Ransomware Cyber Attack: Hackers Leverage Stolen NSA Tool to Wreak Havoc Worldwide

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ransomware WannaCry leveraged hacking tools developed by NSA
  • It exploits a known bug in Windows
  • Researchers have observed 57,000 infections in 99 countries

A global cyber attack leveraging hacking tools widely believed by researchers to have been developed by the US National Security Agency hit international shipper FedEx, disrupted Britain’s health system and infected computers in nearly 100 countries on Friday. Cyber extortionists tricked victims into opening malicious malware attachments to spam emails that appeared to contain invoices, job offers, security warnings and other legitimate files.

Private security firms identified the ransomware as a new variant of WannaCry (also known as WanaCrypt0r and WCry) that had the ability to automatically spread across large networks by exploiting a known bug (MS17-010) in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. The ransomware encrypted data on the computers, demanding payments of $300 to $600 to restore access. Security researchers said they observed some victims paying via the digital currency Bitcoin, though they did not know what percent had given in to the extortionists.

Researchers with security software maker Avast said they had observed 57,000 infections in 99 countries with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.

The most disruptive attacks were reported in Britain, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers.

International shipper FedEx Corp said some of its Windows computers were also infected. “We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible,” it said in a statement.Ransomware Cyber Attack: Hackers Leverage Stolen NSA Tool to Wreak Havoc Worldwide

Still, only a small number of US-headquartered organizations were hit because the hackers appear to have begun the campaign by targeting organizations in Europe, said Vikram Thakur, research manager with security software maker Symantec.

By the time they turned their attention to the United States, spam filters had identified the new threat and flagged the ransomware-laden emails as malicious, Thakur said.

The US Department of Homeland Security said late on Friday that it was aware of reports of the ransomware, was sharing information with domestic and foreign partners and was ready to lend technical support.

Telecommunications company Telefonica was among many targets in Spain, though it said the attack was limited to some computers on an internal network and had not affected clients or services. Portugal Telecom and Telefonica Argentina both said they were also targeted.

“Once it gets in and starts moving across the infrastructure, there is no way to stop it,” said Adam Meyers, a researcher with cyber security firm CrowdStrike.

The hackers, who have not come forward to claim responsibility or otherwise been identified, likely made it a “worm,” or self spreading malware, by exploiting a piece of NSA code known as “Eternal Blue” that was released last month by a group known as the Shadow Brokers, researchers with several private cyber security firms said.

“This is one of the largest global ransomware attacks the cyber community has ever seen,” said Rich Barger, director of threat research with Splunk, one of the firms that linked WannaCry to the NSA.

The Shadow Brokers released Eternal Blue as part of a trove of hacking tools that they said belonged to the US spy agency.

Microsoft on Friday said it was pushing out automatic Windows updates to defend clients from WannaCry. It issued a patch on March 14 to protect them from Eternal Blue.

“Today our engineers added detection and protection against new malicious software known as Ransom:Win32.WannaCrypt,” Microsoft said in a statement. It said the company was working with its customers to provide additional assistance.

Sensitive timing
The spread of the ransomware capped a week of cyber turmoil in Europe that kicked off a week earlier when hackers posted a huge trove of campaign documents tied to French candidate Emmanuel Macron just 1-1/2 days before a run-off vote in which he was elected as the new president of France.

On Wednesday, hackers disputed the websites of several French media companies and aerospace giant Airbus .Also, the hack happened four weeks before a British parliamentary election in which national security and the management of the state-run National Health Service (NHS) are important campaign themes.

Authorities in Britain have been braced for possible cyberattacks in the run-up to the vote, as happened during last year’s US election and on the eve of this month’s presidential vote in France.

But those attacks – blamed on Russia, which has repeatedly denied them – followed an entirely different modus operandi involving penetrating the accounts of individuals and political organizations and then releasing hacked material online.

On Friday, Russia’s interior and emergencies ministries, as well as the country’s biggest bank, Sberbank , said they were targeted. The interior ministry said on its website that around 1,000 computers had been infected but it had localized the virus.

The emergencies ministry told Russian news agencies it had repelled the cyberattacks while Sberbank said its cyber security systems had prevented viruses from entering its systems.

New breed of ransomware
Although cyber extortion cases have been rising for several years, they have to date affected small-to-mid sized organizations, disrupting services provided by hospitals, police departments, public transportation systems and utilities in the United States and Europe.

“Seeing a large telco like Telefonica get hit is going to get everybody worried. Now ransomware is affecting larger companies with more sophisticated security operations,” Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer with cyber security firm Veracode, said.

The news is also likely to embolden cyber extortionists when selecting targets, Chris Camacho, chief strategy officer with cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint, said.

“Now that the cyber criminals know they can hit the big guys, they will start to target big corporations. And some of them may not be well prepared for such attacks,” Camacho said.

In Spain, some big firms took pre-emptive steps to thwart ransomware attacks following a warning from Spain’s National Cryptology Centre of “a massive ransomware attack.”

Iberdrola and Gas Natural , along with Vodafone’s unit in Spain , asked staff to turn off computers or cut off internet access in case they had been compromised, representatives from the firms said.

In Spain, the attacks did not disrupt the provision of services or networks operations of the victims, the government said in a statement.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Microsoft Agrees to Buy US-Israeli Cyber-Security Firm Hexadite

 

Microsoft said on Thursday it has agreed to acquire Hexadite, a US-Israeli provider of technology to automate responses to cyber-attacks.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

In May, Israeli financial news website Calcalist said Microsoft would pay $100 million (roughly Rs. 643 crores) for Hexadite, which is headquartered in Boston with its research and development centre in Israel.

Hexadite says its technology increases productivity and reduces costs for businesses.Microsoft Agrees to Buy US-Israeli Cyber-Security Firm Hexadite
Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, said Hexadite will enable the company to add new tools and services to Microsoft’s enterprise security offerings.

Investors in Hexadite include Hewlett Packard Ventures, and venture capital firms TenEleven and YL Ventures.

Microsoft said in January it plans to continue to invest more than $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,428 crores) annually on cyber-security research and development in the coming years. Israel has already benefited from that investment.

 

Microsoft Said to Plan Sales Reorganisation Focused on Cloud

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Microsoft is planning to announce a reorganisation as early as next week
Job cuts are likely to result from the changes
There may be other smaller personnel changes in company’s other parts
Microsoft Corp. is planning a global sales reorganisation to better focus on selling cloud software, according to people familiar with the matter.

The restructuring is scheduled to be announced as soon as next week and will impact the Worldwide Commercial Business under Judson Althoff and Jean-Philippe Courtois’ global sales and marketing group, the people said.Microsoft Said to Plan Sales Reorganisation Focused on Cloud

Job cuts are likely to result from the changes, said the people, who asked not to be identified speaking about unannounced plans. The shifts will be some of the most significant in the sales force in years and will also impact local marketing efforts in various countries, said one of the people. There may be other smaller personnel changes in other parts of the company too, one of other people said. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

The company’s sales force has been trained for years to sell software for use on desktops and servers. Now it’s more important to convince customers to sign up for cloud services hosted in Microsoft’s datacenters. The Redmond, Washington-based company wants to accelerate this switch to add more revenue and catch cloud market leader Amazon.com.
Friday is the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year, the first in which Althoff and Courtois have run the sales and marketing organisations, taking over from Kevin Turner who left in 2016.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported earlier than the company planned a companywide reorganisation around the cloud.

 

Apple reportedly plans to perform 5G internet tests in Cupertino

Apple is planning to test next-generation wireless internet technology near its California headquarters, according to a experimental application signed today by the iPhone maker and disclosed by the FCC. The application, obtained by Business Insider, details Apple’s plans to test 5G internet speeds achievable only with what’s known as millimeter wave technology, or mmWave. This is the same type of technology that internet startup Starry uses to try and deliver gigabit Wi-Fi to homes.

“Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multi-path environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum,” reads the application, according to BI. “These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.”

Though 5G remains a somewhat nebulous concept because standards organizations have yet to formally classify it, the successor to LTE is broadly understood to be capable of gigabit speeds that rely on mmWave tech. Because mmWave transmits data at a higher frequency, and thus a smaller wavelength of between 30 GHz and 300 GHz, the technology is capable of reducing latency and expanding data transmission capacity. It also opens up possibilities for cutting down on antenna size and for packing more powerful multi-band antennas into a single device.

Generally speaking, we’re talking about internet speeds that are orders of magnitude higher than standard LTE. Of course, there are big technically challenges with mmWave that need to be solved, primarily that the signal has trouble traveling great distances and through a great many surface materials, including glass. Still, Apple seems intent on testing the technology for itself:

Apple intends to transmit from two fixed points located at Apple-controlled facilities in Cupertino and Milpitas, CA. These transmissions will be consistent with the parameters and equipment identified in Apple’s accompanying Form 442, and will include the use of a horn antenna with a half-power beamwidth of 20 degrees in the E-plane and H-plane and a downtilt between 20 – 25 degrees. Apple anticipates that it will conduct its experiments for a period not to exceed 12 months.

Apple would be handling only the hardware side of testing with relation to the construction of new iPhones — perhaps the company is also looking at a different smartphone modem supplier given its ongoing legal dispute with Qualcomm. On the other end, there’s still a significant amount of network infrastructure work that has to be completed on behalf of telecoms, chipmakers, and standards organizations before your next smartphone sports a new logo in the upper left corner. That might not happen for an other two or three years.

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have all announced plans to start testing faster versions of 4G LTE that should, in theory, help lay the groundwork for true 5G in the future. On the chip side, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Intel have all announced new hardware to support 5G speeds, while telecom standards organization 3GPP is working to release the first official 5G standards in the second half of 2017 with full-scale tests and deployments slated for 2019.

Microsoft proposing $10B program to bring broadband internet to rural America

 

In an event scheduled for Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Microsoft plans to propose using technology it helped develop as a cornerstone of an effort to connect the 23.4 million Americans in rural areas who lack high-speed internet access.

Microsoft is set to propose a $10 billion program to bring broadband internet to the rural U.S., an economic-development program aimed at a core constituency of the Trump administration.

The plan, which calls for corporate and government cash, relies on nascent television “white-space” technology, which sends internet data over unused broadcast frequencies set aside for television channels.

 Sherry Scott, a schoolteacher in southern Virginia, tests a new broadcast internet system as part of a pilot program by Microsoft and Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities to extend access to more rural students. (Microsoft)

In an event scheduled for Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Microsoft is to propose using the technology it helped develop as a cornerstone of an effort to connect the 23.4 million Americans in rural areas who lack high-speed internet access.

“One thing we’ve concluded is just how important broadband is for all kinds of things,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in an interview ahead of the announcement.

It’s not just streaming high-definition movies, he said. Slow or nonexistent connections can hinder agriculture, business, education and health care, he said. Broadband “is about, increasingly, the necessities of life.”

His speech Tuesday is designed to raise the profile of the TV white-space technology, in which base stations tap into a database, ask what television spectrum is unused in the area (the “white space”), and send broadband data to customers using that frequency.

Smith also hopes to pitch the value of Microsoft’s guidance as the Republican-held White House and Congress lay the groundwork for an infrastructure bill in coming months.

White House officials are expected to attend Microsoft’s event, held at a hotel a few blocks from the White House, Smith said. Meanwhile, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai plans to travel to southern Virginia to visit a pilot project demonstrating Microsoft’s technology.

Smith’s proposal calls for a five-year program of corporate investment and matching federal and state grants to end the gap between rural and urban access, starting with the company’s own efforts.

Microsoft’s new Rural Airband Initiative will aim to have projects to deploy white-space internet with telecommunications industry partners up and running in 12 states by next year.

A receiver used to extend broadband internet over unused parts of the TV broadcast spectrum is seen at a Charlotte County, Virginia, home. (Microsoft)
A receiver used to extend broadband internet over unused parts of the TV broadcast spectrum is seen at a Charlotte County, Virginia, home. (Microsoft)
 

Microsoft will provide the technology and invest the cash to expand coverage, Smith said. That sum will be repaid by collecting a share of future service revenue, and will subsequently be spent on additional projects.

The company hopes that its direct investments will connect 2 million people to broadband internet by 2022. Smith didn’t specify Microsoft’s total financial commitment to meet that goal, but said it would be “very substantial.”

For other interested companies, Microsoft is offering the use of 39 of its white-space patents to implement their own projects.

It’s unclear whether other companies will follow Microsoft’s lead. Google and Facebook are both plugging away at research projects to build global aerial networks to bring broadband to places without internet access.

Much of Microsoft’s pitch is that its technology is cheaper than other alternatives available today.

Connecting people using TV white-space technology would cost between $10 billion and $15 billion, according to a Microsoft-commissioned study by the Boston Consulting Group. The use of satellite connections where density slips too low for even white-space broadcasting could shave $2 billion off the cost, the study estimates.

Using 4G wireless networks to achieve the same goal would cost $15 billion to $25 billion, the study estimates. Deployment of fiber-optic cable would cost $45 billion to $65 billion.

Companies and researchers have been experimenting with white-space technologies for more than a decade. Investment ramped up following 2008 FCC regulations that pushed for more efficient use of the wave spectrum that carries everything from TV and radio broadcasts to smartphone data packets and commercial-airline communications.

Unused TV spectrum has a few advantages that make it well placed for rural areas, Microsoft says.

Television signals travel four times the distance of Wi-Fi, translating to 16 times the coverage area for broadcast towers beaming in all directions. TV signals also are better able to pass through obstacles like hills and walls. And rural areas tend to have more unused TV channels ripe for internet traffic than do cities.

Microsoft has extensively tested the technology, running 20 pilot efforts and connecting about 185,000 people.

The experiments had primarily targeted the developing world, whether stretching internet connectivity to corners of Africa that lacked it before or trying out white-space towers for disaster relief in the Philippines.

But as of Tuesday, Microsoft’s focus with the technology shifts to the U.S., which Smith acknowledged is partly a result of issues raised by Donald Trump’s win in November.

“In all honesty, the election did provide a wake-up call for all of us in the country to think about the role of rural counties,” he said.

Some major providers of broadband and wireless coverage are reluctant to extend their networks into rural areas, preferring the more lucrative and cost-effective business of building in cities.

Federal and state governments in recent years have tried to use tax breaks and other incentives to bridge that gap, often in partnership with regional or small-scale providers.

One of them is Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities (MBC), which was founded in 2004 by an electricity cooperative and has relied on grants to build out 1,800 miles of fiber-optic cable, the modern telecommunications backbone.

“We started with the idea that we’re losing jobs and investment because we can’t get broadband in rural Virginia,” said Tad Deriso, the nonprofit’s president.

Deriso approached Microsoft a few years ago after hearing about the company’s experiments with white-space technology.

Some students in MBC’s area struggle to complete or turn in digital school assignments on weak home internet connections, a problem commonly called the homework gap. Deriso was looking for creative ways to address that.

Microsoft chipped in, contributing to a partially grant-funded project that, for $1 million, is expected to connect 1,000 households to high-speed internet powered by TV white-space technology. FCC Commissioner Pai is expected to see the progress toward that goal firsthand on Tuesday, Deriso said.

Microsoft’s next experiments will be larger.

“We have not seen the market or the public sector really effectively fill this gap,” Smith said.

 The Best Days Of Indian Consumer Internet Are Yet To Come

Image result for  The Best Days Of Indian Consumer Internet Are Yet To Come

Consumer Internet startups, the hottest ticket in Indian startup ecosystem for the last decade, appeared to have hit a massive speed breaker in 2016. Funding slowed down drastically. In the ecommerce sector alone, funding fell to $1.94 billion in 2016 from $4.7 billion in 2015, as per data from Venture Intelligence. Many were forced to shut shop. Tracxn counted over 314 consumer Internet startups which shut down in 2016 compared to 215 the previous year. Those who survived saw their valuations fizzle out; even the biggest startups were not able to get through without anguish.

This bleak scenario led to many observers questioning the legitimacy of India’s consumer Internet story. They had data to back this hypothesis as funding began shifting away from consumer-Internet startups. But there is one singular aspect of the analysis that caught my eye – a few people started questioning the very existence of India’s big consumer Internet market.

A chart published in The Economist last month said that ecommerce sales in India were flat in 2016, after doubling in 2014 and trebling in 2015. The report accompanying the chart noted that of the 200 Mn-250 Mn Indians with Internet access and credit or debit cards; only a small proportion of this were inclined to shop online. Although this part may be true.

Britain’s May asks G7 to back moves to tackle internet extremism

 

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May will urge the world’s major industrialized nations on Friday to unite to force technology companies to tackle “extremist material” and stop militants who are moving their fight “from the battlefield to the internet”.

A senior British government source said May, attending her first G7 meeting since becoming prime minister last year, will say social media are not moving fast enough to tackle what she calls an “evolving” threat, just days after a suicide bomb attack in the northern English city on Manchester killed 22.

“The PM will say that the threat we face is evolving, rather than disappearing, as Daesh (Islamic State) loses ground in Iraq and Syria. The fight is moving from the battlefield to the internet,” the government source said.

“If you have unity at the G7, and you are all sending out the same message, that we want internet companies, social media companies to step up … then obviously that delivers a powerful message.”

May has made tackling extremist material on the internet one of her main commitments after becoming prime minister in the aftermath of Britain voting to leave the European Union in June last year.Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at an election campaign event in Wrexham, Wales May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

While Italy hopes the G7 meeting in Taormina, on the cliffs of eastern Sicily, will concentrate minds on Europe’s migrant crisis, the British leader has said she wants to set out her stall on measures to tackle internet extremism.

May’s interior minister, Amber Rudd, said technology companies must cooperate more with law enforcement agencies after it was reported that British-born Khalid Masood, who plowed his car into pedestrians and fatally stabbed a policeman in parliament in March, had used encrypted messages moments earlier.

The Manchester suicide bombing has also focused minds, with May describing it as a callous attack on innocent children.

Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British-born man with Libyan parents, who blew himself up is suspected by the police and security services to have been working with a network of people who were inspired by extreme Islamist ideology.

She will tell the leaders of the United States, Japan, France, Italy, Germany and Canada that technology companies should be encouraged to better develop tools that can automatically identify and remove harmful material, to block users who post extremist content and revise industry guidelines.

May, a former interior minister, will also reiterate that companies should “tell the authorities when they identify harmful material so action can be taken”.

“This sort of material being on the internet is obviously harmful,” the source said. “It’s obviously in the past been linked to acts of violence and the less of this material that is on the internet, clearly that is for the better.”

 

 

I’M ADDICTED TO WATCHING ARCHIVE RAVE FOOTAGE ON THE INTERNET

Hi, my name is Louis Anderson-Rich and I am an archive rave addict.

Right, I see by the way your face has scrunched up that you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about so let me cut to the chase. Basically, like people who have been duped by Nigerian money scams, Yahoo Mail users and Bad Luck Brian, the Internet has sucked me in and fucked me over. Not in, like, a malicious way or anything but… The Internet is just such an addictive place isn’t it? And I have an addiction – I just can’t stop watching videos of old raves on the Internet.Image result for I'M ADDICTED TO WATCHING ARCHIVE RAVE FOOTAGE ON THE INTERNET

Whether it’s old episodes of The New Dance Show or videos of people losing it in a Doncaster warehouse, Sven Vath chewing his face off at Love Parade or Underground Resistance blowing people’s minds in 1992, I cannot fucking get enough. Just look at the sheer optimism in these videos. Here are people discovering dance music when it was a never-before-seen, cutting-edge youth revolution. And of course there’s all the sick 90s gear.

If I said “YouTube hole” to you, it might help you understand. We’ve all been trapped down one in the past, staring at a screen as if to see who blinks first. They’re characterised by recommended videos that are just too tasty to not click, and if you’ve told yourself “just one more Carpool Karaoke video” before inevitably missing your bus stop and cursing James Corden’s slimmed down face then you know what I’m talking about. But I’m at DEFCON 1 with this shit.

 

Google Play Music Offering 120-Day Free Subscription to New Subscribers

Google Play Music Offering 120-Day Free Subscription to New Subscribers

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Contrary to earlier, Google Play Music is now offering 120-day free trial
  • It includes offline downloading and listening to music online
  • However, there will be advertisements inside the Play Music app

Google is offering a four-month free subscription on its music streaming service Google Play Music for new subscribers, allowing users to scan up to 50,000 songs from their music library.

Typically, Google offers a 90-day free trial when a user signs up, but the offer has been extended by one month, AndroidPolice reported on Friday. The new special offer can be availed here.Image result for Google Play Music Offering 120-Day Free Subscription to New Subscribers

Users can listen to custom radio stations on their computer or mobile device using Google Play Music service. However, users who use the free service face ads on their app, unlike those subscribers who pay around $10 (roughly Rs. 645).

Such users can also listen to over 35 million songs, download music to listen offline, and get access to YouTube Red. Though Google has offered similar deals in the past, it was not clear how long the deal would remain active.

Google Play Music All Access was launched in India in April, priced at Rs. 99 per month. As an introductory offer, users were offered a 30-day free trial and a subscription fee of Rs. 89 per month.

In India, the entire music collection licensed by Google – about 35 million songs – is available for streaming or download for offline listening. Google’s offering is also cheaper than its biggest rival by volume of music, Apple Music, which comes in at Rs. 120 per month in India.

Written with inputs from IANS

How to travel with babies and young kids

 

It should not be a stressful affair when travelling with your kids, so think positive and smile – you’re on vacation! (illustration: RL)

SINGAPORE: I am a mother of two young children and I’m known for both making travel plans way in advance and jumping on a plane with the kids on a whim for a long weekend somewhere. My little ones already know this as a way of life. In fact, travel has been an intrinsic part of their childhood from when they were only two months old.

Travelling at a young age has also made them adaptable, think quick on their feet and feel comfortable in new environments. In fact, the younger they are, the easier it is to travel. Here’s how.

TRAVELLING WITH BABIES

The first thing to remember about bringing a baby on board a plane is to have exactly what you need and nothing more. You don’t want to carry too many things (especially toys) that you could lose or drop, so I always prefer a streamlined approach.

Invest in a good baby carrier and travel pram. It leaves your hands free and is the best choice for any kind of travel. Carrying heavier babies all day may leave you sweating and achy, so get a foldable stroller with a shoulder sling for city breaks.

Pack only the essentials. Here’s what should go in your baby bag: Some diapers, milk paraphernalia (if Mummy is not nursing), baby wipes and extra change of clothes for baby and parents because accidents happen. Otherwise, don’t bring anything that you can easily acquire at your destination (especially disposables).Image result for How to travel with babies and young kids

Choose your seats well. Not all of us can travel business class all the time. When travelling economy, spend the cash where you may need it. Book the row with the bassinet or seats with a bit more legroom (although I actually prefer to be able to place my bag under the seat in front of me for easy access).

TRAVELLING WITH YOUNG KIDS

Depending on how you see it, you can have fun with older tots and kids on your travels. Once they are able to walk and talk, you can get them to participate a little more on the trip.

Get them involved. Start with simple things like carrying their own backpacks or watching a younger sibling while you check in. Tell them what gate you’re looking for as you walk through the departure hall.

Make them sleep. Make sure they go to the toilet before boarding the plane and before a meal is served. Then use the sleep eye masks on them! Depending on the time difference when you land, you either want your kids to be ready to start the day or for bed. For long-haul travel, sufficient rest is a must to prevent jet lag and keep kids from getting cranky.

Special treats. It could be a book, toy or snack that your kids can enjoy only when they are on holiday. This can distract them from long waiting times. For example, my children are not hooked on gadgets, so watching a movie on the plane becomes something special, plus they never ask for the iPad when we are not on vacation.

Special meals: Always make sure to request for child meals when you are booking the flight (they don’t always come automatically with a child fare for some carriers). Also, remember to ask for a souvenir kids pack; some airlines include quite nifty items like travel shoe bags or bandannas.

Managing expectations. Tell them how much longer they have to spend in the car, train or plane and give them something constructive to do such as drawing the things that they have seen on the trip to give as gifts to their grandparents. For older children, writing in a travel journal is another useful way of integrating learning with holidays.

The top priority when travelling with children is to remember that they are looking to you for model good behaviour. If you are a fussy, frantic traveller, and always complaining to service staff, chances are you kids would be too. If you can make it look easy, then your kids are likely adapt to your style.  So think positive, keep your arms free to hold their hands and smile – you are on vacation!

Ana Ow is a full-time copywriter and freelance writer. Her two children, 8 and 5 years old, have been travelling with her since they were three months old. Places they have been to include the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, Niagara Falls and many others.