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COMPUTER SECURITY ROUND UP OF LAST 6 MONTHS !

[All articles : Option 1]

There are 29 introductions to computer articles under this heading.

Keep the holidays cyber safe
(Computer World, dated 20th December 2012 author Martin Gomberg)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8383809/930454165/595124/0/

Happy holidays. It is a wonderful time of year for giving, receiving gifts, festive dinners with friends and family, and that long awaited trip to exotic places. We wait all year for the holiday season. We are not the only ones who wait.. Financial fraud, identity theft, malware, phishing and malicious hoaxes all ramp up for that time when we are most at ease and vulnerable. The best gift you can give to yourself --- be aware.

What does it take? After a delicious dinner and great wine, feeling mellow and content, you hand your credit card to the waiter. It takes only a smart phone with a camera ... and your name, credit card number, expiration date and verification code are now someone else's dessert!


Microsoft: Most PCs running pirated Windows in China have security issues
(Computer World, dated 13th December 2012 author Michael Kan)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8368216/930454165/593932/0/

Microsoft launched a new anti-piracy campaign in China to highlight the security risks of buying counterfeit software.

In a recent investigation, Microsoft purchased 169 PCs from shops in China and found that all were installed with pirated versions of Windows, with 91% of them containing malware or deliberate security vulnerabilities.

"What we are finding is that increasingly cybercriminals are targeting both businesses and consumers right here in China," said Nick Psyhogeos, vice president of Microsoft's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) business solutions group.


Japan police offer first-ever reward for wanted hacker
(Computer World, dated 13th December 2012 author Jay Alabaster)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8368216/930454165/593933/0/

Japanese police are looking for an individual who can code in C#, uses a "Syberian Post Office" to make anonymous posts online, and knows how to surf the web without leaving any digital tracks -- and they're willing to pay.

It is the first time that Japan's National Police Agency has offered a monetary reward for a wanted hacker, or put so much technical detail into one of its wanted postings. The NPA will pay up to 3 million yen (US$36,000), the maximum allowed under its reward system.

The case is an embarrassing one for the police, in which earlier this year four individuals were wrongly arrested after their PCs were hacked and used to post messages on public bulletin boards. The messages included warnings of plans for mass killings at an elementary school posted to a city website.


US, European agencies seize 132 domain names for selling counterfeit merchandise
(Computer World, dated 26th November 2012 author John Ribeiro)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8341384/930454165/591741/0/

U.S. and European agencies have seized 132 domain names that were allegedly used to sell counterfeit merchandise online.

The operation on Monday was a joint effort by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), law enforcement agencies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania and the U.K., and the European Police Office (Europol).

It was planned to coincide with "Cyber Monday," the Monday after Thanksgiving when people in the U.S. are expected to continue their holiday shopping online from fast Internet connections in office. The websites were set up to dupe consumers into unknowingly buying counterfeit goods during the holiday shopping season, ICE said in a statement Monday.


 

Ransomware crooks make millions from porn-shaming scams
(Computer World, dated 9th November 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8312229/930454165/589822/0/

Ransomware is a growth industry that puts at least $5 million annually into criminals' coffers, Symantec said Thursday.

"If you look at the nature of the beast, it really puts the screws to you," said Kevin Haley, director of Symantec's security response team, in an interview yesterday. "We see so many gangs moving to ransomware, looking for new angles, new versions [of the malware], that we're going to see a lot of this in the future."

"Ransomware" is a long-standing label for malware that once on a personal computer cripples the machine or encrypts its files, then displays a message -- the ransom note -- that demands payment to restore control to the owner.


 

Security research labels over 290,000 Google Play Android apps as 'high-risk'
(Computer World, dated 1st November 2012 author Ellen Messmer)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8298892/930454165/588747/0/

One-quarter of more than 400,000 Android apps examined in the Google Play store pose security risks to mobile-device users, according to new research.

Security vendor Bit9 categorized these Android apps as "questionable" or "suspicious" because they could gain access to personal information to collect GPS data, phone calls or phone numbers and much more after the user granted "permission" to the app. "You have to say 'yes' to the application or it won't run," pointed out Harry Sverdlove, Bit9 CTO. Games, entertainment and wallpaper apps especially seem to want to grab data, even though the their functions would seem to have little direct use for it.


 Shylock malware injects rogue phone numbers in online banking websites
(Computer World, dated 8th August 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8159136/930454165/574357/0/

New configurations of the Shylock financial malware inject attacker-controlled phone numbers into the contact pages of online banking websites, according to security researchers from antivirus vendor Symantec.

By doing this, the attackers attempt to trick victims into calling them instead of the bank if they become suspicious during an online banking session, Symantec researcher Alan Neville said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Security researchers have advised users for years to call their banks in order to verify the authenticity of any unusual error messages or requests they encounter while performing online banking operations. This type of attack could defeat that basic defense.


 

Phishing websites reach all-time high
(Computer World, dated 19th July 2012 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8124577/930454165/571990/0/

The number of phishing websites detected reached an all-time high earlier this year, a sign that making fake websites spoofing real ones is still a lucrative trade for cybercriminals.

In its latest report, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) said 56,859 phishing sites were detected in February, beating the previous record high in August 2009 by nearly 1 percent. APWG is a nonprofit consortium composed of banks, security vendors and others with a stake in tracking cybercrime trends.

Phishing sites are websites that look nearly identical to the legitimate ones and often mimic known brands. Leveraging the trust users put in the legitimate companies, cybercriminals succeed in tricking victims into divulging logins, passwords and other sensitive information.



24 arrested in international online 'carding' crackdown
(Computer World, dated 26th June 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

 

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8078735/930454165/568568/0/

A total of 24 people from 13 countries, including 11 from the United States, were arrested on Tuesday on charges related to the theft and misuse of credit card data, bank account information and other financial data.

One other individual was arrested last night in New York as part of the same two year FBI undercover operation. The ages of those arrested in the U.S. ranged from 18 to 25.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York characterized the operation as the largest coordinated international law enforcement action against online "carding" operations that traffic in stolen credit card and financial information. Among those arrested on Tuesday were individuals from the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Germany and Norway.


 

Cybercriminals increasingly use online banking fraud automation techniques
(Computer World, dated 26th June 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8078735/930454165/568570/0/

Cybercriminals attempted to steal at least $75 million from high-balance business and consumer bank accounts by using sophisticated fraud automation techniques that can bypass two-factor authentication, according to a report released on Monday by antivirus firm McAfee and online banking security vendor Guardian Analytics.

The new fraud automation techniques are an advancement over the so-called man-in-the-browser (MitB) attacks performed through online banking malware like Zeus or SpyEye.


 

Survey reveals tech security generation gap
(Computer World, dated 21st June 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8070243/930454165/568141/0/

Young, tech-savvy people pay substantially less attention to online security risks and are therefore more likely to experience security problems than older people.

That's the not very surprising findings of a survey conducted by ZoneAlarm, a unit of security vendor Check Point Software Technologies.

ZoneAlarm polled 1,245 young and older tech users from the U.S, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia to find generational differences in attitudes towards computer security.

Only 31% of the younger respondents ranked security as the most important tech consideration, compared to 58% of Baby Boomers.




Governments should spend more to cybercriminals, researchers say
(Computer World, dated 18th June 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

 

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8061992/930454165/567608/0/

Improving the ability of law enforcement agencies to catch cybercriminals should be a priority when governments decide how their cybersecurity budgets get spent, according to University of Cambridge security engineering professor Ross Anderson.

Anderson is one of seven computer researchers from the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and the U.S. who recently performed an analysis of the costs of cybercrime at the request of the U.K. Ministry of Defence. Their findings were published in a research paper that will be presented on June 26 at the 11th Annual Workshop on the Economics of Information Security in Berlin.


 

Secret Service laced honeypot with seduction to catch hackers
(Computer World, dated 11th June 2012 author Darlene Storm)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8048875/930454165/566496/0/

The Ultimate Guide to Social Engineering [PDF] states "social engineers offer free gifts of favors" counting on the fact that reciprocation is a human impulse. An example is to give a "plate of cookies," but what if the bait goodies were more along the lines of a plate of nookie?

Last December in a multimillion-dollar scheme, four Romanian hackers were charged with hacking point-of-sale (POS) systems which targeted more than 200 U.S. merchants including 150 Subway restaurants. The indictment said they remotely scanned for vulnerabilities in POS computer systems, guessed or used password-cracking programs, installed keystroke loggers and backdoor Trojans before stealing the credit card data of 80,000 U.S. customers.

The Secret Service successfully lured the Romanians into the United States by using one of the oldest tricks in the book, by "using a female agent as a honeypot.



Samsung printers contain hardcoded backdoor account, US-CERT warns
(Computer World, dated 27th November 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

 

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8354331/930454166/592785/0/

Printers manufactured by Samsung have a backdoor administrator account hard coded in their firmware that could enable attackers to change their configuration, read their network information or stored credentials and access sensitive information passed to them by users.

The hardcoded account does not require authentication and can be accessed over the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) interface of the affected printers, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) said in a security advisory.


 

When in China, don't leave your laptop alone
(Computer World, dated 4th December 2012 author Bob Violino)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8354331/930454166/592783/0/

You're traveling in China on business, and after checking into your hotel room you decide to grab a bite at a local restaurant. You're not planning to work, so you leave your laptop on the dresser, lock the door, and exit, feeling confident that your possessions are safe.

An hour and half later you return and note that all your stuff, including the laptop, is just where you left it. Everything seems fine, and you go about your business, conducting meetings with potential clients over the next few days before returning home.

But everything is not fine. While you were out to dinner that first night, someone entered your room (often a nominal hotel staffer), carefully examined the contents of your laptop, and installed spyware on the computer -- without your having a clue.


 

Out-of-date, vulnerable browsers put users at risk
(Computer World, dated 9th November 2012 author Tony Bradley)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8331280/930454166/591344/0/

Is your browser up to date? According to the results of a new survey from security software vendor Kaspersky, nearly a quarter of the browsers currently in use are out of date. Surfing the Web with a vulnerable browser is a recipe for disaster.

The Web browser has evolved to become the primary software used on many PCs. People access their email, surf websites, create documents and spreadsheets, access cloud-based file storage and sharing sites, and share with others on social networking sites -- all through the browser. Attackers no this as well, which is why it is exceptionally risky to use a browser with known vulnerabilities.


 

Cyberwarfare evolves faster than rules of engagement
(Computer World, dated 12th November 2012 author Elizabeth Heichler)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8331280/930454166/591335/0/

As the rhetoric heats up over cyberwar -- including warnings that attacks on the U.S. are imminent and alarms that the U.S. has escalated the risk via malware attacks on Iran's nuclear program -- the rules of engagement are missing in action.

The current framework of international law and treaties doesn't adequately address cyberconflict, Jody Westby, CEO of Global Cyber Risk, said Monday at the Techonomy 12 conference.

Westby said that customary international law should be extended into the cyber domain and define a certain amount of a nation's critical infrastructure that should be "declared sacred and off limits for attack." She also argued that there should be an agreement outlawing "irregular forces," which in this context would include botnets.


 

Chinese telecom firms pose national security threat, US committee finds
(Computer World, dated 8th October 2012 author Agam Shah)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8265428/930454166/585751/0/

After a yearlong investigation, a congressional committee on Monday concluded that Chinese telecommunication equipment vendors Huawei Technologies and ZTE pose a security threat to the U.S., with lawmakers advising U.S. private-sector firms to not buy networking gear from the companies.

The U.S. should view penetration by Chinese telecommunication companies into the U.S. telecom market with suspicion, wrote U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in a study released on Monday.

uaware note : I wonder why BT buys much of its networking and exchange equipment from Huawei ?


 

Malware-infected computers rented as proxy servers on the black market
(Computer World, dated 9th October 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8265428/930454166/585749/0/

Cybercriminals are using computers infected with a particular piece of malware to power a commercial proxy service that funnels potentially malicious traffic through them, according to security researchers from Symantec.

Three months ago, Symantec researchers started an investigation into a piece of malware called Backdoor.Proxybox that has been known since 2010, but has shown increasing activity recently.


 

Permanent cybersecurity team established for EU institutions
(Computer World, dated 12th September 2012 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8245296/930454166/583891/0/

European institutions on Wednesday beefed up cybersecurity efforts by establishing a permanent Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU).

The decision was made following a one-year test for the team, which works closely with the internal IT security teams of the European Union institutions -- the European Commission, the Council, the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said these E.U. institutions are frequently the target of information security incidents.


 

European online counter-terrorism group considering widespread surveillance
(Computer World, dated 21st September 2012 author Jennifer Baker)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8245296/930454166/583890/0/

A leaked document from a project set up by the European Commission to fight terrorism online reveals suggestions for wide-ranging surveillance.

The CleanIT project was set up to create voluntary guidelines to stamp out terrorism online, but a document leaked on Friday reveals that some of the suggestions would greatly hamper civil liberties.

The "recommendations" advise that ISPs should be held liable for not making "reasonable" efforts to use technological surveillance to identify terrorist use of the Internet. They also urge companies to filter employees' Internet connections and say that "it must be legal for police to patrol on social media."


 

Facial recognition may need regulating
(Computer World, dated 13th August 2012 author Grant Gross)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8200060/930454166/578467/0/

No existing U.S. laws limit the use of facial recognition tools in the public or private sectors, said people who testified before the subcommittee. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have huge databases of biometric identifiers, and they're adding facial data to them. Meanwhile, Facebook users are uploading 300 million photos to the social networking site every day, said Jennifer Lynch, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Many Americans don't even realize that they're already in a facial recognition database," she said.


 

IT's 9 biggest security threats
(Computer World, dated 27th August 2012 author Roger A Grimes)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8200060/930454166/578462/0/

Years ago the typical hacking scenario involved a lone attacker and maybe some buddies working late at night on Mountain Dew, looking for public-facing IP addresses. When they found one, they enumerated the advertising services (Web server, SQL server, and so on), broke in using a multitude of vulnerabilities, then explored the compromised company to their heart's content. Often their intent was exploratory. If they did something illegal, it was typically a spur-of-the-moment crime of opportunity.

My, how times have changed.


 

Swiss scientists develop algorithm to sniff out source of malware, spam attacks
(Computer World, dated 13th August 2012 author Loek Essers)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8172578/930454166/575127/0/

Swiss scientists have developed an algorithm that can be used to locate spammers as well as the source of a computer virus or malware.

The algorithm finds the source by only checking a small percentage of the connections in a network, said Pedro Pinto, postdoctoral researcher at the Audiovisual Communications Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) on Monday


 

9 popular IT security practices that just don't work
(Computer World, dated 13th August 2012 author Roger A Grimes)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8172578/930454166/575126/0/

When it comes to IT security, FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is more than just the tool of overhyping vendors hoping to sell their next big thing. It is the reality that seasoned IT security pros live in, thanks in large part to the -- at times gaping -- shortcomings of traditional approaches to securing IT systems and data.

The truth is most common IT security products and techniques don't work as advertised, leaving us far more exposed to malicious code than we know. That's because traditional IT security takes a whack-a-mole approach to threats, leaving us to catch up with the next wave of innovative malware, most of which rolls out in plain view on the Internet.



Why you shouldn't train employees for security awareness
(Computer World, dated 18th July 2012 author Dave Aitel)

 

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8142908/930454166/573226/0/

If there's one myth in the information security field that just won't die, it's that an organization's security posture can be substantially improved by regularly training employees in how not to infect the company

You can see the reasoning behind it, of course. RSA got hacked from a Word document with an embedded Flash vulnerability. A few days later the entire company's SecureID franchise was at risk of being irrelevant once the attackers had gone off with the private keys that ruled the system.

But do phishing attacks like RSA prove that employee training is a must, or just the opposite? If employees and/or executives at RSA, Google, eBay, Adobe, Facebook, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other technologically sophisticated organizations can be phished, doesn't that suggest that even knowledgeable and trained people still fall victim to attacks?

One of the best examples ever of the limitations of training is West Point's 2004 phishing experiment called "Carronade." Cadets were sent phishing emails to test their security. Even after undergoing four hours of computer security training, 90 percent of cadets still clicked on the embedded link.


 

US Dept of Homeland Security warns of vulnerabilities in widely used Niagara software
(Computer World, dated 17th July 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8117302/930454166/571625/0/

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued an alert warning of vulnerabilities in a software technology called the Niagara AX Framework, used to manage millions of devices over the Internet.
The DHS also urged Niagara users to change default password credentials, and limit user access to the password file system. The alert called on owners of industrial control systems who are using Niagara to disconnect their control systems networks from the business networks to prevent them from being directly accessible via the Internet.
Niagara's maker, Tridium, claims it has installed more than 300,000 copies of its software at customer locations worldwide. The company's customers include Boeing, ABB, Callaway and Whirlpool.


 

10 crazy IT security tricks that actually work
(Computer World, dated 9th July 2012 author Roger A Grimes

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8117302/930454166/571629/0/

Network and endpoint security may not strike you as the first place to scratch an experimental itch. After all, protecting the company's systems and data should call into question any action that may introduce risk. But IT security threats constantly evolve, and sometimes you have to think outside the box to keep ahead of the more ingenious evildoers.



Android malware steals location data from mobile devices
Computer World, dated 18th July 2012 author Antone Gonsalves)

 

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8117302/930454166/571630/0/

BitDefender Labs has discovered Android malware that regularly broadcasts the location of the infected mobile device to a remote server.

What the malware creators intend to do with the privacy-invading information is not clear. The app operates in the background and appears on the smartphone or tablet as an icon with the word "store" written on it.

The store icon is apparently meant to fool the device user into thinking that it is only an e-commerce app, according to Bitdefender.

(31st December 2012)


CONMEN DID USE LEAKED INFO OF SPORTY CIVIL SERVANTS TO ATTACK HMRC
(The Register, dated 18th December 2012 author Anna Leach)

Full article : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/18/civil_servants_data_used_to_attack_hmrc/
[Option 1]

Criminals used the personal data of 100,000 civil servants that was swiped in early 2010 in an attack on HMRC around the same time, The Register has discovered. Now, almost three years later, the government is still scrabbling around trying to work out whodunnit... and only recently 'fessed up to the individuals concerned that their data had been snaffled.

Just last month, the Civil Service Sports Council informed civil servants who signed up to access football fields and gyms through the council that their personal details had been slurped. Now it has emerged that their data was used as ammunition in a broadside against the tax collectors - a previously unknown and unreported attack.

It is understood that no "individual fraud" was committed, but the data could theoretically have been used by crims to draw ghost benefits or even ghost salaries from the government department. Nevertheless, until recently, none of the targets were informed that their data had been compromised.

Leaky database was juicy target

The three-year-old attack came to light a few weeks ago when the Sports Council revealed to its 100,000+ members that their personal data had been stolen by hackers some time before February 2010.

A leaky database at the Civil Service Sports Council gave the crims the opportunity to steal the names, addresses, dates of birth and national insurance numbers of the entire sports-playing members. And they did. Because the database was unencrypted and all information was logged together, a simple SQL injection was all it would have taken to crack the database open and filch the details.

So far so standard. No inside knowledge of the civil service's sports club was required either: a simple crawl and probe bot - a programme that searches the web for vulnerable databases - could have picked on the shoddy data storage simply from roving around online. The size of the data trove and the fact that it contained national insurance numbers made it a particularly juicy target.

How the data could have been used to hack the government

Then it gets more complicated. The Sports Council says there is “no evidence” that the data was used to attempt individual fraud, but does say it was used in an attempt to defraud central government.

That doesn’t stack up for Trend Micro Security expert Rik Ferguson, who makes a comparison to the HMRC data loss of 2007 when the personal details of 25 million recipients of child benefits were lost after unencrypted CDs went astray. Then there was no suggestion that the stray data would be used against government but HMRC nevertheless had to warn all 25 million recipients that it might be used against them in personal fraud attacks.

“It was exactly the same data that was in Sports Council database - names, addresses, national insurance numbers,” says Ferguson, “so I don’t know why they suspected it would be used in a different area this time.”

The data was used to perpetrate an attack on government according to the Sports Council, and an HMRC spokesperson has confirmed to The Register that the tax-collecting and benefit-dealing ministry had suffered an attack and was investigating it.

HMRC has said it can’t comment on the investigation as it is ongoing: so we don’t know the nature of the attack, or whether it was successful.

We do know that it involved the personal details of the civil service sports council members, that it happened in or before February 2010, that it is subject to criminal investigation and we can surmise that it was big.

Why do we think it was big? Two reasons: first that it was significant enough for HMRC to set an internal team investigating it. Second, the fact that the internal investigators were able to trace the cracked data back to the sports club. If 15 or 30 jilted national insurance numbers were used, it would have been difficult to make a connection that led back to the Sports Council. For the investigators to track it back, the data must have been used in sufficient quantities for them to work out that the fraudulently used national insurance numbers came from a single source - the Sports Council membership list.

(31st December 2012)



FOREIGN "CYBER RECONNAISSANCE" UNDERWAY IN UK
(The Registry, dated 4th December 2012 author John Leyden)

Full article : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/04/cyber_security_strategy/

Foreign states may already have used malware to map the networks that support the UK's critical infrastructure systems, the government admitted.

The admission by government officials came in the run-up to a parliamentary statement by Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, marking the first anniversary of the UK's government's National Cyber Security Strategy.

Maude highlighted future work on a new UK National Computer Emergency Response team, further work on education and skills, Cyber Reservists for the MoD and a partnership with the private sector to boost the cyber security sector in the UK. He pointed out that the private sector is the largest economic victim of crime-crime, such as IP theft, and from economic espionage perpetrated through cyberspace, as well as highlighting efforts to improvement the protection of the UK's critical infrastructure in a written statement to parliament on Monday (3 December).

"We have invested in new and unique capabilities for GCHQ to identify and analyse hostile cyber attacks in order to protect our core networks and services and support the UK’s wider cyber security mission," Maude said. "I cannot reveal details of this work, but it has broadened and deepened our understanding of the threat, helping us prioritise and direct defensive efforts."

"The Security Service has developed and enhanced its cyber structures, focusing on investigating cyber threats from hostile foreign intelligence agencies and terrorists, and working with UK victims. This informs the work of the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) which is helping organisations to improve their cyber security measures."

"CPNI is actively influencing standards, researching vulnerabilities and focusing on the key technologies and systems of cyber infrastructure. As part of this work it has commissioned a major research programme from the University of Oxford with the aim of delivering advice, guidance and products to help reduce the risk of cyber attacks mounted or facilitated with the help of company insiders."

Maude praised efforts to secure systems during the Olympics as well as looking ahead to a new Cyber Incident Response scheme, recently launched by CESG and CPNI in pilot form, will move to become fully operational in 2013. Next year will also see the merger of cyber-policing units at Scotland Yard and SOCA to form the new National Cyber Crime Unit of the new National Crime Agency.

The cyber security strategy was launched on 25 November 2011 as a means to co-ordinate government and private sector efforts in the fight against cyber-espionage, malware and other internet security threats.

The government budgeted £650m to bolster the nation's cyber-defences as part of the 2010 strategic defence review. GCHQ was given the lead role and the lion's share of the budget. Only £30m was earmarked for law enforcement.

Government ministers and officials argue that the threats is growing and facilities that power utilities, banking and other vital services are at the front line of attack. The threats come in the form of attacks designed to steal intellectual property and trade secrets as well as more general cybercrime and probes against the networks of utilities and others.

Officials will not be drawn on who is responsible for reconnaissance-style attacks on UK infrastructure systems, beyond saying that the threat came from abroad. "We understand that there is a threat from hostile foreign states and others to attack it," a senior official said, The Guardian reports. "It would be absolutely in keeping with that – we have seen attempts by hostile foreign states through cyberspace as well." "There are attacks against critical national infrastructure and I am not going to say whether they were or weren't successful," the official added.

Continues....

(31st December 2012)


10,000 INDIAN GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY EMAILS HACKED
(The Register, dated 21st December 2012 author Phil Muncaster)

Link to article : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/21/indian_government_email_hacked/  [Option 1]

India’s government and military have suffered one of the worst cyber attacks in the nation’s history, after over 10,000 email accounts belonging to top officials were compromised, despite a warning from the country’s cyber security agency.

The attack came on 12 July, four days after the government was warned by the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), part of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), that some sophisticated malware was spotted targeting specific individuals and organisations.

News of the attack was revealed at a day-long NCIIPC meeting in New Delhi this week, according to the Indian Express.

Email addresses belonging to officials working at the Prime Minister’s Office, defence, home, finance and external affairs ministries and intelligence agencies were nabbed in the attack, which has been blamed on state actors.

“The Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs took the biggest hit, plus strategic information related to critical sectors, including troop deployment, was compromised,” an NTRO official told the Express.

“Paramilitary forces were also badly hit, especially the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), as deployments were revealed. There were serious cases of negligence, the involvement of insiders, if any, is also being checked.”

India’s most prolific foe in cyber space is thought to be Pakistan, but the frequent skirmishes between the two tend to involve web site defacements and the occasional DDoS attack from various hacktivist groups.

Back in March, minister for communications and IT, Sachin Pilot, revealed that over 100 government sites had been compromised in this manner between December 2011 and February 2012, while the India CERT said there were 834 defacements of .in sites in January alone.

However, the attack in July appears to have been more co-ordinated and carried out with the aim of obtaining specific information.

The NTRO was tight-lipped on the source of the attack.

“We would not like to name the state actors but D4 — destroy, disrupt, deny and degrade — process was initiated and counter offensive launched,” the NTRO official told the Express.

Back in June reports emerged that India’s National Security Council was finalising plans to give the NTRO and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) the power to carry out unspecified offensive operations if necessary.

(31st December 2012)


CHRISTMAS RUINED FOR 2100 SEX OFFENDERS BOOTED OFF ONLINE GAMES
(The Register, dated 27th December 2012 author John Leyden)

Article link : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/12/27/child_abusers_online_gaming_purge/

Thousands of online gaming accounts linked to convicted sex offenders were shut down in the US this month.

Operation: Game Over resulted in the closure of 2,100 accounts registered through Gaia Online, NCSOFT, Funcom, THQ and other gaming platforms. Earlier this year 3,500 accounts were deleted from Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony as part of the same clampdown.

The action was spearheaded by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to prevent sex abusers from grooming children for subsequent abuse via online gaming. In a statement, Schneiderman said the action would making online gaming a safer venue for children.

"We must ensure that online video game platforms do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators," Schneiderman said. "That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming systems as a vehicle to prey on underage victims."

Under the New York State’s Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), convicted sex offenders must register all of their email addresses, screen names and other internet aliases. The availability of this information made the crackdown possible. The operation affected Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, World of Warcraft, Gaia Online and many other popular multi-player gaming accounts.

Online video games allow users to send messages to each other anonymously, a feature parents may be unaware of even though it has the potential for misuse.

In 2011, a 19-year-old man in Monroe County, NY, was indicted on sexual abuse charges after allegedly meeting and abusing a 12-year-old boy he befriended over a period of three months using Xbox Live. The adult invited the lad over to his house where the sex assault occurred, according to police.

Laura A. Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center, praised the clampdown: "This is a groundbreaking effort that keeps the online community safer for our children, and sends a strong message that sexual predators can’t hide behind anonymous profiles online to prey on victims anymore.”

New York State has more than 34,000 registered sex offenders, according to official records.

(31st December 2012)


EXTRA PATROLS TO HELP PEOPLE IN LONDON ENJOY THE FESTIVE SEASON WITHOUT FEAR OF CRIME
(Courtesy of The Metropolitan Police, dated 21st December 2012)
www.met.police.uk

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is stepping up patrols on the streets across the capital in the weekend before Christmas to ensure the public is kept safe over the festive season.

Officers will be carrying out high visibility and covert patrols, providing personal security advice to members of the public, deterring potential offenders, and reminding members of the public to act responsibly.

Commander Fiona Taylor said: "We are determined to ensure that people out and about in the Capital during the festive season can do so safely and securely, without fear of crime or anti-social behaviour."

Here are some tips to remember to keep yourself safe:

Christmas Shopping:

Look after your bags and valuables when out Christmas shopping 
Keep bank, credit cards and PIN numbers safe
Shield your PIN from view
Put money away in your purse, wallet or bag before leaving an ATM
Don't leave valuables on show in cars 
Keep Christmas shopping hidden from sight, locked away in the boot of your car
Partygoers:

Plan ahead for your night 

- Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before heading out 
- Be prepared to provide proof of age when buying alcohol
- Watch your drinks - don't give anyone the opportunity to interfere with them
- Keep bags and valuables with you at all times
- Think about what you've had to drink - DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE
- Where possible, stick with friends and don't travel alone
- Make sure you have money to get home, look after your keys 
- Always call a licensed taxi
- If walking home, keep to well lit, busy areas

Home Safety:

- Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home
- Always close and lock all doors and windows when leaving the house
- Make sure all valuables are out of sight
- Keep presents out of sight from opportunist thieves
- Place your mobile phone, laptop, camera etc on the national security register, Immobilise - www.immobilise.com

Minicabs

- Never approach a minicab on the street or accept a fare - these drivers acting illegally, even if they are licensed by TfL.
- Only black cabs can pick passengers up on the street without a booking.
- When travelling by minicab always book it with a licensed operator.
- When it arrives check it's for you by getting the driver to confirm your booking details and check the driver's photo identification.
- To get three local cab numbers text 'CAB' to 60835**
- Visit tfl.gov.uk/cabwise for more information.

(23rd December 2012)




REGIONAL POLICE FESTIVE SAFETY ADVICE

 

The following information was gathered by entering "Christmas" on the search facility in each constabulary website. Some websites are not as comprehensive as others which is more evidence that Police websites around the country should have a standardised format, but with local content. Some are "pretty" (Cumbria. Greater Manchester, West Midlands, West Yorkshire), but don't get to the point and can take ages to load even using fibre broadband. Or: 

- have their information all over the place (Cumbria, Derbyshire, Thames Valley).
- expect you to listen to a modified version of the 12 days of Christmas of crime prevention tips (Hertfordshire and Humberside).
- Loads of information (Lancashire, Norfolk, Met) easily found.
- Little information (Merseyside, Suffolk)
- Go for gimmicks, such as cartoons (Staffordshire - homepage).
- Focus on one area of crime - excessive drinking (Surrey).
- A bit dated, not current - July 2012 (Sussex)
- Expect you to have a pdf reader (eg. Adobe) loaded on your computer to be able to read advice- (Wiltshire).

Avon and Somerset : www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/christmas/index.aspx

Bedfordshire : www.bedfordshire.police.uk/tackling_crime/stay_safe/stay_safe_-_assault.aspx

Cambridgeshire : http://getclosertochristmas.org/

Cheshire : www.cheshire.police.uk/news--appeals/latest-news/2011/12/top-tips-for-the-christmas-par.aspx

Cleveland : www.cleveland.police.uk/advice-information/christmas-crimeprevention.aspx

Cumbria (1) : http://cumbriapolice.sytes.net/cumbria-advent/adventCalendarWeekend4Explorer.html

Cumbria (2) : www.cumbria.police.uk/news/latest-news/stay-safe-this-christmas

Derbyshire : Nothing central and specific

Devon and Somerset : www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/CrimePrevention/SeasonalCampaigns/Pages/Christmasadvice.aspx

Essex : www.essex.police.uk/be_safe/christmas.aspx

Gloucestershire : No visible search facility or Christmas specific information

Greater Manchester : www.gmp.police.uk/Live/Nhoodv3.nsf/WebsitePages/074D86B79B7D124880257AC500536343?OpenDocument

Hampshire : www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/news-and-appeals/campaigns/safer-christmas/

Hertfordshire : www.herts.police.uk/advice/12_days_of_christmas.aspx

Humberside : www.humberside.police.uk/newsmedia/take-care-at-christmas

Kent : Apart from Police station openning hours, virtually nothing.

Lancashire : www.lancashire.police.uk/news/bah-humbug-lancashire-police-aims-to-spoil-christmas-for-criminals

Leicestershire : No concise / comprehensive advice

Lincolnshire : www.lincs.police.uk/About/Departments/Local-Policing/Safety-Advice/Crime-Reduction-Advice/Seasonal-Advice-Winter.html

London, City of : www.cityoflondon.police.uk/CityPolice/Media/campaigns/christmas-campaign-2012.htm

Merseyside : www.merseyside.police.uk/news/latest-news/2012/12/20/crime-prevention-advice-for-the-festive-season.aspx

Norfolk : www.norfolk.police.uk/newsandevents/features/2011/12tipsofchristmas.aspx

North Yorkshire : www.northyorkshire.police.uk/christmas

Northamptonshire : No concise / comprehensive advice

Northumbria : At time of trying 20.58 on 23rd December, seach facility did not work.

Nottinghamshire : www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/crimereduction/crime_free_christmas/

South Yorkshire : No concise / comprehensive advice, but like tweeting !

Staffordshire : www.staffordshire.police.uk/news/news_releases/news_archive/2010/December/101210_21_arv/

Suffolk : www.suffolk.police.uk/newsandevents/newsstories/2012/december/staysafechristmasnewyear.aspx

Sussex : www.sussex.police.uk/help-centre/?url=http://sussexpolice.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5133/~/can-you-give-me-some-christmas-crime-prevention-advice%3F

Thames Valley : www.thamesvalley.police.uk/crprev-home-hols-christmas-menu

Warwickshire : No visible search facility or Christmas specific information

West Mercia : No concise / comprehensive advice

West Midlands : www.west-midlands.police.uk/misc/advent/

West Yorkshire : www.westyorkshire.police.uk/christmas2012

Wiltshire : www.wiltshire.police.uk/Publications/campaigns/12%20days_2011_low.pdf


(23rd December 2012)



THE TWELVE FRAUDS OF CHRISTMAS
(National Fraud Intelligence Bureau)
www.nfib.police.uk

 

Christmas is a time for celebration, a time to be with friends and family.

Unfortunately it is also a time when fraudsters cash in, using cons old and new to exploit people's good will and ruin their festive period.

This year the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) will be aiming to keep the criminals at bay through 'The Twelve Frauds of Christmas', highlighting fraudulent activities, increasing business and community awareness and providing fraud prevention advice.

The team, based at the City of London Police and working as the central fraud intelligence hub for the UK, have compiled a list of a dozen frauds that they suspect will be repeatedly put into play throughout December.

On the top of the tree is online shopping fraud. Every year more and more of us are searching and buying our gifts over the internet, and every year fraudsters are finding new ways to move our money into their pockets.

Sitting amongst the presents is postal fraud. During the festive period you may receive additional letters and parcels, but not all of them may be for you!

Fraudsters will purchase goods online and then direct them to an innocent person's address. Once an item has been delivered a person wearing official looking clothing will arrive at the door and attempt to take the parcel by stating it has been delivered incorrectly.

Resting on the mantelpiece can be found electronic 'E' cards. More of these will be sent this Christmas than ever before, but there are a few you do not want to open.

The fraudsters email may contain a virus and once activated the file will embed itself in your compute without your knowledge. This malware works inside your computer collecting personal data, financial information, passwords and usernames, all of which will then be sent back to the fraudster.

The NFIB's "Twelve frauds of Christmas" in full for 2012 are:

1. online shopping fraud
2. postal fraud
3. auction fraud
4. holiday fraud
5. electronic 'E' cards
6. ticketing fraud
7. phising emails
8. social networking
9. cash point fraud
10. voucher fraud
11. card not present fraud
12. mobile payment

By being aware of these cons and scams, you can avoid opening an advent calendar door to fraud this Christmas.

If you feel you have been a victim of these frauds, or any other, you should report to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040.

uaware - further information

For a more colourful explanation of Christmas scams :

www.cityoflondon.police.uk/NR/rdonlyres/2488EE4C-A0B4-4443-97E7-13EA3C34D157/0/The12FraudsofChristmas2012.pdf

For all year round scams (A 48 page booklet produced by the Metropolitan Police ) :

www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/docs/mps_little_book_big_scams.pdf

(23rd December 2012)


 

PORTABLE CCTV MONITORING DEVICE TRIALLED
(Police Oracle, dated 14th December 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

An innovative CCTV monitoring device empowering officers to view footage from cameras in their patrol area is being trialled for the first time.

The handheld monitoring device, a specially programmed PDA, allows an officer to gain control over certain CCTV cameras to detect and check on incidents as well as allowing them to zoom in and change the position of the camera.

The technology has been given to South Wales Police officer Colin Price (pictured) by the Rhondda Cynon Taf Community Safety Partnership for his patrols in Pontypridd.

The device, which PC Price has had for a month, gives him access to five of the 28 CCTV cameras placed throughout the town centre and allows him to monitor certain locations within his patrol area at any given time.

Explaining the technology, which uses a 3G network to connect to each camera, Neighbourhood Beat Manager PC Price said: "It has made my job much easier because if someone tells me something is happening I can link to the camera and see what is going on before I turn up.

"It gives me a much fuller picture so when I arrive, I already know the story.

"It really is a superb tool. It is like being given extra powers."

The technology has also played a crucial role in undercover operations, allowing PC Price to place a temporary camera in an area popular with drug dealers and monitor activity with the device before sending officers to make arrests.

A spokesman for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council believed PC Price was the first officer in the country to use the device.

The officer added: "I use it every day and all the time when I am out on patrol.

"This tool is an excellent way of detecting crime and now that people know I have it and what I can do, it will act as a crime prevention tool as well.

"This technology has the capacity to be developed even further - and if I can access all CCTV cameras in the town I will be onto an absolute winner."

(23rd December 2012)



ORGANISED CAR CRIME

 

MULTI-AGENCY OP SMASHES STOLEN CAR GANG
(Police Oracle, dated 2nd December 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

A gang who shipped stolen cars to Africa as well as using others to commit crime have been jailed for a total of 24 years following a lengthy multi-agency probe.

Operation Pacer was led by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit - Serious Organised Crime Team (EMSOU-SOC) involving officers from Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire with the ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service and the South African Police Service.

The probe discovered a total of 60 cars worth £1million were stolen over a 12 month period from October 2010, most taken after their owners' homes had been burgled and car keys stolen.

Most of the cars were taken from homes in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire which included BMWs, Audis and Range Rovers. False registration plates were then created and fitted to many of the stolen cars.

Several were taken to a container yard in Solihull and then to Felixstowe port before being shipped to Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

The South African Police Service's Vehicle Identification Section acting on intelligence from officers in England were able to intercept 12 cars.

One car stolen from Nottinghamshire was eventually recovered in Tanzania.

A total of 12 members of the gang pleaded guilty to different charges including conspiracy to receive stolen goods and conspiracy to commit burglary. They were handed sentences ranging from three years and nine months in prison to a six month suspended sentence and 180 hours of unpaid work at Leicester Crown Court.

Additionally Ashley Charles (24) from Bulwell and Kyle Morgan (25) also from Bulwell were sentenced for their part in the plot where they were given 12 and 10-year sentences respectively for committing armed cash-in-transit robberies in Sheffield and Leicestershire. They were given 12 months each for the burglaries to run concurrently to their sentences for the robberies.

EMSOU-SOC Senior Investigating Officer Sup Lecky Grewal said: "These sentences are just reward for a meticulous investigation by officers from three different forces, working together to bring this criminal gang to justice and exemplifying what policing in collaboration can achieve.

"While the scale of the criminal activity was significant, so was that of the investigation. More than 1,000 statements were taken from victims and witnesses from as far afield as Redruth and Glasgow, and over 900 exhibits were seized, including the number plate manufacturing machine.

"We are also grateful for the excellent support we were given by the South African Police Service, who also provided statements and exhibits which enabled us and the CPS to build a case which has resulted in some very determined criminals receiving lengthy custodial sentences."

Lead Investigating Officer for the Vehicle Identification Section in Port Elizabeth Warrant Officer Gerhard Weyers praised the collaborative effort, saying it has helped enhance their good working practices with forces in Britain.


 

EU CRACKDOWN NETS 160 STOLEN VEHICLES
(Police Oracle, dated 2nd December 2012 author Gary Mason)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

Vehicle crime experts from 20 EU countries have gathered at Europol headquarters to work on Operation Cycar, resulting in 160 stolen vehicles being seized and 75 people arrested so far.

The final figures are expected to be even higher.

The case was co-ordinated from a state-of-the-art operations room at Europol supporting thousands of EU police, customs and border guards.

European law enforcement officers were working at borders, ports, car dealers, backstreet workshops and scrapyards, following up advertisements on the internet, investigating burglaries and robberies in which high-value cars were stolen, and searching for the specialist criminal gangs that roam across Europe stealing high-value vehicles.

The challenge for police, customs and border guard experts dealing with international vehicle crime is to get answers quickly and speak to experts in partner countries who understand the tactics and tricks that disguise a stolen car and can reveal its original identity.

National experts gathered at Europol were supported by those from Interpol and Tispol, the European Traffic Police Network. Tispol colleagues from the Netherlands brought their special Traffic Dialog System (TDS) database of documents associated with vehicles - especially those crossing international borders or being imported or exported.

The Swedish expert provided expertise on the Volvo model range and German experts had access to special data on cars manufactured in Germany.

(23rd December 2012)



BODY CAMERAS LEAD TO BIG DROP IN ATTACKS
(Police Oracle, dated 22nd November 2012 Gary Mason)
www.policeoracle.com   [Option 1]

 

A local authority has reported a 60 per cent drop in assaults on its civilian enforcement officers (CEOs) after they started using body-worn cameras.

CEOs face the risk of being abused verbally and physically every day and data released recently shows that body-worn cameras are effective in reducing these attacks. Conviction of offenders also increases substantially as the evidence gathered by the cameras provides support to the CEOs' testimony.

Leeds City Council's CEOs first started using body-worn camera systems in 2010. In the first year of using the cameras, which are mounted on the chest, attacks on CEOs were reduced by 30 per cent compared to 2009.

In 2011, they issued even more positive results: attacks had been reduced by over 60 per cent compared to 2009. Leeds City Council has accredited this to a greater awareness of CEOs using body worn video. In 2012 attacks are reducing at the same rate.

In addition to the reduction in crime, Leeds City Council found that absenteeism was reduced by 50 per cent after their first year of using body worn video.

Fareham Council CEOs also saw a 65 per cent reduction in serious and violent assaults in their first nine months of using the cameras.

Body-worn cameras are now in widespread use by CEOs, police officers and other lone workers and results of trials published by the Home Office show they have been linked to a reduction in crime, assaults and complaints against officers.

The cameras worn by Leeds and Fareham CEOs were supplied by Reveal Media.

(23rd December 2012)



A 999 CALL AND THE CREDIT CARD SCAM THAT COST ME THOUSANDS
(Daily Mail, dated 18th December 2012 author John Andrews)
www.dailymail.co.uk   [Option 1]

 

We feel so stupid: how could my wife and I have been conned out of more than £7,000 by one phone conversation? The answer is that the scam was brilliant in design and execution.

It began with a phone call after dinner on a  Friday night. My wife answered the phone and the caller announced herself as 'DCI Jane Seymour of the Serious Fraud Office'.

The inspector was polite and matter of fact. She asked my wife if she had been in the Apple Store on Regent Street that day or the one in Covent Garden? My wife replied that she hadn't.

But DCI Seymour reported that someone had bought expensive items from these stores using my wife's debit card - and the transactions had been within four minutes of each other.
Anyone who knows central London knows it is almost impossible to get from Regent Street to Covent Garden in such a short time - something was definitely amiss.

The inspector then broke the news that someone had cloned my wife's card and was using it to make major purchases. Panicked  by this information, my wife called me over to the phone and asked me to speak to  DCI Seymour.

The inspector explained that the Serious Fraud Office had been monitoring Apple Stores, conscious that the launch of the latest iPhone would make it a target for criminals.

'Do you have all your cards with you?' she asked. Yes. 'Are you sure?' Yes.

In the background I could hear hubbub that made me think of TV's The Bill or Prime Suspect: the faint sound of people chatting, the sense that DCI Seymour was at one desk and other detectives were hard at work on the case, too.

Having established that neither my wife nor I had been to the Apple Store, she asked if I had noticed any strange transactions on my cards. No, I replied.

'But we're worried,' said the inspector. 'We think all your cards have been compromised. It may be that someone has hacked into the National Database. We need to block all the cards now.'

Inwardly, I shivered. Does this mean identity theft? 'Yes, it could be. You'll need to take part in a police investigation later. But we need to block your cards first.'

Immediately, I was suspicious. Why would she want all our cards? Was DCI Seymour who she said she was? How could we know she was really working for the Serious Fraud Office?

Her ANSWER turned us from cautious sceptics into credulous fools. 'Call 999 and check me out,' she urged. So we did. I put the phone down, picked it up again and dialled 999. The dialling tone was normal, the phone rang and the response was as prompt and efficient as a law-abiding citizen could wish for.

Which service did I want? The police. I'll put you through. When a constable picked up the phone, I asked: 'Do you have a DCI Jane Seymour of the Serious Fraud Squad?'

'Yes, I'll connect you.' DCI Seymour picked up the phone - her identity verified. In fishing parlance, we were hooked - and were about to be sunk.

'We can have your cards blocked immediately,' said DCI Seymour to reassure us. 'New cards can be delivered to your house in three working days, or five for the foreign cards. But first we'll need your PIN numbers.' That should, of course, have rung alarm bells.

How many times have we all been told, 'Never, never give your PIN number to anyone. Your bank will never ask for it'? We hesitated - and this is where DCI Seymour scored again. 'Don't tell me the codes,' she said. 'Tap them into the phone and they will be sent straight to our technical team.'
And so, stupidly, but trusting that the digital wizardry was in our interest, we did. And, as we later discovered, using specialist technology, she recorded the numbers.

By this time, we had been on the phone for at least an hour, in a state of shock and growing despair over the hassles that apparently came with ID theft.

DCI Seymour kept reassuring us that all would be well. 'Are you OK? Do you have enough money for the weekend? We can get you emergency funds of £300 delivered to you by 3pm tomorrow. We'll debit it from your HSBC account and I'll call you again tomorrow at noon.'

It was all so comforting. Her  manner was solicitous, reassuring and practical. When I asked my wife to pour me a glass of wine, DCI Seymour heard me on the other end of the phone. She laughed and said she could do with one, too - but not on duty.

And when she said she would send a courier round to pick up our compromised cards, it seemed so reasonable. 'Put them in a sealed envelope inside another envelope, and don't tell the driver what it's for. We'll contact him ourselves.'

Almost as if we had been hypnotised, we did as we were told. 'The driver's on his way. He'll be with you shortly.'

He was and, within minutes, as we later discovered, our accounts were being plundered, mostly, it seems, by withdrawals from ATM machines at Euston station. Meanwhile, DCI Seymour kept me on the line, supposedly keeping us abreast of the activities of the criminals who had cloned our cards.

'There's been a withdrawal in South London. Someone's at Euston. We're watching the CCTV. There's another withdrawal?.?.?.'

On and on it went, as my wife and I became increasingly tired and desperate, but DCI Seymour kept us hanging on, saying: 'Don't put the phone down. Stay on the line.'
I realise now, of course, that this was to stop us ringing the banks of our own accord. At around  midnight, my wife collapsed into bed, but DCI Seymour kept me on the phone until 1.30am.

I had been speaking to her for two-and-a-half hours. To say we slept badly is an understatement. We tossed and turned, fretting about the money being siphoned out of our accounts.

Breakfast and the cold light of day brought me to my senses. 'Perhaps, I should call 999 again, just to check,' I thought.

The operator who answered was annoyed. She told me my case was not an emergency and I should dial 101 for my local police service. With mounting anxiety, I explained that I had dialled 999 the night before and that my call had been put through to an officer.

'We have no record of a call,' she said. 'Ah, hang on a moment. I'll talk to a colleague.'

And then, with the help of bona fide officers, the truth about the scam was revealed.

It all hinged on a clever technical trick. Quite simply, if you put the phone down, but the other party does not, they stay on the line.

Even if you dial a new number, you remain connected to the original caller. So when I dialled 999, it went back to 'DCI Jane Seymour'. She must have had an accomplice posing as the emergency services operator and, as easy as that, we fell into their trap.

The Payments Council, responsible for card security, says there has been a three-fold increase this year in incidents of this scam. In the first quarter of 2012, an estimated £750,000 was lost. In total, we lost around £7,000 of our savings.

The police - the real police - have been sympathetic and tell us that the con is targeted at the well-to-do and the elderly who may not be as techno-savvy as younger account holders. Mercifully, most of the money has since been credited back to us. The banks conceded we were victims of an understandable gullibility.

Initially, only French bank BNP failed to reimburse us, but eventually (after an anguished protest on my part), it, too, paid up.

Naturally, my wife and I feel embarrassed and a little sheepish at having been fooled so easily.

In our defence, I can only say that the woman who played 'DCI Jane Seymour' was a brilliant actress and this particular bit of financial con-artistry was new to us.

We are lucky the damage done wasn't permanent and that most of the money has been returned. Others may not be so lucky.

I may feel shame-faced about  having been so easily deceived, but let my gullibility be a very modern cautionary tale to others.

uaware comment

DO NOT under any circumstance divulge you PIN number to anyone - including the Police or anyone purporting to be the Police. No one in authority needs it.

If you find yourself in similar circumstances to the above, hang up the telephone and use another telephone (your mobile or go and ask you neighbour if you can use theirs) to call your bank direct on a known telephone number. DO NOT call any telephone number provided by the potentially bogus caller, not even 999 on your own telephone.

(23rd December 2012)



POLICE SMASH GANG "POSING AS BT STAFF TO STEAL COPPER CABLES"
(London Evening Standard, dated 14th December 2012 author Mark Blunden)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

 

A gang suspected of using a stolen BT van and disguising themselves as workmen to steal valuable copper cables from beneath London's streets has been smashed by police. Nine people - including two alleged British Telecom insiders - were arrested in raids.

The Standard witnessed yesterday's operation targeting an east London scrapyard allegedly used as cover to convert the copper cable for sale. One tonne of copper cable has a black market value of between £6,000 and £10,000 and police said the gang were stealing up to three tonnes per "job".

Each time they allegedly stole up to 400 metres of phone and internet cables.

Officers trailed the gang for six months before swooping yesterday.

The men allegedly used a stolen BT Openreach vehicle and wore high visibility uniforms. They set up traffic cones around manholes and threaded cable into the van using a winch to load several tonnes a time.

Four men and a woman were arrested at homes in east London in dawn raids and another two men at the scrapyard.

Detectives also arrested two BT employees, who they suspected of leaking inside information on sites that could be easy targets, at their homes in Essex and Hertfordshire.

The BT Openreach van and winch was seized at an Essex business park packed with about two tonnes of cables cut into strips, which police suspected of being destined for the scrapyard to convert for sale.

To make them easier to transport, police said the cables are often ground down in a giant shredder after their "armoured" rubber sheaths are melted off by setting them on fire in skips.

Officers working under Operation Banfield have trailed the gang since the summer as they used middlemen to exchange cable for cash.

About 30 officers from the London Crime Squad, Territorial Support Group and British Transport Police carried out yesterday's raids.

Detective Inspector John Cracknell, from the London Crime Squad, said: "These men are suspected of having made tens of thousands of pounds worth of profit from the illegal trade in stolen metal, helped considerably by the sensitive information we believe that the BT employees illegally passed on."

Met figures show there are currently between 400 and 600 metal thefts every month, not including cable stolen from rail lines.

Acting Inspector James Coomber, of Operation Ferrous, said cable thefts in the capital cause widespread phone and internet disruption to homes, businesses and hospitals.

He added that the practice was "highly organised" with containers full of stolen copper were often sent to China, India and Israel.

New laws have made it illegal for cash transactions at scrapyards and recycling facilities.

Six men and one woman aged 25 to 35 years old were arrested yesterday for conspiracy to steal, and two were arrested for handling stolen goods.

They were being questioned at east London police stations.

A BT spokesman said: "BT has worked closely with the London Metropolitan Police, with our Metal Theft Taskforce providing intelligence to assist with the police's operation.

"BT will not tolerate any level of criminal behaviour, we will continue to work with police and do everything possible to catch cable theft criminals."

(23rd December 2012)



MEN FROM BARKING AND CHADWELL HEATH AMONG FOUR ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
(Barking and Dagenham Post, dated 13th December 2012 author Nadia Sam-Daliri)
www.bdpost.co.uk   [Option 1]

 

Two men aged 25 and 23 from the Barking and Chadwell Heath areas were among four arrested this morning accused of child sexual exploitation offences.

Officers from the Met's trafficking and prostitution unit swooped on the addresses and almost a dozen others in Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge shortly after 7am and arrested the four - all in their early to mid twenties - in coordinated raids.

The man, 25, from Barking was arrested on suspicion of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation, controlling a child prostitute, facilitating/attempting to facilitate child prostitution and rape.

The 23-year-old, from the Chadwell Heath area, was arrested on suspicion of rape.

The operation came after four victims, all aged between 16 and 18 at the time of the offences, were identified by the unit.

Det Insp Kevin Hyland said: "The victims we have identified so far were all young and vulnerable individuals. Their abusers targeted them for this reason.

"We are working with Essex social services and other service providers to ensure that all victims we identify during our investigation receive the care and support that they need."

The officers were acting on intelligence from Essex Police.

All four men are currently in custody at an east London police station.

A 25-year-old, from Newham was arrested on suspicion of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation and controlling a child prostitute and a 23-year-old from Leyton on suspicion of sexual touching of a female, controlling a child prostitute and conspiracy to traffick a female within the UK for sexual exploitation.

Victims of child trafficking and prostitution or anyone with information is urged to call the Met's 24-hour helpline on 0800 7832589 or the NSPCC hotline on 0800 1111.

(23rd December 2012)


 

THINK TANK LABELS GREECE "THE MOST CORRUPT COUNTRY IN EU"
(London Evening Standard, dated 5th December 2012 author Russell Lynch)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

Germany did little to improve the already frosty relations with  bailed-out Greece today as a  Berlin-based think tank labelled it the most corrupt country in the European Union.

Transparency International - which ranks perceptions of corruption among 176 nations - put Greece in 94th place, making it the worst of all 27 EU members.

The organisation assesses how many backhanders the public believe are involved in areas such as public tenders, political party financing and tax evasion, as well as cosy ties between government and business.

Greece - heading for its sixth year of recession - is blighted by a huge black economy and endemic tax evasion by the rich. The country's tax revenues are among the lowest in the EU at 33.2% of GDP last year, compared with the EU average of almost 40%.

The nation was also embroiled in a recent tax scandal after a journalist published a list of 2000 wealthy Greeks who allegedly evaded tax in Swiss bank accounts. The so-called "Lagarde list" - handed to then French finance minister Christine Lagarde in 2010 - was passed onto the Greek finance ministry, who then "mislaid" it and failed to act on the information. Greece was ranked even lower than poorer, newer democracies such as Bulgaria and Romania. Denmark is seen as the least corrupt country and Somalia the most. The UK is ranked 17th.

uaware further Information

Transparency International : www.transparency.org

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. The following are the filtered out perceptions of EU countries (USA and Turkey thrown in for good measure ) :

Ranking

1. Denmark
4. Sweden
7. Norway
9. Netherlands
12. Luxembourg
13. Germany
16. Belgium
17. United Kingdom
19. United States
22. France
25. Austria
25. Ireland
29. Cyprus
30. Spain
32  Estonia
33. Portugal
37. Slovenia
41. Poland
43. Malta
46. Hungary
48. Lithuania
54. Czech Republic
54. Latvia
54. Turkey
62. Croatia
62. Slovakia
66. Romania
72. Italy
75. Bulgaria
94. Greece

For full listing of over 200 countries : www.transparency.org/cpi2012/results


(8th December 2012)


POLITICIANS SALARIES
www.economist.com   [Option 1]

LEADERS OF THE FEE WORLD
(The Economist, dated 5th July 2010)

ON MONDAY July 5th Raila Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, rejected the pay increase he was awarded by the country's parliament last week. MPs had granted Mr Odinga a rise to nearly $430,000 a year, while giving themselves a 25% increase to $161,000. This boost would place Mr Odinga among the highest-paid political leaders in the world. More worryingly, his salary would be some 240 times greater than the country's GDP per person (measured on a purchasing-power parity basis). Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, tops our list of selected leaders' salaries. He is paid more than 40 times the city-state's GDP per person. At the other end of the scale, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, reaffirms his reputation for saintliness by taking a modest sum from Indian taxpayers.

Political Leaders Annual Pay

Kenya : £427,886
Singapore : £2,183,516
Hong Kong : £513,245
United States : £400,000
France : £302,435
Canada : £296,400
Ireland : £287,900
Australia : £286,752
Germany : £283,608
Japan : £273,676
South Africa : £272,280
New Zealand : £271,799
Britain : £215,390
Taiwan : £184,200
South Korea : £136,699
Indonesia : £124,171
Isreal : £120,184
Russia : £115,000
Argentina : £74,126
Poland : £45,045
China : £10,633
India : £4,106

BARGAIN BASEMENT
(The Economist, dated 20th October 2012)

The 2009 MPs' expenses scandal cast a long shadow over British politics. It also led to the creation of an Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) tasked with cleaning up the system. Last year IPSA received new powers to set salaries and pensions. Its initial consultation paper makes for intriguing reading. Despite their public reputation for Caligulan excess, Westminster legislators are rather modestly remunerated by international standards. And for the past century their pay has stagnated relative to that of their constituents. IPSA suggests indexing it to national average earnings at a ratio of between 1.5 and 4. Currently the ratio hovers between 2.5 and 2.9, so-controversially-a rise could be on the cards. MPs may need the cash. It has been made harder to file creative expenses claims. And politicians will probably be asked to contribute more to their extremely generous pension schemes in future.

Basic average salary of Legislators (MP's by another name)

Japan : £165,000
Australia : £120,000
Italy : £115,000
United States : £110,000
Canada : £100,000
Norway : £75,000
Ireland : £75,000
Germany : £75,000
New Zealand : £73,000
Britain : £65,000
Sweden : £63,000
France : £53,000
Switzerland : £50,000
Spain : £28,000


uaware additional researched information

Guardian (15th February 2012 @12.14pm) : Greece's president is giving up his salary, worth almost €283,000 (£228,428) per year, in a sign of solidarity with the country's citizens.

Then there seems to have been a change of heart, as :

According to Keep Talking Greece (www.keeptalkinggreece.com) dated 14th September : "the monthly salary for MPs is 5,780 euro plus expenses and office operation costs.The monthly compensation a Greek President receives will be cut into half. With decision of the finance ministry and effect from September 1st 2012,  the monthly compensation of a Greek president will be 11,561 euro ( €138,732 per year or £111,980)".

(8th December 2012)


LEICESTER POLICE CATCH TWO LORRY DRIVERS WATCHING DVDs
(BBC News, dated 8th December 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Two lorry drivers were caught watching DVDs while on major roads in Leicestershire in a police operation.

Officers used a heavy goods vehicle of their own to spy on drivers on the M1 and A1. The three-day operation ran from Tuesday to Thursday and caught 90 drivers for a variety of offences.

Leicestershire Police said it was to cut down on drink-driving, not wearing a seatbelt, using a phone and speeding, known as the fatal four.

The force said the lorry drivers were watching foreign language films as they were not from the UK.

PC Russ Davies said police often had reports of lorry drivers watching DVDs on laptops, but it was usually difficult to prove. "Invariably when drivers do it they start veering off onto the hard shoulder," he said

"Because of the height they are at it's difficult to prove they are watching a film, as some of them have sat-navs on their computers as well. "So unless we can get up and see what they are doing we can't prosecute them."

Of the 90 drivers caught during the operation, 52 were not wearing a seatbelt and were given £60 fines.

'Bang to rights'
 
Another 21 were using a mobile phone, six were said to be not in proper control of their vehicles and two were watching DVDs. All were given a £60 fine with three points on their licence.

A further nine were caught driving longer than they should and were given a mixture of warnings and fines.

Dave Galloway was one lorry driver caught not wearing a seatbelt. He said: "I didn't realise I was supposed to be wearing a seatbelt in a truck. I always wear one in the car. "But they caught me bang to rights, you've got no choice really."

PC Davies added: "There's just that small minority who think, perhaps by their height, they are going to be immune from prosecution. "What we are trying to achieve is to let them know we are out looking for these offences."

(8th December 2012)


 

MOTOR VEHICLE CRIME
(Courtesy of Metropolitan Police Neighbourhood Netlink, dated 5th December 2012)

To register : www.neighbourhoodlink.met.police.uk/registration/

Motorists are being advised to remove all valuables from display, from their vehicles when they leave them, especially in the lead up to Christmas when cars could be laden with valuable gifts.
 
Patrols are taking place to target prolific offenders, but as most vehicle crime is opportunist, the Metropolitan Police suggest the following top tips to prevent motor vehicle crime:
 
1. Keep your vehicle clean and tidy inside and out.

2. Be aware when returning to your vehicle to unload your shopping.

3. Don't leave tools or other valuable equipment in your vehicle.
 
4. Park the vehicle in a well lit area or secure car park.
 
5. Remove any items from display - such as bags, satnavs etc.
Would you leave £100 on your dashboard? By leaving a satnav on display in your car when you leave it - you will be doing exactly that.Deactivate Bluetooth if your satnav is left in vehicle boot, glove box or side pockets
 
6. Activate alarms and central locking if fitted.

7. Fit an immobiliser, electronic or mechanical - such as steering wheel locks for older models of cars.

For further guidance contact your local Police Crime Prevention Officer or your local Safer Neighbourhood Police Team.

(7th December 2012)


 

CONMAN'S CHARITY STING GOES DOWN THE TUBE AS RADIO DJ TURNS DETECTIVE
(London Evening Standard, dated 5th December 2012 author Maxine Frith)
www.standard.co.uk  [Option 1]

Radio presenter Caroline Feraday has warned commuters not to be conned by bogus charity collectors on the Tube after she used her mobile phone to catch one fraudster in the act.

The BBC London DJ was travelling on the Northern line between Leicester Square and Clapham South one afternoon last week when a man boarded the train and began asking passengers for money, claiming he was collecting for a teenage cancer charity.

Feraday, 35, said: "He had all these permits strung around his neck and he looked quite official so people were opening up their purses and putting money in his bucket.

"I was a bit suspicious because I hadn't heard of the charity he said he was collecting for and I was pretty sure you're not allowed to collect on the Tube, so I took a picture of him on my phone.

"I did a bit of a research and contacted London Underground and it turned out he was bogus.

"It's just sickening; it's Christmas. People like to be generous and who isn't going to give money to teenagers with cancer? What makes it so awful is that those people have been conned, but  also sick children won't get any of that money.

"London Underground have been great but people really need to know that this is going on and don't give money to anyone who says they're collecting on a train." She reported the fraud to British Transport Police and Transport for London.

A spokeswoman for TfL said: "Any charitable organisation wanting to collect at one of our stations needs to go through a strict screening process.

"As in this case, if customers suspect fraudulent activity they should report it to a member of staff or the BTP so that it can be investigated.

"There are many legitimate charities who collect on our stations and we would hope that the actions of the few do not mar their efforts."

London Underground does not allow any collections on trains or platforms and fundraisers are only allowed to stand in the ticket hall area of stations. Legitimate collectors are also required to display a valid permit identifying them as an approved organisation.

Both British Transport Police and TfL said that this was NOT an incident of a legitimate charity breaking the rules on collecting but an individual person posing as a fundraiser.

(7th December 2012)


 

WEBSITE TO BOOST RAPE REPORTING IN LONDON
(BBC News, dated 5th December 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

A website aimed at boosting the number of reported rapes has been launched by the Metropolitan Police.

Called My Decision ( www.mydecision.co.uk ), the site provides a step-by-step guide for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

It is designed to overcome barriers people may have to reporting such crimes - for example victims fearing they would not be believed.

According to the Met only one in five rape victims go to the police and about 40% choose not to report it.

'Suffering in silence'
 
The site takes the user through all their options; from who to contact, to the type of care they will receive, how evidence will be collected, making a report, the investigation and their ability to control the process.

It also offers advice and links to other support organisations, like The Havens which provides help to victims who do not want to go to the police.

Det Ch Supt Mick Duthie, head of the Sapphire Command which investigates serious sexual violence, said such offences remained "seriously under-reported" and far too many people were "suffering in silence".

He said: "Victims may be unaware of what help is out there for them and could be apprehensive about speaking with the police for fear they will have no control over the ensuing police process.

"Mydecision.co.uk will play a key role in helping victims get the support they need and assisting them in taking a positive step on their journey to speaking out."

Kerry Carter's decision to speak out resulted in Bill Lambert being jailed for 11 years in 2011 for the rape and indecent assault of four young girls, aged between 11 and 14, in the 1980s.

The 38-year-old, who waived her right to anonymity, said: "For more than 20 years I lived with the guilt of believing this was my fault.

"I wanted to speak out to show others that you must not be ashamed if this happens to you and to encourage those who may be sitting at home now confused and unsure about what to do to come forward and tell someone."

My Decision website : www.mydecision.co.uk

(7th December 2012)


 

ONE MILLION MOTORISTS HAVE BEEN CAUGHT USING A MOBILE AT THE WHEEL
(London Evening Standard, dated 22nd November 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

One million motorists have been caught illegally using a handheld mobile phone while driving since legislation was introduced in 2003, according to new figures.

One in three motorists admits still using a handset behind the wheel, while 18 per cent say they believe it is acceptable to do so despite the law.

A survey found most drivers who admitted using a handheld mobile did so to answer calls or text.

But a quarter read emails, 30 per cent checked directions and 14 per cent logged on to social networking sites.Figures obtained under Freedom of Information rules show that in the capital, just under 200,000 motorists have been caught using phones in nine years.  The number given fixed penalty notices rose steadily until last year. This year, 21,931 drivers have been issued with penalties in London, compared with 33,384 in the whole of last year.

Another study, in four British cities, found motorists holding mobiles were twice as likely to drive erratically, including reckless manoeuvring, speeding and sudden braking. One in three drivers spotted using a phone failed to stop at a pedestrian crossing. 

Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has said he believes the current punishment of three penalty points and a £60 fine is not a sufficient deterrent. He has suggested increasing it to six points, so drivers would be banned if they were caught twice in three years.

The poll by ICM was carried out for insurance firm LV=. Its managing director John O'Roarke said: "It's been nearly 10 years. It's worrying that many drivers are still using devices at the wheel."

(7th December 2012)


 

MASS ARRESTS BY POLICE TACKLING SHOCKING LEVEL OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
(London Evening Standard, dated 28th November 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk  [Option 1]

Police have arrested more than 264 suspects in a week-long campaign to tackle domestic violence in London.

The drive is aimed at prolific and dangerous offenders responsible for violence in the home as well as offenders engaged in hate crime.

In one raid in Brixton early today a man in his late twenties was seized on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend. The suspect, who is also being investigated for other assaults, was arrested in his flat after officers smashed through his front door in a dawn raid.

Scotland Yard says 10 per cent of the two million calls to police in London each year are related to domestic violence. So far this year police in the capital have recorded 30,000 domestic violence offences.

Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, who is in charge of Territorial Policing, said: "The scale of the violence and abuse caused by those in domestic relationships is shocking. About one third of all women will suffer some form of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners.

"Suffering behind closed doors should not and cannot be ignored. We all have a responsibility to put a stop to domestic violence."

The arrests have taken place in the first 36 hours of the campaign involving all 32 London boroughs. Mr Byrne said: "This is about enforcement against offenders but it is also about supporting victims and encouraging them to come forward and report crime so we can do something about it.

"Sadly there is an increase in offending in the run-up to Christmas and we are sending out a message to victims that we take this crime seriously and to offenders that we will take swift action.

"There is no place in London for domestic violence or those cowardly crimes committed because of someone's race, religion, sexuality or disability. It is the offenders who should live in fear - of our knock at the door."

Operation Athena will run until Friday and includes victim workshops and multi-agency drop-in centres.

(30th November 2012)


 

FIRST SPAM TEXTERS TO BE FINED UNDER NEW REGULATIONS HIT WITH £440,000 BILL
(Metro, dated 29th November 2012 author Tariq Tahir)
www.metro.co.uk   [Option 1]

Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish were hit with a bill of £440,000 after using their company, Tetrus Telecoms, to send unsolicited texts about personal injury claims.

They were said to have made up to £8,000 a day out of their activities, selling the numbers of those who responded to claims management companies, which, in turn, sold them to personal injury lawyers.

But their business was brought down when investigators received 400 complaints from phone users fed up with receiving their messages.

The barrage of spam was traced to Tetrus's offices in Stockport and Birmingham.

The Information Commissioner's Office has ordered Mr Niebel to pay £300,000, while Mr McNeish, who appears to have taken less out of the venture, was fined £140,000.

They were punished under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations which came in at the beginning of the year and made it illegal to send anonymous messages without the consent of the recipient.

Tetrus, set up in December 2009, used unregistered pay-as-you-go Sim cards to send out as many as 840,000 illegal text messages a day.

But the ICO traced the messages to mobile transmission towers next to Tetrus's offices, where paperwork for top-up payments for the Sim cards was uncovered. The company has stopped its activities but a criminal prosecution could still be launched.

'These two individuals made a substantial profit from the sale of personal information,' said information commissioner Christopher Graham. 'They knew they were breaking the law.'

However, Mr Niebel said: 'The allegations are unsubstantiated. The benefit the ICO allege I have received is entirely incorrect. 'Unfortunately, the ICO has chosen to undertake a publicity campaign in respect of this matter when their allegations and investigation have not been substantially examined before the court.'I strenuously deny the allegations and I'm appealing the matter.'

(30th November 2012)


 

NEW "PROFESSIONAL" UNIFORM TO BE TRAILLED
(Police Oracle, dated 22nd November 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

A force is set to trial a shirt and tie uniform for officers in a bid to make them more approachable - and appear more professional.

Norfolk Constabulary has selected a neighbourhood policing team with 47 officers to trial the white shirt from January next year, replacing the well-known black zip up polo shirt.

It is not know how long the trial will last - however a spokeswoman told PoliceOracle.com feedback from the officers and community would be considered before a decision is made.

The force has decided to trial the uniform, which has been adopted by officers in the Metropolitan Police Service, after recent academic research claimed the public prefer the traditional image of an officer - with a shirt, collar and tie making them look more professional, honest and approachable.

Norfolk Police Federation has welcomed the move saying the decision to introduce the black zip up polo shirts four years ago in line with other forces nationally was a mistake.

Dave Benfield, General Secretary of Norfolk Police Federation told PoliceOracle.com: "We have never been in favour of the black polo shirts because we, and our members, felt it was not the right way to portray the force or make officers approachable.

"We made our views clear at the time that we thought it was a mistake to bring in the new uniform. "Senior officers have made the change so that we get something that is viewed by everybody as the right uniform. "There has been an image issue and I agree the shirt and tie makes officers more approachable."

Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: "This new shirt is designed to meet the rigours of modern policing while enabling officers to project an image that is as professional and smart as the service they deliver.

"We are mindful of our financial challenges and in these times of austerity we would work to minimise any additional cost and achieve economies of scale in the event of a change in officer uniform."

The idea of introducing a national standardised uniform for officers across England and Wales has been debated extensively in the past - however no policies have ever emerged.

Police Federation national Chairman Paul McKeever said a balance needed to be made between having a uniform officers were happy with and that is suitable.

He said: "People want to have their own sense of local identity and that is important.

"In some cases in line with the physical demands of the job, the shirt and tie was not always suitable for that purpose. However it is important to have balance between the officers and a kit that is fit for purpose."

uaware comment

I am sorry, but as a tax payer I am strongly starting to believe that some Cheif Constables have lost the plot.

What law abiding citizens want is more officers on the beat, not whether they are dressed in the latest fad in shirt and tie. It is also not worth them saying it comes from a different budget either...it comes from "one pot".. TAX ! So please spend it wisely.

To come to the point were a uniform has been chosen, the thought process has gone through many costly stages. A public perception analysis - "why do we need a new uniform" (Consultant), a psychological analysis of responses (Consultant), a trial batch of differing styles (Design Consultant), public perception analysis of uniform trial batch - "does the shirt need to be a lighter shade of blue", "would you find a lighter shade more calming" (Consultant), psychological analysis of trial uniforms (Consultant). All of this analysis goes on even before an order is placed.

Oh, the other comment will be : "we will be rolling out the new uniform as part of standard replacement of officer kit as it wears out. So to add to the confusion we will see Police Officers looking like what we have come to recognise as "Police Officers". And other Police Officers at the same time (as kit is rolled out) looking like secuity guards at a shopping mall.

www.policeoracle.com/news/New-%27Professional%27-Uniform-To-Be-Trialled--_58308.html [Option 1]

(28th November 2012)


 

REVELATION IN ONLINE FACIAL RECOGNITION
(Police Oracle, dated 21st November 2012 author Gary Mason)
www.policeoracle.com   [Option 1]

Ground-breaking biometric research has shown that the freely available facial recognition search engines used by social networking sites such as Facebook and Picasa are as accurate as some specialist biometric systems sold to government agencies, such as police forces.

Michael Thieme, director of special projects for the International Biometric Group in the US, revealed the results of the research at the Biometrics 2012 conference in London in October. The study looked at detection rates and the accuracy of grouping and tagging of images on social networking engines.

"Everything you assume to be true about traditional biometric usage is either not true or not relevant in terms of online face processing," he says. That includes image quality, the longevity of the facial recognition algorithm used and even whether privacy and security need to be considered at all, since most of these images - and there are millions - are freely posted and publicly available on the internet.

"So it doesn't really make sense to view online facial processing as an adjunct of biometrics, which I think is very important," says Thieme.

To conduct the study, a large quantity of online facial images were retrieved from three major social networking sites that rely heavily on image recognition - Facebook, Face.com and Picasa - and measured how well they performed in terms of detection rates, grouping and tagging. The exercise was basically data processing, but in each case human adjudication was used to check the results. "This wasn't just a case of us throwing data at Facebook and seeing what comes back," says Thieme.

"We actually looked at every match that was returned and made sure it was correct. It was extremely labour intensive, but it was the only way for us to accurately measure how well these systems performed," he adds.

The images used were often far outside the strict controls used, for example, by passport authorities to ensure their biometric engine was able to recognise a face - so the angle of the face and its position relative to the frame of the picture would vary quite widely.

"The results were really very surprising and were not based on super high quality images," says Thieme. "In fact, in a lot of cases, we were looking at 21-30 pixels. These were small images, not something produced from an iPhone. It made us wonder what could be achieved if you put some really high quality images through these online services."

The results of the tests showed that the social networking sites were extremely accurate at focusing on faces in pictures where a lot of other objects could have been picked up in error. The tests also measured how often the websites were able to correctly match two images of the same person as opposed to confusing the image with one of a relative for example.

In the case of Picasa, the study showed the accuracy rate was 99 per cent. "It was right in almost every case," says Thieme. "Now that doesn't mean it found every face. It did miss some altogether but when it made matches they were right most of the time. For us this was a stunning finding. That the sort of thing you get online with those quality of images was grouping those images with that degree of reliability."

He says to his knowledge no one has measured this before and it goes against the traditional view that the free or cheap search engines available to everybody to use online are in a different league to expensive and sophisticated biometric search tools developed by specialist technology companies. "The concept that the only way to do reliable face matching is by using an enterprise technology with enterprise licences is not correct."

So what does this research mean for the law enforcement and homeland security users of biometric facial recognition face engines? Thieme thinks that for agencies who only need to conduct searches using a relatively small watch list - under 10,000 images - these free, online services would be accurate enough for their requirements.

In some cases, Thieme even suggests that using online biometric search engines would be more reliable than commercial ones. This is because, he says, a lot of specialist engines are calibrated to work with strict controls in force in the image - such as a passport or identity card photo. "They will be able to find a higher proportion of images with faces than your normal commercial tools," he says. "If you had a task in which you were given a random dataset and you needed to find as many faces as possible - you would be better to use the free stuff, because it would find a higher percentage of faces in those images. It finds them with a greater degree of reliability - it is not just finding garbage."

Thieme emphasised his company has no commercial interest in showing that social networking sites employ reliable facial recognition search engines. "I don't have a horse in the race and personally I don't care whether Facebook is good at doing this or not," he said. "We just measure things."

(28th November 2012)


 

LOCK FIRM ONITY OFFERING SECURITY FIX
(BBC News, dated 28th November 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

The firm that makes door locks with a well-publicised security vulnerability has said it is offering a fix.

Onity makes locks for hotel rooms around the world, but a hacker revealed in July that a security flaw meant burglars could easily access the code to unlock them.

A series of thefts in hotel rooms in Texas has been traced to a burglar believed to have used the technique.

One security expert said Onity had a "big problem" on its hands.

In a statement to the BBC, the company said: "Immediately following the hacker's public presentation of illegal methods of breaking into hotel rooms, Onity engineers quickly developed both mechanical and technical solutions to address the issue.

"These solutions have been tested and validated by two independent security firms, and are available to customers worldwide. All requests for these solutions have already been fulfilled, or are in the process of being fulfilled."

The company declined to give further details about what these solutions were.

An earlier statement detailed how a mechanical cap could be fitted to the lock, but that statement has since been removed from Onity's website.

It has also offered a more permanent fix that involves an upgraded circuit board or new lock, but these must be fitted at the hotel owners' cost.

Some hotels are simply gluing the holes.

Onity is advising customers concerned about insecure locks to call its helpline, which it said was staffed with specialists "who can immediately help select and implement the best possible solution for that customer's specific property".

Master key
 
Onity locks are believed to be fitted on about 10 million doors worldwide.

In July security researcher Cody Brocious detailed a method for unlocking them using a digital tool that once inserted into a small hole in the door allowed an intruder to discover the combination for the lock.

The hole is described by the company as a power port although it also contains a chip to allow hotels to control which master keys open which doors.

Alan Woodward, a security consultant, told the BBC that the most widespread means used to secure the doors so far was to seal the hole shut.

"I read in various security forums that Onity said they are working on some form of cap, but more temporary fixes could easily be broken by using a penknife or similar," he said.

"With so many locks installed, it has a big problem on its hands."

uaware comment

The problem described above was originally raised in an article earlier this year.

When staying in a hotel with this type of lock (whether the problem is fixed or not) it is still advisable to lock your valuables either in a room safe or in a safe deposit boxes at the hotels reception. Alternatively where these facilities are not available, portable safes can be purchased for around £20 that come with a toughened steel cable that can be tied around pipework etc within your hotel room.

As for your own security when in a hotel room, use the door security chain or similar provided device. Alternatively, wedge a chair against the door or use a rubber wedge (£1) under the bottom of the door to hinder the ease of openning. Some wedges come with a built in alarm; they not only hinder door openning, but a siren is activated if any pressure is placed against it.

Further information : www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/11/26/security-flaw-in-common-keycard-locks-exploited-in-string-of-hotel-room-break-ins/
Onity Worldwide Helpdesk details : http://en.onity.com/support/Pages/Onity-Statement.aspx

(28th November 2012)


 

FACEBOOK IN FRESH FURORE OVER PRIVACY
(Metro, dated 28th November 2012 suthor Sam Smith)
www.metro.co.uk   [Option 1]

Facebook is facing a fresh backlash from users over planned changes to its privacy rules.

The website wants to share information with photo application Instagram - which it recently bought - loosen email restrictions and get rid of a user voting system.

Privacy campaign groups said it could leave users more open to spam and did not give them a choice about what information they shared.

'Facebook will know even more about you and will use whatever they can get out of Instagram - location data, key word tagging, for example,' said Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group.

'It will use that information for commercial purposes. The point is, did Facebook ask "do you mind if we combine this data?" The fact is nobody did.'

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy have also asked Facebook to withdraw the changes.

The social networking site is also proposing to scrap users' ability to vote on changes to its data privacy policy. Since 2009, it has held votes on any changes to its privacy rules that attract at least 7,000 comments on its official announcements online.

(28th November 2012)


 

INVESTORS WARNED OVER "BOILER ROOM" FRAUDS
(London Evening Standard, dated 21st November 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk  [Option 1]

Fraudsters are making millions of pounds through bogus investment schemes in fake diamonds, jewelery and fine wine.

Detectives warn the conmen are taking advantage of the recession to entice victims to pour money into alternative investments.

Con artists are setting up so called boiler rooms in the Square Mile to cold call investors with high pressure sales tactics. They use sophisticated websites and phones that conceal their number's location and play CDs in the background to make it sound like they are on a trading floor.

David Clark, head of the National Fraud intelligence Bureau, says fraudsters normally based in Spain are working in the City of London. He said boiler rooms are emerging in the capital to exploit unregulated markets and are typically run by British nationals who live "footballers lifestyles". Mr Clark said : "typically they will say the time is right to invest in diamonds, jewellery or fine wine, pointing out that the stock market is only offering two or three per cent. People will get sent diamonds but whe they come to sell them they are worthless."

About £1.2 billion is lost to investment fraud every year, according to the national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.

Action Fraud , which is leading a campaign to warn investors about checking people's credentials. Visit :
www.actionfraud.police.uk

(28th November 2012)


 

iPHONE MUGGERS ON BIKES PLAGUE LONDON
(London Evening Standard, dated 16th November 2012 author Justin Davenport and Will Gant)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

More than 170 iPhones are being stolen every day in London, shock new figures reveal.

Commuters and pedestrians are being targeted for their smartphones by muggers on bicycles in the capital's fastest growing crime spree. The plague of thefts is revealed in figures released by Scotland Yard showing that a total of 28,800 iPhones were reported stolen to police in London in six months between April and September this year.

Police say iPhones now make up more than half of all mobile phone thefts in the capital. In the same period a total of 56,680 mobiles were stolen in the capital, or around 337 a day.Thieves are also targeting people with Blackberry phones and other popular makes such as Samsung.

Some affluent neighbourhoods have seen a massive rise in the number of smartphones and other handheld gadgets swiped by cycling thieves.

Now police are issuing warnings to commuters and pedestrians around hotspots such as Tube stations where the number of muggings has rocketed in places by up to 400 per cent in a year.

In recent weeks police have handed out leaflets around Warwick Avenue tube station while there have also been reports of spates of bicycle muggings in Primrose Hill, Islington, Stoke Newington, Chancery Lane and Clapham.

Last week a detective constable collapsed and died as as she was chasing two bicycle thieves who had snatched an iPhone from a woman in Belsize Park.

DC Adele Cashman, 30, collapsed in the street as she chased the pair and died later in hospital.

Two 17-year-olds appeared in court on Wednesday and were given six month referral orders after admitting snatching the phone from a woman who was sitting on a bench in Haverstock Hill checking her emails.

The surge mirrors a similar trend in New York where police report that thefts of iPhones and iPads are soaring by 40 per cent.

In the US police officers are being stationed at stores to register the serial numbers of devices along with people's names and contact information.

In London police have been issued with iPads so they can use satellite tracking apps to trace stolen handsets.

The latest spree of thefts in London took place yesterday (Thursday) when a gang of teenagers on bicycles snatched smartphones from several pedestrians.

There were reports of thefts in Bloomsbury and Islington.

Rob Garner, 30, was walking across Bedford Avenue, off Tottenham Court Road, reading a text on his Blackberry Bold at lunchtime yesterday when a bicycle mugger snatched it from his hands. Mr Garner, who runs Media Square Recruitment, said : "I did not even see them. They took it straight from my hand and laughed as they went by.
"I chased after them as they went down Great Russell Street but they were too quick. There were four or five on BMX bikes and the police told me they had carried out about five robberies in London. "I rely on my phone for work, it had everything, all my contacts on it."

While police say the number of robberies in London is falling, the statistics do not record the majority of phone snatches because they are classified as thefts if no violence is involved in the crime.

Criminals are increasingly targeting high-value smartphones, such as iPhones, because they are worth up to £400 and can be sold on easily. Thousands are shipped abroad to countries in Africa or the East.

A recent survey found children as young as nine were engaged in mobile phone thefts.

Police warn people to be aware of their surroundings when using mobile phones, particularly as they leave Tube stations, and to try to avoid texting and walking at the same time.

(28th November 2012)



DEBIT CARDS THAT OPENS THE DOOR TO BANDITS
(London Evening Standard, dated 13th November 2012 author Lucy Tobin)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

Britain's biggest card provider was under fire today for ignoring major privacy concerns over customers posting their debit card details on Twitter and other social networking sites, leaving them open to fraud.

 

Barclays introduced its personalised debit card designs to allow customers to upload their own photos to have printed on the cards. The service  has been very popular but hordes of users have posted images of the cards, including their sort code, account number, card number and expiry  date, on sites including Twitter  and Facebook.

On Twitter, an automated account with more than 11,000 followers searches the social networking site each day for people posting their cards, and re-tweets their messages at twitter.com/needadebitcard. The published details are enough for fraudsters to set up direct debits in the name of the cardholders or order goods from online retailers, including Amazon who do not ask for Card Verification Values - the three digits printed on the back of Visa debit cards.

One Barclays customer, Christopher Buckley, was concerned enough about the potential for fraud to contact the bank and inform it of the prevalence of bank details being posted online.

He read out some of the Barclays debit-card numbers being posted on the site, but was informed that nothing could be done as the user had chosen to publish their card number, and the bank would not take further action.

Buckley said: "I called three times, but all I heard from each complaint handler was complete indifference - both to the risk posed to customers  and to the bank. I even received a letter in the post explaining Barclays' lack  of action concerning this clear  security issue."

The bank did warn Buckley - but not the account holder who posted their details - that he or she would ultimately be liable if a fraud was to occur on their account. It wrote to him: "We are vocal in our advice to customers to keep account details personal to them but ultimate responsibility for the safe-keeping of account stationary, such as debit cards, lies with the account holders.

However, Buckley responded: "There's a clear security issue here that, through allowing personalised debit cards, Barclays is not educating its teenage customers - particularly younger cardholders - of the risk posed both to the bank and customers."

Richard Hurley, of the UK's Fraud Prevention Service Cifas, said that while the letter of the law might mean Barclays customers would be liable for fraud by posting their details, the bank would be likely to shoulder the responsibility in reality.

"Organisations must see this as an example of the obligation that they have to let their customers know the dangers and send clear messages on how to stay safe online - otherwise they will simply gain a lot of fraud losses and unhappy customers; something no organisation would want."

But he added: "Under no circumstances should individuals share any details online that could potentially lead to them becoming a victim of fraud. While it is understandable that people will want to show off their personalised cards, they must realise that this opens the doors for those people who are not their friends and are simply looking to take advantage."

A Barclays spokesman said the call centre had provided the wrong information, and added: "Our customers love the ability of having a personalised debit card and we have seen a very high take up.

"We are delighted that customers wish to share photos of their personalised debit cards via social media  websites, but we encourage customers to do so using our secure site which  will ensure that none of the numbers or other details on the card will  be shown.

"We are aware of a handful of customers who have shared their own photo of their card displaying their account information," the spokesman added. "Those customers have been contacted and advised to remove the photo and we have arranged for a replacement card to be issued."

(28th November 2012)


 

SPIKE IN GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE OF GOOGLE
(BBC News, dated 13th November 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Governments around the world made nearly 21,000 requests for access to Google data in the first six months of this year, according to the search engine.

Its Transparency Report indicates government surveillance of online lives is rising sharply.

The US government made the most demands, asking for details 7,969 times in the first six months of 2012.

Turkey topped the list for requests to remove content.

Government 'bellwether'
 
Google, in common with other technology and communication companies, regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the world to have access to content.

It has been publishing its Transparency Report twice a year since 2009 and has seen a steady rise in government demands for data. In its first report in 2009, it received 12,539 requests. The latest figure stands at 20,939.

"This is the sixth time we've released this data, and one trend has become clear: government surveillance is on the rise," Google said in a blog post.

The report acts as a bellwether for government behaviour around the world, a Google spokeswoman told the BBC. "It reflects laws on the ground. For example in Turkey there are specific laws about defaming public figures whereas in Germany we get requests to remove neo-Nazi content," she said. "And in Brazil we get a lot of requests to remove content during elections because there is a law banning parodies of candidates. "We hope that the report will shed light on how governments interact with online services and how laws are reflected in online behaviour," she added.

The US has consistently topped the charts for data requests. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are also in the top 10.

In France and Germany it complied with fewer than half of all requests. In the UK it complied with 64% of requests and 90% of requests from the US.


Removing content
 
Google said the top three reasons cited by government for content removal were defamation, privacy and security.

Worldwide authorities made 1,789 requests for Google to remove content, up from 1,048 requests for the last six months of 2011.

In the period from January to June, Turkey made 501 requests for content removal.

These included 148 requests related to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - the first president of Turkey, the current government, national identity and values.

Others included claims of pornography, hate speech and copyright.

Google has its own criteria for whether it will remove content - the request must be specific, relate to a specific web address and have come from a relevant authority.

In one example from the UK, Google received a request from police to remove 14 search results that linked to sites allegedly criticising the police and claiming individuals were involved in obscuring crimes. It did not remove the content.

REQUESTS FOR USERS' DATA
(January to June 2012)

United States - 7,969
India - 2,319
Brazil - 1,566
France - 1,546
Germany - 1,533
UK - 1,425

REQUESTS FOR TAKE-DOWNS
(January to June 2012)

Turkey - 501
United States - 273
Germany - 247
Brazil - 191
UK - 97

Google Transparency Report : www.google.com/transparencyreport

(28th November 2012)


 

 

REMEMBERANCE DAY

The Soldier
Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.


 

HOW SAFE ARE THE APPS ON YOUR MOBILE ?
(London Evening Standard, dated 7th November 2012 author Gideon Spanier)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

Apps have transformed our behaviour on our mobile phones and tablets. There is now a seamless way to access everything from news and games to our most personal data such as social media and financial transactions with the swipe of a finger.

The benefits are clear: not having to input your password every time you click on to, say, Twitter makes it fast and easy. And when the app knows your location, it can provide more relevant local services - something that will only increase as ultra-fast 4G networks make accessing the web on the go as fast as home broadband.

"We're entering the era of contextual apps," says Daniel Joseph, co-founder of The App Business, a Soho-based firm that creates apps for companies such as Unilever and BSkyB.

"Apps will understand who you are, where you are, and what you want, and automatically meet your needs, without you having to lift a finger - well, maybe a thumb. The opportunity to create long-term value and loyalty here is enormous."

But, as Joseph warns, "the opportunity to do damage to your relationship with your audience" has also increased because privacy is under greater threat if companies fail to act carefully and respectfully.

Most of us are unaware of the sheer scale of the data that some apps collect, and some companies are doing a poor job of explaining it to consumers - particularly when the app ecosystem is not policed that vigilantly and regulation struggles to keep up with technology.

New research by US technology firm Juniper Networks suggests that 24% of free apps in Google Play, the app store for Android phones, have permission to track your location. More disturbing is Juniper's claim that nearly 7% of free apps are able to access your phone's address book and pass the details back to the creator of the app - something that Twitter, for example, has been able to do.

Other alarming trends include the ability to access the mobile device's camera remotely (about 5.5% of free apps) and a facility to send text messages or make calls without asking the phone owner's explicit permission (about 2.5%). Such "stealth" texts or calls could result in a nasty shock on next month's phone bill.

Most shocking of all, some apps even have the ability to listen to ambient noise around the phone, such as a conversation in a room. Not for nothing do some experts describe the smartphone as "the ultimate listening device".

Dan Hoffman, an expert on mobile security at Juniper, points out that most companies have permission to track behaviour because it is buried in the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of each app. But it doesn't help that sometimes the small print fails to explain clearly why it is necessary for a company to get access to this information.

That the situation occurs is more often cock-up rather than conspiracy, experts say. For example, Facebook came under fire earlier this year when it was found to have created a facility in its mobile app that allowed it to access data from a phone user's text messages. Facebook insisted it had not used this facility and had no plans to do so.

However, the point is that the theoretical possibility exists for app creators to exploit this ability to collect information from users. "Most people don't understand what they are agreeing to [with T&Cs] or have the proper information needed to make educated decisions about which apps to trust," says Hoffman, who warns that free online gaming and casino apps are a special area of concern as their T&Cs are more likely to allow them to track behaviour.

These potentially rogue apps, known as malware, are a bigger problem on Google's Android mobile operating system because it is open and any app developer can use it - unlike Apple, which must approve every app before it is made available in its store.

Those close to Google say it ensures rogue apps are quickly removed and there was a 40% fall in such cases last year. But online security firm Kaspersky Lab said this week that it had continued to see "new mobile malicious programmes" in recent months, and it claims Google's Android is the platform "most frequently targeted by cybercriminals".

James Hilton, chief executive of advertising agency M&C Saatchi Mobile, says mobile users can't just blame the operators and should be more pro-active in managing their privacy - for example by installing security software or deactivating location based technology.

The majority of people who complain about terms and conditions haven't read them," he adds. "It says: 'We're going to text from your phone, we're going to email from your phone.' They're not hiding it."

A particular problem, Hilton warns, comes when people sign up for a third-party app or service with their Facebook details. That means the third party can get access to a lot of that personal Facebook data legally, because that's what the T&Cs say.

There is no guarantee the world of apps is a happy place to be, if you're not careful.

(8th November 2012)


 

FRAUDULENT WESTMINSTER COUNCIL PARKING CHARGE EMAIL SENT
(BBC News, dated 7th November 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

At least 800 fraudulent emails have been sent telling people they owe Westminster Council money for parking. Richard Loraine-Smith from Pewsey, in Wiltshire, said he was emailed by an address claiming to be firm PayByPhone saying that he owed the council £33.30.

"How dare they get my details and send me spurious emails. I have never been to that street in my life." Westminster's contractor, PayByPhone, said it had been the victim of a phishing scam.

Peter Brooker, head of corporate affairs at the firm, said: "The sender of the emails has nothing to with Westminster Council or PayByPhone." He added: "The majority of recipients are not PayByPhone account holders."

The council said it had received complaints from 800 people saying they had received fraudulent emails. However, it could not provide an estimate for the number of emails that had been sent out.

It added that it had put a warning on the council website and the PaybyPhone website.

Mr Loraine-Smith said he received an email informing him that he had parked his vehicle on St Barnabas Street, in west London, between 12:20 GMT and 13:20 GMT on 11 May 2011.

The email, sent on Wednesday morning, added that he would be charged £33.30.

It also said: "You can access a full list of all your parking transactions in the attached file."

'Laissez-faire attitude'
 
"I rang up Westminster Council and asked to speak to someone in their fraud department," he said."I was told, 'We are terribly sorry. We sent out a spam email to lots of people." "How dare they take a laissez-faire attitude about it? Westminster needs to find out who is responsible for this message being sent."

Mr Loraine-Smith later received a second similar email on Wednesday afternoon.

Westminster Council's service development manager, Kieran Fitsall, said: "We received a very high volume of calls in a very short amount of time concerning a spam email that was sent by an unauthorised third party pretending to be our contractor PayByPhone.

"PayByPhone are investigating the matter urgently, but the council's advice is to delete the email and run your anti-virus software.

"No payment should be taken but if you have any concerns please contact your card provider or bank."

(8th November 2012)


 

TATOO'S "MUST BE DECLARED"
(Police Oracle, dated 18th October 2012 author Jack Sommers)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

The Metropolitan Police has announced that any officers who have tattoos on their face, neck, above the collar or hands must declare them to their line managers or face misconduct proceedings.

The force said it was aware there were officers with prohibited "visible tattoos" that could not be covered with clothing.

In an announcement to officers and staff, the Met said Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe was requiring those officers to make a formal written declaration to their line manager about these tattoos by November 12 or face disciplinary action.

A force spokesman told PoliceOracle.com those who declared their visible tattoos would not face a disciplinary, despite such tattoos being banned for new recruits.

"All existing tattoos which meet the 'visible' criteria and are declared and registered will be exempt from further action," he said.

The spokesman added they would also face no further action even if the tattoo was deemed inappropriate. They will be barred from having any more visible tattoos done.

John Tully, Chairman of the Met Fed who has 27 years' service, said a ban on visible tattoos for recruits had been force policy for as long as he could remember. But he said the policy had not been applied universally in the past, leading to exceptions.

He said he understood officers with visible tattoos would now be required to cover them with bandages or plasters, after declaring them.

The force said it made the announcement after reviewing the standard of appearance of officers and wanted to promote consistency.

The announcement, sent to all officers and staff this week, said: "All visible tattoos damage the professional image of the Met. This corporate announcement discusses a specific requirement from the Met Dress Code Policy in relation to the display of tattoos.

"The Met is aware that some officers and staff already have prohibited visible tattoos. These are defined as tattoos that can not be covered by everyday clothing - on the face, above a collar line and on the hands."

The announcement added: "Any officer or member of police staff who fails, without reasonable excuse, to declare and register an existing visible tattoo will be liable to disciplinary action. Such a failure is liable to be considered to be gross misconduct."

The force's eligibility requirements for new recruits say they must supply photos of any tattoos and the force will reject anyone whose tattoos are deemed inappropriate. Visible tattoos are "not acceptable for any role within the Metropolitan Police", the requirements say.

(5th November 2012)



CHILD SEX EXPLOITATION : "POLICE MUST RAISE GAME"
(Police Oracle, dated 1st November 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

 

Officers need more training in identifying and dealing with child sex exploitation cases, according to the CEO of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.

Peter Davies said forces, along with other partners dealing with child grooming and child sex exploitation, need to urgently improve training to help officers spot the early signs of group-associated grooming and support vulnerable children.

Mr Davies added that while extra training was needed, more forces and practitioners understood the need to improve their investigations and knowledge in dealing more effectively with group-related child sex exploitation.

Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee for their inquiry into localised child grooming the CEO, who is also the ACPO Lead for Child Protection, Abuse Investigation and Missing Children, told members that more forces are delivering investigations into child sex exploitation.

He added: "My role at the moment is not to say everything has always been fine but to acknowledge that the Police Service, among other partners, has to raise its game and set about the business of raising our game with all due urgency."

Mr Davies pointed out that ACPO had created a training video for front line police officers - and had uploaded it on YouTube to allow them to access it at any time.

Explaining the rationale behind the move after the meeting, the CEO told PoliceOracle.com: "It is about up-skilling front line officers - often the first responders to this kind of crime.

"It is important that officers and other practitioners know how to best deal with a victim of child grooming and child sex exploitation because in some cases children don't always present as victims as the grooming and abuse has been so powerful.

"The video gives (officers) the perspective from the child so they can appreciate what it is like for them."

The 20-minute video documents how children and young people can be made vulnerable to grooming and sexual abuse, highlighting techniques used by abusers.

Funded by the NPIA, the film is the first training tool for front line police officers' that has been put on the internet, making it easier for them and other agencies involved in targeting grooming and sexual abuse to easily access it.

The film was created in response to one of the recommendations made by the 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' report by CEOP about group-associated child sex abusers.

Mr Davies said he hoped to also get the video integrated within internal training systems by contacting chief constables of all 43 forces in the future.

For link to video :

www.policeoracle.com/news/Child-Sex-Exploitation:-%27Police-Must-Raise-Game%27_57506.html

(5th November 2012)


 

ROGUE OFFICER JAILED OVER FAILED RAPE INVESTIGATIONS
(Police Oracle, dated 30th October 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

A former Met officer has started a 16-month prison sentence after failing to investigate rape and sexual assault cases properly - and lying to his supervisors about it.

Ryan Coleman-Farrow, who was a detective constable based with Op Sapphire, admitted 13 counts of misconduct in a public office at Southwark Crown Court in September. He was jailed on October 29.

Coleman-Farrow (30), who joined the Met in May 2001, falsified 32 crime report entries, a witness statement, three suspect accounts - and on two occasions led senior officers to believe he had submitted forensic evidence for examination when he had not.

The IPCC became involved when, two years ago, the officer was alleged to have closed a number of investigations based on fabricated CPS advice between January 2007 and September 2010.

IPCC Deputy Chair Deborah Glass said: "Our investigation revealed a catalogue of wilful failings by former DC Ryan Coleman-Farrow to perform his duties as a police officer.

"As an officer working within the Sapphire unit, Coleman-Farrow was entrusted to investigate serious sexual offences and support some of the most vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.

"Our investigation did not reveal systemic or serious supervisory failings. Coleman-Farrow admitted - during his criminal interviews with the IPCC - that in some cases he actively lied and misled his supervisors to cover up his shortcomings and that they would have had no reason to question the validity of the evidence he produced.

"He also told his supervisors - and us - that he was being treated for a serious medical condition although no medical evidence was provided to them or us.

"We may never understand the motives for Coleman-Farrow's actions. He was a rogue officer who deceived his colleague and concocted evidence to cover his tracks."

......following on from this article :

SEX CRIMES UNIT FACES TIGHTER CONTROLS
(Police Oracle, dated 2nd November 2012 Jack Sommers)
www.policeoracle.com   [Option 1]

The Met has said it is boosting supervision for detectives in its specialist Op Sapphire sex offences unit after a former "rogue officer" admitted fabricating evidence and CPS advice.

Cdr Peter Spindler, the force's Head of Specialist Criminal Investigation, said the unit was being restructured after Ryan Coleman-Farrow was handed a 16-month custodial sentence for 13 counts of misconduct in a public office.

Coleman-Farrow made false entries to the Crime Reporting Information System 32 times, falsified a witness statement and three suspect statements, falsely claimed to have obtained witness statements 15 times, falsely claimed to have submitted evidence to the CPS seven times and falsely led his supervisors to believe he had made forensic submissions twice.

The IPCC noted that Coleman-Farrow was able to have cases closed without any further explanation being required and that he failed to carry out instructions.

In its report, the watchdog recommended the Met change procedures so that closing dockets are submitted to a detective chief inspector to check the necessary documentation.

The IPCC also said supervisors should be "more proactive in chasing responses or actions".

The watchdog said it agreed with learning points the Met itself had identified. These included new procedures to cut the time it takes to complete reports and improved liaison within the unit around exhibits.

Cdr Spindler said: "The Met is a learning organisation and we know there is always more that can be done to support victims of rape and other serious sexual assault.

"With that in mind, we are currently in the process of changing the structure of the Sapphire command to ensure even closer supervision."

Op Sapphire has more than 500 officers and staff.

(5th November 2012)


 

"UNTOUCHABLE" DRUG GANG FOILED BY LONG OPERATION
(Police Oracle, dated 27th October 2012 author Jack Sommers)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

A Cheshire Constabulary investigation has led to the imprisonment of a 20-strong organised crime gang for attempting to smuggle cocaine through a port into other force areas.

The Force Crime Operations Unit began the investigation into the gang, which operated out of Ellesmere Port, in spring 2010 and gathered intelligence for more than a year before arrests were made in late 2011.

The gang was jailed for conspiracy to supply and distribute Class A drugs to "lower-tier crime groups" in Merseyside, West Mercia, Manchester, North Wales and Cumbria.

Twenty people received sentences from six months to nine years - a total of 72 years between them - at Chester Crown Court.

Op Barometer was investigated by Cheshire Constabulary's Force Crime Operations Unit. The operation was launched in Spring 2010 and concluded in autumn 2011 and involved many hours of intelligence gathering.

The gang, who "portrayed themselves as untouchable", were instrumental in the supply of cocaine to crime groups within Ellesmere Port - as well as the production of cannabis.

DI Sarah Pengelly, of the Force Crime Operations Unit, said: "The investigation was the result of months of intelligence gathering in relation to the activities of these individuals.

"Members of the gang have shown a blatant disregard for the law - with little or no thought behind the potential implications of their illegal activities.

"We hope that the lengthy sentences handed down to the defendants will act as a deterrent to others.

"Illegal drugs have no place in Cheshire and we will continue to work alongside colleagues from other forces to track down those responsible for this type of crime and bring them to justice."

(5th November 2012)

 


 

NATIONAL OPERATION CRACKS LARGEST COUNTERFEIT CHEQUE GANG
(Police Oracle, dated 24th October 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com   [Option 1]

A national police operation has foiled one of the UK's largest counterfeit cheque crime gangs which could have made £10million from the scam.

A lengthy probe led by the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) working with City of London Police and West Yorkshire Police revealed the gang could have been making up to £50,000 a week using counterfeit cheques, potentially netting up to £10million.

More than 60 officers carried out raids at 22 addresses and searched a car where they seized 100 cheque books in total, each containing up to 50 cheques, with the potential to facilitate more than £5million worth of fraud.

Scores of printers and printing materials which could have been used to forge cheques along with a substantial quantity of crack cocaine and heroin were also uncovered.

Officers from the probe also joined Dumfries and Galloway and Strathclyde forces in carrying out raids at five properties.

Detectives have been investigating the counterfeiting network with links to Zimbabwe for months before carrying out searches and arresting a total of seven people.

Five men, aged between 30 and 33 and two women, aged 31 and 29 were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. They have been released on police bail.

Adrian Leppard, Commissioner of the City of London Police, said: "This operation emphasises the importance of UK police forces coming together to tackle fraud and fight the common enemy that is organised crime.

"It also shows how private sector - policing partnerships continue to make a significant contribution to the national police response to economic crime."

DCI Dave Carter, Head of DCPCU, added: "These arrests send out a strong message across the UK to both members of the public and criminals. The DCPCU are alive to the threat of counterfeit cheques, take it seriously, and will travel far and wide in pursuit of those we believe are responsible."

(5th November 2012)


 

CHILD SEX EXPLOITATION : FORCE BLAMES LACK OF RESOURCES
(Police Oracle, dated 19th October 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

A chief constable has said a lack of resources was one of the reasons why some child sex exploitation cases did not result in prosecutions.

South Yorkshire Police CC David Crompton (pictured) said the force did not have sufficient police resources available ten years ago with only three officers devoted to investigating cases - however there are now eight on the team.

Additionally there are around 50 officers who are involved in investigating child abuse issues.

He told the Home Affairs Select Committee difficulties in turning intelligence in such cases into evidence also resulted in fewer prosecutions in such cases.

He added the force would be able to carry out more in-depth investigations now they had more officers.

He said: "There has been a journey in terms of the learning in child sex exploitation. We have moved an awful long way in ten years. "We are looking at what the process was. The situation the force is in now is very different to a few years ago.

"We have got more dedicated resources and a number of ongoing inquiries. The extra resources have given us an opportunity to go after the offenders to a greater degree than a few years ago and there have been one or two notable successes."

He stressed to the committee the issue of intelligence and disclosure and the ability to turn it into evidence to form a prosecution in court can be very problematic.

The probe follows allegations of widespread grooming operations of girls by Asian men over the last ten years in Rotherham. It has been claimed the force were aware of the issue but that only eight people have been prosecuted as a result of it.

Det Ch Insp Philip Etheridge, the force's lead on child sex exploitation said there have been successes for the prosecution of child sex exploitation cases in Rotherham.

In 2008, eight people were convicted in court.

He said: "The training of officers in child exploitation allows officers to protect the child and to look for evidence."

Committee chair Keith Vaz said he wanted a report in a months' time about what South Yorkshire Police are doing to tackle the issue.

He said: "I am disappointed because I don't think South Yorkshire Police has a grip on this very difficult subject and I am disappointed no-one has been prosecuted this year.

"The committee and the public are very concerned and we are not satisfied."

Following the meeting PoliceOracle.com tried to contact Det Ch Insp Etheridge and the force press office to find out what was being done specifically over reported allegations of child grooming as well as their response to Mr Vaz's comments.

As this story went live we had no response to our calls or emails.

(5th November 2012)


 

HEAD CAM TECHNOLOGY "CRITICAL" FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE
(Police Oracle, dated 20th October 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com   [Option 1]

A force is being asked to ensure all its officers regularly use 'head cam' technology to bring more domestic abuse prosecutions.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board's Human Rights and Professional Standards Committee has appealed to PSNI to get more officers wearing the body worn digital recording system.

They claim the equipment would be vital in helping to prosecute abusers and it should be worn by officers across all districts when dealing with domestic abuse cases.

The technology is used to capture any injuries or damage witnessed by the officer when they arrive at the scene of a crime.

The force already uses the technology in some districts across a range of operational settings, including violent situations, animal cruelty, planned searches, road traffic collisions, paramilitary related incident, youth related incidents and domestic abuse situations.

However, the committee want the cameras to be used as a matter of routine in domestic abuse cases.

Conall McDevitt, chair of the committee said: "We know how difficult it can be for victims to give evidence against perpetrators in court so if there are ways of police helping prosecutions succeed then these must be actioned.

"The law allows for a domestic abuse prosecution to proceed even if the victim withdraws their complaint or is not prepared to co-operate with the police.

"In such situations the evidence gathered by police during first attendance at the incident can be critical and the use of 'head cams' could greatly assist in the prosecution of abusers."

A spokesman for PSNI said it will examine the recommendations made by the committee.

He said: "Cameras significantly improve the quality of evidence captured by police officers and studies have already indicated that when shown evidence of their behaviour, offenders are more likely to plead guilty rather than contest their cases in court.

"We are fully committed to upholding the human rights of all within Northern Ireland and there are strict rules and regulations surrounding the use of this type of equipment. It is central to the delivery of a more personal, professional, protective policing service to everyone in our communities."

(5th November 2012)


 

COVERT POLICE OPERATION SMASHES PAEDOPHILE RING
(Police Oracle, dated 16th October 2012 author Jasmin McDermott)
www.policeoracle.com   [Option 1]

Covert officers smashed a paedophile ring of four men, including a soldier and a charity worker, involved in the sexual abuse of children.

Met officers from the force's paedophile unit launched Operation Rockferry after an investigation uncovered attempts by individuals to sexually abuse children.

A covert internet investigator engaged with Anthony Flack, an IT trainer who revealed he had previously raped a child under the age of 13.

Flack met with an undercover officer in London after he booked a hotel room under the belief he was going to rape a child but was arrested by officers.

Arresting officers found he had a number of indecent images.

A series of emails to leader of the paedophile ring Simon Wyn-Davis (38), a solider, were uncovered following an examination of Flack's computer along with images and videos of a child being sexually abused. Wyn-Davis was arrested shortly after.

Officers were able to piece together the threads of communication between Flack and Wyn-Davis to identify Nicolas Cordery (63), who claimed he had contacts who could arrange discreet meetings in relation to children.

A subsequent undercover operation was launched where Cordery offered his remote farm as a venue for abuse to take place.

He also offered to facilitate introductions to other paedophiles who had access to children and mentioned Wyn-Davis.

After he was arrested a search of his home uncovered a disk containing 1,700 indecent images of children.

The fourth member of the ring, Peter Malpas (47), a charity worker, was discovered following a further line of enquiry.

Throughout the investigation detectives viewed more than 100,000 sickening indecent images of children and analysed more than 10,000 emails in an effect to identify victims, scenes and suspects.

All four received indeterminate sentences.

Wyn Davis admitted to 22 counts of rape on a child under 13, conspiracy to rape and distributing indecent images of children.

Cordery pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to rape a child under 13 and possession and distribution of indecent images.

Malpas admitted to sexual assault by penetration on a child under 13 and the possession and distribution of indecent images of children.

Flack pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rape a child under 13, attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence and possession of indecent images of children.

Det Ch Insp Noel McHugh paid tribute to the unit and other agencies involved in the investigation, including other forces, health, social care and education authorities.

He said: "This has been an exceptionally challenging and complex investigation.

"This result demonstrates the commitment of the Met Police Paedophile Unit to use all lawful tactics to capture the most dangerous sex offenders and protect the most vulnerable.

"Everyone involved has secured compelling evidence against these highly manipulative, evil and dangerous individuals."

(5th November 2012)



"ZOMBIE" HACKER LEADS POLICE INTO DEAD END
(The Times, dated 17th October 2012 author Richard Lloyd Parry)

 

www.thetimes.co.uk  [Option 1]

When Masaki Kitamura was arrested, it seemed like a Clear cut solution to two crimes. The first was a detailed threat, posted on an internet bulletin board to commit mass murder in Osaka. The second was an e-mail to Japan Airlines falsely claiming that a bomb had been planted on a flight from Tokyo to New York.

The e1ectronic trail led to a computer owned by Mr Kitamura an animation director. He was arrested and charged, despite protesting his innocence. But weeks later detectives realised that he was one of a growing number of people with "zombie" computers - ones that had been taken over by a hacker who delighted in using them to make violent threats in the name of the unsuspecting owners.

This month the unidentified hacker sent e-mails boating of his crimes to a lawyer and TV station, emarassing police who extracted confessions that turned out to be false.

Mr Kitamura's nightmare began in August when he downloaded free softward from 2-Channel, a network of bulletin boards.  Two days later a message was posted on the website of Osaka city government with a threat to drive a truck into pedestrians and then stab at them randomly.  It was taken very seriously.  Three days later a Japan Airlines flight returned to Tokyo after a bomb threat. The messages were traced back by Internet Protocol (IP) Address, a code identifying Mr Kitamura's computer and internet account.

About the same time, police in Mie Prefecture were investigating a threat to attck workers at Nintendo and the Ise Grand Shrine, a treasure of the Shinto religion. The owner of the computer with the IP address that sent the message also claimed innocence - and when they scrutinised his computer, police found signs that it had been infected by a Trojan horse virus.

Another threat had been made to bomb a school attended by Prince Hisahito, the 6 year old grandson of Emporor Akihito. It was traced to a man in Fukuoka who apparently confessed because he believed the threat had been made by his girlfriend, and he wanted to protect her.

News of the arrests appears to have pricked the conscience of the hacker. Yesterday newspapers published extracts from an e mail said to contain details that could only be known to the hoaxer. It lists 12 people whose computers were hacked. Several threats - including one to stab joggers near the Imperial Palace, sent to the Prime Ministers Office - were not reported. The e-mail suggests the confusion is not over yet. "Thank you for playing with me," it concludes "Let's play again."

uaware comment

I live within a London Borough. When I use the wireless off of my Broadband system my computer allows me to see all of the available wireless access points within my locality. There are 26 in total with a reasonable wireless signal. Only 15 were password protected ! The other 11 wireless systems were freely accessible for anyone. That means anyone with a computer with a wireless facility could use their broadband to surf the internet, and use that all important IP Address. If the unprotected wireless systems' user also omitted to install a firewall on their computer they could also have their computer hacked.

(5th November 2012)




MET THREATENS TO SHUT DOWN CLUBS AND PUBS "LINKED TO RAPES"
(London Evening Standard, dated 11th October 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk  [Option 1]

 

Scotland Yard is planning to use the licensing laws to shut down pubs and clubs linked to sex assaults or rapes.

Police will also to employ covert tactics to target suspected rapists who have not been charged with the offence and women will be warned about their vulnerability to sex attacks.

The tactics are intended to help halt a decline in confidence in the Met's Sapphire sex crimes unit, which has been beset by controversy. The number of rapes reported in London has fallen in the past year amid claims that victims are losing trust in the ability of police to investigate offences.

Former Sapphire officer Ryan Coleman-Farrow faces sentencing this month for failing to investigate rapes, pursue suspects or submit evidence over a three-year period. His activities left 11 alleged sex attackers at large.

Prosecutors said this year that nine in 10 sex assaults were not reported to the police and of those that were just 15 per cent resulted in a conviction.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie, the new head of Sapphire, is now planning a new rape prevention strategy that will target men and women. He said officers would challenge male behaviour and attempt to speak to women about reducing their vulnerability to rape.

One proposal is to use the licensing laws against pubs and clubs which "generate" a high level of rapes and sex assaults. Mr Duthie said: "If you were in Lewisham High Street at night and someone had a glass or bottle stuck in their neck, we would use the licensing legislation to close that place down. But until now we haven't done that for sexual offences."

Mr Duthie also plans to use covert tactics to target suspects, although he admits they are unlikely to be convicted of rape. He said: "These are Al Capone type tactics. We will possibly end up prosecuting them for something other than rape."

More controversially, women will be asked to become more aware of their vulnerability.

Mr Duthie said: "We have to make sure we are not targeting the victims but the suspects.

"But we do need to educate people that if they go out and get hammered they are vulnerable - vulnerable to being assaulted, vulnerable to falling over and vulnerable to being raped."

Figures show the reporting of rape is down 15 per cent to 1,444 reports for April until the end of last month, compared with 1,712 for the same period last year.

Mr Duthie said: "This is a concern for us. Is that because there's less rape happening, is it because we are intervening earlier in domestic violence or is it because there are fewer people reporting?"

A spokeswoman for Women Against Rape criticised the new tactics. "These so-called prevention strategies are a diversion from what's needed: thorough unbiased investigations and prosecutions so rapists are caught and convicted, and rape is discouraged," the spokeswoman said.

"Telling men not to rape will have no effect when the reality is that 93 per cent of rapes don't reach conviction.

"Victims want their attackers prosecuted for rape, not for some unconnected crime."

(5th November 2012)


 

ADVICE FROM NEIGHBOURHOODLINK
(Courtesy of Metropolitan Police, their articles dated 5th and 7th October 2012 respectively)

To register to receive advice messages direct from the Metropolitan Police :
www.neighbourhoodlink.met.police.uk/registration/

BOGUS CALLERS

Not all burglars break into homes - some will try to trick or con their way in. They are known as bogus callers and will pretend to be on official business from respectable concerns such as the Utility Companies - Gas, Electricity and Water - or the Council. They may claim to be tradesmen or workmen calling to carry out urgent repairs.

Bogus callers succeed because they sound believable, so don't be fooled. Make sure in your own mind that they are whom they claim to be by following these simple steps:


- Think before you open the door - use your chain and spy hole or look out of the window to see if you recognise them.

- Ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradesmen should carry an identification card with their photograph on. Check this carefully. If you are unsure, telephone the company the caller claims to represent.

- The Utilities now offer a password identification system. Any caller from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password as additional proof of identity.

- Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming that they have seen something untoward in your rear garden or somewhere which may encourage you to leave your house - they may have an accomplice awaiting this distraction.

- If you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don't let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to be present on their return or ask the caller to contact this person.

Treat every stranger with caution. If you are worried, dial 999 immediately and ask for the police.


DOORS

Doors are the primary route of entry and exit for most burglars, so it's vital you secure them effectively. You can improve home security by making simple adjustments to your front door, for example, ensure you have adequate locks and security fittings.

Tips :

- The door should be fitted with a 5 lever mortice deadlock.
- Ensure that the frame is strong and will support the door, hinges and lock.
- Make sure the door is suitable for external use and is a minimum of 9mm thick.
- Consider fitting a London Bar or Birmingham bar to provide additional support to the door frame.
- Letterboxes should have an internal cover plate.
- For additional safety and security fit a spy hole and door chain.
- Do not leave house keys in or near the door as they can get removed through the letterbox.


(5th November 2012)


 

JAPANS FRUITLESS STRUGGLE TO BRING ITS CHILD PORN MARKET TO JUSTICE
(I newspaper, dated 12th October 2012 author David McNeill)

www.independent.co.uk [Option 1]

It was a shocking find: crudely made DVDs With images of grown men having sex with children as young as 12.
Until this year, the men who bought those images faced little more than a slap on the wrist. But police in Kyoto decided for the first time during the summer to pursue criminal charges against three male customers in a country widely seen as too lenient on child pornography.
 
The police campaign is largely the work of Kyoto's prefectural Governor, Keiji Yamada. During his fight for office two years ago, Mr Yamada pledged to roll out an ordinance banning the buying and possession of child porn still legal under Japanese law, unless there is proven intent to sell or distribute. Even if the makers are arrested, the images circulate for years on the internet.

Child-porn-related crimes have grown fivefold in Japan through the last decade, according to the country's National Police Agency. At least 600 children a year fall victim to paedophile directors and photographers. "The internet is probably the biggest factor," Akira Koga, spokesman for the Kyoto Police, said. "It's very difficult to monitor and control." A new policecyber patrol uncovered the trail back to the three men from the DVD producer in Tokyo.

Japan has long been considered a hub for the production and possession of child-porn images. It is the only OECD (Organisation of Eco¬nomic Co-operation and Development)nation that has not banned possession of child porn, partly to protect its manga and anime industries, which churn out thousands of titles every year that sail close to the legal wind.
 .
A government survey in 2002 found that 10 per cent of Japanese men admitted to owning child porn at some stage. Bookstores and convenience stores across the country stock magazines carrying semi-naked pictures od pubescent and pre-pubescent children. Many underage girls have built careers as so-called "junior idols", posing suggestively. In the electronics district of Akihabara, Tokyo's cpital of geeky cool, tourists gawk at cartoon images of children in various stages of sexual distress, all perfectly legal.

One of the nation's most popular pop groups, AKB48, features a revolving cast of members, some as young as 13, persuaded to pout in adult lingerie for videos and magazine covers. Campaigners engaged in a cat -mouse game paedophiles across the world say a new approach is long overdue. "The US is very frustrated with Japan," says Jake Adelstein, a journalist and board member with the Polaris Project Japan, a non-profit organisation that combats human trafficking and sexual exploitation. "The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations give Japan's police hundreds of tips on child pornography makers and distributors every year and now of them are acted upon."

Opinion polls suggest that most Japanese voters want stricter laws. But with parliament gridlocked ahead of a general election expected this Autumn, there is little appetite for a messy political fight over what is seen as a relatively minor issue.

As if to underline the legal challenges ahead , kyoto police say prosecutors have declined to press charges against the three men, citing lack of evidence.

Uaware comment

It is surprising that with Japan being one of the G8 and G20 countries, that none of the other members (USA and UK for example) have not mentioned at one of the side meetings that that kind of behaviour being described in the article is not acceptable. As far as media is concerned the World is a very small place and this material can also taint other countries. Go into most of the larger bookshops around the UK and you will find shelves of the Manga comics / magazines in stock. It makes you think whether the bookshops concerned have actually checked out each of these manga comics for pornographic content or just bought a bulk supply as manga seems just as fashionable as sushi at the moment! Note "Manga" is just a style of cartoon drawing and not all of it is pornographic.

Sadly, it is not just printed material they may hit the UK shores. This disturbing material is probably available on the internet hidden under some obscure name. If you accidently come across this type of material report the URL (the "www" name only) to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection : www.ceop.police.uk ; DO NOT send any photographs or drawings.

To me Japan seems to get away with a lot of things. Even if they were to ban paedophilic material in their own country an industry would spring up somewhere else to satisfy their needs. Or, they may just describe some production legal to satisfy a scientific need like they have done with whale hunting.

Then again, to force the issue, don't buy any Japanese produced goods and tell the retailer the reason why. If enough people were to take such action someone may get the hint.

(5th November 2012)


 

THE COLD CALL VICTIM WHO FOUGHT BACK
(BBC News, dated 27th October 2012 author Ruth Alexander)
www.bbc.co.uk

Complaints about unsolicited calls and texts from sales and marketing companies have reached an all-time high.

But now one man has successfully claimed back the cost of his time from a firm which called him when he had specifically asked them not to.

Richard Herman from Middlesex felt like he was being hounded by calls and texts from companies telling him they could help him claim compensation after an accident or claim back money spent on mis-sold payment protection insurance, or PPI as it's known. He hasn't had an accident; he's never taken out PPI.

And he's registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which should stop unwanted sales calls. So he decided to take action.

Time and electricity
 
When he took a call from an overseas call centre inviting him to make a PPI claim, in July, he stayed on the line. He answered their questions, until he was eventually passed through to a UK operation, called PPI Claimline, and told them he wanted to be taken off their sales lists.

"I said to them, you need to stop calling me and, I said, if you keep calling me, I'll charge you £10 a minute for my time to be talking to you," Mr Herman said.

"I presumed that would be the end of it, but to my astonishment they called me again."

During the second call - which had come only two days later - it took Mr Herman 19.5 minutes to get put through to the UK operation, to confirm that it was the same company as before, and to explain that he was now charging for his time.

So when he got off the phone, he sent an invoice for £195 to PPI Claimline

At first, he got no response. So Mr Herman sent the invoice again, this time by recorded delivery. PPI Claimline then wrote to him.

It said it itself did not cold call, but it purchased introductions from other marketing companies including AAC, a UK company based in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, which uses the overseas call centre that had first called Mr Herman and passed him on to PPI Claimline.

The company said there was no record of Mr Herman's number in its database or that of any of its partner companies.

But Mr Herman had recorded the phone calls. So, stepping up his consumer assertiveness another gear, he filed a case in the small claims court.

And that seemed to do the trick. The case was settled before it went to court.

AAC, the company which had called Richard on behalf of PPI Claimline, paid him £195 for his time and electricity, as well as his £25 court costs.

Breaking the law
 
It's been a cathartic experience for Mr Herman:

"It cheered me up to think that actually instead of being the victim of these calls I can actually defend myself against them to put the boot onto the other foot."

Both PPI Claimline and AAC declined to be interviewed by the BBC. But they issued statements, saying they are sorry that Mr Herman was called after he had asked for the calls to stop.

They say they only contact people who have opted in to receiving marketing calls, and they say Mr Herman has done so via a website he visited, where you tick or untick a box to agree to be contacted by other companies. Mr Herman says he hasn't.

But even if he had, AAC is still breaking the law in this case, according to John Mitchison from the Telephone Preference Service.

 
"If Mr Herman had given specific consent for a named company to contact him, then that would have overridden TPS, but it would have to have been as blatant as that.

"General third party opt-in does not override TPS.

"The company should have been screening against TPS. It's a legal requirement to do that."

'Frustrating'
 
If you are registered with the TPS, and receive a cold call, you can complain to the TPS who will do a first round of investigations and pass the company's details on to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

But the ICO has not been doing enough to stop rogue companies, according to Mr Mitchison:

"They haven't made any serious enforcement action for quite some time. At the beginning of this year, the ICO were given increased powers.

"They can now enforce a civil monetary penalty of £500,000, but they haven't done anything in the area of the TPS as yet.

"It's very frustrating. We obviously receive a huge number of complaints each month and we receive telephone calls from people that are being deluged by this type of call - particularly in the area of PPI and accident claims."

Ofcom figures show that complaints about cold calls trebled in the first half of this year, with nearly 10,000 complaints lodged in July alone.

'Wry smile'
 
But the ICO is taking the problem of nuisance calls seriously, according to its director of operations, Simon Entwhistle.

"In the past five or six years, we've taken action against 19 different companies for making calls that breach the electronic communications regulations," he said.

"The power to fine has only been in force for the last year. We have issued our first notice of intent to fine someone and the fines are totalling over £250,000.

"That's actually for people who've been sending spam texts, but these people don't just send one medium…they send several different mediums."

And what does he think of Mr Herman's success in taking matters into his own hands?

"It raised a wry smile. I think the people that make these calls are a nuisance and it's really good to see the public joining in the fight back against them."

And other sales companies would probably do well to take Mr Herman's details off their databases, because he's ready for their call:

"I continue to receive further telemarketing calls, albeit from other companies. And I say to them every time now, that I will charge them £10 a minute if they call again.

"I would like to think that it will help other people because every friend and family member I speak to all feels very under the cosh of these telemarketing companies."

AAC of Bishop's Stortford is not connected to AAC Direct of Cardiff.

(5th November 2012)


 

THE 200 FOREIGN SUSPECTS ARRESTED EACH DAY BY MET POLICE
(Daily Mail, dated 7th October 2012 author Chris Greenwood)
www.dailymail.co.uk  [Option 1]

Almost 200 foreign criminal suspects were arrested every day by the country's largest police force last year.
Just over 72,500 - a third of the total arrested - were held by the Metropolitan Police and questioned about
crimes including murder, rape,  robbery and fraud. The figure is up almost a quarter on two years ago when 58,870 non-British suspects were arrested in London.

The rise emerged as Scotland Yard revealed it has drafted in immigration officials to all its 72 custody suites in a drive to target foreigner suspects.

Senior officers are determined to deal more effectively with the huge numbers of foreign nationals clogging up
the  criminal justice system.
They want UK Border Agency staff to help send home those wanted abroad or who fail to comply with the 'good
behaviour' conditions of their residence.

But some fear that EU nationals caught and convicted in Britain can simply return to this country after serving their sentences abroad.

The latest figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request which showed 72,505 foreign suspects were
arrested last year in the capital.
This included 79 on suspicion of murder, 708 for rape, 1,863 for robbery, 2,801 for fraud and 2,489 for burglary.
Another 2,742 were arrested because they were wanted by police, 7,524 for shoplifting and 2,516 for drink-driving
after crashing their vehicle.

The rising trend is mirrored elsewhere, with the country's second largest force, West Midlands Police, arresting
11,801 between April 2011 and March this year.
That is an increase of more than half on the previous 12 months when 7,716 foreign suspects were held.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign criminals who were convicted and deported countrywide fell from 5,342 in 2010 to 4,649 in 2011.

Senior police in London believe that at least one of five of the 'highest harm' offenders in the capital are non
-European nationals who could be deported.

They include violent gangsters, organised criminals involved in fraud and racketeering, and predatory sex offenders.

In some cases, deported criminals have been barred from returning to Britain for up to a decade but there are
fears they are able to evade border controls.
Earlier this year, a report warned that dangerous foreign criminals may be slipping through the net even when
arrested as police do not carry out basic checks.

The study said officers were failing to ask about previous convictions and demanded a review of checks to ensure
the public is not put at risk.
In January, a judge demanded to know why child-rapist Victor Akulic was let into Britain from Lithuania.
After arriving here, he beat and raped a woman.
He had served nine years in his home country for raping a seven-year-old he lured into his house with lemonade.

Labour immigration spokesman Chris Bryant attacked the Government's record. He said: 'It's successful prosecutions and swift deportations that count.
'Depressingly, the Tories are removing fewer foreign offenders than before, and more are absconding.
Yet again they're letting down the police and the public.'

A Met spokesman said the latest drive 'is not about targeting specific communities but about us targeting criminality'.

A UKBA spokesman said: 'Those who come to the UK must abide by our laws. 'We will always seek to deport any foreign criminals as quickly as possible.'

(8th October 2012)


 

FORCE WEBSITE TARGETED BY HACKERS
(Police Oracle, dated 31st August 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

The personal logins and passwords of a number of officers have been published on the internet after part of a force website was hacked.

Hertfordshire Constabulary confirmed information stored on an external database linked to its Safer Neighbourhood pages had been infiltrated.

The hackers obtained safer neighbourhood officers' logins and passwords to the site which were subsequently published by someone claiming to be a supporter of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.

The force has temporarily taken down the section of its website as it conducts an investigation - but says 90 per cent of the information published by the hacker, besides the login details, was freely available on the pages anyway including email addresses.

Personal data about officers or members of the public was not compromised, it said.

A force spokesman said: "Hertfordshire Constabulary is currently investigating following the publication on the internet of information stored on a database linked to the public Safer Neighbourhoods pages of the external Constabulary website.

"As a precaution these pages have been temporarily disabled whilst the circumstances as to how this information was obtained is investigated.

"Hertfordshire Constabulary can confirm that the externally hosted system from where it appears the information has come is not linked to any internal force system and there is absolutely no suggestion that any personal data relating to officers or members of the public has been, or could have been compromised.

"Nevertheless matters of IT security are extremely important to the Constabulary and an investigation is already underway."

The force said it hoped the pages would be back online by early next week.

It is not believed the illegal activity is linked to a similar attack on Cambridge University last week, which was also carried out by hackers claiming to be Assange supporters.


(8th October 2012)


 

E-FORENSICS MODEL TO GO NATIONWIDE
(Police Oracle, dated 31st August 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoaracle.com   [Option 1]

A model of working that increases the speed at which forces can examine the computers and phones used by criminals is set to be made available to all forces from September.


The NPIA eForensics pilot, which ran in the East Midlands, enabled the region's five forces to increase their examination capacity of computers by 90 per cent.

This allowed cases against offenders, such as those involving indecent image distribution, homicide and fraud, to be prepared and brought more quickly, the NPIA said.

Head of Police Science and Forensics at the agency Simon Bramble said: "The pilot has been a great success, helping forces increase the amount of electronic devices examined and significantly reducing the time it takes to do this.

"This is another good example of how the NPIA works with the Police Service to deliver initiatives that provide more for less and help support front-line officers to protect our communities."

Currently the process for officers to request an examination of a computer or mobile phone varies from force-to-force - but the demand placed on technology experts in Hi-Tech Crime Units (HTCUs) has rocketed by as much as 300 per cent over seven years, according to the NPIA.

The new model aims to introduce a standardised management approach to the technology which focuses more on prioritising the relevant equipment appropriately.

During the pilot, officers would contact a technology expert from one of the five forces' HTCUs (Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire). This individual would then assess the examination request and determine how the officers should proceed in their own hi-tech unit. They would then be issued with equipment.


Part of the process involved assessing how best to examine a device against priority criteria - including the threat posed by the offender, the seriousness of the crime and the risk to the victim. This resulted in standardised examinations, reviews and investigation procedures across the region, the NPIA said.

The agency recently held an event to inform all forces of the benefits achieved, lessons learned and how it could support them to implement the new products and processes.

ACPO lead on eForensics DCC Paul Crowther said: "With the emergence of technology impacting on many crime types, the Police Service has recognised that all police forces were spending an increasing amount of time, money and staff on interrogating electronic devices and mobiles phones.

"This project has dramatically reduced the time taken over each device and has also made a massive impact into case loads."


(8th October 2012)


 

METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICERS SUSPENDED FOR CORRUPTION
(BBC News, dated 29th September 2012)

For background links and support statistics from this article :
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19728951

Nearly 50 Metropolitan Police officers have been suspended for corruption in three years, figures show.

Of the 258 officers suspended for offences also including sexual assault, neglect and assault, 38% of cases were proven and 11% of officers were sacked.

The officers were paid about £3.6m during their suspensions.

A lawyer who handles complaints against the police has called the figures "shocking". The Met said it aimed to investigate allegations "quickly".

Police officers and staff can only be suspended if they are likely to interfere with the course of an investigation or if it is the public interest.

As such, most suspensions occur when an officer is subject to a serious criminal investigation or a serious internal misconduct investigation.

Stolen goods
 
The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show the number of officers suspended on full pay for three years between 2009-11.

Nearly half of those suspended were special constables, who are unpaid.

Although the specifics of each case has not been revealed, the Met said some instances of corruption included handling stolen goods and fraudulent overtime claims.

One of the most high profile cases is that of Ali Dizaei, a commander who was dismissed after he was jailed for misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice.

Another is PC Simon Harwood who was recently sacked for gross misconduct after he was found guilty of breaching standards in connection with Ian Tomlinson's death at the G20 protests.

He was initially suspended from duty in 2011.

Others suspended include: Gareth Beard who was found guilty of fraud; Philip Juhasz who was sacked for racially abusing the manager of a snack kiosk at King's Cross railway station; Det Con Daren Pooley who was jailed for defrauding the force after he overcharged for rented apartments, and David Price who was found guilty of growing cannabis.

The BBC has also obtained figures which show 372 police staff were suspended between 2009-2011.

Rank of suspended officers
Ch Insp: 1
Det Con: 19
Det Ch Insp: 2
Det Sgt: 10
Insp: 2
PC: 96
PS: 14
Special Const: 114


'Delayed justice'
 
The figures do not include those officers who have been arrested and suspended as part of Operation Elveden, the inquiry into alleged payments to officers from journalists, as these arrests have been this year.

Shamik Dutta, a lawyer who handles complaints against police officers, said: "The figures are shocking.

"In my experience when members of the public complain about police officers it is very rare for those officers to be suspended.

"However, even if they are, investigations can take far too long leading to victims of police misconduct suffering delayed justice.

"The figures show that those delays in investigations also result in great cost to the taxpayer where officers are suspended on full pay."

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commision (IPCC) on corruption found the force received 1,487 complaints between 2008 and 2011.

Of those, 345 were referred to the IPCC for investigation.

The IPCC report concluded there had to be clearer information on what constitutes police corruption.

In a statement, the Met said: "Whilst we aim to investigate allegations of misconduct as quickly as possible, the length of an investigation is often determined by the complex nature of some allegations which can be beyond the control of the MPS, as we may need to allow the judicial system or IPCC to complete their proceedings before the force can conclude an investigation.

"While our aim is always to carry out this work in the quickest and most efficient way possible, we also have to ensure investigations are thorough and robust for the benefit of the complainant, the general public, the force as a whole and the officer under investigation."

(8th October 2012)


 

ROYAL MAIL - OUT AND ABOUT

As from the 1st October 2012 if a Royal Mail Post person is unable to push an item through your letterbox they will leave it with a neighbour. There is no definition of who a neighbour is; those next door, several doors way; next street or the typical legal definition "the man on the Croydon omnibus" !

They are saying it is for our (the recipients) convenience, but in my opinion it is for their convenience. In all honesty does everyone know their neighbours ? How would you judge the trustworthness of your neighbours in say, dealing with a package that contains jewelry from a shopping channel (they are not always sent recorded delivery) ?

The postal regulator (Ofcom) has agreed to the Royal Mail request in this change of process following a consultation exercise !

The process

- From Monday 1st October 2012 if you're out and about, you may find that your item has been left with a neighbour instead of being returned back to your Royal Mail Delivery Office.

- If Royal Mail deliver any of your items to one of your neighbours they will post a 'Something for you' card through your letter-box telling you this.

- If Royal Mail are unable to deliver an item to you, or a neighbour, your item will be returned to your local Royal Mail Delivery Office for you to collect it, or to arrange a re-delivery.

- Again, Royal Mail will post a 'Something for you' card through your letter-box telling you this.

If you would prefer not to have any items delivered to a neighbour you can opt-out.

To opt-out

You will need to place an opt-out sticker by your front door or nearby window.

To obtain a opt-out sticker contact Royal Mail to register :

Website : www.royalmail.com/out
By telephone : 08456 113 420
Textphone : 08456 000 606


Opt-out conditions (As quoted on Royal Mail website : www.royalmail.com/deliverytoneighbour)

- You understand that by opting out of Delivery to Neighbour, any mail items which cannot be delivered to my address because I am not at home, will be returned to my local Royal Mail Delivery Office, for me to collect or to arrange a re-delivery.

- You understand that by opting out of Delivery to Neighbour, you are opting out of taking receipt of your neighbours' items also.

- You are aware that opting out of Delivery to Neighbour applies to items delivered by Royal Mail only.
 
- You understand it is your responsibility to display the sticker at all times. If the sticker is not made easily visible at your address, items may be delivered to a neighbour if you are not at home or you may be asked to take receipt of my neighbours' item(s).
 
- You understand that if at any time you change your mind and decide not to opt-out, then you need only to remove the sticker.
 
- You confirm the sticker will be displayed at your address so it is easily visible to the Royal Mail postman or woman.

(8th October 2012)




BBC REPORTER ROBBED OF iPHONE USES TRACKING APP TO CATCH THE CULPRIT
(Evening Standard, dated 3rd September 2012 author Emer Martin)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

 


A BBC news correspondent told how he was mugged at knifepoint and then helped to catch his assailant using a tracking app on an iPad.

Home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds was forced to hand over his wallet, iPhone and Pin by a masked robber near his home in north London.

That night, as he drove around with Haringey's robbery squad looking for the mugger, he used a police iPad and a "Find my iPhone" app to track his phone to Islington.

Jason Harewood, 19, pleaded guilty to the robbery and was jailed for four years at Wood Green crown court last week.

Symonds, 42, who covers crime, policing and legal affairs, said: "I was in the back of the police car staring dumbly at a brand-new iPad. I was seeing whether I could trace my phone using the Find My iPhone app. To my astonishment, its location appeared on the map.

"We set off through the streets at high speed to get to the estate where my phone seemed to be."

Symonds recognised Harewood who fled as the officers got out of the car. After a chase, he was arrested.

Symonds, who was working on a BBC Ten O'Clock News report on police pay and conditions, said: "After 19 years of crime-free living in London, I was the victim of a mugging. I did the right thing and handed over my iPhone and wallet, trying not to raise the temperature of the encounter.

"Being mugged at knifepoint has affected me in several ways. Yes, it was disturbing. But as someone whose job it is to cover the justice system, being a victim within that system was about to provide me with invaluable experience of how it works - from the inside."

Harewood had been released from prison only weeks before the mugging in March having served 12 months of a two-year sentence for another knifepoint robbery.Borough Commander Sandra Looby said: "We've had some real successes using tracker technology to trace stolen phones and computers. Help us to help you."

(8th October 2012)



 

PARALYMPICS - LONDON 2012


COME ON TEAM GB !



 

DISABILITY HATE CRIME IS AT ITS HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE RECORDS BEGAN
(The Guardian, dated 14th August 2012 author John Burn-Murdoch)
www.guardian.co.uk    [Option 1]

Full Article and data :

www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/aug/14/disability-hate-crime-increase-reported-incidents-data

The number of recorded incidents of disability hate crime in England and Wales rose in 2011 to almost 2,000, its highest total since records began. In the same year there were just 523 convictions for the offence.

There were 1,942 recorded incidents of disability hate crime in England and Wales in 2011, an increase of more than 25% on the total for 2010 and the highest since this data was first recorded in April 2010.

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows the number of recorded incidents grew by 60% between 2009 and 2011.

While almost 2,000 reports were made to the police last year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) made just 523 convictions for disability hate crime over the same period.

Police areas with the highest number of recorded disability hate crimes for 2011 :

Hertfordshire : 169
Suffolk : 152
West Yorkshire : 147
Norfolk : 138
London : 133
Merseyside : 121
Leicestershire : 105
Avon and Somerset : 97
South Wales : 70
Greater Manchester : 69

Hertfordshire's total marked a seven-fold increase on the previous year, when just 24 disability hate crimes were reported. While South Wales accounted for the tenth highest number of reports in 2011, this represented a 32% drop from 2010.

Figures published by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) show a rapid increase in the number of reported disability hate crimes since records began. In 2009 - the first full calendar year for which such data exists - 1,211 crimes were reported.

This figure rose by 24.8% in 2010, and a further 28.4% the following year. It is unclear whether these rises are caused primarily by an increase in the number of disability hate crimes that are committed, or higher rates or their reporting.

Uaware comment

Whilst many of us will be proudly watching the Paralympics on Channel 4 whilst Team GB go out to better their able bodied colleagues; some morons will be going out to add to this disgusting hate crime record.

I am very troubled by the Police comments "It is unclear whether these rises are caused primarily by an increase in the number of disability hate crimes that are committed, or higher rates of their reporting." The Police seem to be using this same excuse for other crimes of a heinous nature (ie. It is unclear whether these rises are caused primarily by an increase in the number of sexual assaults that are committed, or higher rates of their reporting.) These words HAVE been used by the Police in other articles refered to on this website. It is a great way of implying that things are not as bad as they seem !

(28th August 2012)



GLOBAL INITIATIVE TAKES ON CYBER CRIMINALS
(Police Oracle, dated 23rd August 2012)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

 

One of the largest international consultations into cybercrime has been launched to help governments, law enforcement and businesses prepare to tackle future technological threats.

Project 2020, a study by the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) and led by Europol, will analyse current trends in cybercrime and how they could evolve over the next eight years and beyond. The study includes partners from Europe, Far East Asia and Australia, and includes the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in Singapore.

The past two years have seen the industrialisation of cybercrime, where criminals can draw on an entire supporting infrastructure of criminal service providers - from web hosting to generating credit card verifi cation data. There has also been a sharp increase of targeted cyber attacks on individuals, so-called "spearfi shing", according to the IACPA.

"During the past 24 months, critical infrastructure in countries around the world has been under daily cyber attack from both organised criminal networks and state-sponsored entities," says John Lyons, chief executive of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA).

Europol expects these threats to evolve rapidly. Dr Victoria Baines, strategic advisor on cybercrime at Europol, said: "Cloud computing services mean that we don't always know to whom we are entrusting our data. The 'internet of things' could see the hacking of medical devices and key infrastructure components.

"With two-thirds of the world yet to join the internet, we can expect to see new criminals, new victims and new kinds of threats."

The project will combine leading law enforcement agencies'expertise with that of the ICSPA's members, organisations and professional communities.

The European Commission recently designated Europol as its information hub on cybercrime and tasked the agency with establishing the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3). Also contributing to the study will be the City of London Police and the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).

Among the businesses joining Project 2020 are payment services firm Visa Europe, the UK's largest home shopping retailer Shop Direct Group, customer insight and fraud prevention services firm Transactis and logistics company Yodel. They will be joined by seven of the world's leading cyber security companies: McAfee, CGI Canada, Atos, Cassidian, Digiware, Core Security Technologies and Trend Micro.

It will also include the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC) and the International Association of Public Prosecutors.

(28th August 2012)


 

CRIME PREDICTION TOOL PILOT SUCCESSFULL
(Police Oracle, dated 9th August 2012)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

A crime prediction tool has been successfully piloted by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

Several years ago, it challenged a team comprising two mathematicians, a criminologist, and an anthropologist to come up with a way to prevent crime before it happens. The result is PredPol, designed to put police on the scene before crime happens. It led to a 12 per cent drop in crime in the Foothill Division of Los Angeles and a 27 per cent drop in crime in Santa Cruz.

The program is built around the same model for predicting aftershocks following an earthquake. It shows officers what could be coming based on simple, constantly calibrated data on the location, time and type of crime. It then creates prediction boxes - as small as 500 square feet - on a patrol map.

The system was devised by Jeff Brantingham, an anthropology professor at the University of California in Los Angeles. It uses data is taken from repeat victims of crime. He said that traditional mapping tools are calibrated less frequently, rely on humans to recognize patterns, and allocate resources based on past crimes rather than predicted offences.

So far, the program has been implemented in five LAPD divisions covering 130 square miles and roughly 1.3 million people. In the Foothill Division, where more than half of crimes are property-related, around 170 patrol officers are spending a total of about 70 hours a week working in the prediction boxes.

LAPD Captain Sean Malinowski said he envisions a time when the police will issue crime forecasts in the same way as the weather service issues storm alerts.

PredPol data can be accessed through any hand held mobile data device and is run on a secure, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

(28th August 2012)



GANGS TARGETED IN MAJOR OPERATION
(Police Oracle, dated 24th August 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com   [Option 1]

 

 

Resolute Metropolitan Police officers have been out in force in a concerted operation to target gang members at major transport arteries in the capital.

The force has confirmed that 21 people were arrested during the Operation Pegasus activity on the evening of August 23 and the early hours of August 24.

They include a violent serial sex offender wanted in connection with another assault and known gang members believed to be responsible for burglary and assault offences.

The operation also saw around 200 vehicles stopped - 13 of which were seized.

Some 300 officers were deployed across six London bridges and train and bus hubs. Drugs dog units were based at Vauxhall, Clapham Junction and Tooting Bec stations, where safer transport teams carried out weapons screening at knife arches.

Mobile ANPR units were also rotated across Wandsworth, Battersea, Vauxhall, Albert, Chelsea and Lambeth bridges and a special mobile custody suite was set up in Battersea to help speed up searches and processing.

Met spokesman Det Supt Eric Phelps said: "We know that criminals use these key transport routes to travel to other parts of London to commit crime, so we employed a range of tactics to target, tackle and deter gang related offending.

"This operation aimed to deny offenders the use of the roads and other transport routes, seize weapons or drugs being carried and increase our intelligence on their activities."

(28th August 2012)




24 CRIMINALS BANNED FROM WEST END

(Evening Standard, dated 23rd August 2012 author Simon Freeman)
www.standard.co.uk  [Option 1]

 

Scotland Yard today said its "total war" on crime in the West End had resulted in 1,600 arrests in six months for offences ranging from begging to attempted murder.

Police have been granted Asbos against 24 prolific offenders, between them responsible for 1,433 crimes, banning them from the area for up to five years.

Hundreds of posters featuring their mugshots are being put up in clubs and shops with members of the public urged to contact police if they return.

A crackdown in Tisbury Court, an alley of strip clubs between Rupert Street and Wardour Street known as Britain's biggest outdoor drugs market, led to 34 dealers in class-A drugs being arrested in one night. All but two are now behind bars.

Acting Supt Steve Osborn, who is leading the operation which has involved up to 500 plain-clothed and uniformed officers, said it had "ripped the heart out of low-level, high volume crime" in the West End.

He said: "As a result of this intense police operation these prolific offenders can no longer come to the area and already it has a very different feel. It's staggering how much it has changed."

Mr Osborn said only one of the offenders was local to the West End, with others being drawn from across the capital and farther afield to prey on tourists and revellers enjoying the nightlife.

He added: "The Asbos we've secured are a vital aid in ensuring that on release from prison these people cannot just pick up where they left off. It's a long-term solution to removing criminals from the West End. We now call upon local residents and businesses to assist us by notifying us if they see any of these individuals."

He said the street surveillance and high-visibility police presence would continue as London gears up for the Paralympics.

He added: "The operation is ongoing. It's one battle in a long-running campaign."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Operation Trafalgar - Night time Soho operation
(Courtesy of Metropolitan Police, dated 13th July 2012)
www.met.police.uk

Keyword search on : Operation Trafalgar

More than 100 officers swooped on a Soho street last night targeting illegal drug dealing, anti social behaviour and premises in breach of their licence.

Westminster officers, assisted by colleagues from other boroughs, targeted the area in and around Tisbury Court and Rupert Street as part of the latest phase of Operation Trafalgar - the Met's largest ever crackdown on crime and anti-social behaviour in the West End.

Officers made 14 arrests:

7 for a variety of offences as a result of a pedicab operation
2 for common assault
1 for drunk and disorderly and possession of an offensive weapon
1 for drink driving
1 for actual bodily harm
1 for Section 5 of the Public Order Act and assault on police
1 for handling stolen goods

Activity, which ran from 21:00hrs included:

- The closure of a business premises suspected of intimidating customers into paying inflated bills.
- The execution of two search warrants at two business premises suspected of being involved in the supply of illegal drugs;
- Licensing visits to a number of premises in the area;
- A uniformed street sweep to deter people considering committing crime and anti-social behaviour
- Checks by local Safer Neighbourhoods on suspected brothels
T- argeting nuisance pedicab use.

Police have also erected a podium in Rupert Street today to support visible policing activity in the longer term. The podium will be in place over busy weekends to show local residents, businesses and visitors that the police are there for them.

Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said: "We are serious about tackling criminality in this area. As part of our war on crime we will deploy our officers at times and places of our choosing rather than leave it to chance. These activities are an example of this."

Chief Superintendent Paul Rickett said: "This latest activity builds on earlier operations in and around Tisbury Court and Rupert Street and are designed to clearly communicate the message that Operation Trafalgar is not simply a one off initiative, but a concerted and long-term approach to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in the West End.

"Operation Trafalgar is about making coming to the West End a safe, secure and enjoyable experience. It is also about stopping people causing trouble, carrying weapons or selling drugs.

"I intend to make the West End a hostile environment for people intent on committing crime. Anyone involved in this behaviour will be pursued and arrested."

Operation Trafalgar was launched in March 2012 and has seen extra officers deployed into the West End, especially on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, in a New York style operation to increase visibility and reduce crime in the area.

A large range of tactics are being used including road side check points to deny criminals the use of roads in an around the West End; toughening up enforcement action against trouble- makers; closing down problem clubs, bars or other premises; strictly enforcing no-street drinking zones and carrying out high visibility patrols.

Since its launch, Operation Trafalgar has been paying dividends. Violence with injury is down by 30%, while crime overall is down by nearly 18% compared with the same period the previous year.

Under the operation, to date there has been more than 1200 arrests.

(28th August 2012)


 

27 ARRESTED AS POLICE STAGE DAWN RAIDS ON BURGLARS ACROSS CAPITAL
(Evening Standard, dated 22nd August 2012 author Rob Parsons)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

Burglars are stealing passports from homes in the capital to help immigrants enter the UK illegally, a police chief said today.

Hundreds of officers today swooped on more than 40 homes in north London as part of the Metropolitan Police's "total war" on burglars. The dawn raids in nine boroughs, including Barnet, Brent, Camden and Westminster, saw 27 people arrested and thousands of pounds in proceeds from burglaries seized.

The Standard joined police at a semi-detached house in Colney Hatch, Barnet, where an 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of burglary, ID document offences and proceeds of crime offences. The suspect, believed to be of Irish descent, was held after officers broke down the door at 5am. Two girls in an upstairs bedroom screamed in terror as more than a dozen Territorial Support Group officers stormed into the house.

A 24-year-old burglary suspect was not at home when police raided an 11th floor flat in Cricklewood later this morning, but he was arrested after being tracked down elsewhere in London.

Commander Mak Chishty, Link Commander for Barnet, considered a hot spot for burglaries in north London, said the operation was "a clear warning to all burglars that we will do everything in our power to catch and convict them". He said burglars in London were increasingly targeting ID documents and smaller electrical items such as iPods rather than the TVs or video players they aimed for a decade ago.

He said: "Bank cards and cheques are being stolen as well as ID documents such as passports. This can cause a great deal of harm to victims, families and communities.

"At the extreme end a false passport can lead to someone being in the country who is not entitled to be there or where it is dangerous.

"There can be everything from fraud, which damages our economy, even small businesses, financial loss, personal loss, to people who have entered the UK on false pretences."

(28th August 2012)


 


CRIME PREVENTION IS A ALL YEAR THING - HOW TO RECORD AND PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES
(Courtesey of Metropolitan Police, dated 24th August 2012
www.met.police.uk

To register for Neighbourhood link updates go to : www.neighbourhoodlink.met.police.uk/registration/

Marking or etching your postcode and house number on items that are particularly valuable is a good deterrent to thieves because they know these items are more easily traced by the police, and it reduces their ability to sell these items on.
 
Additionally, if marked your property can be traced, identified and returned to you.
 
Items with a unique serial number can be registered for free at www.immobilise.com- the UK National Property Register. Registration increases the chance of having your property returned. In fact, over 900 people every month are contacted about recovered items.
 
Create a record of your most valuable property - when you have finished, put the list in a safe place - ideally under lock and key.
 
You should also think about photographing highly valuable items such as jewellery, paintings or antiques. For the best results:
 
• Use a non-reflective background
• Put a ruler next to the item to provide a sense of scale
• Make sure there is enough light
• Make sure the object is in focus
• Keep the pictures in a safe place
• Think about giving a second copy of the pictures to a trusted friend or relative
 
There are numerous ways of property marking your possessions, some more permanent than others. You can use UV or indelible pens, postcode etching or chemically coded systems.
 
By visibly marking your property with your postcode and house number (or flat letter) or the first three letters of a house name, and illustrating this fact to thieves (using window stickers), you reduce the risk of burglary by removing the benefit.
 
For more crime prevention advice - visit www.met.police.uk/crimeprevention

(28th August 2012)



HOW TO RECORD AND PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES

(Courtesey of Metropolitan Police, dated 24th August 2012
www.met.police.uk

 

To register for Neighbourhood link updates go to : www.neighbourhoodlink.met.police.uk/registration/

Marking or etching your postcode and house number on items that are particularly valuable is a good deterrent to thieves because they know these items are more easily traced by the police, and it reduces their ability to sell these items on.
 
Additionally, if marked your property can be traced, identified and returned to you.
 
Items with a unique serial number can be registered for free at www.immobilise.com- the UK National Property Register. Registration increases the chance of having your property returned. In fact, over 900 people every month are contacted about recovered items.
 
Create a record of your most valuable property - when you have finished, put the list in a safe place - ideally under lock and key.
 
You should also think about photographing highly valuable items such as jewellery, paintings or antiques. For the best results:
 
• Use a non-reflective background
• Put a ruler next to the item to provide a sense of scale
• Make sure there is enough light
• Make sure the object is in focus
• Keep the pictures in a safe place
• Think about giving a second copy of the pictures to a trusted friend or relative
 
There are numerous ways of property marking your possessions, some more permanent than others. You can use UV or indelible pens, postcode etching or chemically coded systems.
 
By visibly marking your property with your postcode and house number (or flat letter) or the first three letters of a house name, and illustrating this fact to thieves (using window stickers), you reduce the risk of burglary by removing the benefit.
 
For more crime prevention advice - visit www.met.police.uk/crimeprevention

(28th August 2012)


 

GANGS DEMAND NEW MEMBERS CARRY OUT INITIATION BURGLARIES
(Evening Standard, dated 21st August 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk   [Option 1]

Teenagers are being ordered to commit household burglaries as an initiation rite to join gangs, police and community leaders warned today.

New research shows that gang members in London are also'increasingly diversifying into crimes such as burglary to raise cash.

Police fear the trend may be driving a rise in the number of residential break-ins in some inner city areas.
A report by Brent council on a 12 per cent increase in burglary in the borough states: "Initial information suggests suspects from the local area associating with gangs and highly organised and mobile suspects who are operating across a number of boroughs."

Scotland Yard says about 25 per cent of all violent burglaries in London are now committed by gangs. The report says that the trend is "a chnage from the more traditional profile of a suspect, who is typically older, has a history of sbstance misuse and previous offences".

Community leaders say the surge in break-ins means many residents on inner-city estates are now too frightened to leave their homes. Brent councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala, who commissioned the research, said "This is a worrying trend which I believe is happening across London. "The robberies are affecting people's lives with many feeling vulnerable because of the gangs and their anti-social behaviour". "What concerns me is that gang members never used to commit crimes on their doorstep but that is what seems to be happening now". "Theses gangs are all about defending their own postcodes, I have two gangs in my ward who cannot travel  between their estates yet they are now robbing houses in their own area, it seems to be against what they stand for. We seem to be losing a community spirit."

Brent borough police commander Matt Gardner said there was information that gangs were using burglaries as an initiation rite for new members.
He said: "There are gang members who are going out to commit burglaries among other crimes. They are doing it because it is part of an organised crime network, an initiation rite or just because they can.
"We have seen a 30 per cent reduction in robbery and a slight rise of about one per cent in burglary. We are now doing a lot of work to try and get kids out of crime.
"We are giving them a chance to opt out of gangs and crirne and sending out the message that if they continue they will get a criminal record and screw their life up."
He added: "Over a third of all burglaries are actually attempts when access was not gained, yet recording standards mean that these are still shown as burglaries."
Brenda Linton, vice chairwoman of St Raphael's residents' association in Brent, said: "Many people are scared to go out because so many houses have been broken into. We have had about 20 burglaries in the last six to eight months.
"Young people need more to do, they are bored and because of the postcode trouble they cannot move around. They are stuck on their own estates."

(28th August 2012)


 

CASH FOR CRASH : WAR IS BEING WON
(Police Oracle, dated 8th August 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

Specialist officers are beginning to have notable successes against fraudsters involved in so called cash-for-cash scams as a notable result was chalked up against offenders in London.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com, Det Insp David Hindmarsh - who heads up the Met's dedicated Op Catcher Unit - said force efforts to increase public awareness of the crime matched with resolute detective work was paying off.

Officers believe that these types of scams, in which multi-layered organised gangs orchestrate collisions in a bid to defraud the insurance industry, are now a £500 million-per-year business.

But Det Insp Hindmarsh (pictured) added: "Our efforts have meant that there has now been significant media attention focused on these types of scams - they are no longer under the radar.

"The public are now far more aware - the word is certainly getting around to them."

Det Insp Hindmarsh was speaking as two men were sentenced to more than 12 years imprisonment following a long and complex investigation that began five years ago.

Notting Hill resident Masi Naqshbandi (27) was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and 24-year-old Sabaoon Hillaman, of Greenford, Middlesex, admitted the offence.

Naqshbandi was sent to prison for seven years and three months while Hillaman was handed down a custodial term of four years and ten months.

The result followed an investigation - Op Saisir - which began in 2007 and examined the dealings of a criminal gang which operated under the guise of a legitimate accident management company named the Real Accident Help Line.

The gang operated a sophisticated fraud scheme, organising and staging more than 250 RTCs - then submitting fraudulent personal injury, damage, car hire and storage claims.

Met investigations revealed that the gang had attempted to defraud the UK insurance industry of some £6.5 million by making fraudulent claims through Real Accident Help Line.

Naqshbandi and Hillaman were identified as being two of four suspects connected with the company. Of the four main conspirators, Naqshbandi maintained his innocence but was found guilty at Croydon Crown Court after a five-week trial.

Det Insp Hindmarsh believed that forces needed to consider a more focused approach to dealing with cash-for-crash scams - such as setting up a dedicated unit - although he admitted this could be difficult with the current financial squeeze.

But he said that Op Catcher - which is staffed by two detective sergeants and eight detective constables - had made good progress in dismantling some of the organised crime networks.

(28th August 2012)


 

FORCE "NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE SAYS" POLICE FEDERATION
(Police Oracle, dated 8th August 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com  [Option 1]

A police force "is not fit for purpose" in its current state after significant reductions in officer numbers were implemented too quickly, it has been claimed.

The Police Federation of Devon and Cornwall said the loss of 315 officers so far, including neighbourhood officers, had been having a negative impact on communities - with crime up overall by 5.9 per cent.

The staff association also pointed out that the force had now reverted to its original community based-policing model - after the centralisation of the model into three commands led by Assistant Chief Constables "failed".

Acting Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has even acknowledged the criticism after saying in a media interview that the force had probably cut "too hard and too fast".

Meanwhile, a survey carried out by neighbouring Wiltshire Police showed that almost 50 per cent of the force's staff and officers believe there are now not enough people to do the job properly. The force, which covers a large rural area, has seen officer numbers decrease from 1,227 to 1,056 since 2009.

Devon and Cornwall has to lose 700 officer posts by the end of 2015 in a bid to save £51 million.

Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation Nigel Rabbits told PoliceOracle.com: "The only way (the force) could reduce the overall cost was to reduce numbers - but that creates a sparsity of officers in such a large geographical area.

"They couldn't continue with the policing model they had which was community based and moved to a functional operating model where they centralised all the services under three Assistant Chief Constable commands.

"It (this model) does not work in larger geographical counties - you lose the chain of command and end up with fewer resources."

On Acting CC Sawyer's comments Mr Rabbits added: "I was pleasantly surprised".

According to figures from the Office For National Statistics, violence against the person went up by 10 per cent, sexual offences by 12 per cent and burglary by 15 per cent between March 2011 and the same month in 2012 in the Devon and Cornwall police area compared with the previous year.

Devon and Cornwall Police Deputy Chief Constable David Zinzan said the force would be reallocating existing resources to the front-line as part of a package of improvements.

He said: "In light of the unprecedented cuts already made by Devon and Cornwall Police, and those in the future, it is even more essential that we get the right staff with the correct skills doing the right things.

"This is not about increasing our current resource levels but about the reallocation of existing staff to where they will be at their most effective and many of these decisions can be made at a geographic level.

"As with any change programme on a large scale, as the restructuring is implemented we will continuously assess the performance of the force to try and keep improving our overall service to the communities of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."

Chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation Kate Pain believed the situation in neighbouring Devon and Cornwall was having a knock on effect on Wiltshire Police officers.

She said: "We are all part of the same region down here and are all aware of the job losses."

(28th August 2012)


 

MOBILE CUSTOMER UNCOVERS PREMIUM RATE "BUG"
(BBC News, dated 13th August 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

An unexplained charge on a phone bill has led a mobile user to uncover a loophole in the sign-up system for some premium rate services.

Consultant Mark Hole found he could sign up anyone for some premium rate services from content maker Buongiorno.

All he needed to know was a potential victim's mobile number and whether they used the Orange network.

Buongiorno said it quickly closed the loophole once it was discovered and had no evidence it had been exploited.

Browser spoof
 
Mr Hole's suspicions were aroused when charges for a premium rate fortune-telling service turned up on the bill for the mobile phones linked to his computer consultancy business.

"I went online, got the bill up and there were weekly charges coming up on it," he said.

He complained to operator Orange about the charge but it said he must have signed up for it despite his insistence that he was "scrupulous" about keeping the numbers private and that they were only used for business calls.

Mr Hole also contacted mobile content firm Buongiorno which ran the iFortune service he was being billed for. It asked him to send details of the disputed charge.

At the same time Mr Hole looked for ways that the phantom charge could have applied. He discovered that it was possible to convince the iFortune site it was being visited by an iPhone. Using add-ons for the Firefox web browser this let him sign up any Orange customer for the service.

All he needed to do this was their mobile phone number. Mr Hole demonstrated the loophole by signing up a BBC correspondent's phone for a weekly fortune reading.

Gareth Maclachlan, head of mobile security firm Adaptive Mobile, said the loophole arose because Buongiorno was not doing a good enough job of checking which net addresses were making sign-up requests.

"There's a potentially criminal opportunity here," he said. If the loophole became widely known, he said, hi-tech thieves could set up a fake premium rate service, sign people up and then sit back and wait for cash to roll in.

Information about Mr Hole's findings have been circulated to the GSMA security working group to ensure other operators are aware of the loophole.

"There was a bug in the system," said a spokesman for Buongiorno. "When that was found out, we very quickly moved to pin it down, find out what happened and stop it from happening again."

The spokesman added that exploiting the loophole required a "certain amount of technical knowledge". As far as Buongiorno could tell, he said, there had only been one "billed event" that had arisen as a result of the loophole.

The money wrongly taken for this event had now been refunded, he said.

What is not clear yet is how many people were at risk of being signed up for premium rate services. Buongiorno said it closed down the bug quickly but Mr Hole's investigations suggest it was open for perhaps as long as 14 days.

(28th August 2012)


 

BLIZZARD BATTLE.NET HACK ATTACK HITS MILLIONS
(BBC News, dated 10th August 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Account details for millions of players have been stolen in a hack attack on Blizzard, the maker of World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo.

Blizzard revealed details of the breach in a message posted to its Battle.net account management service.

Players in North America should change their login details for the account management service, said Blizzard.

So far, it said, there was no evidence that credit card numbers and other personal details had been taken.

Angry gamers
 
In the message, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime said it discovered on 4 August that there had been "unauthorized and illegal access" to its internal network.

Its investigation into the breach revealed that whoever broke in got a copy of a list of all email addresses for Battle.net users outside China.

Battle.net is the overarching account management and login service gamers use to play Blizzard games including World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3.

Also accessed was information about the security questions and account authenticators used by players on North American servers. As well as players in the US and Canada this includes people in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia.

The attackers also stole a cryptographically scrambled list of the passwords used on North American Battle.net accounts. The technique Blizzard used to conceal these passwords, said Mr Morhaime, made it hard to unscramble them.

Blizzard said that, as far as it knew, the information stolen would not be enough for attackers to gain unauthorised access to Battle.net accounts.

Despite this, it urged players on North America servers to change their passwords, especially if that secret phrase or character combination was used on other services.

It said it had begun an automatic process to force players to change their secret questions and get those who use authenticators to update their devices.

It said it had found "no evidence" that credit card numbers, billing addresses or real names had been exposed.

"We are truly sorry that this has happened," said Mr Morhaime.

Paul Ducklin, a researcher at security firm Sophos, said the breach was "painful but probably not too bad" in a blogpost about the attack. He said the way Blizzard stored and managed login and password data was "sensible" and should reduce the theft's impact.

Commenting on the breach at games news site Rock Paper Shotgun, Nathan Grayson said it showed up the shortcomings of Blizzard's decision to make formerly offline titles, such as Diablo, only playable if people login via Battle.net.

"No one (except maybe the hackers) is happy about this," he wrote, "but I imagine people who just wanted a single-player experience with no muss or fuss are the angriest of all."

Blizzard warning link : http://sea.blizzard.com/en-sg/securityupdate.html

(28th August 2012)


 

DETECTIVE PRAISED AFTER SEX OFFENDER JAILED
(Police Oracle, dated 4th August 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com [Option 1]

A Detective Constable has been commended by the CPS and a judge for bringing a sex offender to justice after he repeatedly abused a physically and mentally disabled woman.

Sussex Police officer DC Tracey Dixon worked "tirelessly" to investigate Sehar Raj (52), who has now been sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment.

Raj, of Brighton, pleaded guilty to eight charges of sexual assault against the woman - but had denied seven of the counts until the start of his trial.

The CPS told the force: "The aggrieved was extremely vulnerable and gave a number of different accounts.

"Instead of seeing this as an insurmountable weakness, DC Dixon worked tirelessly to unravel the truth."

The offences had taken place between August and October 2010 and Raj was charged in February this year.

Raj has also been placed on the Sex offenders Register indefinitely and served with a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for seven years to prevent him having contact with the victim. This will also prevent him undertaking any work likely to bring him into contact with other vulnerable women.

DC Dixon, who led the investigation and is based with Brighton and Hove CID, said: "Sehar Raj is a despicable individual who broke the trust and took advantage of a vulnerable adult who was unable to protect herself.

"I am pleased that he received a custodial sentence due to the seriousness of the offences committed and no longer poses a threat to his victim."

The CPS added: "Prosecution Counsel have been hugely impressed and grateful for the skill and dedication brought to this case by DC Dixon.

"When the case came before the court DC Dixon was commended.

"HHJ Lawson QC said that cases like these are difficult and sensitive and that he had no hesitation in agreeing with the Crown that DC Dixon is to be commended for her care, dedication and hard work, which had been exceptional.

"I hope this can be marked on DC Dixon's record."

(28th August 2012)


 

MISSING GIRL TIA SHARP FROM NEW ADDINGTON
(Metropilitan Police - Neighbourhood Link, dated 8th August 2012)

To register : www.neighbourhoodlink.met.police.uk/registration/

Description

Police are appealing for assistance in tracing a 12-year-old girl who went missing in New Addington on Friday afternoon.

Tia Sharp was last seen leaving her grandmother's home in New Addington at around 12.00hrs (midday) on Friday 3rd August.

Tia said she was going to the Whitgift Centre in Croydon town centre.

She is white, of slim build, 4ft 5 in tall and was wearing glasses. She was last seen wearing a yellow bandeau top over a white bra with visible cross straps, light grey leopard-skinned leggings and black and pink Nike high top trainers.

For a picture please go to the Metropolitan Police Website by clicking the following link :
http://content.met.police.uk/Appeal/Missing-girl-New-Addington/1400010557244/1257246745782

It is totally out of character for Tia to go missing. We believe she had a small amount of cash with her but no Zip card (Oyster) and she did not have her mobile phone.

She is known to frequent the Croydon, Mitcham and Wimbledon areas.

A Press Conference with Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola and David Sharp, 28, maternal uncle of Tia took place yesterday (Monday 6 August 2012) at New Scotland Yard. Also present were two close family friends, Mark

Havers and Steven Sabine. David, Mark and Steven were all wearing white appeal tee shirts.

David Sharp appealed for Tia to return: "Tia please come home. You are not in trouble - please call us or call the police. I would like to thank the police and the public - everyone is doing everything they can. Please don't stop."

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola from Specialist Crime and Operations said: "We are releasing a CCTV image of

Tia from Thursday 2 August - the day before she was last seen. The image is from the Co-op store in Featherbed Lane, Addington, at around 1615.

"We know Tia travelled there part way on a tram by herself, and then met her grandmother's partner at East Croydon station. The image shows her wearing a yellow vest top with an image of an animal on the front - possibly of a cat or dog, her tight faded jeans, and Ugg boots. We believe she was wearing the top and jeans when she went missing - but not the Ugg boots - we know she was wearing black Nike trainers with a pink tick when she left her grandmother's address.

"We have had a good response to our appeals. We have had some 55 reported sightings of Tia, although none of these have been substantiated. Searches are continuing in the area around Tia's grandmother's address. CCTV is being collated and viewing continues.

"We know Tia was at her grandmother's house and slept late on the morning of Friday 3 August. She then left to get the bus. She told her grandmother's partner she was going out. He was the last person to see her, that we are aware of at this time.

"We have recovered a number of items but we now know that they do NOT belong to Tia.

David Sharp added: "Tia is a normal 12 year old girl. She has never run away before. She is playful but is clued up when it comes to travelling and knowing her local area. "

Anyone who has seen Tia or knows of her whereabouts should call Merton Police on 101
(quoting reference 12MIS025216); or Missing People on 116 000

(9th August 2012)


 

ROCHDALE GROOMING GANG LEADER GETS 22 YEARS FOR CHILD RAPE
(The Guardian, dated 2nd August 2012 author Helen Carter)
www.guardian.co.uk [Option 1]

The ringleader of a gang of men in Rochdale that groomed young white girls for sex has been given a 22-year prison sentence after he was convicted of 30 child rapes in a separate case involving a young Asian girl.

Shabir Ahmed, 59, of Oldham, Greater Manchester was one of nine men convicted of sex offences against children at Liverpool crown court in May. He was jailed for 19 years but could not be identified at the time because of the pending trial.

Ahmed was convicted in June at Manchester's Minshull Street crown court of raping and sexually abusing an Asian girl for more than a decade. On Thursday he was given a 22-year sentence for abusing his victim. Judge Khokhar told him the sentence will run concurrently with the earlier one.

The court heard that he raped and sexually abused a young Asian girl repeatedly over many years and treated her as a possession for his own sexual gratification. Ahmed, a former takeaway driver, smirked as the jury returned the unanimous verdicts.

During the earlier trial in Liverpool it emerged that Ahmed was known to his victims by the nickname Daddy. Judge Gerald Clifton, who sentenced Ahmed in Liverpool, said the gang treated their victims "as though they were worthless and beyond any respect".

Ahmed and the other men were convicted of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under 16. In May, he was also convicted of two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, sexual assault and a count of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

He was banned from the courtroom in Liverpool for his sentencing hearing because of his threatening behaviour and for calling Clifton a "racist bastard". The judge called the defendant an "unpleasant and hypocritical bully".

In June, reporting restrictions were lifted after he was convicted of 30 charges of rape by a jury. The court heard that Ahmed was violent and dominated his victim.

Rachel Smith, opening the case for the prosecution, said Ahmed repeatedly, over a period of more than a decade, raped the victim. She said: "She tried to make him stop, but it was to no avail." She said the victim was eventually forced to submit to him and the abuse happened almost every week. "The defendant was a violent and controlling man," said Smith.

She added: "The defendant treated [her] as some sort of possession to be used for his own sexual gratification, as and when he chose."

The jury was told that the victim felt a sense of shame about what happened to her, which stopped her reporting it to the police for many years. "The reality of what he had done to her was never far from her thoughts … she describes having dreams about it," Smith added.

The court heard that because of the abuse the victim "rejected the idea of ever marrying or having a sexual relationship with a man of her choosing".

(3rd August 2012)


 

TWITTER SUFFERS MALWARE SPAM OUTBREAK
(Computer World, dated 27th July 2012 author Cameron Scott)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8137369/930454165/572768/0/

 A widespread spam attack linking to malware has broken out on Twitter, according to the security firm Sophos.
The malicious tweets often read "It's you on photo?" or "It's about you?" The tweets and URLs often include a
user's Twitter handle. Many of the links Sophos discovered have a .RU domain name.

"The attack itself is very simple, relying on people's natural curiosity about anything they think mentions them.
Including the target's Twitter username in the link is an added hook to reel people in," Richard Wang, head of
Sophos' U.S. labs, said in a statement.

"We're aware of the issue and we're working to resolve it," a Twitter spokesman said via email. The links in the spammed tweets lead to a Trojan that ultimately redirects users to Russian websites containing the Blackhole exploit kit, Sophos said.

The Blackhole exploit kit first emerged in 2010, and its use is widespread. The version of the kit being promoted on Twitter targets vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader and Shockwave Flash, according to Sophos.

Original Sophos article :

http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/07/27/outbreak-blackhole-malware-attack-spreading-on-twitter-using-its-you-on-photo-disguise/

(3rd August 2012)


 

OFFICER BODY CAMERAS : 90 PERCENT PLEAD GUILTY
(Police Oracle, dated 25th July 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com [Option 1]

The introduction of video camera technology on officers has resulted in more than 90 per cent of prosecuted cases using their footage leading to early guilty pleas.

Grampian Police said the latest kit, which is worn on the upper body, had led to the success rate in cases where the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal decided to use the video footage as evidence.

This allowed "substantial numbers of officers" to spend more time carrying out community policing - rather than going to court.

However the force was unable to say what its current rate of early guilty pleas was without the use of the technology.

Smaller and lighter than a mobile phone, the cameras have been worn by officers in city centre patrols, on operations and during public events - as part of an 18 month pilot.

Grampian Police is now set to become the first force in Scotland to give every on-duty officer access to the technology. If officers patrol double-crewed they are likely to share one, a force spokesperson said.

Currently the force has 300 cameras at a cost of £500 each. They were manufactured by Edesix and supplied to officers through the Scottish Communications Group.

Consultation with the public has also resulted in positive feedback the force said, which will now result in cameras being rolled out across the Moray and Aberdeenshire police divisions.

Supt Nick Topping, who has overseen the pilot, said: "As an evidence-gathering tool they have surpassed our initial expectations and the results really do speak for themselves.

"The cameras can provide potentially crucial evidence through the clear and accurate digital video that they record and offer an extra layer of protection for officers.

"These are being used in an overt manner by staff and will be clearly marked, ensuring everyone is aware of their presence. In addition, where at all possible, staff will also advise people when they are being filmed.

"Staff will also be fully trained and follow strict guidance and any recording that is not required for evidence or other policing purposes will be destroyed."

The cameras were introduced after full consultation with health and safety officials and the Scottish Police Federation.

Convener of the Grampian Joint Police Board Councillor Ron McKail said: "The news that Grampian Police are leading Scotland in the use of this new technology is very welcome indeed.

"The evidence so far suggests that the footage has been of tremendous assistance to the courts and to Grampian Police by reducing the time taken for cases and allowing officers to get out on the streets where they are needed most."

(3rd August 2012)


 

ASSAULTS ON POLICE FALL - BUT OFFICERS ARE SCEPTICAL
(Police Oracle, dated 23rd July 2012 author Royston Martis)
www.policeoracle.com [Option 1]

Assaults on police officers across England and Wales have now fallen for three years in a row, the House of Commons has been told.

In the financial year 2010 - 2011, 7,904 officers on the beat were assaulted in the line of duty compared to 8,175 in 09/10 and 10,146 in 08/09.

But officers at the sharp end of policing said that this could be because of less boots on the ground - or because colleagues are not reporting being attacked.

A PC from West Midlands Police, who asked not to be named, said: "I can tell you it is just not being reported as at the end of shift you're so tired you can't wait to get out the door.

"You know full well that, if you were to lock someone up for an assault on an officer, then you're stuck for even longer, writing a report which more often than not goes nowhere."

Another PC from West Midlands Police added: "I would put the fall in assaults down to less bobbies to get assaulted, reluctance of the CPS to prosecute and maybe the greater availability of Taser, though until everyone has one that cannot be quantified.

"It is not any less dangerous out there - in fact I think it is getting more dangerous."

A PC from the Met said: "There are just less of us on the streets to hit."

A spokeswoman for the CPS said that lawyers took attacks on public servants seriously. She added: "One of the public interest factors in favour of a prosecution for an assault is that it is against somebody who is serving the public, such as a police officer."

In these cases the public interest would generally be in favour of a prosecution.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert told fellow members: "It should be recognised that it may not be appropriate, given the circumstances of a case, to charge a person who has assaulted a police officer with the specific offence of assault on a constable."

A spokesman for ACPO said: "There has been a general drop in crime during this period. Our officers are better trained in conflict resolution and diffusing aggression.

"Public confidence in policing has improved significantly and in general greater support for policing will translate into fewer assaults and a better relationship with the public."

(3rd August 2012)


 

CEOP WELCOMES NEW INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS
(Police Oracle, dated 10th July 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com [Option 1]

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has confirmed that four new corporate organisations have joined the Virtual Global Taskforce of law enforcement agencies dedicated to tackling web-based crimes against children.

The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, World Vision Australia, Research in Motion and The Code are the latest commercial organisations to sign up as private partners to the international alliance, in which CEOP represents the UK's contribution.

The taskforce is made up of a backbone of nine international law enforcement agencies bolstered by partners from the public and private sector.

As well as CEOP, the alliance is formed from the Australian Federal Police, Europol, Interpol, the Italian Postal and Communication Police Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, New Zealand Police, the UAE Ministry of Interior and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But in the past three years the taskforce has expanded to encompass organisations outside law enforcement - these have included the International Association of Internet Hotlines and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

A CEOP spokesman pointed out that the new partnerships would enhance the links the centre had already forged with private sector organisations in the UK.

Chief Executive Peter Davies said: "Engagement and co-operation is a strong focus for the Virtual Global Taskforce, which aims to work closely with academia, non-governmental organisations, industry and the private sector to keep children safe online.

"The internet has no boundaries and so it is imperative that we continue to work together, to ensure that anyone who thinks they can use the internet and technology to cause harm to children and young people is stopped."

Virtual Global Taskforce Chair Neil Vaughan echoed the sentiment. He added: "When it comes to combating online child exploitation, a collaborative approach is critical.

"These new partnerships with assist Virtual Global Taskforce law enforcement agency members in sharing best practices and exploring new technologies to support innovative thinking to reduce the threat to children."

Virtual Global Taskforce : http://www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com/

(3rd August 2012)



INDIA CROWNED TOP SPAM ORIGINATOR
(The Register, dated 25th July 2012 author John Leyden)
www.theregister.co.uk [Option 1]

India has cemented its position as the world's biggest fire hose of spam email, according to new figures.

Hacked computers in the republic working on behalf of crooks spewed more than one in ten of the globe's spam mails in the last quarter, reported web security firm Sophos.

India is home to 5.3 per cent of the world's internet users, but it plays an oversized role in the global junk mail epidemic. Apparently, lax security leaves the country's PCs prone to viruses, which press-gang machines into remote-controlled zombie armies to do the bidding of criminals - such as flooding inboxes with dodgy advertising spam.

Asian countries disgorged 49.7 per cent of the world's junk email last quarter, compared with 8.6 per cent of spam fired off from North America, according to the stats from Sophos. The security biz also pegged China in eighth place this time around; it's believed the huge authoritarian state's Great Firewall, and the fact that citizens need a licence to run an email server in the nation, play a part in limiting .cn-sourced spam.

Greater availability of internet access in Asia is continuing to fuel the increase in spam from that continent. Only a year ago the US topped Sophos's Dirty Dozen list of spam-relaying countries, but these figures have been turned on their head: India has topped the list of shame for the past two quarters.

The actual content of spam messages have remained largely unchanged, and the identities of gangs responsible for commanding zombie botnets remain unknown.

"The spam itself, of course, doesn't have to promote Indian goods," commented Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Chances are that most of the spammers who are relaying their messages through compromised Indian computers are not based in the country at all - and just taking advantage of zombie computers that have been unwittingly recruited into a botnet." ®

Top 12 spam-relaying countries for April to June 2012, according to Sophos

India: 11.4 per cent
Italy: 7.0 per cent
S Korea: 6.7 per cent
USA: 6.2 per cent
Vietnam: 5.8 per cent
Brazil: 4.4 per cent
Pakistan: 3.7 per cent
China: 3.2 per cent
France: 3.1 per cent
Russia: 2.9 per cent
Poland: 2.7 per cent
Taiwan: 2.6 per cent


(3rd August 2012)


 

BORIS REVEALS BID TO PRIVATISE PARTS OF MET
(Evening Standard, dated 11th July 2012 author Pippa Crerar)
www.standard.co.uk [Option 1]

Boris Johnson has suggested huge parts of the Metropolitan Police could be privatised to cut costs.

The Mayor said an "irreducible core" of duties would be protected but claimed private firms could run some Scotland Yard services "without making the thin blue line any thinner".

The Met is struggling to fill a budget black hole of £250?million. Mr Johnson's new deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, is tasked with cutting costs.

Mr Johnson's comments come after the West Midlands and Surrey forces set out radical plans for private firms to take responsibility for investigating crimes, patrolling neighbourhoods and even detaining suspects. But in a written answer, the Mayor said any private contracts would be more likely to involve back-office jobs.

He said: "I am committed to protecting the public service ethos of the MPS and support the Commissioner's view that there is an irreducible core to policing that can never be outsourced.

"However, I do believe that competitive tendering of contracts beyond this provides a means of cutting costs considerably without making the thin blue line any thinner. It is therefore something that should be explored."

Patrolling by community support officers, developing cases, responding to incidents, victim and witness support, managing high-risk individuals or intelligence and engagement with the public, as well as managing forensics and the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources could all be up for grabs. 

However, the Mayor will be under pressure to maintain the public service ethos of the biggest police force. Labour's policing spokeswoman Joanne McCartney said: "Policing is not for profit, it is about public service and keeping us all safe.

"We urgently need clarity as to what he considers 'back room'. Does he mean 999 call centres and custody suites? These are core policing roles the public would not want privatised."

Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has said he believes investigating and patrolling should be the work of police officers.

"It's a very serious issue to deprive someone of their liberty and place them before a court. For me that must be carried out by warranted officers. 

"I think business can help improve our efficiency and effectiveness in some areas...?such as managing our fleet and our back-office functions."

Home Secretary Theresa May, who has imposed a 20 per cent cut in Whitehall grants to forces, has said front-line policing can be protected by using the private sector to transform other areas.

(3rd August 2012)


 

ROMANIAN POLICE RECRUITED BY MET TO HELP TACKLE BEGGING
(Evening Standard, dated 17th July 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk [Option 1]

Romanian police were deployed on the streets of London today to tackle the problem of beggars and pickpockets in the West End.

Ten Romanian officers, including detectives, have been seconded to the Met for three months in a bid to counter a wave of petty crime.

Seven officers will go on patrol in Westminster in uniform to deal with gangs of beggars who have been camping out in central London.

The Roma travellers, including young children and pregnant women, have been living around Marble Arch and Park Lane for the past two months.

Today new figures reveal the scale of the problem, with police saying they have made 670 arrests of Romanian nationals since November last year.

Commander Richard Martin, who is in charge of covert policing and intelligence, said the Romanian officers had been hand-picked for their knowledge of the Roma community. They all speak English and would have access to intelligence systems in Romania though they would not have police powers while on patrol in London. Mr Martin said: "They know their communities really well, which will give us a massive advantage. They will be able to check their intelli¬gence systems in Romania for people who are wanted here but they will also be able to communicate freely with these groups and will understand their culture." The officers will be deployed for three months in a pilot project, three of whom will work with trafficking teams.

The scheme was launched today with the Romanian ambassador to London, Dr Ion Jinga, who said more than 20 travellers had voluntarily gone back to Romania already. He claimed the scale of the problem was exaggerated ali that only about 40 individuals had beE arrested. He said no country was perfect and pointed to the number of
British citizens who were in prison Spain. He added that the issue gipsies camping around Marble Arch was now resolved.

(3rd August 2012)


 

BURGULARS STEAL AN AVERAGE OF £72 FROM FRONT GARDENS
(Evening Standard, dated 23rd July 2012)
www.standard.co.uk (Option 1)

One in five green-fingered thieves pilfered pot plants, flowers, hanging baskets and trees from one in five gardens over the last year, research suggested today.

Burglars are uprooting horticultural hoards worth £72.21 on average, showing that money does grow on trees after all, insurer More Than said.

Some 20% of those surveyed said their gardens have been subject to theft in the last 12 months alone, with researchers suggesting that thieves have been casting their nets wider for items of value in tough economic times.

Rare lilies, olive trees, hanging baskets, bay trees and roses were among the plants most frequently swiped.

Thieves are often brazenly stealing from people's doorsteps, as seven out of 10 people said the outside space at the front of their home had been targeted at some point.

Nearly a third (29%) of the plant theft victims surveyed live in the North East, which was followed closely by the North West, where a quarter of people affected are based. The East Midlands was found to have the lowest levels of this crime, with 13% of people who said they had been victims living in this area.

Janet Connor, managing director of More Than, said: "As we've seen from recent incidents of lead being stolen from roofs, thieves are casting their nets ever wider in the search for objects to steal.

"And as this research unfortunately shows, garden plants and trees are now firmly on the list.

"Cultivating a beautiful garden is by no means a cheap endeavour, with many items, such as bay trees, commanding price tags of £60 or more."

Gardening expert and broadcaster Bob Flowerdew said people could take photographs of their gardens to help with identification and making a claim.

He said using a marker pen to write your postcode over plant labels would also deter thieves, as well as using large, heavy containers, layers of plastic netting, prickly plants and using a weatherproof bicycle lock to chain hanging baskets up.

More than 1,000 homeowners with a garden or outside space took part in the UK-wide study.

Top 10 most stolen plants and trees, according to the study:

1. Hanging baskets

2. Bay trees

3. Rose standards

4. Olive trees

5. Rare lilies

6. Bonsais

7. Miniature palm trees

8. Magnolia trees

9. Daphne shrubs

10. Conifers

(3rd August 2012)


 

MURDER AT LOWEST LEVEL IN 30 YEARS
(The Telegraph, dated 19th July 2012 author Tom Whitehead)
www.telegraph.co.uk (Option 1)

The number of murders last year was also the lowest since 1983, according to the annual crime statistics.

Police recorded 3.97 million crimes last year, the first time it has fallen below 4 million since 1989.

The main driver was better home and vehicle security that has reduced large volume crime such as burglaries and car crime, the Office for National Statistics said. The number of murders in 2011/12 stood at 550 - the same figure as 1983.

However, acquisitive crime such as pickpocketing, shoplifting and bag snatches increased.

The main driver was better home and vehicle security that has reduced large volume crime such as burglaries and car crime, the Office for National Statistics said.

Some 1,105,117 such crimes were recorded by police last year, up from 1,078,679 the previous year.

Separate figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales showed crime figures remained stable at about 9.5 million.

They showed:

• 6 in 100 households had experienced vandalism of household property ( e.g. scratching of car bodywork or breaking a fence or wall)

• 5 in 100 households owning vehicles had been victims of a vehicle-related theft (including theft from vehicles, theft of vehicles and attempted thefts of/from)

• 2 in 100 households had experienced a burglary in a dwelling (in half of these cases nothing was taken)

• 16 in 100 households had been victims of any of the household crimes covered by the survey.

With regard to crimes experienced at the individual level7 the 2011/12 survey found:

• 3 in 100 adults had experienced a violent crime (around a half experiencing violence with injury)

• 2 in 100 adults had experienced 'other theft of personal property' (i.e. theft of personal property not being carried by the person at the time, such as theft of unattended bags, wallets, and mobile phones)

• 1 in 100 adults had been victims of theft from the person ( e.g. pick-pocketing)

• 6 in 100 adults had been victims of any of the personal crimes covered by the survey.

• 8 in 100 children having been victims of violent crime, and

• 8 in 100 children experiencing theft while away from the home

(3rd August 2012)


 

OLYMPICS : PICKPOCKETS SHOW OFF "ONE SECOND THEFT"
(
BBC NEWS, dated 18th July 2012 author Chris Rogers )

Full article (showing theft video ): www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18798792#

A suspected gang of Romanian and Lithuanian pickpockets is about to get an early-morning wake-up call as a sleepy street in Barking, east London, is invaded by armed police.

As the police march in single file, the sound of their heavy boots echoes around the estate, stirring residents out of their beds to peep through their curtains.

On cue, a group of officers shout: "Police! Police!" as they slam a heavy metal rod into the front door of a terraced home. They break it open and a dozen officers swarm inside.

The front door of a neighbouring house is also smashed open, and there are screams and shouts from terrified occupants who are hustled into the living room while the houses are searched for stolen goods.

Scotland Yard says it has received intelligence that organised gangs from South America and Eastern Europe are planning a crime blitz during the Olympic Games.

These dawn raids may seem heavy-handed, but police say such gangs pose one of the biggest criminal threats to the Games.

"Operations like this are a pre-emptive strike to put pickpockets out of business before a surge in tourists in the capital," Det Insp Mark Teodorini explains.

"We know where people are. We know the addresses they are using, we know the vehicles they are using, and we will come through their door very robustly - and if we find anything on them, we will arrest them."

In an internet cafe in Barcelona, 900 miles away, one of those gangs says it is preparing its Olympic operation.

Johnny, Mario and Danny - as they referred to themselves - are part of a network of 50 Romanian pickpockets operating in the Spanish city.

They say they are now aiming for gold at the London Games.

The petty thieves struggle to hide their excitement as they conduct their research on the internet, scanning through images of bustling shopping centres near the Olympic Village and overcrowded tubes and buses.

They even plan their escape routes using satellite images of the streets of east London.

Danny has been a pickpocket since he was seven.

"It's in the blood, it's all I know. This is what we do and we do it well," he says, handing back the wallet I thought was still in my back pocket.

'Magic to distract'
 
It took little persuasion to get the gang to talk after we were introduced by a cafe owner; they appear to be proud of the skills they say were taught by their parents.

Johnny pulls out a pack of cards and makes them disappear under his arm.

"Look, I do magic to distract the tourist and woo - their wallet or phone is gone! It takes just one second and their vacation is ruined."

They tell me that they have strict rules to escape detection and arrest: No drinking, so they keep focused; and no mugging, to avoid a scene

"Some of the pickpockets are hooked on drugs or they spend all their money in the casino and they get desperate, they are violent. We are not like them," says Johnny.

"Cameras, laptops and phones are sent back to Romania to be sold on the black market and we can make 5,000 euros in a week because a tourist left his bag a second, you know, a second."

When asked if he and the others feel guilty, Johnny hesitates and eventually whispers: "Yeah, I do".

To get a closer look at their "one-second theft", I offer to become their victim. They demonstrate a tactic named after Ronaldinho, the footballer who dances when he scores.

Johnny approaches with a map, asking for directions, while Mario and Danny pretend to be drunk, swinging their arms and forcing me to dance.

They run off in different directions and Danny returns, proudly holding my wallet. I didn't notice a thing, it all happened so quickly.

"I am the distracter," explains Johnny.

"Mario is the pickpocket or the distracter because he is very experienced, and if he takes your wallet or phone he hands it to Danny; he is the runner.

"That way the tourist has no idea who did it or who has their belongings."

'We are too quick'
 
On the beach and in the surrounding bars, the panic of tourists desperately searching for their phones and wallets is an obvious sign pickpockets are about. But only a trained eye has any chance of spotting one in action.

Johnny agrees to give another insight into his world, pointing out about four teams of pickpockets patrolling the beach looking for targets, like sharks circling their prey.

He knows all the gangs, but warns they will be too quick to stop and some are too dangerous to confront.

Suddenly, one of the groups move in on a young holiday-maker, using the Ronaldinho tactic.

As they walk briskly away, they empty the cash from the tourist's wallet and divide it.

The other groups move in, emptying the pockets of unsuspecting tourists forced to do the silly dance.

"In London, CCTV and the police have to be quick to catch us," Johnny says.

"We will dress and act like tourists to mingle. They will not spot us in crowds of hundreds. We are too quick."

So far, more than 80 suspected pickpockets have been arrested during police operations ahead of the Olympic Games.

The head of Operation Podium - Scotland Yard's team dealing specifically with crime connected to the Olympics - admits public vigilance is needed, along with the 9,000 extra police officers looking for thieves.

"We won't always get them in the act but we are trying to disrupt their activity," Det Insp Mark Teodorini says.

"It is going to be a hostile environment for pickpockets. My advice to them is don't bother."

Protecting your property

Never leave bags or other valuables unattended in public places
Be discreet with your belongings
Don't walk and text at the same time - stay aware
Don't use mobile phones immediately after leaving a train or tube station
Don't leave phones on tables in pubs or restaurants

(23rd July 2012)


 

999 CELEBRATES ITS 75TH BIRTHDAY
(BT press release, dated 29th June 2012 reference DC12-195)

Full article : www.btplc.com/News/Articles/Showarticle.cfm?ArticleID=CAC15E81-D4CE-4148-AC21-8B57031F0A0A


World's oldest emergency service handles 31 million calls a year

BT's 999 service, the world's first emergency call service, celebrates its 75th anniversary tomorrow (Saturday June 30).

The 999 service was launched in London on June 30, 1937, following the deaths of five women in a fire at the home of a London surgeon in November 1935. This tragedy led to a committee being set up to look at how telephone operators could easily identify emergency calls. After a consultation the new easy to remember standard number 999 was agreed on, becoming the world's first emergency number. Glasgow became the second city to have the service in 1938 with it being extended to all major towns and cities by 1948.

The service has expanded rapidly since it began and when red lights and klaxons would tell the operators an emergency call was being received. The first week of the service in 1937 saw more than a thousand calls made to the new number. This has increased to an average of 597,000 calls a week across the UK. BT operators answer more than 98 per cent of the 31 million calls made annually from fixed and mobile phones within five seconds. The early hours of New Year's Day is traditionally the busiest time when up to 13,500 calls can be received each hour.

Warren Buckley, managing director, Customer Service, said: "When lives are at stake, it's vital that no time is lost. Many people owe their lives to smooth and effective call handling by BT operators, using the latest technologies to ensure that emergency calls are dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

"The 999 service is known for its reliability and professionalism. It's not only the world's oldest emergency call service having clocked up 75 years of experience in providing the UK with a communications lifeline in times of need, it's also one of the world's most respected and admired services.

"Our 999 operators are the first port of call for people seeking help and we're very proud of the part they have played in this essential service for the past seven and a half decades."

BT is continuing to invest in the service - £10 million is currently being spent on renewing call-handling equipment. New operators undergo a nine-week training programme and all operators are given "refresher training" every month.
Around half of the 85,000 calls received daily by BT operators in the UK do not involve requests for help. Most are made by children playing or customers accidentally dialling 999 or the European emergency number 112 from a mobile phone in a pocket or handbag. All have to be carefully managed by BT and the emergency services to ensure genuine calls are dealt with effectively.

999 calls are handled by one of BT's well-established centres in Nottingham, Newport, Blackburn, Bangor and Glasgow, or one of the newer centres in Dundee and Portadown, which only recently began taking calls. Each operator handles around 250 emergency calls each day from all over the UK. A centre in Liverpool provides a text relay service for people who are deaf or speech-impaired.

Speed and accuracy of information are vital in the handling of an emergency call. As the call is received details of the caller's phone number and associated information flash immediately on the screen of the BT operator, who will swiftly confirm that the call is bona fide, which emergency service is required and then transfer the call to the appropriate service.

When BT operators pass calls to the emergency services, 52 per cent go to the police, 41 per cent to the ambulance service, six per cent to the fire and rescue service and one per cent to the coastguard and cave and mountain rescue services.

999 Quick facts

• 999 was introduced on June 30, 1937 after five women died in a fire in Wimpole Street,
London.
• The first call was made by Mrs Beard in Hampstead. It was just days after the service
launched and led to the arrest of burglar Thomas Duffy, aged 24.
• Emergency callers can be connected to four services - police, ambulance, fire, coastguard
with calls to cave or mountain rescue directed through the police.
• In 1937 operators had to cope with red lamps and a loud klaxon to indicate an emergency
call. There were fears that the noise would cause nervous strain on both day and
night telephonists.
• A 999 call is answered immediately and has priority over other operator calls.
• More than half of callers ask to be put through to the police.
• All calls are automatically recorded.
• Operators handle around 250 calls a day and spend around nine weeks in initial training
and coaching.
• There are around 85,000 999 calls each day, with higher volumes over the weekend.
• Experts chose 999 rather than 111 for technical reasons. Wires moving together in the wind
can be transmitted as the equivalent of a 111 call.
• The first mobile call to 999 was in 1986.
• 112 was introduced to the UK in 1993. The European number works alongside 999 in line with a European Directive.
• Some of the highest call volumes occur around midnight - around 5,000 calls per hour on Friday and Saturday nights. In the early hours of New Year's Day it can reach up to 13,500 calls per hour.
• Mobile phone calls make up 62 per cent of all 999s answered by BT.
• Other emergency service numbers around the world:
000 Australia
111 New Zealand
123 Columbia
100 Greece and Israel
101 Argentina
911 USA and Canada
112 Throughout European Community and alongside national codes

History of the 999 service

Before the introduction of 999:

• People with a telephone in their home - private subscribers - on an automated exchange would call 0 for the operator to contact the emergency services just as they would to make a regular call. If people did not have a dial - on a manual exchange they would tap the telephone cradle to attract the operator's attention.
• From a public kiosk the special "emergency call" button would be pressed so no money would need to be entered to secure the connection.
1882 The Exchange Telegraph Company introduces fire alarm call points in London. A lever is pulled in a dedicated street post to alert the local fire service. The idea is extended by other telegraph companies and in other towns. These were later installed by the Post Office, and BT's archives include the instructions in Yiddish for one from 1907 in East London to cater for the large population of Jewish refugees there fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe.

1930s Police call points are introduced along similar lines to fire alarm call points but using telephone rather than telegraph technology.


1935 In November a serious fire at the London surgery of aural surgeon Dr Philip Franklin at 27 Wimpole Street W1 (LANgham 1440) caused the death of five women. The inquest heard that the Fire Brigade arrived at the scene before the operator had answered a neighbour's call to alert them to the fire, and the Belgrave Committee was set up to study the problem of operators' identifying emergency telephone calls
The Committee believed that there should be one number throughout the country to alert the emergency services and that the number must be easy to remember. The number had to be three digits long to work in London. It was important that emergency calls could be made from coin box telephones without inserting any money (at the time money had to be inserted before making a call). It was relatively simple and inexpensive to modify call boxes to allow the 9 to be dialled without inserting coins, and the choice of 999 was made.

1937 On June 30, 1937 the 999 service was introduced to 91 automatic telephone exchanges in London. A caller dialling 999 would be connected to the operator in the same way as a regular call, but light and sound signals in the telephone exchange would alert the operator that this was a priority call. If no operator was free to make the call, the operator would break off dealing with a regular call.
In the first week there were 1,336 emergency 999 calls (1,073 genuine calls; 171 who wanted the operator and 91 "alleged practical jokers") and 1,896 emergency calls using the old way of dialling 0.

1938 The 999 service was introduced in Glasgow.

1946 The Second World War (1939-1945) delayed the expansion of the 999 service but the programme continued afterwards with Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle introducing the 999 service in 1946.

1948 By March 1948 all the larger towns served by automatic exchanges had the 999 service.

1976 All telephone exchanges in Britain are automated, allowing the 999 service to be truly nationwide.

1986 999 service is introduced for mobile phone users (replacing interim arrangements of 995, 996 and 997).

1993 In January 1993 the additional emergency code 112 was introduced alongside 999.

1998 On 6 October 1998 BT launched a new free 999 information service for the emergency services. By automatically forwarding the number and address of the phone from which the 999 call had been made, call handling and vehicle dispatch times could improve by 30 seconds.

2003 BT moves to routing all calls from fixed line by their postcode, which allowed an even closer match with emergency service catchment areas and allowed movement away from all numbers with the same area code being routed in the same way.

2004 In January 2004, BT extends the 999 location information service to allow approximate locations for mobile phones to be automatically provided to the emergency services based on radio coverage of the aerial picking-up the call. The new service is in line with the latest EC Directives on making location information available (Directive 2002/22/EC) and on privacy and data protection (Directive 2002/58/EC).

Numbers of calls

In the early 50s, when there were around 4 million customer lines, there were fewer than half a million 999 calls.

By the early 60s, there were around 7 million customer lines; approximately 2.5 million 999 calls made a year, rising to 4 million a year by 1969.

1978 - approximately 16 million lines - nine million 999 calls made - 65 per cent to police, 25 per cent to ambulance, 10 per cent to fire

1988 - approximately 23 million BT lines - 19 million 999 calls handled by BT, now including calls from mobile handsets and use of push button phones (rather than dials) increasing numbers of false calls due to children "playing" with handsets

1991 - approximately 25 million BT lines - 22 million 999 calls handled by BT

1994 - approximately 26 million BT lines - 22 million 999 calls handled by BT

1996 - approximately 27 million BT lines - 20.6 million 999 calls handled by BT

1998 - approximately 27 million BT lines - 19.7 million 999 calls handled by BT

2000 - approximately 28 million BT lines - 24.9 million 999 calls handled by BT

2001 - 31.3 million 999 calls handled by BT. A massive increase, with approximately half made from mobile phones, many being dialled accidentally

2006 - 30 million calls handled by BT, 50% from mobile handsets, with 60% connected to the emergency services (56% to Police, 35% Ambulance, 8% Fire and 1% to Coastguard)
2011 - 31 million calls handled by BT, 62 per cent from mobile handsets, with 50 per cent connected to the emergency services (52 per cent to police, 41 per cent ambulance, 6 per cent fire and less than one per cent to coastguard)

Rollout of 999 across the UK

Introduction dates for regions outside London

Scotland - 1938 Glasgow

Home Counties - February 1946:
Brighton (13/02/1946); Fakenham (13/02/1946); Reading (13/02/1946);
Chelmsford (13/02/1946); Gt Yarmouth (13/02/1946); Ryde (13/02/1946);
Chichester (13/02/1946); Guildford (13/02/1946); Sevenoaks (13/02/1946)
Cromer (13/02/1946); Hertford (13/02/1946); Southend (13/02/1946);
Dorking (13/02/1946); Kings Lynn (13/02/1946); Slough (13/02/1946);
Epping (13/02/1946); Portsmouth (13/02/1946);

Midlands - February 1946:
Birmingham Director Area (25/02/1946) Coventry (19/02/46)

North Eastern Region - January 1946:
Bridlington (21/01/1946); Middlesboro York (21/01/1946)

North Western Region - May 1945
Liverpool director area - 9 exchanges (30/05/1945) Burnley (5-6/12/1945)
Rochdale (06/12/1045) Macclesfield (09/03/1946); Manchester (09/03/1946)

South Western Region - January 1946:
Cheltenham (-Prestbury) (31/01/1946); Kingsbridge (01/01/1946); Torquay (-Chelston, Churston, Paignton, Preston, St Marychurch, Shiphay Collation) (28/01/1946);
Dursley (31/01/1946); Plymouth (01/01/1946);
Exeter (-Pinhoe, Topsham) (07/01/1946); Swindon (31/01/1946);
Gloucester (-Barnwood) (31/01/1946); Truro (01/01/1946)


Welsh and Border Counties Region - October 1946:
Newport, Monmouthshire (25/10/1946)

Northern Ireland -September 1946:
Ballymena (23/09/1946); Enniskillen (23/09/1946);
Belfast (23/09/1946); Londonderry (23/09/1946)

Typical numbers of 999 calls each week in 1949 were:
London, 3000; Liverpool, 90; Portsmouth, 75; Edinburgh, 70; Cambridge, 25

Typical numbers of 999 calls each week in 1951 were:
London, 4300; Manchester, 150; Birmingham, 640; Leeds, 370; Glasgow, 300; Liverpool, 250; Edinburgh, 150; Brighton, 100; Portsmouth, 90

(23rd July 2012)


 

HOME SECURITY - DOORS
(Metropolitan police - Neighbourhood Link, dated 6th July 2012)

To register : www.neighbourhoodlink.met.police.uk/registration/

If your windows and doors aren't secure, neither is your home. Two thirds of burglars get in through a door and a
third through a window so security is vital. Follow this advice to help keep your home safe.
 
Doors

A rim latch (Yale type) on its own is not sufficient. The door should also be fitted preferably with a 5 lever mortice deadlock, though insurance companies will accept a rim automatic deadlock; both must be to British Standard 3621 or the equivalent European Standard EN12209.
 
Quality locks are only as strong as the doors and frames to which they are attached. Ensure that the frame is
sound and the door suitable for external use; for instance, a wooden hollow core door would not be suitable.
 
Consider fitting a London Bar (metal strip on frame side) to support the strike box, or Birmingham bar to support
the frame on the hinge side.
 
Timber frames should be sound and securely bolted or screwed to the the walls every 600mm (23") around the whole
frame.
 
Doors with glazed panels are inherently less secure than solid doors, hence the need for a deadlock. Consider
replacing ordinary or toughened glass panels with laminated glass as they offer much greater resistance to attack.
 
For added safety and security fit a spy hole and door chain or limiter.
 
UPVC/PVCU front doors are generally unsuitable for retro-fit security devices. Not only is the material not
strong enough to support devices fitted with steel screws unless secured into the internal metal framework, but

such changes to the original design may invalidate an existing warranty or possibly damage the integral locking assembly. If in doubt, consult the installer/manufacturer.
 
Advice on front door security while the house is occupied will vary, depending on whom you speak to. Fire Safety
Officers will advise that, for safety reasons, the mortice deadbolt should not be engaged when the house is occupied, as locating and engaging the key can cause unnecessary delay in escaping from the scene of a fire.

Crime Prevention Officers may suggest that a rim latch on its own is insufficient in providing adequate security and that engaging the lock would increase this, as well as the safety of young children in preventing them from wandering. Clearly these are issues which need to be considered. If you feel fire safety is the priority, additional security can be obtained by fitting draw bolts to the top and bottom of the door.
 
Letter boxes

Letter boxes / plates should be considered as an aperture which can be used by the criminal, either to extract goods from within in close proximity to the door, commonly door keys, or to work vulnerable locking devices from the inside.

Letter plates should conform to British Standard. They should be positioned not closer then 400 mm from the door
lock and under no circumstances should they be fitted to the bottom rail of the door.

For this article in full visit: www.met.police.uk/crimeprevention/mobile/doors

(23rd July 2012)



BARBEQUE TRAGEDY : GIRL DIED OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING AFTER BBQ WAS BOUGHT INTO TENT TO KEEP WARM
(Mirror, dated 6th July 2012 author Euan Stretch)
www.mirror.co.uk

 

An inquest heard how Isabelle's dad made frantic attempts to resuscitate her but she died an hour later in hospital.

A distraught couple told yesterday how their young daughter died from carbon monoxide poisoning after they put a barbecue inside their tent to keep warm.

Tracey Harris said she only realised that little Isabelle, six, had stopped breathing when she leant over to give her a kiss.

An inquest heard how Isabelle's dad Lee made frantic attempts to resuscitate her but she died an hour later in hospital.

Mr Harris, 30, admitted he had not read the safety instructions on the new portable barbecue.

"I didn't know you couldn't put it in (a tent)," he said.

Mrs Harris broke down in tears as she recalled the tragedy, which happened on her 40th birthday.

The family were at the Holmsley camp site near Bransgore, in Hampshire's New Forest, over the Easter weekend in April. When the temperature dropped to near-freezing, Mr Harris moved the charcoal barbecue into the living area of their six-man tent.

The hearing in Bournemouth heard how Mrs Harris woke about midnight and realised something was wrong when she went to kiss her daughter.

She said: "I just knew she wasn't right."

Isobelle was rushed to Southampton General Hospital but died at 1.16am on April 6.

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue confirmed she died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Detective Inspector John Geden, of Hampshire police, who investigated the death, said: "This tragedy was the result of ignorance of the effects of carbon monoxide."

Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict of accidental death, saying: "All in all, this is a tragic accident.

"Both Lee and Tracey were unaware of the effects of the barbecue in a confined space."

Afterwards, Mr and Mrs Harris said in a statement they hoped lessons would be learnt from their daughter's death.

Further Safety Information (uaware)

East Sussex Fire Service : www.esfrs.org/communitySafety/advice/carbonMonoxide.shtml

(23rd July 2012)


 

BOGUS CALLERS - ADVICE TO RESIDENTS
(Metropolitan police - Neighbourhood Link, dated 5th July 2012)

To register : www.neighbourhoodlink.met.police.uk/registration/
 
Not all burglars break into homes - some will try to trick or con their way in. They are known as bogus callers and will pretend to be on official business from respectable concerns such as the Utility Companies - Gas, Electricity and Water - or the Council. They may claim to be tradesmen or workmen calling to carry out urgent repairs.
Bogus callers succeed because they sound believable, so don't be fooled. Make sure in your own mind that they are whom they claim to be by following these simple steps:
 
· Think before you open the door - use your chain and spy hole or look out of the window to see if you recognise them.

· Ask callers for proof of identity. Genuine tradesmen should carry an identification card with their photograph on. Check this carefully. If you are unsure, telephone the company the caller claims to represent.

· The Utilities now offer a password identification system. Any caller from one of these companies should be able to give a pre-arranged password as additional proof of identity.

· Beware of callers who attempt to distract you by claiming that they have seen something untoward in your rear garden or somewhere which may encourage you to leave your house - they may have an accomplice awaiting this distraction.

· If you are not convinced of the identity of the caller, don't let them in. Ask the caller to come back later and arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to be present on their return or ask the caller to contact this person.
 
Treat every stranger with caution. If you are still worried, dial 999 immediately and ask for the police.

(5th July 2012)


 

BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE UNMASKS £1.5m METAL THEFT CONSPIRACY
(Police Oracle, dated 4th July 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com

Officers from BTP have delivered a blow against metal thieves after securing the convictions of five railway contractors who abused their position for personal gain.

A court was told how Terry Doherty (48), a co-director of BRP (Rugby) and sub-contracted to engineering firm Jarvis, conspired with Jarvis Plant Manager John Burtenshaw (53) to steal rail and sleepers worth some £1.5 million.

But a complex investigation by BTP officers on Op Temple saw a decisive result achieved, with the gang handled collective custodial sentences of nearly 12 years.

Officers were able to reveal how Doherty and Burtenshaw had blatantly abused their positions, working with others in the rail maintenance industry to exploit upgrade work carried out by Network Rail on the West Coast Mainline.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that the concerns had been raised in August 2008, when a scrap dealer check in Staffordshire revealed 208 tonnes of rail identified as having been removed from Rugby upgrade project.

Officers followed evidential trails implicating Neil Jones (41) and Paul Tandon (47) - both supervisors with Jarvis sub-contractor Vital and 33-year-old Stuart Amphlett, a Logistics Manager with construction firm Carillion.

As well as targeting the Rugby project, the investigation also found that Doherty conspired with Amphlett to steal rail from the Manchester Metrolink project.

All five defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal offences and were received custodial sentences ranging from 18 months to two years and nine months. A scrap metal recycler and a further defendant, who were also implicated in the criminal activities, received suspended prison terms.

BTP spokesman Det Sgt Chris Hearn said after the hearing that his team had been able to track the movement of rail to scrap dealers in Birmingham, Bedfordshire and Liverpool.

He added: "Enquiries at these dealers revealed more than 500 tonnes of rail had been moved by the conspirators who were paid more than £71,500.

"Further investigation revealed 3,500 tonnes of rail and other metal equipment from the Rugby project was unaccounted for, with a potential value of almost £1.5million.

"There is no doubt that the actions of this organised group deprived Network Rail and, in turn rail users across the country, of valuable finance which could have been put towards maintenance and improvements."

Neil Henry, Network Rail's Head of Operations and Performance, said he welcomed the sentences - but added that more action was needed on metal theft.

He added: "I welcome the news of a thorough reform of the laws governing scrap metal dealers. Metal thieves cost the railway £19 million each year, with the knock on costs and disruption to the economy around the same amount again.

"Reform that effectively takes away the illegal market in scrap metal, including an effective licensing regime and adequate power to police and magistrates, is sorely needed to help stamp out the misery caused by these thieves."

(5th July 2012)


 

ROAD DEATH INCREASES
(Police Oracle, dated 2nd July 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com

Concern is mounting that the first year-or-year increase in the numbers of deaths on the roads for a decade could be a sign that deep cuts in policing budgets are starting to bite.

Alan Jones, Chair of the Federation's Roads Policing Group, said that he was worried after hearing that the numbers of people killed in collisions during 2011 had risen by three per cent compared to the previous year - from 1,850 to 1,901.

In addition, the statistics from the Department for Transport also reported a 2 per cent hike in the numbers of casualties seriously injured - they went up from 24,510 in 2010 to 25,023 last year in the first annual increase since 1994.

Mr Jones said that cuts in central government grants to police forces in England and Wales "could not be discounted" as being among the reasons for the increases.

During a recent joint Federation and ACPO conference in Leicestershire, some delegates had voiced concerns that roads policing units were suffering from fewer resources as chief officers battled to manage funding cuts of up to 20 per cent.

Mr Jones told PoliceOracle.com: "We have to be mindful that, for many years, casualties on the roads have been falling and the latest statistics show a reverse of that trend.

"You cannot discount the possibility that these increases could be down to the numbers of officers - there have been significant reductions in roads policing resources."

Mr Jones said that the figures were disappointing, particularly as deaths and serious injuries had been falling for many years. He maintained that the government needed to consider the impact that the spending cuts were having.

He added: "Ministers must take notice of these figures - it is sad that, having seen the statistics go in the right direction for many years, the trend has now reversed."

ACPO Roads Policing Lead Suzette Davenport was also disappointed at the statistics. But she said the UK's roads continued to be among the safest in Europe, and pledged that her association would continue to work to make them safer.

She added: "ACPO is looking to build on the approach already in place to continue to work with partners to use enforcement based on the professional judgment and discretion of police officers.

"We will focus on an intelligence led approach to ensure appropriate enforcement, education and engineering which all help to influence driver behaviour, and help to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads."

Further Information (uaware.org.uk)

I always tend to take statistics with a pinch of salt especially when there appears to be some form of political motive to the story. In this case sadly the statistics appear to be telling a truthful sad story. There has been an increase in fatalities.

Based on the 2011 report from the European Road Safety Observatory (www.dacota-project.eu). The figures they provide are years 2000 to 2009.

For the UK by year, the annual number of fatalities are (deaths per day figures have been rounded up/down ) :

2000 : 3,580 (10 deaths per day)
2001 : 3,598 (10 deaths per day)
2002 : 3.581 (10 deaths per day)
2003 : 3,658 (10 deaths per day)
2004 : 3,368 (9 deaths per day)
2005 : 3.336 (9 deaths per day)
2006 : 3,298 (9 deaths per day)
2007 : 3,059 (8 deaths per day)
2008 : 2,645 (7 deaths per day)
2009 : 2,337 (7 deaths per day)
2010 : 1,850 * (5 deaths per day)
2011 : 1,901 * (5 deaths per day)

* Figures from attached article.

The following figures are again from the 2011 report from the European Road Safety Observatory and show the fatalities from the larger countries of the European Union as a comparison. The figures are for 2009.

Belgium : 944
France : 4,273
Germany : 4,152
Italy : 4,237
Netherlands : 644
Spain : 2,714

Each of the individuals who have died as a result of a traffic accident have a family. Parents, Brothers, Sisters, Wives and Children.

Have a think about that when you speed down a residential road, talk on you mobile phone whilst driving, drive with balding tyres, drive without a valid MOT or insurance, drive after having a skinfull down the pub, drive after sharing a joint with your mate. You are setting yourself up to kill someone.

Further afield

Road traffic fatalities 2008 # :

Canada : 2,425
Cyprus : 82
Greece : 1,553
Isreal : 412
Malta : 9
United States : 37,261
Russian Federation : 29,936
Turkey : 4236


Sources

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe # : www.unece.org/trans/main/wp6/publications/stat_accidents2011.html

(5th July 2012)


 

STUCK IN A LIFT AND WILD HORSES ON LOOSE - 999 CALLS TO MET REVEALED
(London Evening Standard, dated 29th June 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk

Police in London today were called to emergencies ranging from burglaries and car accidents to the escape of wild horses onto the street.

The range of 999 calls, from the mundane to the bizarre, were revealed in the Met's first live Twitter feed of calls to one of its call handling centres.

The event - staged to mark the 75th anniversary of the 999 service - involved releasing details of calls over 12 hours starting from 6am.

Many were routine, such as traffic collisions and domestic assaults. But others included possible serious incidents including reports of "drunken men in Feltham" and a man trapped in a lift.

Police were called to a man in Peckham who was lying in the road and a man causing a disturbance in Brixton job centre.

At 7.41am a 999 call in Hillingdon reported "two wild horses running along the carriageway of the A40".

Other calls also reported the runaway horses until they were finally rounded up at 9.34am with help from the RSPCA.

Police said they could not tweet all the Met's 999 and 101 (non-emergency) calls because there were too many.

The 999 emergency call system, the first of its kind in the world, was launched in London on June 30, 1937, following the deaths of five women in a fire at the home of a surgeon in the city in 1935.

Staff began taking 285 calls per day in 1937. Now more than 2,000 staff deal with about 14,000 calls a day. Scotland Yard has changed shift patterns at the Met's three centres to deal with a surge in demand during the Olympics.

Explaining the rise in calls, Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "My mum had to walk to the telephone box at the end of the street to get help, and often when she got there it had been vandalised.

Ten per cent of people used to have a landline in their house, now it's 99 per cent and everybody has a mobile phone. The volume of calls has just gone through the roof."

Of these, only 20 to 25 per cent turn out to be real emergencies, and there are about 7,000 hoax calls per year.

The busiest days were on August 8 and 9 last year during the riots - with 20,000 calls each day.

(5th July 2012)


 

5800 FRONTLINE POLICE JOBS TO GO
(London Evening Standard, dated 2th July)
www.standard.co,uk

Almost 6,000 officers will be lost from the frontline in three years' time as a result of the Government's budget cuts, figures have shown.
At least 179 police stations will close and one in five will lose their front counters, revealed the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

Three forces - including Britain's biggest, the Metropolitan Police - may not even be able to provide an efficient or effective service for the public in the near future, the inspectors said. At least 15,000 officers will be lost as police workforces are cut by 32,400 officers and staff by March 2015, said the HMIC report.

Some 2,700 officers had already been cut from the frontlines by March this year, and this will increase to at least 5,800 (6%) by March 2015, possibly more once figures from the Met and Cheshire are included. Neither could provide detailed figures of how the cuts will affect their frontlines by 2015.

But the proportion of officers on the frontline will increase to between 81% and 95% as the number of non-frontline officers is almost halved, with 7,600 going by 2015, it said. In a bid to offset the closures of front desks and stations, some 137 police access counters will be set up in libraries and supermarkets.

Sir Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said forces were "protecting but not preserving the frontline". While 6% cuts to the frontline could be achieved, a third off the non-frontline with the loss of 20,300 officers and staff would require a "transformation" of policing, he added.

Policing Minister Nick Herbert said: "This report makes it clear that the frontline of policing is being protected overall and that the service to the public has largely been maintained."

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the report showed frontline policing was being badly hit, with "thousands of officers being lost from emergency response and neighbourhood teams".

And the Association of Chief Police Officers admitted that reducing crime and increasing public confidence in policing will become more difficult over the next few years.

(5th July 2012)


 

SCAMS : ALL DIFFERENT SHAPES AND SIZES

The content of this article is based on information from Yahoo Finance :

http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/scam-watch--june-update---the-fraudsters-you-should-be-aware-of.html

The uaware website tries to provide its readers with actual examples of scam and phishing e-mails. The only problem is that these examples are only a drop in the ocean. So here are a couple of examples that I haven't come across before :

PARCEL DELIVERY SCAM

"I arrived home from work today to find a card behind my door telling me a parcel had been left under my patio table. I had not ordered anything from this catalogue company and rang it up asking why these items of jewellery had been sent. I was put through to the fraud department and the member of staff asked if I was a company director to which I replied that I was. Apparently the latest scam is for con artists to use your name and address (which they can find on a company website) and then change the address for delivery once the account has been accepted. Thankfully I acted straight away and a fraud marker was put on my file and I was advised to check my credit record."


THE DEATH CERTIFICATE SCAM

"Apparently my death certificate has been handed into a branch of HSBC in Canada by a man who claimed to be my representative and also to have power of attorney of my finances. There is also a fund of 12.5 million dollars in my name, which I need to claim in the next 48 hours while at the same time confirming I am still alive. This is very clearly a scam."

PAYPAL SCAM

"I sold a mobile phone on eBay and a bidder offered me double the price I had hoped for. I accepted this and he sent the authorisation code for the payment but no money arrived in my account.

I contacted PayPal who told me this was a scam as the authorisation code was an old one. The bidder looked genuine and had good feedback and I contacted him again. He sent another code but still no money arrived so in the end I sold it to someone else."

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) SCAM

"With the holiday season upon us, people need to watch out for scam websites charging a £10 renewal fee for the EHIC card. Renewal through the NHS website is free, so beware of the top picks on a google search for 'EHIC renewal'."


(5th July 2012)


 

INDIAN GANG HELD OVER £150,000 CASH MACHINE TRICK
(BBC News, dated 2nd July 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Indian fraudsters who had found a novel way to steal money by tricking cash machines have been arrested, according to local reports.

The gang would request to withdraw large amounts of cash, but only take a portion of the notes, making the machine think none were taken.

The gang would then make a claim for the money to be put back into their account by their bank.

An expert told the BBC that such attempts in the UK would be futile.

"Theoretically it's possible," said Graham Mott, a spokesman for Link, the UK's cash machine network. "But it will be spotted and will be investigated."

Investigators said the Indian gang would use a cash machine to make withdrawals of 10,000 rupees (£115), but would only take 9,900 rupees from the pile of dispensed money.

The remaining 100 rupees - the last note - would then be taken back in by the machine.

Considerable losses
 
They are said to have stolen about 10 million rupees using this method - just under £150,000 - from banks in the south-west Indian state of Kerala.

The gang, which local police believe was just one of several profiting from the scam, would travel to various towns to avoid being detected.

However, the Federal Bank of India eventually detected considerable losses and asked police to investigate.

Five men were arrested as a result - although local media said there were still two major gangs operating.

Mr Mott said similar scams had been attempted in the UK, often spurred on by groups of friends believing they were sharing a "secret" technique.

"You tend to get people trying to give it a go. As with other forms of fraud, it tends to be a bit cyclical," he told BBC News.

"The bank will investigate it as they would any first-party fraud.

"It's a criminal offence - we identify repeat cards doing this kind of claim."

uaware comment

If the banks are aware of the technique, we can probably say that they have learnt about the fraudulent exercise by experience. So they have probably been duped once or twice before "shutting the gate" !

Sadly the security industry internationally learn in the main by experience and not by creative fore-thought. Neither do they carry out regular hard attacks on their or their customers systems to check how robust the security is.

(5th July 2012)




SECURITY SERVICE HEAD WARNS OF ORGANISED HACKER PERIL
(The Register, dated 26th June 2012 author John Leyden)
www.theregister.co.uk

 

The Director General of MI5 said that both business and government was on the front line of cyber attacks - and that assaults by both criminal hackers and foreign governments had reached an industrial scale.

Delivering Lord Mayor's Annual Defence and Security Lecture in London last night, Jonathan Evans revealed that MI5 is investigating cyber attacks against more than a dozen companies. He added that one major (unnamed) London business had suffered £800m in losses following an attack.

Britain's National Security Strategy ranks cyber security alongside terrorism as a "tier-one security challenge faced by the UK" for good reason, Evans explained.

"Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively, not just by criminals but also by states. And the extent of what is going on is astonishing - with industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both state-sponsored cyber espionage and organised cyber crime," Evans warned.

"This is a threat to the integrity, confidentiality and availability of government information but also to business and to academic institutions. What is at stake is not just our government secrets but also the safety and security of our infrastructure, the intellectual property that underpins our future prosperity and the commercially sensitive information that is the life-blood of our companies and corporations."

As the internet extends its reach beyond computers and servers to cars, traffic management systems, ATMs and industrial control systems, the scope of threats is only likely to increase, said Evans. He said that to date, terrorists had made use of cyber attacks as a weapon but said it could happen in the future.

"So far, established terrorist groups have not posed a significant threat in this medium, but they are aware of the potential to use cyber vulnerabilities to attack critical infrastructure and I would expect them to gain more capability to do so in future," he said.

MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) works with GCHQ, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change and also with law enforcement - through the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - to respond to cyber security threats and disseminate best practice. The intelligence agency boss said that the private sector had a key role to play in tackling cyber crime, saying businesses could help make the UK more resilient to cyber attacks.

Evan's speech also covered the threat of terrorism more generally and as related to the upcoming Olympics.
Transcript : https://www.mi5.gov.uk/output/the-olympics-and-beyond.html

(5th July 2012)


 

BEWARE OF NATWEST PHISHING EMAILS
(Action Fraud website, dated 26th June 2012)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

NatWest customers are being targeted by fake "phishing" emails promising them access to their accounts if they reveal their personal information.

The latest opportunistic scam is cleverly designed to play on the anxiety of NatWest customers locked out of their accounts.

In one of the phishing emails, purporting to be from Stephen Hester, the head of RBS, apologises the problems at RBS and says a "security upgrade" requires them to update their information.

But if customers follow the web link in the email, they are taken to an "incredibly realistic" replica of the NatWest website.

If they do enter their account details on the fake site, the fraudsters will be able to log in to their account and steal all their money. There is also a risk that your identity could be compromised.

Alan Woodward, a professor of computing at Surrey university, said: "This shows how on-the-ball these opportunistic criminals are. Imagine not being able to access your bank account and then getting one of these.

"I specialise in security but I could see myself thinking, 'oh, it's from NatWest' and then clicking on the link, which takes you to an incredibly realistic website. Given the number of NatWest customers and the volume of emails that the scammers send, some people are going to fall for it, especially if they are desperate."

What should you do if you've received a NatWest phishing email?

- Do not click on any links in the scam email.
- Do not reply to the email or contact the senders in any way.
- If you have clicked on a link in the email, do not supply any information on the website that may open.
- Do not open any attachments that arrive with the email.

Read more about phishing on NatWest's website : www.natwest.com/personal.ashx

Please note: Action Fraud is not responsible for the content on external websites.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool :
www.actionfraud.police.uk

(27th June 2012)


 

FBI CREDIT CARD DATA STINGS SNARES 24 WORLDWIDE (INCLUDING UK)
(BBC News, dated 26th June 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

At least 24 people in 13 countries have been arrested in a US-led sting operation targeting illegal trafficking of credit card information.

The swoop came after a two-year undercover FBI investigation spanning four continents.

Operation Card Shop tracked those buying and selling information through a fake, FBI-run online forum on such "carding" schemes.

Twelve of the arrests were in the United States, with six in the UK.

All of the detained are men ranging in age from 18 to 25. Some face 40 years in prison if convicted on fraud-related charges.

One of the men, Mir Islam, known online as "JoshTheGod", was charged with trafficking in 50,000 stolen credit card numbers.

In total, investigators notified credit card providers of more than 400,000 compromised accounts.

US officials said the operation prevented losses of $205m (£131m) from debit and credit cards.

The sting focused around an online forum called Carder Profit, set up by the FBI in June 2010, where users could exchange stolen account and card numbers.

Investigators identified alleged cybercriminals in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.

US district attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement: "Clever computer criminals operating behind the supposed veil of the internet are still subject to the long arm of the law."

FBI Press release :

www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2012/manhattan-u.s.-attorney-and-fbi-assistant-director-in-charge-announce-24-arrests-in-eight-countries-as-part-of-international-cyber-crime-takedown

(27th June 2012)


 

INTERNET WATCH FOUNDATION PLANS TO ESTABLISH INTERNATIONAL OPERATION
(The Register, dated 25th June 2012 author John Leyden)
www.theregister.co.uk    [Note 1]

The Internet Watch Foundation has made improvement of international co-operation a key objective in the next phase of its fight against the online distribution of child abuse content.

Establishing an international arm to fight paedophile content is at the centre of the Internet Watch Foundation's (IWF) new three-year strategy, announced on Monday.

The IWF plans to share its expertise and skills with other countries as well as strengthening its global partnerships as part of push to repeat the progress made in tackling child abuse in the UK in other countries.

Last year, the IWF handled 41,000 reports of suspected criminal content, of which 13,100 were classified as images and videos of children being sexually abused.

The vast majority, more than 12,900, involved content hosted outside the UK. Three-quarters of youngsters abused in the depraved video clips and photos appeared to be 10 years old and under.

Close working relationships between the IWF and ISPs mean that child sexual abuse content hosted in the UK is typically removed in 60 minutes. Achieving take-downs of abusive content hosting overseas is often far less straightforward. Even so members of the IWF remove child abuse content when it is hosted abroad 40 per cent quicker than non-members.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF chief executive, said: "While we continue to excel at tackling online child sexual abuse content in the UK, the next three years will increasingly focus on sharing our expertise and skills internationally.

"From working closely with the online industry, we've reduced UK-hosted child sexual abuse content to less than 1 per cent compared to 18 per cent in 1997.

"We also have a great many partnerships with other charities, police, other INHOPE Hotlines and child protection and technology experts all over the world and we feel it's our duty and the right time to have a closer focus on the international dimension," she added.

The IWF was set up in 1996 by the internet industry in order to provide a UK internet hotline for the report of criminal online content, including child abuse images and criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK.

(26th June 2012)


 

TRUST FINED £225K FOR LEAVING PATIENTS FILES IN ABANDONED HOSPITAL
(The Register, dated 19th June 2012 author Brid-Aine Parnell)
www.theregister.co.uk

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has been fined £225,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office for leaving patient and staff files in an abandoned hospital.

The Belfast Trust became the latest NHS body to feel the wrath of the ICO after it left 100,000 patient records and 15,000 staff records in boxes, cabinets, on the shelves or on the floor of the Belvoir Park Hospital, closed since 2006.

"The Trust failed to take appropriate action to keep the information secure, leaving sensitive information at a hospital site that was clearly no longer fit for purpose. The people involved would also have suffered additional distress as a result of the posting of this data on the internet," the ICO said.

The Trust was landed with responsibility for the site, which had around 40 separate buildings that treated fever and then cancer patients, when six Trusts amalgamated in 2007. It arranged for the 26 acre site to be patrolled by two permanent security guards and five daily mobile patrols to supplement the CCTV on site.

However, by the end of 2007, faults in the CCTV and fire and intruder alarms meant they were no longer working so the guards were on their own. Vandals and trespassers got into the buildings and photographed records, which they then posted online, but the Trust didn't find out about it until someone else told it in March 2010.

The Trust arranged for an inspection of some of the buildings, but parts of the site were cordoned off due to asbestos concerns and a lot of the records had been damaged by damp and mould. The Trust upped security and fixed damaged doors and windows, but the Irish News reported in April last year that it was still possible to get onto the site.

The 100,000 patient records, some from as far back as the 1950s, included X-rays, microfiche records, copies of scans, lab results and other paper files. There were also 15,000 staff files, including unopened wage slips, in a building that had been vacated in 1992.

The Trust has now removed all the records from the site and either destroyed them or filed them properly, the ICO said.

(26th June 2012)


 

CIRCUMVENTING SECURITY : "CAPTCHA" BUSTING VILLIANS BRANCH OUT FROM SPAM INTO ID THEFT
(The Register, dated 18th June 2012 author John Leyden)

Full Article : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/18/captcha_buster_study/ [Note 1]

The cybercrooks attempting to defeat CAPTCHAs are no longer just traditional junk-mailers who want to get around the test to send spam. In a recent study, security researchers have discovered that criminals are also using circumvention techniques in attacks that harvest financial or personal data.

A CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is commonly used to distinguish human users from computer automated applications, thus helping to prevent automated tools from abusing online services, such as webmail accounts. Hackers have developed numerous methods to bypass CAPTCHAs, including computer-assisted tools and crowd-sourcing, creating a cat-and-mouse game between miscreants and CAPTCHA providers such as Google and others.

Junk mailers, for example, are interested in defeating CAPTCHA challenges in order to establish webmail accounts for subsequent spam runs. Last weekend spammers managed to spam the UK's open data website by circumventing its CAPTCHA gateway in a slightly more sophisticated variant of the same play.

How do they do it?

Hackers are using computer-assisted tools based on optical character recognition or machine learning technologies as well as tools which outsource CAPTCHA-breaking to modern day sweatshops, typically located in India. More recently miscreants have begun hoodwinking naive users into being a part of the crowd sourced for CAPTCHA solutions. These crowd-sourcing techniques sometimes pose as CAPTCHA-busting games that reward players. Some CAPTCHA-busting sites offer free porn as an incentive.

Not just about spam anymore

However hackers might also be interested in circumventing CAPTCHAs as a means to collect financial or personal details, according to the new study by data security firm Imperva.

Attacks based on CAPTCHA-busting have now been used to access a system for filing financial status reports maintained by one of the central banks in Argentina. Criminals have also launched attacks designed to obtain tax details associated with a Brazilian social security number. Hackers have also targeted the website of an agency in charge of the voting process in Brazil. All three sets of attacks are likely one important part in a more elaborate set of scams, most likely involving ID theft.

(26th June 2012)


 

NIGERIAN SCAMS ARE HYPER-EFFICIENT IDIOT FINDERS
(The Register, dated 21st June 2012 author Simon Sharwood)
www.theregister.co.uk   [Note 1]

Herley's analysis suggests the scam works because it quickly passes BS-detection thresholds in most readers, but those stupid enough to fall for the scam self-select by responding. Scammers end up with a list of hot prospects who have self-selected, leaving them with less work to cash in than would be required with a more plausible tale.

"An email with tales of fabulous amounts of money and West African corruption will strike all but the most gullible as bizarre," he writes. "It will be recognized and ignored by anyone who has been using the Internet long enough to have seen it several times. It will be ?gured out by anyone savvy enough to use a search engine [and] won't be pursued by anyone who consults sensible family or ?ends [that's Microsoft's typo], or who reads any of the advice banks and money transfer agencies make available."

"Those who remain are the scammers ideal targets," the paper proclaims, as "A less outlandish wording that did not mention Nigeria would almost certainly gather more total responses and more viable responses, but would yield lower overall pro?t."

There's a serious side to all this, as the main thrust of Herley's research is how false positives are used by folks with more evil intent than Nigerian scammers to design other forms of attack. He therefore suggests "thinking like an attacker does not end when a hole is found, but must continue (as an attacker would continue) in determining how the hole can be monetized."

Microsoft Research paper : http://research.microsoft.com/pubs/167719/WhyFromNigeria.pdf

(26th June 2012)


 

USERS STILL SLACK ABOUT PASSWORDS
(The Register, dated 25th June 2012 author Richard Chirgwin)
www.theregister.co.uk   [Note 1]

Trustwave's SpiderLabs has completed an analysis of the passwords dumped on the Internet in this month's eHarmony breach, and reached the depressing conclusion that too few people really seem to care about password strength.

Having recovered 80 percent of the 1.5 million passwords in the dump file, the company says only 0.5 percent contained a "special character", with 41 percent containing letters only and 57 percent a combination of letters and digits.

The high popularity of purely alphabetical passwords was, the blog post by Trustwave's Mike Kelly noted, made worse by the weak protection used by eHarmony. Its password storage was case-insensitive, as well as being in an unsalted MD5 format, reducing the time needed to crack the passwords.

As it was, more than 1.2 million passwords were cracked in 72 hours, using three NVIDIA GPUs and the oclHashcat and John the Ripper cracking tools.

Along with various discussions of the types of base words popular in passwords (dog names outnumber female names, only a small number of passwords included the word "password", and so on) the analysis found that 89 percent of the recovered passwords were between six and ten characters long.

The post adds a further criticism to eHarmony, noting that its password reset function spits out passwords that are only five characters long, which can be bruteforced "in less than ten seconds" on one GPU.

There is, however, a caveat to the analysis: Threatpost says that since no single password was found more than three times in the 1.2 million recovered passwords, "this brings into question the integrity of the original dump and the possibility of modification by the dumper".

(26th June 2012)


 

CRIME RATES COMPARED IN UNIVERSITY LEAGUE TABLE
(BBC News, dated 19th June 2012 author Sean Coughlan)
www.bbc.co.uk

London institutions have taken the 18 highest places in a league table of robbery and assaults around universities in England and Wales.

The study used police figures to measure crime rates in a three-mile radius around campuses.

The area around London Metropolitan has the highest crime rate and Buckingham the lowest.

The study's authors say the information will help potential applicants "assess the risks of individual institutions".

The rankings from the Complete University Guide provide the most detailed breakdown so far of robbery, burglary and violent crime around universities.

Consumer information
 
The highest crime levels are in inner London - London Metropolitan, King's College London and London South Bank.

Outside of the capital, Manchester Metropolitan, Leeds and Manchester have the highest crime rates. Buckingham, Aberystwyth and Durham have the lowest.

For robbery, the highest rates outside London are concentrated around Birmingham - in Birmingham City, Aston and Birmingham.

Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan have the highest levels of burglary.

The top 10 highest figures for violent crime are in London - headed by London Metropolitan - with Glyndwr in Wrexham and Portsmouth the highest outside London.

With tuition fees rising to up to £9,000 per year, there are expectations that students should have more consumer information about where they are going to spend so much time and money.

While university websites will present the most attractive features of a location, this league table of crime rates sets out the downsides of student life, such as muggings and burglary.

About one in three students become victims of crime, says the study, but there is no official record of where such crimes on students occur.

Universities are not obliged to provide crime statistics involving their students - or to publish details of crimes on or around their premises.

Study author Bernard Kingston says this is the type of information that students and their parents might want to know before making decisions about where to apply.

Previous crimes
 
In contrast, in the United States universities are obliged to provide detailed crime figures - so that families can check any particular safety concerns.

This requirement followed the murder of a teenage student at a university in Pennsylvania in 1986 - and the subsequent discovery by her parents that there had been 38 other violent crimes on the campus in the previous years.

US universities now provide figures showing crimes - including murder, sex offences, robbery, assault and motor theft - on campus and in student housing.

Mr Kingston says that for universities in the UK, "there are no precise data for the impact of crime on students".

"Any responsibility for collecting and disclosing such information reverts to the universities, and the extent to which that responsibility is acknowledged is murky, to say the least," he says.

These latest crime rankings provide more detail than earlier tables, but they do not have data for crime taking place on campus.

'Difficult to define'
 
The comparisons are based on crimes per 1,000 residents, taking place within three miles of the main campus - and include both student and non-student victims.

The high levels for universities in inner London also do not reflect that student accommodation might be located away from the main building.

A statement from London Metropolitan said the university had three hubs - and the crime figures measured in this study only represented the area around one of these hubs.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said that detailed postcode information on crime was already publicly available - and that it was difficult to define a separate category of "student-relevant crime".

"Universities are often large communities, with the majority of students living off-campus and closely integrated with their local communities," she said.

"More and more information about what students can expect from their time at university is now being published. It is important that such information is as clear and as accessible as possible."

The complete university guide : www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk
University crime figure : http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/student-crime-statistics/

HIGHEST CRIME RATES

London Metropolitan
King's College London
London South Bank
City
LSE


uaware Comment

The tables list the annual reported incidents per thousand residents, June 2011-May 2012, within wards or electoral divisions of which parts are within 3 miles of the main campus.

Though information in this report provides some insight into crime levels near to UK universities; it is in fact severely misleading. It is actually reporting on all crime within a three mile radius of each university, not actual crime that just affects a university campus or just the students attending them. It is a proven fact that where there is a great foot fall of individuals there will be a greater chance of some form of crime occurring. Hence, surprise, surprise the universities in Central London showing the higher crime figures,compared to Buckingham University in a low crime area (3 miles from that campus is field of wheat !). So the fact of the matter is that students add to that foot fall and may even be perpetrators of crime in the area's that the report cover. The following is an example, in a Northern suburb of London there are 3 wards consisting of 48,000 voters ( 16,000 voters is a typical size of a ward ). The ward has 3 supermarkets, a small retail park and a multiplex cinema. Total footfall for these 3 wards per month 1.5 million people !

In short, when someone is planning to attend any university within the UK as a student the primary question to ask that university should be : "How many students attending this university in the last x years have been directly effected by crime ?"

(26th June 2012)


 

NINETY-NINE ARRESTED IN PAEDOPHILE ABUSE RAIDS
(BBC News, dated 14th June 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

A retired teacher, members of the armed forces and a scout leader are among 99 people arrested in raids targeting online paedophiles.

About 140 search warrants were issued by some 40 forces during the UK-wide raids, led by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Most warrants related to downloading and sharing indecent images.

Some 80 children were removed from harm, including 20 found at raided properties.

Operation Tharsley took place over 48 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, with support from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Sex offender breaches
 
Those arrested include a pathologist, a firefighter, an activities instructor, government employees, and a referee.

Known offenders who had breached the conditions of the sex offenders register were also held.

Forty-two forces from around the UK made the following arrests:

Lancashire Police arrested nine people
Two men were held in Northern Ireland
Two were arrested on Merseyside
Police in Dorset made two arrests
Three were arrested by Warwickshire and West Mercia officers
In Kent, four men were arrested in Maidstone, Gillingham, Rochester and Herne Bay
North Yorkshire Police arrested four; South Yorkshire Police held nine men
Two people were held in Peterlee and Bishop Auckland in County Durham
Northumbria Police arrested four men - three from Gateshead, and one from Washington
Devon and Cornwall Police held two in Cornwall and one in Plymouth
Gloucestershire officers arrested one Newent man
Police in Wiltshire arrested two men in Swindon and Great Bedwyn
West Midlands Police in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Dudley arrested three and "safeguarded" four children
Thames Valley Police made two arrests
Jersey Police held one man
Strathclyde Police arrested three
Sussex Police arrested a Bexhill man
Four men were held by Hampshire Police
Two men were arrested near Lincoln and Sleaford
Avon and Somerset officers held two men
Cleveland Police arrested two men in the Middlesbrough area
Humberside Police arrested a man in New Waltham, North East Lincolnshire
Cumbria Police raided a Carlisle house, but made no arrests

Abuse link
 
Officers seized laptop computers, USB storage devices, and digital cameras, according to Ceop's deputy chief executive, Andy Baker.

Mr Baker said pictures would be scrutinised to see identify victims using clues in the background.

"Every image is a crime scene," he added.

Meanwhile, Ceop published a report on risks posed by people who download indecent images of children :
http://ceop.police.uk/Documents/ceopdocs/CEOP%20IIOCTA%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

It reported a correlation between the viewing of abusive images and sex attacks being committed against children.

'Sadistic, violent'
 
Principal analyst at Ceop, Kate Fisher, said abusive internet images were becoming "more extreme, sadistic and violent, and feature increasingly younger children".

Ceop called for police to prioritise investigating suspects who had easy access to children.

Christian Sjoberg of NetClean, which aims to prevent child sexual abuse content, said: "As police cuts hit home and case volumes increase, crime-fighting agents attempting to tackle the problem are finding their resources stretched."

"Sophisticated internet use makes the job of child protection increasingly complex, but technology can also hold the key to finding and preventing those who create and distribute this kind of material."

The raids come as the UK government announces a draft bill to allow details of internet use to be stored for a year, enabling intelligence services to track crime with modern technology.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Communications data is vital for the police in their fight against crime, including serious offences such as child abuse, drug dealing and terrorism."


Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) : www.ceop.police.uk/

(26th June 2012)


 

HOLIDAY TIP 1 : HIKING IN BEAR COUNTRY
(Sourced from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources website)

Full article : http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/safety/bears.htm

Nothing will guarantee your safety in bear country, but knowledge of bears and proper behaviour greatly reduce your risk. For years people have believed that the one thing predictable about bear behaviour is that it's unpredictable. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists disagree. "Bears have reasons for doing things. It's only from our lack of understanding that their behaviour seems unpredictable," says John Hechtel, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He has 18 years' experience studying bear and human encounters.


Statistics show the best ways to react to bears when you see them:

If you see a bear that is far away or doesn't see you turn around and go back, or circle far around. Don't disturb it.

If you see a bear that is close or it does see you STAY CALM. Attacks are rare. Bears may approach or stand on their hind legs to get a better look at you. These are curious, not aggressive, bears. BE HUMAN. Stand tall, wave your arms, and speak in a loud and low voice. DO NOT RUN! Stand your ground or back away slowly and diagonally. If the bear follows, STOP.

If a bear is charging almost all charges are "bluff charges". DO NOT RUN! Olympic sprinters cannot outrun a bear and running may trigger an instinctive reaction to "chase". Do not try to climb a tree unless it is literally right next to you and you can quickly get at least 30 feet up. STAND YOUR GROUND. Wave your arms and speak in a loud low voice. Many times charging bears have come within a few feet of a person and then veered off at the last second.

If a bear approaches your campsite aggressively chase it away. Make noise with pots and pans, throw rocks, and if needed, hit the bear. Do not let the bear get any food.

If you have surprised a bear and are contacted or attacked and making noise or struggling has not discouraged an attack, play dead. Curl up in a ball with your hands laced behind your neck. The fetal position protects your vital organs. Lie still and be silent. Surprised bears usually stop attacking once you are no longer a threat (i.e. "dead").

If you have been stalked by a bear, a bear is approaching your campsite, or an attack is continuing long after you have ceased struggling, fight back! Predatory bears are often young bears that can be successfully intimidated or chased away. Use a stick, rocks or your hands and feet.

(12th June 2012)


 

POLICE SHOULD WARN PUBLIC OVER REGENT'S PARK RAPIST
(London Evening Standard, dated 7th June 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk   [Note 1]

Scotland Yard has been criticised for failing to alert joggers and walkers to a rape in Regent's Park.

A teenage jogger was dragged into bushes and attacked by a man with a "distinctive swaying gait" as she went for an early morning run on Saturday May 26.

The 19-year-old raised the alarm after the man ran off but one park user said police had failed to warn people of the danger. No one has been arrested.

Consultant Anna Maxwell, 39, a regular Regent's Park walker, said: "This attack took place at 7am when the park is full of people taking exercise yet there has been no sign of an extra police presence, or any notices alerting us to the possibility that the park has become a dangerous place.

"If this had been a traffic accident there would have been a board appealing for witnesses. You do not want to scare people but you need people to be vigilant."

Ms Maxwell said she tried to complain to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime but her email bounced back with a message that its inbox was "too full".  She added: "Many of my neighbours are now seriously worried about using the park."

Scotland Yard said officers returned to the park at 6.30am on Saturday, a week after the attack, to hand out leaflets and ask park users if they had seen anything suspicious.

A spokeswoman said patrols had been stepped up and anyone with concerns about the park should talk to the local safer neighbourhood team.

Police say they have several leads. They are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the suspect, described as black, about 20, of medium build, 5ft 7ins and with short, Afro-style hair.

He was wearing a blue or green T-shirt, possible with horizontal stripes, a baseball style cap of white and dark colour, dark jeans and white sport shoes.

Anyone with information should call the Westminster Sapphire Unit on 020 7321 8040 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

uaware information

Everybody should be able to go about their business without fear of attack or abuse, the only thing is some @&*$# people don't see it that way (please excuse my language) and spoil others lives.

If you go walking or jogging in woodland or parks consider taking a few precautions to keep yourself safe :

- Don't run the same route every day as someone may be watching your routine. Have a couple of routes planned out of the same distance so that you can maintain your training regime.
- Don't go running at the same time, vary your start time by + / - 10 minutes each day.
- Carry out a risk assessment of your route/s. If someone was to attack you, where could they hide ?
- Training, jogging or walking alone can be boring so many people listen to music via headphones. The only thing is, it prevents you from hearing anybody approaching you from behind. Consider going without and learn the lyrics to some songs you can sing or hum to instead !
- Consider joining a running club so that you can go out training as part of a group.
- Consider carrying a personal attack alarm, it will not add much to your running weight !

For more advice on you personal safety check out the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website : www.suzylamplugh.org/

(12th June 2012)


 

FRAUD GANG WHOSE WEBSITE SOLD CLONED IDS FACE YEARS IN PRISON
(London Evening Standard, dated 8th June 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk   [Note 1]

Gangsters who raked in millions of pounds running a sophisticated counterfeiting and fraud racket were facing years in jail today.

They cloned the identities of respectable professionals with high credit ratings and offered fake documents for sale including bank statements, passports and payslips.

The gang even supplied a fake driving licence in the name of former home secretary Jacqui Smith after an investigation by a BBC reporter.

Ringleader Jason Place, 42, and accomplice Barry Sales, 54, ran the highly encrypted website Confidential Access from villas in Alicante while the site's servers were in Hong Kong.

They cloned the identities of wealthy individuals, using the names to rip off banks and building societies.

Membership of Confidential Access was based on trust and nautical terms were used for members. New recruits were termed deckhands, more trusted members were Shore Patrol and the Ship's Surgeon was in charge.

One estimate suggests the website turned over at least £11?million in four years but only a fraction of the cash has been found.

Documents were billed on the website as novelty items but Scotland Yard's fraud squad inquiry, Operation Galician, found packages being sold for £5,500.

Criminals were offered a bespoke service on how to commit fraud complete with fake documents and a webchat advice forum. Top-tier members had access to a forum called "The Black Marketplace" where serious crime was discussed.

The organisation produced convincing documents offered individually or as a package known as a Platinum Profile.

Thousands of mortgage applications are thought to have been made using the documents, and the site had up to 13,000 members worldwide - some of whom paid more than £20,000 for forgeries. 

Employees in the UK ran a production line of fake documents and the gang set up a call handling service to answer people ringing to verify references or check information.

The gang hijacked the names of real solicitors and accountants and the logos of genuine firms to use in references and change of name deeds.

When one official from RBS became suspicious he and his partner had their credit rating wrecked and received threatening calls.

A Met detective constable who investigated the case became the target of a personal vendetta by Place and associates. He, too, became a victim of identity theft. 

Six men engaged in running the gang were being sentenced at Southwark crown court today after admitting fraud charges. They are Place, 42, of Gravesend, Mark Powell-Richards, 59, of Bickley, Kent, Allen Stringer, 57, of Leeds, Michael Daly, 68, of Erith, Kent, Jaipal Singh, 31, of Wednesbury, West Midlands and Arun Thear, 22, a student, of West Bromwich. Sales is not being prosecuted because he is dying of cancer.

Detective Inspector Tim Dowdeswell said many of the "students in crime" who had bought fake identities were also being brought to court.

(12th June 2012)


 

50 EUROPEANS EVERY WEEK ARE JAILED IN BRITAIN
(Daily Mail, dated 7th June 2012 author Jack Doyle)
www.dailymail.co.uk    [Note 1]

More than 50 European nationals are being put behind bars in England and Wales every week.

In less than a decade the number locked up has more than doubled, according to prison figures.
A spate of horrific crimes committed by foreign nationals with previous convictions in their homelands has raised fears over the extent of checks on those coming to Britain.

But free movement laws mean European Union nationals can walk through border controls without being scrutinised.

Any criminal histories will often only show up if they are on the run and the authorities in their home country have alerted British police.
Migrant arrivals into Britain from the European Union have soared since 2004 when it was expanded to include eight former Soviet bloc countries.

The prison statistics, which date back to 2002, show that since then the number of Europeans jailed for robbery has doubled. For violent crimes it has more than trebled, and for sex crimes it has quadrupled.
Locking each one up costs tens of thousands of pounds every year and is heaping pressure on Britain's already overcrowded prison system.
Last year 2,696 Europeans, excluding UK nationals, were jailed by courts in England and Wales - nearly 52 every week. That is more than twice the 2002 total of 1,321.

In 2002, 196 violent offenders, 84 sex offenders and 132 robbers from EU countries were jailed. Last year the numbers had risen to 610 violent criminals, 335 sex offenders and 262 robbers.
Foreigners from the EU handed indefinite sentences for the most serious crimes increased from 98 in 2002 to 367 last year.

It means there are now 3,686 EU nationals behind bars - enough to fill Pentonville, Wormwood Scrubs and Strangeways prisons put together.

Last year ministers signed up to the European Union prisoner transfer agreement, which meant foreign criminals could be sent home to serve sentences, but between December and March only ten were deported.
A report in February warned that dangerous foreign criminals may be slipping through the net when arrested in this country because police are not carrying out basic background checks.
The study, by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the CPS Inspectorate, said officers were failing to ask about offenders' previous convictions, and demanded a review of checks to ensure the public is not put at risk.
In January, a judge demanded to know why Lithuanian child-rapist Victor Akulic was let into Britain. After arriving here he beat and raped a woman.
He had served nine years in his home country after raping a seven-year-old he lured into his house with lemonade.
Lady Justice Hallett said during the case: 'Do we let in just anyone, even if they have such a serious conviction?'

A recent Home Office review also found that police fail to run checks on tens of thousands of EU nationals every year. Under data-sharing rules, officers can see the records of any EU nationals they arrest, but last year only 15 per cent of the 30,000 EU nationals arrested in Britain had their criminal histories explored.
Police have access to the European crime intelligence agency, Europol, and can also access an Interpol database which contains data on criminals from 190 states around the world.

The report said: 'We found a perception that this system is complicated. However, this proved unfounded, since a phone call provides an easy route to the information required.'

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'Every year we remove thousands of foreign criminals from the UK either at the end of their sentence or to serve the rest of their term back home.
'We're determined to remove more foreign lawbreakers - we already have prisoner transfer arrangements with over 100 countries, and will continue to negotiate more.

'The EU prisoner transfer agreement came into force in December, allowing the compulsory transfer of EU prisoners without their consent.'
Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt said he expected to see 'a steady increase in the number of EU nationals who are transferred' as a result of the legislation.

(12th June 2012)


 

YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION CAN BE MADE AVAILABLE TO ANYONE, ITS DOWN TO YOU
(Based on information from an ICO public document, website entry dated 24th April 2012)
www.ico.gov.uk

In December 2010, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) engaged an independent computer forensics company (NCC Group) to purchase and analyse approximately 200 hard disk drives, 20 memory sticks and 10 mobile telephones. These were bought from a variety of sources with most coming from online auction sites.

NCC first examined the drives using no additional software to see what information was immediately evident. The drives were then studied using forensic tools which were freely available on the internet. This was carried out to replicate the attempts which more knowledgeable individuals may make to try and recover data for improper usage.

Following completion of this exercise, NCC provided the ICO with a final report detailing its findings, along with a brief summary of what, if anything, was found on each drive. Copies of the 'imaged' drives were also provided to the ICO so that further investigations could be carried out.

NCC Findings

Negligible personal data was found on the memory sticks and mobile telephones.

In the case of hard drives:

- 38% of the devices had been wiped of data
- 14% were damaged/ unreadable
- 37% contained non-personal data
- 11% contained personal data

In total, some 34,000 files were found containing personal or corporate information.This raised concerns about the amount of data found on many of the individually purchased drives.  Although some action had been taken in a number of cases (such as deleting drive partitions) this was not enough to ensure that the personal data was unrecoverable.

Upon further ICO examination, it became clear that at least six of the drives contained significant amounts of personal data. These drives are likely to have originated from desktop machines and were split into two main categories:

Devices that had been personally owned

These contained comprehensive personal data relating to the owner/ main user of the drive (2 drives), the information included :

- information about business ventures,
- copy passports
- copy birth certificates
- bank statements
- scans of bills/ invoices
- payslips
- CVs
- job application forms
- details of motoring offences/ convictions
- medical details
- personal relationship information
- family photos
- tax information
- performance reviews


Devices containing comprehensive personal data relating to employees or clients of organisations

These drives (4) were either personally or corporately owned, and in some cases, it transpired that unauthorised home working had been taking place. There is likely to have been more than enough information on both the identified drives to enable a third party to carry out an identity theft.

In addition to the types of information mentioned above

- Employee references
- Spreadsheets
- Residence permits
- sensitive personal data featured in reports

WHAT YOU CAN DO (uaware)

If you are replacing a hard disk in your computer. Be it to upgrade or to replace a faulty unit.

- Don't disgard the old hard disk without first destroying your personal data on it first. Just formating the hard disk will not work, your data will still be there ( put simply - formating just changes the name of the file ). Obtain a copy of some software generically called "disk sanitiser" from a software retailer. This software will completely remove all traces of your files. This method is also appropriate if you are going to sell your computer or laptop.
WARNING : ensure that you have copies or backed up all of your important files before using this software as they will be completely destroyed.

- As an alternative to using software. Buy yourself some eye protection, protective gloves and a hammer. Find yourself a safe corner away from prying / unprotected eyes and take out your frustration by using the hammer on the hard disk.
WARNING : ensure that you have copies or backed up all of your important files before using this method as they will be completely destroyed !!!! Dispose of your hard disk thoughtfully via recyling.

(12th June 2012)


 

OLD STORY NEW TWIST - DNS MALWARE

INTERNATIONAL CYBER RING THAT INFECTED MILLIONS OF COMPUTERS DISMANTLED
(FBI, dated November 2012)
www.fbi.gov

Six Estonian nationals have been arrested and charged with running a sophisticated Internet fraud ring that infected millions of computers worldwide with a virus and enabled the thieves to manipulate the multi-billion-dollar Internet advertising industry. Users of infected machines were unaware that their computers had been compromised-or that the malicious software rendered their machines vulnerable to a host of other viruses.

Details of the two-year FBI investigation called Operation Ghost Click were announced today in New York when a federal indictment was unsealed. Officials also described their efforts to make sure infected users' Internet access would not be disrupted as a result of the operation.

The indictment, said Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of our New York office, "describes an intricate international conspiracy conceived and carried out by sophisticated criminals." She added, "The harm inflicted by the defendants was not merely a matter of reaping illegitimate income."

Beginning in 2007, the cyber ring used a class of malware called DNSChanger to infect approximately 4 million computers in more than 100 countries. There were about 500,000 infections in the U.S., including computers belonging to individuals, businesses, and government agencies such as NASA. The thieves were able to manipulate Internet advertising to generate at least $14 million in illicit fees. In some cases, the malware had the additional effect of preventing users' anti-virus software and operating systems from updating, thereby exposing infected machines to even more malicious software.

"They were organized and operating as a traditional business but profiting illegally as the result of the malware," said one of our cyber agents who worked the case. "There was a level of complexity here that we haven't seen before."

DNS-Domain Name System-is a critical Internet service that converts user-friendly domain names, such as www.fbi.gov, into numerical addresses that allow computers to talk to each other. Without DNS and the DNS servers operated by Internet service providers, computer users would not be able to browse websites or send e-mail.

DNSChanger was used to redirect unsuspecting users to rogue servers controlled by the cyber thieves, allowing them to manipulate users' web activity. When users of infected computers clicked on the link for the official website of iTunes, for example, they were instead taken to a website for a business unaffiliated with Apple Inc. that purported to sell Apple software. Not only did the cyber thieves make money from these schemes, they deprived legitimate website operators and advertisers of substantial revenue.

The six cyber criminals were taken into custody yesterday in Estonia by local authorities, and the U.S. will seek to extradite them. In conjunction with the arrests, U.S. authorities seized computers and rogue DNS servers at various locations. As part of a federal court order, the rogue DNS servers have been replaced with legitimate servers in the hopes that users who were infected will not have their Internet access disrupted.

It is important to note that the replacement servers will not remove the DNSChanger malware-or other viruses it may have facilitated-from infected computers. Users who believe their computers may be infected should contact a computer professional.

UPDATE

To assist victims affected by the DNSChanger malicious software, the FBI obtained a court order authorizing the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) to deploy and maintain temporary clean DNS servers. This solution is temporary, providing additional time for victims to clean affected computers and restore their normal DNS settings. The clean DNS servers will be turned off on July 9, 2012, and computers still impacted by DNSChanger may lose Internet connectivity at that time.


UAWARE INFORMATION

If your computer has been infected and you were not aware; come the 9th July 2012 you will discover that your computer will not be able to access the internet. You can either do as advised in the main part of the article and contact a computing professional or if you feel you are up to it "do it yourself"!

To check if you have been infected use the free tool at : www.dns-ok.us

The following website provides the relevant guidance : www.dcwg.org/fix

(12th June 2012)


 

FLAME MALWARE MAKERS SEND "SUICIDE" CODE TO INFECTED PC'S
(BBC News, dated 8th June 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

The creators of the Flame malware have sent a "suicide" command that removes it from some infected computers.

Security firm Symantec caught the command using booby-trapped computers set up to watch Flame's actions.

Flame came to light after the UN's telecoms body asked for help with identifying a virus found stealing data from many PCs in the Middle East.

New analysis of Flame reveals how sophisticated the program is and gives hints about who created it.

Clean machine
 
Like many other security firms Symantec has kept an eye on Flame using so-called "honeypot" computers that report what happens when they are infected with a malicious program.

Described as a very sophisticated cyber-attack, Flame targeted countries such as Iran and Israel and sought to steal large amounts of sensitive data.

Earlier this week Symantec noticed that some Flame command and control (C&C) computers sent an urgent command to the infected PCs they were overseeing.

Flame's creators do not have access to all their C&C computers as security firms have won control of some of them.

The "suicide" command was "designed to completely remove Flame from the compromised computer", said Symantec.

The command located every Flame file sitting on a PC, removed it and then overwrote memory locations with gibberish to thwart forensic examination.

"It tries to leave no traces of the infection behind," wrote the firm on its blog [Note 1]:
http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/flamer-urgent-suicide

Analysis of the clean-up routine suggested it was written in early May, said Symantec.

Crypto crash
 
At the same time, analysis of the inner workings of Flame reveal just how sophisticated it is.

According to cryptographic experts, Flame is the first malicious program to use an obscure cryptographic technique known as "prefix collision attack". This allowed the virus to fake digital credentials that had helped it to spread.

The exact method of carrying out such an attack was only demonstrated in 2008 and the creators of Flame came up with their own variant.

"The design of this new variant required world-class cryptanalysis," said cryptoexpert Marc Stevens from the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam in a statement [Note 1]:
www.cwi.nl/news/2012/cwi-cryptanalist-discovers-new-cryptographic-attack-variant-in-flame-spy-malware

The finding gives support to claims that Flame must have been built by a nation state rather than cybercriminals. It is not clear yet which nation created the program.

(12th June 2012)


 

PHISHING AND MALWARE MEET CHEQUE FRAUD
(Trusteer, dated 24th April 2012, author Amit Klein)
www.trusteer.com  [Note 1]

We recently uncovered a scam in an underground forum that shows how data obtained through phishing and malware attacks can be used to make one of the oldest forms of fraud - cheque forging - even harder to prevent. The scam involves a criminal selling pre-printed cheques linked to corporate bank accounts in the USA, UK and China.

The criminal is selling falsified bank cheques made with specialised printing equipment, ink and paper. For $5 each, he/she will supply checks that use stolen credentials (e.g. bank account) provided by the buyer. However, to purchase cheques that use stolen credentials supplied by the counterfeiter the cost is $50 - a tenfold increase. This is a clear indicator that stolen credentials are a key enabler of cheque fraud.

Cheque data fields include personal information (e.g. name, address and phone) and financial information (e.g. bank account, routing code and check number). To obtain all the required data fraudsters typically need to get their hands on a physical or scanned version of a real cheque in circulation. Many banking web sites provide access to scanned versions of paid and received cheques. Online banking login credentials obtained through malware and phishing attacks can easily be used by fraudsters to access a victim's account and collect all the required information to commit cheque fraud. In addition, before using the cheques, fraudsters could potentially ensure account balance is sufficient to approve the transaction.

The criminal recommends using the cheques to buy products in retail stores rather than trying to redeem them for cash. Buyers are also encouraged to carry fake identification cards that match the stolen credentials on the cheque. The cheque counterfeiter offers to provide these as well.

This is the latest example of the how criminals can use malware and phishing techniques to make traditional physical fraud schemes more effective. This "cross-channel" approach is helping fraudsters stay one step ahead of even the most sophisticated fraud detection systems deployed online and in the brick and mortar world. It is also creating a new generation of Frank Abagnale's that are not even required to come up with their own fraud scams.

uaware information

For details of Frank Abagnale : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Abagnale

(12th June 2012)


 

LINKEDIN PASSWORDS "LEAKED BY HACKERS"
(BBC News, dated 6th June 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Social networking website LinkedIn is investigating claims that over six million of its users' passwords have been leaked onto the internet.

Hackers posted a file containing encrypted passwords onto a Russian web forum.

They have invited the hacking community to help with decryption.

LinkedIn, which has over 150 million users, has not released a formal statement, but tweeted: "Our team is currently looking into reports."

Security researcher Graham Cluley told the BBC he believed the breach was genuine.

"We've confirmed there are LinkedIn passwords in the data.

"We did this by searching through the data for (hashed) passwords that we at Sophos use only on LinkedIn. We found those passwords in the data. We also saw that hundreds of the passwords contain the word 'Linkedin'.

"Our advice is to change your LinkedIn password. And if you use the same password on other accounts, change it there too."

Privacy concern
 
The news comes as LinkedIn was forced to update its mobile app after a privacy flaw was uncovered by security researchers.

Skycure Security said the the mobile app was sending unencrypted calendar entries to LinkedIn servers without users' knowledge.

The information included meeting notes, which often contain information such as dialling numbers and passcodes for conference calls.

In response LinkedIn said it would "no longer send data from the meeting notes section of your calendar".

The company stressed that the calendar function was an opt-in feature.

However, the researchers (Skycure)  who uncovered the flaw said the transmission of the data to LinkedIn's servers was done without a "clear indication from the app to the user".

Skycure statement [Note 1] :

http://blog.skycure.com/2012/06/linkedout-linkedin-privacy-issue.html#!/2012/06/linkedout-linkedin-privacy-issue.html

In a statement posted on the company's blog, LinkedIn's mobile product head Joff Redfern said a new "learn more" link would be added to the app so users have a clearer picture about how their information is being used and transmitted.

LinkedIn Statement [Note 1]: http://blog.linkedin.com/2012/06/06/mobile-calendar-feature/

(6th June 2012)


 

NHS FIGHTS RECORD £325k ICO FINE AFTER INDIVIDUALS SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE RECORDS APPEAR ON EBAY
(The Register, dated 6th June 2012 author Brid-Aine Parnell)

Full Article [Note 1] : http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/06/nhs_trust_disputes_ico_fine/

An NHS Trust is disputing a record fine the Information Commissioner's Office has levelled on it for leaving tons of data on patients and staff on hard drives that were sold on eBay instead of being destroyed.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust was served a civil monetary penalty of £325,000, the highest handed out since the ICO got the power to lay financial smackdowns in April 2010. The Trust said it didn't agree with the ICO's findings and was appealing the fine.

The ICO claims that the private data of tens of thousands of patients and employees was left on the sold hard drives, including information from the HIV and Genito Urinary Medicine department, which included personal identifiers like dates of birth and occupations as well as sensitive medical data on their STD test results and diagnoses and sexual preferences. The database also held the names and dates of birth of 1,527 HIV positive patients.

The Trust decommissioned a number of hard drives in March 2008, which were then stuck in commercial storage in a locked room watched by CCTV. Two years later, around a thousand of the drives were moved to Brighton General Hospital and put in a room that could only be accessed with a key code.

The Trust's IT service provider Sussex Health Informatics Service (HIS) asked its usual subcontractor to take care of destroying the drives, but that firm couldn't do it, so HIS asked a different company to do it.

The ICO discovered that HIS never entered into a proper contract with the new contractor, even though it offered one, and only performed basic checks on the credentials of the one individual who ran it. The Trust didn't even know that HIS had employed this contractor.

The unnamed individual came to the hospital on two occasions in the autumn of 2010 to destroy the drives, but they weren't supervised all the time and the hospital never got a proper certificate of destruction with all the serial numbers listed.

That December a data recovery company bought four of the hard drives online from a seller who had bought them from the individual and reported the data breach.

The ICO said that the Trust initially tried to tell the ICO that it was just those four drives that had been sold and all the other hard drives waiting to be destroyed were secure, but it was rumbled in 2011 when a university said that one of their students had bought more drives, 15 of which held the Trust's data.

Eventually, the ICO found out that at least 232 of the Trust's hard drives were sold.

The Trust has said it doesn't agree with the ICO's findings and it is pursuing an appeal with the Information Tribunal.

(6th June 2012)


 

MET HAS 6,500 FIT OFFICERS IN BACK ROOM ROLES
(London Evening Standard, dated 6th June 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk [Note 1]

More than 6,500 police officers in London are employed in non-operational roles, it was revealed today.

Figures show that 6,579 of the Met's 32,000 fully fit officers are engaged in back room support duties, while 402 officers are assigned to recuperative duties while recovering from injuries.

The numbers were obtained by London Assembly Green Party member Jenny Jones, who said that it was "inexcusable" to have so many officers in support duties.

She said: "This is not what the public wants from the police, not how they think the police should be managed, and it is bad value for money. The public wants to see police officers on the streets and not behind desks doing work that could be done by support staff around £20,000 a year cheaper."

The figures show 215 officers answer 999 calls, 80 are in "partnership" roles liaising with local authorities and other agencies, 58 are involved in planning major events, and 30 are seconded to the National Policing Improvement Agency, which is being wound up. Ten are involved in "modernising operations",

18 measure performance, and 164 officers are doing jobs classified as "unknown".

Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said many officers were needed in support roles but he admitted that there was scope to transfer some to the front line.

(6th June 2012)


 

SMALL BANKING TROJAN POSES MAJOR RISK
(The Register, dated 4th June 2012 author John Leyden)
www.theregister.co.uk)  [Note 1]

Security researchers have discovered a tiny, but highly capable banking Trojan.

Tinba (Tiny Banker, or otherwise known as Zusy) hooks itself into browsers before stealing banking login information and snaffling network traffic.

The malware used injected code and Man in The Browser (MiTB) tricks to change the way banking websites are presented to victims on compromised machines.

The technique is designed to thwart added security protections, most specifically two-factor authentication technologies, that have come into deployment by some banks. ZeuS, the well-established banking Trojan, uses much the same trickery to achieve the same nefarious ends.

Weighing in at just 20KB, Tinba represents a new family of banking Trojan. Antivirus detection of the analyzed samples is low, according to researchers at CSIS Security, a Danish firm.

Tinba uses a RC4 encryption scheme when communication with its Command & Control (C&C) servers, located at four hardcoded domains. "Tinba proves that malware with data stealing capabilities does not have to be 20MB of size," Peter Kruse, a researcher with CSIS, told El Reg.

His comments reference the avalanche of publicity that has accompanied the discovery of the Flame cyber-espionage toolkit, a portly 20MB chiefly notable for affecting systems in Iran and the ability to turn its worm like propagation routines on and off for added stealth.

(6th June 2012)


 

PRIVATISED POLICING : THREE FORCES COULD BE NEXT
(Police Oracle, dated 3rd June 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com   [Note 1]

Three police forces are to consider a plan to jointly outsource their organisational support to the private sector- potentially piggybacking Lincolnshire Police's private framework with security giant, G4S.

Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary will look into the proposal this month which would potentially affect up to 1,100 police staff - in a bid to bridge a £73 million shortfall in funding.

Their police authorities will separately consider whether they want to commission a Full Business Case document, which would closely examine which services would be best delivered by outsourcing. If all authorities agree, the document would be produced before going back to the authorities for a final decision in the autumn.

However PoliceOracle.com has learnt that there is a doubt as to who would have the final say- as Police and Crime Commissioners take over from the authorities in November. If the document was to be given the go ahead this month, it may not be ready for final scrutiny before the elections take place - in which case the PCCs would be asked to decide.

A spokesperson for the collaboration programme said: "The Full Business Case is not fixed and needs to take its time.

"There is no intention to push it through before PCCs come in.

"However the sooner we can get a deal with all due diligence taken into consideration, we can then start to make the savings."

Nine areas of organisational support have been proposed for outsourcing so far, and these would be examined in the document.

They are HR, ICT, Finance, Estates and Facilities, Corporate Services, Corporate Communications, Fleet, Procurement and Legal Services.

The areas currently cost the forces a total of £77 million a year, but PoliceOracle.com has been told that not all of them may be appropriate for outsourcing - in which case other avenues could be pursued.

The three forces, which have had their own major collaboration programme between them since 2010, would effectively piggyback the framework already in place as a result of Lincolnshire Police's partnership with G4S. This is because they chose to support the proposal when it was initiated and therefore have the option of doing so.

The spokesperson added: "There are so many different ways this could end up.

"The chief constables have taken the initial decision in consultation with their police authorities. They have done this so colleagues in the authorities have the longest opportunity to understand and be engaged in the process."

The forces merged their Scientific Services, Major Crime Unit and Armed Policing Unit together in April. They hope to save £2 million a year by doing this.

Hertfordshire Police Authority will make its decision over the commissioning of the document on June 25 while Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Police Authorities will make theirs at separate meetings on June 28.

(6th June 2012)


 

ICO SETS UP ONLINE SURVEY AS COOKIE COMPLAINTS RISE
(Dated 29th May 2012, author Sooraj Shah)

Original Article : http://newswires.computing.co.uk/c/1TiUKdLmnJaOOnfyXx7wKg  [Note 1]

The Information Commisioner's Office (ICO) has received 84 customer complaints relating to the controversial EU cookie law since it came into force on Friday, via a survey tool to establish the key problem areas.

The online tool, "Report Your Cookie Concerns", is available here :

https://www.snapsurveys.com/swh/surveylogin.asp?k=133707671186

The new rules were brought in amid controversy over last-minute changes to the wording of the ICO's guidance on the policy.

An ICO spokesperson told Computing: "We have set up a survey on our website and that enables anyone to make a complaint on the cookies they have received. From those survey results we will be looking at any trends, such as if there are any particular types of cookie that are of concern to the public, or if there is a particular website that people are concerned about."

The spokesperson confirmed that the ICO had received 64 responses on Monday and that a further 20 on Tuesday. The total of 84 takes into account people who responded more than once.

Sally Annereau, data protection analyst at law firm Taylor Wessing, told Computing that gathering the information will benefit the ICO in the long term.

"The suggestion from the ICO is that it is not the case that the Information Commissioner will be responding to each individual complaint. Rather, he is going to use it to inform his choices about how he best uses his current resources. It will be more about informing his enforcement of the law," she suggested.

Annereau said that the tool will help to show where consumers have concerns and educate them on the benefits of cookies.

"Cookies could be useful to consumers - they aren't agents of evil, they can perform very useful and necessary functions on a website in addition to those used to monetise a site.

"For example, EU users are used to receiving free content from websites. That content is free because it is monetised by advertising that relies on user cookies.

"I think that when consumers become more familiar with the way in which cookies are used they'll be able to make a judgement on what they are comfortable with," she said.

• A guidance video is on the rules can also be found on the ICO website at www.ico.gov.uk.

uaware comment

Parts of this article are giving the impression that cookies are new within the UK and that the EU have "benefited from them for years". Third party cookie downloads have been with us in the UK since advertisements have been on webspages that we visit. Some cookies are required to allow some control of financial transactions when making online purchases. In all honesty I don't know of any benefit they have brought me directly.
They are in the main a marketing tool to monitor what website visitors go to.

By the way, the website where this article is situated can potentially download 16 cookies to your computer !

(1st June 2012)


 

FRIENDS FOOLED BY FACEBOOK TIMELINE "REMOVAL TOOL" SCAMS
(The Register, dated 29th MAy 2012 author John Leydon)
www.theregister.co.uk  [Note 1]

Two separate "Timeline-removing" spam scams are doing the rounds on Facebook, security watchers warn.

Both ruses feature dodgy messages targeting users of the social network who happen to dislike the recently introduced feature, and are looking for a way to go back to the "old look". In the first case, users who take the bait are encouraged to install a browser plug-in that supposedly removes Facebook Timeline from social networking profiles.

At the time of writing on Tuesday lunchtime, anti-virus vendor Sophos was in the process of evaluating what the software, available for download from a recently established website in Turkey, actually does. In the meantime it advises users to avoid installing the plug-ins.

Screenshots of the messages, and the browsers plug-ins, can be found in a blog post by Sophos here [Note 1]:
http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/05/29/beware-remove-your-facebook-timeline-scams/

Timeline-exorcising browser extensions are also being offered via an application called "Facebook Timeline Remover", Chris Boyd of GFI Software warns. However in this case no browser plug-in is actually on offer. Marks are instead invited to complete a collection of surveys, enriching dodgy marketing affiliates in the process.

Updated to add

A Facebook spokesman has got in touch this afternoon to say: "Security is a top priority for Facebook, and we devote significant resources to helping people protect their accounts and information. We've built numerous defences to combat phishing and malware, including complex automated systems that work behind the scenes ... Security is an arms race, and our teams are always working to identify the next threat and build defences for it."

(1st June 2012)



FLAME : MASSIVE CYBER-ATTACK DISCOVERED
(BBC News, 28th May 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

 

A complex targeted cyber-attack that collected private data from countries such as Israel and Iran has been uncovered, researchers have said.

Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told the BBC they believed the malware, known as Flame, had been operating since August 2010.

The company said it believed the attack was state-sponsored, but could not be sure of its exact origins.

They described Flame as "one of the most complex threats ever discovered".

Research into the attack was carried out in conjunction with the UN's International Telecommunication Union.

They had been investigating another malware threat, known as Wiper, which was reportedly deleting data on machines in western Asia.

In the past, targeted malware - such as Stuxnet - has targeted nuclear infrastructure in Iran.

Others like Duqu have sought to infiltrate networks in order to steal data.

This new threat appears not to cause physical damage, but to collect huge amounts of sensitive information, said Kaspersky's chief malware expert Vitaly Kamluk.

"Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on," he said.

More than 600 specific targets were hit, Mr Kamluk said, ranging from individuals, businesses, academic institutions and government systems.

Iran's National Computer Emergency Response Team posted a security alert stating that it believed Flame was responsible for "recent incidents of mass data loss" in the country.

The malware code itself is 20MB in size - making it some 20 times larger than the Stuxnet virus. The researchers said it could take several years to analyse.

Iran and Israel
 
Mr Kamluk said the size and sophistication of Flame suggested it was not the work of independent cybercriminals, and more likely to be government-backed.

He explained: "Currently there are three known classes of players who develop malware and spyware: hacktivists, cybercriminals and nation states.

"Flame is not designed to steal money from bank accounts. It is also different from rather simple hack tools and malware used by the hacktivists. So by excluding cybercriminals and hacktivists, we come to conclusion that it most likely belongs to the third group."

Among the countries affected by the attack are Iran, Israel, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

"The geography of the targets and also the complexity of the threat leaves no doubt about it being a nation-state that sponsored the research that went into it," Mr Kamluk said.

The malware is capable of recording audio via a microphone, before compressing it and sending it back to the attacker.

It is also able to take screenshots of on-screen activity, automatically detecting when "interesting" programs - such as email or instant messaging - were open.

'Industrial vacuum cleaner'
 
Kaspersky's first recorded instance of Flame is in August 2010, although it said it is highly likely to have been operating earlier.

Prof Alan Woodward, from the Department of Computing at the University of Surrey said the attack is very significant.

"This is basically an industrial vacuum cleaner for sensitive information," he told the BBC.

He explained that unlike Stuxnet, which was designed with one specific task in mind, Flame was much more sophisticated.

"Whereas Stuxnet just had one purpose in life, Flame is a toolkit, so they can go after just about everything they can get their hands on."

Once the initial Flame malware has infected a machine, additional modules can be added to perform specific tasks - almost in the same manner as adding apps to a smartphone.

Analysis

This is an extremely advanced attack. It is more like a toolkit for compiling different code based weapons than a single tool. It can steal everything from the keys you are pressing to what is on your screen to what is being said near the machine.

It also has some very unusual data stealing features including reaching out to any Bluetooth enabled device nearby to see what it can steal.

Just like Stuxnet, this malware can spread by USB stick, i.e. it doesn't need to be connected to a network, although it has that capability as well.

This wasn't written by some spotty teenager in his/her bedroom. It is large, complicated and dedicated to stealing data whilst remaining hidden for a long time.

Professor Alan Woodward
 
Department of Computing, University of Surrey


(1st June 2012)




POLICE CUFF HUNDREDS IN £7.3M PHONE SCAM
(The Register, dated 25th May 2012 author Phil Muncaster)
www.theregister.co.uk   [Note 1]

 

Police across South East Asia have swooped on an international telephone fraud gang, arresting over 480 people in eight countries after an investigation lasting six months.

The alleged gang members, most of whom are Chinese and Taiwanese, are suspected of conning their victims out of 73 million yuan (£7.3m), according to a Xinhua report.

Although all 510 suspected cases of fraud took place on the Chinese mainland, the suspects were rounded up nations around the region - Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Fiji, China and Taiwan - and are said to have established money-laundering operations in Taiwan and Thailand.

Given the size of the group, two chartered planes were needed to fly the Chinese suspects back from Thailand and Malaysia to Beijing on Thursday, while separate planes were needed to transport the Taiwanese members back to their home country to be prosecuted.

China's Ministry of Public Security led the investigation, which saw six groups of officers sent around the region earlier this month.

Liu Ancheng, Deputy Director of the ministry's Criminal Investigation Bureau, is quoted as saying that the case was unusual for mainland crime because of the large numbers of Taiwanese involved.

"The group mainly squeezed money from individuals or companies by calling them in the name of police or procuratorate staff and threatening to accuse them of money-laundering crimes," he reportedly added.

"Ringleaders from Taiwan were deterred by mainland police's stern crackdown on telecom scams, so they recruited locals in Taiwan to commit this crime."

Cynical observers may suggest that the criminals' modus operandi worked so well because of the high level of police corruption in China, which made their phone calls appear credible.

Phone fraud is on the rise in Asia, particularly in Japan where the elderly are often targeted. In fact, the problem is so bad there that Fujitsu recently unveiled technology designed to alert users when they are being scammed.

(1st June 2012)


 

MET POLICE OFFER ALL CRIME VICTIMS HOME VISIT
(BBC News, dated 28th May 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

A victims' charity has welcomed the Metropolitan Police's decision to offer all victims of crime a home visit by a police officer.

Victims of offences such as criminal damage and bike theft will have the choice of reporting the incident over the phone, attending a police station, or making an appointment for a visit.

The Met has also started to attend all vehicles that have been broken into within an hour.

Victim Support welcomed the move.

'Bottom of pile'
 
It is part of the "total policing" pledge made by Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, appointed last year, said the Met.

The force said an extra 3,000 people had received a visit from the police in the past three weeks, a 55% increase.

A spokesman said compared with police forces of a similar size, in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire, London was "bottom of the pile" in terms of what he called victim satisfaction.

He said anecdotally the offer of police visits had been well received, with a quarter of those offered a visit taking it up.

Asked if police could afford the time spent making house calls, he said the situation was being monitored and so far there had been no impact on emergency responses.

Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, head of territorial policing, said: "This new scheme is not just about improving care to victims - we're also doing this to help catch more criminals.

"By quickly attending vehicle crimes there's a better chance of capturing potential forensic evidence."

Jeff Gardner, from Victim Support, said the organisation had been calling for victims to be kept informed after reporting a crime.

He said: "We know that lack of information from the justice system is a massive concern for many victims.

"We welcome the Metropolitan Police's new initiative to give all victims of crime a home visit.

"This will not only give victims a better service but reassure them that the police are taking their case seriously - and encourage other victims to come forward.

"We would also like victims to be kept up to date on the investigation as it progresses or if it is dropped, to be told why."

(1st June 2012)


 

RESEARCHERS FIND BACK DOOR IN MILITARY SPECIFICATION MICROCHIPS
(The Register, dated  29th May 2012 author Simon Sharwood)

Full article : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/29/silicon_backdoor/

A pair of security researchers claim to have found a back door in commercial commercial microchips marketed as a secure tool for military applications.

The mcirochips in questionn is the Actel ProASIC3, a device manufacturer MicroSEMI recommends for use in "portable, consumer, industrial, communications and medical applications with commercial and industrial temperature devices," but also comes in models boasting "specialized screening for automotive and military systems."

Sergei Skorobogatov, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and Christopher Woods of London's Quo Vadis Labs have released a draft paper describing a method whereby attackers can "disable all the security on the chip, reprogram the encryption and access keys, modify low-level silicon features, re-programme or permanently damage the device."

The pair chose the ProASIC3 for their tests because, they say, it is a very widely used device, boasts of superior security and is known to have military users. Those qualities, the pair say, made it an ideal subject for a back door hunt.

The pair used the Actel's own analysis tools and the Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) interface to analyse the silicon. That analysis yielded undocumented features, thanks to discovery of what the draft paper calls "command field and data registers."

"Further investigation," the paper says, "revealed that this is a backdoor function with the key capable of unlocking many of the undocumented functions, including IP access and reprogramming of secure memory."

The paper is clearly marked as a draft and Skorobogatov promises to detail the exploit fully at the 2012 Workshop on Cryptographic Hardware and Embedded Systems in Belgium.

(1st June 2012)


 

WHATS NEW IN COMPUTER SECURITY - MAY 2012

All of the links within this section are [Note 1]


 

ROMANIAN AUTHORITIES DISMANTLE HACKER GROUP TARGETING GOVERNMENT WEBSITES
(Computer World, dated 29th May 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8025781/930454165/564878/0/

Twelve individuals were detained by Romanian authorities on Tuesday, suspected of being members of a cybercriminal group that hacked into the websites of various Romanian and foreign public institutions and government agencies.

Prosecutors from the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) have dismantled a criminal group consisting of 14 members, who engaged in cybercriminal activities that included accessing computer systems without authorization, copying confidential data stored on them and publishing the captured information online, DIICOT said on Tuesday.

Supported by the Romanian Police forces and the Romanian Gendarmerie, the DIICOT prosecutors executed 12 search warrants at residential addresses in 10 different cities and detained 12 suspects. The detained individuals will be taken to DIICOT's central office in Bucharest for questioning.




SOFTWARE SECURITY COMPANY REPORTS BIG SPIKE IN MALWARE
(Computer World, dated 23rd May 2012 author Cameron Scott)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8016380/930454165/564442/0/

According to McAfee : PC malware had its "busiest quarter in recent history," according to McAfee's quarterly security report released Wednesday.

The security company registered the biggest increase in malware in four years during the first quarter of this year, bringing the total number of samples to 83 million. Fake antivirus programs declined in popularity, but software with faked security signatures, rootkits and password-stealing Trojans rose.

McAfee counted about 200,000 new examples of password-stealing Trojan horses. A Trojan horses is a stand-alone program that represents itself as some form of legitimate software.

Rootkits are stealth programs designed to enable privileged access to the user's computer. The report calls rootkits "one of the nastiest classifications of malware."

Software is "signed" by the vendor to tell users it's safe to install. A user is more likely to trust Microsoft or McAfee, for example, than an unknown vendor. Scammers capitalize on that trust when they forge the digital signature of a trusted provider in order to boost the chances of having their malware successfully installed on the user's computer.



GOOGLE WARNS USERS INFECTED WITH MALWARE
(Computer World, dated 23rd May 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8016380/930454165/564444/0/

Google on Tuesday hauled out a tool it last used nearly a year ago to warn users infected with the "DNSChanger" malware.

Starting Tuesday, special messages will be displayed at the top of a Google search results page to people whose Windows PCs and Macs have been infected with malicious code that hijacks their clicks.

Google has said :"Our goal with this notification is to raise awareness of DNSChanger among affected users," "We believe directly messaging affected users on a trusted site and in their preferred language will produce the best possible results."

DNSChanger silently redirects clicks by modifying victimized computers' domain name system (DNS) settings. The users are sent to hacker-created websites that resemble the real domains. At its peak, DNSChanger infected more than four million Windows PCs and Macs.




WINDOWS VISTA INFECTION RATES CLIMB, SAYS MICROSOFT
(Computer World, dated 22nd May 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8014609/930454165/564294/0/


Microsoft said last week that a skew toward more exploits on Windows Vista can be attributed to the demise of support for the operating system's first service pack.

Data from the company's newest security intelligence report showed that in the second half of 2011, Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) was 17% more likely to be infected by malware than Windows XP SP3, the final upgrade to the nearly-11-year-old operating system.

That's counter to the usual trend, which holds that newer editions of Windows are more secure, and thus exploited at a lower rate, than older versions like XP. Some editions of Windows 7, for example, boast an infection rate half that of XP.




BANKING MALWARE SPIES ON VICTIMS BY HIJACKING WEBCAMS AND MICROPHONES
(Computer World, dated 22nd May 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8014609/930454165/564295/0/

A new variant of SpyEye malware allows cybercriminals to monitor potential bank fraud victims by hijacking their webcams and microphones, according to security researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab.

SpyEye is a computer Trojan horse that specifically targets online banking users. Like its older cousin, Zeus, SpyEye is no longer being developed by its original author, but is still widely used by cybercriminals in their operations




ANDROID HACKERS HONE SKILLS IN RUSSIA
(Computer World, dated 17th May 2012 author Antone Gonsalves)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8008072/930454165/563841/0/

The malware business growing around Google Android -- now the leading smartphone operating system -- is still in its infancy. Today, many of the apps built to steal money from Android users originate from Russia and China, so criminal gangs there have become cyber-trailblazers.

Sophos and Symantec on Wednesday released their latest Android malware discoveries written in Russian. While the language narrows the number of potential victims, the social-engineering tactics used to get Android users to install the malware is universal. The gang tracked by Sophos is using fake antivirus scanners, while Symantec is tracking cybercriminals using mobile websites to offer bogus versions of popular games.




WIKIPEDIA WARNS USERS ABOUT MALWARE INJECTING ADS INTO ITS PAGES
(Computer World, dated 15th May 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/8004084/930454165/563542/0/

Visitors to Wikipedia who see advertisements on the site have most likely fallen victim to a browser-based malware infection, Wikimedia Foundation, the organization operating the website, said on Monday.

"We never run ads on Wikipedia," said Philippe Beaudette, director of community advocacy for the Wikimedia Foundation, in a blog post. "If you're seeing advertisements for a for-profit industry ... or anything but our fundraiser, then your web browser has likely been infected with malware."

One example of such malware is a rogue Google Chrome extension called "I want this," Beaudette said. However, similar malicious add-ons might also exist for Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and other browsers, he said.


 

AMNESTY INTERNATION UK WEBSITE COMPROMISED
(Computer World, dated 11th May 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7998956/930454165/563223/0/   [Note 1]

The U.K. website of Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog organization, was compromised by hackers, who used it to infect visitors with a remote access Trojan horse program known as Gh0st RAT, security firm Websense reported on Friday.

Websense's automated malware scanners detected the compromise on the Amnesty site on Tuesday and Wednesday, Websense security researcher Gianluca Giuliani. The attackers managed to inject malicious code that attempted to exploit a Java vulnerability known as CVE-2012-0507 into the site's homepage, he said.

The same vulnerability was exploited earlier this year to infect more than 600,000 Mac computers with the Flashback malware. It was patched in Java for Windows back in February and in Java for Mac in April.


 

ANDROID MALWARE USED TO MASK ONLINE FRAUD
(Computer World, dated 4th May 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7988903/930454165/562319/0/

Android malware being automatically distributed from hacked websites looks like it's being used to mask online purchases, and could be part of a fraud gang's new push into mobile, researchers said today.

"The malware essentially turns your Android phone into a tunnel that can bounce network traffic off your phone," said Kevin Mahaffrey, co-founder and CTO of Lookout Security, a San Francisco-based firm that focuses on Android.

Lookout first published information about the new malware, dubbed "NotCompatible," on Wednesday. Further analysis, however, has revealed the most likely reason why cyber criminals are spreading the malware.

Once installed, NotCompatible turns an infected Android device into a proxy, through which hackers can then direct data packets, in essence disguising the real source of that traffic by using the compromised devices as middlemen.

It's almost certain that the controllers of NotCompatible are using stolen credit cards to purchase products, said Mahaffrey: There's little reason to divert traffic through a proxy if the purchases are legitimate.


 

HACKERS BLACKMAIL BELGIAN BANK WITH THREATS TO PUBLISH CUSTOMER DATA
(Computer World, dated 3rd May 2012 author Loek Essers)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7984081/930454165/562027/0/


Hackers claimed to have breached the systems of the Belgian credit provider Elantis and threatened to publish confidential customer information if the bank does not pay $197,000 before Friday, they said in a statement posted to Pastebin. Elantis confirmed the data breach Thursday, but the bank said it will not give in to extortion threats.

The hackers claim to have captured login credentials and tables with online loan applications which hold data such as full names, job descriptions, contact information, ID card numbers and income figures. They demanded a payment of "the equivalent of roughly 150,000 euros," with which Elantis could prevent the publication of confidential customer information, they said in a Pastebin post published on Tuesday. According to the hackers the data was stored unprotected and unencrypted on the servers. To prove the hack, parts of what they claimed to be captured customer data were published.


 

MICROSOFT DETECTS NEW MALWARE TARGETING APPLE COMPUTERS
(Computer World, dated 2nd May 2012 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7982188/930454165/561839/0/

Microsoft has detected a new piece of malware targeting Apple OS X computers that exploits a vulnerability in the Office productivity suite patched nearly three years ago.

The malware is not widespread, wrote Jeong Wook Oh of Microsoft's Malware Protection Center. But it does show that hackers pay attention if it's found people do not apply patches as those fixes are released, putting their computers at a higher risk of becoming infected.

"Exploiting Mac OS X is not much different from other operating systems," Oh wrote. "Even though Mac OS X has introduced many mitigation technologies to reduce risk, your protection against security vulnerabilities has a direct correlation with updating installed applications."


 

FLASHBACK GANG COULD BE MAKING $10K A DAY OFF OF INFECTED MACS
(Computer World, dated 1st May 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7980090/930454165/561641/0/


The Flashback malware that's infected hundreds of thousands of Macs may be generating more than $10,000 a day for the hackers who made the Trojan horse, Symantec said Monday.

The malware steals clicks from ads that Google's search engine displays alongside search results.

In a blog entry posted today, Symantec published an analysis of Flashback's money-making capabilities, and concluded -- as others had earlier -- that the gang was turning a profit through click fraud.

Flashback.K surfaced in March and by early April had infected more than 600,000 Macs.

"Click fraud" describes campaigns where large numbers of people are silently redirected to online ads not normally served by the site the user is viewing. The criminals receive kickbacks from the sometimes-legitimate, sometimes-shady intermediaries for each ad clicked.

The clicks are "ghost clicks" in that they are not triggered by a human, but instead by the botnet.

(1st June 2012)


 

HOW TO MAKE COOKIES AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
(BBC News, dated 25th May 2012 author Jane Wakefield)
www.bbc.co.uk

The world of 1960s advertising as depicted by the brilliant Mad Men series looks pretty damn cool.

Who wouldn't want to hang out with Don Draper enjoying a morning whiskey while storyboarding ideas for the latest bra advert?

The world of advertising has changed a lot since then, and it is doubtful that Mr Draper would have found quite as much time for carousing in the modern world of digital advertising.

If the TV was the 1960s adman's new toy, these days it is the web. And the engine driving web ads are cookies, small data files that can make connections between a particular machine and websites visited.

Pop-ups
 
Cookies can be very useful - remembering details so that people don't have to register a shopping site for example - but they are also increasingly being used to track surfing and serve up ads based on sites people have visited.

Behavioural advertising, the latest buzz phrase, relies on cookies to enable companies to target advertising based on users' online activity.

To date, consumers have had little choice about the cookies that track them but new legislation from Europe, due to come into force on 26 May, is forcing websites to be more upfront about what data they store and what cookies do with it.

Under the EU's ePrivacy directive, sites must provide clear and comprehensive information about the use of cookies, telling people what cookies are there, explaining what they are doing and obtaining explicit consent to store them on their computers.

The UK's Information Commission Office recognised that websites needed time to get their heads around the changes and gave sites a year to comply.

Now the time is up and those that have done nothing face fines.

Increasingly sites will offer pop-up boxes attempting to explain what cookies are doing and offering consumers the chance to turn them off.

BT was early to comply to the directive and has been held up as a good example of how to do things.

Visitors to its site since March have been met with a pop-up box which fades subtly in and out of view. The box explains what cookies are, and how to get rid of them. The whole process takes less than 10 seconds.

Crucially though, it doesn't ask for explicit consent to use cookies, instead asking customers who don't want to be tracked to opt out. According to BT, few customers have switched their cookies off so far.

According to data processing firm QuBit, the cost to the UK economy of switching off cookies could be huge.

"Cookies have become an integral part of the online economy and so anything that discourages their use is going to negatively impact on this market," said chief executive Graham Cooke.

"What many of the analyses to date have ignored is the indirect impact on businesses that rely on cookies for their services to function, rather than just the direct cost of lost sales. Put together the potential cost of this directive is frankly scary."

According to QuBit, behavioural advertising can generate 2.7 times as much revenue per ad as untargeted advertising and, it argues, a reduction in cookie consent would damage this technology, potentially costing up to £648m per year in lost sales.

Hard sell
 
If there is one thing that the modern day Don Draper does well, it is to make a mundane product look extraordinary, but ad men are facing one of the hardest sells of their lives to persuade the public that cookies are a must-have addition to their lives.

"It is quite a big sell," admits Nick Stringer of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

"We haven't explained it well enough to the average consumer and people need to know the benefits of cookies in a simple practical way," he said.

Later this year, as the effects of the European directive kick in, the IAB plans a marketing campaign to do this.

"We will explain what targeted advertising is. If you don't like it, you can turn it off. You will still see advertising but it won't be personalised or relevant," he said.

Good websites and brands will work with customers, thinks Paul Doleman, chief executive of digital marketing firm iCrossing.

"The best brands will explain what they are doing and why they are collecting data," he said.

"Marketers gather information about people in order to create a better experience. Of course you are selling products, but that doesn't mean that you aren't trying to also trying to create a great experience for customers."

Access denied
 
His view reflects a change of heart for marketers.

The industry had been vocal in its view that the cookie law, as it has been dubbed, is not properly thought through and difficult to implement.

A recent survey from online analyst firm Econsultancy found that 82% of marketers thought the directive was "bad for the web".

Now they appear to embrace it. It could be a case of "if you can't beat them, join them".

"It is long overdue and is about putting the consumer at the centre of what we do. It is just another phase in the evolution of e-commerce," said Mr Doleman.

He even has a slogan: "The right content in the right form and the right place on your terms,".

But not everyone is convinced that all brands will be so keen to give power to the consumer.

Michael Forrester, a solicitor at Manchester-based law firm Kuits, predicts some will take a more aggressive approach.

"Some of these smaller websites are relying on advertising and may take the view that if you don't accept cookies, you won't get to access certain parts of the site," he said.

The evidence suggests marketers may face an uphill struggle in their campaign to persuade the public to like their cookies.

According to a survey of 2,000 consumers carried out by eDigital Research and IMRG last month, only 23% of consumers are happy for websites to use cookies to improve their browsing experience.

The survey suggests that there is a good deal of ignorance about what cookies are. A third of those questioned believed cookies could be used for viruses and Trojans, while 40% declared them "bad for the web".

Ultimately, the main message from the marketers and admen is that cookies are the price that people must pay if they want to carry on receiving free web content.

Whether it is a trade-off consumers are willing to make will become clear over the coming months as the cookie law kicks in.

(26th May 2012)


THE MARKETEERS COOKIES !

After trying to make this website legal for the 26th May 2012 with the help of my supplier I thought I would investigate what other organisations have done with much larger budgets than mine. This check was made on 25th May 2012.

The point of the EU ePrivacy Directive is to help reduce the amount of information that organisations can gather about an individual without their permission.

So during this little bit of research I checked out 120 websites, 53 of these attempted to download a number of third party cookies to my computer without my permission. These are the types of cookies that are not required for the efficient operation of the website.

Let me explain how these invade our privacy. Say for example there is a marketing company call "X". X has arranged website contracts with a Newspaper, a political party an insurance company, retail pharmacy and for some reason a refuge for women. Each time you visit their website it downloads as cookie to your computer, unless your firewall or browser prohibits it.

So what is the affect ? If a cookie is allowed to be downloaded someone now knows you read "The Times" (so what), you have visited the Labour party website (so what), you visited the webpage on the side affects of anti-depressants (well that is a bit sensitive), you visited a refuge website (could it be that you are being beaten by your Husband / partner....is that why you are on anti-depressants ?) oh, and an insurance company also know that you have been on their website. The only thing is, the marketing company also knows that YOU have been on ALL of those website, they may also have your IP address and may even have the MAC address of your individual computer. If you have completed a warranty registration for that computer (have you noticed that they are all administered by marketing companies ) they may even have your address !

How many marketing companies serviced these 53 websites (developed the cookie) ? = 116

So who attempted to download the most 3rd party cookies to my computer on the 25th May 2012 ?

Enfield Independent (local newspaper): 31
Virgin Media : 24
National Rail : 20
B&Q : 19
The Independent : 17
The Observer : 17
Carphone Warehouse : 16
Evening Standard : 15
Kaspersky (Computer Security ) : 13
The Guardian : 12
Daily Mail : 11
T-Mobile : 10


In a months time I will carry out the same excercise to see if any changes have occurred.

(26th May 2012)


 

NOISY NEIGHBOURS FACE £2,500 FINES AS POLICE GET NEW POWERS
(London Evening Standard, dated 22nd May 2012 author Martin Bentham)
www.thisislondon.co.uk   [Note 1]


Noisy neighbours will face police action and fines of up to £2,500 under government plans to tackle anti-social behaviour announced today.

The reforms, set out in Parliament by Home Secretary Theresa May, will give police new powers to compel people to turn down music or halt other activities - such as dumping rubbish in their gardens - which disturb other residents.

Anyone who fails to comply with the order, known as a "community protection notice", face a £100 on-the-spot fine. Troublemakers who continue with their behaviour will be committing a criminal offence and can be taken to court and fined up to £2,500.

Currently, council officials are left to deal with noisy neighbours, which means that many residents are unable to receive instant help, particularly late at night, and can suffer for months.

The powers, which Mrs May said would help to improve people's quality of life, are one of a number of key reforms to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Other measures include replacing the Asbo system with new "criminal behaviour orders". Already dubbed "crimbos", these will require troublemakers to stop their behaviour and bar them from going to particular places.

New "crime prevention injunctions", which ministers say could be issued within hours, will help councils and police take rapid action.

Police will be required to take action if one resident complains three times about anti-social behaviour under a new "community trigger". A police response will also be compulsory if five residents complain about the same problem.

Mrs May said that the changes would replace 19 existing powers with six simpler, less bureaucratic and more effective measures: "The Government will do its bit to help by?...?making things much more flexible, much easier, much quicker to put into place so the police and local authorities will have the tools that they need to respond."

Labour claimed that by scrapping Asbos and removing other powers the Government would make it harder to deal with "neighbours from hell".


 

We need new powers to tackle the yobs
(London Evening Standard, dated 22nd May 2012 author Editorial)
www.thisislondon.co.uk

The Government's move to reform measures tackling anti-social behaviour is welcome. Labour's introduction of anti-social behaviour orders and other civil measures revolutionised the approach. But the system became complicated and unwieldy. Today's criminal justice White Paper includes proposals to cut the number of different orders from 19 to six, and to introduce a "community trigger", whereby if at least five households complained about an anti-social behaviour problem, police would be obliged to take action. New powers for residents to deal with noisy neighbours, for example, are overdue.

But the White Paper highlights Coalition tensions. Most of these ideas were floated early last year but ran into Liberal-Democrat opposition, especially over proposals for greater use of custody for young offenders who break civil orders. Such disagreements have prevented these proposals from being included in this month's Queen's Speech. As a result this is less of a new departure than it might have been and more of a tidying-up exercise.

The real test will be in how local councils and police work together to use new measures, if they eventually become law. That has always been the biggest factor in determining the efficacy of anti-social behaviour powers. The other key test will be how quickly the new measures provide redress for those suffering the effects of such behaviour - often one of the failings of existing provisions. Councils and police that take a tough line can show results - and that is what the public overwhelmingly want.

(26th May 2012)


 

MET BOSSES FIRED FOR BAD CRIME RATES AFTER WIRE-STYLE GRILLINGS
(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd May 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk  [Note 1]

Top Scotland Yard officers have been axed over poor crime rates, the Evening Standard has learned.

The Met's Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe conducted a major shake-up after TV-style performance reviews exposed problems in several boroughs.

A total of 11 borough commanders were moved to different roles in the re-organisation with some being promoted but others are understood to have been victims of monthly grillings by senior officers at meetings similar to those in US crime drama The Wire.

Key boroughs including Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Westminster have seen changes in leadership, though police refuse to say which officers were sacked or promoted.

About six commanders are thought to have moved jobs following criticism in the meetings. The so-called Compstat sessions are modelled on US police tactics which challenge officers over rising crime rates.

The shake-up is part of Mr Hogan-Howe's "total policing" strategy and provoked some criticism at the Met.

At a meeting attended by the Standard, the 32 borough chiefs were told the "Crimefighters" meetings were not intended to be intimidating but they would be challenged on results.

Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne, who is in charge of territorial policing, told them: "We want engagement and we want discussion but we also want it to be challenging and testing."

Commanders in Bexley, Bromley and Westminster were asked why their burglary rates were higher than usual and what they were doing about it.

They were asked why they were bailing known burglary suspects and also if they knew repeat victims' identities and how they were protecting them.

Each borough now has a daily "score card" giving running totals on the number of robberies, burglaries and offences involving violence.

New borough commanders have been appointed in Barnet, Hackney, Hounslow, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, Barking & Dagenham, Merton, Bromley, Bexley and Westminster.

The Met is probing claims that its anti-corruption officers took bribes for leaking sensitive information from a criminal investigation.

Documents sent to the Yard and seen by the Standard suggest corrupt former Nigerian politician James Ibori - jailed for 13 years by Southwark crown court last month for embezzling almost £50?million - hired investigators to obtain information on a Yard investigation into his business affairs.

The papers allege that the London-based private detective agency RISC Management then paid officers £20,000 for inside information that helped Ibori's defence lawyers. RISC Management denied all the allegations

(26th May 2012)




LLOYDS BANKER ACCUSED OVER £2.5M FRAUD
(London Evening Standard, dated 25th May 2012 authors Martin Bentham and Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk  [Note 1]

 

A digital banking chief at Lloyds TSB was today charged with a £2.5?million fraud over allegations that she stole from her employers using false invoices.

Jessica Harper, 50, from Croydon, is accused of carrying out the scam while working as head of fraud and security for digital banking. She was arrested after detectives from the Met's economic and specialist crime unit received a tip-off.

Prosecutors who announced the charge today claimed that Ms Harper had abused her position and acted dishonestly to profit at the bank's expense. She will appear in court next week.

Andrew Penhale, of the Crown Prosecution Service's Central Fraud Group, said the charge related to actions between September 2008 and December last year, involving submitting false invoices to claim payments.

Harper was arrested at her south London home by Met detectives just before Christmas. On her Linkedin site address she describes herself as head of online technology at Lloyds TSB bank.

She lists her specialist interests as being responsible for new online technology development, delivery, text and email, security, fraud and internet operations.

Harper appears to have worked at Lloyds since 2000. One former colleague posted a recommendation in 2007 saying: "Jessica is a very knowledgeable and experienced online technology professional. Jessica is surely one of the most connected persons in the bank?...?Jessica demonstrates key negotiation and leadership skills with her colleagues and all the key solution providers she is dealing with."

Mr Penhale said that Ms Harper would appear before Westminster magistrates next Thursday. He added: "Jessica Harper now stands charged with a criminal offence and has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice this trial."

No customers' money or accounts are believed to have been affected by the alleged fraud.

(26th May 2012)


 

THREE IN COURT AFTER £4M OF FAKE POUND COINS SEIZED
(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd May 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk   [Note 1]

Scotland Yard is warning people to watch out for fake £1 coins in their change after smashing a counterfeiting ring.
Police seized more than £4 million of the coins from three properties in Enfield, Essex and Hertfordshire and two vehicles in Essex this week. It is thought to be the biggest haul of its kind.
However, officers believe that a significant number of fake coins have passed into circulation.
An estimated £4 million of blank coins were found in a 40ft freight container but a further £107,000 had been stamped and were ready for use. The three properties where the coins were seized are believed to be storage locations.
 
Officers have yet to identify where the coins were pressed.
 
Three men, aged 52, 43 and 27, were due to appear in court today charged with money laundering and counterfeiting.

There are about 1.5 billion pound coins in circulation and as many as three per cent are said to be fake.

(26th May 2012)


 

NATIONAL POLICE AIR SERVICE : NINE HELICOPTERS LESS
(Police Oracle, dated 23rd May 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com   [Note 1]

The new National Police Air Service (NPAS) is on schedule and will deliver better air coverage despite having almost 10 fewer helicopters than forces previously had altogether.

That is the view of ACPO lead for Air Support Chief Constable Alex Marshall (pictured) who said the NPAS would also cost 20 per cent less than the cost of total current regional provision.

He said although the total number of helicopters was being reduced from 33 to 24, they would be better and more sensibly positioned throughout the country to ensure adequate coverage of the skies. This will ensure the less than 20-minute response of aircraft is protected, he told PoliceOracle.com at the ACPO Summer Conference in Manchester.

He said: "I'm convinced it is doable - it will be a strong operational service and cost less for the tax payer."

The 24 helicopters also have three waiting in reserve, taking the total number of NPAS aircraft to 27. However, it will begin with 30.

The NPAS will be introduced transitionally from October this year CC Marshall said, and will be complete by 2014 with the Met set to become the final force to have its air service amalgamated.

A Section 22 collaboration document, which has just finished its consultation period, is now being considered with views being responded to. A final version of the document will then be produced for all police forces and police authorities to sign.

CC Marshall believes the document, which will seal the nationwide collaboration, will go out in June and be complete in around two months.

It has also been agreed that West Yorkshire Police will officially host the NPAS, as an owner is required for legal reasons. Previously the plan was to make the National Police Improvement Agency the owner.

The Met is being phased in at the last minute due to scheduled large operations, such as the Olympic Games. All other forces have agreed to be a part of the collaboration, CC Marshall said.

CC Marshall said: "Forces will be sent the nearest available helicopter.

"This is the first national operational service - it may be there are other specialist functions that could cooperate in this way - such as a national marine unit."

Initial problems with South Yorkshire Police have since been resolved after it was allowed to keep its own helicopter to ensure better coverage when the NPAS comes into being.

(25th May 2012)


 

£2 FORGERIES - "A FIRST" SAY POLICE
(Police Oracle, dated 22nd May 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com   [Note 1]

Police believe they have exposed a rare forgery operation in the capital - involving thousands of fake £2 coins.

City of London Police said the "very well organised operation" was exposed in Canning Town following a raid on a large industrial unit where alleged forgery equipment was discovered.

Senior officers said the equipment was capable of making "thousands" of forged £2 coins a day.

Det Ch Insp Dave Evans of the Central Detective Unit said: "It is the first time to our knowledge (that £2 forgeries have been found). "£1 coins are far more commonly counterfeited. "They can be physically made very, very quickly - you can make one in the time it takes to melt down the metal and put into the mould. The actual process is very quick."

Reports suggest that a smelting machine, used to melt down metal, and a spinning mould were found.

Ten officers were involved in the raid, with eight PCs and two sergeants forming the team.

In doing so, police believe they have stopped thousands of forgeries entering the economy just months before the Olympic Games.

Det Ch Insp Evans said: "The major thing is that the public expect to have confidence for the currency in their pocket.

"The more that comes into circulation, the more confidence is undermined."

He added that he did not believe the operation was linked to other alleged financial activities in London at the moment.

Three men who were arrested following the raid have since been released on bail.

(25th May 2012)


 

FRAUD WARNING : NEW CARD SCAM NETS £1M IN FOUR MONTHS
(The Telegraph, dated 23rd May 2012 author Rosie Murray-West )
www.telegraph.co.uk   [Note 1]

Bank customers are falling victim to a new and sophisticated type of credit card fraud which has increased threefold since the beginning of the year.

Victims are telephoned by fraudsters and duped into revealing their PIN and then handing over their bank card to a courier in this new form of crime, which has seen more than £750,000 taken from customers since the beginning of the year.

The scam involves a person being called by someone claiming to be from their bank. They are told that their debit or credit card needs collecting as it needs replacing following fraud on their account.

The caller often suggests that the person hangs up and calls the bank back if they want to ensure the call is genuine, but stays on the line, tricking the person into thinking they're calling their bank. The criminal will then ask the person to key in their PIN number, before sending a courier to collect the card. The victim is told the card is going to the bank to be changed but it is actually delivered to the fraudster to use along with the PIN obtained during the scam.

DCI Paul Bernard, head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, said: "Many of us feel confident that we can spot fraudsters but this type of crime can be sophisticated and could happen to anyone. While we have seen an increase in this type of fraud, we know collectively we can stamp it out. "If you become a victim of this type of crime, you should contact your bank in the first instance. If you have friends or relatives who you feel may be vulnerable to this, please help them to be more aware of the potential risks and what to look out for. Remember, if you are the innocent victim of card fraud you will not suffer any financial loss."
More than £1.5m has now been lost to this crime, with the same amount £750,000 stolen in the first four months of 2012 that was stolen during the whole of 2011.

The Payments Council found in a survey of account holders that more than three quarters feel confident that they would be able to spot a fraudulent telephone banking call. However, after hearing how the card fraud phone scam works, over half of the 4,000 people surveyed were surprised by how sophisticated it was, one third worried they were more vulnerable than they thought and four fifths felt that anyone could be a potential victim of the fraud.

Mr Bernard said that customers should follow some simple tips to avoid being a victim. These include making sure you can hear the dial tone when you call your bank, and never handing over your card. Your bank or the police will never ring you and tell you that they are coming to your home to pick up your card, so never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it.

He added that your bank will never ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into the telephone. The only times that you should enter your PIN are at a cash machine or when you use a shop's chip and PIN machine.

(25th May 2012)


 

NEW STALKING OFFENCES: DETAILS REVEALED
(Police Oracle, dated 21st May 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com    [Note 1]

The new stalking law, which is set to be enacted this autumn, will help police "nip in the bud" disturbing behaviour before it can escalate.

Det Ch Insp Linda Dawson, of the Home Office's National Stalking Strategy Group, said the new law was more specific to what constituted stalking and would provide "a starting point" for the identification of the offence.

However the Hampshire officer said she was disappointed police had only managed to secure searching through obtaining a JP search warrant instead of the preferred option - a section 18 PACE search.

The new Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 received the Royal Assent on May 1 but will not come into being until the autumn.

The section 2a and 4a offences are an amplification of the same offences listed in the current Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which will still be retained in law.

Section 4a, which deals with stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress, would help stop disturbing behaviour escalating to something more serious, Det Ch Insp Dawson said.

She said: "The Protection From Harassment Act has become diluted and used for low level harassment such as neighbour disputes or antisocial behaviour so this is going to define stalking and do what it says on the tin.

"The section 4 in particular had become diluted. We can nip those behaviours in the bud rather than allowing them to escalate."

A section 4a indictable offence can carry up to five years imprisonment while a summary offence can carry up to 12 months. Fines can also be given. A section 2a summary offence can carry up to 51 weeks imprisonment with a fine also a possibility.

The offences in detail are as follows:

S2a - pursue a course of conduct in breach of section 1 and the course of conduct amounts to stalking

Examples of acts or omissions associated with stalking:

A following a person

B contacting, or attempting to contact a person by any means

C publishing any statement or other material -

    Relating or claiming to relate to a person, or
    Claiming to originate from a person

D monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication

E loitering in any place (public or private)

F interfering with any property in the possession of a person

G watching or spying on a person

S4a - stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress

Person whose course of conduct :

- Amounts to stalking and either

- Causes another person to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against him/her or

- Causes another person serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on his/her usual day-to-day activities

If not guilty of a section 4a a jury may find the offender(s) guilty of a section 2 or 2a.

(25th May 2012)


 

WHATS NEW IN COMPUTER SECURITY - APRIL 2012

All the links within this article are [Note 1].


 

UK hacker accessed accounts for 20 months before bust
(Computer World, dated 5th APril 2012 author Taylor Armerding)

Full article :  http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7944061/930454165/558586/0/

The reassuring news in the UK this past week was that Edward Pearson, a 23-year-old hacker from York, was jailed for 26 months after stealing the personal information of bank card, credit card and PayPal customers. Also a relief to those customers was that Pearson was caught after making only $3,800 in fraudulent transactions.

Much less reassuring was that Pearson had spent 20 months hacking into those accounts -- Jan. 1, 2010 to Aug. 30, 2011 -- and was able to use Trojans such as Zeus and Spyeye to collect personal details on about 8 million people. Authorities said he could easily have stolen about $1.3 millio


 

Most of the Internet's top 200,000 HTTPS websites are insecure
(Computer World, dated 26th April 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7975469/930454165/561336/0/

Ninety percent of the Internet's top 200,000 HTTPS-enabled websites are vulnerable to known types of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) attack, according to a report released Thursday by the Trustworthy Internet Movement (TIM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving Internet security, privacy and reliability problems.

The report is based on data from a new TIM project called SSL Pulse, which uses automated scanning technology developed by security vendor Qualys, to analyze the strength of HTTPS implementations on websites listed in the top 1 million published by Web analytics firm Alexa.


 

India overtakes U.S. as top email spam source
(Computer World, dated 24th April 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7971553/930454165/560903/0/

The volume of email spam that originated from India during the first three months of 2012 exceeded the volume coming from the U.S. and transformed the Asian country into the world's top spam source, security firm Sophos said on Monday.

India was responsible for 9.3% of global email spam traffic seen from January to March, according to Sophos' latest Dirty Dozen report, which lists the top 12 countries from which most spam originates.

The U.S., which has been the traditional leader of the list, came in second place after India during the first quarter of 2012, with 8.3 percentage points. It was followed by South Korea with 5.7.


 

E.U. must invest in security technologies, says official
(Computer World, dated 24th April 2012 author Mikael Ricknass)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7971553/930454165/560902/0/

Digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes wants the E.U. to invest in security technologies, and also called for more transparency in the security product market during a speech at the Infosecurity Europe conference in London on Tuesday.

The E.U. is preparing to step up its battle against hackers, but to improve security measures Europe needs a more vibrant internal market, according to Kroes.

"I want to invest in innovation for security technologies, including through the E.U. budget," said Kroes, without going into detail.

To keep hackers at bay there is also a need to make it easier for normal users to protect themselves.

There would be more demand for better security products if end users were better aware of what's on offer, she said.


 

Russian cybercriminals earned $4.5 billion in 2011
(Computer World, dated 24th April 2012 author Loek Essers)

Full article :  http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7970306/930454165/560763/0/

Russian-speaking hackers earned an estimated $4.5 billion globally using various online criminal tactics and are thus responsible for 36% of the estimated total of $12.5 billion earned globally by cybercriminals in 2011,

Russian security analyst firm Group-IB said in a report published on Tuesday.

In the report, Group-IB differentiates between cybercriminals living in Russia and Russian-speaking cybercriminals, who include citizens of the countries of the former Soviet Union and other countries. In the 28-page report the researchers estimate that the total share of the Russian cybercrime market alone doubled to $2.3 billion, while the whole Russian-speaking segment of the global cybercrime market also almost doubled, to $4.5 billion. The researchers noted that the Russian-speaking segment of the global cybercrime market traditionally encompasses twice the amount of the Russian segment.


 

Weak passwords still the downfall of enterprise security
(Computer World, dated 12th April 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7955058/930454165/559532/0/

A recent data breach that exposed the Social Security numbers of more than 255,000 people in Utah has once again highlighted the longstanding but often underestimated risks posed to organizations by weak and default passwords.

The breach, involving a Medicaid server at the Utah Department of Health, resulted from a configuration error at the authentication layer of the server hosting the compromised data, according to state IT officials.

Many security analysts see that as a somewhat euphemistic admission by the state that the breached server was using a default administrative password or an easily guessable one.

In March, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Energy released the results of an information security audit at the Bonneville Power Administration, which provides about 30% of wholesale power to regional utilities in the Pacific Northwest. According to the audit, vulnerability scans of nine applications used to support key financial, HR and security management functions at Bonneville identified 11 servers that had been configured with easily guessable passwords.


 

How to Tell If an Email Is a Phishing Scam
(Computer World, dated 10th April 2012 author Meridith Levinson )

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7950614/930454165/559082/0/

Email phishing scams have grown more sophisticated since they first began popping up in corporate inboxes in the 1990s. Early phishing emails were relatively easy to detect as they were characterized by poor grammar and spelling. No legitimate business would send an email to customers chockfull of typos.

As email users grew wary of phishing attempts, cybercriminals have had to change their tactics and their lures.

Today, phishers are churning out much more convincing and effective emails. Not only are the most persuasive specimens well-written, they are also often personalized, addressing the recipient by name. In addition, they replicate the look and feel of authentic emails from legitimate businesses down to the fonts, footers, logos and copyright statements those companies use in electronic correspondence with their customers.


 

Utah breach 10X worse than originally thought
(Computer World, dated 9th April 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)
[uaware addition : Title translation : " Utah health service records hacked" ]

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7949379/930454165/558956/0/
Associated article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7949379/930454165/558959/0/

The scope of a data breach involving a Medicaid server at the Utah Department of Health is much worse than originally thought. State officials now say that close to 280,000 Social Security Numbers may have been exposed in the incident instead of 25,000, as originally believed.

Less sensitive personal data such as names, birth dates and addresses of another 500,000 people may have also been compromised in the breach, state officials said today.

Today's announcement marks the second time in three days that Utah state officials have upped their estimates of a March 30 intrusion into a server containing Medicaid claims data on Utah residents.


 

Basic defenses were absent at most breached sites, Verizon finds
(Computer World, dated 9th April 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7947483/930454165/558786/0/

Despite rising concerns that cyberattacks are growing more and more sophisticated, hackers used relatively simple methods for 97% of data breaches in 2011, according to a report compiled by Verizon.

The findings suggest that organizations are overlooking basic precautions even as they buy new security systems.

Verizon also found that in 80% of attacks, hackers hit so-called victims of opportunity -- poorly defended sites that happen to catch their eye -- rather than targeting specific companies.

Based on investigations into over 850 data breaches, the report was compiled with help from the U.S. Secret

Service and with input from law enforcement agencies in the U.K., the Netherlands, Ireland and Australia, according to Verizon.


 

UK hacker accessed accounts for 20 months before bust
(Computer World, dated 5th APril 2012 author Taylor Armerding)

Full article :  http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7944061/930454165/558586/0/

The reassuring news in the UK this past week was that Edward Pearson, a 23-year-old hacker from York, was jailed for 26 months after stealing the personal information of bank card, credit card and PayPal customers. Also a relief to those customers was that Pearson was caught after making only $3,800 in fraudulent transactions.

Much less reassuring was that Pearson had spent 20 months hacking into those accounts -- Jan. 1, 2010 to Aug. 30, 2011 -- and was able to use Trojans such as Zeus and Spyeye to collect personal details on about 8 million people. Authorities said he could easily have stolen about $1.3 millio


 

Global Payments says 1.5M cards affected in data theft
(Computer World, dated 2nd April 2012 author John Ribeiro)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7936530/930454165/557947/0/
Follow up article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7938375/930454165/558077/0/

uaware note : It appears that this was only affecting the USA.

Payments processing services company Global Payments said late Sunday that information on as many as 1.5 million card numbers may have been "exported" as a result of an unauthorized access into its processing system.

Visa and MasterCard are alerting banks across the country about a recent major breach that could involve more than 10 million compromised card numbers, security news writer Brian Krebs wrote on his blog Friday.

Krebs did not name the payment processor. However later on Friday, Global Payments said the company determined in early March that card data may have been accessed.

The Atlanta company said Sunday it believes that the affected portion of its processing system is confined to North America, and that Track 2 card data may have been stolen. The American Bankers Association developed the format for track 2 data on a magnetic card, which usually contains account number, expiry date of card, and sometimes discretionary data.

(25th May 2012)


 

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS URGED TO JOIN FRAUD BUSTING SCHEME
(The Guardian, dated 16th May 2012 author Juliette Jowit)
www.guardian.co.uk   [Note 1]

Government departments have been criticised for not joining a fraud-busting initiative despite ministers promising to crack down on illegal benefit claims and other wastes of public money.

The Audit Commission, an independent watchdog on public spending, says on Wednesday that the National Fraud Initiative has saved nearly £1bn of taxpayers' money since it was introduced 16 years ago, and more than a quarter of that in the last two years alone.

But despite being used by 1,300 public bodies including police forces, the NHS and local councils, only two central government departments - the Highways Agency and the Department for Communities and Local Government - have yet adopted the system, which constantly compares data from 8,000 data sets, each comprising details of sometimes millions of people, and flags up anomalies for investigation.

Michael O'Higgins, chairman of the Audit Commission, has now written to the head of the civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake, urging him to make participation in the NFI compulsory for government departments after previous requests had failed. O'Higgins said he had had requests for more information and meetings, but no firm commitment from any other ministers so far. "I think it's inertia rather than anything else [that is to blame]," said O'Higgins. "This is in line with the thing minsters are concerned about, and I expect there's more official level resistance - or resistance might be too strong for it: it's easier to not decide to do something than decide to do it."

Some government departments do share information, for example about housing benefit claims, but this did not allow the fraud system to investigate and detect fraud by employees. "Unless we believe there's no fraud being committed by anybody in centrral government - that might be a reason not to participate, but it's hard to think that might be the case," added O'Higgins.

The NFI identified savings of £275m across the UK in the previous two years, but the Audit Commission said it could not say whether the increase in the rate of detection was due to higher fraud levels or better detection.

In the last two years, the highest amount saved was in pensions, usually by avoiding them being paid to people who had died, saving taxpayers £98m, followed by £50m which would have been paid to people wrongly claiming council tax discounts for living alone, and £31m in housing benefit fraud and wrong payments.

Other findings included 164 workers identified by the NFI as having no permission to work in the UK and 321 false applications for social housing. More than 31,000 blue badges for disabled drivers were removed. In total, 731 people were prosecuted, 636 of them for benefit fraud.

4.6m data matches have been identified as needing further investigation, of which about one fifth were considered a priority, though many could have turned out to be legitimate claims and payments.

O'Higgins said that one striking case spotted with the help of the fraud detection software was a nurse working for two hospitals by taking regular sick leave from one or the other.

The Cabinet Office said: "Within just a few months of coming into office, ministers set up the first ever cross-government taskforce to tackle fraud - from its pilots alone this new team has already helped save £72 million for taxpayers.

"Because fraudsters do not work in silos, we recently unveiled our plan to create a new counter-fraud checking service - a groundbreaking partnership between the public and private sectors to improve fraud prevention and make checks quicker. The new service will allow us to adopt a "check first, pay after" approach.

"As part of our new approach we are working with the National Fraud Initiative and building on their current model."

(18th May 2012)



THE VICTIMS OF SEX GANGS ARE NEVER HEARD
(The Guardian, dated 9th May 2012 author Julie Bindel)
www.guardian.co.uk   [Note 1]

 

Much of the media coverage and discussion of the trial of nine men convicted of sexually abusing five teenage girls is focused on ethnicity. That eight of the perpetrators are Asian appears to be more relevant than the reasons why the rape of young, vulnerable girls is so widespread and the crime so difficult to prosecute.

I have written about organised criminal gangs grooming young girls for sex on a few occasions during the past five years, such as the disappearance of Charlene Downes, who was 14 when she went missing in 2003 and has never been found. What was discovered during the police investigation, however, was endemic child sexual abuse and prostitution in her home town of Blackpool. Dozens of girls were being bought and sold for a bag of chips, cigarettes and vodka by sexual predators of all ages, cultures and ethnicities.

It is my firm belief, based on interviews with a number of victims, family members, campaigners and professionals such as police and social workers, that where the gangs are of Asian origin there has been a tendency in some areas of England to ignore the issue for fear of being branded racist. I have also been clear that ethnicity of perpetrators is indeed relevant, in that folk seem to be more interested and appalled by criminal gangs raping girls when the gang is Asian. Contrary to what the British National party would have us believe, this is not an epidemic of Pakistani child abusers abusing white girls - it is more that we as a society ignore the voices of those who know best about child abuse: the victims and their advocates.

The uncomfortable truth is that there is complacency about organised sexual exploitation, which leads to few convictions regardless of the ethnicity of the perpetrators. We choose instead to blame the victims. Why otherwise would girls who are raped and sexually exploited be so routinely disbelieved? Why are we not hearing more outrage about the fact that the victim who came forward in this case four years ago was deemed not to be a credible witness by the Crown Prosecution Service? Had she been taken seriously this gang could have been detected and scores of other victims could have been spared. We kid ourselves if we think the CPS would have pushed ahead if her rapists had been white.

Despite the traumatic effects of child sexual grooming on both the victims and their families we are still not convicting many of those responsible. What we know from those victims who have dared come forward is this: the process by which offenders select and manipulate victims is organised and complex. First there is the gaining of trust. Next, desensitisation (the normalisation of abusive acts to the point where the victim comes to believe she deserves it); isolation (from friends, family members and school); and sexualisation (so that the girls "act out" their abuse in a way that results in them being seen as "asking for it" rather than abused). A deadly combination of threats and bribes secures victims' compliance.

But there is much we do not know, which is why so many of these gangs escape detection. There is also a distinct lack of knowledge about how best to protect victims, and secure convictions when they do come forward. We choose to "know" about the ethnicity of the perpetrators, when what we need to discover is how such gangs operate, where they prostitute the girls, and what happens to the money they make from this vile operation. Let us listen to the experts within the criminal justice and child protection system - and, more important, the girls and their families about how we can carry out proper prevention and risk assessment.

The truth is that the victims of the most horrendous abuse are being let down - viewed as troublemaking slags, in fact - which is why opportunist grooming gangs can get away with it so often.

Greater Manchester police apologised to the victims of the recent case, saying that now that they know more about this type of crime they would conduct future investigations differently. And yet those of us who are involved in the attempt to combat child sexual exploitation have known about these men and the way they operate for decades. The victims have told us. Why have they been sidelined once again in favour of a good old ruck about race?

(18th May 2012)



WHY DON'T WE START PRIVATISING THE POLICE
(London Evening Standard, dated 17th May 2012 author Tim Evans)
www.thisislondon.co.uk   [Note 1]
  

So Home Secretary Theresa May is "destroying" the police - at least that's what the Police Federation claimed yesterday. But the real problem is not that May's reforms to pay and working conditions are too radical, it's that they are nowhere near radical enough.

Officially, London is policed by four tax-funded forces - the Metropolitan Police, the City of London Police, the British Transport Police and to a much lesser extent the Ministry of Defence Police. In reality, though, British law and order also now depends on more than half a million people employed in private security roles, an industry estimated to contribute more than £6 billion a year to the economy.

Private security companies nowadays encompass a huge array of specialities, ranging from traditional uniformed security officers to highly skilled technicians installing security systems. The sector includes biometrics technicians, CCTV operators, close protection officers, community wardens, contract bailiffs and security dog handlers.

Private security has become an integral part of law enforcement - and that is true above all in London. In recognition of this, the Home Secretary and the Met Commissioner should be setting out a much more proactive, open, consumer-focused vision for the future.

For a start, borough commanders should contract with private providers for a wide range of services including beat and traffic patrols.

It is vital that the kind of high-quality law enforcement services available in Belgravia and Chelsea are also there for those at the opposite end of the social spectrum. That is why in high-crime areas where the police are deemed to be failing residents, local authorities and housing associations should be free to provide private security support. And as a result, they should be able to withhold local tax transfers to the police.

Similarly, all private railway companies, Network Rail and London Underground should use private security services, in line with other privatised public spaces such as major shopping malls. The British Transport Police should no longer have a role.

Parks and open spaces in London's boroughs would benefit from improved front-line private security. Valuable police resources should not be expended on patrols in these areas but instead only deployed when required. The provision of all police community support officers should also be contracted out - as happens with other vital services such as refuse collection - and residents and shopkeepers should have the right to form locally licensed patrols.

Finally, the Mayor should commission an independent inquiry into the ways the insurance industry could enhance the capital's law enforcement. For example, how might residents' associations access private law enforcement services from innovative insurers and entrepreneurs, so that they become customers with real clout?

In an era of spending squeezes, such measures would free up more expensive police resources to concentrate on the core problems of genuine crime and disorder. And the police must face up to this truth: only a radical expansion of private and voluntary sector involvement can give London the law enforcement it needs.

Tim Evans is a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute.


Further Information (uaware additions)

Comment : One of the major things that you need to consider when you read these articles is; "who is their sponsor and who has been there sponsor in the past". In the good old days and I am probably going back to Victorian times here, Institutes were normally of a philanthropic nature (eg The City and Guild Institute ), they helped society in some way. It appears now that they are associated with other words such as think tank and lobbyists. Whether the Adam Smith Institute comes under this other definition I do not know.

As for their funding; they mention "to keep impartial" they are not funded by Government. Does that mean they could possibly be funded by security companies or Stakeholders of such companies as far as this issue is concerned. You need to consider who would benefit from the implementation of these ideas.

The words used in the article seem akin to ones used in previously published articles about Police cuts this year where I have described them as being someones dissertation for their Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

The Adam Smith Institute (In their own words)

Website : www.adamsmith.org [Note 1]

History and Mission (In their own words)

The Adam Smith Institute was founded in the 1970s, as post-war socialism reached its high-watermark. Then, as now, its purpose was to educate the public about free markets and economic policy, and to inject sound ideas into the public debate. It has always been a practical think-tank rather than an academic organization, and despite its strict political independence, it has endeavored to work with policymakers to deliver real change, and to make free market ideas reality. In its early days, the Institute was known for its pioneering work on privatization, deregulation, and tax reform, and for its advocacy of internal markets in healthcare and education.

How are they funded (In their own words)

To protect our independence, the Adam Smith Institute accepts no government funding. Most of our funding comes from private individuals who believe in liberty and want to see a freer world; the rest comes from various foundations, businesses and the sales of our books.


Past thoughts: An Arresting Idea (a summary from their website)

Reports Written by Tim Evans (author or recent article), Nicholas Elliott & Simon McIlwaine
Dated : 26th November 1991

For full report : www.adamsmith.org/research/reports/an-arresting-idea   [Note 1]

At the centre of the problem for the Police Service is the fact that while the crime rate appears to rise inexorably, local authorities and central government have to operate within an economic framework of financial restraint. Resource allocation to the police therefore not only implies difficult decisions, but is further complicated because the business of evaluating the success of the police is an imprecise and highly subjective matter.
The Police Service with its monopolistic, un-competitive structure, operates all too easily in an environment where there is little or no yardstick for comparison against alternatives. This report looks at the different ways that crime is combatted. It also argues that a return to local policing is the way forward to fight the rising levels of crime with the major restructuring of the police serivce giving rise to greater service evaluation, improved efficiency and a more flexible response to the increasing market demand for choice.

(18th May 2012)



NEW HUB LETS POLICE MONITOR CCTV WITHIN SECONDS OF A CRIME
(London Evening Standard, dated 17th May 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk    [Note 1]

Police could track crimes as they happen with a giant new CCTV network unveiled today.

The system will be in place for the Olympics and gives detectives access to 33,000 cameras on train and Tube stations across London and the country.

Footage will be streamed into a new hi-tech hub manned by experts trained to spot suspicious behaviour.

The £14?million hub, opened today by Transport Secretary Justine Greening in a police station at Victoria, will allow officers to track suspects and re-trace their movements within minutes of crimes being committed.

In the past police have had to seize CCTV film from cameras and then watch the footage. After the 7/7 London bombings police spent days watching 60,000 hours of CCTV to trace the bombers' routes.

British Transport Police deputy chief constable Paul Crowther said: "That could now be done instantly. Operators are monitoring calls and can focus on a crime scene within seconds."

BTP today announced that crime levels nationally had fallen for the eighth year in a row.Crime on the London Underground was down 10 per cent.



RAIL CRIME IS DOWN BY A THIRD, THOUGH SEX CRIME UP
(Metro, dated 18th May 2012 author Aidan Radnedge)
www.metro.co.uk [Note 1]

 

Crime on the railway network has fallen by more than 30% in the past 5 years.

Vandalism has dropped almost 22% in a year while the number of reported robberies fell 9%.

However, sexual offences were up 6.5% and vehicle crime rose by 8%, according to statistics from the British Transport Police (BTP).

The figures come as a CCTV hub prepares to open in London, providing access to 33,000 cameras covering the networks of 16 rail operators.

In what the BTP called "a successful year", the number of offences dropped for the eigth year in a row. They reported that, in all, crime fell 9.1% in the past 12 months.

Violent crime dropped by 2.9%, according to the statistics, while the theft of passengers' property was also down 10.4%. The theft of railway property fell 12.8%.

Chief constable Andy Troter said :" This sustained downward trend in crime is a tribute to the partnerships we have with rail operators who continue to invest in the security of customers and staff. It also reflects the hard work of BTP staff at a time when we demand more as budgets decine".

And Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operatoring Companies, said : "Its good news that the crime rate on Britain's railways continues to get ever lower. "But train companies are not complacent and will continue to work with the BTP and other industry organisations to ensure our railways remain as safe as they can be."

(19th May 2012)


ROAD DEATHS, POLICE ADVISE RETURNING SOLDIERS
(Police Oracle, dated 8th May 2012)
http://www.policeoracle.com  [Note 1]

Roads policing officers have been teaming up with counterparts in the MoD to help soldiers who have recently returned from ops stay safe behind the wheel.

The move comes in the wake of statistics showing that troops are more vulnerable to collisions when they return from theatres such as Afghanistan.

The grim figures show that UK road deaths among military personnel are on the increase again, with 28 killed off duty, and nine on duty, during 2010.

This compared with some 27 off-duty and one on-duty death the previous year. The statistics hit a recent spike in 2007, when 37 died off duty and 14 on duty.

It is believed that up to six months of driving in unusual conditions, on the wrong side of the road or commanding slower military vehicles may be among the reasons why.

The post operational RTC fatalities have included LCpl Paul Knight (20) of 4th Battalion The Rifles, who died with 22-year-old Nathan Long in an RTC five years ago near Bulford Camp in Wiltshire - just hours after returning from Iraq.

In a move to help soldiers stay safe on their post operational leave Northern Constabulary - which covers the Fort George area where the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (The Black Watch) is based - has been forging strong relationships with troops who have just returned from Afghanistan.

Officers recently joined forces with MoD Police colleagues for a presentation on safer driving with the message - "You are tough, but not invincible".

Capt Alec Rose, second-in-command of the battalion rear party, told reporters: "Before they head off on post operational leave I felt it beneficial to give soldiers a reminder of the dangers of driving on the UK road network.

"It would be incomprehensible for a soldier to have survived his tour in Afghanistan only to succumb to a road traffic collision - the event gives everyone a timely reminder of the need to drive both safely and considerately."

Insp Derek Paterson, Head of Roads Policing at Northern Constabulary said: "We welcome the support of the Army and it is pleasing to see it providing troops with road safety information, including the risks of speeding and drink-driving."

Alan Jones, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales's Roads Policing Group, said officers could play a role in helping to keep troops safe.

Praising the Northern Constabulary initiative he added: "At the end of the day, if we can assist with road safety in any way then that has to be a good thing.

"It is entirely understandable that soldiers who have been away for some time will have been under considerable strain - they may wish to look at their driving habits again."

(17th May 2012)


 

COOKIES : MAJORITY OF GOVERNMENT SITES TO MISS DEADLINE
(BBC News, dated 17th May author Dave Lee)
www.bbc.co.uk

Ahead of a nationwide deadline over regulating the use of cookies, the BBC has learned that the "majority" of the UK government's own websites will fail to comply in time.

All UK sites have been given until 26 May to make sure visitors are able to give "informed consent" over cookies. Cookies are pieces of personal data stored when users browse the web. The Cabinet Office said the government was "working to achieve compliance at the earliest possible date".

Once the new rules take force, consent will most likely be obtained by ticking a "yes" box when visiting a site - although other approaches have been suggested. The regulations are designed to protect user privacy when using the web.

"As in the private sector, where it is estimated that very few websites will be compliant by the 26th May, so it is true of the government estate," a Cabinet Office spokesman told the BBC.

"The majority of department websites will not be compliant with the legislation by that date."

Showing 'commitment'
 
The BBC understands that the sites, which range from those run by local councils to national departments, have been told that no action will be taken by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) over the deadline miss - provided they were "showing a commitment" to eventually make changes.

"The impression I'm getting from the ICO is that even if there are complaints and you're found not to be compliant, unless it can be shown your intent was to avoid compliance, then they would work with you," said Mike MacAuley from the Local Government Association, which has hosted discussions on the issue.

The ICO did not want to comment on the issue when contacted by the BBC.

On 26 May the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) imposes an EU directive designed to protect internet users' privacy.

The law says that sites must provide "clear and comprehensive" information about the use of cookies.

In computing, cookies are small text files that help organise and store browsing information. However, cookies are increasingly being used to power targeted advertising, by gathering data about sites visited and search terms used.

It is these "tracking" cookies, which users do not often know about, which the EU hopes to clamp down on with the regulations.

The deadline had originally been set for May last year. However, the ICO - which will be enforcing the rules in the UK - decided to give firms an extra year to comply with the laws in order to avoid an "overnight" change.

At the time, communications minister Ed Vaizey said: "It will take some time for workable technical solutions to be developed, evaluated and rolled out so we have decided that a phased in approach is right."

'No problem'
 
While government websites do not carry advertising, cookies are still used to carry out various tasks, such as helping site administrators monitor levels of traffic.

"If people listen to our advice and are prepared to take steps towards compliance there shouldn't be a problem," Dave Evans, the ICO's group manager for business and industry, told E-Consultancy last month.

"However, if businesses deliberately stop short of total compliance, then there is a risk."

Mr MacAuley said meetings had been held earlier this month between the LGA's members and the ICO to discuss how best to comply.

"I think the issue is really more about what the spirit of the regulations is intended to prevent," he said.

"They're intended to prevent any kind of malicious exploitation of cookies, or any wilful avoidance of the regulations. I think the ICO takes a very dim view of that.

"However I don't think local governments would in any way try to do either of those things."

Business frustration
 
Vinod Bange, a lawyer for Taylor Wessing who has spent time consulting companies who are cautious of the changes, said the small number of businesses who have invested in meeting the guideline deadline could be left feeling frustrated.

"There will be some companies out there wondering why they've gone to the expense, and committed a lot of resource, into trying to tackle a problem which is not going to be enforced," he said.

In the interview with E-Consultancy, the ICO's Mr Evans said there would not be a team of investigators seeking out infringing sites, but would act on complaints.

"How likely it is that complaints will flood in, we don't know," he said.

"It may be that the great British public simply isn't that concerned about cookies."


COOKIE FLAVOURS

Cookies are small files that allow a website to recognise and track users. The ICO groups them into three overlapping groups:

Session cookies

Files that allow a site to link the actions of a visitor during a single browser session. These might be used by an internet bank or webmail service. They are not stored long term and are considered "less privacy intrusive" than persistent cookies.

Persistent cookies

These remain on the user's device between sessions and allow one or several sites to remember details about the visitor. They may be used by marketers to target advertising or to avoid the user having to provide a password each visit.

First and third-party cookies

A cookie is classed as being first-party if it is set by the site being visited. It might be used to study how people navigate a site.

It is classed as third-party if it is issued by a different server to that of the domain being visited. It could be used to trigger a banner advert based on the visitor's viewing habits.

uaware comment

Typically if a website is commercial, has many advertisements, offers social networking access then it will have plenty of third party cookies to download to your computer. For example when I checked a rail company's website it had the potential to download 20 third party cookies, a telecoms company website had the potential to download around 15 of the "little critters ! I say potential, they can be blocked if you set you Browser ( Internet Explorer, Firefox etc ) up correctly. In addition some security software products also offer defence against them.

You may say whats the problem with third party cookies ? Well there purpose to track what websites you go on then "report back" their parent company. Some of the websites on which they operate are of quite sensitive personal nature and I think to link some of this information together is some infringement of privacy.

(17th May 2012)




BOTNET ARMY FLICKS OFF SWITCH AT UK CRIME AGENCY WEBSITE
(The Register, dated 3rd May 2012 author Brid-Aine Parnell)
www.theregister.co.uk  [Note 1]

 

The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency's website has been taken offline following a DDoS attack that started last night and is still going on.

SOCA decided to take the site down itself around 10pm last night to stop the distributed denial of service attack from bothering other connected websites.

"We took the site off temporarily to limit the impact of the DDoS on other clients who are hosted by the same service provider," a spokesperson told The Reg.

The botnet army has succeeded in getting the site offline, but not a whole lot else.

"Frankly, DDoS are a temporary inconvenience to website visitors but they're not a security risk to the organisation," the spokesperson said.

"The information available on the SOCA site is only publically available information; it doesn't provide access to intelligence or operational material," the spokesperson added.

SOCA was recently involved in a multinational operation to take down 36 websites that were being used by criminals to sell reams of stolen credit card and bank account data. But the agency wouldn't say if it knew anything about who was behind the DDoS attack.

"Nobody has claimed responsibility for it," the spokesperson said. "The timing is interestingly close together so it could be a logical assumption, but we're not aware of somebody specifically claiming it to be so."

SOCA has already had to take down its website before because of a DDoS attack, when hacktivist group Lulzsec sent out its botnet army in June 2011.

(16th May 2012)


 

41% OF TRAFFICKED VICTIMS ARE MEN
(London Evening Standard, dated 26th April 2012 author Craig Woodhouse)
www.thisislondon.co.uk  [Note 1]

More than two-fifths (41%) of those supported in the first six months of a contract to help adult victims of human trafficking in England and Wales were men, according to new figures.
However, there is a lack of awareness of their plight among the public, The Salvation Army, which is delivering the contract, found.

A survey of English and Welsh adults carried out by YouGov discovered that, on average, respondents thought 29% of all trafficked victims in England and Wales were male.

Respondents also thought that an average of 68% of trafficked victims were sexually exploited, yet The Salvation Army said that of those supported by the new contract, 45% were forced into sexual exploitation, 43% were involved in labour exploitation and 8% were trafficked into domestic servitude.

The Salvation Army also dealt with its first case of human trafficking for organ removal within this period. Last year, The Salvation Army was awarded the contract from the Ministry of Justice to provide specialist support for adult victims of human trafficking in England and Wales, including safe accommodation, counselling, medical care, translation services and legal counselling.

Between July 1 and December 31 2011, The Salvation Army, and its 12 sub contractors across England and Wales, supported 112 women and 78 men through their experiences and they were given time to try to rebuild their lives.

Most victims were referred from the police (44%), with the south east of England (54%) accounting for the majority of referrals. The victims helped have come from all over the world, including 58% from eastern Europe, 25% from Africa, 12% from Asia and 4% were trafficked from within the UK.

Major Anne Read, The Salvation Army's anti-trafficking response co-ordinator, said: "Male or female, no matter where the victim is in England and Wales or the reason that they are trafficked, we are helping all people caught up in all types of trafficking to get them the support they need, when they need it.

"The Salvation Army has a strong track record of supporting victims of human trafficking and we are working with a wide range of experts in delivering the contract to ensure that specialist, individually tailored support is available to every victim. This includes gender-specific services and support for victims with disabilities and mental health needs."

Minister for Justice, Crispin Blunt, said: "The support The Salvation Army offer to trafficking victims, regardless of gender, was a key reason why they were awarded the contract. In the first six months of providing this service, The Salvation Army have shown that they are able to offer a high quality, tailored system of support to some of the most vulnerable victims, regardless of their country of origin, religion or gender."


 

IDENTIFYING VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING
(Salvation Army website, dated 21st March 2012)
www.salvationarmy.org.uk  [Note 1]

Human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. First and foremost,  human and trafficking is a crime against humanity.

Adult victims of trafficking

Are trafficked all over the world for little or no money - including to and within the UK. They can be forced to work in the sex trade, domestic service, forced labour, criminal activity or have their organs removed to be sold.

There is no typical victim and some victims don't understand they have been exploited and are entitled to help and support.

Victims are often trafficked to a foreign country where they cannot speak the language, have their travel and identity documents removed and are told that if they try to attempt an escape, they or their families will be harmed.

Estimated figures

- 300,000 people are trafficked within the EU every year
- From 1 July 2011 to 6 January 2012 The Salvation Army supported 193 victims to get their life back
- Victims come from all over the world - including nine from the UK 
 

Identifying trafficked people

- Is the victim in possession of a passport, identification or travel documents? Are these documents in possession of someone else?
- Does the victim act as if they were instructed or coached by someone else? Do they allow others to speak for them when spoken to directly?
- Was the victim recruited for one purpose and forced to engage in some other job? Were their transport costs paid for by facilitators, whom they must pay back through providing services?
- Does the victim receive little or no payment for their work? Is someone else in control of their earnings?
- Was the victim forced to perform sexual acts?
- Does the victim have freedom of movement?
- Has the victim or family been threatened with harm if the victim attempts to escape?
- Is the victim under the impression they are bonded by debt, or in a situation of dependence?
- Has the victim been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care or other life necessities?
- Can the victim freely contact friends or family? Do they have limited social interaction or contact with people outside their immediate environment? 
 
What to do

If there is immediate danger to the suspected victim or if you think that the suspected victim is under 18, inform the police and call 999 as a matter of urgency.

The Metropolitan Police with Stop the Traffik have a 24 hour hotline for victims to call or to report suspected trafficking. The number is 08007832589.

Please call our 24 hour confidential Referral Helpline on
0300 3038151 anytime of the day or night to refer a victim of trafficking or receive advice.

Of course not all victims want to be rescued and there many be instances where reporting a suspected trafficking case puts the potential victim at risk.

(16th May 2012)


 

OLYMPIC GAMES "NOT IMMUNE" TO CYBER-ATTACK
(BBC News, dated 3rd May 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

The London Olympics "will not be immune" to cyber-attack, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has warned.

He said attackers "would seek to disrupt the Games", noting that the Beijing Olympics saw 12 million cybersecurity incidents in 2008.

"We have rightly been preparing for some time a dedicated unit which will help guard the London Olympics against cyber-attack," he said.

"We are determined to have a safe and secure Games."

Mr Maude, who is responsible for the UK's Office of Cyber Security, made the comments during a visit to Estonia, a country considered a pioneer in the field.

"UK government networks continue to be regularly targeted by foreign intelligence agencies, or groups working on their behalf," he said.

"And we know that the threat is accelerating."

'Fast and flexible'
 
Mr Maude added: "High-end cybersecurity solutions that were used 18 months ago by a limited number of organisations to protect their networks may already be out in the open marketplace - giving cybercriminals the knowledge to get round these protective measures.

"Our responses have to be fast and flexible. What works one day is unlikely to work a matter of months or even weeks later."

Last year, the government announced a dedicated team charged with protecting this summer's Games from cyber-attack.

A series of worst-case scenarios is being tested on the computer systems throughout this month - although Olympics bosses have said they are unaware of any specific threat.

Mr Maude said that despite the risks, the government would "resist the temptation to over-regulate and control" the internet.

Last month saw the government heavily criticised over plans to extend "snooping" abilities online.

The minister added: "We need to protect the internet from hostile actors - the criminals, the hackers, the terrorists - who want to exploit it for less positive ends."

During his three-day visit, Mr Maude will also visit Nato's Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.


uaware comment

One of the popular ways that hackivists attempt to bring down websites is via denial of service (dos) attacks. A denial of service can happen to any website under normal circumstances; it happened when the Olympic ticket booking website opened, it also happened when the Police openned its crime mapping service. So many people want to look at the new website that the system cannot cope and "falls over" ! So cyber-criminals recreate this scenario by infecting anything up to millions of computers with malicious software that takes over peoples computers around the World simultaneously and gets their browsers (IE, Firefox etc ) to attempt to gain access to one website. Millions of computers attempting to access one website at one moment in time will cause it to fail.

SO, DO YOUR BIT. Ensure that you have security software loaded onto you computer and ensure that is kept up to date. If your computer cannot load updates it probably means that your computer has been infected with some form of malicious software already. If that is the case contact the security software company's helpdesk.

(16th May 2012)


 


SQUATTING TO BECOME A CRIMINAL OFFENCE
(London Evening Standard, dated 1st May 2012 author Martin Bentham)
www.thisislondon.co.uk  [Note 1]

Squatting will become a criminal offence at the start of September after legislation to protect homeowners was passed by Parliament today.

Under the change, squatters will face up to six months in jail and a maximum £5,000 fine if they move into a homeowners' property.

It will be the first time that squatting has become a crime and follows a spate of cases in which residents have returned to find their homes occupied, and often damaged, by intruders who refuse to leave.

Charities and other campaigners have complained that the measure, contained in the Government's Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill, will criminalise the homeless and add to the numbers living on the streets.

Justice minister Crispin Blunt insisted today, however, that homeowners needed more protection as he announced that the new law would come into effect from September 1.

"For too long squatters have had the justice system on the run," he said. "Not any more. Hard working homeowners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first, this new offence will ensure the police and other agencies can take quick and decisive action to deal with the misery of squatting."

As well as making squatting a crime, the new legislation contains other changes intended to make easier for homeowners to prove that their home is being occupied unlawfully.

There will, for example, no longer be a requirement to show that a squatter has displaced a resident and that the victim has nowhere else to live in. Squatting has previously only been a civil offence. That has left homeowners facing potentially lengthy and expensive legal battles to remove squatters.

Further information (uaware comment)

The law as it is now :

www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/WhereYouLive/Derelictbuildingsandsquatters/DG_10022452

(16th May 2012)


 

AFFECT AND CAUSE ?

Much is currently reported about the UK's current financial situation; how the recession in the Eurozone has reduced our exports. It appears that the implication of what appears to be minor changes in laws in other European countries may also effect the levels of criminality within the UK. The following three articles provides some examples where we all appear to be paying for this one way or another :

CANNABIS FARMS : 21 FOUND EACH DAY
(BBC News, dated 30th April 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

An average of more than 21 cannabis factories were found daily in Britain last year, police chiefs say. Officers confiscated marijuana in the UK with a street value of £100 million, according to an Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) report. The number of farms discovered increased to 7,865, more than doubling in four years.

The UK is at "significant risk" from criminal gangs who cultivate cannabis on a commercial scale, says the report. It estimates that the number of recorded cannabis production offences in the period from April 2011 to March 2012 will rise to 16,464, up from 14,982 in 2010-11.

In the last two years, police forces have seized 1.1 million cannabis plants.

Based on a street value of £134 per ounce, the drugs are valued at £207 million.

Organised crime
 
Commander Allan Gibson of the Metropolitan Police, Acpo's lead on cannabis cultivation, said: "Increasing numbers of organised crime groups are diverting into this area of criminality, but we are determined to continue to disrupt such networks and reduce the harm caused by drugs."

The report also recorded an increase in robberies, burglaries and violence - including the use of firearms linked to cannabis farms. There is evidence of "taxing", or stealing of crops, while debt bondage is being used to control some cultivators.

Criminals are spreading risk, to reduce detection and financial losses, by paying a large number of "gardeners" to manage smaller crops in residential areas.

The study notes a shift from cannabis farms in commercial and industrial properties to "multiple site" small scale factories.

It also says that with the economic downturn and a reduction in amounts supplied by drug dealers, the number of personal use cultivation offences is rising. Police intelligence suggests the purchase of seeds and hydroponic equipment (for growing the plants without soil) is on the increase.

More offences
 
More farms were found in the West Yorkshire force area - 936, or 42 factories per 100,000 people - than any other in the country.

But South Yorkshire had 64 farms for every 100,000 people, the highest per capita in the UK, with 851 farms. Some 663 farms were found in the West Midlands or 25 per 100,000 people, while the Metropolitan Police had 608 farms, or eight per 100,000 people.

The highest rise in the number of farms since 2009/10 was recorded in Devon and Cornwall, where the number rose 1,664% per cent from 11 to a projected total of 183.

Fife saw a 488% increase from eight farms to a projected 39 for 2011/12.

Areas with most cannabis farms per 100,000 people

South Yorkshire 64
West Yorkshire 42
Avon and Somerset 40
Merseyside 30
Lancashire 29
West Midlands 25
Northamptonshire 24
Staffordshire 20
Cheshire 19
Nottinghamshire 19

Source: projected Acpo figures for 2011/12

Further information (uaware data extraction from ACPO report *)

What didn't appear in this article is projected growth of the Commercial Cannabis farms, bracketed figures are plants seized :

Year 2007/8 : 3,032 (501,905)
Year 2008/9 : 4,951 (576,790)
Year 2009/10 : 6,866 (749,927)
Year 2010/11 : 7,660 (551,930)
Year 2011/12 : 7,865 (544,867) [Projected 2011/12]

Drug Farms by County Constabulary

Un-bracketed number is for 2010/11; number in brackets (n) is projection for 2011/12

Avon & Somerset : 527 (653)
Bedfordshire : 28 (37)
BTP : 2 (13)
Cambridgeshire : 56 (73)
Central Scotland : ? (?)
Cheshire : 184 (195)
City of London ? (?)
Cleveland : 23 (36)
Cumbria : 17 (28)
Derbyshire : 126 (116)
Devon & Cornwall : 191 (183)
Dorset : 91 (93)
Dumfries & Galloway : 8 (3)
Durham : 42 (52)
Dyfed Powys : 4 (5)
Essex : 131 (128)
Fife : 29 (39)
Gloucestershire : 28 (37)
Grampian : ? (?)
Greater Manchester : 465 (441)
Gwent : 102 (91)
Hampshire : 96 (103)
Hertfordshire : 55 (49)
Humberside : 145 (148)
Isle of Man : ? (?)
Kent : 87 (91)
Lancashire : 397 (419)
Leicestershire : 36 (31)
Lincolnshire : 20 (29)
Lothian & Borders : ? (?)
Merseyside : 520 (403)
Metropolitan 621 (608)
Norfolk : 19 (25)
North Wales : 20 (52)
North Yorkshire : 142 (119)
Northamptonshire : 142 (168)
Northern : ? (?)
Northumbria : 57 (71)
Nottinghamshire : 200 (209)
PSNI : ? (?)
South Wales : 44 (31)
South Yorkshire : 837 (851)
Staffordshire : 180 (211)
Strathclyde : 99 (140)
Suffolk : 29 (17)
Surrey : 56 (47)
Sussex : 88 (55)
Tayside : 2 (0)
Thames Valley : 96 (43)
Warwickshire : 60 (39)
West Mercia : 49 (73)
West Midlands : 694 (663)
West Yorkshire : 809 (936)
Wiltshire : 6 (12)

* Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Report :
www.acpo.police.uk/documents/crime/2012/20120430CBACCofCPP.pdf



CANNABIS FARMS £200m STOLEN ELECTRICITY COST STAGGERING
(BBC News, dated 1st May 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Cannabis farmers steal about £200m worth of electricity across the UK every year to grow their illegal crops, according to new figures.

Crime expert Phil Butler, an academic and former detective inspector, said the "staggering" amount was enough to power every Newcastle home for a year. He said the farms' use of electricity and water made them "death traps".

A two-day conference in Newcastle will investigate possible solutions that would help to prevent farms being made.

'Industrial scale'
 
Mr Butler, co-director of Newcastle University's Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security, will join forces with other organisations to investigate how new technology can be used to crack down on the criminals.

He said: "The cultivation of cannabis is happening on an industrial scale but at the moment the police are still very much reliant on intelligence and tip-offs."What we are trying to do is develop technologies that will enable us to take a more proactive approach in the fight against cannabis cultivation."

Growing cannabis indoors without soil under lights produces more potent strains but cultivation with lamps requires a lot of energy.

"The electricity costs associated with even a small-scale farm are astronomical," said Mr Butler, formerly with Northumbria Police.

"To get around this, the individuals responsible find ways of siphoning off the electricity from the main source often this literally means digging down underground outside the premises and hooking into the main supply."

'Lethal combination'
 
Mr Butler said the financial sums were "staggering" but added: "It's about more than money. "These farms are essentially death traps. In one small space such as a loft or a garage you have all this electricity and gallons of water which is a lethal combination."

The problem is being discussed at a two-day conference in Newcastle set to be attended by people from the fire service, the Association of Chief Police Officers, energy companies and the Home Office.

Solutions include sophisticated meters which could detect spikes where unexpectedly high levels of electricity were being withdrawn from the grid.

Experts will also attend from Holland, where scratch and sniff cards are used to educate the public about the distinctive smell associated with a cannabis farm.

The conference follows the Acpo announcement that more than 20 cannabis farms were found by police every day, with 1.1 million plants worth more than £207m discovered in the past two years.



 
TOURISTS BANNED FROM DUTCH CANNABIS CAFES
(Evening Standard, dated 27th April 2012 author Bo Wilson)
www.thisislondon.co.uk  [Note 1]

A Dutch judge today upheld the government's plan to ban foreigners from the country's cannabis-selling "coffee shops". A group of cafe owners had attempted to fight the proposals through the courts, but were told today that the law will come into effect as planned.
In a written ruling, the district court in The Hague agreed with gov~rnment lawyer Eric Daalder that the fight against criminality linked to the drug trade justified the measure. A lawyer for the cafe owners said he would file an urgent appeal against the decision.

Before the ruling, the group said that they would take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The law will ban anyone except Dutch nationals in possesion of a valid ID from buying the drug. It is due to come into effect on May 1 in three southern provinces, and would follow in the rest of the Netherlands next year.
There is growing concern about "drugs tourism" - people visiting purely to smoke cannabis and fears that foreigners are buying it in bulk before dealing it illegally at home.

The ban is part of the Conservative-led coalition government's tougher 11 approach to drugs, but the cafe owners argue that the law is discriminatory against foreigners. The mayor of Amsterdam joined the fight against the plan, because it is believed that a third I of the city's tourists visit to smoke cannabis.

Michael Veling, a spokesman for the Dutch Cannabis Retailers Association, was among those challenging the plan."It is going to cost me 90 per cent of my turnover," he told the BBC. "That is a very good reason for anyone to oppose any plan. Second, it puts our customers in a very difficult spot, because why do you have to register to buy a substance that is still illegal?"

There are more than 700 coffee shops in the Netherlands, according to gov¬ernment figures, with more than 200 in Amsterdam.

(2nd May 2012)


CAR INSURERS BLACKLISTING TEXT DRIVERS
(Metro, dated 1st May 2012 author Jenni Marsh)
www.metro.co.uk   [Note 1]

Insurers are refusing to cover motorists who get caught texting or making phone calls while driving.

They are blacklisting drivers if they have just a single conviction for using a mobile at the wheel, even though it carries a similar penalty to speeding. If insurance companies will offer a quotation, they are bumping up premiums by about 20 per cent, according to research by the AA.

Spokesman Ian Crowder said: 'Insurers are taking mobile phone offences very seriously. Their opinion is a motorist might break a 30mph speed limit without noticing but no one sends a text message, email or makes a phone call behind the wheel by accident. 'It might seem severe but when operating a mobile phone you don't have both hands on the steering wheel, you aren't looking fully at the road and can't change gears safely.'

AA researchers tested insurers by seeking quotations for a 40-year-old man driving a Ford Mondeo. Three companies refused to cover anyone with a conviction for using a phone. Premiums went up by less than ten per cent for a single speeding conviction, which carries the same penalty of a £60 fine and three points.

The Association of British Insurers  said: 'One conviction for using a mobile is unlikely to preclude a motorist from getting insurance altogether although inevitably it will cost more.'

More than 170,000 motorists a year in England and Wales are caught using their phones while driving.

(2nd May 2012)


CYBER-CRIME TRAINING FOR POLICE TO BE ROLLED OUT
(Police Oracle, dated 30th April 2012 author Nic Brunetti)

A major police training programme on cyber-crime is to be delivered across the ranks in a bid to improve the way forces approach and deal with offending.

ACPO Lead on e-Crime Prevention, Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, said the holistic programme would include everybody from PCSOs to senior detectives where training was deemed necessary.

It comes as part of ACPO's National e-Crime programme for which the government has provided £30 million over four years to improve national capability.

CC Hyde said the programme was currently in its design stage with learning outcomes being looked into. Once complete, planners are set to explore how the programme will be delivered with a range of possibilities available, including private companies and universities at the helm.

CC Hyde told PoliceOracle.com that everyone had to be in the know and up to date with technology. He said: "The important thing is that people have the right training and knowledge to do the right job."

It is understood that training would range from a base knowledge level of cyber-crime up to a more advanced level and this could also depend on the rank of the officer or staff member and their level of involvement with the subject. It would also encompass collecting evidence and proceeding with investigations.

CC Hyde said: "It will cover all the training requirements - for detectives to child protection officers but also those who deal with domestic violence or harassment."

He added: "If you are a PCSO you are likely to be called in to deal with something and need to know how Facebook works. "A lot of enquiries we get in relation to Facebook are cyber bullying, stalking and abuse - and they could be the first point of contact."

He later clarified that PCSOs would primarily be used in relation to crime prevention, such as the distribution of information material in local communities.

The Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary said the training would additionally cover senior leadership.

He announced the plan initially at the Counter Terror Expo in London where PoliceOracle.com was in attendance.

(2nd May 2012)


 

ISLINGTON COUNCIL BREACH LEFT DRUG-TAKERS WITH RESIDENTS' DETAILS
(BBC News, dated 29th April 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

A data breach led to people reported for anti-social behaviour and drug taking getting information on those who complained. Extra police patrols are now in place at the Andover Estate in Holloway, north London, following the breach by Islington Council.

Names and phone numbers of 51 complainants were passed to 10 people facing a ban from the estate. The council has apologised to the affected residents.

A group of people, who are not from estate, began gathering there earlier this year and residents complained about loud music, smoking drugs and verbal abuse.

The council had prepared legal injunctions against 13 people to ban them from the area, and 10 had been served this month.

But those 10 were also given paperwork including a log of all calls reporting anti-social behaviour, with names, phone numbers and street or estate names if they were given.

Louise Round, Islington Council's corporate director of resources, said: "This information should not have been released, and we are extremely sorry that, through an error on our part, it has been disclosed.

"The council is in the process of contacting every single person who is on that list - in total 51 people - to offer our apology and any practical support we can give.

"This includes additional security measures if they request it.

"We're working closely with the police, who are putting extra patrols on the estate to reassure residents and deter any further anti-social behaviour."

She added the breach has been reported to the Information Commissioner and a review of procedures is taking place to help prevent such an incident again.

(29th April 2012)


 

ALLEGATION OF POLICE RACISM
(Metropolitan Police - Circulation to London Borough of Enfield residents, dated 27th April 2012)

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Directorate of Professional Standards are investigating an alleged racist incident involving an off-duty police officer.

The incident happened at 7.40am on 23rd April in New Barnet when an off-duty officer is alleged to have racially abused a local authority parking enforcement officer.

A serving officer of Inspector rank, based on Enfield borough, was arrested on Tuesday 24th April in connection with the incident. He was arrested on suspicion of a Section 4 Public Order Act offence (racially aggravated words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress) and was taken to a north west London police station and bailed to return pending further enquiries on a date in late April. This case is now sub-judice and cannot be discussed in more detail for legal reasons.

The case will be thoroughly investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards and has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

I am aware of the concern that this will cause in our community, I'm also aware of how this may be perceived and how it may affect community trust and confidence and the positive relationship we enjoy with our community. I want to reassure you and categorically set out again that I expect the highest standards of behaviour from Enfield staff and in particular when we are dealing with our communities.  I'm committed to working and engaging with our communities and to ensuring that my staff are professional and fair.

Regards

Jane Johnson
Borough Commander Enfield

(29th April 2012)


 

SAFEGUARDING YOUR MOBILE PHONE
(Distributed by the Metropolitan Police Neighbourhood Netlink, dated 26th April 2012)
Safeguarding your mobile phone

As many as 10,000 mobile phones are stolen every month. Two thirds of the victims are aged between 13 and 16. Here are some practical measures you can take to keep your mobile phone safe.

Remember to...

- to register your mobile phone at www.immobilise.com

- keep your phone out of sight in your pocket or handbag when not in use

- use your phone's security lock code, if it has one

- record details of your electronic serial number (ESN) and consider separate insurance

- some phones have an IMEI number which is a unique identifier for the phone; you can obtain this number by typing *#06# (star hash 06 hash) into your mobile phone and it will display a 15 digit number

- property mark your phone with your postcode and door number to help police identify stolen ones

- report a lost or stolen phone to the police immediately

- inform your service provider if your phone is stolen or lost

Don't...

- attract attention to your phone when you are carrying or using it in the street

- park in isolated or dark areas

- leave your phone in an unattended car - if you must, lock it out of sight. It only takes seconds for a thief to smash a window and steal your phone.


By taking these simple precautions, you can protect your phone. If you see anything suspicious, call the police - dial 999.

uaware comment

Many people have their life recorded on their mobile phone; their address book, telephone numbers (business and personal, their diary ( business and personal ). In the past people had a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), now these facilities are included in many mobile phones.

Therefore, to reduce the likelihood of a "great loss", back your mobile phone up to your or a family members computer. If that option is not available write (yes write !) your mobile phone directory contents in a paper note book and keep it somewhere safe.

Lastly, to make things hard for any thief; lock your mobile phone with a password. The mobile then become useless to them; they can't use it and neither will it work for someone they try to sell it on to.

(29th April 2012)


 

SOCA SHUTS 36 CREDIT CARD FRAUD SITES
(The Guardian, dated 27th April 2012 author Charles Arthur)
www.guardian.co.uk   [Note 1]

Operation by Serious Organised Crime Agency aims to shut down large-scale theft and use of stolen card information.

Police have arrested two men arrested and shut down 36 web domains used to sell compromised credit and debit card data, as part of an initiative by the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), working with the FBI and US Department of Justice.

The men, who were arrested earlier this week, were suspected of making large-scale purchases of data about cards from the sites, which specialised in selling stolen payment card and online bank account details.

Soca says that they used e-commerce type platforms known as Automated Vending Carts (AVCs) which let criminals sell large quantities of stolen data quickly and easily.

People trying to access these sites are now directed to a screen indicating that the web domain has been seized by law enforcement.

Along with the arrests, the UK's Dedicated Cheque & Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) seized a number of computers suspected of being used to facilitate offences under the Fraud Act

Acting on information from Soca, an AVC operator based in Macedonia has been arrested by the Macedonian Ministry of Interior Cyber Crime Unit.

Soca has been tracking the development of AVCs and monitoring their use by criminals who support payment card and online banking fraud on a global scale.

Working with the FBI, the BKA in Germany, the KLPD in the Netherlands, the Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Australian Federal Police and the Romanian National Police, Soca has recovered over 2.5m items of compromised personal and financial information over the past two years.

The recovered data has been passed to UK and overseas financial institutions to help prevent potential fraud taking place against the accounts and mitigate the impact of large-scale data thefts.

The potential international fraud prevented by the identification of this detail is estimated at being in excess of £500m.

Charlie Abrahams, vice president of MarkMonitor, which provides brand protection services online, said: "This is excellent progress, although the challenge for law enforcement is that internet crime typically crosses so many jurisdictions - consumer in one country, website hosted in a second, perpetrator in a third, etc.

"Brand owners themselves have the core responsibility to educate and protect their customers from the risks that go along with the benefits of transacting online."

Lee Miles, the head of cyber operations for Soca said: "This operation is an excellent example of the level of international cooperation being focused on tackling online fraud.

"Our activities have saved business, online retailers and financial institutions potential fraud losses estimated at more than half a billion pounds, and at the same time protected thousands of individuals from the distress caused by being a victim of fraud or identity crime."

For several years, cyber criminals have been stealing large volumes of compromised financial information (bank account, credit and debit card details) and selling them in bulk to a growing market of online fraudsters.

The past 18 months has seen criminals increasingly adopting e-commerce platforms to facilitate the sale of stolen data.

The emergence of automated vending carts has enabled criminal groups to sell data in larger volumes and more quickly than they were previously able to do.

(28th April 2012)


 

LONDON KNIFE CRIME ; HOW BAD IS IT ?
(The Guardian, dated 12th April 2012 author Teodora Beleaga)

Full Article : www.guardian.co.uk/uk/datablog/2012/apr/12/london-knife-crime#data   [Note 1]
Only last week a fatal stabbing was reported from the Blackberry BBM party in London, yet data compiled by the

Guardian shows that the highest rate of severe knife related crime recorded in the capital in the 2010-2011 financial year is less than 0.5% of total crime for each area.

The highest number of murder knife victims (or otherwise where the weapon used was a "sharp instrument"), for 2010 and 2011 calendar years, was only six - in just two London boroughs.

As the table below shows, in most London authorities the numbers of such deaths were on average between two and four. That being said, the figures for Southwark, where the stabbing took place just after a Jessie J concert, spiked from no homicide victims of knife crime in 2010 to six in 2011.

In order to paint an accurate picture of seriously injured knife crime victims across London we cross-referenced crime data from the Metropolitan Police's website with scraped knife crime figures from this freedom of information response also provided by the Met. The merged data shows the percent of severe stabbings in individual boroughs in the financial year 2010-2011.

Haringey recorded the highest rate of seriously injured knife crime victims in London - which was 0.31% of the total levels of crime recorded for the area by the Met. Check the map below to see the rate of severe stabbings in each borough.

Homocide Victims of Knife Crime

The following table was created by combining data from graphs and a table from the Guardian article quoted above.

Key :

Borough name : [Deaths 2010] (Deaths 2011) n = Knife crimes 2010/11


Barking and Dagenham : [2] (1) 36
Barnet : [1] (3) 31
Bexley : [0] (3) 8
Brent : [3] (2) 47
Bromley : [0] (1) 23
Camden : [1] (2) 26
Croydon : [0] (4) 67
Ealing : [3] (2) 54
Enfield : [3] (5) 47
Greenwich : [1] (2) 40
Hackney : [3] (2) 68
Hammersmith and Fulham : [2] (1) 34
Haringey : [2] (5) 76
Harrow : [?] (?) 25
Havering : [?] (?) 29
Hillingdon : [0] (2) 19
Hounslow : [2] (0) 24
Islington : [2] (2) 64
Kensington and Chelsea : [?] (?) 16
Kingston upon Thames : [?] (?) 11
Lambeth : [3] (3) 93
Lewisham : [4] (3) 60
Merton : [0] (1) 27
Newham : [6] (1) 74
Redbridge : [1] (3) 27
Richmond upon Thames : [?] (?) 9
Southwark : [0] (6) 78
Sutton : [3] (1) 28
Tower Hamlets : [2] (3) 38
Waltham Forest : [2] 2) 37
Wandsworth : [0] (2) 37
Westminster : [0] (1) 39

(28th April 2012)


 

CRIME STATISTICS FOR ENGLAND AND WALES : WHAT IS HAPPENING TO EACH OFFENCE ?
(The Guardian, dated 19th April 2012 author Simon Rogers)

Full Article [Note 1]  :

www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/14/crime-statistics-england-wales 

The latest figures for England and Wales are out today.

For the first time, they're published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - here's the link - rather than the Home Office. The switchover hasn't done anything to make them any less opaque, however, and we'll have to wait for more detailed annual tables for 2011/12. These cover the figures up to the end of 2011. And the data shows that muggings and street robberies are up - despite an overall fall in crime.

The key figures are:

• Total recorded crime fell from 4,159,553 to 4,043,339 - a fall of 3%
• Muggings and street robberies increased by 8% last year
• Violence against the person decreased by 7%
• Domestic burglaries dropped 3%
• Car thefts increased by 2%
• Separate figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) - the new name for the British Crime Survey - showed "no statistically significant change in overall crime" with police recording 3% fewer incidents

British crime statistics are complicated partly because of double recording. Firstly, there are the official police figures (which historically under-record the true level of crime). Then there is the old British Crime Survey - now the Crime Survey for England and Wales - where 50,000 people are asked for their direct experiences of crime. This is regarded as the most authoritative of either.

Best Areas

Workingham
Chiltern
Cambridge
Rushcliffe
Reading
North East Derbyshire
Mid Bedfordshire
Aylesbury Vale
Rother

Worst Areas

Isles of Scilly
North Shropshire
Rochford
North Cornwall
Horsham
East Devon
Taunton Deane
Redditch
Mendip
Copeland

Murder

Murder statistics often confound received wisdom. Those figures showed:

- Of the 636 murders in 2010/11, the biggest single number used a sharp instrument, such as a knife, for the murder weapon
- The vast majority of child murder victims are killed by a parent - 36 out of 56. In total, 43 of those victims knew their murderer
- The same goes with total murders - 64% were known to their victim, 33% were friends
- 60% of murders are caused by a quarrel and loss of temper. Only 3% are as a result of theft or robbery

Detection Rate

The police detection rate - meaning that a suspect has been identified and interviewed and there is sufficient evidence to bring a charge - remained at 28% in 2010/11. So, under a third of all crimes get solved.

Crime Perception

But one of the most interesting figures is about the perception of crime. The Crime Survey asks people whether they think crime is getting worse where they live and nationally. So, people think crime is getting worse - but not where they live. It's the perception gap between what we know is going on and what we think is going on.

For example, for the British Crime Survey question " is there a little, or, a lot more crime than 2 years ago" (Remember, this is based on individuals perception of crime). The following is an extract of figures from a graph within the article.

For 1996 those thinking it had Nationally = 75% ; Locally = 55%

For 1998 those thinking it had Nationally = 58% ; Locally = 46%

For 2000 those thinking it had Nationally = 66% ; Locally = 50%

For 2001/2 those thinking it had Nationally = 55% ; Locally = 51%

For 2002/3 those thinking it had Nationally = 72% ; Locally = 54%

For 2003/4 those thinking it had Nationally = 65% ; Locally = 48%

For 2004/5 those thinking it had Nationally = 61% ; Locally = 42%

For 2005/6 those thinking it had Nationally = 63% ; Locally = 42%

For 2006/7 those thinking it had Nationally = 65% ; Locally = 41%

For 2007/8 those thinking it had Nationally = 65% ; Locally = 39%

For 2008/9 those thinking it had Nationally = 75% ; Locally = 36%

For 2009/10 those thinking it had Nationally = 66% ; Locally = 31%

For 2010/11 those thinking it had Nationally = 60% ; Locally = 28%

uaware comment

When politicians make their decisions on police numbers, management and strategy; do they consider the "actual figures" or their voters perception of "local crime". So, if "locally" a voter perceives crime to be in decline why should there be the same level of policing. Police employment is a soft target anyway, they can't strike ! In accountancy terms, they can be replaced with Volunteers (free) or by renaming the PCSO's and giving them higher level duties (lower pay) !

Politicians in the main don't "really" live in their constituencies,or, for that matter probably in the main neither do the Chief Constables live within "their patch", particularly in London. Their only link with the London streets being their chauffeur driven journey to the office from their homes in the Home Counties or the Shires !

(25th April 2012)


 

SCAMS FLOURISH AS RATES HIT ROCK BOTTOM
(The Sunday Times - Business, dated 15th April 2012 author Ben Marlow)
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk  [Note 1]

William McNaught still ues the day he spoke to the slick salesman from Commercial Land. If he had ignored the call, he might not still be forced to work as a removals man at the age of 76.
 
In October 2006, Commercial Land cold-called him, offering the chance to invest in land it claimed was ripe for development and would soar in value. McNaught's instinct told him there was something fishy, but the salesman's charm quickly eased his doubts.

Still, McNaught was reluctant to hand over any cash. He had a chunk of inheritance money but premium bonds were l1-bout as risky as his portfolio got, and they paid out a pittance.
For an initial £10,000 investment, Commercial Land was promising a profit of 100%-130% over 12 to 18 months. A few follow-up calls and a glossy brochure reeled him in. McNaught saw a last chance to strike it rich.
 
Over the next four years he handed over £160,000 to two firms, but instead of the bumper returns promised, the pensioner ended up with a few scraps of worthless land that never stood a chance of receiving planning permission. The scams wiped out his life savings.

"I used to be able to buy virtually anything I wanted, but I can't afford anything any more. They bled me dry and now I'm facing the rest of my life in penury," said McNaught.
Far from being an isolated case, he is typical of the growing number of gullible, middle-class Britons being ripped off by simple scams. Fraudsters, it seems, have been the big beneficiaries of the financial crisis and the resulting economic difficulties.

With interest rates and stock market returns at record lows, inflation roaring, and trust in high street banks yet to be fully restored, the temptation for ordinary people to gamble their savings on risky investments has grown.

From well-established cons such as Ponzi schemes and boiler room operations to a sudden explosion of bogus land banks, and the more exotic fake ruses in fine wine and even 'ostrich farms, fraud is booming.
 
""Fraud is on the rise. When the bottom dropped out of the financial markets it created a huge lack of faith among the public in the banks. The typical target is" someone who is 65 years of age, middle class and worked hard all their life. they've also been brought up to trust certain people with an air of authority," said Detective Superin¬tendent Bob Wishart of the City of London police. '

Hitesh Patel, a forensic partner at KPMG, the adviser, said fraud was flourishing: "2011 was an extraordinary year for fraudsters. The pressures on individuals as a result of the downturn continue to act as a catalyst for more fraud."
According to the National Fraud Authority, fraudsters cost the UK economy a staggering £73 billion last year. Investment scams account for a fraction of that figure - about £500m, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) estimates, but still snare thousands of innocent victims. Many end up financially ruined, some contemplate suicide. The fraudsters, meanwhile, often enjoy a luxurious life abroad, with, fast cars and swanky villas.
The FSA received about 5,000 calls last year from people who suspected they had been a victim of unauthorised financial schemes. Sometimes their call comes too late.
 
"unfortunately about 20% of these people have already paid money to the criminals, but this has fallen from about 60% a few years ago," said the FSA's Jonathan Phelan.
According to the FSA, victims lose £20,000 on average but in some cases can end up millions out of pocket. The biggest individual loss recorded by the police is £6m. A single bogus scheme can often snare hundreds of investors and net the masterminds tens of millions of pounds.

Wishart is the senior policeman at the City of London's Economic Crime Directorate, tasked with apprehending Britain's biggest financial fraudsters.  On the wall of his office, tucked away in a quiet City back street, hangs a giant poster advertising the film "Boiler Room". Wishart says the movie, about a college dropout
who joins an illegal brokerage that "pumps and dumps" shares in fake companies, is such an accurate account of the sales tactics boiler rooms employ, real scammers use it as a training video for new staff. "Technology has industrialised fraud and criminals can be quite sophisticated, operating across multiple countries," said Wishart.
 
Boiler rooms - so-called because of the high-pressure sales tactics and often poor working conditions continue to be the biggest money spinner overall. The FSA uncovers between 300 and 350 new illegal firms every year, estimated to be generating about £lOOm.
 
Ponzi schemes, the classic "get rich quick" device have the ability to net the largest sums individually. Ponzis are still relatively rare in Britain. Before 2008, only one had been uncovered, a ruse set up by Kent businessman Kevin Foster that managed to squeeze £34m from 8,000 investors in south Wales. But they are on the rise nonetheless. The FSA has smashed a further six since, responsible for losses totalling about £lOOm.
Last month, Kautilya Pruthi was jailed for 14 years for masterminding the UK's largest ever Ponzi scheme. Nicknamed, "Britain's Bernie Madoff', after the American fraudster, pruthi managed to embezzle £115m out of nearly 600 investors including famous celebrities such as cricketer Darren Gough.
 
"This type of fraudster offers fantastic sounding investment opportunities," said Phelan. "At the beginning, if you ask for your money back you get it. It looks so great that often investors refuse to believe it's a con, but at some point the money runs out and it gets ugly."
The FSA has beefed up its operations in response to the growth in financial fraud, doubling the number of people in its "unauthorised businesses" department to 40. And the watchdog isn't fighting alone. The Serious Fraud Office, a government department, gets involved in cases expected to exceed £lm, or that cross national borders.
In 2010, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) a new, dedicated anti-fraud unit, was set up by the City of London police. At its heart is a database that combines fraud intelligence from the government, the police and other agencies, with data from banks, insurance and credit card firms.

The authorities have their work cut out. In an attempt to stay one step ahead, scammers frequently dream up new and inventive ways to rip off investors. "Typically, we are dealing with career criminals," said Wishart. "They're often proper villains that have done bank robberies and drug dealing and moved on to large scale fraud."
The latest scam to sweep across Britain is that which left William McNaught penniless. "Land banks" are a simple idea. Investors are persuaded that a piece of land is about to receive planning permission or be bought by a big developer.
The "lucky" ones are offered the chance to buy a slice of the land before its value shoots up. But the land has no chance of ever getting planning permission, often because it is in a green belt, and turns out to be worthless.

The schemes began to emerge about six years ago. Since then, the FSA has uncovered 150. One of the biggest was ordered by the High Court last month to repay £32m stolen from more than 300 people. The largest single loss was £400,000. "They are a problem. We had 60 reports last year, but 50 of them were in the first six months, so there are signs they are already dwindling as a result of court action," said Phelan.
 
Fraudsters are also quick to spot trends. In the 1980s, a raft of whisky, fine wine and champagne scams sprang up. The late 1990s saw a burst of fake ostrich farms. More recently, boiler rooms have begun touting carbon credits as the next big thing in an effort to tap into the growing green agenda.
One thing doesn't change. Fraudsters are feeding on people's inherent vulnerability and desire to be rich.
Adam Truman (not his real name) spent a week 'working in a boiler room in Barcelona, a hot spot for financial fraudsters, before resigning in disgust. Sales staff were instructed to tell potential customers they were calling from a firm called ABC Investments. Victims were offered the chance to be one of the first investors in a company that had made big gold and diamond discoveries in SWaziland. It was all a lie. "We told people 'Beat the rush, get in early'," said Truman. "I thought we were taking money off millionaires. That didn't seem so bad, but after a couple of days I had a bloke on the ph0ne who was a self-employed gardener. "That didn't sit well with me so I told my bosses, but their attitude was "They're all greedy. They've got loads of money F*** em."

(25th April 2012)


 

TROJAN SNEAKS INTO HOTEL, SLURPS GUESTS CREDIT CARD DATA
(The Register, dated 19th April 2012 author John Leyden)

Full Article [Note 1] : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/19/hotel_trojan_scam/

Cyberooks are selling malware through underground forums which they claim offers the ability to steal credit card information from a hotel point of sale (POS) applications.

The ruse, detected by transaction security firm Trusteer, shows how criminals are using malware on enterprise machines to collect financial information in addition to targeting consumer PCs with banking Trojans and other nasties.

The hospitality industry attack involves using a remote access Trojan program to infect hotel front desk computers. The malware includes spyware components that steal credit card and other customer information by capturing screenshots from the PoS application. The malware is capable of stealing credit card numbers and expiration dates, but not CVV2 numbers in the sample Trusteer inspected.

The attack code is being offered for $280 in Visa underground forums. According to Trusteer, the price tag includes a guide configuring the malware and tips on how to trick front-desk managers into installing it.

The security biz added that at the time of publishing its blog on Wednesday, the malware had not yet been detected by any anti-virus application. More details on the malware - including a screenshot from the underground forum where it was offered for sale.

Last week Trusteer warned about a ZeuS-based Trojan that targeted cloud-based payroll service providers. The transactions security firm reckon the hospitality industry malware it found on an underground forum is part of the same trend, involving the diversification of Trojan-based attacks away from traditional targets such as consumers and small business bank customers.

"Criminals are increasingly expanding the focus of their attacks from online banking targets to enterprises," said Trusteer's CTO Amit Klein. "One of the reasons for this shift is that enterprise devices can yield high value digital assets when compromised. In addition, the prevalence of bring your own device (BYOD) usage by employees makes it easier to infect unmanaged smartphones, tablets and laptops that are used to access sensitive enterprise systems and applications."

www.trusteer.com/blog/no-reservations-%E2%80%93-remote-access-trojan-pilfers-credit-cards-hotels  [Note 1]

(25th April 2012)


 

INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS "TORCH" UK SMUT BLOCKING MASTER PLAN
(The Registry, dated 19th April 2012 author Kelly Fiveash)

Full Article [Note 1]: www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/19/ispa_criticises_smut_blocking_plan/

Telcos have clobbered an independent Parliamentary inquiry into online child safety by saying that its recommendations are unworkable.

Prime Minister David Cameron indicated in the House of Commons yesterday that he welcomed the plans, but the broadband industry's lobby group, the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) questioned the proposals.

"Forcing ISPs to filter adult content at the network level, which users would then have to opt out of, is neither the most effective nor most appropriate way to prevent access to inappropriate material online," retorted ISPA secretary general Nicholas Lansman.

"It is easy to circumvent, reduces the degree of active interest and parental mediation and has clear implications for freedom of speech. Instead parents should choose how they restrict access to content, be it on the device or network level with the tools provided," he added.

Earlier this week, chair of the inquiry, Tory MP Claire Perry, claimed that many kids in the UK were "accessing internet pornography" as well as other "inappropriate" material such as websites that promote self-harm and anorexia.

She described such activity as "hugely worrying".

Perry said:

While parents should be responsible for their children's online safety, in practice people find it difficult to put content filters on the plethora of internet-enabled devices in their homes, plus families lack the right information and education on internet safety.

It's time that Britain's Internet Service Providers, who make more than £3bn a year from selling internet access services, took on more of the responsibility to keep children safe, and the government needs to send a strong message that this is what we all expect.

Among other things the report recommended that "ISPs should be tasked with rolling out single account network filters for domestic broadband customers that can provide one-click filtering for all devices connected to a home internet connection within 12 months".

However, the ISPA attacked such a plan, saying that telcos already provided a number of services to customers to help them decide what content should be accessed online at home. "A variety of measures are available to parents and carers and a network level filter should not be viewed as a silver bullet," said Lansman.

The ISPA also questioned "who decides what inappropriate material is".

The 89-page cross-party report failed to offer up a definition. Instead it pointed to how other forms of media police the availability of porn and other content that some consider should be shielded from children's view.
The report went on to stop short of "mandatory government censorship of internet pornography" but added that a "new approach" was required.

A network-level 'Opt-In' system, maintained by ISPs, that delivered a clean internet feed to customers as standard but allowed them to choose to receive adult content, would preserve consumer choice but provide an additional content barrier that protected children from accessing age- inappropriate material.

This model would emulate the system already used by most major UK mobile phone companies, where access to adult content is blocked until an age verification check is conducted by the network operator, and could use the filtering technology already operating in all schools and on some public Wi-Fi hubs.


 

Further Information

The majority of proprietry security software comes with some form of child protection software (Kaspersky and McAfee ) or an option to install it (Norton).

Nortons Security [Note 1] :

https://onlinefamily.norton.com/familysafety/loginStart.fs?product=NIS2012&inid=us_2011June_AOP_nis2012


The ISP's also provide service to help protect children online, for example *:

BT [Note 1] : http://bt.custhelp.com/app/hub/c/346,510/h/s/?s_cid=con_FURL_help/netprotectplus
Virgin Media [Note 1]  : http://store.virginmedia.com/broadband/broadband-extras/security.html
Talk Talk [Note 1] : http://sales.talktalk.co.uk/product/homesafe


A further source of information on Parental Control is www.getsafeonline.org . When on the website homepage, from the menu bar near the top of the screen, click-on "Knowledgebase"; there you will find a section for parents, teachers and young people.

* These companies are the main suppliers in the UK and have been quoted for that reason only. Other suppliers may provide similar services.

(25th April 2012)


 

DOZENS DIE IN LATEST BACKPACKERS RESORT
(The Sunday Times, dated 15th April 2102 author Chris Haslem)
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk  [Note 1]

A tiny town in a remote Southeast Asian backwater is emerging as one of the world's most dangerous destinations for young travelers: at least 27 backpackers died there in 2011.

Students preparing for their gap-year travels have been warned to take care in Vang Vieng, the latest stop on the backpacker trail, five hours north of the Laotian capital, Vientiane. Lying on the banks of the Nam Song river, in a fairy-tale landscape of karst peaks, rainforest and rice paddies, the town has grown from rural hideaway to a half-mile sprawl of riverside bars where excessive drinking, drug abuse and ill-considered stunts have become the norm.

Apart from free shots of home-brewed Lao-Lao whiskey and milkshakes laced with marijuana, opium or methamphetamine, the big draw in Yang vieng is river tubing - riding downstream on inner tubes and that's where backpackers incapacitated through drink and drugs have been dying.

"You get in upstream and float down past the riverside bars," said Jason Morley from London, who was in the town three weeks ago. "Bar staff hold out poles so they can drag you in for a drink. A couple of operators offer life jackets; but most don't - there's no regulation - and all along the stretch there are slides, rope swings and other hazards with people leaping off them. A Croatian girl in our group had her front teeth knocked out when a drunk Israeli landed on her tube."

In 2011, 27 tourists were pronounced dead at Vang Vieng's tiny hospital, but doctors say the real number was higher, because other fatalities were registered in Vientiane.

The Foreign Office (FCO) recently updated its advice to travellers to Laos, warning that "white-water rafting, kayaking, tubing and other water-based activities are dangerous and incidents of drowning and serious injuries have been reported".

The adventure tour• operator Exodus said: "There are dozens of outfits renting inner' tubes and, once you get in, you're on your own. Nobody counts you in or out. It's just too dangerous for us to promote the activity."

Neighbouring Thailand remains the most lethal stop on the backpacker trail, according to statistics from the FCO, and the numbers of deaths and injuries is rising. In 2010-11, 246 visitors to the country were hospitalised as a result of accident or illness - up 24% on the previous year - while 101 British visitors died, including three 19-year-old students killed in a bus trash in the first week of their two-month break.

(25th April 2012)


 

MI5 CREATES A VIRTUAL COMPUTER ATTACK ON THEMSELVES !

Based on an article in The Register [Note 1] : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/16/mi5_digi_cert_snafu/

The MI5 intelligence forgot to replace the expired digital security certificate for its website over the weekend.

The schoolboy error meant anybody trying to securely access the Security Service's site - perhaps to report suspected terrorist activity - would have been warned by their browser that the connection was untrusted. Communications would have still been encrypted if surfers chose to proceed regardless of the alert.

The digital paperwork expired on Sunday, 15th April, and a new one wasn't installed until Monday morning. They did have a new certificate issued by Verisign on 25th March, but failed to install it (no overtime due to budget cuts perhaps ) !

Spook-watching Spyblog points out that the glitch was particularly embarrassing for MI5 because its www.mi5.gov.uk web server is configured to be accessible only over a secure connection. They went on to comment "Since the MI5 website redirects to an SSL/TLS HTTPS-only version, they have effectively created a Denial of Service attack on themselves."

(17th April 2012)


 

IPCC TO HANDLE ALL METROPOLITAN POLICE RACISM COMPLAINTS
(BBC News, dated 16th April 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

All complaints of racism against Metropolitan Police officers are to be automatically referred to the police watchdog, it has been announced.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it would also conduct a "thematic review" of past and current cases to identify any trends.

It comes as 18 officers are being investigated over racism allegations.

The IPCC said it was now looking at a further two cases of allegations of racism, bringing the total to five.

The two additional investigations are an allegation of racial abuse in December 2011 and another in September last year of racial abuse and excessive force in custody.

The IPCC had previously announced that it was looking into three allegations; one from a 21-year-old man who filmed an incident on a mobile phone, another of a 15-year-old youth allegedly assaulted at Forest Gate police station, and a third in which a group of police officers allegedly made racist comments to one another.

The IPCC has decided not to investigate a further six complaints.

IPCC commissioner Mike Franklin said: "The police must not hide behind statistics and must recognise that actual recorded allegations of racism are probably an indication of much wider disaffection and dissatisfaction."

He added: "We know that allegations of racism are often difficult to prove as in many cases they are a complainant's word against an officer or officers, but that does not necessarily mean it did not happen."


 

METROPOLITAN POLICE CRITICISED AFTER RACISM INQUIRY
(BBC News, dated 6th April 2012
www.bbc.co.uk

A senior police officer has joined criticism of Scotland Yard's record on racism, saying warnings have fallen on "deaf ears" for more than a decade.

Supt Leroy Logan, of the Black Police Association, said the Met needed to put racial issues "back on the agenda".

Two former senior Metropolitan Police officers have also criticised the force after eight officers were suspended over allegations of racism.

The force has said racist language is "abhorrent" and not tolerated.

In total, 18 officers and one civilian staff member are being investigated in relation to 10 claims of racism.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the claims which include bullying, abuse and physical assault.

Three officers from Newham were suspended on Thursday while five other officers and one civilian member of staff had previously been suspended at various stages over the past year.

Supt Logan, who was a founder member of the National Black Police Association, said attitudes to race relations had recently deteriorated.

"Every year since 2001, the young people have been saying how they believe they are being dealt with disrespectfully, not shown enough dignity, casual racist comments were being used," he said. "Like so many things, it lands on deaf ears until such a time as a free press - the media - get hold of it and forces people into action." Supt Logan said the force needed to "get its act together" and "root out the bad boy cops". "The issues haven't been reviewed effectively by external agencies, that's why we are getting these incidents," he said.

'Greater diversity needed'
 
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, told BBC Radio 4's The World at One that the force still did not have "sufficient black and Asian officers".

"One of the ways of challenging any aspect of the canteen culture is if they [officers] live and work together and are able to share histories with people of different colour."

Mr Vaz told the BBC News Channel that the IPCC would take some months to report back and a broader inquiry was needed.

"When there are cases of this kind they have to be dealt with immediately and they have to be dealt with properly - otherwise there is a public perception that people don't care," Mr Vaz said.

He suggested that another organisation, such as Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, should produce "some very clear and very decisive guidelines" for all the UK's police forces demonstrating a "no-tolerance attitude to racism and racist behaviour".

Mr Vaz added that the management of the Met was on the list of inquiries the committee was looking to carry out.

Mark Reckless, the Conservative MP for Rochester who is also on the Home Affairs committee, said: "It's quite wrong that we don't have any ethnic minorities at senior level."

He said although quotas were not helpful, he hoped elected commissioners would be able to look outside "the usual routes of clubs of senior officers" to recruit a greater diversity of people when they are introduced in November.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the allegations of racism needed to be taken "extremely seriously".

"The police must ensure there is zero tolerance of racism in their ranks, and must act fast to deal with any suggestion of racism that arises.

Ms Cooper said it was "vital for justice" that every community could be confident in the impartiality of the police.

'Unacceptable behaviour'
 
Retired Flying Squad commander John O'Connor told BBC London that managers should have been pro-active after the force was accused in 1999 of "institutional racism" by the 1999 Macpherson Inquiry. The inquiry looked into the force's handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.

Mr O'Connor said after the force was "vilified" by the inquiry, checks and balances "should have been put in place".

"We need to find out why this is happening. It's no good having the deputy commissioner almost washing his hands and saying 'we won't put up with racism'.

"Well what are you doing about it? You need to do something.

"There are too many of these incidents for it to be brushed under the carpet and I think there needs to be more research."

On Thursday, Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said he was reassured that of the 10 cases which have been referred to the IPCC, six came to light after other officers raised concerns.

He said of the force's 50,000 staff, the "vast majority act with the professionalism and high standards we expect".

"I will always want to work in an organisation where someone who believes they've seen unacceptable behaviour feels they can challenge it and report it - knowing action will be taken, as it has been in these cases and as it will be whenever it occurs.

"The Met does not tolerate racism."

(17th April 2012)


 

CARE HOME LOSES CHILD 130 TIMES
(The Sunday Times, dated 15th April 2012 author Tim Rayment)
www.sundaytimes.co.uk  [Note 1]

Thousands more youngsters go missing than are officially reported - and are at risk on the streets.

A CHILD has gone missing from a private care home at least 130 times in a single year, according to a senior police officer who claims the problem of children absconding from care is much worse than official figures show.

In the worst case uncovered by Detective Inspector Philip Shakesheff, who is deputy chairman of a national police group that records missing people, the child was absent from a home in Telford, Shropshire on more than one day in three last year.
To be officially categorised as missing, a child must have been absent for more than 24 hours. Absence from care, even for short periods, is a recognised warning sign of groom¬ing for sexual exploitation. Missing children are also exposed to drink or drugs and some end up on the streets.

The full scale of the problem has been revealed in a study of police records by Shakesheff which indicated that 7,000 children in local authority care in England went missing in 2010  more than seven times the official figure of 920. "A lot of harm is coming to children [even if] they don't get involved with sexual exploitation," said Shakesheff. "Going missing is a very good indicator of myriad risks."

Shakesheff decided to investigate after he became concerned about the accuracy of the statistics for his area, which are based on numbers supplied by the local authority. He found that in West Mercia, his own police force, government figures recorded 15 children as missing from care for more than 24 hours in 2010. Yet police data showed 120.

In the previous two years, no children appeared in official figures. The police had 157. Elsewhere it was a similar story. Two councils on Merseyside reported no children missing from care for three years in a row. Police figures showed 264.

Shakesheff contacted other forces and found cases where councils claimed to have no missing children when dozens had been reported to police.

The detective will give evidence to MPs next week. His work was brought to light by the Human Trafficking Foundation, which is concerned that children in care are at risk of being trafficked. "It's as if the social services want to prevent anyone getting at the real facts of this appalling story," said Anthony Steen, the former Tory MP who chairs the foundation.

The number who go missing is one of the indicators on which Ofsted judges how well children's homes are performing and the homes have a legal duty to keep accurate records.

However, there is evidence some homes are failing to do so. In one case, Ofsted gave a good report to a private children's home in Worcestershire when police records showed 1,630 missing person reports in five years. Police stationed an officer at the home and pressed Ofsted to look closer. The home was downgraded to inadequate and it later closed.

The risks of being missing from care are demonstrated by Zoe Thomsett, 17, who was Westminster council's responsibility. It sent her to a care home in Herefordshire, where she went missing several times, the final time for three days. She had earlier been found at an address in Hereford, but because no record was kept, nobody checked the ,address. She died there of a drugs overdose.

The troubled life of Dane Edgar, 14, ended with a drugs overdose at a friend's house after he repeatedly went missing from a children's home in Northumberland. Another 14-year-old, James Jordan, was killed when he absconded from care and was the passenger in a stolen car.

Care staff have no legal power to prevent young people leaving homes. But in many cases local authorities and private care homes appear to have little interest in doing anything beyond reporting their absence to the police.

"In 30 years of service I've never had a phone call from anybody in a care home ashlg for an update," shakesheff said.

A spokesman for tte 'Department for Education said: "Local authorities have a duty to report this information accurately. It is in everyone's interest that data are as robust as possible and we are happy to look at the way the information is collected to see if changes need to be made."

(17th April 2012)


 

CRIME PREVENTION TIPS
(Distributed by Metropolitan Police Neighbourhood Link, dated 16th April 2012)

While the chances of being burgled are statistically low we know that being burgled can be a distressing experience.

While we are taking action to target and arrest those responsible, we remind home owners to take some simple measures which can further reduce the chance of them becoming a victim of burglary.

Most burglaries tend to be opportunistic rather than planned. So if your home does not look secure, seems unlived in, or provides unobserved access, it could be at risk. Understanding what burglars look for when choosing their target will help you identify weak spots in your home's security.

Our 10 Top Tips:

- Mark or etch your property with your postcode, house or flat number or the first three letters of your house name.

- Register items with a serial number at  [Note 1] : www.immobilise.com

- Do not leave your car keys or ID documents near doors, letterbox or windows.

- Always check who's at the door and don't open it if you feel anxious.

- Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.

- Keep your valuables out of sight.

- Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home.

- Install a visible burglar alarm.

- Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked.

- Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away for days or weeks at a time.


For more advice and information please visit www.met.police.uk/crimeprevention/burglary or contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods team by visiting www.met.police.uk or by calling 101.

(16th April 2012)


 

LONDONS CRIME STATS ANALYSED
(Guardian online, dated 12th April 2012 author John Burn-Murdoch)

Full article [Note 1] : www.guardian.co.uk/uk/datablog/2012/apr/12/ukcrime

In the lead-up to the London mayoral elections the datablog has analysed figures on a series of London's key socioeconomic indicators.

This comprehensive analysis of crime statistics shows that while crime has fallen across the capital as a whole in the last decade there are a number of interesting sub-trends.

There has been a general downward trend in crime rates, where the number of recorded crimes per 1,000 of London's inhabitants has fallen by almost a third over the last nine years. In 2002/03 the figure stood at 151.6, but the most recently available figure - for 2010/11 - has dropped to 106.9.

Trends in the rates of different crimes; however, have varied. While violence against the person has seen an overall drop from 25 instances per 1000 people in 2002/03 to 21.5 in 2010/11, the rate of drug offences has risen by 75% over the same period, from 4.7 to 8.3.

Instances of theft against a vehicle saw the most dramatic fall over the nine years studied, the most recent figure standing at just over half of what it was in 2002/3.

Exploring the data on a regional basis also yields interesting results. Three Boroughs - Camden, the City of London and Westminster have seen reductions of 40% or more in overall crime rate between 2000/01 and 2010/11.

By contrast, the crime rate in Tower Hamlets has increased by 5% over the same period, from 116.6 to 122.7 per 1000 people. Lewisham fared only marginally better, with the equivalent figure dropping by under 2%.

Overall crime rates rose for for ten boroughs over the most recently available year-on-year period - between the 2009/10 and 2010/11 financial years - with Hammersmith & Fulham witnessing the largest increase.

While the figures for Westminster may appear startlingly high, this can be explained in part by the difference between its day- and night-time populations. The borough has disproportionately high numbers of visitors during the day compared to its numbers of permanent residents, meaning crime rates measured by population are skewed upwards.

Data for the most recent financial year is missing figures for March 2012, but to-date Westminster has the highest crime rate by a large margin. The borough's figure for theft & handling offences dwarfs the corresponding statistic of any other borough for which data is available. The figures are from the Metropolitan Police, and as a result does not include data for the City of London, where crime rates measured against population tend to be much higher than any other borough.

Comment : The top 5 "worst" Boroughs (2011 / 12)

This is a summary of the figures from this article . It is based on offences per thousand residents within the Borough, it does not include visitors or tourists. As previously mentioned, for Westminster offences against tourists distort the figures. If Westminster appears in the top 5 another Borough will be added for that category.

Violence against the person :

Westminster - 30.11
Brent - 26.2
Newham - 24.36
Islington - 23.81
Hammersmith and Fulham - 23.29
Lambeth - 23.03

For the Olympics } Tower Hamlets (7th Place) - 22.34


Sexual Offences

Westminster - 2.13
Newham - 1.67
Lambeth - 1.67
Tower Hamlets - 1.66
Southwark - 1.61
Hackney - 1.57

Robbery

Lambeth - 9.99
Newham - 9.4
Brent - 7.88
Southwark - 7.82
Westminster - 7.45
Waltham Forest - 6.9

For the Olympics } Tower Hamlets (10th Place) - 5.41


Burglary

Haringey - 14.7
Brent - 14.05
Islington - 13.46
Hillingdon - 13.1
Camdem - 12.93

London Borough of Enfield

Violence against the person (24th) - 12.75
Sex Offence (26th) - 0.83
Robbery (19th) - 3.35
Burglary (20th) - 10.86


Note

The full article provides graphs and actual data to allow comparison between the 32 Metropolitan Police Boroughs.

(14th April 2012)


 

HACKTIVISTS NICKED MORE DATA THAN CYBER-CROOKS IN 2011
(The Register, dated 22nd March 2012 author John Leyden)

Full article [Note 1] : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/22/verizon_security_breach_trends/

Hacktivism had a massive effect on the overall data breach scene last year.

More than half (58 per cent) of data stolen last year can be attributed to hacktivism - hacking to advance political and social objectives - according to the latest edition of the Data Breach Investigations report from Verizon.  The figures contrast sharply with findings from previous years, when the majority of attacks were carried out by cybercriminals, whose primary motivation was financial gain.

Seventy-nine per cent of attacks covered by Verizon's report were opportunistic. Only 4 per cent of the overall total were rated as particularly challenging for hackers to carry out. In addition, an estimated 97 per cent of breaches might have been avoidable without recourse to difficult or expensive countermeasures.

Wade Baker, director of risk intelligence at Verizon, told El Reg that 44 per cent of the attacks exploited default or easily guessable credentials. However he qualified this remark by saying that default passwords were a far greater problem in hacks involving smaller organisations.

Breaches originated from 36 countries around the globe, an increase from 22 countries during 2010. Nearly 70 per cent of breaches originated in Eastern Europe and less than 25 per cent originated in North America.

The report covers 855 data breaches that collectively spilled 174 million records, the second highest number since Verizon began collating this type of data back in 2004. External attacks were blamed for the vast majority (98 per cent) of data breaches. This external attacker group includes organised crime, activist groups, former employees, lone hackers and organisations sponsored by foreign governments.

Hacktivism by groups like Anonymous and LulzSec figured in many data breaches last year. Wade reckons recent arrests might reverse this trend, but he's far from sure on this point.

"Anonymous is a movement. It's hard to stop a movement by taking out individuals," he said.

Attacks were overwhelming led by outsiders of one type or another. Only 4 per cent of attacks relied on the involvement of internal employees. Business partners were a factor in than 1 per cent of data breaches.

Hacking appeared in 81 per cent of breaches (compared with 50 per cent in 2010) and malware featured in 69 per cent of breaches last year (also up from the 49 per cent recorded in 2010).

The increase is easily explained: hacking and malware offer outsiders an easy way to exploit security flaws and gain access to confidential data. The ready availability of easy-to-use hacking tools also contributes to this effect.

Social engineering (tricking end users into doing something stupid or handing over information to attackers) and SQL injection attacks against vulnerable webservers also figured as a factor in many attacks.

Another important factor in attacks is the slow speed at which organisations patch up vulnerable systems and the length of time between a successful compromise and its discovery, which is most often measured in months or even years. Third parties continue to detect the majority of breaches (92 per cent).

Industrial espionage revealed criminal interest in stealing trade secrets and gaining access to intellectual property. "This trend, while less frequent, has serious implications for the security of corporate data, especially if it gains steam," Verizon warns.

Wade said that attacks involving intellectual property theft were an "undercurrent in [the] data set". Industrial espionage was the prime motive in around 5 per cent of attacks, he said. In such cases insider involvement was more common.

While compliance programmes, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, provide sound steps to increasing security, being PCI compliant does not make an organisation immune from attacks.

The US Secret Service and the Met Police's Central e-Crime Unit collaborated with Verizon in preparing the report, which this year also involved input from other police agencies in the Netherlands and Australia. Verizon's annual study, now in its fifth year, is considered among the best of its type in the infosec business.

Verizon's report, which includes separate recommendations for enterprises and small businesses on guarding against cyber attacks, can be found here [Note 1] :

http://www.verizon.com/enterprise/2012dbir/us

(16th April 2012)


 

ONGOING INVESTIGATION OF THE DEATH OF MR KESTER DAVID
(From Met Police Neighbourhood link e-mail, dated 12th April 2012)

This is the latest update in respect to a fresh investigation into the death of a man in Palmers Green in 2010 is to take place.

Police were called at 11:10hrs on 7th July 2010 to reports of a body beneath a railway arch in Broomfield Lane, N13.

Enquiries were undertaken and the body was identified as Kester David, aged 53, of Wood Green.

A post-mortem examination gave cause of death as burns and inhalation of fumes. Enfield borough police investigated the case and concluded the death was non-suspicious.

An inquest took place at Barnet Coroner's Court on 31 January 2011 and recorded an open verdict.

Following concerns from Mr David's family, two reviews into the investigation were carried out by senior officers from Enfield borough in September 2011 and January 2012.

The results of those reviews remain under consideration and detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command are to reinvestigate.They retain an open mind about the circumstances of Mr David's death.

Officers will be in close contact with the family throughout the investigation to discuss its progress with them.

Could you please contact you local Safer Neighbourhood Team if you, your friends or family have any concerns in respect to the above investigation.

If you have any information about the death of Mr Kester David you can provide this anonymously via Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 .

Crimestoppers is an independent charity (www.crimestoppers-uk.org)

(13th April 2012)


 

SOUTH YORKSHIRE PCSO's COULD GET BIGGER FRONT-LINE POLICING ROLE
(BBC News, dated 12th April 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Police community support officers (PCSOs) in South Yorkshire could take on a bigger front-line policing role if new plans are given the go-ahead.

A report to be considered by South Yorkshire Police Authority suggests PCSOs should become the "first line of contact" for the public.

This would free up regular officers for other duties, the report states.

The South Yorkshire Police Federation criticised the plan, saying officers and PCSOs should work together.

If the authority approves the proposal, PCSOs would be given the role of Local Beat Officers (LBOs) with responsibility for one or more beats.

'Reputational risks'
 
The move would mean regular PCs could be "better utilised and make better use of their warranted powers and problem-solving abilities", the report suggests.

It recommends that PCSOs receive extra training to prepare them for their new role and responsibilities.

The South Yorkshire force could face "reputational risks" if regular PCs were no longer the first point of contact for members of the public, the report concedes, but it concluded that "service will not suffer and should actually improve".

David Crompton, South Yorkshire's new Chief Constable, said the recommendations were merely an attempt to match the duties of regular police officers and PCSOs with the powers they had.

'Same coverage'
 
The number of police officers and PCSOs in South Yorkshire would not be affected if the proposals were approved, said Mr Crompton "Nobody is being taken away from these areas. They will get exactly the same sort of coverage they have done," he said.

PCSOs were "the glue that sticks neighbourhood policing together", Mr Crompton added.

Jim Lucas, from the South Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file police officers, said he could not accept the proposal.

"What we don't want is for police officers to only turn up when someone needs either arresting or dealing with," said Mr Lucas.

"We don't want to be seen to be the bad guys. We've spent years and years with communities building up a relationship with the police."

South Yorkshire Police Authority will consider the proposal at a meeting on Friday.

Comment

We are now moving into the world of management accountancy - this looks like another piece of someones Police MBA ( see Police Privatisation article on the website dated 6th March 2012).

(13th April 2012)



THE VICTIM FIRST
(The Job - Met Police in-house magazine, dated February / March 2012)
www.met.police.uk

 

Summary : Describes the Mets new initiative "Total Victim Care"

In many areas of policing, the Met is the best at what it does. But one area where we've consistently lagged behind all other forces is victim care. Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has made it a central priority to not just improve satisfaction among those we serve, but to eventually be the best at it in the country. After all, it's why many of us joined the police in the first place, isn't it? We wanted to help people - and that doesn't end with catching the criminals, it extends to making sure that the people who are affected by crime feel thatwe are there to help them get through it.

The name of the Met initiative to improve customer satisfaction is Total Victim Care - part of the Commissioner's overall strategy that also calls for a Total War on Crime and Total Professionalism. It places victim careat the centre of our culture and creates consistency in victim satisfaction across our B/OCUs and communities. It will also be a central tenet for an off icer's promotion and progression.

"Victim care is no longer a peripheral issue for the Met but should be at the forefront of everyone's minds as we each go about our day-to-day work," says Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh. "No crime is routine and every one can be traumatic for the victim. Showing consistent care is one way that we achieve justice for them."
Everyone in the organisation has a part to play in ensuring we treat victims well. Each business group has submitted an action plan of how they will deliver the strategy and improve performance around the key areas of Contact, Actions and Treatment, and Follow Up, all key drivers in victim satisfaction. They also showed how they would coordinate plans in the larger scheme of things, taking into account liaison with other Met change programmes such as TP Development and the Confidence agenda.

Improvements have already begun in parts of the Met. The new centralised Telephone Investigation Bureau (TIB) has new guidance to deliver a higher level of service to volume crime victims. All calls from TIB will be recorded from March 2012 and supervisors will quality assure the standard of the initial investigation and the standard of care of victims. Performance of TIB and frontline officers will be scrutinised so that victims receive equally high-quality service whether they report a crime by phone or in person.

PHASE ONE ROLLING OUT

In February, the first phase of Total Victim Care was launched, complemented by a communications campaign, spearheaded by the Commissioner in his briefings to officers, and by an intranet and poster campaign by the DPA.

The way that the Met does business changed overnight. TP is launching three key initiatives that will affect uniform officers, crime management units and CID. Below are those changes.

VICTIM CARE CARDS

Officers have four-page information Victim Care Cards to give to victims during the initial crime investigation.

They've been sent to frontline officers in every directorate and lay out what the victim can expect from the Met.

Richard Gittings, Head of Customer Service for TP, says: "Our officers told us that there are so many pressures in modern policing and processes can be so complex that they needed an easy way to remember it all.
"So we devised the Victim Care Card, which will provide a higher quality of service to the victim and make it easier for the officer." On the front of the card, the investigating officer writes their name and the email address for the BOCU Crime Management Unit, the incident number and name of their line manager. On the back, there are emergency and non-emergency numbers for the Met and promises to investigate the person's case to the standards laid out inside the card. Inside, the card has a tick box of everything the officer should have discussed with the victim (see box, right) and lays out the next steps (see box overleaf, 'The Next Steps').
Use of the card is mandatory for every crime report, regardless of crime type, and a card is left with every victim. Local supervisors or briefing officers will brief all officers on using the cards, in February.

VICTIM LETTERS

All victims of crime receive a letter that notifies whether their reported crime will be passed to a dedicated investigating officer or closed until further information comes to light. However, the letters were impersonal and didn't always fully explain why a particular decision on the investigation of their case had been reached.
As a result, TP redrafted the letters to include more detailed information and to improve the
information regarding Safer Neighbourhoods teams and Victim Support. The letter now provides detail of the work we carry out that the victim may not be aware of, such as the analysis in the BIU. Victims can also phone their local Crime Management Unit if they want more information about why their investigation has been closed.

VICTIM'S CODE OF PRACTICE GUIDANCE (VCOP)

With the imminent closure of Victim Focus Units, investigating officers on boroughs are now required to update victims according to the VCOP. TP has put together a briefing to ensure that investigating officers understand the requirements of VCOP. The code requires police to complete 47 obligations within one to five days, depending on the victim's vulnerability. The main change for CID is that the OIC must make initial contact with the victim within 24 hours of being allocated the crime. The new VCOP guidance outlines the minimum standards for this contact and the points to cover. The OIC must come to an agreement with the victim around the frequency and method of update.

CHANGES AT TP

TP has recognised that keeping victims updated can be a challenge for officers working shifts and with high caseloads. To make it easier for investigating officers, particularly CID, the Met will roll out key innovations during 2012:

* Aide-mémoires for CID officers that must be displayed on every terminal in every CID office and writing room;

* CRIS is being upgraded to auto-prompt the OIC to contact victims, making it much easier to comply with and even exceed VCOP obligations;

* The Victim Care Cards prompt the initial investigating officer to record the victim's email address. This is critical to making it easier for secondary investigators to contact them;

* DoI is developing the introduction of TrackMyCrime, a secure online service for victims to follow the progress of their case investigation. The system is successfully being used in other forces across the country, including Avon and Somerset, which hosts the portal. CID officers in Avon and Somerset report that this has made compliance with VCOP much easier, switching the main form of contact to email and providing a seamless experience for the victim between initial investigation all the way through to the case going to court;

* Possible automatic referral to the Victim Support Service for all victims, based on best practice in Leicestershire.

MEASURING COMPLIANCE:

QUALITY CALL BACK (QCB)

A key part of improving the standards of service to victims is through effective compliance and supervision.

Officers and staff should be aware that any victim of crime may be contacted by the Met and the performance of the officer assessed. TP has redesigned the Quality Call Back (QCB) process and will launch the new system in February.

QCB will be standard across the Met and the feedback will be provided quickly to sergeants and inspectors so that they can share best practice and highlight good work, while driving improvement when the service has been lacking. BOCU Commanders will be measured on the results of QCB and the extent to which they use the process to drive improvement.

In the spring, there will be an Awards dinner to recognise those who demonstrate good practice in bringing the Commissioner's priorities forward. Victim Care will be a major category during the ceremony.

DID YOU REMEMBER?

- During the initial investigation of a crime, don't forget to discuss the following items with the victim…
- Your role as the initial investigator
- Any vulnerabilities you feel they might have, and offer to refer them to Victim Support
- Have they been a victim of crime before?
- Details of the crime, potential evidence, like forensics, CCTV or house-to-house enquiries, and their expectations of the police response
- Crime prevention advice
- Their contact details, including email
- What the next steps are, including what will happen to their crime report, and decisions about further investigation
- Their understanding of what you've told them and the information given.

Comment

As this was from an in-house Police magazine it is full of abbreviations and acronyms, but you can get the gist of the initiative.

The thing is, can you teach empathy for a victim ? Can you write a checklist that covers every problem or concern that a victim has ?

The initiative appears to be based on another paper process that the police need to follow. I understood that they were meant to be cutting back on paperwork so more Bobbies can get back on the beat. The thing is, if a

Bobby doesn't follow the 47 items on the "Total Victim Care" checklist they will get issues placed against them in their annual appraisal.

This looks like it was based on something that was going around most organisations in the late 80's, early 90's. Total Quality Management (TQM); where organisations were meant to look up to Marks & Spencer and Rolls Royce. You know the companies; the retailer who has all of its clothes made outside the UK and the premium car company now owned by the Germans with a German engine ! There is bound to be "Quality Wheel" diagram in this process that includes feedback and self congratulation; oh and don't forget statistics.

Looking at the "Did you remember" list above, they appear to have forgotten one item; did you turn up in the first place !

As TQM is involved this looks like another piece of someones Police MBA ( see Police Privatisation article on the website dated 6th March 2012).

(12th April 2012)


 

COUNCILS' FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD GETS NEW PACKAGE OF ONLINE TOOLS
(Guardian Government Computing, dated 5th April 2012)
www.guardian.co.uk  [Note 1]

Local authorities will be able to use a set of online products to help them fight housing tenancy, council tax and blue badge parking frauds, under new government guidelines.

The tools have been created as part of the Fighting fraud locally strategy. The strategy was the result of an eight month review led by the National Fraud Authority (NFA), and is being supported by the department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Local Government Association (LGA).

The NFA said it worked with private and public sector partners to develop the online package of anti-fraud products and guides to support the strategy, including:

• A fraud checklist to help local authorities identify possible gaps in a council's current fraud response.

• An online fraud resilience check to help local authorities measure their resilience to fraud and assess if they need to improve.

• A counter-fraud and corruption e-learning training course to help councils raise levels of awareness among staff and facilitate better detection rates.

• An online 'fraud zone' and discussion forum containing examples of anti-fraud best practice.

The free fraud resilience assessment tool asks users to answer 29 questions, based on professional standards for counter fraud work. It assesses the extent to which their organisation is effectively protected against fraud and is designed to help authorities ensure they have adequate protection in place.

Mike Haley, the NFA's director of public sector fraud, said: "If councils implement the recommendations and adopt the good practice set out in the strategy significant savings could be made - money which can be used to protect frontline services. We hope the free products we have helped develop will make a tangible difference in helping defeat fraudsters who target councils."

In its recently published annual fraud indicator report, the NFA estimates that fraud costs the economy £73bn a year - £2.2bn of which affects local government.

(10th April 2012)


 

FAKE COP TROJAN FALSELY "DETECTS OFFENSIVE MATERIALS" ON PC'S
(The Register, dated 5th April 2012 author John Leyden)

Full article [Note 1] : http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/05/police_themed_ransomware/

Security firms are warning about a rash of police-themed ransomware attacks.

The Reveton Trojan warns victims that illegal content has supposedly been detected on infected machines, displaying a message supposedly from local police agencies demanding payment to unlock machines.

To unlock an infected machine, marks (victims) are invited to purchase a Paysafecard and pay €100 to obtain an unlock code. But in reality users need not hand over any dosh to regain control of their PCs. Control of infected machines can be established by following a few simple steps. Similar recovery instructions from Microsoft can be found here.

"Even when somebody is savvy enough to recognise the message is a fake, the malware's accusations of offensive materials having been discovered on the user's hard drive creates a chilling effect, which has likely prevented some folks from seeking outside help," the Finnish security firm notes.

Further Information

f-secure description of solution [Note 1] : www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00002344.html

Based on the information on this f-secure webpage the fraudster have created individual webpages for the countries that they are targeting. These include : Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and the USA.

Similar recovery instructions from Microsoft can be found here [Note 1] :
www.microsoft.com/security/portal/Threat/Encyclopedia/Entry.aspx?Name=Trojan:Win32/Reveton.A#recovery_link

(9th April 2012)


 

UK HOME OFFICE WEBSITE ATTACKED BY ANONYMOUS GROUP

EXPECT MORE ONLINE ATTACKS' ANONYMOUS HACKERS SAY
(
BBC News, dated 8th April 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

The hacking group Anonymous says it will launch online attacks every weekend in the wake of allegations it disrupted access to the Home Office website.

Anonymous Twitter messages warned of the attack on 4 April, and said: "EXPECT a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) every Saturday on the UK Government sites." The website became inaccessible around 21:00 BST on Saturday, and was patchy from 05:00 on Sunday.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack floods a webserver with so many requests that it can no longer respond to legitimate users.

One message on Twitter said it was a protest against "draconian surveillance proposals" but another claimed it was over extradition from the UK to the US.

There were also claims on Twitter that the 10 Downing Street website had been targeted as part of the same protest. This was dismissed by a Downing Street spokesman - but access to Number 10's site was slow and intermittent for a time.

It is not clear whether the protest was against email surveillance or extradition, but it could be both.

Extradition controversy
 
One tweet claiming to be from Anonymous said: "You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offence happened in the UK, so should the trial."

Last month the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said major changes were needed to the UK-US extradition treaty to restore "public faith".

The MPs said they believed it was "easier to extradite a British citizen to the USA than vice versa".

Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, has been fighting extradition to the US for 10 years.Mr McKinnon, of north London, is accused of hacking US military computer systems in 2002.

Chris Tappin, of Orpington, south-east London, was extradited to the US on 24 February over allegations of arms dealing. It has been claimed he conspired to sell batteries for use in Iranian missiles.

Student Richard O'Dwyer, of Chesterfield, is also fighting extradition on copyright infringement charges on a website he ran from the UK.

Earlier in the week the Home Office said it planned to "legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows" to bring in email surveillance measures.

Ministers say change is needed to help fight crime and terrorism, but critics warn it is an attack on privacy.

After the website was disrupted on Saturday evening a Home Office spokesman said: "We are aware of some reports that the Home Office website may be the subject of an online protest.

'Monitoring situation'
 
"We have put all potential measures in place and will be monitoring the situation very closely. If a successful denial of service attempt does occur tonight, we will liaise with the technical team and update as necessary," he added.

Anonymous is a loose group of "hacktivists" who came to the fore in 2010 in the wake of the emergence of Julian Assange's Wikileaks website.

Anonymous began by aiming DDoS attacks on websites, like the credit card firm Visa, who had withdrawn services from Wikileaks. But it has gradually changed into a grouping which claims to battle government surveillance and attempts to police the internet. Earlier this week Anonymous claimed to have defaced almost 500 websites in China. A message put on the hacked sites said the attack was carried out to protest against the Chinese government's strict control of its citizens.

(8th April 2012)


HALF A MILLION MAC COMPUTERS "INFECTED WITH MALWARE"
(BBC News, dated 5th April 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

More than half a million Apple computers have been infected with the Flashback Trojan, according to a Russian anti-virus firm. Its report claims that about 600,000 Macs have installed the malware - potentially allowing them to be hijacked and used as a "botnet". The firm, Dr Web, says that more than half that number are based in the US.

Apple has released a security update, but users who have not installed the patch remain exposed.

Flashback was first detected last September when anti-virus researchers flagged up software masquerading itself as a Flash Player update. Once downloaded it deactivated some of the computer's security software.

Later versions of the malware exploited weaknesses in the Java programming language to allow the code to be installed from bogus sites without the user's permission.

Remote control
 
Dr Web said that once the Trojan was installed it sent a message to the intruder's control server with a unique ID to identify the infected machine.

"By introducing the code criminals are potentially able to control the machine," the firm's chief executive Boris Sharov told the BBC.

"We stress the word potential as we have never seen any malicious activity since we hijacked the botnet to take it out of criminals' hands. However, we know people create viruses to get money.

"The largest amounts of bots - based on the IP addresses we identified - are in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, so it appears to have targeted English-speaking people."

Dr Web also notes that 274 of the infected computers it detected appeared to be located in Cupertino, California - home to Apple's headquarters.

Update wait
 
Java's developer, Oracle, issued a fix to the vulnerability on 14 February, but this did not work on Macintoshes as Apple manages Java updates to its computers.

Apple released its own "security update" on Wednesday - more than eight weeks later. It can be triggered by clicking on the software update icon in the computer's system preferences panel.

The security firm F-Secure has also posted detailed instructions about how to confirm if a machine is infected and how to remove the Trojan.

Although Apple's system software limits the actions its computers can take without requesting their users' permission, some security analysts suggest this latest incident highlights the fact that the machines are not invulnerable.

"People used to say that Apple computers, unlike Windows PCs, can't ever be infected - but it's a myth," said Timur Tsoriev, an analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

Apple could not provide a statement at this time.

Further Information

Java update as quoted above [Note 1] : www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/security/javacpufeb2012-366318.html

Apple Support information [Note 1] : http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5228

Security company f-secure information [Note 1] :
www.f-secure.com/v-descs/trojan-downloader_osx_flashback_i.shtml

Dr Web information [Note 1]: http://news.drweb.com/show/?i=2341&lng=en&c=14

According to www.theregistry.co.uk [Note 1]: "The Mac-specific Flashback Trojan created a zombie army of 550,000 Mac machines by exploiting a Java hole that Apple only patched on Tuesday (3rd April 2012), six weeks after Microsoft plugged it up on Windows machines."
"The legions of compromised zombies were mostly located in the US (56.6 per cent, or 303,449 infected hosts), Canada (19.8 per cent, or 106,379 infected computers) and the UK (12.8 per cent or 68,577 cases of infection)".

(5th April 2012)


 RAC WHEEL THIEF PUT LIVES AT RISK, SAYS CAR OWNER
(London Evening Standard, dated 3rd April 2012 author Tom Harper)
www.thisislondon.co.uk  [Note 1]

An RAC patrolman was arrested after being filmed stealing wheels from a parked car and replacing them with bald tyres.

CCTV footage from a shop in Rainham caught him taking the wheels at about 2.30am from a Peugeot 206 owned by lorry driver Colin Dann. The thief was also filmed attaching the inferior tyres with two bolts instead of four.

Mr Dann, 40, said: "I got in the car to drive to work and it didn't feel right. I thought I'd better pump up the tyres and then realised they were not my tyres. They're almost bald. I took the hub caps off and noticed there were only two bolts."

He later retrieved the CCTV footage from the shop.

Mr Dann told The Sun: "The tyres he put on are illegal and I drove down the A13 at 50mph on them. If the wheels had come off it would have caused an accident or even a death."

A Met police spokesman said a 32-year-old man was arrested and cautioned for theft on Saturday, March 31.

An RAC spokesman said: "We notified police immediately and helped with their enquiries." RAC vans have tracking devices.

Comment

As the cost of motoring increases some people are trying other ways to save their money. The Police, DVLA and Insurance companies are improving the administration of MOT's and Road Tax. The Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) fixed to Police cars is starting to pick up the stray offenders. For the unscrupulous this only leaves :

- fuel fraud ( filtering agricultural fuel to remove the dye and using central heating fuel ) where there is lower duty.
- Syphoning off other peoples fuel.
- more theft of other peoples number plates.
- Theft of spares from other peoples cars (including tyres).
- Stealing other peoples tax discs, to cover cursery glances by foot Police at traffic lights etc.

Using the wheel theft mentioned in article above. If Mr Dan (the cars owner) had to purchase a set of 4 new tyres for his Peugeot 206 from Kwik Fit they would cost from £55 to £113 each. If a Ford Focus 1.6 owner was in the same position, the cost would be £63 - £93; and for a Vauxhall Astra 1.7 the cost would be £64 to £93. All prices include a new valve, balancing and VAT.

CRIME PREVENTION

On the other hand, a set of 4 locking wheel nuts and the associated key adapter cost from around £20 depending on make and model of vehicle (Amazon website, dated 4th April 2012) !

Also consider a locking road tax holder ( £10 - £20 ).

Locking screws for number plates. In this case your local police may fit them for free. Or a set from Halfords for about £4 ! A replacement set of number plates will cost around £50, plus all of the inconvenience of hunting out the vehicle registration documents and waiting for the plates to be made.

(5th April 2012)


 EU PLANS TOUGHER PUNISHMENT FOR HACKERS - AND THEIR BOSSES
(The Register, dated 3rd April 2012 author Out-Law.com *)
www.theregister.co.uk  [Note 1]

*Out-Law.com is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons

Full Article [Note 1] : www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/03/businesses_could_be_liable_for_criminal_offences_under_proposed_cyber_attack_laws/

The European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee overwhelmingly voted to approve proposals to criminalise certain activity relating to cyber attacks last week. The proposals contain plans to make specified "legal persons" within companies liable for certain offences.

"Legal persons would be liable for offences committed for their benefit (e.g. a company would be liable for hiring a hacker to get access to a competitor's database), whether deliberately or through a lack of supervision," the European Parliament said in a statement. "They would also face penalties such as exclusion for entitlement to public benefits or judicial winding-up."

EU member countries will be required to "ensure that their networks of national contact points are available round the clock" and that they can "respond to urgent requests within a maximum of eight hours" in order to prevent cyber-attacks spreading across borders.

The Committee's proposals would make it a criminal offence to conduct cyber attacks on computer systems. Individuals would face at least two years in jail if served with the maximum penalty for the offence.

A maximum penalty of at least five years in jail could apply if "aggravating circumstances" or "considerable damage. One aggravating circumstance in which the heavier penalty could be levied is if an individual uses 'botnet' tools "specifically designed for large-scale attacks".

Individuals found in possession of or distributing hacking software and tools also face criminal charges under the Committee's proposals.

Using another person's "electronic identity" in order to commit an attack that causes "prejudice to the rightful identity owner" could result in offenders serving a minimum of three years in jail if they are under the maximum penalties that could be imposed.

The Committee's rapporteur hopes to form agreement on a new EU Directive by the summer. Both the European Parliament and Council of Ministers would have to back the proposals for this to happen.

In the UK individuals can face up to 10 years in jail for serious offences under the Computer Misuse Act. Under the Act it is an offence :

- for a person to knowingly cause "a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer, or to enable any such access to be secured" without authorisation.

- if the unlawful computer access is used to commit, or facilitate, some other offences regardless of whether that subsequent offence is to take place in the future or is indeed possible to commit.

- if any unauthorised act with intent to impair the operation of any computer, prevent or hinder access to any program or data held in any computer, impair the operation of any such program or the reliability of any such data, or enabling those acts to be done.

- to make, adapt, supply or offer to supply any electronic program or data intending it, or knowingly it is likely, to be used or to assist in the commission of unlawful computer access or impairment.

- to supply electronic programs or data "with a view to its being supplied for use to commit, or to assist in the commission" of unlawful computer access or impairment.

(5th April 2012)


 

COMPUTER EXPERT WHO STOLE 8 MILLION PEOPLE'S PERSONAL DETAILS FROM PAYPAL
(Mail Online, dated 2nd April 2012 author Phil Vinter)
www.dailymail.co.uk  [Note 1]

A computer hacker illegally acquired enough credit and debit card details to carry out a potential £800,000 worth of fraud.

Edward Pearson, 23, of Lendale, York, used a trojan virus to download thousands of credit card details along with the postcodes, passwords, names and dates of birth of more than eight million people in the UK.

One of his programs scanned through 200,000 accounts registered to online payment service PayPal - identifying names, passwords and current balances.
Pearson, an 'incredibly talented' boarding school student who carried out the crime for an 'intellectual challenge', has been jailed for two years and two months.
He also managed to shut down part of the mobile phone giant Nokia's internal network for two weeks after hacking in and copying the details of over 8,000 members of staff, Southwark Crown Court heard.
His 21-year-old girlfriend, Cassandra Mennim, a sociology student at the University of York, triggered a police inquiry after she tried to pay for luxury hotel stays using stolen credit card details.

Pearson was arrested after investigators linked a web alias, 'G-Zero', which had appeared on hacking forums, to his personal email address.
On one of his computers officers found 8,110,474 names, dates of birth, and postcodes for adults living in the UK.
Police officers in the case said that if the details were printed onto double-sided A4 it would fill a staggering 67,500 sheets.

David Hughes, prosecuting, said the hacker had carried out a series of 'sophisticated, planned frauds.'
He said: 'Pearson used his considerable expertise for his criminal intentions.
'When police examined other computers they found the details of 2,701 credit or debit cards.

'Based on the average fraud used on a single card being £309, the potential gain to be made by him was £834,000.

'In fact the actual fraud on these credit and debit cards attributed to Pearson amounted to £2,351, but the total on the cards was £39,832.'

The details were all stolen over an 18-month period between January 1, 2010, and August 30, 2011.

Pearson coded trojan viruses, called Zeus, SpyEye and Python, to automatically scour the internet in search of personal details.
His Python program successfully downloaded the details of 200,000 PayPal accounts.

Mr Hughes added that Pearson had hacked into the systems of Nokia and web giant AOL to gain access to their employees' details, as well as other sensitive information.
'This had a significant negative impact on the company, which had to shut its networks down for two weeks while checks were carried out on it,' he said.
Mennim was caught after booking rooms at the Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Lady Anne Middleton Hotel, both in York, using stolen credit card details and PayPal accounts.

Andrew Bodnar, defending Pearson, said his hacking had not been for financial gain, but more as an intellectual challenge. 'This is a young man who has very advance computer skills, but has put them to the wrong use, but he is not the criminal mastermind that everyone claims he is.'The total amount of money he fraudulently amounted, is the figure of £2,351.

'These have been done using the Paypal accounts, to order pizza and other takeaway foods, and to pay for mobile phone accounts.
'It is fair to say that he produced the Trojan, Zeus and other software as an intellectual challenge, and he hacked into Nokia to see if he could.' He added that although he had shared some of the details, he had never sold them.

Stephen Grattage, defending Mennim, who gained 9 A's and 4 A*'s at GCSEs, said she was a vulnerable young women who had found comfort in Pearson following a difficult previous relationship.'She stands before the court, saying she is ashamed of herself, and she is ashamed of her actions and is very sorry.'She says she will pay back the money that she owes to the hotel.'

Sentencing Pearson to two years and two months and handing Mennim a 12 month supervision order the judge Ms Recorder Ann Mulligan said: 'It is extremely regrettable that you two promising young individuals find yourself in the dock.'This was a very sophisticated crime, in which you managed to access highly confidential information and put many many individuals at risk of attack.'You had a staggering amount of personal details, 8.1 million, which included names, dates of births, credit and debit card details and security codes, the use of which they could have been used for, is hard to imagine.'Your computers and software were a devastating tool kit.'I accept that you didn't sell this information, but you shared it with other computer programmers, and you had no way of knowing how they might use this information.

'This stupendous criminality was not about financial gain, but about an intellectual challenge.'

Pearson, originally from Blandford Forum, Dorset, and now of Lendale, York, admitted making an article for use in fraud and two counts of possession of an article for use in fraud.

Mennim, of Balmoral Terrace, South Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, admitted two counts of obtaining services dishonestly.

(5th April 2012)


 

WHATS NEW IN COMPUTER SECURITY - MARCH 2012

All links under this heading are [Note 1].

ISP'S COMMIT TO NEW CYBERSECURITY MEASURES
(Computer World, dated 22nd March 2012 author Grant Gross)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7922009/930454165/557046/0/

A group of U.S. Internet service providers, including the four largest, have committed to taking new steps to combat three major cybersecurity threats, based on recommendations from a U.S. Federal Communications Commission advisory committee.

The ISPs, including AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications, committed Thursday to implement measures to fight botnets, domain name fraud and Internet route hijacking. The FCC's Communications, Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) adopted the recommendations for voluntary action by ISPs the same day


 

PRIVACY REGULATORS : US AND EU WILL TAKE DIFFERENT APPROACHES
(Computer World, dated 19th March 2012 author Grant Gross)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7915598/930454165/556499/0/

The development of online privacy protections is at a critical moment as policy makers in both the U.S. and European Union push for changes to their privacy rules, but coordination of enforcement across the Atlantic Ocean may be tricky, several privacy experts said Monday.

The U.S. and the E.U. have very different approaches to privacy enforcement, with the U.S. focused on enforcing privacy promises that companies make and the E.U. enforcing privacy rights even when companies make no promises, said Paul Nemitz, director of fundamental rights and citizenship at the European Commission. The E.U. sees privacy as a basic right, and "our citizens expect that these rights are enforced," he said at an E.U. conference on privacy and data protection at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington, D.C.


 

IN NEW ATTACK ON MOBILE HANDSETS, FRAUDSTERS TARGET ONE-TIME-PASSWORDS
(Computer World, dated 15th March 2012 author Taylor Armerding)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7909078/930454165/556199/0/

Security for mobile handsets keeps improving. But then, mobile threats to those handsets keep improving as well.

Among the most recent, reported by Trusteer, a Boston-based provider of secure web access services, are two online banking fraud schemes designed to defeat the one-time-password (OTP) authorization systems used by many banks.

According to Trusteer, these new threats go a step beyond earlier attacks in which criminals would change a victim's phone number to redirect OTPs to them.

"In these new scams, the criminals are stealing the actual mobile device SIM (subscriber identity module) card," the company said.


 

DIGITALLY SIGNED MALWARE IS INCREASINGLY PREVALENT
(Computer World, dated 15th March 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7909078/930454165/556197/0/

Malware authors are signing their malicious creations with stolen digital certificates to bypass antivirus detection and defense mechanisms

Security companies have recently identified multiple malware threats that use stolen digital certificates to sign their components in an attempt to avoid detection and bypass Windows defenses.

When it was discovered in 2010, the Stuxnet industrial sabotage worm surprised the security industry with its use of rootkit components that were digitally signed with certificates stolen from semiconductor manufacturers Realtek and JMicron.

What is this then ?  : When a Hardware or software company produce a program that will interact with Windows they typically request a security certificate from an authority body such as Verisign. If and when you try to download a new program, Windows will automatically look for the "Certificate" before allowing the download to go ahead.



18 FIRMS SUED FOR USING PRIVACY-INVADING MOBILE APPS
(Computer World, dated 15th March 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7906661/930454165/555971/0/

Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Yelp and 14 other companies have been hit with a lawsuit accusing them of distributing privacy-invading mobile applications.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of 13 individuals in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas earlier this week. The suit charges 18 companies with surreptitiously gathering data from the address books of tens of millions of smartphone users.

"The defendants -- several of the world's largest and most influential technology and social networking companies -- have unfortunately made, distributed and sold mobile software applications that, once installed on a wireless mobile device, surreptitiously harvest, upload and illegally steal the owner's address book data without the owner's knowledge or consent," the lawsuit alleged.


 

ANONYMOUS TAKES DOWN SECURITY FIRMS WEBSITE
(Computer World, dated 7th March 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7894809/930454164/555239/0/

Hackers claiming to belong to the Anonymous hacking collective early Wednesday defaced Panda Security's PandaLabs website in apparent response to the arrests of five hackers Tuesday in the U.K. and the U.S.

In a characteristically defiant message posted on PandaLabs' hacked homepage, Anonymous taunted the former LulzSec leader Sabu for helping the FBI nab the hackers, and vowed to carry on its hactivist campaign regardless of the setback.

"We are Antisec we'll fight till the end," the message noted. "To FBI and other s.... come at us bros we are waiting for you," it noted. The message was preceded by a seven-minute video clip set to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" that appeared to recap Anonymous' activities over the past year.

The attackers also posted what seemed to be the login credentials of numerous Panda Labs employees on the defaced homepage. They noted that the attack on the security firm's site was in retaliation for Panda's alleged role in helping law enforcement crack down on members of the hacking collective.



HACKERS CLAIMING TO BE FROM ANONYMOUS TAKE OUT VATICAN SITE
(Computer World, dated 7th March 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7892867/930454165/555023/0/

The main website of the Vatican was inaccessible Wednesday after what appears to have been an attack by malicious hackers claiming to be affiliated with the Anonymous hacking collective.

An Associated Press story in USA Today quoted Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi as confirming the site's unavailability but declining to comment on the likely source of the problem.

The Vatican could not be reached for comment at deadline.

A website claiming to be the official blog of Anonymous in Italy on Wednesday posted a message taking credit for the attack. A rough Google translation of the message, which is in Italian, suggests that the site was taken down to protest church doctrine and the molestation of children, by clergy members.

The message makes references to the church's alleged prosecution of detractors, its allegedly anachronistic views and the sexual abuse of children by priests.




MOST ORGANISATIONS TAKE MONTHS, YEARS TO DISCOVER A BREACH
(Computer World, dated 1st March 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

 

FUll Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7883406/930454165/554332/0/

Over 90 percent of data breaches are the result of external attacks and almost 60 percent of organizations discovered them months or years later, Verizon said in a report released at the RSA security conference on Wednesday.

Called the Verizon 2011 Investigative Response Caseload Review, it compiles statistics from 90 data breach cases investigated by the company's incident response team last year, and provides a preview of Verizon's larger annual report that will contain data collected from additional sources like national CERTs and law enforcement agencies.

The report concludes that 92 percent of data breach incidents have had an external cause, which conflicts with the findings of other security vendors, according to whom most data breaches are the result of internal threats.


 

INTERNET VOTING SYSTEMS TOO INSECURE
(Computer World, dated 1st March 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7883406/930454165/554328/0/


Internet voting systems are inherently insecure and should not be allowed in the upcoming general elections, a noted security researcher said at the RSA Conference 2012 being held here this week.

David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and chairman of the election watchdog group Verified Voting, called on election officials around the country to drop plans to allow an estimated 3.5 million voters to cast their ballots over the Internet in this year's general elections.

In an interview with Computerworld on Wednesday, Jefferson warned that the systems that enable such voting are far too insecure to be trusted and should be jettisoned altogether.

(31st March 2012)


 

THREE US CREDIT FIRMS WARN OF SECURITY BREACH
(BBC News, dated 30th March 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Visa, Mastercard and Discover have warned that credit card holders' personal information could be at risk after a security breach.

The firms said there had been "no breach" of its own system, instead blaming a third party.Security blog KrebsOnSecurity, which first reported the story, said industry sources believed more than 10 million cards may have been compromised.

Reports suggested the stolen details had been obtained in New York.

The Wall Street Journal quoted its own industry sources as saying card-processing firm Global Payments was the company that suffered the breach. Shares in the company fell by more than 9% on Friday. Global Payments has not responded to requests for comment.

Concern
 
None of the three companies, which are the three of the largest credit card processors would confirm how many customers were affected.

Visa and Mastercard, also used for debit cards of major US banks, said they had notified banks of the breach.Discover Financial Services said it was monitoring accounts and would reissue cards if necessary.

In a statement, Mastercard said: "[We are] concerned whenever there is any possibility that cardholders could be inconvenienced and we continue to both monitor this event and take steps to safeguard account information. "If cardholders have any concerns about their individual accounts, they should contact their issuing financial institution."

Visa echoed Mastercard's statement, emphasising that its customers are not responsible for fraudulent purchases.

Gartner analyst Avivah Litan said she believed the breach was related to a taxi garage in New York City. "So if you've paid a NYC cab in the last few months with your credit or debit card - be sure to check your card statements for possible fraud," she said.

Further Information

Original source of information [Note 1] :

http://krebsonsecurity.com/2012/03/mastercard-visa-warn-of-processor-breach/#more-14393

Important Note : It appears that it is currently only US customers that have been affected by this problem, but if you have visited the USA recently and have used any of the named credit cards it may be prudent to closely monitor your credit card transactions / statements over the forthcoming months.

(30th March 2012)




EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT CYBERCRIMS IS WRONG
(The Register, dated 29th March 2012 author John Leyden)
www.theregister.co.uk  [Note 1]

Assumptions about cyber-criminals are all wrong, according to a study that argues many fraudsters are middle aged and possess only rudimentary IT skills - contrary to the elite bedroom teen hackers portrayed in movies.

 

The research, led by criminologist Dr Michael McGuire of The John Grieve Centre for Policing and Security at London Metropolitan University, blames 80 per cent of cybercrime on your common-or-garden gangsters. Contrary to Hollywood film scripts, cybercrime is far from the preserve of tech-savvy youths - nearly half (43 per cent) of cyber-crooks are over 35 years old, and less than a third (29 per cent) are under 25.

More cyber-crooks (11 per cent) are over 50 than youngsters aged between 14 and 18, who make up only eight per cent of e-crims, according to the doctor and his team.

The study, sponsored by BAE Detica, is billed as the first comprehensive analysis of the nature of criminal organisations involved in e-crime. The document could help cops tackle banking fraud and other scams more effectively by challenging existing assumptions about the cyber-crook demographic.

The availability of crimeware, which can be easily distributed or purchased, means getting ready-made viruses that exploit the vulnerabilities of individual systems to running botnets of hijacked computers can be accomplished without any particular technical skills. Cyber-crooks are now just as likely to be street gangs, drug traffickers or established crime families as those traditionally associated with digital crime such as ID fraudsters or hacking syndicates.

The "deskilling" of cybercrime has allowed many traditional offline scams to be applied online. For example, money laundering has been extended to the creation of money mule networks to siphon funds from compromised web accounts, and the control of drugs markets has been applied in selling unlicensed medicines.

How many are in your gang?
Half the groups involved in cybercrime are made up of six individuals or more, with one quarter comprising 11 or more. However there's little or no correlation between group size and the impact or scope of offending.

A small group of cyber-crooks can inflict huge financial harm against targeted institutions. And many cybercrime crews have been operating for months rather than years. A quarter (25 per cent) of active groups have operated for less than six months, the Organised Crime in the Digital Age study concludes.

The report reveals that certain clusters of criminal activity exhibit more organisation or structure than others on a spectrum that extends from decentralised swarms through to highly organised hierarchies. In some cases classic crime families that have begun to move their offline activities into cyberspace - rubbing shoulders with extremist groups recruiting members online, and protesters coordinating riots using web tools.

Professor John Grieve, founder of policing centre, commented:

To tackle the problem of digital crime and intervene successfully, we need to move away from traditional models and embrace this new information about how organised criminals operate in a digital context.
The research found evidence of many cases where there has been real success in closing down digital criminal operations. Growth in the digital economy will inevitably cause an increase in organised digital crime, however this need not be seen as an insurmountable problem. Rather, it is a predictable problem that - by better understanding the perpetrators and their working methods - we can meet head on.

The team of researchers who carried out the study combined seeking out information by hand with advanced search tools - such as Detica's NetReveal Analyzer, a bit of gear designed to turn large amounts of structured and unstructured data into intelligence. Stage one of the research involved a review of evidence made up of over 7,000 documentary sources, including public and private documentation to analyse the technologies, activities, group characteristics and miscreants involved in cybercrime.

Then the team performed a demographic analysis of initial organisational patterns found in these sources, and compared the results with evidence from interviews with expert practitioners. Finally, a network analysis of the organisational patterns and activities that emerged at the earlier stages of the research process was carried out to arrive at the study's final conclusions.

(29th March 2012)


 

EUROPE TO ASSEMBLE CRACK CYBER-INTELLIGENCE NERVE CENTRE
(The Register, dated 28th March 2012 author John Leyden)
www.theregister.co.uk  [Note 1]

Brussels hopes to establish a European Cybercrime Centre within the continent's police agency Europol by the start of January.

The centre proposed by the European Commission will focus on thwarting online banking fraud, attacks against smartphones, and large-scale coordinated assaults on public services and infrastructure. Other priorities will include protecting social network profiles, halting ID theft and combating the sexual exploitation of children online.

National police agencies, government-run organisations and private sector technology firms across many countries are already grappling with these problems, of course. Eurocrats want the proposed anticrime squad to act as an intelligence and co-ordination hub, as explained in this statement issued on Wednesday:

The centre would pool European cybercrime expertise and training efforts. It would warn EU countries of major cybercrime threats, of new ways to commit online crimes and identify organised cybercrime networks and prominent offenders in cyberspace.
The centre would also be able to respond to queries from cybercrime investigators, prosecutors and judges as well as the private sector on specific technical and forensic issues. It would provide operational support in concrete investigations and help set up cybercrime joint investigation teams.

In related news, a European parliamentary committee put forward a draft directive on Tuesday calling for criminal laws against computer hacking to be enacted across all EU countries, with the maximum penalty set at two years or more, or at least five years if there are aggravating factors - such as financial motivation or attacks that cause widespread disruption.

The proposal also calls for measures to make companies liable for attacks carried out for their benefit and the outlawing of hacking tools.

One man's hacking tool is another man's penetration testing utility, of course. Fortunately the fine print of the proposals recognises this distinction

(29th March 2012)


 

WHAT CAN AND CAN'T YOU SAY ON TWITTER ? (Summary)
(BBC News, dated 28th March 2012 authors Sarah Bell, Vanessa Barford and Lauren Everitt)

Full article : www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17530450

A student who made racially offensive comments about footballer Fabrice Muamba on Twitter has been jailed for 56 days - the latest case where a comment made on social media has landed someone in court.

Lawyers say there are lots of pieces of UK legislation that can be used to prosecute someone who has fallen foul of the law in the online arena.

So what have people posted that is likely to land them in prison?

Abusive messages

It seems Twitter has become a new terrace for footballers and fans to receive abuse, with a series of convictions so far this year.

The recent case of the individual who was jailed after drunkenly sending a series of abusive tweets in the aftermath of Bolton player Fabrice Muamba's collapse. Having charged him under the Crime and Disorder Act with making racially aggravated comments, the Crown Prosecution Service said it hoped he served as a warning to people posting comments online.

Last month, a Sunderland, received a four-month suspended jail sentence after posting racist comments aimed at Newcastle United fans, under the Malicious Communications Act.

And last week a law student , admitted bombarding former footballer Stan Collymore with a series of racist tweets in an attempt to "snare a celebrity" by provoking a reaction. He was charged under section 127 of the Communications Act with sending grossly offensive messages and given a two-year community order.

Wendy Williams (Head of the CPS in the North East), said : "When a person makes such comments digitally, they effectively hand police and prosecutors much of the evidence needed to build a robust case against them."

Encouraging Riots

Last summer's riots in England saw two people jailed for their posts on social networking sites despite the fact no trouble was reported in either area. One was jailed for four years for encouraging rioting after he created a Facebook event entitled "Smash down in Northwich Town. The other was to a person who invited people to "riot" in Warrington. Both men pleaded guilty under sections 44 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act to intentionally encouraging another to assist the commission of an indictable offence.

Ian Kelcey, chairman of the Law Society of England and Wales's criminal law committee says "With the riots there was potential for serious harm and injury. The Muamba tweet was disgusting and offensive but not likely to create greater acts of criminality"

Menacing Communications

In a moment of frustration an individual from Doncaster sent a tweet reading: "Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"

He was convicted of sending "a message of a menacing character", contrary to provisions of the 2003 Communications Act, fined £385 and ordered to pay £600 costs after judges said it was "clearly menacing".

Prof Duncan Bloy, a media law expert at Cardiff University's School of Journalism, warns that many people do not know the criminal and civil consequences of making comments on social networking sites.

"There was a survey conducted by one of the big global law firms at the end of last year, it found that 65% of respondents, and they were mainly young people, had no idea of the legal consequences of going online," he says.

Kelcey's advice is that people should ask themselves whether they would be prepared to shout it out in a crowded room. "If in doubt don't shout should be the bottom line," he says.

Contempt

The viability of injunctions in the age of social media has been challenged by a number of high-profile cases over the last year.

When a famous footballer, asked Twitter to hand over details of users who had broken an injunction to reveal his identity, hundreds more responded by naming him.

In theory, they were guilty of contempt of court under the law of England and Wales and liable to an unlimited fine or even a two-year prison sentence. But it was suggested by legal analyst Joshua Rozenberg that they would have found safety in numbers.

The Contempt of Court Act 1981 states that once someone is arrested or charged, there should be no public comments about them which could risk seriously prejudicing their trial.

Libel

Last year, a councillor in Caerphilly, Wales, was ordered to pay £3,000 and costs to a political rival for posting libellous comments on Twitter.

Kelcey says : "People need to remember that Twitter and other social networking sites are "published" in much the same way as a newspaper". "In fact publications through this type of medium are arguably worse as they stay on the internet for a long time and can be difficult to remove. There is no doubt either as to the author which makes prosecution easier". "Publications in newspapers have usually gone through an editorial process so the more dangerous remarks are likely to be edited out and there is time for mature reflection before publication," he says.

(29th March 2012)



BT UNLEASHES NEW TECHNOLOGY TO CATCH CABLE THEIVES
(BT Online News, dated 26th March 2012)
www.btplc.com/News  [Note 1] 

BT today launched a new burglar alarm weapon in the fight against cable thieves. The technology, called RABIT, can act within minutes and detect when a cable has been cut or damaged, accurately pin-pointing an incident to a road or street.

RABIT alerts BT's Security Control Centre, and Police response teams, when cable thieves attack the company's UK telephone and broadband network. A trial of the technology has already forced cable thieves to flee the scene of the crime, in Essex, empty handed.

RABIT (Rapid Assessment Bt Incident Tracker) was trialled in December 2011. The technology constantly monitors the BT network and detects when communication has been disconnected.
Luke Beeson, general manager, BT Security, said: "BT's new burglar alarm on the network will make thieves think again. We are now able to inform the Police of the exact location of malicious network attacks and, if trials are anything to go by, it won't be long before they start catching the thieves in the act."

Paul Crowther, Deputy Chief Constable of the British Transport Police and metal theft lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "In my view this technology will significantly improve Police response times to cable theft incidents and will act as a major deterrent to criminals engaged in this activity. More importantly, communities and businesses should see a sharp reduction in the disruption caused by this type of theft. This is an early example of how Government funding has helped the National Police Metal Theft task Force, assist BT in the battle against cable theft."

The numbers of arrests related to BT cable theft are continuing to rise, with the average number of arrests per month up nearly eight per cent on last year. In the last 11 months the number of arrests has reached more than 480, already more than the 446 arrests in 2010. It is estimated that around 80 per cent of BT's cable theft is carried out by organised crime gangs. BT recovered 240 tonnes of stolen metal in the past eleven months, as a result of visits to scrap metal dealers and working with Police forces on targeted operations and national metal theft days of action.

RABIT is one of a number of measures used by BT Security to help battle copper theft, which cost BT and its customers millions of pounds each year.

Other security measures deployed by BT include using SmartWater, an invisible paint that tags thieves and an Openreach partnership with Crimestoppers. BT also has a dedicated Metal Theft Task Force, which focuses its resources on the enhancement of network security. The Task Force gathers and analyses intelligence from cable theft incidents and help disrupt disposal routes for stolen metal.

(29th March 2012)


 

WARNING TO THE ELDERLY AFTER THIEVES POSE AS POLICE
(Surrey Police, dated 22nd March 2012)
www.surrey.police.uk

Surrey Police is warning elderly residents to be on their guard as officers investigate a series of distraction burglaries and thefts in which the offenders claim to be police officers.
Detectives are looking at around 30 incidents across the county where elderly people, often living alone, have been approached by offenders posing as police officers or UK Border officials to gain entry into homes.

Victims are approached by between one and three men in dark clothing either at their front door or discover they have entered their property through an insecure door. When confronted, the men often claim they are police officers investigating a crime and show false identification before stealing items.

In some cases the offenders have forced their way inside a property whilst the occupier is in another room or asleep and when challenged have claimed to be police officers.

Over the last three months offences have been reported in Elmbridge, Guildford, Spelthorne, Epsom, and Mole Valley. Last Friday evening (March 16) a 90-year-old woman in Hersham was targeted by thieves posing as police officers who showed her a false silver badge before stealing two handbags and a significant amount of cash. During the incident they pulled the victim's handbag away from her causing her to fall to the floor and injure herself. She was treated in hospital for injuries to her hip.

In another incident in Surrey Heath, two offenders approached the home of an elderly woman and claimed to be police officers who had caught a thief in her garden. They asked to come in under the guise of needed to search the home for evidence but on this occasion nothing of value was taken.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Karen Hughes said: "To target the most vulnerable members of our community in this way is despicable and cowardly. We are doing everything possible to find those responsible and anyone with information which could assist should contact police or call Crimestoppers anonymously

"Detectives are working closely with local Safer Neighbourhood Teams to gather information, look at CCTV and any forensic opportunities. We are also working with neighbouring police forces to see if these offences are occurring over a wider area."

This week Crimestoppers offered a £5,000 reward for information about the offence in Hersham which left a woman requiring hospital treatment.

Neighbourhood Superintendent Sharon Bush said: "Across the county Safer Neighbourhood Teams are working with their local communities and partner agencies, particularly those who support the elderly, to raise awareness of these crimes. We need people to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to us.

"If you live next door to someone who is vulnerable or have elderly relatives living alone please remind them to keep their doors secure even when they are at home and take precautions when answering the door to strangers. If you are not expecting the caller keep your door locked and ask to see some identification - perhaps through a window or letterbox. If you decide to open the door, engage the chain and keep it engaged until you are completely sure the caller is genuine. Genuine police officers will not mind waiting outside whilst you phone the Surrey Police switchboard on 101 to confirm their identity.

"If you do find intruders in your home, your personal safety is the priority. Stay calm and raise the alarm as soon as possible by calling the police."

(29th March 2012)


 

FOREIGN SPIES PENETRATE US MILITARY NETWORKS
(BBC News, dated 23rd March 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Foreign spies should be assumed to have penetrated the computer networks of the US military, American politicians have been told.

Security experts testifying to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee said the penetration was likely so complete that attempts to curb it should stop.

Instead, cyberdefence should be about protecting data not controlling access.

The experts said the US should look into ways to retaliate against nations that had access to its networks.

In an open session, experts from the US National Security Agency and government labs said America had to change the way it thought about protecting Department of Defense (DoD) computer networks.

"We've got the wrong mental model here," said Dr James Peery, head of the Information Systems Analysis Centre at the Sandia National Laboratories. "I think we have to go to a model where we assume that the adversary is in our networks."

'Delayed drowning'
 
That change would mean spending less time shoring up firewalls and gateways and more time ensuring data was safe, he said.

Dr Kaigham Gabriel, current head of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, likened the current cybersecurity efforts of the US DoD to treading water in the middle of the ocean.

All that did was slightly delay the day when the DoD drowned under the weight of maintaining its network defences, he said. The DoD oversees 15,000 networks that connect about seven million devices.

"It's not that we're doing wrong things, it's just the nature of playing defence in cyber," Dr Gabriel said.

The poor defences that the US military could muster were made weaker by its hiring system, said Dr Michael Wertheimer, director of research and development at the NSA.

Low pay, delays over promotion and wage freezes made it very hard for the US government to attract and keep talented computer security staff, he said.

The open session was followed by a closed debate about the capabilities the US was developing to hit back against those who had won access to sensitive networks.

(29th March 2012)


 

YOUR SECRETS FOR SALE AT 2P
(The Sunday Times, dated 18th March 2012 author Mazher Mahmoud)
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk  [Note 1]

The personal and up to date data of millions of Britons is being offered for sale by corrupt call centre staff in India for as little as 2p per person, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Criminals who download the confidential information offered undercover reported a sample of credit card details and medical and financial records that could be used used by identity fraudsters and unscrupulous marketing firms.

The Sunday Times tracked down some of the hundreds of people featured in the sample data to confirm the veracity of the information.

One pair of data traders said they had access to 45 different sets of personal data covering 500,000 Britons.

The Information Commissioners Office, responsible for the laws governing personal data, said it would investigate the findings.

Richard Bacon, a Conservative member of the Commons public accounts committee, is to write to David Cameron urging a review into the data security at call centres. Told of our findings he said;" This is shocking and it is not just a matter for the organisations involved but for the government. I am concerned this is a growing problem and the government should investgate."

The authorities in India say their efforts to tackle corruption are being stymied by the refusal of companies, anxious to avoid bad publicity, to report losses of data. Aware of this reluctance, criminals brazenly advertise their "services" on website forums.

Two "consultants" who met undercover reporters at a hotel in  Gurgaon, a city near Delhi that has one of the greatest concentrations of call centres in the world, showed off an array of information stored on a laptop computer. The data inlcuded names, addresses and phone numbers of credit card holders along with the number, start and expiry dates and three digit secuity verification numbers. Such information would allow a criminalto defraud the cardholder of thousands of pouns within minutes.

Personal information relating to mortgages, loans, insurances, mobile phone contracts and Sky TV subscriptions was also available, providing marketing firms with a wealth of information to target individuals.

Much of the data had been logged within the previous three days and involved many of the biggest banks and financial companies, including HSBC and Natwest. Bank account details are commonly taken by the call centres when customers use services such as shopping websites. Santander, the Spanish bank that took over Abbey in 2010, announced last year it would no longer use Indian call centres. Also on offer were patients' medical admissions data, which would allow health insurance companies to target individuals.

The men who both work as IT consultants for several call centres, said they could filter information to meet specific requirements. To illustrate this, they provided names, addresses and contact details for half a dozen "High earners", those with incomes of more than £15,000 a month.

This weekend, another data trader based in Mumbai provided details of 500 IT support customers which allow hackers to access their computers.

About 330,000 people work in India's call centres in an industry worth £3.2 billion a year. British firms have outsourced many of their services, although some have withdrawn amid a publc backlash against the use of foreign workers.

Further information

If you are not a subscriber to the The Times or The Sunday Times ( physical or online copy) I would say it was well worth a visit to your local library to have a read of this particular edition. This subject of personal details being stolen is expanded further on pages 12 and 13.

(24th March 2012)


 FORCE LAUNCHES FIRST MURDER INVESTIGATION WEBSITE
(Police Oracle, date 22nd March 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com  [Note 1]

Officers probing the brutal killing of a man three years ago believe they have launched the first standalone UK website dedicated to a police murder investigation.

Lincolnshire Police says www.alanwoodmurder.com is the first of its kind - because it is not part of a subsidiary website or the force's own site.

The claim has been supported by the NPIA - the agency says it is not aware of any similar ventures ever having been done.

Detectives hope the website will help communicate with potential witnesses abroad due to the high number of immigrant workers based in the area where 50-year-old Alan Wood (pictured) was tortured and mutilated.

The body of Mr Wood was discovered in his home in the small hamlet of Lound, near Bourne, Lincolnshire in October 2009.

The website has been provided in the three most common foreign languages spoken in the area, following a demographic survey. Costs were kept to a minimum on the project - only £100 was spent.

Det Supt Stuart Morrison, head of the murder investigation, said he was optimistic that the site would help communicate with a wider audience.

He added: "We have a lot of migrant workers coming and going, and an effective way to communicate is a website instead of going by Facebook channels.

"We set up a standalone site to make the route more direct. People can view the site in any country they choose in a language they understand."

Police believe there is a possibility that the main suspect is a foreign national although officers remain open minded. A sample of blood taken from the scene was not found on the UK National DNA Database.

The main suspect, found on CCTV, is dubbed "ATM-Man" on the website but he has never been identified. A £60,000 reward for information leading to a successful conviction has been provided by a supermarket chain.

Det Supt Morrison said Lincolnshire had managed to keep the costs of the site down by fully producing it in-house and using Google Translate.

The force was also given permission by the BBC to use translated content from its Crimewatch website, on which the case has been featured several times.

Det Supt Morrison said: "This is a very complex case with international aspects. I wouldn't have taken this approach for a smaller scale case but for this I thought it was appropriate to put a presence on the web."

He added that the force would examine the success of the site in several months time - with the possibility of sharing best practice with other SIOs.

(24th March 2012)


 

CHILD EXPLOITATION WARRANTS EXECUTED IN OXFORD
(Thames Valley Police, dated 22nd March 2012)
www.thamesvalley.police.uk

Thames Valley Police has today executed 14 warrants across Oxford as part of an operation targeting child exploitation offences.

Operation Bullfinch is an investigation into child exploitation on 24 girls aged between the ages of 11 and 16 years old in Oxford.

The joint investigation, being carried out by Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council's Children, Education and Families Department, is aimed at rescuing potential victims and securing convictions of suspects believed to be responsible for these crimes.

Twelve men, aged between 21 and 37 years old, have been arrested this morning and are currently in police custody. They have been arrested on suspicion of a variety of offences including causing the prostitution of females under the age of 18, administrating drugs for the purpose of rape, trafficking, grooming and rape.

Det Supt Rob Mason, spokesperson for the operation, said: "We believe we have uncovered an organised crime group who have been running a business of selling young girls for sex. We have also identified a number of customers who we have reason to believe have used this service.

"We believe the offending spans over a six-year period. The warrants executed today are the second phase of this investigation and the arrests have been made to protect the girls from further harm. Our number one priority is to protect the victims, both their identities and wellbeing.

Councillor Louise Chapman, Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Families from Oxfordshire County Council, said: "Thames Valley Police and the Oxfordshire County Council's children's social care team linked up swiftly when it became apparent that it would be dealing with an investigation that centred on child exploitation.

"This prompt action allowed children's social care workers to work in close partnership with Thames Valley Police, with officers from the county council being seconded to the police, working from police premises.

"The county council has assisted in what has been a complex investigation leading to today's events. Its focus has been, and will continue to be, on the care for alleged victims.

"Thames Valley Police has demonstrated in conducting this investigation that it is not prepared to tolerate child exploitation in Oxfordshire. The county council feels sure it is speaking for the whole community in expressing total support for the police in this regard."

Oxford Commander, Supt Chris Sharp, said: "I understand today's events will have an impact on residents.

"My neighbourhood policing teams will be carrying out reassurance patrols in the area issuing information about the operation with contact details if people need further information, or would like to report any activity in relation to this investigation.

"There are individuals and groups who may seek to take advantage of the young and vulnerable and it is our job, working with our partners to prevent whatever form of abuse takes place and bring those responsible to justice."

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is the lead agency for tackling the sexual exploitation of children both online and offline.

Chief Executive Peter Davies said: "Tackling this devastating form of child abuse is challenging for police forces and other agencies so I'd like to congratulate Thames Valley Police on these arrests.  

"In 2011, our report 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' showed that child sexual exploitation affects children of many different backgrounds across the country.

"Staff from the centre will continue to work with Thames Valley Police to assist the officers involved in this investigation in any way possible, including offering support for ongoing engagement with victims and potential victims.

"It is also important to note the major contribution made to this investigation by our colleagues in the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC). Our aim is to work as a team so that practitioners across the country can achieve the best possible impact to protect children and pursue offenders."

Sheila Taylor, Director of the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children & Young People (NWG) said: "Cases of child sexual exploitation are complex and difficult to investigate and bring those who perpetuate the crimes to justice. We congratulate Thames Valley Police for their dedication to this issue and the operation they have developed and their zero tolerance approach to this crime.

"As always our concerns lie with the young people who have been victims and are very pleased to see a complete multi-agency team approach to assisting the recovery of the young people.

"The experience of our members in the network is that both victims and offenders come from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds."

Further Information

For more information on the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children & Young People please visit www.nationalworkinggroup.org.uk

If you are worried about somebody who you think may be a victim of child exploitation you can call ChildLine on 0800 11 11 or visit their website www.childline.org.uk [Note 1]

If you have any information about this type of crime, you can contact your local Police on the non-emergency number 101.

If you don't want to speak to police and don't want to leave your name contact the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

To report online abuse go to Child Exploitation and Online Protection website : http://ceop.police.uk

(24th March 2011)


 

HACKERS HIT 112 INDIAN GOVERNMENT SITES IN THREE MONTHS
(The Register, dated 16th March 2012 author Phil Muncaster)
www.theregister.co.uk  [Note 1]
Category : Hacking

There was embarrassing news for the Indian government this week as one of its ministers was forced to admit that over 100 of its web sites had been hacked in just three months at the beginning of the year, including that of a state-owned telecoms company.

Minister for communications and IT, Sachin Pilot, revealed in a written reply in parliament that a total of 112 sites had been compromised from December 2011 to February 2012, Indian news service IANS reported.

Many of the sites hacked appeared to be those of government agencies in various regions of the sprawling country including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala, the report continued.

Also singled out was state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which was hacked and defaced in December allegedly by hackers belonging to the 'H4tr!ck' group.

BSNL in particular came under attack from Pakistani hackers several times last year, most notably from a group calling themselves the Pakistan Cyber Army, and many of the hacks of government sites mentioned by Pilot could be blamed on mischief makers from India's fierce rival across the border.

According to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, there were 834 defacements of .in web sites in India during January this year, with the figure rising to 1,425 for all sites.

The authorities certainly don't seem to be getting any better at deflecting such attacks given that around the same number of government sites - 117 - were attacked in the entire first half of 2011, according to an official release.

This would seem to indicate that basic security measures are still not been taken at the back end to bolster defences against common attack methods including cross-site scripting and SQL injection.

It's not just the public sector that has been found wanting though, with Microsoft India's online store still offline after being targeted by alleged Chinese hackers.

Despite reassuring customers that their data was safe, Microsoft was later forced to admit that actually the hackers may well have nabbed credit card details from what is thought to have been an unencrypted database

(24th March 2012)


 

HUGE INCREASE IN CHILD ABUSE IMAGERY REPORTS
(Police Oracle, dated 20th March 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com  [Note 1]
Category : Child abuse

The number of reports of sex abuse imagery involving young victims on the internet has rocketed in the past 12 months - and the tally is expected to grow in future.

Peter Davies, Head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said volumes had "expanded massively" in the past year - and confirmed that the Centre had been restructuring in a move to counter the increasing threat.

He revealed that CEOP had been reconfigured, with some senior management posts removed in order to recruit extra members of staff at the sharp end. Mr Davies also said the restructuring would put the Centre in a strong position to become part of the National Crime Agency in the months ahead.

He told PoliceOracle.com: "The number of reports (of abuse images) that we have had coming in has risen dramatically over the course of the past 12 months.

"Sadly we believe these numbers will continue to rise - there are now more and more people around the world who are using the internet and, unfortunately, a small proportion of them will be interested in child sex abuse."

Mr Davies pointed out that this time last year CEOP was receiving around 800 reports every month but the number had now grown to around 1,400.

He added: "We are going to see further growth in volumes and I think there is going to be a 39 or 40 per cent increase next year. We need to be ready for that."

But he was confident that the restructuring of CEOP would place it in a stronger position to help counter the threat to children - and target those responsible.

"We are seeking to recruit between 10 and 20 personnel for a number of new posts," he added. "Having taken a cold, hard look at what we do, we feel that we are able to increase the number of people working at the centre.

"The number of senior managers has been reduced and more people placed on the front line. Everything must be focused on our core mission of protecting children."

(24th March 2012)


 

GIRLS WARNED : YOU'LL BE USED AND ABUSED IF YOU JOIN GANGS
(London Evening Standard, dated 20th March 2012 author Anna Davis)
www.thisislondon.co.uk [Note 1]

Former gang members are touring London schools to warn teenage girls of the harsh realities of life in a gang.

Three women have launched a hard-hitting campaign to warn pupils about sexual exploitation and crime, drawing on their personal experiences.

They are visiting 30 schools with their play BOOTY, which tells the story of a girl who is murdered because she gets in with the wrong crowd.

Lynne Featherstone, minister for equalities, said: "People would be shocked if they could see the level of violence and abuse against girls in gangs. Our first priority is to protect girls who see themselves as worthless objects to be used in unacceptable ways."

Camilla Ferdinand, 17, from Camden, is telling her story as part of the project, organised by crime prevention programme OC Impact which since 2008, has been working with the Met to reach more than 7,000 young people at risk of getting involved in crime.

She said she drifted towards gang life when she was put into care and people on the street became her family: "My boyfriend was so nice to me when we were alone but when others were there he was horrible - it was like I was no one. Sometimes he'd hit me in front of his friends. He didn't respect me at all and only cared what the other boys thought.

"I also realised that it is not only the boys that disrespect girls. Girls disrespect themselves and each other - they crave attention from boys so much they'll do anything - hold drugs, guns, have sex - anything for some respect from boys. But boys don't respect you for that, they just use you."

Charlotte Neal, 49, from Chelsea, told how she ran brothels across England for 20 years before going into rehab and turning her back on drugs and crime. She said: "I can never forgive myself for some of the things I've done to girls in order to please men. As girls we have got to look after ourselves better and put a stop to all this abuse."

Peter Czajkowski, drama teacher at Park View school in Haringey, said: "My year 10 students watched the play and they were enthralled by it. It spoke to them just on the right level. We live in an area of Tottenham where these issues are around. The play acts as a safeguard for them to be able to recognise and talk about these issues."

My ambition saved me

Malaika "Lykez" Hendrickson, from Finsbury Park, joined a gang as a teenager but managed to leave because she wanted to start a career in music. She is now a rapper known as Lady Lykez.

The 21-year-old said: "When I was in school I just wanted to have fun. I wasn't interested in learning. Outside school I got involved with the wrong people and ended up being in a gang.

"There was always pressure to be bad, it was almost like bad was good and everyone wanted to prove how bad they were, especially to the boys."

She said girls were often asked to carry weapons or drugs in the belief that they were less likely to be stopped by the police. She added: "I didn't go to prison but I was heading that way and the only thing that saved me was my ambition. I wanted to be a famous rapper. The people around me involved in negative activities didn't have anything else to do.

"With crime it's really difficult to get out. I have really close friends who have been in and out of prison, they are still in the cycle. A lot of girls are attracted to that life because it looks so glamorous with all the money and the bling. But I tell them you can have money and have a lovely life without getting into crime.

"My advice to girls is to find what you want to do when you are older -find an ambition. But most of all get your education."

(20th March 2012)


 

CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR NEW HOMICIDE LAW FOR INCITING SUICIDE
(The Guardian, dated 19th March 2012 author Amelia Hill)
www.guardian.co.uk [Note 1]

Growing concerns about the failure of police to properly investigate cases of women who have killed themselves after violence or abuse have led to a campaign for a new homicide law of "suicide aggravated by harassment or violence".

The campaign is to be launched next month by Southall Black Sisters, who say the law would also cover those who jump from high buildings after being jeered by onlookers or who kill themselves after being encouraged over the internet.

An estimated 10 women kill themselves every week after repeated abuse, Home Office statistics show. Attempted or successful suicide is more than three times higher among Asian women in the UK , especially among those aged between 15 and 24 years old, according to research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in1992.

But prosecutions are rare: there is no law in Britain against encouraging suicide without physical help. Only coroner's courts can compel investigations into suicides.

"At best, convoluted efforts are being made to hold perpetrators of violent or abusive conduct to account when a suicide results," said Pragna Patel, a founding member of Southall Black Sisters, which has a history of forcing through new laws to protect women.

"At worst, such deaths are not properly investigated at all. In our experience, in the face of violence or abuse, many women feel that they have no option but to self-harm or kill themselves. This state of affairs is especially disturbing in the context of a complete absence of any … effective criminal prosecutions of perpetrators of abuse who are demonstrably culpable in causing a woman or vulnerable person to commit suicide."

Patel launched the campaign after taking on the case of 23-year-old Nosheen Azam, who was found engulfed in flames in her garden in Sheffield in 2005.

Azam had come to the UK from Pakistan seven months earlier to live with her British husband, Amjid Hussein. Almost immediately, she began complaining to her family that she was being abused by some of her husband's family, said Azam's father Mohammed. On the day she was found in flames, she had told her parents that she was frightened for her life, her father said. Nobody knows whether someone tried to murder Azam, whether she was goaded into taking her own life, or whether she made her own decision: the young woman now lies in a hospital bed, brain-dead with over 60% burns. She is, said her father, "a living corpse".

"There has been no concerted effort to find out what drove Nosheen to attempt to take her own life," said Patel. "If she had died, there would at least have been an inquest. Because there is no law of 'suicide aggravated by domestic violence', however, there is no motivation for the police to investigate whether it is a case of provable encouragement to suicide, despite that being nearly the same thing as murder."

A new homicide law could have wider applications in cases like that of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter after repeated abuse by youths near their home in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

It could be used in cases like that of Shaun Dykes, the 17-year-old boy who jumped off a shopping centre in Derby in 2008 after being goaded by onlookers. Film footage appeared on YouTube.

Patel criticised the legal options available when a woman kills herself after enduring domestic violence. It is up to campaigners to ask coroner's courts to investigate why the suicide occurred. This, she said, is inadequate and "has enormous cost implications for campaigning groups like ours".

"There has to be some means of ensuring that those responsible for causing someone to take their life, are held criminally liable. The current state of affairs in untenable and cannot therefore be justified," she said. Patel wants the law to encompass mental damage. "If domestic violence or abuse results in psychological harm … there is no basis upon which to bring a criminal prosecution under the present law on manslaughter."

More information

Their overview : "Southall Black Sisters is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1979 to meet the needs of black (Asian and African-Caribbean) and minority ethnic women. For more than three decades we have been at the forefront of challenging domestic and gender violence locally and nationally."

www.southallblacksisters.org.uk  [Note 1]


(20th March 2012)


WOMAN'S WEBSITE DATE WAS VICIOUS RAPIST
(London Evening Standard, dated 19th March 2012 author Paul Cheston)
www.thisislondon.co.uk

Police have warned internet dating users after a legal secretary was left "unrecognisable" by a rapist she met on a website.

Peter Ramsey, 26, beat the woman to the ground and raped her when she refused him a goodnight kiss at her front door.

Ramsey punched the 27-year-old victim repeatedly, knocking out a front tooth and leaving her with 21 injuries. Her face wounds were among the most shocking detectives investigating the case had ever seen.

The sex attacker was caught after using the victim's Oyster card to board a nightbus within minutes of the attack in Clapham.

Ramsey and the woman had spent four days chatting on plentyoffish.com which claims on its home page to be "responsible for more dates and more  relationships than any other dating site".

They arranged to meet for drinks in Brixton at 7pm.

She said: "He seemed like a nice guy. The date was going very well. I thought we had a lot in common."

In the early hours of August last year they went for something to eat before getting in a cab to her flat near Clapham Common. She believed he was going to walk her to her front door but when he leant in for a kiss and she pulled back, he "switched".

"I thought I was going to die," she told Inner London crown court. Ramsey also stole the woman's bag.

A passer-by came to her aid and the victim's mother, who had heard the screams, rushed out to find her disfigured and traumatised daughter.

The following day Ramsey left two voicemails on the victim's mobile telling her he was sorry and had now sobered up.

Ramsey was arrested a week after the attack when he was linked by DNA evidence and CCTV footage from the bus. He was found guilty of rape, wounding with intent to cause  grievous bodily harm and theft. Judge Patricia Lees adjourned sentence until next month.

Outside court Dc Richard Huggins said: "I would urge people using dating websites to thoroughly vet the people  they meet and before they spend time alone. I have been in the police for 14 years and these were some of the most  shocking facial injuries I have ever seen."

Further information

Suzy Lamplugh Trust : www.suzylamplugh.org
Rape Crisis [Note 1] : www.rapecrisis.org.uk
Stalking Helpline : www.stalkinghelpline.org
Network for surviving stalking [Note 1]: www.nss.org.uk

(20th March 2012)


 

FORCES UNITE FOR CYBERCRIME PROBE
(Police Oracle, dated 16th March 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com  [Note 1]
Category : Phishing

Officers have made several arrests in connection with an online attack which saw all three new regional hubs assist the Met's Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) for the first time.

Officers from the East Midlands, York and Humber, and North West regional hubs launched earlier this year to work alongside the PCeU, came together. Assistance was also provided by colleagues from the Met's Fraud Unit as well as City of London's Specialist Crime Department.

According to reports from the Met, the arrests were made after a co-ordinated series of phishing attacks, in which a victim lost £1 million of her life savings.

The woman, a UK citizen living abroad after relocating to care for a sick relative, saw her savings disappear after her bank account details were illegally obtained.

The money was then siphoned off via internet transfers to several other accounts.

The arrests which involved 12 men and two women, were made in locations across London as well as addresses in the West Midlands. All are currently in custody on suspicion of conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to launder money.

Det Insp Stewart Garrick of the PCeU, told reporters: "Our activity is a direct response to a sophisticated million pound phishing attack, combined with brazen money laundering, which involves a large number of suspects.

"The victim in this case has suffered significant stress after her life savings, which she intended to use to purchase a property on her return to England, were stolen."

(20th March 2012)


 

CYBER CRIME TEAM TO TACKLE ORGANISED TAX FRAUD
(Central Office of Information NDS, dated 13th March 2012 author HMRC)
Category : Fraud

A new cyber crime team to tackle tax fraud by organised criminals more proactively was launched today by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The newly-created specialist cyber crime team will protect the exchequer from attempted fraud by cyber criminals who are using increasingly sophisticated ways to target HMRC's repayment systems. The team is designed to protect both HMRC and taxpayers from organised criminals and will build on HMRC's existing cyber counter-fraud capability and existing investigation and intelligence work and is a key element of HMRC's Cyber Crime and Security Strategy.

Recruitment of high calibre technical experts, analysts and investigators will protect HMRC and its customers from fraud using technology funded by the National Cyber Security Programme.

The new cyber team will provide HMRC with a better awareness of the nature of the threat by using specialist forensic tools to exploit intelligence. Giving expert advice on keeping HMRC services secure, they will provide technical expertise to our criminal investigators and present real-time intelligence to our operational risk and security teams.

David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, said:

"As more and more of HMRC's systems move online, cyber criminals will look to exploit any opportunity to attack the repayment system. HMRC is getting ahead of the curve - taking forward what it is already doing in a better way. In the last year alone, customers reported over 200k bogus emails purporting to come from HMRC and, as a result, HMRC shut down close to 1,000 bogus websites."

The new team comes as a result of the Government's £917m spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011/12, which aims to raise an additional £7bn each year by 2014/15, and funding from the national Cyber Security Programme.

As well as the creation of the specialist cyber crime team, HMRC will be deploying more technology to stop criminal behaviour in real time.

Francis Maude, Minister for Cyber Security, said:

"The Cyber Security Strategy set out the Government's commitment to build a more trusted and resilient digital environment and protect the public from online fraud as we move more services online.

"This new unit will play a vital role in tackling online organised tax fraud and we have committed National Cyber Security Programme funding to it to ensure we are better prepared to deal with cyber threats and are better able to protect the public and businesses online."

The new teams will build on HMRC's successful counter-fraud activity, which includes:


- The creation of simple but effective dedicated reporting channels to report the attempted hijack or misuse of passwords or credentials
- Shutting down bogus websites, claiming to belong to HMRC
- Working with other government departments, law enforcement agencies and commercial organizations to reduce and tackle the threat from cyber crime across the public and private sector
- Working closely with high-risk customer groups, such as tax agents, and the publication of security guidance pages on our website
- Criminal investigation of organised crime groups using cyber crime techniques.

(20th March 2012)



CHINESE STEAL JET SECRETS FROM BAE (Extract)
(The Sunday Times, dated 11th March 2012 author David Leppard)
www.thesundaytimes.co.uk  [Note 1] 

Chinese spies hacked into computers belonging to BAE Systems, Britains biggest defence company, to steal details about the design, performance and electronic systems of the West's latest fighter jet. senior security figures have disclosed.

The Chinese have exploited vulnerabilities in BAR's computer defences to steal vast amounts of data on the £200 billion F35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a multinational project to create a plane that will give the West air supremacy for years to come, according to the sources. The attack has prompted fears that the jets radar capabilities could have been compromised.

Details of the attack on BAE have been a closely guarded secret within Britains intelligence community since it was first uncovered nearly three year ago. But they were disclosed by a senior BAE executive during a private dinner in London for cyber security experts late last year.

One of those present said : "The BAE man said that for 18 months Chinese cyber attacks had taken place against BAE and had managed to get hold of plans of one of its latest fighters. He seemed genuinely concerned that the attack had gone on undetected for so long and that it posed a threat to the aircrafts defences".

Professor Anthony Glees director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, who was also present at the dinner, said : "It seems the Chinese were getting plans which allow them to undermine the defence capacity of the country. It's deeply unsettling that GCHQ (the Governments eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham) didn't spot this for so long because they are the people who are meant to be leading the fight against cyber crime".

BAE said : " We don't comment on allegations of cyber attacks against the company. BAE System's own cyber security capability can detect, prevent and rectify such attacks".

Comment

The article above provides a bit of a distorted picture about the GCHQ responsibility. It is meant to look after National Security. Companies that are Government suppliers (such as BAE) have to prove to their government customer that they have adequate security measures in place.

Even though BAE's HQ is within the UK it operates all over the Globe (its a multinational). If its network was hacked, that infiltration could have occurred from anywhere within its computer network. Even the company's central computer system  could be split between sites and they could be located on different continents.

With that in mind, why would BAE purchase a computer security company about the same time the hacking started ?

Here is an hypothesis. For every security manager in existence there is probably a couple of hundred hackers all bursting to make a name for themselves. Some are freelancers and others are state sponsored, on both sides of the idiological divide. If a company such as BAE did discover that some of its secrets had been hacked (say 10% of a new radar system), would it shut its doors (firewall reinforcement).
Or, would it leave the door open for the hackers to "feed" on the remaining 90% of "secrets" which had now been made up of absolute rubbish ! Then to add credence to this false material you send a "drunken" executive to a security managers party where he "spills the beans" on the company's failure. I think I know where I would put my money !

The following articles provide background to BAE's current security measure ethos.


 

HOW DO YOU TELL WHEN YOU'RE UNDER CYBER ATTACK ?
(BAE Subsidiary - DETICA, dated 5th September 2011 author Henry Harrison)
www.baesystemsdetica.com/news/blogs/cyber-security-blog/  [Note 1]

The easy answer to the question is that you don't need to - you can simply assume that you are, all the time. Even your home network is constantly being bombarded with attempts to break in, but the good news is that the vast majority of these attempts are foiled because the vulnerability that was being targeted has been patched, or because security measures such as firewalls stop them.

What's more interesting is to ask how you tell when you've been successfully attacked. I've talked in a previous posting about the term "cyber attack" and why I don't particularly like it - because in many cases it's very difficult to tell whether you've been attacked. That's because the attacker's complete objective is to avoid being detected - and in many cases they're very good at it.

By and large, the best answer is that you should suspect you might have been successfully attacked if things start behaving strangely. In some cases, you might spot that by good luck - it's surprising how many cases have been detected because someone complained about their PC going slowly.

But rather than trusting to luck, we think you're better advised to put measures in place to look for - and investigate - strange behaviour. Of course, that's not an easy thing to do - only if they make some fairly serious mistakes will an attacker reveal themselves to the user of the affected PC. But increasingly effective technology solutions are now coming onto the market, and we believe they're rapidly becoming indispensable for anyone who really cares about security.


 

WHY DOESN'T ANYONE WANT TO SHOUT ABOUT CYBER ATTACKS ?
(BAE Subsidiary - DETICA, dated 18th July 2011 author : Administrator )
http://www.baesystemsdetica.com/news/blogs/cyber-security-blog/  [Note 1]

I was wondering recently (while reading the seemingly endless stream of press reports about data breaches) why more companies aren't reporting being victims of cyber attacks.

Sure, it can be a fairly painful and embarrassing confession to make in the short term, but if more people were made aware of how defences can be breached and the potential impact of data loss, the incentive to do something about it would increase.

Not only that, but the markets and media would become more accustomed to such reports and stop announcing them like the outbreak of World War III.  In the long term, everyone would benefit from the increased knowledge and the impact would potentially be lessened.

Then I remembered the volunteer's dilemma - one of several scenarios described by a branch of mathematics called game theory.

In the volunteer's dilemma, every person faces the decision of either making a small sacrifice from which all may benefit or simply waiting for the others to volunteer. If no one volunteers, then everyone loses. If any one person elects to volunteer, then the rest may benefit by not having had to do so themselves.

However, according to the theory, the more organisations involved in the situation, the smaller the likelihood that any of them will volunteer. That's because they all want to reap the benefits from everyone else's selfless acts. It's a paradox.

From our estimates of the cost of cyber crime in the UK (cost to business of approximately £21 billion per annum) and what we see in our cyber security work, we suspect that many organisations are under cyber attack. Targets of particular interest are those rich in valuable intellectual property and sensitive data. The volunteer's dilemma suggests that they're all waiting for someone else to fall on their proverbial sword.

Dilemmas, by their very nature, can be hard to get out of unless other options are presented. For instance, what would happen if companies were forced by legislation to report a breach? What if they could do it anonymously? What if companies came together to discuss breaches in an environment safe from reporting?

A small number of companies have recently decided to go public. There's a slim chance that they've seen the greater good and are just being altruistic, I guess. But perhaps they've found a different way of tackling the issue, which is strong enough to break the dilemma they're in. If that's the case, then maybe there's more we should all be doing - companies and governments alike - to create more options.

Further Information

BAE purchase DETICA in 2008.

What DETICA say they do : "We develop, integrate and manage information intelligence solutions to help our clients deliver effective and secure services to citizens and customers. We also develop solutions to strengthen national security and resilience".

What DETICA says in its literature : " the crime and security threats we face today are growing in sophistication and show an increasing tendency to come from internationally, or even globally, networked groups."


(16th March 2012)


 

IMPACT OPERATION SEES MORE THAN 200 ARRESTS
(Police Oracle, dated 14th March 2012 author Nic Brunetti)
www.policeoracle.com [Note 1]

Officers have arrested more than 200 wanted criminals as part of a high-impact policing operation which saw 192 of them arrested in just one day.

Operation Relentless, which took place on March 7, targeted criminals across Avon and Somerset and has seen 72 people already charged with serious crimes including burglary, robbery, assault and drugs offences.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary, which put substantial resources into the operation including 600 officers, says it managed to cope by redeploying officers from headquarters who would otherwise be involved in office duties.

Normal response patrols were in place to deal with 999 calls as normal, it said.

Between 200 and 300 PCSOs and special constables played their part in Op Relentless which saw 68 search warrants executed and only four people released without charge so far.

The force said it was too early to say whether the operation had an impact on crime rates although a spokesman said: "We are taking people off the streets who commit crime day in day out so hopefully we will see the results in the coming months."

He added: "Frontline staff in the policing districts were supported by their colleagues in headquarters who would otherwise be involved in training, criminal investigation, financial investigation or other office-based activity.

"Tackling wanted and prolific criminals can take time and a day such as this involves background work and intelligence paving the way for the operation. This is not only about taking on the criminals head-on but high-profile public reassurance policing."

The force said this year's operation had been the most successful since its launch in 2005. It also plans to pursue those convicted as part of the operation under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Since 2006 it says more than £12 million has been taken away from convicted criminals under confiscation orders.

Relentless targeted criminals across the Constabulary's six areas including Bristol, Bath, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Further Information

Operation Relentless was launched in 2005

There have been 35 actions since its creation which resulted in more than 2100 arrested suspects.

During the most recent action :

- 30 people arrested for offences ranging from possession with intent to supply drugs, theft, money laundering, burglary and cultivation of class B drugs.

- Officers uncovered two cannabis factories and seized a combined total of 137 cannabis plants.

- Officers also found drugs believed to be heroin, amphetamine sulphate, crack cocaine and methadone.

(16th March 2012)


 

FIVE YEARS OF LONDON MURDER VICTIMS
(Guardian, dated 5th October 2012 author Simon Rogers)
www.guardian.co.uk  [Note 1]

Note : The figures by borough shown below was created by "uaware" based on a spreadsheet of murder victims within the original Guardian article. The full article, which includes the names of the murder victims can be accessed via this link [Note 1] : www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/oct/05/murder-london-list?INTCMP=SRCH

The Metropolitan Police is pretty active with its Freedom of Information releases - releasing hundreds of datasets each year which shine a light on crime in London. And this dataset is one of the most compelling of all: a list of every murder case since 2006.

There are 837 murders detailed here, with date, age of the victim and the London borough in which they died. The UK has around 600 murders a year, and the capital annually accounts for 100 to 150 of those.

The data itself is messy - it comes as a PDF, which is watermarked and locked, to make copying as difficult as possible. But, thanks to John Houston, we can help you access it (and to the awesome @foimonkey for bringing it to our attention).

It shows what many crime experts fear: murders victims in London tend to be young: 433 were under 30 with nearly 200 of those under the age of 21.

Age of Murder Victims

Age 1 to 10 : 41 (4.9%)
Age 11 to 15 : 26 (3.1%)
Age 16 to 20 : 126 (14.9%)
Age 21 to 30 : 240 (28.5%)
Age 31 to 40 : 151 (17.9%)
Age 41 to 55 : 150 (17.8%)
Age 55 to 65 : 53 (6.3%)
Over 65 : 56 (6.6%)

Most of these cases end up with someone in court and a conviction. For a minority - 124 - there is still no resolution (these are the figures bracketed below). That might sound like a lot but sanction detection rates (an investigation resulting in a conviction or some other penalty) are nationally at 83% for murder, so the Met is just above that.

Murders by London Borough

Barking & Dagenham : 16 (4)
Barnet : 21 (3)
Bexley : 14 (0)
Brent : 28 (4)
Bromley : 16 (3)
Camden : 22 (2)
Croydon : 29 (9)
Ealing : 27 (7)
Enfield : 25 (6)
Greenwich 27 (6)
Hackney : 37 (5)
Hammersmith & Fulham : 11 (6)
Haringey : 30 (6)
Harrow : 8 (4)
Havering : 13 (1)
Hillingdon : 21 (0)
Hounslow : 13 (2)
Islington : 30 (1)
Kensington & Chelsea : 2 (0)
Kingston : 4 (0)
Lambeth : 64 (15)
Lewisham : 32 (4)
Merton : 13 (0)
Newham : 46 (10)
Redbridge : 13 (1)
Richmond : 1 (0)
Southwark : 40 (9)
Sutton : 14 (0)
Tower Hamlets : 27 (5)
Waltham Forest : 28 (4)
Wandsworth : 22 (4)
Westminster : 20 (3)

(16th March 2012)


 

THOUSANDS BOMBARDED IN CALLER SPOOFING RIDDLE
(The Register, dated 12th March 2012 author Brid-Aine Parnell)

Full article [Note 1] : http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/12/caller_id_spoofing_uk/

Thousands of Brits were tormented by nuisance calls after West Midlands businesses were caught up in a caller ID spoofing blitz.

Firms including We Solve IT and solicitors Bridgehouse Partners appeared to bombard residents at all hours of the day and night thanks to a foreign outfit that used the companies' numbers to mask the real source of the calls.

"Apparently our phone number has been hacked or spoofed, and our number is calling people at a rate of 1000 per hour," We Solve IT managing director Steve Davies said in a statement on his firm's website. "It is not coming from us or our phone system, but likely coming from a number abroad."

"We have also filed a report with the Action Fraud Team, a branch of the police. Please do not think we are being complacent in asking you to contact your service providers to report the problem; the reason we ask you to do this is because none of these calls are going through our system at any point and therefore it is very difficult for us to trace them," the statement explained.

However they are coming through to you via either BT, Virgin etc. If enough people get onto these big providers they will be able to trace the calls and hopefully put a stop to it."

Finding the antisocial source

A spokesperson for Ofcom told The Register that it had worked with telecom providers to fix the issue and said it was now resolved.

A BT spokesperson told The Register that its customers had called into its Nuisance Call Bureau to report the issue.

"We identified the calls were from an international source with an incorrect calling line identification and were being carried over various networks. Working with other network providers we have now stopped these calls affecting ours and other providers' customers."

(16th March 2012)


 

CARD FRAUD TELEPHONE SCAM
(Courtesy of : Metropolitan Police - Neighbourhood Link, dated 12th March 2012)
www.met.police.uk

In last weeks news (07.03.2012) it was stated that card fraud has fallen to its lowest level in 11 years. This is positive news. However, we want to highlight the need to be ever vigilant to new and existing card fraud scams such as the one detailed below. 
 
How does this scam work?
 
You receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be from your bank. He or she will say their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on your card or that your card is due to expire and needs replacing.
 
You may be asked to ring back using the telephone number on the back of your card - which further convinces you that the call is genuine. However, the caller keeps the line open at their end so, when you make the call, you are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster.
 
Then, by seeming to offer assistance, the fraudster tries to gain your trust. In most cases you are asked to 'cancel' your existing card or 'activate' or 'authorise' a replacement card by keying your PIN into the handset of your phone.
 
The fraudster then poses as a bank representative who agrees to collect your card from your home, sometimes offering you a replacement card, which is a fake.
 
In some cases a genuine courier company is hired to pick up the card from your home address. The victim will have been asked to place the card into an envelope ready for collection. Once they have your card and PIN the fraudster uses them to spend your money.
 
A variation of the scam involves the fraudster ringing a prospective victim and claiming to be from the police - again with the aim of going to the victim's home to collect the card and PIN.
 
What can I do to avoid being a victim of this scam?
 
- Neither your bank nor the police would ever ring you and state that they are coming to your home to pick up your card, so never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it.
 
- Your bank will NEVER ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into the telephone handset.
 
- NEVER share your PIN with anyone - the only times you should use your PIN is at a cash machine or when you use a chip and PIN machine in a shop / restaurant. 
 
 
I think I might have been a victim of this scam - what should I do?
 
If the criminals are nearby ring the Police immediately on 999, otherwise report the crime to your local Police via 101.
If you think you have been the victim of a fraud or scam of this nature you should also call your bank or card company immediately.

(16th March 2012)


 

GANG MADE MILLIONS - STEALING HOMES FROM OAP'S
(Sky News, dated 2nd March 2012)
http://news.sky.com/home  [Note 1]

Category : Fraud

A solicitor, a bank manager and a land registry official helped a criminal gang make millions of pounds by effectively stealing people's homes.

The trio were recruited by drug traffickers to fool developers into buying the properties at knock-down prices.

In an extraordinary conspiracy the gang identified homes that were neglected or abandoned, their owners dead, or in care.

Then they erected an official-looking board in the garden, with the name of a bogus security firm. On it was a mobile phone number, inviting calls from anyone with an interest in the house. If no-one called, they boarded it up, changed the locks and went ahead and sold the property. They made at least £3.8m, but it may have been much more.

The three professionals and gang members are being sentenced after being convicted of fraud and money-laundering offences.

Surjeet Chana, a 64-year-old grandmother, worked in customer services at the Land Registry headquarters. She supplied title deeds and owners' signatures so they could be forged.

Police found £38,000 hidden in the loft of her home in South London.

Solicitor Charles Spiropoulos, 48, did the conveyancing and collected money from the illegal house sales.

Bank manager Indipaul Sra, 42, let the gang move their huge profits in and out of accounts without reporting it to money-laundering investigators.

At times conspirators removed £100,000 cash in holdalls from his branch of Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) in Purley, South London.

Det Ch Insp Jonathan Benton, of Scotland Yard's Economic and Specialist Crime Command, said: "They were targeting often old and vulnerable people and literally stealing their homes, as well as flooding London streets with dangerous drugs.

"And they corrupted three officials, whose roles were crucial in making the fraud work."

The gang sold at least seven homes - the cheapest around £200,000 - usually in quick sales to unsuspecting developers who later discovered they were not the real owners.

Its leaders were cocaine traffickers Billy Sales, 32, and James Arthur, 34, who are already serving long sentences for their drugs offences.

They began to launder their drugs money through their barbers shop in Whyteleafe, Surrey, but when profits soared they began the property scam.

The gang were originally investigated for drugs by Scotland Yard's elite Special Projects Team, but evidence of the house fraud soon emerged.

Sales was overheard boasting to one associate: "I am caning the life out of this. No house is safe with me about."

The trio are expected to be sentenced next week.


 

JAILED : HOUSE FRAUD GRANNY COLLAPSES IN COURT
(Sky News, dated 7th March 2012)
http://news.sky.com/home [Note 1]

A grandmother has collapsed in court after she was jailed for helping a criminal gang make millions of pounds by effectively stealing people's homes.

Surjeet Chana, 64, was among a trio of crooked officials - which also included a solicitor and a bank manager - recruited by the gang to fool developers into buying the properties at knock-down prices.

Chana, a clerk, worked in customer services at the Land Registry headquarters and supplied title deeds and owners' signatures so they could be forged.

Police found £38,000 hidden in the loft of her home in south London and she was sentenced to three years and nine months behind bars.

The trio have been convicted of fraud and money-laundering offences at Southwark Crown Court.

Chana collapsed in the dock as she was sentenced. The judge told her she had committed a serious breach of trust as a Land Registry clerk.

Chana's solicitor Henry Oghoetuoma said: "Mrs Chana is deeply disappointed by the verdict of the jury in this matter and continues to vigorously protest her innocence."

Solicitor Charles Spiropoulos, 48, carried out the conveyancing and collected money from the illegal house sales. He was jailed for four years.

His solicitor Cyrus Mansouri said: "Mr Spiropoulos is innocent and the only evidence against him was circumstantial.

"He was simply asked to do conveyancing on four of the properties and after checking the passports of the sellers that's all he did. He has no idea there was anything illegal and we are appealing his conviction."

A 42-year-old Barclays bank manager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, let the gang move its huge profits in and out of accounts without reporting it to money-laundering investigators as he should have done.

He was also sentenced to four years in prison.

In an extraordinary conspiracy, the gang identified homes that were neglected or abandoned, their owners dead or in care.

Then they put up an official-looking board in the garden, with the name of a bogus security firm and a mobile phone number, inviting calls from the house's owners.

If no one called they boarded it up, changed the locks and went ahead and sold the property. They made at least £3.8m, but it may have been much more.

At times conspirators removed £100,000 cash in holdalls from his branch of Barclays in Purley, south London.

Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Benton, of Scotland Yard's Economic and Specialist Crime Command, said: "They were targeting often old and vulnerable people and literally stealing their homes, as well as flooding London streets with dangerous drugs.

"And they corrupted three officials, whose roles were crucial in making the fraud work."

The gang, which was jailed for a total of 24 years and six months, sold at least seven homes, usually in quick sales to unsuspecting developers who later discovered they were not the real owners.

Anne McKendrick's Croydon home was targeted by the gang after she moved out because she had been traumatised by a burglary.

Told that it was later sold for £140,000, she said: "I've lost my past, much of my identity and reason for existing."

Freda Gallacher inherited a Wimbledon house and found it had been sold for £190,000, leaving her "very confused and in total shock".

The gang leaders were cocaine traffickers James Arthur, 34, and another man who cannot be named for legal reasons. They are already serving long sentences for their drugs offences.

They began to launder their drugs money through their barbers shop in Whyteleafe, Surrey, but when profits soared they began the property scam.

The gang was originally investigated for drugs by Scotland Yard's elite Special Projects Team, but evidence of the house fraud soon emerged.

The gang leader was overheard boasting to one associate: "I am caning the life out of this. No house is safe with me about."

(9th March 2012)



CARD FRAUD FALLS TO ITS LOWEST LEVEL FOR 11 YEARS
(BBC News, dated 7th March 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

 

Category : Fraud

The amount of money lost due to fraud on credit and debit cards fell last year by 7% to £341m - its lowest level for 11 years.

The drop from 2010 was mainly due to a 41% fall in fraudsters impersonating people to obtain or use credit cards.

There was also a 24% fall in the amount of fraud from cards being faked.

The UK Cards Association said it was the third year in a row that card fraud had fallen, with a drop of 44% since losses peaked in 2008.

It brings card fraud to its lowest level since 2000 when £317m was lost through fraud.

The association credited the improvement to the increased use of anti-fraud measures.

Among them were online card verification software, such as Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode, and the increased use of chip-and-pin technology abroad.

Melanie Johnson, chair of the UK Cards Association, said: "This is... clear proof that our endeavours to fight fraud are packing a punch."

"Customers have also played their part in driving down losses by taking heed of advice about looking after their personal and financial details," she added.

Losses falling
 
Card fraud rose during the past decade to reach its peak, in 2008, of £610m.

Although the adoption of chip-and-pin technology, largely replacing signatures, had helped to rein in fraud in the UK, there was a revival in the fraudulent use of cards abroad.

However, this has now dropped as well, with fraud abroad falling by a further 15% last year to £80m.

That was its lowest level in 12 years, and nearly two-thirds down from the peak of foreign card fraud in 2008, when it stood at £230m.

Overall, the most common losses last year were due to cards being improperly used to order items over the phone, by post or over the internet - so-called "card not present" fraud.

This accounted for £221m - nearly two-thirds of all card fraud losses.

Meanwhile counterfeit card fraud, once the second-largest category of loss, has slumped in the past five years, down by three-quarters since 2007.

The biggest areas of card fraud loss in 2011 were:

Cards not present: £221m
Lost or stolen cards: £50m
Counterfeit cards: £36m
Card ID theft: £23m
Cards stolen the post: £11m
DCI Paul Barnard, who leads the police cheque and plastic crime unit, said with more sophisticated anti-fraud technology now in use, criminals had returned to simpler forms of form.

"Many scams involve customers being conned into handing over their cards and Pins, or their telephone banking security details by someone calling, pretending to be their bank or police," he pointed out.

"Be wary of any unsolicited phone calls or emails - never hand over your card and Pin or bank security details in full as neither your bank or the police will ever ask you for these."

Meanwhile, fraud losses against online banking accounts fell by 24% last year to £35m, while fraud losses involving telephone banking rose by 32% to £17m.

(9th March 2012)



LULZSEC HACKERS ARRESTED IN INTERNATIONAL SWOOP
(BBC News, dated 6th March 2012)
Category : Hacking

 

Full article : www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17270822

The suspected leader of the hacking group Lulzsec has pleaded guilty to carrying out high profile attacks on several companies.

Hector Xavier Monsegur had been charged with conspiracy to engage in computer hacking according to unsealed court papers filed in Manhattan.

Reuters reports that the charges were filed via "a criminal information".

The news agency says that suggests that the suspect - nicknamed Sabu - had co-operated with the government.

US law enforcement officers have said a total of five people were either under arrest or being sought.

Irish police added that they have arrested one man in connection with Lulzsec's activities and are holding him at a south Dublin police station.

The Press Association reported that police officers in Britain have also been involved in the crackdown.

Lulzsec, which is linked to the online activist group Anonymous, had claimed responsibility for attacks against eBay and Sony Pictures among others.

Last month Anonymous published a recording of a private telephone conversation between FBI agents and London detectives talking about Lulzsec suspects.

'Internal rift'
 
According to the court papers Mr Monsegur formed Lulzsec last May. It said he acted as a "rooter", identifying vulnerabilities in victim's computer systems.

Alongside other recruited hackers he is alleged to have attacked the US Senate, the cyber security firm Unveillance and the American media group Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

Prof Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey's department of computing noted that Lulzsec had been quiet since the middle of 2011 following an attack on Paypal.

"Judging by the level of activity this morning, where hackers have been pasting personal information about the person reported as having turned witness to implicate other hackers, it would appear that there is a considerable rift inside these groups," he said.

"The hackers are certainly acting as if they feel they have been betrayed by one of their own."

Trend Micro's director of security research, Rik Ferguson, added that while this might mark the end of Lulzsec, it would be premature to say the same about Anonymous.

"Anonymous is a very different organisation to LulzSec and other more closely linked groups - anyone can and does act in the name of Anonymous and their activities do not require individual hacker publicity or disclosure of personally identifiable details," he said.

"The very fact that Sabu became the 'celebrity' he was, illustrates the real difference between LulzSec and Anonymous.

"I think the hackers we really need to worry about are those that trusted no-one and sought no glory in the first place."

Hackers claiming to be part of Lulzsec said they had carried out or have been linked to the following attacks:

May 7: US X Factor contestant database
May 10: Fox.com user passwords
May 15: Database listing locations of UK cash machines
May 23: Sonymusic Japan website
May 30: US broadcaster PBS. Staff logon information
June 2: Sonypictures.com user information
June 3: Infragard website (FBI affiliated organisation)
June 3: Nintendo.com
June 10: Pron.com pornographic website
June 13: Senate.gov - website of US Senate
June 13: Bethesda software website. User information
June 14: EVE Online, League of Legends, The Escapist and others
June 16:'Technical disruption' to the website of the CIA
June 20: The website of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) taken offline by denial of service attack

(9th March 2012)


 

WHATS NEW IN COMPUTER SECURITY - FEBRUARY 2012

All links under this heading are [Note 1].

RESEARCHERS CRACK ONLINE ENCRYPTION SYSTEM
(Computer World, dated 15th February 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7858859/930454165/552237/0/

An online encryption method widely used to protect banking, email, e-commerce and other sensitive Internet transactions is not as secure as assumed, according to a report issued by a team of U.S and European cryptanalysts.

The researchers reviewed millions of public keys used by websites to encrypt online transactions and found a small but significant number to be vulnerable to compromise.

In most cases, the problem had to do with the manner in which the keys were generated, according to the researchers. The numbers associated with the keys were not always as random as needed, the research showed.

Therefore, the team concluded, attackers could use public keys to guess the corresponding private keys that are used to decrypt data -- a scenario that was previously believed to be impossible.

"This is an extremely serious cryptographic vulnerability caused by the use of insufficiently good random numbers when generating private keys" for HTTPS, SSL and TSL servers, said Peter Eckersley, senior technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF contributed data for the research.


 

CITADEL BANKING MALWARE IS EVOLVING AND SPREADING RAPIDLY
(Computer World, dated 9th February 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7850696/930454165/551111/0/

A computer Trojan that targets online banking users is evolving and spreading rapidly because its creators have adopted an open-source development model, according to researchers from cyberthreat management firm Seculert.

Called Citadel, the new piece of malware is based on ZeuS, one of the oldest and most popular online banking Trojans. ZeuS was abandoned by its creator in late 2010 and its source code leaked online a few months later.

Since its public release, the ZeuS source code has served as base for the development other Trojans, including Ice IX and now Citadel.

"Seculert's Research Lab discovered the first indication of a Citadel botnet on December 17th, 2011," the security company said Wednesday in a blog post. "The level of adoption and development of Citadel is rapidly growing."

Seculert has identified over 20 botnets that use different versions of this Trojan. "Each version added new modules and features, some of which were submitted by the Citadel customers themselves," the company said.


 

EU TO STRENGTHEN ITS CYBERSECURITY WATCHDOG
(Computer World, dated 8th February 2012 author Jennifer Baker)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7848986/930454165/551001/0/

A push by European authorities to strengthen the European Union's cybersecurity watchdog has been given the green light.

ENISA, the European Network and Information Security Agency, was set up in 2004 to ensure a "high and effective level of network information security" within the E.U. Its  mandate is due to expire in September 2013, but a vote in the European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy Committee agreed to extend it until 2020.

The new proposal would also require ENISA to help set up a full-scale European Union Computer Emergency Response Team (EU CERT), to counter cyberattacks against E.U. institutions, bodies and agencies, as well as providing support to member states in the event of incidents, attacks or disruptions on networks.


 

EUROPE CARES ABOUT PRIVACY, SO YOU MUST TOO
(Computer World, dated 7th February 2012 author Scott Bradner)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7847760/930454165/550730/0/

In late January, the European Commission published a proposal "on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data."

The commission also published an introductory statement about the proposal and a staff analysis of the impact of the proposal. The proposal is extensive, more than 100 pages covering every facet of the gathering, processing, movement and protection of data about people. In concept, the proposal does not differ all that much from the existing European approach to data collected by businesses about people. The principles are the same: get permission from individuals before you collect information about them, tell them what the information will be used for, only collect what you need, only keep it for as long as you need to, protect the information properly and do not give the information to someone who will not protect it.


 

HUNDREDS OF DREAMHOST WEBSITES ABUSED BY SPAMMERS
(Computer World, dated 6th February 2012 author Lucian Constantin)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7845616/930454165/550599/0/

Rogue webspages that redirect users to work-at-home scams have been added to hundreds of websites hosted at DreamHost following a security breach suffered by the company in January, researchers from cloud security vendor Zscaler said.

DreamHost decided to reset the FTP and shell access passwords for all of its customers after discovering that hackers compromised one of its database servers on Jan. 20.

The company said at the time that no malicious activity had been immediately detected on its customers' accounts, but the situation might have changed in the meantime, according to Zsclaer.

Following the Dreamhost hack many websites hosted by the company have been hijacked to redirect users to a Russian scam page, said Zscaler senior security researcher Julien Sobrier in a blog post on Friday. "I've identified hundreds of websites hosted by DreamHost that contained a PHP page redirecting to a malicious website.

The landing website promoted a work-at-home scam in Russian. These kind of scams have been around for many years and they usually trick users into buying a so-called starter kit that is supposed to help them earn money on the Internet.


 

GERMAN GOVERNMENT ENDORSES CHROME AS MOST SECURE BROWSER
(Computer World, dated 3rd February 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7843830/930454165/550435/0/

Germany's cyber security agency today recommended that Windows 7 users run Google's Chrome browser, citing the application's sandbox and auto-update features.

In a security best practices guideline, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, known by its German initials of BSI, said Chrome was the best browser.

"Your internet browser is the key component for the use of services on the Web and thus represents the main target for cyber-attacks," said BSI in its published advice. "By using Google Chrome in conjunction with the other measures outlined above, you can significantly reduce the risk of a successful IT attack."

BSI ticked off Chrome's anti-exploit sandbox technology, which isolates the browser from the operating system and the rest of the computer; its silent update mechanism and Chrome's habit of bundling Adobe Flash, as its reasons for the recommendation.


 

FACEBOOK MALWARE SCAM TAKES HOLD
(Computer World, dated 3rd February 2012 author Cameron Scott)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7843830/930454165/550432/0/

A "worrying number" of Facebook users are sharing a link to a malware-laden fake CNN news page reporting the U.S. has attacked Iran and Saudi Arabia, security firm Sophos said Friday.

If users who follow the link then click to play what purports to be video coverage of the attack, they are prompted to update their Adobe Flash player with a pop-up window that looks very much like the real thing. Those who accept the prompt unwittingly install malware on their computers.

Within three hours of the scam's appearance, more than 60,000 users had followed a link to the spoofed CNN page, according to Sophos Senior Security Advisor Chester Wisniewski. Facebook removed that link, but others are still being shared.

"The bad guys are rotating through scam pages trying to stay ahead of Facebook," Wisniewski said.

In a statement, Facebook said it was "in the process of cleaning up this spam now, and remediating any affected users."




VERISIGN ADMITS MULTIPLE HACKS IN 2010
(Computer World, dated 2nd February 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7840343/930454165/550282/0/


VeriSign, the company responsible for guiding most of the world's Internet users to the correct websites and once the largest encryption certificate issuing authority, has acknowledged that it was successfully hacked several times in 2010.

The admission was disclosed last fall in a VeriSign filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but did not come to light until today when Reuters reported on its investigation of new SEC guidelines on such disclosures.

"In 2010, the Company faced several successful attacks against its corporate network in which access was gained to information on a small portion of our computers and servers," said VeriSign in the quarterly report it filed with the SEC in October 2011.

VeriSign confirmed that the attacker made off with data and claimed that it had put new defensive measures into place.

###Further Information

Verisign is the company that confirms the security of your credit and banking card transactions when you purchase products or services online (ie. when you have to enter a portion of your online banking memorable name or password ).


 

HALF OF FORTUNE 500 FIRMS INFECTED WITH DNS CHANGER
(Computer World, dated 2nd February 2012 author Gregg Keizer)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7840343/930454165/550278/0/

Half of all Fortune 500 companies and major U.S. government agencies own computers infected with the "DNS Changer" malware that redirects users to fake websites and puts organizations at risk of information theft, a security company said today.

DNS Changer, which at its peak was installed on more than four million Windows PCs and Macs worldwide -- a quarter of them in the U.S. alone -- was the target of a major takedown organized by the U.S. Department of Justice last November.

The takedown and accompanying arrests of six Estonian men, dubbed "Operation Ghost Click," was the culmination of a two-year investigation, although some security researchers have been tracking the botnet since 2006. As part of the operation, the FBI seized control of more than 100 command-and-control (C&C) servers hosted at U.S. data centers.

Futher Information

What is DNS : Domain Name Server - when you enter the name of a website into your browser (IE, Monzilla etc) and click; your computer and servers on the internet translate "the entered name" into a direction code for the website you want. Then you get connected. BUT, if you can corrupt that direction code you can divert people to bogus websites. Diverting people to porn and fake Viagra websites can be upsetting, but being diverted to fake bank websites can cost you money or your identity. Get used to recognising your important websites name and URL after you have "clicked".

For example Virgin Money. You enter viginmoney.com, and click. What you get is "uk.virginmoney.com/virgin/?" appearing in the URL box. This is the correct URL for the wesbite operation. If you got "uk.virginmoney.com/virg1n/?", changing an "i" for a "1" would indicate that you have been directed to a fake website. Note though, some of the changes to URL could possibly be more discrete than this example.


 

KELIHOS BOTNET, ONCE CRIPPLED, NOW GAINING STRENGTH
(Computer World, dated 1st February 2012 author Jeremy KirK)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7838885/930454165/550185/0/

A botnet that was crippled by Microsoft and Kaspersky Lab last September is spamming once again and experts have no recourse to stop it.

The Kelihos botnet only infected 45,000 or so computers but managed to send out nearly 4 billion spam messages a day, promoting, among other things, pornography, illegal pharmaceuticals and stock scams.

But it was temporarily corralled last September after researchers used various technical means to get the 45,000 or so infected computers to communicate with a "sinkhole," or a computer they controlled.

But the computers that comprised Kelihos were still infected with its code. Researchers knew that it would only be a matter of time before its controller used the botnet's complex infrastructure of proxy servers and communication nodes to regain control.


(9th March 2012)


 

NATIONAL ROLL-OUT OF "CLARE'S LAW" DISCLOSURE SCHEME DELAYED
(The Guardian, dated 5th March 2012 author Alan Travis)
www.guardian.co.uk  [Note 1]

Category : domestic violence

The home secretary, Theresa May, has delayed the national roll-out of "Clare's Law", a scheme under which people would be able to ask the police if their partners have a history of domestic violence.

May told MPs on Monday that a consultation over a national disclosure scheme had raised fears it could be used for "fishing" or "spying". Concerns were also raised about the release of police intelligence material based on unproven allegations that could be used to stigmatise innocent people.

A 12 month pilot will instead run in four police force areas - Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire - to test both a "right to ask" and a "right to know" scheme.

"The consultation raised important issues on the scope and proportionality of the information that should be disclosed to potential victims and the safeguards that are needed against malicious applications," May said in a Commons written statement.

"I believe that it is right that these issues are addressed and tested in a pilot to ensure that the disclosure scheme is compatible with all relevant law."

May said in October that she wanted to see a national disclosure scheme for potential victims of domestic violence but needed to decide whether it should be on a "right to ask" or a "right to know" basis. The first is triggered by a request from the public and the second by the police deciding to disclose the information to protect a potential victim, even if they had not asked.

The scheme does not require new legal powers and would involve the disclosure of convictions for domestic violence as well as police intelligence on the background of a particular individual, which may include reports of incidents that have not been proven.

"This pilot scheme is designed to prevent tragic incidents from happening, such as that of Clare Wood, by ensuring that there is a clear framework in place with recognised and consistent processes for disclosing information," said May.

Wood, a 36-year-old mother, was murdered by her former partner, George Appleton, in Manchester in 2009. She had met him on the internet. He had three previous convictions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and was later found hanged. The police were criticised for individual and systemic failings in their handling of the case by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The proposed national disclosure scheme was strongly criticised as a waste of money by Refuge, the charity that helps victims of domestic violence, which says the government should start by improving the police response to calls for help.

"We are at an absolute loss as to why the government is introducing the new disclosure scheme," said its chief executive, Sandra Horley. "It simply isn't supported by any of us with the expertise to judge its chances of success."

The home secretary also announced on Monday that she was moving to close some loopholes in the sex offenders register after a high court case giving a right of appeal after 15 years to those who are placed on it for life.

May said she would amend the legislation to ensure that all 44,000 on the register who travel abroad for less than three days would have to notify the police, as would those who live in households with a child under 18. The rules are also to be tightened so that those who change their names can no longer seek to avoid being on the register.

(6th March 2012)



THE 850 SEX OFFENDERS WHO HAVE GONE ON THE RUN
(Daily Mail, dated 5th March 2012 author Jack Doyle)
www.dailymail.co.uk   [Note 1]

Nearly 850 registered sex offenders are on the run from the police, it emerged yesterday.
Nearly 700 of them have been missing for more than a year,  and one has been at large for nearly a decade.
The total means the number of  perverts who have vanished from the radar has more than doubled in just two years.

The figures raise serious concerns about the extent of police checks on criminals placed on the official Sex Offenders' Register, and efforts to find them once they have absconded.  Victims' groups said the register was 'out of control' and warned that sex offenders were getting away with staying 'underground and undetected'.

Anyone given a jail sentence of 30 months or more for a sex crime, ranging from repeated indecent exposure to rape, is automatically placed on the register for life. There are now more than 37,000 names on it.
Those on the register are required to tell the police if they change  their address and can be subject to regular checks.

But figures show that on September 1 last year a total of 843 had  disappeared. Of those, some 690 had been untraceable for more than 12 months. On the same day in 2009 there were just 356 registered sex offenders at large, fewer than half the 2011 number.
 
The numbers at large for more than a year have also more than doubled. Two years ago the total stood at 260.
Now the figures released following a Freedom of Information request to the National Policing Improvement Agency show more than one in 50 of all those on the register are missing.
Separate figures reveal that 57 registered sex offenders were charged with a further offence last year.

An example of an offender who disappeared was serial rapist Peter Chapman, who was off the police radar for seven months after his monitoring level was downgraded by the authorities.
He went on to rape and murder 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall after contacting her on Facebook.
Chapman posed as a teenager on the internet to lure the trainee nurse to her death. He was jailed for life in 2010.

Lynn Costello, of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, said: 'The figures don't surprise me because nobody has really had a control of the sex offenders register since it was brought in.
'These people are offenders who want to move around and remain underground and undetected.
'But all the blame for this cannot be put at the doors of the police. How many paedophiles can be tracked down when the police are being asked to do so much paperwork?'
Despite the huge numbers of criminals at large, barely a handful of sex offenders are listed on police wanted websites.
The 'Most Wanted' page of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) website shows the details of just two missing child sex offenders.

Jason Waller, 35, has been missing for four years. He was sentenced to three years for assaulting three children, but disappeared in 2008. Stephen Clare, 40, has been off the radar for nine years. He was jailed for sexually assaulting a five-year-old girl and taking indecent photographs in the 1990s.
He served 18 months and was released from jail in 1998, when he moved to Brighton. Police said decisions on whether to publicise individual offenders would depend on the circumstances in each case, and work was being done behind the scenes to hunt offenders down.

Cumbria Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers on the management of sexual offenders, said monitoring was working and fewer serious offences were being committed by dangerous offenders. She said: 'The UK has some of the most effective techniques in the world to manage registered sex offenders.'

From next year sex offenders put on the register for life will be able to appeal to have their name removed, following a human rights ruling.
At the same time, ministers have pledged to impose closer checks and close loopholes in the law.
In future sex offenders will have to inform officers if they begin living with a child under the age of 18, and if they change their name by deed poll.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'Home Secretary Theresa May has made clear her priority is protecting the public from predatory sex offenders and the Government is doing everything it can to tighten the law.
'We have consulted on strengthening notification requirements for registered sex offenders.
'We will be making an announcement on these measures shortly.'

(6th March 2012)



DAVID CAMERON TO BACK LAW REFORM TO RECOGNISE STALKING AS A CRIME
(The Guardian, dated 4th March 2012 author Amelia Hill)
www.guardian.co.uk   [Note 1] 

Category : Stalking

Stalking will be recognised as a crime for the first time in England and Wales under legislation expected to be announced by the prime minister this week.

At a private meeting last month, officials from the Home Office, Crown Prosecution Service, attorney general's office, ministry of justice and the police were told that David Cameron planned to use this Thursday's International Women's Day to announce reform to legislation affecting stalking and domestic violence offences.

The prime minister is expected to use a reception at Downing Street to announce stalking is to become an imprisonable offence, carrying a sentence of up to six months and a £5,000 fine. More serious cases will incur sentences of up to five years and an unlimited fine.

"I'm confident that we will get a positive message on Thursday from the prime minister that there will be changes to the law on stalking," said Robert Buckland, the Conservative MP who helped launch an independent parliamentary inquiry into stalking law reform.

"The government is persuaded of the need for change," Buckland added. "They are listening and the signs are encouraging that, when the Freedom Bill is given its third reading on March 12th, there will be new and improved, strengthened and toughened legislation that criminalised stalking."

Cameron has invited the key advisers to the inquiry's campaign team to Thursday's reception, including chair Elfyn Llwyd and Tricia Bernal, whose daughter, Clare, was shot and killed in Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, London. Clare was murdered by her obsessed former boyfriend, Michael Pech, who had been previously charged with harassing his former girlfriend. Pech breached his bail conditions to murder Clare Bernal, before killing himself.

Also invited to Thursday's reception is Claire Waxman, who was awarded £3,500 damages last month after the high court criticised the criminal prosecution service for failing to protect her from an eight-year campaign of "serious and persistent" harassment by freelance television producer Elliot Fogel.

Llwyd said the government's intention to introduce new legislation appears to be "fairly solid,". "I'm quietly confident," he said. "The prime minister would not invite us all to Downing Street on Thursday just to slap us down."

There are an estimated 120,000 cases of stalking every year but just 4,365 people were convicted of harassment in 2009, and of those, just 565 were jailed.

The figure for those found guilty of stalking is even smaller. Last year, 786 people were found guilty of the more serious offence of putting a person in fear of violence. Of those, 170 were jailed.

The statistics have raised concerns that the Protection from Harassment Act is failing to shield women. "The evidence that we need a specific offence of stalking is overwhelming," said Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation union. "Victims are not being taken seriously by the police or CPS. Perpetrators rarely receive custodial sentences or are treated. This is a scandal that must end without delay."

A cross-party group of 120 parliamentarians believe, however, that legislation alone is not sufficient to protect victims.

Tracey Morgan, a member of the inquiry panel stalked by a former colleague for nearly 10 years, said that fundamental changes to training, risk assessment of victims and treatment, including the establishment of a victims' advocacy scheme to signpost and support victims of stalking through the criminal justice system, are also necessary.

"We have to improve awareness and culture around stalking as well as the law," she said. : "Stalking is where domestic violence was 30 years ago. It's seen as a joke; a celebrity problem. Victims are told they should be flattered by the attention. But stalking can lead to murder, rape and a range of other, horrific crimes. For too long, it has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves. I am optimistic now that this is going to change."

(6th March 2012)



POLICE WARN OF "SCOTLAND YARD" VIRUS THAT TELLS USERS THEY'VE ACCESSED CHILD PORN AND MUST PAY A FINE
(Mail online, dated 14th February 2012 author Damien Gayle)
www.dailymail.co.uk  [Note 1] 

A new computer virus is spreading that pretends to be a threatening message from Scotland Yard to extort money from unsuspecting internet users.
The virus freezes victims' computers, then hits them with a warning accusing them of of accessing child pornography and sending emails with 'terrorist motives'.
It says users their IP address is now under investigation by the Metropolitan Police's e-crime unit (PCeU) and tells them they have to pay a fine to unlock their computer.

The alarming message reads: 'This IP address was used to visit websites containing child pornography, zoophilia and child abuse. 'Your computer also contains video files with Pornographic content, elements of violence and child pornography. 'Spam messages with terrorist motives were also sent from your computer.' It adds: 'To unlock the computer you are obliged to pay a fine of £100.'

The Met has issued a warning to computer users about the scam, which infects computers that have accessed certain websites.
These kinds of attacks are known as 'drive-by downloads' as users don't have to click or download any files for their computer to be infected.

Once a machine accesses a corrupted web page, the software simply downloads itself. Up to date anti-virus software should, however, keep computers safe.
'Ransomware' scams, as they are known, are common and cyber-criminals have used them for years to scare people into paying for services they don't need.
But this particular scam comes with added weight by telling people they're under an official police investigation.

In a statement, the Met said: 'This is a fraud and users are advised NOT to pay out any monies or hand out any bank details.
'Genuine law enforcement agencies would never contact members of the public via this method and demand funds in this way.
'We would advise anyone who has been deceived by such a message and handed over monie should report the matter to the card issuer immediately and report the offence to their local police by dialling "101" or the local non-emergency police number.'

(6th March 2012)



NIGERIA'S "419" EMAIL SCAMS UNCOVERED : THE TRUTH BEHIND THE YAHOO BOYS
(Metro, dated 2nd March 2012 author Ross McGuiness)
www.metro.co.uk  [Note 1]

We have all come across them. Well, those of us who have ever had an email address have come across them.

They have filled our inboxes for two decades, promising us lottery wins, no-lose business deals and unrequited love.

They are '419 scams', named after the Nigerian Criminal Code number for the fraud - the country where it originated.

We have been asked to claim a large cash prize by sending off money to cover a registration fee or bail out someone trapped in a foreign country. Most of us delete them.

But a tiny number are duped and part with cash to their financial and emotional cost. And, for that reason, the emails continue to come.

Advance fee fraud has been going on for hundreds of years. It originates in the Spanish Prisoner scam of the 16th century, where the victim paid money to secure the release of a wealthy nobleman from jail with the promise of substantial rewards.

The modern 419 scam began in the 1980s, when Nigeria's economy waned. It was carried out by graduates who couldn't get a job and was used in letter or fax form to trick western businessmen into putting money into non-existent oil deals.

Once the power of the internet kicked in, the scam went electronic. And that's when the Yahoo Boys came in.

They made their name by bombarding Yahoo! email accounts. Now a university study, believed to be the first of its kind, has interviewed 40 of them.

'They are very brave and resilient,' said Dr Joshua Oyeniyi Aransiola, a sociology lecturer who carried out the study via Obafemi Awolowo University in the Nigerian city of Ile-Ife.

'Most of the Yahoo Boys are aged 22 to 29 and are concentrated around cities with higher institutions of learning.' They also spend many hours gleaning information about potential target groups.

Dr Aransiola and his researchers spent six months gaining their trust and they agreed to be interviewed without revealing their identities.

They 'usually brag, do things loudly, drive flashy cars and change cars frequently', the report found.

It adds: 'They wear the latest clothes and jewellery. They spend lavishly, love material things and go to clubs.

'They are prominent at parties, picking up prostitutes at night. They speak coded languages and use coded words such as ''Mugun'' and ''Maga'', which means 'the fool' (ie their victim).

Some of the scams include making business proposals, online dating, bombing of mails and so on.' Dr Aransiola said: 'When they target individuals, they take their time to get as much detailed information about the person as possible.'

Hundreds of thousands of people are contacted, paying as little as £20, £30 or £60. But if enough fall into the trap it makes it worthwhile.

More than half of those interviewed had been engaged in cybercrime for five to seven years, and 95 per cent are undergraduate students.

They are products of their times. Unemployment is 24 per cent in Nigeria but among young people the figure is even higher.

They often go to extreme levels to achieve success.

If a Yahoo Boy is pretending to be a woman to lure a target into giving him more money, he might use his girlfriend to speak to the victim on the phone.

Many scammers use voodoo to give them good luck. The will make incisions on their bodies, sleep in cemeteries and cite incantations.

One 25-year-old Yahoo Boy told the university: 'I have used it but I have stopped because of the fear of repercussion. With the aid of voodoo the money comes faster.'

Widespread corruption among the police, security forces, bank officials, postal agents and couriers helps to ensure their plans run smoothly.

(6th March 2012)



HIRE CAR FRAUD COSTS INSURERS AND MOTORISTS MILLIONS
(BBC News, dated 4th March 2012 author Adrian Goldberg)
www.bbc.co.uk

Criminal gangs are making millions of pounds in a new car insurance scam, a BBC investigation has revealed.  The con involves false claims for replacement cars given to motorists while their own car is being fixed.

 

Industry insiders say more needs to be done to stop the fraud, which is bumping up premiums and costing insurers an estimated £60m a year.

The Association of British Insurers said reducing and deterring such fraud was a "top priority".

Fraud investigators told the BBC's 5 live Investigates programme that criminal gangs were setting up bogus claims management and hire companies in order to cash in on the growing market in providing replacement cars.

The gangs, who view the crime as both lucrative and low-risk, use different methods to try to defraud the insurance companies.

In some cases they will charge insurers for a car they have not actually provided - known as a "phantom hire".

In other cases the gangs will "hire" the same car to several different people at the same time, claiming separately for each non-existent hire.

Fraudulent hire companies may also charge for providing a top-of-the-range model when in fact a basic vehicle has been supplied.

Bogus invoices
 
For example, in one case a hire car company said it had supplied a customer with a Maserati when in fact the driver had been given a VW Golf.

In another, an E-class Mercedes was claimed for when the actual vehicle supplied was a Ford Fiesta - which was £200 a day cheaper to hire. The car was hired out for 55 days, netting fraudsters £11,000 ($17,400).

Criminal barrister Judy Dawson told 5 live Investigates that the fraudsters involved believed they were in a win-win situation because there was little chance of being caught and prosecuted.

In some cases, Ms Dawson said, all that happened if a bogus claim was spotted was that the insurers would refuse to pay the invoice.

Transport select committee chairman Louise Ellman MP told the BBC: "This is shocking. It is one of the reasons why insurance premiums are going up.

"The new police insurance fraud enforcement department should address this issue as a matter of urgency."

Bedfordshire Police recently came across a major credit hire car scam when they were investigating so-called crash-for-cash crime - which is often linked to credit hire fraud.

The force investigated 60 staged road accidents and found the vast majority had a credit hire agreement attached to them, often involving "phantom" vehicles.

Detectives found that in three cases there were claims of nearly £40,000 for the hire of Jaguar cars which did not exist, but were supposedly loaned for six months.

Higher insurance premiums
 
Craig Dickson, head of credit hire at solicitors firm DAC Beachcroft, believes this type of fraud is on the increase because insurance companies are getting better at detecting other types of fraud - such as bogus personal injury claims.

An analysis of the fraud conducted by DAC Beachcroft estimated that it was costing insurers about £60m a year - which is 10% of the total credit hire market.

Mr Dickson said his firm had seen a 400% rise in the number of staged accidents not involving personal injury claims between April 2010 and May 2011.

"There is a gap in regulation in that organisations handling personal injury claims must be regulated by the Ministry of Justice," Mr Dickson explains.

"But if there's no personal injury, they don't.

"To some extent, anybody can set themselves up as a credit hire company because it doesn't involve personal injury."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the issue was a matter for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

In a statement, the OFT told the BBC: "Credit hire replacement vehicles for claimants is a focus of the OFT's ongoing market study on motor insurance premiums. The findings of the study are due in May 2012."

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says around £2bn in insurance fraud goes undetected each year, adding, on average, an extra £50 a year to the insurance bill paid by every UK policy holder.

An ABI spokesman said: "Fraudulent road traffic accidents are often accompanied by inflated and bogus claims for credit hire, as well as for storage, recovery and repair of vehicles.

"Reducing and deterring insurance fraud is a priority for the insurance industry. Later this year, we will launch the Insurance Fraud Register - the first single industry-wide database of all known insurance fraudsters."

(6th March 2012)



SOCIAL NETWORKS WORSE THAN PORN SITES FOR MALICIOUS LINKS
(British Computer Society website, dated 2nd March 2012)
www.bcs.org

According to the latest figures, there are more harmful links on social networking sites than on X-rated adult sites.

Harmful links are used by cybercriminals to divert internet users to contaminated websites.

In 2011, 21 per cent of all such links were discovered on social networking sites such as Facebook, compared to the 14 per cent found on porn sites, security firm Kaspersky reports.

The overall leader in the 'Most Harmful Links' rankings is the video site, including platforms such as YouTube, where 31 per cent of harmful links reside.

Search engines are also used as a major distribution channel, with 22 per cent spread through manipulated search engine results.

"Cybercriminals are increasingly exploiting the fact that people spend a great deal of time on social networking sites, such as Facebook," said Kaspersky.

Sophos recently reported that scammers are targeting Facebook with the promise of turning users' profile pages pink in order to profit from a survey and access accounts.

(6th March 2012)


 

POLICE PRIVATISATION ?

Sadly, this seems to be somebody's ill thought out MBA* project. Many of us working in private industry have come across this over the last couple of decades. Where office cleaning is "not core to the business" so it is outsourced. Human Resources (Personnel) and training is not core to the business and IT are all not core; so they are spun off and sold off. Company pensions admin is not core to the business so it is off-shored to India !

The company line when explained to the shareholders, it is more efficient and cost effective.

We have already been told that we are going to have a UK style FBI, the National Crime Agency. So will that finally become the crime investigation organisation ? Then Bobbies on the beat could become crime prevention officers with responsibilities downgraded and lower salaries. That work could then be spun-off "as not being core to the business"!!!

The Police management line when explained to the community, it is more efficient and cost effective.

Here are a couple of articles that hint that it is on it's way !

*MBA = Master in Business Administration (an accademic qualification for people who think they can do the job)


POLICE INVITE SECURITY FIRMS TO BID FOR ROLES
(BBC News, dated 3rd March 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Private security firms could investigate some crimes and patrol neighbourhoods under plans being drawn up for police in England and Wales.

The West Midlands and Surrey forces - two of England's largest - have invited bids for contracts from security companies, on behalf of all forces.

Other services provided privately could include supporting victims and managing high-risk individuals.

The Home Office stressed private firms would not be able to arrest suspects.

Critics have warned that privatising police services will mean that forces will be less accountable to the public.

BBC political correspondent Louise Stewart said the West Midlands and Surrey forces had been working together since early last year.

This is the first time the extent of their plans to involve the private sector in "middle and back office functions" have become clear.

They emerge at a time of 20% cuts to police budgets over four years, with Home Secretary Theresa May suggesting forces could protect "front-line policing" by delegating some work to the private sector.

Police station
 
Our correspondent says the two forces have invited bids from firms including G4S, the world's largest security firm, to deliver a number of services currently undertaken by the police.

They include responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals and patrolling neighbourhoods.

In a statement, the Home Office said of the plans: "Private companies will not be able to arrest suspects, and they will not be solely responsible for investigating crime."

The contract has a potential value of £1.5bn over seven years but could rise to a £3.5bn, depending on how many other forces signed up, our correspondent adds.

That would make it the largest contract to date for a private company to provide police services.

Last month Lincolnshire Police and G4S agreed a £200m contract.

Under that agreement, thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, half the force's civilian staff will join the private company, which will also build and run a police station.

The Guardian reported it had seen a briefing note sent to companies on the West Midlands-Surrey plans, which said that all services that "can be legally delegated to the private sector" are potentially up for contract.

'Dangerous experiment'
 
A West Midlands police authority spokesman told the newspaper that combining with the business sector was aimed at transforming the way the force worked.

"The areas of service listed in this notice are deliberately broad to allow the force to explore the skills, expertise and solutions a partnership could bring," he said.

But Ben Priestley, Unison's national officer for police and justice, told the Guardian: "Bringing the private sector into policing is a dangerous experiment with local safety and taxpayers' money.

"We are urging police authorities not to fall into the trap of thinking the private sector is the answer to the coalition's cuts."

He added: "Privatisation means that the police will be less accountable to the public. And people will no longer be able to go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission if they have a problem."




PRIVATE SECURITY FIRM G4S TO RUN LINCOLNSHIRE POLICE STATION
(BBC News, dated 22nd February 2012)

A private security company has signed a deal to design, build and run a police station in Lincolnshire.

The agreement - between G4S and Lincolnshire Police - is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

As part of the deal, two-thirds of staff employed by the force would be transferred to the private sector.

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was arguably the most radical solution to the budget cuts facing police forces.

It is thought the contract will save Lincolnshire at least £20m.

The Police Federation has raised concerns about the plan, saying police force staff have an "enshrined sense of public duty which private employees may not".

Under the plan, 540 civilian workers at Lincolnshire Police will move across to G4S, from April, in what is thought to be the biggest single transfer of police staff to a private company.

The police authority will pay G4S £200m over 10 years to deliver a range of services, including human resources, finance and IT.

Police authority chairman Barry Young said that, subject to planning permission, a new custody suite would be built at the police headquarters site in Nettleham, near Lincoln.

The security firm will also build a large police station in the county, containing a two-storey office block and a custody suite with 30 cells.

Ten other police forces in the country have expressed interest in becoming "strategic partners", which would see some of their services outsourced to the private security company.

'New innovations'
 
Mr Young said: "By taking over a range of support functions, G4S will contribute to the force's aim of being able to put 97% of its warranted officers in front-line roles by April.

"Crucially, the new strategic partnership will also deliver significant infrastructure investment that will offset the budget reductions called for by the government. I believe we are leading the way."

Kim Challis, from G4S, said: "Lincolnshire is leading the way in responding to the challenges of today's economic environment and this transformation project will mean many of the services provided by the police will now be delivered externally by specialists who can deliver greater savings and improve efficiency.

"We are particularly delighted to have the opportunity to implement many new innovations, such as our purpose-built Bridewell custody suites - the first of which will be completed within a year."

(6th March 2012)


 

SIM CARDS USED TO SEND THOUSANDS OF SPAM TEXTS BLOCKED
(BBC News, dated 2nd March 2012 author Dan Whitworth)
www.bbc.co.uk

Twenty thousand mobile phone sim cards used to send spam text messages have been blocked by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

It was given new powers six months ago to try to help tackle the growing problem.

But it admits it is just beginning to scratch the surface.

An estimated eight million spam messages are sent in the UK every day, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

Chris Garner, a 27-year-old self employed joiner from Barnoldswick, Lancashire, started to receive them after applying for a loan just before Christmas. "At first I just [texted] stop and forgot about it," he said. "But when you're getting eight or nine a day to begin with and then four or five a day two and half months later it gets annoying."

He says changing his number is not an option. "Times are hard and I'm looking for as much work as I can get," he said. "If someone rings my old number and don't get through they'll say, 'We'll ring someone else.' "So I might be having to lose out on work because of having to change my number because of someone sending me spam text messages."

'Don't respond'
 
Spam texts are big business and can help makes millions of pounds for those involved in sending them out.

David Clancy is the investigation's manager at the ICO. "Once they [spammers] have trapped your number they will then sell it into the [claims] industry," he said. "First users will pay £1, £1.50 for that phone number. "A month later it will be distributed to lots of organisations for 50p, 20p, 10p a time. "It makes a lot of money."

But he says the ICO's new powers are beginning to make a difference.

They're now able to execute search warrants when they think there may be evidence of spam texts being sent, compel mobile phone operators to hand over information and issue fines of up to £500,000.

He says the best advice is to not reply to any spam messages.

"I've done it myself as part of this investigation," he said.

"I've been contacted by numerous organisations offering me payment protection insurance claims, dent management claims and accident claims - don't respond."

While they admit it is impossible to filter out spam, mobile phone operators agree with that advice although they do have special text numbers that customers can forward any spam messages to.

They're then able to investigate the number which they came from.

Mark Brill is Chair of the DMA's mobile council, whose research points to the figure of eight million spam texts being sent out every day.

"That makes SMS spam a serious problem," he said.

"We would encourage the ICO to continue their enforcement efforts and would like to see the UK operators to provide better spam filtering software."

(6th March 2012)


 

MORE NEWS FROM MY SPAM INBOX- FEBRUARY 2012
Category : phishing
 
This month has seen a bumper crop with 25 malicious e mails hitting my inbox. Poor old Santander is the main target again for bank phishing. The "new kids on the block" for dodgy mail appears to be online gambling and complaints. My Internet Service Providers (ISP) spam filter continues to do a good job.

Instead of reporting on these malicious e-mails at the end of each month; details of their existence and content will be placed on a new webpage "SPAM AND PHISHING" (please see main menu). The aim is to report on these e-mails within days of them being received. Hopefully this will aid crime prevention.

The Spam report for February 2012 is on the new Webpage : SPAM AND PHISHING. The monthly reports will now cease.

As always, these e mails are bogus and are just phishing for personal information or to load malicious software. If you receive anything like them, delete it immediately and do not open any attachments. If you are suspicious about activity on your bank or utility accounts, contact your bank or service provider direct using a known telephone number, NOT contact details within the bogus e-mails.

(29th February 2012)


 

DATA AND SECURITY BREACHES, WHO ARE AT FAULT ?
Category : Personal security

We hear so many stories of a civil servant or police officer leaving "classified" papers on trains or buses. Then there are stories of Mr X of MI5 being mugged at Paddington Station and as a result has lost his laptop full of secrets. Then there are Cabinet Ministers walking from 10 Downing Street after attending a COBRA meeting with sensitive briefing memo's in hand that are photographed by the paparazzi. These stories get reported because "secrets" are meant to be kept just that, secret !

On a daily basis others make equally important civil data breaches that are not reported. They may not have an impact on national security, but they can have an affect on our lives.

For example, last Monday (27th February 2012 at 1pm ) I was sitting in a Starbucks on Euston Road when I was asked to mind someones seat. The lady in question had placed her laptop on the table alongside me whilst she went off to purchase a coffee. It was all powered up, her work was visible to all. She was working on a project for Santander Bank ( whose office is just across the road to the coffee shop ); oh and she worked for the consultancy company Accenture. I don't know what she was working on for her client Santander, I just hope that it wasn't banking security !

Its not just Accenture !

It is not just the consultancy company Accenture that has problems with the employee's leaving laptops lying around; I have heard of another culprit. The following is a briefing from the UK Security Manager of a multi-national IT / consultancy company. I have not named the company as I personally have not seen the mentioned incidents.

"We have always had a large number of laptop  thefts from bars in London, and the ###### in particular  has seen several thefts over the years (this bar is local to their UK HQ). Now  we have had 3 incidents there in the past 2 weeks, 2 of them in one day, so it would appear that there are thieves targeting that particular bar.
  
- Keep it off the floor. No matter where you are in public - in a bar, a coffee shop, or a hotel registration desk - avoid putting your laptop on the floor. If you must put it down, place it between your feet.

- Protect passwords, remembering strong passwords or access numbers can be difficult,  so if you must note them down never keep them in your Laptop bag, leaving either in a laptop carrying case or on your laptop is like leaving the keys in your car.

- Mind the bag. When you take your laptop in a public place, carrying it in a computer case will advertise what's inside. Consider using a padded briefcase, or a backpack instead.

- Get it out of the car. Don't leave your laptop in the car - not on the seat, not in the boot. Parked cars are a favourite target of laptop thieves, especially never place it in the boot once you park, someone could be watching.

- Don't leave it "for just a minute." In a bar or a restaurant, do not leave it in a pile with other colleagues' machines.

Not only will you have the problem of losing your work and having to get a new Laptop, loss of  Confidential information contained on your Laptop could result in contractual or financial issues for the company."

The guidance is not rocket science, its just common sense.

The sad fact is that both of these organisations provide consultancy services to our major banks, major businesses, Police and UK Government departments. Has the time now come to stuff our money in our matresses ?

(29th February 2012)


 

OPERATION TO CRACK DOWN ON LICENSING ISSUES
(Courtesy of Metropolitan Police, dated 25th February 2012
www.met.police.uk

One of the Metropolitan Police Service's (MPS) biggest policing operations of the year so far was launched on Friday, 24 February to tackle unlicensed activity around the capital.

Operation Condor targets all 32 London boroughs as part of a massive crack-down on licensing issues affecting all our communities and so far has lead to 2838 premises visited, 289 licensing breaches being identified and 244 people being arrested.

The operation is a co-ordinated 48 hour operation across London to combat those who flout licensing rules including shops, pubs, clubs, unlicensed mini cabs and others.

Police are on the look out for drug taking and other illegal activity inside pubs and checking that alcohol is sold and consumed in line with licensing laws. In shops and supermarkets, they are taking action against people selling alcohol, cigarettes and knives to children and those who have not checked correctly checked the history of second hand goods for sale. Driving license fraud and taxi touts will also be targeted.

Commander Mak Chishty, leading the operation, said: "Licensing laws are there for good reason as they help protect us from danger. Breaking them is not acceptable. Operation Condor is about keeping our communities safe from harm. In our shops and supermarkets this means people do not sell knives, harmful substances or alcohol to young people; in our pubs and clubs it means that alcohol is sold and consumed in a responsible way, on our roads it means that vehicles, such as taxis are properly licensed and safe.

"This is why so many of my officers were out yesterday and are busy today stopping cars at transport hotspots to check for correct documentation, visiting newsagents, off-licenses, supermarkets and betting shops to ensure and test licensing laws are being followed correctly. We are also targeting pubs and clubs to make sure they are strictly applying their permits and to ensure any informal sales of goods or drugs on their premises are dealt with appropriately.

"Licensing impacts upon everyday community life; The results of unlicensed activity on our streets can find the form of underage drinkers acting unsociably close to where we live, unlicensed mini-cabs endangering passengers by making uninsured journeys and also shops who potentially encourage the circulation of stolen items by not correctly checking the history of second hand goods offered for sale.

"These are just some small examples of why it is vital our officers continue to work with our partners to enforce licensing laws in all walks of life and in doing so protect people who live, work or travel in London safe from harm."

"Transport for London, local authorities and trading standards are some of the partners involved in the combined effort to increase public safety."

During the course of the operation over 3000 officers from boroughs and specialist units will be working on Op Condor, using a range of tactics to bring unlicensed activity to account.

Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: "Most criminal networks profit from illegal licensing, whether it's selling alcohol illegally or giving youngsters access to harmful weapons. Cracking down on this activity means we'll see a knock on effect of a drop in robberies, violence and anti social behaviour, which is good news for Londoners. I'd like to thank the 3,000 police officers enforcing this operation and I'd like to advise criminals across the capital to keep looking over their shoulders as we're watching. "?

So far in the operation twelve pubs/clubs have been closed during the course of the evening for varying offences.

140 cadets have been deployed on test purchase operations on off-licenses across various boroughs. Any breaches have been dealt with primarily by local Trading Standards.

A large amount of counterfeit goods have been seized in partnership with Local Authorities and HMR&C. These include; 750 bottles of alcohol in Tower Hamlets, 23 bottles of non duty paid vodka from Kingston; 41.1L of spirits, 100L vodka, 51L wine, 1/2kg tobacco in Ealing; 500 bottles of wine, 100 bottles of spirits, 8000 cigarettes resulting in £5000 unpaid revenue being identified in Islington.

(29th February 2012)


UNLICENSED CAB DRIVER JAILED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULTS
(Courtesy of Metropolitan Police, dated 24th February 2012)
www.met.police.uk

On the 24th February 2012 an unlicensed cab driver has been sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court following sexual assaults on two women in Kingston and Chelsea in 2010.

Amir Bhatti, 33, of Cranford Lane, Hounslow pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count of theft in October 2011.

He was sentenced to four years' imprisonemnet for public protection.

Detective Constable Serena D'Adamo of Sapphire said:

"Bhatti used his job as an unlicensed cab driver to target vulnerable woman and get them into his car so he could carry out the assaults. This case should serve as a reminder to women to take sensible precautions when planning a night out and ensure they have a safe way of getting home.

"If anyone thinks they have been a victim of sexual assault I would urge them to report it to police; they can be assured that they will be treated sensitively by specially trained Sapphire officers."

An allegation of sexual assault was made to police on 11 November 2010 by an 18-year-old student who had been at a nightclub in Kingston in the early hours of that day.

She had become separated from her friends and left the venue, getting into the front passenger seat of a cab now known to be driven by Bhatti. During the journey she became aware that he was driving in the opposite direction to where she lived, and when the car stopped at traffic lights he touched her upper leg. She managed to get out of the car and run into a nearby hotel to get away from him.

A second incident was reported three days later on 14 November when a woman was assaulted after leaving the Chelsea area in a cab and the two offences were linked.

The victim, 31, left a nightclub on the Kings Road after becoming ill, she then recalled being in the rear of a parked car with a man on top of her, assaulting her. The victim claimed she needed to be sick and got out of the car before running to safety.

Both women also had money stolen from their bank accounts via a cashpoint machine on the nights they were assaulted.

Detectives from Sapphire identified Amir Bhatti as a suspect from a partial registration number of the car used in the offences. CCTV footage from the cashpoints used by the victims showed him standing with them when they made the withdrawls, and a record of him storing one of the victim's pin numbers in his mobile phone was retrieved.

Records from the phone were also able to pin point him as being at the locations relevant to the assaults at the time that they happened.

Bhatti was arrested on 29 November 2010 and subsequently charged. Due to the overwhelming evidence against him he entered a guilty plea prior to the start of the trial.

(29th February 2012)


4500 SERIAL OFFENDERS ARE LET OFF WITH CAUTION
(Daily Mail, dated 24th February 2012 author Jack Doyle)
www.dailymail.co.uk [Note 1]

David Cameron is planning more electronic tags and longer curfews for serial offenders as it was revealed thousands are being let off with a slap on the wrist.

Some 4,500 criminals with 15 or more convictions were given a caution last year.

Tens of thousands more were handed fines, community sentences or suspended jail terms. Overall, some two-thirds of the worst serial offenders escaped jail, Ministry of Justice statistics show.

MPs said the figures betrayed the 'soft justice' system and called for more public control over sentences.
Today, it was reported the Prime Minister will toughen up non-custodial sentences.
Offenders will be sent to a 'virtual prison' , with a 16-hours-a-day curfew and judges and magistrates will be given the power to confiscate credit cards, passports and driving licences.

The plans will mean longers curfews and more electronic tags for offenders. No formal agreement has been reached, but ministers hope to publish the plan within six weeks.

Tory MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell, said: 'From November we get to elect our police chiefs. We now need to ensure democratic accountability over the rest of the criminal justice system. 'So long as we leave it to the Secretary of State, we will never sort this problem out and get the criminal justice system we want and the public demands. Soft justice is a consequence of an unaccountable justice system.'

Sentencing figures published yesterday showed nearly 105,000 criminals with at least 15 previous offences came back before the courts in England and Wales.
More than one third were locked up. But 67,461 were given a non-custodial sentence.
Around a third of those, 20,553 were given community sentences and 16,149 were given a fine.
More than 11,000 were handed an absolute or conditional discharge - in effect no punishment at all.A further 8,160 were given suspended jail sentences.

In 2004 the custody rate for offenders after 15 or more crimes was 42 per cent, nearly 7 per cent higher.

Overall, three quarters of crimes are committed by adults and juveniles with existing records.

Last year re-offending accounted for some 638,153 out of more than 850,000 offences.

Government officials suggested average prison sentences were at a ten-year high, with burglars locked up for an average of 19 months.

Average sentences for robbery and drug offences were also up.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has pledged to mount a 'rehabilitation revolution' to turn offenders away from crime.

He wants tougher community punishments and better reform programmes.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: 'Overall re-offending is falling but the levels are still too high and we are determined to address the root causes of this behaviour.

'We are making our jails places of hard work, toughening community sentences and making offenders pay back victims and communities.'

(24th February 2012)


 

ENGLAND RIOTS LEAD TO 1500 CONVICTIONS SO FAR
(BBC News, dated 23rd February 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

More than 1,500 people have been convicted of crimes relating to the riots in English cities last summer.

Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice show offenders were three times more likely to be jailed by magistrates than other criminals.

The average length of all sentences was longer than for other crimes at just over 14 months.

Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said the "swift and firm" justice handed down by the legal system helped stop the riots.

Figures also show 41% of defendants, where their background was stated, were white and 39% from a black background.

The fresh statistics follow figures from last autumn showing that those who joined in were poorer and younger, with a lower educational record than the average in England.

According to the new figures, as of midday on 1st February, 2,710 people had appeared before courts across England charged with offences relating to the disturbances between 6th and 9th August.

Almost 1,900 defendants have appeared in London courts, followed by 301 in the West Midlands, 240 in Greater Manchester, 92 in Merseyside, 64 in Nottingham and 117 in other areas.

'Violent disorder'
 
Almost half of all the defendants had been charged with burglary and a fifth with violent disorder, a crime which is similar to the more serious offence of rioting. Some 16% had been charged with theft.

Some 1,519 have been convicted so far - more than half of all those who have appeared. Almost all of those have been sentenced - and more than 60% were immediately jailed. The average sentence of 14.2 months is almost four times longer than sentences for similar offences in 2010.

The figures show that offenders who have been dealt with by magistrates have been four times more likely to go to jail than those who were dealt with in the previous year.

The figures also show:

- 89% of all defendants are male, comparable with typical crime rates
- 27% were between 10 and 17 years old
- 26% were between 18 and 20 years old
- Almost 40% of defendants in Nottingham and Merseyside were juveniles

Updated figures for ethnicity show that 41% of defendants, where their background was stated, were white, 39% from a black background and 12% were mixed. Some 6% were Asian and 2% were defined as Chinese or other.

Previous figures from the government have shown that approximately 13% of those involved in the disturbances were defined as gang members and three-quarters of all those who had appeared in court had a previous conviction or caution.

More than 2,500 shops and business were attacked by looters and vandals, along with a further 230 homes.

Mr Blunt paid tribute to the legal system saying: "The courts, judges and the probation and prison services have worked hard to make sure that those who attacked their own communities during the public disorder last August have faced justice quickly.

"They played a key part in stopping the riots from spreading further by delivering swift and firm justice, and these statistics make clear that the disgraceful behaviour innocent communities endured last summer is wholly intolerable."

(23rd February 2012)


 

COLOMBIANS FLY-IN TO RANSACK HOMES
(London Evening Standard, dated 14th February 2012 author Justin Davenport)
www.thisislondon.co.uk [Note 1]

South American gangs are behind a surge in burglaries in suburban homes in London.

Police in the Kingston area say they are under pressure from gangs flying in from countries such as Colombia and are drafting in officers from other areas to investigate the crimes.

Three Colombian gangsters have been jailed for burglary so far and face deportation at the end of their sentences but police says others fly in to replace them. Inspector Jaiye Warwick-Saunders from Kingston Police described them as a "particularly nasty crime network".

He said a number of arrests had been made in London and the home counties, and several suspects were in custody. Seven Mexicans and Colombians were arrested in connection with break-ins last year.

The gangs have fuelled a 30 per cent rise in burglaries in south-west London and North Surrey. Ninety-four homes were burgled in December - the highest figure for three years. Altogether 413 homes were raided between June and November - an increase of nearly 100 break-ins compared with the same period last year.

Police say three or four gang members at a time target homes in quiet residential streets in the A3 corridor. In December Det Insp Brian Fitzpatrick said: "It seems as fast as we arrest them, they get replaced."

(23rd February 2012)


 

UK BORDER AGENCY TO BE SPLIT
(BBC News, dated 20th February 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Home Secretary Theresa May has said the UK Border Agency will be split in two following revelations that hundreds of thousands of people were let into the country without appropriate checks.

She told MPs the UK Border Force would become a separate law-enforcement body with its own distinctive "ethos".

Mrs May said officials had abandoned rules and gone further than ministers had recommended in relaxing checks.

Wiltshire Chief Constable Brian Moore will lead the new border force.

His predecessor, Brodie Clark, was suspended and then resigned, saying his position was untenable, after claims he had relaxed checks beyond what had been authorised by ministers.

The UK Border Agency was set up in 2008 following Labour Home Secretary John Reid's 2006 declaration that the Home Office's immigration directorate was "not fit for purpose".

It is responsible for securing the UK border at air, rail and sea ports and migration controls, such as the issuing of visas.

Its work was previously carried out by the Border and Immigration Agency, HM Revenue and Customs at the border and the Foreign Office.

Under the new arrangements, immigration policy work will be separated from operational duties.

The UK Border Force, the section of the UKBA that manages entry to the UK will become a separate entity. In addition, from next year the new National Crime Agency will be charged with improving intelligence capability at borders and investigating serious and organised border crime.

'New culture'
 
Mrs May made a statement to MPs on oan investigation * into the agency carried out by John Vine, the independent chief inspector of the UKBA.

She said officials had exceeded their remit on several occasions, under the current government and its Labour predecessor.

Among the findings:

Security checks had been suspended regularly and applied inconsistently since at least 2007
Checks against the Home Office Warnings Index were not carried out on about 500,000 European Economic Area nationals travelling to the UK on Eurostar services from France
An operation was carried out at Heathrow Airport in which students from supposedly low-risk countries were allowed to enter the UK even when they did not have the necessary entry clearance
Secure ID checks were suspended 482 times between June 2010 and November 2011, including 463 times at Heathrow
Between January and June 2011, prior to the introduction of a pilot which relaxed border checks in specific situations, "the biometric chip reading facility had been deactivated on 14,812 occasions at a number of ports"
Mrs May said: "The Vine report reveals a Border Force that suspended important checks without permission; that spent millions on new technologies but chose not to use them; that was led by managers who did not communicate with their staff; and that sent reports to ministers that were inaccurate, unbalanced and excluded key information.

"The Vine report makes a series of recommendations about how to improve the operation at the border, and I accept them all."

Mrs May added: "I do not believe the answer to the very significant problems exposed in the Vine Report is just a series of management changes.

"The Border Force needs a whole new management culture. There is no getting away from the fact that UKBA, of which the Border Force is part, has been a troubled organisation since it was founded in 2008.

"From foreign national prisoners to the asylum backlog to the removal of illegal immigrants, it has reacted to a series of problems instead of positively managing its responsibilities."

On the splitting up of UKBA, Mrs May said that "the extent of the transformational change required - in the agency's caseworking functions and in the Border Force - is too great for one organisation".

The Border Force would "become a separate operational command, with its own ethos of law enforcement, led by its own director general, and accountable directly to ministers", she added.

For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Mrs May: "It is time for you to stop hiding and to take responsibility for things that have happened on your watch, for the unclear instructions from your office, for the policy decision to downgrade border controls, for the failure to monitor and check what was going on, and the for the failure to take responsibility now.

"This mess got worse and escalated on your watch, every month that went by. Unless you accept responsibility for it, you will fail to sort it out and you will also fail to reassure us that you can cope with future fiascos, and that you as home secretary can keep our borders secure."

The UK Border Agency will be split up at the beginning of next month.

Further information

* (http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk). The report consist of 86 pages !

(23rd February 2012)


 

WEBSITE LETS LONDON STREET VIOLENCE REPORT CRIMES ONLINE
(BBC News, dated 21st February 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

A website set up by a charity for crime victims is to allow the first online reporting to police of street robberies and assaults in London.

Witness Confident says its site, Streetviolence.org, will allow victims and witnesses to record incidents that residents can view on a Google map.

It also hopes the site will counter "misplaced fears" about crime.

The Met Police said it did not "endorse" the reporting of street crime online as it could delay an inquiry.

Witness Confident says the Met helped it develop the "scope, functions and regulatory clearance" of Streetviolence.org.

However, in a statement, the Met Police confirmed that while it had "expressed interest in some of its early proposed functions" it reached a formal decision this month that it "could not support the launch of the site in its current format".

It added it would "continue to monitor the development" of the site and was "open to exploring any initiatives to help reduce crime and catch criminals".

'Initial hassle'
 
Information on crimes reported through Streetviolence.org will be sent directly to the neighbourhood policing team to investigate.

People who do not wish to formally report a crime can post information on the site anonymously. Witness Confident says it would get in touch on behalf of police "if and when [they] do want to get a message to you - say a witness has come forward or they think you have been one of a series of victims".

Witness Confident says its website "cuts the initial hassle and frustration that puts many victims off reporting the crime to begin with".

"As a way of telling the police you can help, the site is a welcome alternative to hanging behind at the scene, standing around at a police station or waiting in line at a call centre," said the charity's director Guy Dehn.

"This matters as there's little chance the police can make our streets safer if witnesses don't come forward," he added.

Mr Dehn told the BBC News website: "One of the things that has been lost in recent years is engagement with police... If you want to help police, this allows you to contact them 24/7 at the convenience of your computer."

Appeal boards
 
Witness Confident cites official crime statistics for England and Wales in 2010-2011 that suggest more than half of street robberies and assaults are not reported to police. It also points out that the Met Police stopped using appeal boards for crimes other than murders or road traffic accidents in 2009.

It added that its site goes further than the Home Office crime-mapping website www.police.uk which does not distinguish stranger attacks from domestic or acquaintance violence and "can make people assume the risk to them of violent crime is worse than it is".

The Met Police website has a facility allowing "non-emergency crimes" such as thefts from a motor vehicle and criminal damage to be reported online. Complaints about hate crimes can also be made.

In a statement, the Met Police said: "We do not endorse the reporting of street crime through the MPS website or any other third party website.

"This is predominantly due to concerns over victim safety and the importance of deploying officers in person as quickly as possible to this scenes of serious street crime."

It added: "Street crime is taken very seriously by the MPS, and in order to reduce street crime and catch offenders, the MPS urges victims to contact police in the quickest way possible by calling 999 or speaking to an officer on patrol nearby."

Street Violence website [Note 1] : www.StreetViolence.org

Comment

I can understand the concept of wanting to know where a crime actually occurred and not a rough idea quoted within Police data and maps. With this type of information people can chose to avoid a location. In addition, crimes against an individual are personal and I don't think that an incident should be reduced to just a piece of Home Office / Police data.

On the other hand. Reporting a crime via this organisation just slows the process down, even if just by minutes.
Regardless of what newspapers etc say. There are efficient reporting mechanisms in place that directly involve direct Police contact - website reporting, telephone reporting and attendance at a Police station.

(23rd February 2012)


 

METROPOLITAN POLICE LOSE TRACK OF 123 SEX OFFENDERS
(BBC News, dated 18th February 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

The whereabouts of 123 registered sex offenders are unknown to the Metropolitan Police (Met).

Some of them have been missing for as many as 14 years. The Met believes 48 have been living outside the UK.

Police said they lost track of offenders after they failed to notify the police of their change of address.

The number is only just up from the 121 reported missing last May but sex abuse victims' groups said every offender "going off the radar is a concern".

Immediate risk

Donald Findlater, from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a UK-wide charity dedicated to reducing the risk of children being sexually abused, said: "It's important that if within this 123 there are any sex offenders who pose a likely immediate risk to children, that information needs to be put across to the public".

He added: "Many of them fail to keep police informed because they just don't want to be monitored, not because they're dangerous.

"The biggest risk to children across the country isn't posed by registered sex offenders, it's posed by people not on it at all."

He said police and other agencies are responsible for monitoring more than 4,000 convicted sex offenders in the capital.

A spokesman for the Met said: "We take this matter extremely seriously and officers are proactively following lines of inquiry in order to trace these offenders to ensure that they are dealt with robustly for having breached the terms of their conditions."

Lucy Faithfull Foundation website [Note 1] : http://lucyfaithfull.org/

(19th February 2012)



SERIAL LONDON SEX OFFENDER MOHAMMED KENDEH DEPORTED
(BBC News, dated 16th February 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

 

A serial sex offender who attacked 11 women in five years has been deported to his native Sierra Leone, the Home Office has said.

Mohammed Kendeh, 25, of Peckham, south London, admitted indecently assaulting 11 women between 2002 and 2007.

In 2007 a judge said he could not be deported due to human rights laws, but calls for deportation resurfaced after he was jailed for robbery in 2009.

One victim, Gabrielle Browne, said he should have been deported earlier.

The sex attacker was sent to Freetown on Sunday, the Home Office said.

'Appalling crimes'
 
Kendeh was released from prison in 2009 on licence and went on to rob a woman in Beckenham in July that year.

He was jailed for five and a half years at Croydon Crown Court after admitting the robbery and the judge recommended him for deportation.

But Kendeh, who had come to the UK at the age of six, claimed his right to a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is enshrined in UK law under the Human Rights Act.

A senior immigration judge in 2007 ruled that he could not be deported as he had almost no family left in his native country.

Gabrielle Browne, 46, a mother-of-two, was training for the London Marathon in Burgess Park, south London, when she was attacked by a then teenage Kendeh in 2003.

The IT worker, who has waived her right to anonymity, said: "Kendeh committed serious offences and abused the rights and freedoms of women in south London.

"I'm very pleased he has been deported. This should have happened in 2007 when he was, in my view, wrongly allowed to remain in the UK."

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "Kendeh committed appalling crimes but made every attempt through the courts to thwart his removal and further prolong the suffering of his victims.

"I am pleased he has now been successfully returned to his home country.

"For too long Article 8 has been used to place the family rights of foreign criminals and immigration offenders above the rights of the British public."

(19th February 2012)




PAEDOPHILES NETTED BY PC ANALYSIS SOFTWARE
(Police Oracle, dated 14th February 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com   [Note 1] 

The introduction of new software designed to interrogate computers for evidence of child sex abuse has massively speeded up the PC analysis process.

Detectives from the Nottinghamshire Police Sexual Exploitation Investigation Unit began using the Triage Investigator system last year - and it has delivered impressive results.

Its use has seen the conviction of three offenders and the cautioning of another.

Developed in the United States, the software is stored on a memory stick and quickly scans computers for any evidence of indecent images of children.

It also searches for chat logs, email addresses and messages plus web browser searches and desktop files, allowing officers to considerably speed up an investigation.

The software means it can take minutes or hours to examine a computer - a job that could take up to 18 months or more using more traditional methods.

DC Andrew Taylor, from SEIU, said: "The system is faster than anything we've used and means sex offenders are being arrested swiftly and cases are going through court more quickly.

"It allows us to identify victims, enabling us to protect anyone who has been abused."

Among recent successes, a 52-year-old man was arrested after the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) informed Nottinghamshire Police he had been accessing indecent images of children online.

DC Taylor used the Triage Investigator system to scrutinise the man's PC and the software identified over 100,000 indecent images and video clips of children within six hours.

He pleaded guilty to possessing the indecent images and received a three year community order and was added to the Sex Offenders' Register for five years.

A 45-year-old Nottingham man was also arrested by police in June following another tip off from CEOP. The high-tech system found nearly 800 indecent images of children on his computer, some of which were of Level Four in seriousness.

He pleaded guilty and was given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years. He was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for seven years and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.

(19th February 2012)



METAL THEFT HURTING COMMUNITY HERITAGE
(Police Oracle, dated 9th February 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com  [Note 1]

The numbers of metal thefts from historic sites have soared into the thousands compared with a handful just a few years ago, latest figures show.

Speaking at an ACPO-backed Metal Theft seminar in Northamptonshire, Association Lead for Wildlife and Rural Crime CC Richard Crompton said churches had taken the brunt of the thefts amid the soaring price of lead.

The Lincolnshire Chief emphasised that there had been just six claims registered against ecclesiastical insurance in 2004 for lead thefts - compared to 2,500 last year.

He added: "In the past five years we have seen 8,000 claims against ecclesiastical insurance alone. There has been a quantum lead in this type of acquisitive crime.

"Historic buildings have been targeted, and we have also seen highly emotive cases of people damaging war memorials in a move to steal the metal."

CC Crompton told PoliceOracle.com that thefts from heritage sites provided their own distinct challenge to officers in the wider metal theft problem.

Unlike the theft of cable - which often had a Level II crime dimension with its resale and transportation across the world to countries such as Turkey and China - he stressed that the targeting of historic buildings was often carried out by localised offenders.

But the Chief Constable emphasised: "Heritage crime is not victimless and it is rightly something that is being taken very seriously by the Police Service.

"Historic buildings and other sites are irreplaceable and these thefts are not only damaging the fabric of communities, they are denying something from future generations."

CC Crompton, however, said he was heartened to see so many delegates from the policing family and the corporate world squaring up to the problem at the conference in Kettering.

While he accepted that better regulation of the scrap metal industry would also make a difference combined with enforcement, he stressed it would not be a panacea.

CC Crompton concluded: "My personal view is that better regulation will ultimately make it more difficult for criminals to sell the metal that they have stolen.

"But while it is an important part of an overall strategy, it is not a silver bullet."

(19th February 2012)



ENVIRONMENT AGENCY GETS NEW METAL THEFT POWERS
(Police Oracle, dated 8th February 2012 author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com  [Note 1]

The Environment Agency will soon have greater powers to complement the police and partner organisations in dealing with the burgeoning metal theft epidemic.

Delegates at an ACPO seminar were told that the Agency would be able to block the issuing of its own licences to dealers and carriers - if they had previous theft related history.

Bob Mead, Environment and Business Manager, said that these types of offences would now be taken into consideration in a move that would clamp down on rogue elements.

Mr Mead told the seminar in Kettering, Northamptonshire: "Up until now we have only been able to consider licences on the basis of environmental issues.

"But as of April we are going to be able to take metal theft offences into consideration. It will take longer with the carriers because it will require legislation."

The move is likely to be welcomed by Chief police officers battling the growing metal theft problem - and its continuing impact on the country's infrastructure.

As previously reported on PoliceOracle.com, Home Secretary Theresa May has proposed that there should be tighter regulation of the scrap metal industry.

She has confirmed that a ban on cash payments for scrap metal and greater penalties for offenders would be created as an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill being considered in Parliament.

The Environmental Agency is responsible for overseeing the environmental impacts of the scrap metal industry. As of last year, it had 827 metal recycling organisations on its radar as well as more than 1,700 scrapyards.

Mr Mead confirmed that action had been taken against scores of scrapyards operating outside of an environmental licence in 2010 - however he admitted other businesses were springing up as fast as offenders were being taken out of circulation.

But he said Environment Agency staff had played a full role in last year's Day of Action against metal theft, visiting 22 sites where stolen metal had been found. "I think this shows that the intelligence-led approach is working" Mr Mead concluded.

(19th February 2012)



NEW REGIONAL POLICE E-CRIME HUBS TO TACKLE THREAT OF CYBERCRIME
(ACPO*, dated 8th February 2012)
www.acpo.police.uk/

 

The UK police capability to tackle the growing threat of cyber crime was strengthened today with the announcement of three regional policing e-crime hubs

The new hubs, in Yorkshire and the Humber, the Northwest and in East Midlands, will be launched at the ACPO e-crime conference in Sheffield today. Cyber crime has been identified in the National Security Risk Assessment as a 'tier one' threat alongside international terrorism, an international military crisis, and a major accident or natural hazard requiring a national response.

To meet the threat, the government has granted £30m over four years to improve national capability to investigate and combat cyber crime.

The three new units will work alongside the Metropolitan Police Centre e-crime Unit (PCeU) which was established in October 2008 as part of the National e-Crime Programme.

ACPO lead on e-crime Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams said:

"The Government has acknowledged a need to collaborate and provide a structured response to the cyber security of the UK and these three additional policing units are going to play a critical role in our ability to combat the threat.

"It is anticipated the hubs will make a significant contribution to the national harm reduction target of £504m. In the first six months of the new funding period alone we have already been able to show a reduction of £140m with our existing capability.

"While a training period is required before the hubs are fully functional they will undoubtedly provide an enhanced ability to investigate this fast growing area of crime and provide an improved internet investigation capability."

James Brokenshire Minister for Crime and Security said:

"Cyber crime is a threat locally and nationally, and every police force in the country has to deal with its impact on people and businesses in their area.

"As well as leading the fight in their regions, these units mark a significant step forward in developing a national response to cyber crime, which will be driven by the new National Crime Agency.

"The government has committed £650million in the fight against e-crime."

Regional e-crime co-ordinator, East Midlands Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman said:

"There is no doubt that the proliferation of the internet has brought significant benefits to all across society, but unfortunately that also includes those who have criminal intent. We know that increasingly criminal networks are seeking to exploit cyber space for profit and we have a duty as police leaders to respond to protect individuals and communities."

* Association of Chief Police Officers

(19th February 2012)



URGENT REVIEW DEMANDS AFTER DRIVING LICENCE SECURITY FLAWS
(BBC News, dated 13th February 2012 author Guy Lynn)
www.bbc.co.uk

 

"Disturbing" flaws in security in the issuing of UK driving licences to foreign nationals have been exposed by a BBC investigation.

Secret filming has uncovered how foreign drivers who would not normally be allowed to drive in the UK have obtained licences via agents in London who illegally exploit an arrangement the UK has with Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government and the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) told the BBC they were investigating.

The DVLA said work was already under way to tighten the law on standards required for drivers who exchange foreign licences.

Labour MP Louise Ellman, who chairs the Commons Transport Select Committee, is calling for an urgent review.

"This is deeply disturbing. It means there are people driving on our roads who have not passed a UK driving test that is recognised by the UK authorities," said Ms Ellman.

"That means people's lives may be at risk and it is an extremely disturbing situation - it shouldn't be allowed to happen."

Nationals from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Malaysia, the USA, Israel and China are among those the UK government does not permit to swap their foreign licences automatically into a full UK licence without a test.

Motorists from all countries are allowed to drive in the UK for a year before being required to take a driving test if they do not qualify for an immediate swap of their foreign licence.

'Very worried'
 
An investigation for BBC London's Inside Out programme revealed agents in the capital are arranging to swap foreign licences into UK ones via a Hong Kong licence, which the UK does accept automatically, to bypass the rules.

The BBC tracked down the original applications and found fraudulent details used as proof of address in Hong Kong and fake addresses scrawled on envelopes.

Hong Kong based lawyer Raymond Tse, a specialist in transport issues, said: "My reaction is that the Hong Kong transport department has been used or manipulated.

"If the driving licence in Hong Kong, which is not an identity, can be converted to such an important identity document in the UK then that makes me very worried."

An Indian researcher for the BBC, who was not able to drive here, handed over his passport and Indian driving licence to one of the agents in Edgware, North London.

Within several weeks, he had received a full UK licence from the DVLA that had originated from a fraudulent Hong Kong licence.

'Dubious purposes'
 
Since 2010, nearly 13,000 Hong Kong licences have been swapped for UK ones under a special exchange arrangement.

This represents the second highest number of UK driving licence swaps from any country in the world.

The DVLA said it was not clear how many driving licences had been affected as it did not keep records of where the drivers of Hong Kong licences, swapped into British ones, originally came from.

The UK driving licence has taken on more importance as an identity document and in addition to driving, can be used to take a domestic flight, open a bank account, prove age or gain credit.

"It's very alarming, I'm stunned," said Prof Richard Aldrich, who has previously advised the UK government on international security.

"It's extraordinary that people can obtain a real driving licence via these unorthodox means. It's very troubling.

"It's almost certain some of these documents are being used for dubious purposes.

"We're talking people trafficking, drug trafficking and at the top of the list is terrorism.

"We recall the people who perpetrated 9/11 also had dubious driving licences."

A Hong Kong government spokesperson told the BBC: "We will conduct an investigation into alleged abuse cases.

"Depending on circumstances, these cases may also be referred to the police for consideration of appropriate enforcement action."

Asked whether the DVLA was doing enough to check licences, its director of corporate affairs Hugh Evans said: "We exchange some 30,000 licences in the UK each year and in all we've got some 44 million driver records and have some eight million licences issued annually.

"The DVLA does check licences, we work closely with the police."

The BBC will be handing over its evidence exposing the illegal trade in UK driving licences to the authorities in the UK and Hong Kong

(13th February 2012)


 

"ITS PROBABLY NOTHING, BUT...." COUNTER-TERRORISM CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN LONDON
(Courtesy of : Metropolitan Police, dated 12th February 2012)
www.met.police.uk

One phone call to police could save lives - that's the message of a new counter-terrorism publicity campaign launched by the Metropolitan Police Service today (Monday, 13 February).

Everyone who works, lives and visits London has a role to play in helping to counter the terrorist threat which remains real and serious.

Police fully understand that people may be reluctant to tell them about suspicious activity or behaviour - but they stress that all calls to the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline are taken by specially trained officers and information is thoroughly analysed and researched before, and if, any action is taken. No piece of information is considered too small or insignificant.

The four-week campaign: "It's probably nothing, but …" consists of local newspaper adverts and one 40-second radio ad across London. Leaflets will also be distributed to 1.4 million households in the Capital.

DAC Stuart Osborne, Senior National Co-ordinator Counter Terrorism, said: "The terrorist threat to London, and the UK generally, remains real and serious, so it is vital that everyone continues to be vigilant and aware. "We at the Metropolitan Police Service have a key role in countering this threat, whether it is from Al-Qaeda inspired groups or individuals, or Irish Dissident Republican Groups - but we can only do this with the support of all our communities. "Terrorists live amongst us. We want you to tell us about anyone or anything you see which is out of place in your normal day to day lives.

"We know you may have concerns about speaking to the police - possibly because your friends or family may find out. But you may well have information which could save lives.

"We would rather take lots of calls which are made in good faith, but have innocent explanations. - rather than not getting any at all. Not making that call could mean we miss out on a vital piece of information.

"Our priority is to keep the public safe - but we can only do that with your help. Please trust your instincts. Call the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321."

(13th February 2012)


 

GANGS BEHIND A QUARTER OF VIOLENT CRIME
(Daily Mail, dated 9th February 2012 author Rebecca Camber)
www.dailymail.co.uk  [Note 1]

Scotland Yard declared war on gangs yesterday as it emerged they are responsible for half of London's shootings and one in seven rapes.
Police said 4,800 gangsters were to blame for almost a quarter of the capital's serious violence, a sixth of all robberies, 16 per cent of the drug trade and 20 per cent of stabbings.

The figures came as the Met unveiled a £60million taskforce to crack down on the problem.

New Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe is expanding the existing  Trident squad, increasing its remit from probing shootings in the black community to all gangs.
The force is also doubling the number of officers dedicated to gang crime from 450 to 1,000.
Police are aware of 435 'crews' operating in London, but only 250 are criminally active.

Of those, 62 are categorised as posing a risk of 'high harm' and are estimated to be behind two thirds of gang-related offences.
According to the crime figures, 480 rapes or 14 per cent of the 3,431 sex attacks in London every year are carried out by known gang members.

They also account for 22 per cent of serious violence, 20 per cent of stabbings and 247 out of the 547 shootings during 2011.
More than 6,200 personal robberies and 40 per cent of all commercial premises and 'cash in transit'  thefts can also be traced back to the 4,800 criminals.
And they have been blamed for 26 per cent of aggravated burglary and 12 per cent of residential burglaries, which is equivalent to 7,650 break-ins a year.
Some of the criminals responsible are as young as 14, with a third of those shot aged under 19.

Statistics show that 84 per cent of gang members are under 24 and two-thirds of those are black males. Detectives believe the number of girls joining gangs is rising, although they only represent 5 per cent of offenders.
Between 2008 and 2010, the victims of London shootings hailed from 53 different countries.
Yesterday, as officers arrested 213 suspects in a series of raids, the Met announced it would be working with the UK Border Agency to deport any foreign gang members.

The Commissioner pledged to use 'all tactics, if legal and ethical', to tackle the problem.
His new squad will draw officers from other specialist units, including the Flying Squad and homicide.
Mr Hogan-Howe said: 'This is a step change in how we tackle gang crime in London. It will allow us to identify and relentlessly pursue the most harmful gangs and gang members.
'We want to prevent young people getting involved in gang offending so we and other agencies are offering ways out to support young people.
'However, those who refuse our offer of help will be pursued and brought to justice.'

(13th February 2012)


 

SOLD FOR £19 : YOUR CREDIT CARD DETAILS
(Daily Mail, dated 8th February 2012 author Ruth Lythe)
www.dailymail.co.uk [Note 1]

Account numbers and passwords of thousands of British bank customers are on sale on Russian websites for as little as £19, Money Mail can reveal.

This trade in our personal details is allowing criminals to snap up vital debit and credit card information and online banking passwords from rogue websites.

The details have been stolen using devices attached to cash machines, or from online scams that dupe bank customers into giving up their card numbers and Pin numbers.

Websites such as these contribute to the £308million worth of card fraud in the UK each year.

During the course of our investigation, Money Mail was offered a bundle of details from any UK bank card we wished. The details may have been enough to allow criminals to shop online and buy goods in stores and countries which don't use chip-and-pin technology.

Victims of the scams are usually refunded by their bank - but this cost is passed back to customers in the shape of higher fees and charges for other services.

Richard Hurley, a spokesman for UK anti-fraud organisation Cifas, says: 'It's an open secret that banks hand on to their customers the millions of pounds they lose this way.

According to the law, UK banks must compensate fraud victims. But they must also answer to their shareholders.

'The banks will claw back as much cash as they can by increasing charges for things like bank accounts or overdrafts.'

On average, every set of  stolen card details costs banks £120, according to the Metropolitan Police.

Criminals can steal your personal details in several ways. Among the most common are by infecting your computer with a virus - a program which will read its files and register when you type in a password.
Your card's Pin number and details may also be copied by a device called a 'skimmer' which can be attached to cash machines.

Details are then sold, often in bulk, on hundreds of so-called 'carding' websites, often based in Eastern Europe or China.

Anyone can register for one of these sites - all you need is an email address - to get access to a global network of criminals selling details from victims over the world.
The sites change frequently, to evade the police. Money Mail visited a number selling British card details from banks including HSBC.

One seller on a Russian website offered British credit cards, with full details of the person's identity, for just £19 each. For £190, they also claimed to be able to offer access to a UK bank account with a credit limit of £8,000.

Another seller on a separate Russian website boasted of having five staff working in the UK. Within one minute of us contacting him, he offered to sell the details on the magnetic strips of credit cards from any UK bank.

These details can be attached to blank plastic cards and used in shops in countries which don't use chip and pin, such as the U.S.

Other criminals use the 'deep internet'. This is an anonymous network which is even tougher for the police to trace and requires you to download special programs.

Here, Money Mail found one website, selling bundles of British and German Visa cards and MasterCards complete with their security codes, with credit limits of £2,000 each, for £25 per card.

The criminals trade under nicknames so they can't be traced and write their posts in broken Russian and English slang.

At no point did Money Mail receive any personal details or bank cards.

All our findings have been reported to City of London Police and the National Fraud  Information Bureau.

(13th February 2012)


 

WHATS NEW IN COMPUTER SECURITY - JANUARY 2012

All links under this heading are [Note 1]

INDUSTRY GROUP MAKES FRESH PUSH TO FIGHT PHISHING
(Computer World, dated 30th January 2012 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full Article :  http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7835543/930454165/549785/0/

Companies such as Facebook, Google and PayPal are pushing for widespread use of a new technical specification, DMARC, that could make it harder for phishers to reach their victims.

A common problem with email is that it is very easy to spoof the "from" address, making it difficult for an average user to know if an email is really from the domain it purports to be from.

New technologies already allow domain owners to vouch for mail sent in their name, but don't specify what to do with messages that fail the test. DMARC * builds on those systems, allowing domain owners to ask receiving mail servers to discard mail that fails authentication tests. That will make it less likely that scam messages impersonating sites such as PayPal will appear in your inbox.

There is a huge financial incentive for criminals to compromise user accounts on social internet and e-commerce sites in order to steal passwords and bank account or credit card details, according to the DMARC group. To do that, spammers and phishers often exploit trust in well-known brands by sending email purporting to be from such sites.

* DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance)
DMARC Website : www.dmarc.org


 

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT SAYS ITS WEBSITE VICTIM OF ATTACK
(Computer World, dated 26th January 2012 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7830616/930454165/549482/0/

The European Parliament's website fell under a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS) on Thursday in what the organization classified as retaliation for the shutdown of the Megaupload file-sharing site and an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement.

The Parliament issued a statement saying it had acted to reduce the impact of the attacks, but the site was still down as of mid-afternoon Thursday.

Anonymous, a loose-knit group of hackers and digital activists, has undertaken a series of DDOS attacks against government websites and other organizations following last week's international take-down of Megaupload, whose operators are wanted by U.S. authorities for alleged copyright infringement related offenses.

Anonymous, which has sought to corral support from Internet users, created Web-based tools that allow non-technical people to participate in DDOS attacks, which bombard websites with an excessive amount of traffic, causing them to be unreachable.




EU'S PROPOSED DATA PROTECTION RULES COULD HINDER INTERNET
(Computer World, dated 25th January 2012 author Grant Gross)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7828966/930454165/549255/0/

Data protection and online privacy rules proposed for the European Union could hinder the development of new Web-based business models and bog down companies with regulations, some U.S. critics said Wednesday.

The proposal, released Wednesday, "goes precisely in the wrong direction," said Thomas Lenard, president of the Technology Policy Institute, a free-market think tank. "If adopted, it will stifle the development of the

Internet, which depends critically on the use of individual data to develop, improve, and fund services and content."

The rules, proposed by E.U. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, include the so-called "right to be forgotten," allowing Internet users to have data about them deleted if there are no legitimate reasons for retaining it. The proposal would require companies with more than 250 employees to appoint data protection officers, and it would require companies to report data breaches within 24 hours.

See also:
www.computerworld.com/s/article/9223699/Proposed_EU_data_protection_rules_include_right_to_be_forgotten?taxonomyId=70


 

US GOVERNMENT SECURITY AND TSA* SITES HACKED
(Computer World, dated 24th January 2012 author Darlene Storm)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7827377/930454165/549106/0/

All aboard the crazy cyber-attacked train? The TSA claimed that hackers launched a cyberattack that manipulated a railway company's computers. The two IP addresses belonging to intruders on December 1 and a third IP address location on Dec. 3 may indicate the cyberattack on railway computers was launched from overseas, according to

NextGov. Peter Boogaard, a DHS spokesman, said a "Pacific Northwest transportation entity reported a potential cyber incident that could affect train service." DHS and the FBI stayed in communication with the railway which sent alerts to the "transportation community of the anomalous activity as it was occurring."

"OnGuardOnline.gov, a partnership of fourteen federal agencies managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)" ... "the bad guys constantly develop new ways to attack your computer, so your security software must be up-to-date to protect against the latest threats." ...  etc etc you got rooted and rm'd. umad? don't like it when your site is wiped of the internet do you?

* Transportation Security Agency

See also : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7827377/930454165/549108/0/




ONLINE COPYRIGHT LAW IN THE USA
(Computer World, dated 11th January 2012 author Patrick Thibodeau)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7808380/930454165/546751/0/

With the odds perhaps still against them, two lawmakers who are fighting the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills took their case to the world's largest consumer electronics gathering.
"This is going to turn websites into Web cops," said Wyden, of the two bills. SOPA is being pushed in the House of Representatives; PIPA is similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Instead of "three guys in a garage" launching a Web-based business "you're going to be three people with an upstairs full of lawyers telling you whether or not you are going to be able to operate a Web site."

The Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, is a leading opponent of SOPA. The fight over this particular bill is part of a long-running battle in Washington between content producers and large parts of the IT industry over how Congress should go about protecting copyright.

See also : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7818682/930454165/548210/0/
and : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7818682/930454165/548215/0/
Finally : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7825603/930454165/548718/0/



US COMMISION PROBING IF INDIA INTERCEPTED ITS EMAILS
(Computer World, dated 9th Janaury 2012 autor John Ribeiro)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7805897/930454165/546419/0/

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) has asked for an investigation after hackers posted online a memo purportedly from India's military, which claimed that the country had intercepted emails of USCC officials with the help of Nokia, Research In Motion, and Apple.

"We are aware of these reports and have contacted relevant authorities to investigate the matter," said USCC spokesman Jonathan Weston on Monday. "We are unable to make further comments at this time," he added.

The memo, allegedly from the Directorate General of Military Intelligence, Foreign Division, in New Delhi, said that as India did not have access to the USCC local area network, which was a prime target in connection with arch-rival People's Republic of China, India had signed an agreement with mobile manufacturers in return for giving these companies access to the Indian market.


 

ISREAL STEPS UP FIGHT AGAINST CREDIT-CARD HACKERS
(Computer World, dated 9th Janaury 2012 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7805897/930454165/546418/0/

A top Israeli official said Saturday that cyber attacks are similar to terrorism and merit the same response, just a few days after tens of thousands of credit card numbers were released by a hacker going by the name "oxOmar."

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who spoke at an event in the city of Beersheba, said "no agency or hacker will be immune from a response," according to the English-language Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

Israel's Banking Supervision Department said last Tuesday that the information released last week involved around 15,000 active cards and came from three credit-card companies: Cal (Cartisey Ashrai Le'Israel) -- Israel Credit Cards; Isracard and Leumi Card.

See also : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7825603/930454165/548721/0/




LAPD DROPS GOOGLE APPS PLAN
(Computer World, dated 9th Janaury 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

 

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7802746/930454165/546206/0/

After more than two years of work, the city of Los Angeles last month abandoned plans to migrate its police operations to Google's hosted email and office applications because it says the service can't meet FBI security requirements.

The city council last month voted to amend a 2009 contract calling for Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) to undertake a wholesale replacement of the city's GroupWise email system with Google's email and collaboration services.

The amended pact cuts the Los Angeles Police Department and its nearly 13,000 employees out of the project; other agencies will continue the migration to Google Apps for Government.


 

SYMANTEC (NORTONS) CONFIRMS SOURCES CODE LEAK IN TWO SECURITY PRODUCTS
(Computer World, dated 6th January 2012 author Jaikumar Vijayan)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7799944/930454165/546092/0/


Symantec late Thursday confirmed that source code used in two of its older enterprise security products was publicly exposed by hackers this week.

In a statement, the company said that the compromised code is between four and five years old and does not affect Symantec's consumer-oriented Norton products as had been previously speculated.

"Our own network was not breached, but rather that of a third party entity," the company said in the statement.

"We are still gathering information on the details and are not in a position to provide specifics on the third party involved. Presently, we have no indication that the code disclosure impacts the functionality or security of Symantec's solutions," the statement said.

Symantec spokesman Cris Paden identified the two affected products as Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.0 and Symantec Antivirus 10.2. Both products are targeted at enterprise customers and are more than five years old,

Paden said.

See also : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7799944/930454165/546094/0/
and : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7816841/930454165/547983/0/


 

BRUTE FORCE TOOLS CRACK WIFI SECURITY IN HOURS
(Computer World, dated 5th January 2012 author Darlene Storm)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7798170/930454165/545914/0/

If you set WPA/WPA2 security protocol on your home or small business wireless router, and you think your Wi-Fi is secure, there two recently released brute force tools that attackers may use to bypass your encryption and burst your security bubble. The irony is that the vulnerability which can be exploited was intended to be a security strength, a usability issue to help the technically clueless setup encryption on their wireless networks. Wi-Fi

Protected Setup (WPS) is enabled by default on most major brands of wireless routers including Belkin, Buffalo, D-Link, Cisco's Linksys and Netgear, leaving millions of wireless routers around the world vulnerable to brute force attacks which can crack the Wi-Fi router's security in two to ten hours.


 

HACKING GROUP RELEASES MORE STRATFOR SUBSCRIBER DATA
(Computer World, dated 30th December 2011 author Jeremy Kirk)

Full article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7796494/930454165/545710/0/


Hackers released another batch of data on Thursday pilfered from Stratfor Global Intelligence, a widely used research and analysis company whose website was attacked last weekend.

The data purports to be the names and credit-card numbers of people who have purchased research from Stratfor plus hundreds of thousands of user names and e-mail addresses used to register with the website.

The data comprises 75,000 names, credit card numbers and MD5 hashes, or cryptographic representations, of passwords for people who have paid Stratfor for research. The group also said the data contains 860,000 user names, e-mail addresses and MD5 hashes for passwords for anyone who has registered on Stratfor's website.


 

EXPECT MORE CYBER-ESPIONAGE, SOPHISTICATED MALWARE IN 2012, SAY EXPERTS
(Computer World, dated 26th December 2011 author Lucian Constantin)

Full Article : http://cwonline.computerworld.com/t/7792488/930454165/545692/0/
The security industry expects the number of cyber-espionage attacks to increase in 2012 and the malware used for this purpose to become increasingly sophisticated.

In the past two years there has been a surge in the number of malware-based attacks that resulted in sensitive data being stolen from government agencies, defense contractors, Fortune 500 companies, human rights organizations and other institutions.

Countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany, China and India have established specialized teams and centers to defend government assets against cyberattacks and to even retaliate, if necessary. However, determining who is behind

Internet-based hostile operations with certainty is impossible most of the time and that's just one of the problems.

(12th February 2012)


 

HOW DID LITHUANIAN MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING COUPLE SNEAK INTO BRITAIN TWICE
(Daily Mail, dated 1st February 2012 authors Nick Fagge, Katherine Faulkner and Andy Dolan)
www.dailymail.co.uk  [Note 1]

Full Article [Note 1] :
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2094310/Birmingham-double-murder-Lithuanian-man-accused-killing-Avtar-Carole-Kolar-dead.html

A Lithuanian charged with battering a retired couple to death in their home was a violent criminal who had already been kicked out of the UK. Rimvydas Liorancas, 37, who was awaiting trial for murdering Carole and Avtar Kolar with a lump hammer, was found hanged in his prison cell on Saturday.

He had twice made his way into the UK illegally, on the second occasion without a passport. Today it can be revealed that the convicted armed robber:

- Roamed Europe committing crimes for at least ten years;
- First entered the UK while on the run from a prison sentence;
- Strolled into the country even after a warrant had been issued across Europe for his arrest;
- Lived in Britain for almost a year before he was found and sent back to Lithuania;
- Somehow slipped back into Britain last year despite having no passport and a string of convictions.
- The British authorities had no idea Liorancas was even in the country until they arrested him two weeks ago.

The jobbing builder targeted Mr and Mrs Kolar, 62 and 58, after he was employed to do some work on the patio at their home in the Handsworth Wood area of Birmingham. The couple, who were married for 40 years, were found on January 11 by their son Jason, 37, a police officer.

Liorancas was arrested five days later and charged with murder. He was found dead in his cell at top security Woodhill jail, Milton Keynes, on Saturday before he could offer an explanation for what happened.

The father of two came from the village of Vadzgirys, around 150 miles from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. His ex-wife, Ingrida, said the muscular robber had never had a job and had been involved in crime since he left school.
'He came from a good family, but he did nothing,' she said. 'He was a thief, a burglar, a robber. He would steal anything - wood, petrol, property from people's homes.
'He drank a lot of alcohol. Almost everyone in the countryside drinks a lot. There's nothing else to do. 'We were married for 11 years but he was not home very much. He used to go out drinking all the time with his friends and they would plot their next crime.'He would come out of jail, be free for a few months, and then be sent back again.' She has brought up their son and daughter, now 12 and 17, alone. 'I'm ashamed of him and so are the children,' she said. Ingrida divorced Liorancas in 1999, during his first stint in prison for burglary. By 2003, he was back on the prowl and convicted for an armed robbery in the Czech Republic. He returned to his home country in 2005 to serve the rest of his lengthy sentence.

Four years later, he was granted parole - and immediately went on the run. When the authorities finally found him, he had been living in Britain undetected for almost a year. He had somehow made his way into this country despite being on a 'watch' list. Liorancas was extradited back to Lithuania in 2009. Once home, he was sentenced to a further one year and eight months for absconding and breaking the terms of his release. By 2011, he was in trouble again, this time for leaving the scene of an accident and drunk driving while disqualified. But, incredibly, he was soon back in the UK.

With no right to benefits, he eked out a meagre existence in the run-down Soho Hill area of Birmingham. Housemates said he was violent, heavy drinking, and would steal anything lying around. Tenants in the seedy Birmingham bedsit where he had been living said Liorancas was 'a madman' who kept a collection of hammers in his room.Though he said he was a builder, they suspected him of being a burglar 'or something worse'.

Among the sea of floral tributes outside the Kolars' semi-detached home yesterday was a photo of their youngest grandchild. Sonni was born to their son, Avtar, and his wife Victoria, both 32, a week before they were killed.
The text read: 'Nanny and Grandad. I love and miss you both. Love always and for ever, your newborn grandson xxxx.'

QUESTION

The UK Border control system (eBorders) electronically monitors visitors entering the UK. This is carried out by passport monitoring, passenger manifests monitoring from most points of origin, facial recognition and other methods. Output from these surveilance techniques are then compared by computer with watch lists of wanted or banned individuals. Even comparative minor offences such as consistent non-payment of parking fines is picked up. So what on earth happenend in this case ? Is this an example of who came into the country when a "rogue" Home Office official decided to reduce the efficiency of the system to reduce airport queue's. Or is it a case of other countries and central European crime agencies (Intepol) just not doing their job ?

(3rd February 2012)


 

LATEST OPERATION CUBO NETS MORE UNINSURED DRIVERS
(Courtesy of : Metropolitan Police, dated 3rd February 2012)
www.met.police.uk

Category : Vehicle Crime

Over 150 arrests were made and 563 cars seized during the Metropolitan Police Service's (MPS) latest operation to target criminals driving around the capital.

The fifth 'Operation Cubo' brought in the highest number of arrests and vehicles seizures so far.

The 30 hour operation began on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 at 2200hrs and ran through until 0600hrs this morning, Friday 3 February. Officers numbering 1500 from across London's 32 boroughs supported by Traffic, Territorial Support Group, Safer Transport Command and other teams worked together to use automatic number plate technology (ANPR) to identify vehicles driven by suspected criminals and uninsured drivers.

Since the start of Operation Cubo the total number of cars seized has now soared to 2384 with total arrests riding high at 387. The number of cars seized is on top of dozens seized by officers every week. Arrests varied from people wanted on warrant for various offences to possession with intent to supply drugs. Quantities of cannabis and class A drugs were also found inside some vehicles.

Commander Adrian Hanstock, of the Safer Transport Command, said: "If you are a criminal or someone who drives uninsured or unroadworthy vehicles you're highly likely to be caught through these police operations.

(3rd February 2012)


 

WILDLIFE CHARITY TO FUND ANIMAL TRAFFICKING UNIT
(The Guardian, dated 30th January 2012 source Press Association)
www.guardian.co.uk [Note 1]

Category : Animal cruelty

A specialist police unit that fights wildlife crime is joining forces with an animal charity.

The Metropolitan police's wildlife crime unit is teaming up with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), which warned animal trafficking is a "major source of revenue" for criminals.

It is the first time a charity has directly funded a Met police unit and it is hoped it will lead to more staff being recruited and trained in how to tackle wildlife crime.

WSPA's UK head of external affairs, Simon Pope, said: "Without the specialist skills and knowledge of the WCU, wildlife crime in London could flourish.

"This is not some niche, illicit trade carried out by petty part-time villains. It is a major source of revenue for a global network of hardened criminals, gangs and drug lords, all growing rich from the trafficking of wildlife and none about to have a crisis of conscience and stop what they are doing."

Sgt Ian Knox, head of the WCU, added: "I am delighted that the World Society for the Protection of Animals has decided to contribute a significant amount of money to the wildlife crime unit.

"The extra funding will pay for more staff so we can be more proactive in targeting criminals who seek to exploit animals for financial gain.

"We will also be able to provide additional support and training to wildlife crime officers across London which will ensure that the Met has the capability to tackle crimes against animals in the future," he added.

(3rd February 2012)


 

TECHNOLOGY TACKLES THEFT
(
Police Oracle, dated 2nd February author Cliff Caswell)
www.policeoracle.com [Note 1]

Category : Crime prevention

In the not-too-distant past, using the internet was something you could only do by logging on to a computer that took up most of your spare room - and stealing a PC was a complicated effort undertaken by only the most determined of criminals.

Fast-forward a few years, however, and the story is very different. Smart phones, tablets, netbooks and other expensive internet-enabled devices have brought an entirely new dimension to communications on the move. Millions engage each other through the portals of social media in every situation from work meetings to nights out, making them are a far-easier target for common-or-garden thieves.

The theft problem is particularly prevalent in busy towns and cities where there are thriving business communities. With mobile communications turning cafes into surrogate offices, opportunists are out surfing tables looking for tempting targets. It is an endeavour at which they are all-too- often successful.

But the crime spree has not gone unnoticed by the police who have been deploying their own technology to fight back against offenders and make their enterprise less attractive. And officers in Met Safer Neighbourhood Teams have managed to use the deployment of their state-of-the-art equipment to forge closer relationships with their communities into the bargain.

Enter Hermes - a netbook-based system mated to a supermarket-style scanner. The device clocks barcodes and uploads them onto the Immobilise property database with its key function to record the unique IMEI numbers on phones. Unlike the old paper-based approach, this equipment allows items to be uploaded in minutes and the system does not store any information once it has been dispatched, meaning there are no data protection issues.

With thefts hitting the business community in Holborn, Hermes has been the catalyst for a new relationship between commerce and the police. InMidtown, a Business Improvement District representing 500 companies and organisations, bought the equipment for officers in their area's Safer Neighbourhood Team, where it has proved an excellent tool for engaging the community.

"We have a perfect fit with InMidtown in the sense that we all want the Holborn business area to be a safer place to live and work," said PC Simon Gray, an officer with the team. "Obviously we have always recorded and marked property but we did it in a very slow and longhand way.

"Hermes, on the other hand, is a very tactile piece of kit that you can use with a minimal amount of training - we believe it saves about five minutes of contact time per person and we are re-investing that in improving the contact experience."

Crucially, the kit has enabled the teams to venture out into cafes and into businesses to take the crime prevention message to the community - as well as encouraging them to record their property on the Immobilise database as a precautionary measure.

"People are curious about Hermes and want to know more when we show it to them, and this helps us although it does take customer service skills to sell it to people and get them to record ," PC Gray told PoliceOracle.com "But we also have the benefit of being visible when we turn up - and the sight of an officer or PCSO can often act as a deterrent and stop offenders coming into an area."

The effect of the equipment is all the more potent, however, when it is used alongside its Apollo twin - another scanning device purchased by InMidtown that can read the IMEI numbers of phones and determine whether the device is stolen.

PC Gray believes that the Apollo kit will ultimately prove all the more successful once a critical mass of information has been recorded via Hermes. "Frontloading data will very useful, because you then have the opportunity to deploy Apollo in a more effective way," the officer stressed.

"It could, for example, be used at clubs with a condition of entry that people have their phones checked - or perhaps used on static stop-and-search. Effectively you are deploying something akin to ANPR for barcodes."

Anecdotally, the initial use of Hermes appears to have had something of a deterrent effect. During November and December - traditionally a time when theft becomes prevalent in the run up to Christmas - figures did not increase as much as the 35 or more thefts a month expected during the period.

For InMidtown, the partnership approach has brought its own benefits - increasing awareness of how vulnerable business staff can be to mobile device theft is a key winner, as is improving the sharing of information with the police. The organisation has also ramped up its own campaign, encouraging instant messaging between members to warn when a theft has taken place.

Tess Mavrogortado, CEO of the Business Improvement District, praised the Safer Neighbourhood Team for their work. "We have always had a good relationship with the Met and we are pleased to have bought the equipment for our officers," she said.

"This unique partnership ensures that this thriving centre of commercial businesses and culture remains a district that people want to both work in and visit."

While PC Gray admitted it is "very much early days" for Hermes and Apollo, he believes that the potential is there to make a difference in discouraging thieves.

The initial results - and improved engagement with the public - are certainly encouraging. The intelligent use and deployment of mobile technology, it seems, is having an effect against those who seek to steal technology from others.

For more information about Hermes and Apollo see : www.radio-tactics.com

(3rd February 2012)


 

ANTISEMITIC CRIMES SEES RECORDING INCREASE
(The Guardian, dated 2nd February 2012 author Helen Carter)
www.guardian.co.uk [Note 1]

Category : Racism, Prejudice

More antisemitic incidents were recorded in Manchester than in London last year, despite the capital having a Jewish community almost seven times larger, according to figures released on Thursday.

There were 586 antisemitic crimes - including street attacks, threats, vandalism and desecration of Jewish property - across the whole of Britain last year.

This was the fourth highest figure since records began 28 years ago, according to the Community Security Trust, which records antisemitic incidents.

Manchester was the scene of 244 crimes, while in London there were 201. This was despite London having a Jewish population of 149,800 while the figure for Manchester is 21,700. One incident recorded by the CST involved "extreme violence" as a Jewish family were filling up their car with petrol in Manchester.

"As one of the family members crossed the forecourt in order to make payment, a car containing two white women reversed sharply into her, knocking her to the ground," the report said.

"The occupants then got out of their car, shouted 'dirty Jew' and spat at the injured woman lying on the ground, before getting back into the car and driving away."In other incidents in Manchester and Salford, three children were verbally abused and had a lit firework thrown at them; eggs were thrown at men outside a synagogue after Saturday prayers; and a man in Salford had his skullcap torn off his head and was punched in the face.

The report said the rise "continues the pattern" of more incidents occurring in "Greater Manchester than should be the case, given the relative sizes of the Jewish communities in Manchester and in London". But it said this was mainly the result of improved reporting of incidents by Manchester's Jewish community to CST and to Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

Overall, the number of incidents nationally fell by more than a third from 2009, when the ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces was accompanied by a record 929 incidents.

Incidents in the UK in 2011 included 92 assaults, 63 incidents of vandalism, 394 incidents of abuse and 29 direct threats.

Mark Gardner of CST said: "Antisemitism is not the most important feature in British Jewish life, but it remains a serious problem in some parts of society and retains the potential to worsen significantly in reaction to external events."

Last year, a taxi driver called Taha Osman was spared jail after hurling racist abuse outside King David School in Manchester. The 36-year-old screamed "all Jewish children must die" in front of horrified onlookers. He was given a 12-month community order.

The northern city has large Jewish communities in Broughton Park, North Manchester, Bury and Trafford.

Crimes in Greater Manchester included 46 assaults, 21 incidents of damage or desecration, 15 threats and 162 incidents of abusive behaviour.

Ch Supt Jon Rush, divisional commander for Bury, said: "What we must acknowledge is that the number of antisemitic attacks is far too high." "People in our Jewish community should be able to safely and freely go about their business without fear of being attacked.

"Any incident motivated by religious or racial hatred is abhorrent and can cause people a great deal of upset.

"We do not want people to suffer in silence and think they should not speak out when they are subject to any form of abuse - we want them to tell us so that we can bring the offenders to justice."

He said the figures were partly explained by increased levels of reporting in Greater Manchester.

"We have run a number of successful initiatives in our communities that are designed to encourage anyone who is a victim of an antisemitic incident to report it to either ourselves or the CST, with whom we are working with very hard to tackle this sort of crime," he added.

Ch Supt Rush said for several years, Greater Manchester police and the CST had worked together over the Jewish high holy days to deter antisemitism and criminal activity by providing accessible policing and reassurance. He said his force had received positive feedback from the Jewish community.The operations included police patrols in Bury and Salford before and after services at synagogues. Mobile police stations were also situated nearby so people could report incidents.

(3rd February 2012)


 

ANONYMOUS GAIN ACCESS TO FBI AND SCOTLAND YARD HACKING CALL
(BBC News, dated 3rd February 2012)
www.bbc.co.uk

Category : Hacking

Hacking network Anonymous has released a recording of a conference call between the FBI and UK police in which they discuss efforts against hacking.

The call, said to have taken place last month, covers the tracking of Anonymous and similar groups, dates of planned arrests and evidence details.

Anonymous also published an email, apparently from the FBI, showing the email addresses of call participants. The FBI confirmed the intercept and said it was hunting those responsible.

"The information was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained. A criminal investigation is under way to identify and hold accountable those responsible," it said in a statement.

London's Metropolitan Police's central e-crime unit said the matter was being investigated but that no operational risks had been identified.

A comment on one of the Twitter accounts linked to Anonymous, AnonymousIRC, said: "The FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now."

BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner says the recording will be highly embarrassing for the cyber crime detectives.

At one point an FBI agent thanks the British police for their help with investigations, to which the British man replies: "We're here to help. We've cocked things up in the past, we know that."

Greek attack
 
According to the alleged email, the 17-minute phone call took place on 17 January. It was unclear how Anonymous had managed to obtain the recording.

The email was sent to law enforcement officials in the US, UK, Sweden, Ireland and other countries, inviting them to "discuss the on-going investigations related to Anonymous, Lulzsec, Antisec, and other associated splinter groups".

In the call, British and American voices, said to be those of police and FBI agents, discuss the names of some of the people they were tracking and plans for legal action.

Usernames are included but some of the real names of people being investigated appear to have been bleeped out.

Among those discussed are several British men accused of being behind cyber attacks in the US and UK, including Jake Davis and Ryan Cleary who were arrested last year.

The police also refer to a 15-year-old who says he was behind an attack on online gaming site Steam, where the identities and credit card details of thousands of users were accessed.

Anonymous is a loose collective of hackers, anarchists and pranksters which has targeted the websites of a range of governments, companies, law enforcement agencies and individuals in recent years.

Also on Friday, hackers operating under the Anonymous name took over the website of Greece's justice ministry, prompting officials to take the site down.

The hackers said the action was a protest against Greece's signing of a global copyright treaty and the government's handling of the economic crisis.

The website was replaced with a video of a figure wearing the symbolic white mask of Anonymous supporters, saying: "Democracy was given birth in your country but you have killed it."

What is Anonymous?

Anonymous describes itself as an "internet gathering". The term is used to describe a collective of people who come together online, commonly to stage a protest.

The groups vary in size and make-up depending on the cause. Members often identify themselves in web videos by wearing the Guy Fawkes masks popularised by the book and film V for Vendetta.

Its protests often take the form of disrupting websites and services.

Its use of the term Anonymous comes from a series of websites frequented by members, such as the anarchic image board 4Chan.

These allow users to post without having to register or provide a name. As a result, their comments are tagged "Anonymous".

In the past, groups have staged high-profile protests against plans by the Australian government to filter the internet and the Church of Scientology.

Many Anonymous protests tackle issues of free speech and preserving the openness of the net.

(3rd February 2012)


 

MORE NEWS FROM MY SPAM INBOX- JANUARY
Category : phishing
 
My Internet Service Providers (ISP) spam filter continues to do a good job. the following have also been caught by my spam filter :

UK Lottery Organisation - Subject : Congratulations you are a winner today at Malaysia. Content (slightly long this one ! ):

FROM: UK LOTTERY ORGANIZATION,
OUR REF: UKLO/BT/621830
SPONSORSHIP NUMBER: 444968. GAMING APPROVAL NUMBER: 2233898163.
We happily announce to you the results of UK LOTTERY ORGANIZATION'S FREE TICKET ONLINE DRAWS of January, 2012 held in MALAYSIA. We wish to congratulate you on the success of your email address which came out in the first winnings category and won you the total sum of US$4,600,000 in our free ticket, online and email address computer balloting.

Your e-mail address attached to ticket number UKLP-66-73-203-13 with serial number 5039398064482100 drew this lucky numbers 2-23-29-32-39-40-42 which subsequently won the Lottery and qualified you as an international Winner. You have therefore been approved to claim a total sum of US$4,600,000 (Four Million, Six Hundred Thousand USA dollars) through any of our available payment methods.

Your email address was Reference Numbered to: 56475600545188 and your winnings and payment Batch Number is 074/05/ZY369. For your US$4,600,000 payment process to begin, you will be expected to REPLY with the below listed winnings and personal claims information:

* Your complete official names
* Full address & country name
* Telephone & mobile numbers
* AGE, GENDER, OCCUPATION AND JOB TITLE.
* Free ticket and Lucky numbers
* Reference, Serial and Batch numbers
* Date and venue of draw


After you have replied with the above winnings and personal claims information, our APPOINTED CLAIMS AGENT Mr. Calvin Lee Gibson will get back to you with further details on how you will be paid your won prize of US$4,600,000.00 and you will proceed with him from there on to the end. Congratulations on your winnings


 

DHL Tracking Service - Subject : DHL Cancellation of the package delivery. Content : "Dear customer.Your package has been sent to your address. Please find a post label attached which contains a track number of your package." The attachment was a compressed file which probably had malicious content.

Santander appears to be popular again with the phishers this month :

- Santander Online Banking. Subject : Log in unsuccessful. Content : Click on bogus link
- Santander Bank. Subject : Irregular Card Activity. Content : Click on bogus link
- Santander Alert. Subject : Important information on your Santander Account. Content : Click on bogus link
- Santander Online Alert. Subject Santander important security message. Content : Click on bogus link
- Santander Bank UK. Subject : Personal Internet Banking Notice . Content : Click on malicious attachment.

These e mails are bogus and are just phishing for personal information or to load malicious software. If you receive anything like them, delete it immediately and do not open any attachments. If you are suspicious about activity on your bank or utility accounts, contact your bank direct or service provider using a known telephone number, NOT contact details within the bogus e-mails.

(3rd February 2012)


 

ISREAL TOPS CYBER-READINESS POLL BUT CHINA LAGS BEHIND
(BBC News, dated 30th January 2012 author Dave Lee)
www.bbc.co.uk

Category : Computing security, hacking

Israel, Finland and Sweden are seen as leading the way in "cyber-readiness", according to a major new security report.

The McAfee-backed cyberdefence survey deemed China, Brazil and Mexico as being among the least able to defend themselves against emerging attacks.The rank is based on leading experts' perception of a nation's defences.

The report concluded that greater sharing of information globally is necessary to keep ahead of threats. It also suggests giving more power to law enforcement to fight cross-border crime.

The UK, with a grading of four out of five, ranks favourably in the survey - along with the USA, Germany, Spain and France.

'Subjective view'
 
The rankings are based on the perceived quality of a country's cyber-readiness - the ability to cope with a range of threats and attacks.

"The subjectiveness of the report is its biggest strength," explained Raj Samani, McAfee's chief technology officer.

"What it does is give the perception of cyber-readiness by those individuals who kind of understand and work in cyber security on a day-in, day-out basis."

A good score depends on having basic measures like adequate firewalls and antivirus protection, and more complex matters including well-informed governance and education.

Sweden, Finland and Israel all impressed the report's experts - despite the fact that the latter receives reportedly over 1,000 cyber attacks every minute.

Isaac Ben-Israel, senior security advisor to Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is quoted in the report as saying: "The hacktivist group Anonymous carries out lots of attacks but they don't cause much damage. The real threat is from states and major crime organisations."

He added that the country has set up a cyber-taskforce responsible for assessing threats to key infrastructure such power production and water supplies.

'Enhancing co-operation'
 
At the other end of the security scale, Mexico ranked as least prepared to cope with the cyber threat - a situation which is blamed on the country's authorities needing to overwhelmingly focus on the country's gang and drugs problems.

China is regarded by some Western observers as an aggressor in cyberspace. But one expert Peiran Wang said the country was itself vulnerable because it lacked a joined up strategy.

"The Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of State Security and even the military are involved and they don't communicate well," said Peiran Wang, a visiting scholar at Brussels' Free University.

In the UK, the report praised a £650m investment programme in cyber security. However, the Home Office's plans were criticised by information security expert Peter Sommer. "A great deal depends on co-operation from the private sector, which controls about 80% of the critical national infrastructure.

"Over half of the new funding will go to the 'secret vote', the intelligence agencies, where value for money will be difficult to investigate. I would have preferred more emphasis on public education - helping potential victims help themselves."

Cybercrime fighters
 
Among the report's conclusions is the recommendation that greater efforts be made to improve cross-border law enforcement.

"Cybercriminals route their connection through multiple different countries," said Mr Samani.

"If criminals are particularly clever, they go through countries where they know there isn't any co-operation." "The bad guys share information - we need to do the same as well."

Dr Joss Wright from the Oxford Internet Institute welcomed the report's findings. However, he had serious doubts over the feasibility of its suggestions. "They're recommendations that people have been saying for maybe 10 years," he told the BBC."I would love to see good information sharing - but when you're talking about national security, there's a culture of not sharing. "They're not suddenly going to change 70, 100, 1000 years of military thinking."

The scores and Graphically how they were displayed

- The scoring was done based on castle symbols from 1 to 5 castles.
- 23 countries were categorised.
- No country was in the top or bottom spot.

4.5 castles : Finland, Isreal and Sweden
4 castles : Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, UK and USA
3.5 castles : Australia, Austria, Canada and Japan
3 castles : China, Italy, Poland and Russia
2.5 castles : Brazil, India and Romania
2 castles : Mexico

Further Information

The sobering thought on this report is that India is only in the 2.5 security category. This is not very good news if you couple it with the amount of sensitive information that country deals with on behalf of UK companies dealing with UK residents personal information. This is both direct and indirect contact. Direct is when banking adviser speaks directly to a customer (Bank Call Centre); and indirectly when an Indian national works on a UK citizens personal data (bank accounts, DVLA and State Pensions for example).

(3rd February 2012)


 

O2 ADMITS IT GIVES USERS' NUMBERS TO SITES OFFERING AGE-RESTRICTED CONTENT
(The Guardian, dated 25th January 2012 author Charles Arthur)
www.guardian.co.uk [Note 1]

Category : Data security

Mobile operator O2 has admitted that it regularly hands over subscribers' phone numbers to sites that offer age-restricted material and premium-rate billing, whether the users realise it or not.

The admission followed the revelation late on Tuesday that the company had since 10 January inadvertently been providing user phone numbers to any sites that its millions of users browse from their phones using the 3G network. That would mean site owners could find the details in their server logs, and potentially use them for marketing or SMS campaigns without the user's consent.

O2 is the UK's second-biggest mobile network with about 27.2m subscribers, and another 2.8m using its network through Tesco Mobile, plus an unknown number on the GiffGaff SIM-only network. With smartphone penetration at around 50% that could mean that up to 15m people have been affected by the data leakage.

The Information Commissioner's Office said it is considering whether to investigate further; a spokesman said it was not immediately obvious whether there had been a privacy breach. [See footnote]. A mobile phone number on its own is not classed as "personally identifying information" (PII), because it does not identify an individual on its own; but the spokesman said the office would consider whether other personal data was being processed at the same time.

An ICO spokesperson said: "Keeping people's personal information secure is a fundamental principle that sits at the heart of the Data Protection Act and the privacy and electronic communications regulations. When people visit a website via their mobile phone they would not expect their number to be made available to that website. We will now speak to O2 to remind them of their data breach notification obligations, and to better understand what has happened, before we decide how to proceed."

O2 admitted in a blogpost that the widespread leaking of phone numbers had been going on since a maintenance update on 10 January, and was only fixed after a London-based programmer on the network pointed it out. The security hole was fixed by 2pm on Wednesday, the company said.

The privacy breach could open phone users up to reverse-charge SMS spams which could cost them huge amounts in bills when their number is used for scams.

But O2 has also revealed that it regularly reveals users' phone numbers to a number of sites offering age-restricted material and premium content billing - an admission that has puzzled observers.

"It looks like I don't get to make the decision about whether to share my phone number with those sites," said Graham Cluley, security consultant with the online security firm Sophos. "I don't see why. If I'm on a site and they need to know my phone number before I can proceed, why can't I decide whether I let them see my number? If I don't agree, they can stop me proceeding."

O2 did not respond to requests for clarification on its policy. The Guardian could not find any clauses in its web and WAP policy or its general terms and conditions that suggest it shares subscribers' mobile numbers.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said it was not immediately obvious whether there had been a privacy breach. [See footnote] A mobile phone number on its own is not classed as "personally identifying information" (PII), because it does not identify an individual on its own; but the office would consider whether other personal data was being processed at the same time.

Cluley warned: "there will be a lot of sites out there which will now realise that their logs for the past two weeks contain all sorts of juicy details. Some unscrupulous marketing people might scour them for mobile phone numbers that they can use for campaigns." He said that he has a phone himself on a different network which he only uses for surfing - and that he has received text spam on it despite not entering the phone number anywhere. "That's got me wondering whether this process is somehow behind it," he said.

A number of O2 users who contacted the Guardian confirmed earlier on Wednesday that their phone number was being transmitted and offered links to screenshots of the data.

The phone number is handed over as part of the "header" data sent by the phone to the web site, which usually contains information such as which browser the phone has so that the site can serve an appropriately formatted page, because mobile phones have smaller screens than desktop or laptop computers.

Headers often contain other information about the device contacting the site - and in O2's case it has also included the phone number.

However users of BlackBerry phones said that their numbers were not handed over - possibly because RIM, which makes the BlackBerry, uses its own encryption and forwarding system to connect to websites.

The discovery was made by Lewis Peckover, a London-based programmer who says he discovered the flaw on Tuesday lunchtime while working on a method of identifying whether users were accessing a site via their mobile.

The number forwarding only appears to happen on O2 and its associated virtual networks such as GiffGaff. Users of other networks confirmed to the Guardian that the number forwarding does not happen on Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile or 3's network. Peckover has created a web page specifically to let people check if their number is forwarded.

• This article was amended on 26 January 2012. The original reported a spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office as saying there was no immediate breach of the Data Protection Act in the 02 case. This has been clarified in the text. For the avoidance of confusion, the ICO adds that only after investigating in more detail can it decide whether there has been a breach.

(3rd February 2012)


 

FACEBOOK TIMELINE : HALF OF USERS WORRIED ABOUT FORCED ROLLOUT
(Metro, dated 30th January 2012, Author Matthew Champion)
www.metro.co.uk [Note 1]
Category : Privacy

More than half of Facebook users are worried about the imminent compulsory introduction of the site's Timeline feature, while only one in ten want it to be introduced at all.

Previously the social-networking website's Timeline profile layout was voluntary but Facebook's 800million users will now be forced to adopt the new design over the coming weeks.

Under the Timeline scheme updates, messages, comments and photographs are grouped chronologically to present a comprehensive account of a user's Facebook history.

Many users have complained that this could make unwanted and forgotten updates reappear.

And now a new survey from online security firm Sophos has shown that just eight per cent of 4,000 Facebook users polled want the Timeline feature to be made mandatory.

A further eight per cent said they would probably get used to the change, while 51 per cent said they were worried about its introduction.

Thirty-two per cent