How much for an invitation to the Royal Wedding?

28th April 2011  

Royal wedding invitation

As final details of the Royal Wedding program were published this morning, Prince William and Catherine Middleton must be marvelling at some of the funnier and more off beat activities that are occurring all over the world as a result of their impending nuptials.

As wedding planners ‘stateside’ bill our Royal Wedding tomorrow as the official start of their ‘wedding season’, global financial group American Express has published some fascinating results of a recent study. Amex, which isn’t normally noted for flippant expressions of jocularity, has published its Spending and Saving Tracker, confirming that 3 out of 5 American consumers would be happy to pay on average up to US $600 (about £385) for an invitation to the marriage!

Closer to home, new research by the Guardian newspaper highlights that smart phone customers using wi-fi networks in places like hotels and public transport hubs are at risk of hackers stealing their credit card information.

Any credit card holder, who’s used their phone to make purchases online using the mobile web access afforded by compact smart phone technology, is potentially open to having their credit card or other personal details hacked and then used fraudulently. The problem is we’re all so grateful if we find access to an available wireless network when we’re on the move that we often don’t ask ourselves where that connection is coming from or how secure it is.

Recent announcements confirm Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone will shortly have software that will allow consumers to pay for small transactions using their smart phones in a similar way to Contactless Payment Cards. This further compounds the glaring lack of security these devices have against those with devious or fraudulent intent.

The Guardian set up tests using volunteers to prevent any breach of the law, and their results proved security experts were able collect numbers, user names and passwords as well as messages from smart phones.

Using a fake wireless hotspot, researchers invited helpers to “pay” for wi-fi access with their credit cards. The sign up procedure even asked them to highlight a tick box accepting ludicrous “Terms and Conditions” which clearly said “you agree we can do anything we like with your credit card details and personal logins”.

Apple Inc, designer and manufacturer of the world-beating iPhone, declined to comment on the research. Mobile network O2 didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Stuart Hyde spokesman for The Association of Chief Police Officers (APCO) said

“We became aware of the potential for criminals to use Wi-Fi in this way last year and have become increasingly concerned. All they need is to set themselves up in a public place with a laptop and a mobile router called ‘BTOpenzone’ or ‘Free Wifi’ and unsuspecting members of the public come along and connect to them.

“Once that happens, there is software out there that enables them to gather usernames and passwords for each site a user signs in to while surfing the net. And once criminals have access to your email accounts, Facebook account, Amazon history and so on, the potential for fraud and identity theft is very serious indeed.

“Until there are improvements in security, I would advise people to be very wary indeed when using insecure Wi-Fi in public places.”


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