the same antioxidant properties which protect the skin are also being used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, liver disorders and a variety of neuromuscular disorders. It is available in a number of products sold at high-end beauty salons.

Ellen Conlin Hair has established itself as an industry leader for providing UK women with the solutions to their skin and hair care problems. Whether you are looking for treatments to increase your hair’s natural lustre or for the newest and most effective anti-aging skin treatments, our Glasgow-based team of hairdressers and beauty consultants can provide exactly what you need.

For more information about how we can look your best all summer and for many years to come, call us today on 0141 339 8223 or 0141 638 0331 or visit

Business:             Ellen Conlin Hair & Beauty


High Speed Rail Link Needed to Boost North

High Speed Rail Link Needed to Boost North

George Osborne  – High Speed Rail Link Needed to Boost North
A so-called HS3 high-speed rail link between Manchester and Leeds could help to create a “northern global powerhouse”, George Osborne has said. He told the BBC better road and rail links would allow cities across northern England from Liverpool to Hull “to take on the world”, as London did.
The chancellor said the plan could cost up to £7bn – but could be cheaper if existing rail lines were updated.

Labour said “nobody” believed the Tories could deliver jobs in the north.

Mr Osborne told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme – before a speech in Manchester – that the cities in the North of England were individually strong but were “collectively not strong enough”.  He said that in the past few decades giant global cities, such as London, had emerged – and that the string of northern cities, with better transport links and careful planning, could take them on and be “greater than the sum of their parts”.

Mr Osborne said the building of the east-west link should be considered as part of a review into the second phase of the £50bn HS2 high-speed rail project.

The current plan for the first phase of the project between London and Birmingham has proved controversial. Some residents are set to be disrupted and there is criticism of its price tag.

The government’s preferred route for the second phase involves extensions linking Birmingham with Manchester and Leeds – with the final route expected to be chosen by the end of this year.

Mr Osborne said in his speech that it was not “healthy for our economy, not good for our country” if “the powerhouse of London dominates more and more”.

Along with improving roads – the M62 already links Liverpool on the west coast with Hull on the east coast, via Manchester and Leeds – Mr Osborne says a new high-speed rail link should be considered, based on the existing rail route but with new tunnels and infrastructure. The fastest rail services between Leeds and Manchester currently take about 50 minutes – already quicker than many journeys across London.

“We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west – to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.
“I want us to start thinking about whether to build a new high-speed rail connection east-west from Manchester to Leeds.”

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young says Conservative support in the North of England has been declining and Mr Osborne’s statement will be seen as an attempt to show the party is keen to increase prosperity beyond its traditional strongholds in the south.  There is, however, little detail about how these plans would be funded, and Mr Osborne said he did not yet have timescales – but he wanted “to start a conversation”.

Mr Osborne also told the BBC he wanted to see new positions of elected mayoralties being created – including one for Greater Manchester along the lines of London’s – to help drive forward economic growth in the north.

For Labour, shadow chancellor Mr Balls said regional growth divides had “widened markedly since 2010”, when the coalition government was formed.  “On high-speed rail, we said months ago that we need value for money for the taxpayer and to improve the existing plans to maximise the benefits for the whole country, and strengthen the links between northern cities. Ministers need finally to start listening.”

Bank of England Governor: Interest Rates will rise ‘Sooner than Markets Expect’

Bank of England Governor: Interest Rates will rise ‘Sooner than Markets Expect’

Bank of England Governor: Interest Rates will rise ‘Sooner than Markets Expect’
The Governor of the Bank of England has signalled tonight that the era of record low interest rates is soon to end. Borrowing money has never been cheaper in Britain. The Bank cut rates through 2008 and 2009 to 0.5% and kept them there in an effort to stimulate an economy which had been knocked sideways by the global financial crisis.

But that emergency treatment could be needed no longer.

Speaking at the annual Mansion House dinner in the City of London, Mark Carney is about to say: “There’s already great speculation about the exact timing of the first rate hike and the decision is becoming more balanced. “It could happen sooner than markets currently expect.”

Based on his previous warnings that raising rates too soon could kill off the recovery, most economists in the City expect the first rate rise in April next year.

Those forecasts are now wrong. That first move – likely to be a quarter percentage point rise, is now likely to happen sooner.

The Governor was at pains to repeat his message that whenever the Bank starts to put up rates they will do it in a gradual and limited way but he is preparing borrowers for an important fact: you’ve never had it so cheap and you won’t again for some time.

George Osborne Pledges Criminal Action against Banks and Traders

George Osborne Pledges Criminal Action against Banks and Traders

George Osborne Pledges Criminal Action against Banks and Traders
More action to tackle wrongdoing in the financial sector will be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne on Thursday. The measures will include making the manipulation of the foreign currency markets by banks a criminal offence.

In a keynote speech he will promise to target “the unacceptable behaviour of the few and ensure that markets are fair for the many who depend on them”.

There has been increasing concern about whether the multi-trillion pound foreign exchange market was rigged.

In his annual Mansion House speech, Mr Osborne will pledge the extension of legislation used to clean up after the Libor interest rate-fixing scandal.

As well as bringing the forex currency market under this legislation, it will be extended to those who trade in commodities, and also to the fixed income market, where the most common type of products traded are bonds.

The chancellor is also expected to establish a joint review by the Treasury, Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to look into how these markets operate. Mr Osborne will say: “The integrity of the City matters to the economy of Britain. “Markets here set the interest rates for people’s mortgages, the exchange rates for our exports and holidays, and the commodity prices for the goods we buy. I am going to deal with abuses.”

A crackdown on malpractice in the financial industry has been gathering pace. The FCA has stepped up investigations into the sector, and the recent Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards prompted a new legal regime for executives. But there has been particular concern recently about the forex market, where traders police themselves.

BBC business editor Kamal Ahmed said: “A new set of storm clouds are gathering over UK banks. The foreign exchange market is under investigation. The allegation is fraud.” He said: “Companies that operate around the world use the foreign exchange market to buy and sell currencies so that they can trade in different countries. “Our pension funds also use the market so they can invest globally. If wrongdoing is proved, banks could be facing fines.

“The chancellor will say that any manipulation could effect the amount people pay for foreign currencies when they go abroad, as well as the amount companies pay.”

It has been reported that at least 15 banks are being investigated by regulators around the world for alleged forex manipulation. Martin Wheatley, the head of the FCA, said recently that the allegations, if substantiated, could be “every bit as bad as Libor”. The Libor revelations involved the fixing of the interest rates at which banks lend to each other. Banks around the world have so far been forced to pay fines totalling more than $6bn.

Also in his speech, Mr Osborne is expected to rule out the UK opting in to European Union rules on market abuse, which are due to come into force in 2016.

The Treasury argues that the UK’s own regulations retain the flexibility needed to protect London’s role as a global financial sector.

Labour’s shadow Treasury minister Cathy Jamieson said the chancellor’s review was “too little, too late”. She said: “We pressed ministers to regulate commodities markets and the full array of financial benchmarks back in 2012, but the chancellor failed to act.”

Planning Noise Surveys

Planning Noise Surveys

Planning Noise Surveys
We carry out noise surveys to PPG24, or “Planning Policy Guidance note 24. This document is designed to guide local authorities on the use of their planning powers to minimise the impact of noise on a proposed development. PPG24 is published by the DCLG and is used by local authorities throughout England and Wales.

The purpose of a PPG24 noise survey is to ensure that future occupiers of a development will be able to sleep at night and enjoy their living rooms and gardens by day. PPG24 noise survey makes reference to internal and external acceptable noise levels identified in WHO guidelines on community noise and BS8233.

The purpose of a PPG24 noise survey is to assess the noise levels on a proposed site to ensure occupiers will not be adversely affected by noise from sources such as roads, railways and aircraft and are usually required at the planning application stage of a residential development.

Our acoustic services are carried out by APTs UKAS qualified testers, who can provide you with all the advice and guidance you need once the sites noise levels have been established.

Our service includes the following features:

  • All tests carried out by experienced  acoustic engineers
  • National coverage throughout England and Wales.
  • Fully accredited and accepted by all  Planning Authorities
  • Easy to understand reporting format
  • Design advice once the noise levels have been established.

The noise assessment and report will also offer advice on how to achieve reasonable internal noise levels within the bedroom and living areas in-line with BS8233 and also garden areas where applicable. Simple upgrades could be an upgraded glazing specification or the installation of an acoustic fence or re-orientating the development so that habitable rooms do not face the noise source. A noise assessment is conducted by an acoustic consultant to assess the noise levels from sources such as entertainment/industrial building, roads, rail and aircraft. The survey should identify both daytime noise levels between 07:00-23:00 and night time noise levels between 23:00-07.00. The noise survey should be carried out over a typical working day, i.e. not weekends or bank holidays as the noise environment for these periods are unlikely to be typical.

What noise survey methods are accepted?
Usually the local environmental protection team, will be able to advise on the methods used for a noise survey. However as a general rule the following methods will be accepted provided they are suitable for the project/development. Please note this is not an exhaustive list:

  • PPG24 for the assessment of noise affecting noise sensitive developments near to existing sources of noise, mainly relating to traffic sources. A full 24- hour noise survey is normally required although the shortened measurement procedure in the Calculation of Road Noise (CRTN) can be used if appropriate.
  • BS4142:1997 for the assessment of industrial noise that may affect existing residential property, mainly used for fixed industrial plant such as fans.

More Information on Noise Surveys for Planning Noise affecting noise sensitive developments near to existing sources of noise, mainly relating to traffic sources are set out in NEC category B and above, APT Acoustics will look for noise reduction measures to be put in place that will achieve the “good” internal noise level criteria in bedrooms and living rooms set out in BS8233:1999.

For outdoor garden areas, noise levels should be less than or equal to 55 dB(A) as recommended in the World Health Organisation Guidelines on Community Noise. Where the noise levels are shown as NEC category D, the EPT would recommend that planning consent be refused; although, in isolated cases this decision can be overturned if adequate noise control measure can be implemented to the development.

For clarification the noise exposure categories, which the local planning authority would determine are:

  • NEC A. Noise need not be considered as a determining factor in granting planning. The noise level at the high end of the category should not be regarded as a desirable level.
  • NEC B. Noise should be taken into account when determining planning applications and, where appropriate, conditions imposed to ensure an adequate level of protection against noise.
  • NEC C. Planning permission should not normally be granted. Where it is considered that permission should be given, for example because there are no alternative quieter sites available, conditions should be imposed to ensure a commensurate level of protection against noise.
  • NEC D. Planning permission should normally be refused. After we have carried out the noise survey, APT can offer noise mitigation advice to help your project attain planning approval. If you would like more information please contact us at

Business:             APT Sound Testing


Searching for Wooden Internal and External Doors

Searching for Wooden Internal and External Doors

Searching for Wooden Internal and External Doors
Blacketts Doors offer a wide range of high quality wooden internal and external doors, all available in a range of solid and glazed styles. A North East (UK) based family business, Blacketts Doors have been established for over 50 years and not only can they supply a huge selection of glazed internal wooden doors, external wooden doors door furniture, door frames and architraves, they also offer excellent customer service and competitive prices on all doors, offering a like for like price match guarantee.

High Customer Service
People who will always be available to provide information on the types of door available, a quality service and backed up by a commitment to holding good stock levels of both internal and external doors to always try and meet customer requirements on demand.  Experts about all types of doors they can provide you with technical help and support on doors and door furniture should you need it. The team is very proud of the companies achievements to date and their business is recognised by many customers and manufactures for providing the best in quality, choice and service. They regularly supply to house builders, interior designers, joiners and to the general public from the shop and via the company web site. As well as offering all types of doors for sale, Blacketts Doors also offer a local (North East) door fitting service.

A Range of Quality Doors
The company are committed to sourcing and providing you with quality doors and fittings, including internal and external doors and offering you a quality service. You, the customer are the driving force behind their success and every person within Blacketts Doors will always recognise that customer service is the key to businesses future. They recognise that people are very important to ongoing success and that without a good team of people to provide you the service you demand, the company would struggle to exist.

Internal Doors
Blacketts Doors are committed to sourcing and providing you with the quality range of internal doors including oak internal doors, fire doors and all other types of internal door from glazed doors to solid. All available in a wide range of sizes and finishes, offered at the very best prices direct to the customer.

External Doors
As with all the other products, their range of external doors are all of the highest quality, available in a wide range of sizes and finishes, offered at the very best prices direct to the customer. Their portfolio of external doors includes wooden external doors, security doors and all other types of external door.

Contact Blacketts Doors
For more information visit the Blacketts Doors website or call now on 0191 2734073.

Business:             Blacketts Doors


Growth Funders Online Investment Project

Growth Funders Online Investment Project

Growth Funders Online Investment Project
Last night on the BBC Look North programme highlighted a new online investment and capital introduction platform. Growth Funders as they are known, help develop and operate online investment and capital introduction platforms. Technology, implemented in the right way, can open doors.

As an online equity-based crowd funding and co-investment platform, they look to match entrepreneurs, who have great ideas and potential, with investors who are looking to build strong investment portfolios. They also have professional partners who work alongside entrepreneurs to ensure that their businesses are investor-ready.

Raising capital is notoriously challenging, and can be time-consuming for everyone involved. Taking the process online can speed up investment. For the entrepreneur, it means not having to conduct numerous face-to-face pitches. Instead, it’s one pitch to a worldwide audience. For the investor, it means not having to sift through hundreds of investments, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. We screen beforehand, only taking the businesses with high-growth potential, thereby increasing quality deal flow.

The aim of Growth Funders, to facilitate growth in start-up, early stage, and established businesses.

To find out more visit their website at