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NEWS 2017 will soon be found within the ARCHIVE menu, labelled ARCHIVE 2017

APRIL 2018

(BBC News, dated 20th April 2018 author Clive Coleman)

Full article :

Mark Taylor's account was one of 20,000 at Tesco Bank plundered by hackers who broke through its online security systems in 2016.

"I felt physically ill," he says. "£2,400 for me is an awful lot of money."

Tesco refunded the money to customers whose accounts had been raided, but it took time and caused customers like Mark real concern.

Next month, a new law will make the consequences of failing to protect personal data for banks and others far more serious.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on 25 May, is the biggest shake-up to data privacy in 20 years.

A slew of recent high-profile breaches has brought the issue of data security to public attention.

Claims surfaced last month that the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data harvested from millions of Facebook users without their consent.

It has been a wake-up call for data security. People are increasingly realising that their personal data is not just valuable to them, but hugely valuable to others.

The growth of technology and electronic communication means that every day, almost every hour, we share our personal data with a huge number of organisations including shops, hospitals, banks and charities.

But that data often ends up in the hands of marketing companies, analysts and fraudsters.

Now the law on data protection is about to catch up with technological changes.

"GDPR is designed and intended to embody a data protection regime fit for the modern digital age," explained Anya Proops QC, a specialist in data protection law.

"It seeks to put power back in the hands of individuals by forcing those who process our data to be both more transparent about their processing activities and responsive to demands for privacy-invasive processing to be curtailed."

Among the many changes are measures that make it:

- quicker and cheaper to find out what data an organisation holds on you

- mandatory to report data security breaches to the information commissioner, rather than just "good practice"

- more expensive if fined for breaches - up from a maximum £500,000 to about £17.5m or 4% of global turnover, whichever is the greater

"This is legislation which can literally sink those organisations who fail to respect our data privacy rights," said Ms Proops.


Organisations will have to review their systems and the way people work.

They will have to focus on technical security, including the use of encryption and the robust application of security patches.

But they will also have to use data minimisation techniques, including pseudonymisation - a technique that replaces some identifiers with fictitious entries to protect people's privacy.

Ensuring that staff members are reliable will also be a priority. Taking personal data "off site" on mobile devices and memory sticks poses particular risks. A failure to ensure that such devices are encrypted can immediately expose organisations to a fine.

Unwanted emails

We've all had those unwanted emails, annoying targeted adverts, and phone calls from a total stranger who somehow knows that we have been involved in a car accident - when we have no recollection of it at all.

These come from companies who have managed to get hold of our personal data without our knowledge or consent.

It's long been unlawful for such communications to be sent without our consent. But GDPR significantly tightens up the rules.

Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. It cannot be buried in lengthy terms and conditions.

That makes it much harder for marketers to establish that they have the requisite permissions, which is why your inbox has probably been littered recently with emails asking for your consent to continue receiving messages.

Oh, and it must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

Conflicting advice

The strengthened "consent" is good news for consumers, but preparing for GDPR can be difficult and confusing for businesses.

Emma Heathcote-James runs a small company making natural soaps.

"One consultant told us if we'd emailed people within the last six months we're absolutely fine to contact them as long as it's not subscribed and it was clear they could have had the option to opt out," she recalled.

"Another consultant said, 'No, no - that's absolutely wrong.'"

Businesses with large client lists run the risk that many customers will ignore their requests and their client lists will shrink accordingly.

Data protectors

Most public authorities and organisations that monitor and track behaviour must appoint a data protection officer.

DPOs' duties will include monitoring compliance with the law, training staff and conducting internal audits.

They will also be the first point of contact for supervisory authorities and for individuals whose data is processed, including customers and employees.

They must be given the resources to do their job, cannot be dismissed for doing it, and must have direct access to the highest level of management.

Message to self, don't mess with a DPO.

Policing the law

The watchdog responsible for all this in the UK will be information commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

"We will have more powers to stop companies processing data, but we only take action where there has been serious and sustained harm to individuals," she explained.

"What this new fining power gives us is the ability to go after larger, global and sometimes multi-national companies where the old £500,000 fine would just be pocket change."

She added that she accepted that some companies will need time to become fully compliant.

"The first thing we are going to look at is, have they taken steps, have they taken action to undertake the new compliance regime," she added.

"Do they have a commitment to the regime?

"We're not going to be looking at perfection, we're going to be looking for commitment."

Large fines will be reserved for the most serious cases, she said, when a company refuses to comply voluntarily.

Overall effect?

Companies will be obligated to clearly inform individuals about why they are collecting their personal data, how it is going to be used and with whom it is going to be shared.

All of which means that the GDPR should make our personal data safer and less easily obtained by those we don't want to have it.

But there will be teething pains and some organisations that do not adapt in time will suffer.

And forget the idea that this could all become moot post-Brexit.

Although GDPR is a piece of EU law, the government has made it clear that the UK will remain signed up.

There are probably two reasons for this: first, if the UK watered down its data protection laws after Brexit, this might result in other Europeans treating the country as a pariah state, which would have an impact on trade.

Second, in the current privacy-preoccupied era, there is unlikely to be much public appetite to dilute GDPR's protections.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 30th April 2018 author Gareth Davies)

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The British public are being urged to sign up to a crisis relief scheme to respond to terror attacks in their hometowns as it emerged the British Red Cross had one of its busiest post-war years in 2017.

Two London terror attacks, the Manchester Bombing and the Grenfell Tower disaster meant the charity assisted 9,300 people last year - among the highest figures since the end of the Second World War.

More than half of people feel it’s more likely that their community could be vulnerable to a major incident in the future amid heightened awareness of crisis response, but two thirds believe more could be done in the community to help with relief if residents knew how.

The Red Cross and Aviva are hoping to recruit 10,000 community reserve volunteers in Britain by the end of 2019.

Among those backing the campaign is actress Amanda Redman, who said: “During the London terror attacks and devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, I was amazed to see British Red Cross volunteers on the news, and realised just how much they do to support people in crisis.

“Like many of us, my life is so hectic, but as a community reserve volunteer, you would only be called upon if there’s a crisis in your area. Even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference.”

Volunteers who sign up will be contacted by text if there is an emergency in their community and they will undertake jobs like packing food parcels, blowing up airbeds for rest centres and filling sandbags in times of flooding.

Thomas Milburn, 26, signed up as a community reserve volunteer after being assisted by British Red Cross volunteers when he was badly burnt in the Shoreham Air Show disaster.

He said: “I looked up into the sky and this plane was coming straight towards me. The next split second I was engulfed in flames.

"I thought 'I’m not sure I’m going to make it out of this alive'. The British Red Cross got me sat down, checked all my vital signs, and made sure I was alright.

"If I had been away from their help I’d potentially have had much more serious injuries.

“In the aftermath of the crash the British Red Cross did a lot to help the emergency personnel on the scene and people in the community can help with in those extreme circumstances.

"I think the community reserve volunteer initiative is a really great idea because not everyone has the time to volunteer on a weekly or monthly basis but people do want to get involved when something major happens. It’s something that I’ll be proud to help the Red Cross with."

As part of the report published today, the British Red Cross and Aviva surveyed more than 4,000 adults about how prepared they are for a local emergency.

Simon Lewis, Head of Crisis Response at the British Red Cross, said: “The British Red Cross responds to a UK emergency every four hours.

“Last year we faced a huge number of major emergencies like those in London and Manchester. They brought tragedy to so many people, but we witnessed remarkable acts of kindness and saw that people really want to give practical help when crisis hits.

“The findings of our report with Aviva show that despite this desire to help, people often don’t know how best to assist or worry they don’t have the right skills to get involved.

“By creating a national taskforce of community reserve volunteers we want to put local people at the heart of emergency response, to help communities rebuild and recover faster.

“Everyone has a role to play when disaster strikes, even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. It’s quick and easy to sign up online community reserve volunteers, you don’t need specialist skills and we need your help now more than ever.”

The report, When Crisis Hits: mobilising kindness in our communities, found more than nine in ten people who had experienced a major emergency helped or had wanted to help.

Graham Brogden, Head of Property Technical Claims at Aviva UK, said: “At Aviva we understand how traumatic and disruptive major events can be to communities.

"Our own claims teams are often among the first on the ground when incidents occur and we see first-hand how important it can be for communities to pull together in times of crisis.

“That’s why we’re proud to be launching the community reserve volunteer programme as part of our ongoing partnership with the British Red Cross.

"By recruiting 10,000 volunteers across the UK, we hope to support the vital work of emergency responders and the British Red Cross teams in helping communities manage the unexpected, as well as help prevent or limit the damage caused.

“The community reserve volunteer programme is the latest initiative in our three-year partnership with the British Red Cross to help make communities stronger and safer.

"Sadly not every emergency can be prevented, but by equipping volunteers with the skills they need, we can help bring neighbours together to make the difference they want to should the worst happen.”

It takes just ten minutes to sign up at

(1st May 2018)

(Guardian, dated 27th April 2018 authors Caelainn Barr, Niko Kommenda and Connor Ibbetson)

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Reports of violence, stabbings and murders have hit the headlines in recent months, with daily occurrences in London. But how widespread is violent crime, why is it growing and who are the victims?

The vast majority of people will not be a victim of violent crime. In England and Wales, four in five people did not experience crime in 2017 and overall crime has been steadily decreasing since 1995.

Although people are experiencing less crime, high-harm incidents, including offences involving knives and firearms, are on the rise. In 2017 there was a 22% increase in knife crime and an 11% rise in gun crime, according to offences recorded by the police. These crimes don’t occur very often, but they do attract a lot of media attention.

“These types of offences are typically disproportionately concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas,” says Mark Bangs, deputy head of crime statistics at the Office for National Statistics. “While they are very serious crimes in the context of the overall population, they are very rare.”

The rise in crimes involving knives can also be seen in hospitals. In the five years to March 2017, the number of admissions for stab wounds increased by 13% in England and 17% in London.

Last year, 39 children and teenagers were killed by knives in the UK and more than half of those were in the capital. Reports indicate there were more than 50 homicides in London in the first 100 days of 2018.

Most police forces report steep increases in knife crime since 2012

Note: The percentages quoted are an interpretation of graphs within the article

Change in police recorded offences involving knives or sharp instruments (2012-2013/Q1 - 2017-2018/Q3)

Met Police : 3820 (25%)
West Midlands : 790 (100%)
West Yorkshire : 648 (150%)
Lancashire : 498 (300%)
Greater Manchester : 331 (-10%)
Thames Valley : 308 (50%)
South Yorkshire : 225 (100%)
Merseyside : 261 (130%)

While the figures suggest serious violence is on the rise, there is no consensus about the causes or solutions. The latest Home Office policy targeting violent crime points to changes in the nature of drug sales and use, highlighting crack cocaine, social media and music glamorising violence as among the issues fuelling the problem.

However, policy experts and criminologists put the increase down to a combination of complex factors, and say longer-term public health-style approaches may be key to reducing serious violence.

Simon Harding, associate professor in criminology at the University of West London, says the rise is partly because of cuts to youth services and police community support officers (PCSOs).

One in four PCSO jobs have been cut in the past decade in England and Wales. However, in London that trend has accelerated: three in five PCSO positions no longer exist in the capital.

“Cuts to youth services mean young people no longer have premises on their immediate doorstep that they can go to, and between the reductions in policing and community safety, there is not a lot of partnership work or community engagement taking place,” Harding says.

According to research published by the Green party, 88 youth centres in London have had their borough funding cut or were closed between 2011 and 2017. Figures reported to the Department for Education by local authorities also show steep cuts to the provision of universal and targeted children’s services.

Although most people will never experience serious violent crime, figures indicate young black men are disproportionately the victims of knife crime, particularly in London.

“I think this has been one of the problems with policy: we say our risk of being a victim of violence is much lower, but who are ‘we’ and who are we not including in that category?” says Richard Garside, director at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

“There are particular age groups and localities where being young and male – and particularly being young, male and black in some parts of London and other major cities – is potentially lethal in and of itself. They are at much higher risk of being a victim of a violent assault than the general population.”

Garside is urging a rethink of how we respond to violence in society, possibly with a longer-term public health-style approach.

“What we’re seeing here is the product of a whole set of other social forces that are playing out in, at times, really lethal ways in some communities up and down the country. There’s a reason why this is a problem in Tottenham, Wood Green, and it’s not a problem in Richmond and South Kensington,” Garside says.

“If you adopt a whole-population approach then everyone benefits, including those who are most at risk of being victims of knife violence.”

(1st May 2018)

(The Register, dated 27th April 2018 author Keiren McCarthy)

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A plan to kill off 300,000 British-owned .eu web domains has itself been killed off by European bureaucrats in yet another baffling Brexit backtrack.

Last month, the European Commission unexpectedly announced that for UK-based owners of .eu domains, Brexit would mean Brexit - and their dot-EU domains would not be renewed following the UK's exit from the European Union in 2019.

The decision was met with astonishment, not least from the company that operates the .eu registry, Eurid, which had not been informed of the decision.

Not only would killing off 300,000 domains (actually 318,482) go against the long-held norms of the internet, it would actually cut into the EU's budget since it takes all the excess profits from the registry.

On Friday, the same idiocrats found a way to backtrack while not losing face: by deciding to open up the .eu registry to anyone who wants a .eu domain, regardless of where they live.

The commission is painting the decision as one that will introduce "more flexibility in the .eu top-level-domain" and "simplify the existing legal framework," although it is notable that there is no mention of its own formal decision literally last month to do the complete opposite and restrict the registry to EU residents, to the extent of deleting non-residents' domains.

To be fair to the EC, the decision this week follows a review process that it ran this time last year but had gone oddly silent. It is possible that two completely different groups within the EC - one looking at .eu as part of normal ongoing reviews, and one slowly going through all the various Brexit implications - reached different conclusions while failing miserably to communicate with one another.

Dust off that report

It is just as likely, though, that the idiotic decision to kill off 300,000 domains sparked the European Commission to find a face-saving measure, and the review team from last year suddenly found that everyone was keen to hear their recommendations.

Incidentally, the conclusion - to open up the .eu registry to everyone in the world - is the same one reached by an increasing number of other domain registries that had previously insisted on evidence of local residency before granting someone a country or region-tied domain name.

For example, if you want a .kr domain, you need to prove you have some kind of presence in South Korea, whereas Colombia's .co is open to anyone.

The truth is that there is very little real benefit from being able to say that everybody with a .gf domain names lives in Grand Fenwick, especially with all the extra checking and bureaucratic systems that it requires.

No one thinks any less of the .uk domain space because lots of non-UK citizens and organizations have .uk internet addresses. The reality is that if someone wants a .eu domain name, it is because they want to demonstrate some kind of willingness to provide services or goods to Europe.

There are some examples - especially with the explosion of new top-level domains in the past few years - where restricting domain names does make sense. For example, the .nyc domain name is only for those individuals or businesses that can prove they reside in the New York City area. And there is some real value to that that could be undermined if anyone in the world could grab a .nyc domain.

Likewise, the .cat internet registry is for proud Catalans rather than feline fanatics.

But, overall it makes sense for the .eu registry operator not to have to check that everyone that wants a .eu domain lives in the European Union, especially given the fact that registrations across all legacy top-level domains have slowed.

But even so, you have to wonder what on earth is going on within the European Commission when it can emit two directly contradictory statements within a month of each other.

Presumably they are hoping no one will notice, transfixed as everyone will be on this lovely infographic.

(1st May 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 27th April 2018 author Alex Hern)

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Amazon is rife with potentially dangerous counterfeits and other knockoff goods despite years of attempts to crackdown on mis-selling on its platform, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

The global internet giant, which this week revealed that its daily revenues had hit a record $550m (£400m) a day, now spans a huge range of businesses from TV production to web hosting but faces an ongoing challenge to police its own online retail platform.

In one order from the retailer, the Guardian received:

- Knockoff Apple AirPods, mis-sold on the site as genuine items but arriving in packaging labelling them as "HBQ-i7S".

- Genuine Apple iPhone chargers, sold on the site as new but in reality separated from returned and refurbished devices and sold second-hand.

- Multiple examples of counterfeit streetwear and accessories, including a Supreme/Louis Vuitton iPhone case and an Anti Social Social Club hoodie.

- Counterfeit Kylie Jenner lip gloss, manufactured by a Chinese company and almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

The items were all sold through Amazon's Marketplace, a long-running feature on the site allowing third parties to use the company's infrastructure to sell direct to consumers, with Amazon taking a cut of the revenue.

It is an increasingly large part of the company's business. Marketplace's $9.2bn revenue in the last quarter accounts for about 20% of Amazon's total income, and it ships about the same amount of goods as Amazon's entire online and physical retail operations combined.

Some items, including the counterfeit AirPods, were sold using the "Fulfilled by Amazon" service, which allows independent retailers to ship their products to Amazon, where it stores the items in its own warehouses, uses its own staff to pick and pack them, and ships them using Amazon Prime delivery and Amazon Logistics drivers alongside its own orders.

When contacted by the Guardian, Amazon removed five counterfeit items from sale, and updated the information on the chargers to correctly describe them as used rather than new.

Fighting counterfeits on Amazon Marketplace has been a multi-year project for the company. In 2016, the sandal-maker Birkenstock announced it would stop selling products on the site due to widespread imitations. The German firm was tempted back a year later by the launch of the Amazon "brand registry", which allows manufacturers to register their own trademarks on the site to gain increased authority over product listings with their brand names.

In a 2016 lawsuit against the former Amazon supplier Mobile Star, Apple described buying more than 100 iPhones, power adapters and lightning cables sold as genuine, to discover that almost 90% of the products were counterfeit. Apple declined to comment for this story. Supreme, Anti Social Social Club, and Kylie Cosmetics did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In recent years, Amazon has succeeded in limiting some of the most egregious counterfeiting on its platform.

The company said: "Amazon investigated and took action on 95% of all notices of potential infringement received from Brand Registry within eight hours. With our proactive innovations that learn from the information in Brand Registry, brands in Brand Registry on average are finding and reporting 99% fewer suspected infringements than before the launch of Brand Registry."

But complaints of damaging counterfeiting continue, particularly from smaller manufacturers who cannot provide the staffing required to monitor the site for fakes on Amazon's behalf.

In early March, ElevationLab, a small iPhone accessory manufacturer, described discovering a counterfeit version of its Anchor headphone dock being sold on Amazon at a price that undercut its own legitimate offering by two cents - and took every resulting sale for five days.

ElevationLab argued that Amazon's refusal to allow manufacturers the power to impose a blanket ban on third-party sellers "makes them complicit in the rampant counterfeiting on their platform".

The company's founder, Casey Hopkins, added: "Amazon can hide behind the fact that independent sellers are doing the counterfeiting (though most people, like my mom, wouldn't read the fine print of who it's technically 'sold by' - they are just buying from Amazon when they buy something on Amazon)."

The board games manufacturer Asmodee has described similar problems. "We believe for some games that more than 70% of all sales in the US market have been counterfeit," the company's North America chief executive, Christian Petersen, said in January.

"There used to be a guy that could open up his trench coat and show you some counterfeit watches in an alley. Now you are getting that counterfeit merchandise under the guise of what seem very, very legitimate sources," Petersen said. "The legit market simply can't replicate the price of Chinese-made counterfeit goods selling directly from, for example, [a Fulfilled by Amazon] store in the US."

The enforcement of counterfeiting is largely considered a civil matter, with intellectual property holders bringing manufacturers and importers to court. Some counterfeits purchased by the Guardian were sold by Amazon sellers based in other countries, making their interception a UK Border Force responsibility.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Border Force works closely with companies who hold the rights to goods and partner law enforcement agencies to ensure co-ordinated action against those who attempt to import fake merchandise, making regular seizures both of bulk importations and individual counterfeit items."

A spokesman for the Intellectual Property Office, the government body responsible for co-ordinating intellectual property enforcement, said: "In terms of advice for consumers, the main thing - apart from being aware who you are actually buying from, and looking for the usual indicators that something might be amiss, such as unusually good prices - is to check the platform's standard process for raising complaints if there is an issue. It's also worth being aware that this is usually time-bound."

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 26th April 2018 author Justin Davenport)

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Scotland Yard today pledged to put hundreds more officers on the beat as new figures showed a surge in offences of murder, knife crime, violence and muggings in London.

Figures released by the Met show there were 827,225 offences in the capital in the 12 months to the end of March, a 6.4 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

There were sharp increases in the number of homicides, up 44 per cent, knife crime offences, up 21 per cent, and violent robberies, up 36 per cent.

Police said there were 157 homicides in the last 12 months - including eight deaths in London's terror attacks - compared with 109 in the previous period. Senior officers say the increase in the murder rate is a real concern.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, responsible for territorial policing, said part of the increase was due to "greater levels of violence being used by individuals, often involving groups of multiple offenders".

Overall the number of violent offences rose by five per cent while knife crime offences jumped by 21.2 per cent - 12,115 to 14,680 offences.

The number of stabbings also rose by 5.7 per cent, from 4,446 to 4,700 offences, but police insisted the number involving young people under the age of 25 had "stabilised" with offences increasing by three per cent compared with a 24 per cent increase for the same period last year.

There were 30,609 violent muggings in the last 12 months, a rise of 36 per cent and the equivalent of 83 a day.

The number of thefts from the person - many phone snatches - leapt by 25 per cent, up from 38,013 to 47,587.

However, the Met claimed to have stemmed the rise in moped robberies In April 2017, there were 1,512 scooter, moped and motorcycle thefts - or 50 offences a day. In March 2018 the number had halved to 756.

While gun crime was down 4.6 per cent, shootings rose by 23.3 per cent - up 313 to 386 offences.

There was also a rise in the number of sexual offences, up 11 per cent, with the number of rapes rising by 18 per cent. There were 7,707 reported rapes in London in the last 12 months.

The total of burglaries in homes and businesses also rose by 11 per cent.

Mr Hewitt said the force was targeting violent crime "with hundreds more officers on visible patrols in affected communities".

(1st May 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 25th April 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

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A website linked to more than 4m cyber-attacks worldwide, including against some of Britain's biggest banks, has been shut down following a UK- and Netherlands-led operation. had 136,000 registered users and could be rented for about £10 to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, in which high volumes of internet traffic are launched at target computers to disable them.

Following an investigation led by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Dutch national police, servers were seized at 11.30am on Wednesday in the Netherlands, the US and Germany, effecting a takedown of the website.

Suspected members of the group were arrested on Tuesday in Scotland, Canada and Serbia, the NCA said. Croatian police said they had arrested a 19-year old man who faces charges of criminal acts against computer systems. The operation was supported by Europol and Police Scotland, as well as law enforcement in 11 countries.

NCA officers also raided a property in Bradford, where the agency believed a suspect linked to the address used the Webstresser service to target seven of the UK's biggest banks in attacks in November last year. The banks, which have not been named by investigators, were forced to reduce their operations or shut down entire systems, incurring costs in the hundreds of thousands.

Jo Goodall, senior investigating officer at the NCA, said: "A significant criminal website has been shut down and the sophisticated crime group behind it stopped as a result of an international investigation involving law enforcement agencies from 11 countries.

"The arrests made over the past two days show that the internet does not provide bulletproof anonymity to offenders and we expect to identify further suspects linked to the site in the coming weeks and months as we examine the evidence we have gathered."

Individuals with little or no technical knowledge could use the Webstresser service to launch crippling cyber-attacks across the world.

Other targets have included government institutions and police forces, as well as victims in the gaming industry.

Gert Ras, the head of the national hi-tech crime unit at the Dutch police, said: "By taking down the world's largest illegal DDoS seller in a worldwide joint law-enforcement operation based on NCA intelligence, we have made an unprecedented impact on DDoS cybercrime. Not only were the administrators of this illegal service arrested, but also users will now face prosecution and civil liability for caused damage.

"This is a warning to all wannabe DDoS-ers: do not DDoS because, through close law-enforcement collaboration, we will identify you, bring you to court and facilitate that you will be held liable by the victims for the huge damage you cause."

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-Cat) supported the investigation by assisting the exchange of information between all partners. A command-and-coordination post was set up at Europol's headquarters in The Hague, in the Netherlands, on the action day.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 25th April 20181 author Patrick Sawer)

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Police officers should be required to have experience of dealing with major child abuse cases before being promoted to the most senior ranks in the force, an official report has concluded.

The interim report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), says officers should not be allowed to rise to chief officer rank unless they have already acquired an operational knowledge of abuse cases and have received proper training in dealing with child exploitation issues.

Professor Alexis Jay, the chairwoman of the inquiry, yesterday urged the Home Office to amend its entry entry requirements for chief police officers and called on the College of Policing to develop the necessary training for senior officers.

Her recommendations follow what the IICSA found were years of institutional failures over the issue of child sex abuse, with political leaders all too frequently willing to place their own reputations ahead of protecting its victims.

Police forces and local authorities have been criticised for their apparent lack of urgency following reports of street grooming gangs and other child abuse scandals in places such as Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford and within institutions such as the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

In its report IICSA said: "The Inquiry considers that all too often institutions are prioritising the reputation of political leaders or the reputation of their staff, or avoiding legal liability, claims or insurance implications, over the welfare of children and tackling child sexual abuse."

The 109-page report concludes that "specific steps should be taken to raise the awareness of child sexual abuse within police forces, and to ensure that the right culture is developed and maintained".

Professor Jay also called for wide-ranging reform of the civil courts to make sure that abuse victims receive a fairer hearing when seeking compensation for their ordeal.

She said victims should receive "the same protection as vulnerable witnesses in criminal court cases" and criminal compensation rules should also be revised so that awards were not automatically refused when an applicant's had previous convictions "likely to be linked to child sexual abuse they endured".

The interim report revealed that as a result of its inquiry, 1,575 referrals were made by the inquiry team to a central police group dubbed Operation Hydrant between March 2015 and June 2017. These led to a total of 2,402 referrals being made to police forces and other law enforcement agencies.

However, of these, 1,749 in England and 117 in Wales resulted in no further action - 78% of the referrals made.

In England, a total of 457 are under ongoing investigation, 14 have resulted in charges and 14 convicted. In Wales, 15 are under investigation, none have been charged or convicted.

Professor Jay found there were several reasons for this low conviction rate, including "a lack of evidence, being unable to trace or identify a perpetrator, a perpetrator being deceased, or a victim and survivor no longer wanting to continue with the criminal process".

The inquiry has been dogged by controversy and setbacks since it was set up in 2014 by Theresa May in response to the growing number of revelations about historic and current child sex abuse cases.

Professor Jay, who took on the role in August 2016 after the resignation of Dame Lowell Goddard, is the fourth person to chair the inquiry.

It found there was still a reluctance among the public to discuss child abuse and revealed that one radio advert for the IICSA Truth Project - set up to listen to abuse survivors - had been pulled following a complaint from a listener who said it might be heard by children. To date 1,040 accounts of sexual abuse have been heard by the Truth Project.

Professor Jay also said the language used around abuse cases was often hurtful to victims: "Children are still accused of 'child prostitution', 'risky behaviour' and 'promiscuity' and, as a result, continue to feel blamed or responsible for the sexual abuse they have suffered rather than being the victims of serious criminal acts," her report states.

The report's 18 recommendations also include the setting up of a register of workers in children's residential homes and the use of chaperones for children receiving medical care.

It also said the Government should apologise and pay financial compensation to Britons who were abused as children after being forcibly sent to Australia in the post-war years.

The inquiry will go on to look into what the internet industry is doing to protect children online and examine its response to online child sexual abuse.

There has been widespread criticism of social media companies for being slow to respond to fears over their platforms being used to groom children for abuse.

(1st May 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 25th April 2018 authors Jennifer Newton and Joe Pinkstone)

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If you thought your electronically secured hotel room was safe, think again - because security experts have revealed that electronic lock systems found in global hotel chains can be hacked, allowing thieves to break into rooms without a trace.

The revelation comes from a group of researchers who hacked a lock system to produce a master key card that could open any door in the building.

It has raised fears that thieves could exploit these systems to make room key cards 'out of thin air'.

The research was conducted by Finland-based cyber security company F-Secure, which hacked a system called the Vision by Ving Card made by the world's largest lock manufacturer, Assa Abloy. It's a system that's used to secure millions of hotel rooms around the world.

The hack involved taking an ordinary electronic key card and using a small hardware device to read the information on it to produce multiple keys to the hotel.

These were then tested against multiple locks and within minutes the device was able to generate a master key that could open any door in the building.

The researchers said that even an expired key from a stay five years ago will work, along with cards that are used to access utility spaces such as garages or closets.

Although F-Secure stressed that during the research no hotel rooms were actually broken into and that the attack tools were not made available, Tomi Tuominen, the practice leader at F-Secure, said: 'You can imagine what a malicious person could do with the power to enter any hotel room with a master key created basically out of thin air.'

He added, however, that he didn't know of any group performing this attack in the world right now.

The researchers' interest in hacking hotel locks was sparked a decade ago when a colleague's laptop was stolen from a hotel room during a security conference.

When the researchers reported the theft, hotel staff dismissed their complaint given that there was not a single sign of forced entry, and no evidence of unauthorised access in the room entry logs.

The researchers decided to investigate the issue further, and chose to target a brand of lock known for quality and security.

It took a thorough understanding of the whole system's design to identify small flaws that, when combined, produced the attack.

The research took several thousand hours and was done on an on-and-off basis, and involved considerable amounts of trial and error.

Timo Hirvonen, Senior Security Consultant at F-Secure, added: 'We wanted to find out if it's possible to bypass the electronic lock without leaving a trace.

'Building a secure access control system is very difficult because there are so many things you need to get right.

'Only after we thoroughly understood how it was designed were we able to identify seemingly innocuous shortcomings. We creatively combined these shortcomings to come up with a method for creating master keys.'

F-Secure notified Assa Abloy of the findings and has collaborated with the lock-maker over the past year to implement software fixes and updates have been made available to affected properties.

Mr Tuominen explained: 'I would like to personally thank the Assa Abloy R&D team for their excellent cooperation in rectifying these issues.

'Because of their diligence and willingness to address the problems identified by our research, the hospitality world is now a safer place. We urge any establishment using this software to apply the update as soon as possible.'

###How thieves can hack electronic lock systems (Source : F-Secure)

First they need to obtain an ordinary electronic key - even one that's long expired, discarded, or used to access spaces such as a garage or closet.

They then read the key and use a small hardware device to derive more keys to the hotel.

These derived keys can be tested against any lock in the hotel and within minutes the device is able to generate a master key to the facility.

The device can then be used in place of a key to bypass any lock or alternatively to overwrite an existing key to contain the newly created master key.

(1st May 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 24th April 2018 author Annie Palmer)

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Thousands of popular Android apps targeted to children may be illegally scraping their personal information.

A study conducted on 5,885 apps meant for children in the Google Play Store found that more than half of the apps were improperly collecting data on kids.

This potentially puts them in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which limits data collection for kids under the age of 13.

Researchers from the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley downloaded apps on a smartphone between November 2016 and March 2018.

They then used an automated testing process where they ran the apps as a simulated user.

'Each of the apps studied was installed, on average, more than 750,000 times, which means they may be potentially in use by millions of devices on a global scale,' said the IMDEA Networks Institute, which also participated in the study, in a statement.

Of the 5,885 apps included in the study, 281 of them collected the phone's contact or GPS location data, while 184 of them sent the device's location to advertisers.

Over 1,000 of the apps also collected personal information and shared it with third parties.

Further, thousands of them appeared to violate Google's terms of service meant to prohibit those kinds of trackers in kid's apps.

The study also found that many apps aimed at children were transferring their data in a non-secure way.

Among the apps analyzed were games like Duolingo, Minion Rush, and Fun Kid Racing.

Tiny Lab Productions, which produces Fun Kid Racing, said it requires users to enter their age when they open the app and that if the user is under 13, they don't collect data.

Upon viewing the research, Google has said it's taking the report 'very seriously' and investigating its findings.

'Protecting kids and families is a top priority and our Designed for Families Program requires developers to abide by specific requirements above and beyond our standard Google Play policies,' the firm told NBC News.

'If we determine that an app violates our policies, we will take action'

'We always appreciate the research community's work to help make the Android ecosytem safer,' Google added.

However, it's very easy for users to enter a different age and skim the user agreement which explains all the data collected on them.

YouTube has been subject to various controversies since its creation in 2005.

It has become one of Google's fastest-growing operations in terms of sales by simplifying the process of distributing video online but putting in place few limits on content.

However, parents, regulators, advertisers and law enforcement have become increasingly concerned about the open nature of the service.

They have contended that Google must do more to banish and restrict access to inappropriate videos, whether it be propaganda from religious extremists and Russia or comedy skits that appear to show children being forcibly drowned.

Child exploitation and inappropriate content

By the end of last year YouTube said it had removed more than 50 user channels and has stopped running ads on more than 3.5 million videos since June.

In March last year, a disturbing Peppa Pig fake, found by journalist Laura June, shows a dentist with a huge syringe pulling out the character's teeth as she screams in distress.

Mrs June only realised the violent nature of the video as her three-year-old daughter watched it beside her.

Hundreds of these disturbing videos were found on YouTube by BBC Trending back in March.

All of these videos are easily accessed by children through YouTube's search results or recommended videos.

YouTube has been getting more stringent about deleting videos. One example is the wildly popular Toy Freaks YouTube channel featuring a single dad and his two daughters that was deleted last year.

Although it's unclear what exact policy the channel violated, the videos showed the girls in unusual situations that often involved gross-out food play and simulated vomiting.

The channel invented the 'bad baby' genre, and some videos showed the girls pretending to urinate on each other or fishing pacifiers out of the toilet.

Adverts being shown next to inappropriate videos

There has been widespread criticism that adverts are being shown on some clips depicting child exploitation.

YouTube has now tightened its rules on who qualifies for posting money-making ads.

Previously, channels with 10,000 total views qualified for the YouTube Partner Program which allows creators to collect some income from the adverts placed before their videos.

But YouTube's parent company Google has announced that from February 20, channels will need 1,000 subscribers and to have racked up 4,000 hours of watch time over the last 12 months regardless of total views, to qualify.

This is the biggest change to advertising rules on the site since its inception - and is another attempt to prevent the platform being 'co-opted by bad actors' after persistent complaints from advertisers over the past twelve months.

In November last year Lidl, Mars, Adidas, Cadbury maker Mondelez, Diageo and other big companies all pulled advertising from YouTube.

An investigation found the video sharing site was showing clips of scantily clad children alongside the ads of major brands.

One video of a pre-teenage girl in a nightie drew 6.5 million views.

Issues with system for flagging inappropriate videos

Another investigation in November found YouTube's system for reporting sexual comments had serious faults.

As a result, volunteer moderators have revealed there could be as many as 100,000 predatory accounts leaving inappropriate comments on videos.

Users use an online form to report accounts they find inappropriate.

Part of this process involves sending links to the specific videos or comments they are referring to.

Investigators identified 28 comments that obviously violated YouTube's guidelines.

According to the BBC, some include the phone numbers of adults, or requests for videos to satisfy sexual fetishes.

The children in the videos appeared to be younger than 13, the minimum age for registering an account on YouTube.

It can also be very difficult for parents to identify these security risks on their own.

'While accessing a sensitive resource or sharing it over the internet does not necessarily mean that an app is in violation of COPPA, none of these apps attained veriable parental consent: if the [automated testing we performed] was able to trigger the functionality, then a child would as well,' the researchers wrote.

The issue has highlighted how challenging it can be to enforce rules set out in regulations like COPPA.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has come under fire recently as nearly two-dozen campaign groups say it's in violation of the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act because it's collecting personal data to target advertising to those aged under 13.

YouTube could be fined billions of dollars if the complaint is upheld.

The coalition accuses YouTube of violating COPPA and deliberately profiting off luring children into what Chester calls an 'ad-filled digital playground' where commercials for toys, theme parks or sneakers can surface alongside kid-oriented videos.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 24th April 2018 author Victoria Ward)

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A Company director, jammed speed cameras with a laser in order to escape fines whilst sticking his finger up at them, a court has heard.

The 67-year-old fitted a laser jammer to his white Range Rover which meant that his speed came up blank.

The perpetrator drove past mobile speed camera vans on the A19 near Easingwold, Thirsk and Crathorne three times in December and each time he was photographed gesturing to the camera with his middle finger.

But his actions were spotted by police, who noted his distinctive personalised registration plate.

When officers traced the vehicle to perpetrators home in the Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington, the businessman threw the device in the River Wharfe, which runs behind his home.

He also attempted to cheat justice by claiming he was working 60 miles away at the time and was not behind the wheel. But when later questioned, he admitted the offence.

The perpetrator appeared at Teesside Crown Court where he was jailed for eight months and banned from driving for a year for perverting the course of justice.

Although North Yorkshire Police were unable to find out how fast he had been travelling, Judge Simon Hickey said what he had done "strikes at the heart" of the justice system. The judge said he had a duty to pass a deterrent sentence.

After the case, Traffic Constable Andrew Forth said: "If you want to attract our attention, repeatedly gesturing at police camera vans with your middle finger while you're driving a distinctive car fitted with a laser jammer is an excellent way to do it.

"It's also an excellent way to end up in prison.

"As this individuals case shows, perverting the course of justice is a very serious charge which carries a custodial sentence."

"It's our job to keep road users safe across all 6,000 miles of North Yorkshire's roads. Mobile safety camera vans are an important tool to do that - they are proven to reduce collisions and they help save lives.

"Drivers who fit laser jammers may mistakenly feel smug about 'getting one over' on the police. But we can tell if motorists are using these devices, and we will always endeavour to bring them to justice."

(1st May 2018)

(New Scientist, dated 21st April 2018 author Chris Stokel-Walker)

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Card skimmers are so passe. More scammers ar directly hacking into cash machines to make them spit out money in Central and Western Europe, while the use of card skimmers that capture card details as someone uses an ATM is in decline.

Malware scams and "logical attacks", in which computers are plugged into a cash dispenser to get it to give up its loot, rose by 230 per cent between 2016 and 2017, according to the European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST), which tracks ATM crime. About E1.5 million was lost that way last year. Card skimming incidents fell 23 per cent in the same period.

Robbing individual accounts is also on the decline, but the number of physical attacks against cash machines, including trying to blow them out of the walls, has risen. Overall, fraud attacks on ATM's in Western Europe have dropped 11 per cent.

The increasing use of chip and PIN on European cash cards is behind the decrease in card skimming, says Lachlan Gunn of EAST. "Organised criminals may be switching to malware and logical attacks to cash-out at ATMs instead," he says.

Different versions of ATM malware, including one called Cutlet Maker, which overrides the ATM operating system and sends instructions to empty the machine's cash reserves, have been offered for sale on the dark web for as little as $5000.

There may be another explanation, though. Card skimming incidents reduced significantly in July 2017, around the same time as Alexandru Sovu, who manufactured card skimmer circuit boards, was arrested by UK police. "Once you destroy the market, you destroy the crime," says Nick Webber of CELT, a digital forensic analysis consultancy.

Gangs focused on installing card skimmers on ATMs are thought to have refocused on the US, where chip and PIN is less widely adopted.

(1st May 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 21st April 2018 author Edward Malnick)

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Britain's spy agencies cannot offer "absolute protection" against Russian cyber attacks and are instead focused on preventing assaults that would "most impact on our way of life", in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning, GCHQ is warning.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Ciaran Martin, the head of the agency's cyber defence unit, says it is a matter of "when, not if" Britain faces a "serious cyber attack".

He added that its focus was now on building "resilience" in "the systems we care about the most", believed to be Britain's power and water supplies, internet and transport networks, and health service.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that senior representatives of utility, transport and internet firms and the NHS have attended intelligence briefings at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the specific methods - known as "attack vectors" - being used by Russia to target Britain's critical national infrastructure, following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury last month.

Separately, the NCSC is understood to have written to the Government setting out urgent actions that departments and individual officials should take to protect Whitehall from cyber assaults.

These are in response to retaliatory measures against the Kremlin following the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with a nerve agent last month.

Mr Martin, the NCSC's chief executive, confirmed GCHQ was on "heightened alert" for "follow-up activity" following the Salisbury attack - an explicit link the agency fell short of making when it issued an unprecedented joint warning with the FBI last week about cyber attacks by the Russian Government.

"Turning off the lights and the power supply by cyber attack is harder than Hollywood films sometimes make out," he writes.

"But we've seen enough malicious cyber attacks across the world, including against UK health services by a North Korean group last year, to know how services can be disrupted.

"Absolute protection is neither possible nor desirable; it's about having more resilience in the systems we care about the most, those where loss of service would have the most impact on our way of life.

"We have said that it is a matter of when, not if, the UK faces a serious cyber attack. So last week we presented detailed plans to Government departments about the priority areas where the NCSC will work with them, industry and law enforcement to improve the cyber resilience of the most important systems."

The Sunday Telegraph understands that, in addition to setting out the "priority areas" it will focus on protecting, the NCSC provided the Government with fresh advice on preventing attacks, based on the latest intelligence about attempted intrusions by Russian hackers.

The advice is believed to have ranged from highly technical measures that should be taken by particular departments, to more basic preventative steps that could be adopted by all civil servants.

Separately, the agency is understood to have called in representatives of organisations involved in the UK's critical national infrastructure for a series of briefings on ongoing activity in recent days, with the sessions including information on the warning signs to look out for, and advice on how to guard against the threats.

(The Telegraph, dated 23rd April 2018 author Jillian Ambrose)

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The UK has already suffered stealth cyber attacks on more than 80 manufacturing plants, with criminals deploying tactics that could put critical national infrastructure at risk.

Britain's spy agencies have warned the bosses of utilities, transport and health services that Russian hackers are invading unprotected networks ahead of a potentially serious attack.

But new evidence shows the attackers are already targeting UK factories. In an anonymous survey of manufacturers, almost half admitted that they have fallen prey to cyber warfare, according to trade group EEF.

Stephen Phipson, the boss of EEF, said 48pc of those surveyed said they have at some time been subject to a cyber security incident, and half of these suffered some financial loss or disruption to business as a result.

Almost 170 manufacturers across the country took part in the survey.

"There seems little doubt that many more attacks will have gone undetected," Mr Phipson added.

Oliver Welch, EEF's security expert, said it is possible that manufacturers may not even be aware. "There's evidence out there that there is quite a lot of malware that is designed to sit in the background, not really do very much, while the person infected doesn't even know that it is happening," he said.

A cyber security expert at INSINIA Security, speaking to The Daily Telegraph, said: "Russia has been probing us for years and years. This is far more than reconnaissance. Anyone who is burying their head in the sand and saying that Russia aren't attacking us is mad."

(1st May 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 21st April 2018 author James Tapper)

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Organised criminal gangs are behind a growing wave of countryside crime, a rural police commissioner has warned.

Julia Mulligan, the head of the National Rural Crime Network and police and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire, said that so-called "county lines" drug-dealing and a sharp rise in thefts and burglaries targeting farms and villages showed that organised crime was growing.

More than 720 county lines drug networks have been set up by gangs in Manchester, Liverpool, London and other cities to sell crack cocaine and heroin in small towns and other parts of the countryside. Rural areas have also seen a 13% rise in thefts and burglaries so far this year, according to the leading farm insurer NFU Mutual.

Mulligan said police should take a more intelligence-led approach, and warned that people in the countryside say they will "take matters into their own hands".

"I think it's getting worse," she said. "People are extremely worried about drug dealing - they are seeing it far more often than they ever used to, and it's really a growing concern.

"It's not limited to drugs. I think we've got a serious and organised crime problem. They are opportunistic and make money from anything they can. They know they can go out into the countryside and they have a supply chain for getting rid of things they steal."

NFU Mutual's rural affairs specialist, Tim Price, said two tractors worth a total of £96,000 were recovered from Lithuania after they were stolen in Scotland in 2016, and nine tractors were discovered in northern Cyprus.

The groups scope out farms to see where equipment is kept, then bring a lorry to carry off hi-tech tractors, Land Rovers, all-terrain vehicles and quad bikes, he said.

Monica Akehurst's livestock farm in East Sussex was one of seven targeted over the Easter weekend by a gang who stole quad bikes and chainsaws. They returned the next night at 2.30am, when she was still awake helping a ewe deliver a lamb.

"I heard the strangest noise," she said. "It really unnerved me. You think the place is your own, and to think someone is there was scary. You feel vulnerable. I couldn't believe they would be so brazen as to come back the next night."

Mulligan said rural communities did not believe they were getting enough of a response from police.

"You talk to farmers and landowners and they say, 'We'll deal with this, there's no point reporting it to the police'. They're worried that if someone comes on to their land that they will do something that they could get into trouble for, but they're so exasperated that sometimes they feel that that is the only option that is open to them."

(1st May 2018)

(The Times, dated 17th April 2018 authors Deborah Haynes, Mark Bridge and Patrick Maguire) [Option 1]

A global Russian hacking offensive has targeted millions of computers to spy on governments and lay the foundation for an attack on infrastructure, Britain and the United States warned last night.

Tens of thousands of devices in British homes including wifi boxes are in the sights of Kremlin-backed cyber-experts who are searching for weaknesses such as easy-to-guess passwords and expired anti-virus software.

Security officials said yesterday that Russian hackers were seeking to find ways to sit invisibly within networks enabling them to launch a cyberattack should the order be given. Businesses have also been targeted as hackers have sought to steal intellectual property.

In an unprecedented warning, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, the US Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the White House signalled that the extent of the penetration was so deep and wide spread that it had given President Putin a "tremendous weapon".

The public attack on Moscow's "malicious cyberactivity" by the two allies was an attempt to deter President Putin from unleashing his full cyber potential. It comes at a time of rising tensions between Moscow and the West after Britain, the US and France launched airstrikes on Syria, a close ally of Russia, following the suspected use of chemical weapons by President Assad's regime. The US accused the Kremlin yesterday of blocking efforts by international chemical weapons inspectors to visit the site of the chemical attack in Douma.

Theresa May has addressed MPs to defend her decision to strike. Britain has drawn a link between the action it took in Syria and a nerve agent attack in Salisbury attributed to Russia.

Ciaran Martin, head of the NCSC, part of GCHQ, said that the warning over Russia's activities was "a significant moment in the transatlantic fight back against Russian aggression in cyberspace". Russia-backed cyber attacks have directly targeted the UK government and elements of the country's critical national infrastructure, he said in the briefing with US officials.

Rob Joyce, the White House's outgoing cybersecurity co-ordinator, signalled that the United States was ready to hit back against Russia with offensive cyber-operations. "All elements of US power are available to push back on these types of intrusion," he said.

It can also be revealed that Labour MPs were warned of an attempt to hack parliamentary emails. It was not immediately clear whether the hack had been successful or whether it was linked to Russia. The emailed warning went out on Sunday night. The first UK-US "technical alert" was released to the public, governments and private firms, including internet service providers and other communications companies.

The alert revealed that :

- Tens of thousands of British devices have been scanned by Kremlin-backed hackers looking for soft targets.

- Routers, including some made by Cisco, one of the largest internet infrastructure companies, have been penetrated by Russia.

- Hackers are sitting invisibly in networks and routers, spying on private communications and positioning themselves if needed for a wider assault.

- Spoofing "man in the middle" attacks are being conducted whereby a hacker is able to intercept messages passing between two people and delete or distort the content.

"once you own the router, you own all the traffic (that flows through the router), to include the ability to harvest credentials, passwords, essentially monitor all traffic," Mr Joyce said. It is a tremendous weapon in the hands of an adversary."

Russia has been targeting Britain's networks and those of other countries for the past 20 years but this is the first time that the UK has published its actions so aggressively.

Mr Putin is also using disinformation and other forms of fake news as a weapon on social media and via state sponsored media outlets to sow dissent among countries, including Britain, as part of a goal to undermine European unity and the Nato alliance.

Britain led a multinational move in February to blame President Putin's military for the crippling global Not-Petya cyberattack a year ago. "Russia is our most capable hostile adversary in cyberspace," Mr Martin said.

The ability to control networks and household devices that connect to the internet means Russia can launch denial-of-service attacks, potentially knocking out services such as healthcare, energy supplies and water supplies.

A British government spokesman said: " The attribution of this malicious activity sends a clear message to Russia - we know what you are doing and you will not succeed."

Q & A

What is a router ?

The device that connects your computer and network to the internet. They often have a built-in "firewall" to stop viuses or hackers. If your router is compromised it can allow intruders in.

How is Russia hacking them ?

Mostly there is no hacking; the internet is scanned to find devices that offer an open goal. This includes some routers from Cisco where a system enabling remote configuration by admins can be exploited. It also includes routers that have default passwords such as "0-0-0-0" that owners have not changed, or older routers that no longer get security updates.

Why would they do that ?

A router is a gateway into a person or organisation's network so they can be used for espionage and to extract information. Once malicious actors have access to a network they can attack that network or use it as a springboard to attack others. That could include attacks on energy grids.

What is a man-in-the-middle attack ?

One in which information is hacked without the sender or recipient knowing.

Who is infected ?

Intelligence agencies say that millions of networks have been targeted by Russia.

What can I do to protect myself ?

Home and small business users should ensure they have the firewalls on their PCs enabled so they are not relying on any firewalls built into their router.


uaware addition - see also

Russia government hackers attacking critical national infrastructure in UK and US
(Sky News, dated 16th April 2018 author Alexander J Martin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Has a Russian intelligence agent hacked your wifi ?
(The Guardian, dated 17th April 2018 author James Ball)

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Russia is hacking tens of thousands of British home computers for a crippling cyber attack
(Mirror, dated 16th April 2018 author Ben Glaze)

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US and British governments warn businesses worldwide of Russian campain to hack routers
(Washington Post, dated 16th April 2018 author Ellen Nakashima)

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(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 17th April 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

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Brothels are being given the green light by police as a senior officer has suggested that they should not be raided if sex workers are safe.

Officers are turning a blind eye and avoiding "crackdowns" on brothels, which are said to be ineffective, as long as the prostitutes are there through their own free will.

One brothel owner, himself a former police officer, says that he is aware that he could be arrested but he is so confident that he will not be that he has even called police himself about two of the women working in his premises.

It is not illegal to buy and sell sex, but some activities associated with it are criminalised including running a brothel or to coercing women into selling sex.

National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Lead for Prostitution & Sex Working, Assistant Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic, said that their "priority is to keep these people safe and crack down on those who use their position to exploit the vulnerable".

He added: "Enforcement alone has proven to be an inadequate response to prostitution. Officers will now consider a range of factors, including the safety of those sex workers involved, before deciding on whether prosecution is the most appropriate response to an offence.

"An effective overall approach requires the police to work with key agencies, organisations, individuals and local communities, which we will continue to do."

A former detective, named only as Karl, now owns a brothel in central London and told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme that he operates in the full knowledge of the police and they leave him alone as long as the women are safe.

"If they close us down, I could go to prison," he admits. "But then there's 15 to 20 girls who've got to find somewhere to work."

Karl added: "We don't allow drugs, no under-age girls. We check everyone's passports.

"If we've got any doubts that they're not there under their own free will, we will call the police."

He says that he has called in concerns of this kind on two occasions in the last 15 years.

The father-of-one, who makes around £60,000 a year from his limited company which is registered as an escort agency, said his teenage daughter does not know what he does.

One the women working at the brothel is British student Louise is British, who is using sex work to pay off £20,000 student debt from her diploma in marine biology.

She chooses to work three or four days a week for £900 than for minimum wage in a petrol station.

"I'm stubbornly defiant about my right to do this kind of work without people inflicting their moral judgements on me," she said.

"I don't want people to think I'm on drugs or that I've been forced or coerced or trafficked.

"I'm just here as a normal person who wants to make money, secure a future for myself and do this kind of work because I choose to."

Pictures of the women are posted on social media every day to attract clients, who are charged £70 for each half hour which is split £45 to the women and £25 to the brothel.

The issue of the legal response to prostitution is a hotly debated topic. Whilst some argue for a zero tolerance approach arguing it is inherently exploitative others say it is a matter of personal choice for people who need protecting by police.

It is widely recognised that those who are working off the street are safer. In some areas red-light districts have been turned into prostitution "safe zones".

The latest NPCC guidance, which is distributed to police forces across England and Wales, says that officers should take a "victim centred approach" to sex workers treating them not as "offenders per se but people who may become victims of crime for whom police services have a responsibility to protect".

It stresses that police should avoid "inappropriate tactical responses" as "these can have lasting harmful impacts on relationships between the Police, local outreach and support networks and individual sex workers".

As part of their approach to brothels some forces categorise them in risk categories and the give consideration to "the use of legislation relating to the management of a brothel as well as measures to address any related anti social behaviour".

The guidance states: "If the tactical decision is taken to enforce the legislation, consideration must be given to risk, harm and threat to sex workers who are likely to choose to continue to work, albeit in other areas which may be less safe or familiar to them.

"Moreover, brothel closures and 'raids' create a mistrust of all external agencies including outreach services. It is difficult to rebuild trust and ultimately reduces the amount of intelligence submitted to the police and puts sex workers at greater risk."

(1st May 2018)

(BBC News, dated 16th April 2018)

Full article :

The home secretary has apologised for the treatment of the Windrush generation, saying it was "wrong" and "appalling" that some face deportation.

Many immigrants who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago as children have been told they are here illegally.

Amber Rudd said they would be helped to attain required documents for free and added she was concerned her department "sometimes loses sight" of individuals.

Labour's David Lammy said it was a "day of national shame".

The Tottenham MP said it was "inhumane and cruel" that it had taken the government so long to act.

Thousands of people arrived in the UK as children in the first wave of Commonwealth immigration 70 years ago.

They are known as the Windrush generation - a reference to the ship, the Empire Windrush, that brought workers from the West Indies to Britain in 1948.

Under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain.

However, the Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it, meaning it is difficult for the individuals to now prove they are in the UK legally.

Changes to immigration law in 2012, which requires people to have documentation to work, rent a property or access benefits, including healthcare, has highlighted the issue and left people fearful about their status.

Michael Braithwaite, who moved to the UK from Barbados when he was nine, was let go from his 15-year job as a special needs teaching assistant after his employers ruled he was an illegal immigrant.

He said: "I fell to pieces inside. I didn't actually show it externally until I came home and I sat and I cried.

"My whole life sunk right down to my feet. I was distraught."

Home Secretary Ms Rudd confirmed new measures to the House of Commons to help the Windrush generation.

These include:

- A new taskforce dedicated to helping those affected

- Plans to work with departments across government to gather evidence on behalf of immigrants - documentation for every year is usually expected, such as bank statements or payslips

- A pledge that all cases will be resolved in two weeks

- All fees for new documentation waived so people are not "out of pocket" - normally £229

- A new website will be set up with information and a direct contact point

Ms Rudd also said she was "concerned that the Home Office has become too concerned with policy and strategy, and sometimes lose sight of the individual", but it was why she decided to act.

###'Warm words are not enough'

When asked how many of the Windrush generation had been deported as a result of this issue, Ms Rudd said she was "not aware of any person being removed" and would have to speak to High Commissioners of different Commonwealth countries to find out.

Earlier, immigration minister Caroline Nokes was asked by ITV News if any people had been deported. She said: "There have been some horrendous situations, which as a minister have appalled me."

Told by the reporter "that's a yes", and asked how many, she said: "No, I don't know the numbers, but what I'm determined to do going forward is we'll have no more of this."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the government should consider compensation for anyone who had been wrongly deported.

A Home Office spokeswoman said that any people who believe they or a family member have been wrongly deported should get in contact so their case can be reviewed.

The prime minister reversed her decision not to meet Commonwealth leaders to discuss the issue after the letter from Mr Lammy and MPs across the house. A meeting is now set for Tuesday.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he welcomed Mrs May's decision to meet other leaders, but added: "She must now go further and make an immediate commitment to recognise and secure the rights of Commonwealth citizens."

The Migration Observatory at Oxford University estimates there are 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971.

People born in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are thought to be more affected than those from other Commonwealth nations, as they were more likely to arrive on their parents' passports without their own ID documents.

Many have never applied for a passport in their own name or had their immigration status formalised, as they regarded themselves as British.

The Guardian newspaper has highlighted a number of cases of such people being threatened with deportation. [Option 1]

uaware Editors comment

How is it that some people that I probably went to school with (in the 1960's), went to work with, met socially with. Who paid their taxes and National Insurance, may even have fought for our (their) country; are now being told they have no legal right to live here.

This is bureacracy gone made, or plain incompetence. Not just of the current Tory government but of past regimes (including Labour) allowing this to go on since the 1950's .... nearly 68 years.

On the 4th May 2018 there was an article on Sky News of an 81 year old lady who lost her passport 9 year ago whilst visiting family in the West Indies. Her original passport showed that she was a British Citizen of several decades. She was refused entry to the UK (her home) for 9 years.

Why have I placed this article on this website; because this an example of a crime !

It also leads me onto the thought of what does a UK citizen require to prove their identity and that they have a right to live within the UK ? This is regardless of colour or ethnicity. I class myself as white but I have a tan. An Ancestry DNA test shows that I am 59% British, 11% Irish and 30% Western European (wherever that came from !). I have worked within the UK for decades, paid taxes, National Insurance and received NHS treatment over the years.

But if I can't PROVE who I am, I could end up like the Windrush people.

(1st May 2018)

(The Register, dated 16th April 2018 author Andrew Orlowski)

Full article [Option 1]:

GCHQ's cyber security advice group has formally warned of the risk of using ZTE equipment and services for the UK's telco infrastructure.

The National Cyber Security Centre, the cyber part of the UK's nerve centre, founded in 2016, has written to UK telecoms companies warning that using gear from the Chinese firm "would present risk to UK national security that could not be mitigated effectively or practicably".

In a statement, the British spooky agency confirmed the veracity of an FT report, but declined to elaborate on what specific vulnerability or threat had prompted the assessment:

"NCSC assess[es] that the national security risks arising from the use of ZTE equipment or services within the context of the existing UK telecommunications infrastructure cannot be mitigated," the agency told us in a statement.

Both Huawei and ZTE have been singled out by US spooks and Congress-critters as posing a potential threat. Unlike privately owned Huawei, with its roots in the bustling Hong Kong trading area, ZTE is a state-owned enterprise, and that's something the NCSC has pointed out.

However Huawei worked hard to address concerns, establishing a centre in Banbury, close to GCHQ, Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, nicknamed "the Cell". This allowed spooks to examine Huawaei's wares, including its source code. After initial issues about oversight, officials declared the Cell a success.

"HCSEC fulfilled its obligations in respect of the provision of assurance that any risks to UK national security from Huawei's involvement in the UK's critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated," the third annual report by the centre's Oversight Board noted last year. HCSEC demands the full source code to Huawei's products so it can rebuild the binaries and replicate their functionality. This isn't always easy, the report noted, due to "complex and subtle technical issues".

No backdoor has ever been found in any Huawei phone, but in 2012 one was found in a ZTE phones.

Last March we exclusively revealed that ZTE's Tier 2 visa licence had been suspended by the Home Office.

uaware comment

A similar warning was made nearly 20 years ago when BT was looking for alternatives to UK suppliers. This subsequently led to the demise of Marconi Telecommunications a UK manufacturer. Giving up national security for cheaper components and greater profit.

(1st May 2018)

(The Sunday Times, dated 15th April 2018 author Caroline Scott)

Full article [Option 1]:

Just as most people are turning in for the night and double-locking their doors, in some parts of the UK, small teams of concerned residents are pulling on combat gear and berets, and hitting the streets in an effort to keep their own communities safe. And before you ask, they insist that they're not vigilantes.

The 15-strong Night Angel Patrol Group, mostly former servicemen - maroon beret, red fleece - cover Pitsea, a small town east of Basildon, Essex. Three miles to the north, the similarly clad Wick Patrol Group - motto: walk, observe, report - cover Wickford. They say they are preventing break-ins, deterring vandals and breaking up fights, stepping into the gap left by the loss of nearly 400 police officers in Essex over the past six years.

The issues of crime and security are deadly serious, but there is a slight whiff of Dad's Army to all this. Patrollers reply to my inquiies in a covert fashion via Facebook: "Yer, Thas me. Leader Night Angel Patrol."

Duncan Lamont, as friendly father of five, formed the Night Angels in December last year after a spate of robberies and crime in the Basildon area. "People are fed up with the crime rate going up and up," he says. "There are stabbings every day, cars getting broken into and houses turned over. People are threatened and assaulted, and there are no police on the beat any more".

The incident that really touched him involved a young mother overwhelmed by a group of youths at a cashpoint. "They grabbed the baby from her pram and refused to handher over unti the lady got money out for them."

Originally from Glasgow, Lamont, 46 who works in the construction industry, has served in the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. After an appeal for volunteers on Facebook, Lamont and his team set out in five groups of three, wearing uniforms bought on eBay. "I don't want vigilantes, and I've been lucky so far. We have to be extremely careful how we approach people committing crime or it could be us in front of a judge for assault."

Lamont believes the Night Angels act as a deterrent as much as anything else. "At 2am, I'm going to find "undesirables" looking for something to steal. They see us and think twice."

Basildon Police have naturally cast a wary eye over their operations, and they had an awkward relationship until recently, when both the Night Angels and the Wick Patrol Group approached Andreas Schoyen, assistant directorof the Alliance of Guardian Angels Europe, and asked if they could join forces. The Guardian Angels first appeared in London in the 1980's, then seemed to disappear, but Schoyen insists that they never really went away. "We have 5,000-plus members on six continents," he say.

Next year, they celebrate 40 years as an organisation and 30 years in the capital, moving around to wherever they are needed. Having patrolled the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing, they are now concentrating efforts in Lambeth and Wandsworth. Schoyen, 54, who works for a mental health trust, says there are more requests daily from all over the UK, with new chapters in development in Bristol, Swindon, Manchester and parts of Scotland.

Mainly comprising ex-police officers or armed foces, the Angels never disclose their exact numbers for security reasons, but, Schoyen says, "the feeling on the streets is that we are never enough. There are a lot of nervous neighbourhoods. Our aim is to encourage them to become courageous communities."

Among other stories, he mentions a cashpoint outside a pub in Kilburn, northwest London, where customers were routinely robbed as they drew out money. The police were "too busy" to come out, but the presence of the Angels acted as a deterrent.

"We work in a partnership with the police and local authorities as well as local businesses," Schoyen says. Training new Angels takes three months and all recruits undergo police and criminal record checks. Neither he nor any of the volunteer Angels is paid. So why does he do it ?

"We want to act as positive role models to get young people engaged in being part of the solution, rather than the problem," he says.

Two former Metropolitan Police Officers, Tony Nash (commander) and David McKelvey (detective chief inspector) have turned the Angels community spirit into a business model, forming what might be the first private police force since the establishment of the Bow Street Runners. "We spent three months walking around Belgravia, Mayfair and Hampstead, and we didn't see a single policeman on the street," McKelvey, 55, explains. "Yet there was an increase in moped robberies, car crime and house break-ins. People have been bundled to the floor and had their watches stolen. They've had knives held to their throats. Moped robbers are like modern-day cowboys - completely out of control."

McKelvey wanted to bring back the concept of the old fashioned bobby people know by name, My Local Bobby was born. These bobbies are former policemen or ex-military, who know the law, are experienced at risk assessment and have trained in close protection. "The last thing you want is someone who is going to get involved in knifepoint robbery and get attacked himself."

Currently, only four Bobbies are out and about in Belgravia, where the local police station has just closed. "But I have a team of 30 detectives and we have better surveillance capability and equipment than most forces," McKelvey says.

The subscription based service starts at £100 - £200 a month; for this, your local Bobby will patrol about 250 houses, watching out for "undesirables". Additional services include key holding and chaperoning should you feel particularly vulnerable, your Bobby will walk you home. Even Dixon of Dock Green didn't do that.

It's not just about stopping crime," Mckelvey says. "If something does go wrong, you know you're gong to get one of the best detectives in the UK. Between us, we've investigated hundreds of murders and thousands of break-ins. We're not setting out replace the police, we're a complimentary service".

The timing is serendipidous, with Britain's police forces forecast to lose £700m in the next two years, a steadily rising crime rate and 38 of the 73 police stations in the capital earmarked for closure. People want crime prevented, McKelvey says. "If it does happen, they want an officer to come to their homes. Sadly, people no longer feel confident those two things are going to happen."

Superintendent Tania Coulson of the Met Police says: "The Met does not support activities by individuals or groups who target suspected criminals. This type of action could jeopardise or interfere with ongoing investigations. Anyone who has information about a suspect or witnesses a crime should contact police as soon as possible so it can be investigated."

Home Security

"We are seeing an increase of break-ins when people are in their homes", says Roberto Fiorentino, chief executive of Croma Security Solutions, which caters for private properties as well as Ministry of Defence premises. "Most properties have alarms and locks, so the easiest thing is to grab the occupant and force them to hand over valuables." He suggests training household members in what to do in an emergency, as well as installing high-security locks that can be opened with one key for a quick escape.

Following the death of Henry Vincent, who was attempting to burgle a property in southeast London, homeowners are questioning what they can legally do to defend themselves. "Police advice is that you should phone them first, but this is not always possible," says Marie Bourke, senior associate at Russell-Cooke solicitors.

"According to the law, a person can use reasonable force against an intruder in their home, reasonable force is not defined under current legislation.

A homeowner must act honestly and instinctively when confronting an uninvited visitor. They must have the genuine belief that they are in danger and that they must protect themselves."

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 13th April 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

Murders are become harder to solve, the head of Scotland Yard has said as she defended a falling conviction rate.

As the number of murder investigations launched in London so far this year reaches 57, Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said that officers were finding the cases "very challenging" as they increasingly see younger victims targeted in group attacks.

Police officers are often met with a "wall of silence" and struggle to prove to the standard required to charge them who was responsible, the commissioner admitted.

It comes as London's monthly murder rate overtook New York for the first time amid a surge in knife violence.

"The fact is that we have had over 50 people killed in the first few months of this year. A high proportion of those who lost their lives were young people, a high proportion were stabbings and a high proportion involved extreme violence in groups," Ms Dick said.

When asked whether she was concerned that the murder detection rate fell to 72 per cent in London last year from its normal levels of around 90 per cent she said that officers faced a "challenging environment".

"Not only in terms of the volume," she said. "In fact a bigger issue is the complexity. These cases are not a classic whodunnit where somebody is deceased and we have no idea who has done that. More often than not we have a very good idea very early about who was involved in that fight on the street.

"Proving which one of those people did that is hard, proving that when we are met very frequently by a complete wall of silence, where very often nobody wants to tell us anything initially. Proving to standard where CPS will charge is a very big challenge.

"Also, you have got a group on group, that's complex. You have got less cooperation and less intelligence than we would like, that's complex, and very frequently I am sorry to say that the person who has died was armed as well and that leads to claims of self defence. There may not other evidence to suggest what has happened.

"These are hard cases to prove, tragic for the families if we cannot."

She argued that a detection rate above 70pc was still "strong and good and great".

Commander Jim Stokley, head of the Met's Gangs and Organised Crime Command, added that the "age demographic is changing", pointing out: "The victims are getting younger and younger and the suspects are getting younger."

The Commissioner admitted that weapons were "too freely available on the streets of London" and that there was an onus on officers to get "better and better" at monitoring and reacting to events on social media as "the ease of some of their communication and the speed from a slight disagreement into serious crime has increased enormously".

Ms Dick said tackling violent crime was her "highest priority", but she admitted that her homicide detectives were "very stretched" and City of London Police had taken over one the investigation into the death of a man in Hackney.

"If they can help I will be asking for it," she said. "I am not proud."

She said that "of course" she would like more officers, but added that they had prioritised homicide and had moved people into the unit from other parts of the force.

In an effort to crackdown on rising violent crime the Metropolitan Police have also launched a taskforce which has so far been deployed to two problem boroughs, understood to both be in north London.

David Musker, Commander North London, said that in what has been described as "Al Capone"policing the task force will be embedded in communities looking at tactics they can use to arrest those responsible for crime.

"We will use old fashioned policing," he said. "The people that I have recruited in that are street wise borough based cops from local communities."

(Guardian, dated 13th April 2018 author Jamie Grierson)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Metropolitan police commissioner has defended the use of controversial stop-and-search powers after she reported a more than fourfold increase in their use in London over the last year.

Cressida Dick said there had been 106 uses of section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in the year to March 2018, compared with 23 in the same period a year earlier.

Section 60 allows officers to stop and search any person without suspicion within an area designated by a senior police officer if they believe violence has occurred, or is about to occur. For every use of section 60 several people could be searched.

The legislation was criticised by Theresa May in 2014, when she was home secretary, for damaging community relations. Statistics have repeatedly shown stop-and-search powers are disproportionately used against black and minority ethnic people.

Dick said police would use the power sparingly, but rising arrest rates supported its use. Her comments come against a backdrop of more than 50 murders in London so far this year.

"We're absolutely determined that our stop-and-searches will be professional, captured on body-worn video [cameras] by well-trained officers who are using intelligence, and that it is of course lawful to do it," she said.

Leaflets and social media, such as Twitter, are used to advise the public of section 60 authority areas when the power is implemented.

Dick said: "We also make sure local people are aware of what we're doing, particularly when section 60 is in place. We put messages out across the community about what we either fear is about to happen or what has just happened which is putting fear into the community."

Her comments in support of the powers contradict findings in the government's serious violence strategy. Documents detailing the measures, unveiled on Monday to great fanfare amid a rise in knife and gun crime, said changes in the level of stop-and-search use had had a "minimal effect".

"Personally I've looked at a lot of the research over the years and I think that it is conflicting, that's for sure," Dick said. "I don't think anybody has done the definitive piece of work."

She said, however, that officers knew "absolutely" that for certain types of crime in certain areas the tactic was effective. "We scrutinise the levels of stop-and-searches all the time and involve local people in looking at what we're doing, why we're doing it and I can tell you the public are overwhelmingly supportive of it."

The serious violence strategy unveiled by the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said data did not support claims that a reduction in the overall use of stop-and-search was behind an increase in violent crime.

"Research by the College of Policing and the Home Office has also shown that changes in the level of stop and search have only minimal effects - at best - on trends in violent crime, even when measured at the local level," the document read.

(Independent, dated 10th April 2018 author May Bulman)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of children aged 16 and under treated for stab wounds in hospitals has soared more than 60 per cent in the last five years, highlighting a "disturbing" trend towards younger victims, The Independent can reveal.

NHS figures show the number of stab victims in England aged 10 to 16 rose by 63 per cent between 2011-12 and 2016-17 - four times the rate of increase in the population as a whole.

It comes amid a spate of violence in London involving young people, which has seen 10 teenagers killed since the start of the year alone, seven of them with knives.

An analysis of the most recent data available shows 285 youngsters below 17 were treated for "assaults with a sharp object" in 2016-17, compared with 175 in 2012-13.

The biggest increase was among 15-year-olds, with the number of children this age seen by consultants for knife wounds up by 85 per cent since 2012, from 52 to 96.

These figures mark a considerably starker rise than the overall number of stabbings treated in England, which rose by 14 per cent in the same period, from 3,888 to 4,434.

Tom Isaac, a youth worker who supports stabbing victims at a paediatrics unit in south London, said there had been an "obvious and disturbing" fall in the ages of young people being treated for knife wounds.

Oasis Youth, the service he heads at St Thomas' Hospital, has seen a spate of referrals this year, with 2018 set to be the busiest year since it began. Last year, the most commonly referred age group was 15 (26 per cent), followed by children aged just 13 (14 per cent).

Mr Isaac said: "We have sadly always seen a regular amount of young people referred to Oasis Youth Support since we started the service back in 2010. However, the last 12 months we have noticed an obvious and disturbing shift in the average ages.

"Two years ago, those who attended our A&E due to stabbings where usually 17 years old and up; now it starts from 15 year olds."

Ebinehita Iyere, a youth worker in south London, said young people were falling into violence at a younger age in part because they are "getting smarter" due to technology and are able to "absorb negativity more quickly" from violence going on around them.

"A lot of these children live on estates and in communities that are prone to high levels of policing, and the lack of realisation of the impact on everyone around them," she said.

"Some of these kids live in households where their parents, uncles, cousins or siblings have been a victim of perpetrator of violence, and many services have failed to holistically support them. Police didn't help, services didn't help.

"The thing with this is that when they are younger, they don't see it as drastic because they react on impulse. It's a reenactment of what they see everywhere around them, from the games they're playing to the violence on their estates."

Rhammel Afflick, who works in the youth sector, said the figures showed that the increase in violence with injury wasn't just down to improvements in the recording crime, which has often been cited as a reason for increases.

He added: "We've always known that young people are more at risk as they reach secondary school age. Concern has been raised repeatedly since the spikes in 2008 and 2009 about the importance of prevention work starting at an early age because of the rises in young people getting involved at a younger age.

"This should serve as a wake-up call. We can't only be concerned about serious youth violence when it results in death, when we know so many young people are victims of serious attacks from a young age."

The government has faced questions this week over the recent surge in violent crime, which has resulted in more than 50 killings in London since the start of the year.

Six teenagers were stabbed within 90 minutes in the capital last Thursday, with a 13-year-old boy among the victims of four separate knife attacks. The incidents took place as protesters gathered elsewhere in the capital to demand action to prevent young people dying.

Tottenham MP David Lammy said violence in London was the "worst I've ever seen it", and warned there was "absolutely no sign" of an end to the bloodshed following a spate of murders as drugs drive turf wars between gangs.

The Home Office published its £40m serious violence strategy on Monday, which vowed to tackle violent drugs gangs and introduce prevention incentives, among other pledges.

But Amber Rudd came under fire after the strategy neglected to mention cuts of more than 20,000 police officers since 2010.

The home secretary said she had not seen a leaked Home Office document, which threatened to overshadow the launch of her much-hyped strategy by suggesting police cuts had "likely contributed" to rising violence and "encouraged" offenders.

In a speech about violent crime on Monday, Ms Rudd said: "We need to engage with our young people early and to provide the incentives and credible alternatives that will prevent them from being drawn into crime in the first place. This in my view is the best long-term solution."

She announced a new £11m Early Intervention Youth Fund to help communities run early intervention and prevention programmes for young people, saying she wanted local communities to be "front and centre of our response to violent crime".

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 13th April 2018 authors Lizzie Edmonds, Jonathan Prynn and Naomi Ackerman) [Option 1]

Title of core article :

Gold hero Tom's gay rights rallying cry - Diver lashes out at Commonwealth over 37 countries where it's illegal "to be who I am" before London summit.

Tom Daley today made an impassioned appeal for anti-gay laws to be scrapped across the Commonwealth as he won a diving gold medal at the Games.

Harsh Punishments

More than half of the 71 countries in the world whose laws criminalise homosexuality are in the Commonwealth.

Sexual relationships between women are banned in 45 countries worldwide.

Anti-gay laws are in place in 37 of the 53 Commonwealth countries, with punishments ranging from flogging and imprisonment to death.

In eight countries worldwide, anti-gay laws include the death penalty, according to an annual report released last year by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). These include Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Gay people in Bangladesh and Sierra Leone face life imprisonment, and Barbados and Pakistan the same law stands, though it is rarely enforced.

Trinidad and Tobago has a 25 year prison sentence, Malaysia has a penalty of 20 years, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia 14 years, and in Jamaica and St Kitts punishments including up to 10 years jail and hard labour.

The law in Botswanna allows seven years imprisonment for engaging in a gay relationship, whaile courts in Cameroon, Mauritius and Tanzania can impose up to five years, and Ghana it is up to three years.

More than 120 countries have decriminalised homosexuality and more than two dozen recognise same sex marriage.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Argentina all legalised homossexuality in the 19th century, while England and Wales changed the law to allow men aged 21 and over to have sexual relationships in 1967. Scotland followed in 1980 and Northern Ireland in 1982.

(1st May 2018)

(Action Fraud, dated 13th April 2018)

Fraudulent websites alleging to offer cryptocurrency investments are dishonestly using the image of Martin Lewis, the founder and editor for, as an endorsement for their companies.

The adverts using Martin Lewis to promote illicit schemes can be found on social media and other websites. Clicking on the advert takes you to the full article where Martin Lewis image is presented along with fake quotes recommending investments in bitcoin and other digital currencies with the fraudulent "company". Alternatively clicking on the advert will take you to a page where you are required to input your contact details, the suspect company then phones you and encourages you to invest.

Martin Lewis has published a warning to the public saying "I don't do adverts. If you ever see one with my face or name on it, it is without my permission, and usually a scam". The full article can be found here;

Similarly these fraudulent websites are also misusing images and fabricating recommendations from the investors on Dragons Den. These adverts also claim the investors on the panel trade in cryptocurrencies using their services to try and legitimise their company.

What you need to do

- Don't assume it's authentic: Professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts don't indicate that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can exploit the names of well-known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate.

- Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision: A genuine bank or financial organisation won't force you to make a financial transaction on the spot. Always be wary if you're pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true.

- Stay in control: Avoid unsolicited investment offers, especially those over cold calls. If you're thinking about making an investment, get impartial advice from an independent financial adviser - never use an adviser from the company that contacted you, as this may be part of the scam.

- Visit Take Five ( and Cyber Aware ( for more information about how to protect yourself.

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 13th April 2018 author Ben Morgan)

Full article [Option 1]:

Motorists were today warned about thefts in a public car park in the heart of theatreland that has been dubbed the "most unsafe in London".

Father-of-two Sam Callear, 37, today called on operator NCP to boost its security after a "shocking" number of crimes were reported to police at the 330-space Parker Street compound in Covent Garden.

Mr Callear, a project manager, fell victim to thieves when they broke into his VW Tigran and stole a £1,500 laptop as well as cash and other items on January 9. He had used the car park while he took his wife to a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana at the Royal Opera House and returned four hours later to find his front passenger window smashed and his possessions gone.

After feeling let down by NCP he submitted a Freedom of Information request to Scotland Yard and found a total of 92 crimes were recorded at the four-storey underground car park in one year. They included 71 thefts from vehicles, seven cases of criminal damage and a slew of minor incidents.

Mr Callear said: "This must be the most unsafe car park in London… there's more than one vehicle broken into each week. It's staggering."

He said the items stolen from him were all hidden from view inside the car, which had tinted windows. Other drivers have written scathing online warnings about the car park. One said: "Had car broken into on level B. Brick through the window and a guy round the corner on the same level had his car done as well. Local told me it was a nightly occurrence in that car park."

Last year Co-op Insurance published a list of the 10 most dangerous places to park vehicles, with Meridian Street in Stratford topping the list. Parker Mews, near the entrance to the NCP car park in Covent Garden, was seventh on the list. Four out of the 10 crime spots were car parks.

Mr Callear said: "NCP say theirs is a manned car park, that there's staff on site, and CCTV. But NCP are just hiding behind their terms and conditions by saying it's the drivers' responsibility if anything is stolen… with that level of criminality going on, paying £12 an hour is just not good enough."

NCP admitted that the high crime figures were "not news" to the company, but said it did everything it could to ensure security and urged drivers not to leave valuables in their cars.

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 11th April 2018 author Robin De Peyer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Fewer than three per cent of sexual offences reported using a flagship text message service on London's transport network have led to criminal charges, the Evening Standard can reveal.

Just 14 people have been charged as a result of the 505 reports made in the 18 months to January this year through the service.

No suspect was identified in almost half of all cases, while victims decided not to take further action in 127 of the reported incidents, according to British Transport Police.

The Report It To Stop It campaign was launched four years ago by Transport for London, the British Transport Police and the Met to encourage victims of sexual offences to use the BTP's 61016 text message service as a discreet way of reporting a crime.

The figures also showed the Tube lines which had the highest number of sex offences reported using the service.

Police today urged victims to use the service to "build up a profile" of offenders.

The committee's deputy chairwoman, Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry, said the rates of charges brought would increase the more incidents were reported as offenders are likely to have struck before.The figures, requested by City Hall's Police and Crime Committee, found there were 348 reported incidents on London Underground alone, of which 100 were on the Central Line - nearly double that of the next most reported line, the Victoria Line at 55.

"If we get the numbers then we can get the convictions," she said. "People who are sex pests on the Tube are going to be repeat offenders and the idea is to get as much information about them as possible so they can be caught when they eventually make a mistake.

"We've got to get across to people that there is a point in reporting all of this; we have to build up a picture of the scale of the problem."

The figures also revealed that almost twice as many sex offences were reported by text on the Central line as any other Tube route in the time period.

One hundred incidents were recorded on the line between July 2016 and January 2018 via the 61016 service.

The Central line is currently one of only two Underground routes without on-board CCTV. The Bakerloo line, on which 25 reports were made through the service, is the other.

Ms Berry added: "It's certainly worrying that there's two lines which don't have CCTV and there's quite a lot of offences that happened on both."

The figures relate to sex offences reported through the 61016 service on London's whole rail network, including the Tube, Overground, DLR and national rail services.

British Transport Police said the service had "revolutionised" the way victims can report assaults.

Detective inspector Brett Walker added: "We understand victims' concerns that they will not be taken seriously by police and we continue to work hard with our partners, including TfL, to change these perceptions.

"Every report, with as much detail as possible helps to build a picture of the offender and to prevent further offences from occurring."

Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women campaign group, said the service was "important" but warned of a greater scale of offences that went unreported.

"Encouraging women and all victims of this sort of harassment to report it and not to feel like they just have to put up with it is really important. It's progress in itself," she said. "505 in 18 months is probably a massive underestimation of the scale of sexual harassment that's happening in public spaces."

TfL said Central line trains would be equipped with CCTV by 2023, adding that there are already 12,000 CCTV cameras operating on trains and at stations across the Tube network.

Siwan Hayward, TfL's Head of Transport Policing, said: "We know that for too long these crimes have gone unreported, but as a direct result of our Report It to Stop It campaign the number of people reporting these disgusting crimes is increasing.

"Every single report matters and helps build a picture of the offender so they can be caught and brought to justice."

Last week a viral Twitter thread by journalist Harriet Marsden shone a light on how commonplace harassment is on public transport.

She told how passengers looked on as a "drunk" male Tube passenger pestered and insulted a woman on the Circle line before calling her a "f***ing slag" and a "disgusting b****" by a man when she intervened. Her story was echoed by many commentators who had experienced similar behaviour.

A report to TfL's board earlier this year warned that rush hour delays and cancellations on the capital's Tubes and railways could be contributing to "a rise in aggression between passengers" as well as "threatening behaviour".

Crime on the TfL network was found have increased by almost seven per cent year on year, driven by increased reporting of sexual offences on the Tube.

Sexual offences reports on the Tube

The number of reports to police via the 61016 service between July 2016 and January 2018

Central Line : 100
Victoria Line : 55
Northern Line : 46
Jubilee Line : 45
Piccadilly Line : 25
Bakerloo Line : 25
District Line : 22
Hammersmith and City Line : 14
Metropolitan Line : 12
Circle Line : 4

Breakdown by rail grouping of the number of reports to police via the 61016 service between July 2016 and January 2018

London Underground : 348
Mainline train operators : 95
London Overground : 39
Docklands Light Railway : 9
TfL Rail : 7
Network rail : 7

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 11th April 2018 author Kate McCann)

Full article [Option 1]:

Car crime in middle-class neighbourhoods is rising, figures have revealed, as police say drivers should buy steering wheel locks and Faraday bags to block radio signals because new vehicles are easier to steal.

Research by The Telegraph reveals more than three quarters of investigations into car theft in England and Wales are unsolved and it is new high-tech keyless models being targeted, not older vehicles.

Over 78 per cent of car theft cases end with police failing to identify a suspect, amid claims forces are so stretched they don't have time to properly investigate car theft.

In an interview with the Telegraph, the man in charge of crime prevention for the West Midlands force, Mark Silvester, encouraged people to buy steering wheel locks and Faraday bags to keep their key fobs inside to prevent thieves hacking into their vehicles.

Keyless models, which have become increasingly popular with middle-class families, provide criminals with a new way of stealing cars by copying the electronic information and conning the car into thinking the key is present, allowing a thief to drive off.

Vehicles are being stolen from driveways around the country, but research shows wealthier areas just outside the capital and other big cities have been hit hardest.

Mr Silvester also warned owners to be careful when handing their fob over to valet parking services or car washes, as keys can be cloned "in seconds", allowing thieves to take the car at a later date without any external signs of damage.

His force, the West Midlands, has one of the worst car crime rates in the country - a 39 per cent increase in just one year between 2015/16 and 2016/17, according to the ONS.

He told The Telegraph: "We know cars are more difficult to steal by conventional means but from what we've seen on CCTV captured by witnesses and our own research we've got to say it's a known method of stealing a vehicle using electronic compromise.

"This isn't just unique to more expensive brands, we've seen all sorts of cars that have electronic technology on board - we've not just seen that with the prestige brands, a lot more run of the mill, volume car manufacturers are being affected in the same way as the prestige brands now.

"It can happen anywhere not just at home on the drive at night - a lot of this is software based, we do ask people to be aware of the software updates."

He also suggested people buy an inexpensive Faraday bag to keep their key fob in which prevents criminals from cloning it using radio frequencies.

Earlier this month Dave Thompson, the head of the West Midlands force, admitted his team grades calls based on how vulnerable the victim is because officers are too stretched to attend every call.

He told the Financial Times car crime had risen "quite dramatically" and is was affecting mainly middle-class areas.

Office for National Statistics figures analysed by The Telegraph show car theft has risen by 30 per cent in three years and jumped 20 per cent in 2017 alone.

Between March 2014 and March 2017 the number of recorded car thefts rose from 70,053 to 91,361, hitting levels not seen since 2011.

Overall 30 of the 44 forces in England and Wales saw an increase in car theft between 2012/13 and 2016/17 and some of the largest increases were in middle-class areas bordering London.

Hertfordshire and Surrey saw car theft increase by more than 35 per cent in the last four years, while Hampshire saw the largest spike in theft since 2012/13, rising 56 per cent.

Overall the Metropolitan Police had the largest number of offences in 2016/17 at 26,958 - a 25 per cent increase on the year before.

Just 14 forces saw a decline in car theft, with Dorset, Cheshire, South Wales, Lincolnshire and Dyfed-Powys recording the largest falls.


The police forces to have recorded the highest increase of offences in theft or un-authorised taking of a motor vehicle between 2012/13 and 2016/17 (%)

British Transport Police : +113.8%
Hampshire : 56.3%
West Yorkshire : +51.4%
Lancashire : +48.2%
Leicestershire : +44.3%
Greater Manchester : +43.3%
West Midlands : +43.1%
Surrey : + 41.4%
Bedfordshire : +40.2%
Hertfordshire : +36.8%
Kent : +33.5%

(1st May 2018)

(Mirror, dated 8th April 2018 authors Millicent Cooke and Helen Whitehouse)

Full article [Option 1]:

Parents are being urged to check their children's phones in an effort to keep them safe online.

One police force has posted a warning to parents asking them to look out for certain mobile phone apps in a bid to increase their awareness of cyber safety.

The list - titled "10 apps teens are using that parents need to know" - has been shared by Ivybridge and Rural Police on Facebook, reports the Plymouth Herald.

It is accompanied with the caption: "This is a list of some apps that teens may use....sharing for parents to increase awareness of cyber safety."

The force also includes the hashtags #keepthemsafeonline and #keepuptodateonline on the Facebook post.

The list itself was created by an American tech blogger called April Requard - and includes a number of apps that many parents might never have heard of.

Speaking about the list on her blog, Appsolutely April, Requard said: "We have to talk to our kids and teach them how to navigate through this online world.

"I believe strongly in not blocking everything but, in my opinion, there are certain apps that are just off-limits and I will share those with you in this [list]."

1) Omegle

One of the more recognisable names on the list, Omegle is a free online chat room that lets users talk anonymously to complete strangers.

Omegle, which was launched in 2009, randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they can chat to people all around the world.

The site now provides a mobile app that lets users chat with strangers from mobile devices.

2) Yubo (formerly called Yellow)

This app has had quite a lot press in the past for its similarity to adult dating apps - and it's been criticised for letting young users exchange texts and photos with nearby strangers.

Users are also able to "swipe" other users that they are interested in and swap selfies with each other.

Requard explained: "This app is designed to allow teens to flirt with each other in a Tinder-like atmosphere."

The app has been criticised due to concerns that the photo-based dating app could be used to trade naked pictures.

3) Calculator App lock

There's a lot more to this sneaky app than meets the eye - it allows users to hide private photos and videos in plain sight by disguising itself as a humble calculator.

It also allows users to write and store private notes and securely browse the internet with a private browser.

Requard explained: "This app might look like a calculator but it actually functions as a secret photo vault."

Other apps with similar settings include Secret Calculator Vault and Calculator + Photo Lock Vault.

See also :

4) is a social networking site where users create profiles and send each other anonymous questions.

Requard claimed that the app had been "linked to the most severe forms of cyberbullying" as it allows users to send cruel questions and messages completely anonymously.

The site, which was launched in 2010, came under fire following the deaths of two English teenagers who killed themselves after they were bullied on the site.

5) Kik messenger

Kik is a free instant messaging mobile app that allows users to send and receive messages, photos, videos and mobile web pages.

You can also join special groups and video chat using the app.

Requard said: "Kik has in built apps and web content that would be filtered on the home computer."

Kik is known for its features preserving users' anonymity, such as allowing users to register without providing a telephone number.

6) Hot or Not

Hot or Not is a game where you upload your best pictures and get rated by other users in your area.

The app also lets you see how "hot" your friends are and browse through a list of the "hottest" people nearby.

Requard said: "Strangers rate your profile. The goal is to lead to a hook up.

7) Burnbook

Burnbook is an anonymous gossip app that lets users post rumours about people through audio, messages, texts and photos.

Named after the "burn book" in teen movie Mean Girls, users can download the app for free, search for school "communities" within 10 miles, and share text, photo, and audio messages with other community members.

8) Wishbone

Wishbone is a controversial comparison app that allows users to compare whatever they want to.

Requard said she was concerned about it because it "allows users to compare kids against each other and rate them on a scale."

9) Whisper

Requard describes Whisper as an "anonymous app where the creators promote sharing secrets and meeting new people".

The service allows users to post and share private photo and video messages completely anonymously.

The posts, known as "whispers", consist of text superimposed over an image - which can be uploaded or selected from an in-app search engine.

The app was launched in 2012 and now has 250 million monthly users across 187 countries.

10) Instagram

Probably the best-known app on the list, Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service that is owned by Facebook.

Requard's concern is that users can have more than one account. She explained: "Many social media platforms allow for more than one user account.

"Kids will use one profile to interact with their friends and the other one is their "angel" account where they'd only post what they'd want their grandmother to see.

"In Instagram, kids call it a 'finsta' which means 'fake Instagram' account. Kids also like to text using Instagram because messages are deleted once a user deleted once a user leaves a conversation."

She also says that kids are more likely to use this app to message each other, as it is easy to delete private message.

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 7th April 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain's most burgled district is in a leafy corner of Surrey where wealthy residents have been blighted by repeated break-ins.

The postcode of GU3, which includes parts of West Guildford, as well as the military town of Pirbright and villages like Fairlands, overtook Redbridge in east London as the burglary capital, according to

In Fairlands a thriving Neighbourhood Watch scheme has been launched in order to try and tackle the scourge.

A number of residents have even erected CCTV around their homes in the hope of deterring would-be burglars.

Former Surrey Police officer Shelia Willis, who runs the Neighbourhood Watch scheme said: "There was a break-in in Fairlands recently where two burglars smashed in the conservatory door to get in to the house.

"This happened at about 5.35 pm and it seems they may have been monitoring the movement of the family to determine when the property is vacant.

"The police were called. The neighbours were very kind and supportive throughout and it's great to have that community spirit."

One local burglary victim, who did not want to be named, said: "It was a bit ridiculous. We found two footprints in the garden, and they sent some new officers out. They told us it wasn't TV and they couldn't do anything."

The recent spike in burglaries across Britain, including in places like Surrey, has led to surge in the number of communities launching Neighbourhood Watch schemes.

Last month saw more than 900 new areas joining the scheme - up from around 150 in an average month.

Neighbourhood Watch - which was first launched in Cheshire in 1982 - encourages communities to be each other's eyes and ears, particularly in areas that do not have regular police patrols.

Around 8.7 million different schemes have now been registered across the UK.

Most schemes are launched after burglars move into a particular area and a number of homeowners are hit.

The recent surge in new members is in line with the current upturn in burglary offences across the country, which last year topped 410,000 across homes and businesses.

John Hayward-Cripps, the CEO of Neighbourhood Watch said: "We know from speaking with our members who have been victims of burglary what a devastating impact this crime can have on people who are left feeling vulnerable in their own homes where they should feel safe.

"From our experience the impact of burglary extends beyond the immediate victim to their wider community.

"When a burglary occurs it is a main driver for neighbours to come together and start Neighbourhood Watch Schemes and we have seen a significant upturn in the numbers of Neighbourhood Watch schemes being registered on our national database recently - 915 new schemes registered in March 2018 - up from an average of 150 new schemes registered per month over the preceding 6 months.

"Prevention is key to keeping people reassured and feeling safe from crime in their homes and in their neighbourhoods.

"Neighbourhood Watch builds stronger communities where people know and look out for each other, making burglaries more difficult to commit and reducing the number of victims who suffer the appalling effects of these crimes."

Burglary vs Postcode checker

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th April 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

As she prepares to mark one year in the job, Britain's most senior police officer today spoke of her pride in the Met for keeping London going in the "worst possible circumstances".

Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick highlighted the "resilience" of the force and the "amazing individuals" who responded to the four terror attacks in London and the Grenfell blaze which killed 71 people.

She admitted the spate of knife crime made her "angry" - and pledged that tackling violent crime was her priority.

Ms Dick, 57, the first female commissioner in the Met's 189-year history, said: "We have done a very good job. We have been very resilient. The city has been able to carry on going about its business because of good policing after each of those terrible events.

"I think we have been able to provide a good service in the worst possible circumstances to the people affected by the attacks."

She said her darkest hours were attending the funeral of PC Keith Palmer - the officer killed in the Westminster terror atrocity - and the scene at the Finsbury Park attack.

"That was so hard on the heels of the Westminster Bridge and the London Bridge attacks and people were really wondering, 'What is going to come next? Are our communities beginning to fight with each other in a way that is just the exact opposite of what London is all about?' In fact it did not prove to be thus at all - but it was a tense time and really sad time."

Ms Dick recently visited Glasgow where police have halved knife crime in a decade using a public health approach. She believes a similar strategy can work in London, though the capital is more complex.

"I would be naive to think we can reduce violent crime to zero but I definitely think we can reverse some of these trends," she said.

The Met chief agrees with Labour MP David Lammy that drugs are fuelling some of the street violence.

"We still have a high demand for drugs from people with heavy habits and recreational users, many of whom do not stop and think about the kind of horror and misery that lies behind the trade."

Speaking just days short of her first year in office, she praised a scheme in Brixton which has helped divert youngsters away from crime.

New statistics show that offences involving knife crime with injury rose in the last 12 months by six per cent. "I am not happy about that, it is too much, but it is not this enormous epidemic that people are talking about," she said. "There are plenty of us who can go about our business pretty certain that we are not going to be affected by this knife crime.

"These homicides are predominantly, tragically, affecting young people from certain areas of London and certain communities and that makes me angry and motivated to do something about it. But London remains a very safe city."

Ms Dick praised the force's counter-terrorist teams for thwarting "plot after plot" last year. The Met chief is also dealing with the nerve agent attack in Salisbury and her officers are reviewing 14 other deaths which some allege were Russian-sponsored assassinations.

However, she said she was not willing to waste resources on cases that had already been thoroughly investigated, adding: "We need people to come forward with evidence. Conspiracy theories are not particularly helpful."

On the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann in 2007, she said the extra cash granted to the Met to continue the inquiry was worth it. "There is a serious line of inquiry," she declared but wouldn't be drawn further.

Ms Dick said the Met was "wrestling with demands going up in some areas" notably sex offences and trafficking. She welcomed an extra £112 million from Mayor Sadiq Khan which will help keep officer numbers above 30,000 "for the next two or three years".

uaware comment

As of the 17th April 2018, according to Sky News, there has been one knife murder every other day so far this year. When does the term epidemic become definitive in the eyes of politicians and the London Police Commissioner ?

(1st May 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 4th April 2018 author Nicholas Cecil)

Full article [Option 1]:

A row erupted today as Boris Johnson's former police deputy claimed officers had been withdrawn from parts of London where killings have spiralled.

Stephen Greenhalgh claimed that the Met could learn from New York by pouring more officers into neighbourhoods where gun and knife crimes are expected to be committed.

"The reality is that we have seen the police withdraw," said Mr Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing between 2012 and 2016.

"We need to get police officers into these neighbourhoods blighted by violence otherwise they will fall in on themselves. We also need the Mayor and all senior politicians to give political cover to police officers to use intelligence-led, targeted stop-and-search to take knives and guns off the streets."

Government minister Kit Malthouse, who was also a deputy mayor for policing when Mr Johnson ran City Hall, criticised Mayor Sadiq Khan over the spate of shootings and knifings. He retweeted another former top aide of Mr Johnson, Daniel Moylan, who messaged: "Tragic events in London in recent days show that @SadiqKhan can only get so far by self-publicity and blaming the Government."

However, Sophie Linden, Mr Khan's deputy mayor for policing, argued that funding cuts were leading to the "glue of society" becoming unstuck. She stressed that £110 million allocated from City Hall would ensure 1,000 more officers on the streets to respond to the rise in stabbings and shootings.

"But the police can't do it alone," she added. "It's about communities and families working together, with schools, with mental health services."

uaware comment

I wonder where the £110 million has come from ? Why are they only spending it now ?
Where are a 1000 more police officers coming from, you can's just take a person off of the streets. It takes at least a year before they can be classed as probationary. Or, are they going to make existing police officers work extra hours, that will help their stress levels.

Update (6th April 2018) : It appears there are not going to be 1000 extra officers. They are just not going to sack a 1000 officers for now !

(1st May 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 3rd April 2018 author Christian Gysin)

Full article [Option 1]:

A Home Office official was at the centre of a £6million conspiracy which allowed hundreds of illegal immigrants into the country.

Shamsu Iqbal, 61, was the lynchpin of a gang which exploited his 'trusted' position to falsify records for at least 437 people.

Yesterday all four men involved in the scam were found guilty following a trial and will now be sentenced at a hearing next week.

They face a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

The potential loss to the taxpayer was assessed by Home Office statisticians as £56million, based on the amount the 437 illegal immigrants could have falsely claimed in benefits over the six years of the fraud.

However, exactly how many immigrants were given 'ghost' identities may never be known.

The conspiracy netted the gang themselves more than £6.18million, with much of the money spirited back to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Dubai, where the criminals have strong links.

When ringleader Iqbal was arrested investigators found bank accounts containing more than £1million in cash.

His job at the Home Office would have earned him around £23,000 a year.

Iqbal and his three co-conspirators would split the £14,000 fee they charged to the illegal immigrants they helped.

Prosecutors explained how Iqbal would access Home Office records of migrants who had been granted the right to stay in Britain and swap them for details of imposters.

Investigators with the Home Office's Anti-Corruption Unit spent three years identifying at least 437 cases of documents being faked.

The 'ghost' imposter would get a new identity of a real migrant who had been given either 'leave to remain' or 'no time limit' status to stay in Britain.

A senior Home Office source told the Mail: 'The bottom line is that we may never know the true number of people this gang helped stay in the country.

'There could be literally hundreds more on their books that we simply haven't found.

'The deception that has been allowed to go on for years is highly embarrassing to the Home Office.

'Some of those given new identities could even be potential terrorists. Many of them have simply melted away meaning we will never trace them.'

Iqbal's co-accused were Sheikh Muhammad Usman, 45, legal case worker Mohammad Khawar Aftab Hussain, 49, and worker Mohammad Ibrahim Ali, 48.

Usman is a qualified lawyer of Pakistani origin who worked at a number of firms in London. British citizen Hussain, who was born in Pakistan, and Ali, who came to Britain from Bangladesh aged 12, both worked at solicitors' practices in London.

This enabled them to 'engage in the criminality' as they would facilitate correspondence with the Home Office on behalf of the 'impostors' to help 'straighten out' their immigration status, the trial heard.

Iqbal had his own secure log-on to a Home Office system which records details of individual cases and applications to remain in the country.

Croydon Crown Court heard the gang were caught out when they tried to alter the details of a legal migrant from Ghana who had been jailed for robbery and was liable for deportation.

Iqbal, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, Usman, from Wandsworth, South London, Hussain from Colliers Wood, South London, and Ali, from Ilford, Essex, all denied 13 charges of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration spanning from January 2010 to April 2016.

(Daily Mail, dated 14th January 2018 authors Christian Gysin and David Churchill)

Full article [Option 1]:

A gang including a Home Office worker masterminded a conspiracy to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country, a court has heard.

Shamsu Iqbal was allegedly the lynchpin of the group that used his 'trusted' Home Office position to falsify documents - with investigators identifying 437 potential cases over five years.

The 61-year-old changed the records of migrants who had permission to stay in the UK, giving their identities to people who were in Britain illegally, jurors heard.

Iqbal's co-accused - lawyers Sheikh Muhammad Usman, 45, Mohammad Khawar Aftab Hussain, 49, and Mohammad Ibrahim Ali, 47 - would then allegedly contact the Home Office to 'straighten out' the status of 'impostors' who had taken on another identity.

Alexandra Felix, prosecuting, told Croydon Crown Court: 'The result would be the impostor would end up with documents in their own names which enable them to be in the UK should they ever be challenged when they were not properly entitled to be here.

'This case is about these defendants engaging in conduct as part of an agreement which enables people who are not entitled to be in the UK to stay in the UK. Mr Iqbal is the lynchpin. It is his ability to access Home Office records that really enabled it.'

The court heard Iqbal had a secure log-on to a Home Office system known as the Case Information Database, which holds details of applications to remain in the UK.

Investigators found he had been 'looking at data he should not have been looking at' while allegedly changing details and issuing documents that could allow people in Britain illegally to remain.

Jurors were told one man, Azad Passa, came to Britain as a child in 1989 before being granted citizenship in 2005. It is alleged his Home Office record was manipulated to submit a fake request for a Biometric Residence Permit identity card - so that it could then be issued to another man, Gufranur Rahaman, who was in the UK on a time-limited student visa.

The court was told that, in the fake application, the address given to the Home Office for Mr Passa was linked to Usman, who represented Mr Rahaman.

Miss Felix said: 'Mr Usman was acting for and assisting in facilitating Mr Rahaman remaining in the UK, disguising himself as Mr Passa. This was not coincidence or a mistake. These were deliberate acts.

'Iqbal and Usman, clearly by their actions, were engaged with Rahaman to pass him off as Mr Passa. They wanted to legitimise and regularise him to enable him to stay in the UK when he was not entitled to do so.'

The court was also told of Ghanaian national Kofi Norman, who had entered the UK in 1996 and was granted indefinite leave to remain. It is claimed that, in March 2014, Iqbal logged that Mr Norman had called the Home Office to request a Biometric Residence Permit.

However, Mr Norman had been jailed for five years for robbery in 2000 and was liable for deportation. Miss Felix told the court the plot, also allegedly involving Hussain, was to allow another man, Nurul Islam, to remain in the country when he was not entitled to do so.

She told the court: 'The Crown says that what we have here demonstrates that Iqbal, Hussain and the impostor were heavily involved in claiming the identity of Kofi Norman.'

The court heard that by February 2016, Home Office investigators had identified 437 potential cases, but these were narrowed down to more than 20 for the ten-week trial, which opened on Thursday, because there was not time to investigate them all.

Iqbal, an administrator working for the asylum workload and administration team, was suspended in May 2015 and sacked in October. Iqbal, Usman, Hussain and Ali had each other's numbers saved on their mobile phones and data shows they corresponded with one another.

Miss Felix said money went in and out of an account of a south London restaurant in which Iqbal had a business interest, even though the restaurant was shut at the time.

Iqbal, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, Usman, from Wandsworth, south London, Hussain from Colliers Wood, south-west London, and Ali, from Ilford, Essex, all deny charges of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Ali also faces a count of unlawful possession of two British and 11 Bangladeshi passports relating to someone else, which he also denies. The trial continues.

(Telegraph, dated 26th September 2009)

Full article [Option 1]:

Aliya Ali, a senior member of staff in the Croydon office, was even promoted during the period in which she was allowing the illegal immigrants into the country.

Only a handful of the immigrants have been captured by the authorities and it is unlikely the rest will be found, the court heard.

At Croydon Crown Court on Friday, mother-of-two Ali, of Merton, south London, was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to 12 charges of misconduct as a public officer, and asking for 37 offences to be taken into consideration.

Ali claimed she did it to help Asian families settle in and earn a living but Judge Ruth Downing said: "They could have been criminals or terrorists."

Shahnaz Ahmed, prosecuting, said Ali, whose children go to a private school, worked as an executive officer at the immigration unit in Croydon, Surrey, and was elevated to higher executive.

"She was able to grant leave to stay by falsifying records, using random computer numbers and manipulating false applications from asylum seekers."

Those she helped were mainly Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans and Afghans. Suspicious investigators, who spent two months full-time on their searches, have only been able to trace five of them.

When interviewed in July last year, Pakistan-born Ali, wife of an £80,000-a-year finance director, said:" I just wanted them to earn some money."

Joan Mitchell, defending, said:"She is highly regarded in the community, and always ready to help others. They were people who had families and wanted to earn money. Being an intelligent woman, she would have realised the risks she was running.

"She is utterly ashamed. Her family has been torn apart and her husband may have to give up his job because of the children."

Judge Downing told Ali: "I am genuinely shocked. This is a most serious offence. You, single-handedly decided on a course of action that enabled people to break the rules. Many speak of your high standing in the community and you should reflect on the disservice you have done to your community.

"It was a breach of trust in a senior position and you were promoted in the course of criminal activity.

"You say you only did it to assist because they wanted an honest life in this country but you had no idea whether they fitted into that category and whether, hidden among them, there were criminals, terrorists or the like. I accept you didn't do it for financial gain."

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 1st April 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police should stop using a lack of resources as an excuse for failing to attend "low level crimes", the Victims' Commissioner has said.

An increasing number of offences are now dealt with by email or telephone and last year the Metropolitan Police announced a new policy meaning thousands of relatively minor crimes are only investigated if a suspect has been identified.

The shift in policy has been blamed on cuts in police budgets, with chief officers arguing they need to concentrate dwindling resources in order to tackle terrorism, cyber-crime and historic child sex offences.

But Baroness Newlove, who was appointed by the government to speak up for the victims of crime, said people whose homes had been vandalised or burgled were just as deserving of attention as those reporting more serious offences.

While she acknowledged there would always be priorities in policing, she said the shift towards dealing with crimes on the phone or via email, was damaging confidence in the service.

The Conservative peer - whose husband Garry was kicked to death by a group of youths outside their Warrington home in 2007 - told the Daily Telegraph: "It is not always about money and constantly talking about the lack resources is the wrong sort of rhetoric for the victims of crime to be hearing from the police.

"Victims want to feel supported, especially by those who are there to protect them. Getting an email or a phone call is not the same as a face to face response. It is not just about getting a crime number."

She said crime victims were often so sympathetic to the police over the financial pressures they faced, that they were reluctant to report minor offences for fear of adding to their burden.

"I do not look at the crime, I look at the victim and what I hear from many people whose homes have been broken into, or whose lives are being blighted by anti-social behaviour, is 'oh the police don't have the resources to deal with this kind of thing'.

"If you have a burglary victim then they have a huge amount to deal with from tidying up the mess and dealing with insurance as well as having to cope with the trauma and the fear. They should not have to deal with the police via email or telephone.

"It is as if they are making the excuses for the police, but it isn't all about money. There was money available years ago but they still didn't come. Garry's case started off with criminal damage and he ended up losing his life."

She added: "What message does it send when they are constantly told that the police won't come out to cases of vandalism and criminal damage?"

Baroness Newlove warned that ignoring so called "low level" crimes was allowing anti-social behaviour to "fester" in communities and this was inevitably resulting in more serious offending.

The mother of three said anti-social behaviour had not gone away over the last decade and still needed the police's focus.

She said: "I get very frustrated when I hear anti-social behaviour described as low level. It is not low level, it is impactive, both mentally and physically. You have people who are terrified in their own homes and neighbourhoods and that is not acceptable.

"It doesn't go away because you put up some CCTV. I am passionate about neighbourhood policing. Having that one to one contact is so important."

(1st May 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 1st April 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

London's monthly murder rate has overtaken that of New York Cityfor the first time, after the worrying surge of stabbings continued across the capital.

The death of a 20-year-old man in Wandsworth yesterday (Sun) took to 30, the number of people stabbed to death in the London since the start of 2018.

Soaring levels of knife crime has helped the UK capital outstrip New York in terms of murders for the last two months running.

In February, London recorded 15 homicides compared to New York's 14, while in March there were 22, as opposed to 21 in the US city.

Eight Londoners, most of them under 30, were murdered in the six days between March 14 and March 20.

The latest victim was stabbed to death after leaving a bar in the Earlsfield area of south West London in the early hours of yesterday morning, getting April off to a bloody start.

Police were called at around 1.10am following reports that a man had been found injured in Ellerton Road.

When officers and paramedics arrived at the scene they discovered a 20-year-old man suffering from a stab wound.

Despite their efforts they were unable to save his life and he was declared dead at the scene shortly before 2am.

It is believed the victim had been drinking in nearby bar and was attacked after leaving.

Scotland Yard said the victim's family had been informed, but he is yet to be formally identified.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody at a west London police station.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell said: "Sadly, another family has been left devastated with the tragic death of a young man from an act of violence. We are appealing to anyone who was in the area to come forward."

While the populations of London and New York are similar with around 8 million people living in each, the number of murders in the US city it still around twice that here.

But the gap has been narrowing in recent years with the experts crediting the NYPD's zero- tolerance neighbourhood policing model with driving down the homicide rate from a high of around 2,000 in 1990 to some 230 last year.

Crime statistics also suggest you are almost six times more likely to be burgled in the British capital than in the US city, and one and a half times more likely to fall victim to a robbery.

London also has almost three times the number of reported rapes, although differences in the way the figures are recorded is thought to impact on the overall statistics.

The Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, has vowed to tackle the epidemic of knife crime across the capital and has suggested that social media could be responsible for street violence.

She has announced a new task force of about 100 officers to help tackle violent crime in London.

(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd April 2018 author Eleanor Rose)

Full article [Option 1]:

A police gangs unit in Islington is behind an innovative scheme that has helped to secure a dramatic drop in youth knife violence as rates soared elsewhere in the capital.

Detective Inspector Will Lexton-Jones of the Met's Integrated Gangs Team put the reduction down to the unit's work to reach potential offenders earlier "when the seeds are being sown".

Islington saw the dramatic drop in youth stabbings after the team was launched two years ago with not a single under-25 person killed by a knife since then.

In the past 12 months there have been 72 stabbings of under-25s, said DI Lexton-Jones, down 13 per cent on the previous year, while the figure rose by 15 per cent elsewhere across the capital.

13 Londoners were killed in two weeks this month and fatal stabbings in England and Wales rose to their highest levels since 2011.

Neighbouring Camden which is now policed by a joint team of officers since a merger last year saw an increase to 99 incidents in 12 months.

Camden was also the scene last month of the tragic stabbing deaths of Abdikarim Hassan, 17, and Sadiq Aadam Mohamed, 20, knifed within hours of each other on February 20.

DI Lexton-Jones said of the comparison: "It isn't a matter of good and bad practice. But it is a borough where you might expect relatively similar crime figures, yet knife crime is an area where Camden is simply far higher.

"There are a lot of reasons behind knife crime in Camden. But it's also true that they don't have as developed an integrated approach."

Islington's £500,000-a-year highly integrated scheme was launched in mid-2016 after a spate of knife deaths the previous year, including the brutal killing of 18-year-old Stefan Appleton who was stabbed through the heart in a local park.

Forty staff from police and young offenders support officers to probation services, the NHS and the Job Centre, work together from the same office with a group of up to 70 people aged 10 to 24 deemed at risk of offending.

It can be challenging because agencies approach the issue from different "philosophies", said DI Lexton-Jones, but being on the same site helps, and: "Our shared vision in this partnership is to stop the kids hurting each other."

The team's welfare-oriented approach echoes that of Glasgow's Violence Reduction Unit, which hit headlines after its mission to treat knife crime as a public health problem halved the city's murder rate over ten years.

DI Lexton-Jones said: "The VRU is going into families far earlier in the timeline, asking who is going to be a murderer in 15 years' time and working to understand the evolution of violence from birth.

"We are also trying to understand who could become entrenched in violence, although the difference is we are working with people from 10 to 24, so we are further along that timeline.

"But we are taking an approach where we are not simply trying to arrest our way out of it," he said, adding that law enforcement is not "mutually exclusive" with giving young people support.

Islington, where a third of people are thought to be living in poverty, is a hard place to grow up for some, and disenfranchisement feeds into youth offending.

"Some young people lead difficult lives. They live in rough estates, maybe near where gangs are operating. It can be quite a concerning walk to school," said DI Lexton-Jones.

Teens sometimes turn to knives in a bid to make themselves feel safer - not realising they are statistically more likely to become a victim of crime if they are carrying a blade.

And those from tougher backgrounds being supported by the state find much of that help falls away when they turn 18, yet their problems have not disappeared.

With the IGT, they can meet once or twice a week with a case worker who supports them as they seek education, training or employment.

There is still much work to be done, he said, but: "It does appear to have worked in this challenging environment, and it is certainly something worth looking at in other parts of London."

The scheme is funded until 2020.


(1st May 2018)

MARCH 2018

(The Times, dated 31st March 2018 author Mark Bridge)

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MPs are widening the scope of their fake news inquiry to investigate data brokers after claims that companies may have obtained personal details from Facebook without users' consent.

Damian Collins, chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said that there was "a lack of scrutiny on who's holding our data and where it ends up".

He said: "It's part of the question of whether data gathered for commercial or research purposes has been used to spread hyper-partisan messages in political campaigns."

This month Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook executive, told the committee he feared that data from the social network had been sold to brokers. He said he suspected that companies were exploiting the same lack of checks that enabled a researcher to collect data on 50 million users and sell it to Cambridge Analytica, a British firm accused of electoral meddling.

Facebook closed this loophole in 2015 but Mr Parakilas believes it is likely that others exploited it to gather datasets of hundreds of millions of users to sell to third parties.

Facebook announced this week that it would end partnerships with data brokers that enabled advertisers to use the information to target consumers.

The company is trying to regain users trust after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the leak of a 2016 internal memo from Andrew Bosworth, an executive. He said: "maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack co-ordinated on our tools." Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chairman, said that the disagreed with the memo.

Mr Collions said that there was a lack of transparency in the data industry. He claimed that the Information Commissioner should be able to search data companies and seize their files without a court warrant. The committee has not said which companies it may look at.

The data companies in Britain include Oracle, which claims to access "over 700 million social messages daily via feeds from more than 40 million" sites. The company declined to say how it obtained this data.

MicroStrategy previously claimed to have data from 17.5 million Facebook users who "opted in". The company says it has not used social data since 2014. The companies say they comply with all applicable laws. Cambridge Analytica denies any wrongdoing.

(The Times, dated 31st March 2018 author Mark Bridge)

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Anger at Facebook's failure to protect millions of users whose data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica has prompted many people to check for the first time what information tech companies hold on them.

Many users have been surprised at the sheer volume of information retained. A series of posts on Twitter by Dylan Curran, a consultant, highlighted this week the "preposterous" scale of surveillance after he found that Google and Facebook stored 6.1GB of data - equivalent to more than 300,000 Word documents - tracking his daily life.

The Times asked two regular users of Google and Facebook to download their own data to see what the companies stored on them.


Searches and Voice Commands

Mat Taylor, this newspaper's digital development editor, found that his Google "takeout" archive totalled almost a terrabyte (the equivalent of 1,024GB, or tens of millions of Word files). He said:" It includesvery video I've watched on YouTube, audio recordings of every voice command I've made to my Google Home smart speakersor my phoes and every search I've made going back to 2010."

A map of all your movements

Google tracks your location when you log into Google products or have location history enabled on your phone. The company's terms state : "We use various technologies to determine location, including IP address, GPS and other sensors." In other words, Google can map Matt's precise
movement on a given day.

All your photos

Google Photos is the default photo app on many Android phones. Google keeps users' photos along with "metadata" specifying where and the photo was taken. Matt's file contains 110,110 photographs.

All your emails and chats

Google stores all emails sent vis its Gmail service, as well as Google Hangout chats. It Matt's case, the company holds 181,822 emails.

Every website you've visited

Google's Chrome overtook Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the most widely used web browser four years ago. This shows users actions even when they're not using Google search or Gmail. Matt's Chrome file contains a browsing history of 9,668 websites, 222 bookmarks and 66 passwords, with details of ads seen.

Documents you've deleted

Some people who have downloaded their Google takeout have expressed surprise that documents they deleted years ago appeared in their files. Google says these files were stored only where they were not "cleared from trash" or where people work collaboratively in Google Drive and destroying a file could inconvenience their colleagues.


Your friends, your ex-friends, the people you've rejected

Laura Greatrex, a third year student in English at Newcastle University, has been on Facebook for eight years. Her download was 1.46Gb, more than a million Word documents. The file includes a list of 575 friends, 329 friends whom she deleted and 125 declined requests, with the dates. She said: It's worrying that informtion I've deleted still appears."

Friends Addresses

If you use Facebook's "events" feature, the company probably holds your postal address and the addresses of your contacts.Ms Greatrex said: " This means they have a record of my address and my friend's addresses."

Your contacts and call data

Facebook doesn't only know your friends but your other contacts and their mobile numbers. In the case of Android phone owners, Facebook holds a complete log of calls and text messages. People have expressed shock that Facebook would collect details of calls and texts that weren't made on the company's apps.

Your Documents

Facebook keeps copies of any documents and photos you send on Facebook Messenger app. Ms Greatrex's file contained 360 messenger conversations and 187 documents relating to university.

A record of every login

Facebook stores a record of every time you log in to your account, noting IP address, time and device. It also keeps track of your whereabouts and records everytime you "check-in" in a specific place. It keeps records of all your posts, messages, "likes" and ads viewed.


Google and facebook both say they only store data that users give them permission to store, the data is available for people to see and they offer privacy settings.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 31st March 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

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Police forces across country have been quietly rolling out technology which allows them to download the entire contents of victim's phone without a warrant.

At least 26 forces now use technology which allows them to to extract location data, conversations on encrypted apps, call logs, emails, text messages, photographs, passwords and internet searches among other information.

The searches can be done instantly at a local police station and are used by many forces for low level crime - regardless of whether or not someone is charged - and can be used on victims and witnesses as well as suspects.

The Metropolitan Police, which was the first force to introduce the extraction devices during the London 2012 Olympics, has admitted that when a single photograph is required from a victim's phone every one is downloaded.

The revelations have led to concern that it could prevent victims coming forward, particularly in domestic abuse or rape cases.

Naz Shah MP, who sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "We have a situation where people who do not even know their data has been downloaded.

"If police want to search someones house then they have to get an arrest warrant , but there is less information in a house than on the phone, which contains crucial information about conversations."

She has called on the Government to investigate the use as a matter of urgency, adding: "We currently have no legal framework or scrutiny, which leaves people open to abuse".

Privacy campaigners are calling for a change in the law to force the police to obtain a warrant before they using extraction technology.

There are no clear rules on how long the data can be held, but a procurement document from the Met from 2015 says that it could require "maintenance for an indefinite period extending for many years".

Some forces, each of which provide different guidance, have even equipped officers with portable mobile phone extraction kits which can be used on the go.

The technology has been rolled out despite concerns raised by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, who found in a review that in half of cases officers had not received authorisation to download data and potentially sensitive data was lost.

The Metropolitan Police in their instructions for using the devices admit that the kiosk will "obtain all data of a particular type, rather than just the individual data that is relevant to a particular investigation."

Continuing: "For example, if a photograph on a 'witness' mobile phone is relevant, because it shows an offence being committed, then the kiosk will acquire all photographs on that phone, rather than just the photographs of the offence. If text messages to a victim of harassment are required to investigate the harassment allegations, then the kiosk will acquire all text messages on that phone."

Wiltshire Police's guidelines, which are currently under review, note that "collateral intrusion" is "unavoidable".

Unlike a search of a home in which an inventory of confiscated possessions is provided, police are not required to inform people what data has been extracted.

Though guidelines say consent should be obtained from a witness before their phone is accessed, it is possible for this need to be overridden.

A series of Freedom of Information requests by Privacy International revealed that 26 police forces are now using the technology and a further three are about to begin trials.

Their report concludes: "Traditional search practices, where no warrant is required, are wholly inappropriate for such a deeply intrusive search.

"Searching a mobile phone is not like searching a home or even a physical body search. A phone search is far more exhaustive, because of the vast amount of personal data that we now store on our devices."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The Government is committed to ensuring that police officers have the appropriate powers to tackle crime. As part of this it is important that they can, in limited circumstances, access data that may be vital to their investigations.

"Current legislation allows data to be accessed when there are reasonable grounds to believe it contains evidence in relation to an offence and only then in adherence with data protection and human rights obligations.

"The Government is clear that the use of all police powers must be necessary, proportionate and lawful."

The National Police Chiefs Council say that the decision to use the technology is made in a case-by-case basis and "defined by the investigative requirements of the case".

Senior officers say it is not practical to obtain a warrant in each case and information is often needed quickly to prevent crime.

(1st April 2018)

(The Times, dated 31st March 2018 author Graeme Paton)

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A serious air rage incident is logged on at least one British flight every day, the latest figures show.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that 417 flights were endangered by abusive and violent travellers last year, much the same total as in 2016 but more than double the number five years earlier.

One passenger tried to open an aircraft door during a flight, another threw coffee over one of the cabin crew when his debit card was rejected. The CAA has begun a social media campaign to warn of the consequences of misbehaving. It reminds passengers that drunkenness on an aircraft can result in a fine of up to £5,000 and two years in jail. Passengers may also have to reimburse the airline
for diverting a flight, which can cost up to £80,000.

The number of air rage incidents has failed to drop over the past three years, running at between 422 and 417, despite the introduction of a code of practice in 2016 to cut drunkenness. This includes reporting yobbish behaviour to the police and preventing drunk passengers from boarding planes.

Man airlines say that tougher action is needed at airports. Figures from airlines UK, which represents British carriers, show that lower-level drunken incidents on flights rose by 12 per cent last year compared with 2016.

The Home Office is preparing a call for evidence on plans to extend the Licensing Act 2003 to "airside" bars, restaurants and shops located beyond the passport and security checks. Local authorities could then restrict the hours of sales or shut down problem bars. Richard Stephenson, a CAA director, said: " The very small number of passengers who behave in a disruptive manner (must) understand that this is unacceptable."

The CAA figures show that 162 serious incidents were logged in 2013. It increased to 209 in 2014 and 422 in 2015 before levelling out at 418 in 2016 and 417 last year. Almost three quarters of the incidents involve alcohol.

Airlines UK said: " There is no reason why outlets selling alcohol airside are treated any differently to those.....on the high street.

Karen Dee, of the Airport Operators Association, said the levelling off of incidents over three years showed that its code of practice was working, particularly as passenger numbers had risen.

###Worst Offenders

- A man travelling with three young children tried to buy food but had his card declined. He three coffee over a cabin crew member, causing burns to the arm. The passenger was removed by police on landing.

- A drunk passenger on a flight to Budapest was refused more alcohol. He attempted to force open a door and had to be restrained by other passengers. He was escorted from the flight by Hungarian police.

- A man drank a litre of vodka and attempted to smoke in the lavatory. A friend attempted to restrain him, leading to a violent altercation. Cabin crew pleaded with the captain to divert to another airport, where the passenger was arrested.

(1st April 2018)

(BBC News, dated 30th March 2018 author Danny Shaw)

Full article :

Thousands of suspects under investigation for violent and sexual offences have been released without condition since a 28-day limit on police bail was introduced a year ago.

In one three-month period, 12 forces released more than 3,000 violent crime, murder, rape and sexual offences suspects, figures seen by the BBC show.

A police watchdog previously warned this could endanger vulnerable victims.

The Home Office said it had asked forces to review their use of bail.

Under the new measures, which were introduced in England and Wales last April, bail should only be used when deemed "necessary and proportionate" and must be limited to 28 days.

Extensions of up to three months must be authorised by a senior police officer, and longer periods only granted by a court in exceptional circumstances.

The changes were brought in to stop police bailing suspects for extended periods of time without resolution, following a series of high-profile cases.

The figures for April to June 2017, disclosed to the BBC under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, reveal the number of suspects bailed has fallen by two-thirds since the restrictions came into force.

Among the suspects released were 1,692 people arrested for violent crimes, 768 rape suspects and 31 questioned on suspicion of murder.

'Alarming' findings

Pre-charge bail is when police release an arrested suspect but continue their investigation before deciding whether to charge them.

Suspects who are still subject to police inquiries but spared bail conditions are released "under investigation" - without a date to report back to authorities.

The BBC contacted the 43 forces in England and Wales to find out how many people suspected of violent and sexual offences had been released in this way.

The 12 constabularies who provided data were Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall, Kent, Leicestershire, Merseyside, Northamptonshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Yorkshire.

Last week, England and Wales' policing watchdog HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICFRS) said vulnerable victims could be put at risk by suspects who were released without bail conditions.

The BBC findings reinforced HMICFRS research that found the use of bail had fallen by 65% and in suspected domestic abuse cases by 75%.

Zoe Billingham, inspector of constabulary, said a "blanket" ban on bail use had emerged, potentially putting vulnerable people, like domestic violence victims, at risk.

"Bail is a demonstration that someone is looking out for them," she told the BBC.

"The pendulum has swung too far in one direction, we suspect," she said, adding there had been "a lack of direction" about the new arrangements.

The charity Women's Aid described the figures as "shocking" and "alarming", saying it had warned the Home Office the reforms could have a "negative impact" on the protection and safety of domestic abuse survivors.

A spokeswoman said: "We need certainty that the police are applying bail conditions in domestic abuse cases.

"There needs to be clear understanding of the risk and threat of harm to domestic abuse victims."

Implementation 'under review'

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) recognised that concerns "have been raised" about the bail reforms and welcomed the HMICFRS' recommendations.

NPCC lead for bail management, Assistant Chief Constable Darren Martland, added that the implementation of the changes were under "constant review."

Prior to their implementation, the College of Policing branded the reform plans "dangerous".

The Home Office said a large drop in the use of bail was expected but should not affect the police response to incidents of domestic abuse.

It said conditional pre-charge bail "continues to be available where it is necessary and proportionate, such as to protect victims and witnesses".

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 29th March 2018 author Kieren McCarthy)

Full article [Option 1]:

Brexit has hit the internet, and not in a good way.

In an official statement Thursday, the European Commission announced it will cancel all 300,000 domains under the .eu top-level domain that have a UK registrant, following Britain's eventual departure from the European Union.

"As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organizations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names," the document states, adding, "or if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date."

Going even further, the EC suggested that existing .eu domains might be cancelled the moment Brexit happens - expected to be 366 days from now - with no right of appeal.

"As a result of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, a holder of a domain name does no longer fulfil the general eligibility criteria... the Registry for .eu will be entitled to revoke such domain name on its own initiative and without submitting the dispute to any extrajudicial settlement of conflicts."

According to the most recent statistics available, there are just over 317,000 .eu domains registered in the UK - roughly a tenth of the registry's total. Cancelling them would have a huge impact on the company that runs .eu, EURid, and on the EU itself which receives millions of euros annually in surplus funds.

Even more remarkably, EURid made it plain that it was not consulted over the plans or even informed what they were before the news was made public. A statement on the registry's site begins: "Yesterday afternoon, EURid, the registry manager of the .eu TLD, received the link to the European Commission's communication concerning Brexit and the .eu TLD."


The EU has the right to decide the policies for registering .eu domains; it wrote the rules and contracts and was awarded the extension in 2005 by domain name overseer ICANN. This was a largely diplomatic effort to get Europe on board with supporting the US-based organization, overseen at the time by the US government, when others wanted the job moved to the United Nations.

Giving the task of setting up a new internet registry to a bureaucracy did however land EURid - which was chosen as the operator following an open tender - with a host of unnecessary red tape in a highly competitive market. That over-bureaucratic approach was due to be revised this year following an EC public consultation.

The consultation closed in August but it remains unclear what is happening and industry insiders have been critical about how little the European Commission has engaged with industry experts. That same lack of engagement was on display in this week's domain Brexit announcement.

The news was greeted with bafflement from an industry that has a long-held norm and best practice that registered domains are retained, or "grandfathered", whenever there is a structural change.

That has even applied to top-level domains that have been officially removed from the internet - such as the .su extension (Soviet Union) that was officially phased out when the .ru Russian extension was added to the internet in 1993.

There are numerous examples of grandfathering in the domain name industry, perhaps the most recent and high profile being when .uk operator Nominet allowed owners of domains the first right to register .uk domains when those domains were allowed for the first time.


The internet has always adopted a general philosophy of accepting all connections. This approach has caused problems but remains fiercely protected within internet institutions because it is a big part of why the global communications network has been able to grow exponentially while remaining stable.

There is a glimmer of hope for those 317,000 individuals and organizations in the UK that have registered .eu domains, however. Today's announcement notes that its decree is "subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement" - meaning that it could form part of a large Brexit agreement between the UK government and EU.

In that sense, it is likely that .eu domains have simply been swept up in a broader sweep and strategy (if you can call it that) over how to handle the departure of the UK from Europe. But that doesn't make this policy from the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology any less stupid.

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 29th March 2018 author Kat Hall)

Ful article [Option 1]:

The details of 600,000 foreign visitors have slipped through the cracks of the Home Office's database thanks to its "shambolic" exit checks system.

A report by the chief inspector of borders and immigration, David Bolt, examined the department's Initial Status Analysis (ISA) system database and how ISA-produced data had been used by the Home Office and other agencies.

It found that as of 31 March 2017, there were no departure records of 88,134 non-EU visa nationals with ISA "identities" - whose visas typically last six months - nor for 513,088 identified non-visa nationals.

Staff told the inspector they lacked confidence in the system, which they said had been "mis-sold", while an airline official described it as "shambolic".

Bolt said: "Overall, the sense was that the Home Office had overpromised when setting out its plans for exit checks, and then closed the exit check programme prematurely, declaring exit checks to be 'business as usual' when a significant amount of work remained to be done to get full value from them."

Since 2004, as part of the troubled "e-Borders Programme" (currently running eight years late at a cost of £1bn) 16 airlines have been required to share advanced passenger information with the Home Office.

Carriers transmit API data via an encrypted link to the Home Office, where it is received into Semaphore, an IT system created to test the e-Borders concept in advance of the intended procurement of the main e-Borders system.

Between April 2014 and April 2015, as part of the Exit Checks Programme, the Home Office developed the ISA database, which matches inbound and outbound travel data received via Semaphore with data recorded on its other immigration related systems.

Between April 2015 and March 2017, the Home Office received over 607 million UK data records relating to outbound travel. But somehow it lost track of the details of 600,000 foreign visitors.

The Home Office said that a lack of evidence of departure was not confirmation that an individual remained in the country, only that they had not been matched to a departure record.

However, it does not bode well for the further challenges facing the department after Brexit.

The Public Accounts Committee has already warned that the border could be left exposed after Brexit because departments have failed to plan for new IT systems.

Around 30 of the 85 IT systems used at the border will need to be replaced or updated in some way. This includes requirements for five entirely new systems and three replacements, along with systems provided by the EU.

(1st April 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 27th March 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

A thief has admitted a scooter crime mugging spree after he was caught thanks to a pioneering forensic spray deployed to tackle the thugs on two wheels plaguing London's streets.

Spencer Duarte, 21, admitted stealing a scooter, seven counts of theft, driving while uninsured and disqualified and absconding from custody when he appeared at Blackfriars crown court.

The court heard that Duarte, from Stansted, Essex, grabbed seven phones in just one hour, targeting pedestrians in Islington, Covent Garden and New Oxford Street, between 10pm and 11pm on February 8 this year.

Duarte came to police attention last year after officers found two abandoned scooters in Camden and Haringey, both of which had been marked with the invisible spray.

Each can has a unique chemical formula so can be linked to a specific incident and is fired by officers from a trigger-operated gun at suspects they cannot pursue. It clings to clothing and equipment and remains detectable for several weeks. Duarte, a known scooter-related crime suspect with numerous convictions, was found hiding in a cupboard at his girlfriend's flat in Islington. Jade Clapham, 18, admitted assisting an offender. Both will be sentenced on May 16.

On his arrest, Duarte complained of stomach pains and was taken to hospital but escaped from custody as he was being transferred to a police station. He was found a week later on February 22 hiding at a friend's home in Camden. Police recovered 13 phones and found Duarte's fingerprints on one of them.

New statistics show there were 24,356 moped and scooter offences in 2017 - around 66 a day - compared with a total of 9,283 in 2016. However the Met said the rate of offences fell significantly in November after the spray was launched in October, along with other measures such as stinger devices to puncture tyres and scrambler bikes for police to pursue suspects.

Duarte was convicted in 2016 for his part in a £50,000 raid on a Louis Vuitton store in Sloane Street. He was sentenced to 13 months in a young offenders institute for conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

(1st April 2018)

(BBC News, dated 26th March 2018 author Rory Cellan-Jones)

Full article :

Suddenly lots of people are waking up and asking themselves questions about Facebook. How much data am I sharing with the social media giant? Did I really give permission for it to be collected and stored?

And, even more seriously, have I handed over my friends' data to be stored on some Californian server?

I am one of those people and what I've discovered has left me somewhat shocked. Over the weekend I got hold of my Facebook data. It's easy enough, you go to settings, then general account settings and click on download my data.

An hour or so later an email arrived with a link to click and I was downloading a 675MB folder chronicling all of my life on the network since I signed up in 2007.

At first sight there was nothing very troubling - I would expect all the photos and videos I'd ever posted to be there, and scrolling down my timeline provided an entertaining glimpse of my life over the last decade.

I did notice that for some years every song I'd listened to on Spotify was listed, a handy reminder that when you link any external app to Facebook it then gathers a lot more data about you.

But then I clicked on a file called contacts. I was taken aback to find my entire contact list, thousands of phone numbers. Now this was not limited to Facebook friends and included many people in the public eye who might be disturbed to find that their private numbers were stored in this way.

I cannot remember what happened when I set up my Facebook account back in 2007 - in those naive days I could well have clicked yes when invited to upload my contacts so that I could see who else was part of this new young community. So, my fault I suppose.

Then I noticed that at the top of the list were some numbers that cannot have been sucked into the Facebook machine a decade ago because I had only added them in recent weeks. They included, ironically, the mobile number of Carole Cadwalladr, the journalist who has blown open the whole story of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

So this means that every time I enter a new number into my phone's database, it somehow ends up with Facebook - the company is in effect monitoring me.

This is not the most startling example of Facebook's data collection. At least one user has reported that all of his text messages from an Android phone have somehow ended up being stored by Mark Zuckerberg's company.

Even if Facebook users agree to share this data, their friends whose numbers or text messages are being collected almost certainly have not. And even if those people have never joined Facebook - or have decided to delete their accounts - it looks as though some of their data will stay with the social network as long as the people who provided it remain.

Facebook says that uploading your contacts is a normal part of signing up with many messaging or social apps - and insists that users are given a clear choice.

People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone - it's explained right there in the apps when you get started. People can delete previously uploaded information at any time.

The company is right to say this is common practice. And if you think it is creepy that Facebook is storing this information, what about Apple's iCloud where millions store their iPhone data, including their contacts?

In any case, Facebook insists it never shares this data with anyone else. The problem is that its business model, unlike Apple's, depends on exploiting its users' data. And given what they have learned over the last week about how that information may have been used, many Facebook users may not be inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt.

How much data does Facebook have on one user ?

(Data downloaded by Rory Cellan-Jones since 2007

- 2,500+ Contacts + phone numbers
- 50 Advertisers who have his contact info
- 1,500 Messenger conversations
- 10,500 Total friendships
- 240 Sessions updated
- 70 IP addresses
- 160 Installed apps
- 140 Videos
- 250+ Photos including meta-data

(1st April 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 26th March 2018 author Rebecca Ratcliffe)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 5,000 potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery were reported to UK authorities last year, the highest number on record.

For the first time, British citizens made up the highest number of potential victims, a shift driven by an increase in the use of child drug mules by criminal gangs. Overall, the number of possible child victims grew by two-thirds compared with 2016.

Will Kerr, the director of the National Crime Agency, said the figures were likely to underestimate the scale of the problem, and that the government was facing an evolving threat.

"The criminals involved in these types of exploitation are going into online spaces, particularly adult services websites, to enable their criminality," said Kerr.
What are your experiences of 'county lines' drug trading?
Read more

The rise in the number of young people being exploited for sexual purposes or drug trafficking was a concern, he said.

Almost half of the 5,145 cases reported - 41% - involved the possible exploitation of a child aged under 18. The figures show the number of reports made to the national referral mechanism, the system for identifying victims of trafficking.

Last year, 819 potential British victims were referred to the NRM, up from 326 in 2016, according to the National Crime Agency. The increase is due to a rise in city-based gangs using children to transport drugs to rural areas, allowing them to expand their operations.

Albania was the second largest national group recorded, followed by Vietnam, China, Nigeria and Romania. Albanian and Nigerian cases most commonly involved sexual exploitation, while the majority of Vietnamese cases involved labour exploitation.

The referrals included possible victims from 116 countries. A total of 2,352 cases, almost half of those reported, involved potential forced labour. A third of cases, 1,744, involved suspected sexual exploitation. The NRM was also alerted to three possible cases of organ harvesting.

Kerr said authorities had seen greater crossovers between slavery and organised immigration crime outside the UK. "Often the same criminal networks are involved in transportation, and migrants themselves are vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation during their journeys and after," he said.

Overall, the number of referrals grew by more than a third, from 3,804 in 2016 to 5,145 in 2017.

Last year, about 10% of individuals referred to the NRM were assessed to be modern slavery victims, while the majority of cases are still pending. Of the cases involving people from outside the EU, less than 3% of individuals were assessed to be modern slavery victims.

While cases involving EU or British individuals are dealt with by the NCA's modern slavery human trafficking unit, non-EU cases are handled by the Home Office.

Patrick Burland, the senior project officer for the ?UN Migration Agency IOM, warned of a "potential bias against recognising people as victims of trafficking if they are from countries where their right to residency in the UK is not pre-established".

The government recently announced that UK visas and immigration will no longer make decisions on trafficking cases, with responsibility handed to a new expert body within the Home Office. But Burland warned there was still a potential conflict of interest. "The most effective way for the UK government to build an effective firewall between victim identification and immigration concerns is to move this process outside of the Home Office," he said.

Victoria Atkins, the minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said the government was "leading the world in our response to this horrendous crime", but added: "We know there is more to do, and we are working to improve the system for identifying victims and supporting them to leave situations of exploitation and begin to recover and rebuild their lives."

(1st April 2018)

(The Sunday Times, dated 25th March 2018 author Tom Harper)

Full article [Option 1]:

Hundreds of police files seen by The Sunday Times show that a fear of breaching paedophiles' rights is deterring officers from sharing information with social workers about children at risk of abuse.

Bosses in Britain's biggest police force have ordered rank-and-file officers not to share concerns automatically with children's services, as disclosing "personal information" about suspects may need their "consent".

The order appears to breach Scotland Yard's own safeguarding procedures, set up after Peter Connelly, 17 months, known as Baby P, was tortured to death in 2007.

"Records contain personal information," says one email to police child abuse teams from the senior officer in charge of safeguarding, "and unless certain criteria are met then consent from the relevant individual must be explicitly agreed before police disclose this information".

The message, sent in November 2013, emphasised that officers "should not routinely disclose" records to other agencies".

A review by Lord Laming found that Scotland Yard, children's services and the NHS all had chances to save Baby P. It emphasised the importance of a free flow of information among agencies.

But the leaked papers reveal communications between Scotland Yard and children's services departments have more than halved since 2010.

The email is one of hundreds of documents showing that the Met is failing to investgate some crimes against children.

Anne longfield, children's commissioner for England, said she would investigate. "This evidence is deeply concerning as it suggests senio Metropolitan Police officers are taking executive decisions to withhold vital information about "at risk" children, which they have no right to do, and it could be putting children's lives in danger.

"We know from some of the most tragic cases and child deaths that when police aren't sharing information with other professionals, things can go very wrong."

The documents reveal that detectives failed to follow procedures that could have saved Jahzara Forde, 22 months, who was murdered by her father, Roland McKoy in 2014.

Officers missed repeated chances to stop the handyman from killing Jahzara and her mother, Valerie Forde, who had recently ordered McKoy to leave the family home. Seven weeks before her death Forde told police McKoy was threatening to kill her and her child. Detectives recorded the allegation as "criminal damage" and failed to enter details on an intelligence databse set up to alert social services to children at risk.

In another case, Scotland Yard refused to tell Newham council in east London about 24 criminal offences committed by Michael Pleasted, 77, a vicious paedophile who went on to abuse two young boys.

Town hall officials had given Pleasted a council flat and allowed him to work with children, before they started receiving reports about his behaviour. Scotland Yard refused three times to answer questions about Pleasted's crimes because they felt it "inappropriate" with his consent.

Pleasted's assault on the two boys caused outrage in the local community: Sarah Sands, a mother, stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife.

Tim Loughton, the former minister for children and member of the home affairs select committee, said it was a "complete disgrace" that Scotland yard was still "hiding behind confidentiality" despite previous reviews. "They really should have learnt their lesson by now," he said.

Scotland Yard said: " We accept there are significant concerns in this important area and we are implementing a plan to improve our services.

"We take our legal responsibilities regarding the sharing of personal data extremely seriously, and are careful to ensure that this is done in accordance with legislation."

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd March 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police are taking days to respond to 999 calls, despite telling victims they will be there within the hour, a report has found.

Thousands of victims of serious crimes, including violence, burglary and sexual offences, are being forced to wait in queues, until officers are dispatched to deal with their case.

In some instances it can take officers several days to turn up to see the victim, despite their calls being classed as requiring a "prompt" response.

Around a quarter of all forces in England and Wales were identified as having problems in responding to emergency calls, something inspectors warned was "putting vulnerable people at serious risk of harm".

In an annual review of police performance, conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Rescue Services (HMICFRS), inspectors acknowledged that the system was under "severe strain" and "cracks were beginning to show".

But the watchdog warned that some constabularies - including some of the country's largest forces - had to act urgently to ensure that victims of crime received a better service.

HM Inspector, Zoe Billingham said: "In the face of increasing pressures, dramatic increases in demand and rising number of complex crimes, like sexual abuse, child abuse and domestic abuse, most forces continue to do a good job in keeping us safe.

"But I have major concerns that policing is under significant stress. On occasions that stress stretches some forces to such an extent that they risk being unable to keep people safe in some very important areas of policing."

She went on: "We are concerned that in a minority of forces, the service is overwhelmed in some aspects of policing. In these forces vulnerable victims are all too often not getting a timely police response, as their calls to the police have not been allocated for officers to respond.

"This is because in some forces there are so many calls that staff have not been able to allocate them quickly or there are not enough response officers to send to incidents."

She added: "Almost a quarter of forces are not meeting enough of their demand in as timely way as we would expect, or are managing demand inappropriately. In some case these practices are putting vulnerable people at serious risk of harm."

In the 2016 report, inspectors found that some forces were deliberately suppressing demand in busy periods by suggesting a 999 call was less serious than it actually was.

Ms Billingham said while that no longer seemed to be the case, it was now clear that many forces were struggling to cope with demand.

She said: "HMICFRS is concerned by this finding because it shows that the system is under severe strain and in some forces the cracks are showing."

The report identified problems with response times for both West Midlands Police and Greater Manchester Police, meaning vulnerable victims of crime often did not receive the service they needed in those areas.

In Cambridgeshire during one month, inspectors found that the average response time for 999 calls, categorised as requiring a one hour response, was actually 15 hours.

In four other areas - Staffordshire, Warwickshire, South Yorkshire and West Mercia - it was found that officers were not responding to emergencies immediately, and were not considering the needs of the victims during the subsequent delay.

The report also acknowledged that in cases of dire emergency, where lives were at risk, or a crime was actually in progress, response times were generally good, with officers getting to the scene quickly.

Responding to the findings, Greater Manchester Police's Deputy Chief Constable, Ian Pilling, said the force had lost 2,000 officers and still received more than 3,000 calls a day for assistance.

He said: "Managing this demand with reduced resources is extremely difficult and it is a challenge every day to allocate resources to incidents. Unfortunately, as the report highlights, this means that we sometimes don't deal with incidents as quickly as we would like to."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said it was acting on the HMICFRS findings in order to improve response times.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 22nd Marach 2018 author Sarah Knapton)

Full article [Option 1]:

Cocaine is now so prevalent in society that one in 10 people who have never used the drug have traces on their hands, a new study has shown.

Researchers at the University Surrey tested the fingerprints of 50 drug free volunteers and 15 drug users who had taken cocaine or heroin in the past 24 hours.

Around 13 per cent of fingerprints of those who had never used the drugs were found to contain cocaine, while one per cent contained a metabolite of heroin.

The findings throw up concerns that people could be wrongly accused of drug use simply because the environment is contaminated.

In 2015, bus driver Alan Bailes won a claim for unfair dismissal after he was sacked for failing a drugs test because he handled banknotes which contained traces of cocaine.

A study by the Forensic Science Service estimated that every banknote in Britain is contaminated with the class A drug within two weeks of entering circulated. The old cotton banknotes which are being phased out are notorious for picking up substances, which is one the reasons that the Bank of England is moving to plastic notes.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate has also previously warned that the metabolised form of cocaine - benzoylecgonine - is present in tap water, while traces of the drugs are regularly detected in public buildings.

Dr Melanie Bailey, Lecturer in Forensic Analysis at the University of Surrey, said: "Believe it or not, cocaine is a very common environmental contaminant - it is well known that it is present on many bank notes.

"Even so, we were surprised that it was detected in so many of our fingerprint samples.

"By establishing a threshold for significance on a fingerprint test, we can give those tested the piece-of-mind of knowing that whatever the result of the test may be, it was not affected by their everyday activities or shaking hands with someone that had taken drugs."

In recent years, investigations have found evidence of cocaine use at St Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and the Bodlein Library at the University of Oxford.

Gordon Ramsay, the chef, claimed that cocaine use is so rife in the restaurant industry that diners have asked him to sprinkle the class A drug over a soufflé and a customer at one of his venues took a plate to the toilet so they could snort lines of the drug.

Around 700,000 people aged 16-59 are estimated to take cocaine every year in Britain and about 40,000 people use heroin but it can be difficult to test drug users from those who have become accidentally contaminated.

To try and combat the problem of false testing, researchers at the University of Surrey have now set a 'cut-off' level above which show a genuine drug users.

Researchers showed it was possible using their method to differentiate from someone who had picked up cocaine by shaking hands with a drug user, and the drug user themselves.

Mahado Ismail, lead-author of the paper from the University of Surrey, said: "It's clear that fingerprint testing is the future of drug-testing.

"There are many factors that set fingerprint testing apart - it's non-invasive, easy to collect and you have the ability to identify the donor by using the sample. Our study will help to add another robust layer to fingerprint drug testing."

The new research was published in the journal Clinical Chemistry.

Cocaine in the environment

Banknotes - at least 80 per cent of banknotes are thought to contain traces of cocaine, either because they have been rolled up to snort the drug, or have been contaminated by other currency.

Rivers - an estimated 4.4 lbs, roughly 80,000 lines of coke ends up in the River Thames each day via the sewage system. Italy's Po river in Milan was found to have double that amount.

Oxbridge - swabs showed cocaine at Oxford University in the Oxford Union building, the Ruskin School of Fine Art, the Oxford University Language Centre and the Bodleian library. At Cambridge University the drug was found in, 21 out of 31 toilets and washrooms.

Churches - traces of cocaine were found in 11 British cathedrals and churches, including St Paul's, St Leonard's in Shoreditch and Canterbury cathedral. St Leonard's said it tolerated drug use if it meant addicts were coming to the church for help.

Parliament - nine toilets in the Palace of Westminster have previously tested positive for cocaine including areas near MPs offices where there is no public access. In 2005 a German television station found traces of the drug in 41 out of 46 lavatories at the European Parliament in Brussels.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 20th March 2018 author Kate Morley)

Full article [Option 1]:

Shoplifting reports have doubled in a year as retailers blame the police for turning a blind eye, new figures show.

A report by the Association of Convenience Stores' 2018 Crime Report has revealed that there were over 950,000 incidents of theft reported in corner shops over the last year, rising from 575,000 in the previous year.

It means more than 200 thefts are being reported an hour with many more going uncaught.

The significant rise in shop thefts is also linked to aggressive behaviour towards retailers and their staff, the report said.

It comes after leading retailers accused Ministers of helping to fuel a sharp rise in shoplifting after it emerged that a £200 threshold for pursuing criminals has been introduced.

Most police forces now no longer attend reports of routine shop theft and will only send an officer to investigate if there has been a threat of violence against a member of staff.

Those caught stealing less than £200 are now dealt with by post, in the same way as speeders, leading to the effective decriminalisation of shoplifting.

Back in December the Daily Telegraph revealed that retailers had held private meetings with the Home Office at which they warned that "prolific and persistent" offenders were now exploiting the rules by moving around high streets stealing just under £200 worth of goods.

According to the report the total cost of crimes committed against the convenience sector over the last year was £193 million, which equates to a 7p "crime tax" on every transaction in stores.

In addition small stores are also battling against fraudulent payment in the form of counterfeit notes and credit and debit card fraud, which amounted to £24 million in costs last year. With the introduction of the new polymer notes and the new "highly secure" 12-sided £1 coin it is hoped that this figure is set to fall.

The ACS's chief executive, James Lowman, said: "Retailers and their staff are facing violence and abuse on a regular basis for enforcing the law, whether it be through challenging shop thieves, refusing the sale of age restricted products like tobacco and alcohol, or refusing to serve people that are intoxicated.

"Allowing shop theft to go unpunished means that these people go on to commit other offences, and where they have addiction problems they are not treated. We need fresh thinking from government and the police, because when shop theft is not tackled properly, it has wider implications for communities."

(1st April 2018)

(Sky News, dated 20th March 2018 author David Mercer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police have lost track of 485 registered sex offenders across Britain including rapists and paedophiles, Sky News can reveal.

Figures released by 41 forces revealed the number of convicted sex offenders whose whereabouts are unknown has risen by more than 20% in the last three years.

Rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse of children were among the crimes committed by the missing offenders, including some who disappeared more than a decade ago.

It comes as victims of black cab rapist John Worboys fight the decision to release him from prison after he spent less than a decade behind bars.

Sky News submitted Freedom of Information requests to the UK's 45 police forces asking for details of registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

Four forces did not respond, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), meaning the actual number of registered sex offenders who are missing is likely to be higher.
Forces refused to name the missing sex offenders, with most saying it would breach the Data Protection Act.

Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, said it did not know the whereabouts of 227 registered sex offenders, including 38 who had been missing for at least eight years.

West Midlands Police said 46 registered sex offenders were wanted or missing - including one offender who disappeared in 2006.

Greater Manchester Police said the whereabouts of 19 registered sex offenders were unknown, with one vanishing in July 2006.

Police Scotland said 12 registered sex offenders were wanted, all of whom are believed to be outside the UK.

Kent and Northumbria Police each had a registered sex offender who went missing in 2005, while Lincolnshire Police said the whereabouts of a registered sex offender who disappeared in 2006 was still unknown.

The total number unaccounted for across the UK is up by 22% compared with March 2015, when 39 police forces revealed they did not know the whereabouts of 396 registered sex offenders.

Duncan Craig, who set up the charity Survivors Manchester after being a victim of sexual abuse, told Sky News that police need to work more with organisations in contact with victims and offenders.

He said: "Victims deserve the right to know that those that have committed these crimes against them are being dealt with correctly and managed properly.

"We can't keep going for the same rhetoric because we won't get anywhere if we do.

"Einstein said the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is exactly what we are doing in this country with management of sexual offending."

Alex Mayes, from the charity Victim Support, said: "These figures will potentially be very alarming to victims of sexual offences and could undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.

"To ensure the safety and well-being of survivors of sexual offences, as well as local communities, it is vital that the police strictly monitor sex offenders."

Registered sex offenders are required to inform police and probation officers of their addresses so they can be monitored.

They are subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa), where authorities manage the risk posed by certain sexual and violent criminals living in the community.

A Ministry of Justice report published last October showed there were a total of 55,236 registered sex offenders living in England and Wales in 2016/17.

A Home Office spokesman said the figure of 485 represented less than 1% of the total.

(Sky News, dated 20th March 2018 author David Mercer)

Full article [Option 1]:

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has blamed Government cuts for the sharp rise in registered sex offenders going missing across Britain.

Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter was killed in 2000 by a convicted paedophile, said the country has become "a sex offender's playground" following years of austerity measures.

Her remarks come after Sky News revealed UK police forces have lost track of 485 registered sex offenders including rapists and paedophiles - a 22% rise on March 2015.

Dr Payne, who works with The Phoenix Post campaign group for victims of paedophiles, told Sky News: "The Government have used the austerity argument to virtually deconstruct child protection in this country, until it is exactly what you see before you - a sex offender's playground, protected by an anti-victim prejudice-groomed government, unwittingly force-funded by good and decent taxpayers.

"For the sake of the children, it's long past time that we change the way this works."

A Ministry of Justice report published last October showed there were a total of 55,236 registered sex offenders living in England and Wales in 2016/17.

They are subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappas), where authorities manage the risk posed by certain sexual and violent criminals living in the community.

Peter Kirkham, a former detective chief inspector with the Metropolitan Police, said cuts to forces and the probation service meant it had become more difficult to monitor registered sex offenders.

He told Sky News: "The Government keeps pursuing the idea that you can keep doing more with less.

"There is no mystery to police work. If you have more officers and resources, you will have better results.

"There has been a massive increase in the number of people on the sex offenders' register. At the same time, there have been massive cuts to the police and probation service.

"The probation service has suffered from privatisation which has been an unmitigated disaster."

The Home Office has insisted the UK has "some of the toughest powers in the world" to deal with registered sex offenders and the number missing is less than 1% of the total on the register.

(Sky News, dated 20th March 2018 author David Mercer)

Full article [Option 1]:

Police forces across the UK were asked to reveal the number of registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown on 17 January.

The forces were also asked when each of the sex offenders went "missing" and to provide their names and convictions.

Police said the information was "dynamic" and likely to change as arrests are made or new cases come to light.

Forces refused to name the missing sex offenders, with most saying it would breach the Data Protection Act.

Avon and Somerset Police

The force said there were 11 registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

Two had been missing since 2010, one since 2011, one since 2012, two since 2013, two since 2014 and three since 2017.

Bedfordshire Police

The force said the whereabouts of three registered sex offenders were unknown.

They went missing in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the offences were sexual assault, rape and sexual assault of a child.

Cambridgeshire Police

The force said nine registered sex offenders were recorded as wanted because their whereabouts are unknown from 2017.

Offences included sexual assault of a girl under 13, sexual assault and indecent images.

Cheshire Police

The force said two registered sex offenders had been missing since 2017. Both were convicted of sexual assault.

City of London Police

The force said it had no registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

Cleveland Police

The force said there were three registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

One went missing in April 2016. It refused to reveal when the other two disappeared.

Offences included sexual assault, indecent assault and grooming.

Cumbria Police

The force said the whereabouts of one registered sex offender was unknown.

Derbyshire Police

The force said there were seven registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

One had been missing since June 2006, two had been missing since February 2008, one since January 2012, one since May 2010, one since January 2012 and one since September 2017.

Offences include rape, indecent assault of a boy under 14, sexual assault on a child under 13, gross indecency with a girl and sexual assault of a boy under 13.

Devon and Cornwall Police

The force said six registered sex offenders were missing including four known to be abroad. Two went missing in 2016 and four in 2017.

Dorset Police

The force said the whereabouts of five registered sex offenders were unknown including three who are "firmly believed to be overseas".

One went missing in 2014, three in 2016 and one in 2017.

Durham Police

The force said one registered sex offender was missing since 2013.

Dyfed Powys Police

The force said the whereabouts of four sex offenders were unknown.

They included one offender who had been missing since January 2008, one since March 2015, one since February 2017 and one since January 2018.

Their offences included gross indecency with a boy, indecent assault on a boy under 14, indecent assault on a female aged 16 or over and sexual assault.

Essex Police

Sky News did not receive a response.

Greater Manchester Police

The force said the whereabouts of 19 registered sex offenders were unknown.

One offender had been missing since July 2006 and two others since 2009.

Gwent Police

The force said the whereabouts of one sex offender was unknown.

Gloucestershire Police

The force said the whereabouts of four registered sex offenders were unknown. One had been missing since 2015, one since 2016 and two since 2017.

Hampshire Police

The force said the whereabouts of seven registered sex offenders were unknown.

Hertfordshire Police

The force said three registered sex offenders were recorded as wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

One has been missing for more than a year, while two had disappeared within the last six months.

Humberside Police

The force said the whereabouts of nine registered sex offenders were unknown.

One registered sex offender went missing in 2008, one in 2011, one in 2010, one in 2015, one in 2016 and four in 2017.

Kent Police

The force said nine registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

One had been missing since November 2005, one since June 2008, one since November 2014, one since June 2016 and five went missing in 2017.

Offences included exposure, grooming, gross indecency, indecent assault, indecent images, intercourse with a girl under 16 and sexual assault.

Lancashire Police

Sky News did not receive a response.

Leicestershire Police

The force said the whereabouts of one sex offender were unknown.

Lincolnshire Police

The force said there were four registered sex offenders whose exact locations were unknown - all of which are believed to be outside the UK.

One had been missing since 2006, one since 2014, one since 2015 and another since 2016.

Their offences included rape, indecent assault and possession of indecent images.

Merseyside Police

The force said six registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

They went missing between March 2016 and January 2018.

Metropolitan Police

The force said it did not know the whereabouts of 227 registered sex offenders, including 38 who had been missing since 2010 or earlier.

Norfolk Police

The force said one registered sex offender had been missing since March 2014. He is believed to have died. He was convicted of raping a woman.

A further two convicted sex offenders failed to comply with register requirements after travelling abroad and not returning to the UK.

The details of the countries where they travelled to are known but not the specific addresses, the force said.

North Wales Police

The force said there were two registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown. They were reported missing in January 2011 and May 2017.

North Yorkshire Police

The force said no registered sex offenders were currently missing.

Northamptonshire Police

The force said there were 10 registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown.

One went missing in 2008, one in 2011, three in 2012, four in 2013 and one in 2017.

Offences included sexual assault, attempted rape of girl under 13 and rape.

Nottinghamshire Police

The force said the whereabouts of seven registered sex offenders were unknown.

They had gone missing in December 2011, June 2012, December 2012, December 2013, September 2016, January 2017 and February 2017.

Northumbria Police

The force said five registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown. One had been missing since 2005, two went missing in 2017 and two went missing in 2018.

Offences included a sexual assault on a girl, attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child, rape of a boy under 16, sexual assault on a girl under 16 and indecent assault on a girl.

Police Scotland

The force said 12 registered sex offenders were wanted, all of whom are believed to be out of the UK.

Two have been wanted for nine years, four have been wanted for between one and five years, and six have been wanted for under eight months.

Their offences included rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, possession of indecent images of children, sexual assault, voyeurism, indecent assault on a female aged 16 or over and indecent assault on a boy aged under 14.

Police Service of Northern Ireland

Sky News did not receive a response.

South Wales Police

The force said eight registered sex offenders were missing or wanted.

One had been missing since January 2008, one since November 2013, one since February 2016 and five since 2017.

South Yorkshire Police

The force said 10 registered sex offenders were wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

Their offences include assault on a female by penetration, indecent assault on a female under 14, making indecent photos of children, rape, sexual assault, sexual activity with a female under 16, sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photos of children.

Staffordshire Police

The force said five registered sex offenders were missing.

Suffolk Police

The force said there were two registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown. It refused to provide any further information.

Surrey Police

The force said the whereabouts of six registered sex offenders were unknown.

Two had been missing since 2012, one since 2016 and three since 2017.

Thames Valley Police

The force said the whereabouts of 13 registered sex offenders were unknown.

Warwickshire Police

The force said three sex offenders were missing. Two went missing in 2014 and one in 2016.

West Mercia Police

The force said one sex offender had been missing since 2006.

West Midlands Police

The force said 46 registered sex offenders were wanted or missing. One offender had been missing since 2006, another since 2010 and one since 2011.

Two offenders went missing in 2012, six in 2013, six in 2014, five in 2015, seven in 2016, 12 in 2017 and five in 2018.

West Yorkshire Police

The force said there were 10 registered sex offenders wanted for breaching of registration requirements.

Three of the offenders are known to be living outside the UK and four offenders have been wanted for more than a year.

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 20th March 2018 author Gareth Corfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

The police force covering the base of the UK's electronic spy agency, GCHQ, in Cheltenham, England, has admitted that it has spent nothing at all on cybercrime training over the past few years.

Gloucestershire Police, whose patch, ironically, covers the sigint specialists' headquarters, said it had just 11 trained cybercrime cops and spends nothing on cybercrime training.

Across the country, police forces have spent just £1.3m on cybercrime training courses over the past few years, according to a survey by the Conservative-leaning think tank Parliament Street.

Top of the table was North Wales Police, which spent a whopping £375,488 on cybercrime training, including putting 147 personnel through a dedicated five-day course. All new North Wales coppers also get a cybercrime bolt-on to their basic training.

Of the 39,500 British bobbies who have received some form of training on digital naughtiness, Police Scotland came fifth, having shelled out just £83,000 between 2015 and 2017.

Norfolk and Suffolk police put no fewer than 3,882 personnel through a "Cyber Crime and Digital Policing First Responder" course, and just under 150 bods through a "digital media investigator course".

West Midlands Police, the second largest force in the UK after London's Metropolitan Police, had spent just £91,200 over the three-year period. Meanwhile, the City of London Police, which leads the Action Fraud online police initiative for tackling fraud, has trained two thirds (448 of 684) of its constables in cybercrime stuff.

At the very bottom of the league table was the Port of Dover Police, a force so small that most forget it exists. That force said none of its staff were trained on cybercrime matters and none of its budget was spent on counter-cybercrime training.

The survey (PDF) was carried out using Freedom of Information requests to all of the UK's police forces. The think tank recommended that police forces "increase recruitment of officers with existing cyber skills" and work with the private and educational sectors "to ensure a pipeline of highly skilled workers are encouraged to join the police".

(1st April 2018)

(BBC News, dated 18th March 2018 author Roland Hughes)

Full article :

When Millie Dunn Veasey joined the US military it wasn't the most auspicious of starts.

"I didn't weigh more than 102 pounds (46kg) and didn't know how to tie my tie," she later recalled.

But she was making history: it was 1942 and she would go on to serve in the only all-female, all-black unit in World War Two.

After that, she would return to her native North Carolina and play a leading role in the burgeoning civil rights movement.

Dunn Veasey died on Friday, 9 March, a little more than a month after her 100th birthday. She was one of the last surviving African-American women to have served in WW2.

"Her heart was tired," her niece Elsie Thompson told WNUC radio station in North Carolina.

Born Millie Dunn in Raleigh, she was one of six children. Her grandparents had been born into slavery, but did not speak about it.

In December 1942, a year after the US had joined World War Two, she saw posters - all featuring beautiful white women - encouraging women to join the military.

At that time, few African-American men joined the Army - and it was even more unusual for an African-American woman to do so.

"I thought to myself that if those white women can do it, so can I," she said shortly before her 100th birthday. "And besides that, my country needs me."

Dunn Veasey went on to join the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, based first in North Carolina then Colorado.

By late 1944, the US military was facing a shortage of manpower and troop morale was low, with an enormous backlog of mail ensuring many had been left with no news or packages from home for years.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, spurred by black activist Mary McLeod Bethune, pushed the War Department to make use of the women's corps, and a new all-black unit was formed from it: the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, also known as The Six Triple Eight.

"It was huge," Beth-Ann Koelsch, the curator of the Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina, told the BBC.

"A lot of these women were very educated but the only jobs commanding officers had thought they could do were janitorial, or working in the kitchen.

"They were not storming the ramparts, but the work that they did do was huge."

While Dunn Veasey and her fellow Six Triple Eight members did not see action on the front line, they had to be trained and prepared to fight if called upon to do so.

The Six Triple Eight, many of whom had never left their home towns let alone the US, reached Birmingham in the UK after a journey by sea that was almost scuppered by German U-boats.

Once there, their status as the only all-female, all-black unit was made clear: they were separated not only from the men in other units, but also from white women in the forces.

Dunn Veasey was shocked to find that she and her colleagues had to sleep on beds made of straw, so managed to negotiate real mattresses for them.

The challenges they faced were enormous. There was a backlog of millions of pieces of mail, some of which had remained undistributed for up to two years.

The women worked with no natural light and rats surrounded unsent packages, some of which were filled with rotting food.

Trying to identify the recipients of the mail was a huge task.

"At one point," the unit's commander Maj Charity Adams wrote, "we had more than 7,500 Robert Smiths.

"Moreover, there were variations of first names, nicknames that are used in the United States: Bob, Rob, Bobby, Robby, Bert, and so forth, just for Robert."

The Six Triple Eight - motto No Mail, Low Morale - became detectives and developed a system to tell apart the millions of people serving for the US military and Red Cross.

Working 24 hours a day in three eight-hour shifts, they sorted through an average of 65,000 items of mail every shift - succeeding even in ensuring a letter marked only "Junior" found its way to its intended recipient.

When a general arrived and was surprised to see only a third of the staff working because of the shift pattern, he threatened: "I'm going to send a white first lieutenant down here to show you how to run this unit."

"Over my dead body, sir," Maj Adams told him, according to her memoir.

Entrusted to finish the job, they did so in only three months - half the expected time.

On VE Day, Dunn Veasey found herself on leave in London, and was standing near Big Ben as its bell rang to declare the Allied victory - a moment she later said was the most memorable of her time abroad.

After their success sorting the mail in Birmingham, the Six Triple Eight - with Dunn Veasey as a staff sergeant - were sent to northern France, where they continued distributing mail.

Three weeks after VE Day, the battalion was honoured in a parade through the streets of Rouen in Normandy, held to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Joan of Arc.

The crowd applauded the African-American women as they paraded through the city, but reminders of their unequal status in America were never far away.

On the boat home, a corps of white nurses initially refused to sail under the authority of Maj Adams. And the more than 800 members of the battalion returned home to a US that was just as segregated as when they had left.

After being given the chance to train to become an officer, Dunn Veasey declined and decided to pursue a business administration degree in university instead.

She later worked as a teacher and as executive secretary to the president of St Augustine's College in Raleigh, but also became more prominent in the civil rights movement.

In 1963, she took part in the March to Washington, calling for stronger civil and economic rights for African-Americans. She walked alongside Martin Luther King Jr at the event, during which he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

"I found him to be a most remarkable young man, always with dignity," she said in an interview last February. "He was always interested in what you were doing, what the individual was doing, and persuaded them to do more."

Two years after the March on Washington, she became the first female president for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Raleigh, and remained active in civic groups until her last years.

A month before her death, Dunn Veasey was honoured as a "living legend" by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell. She was unable to attend the ceremony.

Elsewhere, efforts to commemorate the Six Triple Eight with a statue are under way, with plans to unveil it later this year.

"I don't think of myself as a hero," Dunn Veasey, who leaves a daughter and son, told North Carolina Public Radio in 2013.

"My approach is that you don't ask persons to do no more than you're gonna do yourself. We wanted to get things done, and we got things done."

(2nd April 2018)

(BBC 5 Live, dated 18th March 2018 authors Paul Grant, Ben Robinson & Adrian Goldberg)

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Charities have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds after 750 clothing banks were taken from car parks, says the Textile Recycling Association.

Recycling companies working with them say sometimes up to 20 a week have gone missing in the last year across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some have been rebranded with a different charity logo and placed at sites without permission, the TRA says.

The Charity Commission has launched an investigation.

There are around 15,000 clothing banks throughout the whole of the UK, often placed at supermarket car parks and recycling sites.

Some are run by charities such as The Salvation Army, Oxfam and the British Heart Foundation themselves, but others are operated by private recycling companies who give a donation to charities - on average £250 for every tonne of clothes collected.

Around £75m was given to charities and local authorities last year.

The TRA, which represents the sector, says the clothing banks have been taken from across the country - including in England's North West, the Midlands and East.

It says charities receive on average £70 worth of donations a week from each bank.

Because it can take between six to eight weeks to replace a bank, it is estimated charities could have lost nearly £370,000.

In some cases, the recycling companies are not replacing the banks so the charities will lose out permanently.

'Why take them?'

Recycling Solutions North West, based in Heywood in Greater Manchester, donates between £5,000 and £6,000 a month to a charity which helps critically ill babies and children.

Last month, 12 of its clothing banks were taken from sites across Greater Manchester.

One of the directors, James Cook, is passionate about the charity after his son Dexter, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, died when he was only 13 months old.

He said: "I just can't understand why any individual would go out and take the clothing banks.

"The families, they're relying on that charity to carry out a service for their child. It is a lifesaving service.

"I do like to see the target go up every month, I like to see the money climb and I'm going to see it drop next month and that will hurt."

Another charity which is counting the cost is Reuben's Retreat in Glossop, which provides support to families who have lost a child or have children with life-limiting illnesses.

It receives donations from a recycling company, but the amount it receives has now been reduced after a number of clothing banks were taken.

Nicola Graham - who founded the charity after the death of her son Reuben - said: "It will have a significant impact on our funding stream.

"Reuben's little photograph is on that bin, and all our details.

"It just beggars belief that somebody can think that it's OK to take from charity and actually take something with his little face on it."

The TRA say the cost of replacing a bank can be up to £1,500 and the total bill to its members could be as much as £1m.

President Ian Woods said the loss of the banks was "depriving members of the public from a service intended for them to recycle textiles and, more importantly, depriving charities and local authorities nationwide of revenue streams which are vitally important for the services they deliver".

He added: "We are appealing to the police and other government agencies to join us in the campaign to clamp down on all forms of illegal activity connected to textile recycling."

Investigators working for the TRA have removed around 200 banks which they say have been rebranded with the logo of a registered charity called Helping Our Future and placed on supermarket car parks without authorisation.

The charity, which is based in Wolverhampton, says it raised nearly £19,000 last year and works to promote recycling and relieve financial hardship.

BBC 5 live Investigates has discovered Helping our Future is under investigation by the Charity Commission.

A spokesperson said: "The commission is examining the charity Helping Our Future as part of a regulatory compliance case.

"We have serious concerns about its management and activities, and are examining trustees' oversight of the charity, its relationship with third parties, including commercial fundraising companies, and whether the charity's management and operations have given rise to inappropriate benefit on the part of private individuals or companies."

The charity, which the BBC understands leases its banks from a third party, denies any wrongdoing.

A company which says it acts for Helping Our Future told the BBC: "We are an associated contractor to HOF Trading Limited which is the logistical partner to Helping our Future Charity.

"We are contracted to abide by a written protocol which prevents us from carrying out any criminal activity and bringing any holistic partner into disrepute."

The company added that some of the charity's own banks had been taken and that this had been reported to the police.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 17th March 2018 author Steve Bird)

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As thefts go, the woman caught on CCTV tucking an £11,000 rare guitar inside her fur coat before nonchalantly walking out of a music shop could not have been more brazen. Even as she and her accomplice left Peach Guitars in Colchester they turned to the staff to smile and wave goodbye.

But it has now emerged that the couple is behind a series of thefts of valuable and often rare musical instruments from shops throughout the country and across Europe.

Now the industry body representing music stores is urging police forces to work together to hunt down the pair thought to have evaded capture during a crime spree spanning more than 10 years.

Alan Priest, owner of Peach Guitars in Colchester, said they were "utterly brazen" as they stole the £11,000 PRS Brazilian Mccarty 594 guitar last month.

"She was wearing a thick, black fur coat. I didn't take any notice because it was a cold day. But from the CCTV you can see there's a bracket in the coat. According to other music shops who have contacted us they have been doing this for up to 15 years.

"Her accomplice took the security lock off and threw in the back of a guitar amplifier. She just held her coat open and the guitar was fitted straight in. It took no more than a few seconds. They were so relaxed that they even waved goodbye to my staff as they left."

Will Hubbard, who works at the showroom which has more than 1,300 guitars on display, believes the pair are Eastern European and have targeted shops throughout Europe.

"We were contacted by a shop in Copenhagen who said they were hit for high end guitars by them two years ago," he said. "The couple think they are untouchable. At our store there were no fingerprints and they ensured they didn't use our car park so we couldn't get their car registration number on CCTV."

Then, on March 3, they were caught on CCTV in Hayes Music Shop in Southampton where two saxophones, a Selmar SA-80 and Yanagisawa S901, worth more than £5,000 were stolen.

Richard Boler, who owns the brass and woodwind specialist shop, said: "They just stare at the CCTV cameras, they don't care. I think they move the instruments out of the country and sell them."

Paul McManus, chief executive of Music Industries Association which represents music shops, said: "This is stealing expensive musical instruments to order. We are aware this woman appeared in a number of venues a few years ago. We thought they had gone away. But they're back. We want police forces to join up the dots and work together.

"We think she was taken to court a few years ago but she got off because she claimed she was not in the country at the time of the offence. I think she's Romanian."

Jonathan Myall of Just Flutes in Croydon is convinced that the woman targeted his shop seven years ago stealing his own prized Selma Mk VI saxophone worth more than £6,000.

"When I saw pictures of her stealing the guitar in Essex I immediately thought: 'My God, I recognise her.'

"She did exactly the same type of theft here seven years ago. She took my tenor saxophone from a display cabinet and put it in her coat - it's not an easy shaped instrument to conceal - then casually walked out."

Andy Legg of Absolute Music in Bournemouth added: "They did us along with two other music shops on the south coast eight years ago. I lost a £3,000 guitar. It's definitely the same couple."

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 16th March 2018 author Keiren McCarthy)

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An effort to resolve conflicts between upcoming European privacy legislation and the global Whois service for domain names has, predictably, failed, raising fears that cybercriminals will take advantage of the impasse.

At the end of a week of meetings hosted by domain-name overseer ICANN, the US-based organization's proposed interim model lies in tatters, and there is no sign of a forthcoming solution before the May 25 deadline, when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect.

Industry insiders fear that, without agreement, the Whois service, which publicly lists full contact details of domain-name registrants, will effectively shut down in order to avoid fines and possible lawsuits under the Euro rules.

That would leave law enforcement and intellectual property lawyers, among others, unable to access registrant details, and potentially give cybercriminals a larger window to carry out crimes.

The biggest blow to ICANN's last-minute proposal on how to make Whois GDPR-friendly - put out just one week before the meeting - came when the world's governments refused to accept the role ICANN tried to place on its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). ICANN said it wanted to task the GAC with drawing up a system that would allow certain groups - cops, attorneys, and similar - unfettered access to Whois records. That plan was firmly rejected.

"The GAC does not envision an operational role in designing and implementing the proposed accreditation programs," read an official statement from the GAC to ICANN's board at the end of the meeting.

Such a rejection was entirely predictable, raising questions over why ICANN's staff suggested it in the first place.

ICANN is designed to work as a "multi-stakeholder" decision-making model where everyone impacted gets a say in the solution, so the suggestion that just governments would decide on an accreditation model was greeted with some scorn, not least by the US government.

Argument over this aspect of the "interim model" took up so much time and energy that ICANN's CEO Göran Marby pleaded with the internet community to focus on other aspects.

"There are still fundamental decisions to be made about the whole model," he told a public forum. "Discussion seems to be focussing on the accreditation model, as if everything else with GDPR compliance for Whois is decided. It's not."

Marby also made a second desperate plea, this time to European GAC members, who he "humbly begged" to contact their data protection authorities to get "firm advice" on what needed to be done to the Whois system to bring it in line with Euro law.

That plea came after the GAC tore up another key part of ICANN's proposed model: that all email addresses in domain ownership records be anonymized.

"A rationale is required for the decision to hide certain Whois data elements from the public database," the GAC said in its communiqué [PDF], before schooling ICANN's own Whois experts on what the actual GDPR legislation does and does not require.

"When it comes to personal data, the GDPR permits its processing, including publication, under certain circumstances… such as performance of a contract or the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party.

"In particular, publication of the registrant's email address should be considered in light of the important role of this data element in the pursuit of a number of legitimate purposes and the possibility for registrants to provide an email address that does not contain personal data."

The GAC also took issue with ICANN's proposal to anonymize non-personal information - such as company names and the contact details of administrative and technical contacts - and pointed out that "legal entities are explicitly excluded from the remit of GDPR."

In short, it argues that the changes proposed by ICANN "are not supported by the necessary analysis and supporting rationale which poses the question whether the choices reflected in the current proposal are required by the law."

In other words, ICANN made bad decisions based on incomplete information and failed to explain how or why it arrived at those decisions.

The failure to come up with a solution could have dangerous knock-on effects, the GAC warned: "As it stands, the proposed system risks hindering the efforts of law enforcement, intellectual property and other actors in combatting illicit activities and mitigating DNS abuse."

That message - that the failure to introduce a system before the end of May would make the internet a more dangerous place - was reiterated by law enforcement at the meeting, with Europol's cybercrime center (EC3) being particularly vocal about the risks.

EC3 repeatedly pushed the idea that the companies that provide domain names to the public - registrars - be obliged to respond to "urgent" law-enforcement requests for Whois information within 24 hours.

That could be a possible short-term solution to the lack of a global Whois policy, but the idea was rejected by registrars who have consistently blocked any effort to make them accountable to third parties.

On the other side of the equation, civil society groups were actually happy with the idea of anonymized email addresses, noting that it would "go a long way to reducing spam and harassment that end-users face."

Continued ----

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 16th March 2018 author Victoria Ward)

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The National Lottery has warned more than 10 million players with online accounts to change their passwords due to a security breach.

It said hackers had made attempts to access accounts and that limited information may have been viewed.

It urged all online customers to change their passwords, particularly if they use the same email address and passwords for several sites.

The mass attack, said to have been done using a technique known as "credential stuffing," was successful in accessing some 150 accounts. Some activity took place in fewer than ten accounts.

Camelot, the lottery operator, said no customers had lost any money.

It is contacting all 10.5 million online customers and put a warning on its website stating: "As part of our regular security monitoring, we have seen some suspicious activity on a very small number of players' accounts.

"We have directly contacted those players whose accounts have been affected. We are advising players to change their password as a precaution, particularly if they use the same password across multiple websites."

Camelot said the hacking attack appeared to have begun on March 7.

A spokesman said: "Since then, the activity has been extremely low level and very sporadic - and almost indistinguishable from normal player activity."

The tactic of credential stuffing is said to involve using computers to fire the same email address and password combination at a large number of websites in a bid to get access to an account.

The combination of email address and password will have been leaked and sold to fraudsters.

Camelot said it had reported the security breach to the police and the Information Commissioner's Office and was liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre.

It added: "We would like to reassure our players that we do not display full debit card or bank account details on their online National Lottery accounts.? We have suspended all of the affected accounts and have directly contacted these players to help them re-activate their accounts securely."

(BBC News, dated 16th March 2018 author Tom Espiner)

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National Lottery owner Camelot has warned of a "low level" cyber-attack that affected 150 customer accounts.

It has asked all of its customers to change the passwords on their accounts as a precaution.

The hackers used credentials gleaned from a list circulated on the internet to get into the accounts, a Camelot spokeswoman said.

No money was stolen, and the attackers saw limited information, the spokeswoman added.

Privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner, the police, and the National Cyber Security Centre have been informed of the attack, the spokeswoman said.

"As part of our regular security monitoring, we have seen some suspicious activity on a very small number of players' accounts," Camelot said in an email to customers.

"We have directly contacted those players whose accounts have been affected."

Customers can normally use their debit card details to transfer money into their National Lottery accounts, then use those funds to buy online lottery tickets or scratch cards.

The hackers used a so-called "credential-stuffing" attack using a list of passwords circulated online to get access to about 150 accounts. Those accounts have been suspended, the spokeswoman said.

"If you have a password you use across multiple sites then you should change it," the spokeswoman added.

Camelot warned in November 2016 that about 26,500 National Lottery accounts could have been hacked.

uaware information

National Lottery security advice :

See also :

(1st April 2018)

(The Intercept, dated 16th March 2018 author Yael Grauer)

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Once a mere nuisance for Twitter, accounts created by software programs pretending to be human - "bots" - have become a major headache for the social network. In October, Twitter's general counsel told a Senate committee investigating disinformation that Russian bots tweeted 1.4 million times during the run-up to the last presidential election, and such bots would later be implicated in hundreds of tweets that followed a school shooting in Florida. In January, the New York Times detailed how U.S. companies, executives, journalists, and celebrities often purchase bots as followers in an attempt to make themselves seem more popular.

The fallout for the company has been withering. In Vanity Fair last month, writer Nick Bilton, who has tracked the company closely as an author and journalist, accused Twitter of "turning a blind eye to the problem" of bots for years in order to artificially inflate its count of active users. Meanwhile, disgruntled former Twitter executives told Maya Kosoff, also in Vanity Fair, that the social network was throwing too many humans and too little technology at the problem of bots and other misbehavior. "You had this unsophisticated human army with no real scalable platform to plug into," one said.

Even if Twitter hasn't invested much in anti-bot software, some of its most technically proficient users have. They're writing and refining code that can use Twitter's public application programming interface, or API, as well as Google and other online interfaces, to ferret out fake accounts and bad actors. The effort, at least among the researchers I spoke with, has begun with hunting bots designed to promote pornographic material - a type of fake account that is particularly easy to spot - but the plan is to eventually broaden the hunt to other types of bots. The bot-hunting programming and research has been a strictly volunteer, part-time endeavor, but the efforts have collectively identified tens of thousands of fake accounts, underlining just how much low-hanging fruit remains for Twitter to prune.

Autodidacts at Automaton Detection

Among the part-time bot-hunters is French security researcher and freelance Android developer Baptiste Robert, who in February of this year noticed that Twitter accounts with profile photos of scantily clad women were liking his tweets or following him on Twitter. Aside from the sexually suggestive images, the bots had similarities. Not only did these Twitter accounts typically include profile photos of adult actresses, but they also had similar bios, followed similar accounts, liked more tweets than they retweeted, had fewer than 1,000 followers, and directed readers to click the link in their bios.

So, Robert decided to create a proof-of-concept bot to show his followers that finding these accounts is pretty easy. It took less than one hour to write the first version of @PornBotHunter." Robert is quick to admit that the software is just a proof of concept.

Still, it's fascinating that a tool put together in just an hour is catching bots before Twitter does itself. As of March 1, @PornBotHunter has listed 197 spammy, apparently fake accounts in Pastebin, and 66, roughly a third, have yet to be suspended by Twitter. The others were suspended soon after being indexed by Google or after Robert reported them to Twitter.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, a group of five archivists, data journalists, and academic researchers also noticed that many Twitter users were getting inundated with automated accounts sharing sexually explicit links and images. They decided to analyze some of these porn bots through a project called Botjakten ("jakten" means "hunt" in Norwegian).

Botjakten started in mid-January as a crowdsourced project using a simple Google form that allowed users to report suspected bots that had followed or retweeted them.

After a few weeks, the 30,000 bots identified by the Botjakten group's software suddenly ceased all activity, so they attempted to find more bots by examining accounts that followed those 30,000 bots. This produced 20,000 more bots to track.

In the summer of 2017, Twitter did take down SIREN, a massive spam pornography botnet of over 90,000 accounts that included profiles with women's names and sexually suggestive photographs with canned sexually explicit phrases in broken English. After Baltimore-based security firm ZeroFOX disclosed the profiles and posts to the Twitter security team, they were removed - but this was after the botnet generated almost 30 million clicks through Twitter, as well as spam emails.

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 16th March 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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UK government will be forced to debate a code of practice for cops' use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems after Labour MPs tabled an amendment to the Data Protection Bill.

Widespread use of ANPR means cameras across the country submit between 25 million and 35 million read records to the national ANPR data centre each day. There are more than 22 billion records in the database.

Despite the gigantic scale of the slurp, the Home Office has repeatedly resisted calls from the surveillance camera commissioner and others to put ANPR on a statutory footing to increase oversight, accountability and transparency.

"It's very clear to me, that as ANPR expanded, and its capacity and capability expanded, that there was very little - if any - democratic oversight of its utility, its capability," surveillance camera commissioner Tony Porter told The Register.

"And then you have to combine that with the lack of transparency because there [are] 43 forces that use it, as well as the back office use."

The government will now be forced to confront such concerns in Parliament as four Labour MPs have proposed inserting a clause requiring the secretary of state to develop an ANPR code of practice into the Data Protection Bill.

"This amendment, whilst about three years after the [initial] call, is well deserved," Porter said.

In order to be effective, he said, the code would have to be "properly formulated" so it has accountability lines back to Parliament, with a requirement to report back on the performance, value and utility of ANPR, and ensure transparency in the tech's use.

But there are also concerns about the tech's increasing presence in the private sector for car parks and traffic monitoring - which wouldn't be brought under a code. These firms access vehicle-keeper records from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) quango in order to issue the owners with fines.

"If the private sector are going to acquire data held by the DVLA - effectively a state database - well surely there should be greater focus on their use of ANPR," Porter said.

He added, though, that there was some recent progress in this regard, as the British Parking Association (BPA) has said they expect private firms to comply with the surveillance camera code of practice. Any that do not can be excluded from the BPA, which would mean no access to DVLA records.

"So we have made some moves forward, which is to be celebrated," Porter said. "However, is it sufficient, and will it be policed? How would I know out of the thousands of operators that 100, 200 are not in fact complying? I wouldn't; I don't have the wherewithal to police that."

There are other concerns about the technology itself: it is reported to operate with a 97 per cent accuracy, which could equate to some 1.25 million misreads a day.

"There's a legitimate public debate to be had about whether the national standard of 97 per cent accuracy is acceptable," Porter said. "That needs to percolate up into the public consciousness."

Labour's ANPR amendment (NC15) has been tabled as the bill makes its way through the committee stage, which - because the legislation is on a very tight schedule - must complete by Tuesday 27 March.

It is likely to be debated towards the end of the hearings, and while the UK's governing Conservative Party might not want to accept an opposition amendment, it will have to weigh this against the chance of losing a vote. Another option would be for the government to agree to put ANPR on a statutory footing to persuade Labour to withdraw the amendment.

(1st April 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 14th March 2018 author Isabel Van Brugen)

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London Underground passengers are most likely to be victims of racially or religiously aggravated abuse at King's Cross St Pancras, new figures reveal.

Statistics show 1,960 race and religiously motivated hate crimes were reported on the London Underground from January 2015 to December 2017.

King's Cross St Pancras, London's second busiest Tube station, took top spot with 51 hate crimes reported over the three-year period, around 17 offences a year. Oxford Circus - also one of London's busiest Tube stations - was the second in the league table with 47 reported hate crimes over three years, according to figures obtained from British Transport Police through a Freedom of Information request.

Other Underground stations with double-digit hate crime reports were Baker Street with 45 incidents, Stratford with 44 and West Ham with 43.

The numbers also reveal hate crime on the London Underground has risen by almost a third in three years.

A total of 718 racially and religiously motivated hate crimes were reported last year, compared with 695 in 2016 and 546 in 2015.

Rose Simkins, chief executive of leading anti-hate crime charity Stop Hate UK, believes the rhetoric of politicians building up to the EU referendum may have led some people to believe the Brexit vote was about race, rather than about economics or independence.

She said: "From the day the EU referendum result was announced, we saw an immediate change and increase in people calling us. It does seem to unleash this level of racism that it doesn't matter who you target, that you're free to target somebody. A minority of people are feeling bolder and think they can say these things and get away with it."

British Transport Police, which launched anti-hate crime campaign WeStandTogether last year, urges victims to continue to report hate offences by ringing 0800 40 50 40 or by texting 61016. In an emergency call 999.

Chief Inspector Chris Casey said: "The sort of hate crime we see on the transport network is largely verbal abuse, rather than physical attacks, but this is extremely serious and we treat every report seriously."

London's worst stations for rising race hate crime

1 King's Cross St Pancras 51

2 Oxford Circus 47

3 Baker Street 45

4 Stratford 44

5 West Ham 43

6 Wembley Park 38

7 Liverpool Street 34

8 London Bridge 29

10 Finsbury Park 29

11 Vauxhall 28

12 Earl's Court 28

13 Green Park 28

14 Bank 27

15 Hammersmith 26

16 Waterloo 25

17 Stockwell 24

18 Shepherd's Bush 22

19 Bethnal Green 22

20 Seven Sisters 2

(1st April 2018)

(The Times, dated 14th March 2018 authors Deborah Haynes and Mark Bridge)

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Spy and military chiefs are looking to create a new force to bolster their ability to combat hostile states and terrorist groups in cyberspace, The Times has learnt.

The proposed joint cyberforce will comprise more than 1,000 GCHQ and military personnel as well as contractors. It would be a significant increase from a team of operators engaged in offensive cyberoperations against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, defence sources said.

General Sir Gordon Messenger, Britain's second most senior commander, said that the armed forces and GCHQ were looking to "accelerate and deepen" their partnership.

The desire to increase offensive as well as defensive cyber capabilities will feature in the findings of a review of national security capabilities due to be published before Easter.

An offensive cyberattack could be deployed by Britain against Russia in response to the nerve agent assassination attempt in Salisbury.

Security sources said that they did not think the government would authorise a large-scale, destructive online assault because that woul not be deemed proportionate and would probably trigger a tit-for-tat response. Instead, any operations authorised in cyberspace would most probably never be disclosed.

They could include using malware to disrupt online financial transactions by Russian criminals and hacking into emails to steal and publish embarrassing information, such as alleged links between organised crime and senior officials in the Kremlin. Robert Hannigan, a former director of GCHQ, sounded a cautious note. "Starting a cyberconflict is not in anyone's interests," he told The Times. "We need to be sure that anything we do is consistent with our values, which is what makes us different to the Russian state."

Britains offensive cyberteam thought to include hundreds of GCHQ and military officers and analysts, is much smaller than Russia's. However, the UK works closely with the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Cyber Command, which is more than a match.

GCHQ beefed up its ability to defend Britains networks from cyberattack with the creation of a National Cyber Security Centre in 2016.

Offensive cyberoperations by Britain, the US and other allies have played a prominent part in the campaign against Isis. "The UK has been quite a leading player and we should take some pride in that," General Messenger said in a recent interview.

"We have been very concerned about (Isis's) capabilities. They have been particularly strong in the areas of social media as a tool of radicalisation. They have been quite adept at portraying themselves in the media.

Working with GCHQ.....we have conducted offensive cyberactivity against them and vastly reduced their ability to do those things to some high level of success."

The cybermission, run out of GCHQ's headquarters in Cheltenham and the military permanent joint headquarters in Northwood, north-west London, is co-ordinated through a US-led combined air operations centre in Qatar. Cyber Command and the NSA, the US equivalent of GCHQ, also play a leading role.

Any new joint cyberforce is likely to be established at a seperate location. General Messenger declined to confirm plans for the joint force but said that officials are looking at how the joint mission will be structured in the future.

No final decisions have yet been made.

How a cyberwar could play out

The first sign of trouble was the ATMs. As Britons filled their wallets, the "out of order" signs mushroomed (Edward Lucas writes). At the National Security Cyber Centre, experts rapidly spotted the issue : malware on the system that connected the ATMs to the banks databases.

It copied itself on to every machine it found in the guise of a software updated then disabled all further updates. It then spewed out fake messages to the point that genuine communications on the network were swamped.

Technicians had to visit every infected ATM, swich it off and restart with right software.

In its bunker deep underneath Whitehall, the Cobra committee convened. It was clear Britain was under attack. The obvious answer was Russia. The code showed no sign of orgin. Yet there was no doubt in anyones minds. This was clearly the response to the visa and financial sanctions the prime minister had announced that week.

On a video conference to Cheltenham, Theresa May asked the head of GCHQ for options. Jeremy Fleming said: "I suggest Operation Pocketbook. We deployed its initial phase in what was known as the Panama Papers. Next would be to release the credit card details of senior Russians. This will highlight the luxurious lifestyle of people who claim to live on official salaries. It will involve personal embarrassment when their spouses and associates become ware of their leisure activities."

At that point, the lights flickered and died, leaving only the sound of whirring ventilation.

A few seconds later, that stopped too.

Edward Lucas is a columnist for The Times and a cybersecurity expert

(1st April 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 13th March 2018 authors Joe Murphy and Charlotte Edwardes) [Option 1]

A new crackdown on knife violence will give British police the most detailed intelligence picture yet of where and when young people are in danger in a bid to prevent a possible stabbing incident, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Tuesday.

Any crime report where a blade is mentioned will in future be automatically flagged as a knife incident in order to build up crime maps.

The initiative, part of the home secretary's forthcoming Serious Violence Strategy, is aimed at helping police to step in before a stabbing takes place, saving young lives, she said. "Put simply it means police officers can be in the right places at the right time," she said in an interview with the Evening Standard.

Ms Rudd will unveil the plans, which are being trialled in Somerset and Avon, at a summit of mayors, council leaders and the Police and Crime Commissioners tommorrow.

Machines will trawl crime reports for any references to knives, freeing up officers. It takes the concept of "hotspot policing" -- developed a decade ago by combining hospital admission records with crime reports -- to a new level.

Ms Rudd said: "I've probed quite carefully about how useful this might be, because... police (will) sometimes say, 'Are you telling me I don't know where the crimes are?'," she said. Of course they know the estates or neighbourhoods where there will be more crime. But this is about being able to really drill down.

"Using the data analytics you might find out that there's a bus stop on a corner where at four o'clock, when certain things happen, there's a much higher level," she said. "Then you might get the police to drive by or walk past, so it's a combination of prevention and prosecution."

Two men have been stabbed on Feb 22 to death within two hours of each other in the same London borough, bringing the number of people fatally wounded with knives in the capital in 2018 to at least 15.

Official figures showed that 2017 was the worst year for knife deaths among young people since at least 2002. Forty-six people aged 25 or under were stabbed to death in London, 21 more than the previous year, according to police figures.

The latest phase of a Met police operation to fight knife crime resulted in nearly 300 arrests and the seizure of more than 250 weapons. Throughout the week-long operation officers recovered 265 knives, six firearms, and 45 other offensive weapons.

The initiative builds on the launch of police handheld devices for recording incidents, which the home secretary said had cut the time officers spend on paperwork by a tenth, "which is like putting 10 percent more police on the streets," she said.

"Evidence shows that serious violence tends to be concentrated in small areas, usually urban," she said. "By focusing resources and activities on these 'hotspots', we know these crimes can be reduced."

Further information - uaware

See also :

(1st April 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 12th March 2018 author Gwyn Topham)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of sexual offences reported on Britain's railways has more than doubled over the past five years, according to police. Across Britain's railways, including the tube, there were 2,382 offences in 2017, compared with 1,049 reported in 2013, British Transport Police (BTP) figures show.

Overall, crime has generally fallen on public transport over the last decade, and police said the number of sexual offences reflected campaigns to encourage the reporting of these crimes. However, police believe that most such incidents remain unreported.

Figures given to LBC in response to a freedom of information request showed 210 incidents last year involved children under the age of 18.

Victims have been able to report sexual offences by text message since 2013 as part of a policing operation launched in London called Project Guardian, including specialist covert patrols on the underground to catch offenders.

The number of recorded offences has risen steadily since 2013, up to 1,307 in 2014, to 1,795 in 2015 and 2,070 in 2016. The overwhelming number of reports were in England, with only 87 offences recorded by transport police in Scotland and Wales last year, up from 60 in 2013.

The BBC last year said 1,448 sexual offences were reported on trains in 2016-17. The latest figures also include offences on stations.

A BTP spokesman said tackling all forms of unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport was a priority. "We have worked hard in recent years to send a clear message to victims that they will be taken seriously and we will thoroughly investigate offences.

"This includes any form of behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable - that could be rubbing, leering, sexual comments, indecent acts or more serious sexual assault."

A campaign called Report It to Stop It, which has superseded Project Guardian, has helped to raise awareness and give people the confidence to contact police.

The spokesman added: "Though it is clearly a concern that so many people are affected by this type of crime, it is pleasing that previously reluctant victims of sexual offences now have the confidence to report this to us."

(1st April 2018)

(Mirror, dated 10th March 2018 author Rachael Burford)

Full article [Option 1]:

The 50 most dangerous cities in the world, where kidnapping, gun fights and murders are rife on the streets have been revealed.

South and Central America dominate the most dangerous, but the United States and South Africa also make several appearances.

No European , Asian, Australian or Canadian cities featured in the report, which ranked each city according to the homicide rate per 100,000 residents.

Los Cabos, in cartel-plagued Mexico, was named the most violent in the world according to the report by Mexican think tank Security, Justice and Peace.

Caracas in Venezuela came in second, making it the world's most dangerous capital city.

The beach resort town of Acapulco was third, Natal in Brazil listed fourth and Tijuana, Mexico rounded up the top five.

Out of the 50 cities listed, 42 were in Central or South America, with Brazil making by far the most appearances followed by Mexico and Venezuela.

Mexico saw a sharp rise in violent crime in 2017, the report states, with 12 cities included in this years list when just five were recorded back in 2015.

The United States made four appearances. St Louis in Missouri came in at number 13, having seen a spike in crime and deadly shootings.

Researchers found 205 homicides were committed in the city in 2017, making the murder rate 65.83 per 100,000 people.

Violence has been brewing in the state since the Ferguson riots in 2014 and 2015.

Baltimore was listed as the 21st most dangerous city after a spike in violent crime, particularly in the down town area.

New Orleans was placed at number 42 and Detroit took the 42nd spot.

The report found that there has been a marked decrease in violence in Honduras, with its only two cities on the list dropping from third and fourth to the 26th and 35th place respectively.

The authors said the Honduran government's efforts to tackle organised criminal gangs and restore order in prisons were behind the significant drop.

here was also a drop in Venezuela, though the report warned this was likely because the government had lost a large amount of control meaning meaning authorities could no longer effectively record and investigate murders.

Two cities -Cumaná and Gran Barcelona -were removed from map completely because it was impossible to establish a murder rate.

San Salvador, in El Salvador, home of the MS13 gang, featured at number 17.

Kingston, Jamaica and Cape Town, Durban,Nelson Mandela Bay and Port Elizabeth also all featured on the list.

Full list: The 50 most dangerous cities in the world

1. Los Cabos, Mexico

2. Caracas, Venezuela

3. Acapulco, Mexico

4. Natal, Brazil

5. Tijuana, Mexico

6. La Paz, Mexico

7. Fortaleza, Brazil

8. Victoria, Mexico

9. Guayana, Brazil

10. Belém, Brazil

11. Vitória da Conquista, Brazil

12. Culiacán, Mexico

13. St Louis, United States

14. Maceió, Brazil

15. Cape Town, South Africa

16. Kingston, Jamaica

17. San Salvador, El Salvador

18. Aracaju, Brazil

19. Feira de Santana, Brazil

20. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

21. Baltimore, United States

22. Recife, Brazil

23. Maturín, Venezuela

24. Guatemala, Guatemala

25. Salvador, Brazil

26. San Pedro Sula, Honduras

27. Valencia, Venezuela

28. Cali, Colombia

29. Chihuahua, Mexico

30. João Pessoa, Brazil

31. Obregón, Mexico

32. San Juan, Puerto Rico

33. Barquisimeto, Venezuela

34. Manaus, Brazil

35. Distrito Central, Honduras

36. Tepic, Mexico

37. Palmira, Colombia

38. Reynosa, Mexico

39. Porto Alegre, Brazil

40. Macapá, Brazil

41. New Orleans, United States

42. Detroit, United States

43. Mazatlán, Mexico

44. Durban, South Africa

45. Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil

46. Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa

47. Campina Grande, Brazil

48. Teresina, Brazil

49. Vitória, Brazil

50. Cúcuta, Colombia

(1st April 2018)

(Wales Online, dated 10th March 2018 author Will Hayward)

uaware WARNING
: Some of the number plates are explicit

Full article [Option 1]:

If you have spare cash and want your car to stand out, you may decide to splurge on a personalised number plate.

But don't be fooled into thinking you can get any number plate you want.

Scores of number plates are completely banned.

The decision as to what should and shouldn't be banned is made by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in a meeting convened twice a year, ahead of each bi-annual plate change.

Anything with "BNP" is banned

Censors decide which plates should be banned due to their explicit nature or potential to be offensive for political, racial or religious reasons, including anything ending in BNP.

If a would-be banned plate does slip through the net, the DVLA has the power to force its removal and replacement with a new registration.

Plates can be banned regardless of whether they are standard or personalised.

According to prohibited plates include "JE55 US", "15 LAM", "OS55 AMA" and "AD13 CTS", along with any plate which could have political connotations like "EU16 OUT", "EU16 GON" and anything containing "BNP".

A DVLA spokeswoman said: "There's nothing scientific about it, it's all done by taste, and if some slip through and we get a complaint, we take the feedback on board."

The new "18" plates have meant that a whole new range of number plates have been completely banned.

The DVLA does not publish a complete list of banned number plates, but it has revealed some of those banned this year.

These are the "18" plates that have been banned:











###These are some of the plates that have been banned in recent years:




























(1st April 2018)

(Liverpool Echo, dated 10th March 2018 author Caroline Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

From sneaky text messages which appear to be from our banks to suspicious e-mails trying to steal our credit card information, scams are a part of everyday life and it's important to be aware of how fraudsters are trying to trick you.

This means you may well have routines and checks that you complete when you open e-mails, text messages and websites to make sure that they are legitimate and trustworthy.

But, if are you looking out for certain symbols and signs to confirm the authenticity of these things, it's important to make sure you are fully aware of what these indicators actually mean.

For instance, do you find yourself looking out for the "green padlock" on websites to check they are secure?

But do you actually know what the "green padlock" means?

Here, we spoke to Action Fraud to get some more information:

What exactly do 'green padlocks' mean?

Action Fraud explained to us that the green padlock means that your connection to the website in question is encrypted. This means that no-one else can be snooping on passwords or credit card details that you enter onto the site.

This means it's essential that people check there is a green padlock before you put in these details - it guarantees you're only talking to the website you see in the address bar.

How do websites obtain 'green padlocks'?

You need a certificate from a certifying authority (CA) - and there are a lot of free ones available now. This makes a URL (web address) start with HTTPS rather than HTTP and gives the green padlock. It's really easy and, if you manage your own website, you should get one.

But is it true that 'green padlocks' don't verify that a website is legitimate?

As Action Fraud explains, here's where the problem is - the green padlock ONLY means that the connection is encrypted to whatever site you're on.

It does NOT mean that the site is genuine - and no-one checks this for you.

So, for example, a fraudster might register a site with a very similar name to a popular site and which looks quite like it - then get a free certificate to get the green padlock.

And, of course, while no-one else would be able to see you putting your credit card details onto that website, the site owner would be able to steal them.

If people using a website with a 'green padlock' don't believe it is legitimate, what should they do or look out for to check it is legitimate - or report it if it is not?

Always check the URL in the address bar is what you're expecting to see before you pay for something or put in any personal details.

If it doesn't look right, the best thing to do is close the browser window. You can often report fake websites to the owners of the real website you were trying to use, and Action Fraud wants to hear about it too - report it at .

And, in general, If you think you have been a victim of fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting

(1st April 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 10th March 2018 author Jamie Doward)

Full article [Option 1]:

Hundreds of thousands of NHS patients are being wrongly accused of fraudulently claiming free prescriptions and are being threatened with fines.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows that 1,052,430 penalty notices were issued to patients in England in 2017 - about double the level in the previous year.

The fines, which carry a maximum penalty of £100 and are issued to those who wrongly claim free medication, are issued after an NHS exemption certificate has expired.

But the data confirms that 342,882 penalty notices were subsequently withdrawn because the patient was entitled to the free prescription.

"These Freedom of Information requests appear to show a penalty system that is dysfunctional," said Lucy Watson, chair of the Patients Association. "Any organisation issuing penalty notices and then having to withdraw nearly one in three because they were issued in error is not operating as it should. This compounds the unjust and haphazard nature of prescription charging in England, with some patients facing substantial costs to manage their conditions, and others being entitled to free prescriptions."

Part of the problem stems from patients moving home and failing to update their records.

The NHS Business Services Authority, the agency in charge of issuing the fines, said it was continually reviewing its data-matching process and making improvements to ensure eligible patients were not wrongly pursued. It said it was also trying to educate patients on the importance of keeping the details on both their GP records and their exemption or prescription prepayment certificates up to date.

"The NHS loses millions each year through fraudulent and incorrect claims for free prescriptions," said Alison O'Brien, head of loss recovery services at the authority. "On behalf of NHS England, and in discussion with the Department of Health and Social Care, the NHS Business Services Authority checks claims randomly and retrospectively to appropriately recover funds and return them to NHS services."

Peter Burt, a patient who was wrongly issued with one of the penalty notices, said he worried about how certain patients would react to receiving one. "Some of the people who received these notices will certainly be in vulnerable situations and some will be receiving prescription medication for anxiety and mental health issues," Burt said.

"They should not be receiving letters threatening court action just because the NHS can't be bothered to check the records to see whether they have a prepayment card - especially if there is no intention of carrying out the threat. It's hugely disappointing that, at a time when clinical services are clearly facing financial strains, the NHS bureaucracy is wasting money by sending out hundreds of thousands of inaccurate demands every year."

Watson said more problems lay ahead if further planned changes to the way medicines were prescribed were introduced.

"The bureaucracy around prescriptions is unfit for purpose, and will only get worse if NHS England introduces its planned restrictions on prescribing over the counter medicines," she said. "Serving notice of penalties for free prescriptions on patients who may be vulnerable and unwell and are then required to demonstrate their right to a free prescription cannot be a compassionate and caring way to manage this system."

(1st April 2018)

(Maritime Executive, dated 10th March 2018 author David Rider)

Full article [Option 1]:

The maritime cyber security landscape is a confusing place. On the one hand, you have commercial providers suggesting the risks of everything from a hostile attack on ship's systems which allows the vessel to be remotely controlled by pirates and direct it to a port of their choice, or causing a catastrophic navigation errors, a phishing attack or ransomware on the Master's PC. While on the other, you have sensible people who point out that this notion is nonsense due to the number of fail safes and manual overrides and controls in place.

Then there are calmer voices still, who point out that the most likely threat is actually to the servers inside your head office, or a man in the middle attack on your company's bank accounts.

Recognizing the threats

So what are the real, documented, current threats to the shipping industry from cyber criminals? Here, we hope to offer some genuine guidance without scaremongering. We're not trying to sell you anything. We're just trying to make sure you know what the risk of simply doing nothing is.

Much has been made of the threat to vessels on the water from hackers. However, there is only limited available credible evidence to support claims of hacks at sea. Rather, the real threats on the water come from a lack of crew training and awareness and a culture which turns a blind eye to crew using their own devices at work (Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD) and plugging them into ship systems to charge them, thereby possibly releasing a malware they may have been inadvertently carrying onto the vessel.

Maritime cyber security survey results

In 2017, I.H.S. Fairplay conducted a maritime cyber security survey, to which 284 people responded. 34 percent of them said that their company had experienced a cyber attack in the previous 12 months. Of those attacks, the majority were ransomware and phishing incidents; exactly the same sort of incidents affecting companies everywhere, and not at all specific to the maritime world.

The good news is that only 30 percent of those responding to the survey had no appointed information security manager or department, meaning that the majority of companies have a resource able to respond and mitigate any attack.

However, the survey did reveal that there are still a lot of employees who have not received cyber awareness training of any kind, which means the shipping industry must try harder, for its own security.

Additionally, only 66 percent of those questioned said that their company had an IT security policy, which is a serious cause for concern; IT security cannot be approached on an ad hoc, incident by incident basis. It's the security equivalent of plugging holes in a hull with cardboard.

To underline that, 47 percent of those questioned believed that their organization's biggest cyber vulnerability was the staff. Hardly a glowing endorsement but, if you don't train your staff to be aware of threats, it's not surprising.

Mitigating the risk - train your staff

Imagine you're in charge of a company. You trust your staff to do everything. Except, it seems, ensure your bank accounts aren't handed over to cyber criminals or that your network is exposed to ransomware or malicious attack.

It would seem to be a rather curious way to run a company.

The key to mitigating cyber crime is training. Yes, you can put posters up; send company memoranda out; promote industry guidelines. But how many of your staff take those in? A robust workplace IT security policy is the first step, but that can only work when also supported by a training course where employees can see the risks through demonstrations, simulations and good teaching.

There are very simple changes that any company can make to ensure better security in the workplace. From enforcing a zero tolerance on BYOD, which is often disliked by the crew, to separating crew and administrative or operational networks, blanking unused USB ports and requiring monitors be turned away from public view to prevent "shoulder surfing" and a rule that all computers go into secure sleep mode when left unattended.

For staff dealing with accounts, additional rules may be required to ensure the risks of phishing and social engineering (whale attack) are reduced.

You don't think your company is at risk? In November 2016, Europe's largest manufacturer or wires and electrical cables, Leoni AG, lost £34 million in a whale attack, when cyber criminals tricked finance staff into transferring money to the wrong bank account.

£34 million. Lost… That should be read out to every board of directors.

And similar attacks take place every week.

In the last six months, the shipping industry has seen several incidents in the sector, ranging from a data breach at Clarksons through to the damage done to Maersk by the WannaCry NotPetya variant sabotage/ransomware incident, which the company believes cost it as much as $300 million.

These are some of the reasons for the creation of the Maritime Cyber Alliance, a project created by CSO Alliance in partnership with Airbus Defence & Space. The aim is simple: connect maritime and oil and gas chief information security officers via a secure, private platform, allow verified cyber intrusions to be reported anonymously and provide members with threat alerts and tools to analyze malware and prevent attacks as well as offering workshops to promote best practice in the industry and listen to concerns.

February saw the Alliance participate in four workshops across the U.K., in Aberdeen for the offshore industry; Edinburgh for the ports community and Glasgow for ship management. Guest speakers included Kewal Rai, Policy Adviser for Cyber Security with the Department of Transport, Sergeant David Sanderson from Hampshire Police, Vic Start, Thomas de Menthiere and Jean Baptsiste Lopez of Airbus, among others.

Among the concerns raised by attendees were questions on mitigation of attacks, the impact of E.U.'s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the U.K. and how Airbus was delivering its solutions to users of the site.

The Alliance is already gathering detailed cyber crime incident reports from industry. We've seen an examples from shipowners who lost two days' hire due to malware contamination via a USB stick, invoice fraud in the port, superyacht and ship broker sectors. The latter saw a ship broker's systems compromised by criminals who altered payment details to steal £500,000.

Luckily, in that case, the company's quick reaction, a court order and a rapid forensic investigation ensured they recovered the missing funds. We are starting to see multiple attempts of invoice fraud using privileged information, which means a vendor's company accounts have been compromised. The timely sharing and analysis of information will grow with the increased cyber crime report data flow via the Cyber Alliance's crime reporting servers, based in Iceland in order to ensure anonymity. The solution, of course, is to ensure your company requires multiple sign-offs for any payments over a certain amount and pick up the phone to verify and vendor bank account changes. The risk of getting it wrong could bankrupt you.

There's clearly a need for industry to take the lead on protection and, hopefully, the Maritime Cyber Alliance will enable that. Further workshops, which are all free to attend, are planned for the coming months.

Regulatory compliance

The next major hurdle facing companies around the globe comes in the shape of the GDPR, which comes in to force in May 2018. It will affect companies in every sector, but the maritime industry in particular, given its global reach.

In essence, the GDPR is the first data protection measure to affect the entire world. If your company holds or processes the personal data of E.U. citizens, people working for E.U. entities or trading with the E.U., then you're affected and will need to ensure that you're compliant with the new regulations. Failure to do so will result in huge fines. GDPR's definition of "personal data" is far broader than previous regulations, meaning that any information which can be used to identify an individual falls under it.

The new regulation introduces Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs), which means that companies will be required to conducts PIAs wherever privacy breach risks are high in order to minimize risk to data subjects. Many companies may have to hire data protection officers in order to ensure compliance, while those companies dealing with EU crews will also want to take note of their liabilities in this regard.

The good news is that GDPR will also bring in common data breach protection notification requirements, so companies will be forced to report any breach of their systems within 72 hours, thus ensuring industry awareness and a better response time to potential vulnerabilities. This, in itself, may require staff training and is yet another aspect of GDPR companies need to be aware of.

For companies doing business in the E.U., which covers a vast swathe of the maritime industry, the NIS Directive covering network and information security also comes in to force in May 2018. In the U.K., the government has announced that organizations working in critical services like energy, transport, water and health can be fined up to £17 million as a "last resort" if they fail to demonstrate that their cyber security systems are equipped against attacks.

The NIS Directive requires organizations to have the right staff in place and the proper software to mitigate cyber attack and intrusion. Private and public companies in each sector will be evaluated by regulators who will vet everything from infrastructure and issue fines for firms who fail.

"Network and information systems give critical support to everyday activities, so it is absolutely vital that they are as secure as possible," said Ciaran Martin, U.K. National Cyber Security Centre CEO, in a statement.

Ultimately, the new regulations will be of benefit to everyone, but ensuring your company meets the right standards will be crucial. The days where maritime cyber security amounted to just making sure you turned the office PC off are long gone. Today, cyber security demands board room level attention as well as vigilance from all employees, be they in head office or out on the water.

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 9th March 2018 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1]:

A UK government agency has disputed complaints from security pros that its website involved in the processing of driving licence applications is insecure and otherwise unfit for purpose.

Reader Andy, who asked to remain anonymous, alerted us to what he described as a "disgraceful web server configuration" at, a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency website involved in the processing of UK driving licence renewals.

Essentially, the site's HTTPS certificate and server settings for encrypting traffic, and ergo people's personal information while in transit over the internet, fall short of expectations. The weaknesses could be exploited by snoops on networks to peer at Brits' sensitive info.

"The website only handles pretty much all of your official IDs and your card numbers (certainly when you apply for a Government Gateway ID too) and is your online way to renewing your driving license," said Andy, a CISSP-qualified infosec manager. "Lord knows why it's not been spotted yet by them. Firefox won't even allow a connection without putting an exception in."

Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers allow netizens to connect to the site as things stand, but Firefox does not without overriding a warning because the SSL/TLS security certificate chain for the DVLA site is incomplete.

"Anyone that needs to apply for a driving licence renewal will end up there. I was helping out my partner doing this very deed, when we came across the mess," Andy added.

The Register invited web security expert Paul Moore to look at the DVLA site. Moore expressed disappointment bordering on disgust at what he found in the process.

Moore vented via Twitter: "Insecure ciphers, the certificate isn't installed correctly, no security headers whatsoever and you're not PCI compliant!"

In response to queries from El Reg, the DVLA sent a statement denying accusations that its website had not followed industry best practice for secure communications:

The security certificates of all of our websites meet industry standards and we use recognised industry best practice methods to ensure that all our URLs are secure. The security of our customers' data is always paramount and we constantly review our websites to ensure they are fit for purpose.

The SSL Labs rating of the site had improved to a "B" by Tuesday, February 6 after achieving only a failing (F) grade as recently as the day before. Web security experts remained unimpressed, arguing there was still work to be done.

"The certificate still isn't installed correctly and there are still no security headers," Moore told El Reg.

Our tipster, Andy, echoed this point and added that as of Thursday late afternoon he was unable to access the site using either FireFox or a Samsung S7 browser.

"The [DVLA's] boilerplate response whilst in one area factually correct, seems to miss the point," he said. "The certificate itself does meet industry standards. The configuration of the certificate onto their server, however, does not. The missing chain is still reporting on Qualys SSL. That is why Firefox and S7 browsers are rejecting the connection.

"I don't agree they are using the recognised industry best practice methods to secure their URLs. If they were, then Qualys would not have awarded an F rating on the basis of RC4 and 3DES insecure cipher suites still being active in the server configuration. They should have been removed as part of a hardening procedure pre-live."

Andy concluded that there was still a problem with the site despite some recent improvements. "[The] DVLA must have now done something about the incredibly insecure and weak ciphers they were previously peddling, as of today Qualys is reporting a grade B as opposed to the F they reported over the weekend.

"Better, but it still leaves the certificate chain issue, still some weak TLS1.2 ciphers, and I guess I hope they will switch off TLS1.0 soon, because it's insecure now anyway, and come 30 June that will be a PCI-DSS1 non-compliance!"

Insecure ciphers - perhaps enabled to ensure compatibility with older browsers - have been retired but even so problems still remain, and the site's security grade remains rock bottom.

Scott Helme, the researcher behind the security project, said the F grade for the DVLA site achieved with his service shows the need for remediation.

"Whilst the F grade doesn't mean they have an immediate vulnerability that could be exploited, they're not taking basic precautions to protect their users," Helme told El Reg. "If the basics aren't being covered here, where else [is] not being covered that we can't see?

"The practical effects of the findings here might not be devastating, but these tools gives us a good insight into how an organisation deals with security."

(1st April 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th March 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

Londoners are losing an average of £26 million a month in cyber attacks on businesses and individuals, Scotland Yard warned today.

About 3,500 victims of cyber fraud are recorded in the capital each month, with phishing emails, ransomware and malware the most common scams. Senior Met officers warned fraudsters often target individual employees to bypass company security systems.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher, head of the Met's Organised Crime Command, said: "We accept organisations and the public generally have the technology and correct processes but it is people that are vulnerable.

"What we are finding is that people are vulnerable through a lack of understanding of the cyber threat." He said criminals were singling out individuals and targeting them in a "Trojan horse" style tactic to infiltrate firms.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles, head of the Met's Falcon cyber crime unit, said research showed 89 per cent of firms had installed the right firewalls but fewer than 20 per cent had trained staff to make them aware of threats. It was now easier to exploit an individual than try to breach a company's cyber defences, he added. The biggest threat was phishing emails to vulnerable employees which allowed fraudsters to access company networks.

Scotland Yard's cyber crime unit has developed a tabletop exercise which aims to teach business leaders how to protect their companies.

The "deliberately low-tech" Lego game shows the potentially disastrous consequences of weak computer security, such as insecure passwords and out-of-date software. It has already been used in sessions with firms including Tata Steel and Quintain, as well as Scotland Yard's top officers, including Commissioner Cressida Dick.

In December Grant West, 25, admitted hacking 17 firms including Uber, Sainsbury's, Asda, Argos, Ladbrokes, Coral and Groupon in order to sell users' personal data on the dark web. West, of Isle of Sheppey, got hold of the details of 165,000 customers of Just Eat in 2015, Southwark crown court heard.

(London Evening Standard, dated 8th March 2018 author Mark Blunden)

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Computer virus "cocktails" used by hackers to wreak havoc and cause networks to seize up more than doubled last year, according to new research.

A study by networks security firm SonicWall found the different malware "recipes" used by cybercriminals increased by more than 100 per cent - from 1,419 types detected in 2016 to 2,855 last year.

Although the number of ransomware incidents dropped to 184 million last year from 638 million in 2016, there were many more varieties and their make-up was more complex, the report said. It comes after one ransomware attack - the WannaCry worm - targeted NHS computer systems last May, locking up out-of-date and vulnerable Windows PCs.

Hackers demanded ransoms in bitcoin to decrypt the computers.

SonicWall's report also collated last year's data breach figures. They show the vast leaks, which included those affecting Uber and Equifax, meant more personal information than ever before was dumped illegally online.

SonicWall chief executive Bill Conner described the attacks as a "cyber arms race affecting every government, business, organisation and individual".

PCs and Apple Macs in Europe made up nearly 40 per cent of victims, and the most affected software included Microsoft Office and Adobe Flash. The number of more general malware attacks also increased to 9.3 billion incidents, up nearly 20 per cent on 2016.

Malware can find its way onto a user's machine from phishing emails, infected file-sharing downloads, scam video links or fake Flash updates, such as the Bad Rabbit worm. These viruses can slow down a computer, install keyloggers to steal data or sneak in tools that harness a victim's computing power to mine cryptocurrency.

The most recent security concerns involved Intel chips affected by the major Meltdown and Spectre flaws.

SonicWall's data was gathered from sources including more than 200,000 daily malware samples and "honeypots" created by the company to lure hackers so their viruses can be collected and interrogated in a secure environment.

The report also warns that cybercriminals could target the increasing number of "smart" devices which are connected to the internet, from cars to household appliances such as refrigerators, thermostats and light bulbs.

Mr Conner said: "As the NHS witnessed last year, ransomware is a favourite tool for cybercriminals that will not be going away."


(1st April 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th March 2018 author Martin Bentham)

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Tech giants were attacked today by Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer for failing to provide police with a single tip-off about dangerous extremists operating online.

Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley called the "very wealthy corporations" the online equivalent of landlords of extremist "tenants" who had "encouraged, directed, enabled and promoted terrorist attacks with the click of a mouse or tap of a screen".

He said that "in the real world" conventional landlords would be expected to alert the authorities and evict those planning or inspiring attacks.

He was "disappointed" that police were not receiving such proactive help from online firms as he warned that extremism was now as great a threat to security as terrorism.

Mr Rowley's comments, in a speech to a World Counter Terror Congress in London today, follow heavy criticism by MPs of tech firms including Facebook, Google and Twitter for failing to do enough to rid their sites of inflammatory and hate-filled content.

The firms have insisted they are trying to address the problem. But Mr Rowley said that while the tech giants did respond to police requests to remove extremist material they were not doing enough of their own volition.

Pointing out that banks reported suspected crimes direct to police, he added: "Sadly, I am not as reassured by the level of proactivity and commitment from communications service providers about tackling the broader terrorist threat.

"Online extremists seem able to act with impunity, occupying spaces owned and managed by legitimate - and very wealthy - corporations.

"I am disappointed that in the UK we are yet to receive a direct referral from them when they have identified such behaviour."

Mr Rowley, who disclosed police and MI5 currently had 600 live counter-terrorism investigations, also called for other businesses to help in the terror fight by looking out for signs of radicalisation among their staff and encouraging employees to be vigilant about potential threats.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 5th March 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

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Hundreds of foreign criminals including rapists and violent offenders are on the run after the Government took too long to deport them, new figures suggest.

In just over two years immigration authorities lost track of nearly 500 overseas nationals who were facing removal from the UK after serving prison sentences for their crimes.

They had all been released into the community whilst their removal was organised, and would have been required to report to the Home Office at set times and can be subject to bail conditions and electronic monitoring.

Data obtained following a Freedom of Information request show a total of 494 foreign national offenders (FNOs) "absconded" while they were subject to deportation action from 2014 to the end of March 2016.

Many were later located but, as of last month, the whereabouts of more than 200 were still unknown - up to four years after contact with officials first ceased.

The revelations will prove embarrassing for Theresa May, who was Home Secretary at the time.

Conservative MP Tim Loughton, a member of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: "It is extraordinary that the Home Office has allowed so many convicted foreign offenders who clearly have no place to remain in the UK to roam free to do as they wish whilst paperwork for their deportation is being sorted.

"There should be a fast track deportation system from the prison to the plane with clear information sharing to make sure they do not gain entry again."

Figures released by the Home Office last week - nearly two years after they were originally requested - show 169 FNOs absconded in 2014, followed by 250 in 2015, and 75 in the first three months of 2016.

The statistics show 196 male absconders remained unfound as of February 9 this year.

Fifteen females who absconded in 2014 and 2015, plus an unspecified number of five or fewer who absconded in 2016, were also yet to be tracked down.

FNOs with convictions for violence, rape and other sexual crimes, fraud, money laundering, possession of weapons, burglary, forgery, motoring offences and handling stolen goods were among those unaccounted for as of last month.

The Home Office refused to provide data on the nationalities on the basis that disclosure could undermine agreements with other countries and prejudice the operation of immigration controls.

The Home Office said more than 41,000 foreign offenders have been removed from the country since 2010, including a record 6,346 in 2016-17.

A spokeswoman said: "This week, like every week, more than 100 foreign criminals will be removed from the UK.

"We never give up trying to locate absconders and we are overhauling the reporting system."

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 4th March 2018 author Wil Crisp)

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Illegal raves are on the rise as traditional nightclubs have been forced to close their doors, new figures reveal.

The number of planned unlicensed music events in London recorded by the Metropolitan Police nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017, according to figures obtained by the Sunday Telegraph using freedom of information legislation.

The rise has has been linked to the decline of traditional licensed venues, with half of the capital's nightclubs having closed in the past decade, according to City Hall.

The rising cost of drinks in legitimate venues has also been blamed for the return of rave culture.

Plans for 133 illegal raves were identified by the Met in 2017, up from 70 the previous year.

In September the consumer rights group CAMRA, which publishes the Good Pub Guide, said the average price of a pint of beer in the UK had hit a new high and warned that drinking in pubs was becoming an "unaffordable luxury" for many.

Kate Nicholls, the Chief Executive of the UK Hospitality, a non-government body that represents clubs and restaurants said: "If nightclubs are being forced to close or increase their prices then customers will naturally gravitate towards the alternatives that come in the form of illegal raves.

Mark Davyd, founder and CEO of the Music Venue Trust, a charity that works to prevent the closure of UK music venues, said the high cost of maintaining a license and paying business rates can drive innovative music underground and increasing the allure of unlicensed events.

On top of other challenges for nightclubs, business rates in London have risen by an average of 26 per cent since April 2017, according to research company Nordicity.

Increased security at nightclubs has also been blamed for driving interest in unlicensed events.

Chris Knowles, a former illegal rave organiser and one of the founders of the record label Stay Up Forever, said punters are put off by "humiliating and dehumanising" airport-style security in order to listen to their favourite genre of music.

The Metropolitan Police has changed its tactics on identifying unlicensed music events since 2015, with a new emphasis on the surveillance of individuals suspected of organising illegal raves.

"Using covert tactics, we try and understand who the organiser is and where they live," said Detective Chief Inspector John Oldham, the Head of Crime at the Met's Public Order Command. "We've woken up to the problem and put out a much higher intelligence requirement to identify these things."

Covert tools used by the Met's Public Order Command include online surveillance and the use of intelligence collection officers that are sent into venues.

"If you are dealing with something like drug dealing you need to put someone in to buy the drugs or to pretend to be a drug user," said Oldham.

The new tactics were adopted by the Met after efforts to shut down Scumoween, an illegal rave in Lambeth in 2015, resulted in "pitched battles" between partygoers and police officers. A total of 26 officers and a police dog were hurt in the clashes and 54 people were arrested.

In July 2016, three people, including a police officer, were stabbed in Hyde Park as officers in riot gear attempted to shut down an unlicensed music event. In June last year a similar operation to shut down an unlicensed music event in Stanford Hill led to hundreds of revellers spilling out onto the streets and clashes with police.

Roads were closed while a helicopter, dog units, and riot officers were used to try and subdue the crowd. During the violence car windows were smashed, one person was stabbed, and another was arrested.

Also last year, police shut down an illegal rave in a sewer in Newcastle that was attended by around two hundred people. Attendees had to wade through water to access the party where organisers had set up a sound system and lighting.

(1st April 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 4th March 2018 authors Steve Bird and Edward Malnick)

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Britain is facing the prospect of a Spring crime wave with anti-knife campaigners warning that 2018 could become the bloodiest year yet as the number of fatal stabbings soars.

The latest figures show that in January and February, London alone saw 16 fatal knife attacks, many of them believed connected to gangs. In total, 80 people were stabbed to death in the capital last year.

But campaigners fear the menace of knife crime is destined to get worse as warmer and longer days often bring a rise in street crime.

Patrick Green, of the Ben Kinsella Trust said the latest statistics were "ominous".

"By the end of February, a total of five teenagers lost their lives to knife crime in London, compared to two for the same period last year," he said.

"Our fear is that as days get longer we will see an exponential increase in violent crime. Crime data shows that the arrival of Spring brings with it an unwelcome increase in offending."

Danny O'Brien, who founded Anti-Knife UK and compiles knife crime data, said: "We are two months in to 2018 and across the UK we have had 50 fatal stabbings. We are seeing this kind of crime throughout the country, including in villages where you would not expect such things."

He said the latest figures are particularly concerning because the colder winter months normally see fewer such crimes, adding "come March and April things tend to pick up."

Meanwhile, Jermaine Lawlor, a reformed gang member who now works as a youth mentor, claimed street crime often has a "pattern" of seasonal behaviour.

"Come Spring and Summer people are out and about more, so the likelihood of confrontation increases because you're more likely to see a member of an opposing gang on your territory," Mr Lawlor, 26, said. "It's only going to get worse. Unfortunately, 2018 may well be the bloodiest year yet."

The prospect of a spike in violent crime is worrying many Conservative politicians, who fear the Tories are losing their reputation as the party of law and order.

Sir Mike Penning, a former Conservative police minister and MP for Hemel Hempstead, said: "Rising crime is a real threat to the government's credibility. I know from my own constituency that housing and education are real concerns, but what many people are most worried about is crime and feeling safe in their communities."

Figures he obtained from the House of Commons library show that a 21 per cent drop in police stop and searches in 2016/17 compared to the previous year coincided with a 20 per cent increase in police reported knife offences. Last year there were 303,845 stop and searches carried out, compared to 383,595 the previous year. Last year also saw 34,700 recorded knife crimes, compared to 28,877 in 2015/16.

In 2014, then Home Secretary, Theresa May, limited the powers of officers to stop and search suspects amid fears the powers were not being used legally.

"Knife crime is a particular problem," Sir Mike said. "Feral youngsters are rampaging around our streets because they know they are not going to be stopped and searched. We have to move this up the political agenda."

He insisted stop and search remains the "best weapon" in the fight against knife crime, adding: "The boys on the beat tell me that unless they can physically see a weapon they aren't allowed to do a stop and search. That was not what the Prime Minister intended. She wanted us to stop harassing young black and ethnic men, but the consequences are that the rules have been tightened so far that we aren't stopping and searching anyone."

Labour recently released a party political broadcast highlighting concerns that police cuts have led to the loss of 21,000 serving officers. The programme featured three retired police officers warning of the impact of such cuts.

Peter Kirkham, a retired Met Police Detective Chief Inspector who appeared in the broadcast, warned that support for the Conservatives among rank and file officers was falling.

"The Tories have become the party of crime and disorder. I think support for Conservatives among police has dropped from, say, 75 per cent to below 50 per cent, and could be as low as 25 per cent."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Every death from knife crime is a tragedy and this Government will take action and do everything it can to break the deadly cycle.

"The Home Secretary has been clear that stop and search is a vital policing tool and officers will always have the Government's full support to use these powers properly - it a targeted and intelligence-led way.

"We have also consulted on new laws on offensive and dangerous weapons and our new Serious Violence Strategy, to be published this Spring, will have early intervention at its heart and will challenge behaviour among some young people who view knife possession as normal and necessary."

The Met Police's Deputy Commissioner, Sir Craig Mackey, said tackling knife crime remained a "number on priority" and urged the local community to help eradicate the problem.

"We need to find out why some young people think it is acceptable to carry knives, and this is where community organisations and local initiatives, charities, schools and educators, youth workers and families all have an important role to play in changing this mindset."

"We can all do more to protect young people, and I would urge anybody who has information about those engaged in violent crime to speak to police. Your call could help save a life."

(1st April 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 4th March 2018 author Simon Rushton)

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Facebook and Google are "making profits" on the back of prostitution and human trafficking, according to the National Crime Agency.

It says vulnerable women forced to work in pop-up brothels are being pimped online via the world's biggest Internet platforms.

The Sunday Times reported finding three sex clubs around Hyde Park, central London, and that similar pop-up brothels had been found from Cornwall to the Peak District.

Will Kerr, the NCA's head of vulnera­bilities, said: "People are using the internet and social media sites to enable sexual exploitation and trafficking.

"It is clear that the internet platforms which host and make a profit out of this type of material need to do more to identify and stop these forms of exploitation."

Now the government is looking at laws that make the Internet company responsible for content published on their platforms.

"As the hosts of user-generated content, internet companies can and should be doing more to ­prevent trafficking-related material from appearing on their platforms," Downing Street said in a statement.

In the US, a bill is being pushed through Congress targeting Internet firm who "knowingly assist, support or facilitate" content that leads to trafficking.

The US legal effort was sparked by a site called which was packed with sex ads, many of them trafficked women or teenage runaways.

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 3rd March 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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British cops' use of automated facial recognition technology has come under fire from peers, with the Greens' Jenny Jones calling on the government for an immediate ban.

Speaking in a House of Lords debate, Jones said that there were "very real concerns" about the use of the technology, asserting that the UK was "moving into the kind of territory that even George Orwell could not have imagined".

Jones, along with a number of other peers, criticised the government for the lack of a clear regulation and governance framework - despite the growing use of AFR by forces, particularly the Metropolitan Police and the South Wales Police.

Lib Dem Paul Scriven said that although there might be "a few scattered papers", there is "no legislation, codified regulation or independent oversight" of the tech.

"What we have at the moment is a make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach or "do as you want as long as you don't get caught"," he said.

Fellow Lib Dem Brian Paddick agreed, saying that there is an "urgent need for regulation and oversight", adding that "it cannot be right that the policy on this use of technology is left to the police alone to decide for themselves".

Tory peer Gordon Wasserman, though, noted that AFR offers similar benefits to fingerprint and DNA analysis - both of which have been proven to not just support the prosecution, but also to prevent or rectify miscarriages of justice.

However, he emphasised that these systems had needed strong regulation, standards and guidelines, and without a similar urgent effort, "the use of facial recognition technology will fail to realise its full potential in the criminal justice system".

He added: "More significantly, without such standards, this technology could lead to miscarriages of justice, which in turn could lead to a loss of confidence in the technology and a loss of trust in the criminal justice system as a whole."

But others pointed out that the technology is already being used by private firms. "These techniques… are out of the bag", said Labour peer Toby Harris, adding that the UK needed to avoid a regulatory system "that ties the hands of the police and security forces behind their back".

Cross-bench peer and former security service boss Jonathan Evans went further, saying it would be "a mistake if we were to overemphasise the risks of this technology, given that it provides so many opportunities" - pointing to counter-terror operations and to help police manage under constrained budgets.

The peers also voiced concerns about the government's attitude to data retention, with many questioning why custody images of people who have not been charged with an offence were still on record, despite a 2012 ruling that said keeping images of presumed innocent people on file was unlawful.

Cross-bencher Narendra Patel, meanwhile, called on the government to set limits on the type and amount of data stored and retained, establish clear rules on the storing and sharing of data, ensure strict security procedures on access and standardise audit trail accountability on data use.

However, responding to the debate, Home Office minister Susan Williams countered that anyone can apply to have their images removed from the database. The government has previously said that it is not technically feasible for these to be automatically deleted.

Williams added that there were principles and codes for the police to follow - for instance from the Information Commissioner's Office and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner - but admitted "more can be done to improve governance".

This is under discussion with the commissioners and the police, she said, along with work to set up an oversight board for "greater co-ordination and transparency on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement".

(1st April 2018)

(The Register, dated 2nd March 2018 author Keiren McCarthy)

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You may no longer be able to see the name, email or house address for whoever owns a specific domain name under new rules proposed by DNS overseer ICANN.

Such details will be removed from the Whois service that covers hundreds of millions of domain names across the world in order to comply with new European privacy legislation that comes into force this May.

Instead, if you wish to contact a domain name owner you will be given an anonymized email address that will then forward to that owner's real email.

However, law enforcement, and possibly intellectual property lawyers, will still be able to access the full registration details after they pass through an accreditation system designed by the world's governments.

The internet industry - ICANN, registries and registrars - will continue to have full access to registrant details. And domain name holders will be allowed to opt-in to have their full details published online.

That, in a nutshell, is the proposal put forward by ICANN having left it to the last minute and put out no less than 12 different solutions last month in an effort to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The proposal will be discussed and possibly approved at ICANN's upcoming meeting in Puerto Rico later this month.


But there remain several unresolved issues that will impact millions of people worldwide.

For one, it's not clear whether the new system will be applied globally or only for domain name holders that live in Europe. ICANN has proposed allowing registrars - the companies that register domains on others' behalf - to make that decision themselves.

It's also not clear who will be allowed to view the full information that includes people's personal details. ICANN has proposed that its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) comes up with an accreditation system and also approve the organizations that will be allowed to bypass the privacy system and get immediate access to the full data.

It's uncertain how that process will play out or even whether the GAC will be able to come up with a system before the May deadline. In the meantime, ICANN proposes letting registrars and registries decide who is allowed access.

The loudest yelling will come from intellectual property lawyers who want access to Whois data in their efforts to identify who is behind websites serving pirated content. They will want to make sure they are included in the accredited group.

Given America's strong support for intellectual property lawyers and litigation, however, an obvious solution will be for the US government to provide accreditation to such groups, forward their names and details to ICANN, and then ICANN will tell its registries and registrars to give them access.

Privacy advocates are almost certain to complain that giving governments the right to decide who is allowed to access such data puts dissidents in authoritarian countries at risk from being investigated by intelligence services. But it's hard to see how ICANN could decide it was a greater authority on personal data than a national government.

ICANN has punted on the question of whether under a new system registrars would be obliged to check the authenticity of the registration details they are provided with: even after accreditation, law enforcement could find that they are trying to track Mickey Mouse or another fictitious name for his domain name ownership.

And it has also punted on the issue of so-called proxy services where registrars charge an extra fee to put their own details in place of your personal details in order to provide extra privacy.

But, taken overall, it is a logical, commonsense approach to dealing with the Whois issue - and one that should have been put in place more than a decade ago.

We go now to the UK

Meanwhile, talking of last-minute consideration, this week the .UK registry Nominet published an online survey asking for opinions on its own changes to its Whois service in light of GDPR.

Nominet is effectively proposing the same system as ICANN - with people's details hidden unless you are an accredited organization, although Nominet has already decided - somewhat dubiously - that IP lawyers are allowed access to the full data, and for some reason so is the Internet Watch Foundation.

Nominet has decided to address the proxy issue and proposing a new set of rules to cover proxies in light of the GDPR changes, although those rules are currently quite vague.

Nominet has also proposed removing the requirement of people with a second-level .UK address to provide an address based in the UK before they are allowed to register a domain.

But perhaps most controversially given the topic under consideration, Nominet asks for respondents to its survey to provide their name, address, email and telephone address before responding to the survey. And then gives itself the right to use those details however it wishes, including providing them to third parties, without providing an option for people to opt-out.

It seems there is still some way to go before there is a general acceptance that people have a default right to privacy.

(1st April 2018)

(The Times, dated 3rd March 2018 author Graeme Paton)

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Pointless road signs could be removed across the country after a government-commissioned report concluded that the vast majority of warnings were "entirely superfluous".

The Department for Transport (DfT) is preparing to issue fresh guidelines to councils that are likely to reduce the country's 4.3 million signs. The review found that numbers had doubled in 20 years, cluttering streets, wasting money, confusing motorists and possibly leading to more accidents.

The report, obtained by The Times under freedom of information, said the overuse of pointless signs had "become so widespread that it is verging on national humiliation". The rise was blamed on the "totally fallacious" notion that more signs reduce accidents or prevent councils being sued.

It recommends that whole categories of signs be scrapped and others be used sparingly, with a suggestion that nine in ten were removed from streets.

Those facing the axe should include signs warning of traffic lights, roundabouts or junctions ahead, many brown tourist signs, roundabout countdown markers and those indicating the end of motorway regulations, it said. Experts also called for signs warning of speed cameras to be scrapped in favour of an online database telling motorists where they were positioned.

The report said that most signs were entirely superfluous or assumed an "insulting degree of stupidity on the part of drivers" by simply repeating what is already in the highway code. It also recommended creating a series of golden rules for councils, including ensuring that most signs are no higher than 2.1 metres, banning the doubling up of signs in the same location and ensuring those backed with relective material were no longer illuminated by their own spotlights. The report added that road markings should be used as alternatives to signs in most cases.

The road signs Task Force, which conducted the review was created by the DfT in 2015 under the leadership of Sir Alan Duncan. He left it a year later when he became a Foreign Office minister. A series if interim measures were relased in 2016, including requiring councils to place a "remove by" date on temporary road signs. However, the task force's final report, completed in March last year, was never formally released until it was obtained by The Times last week.

The DfT has confirmed that it is now preparing to update its traffic signs manual, which guides local authorities, after the review. It said it expected to include some of the reviews golden rules to encourage decluttering which will reduce the number of unnecessary signs being used.

The report said that the number of road signs had more than doubled from 2.16 million in 1993 to 4.57 million in 2013. "This is unsustainable and bears out the need to reduce signing wherever possible. Although impossible to count, it seems clear that many of the country's signs and posts are unnecessary and could be removed.

"Their sheer number and collective messiness can have a detrimental impact on the environment and can dilute important messages. Information overload for drivers can contribute to driver distraction and have a detrimental impact on road safety."

The DfT said: " Nobody likes clutter, which is why we want to reduce the number of unnecessary traffic signs being used. Local councils are best placed to decide if they want to remove, replace or install new signs on their roads. We provide guidelines to help them make sure their signs are clear for road users and that comply with regulations.


Traffic Lights ahead

"Entirely unnecessary if the lights can clearly be seen"

No Stopping (Clearway)

"These signs are outdated and it is questionable how widely they are understood".

Not in use

If an electronic sign is "not displaying a message temporarily then it is clearly not in use".

Housing development

Put up by developers. Can be useful to residents and delivery companies but are often left beyond their six month limit. Should be "much stricter limits on the length of time they can be left in place".

Skid risk

These signs are only meant to be temporary. If a road is judged to be a skid risk, it is because additional maintenance work is required to the surface. The report says that once remedial work has been completed the "sign is no longer needed and should be removed".

Traffic camera enforcement

Put up before box speed cameras to nudge motorists into obeying the limit but not needed to penalise drivers. Motorists should be able to find the location of cameras via a national database, negating the need for thousands of signs.

Temporary Signs

Warnings of some kind of new road layout ahead are "entirely superfluous as any driver who regularly uses the road will have been well aware of changes being made as they will have witnessed the road works that proceeded it". Too many signs are left in plac permanently.

Brown Tourist signs

"Perfectly acceptable so long as they are not allowed to be used as advertising space for local businesses that hold no real claim to be tourist sites". Councils should also be careful to ensure they remain relevant : "16th century Inn" is not "in itself a useful piece of information if the driver has no idea what it actually refers to."

Cycle warning

The "vast majority .... serve no useful purpose" because cyclists are a common sight on roads and drivers should always be aware of them. The most notable exception is "where a cycle track crosses a high speed road".

(1st April 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 1st March 2018 author Owen Bowcott)

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Adults convicted of possessing a knife or acid for use as an offensive weapon in public are likely to face longer prison terms when new sentencing guidelines for judges in England and Wales are introduced.

Recommendations by the Sentencing Council published on Thursday state that the starting point for a judge assessing punishment for anyone over 18 caught with a "bladed article" in a public place should be six months in jail. For young people, the starting point is four months.

One significant mitigating factor judges must consider - which permits them to impose non-custodial sentences - is whether it is the first time a defendant has been arrested with a knife.

Those convicted of a second possession offence are subject to statutory minimum terms, meaning that in most circumstances they will go to prison. Offenders who make threats with knives or highly dangerous weapons will always receive sentences longer than six months.

For those convicted of carrying a knife in a school or prison, the punishment will be much higher, with an initial reference point of 18 months' jail before the individual facts of the case are taken into consideration.

Acid is explicitly listed as a potentially dangerous weapon for the first time in the judicial guidelines, in response to the rise in the number of people having corrosive and disfiguring liquids thrown at them.

Those who film their crimes and post them on social media will face tougher punishments. Other factors to be assessed will include the age, maturity, background and circumstances of young offenders.

The guidelines, which come into effect in June, "may ... lead to some increases in sentence levels, predominantly in relation to adults convicted of possession offences", the Sentencing Council acknowledges.

Rosina Cottage QC, a member of the council, said: "Too many people in our society are carrying knives. If someone has a knife on them, it only takes a moment of anger or drunkenness for it to be taken out and for others to be injured or killed. These new guidelines give courts comprehensive guidance to ensure that sentences reflect the seriousness of offending."

The guidelines are not directly comparable with previous Sentencing Council recommendations. They take account of recent legislation and court of appeal judgments. They are intended, according to the council, to "reflect parliament's concern about the social problem of offenders carrying knives".

The council promotes greater consistency in sentencing across courts in England and Wales by issuing and updating guidelines for judges, while aiming to increase public understanding of the decisions made by judges.

The latest figures show that knife crime in England and Wales rose by 21% to 37,443 offences in the year to last September - the highest level for seven years.

Welcoming the guidelines, the justice minister Rory Stewart said: "Knives ruin lives and fracture communities, and carrying a weapon is often an indicator of further devastating crimes to come.

"We must equally recognise the emerging threat of other weapons, such as acid. Those caught with any offensive weapon must feel the full force of the law."

The guidelines respond to concerns about minimum prison terms raised by some lawyers and others who took part in the consultation.

The guidelines explain: "In considering whether a statutory minimum sentence would be 'unjust in all of the circumstances', the court must have regard to the particular circumstances of the offence and the offender.

"If the circumstances of the offence, the previous offence or the offender make it unjust to impose the statutory minimum sentence then the court must impose either a shorter custodial sentence than the statutory minimum provides or an alternative sentence."

The guidelines do not apply to situations where knives have been used; those are dealt with as wounding, murder or manslaughter charges.

(1st April 2018)


(Sunday Express, dated 25th February 2018 author Matthew Davis)

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ALMOST 800 killer drivers have managed to avoid being given a prison sentence in the past five years despite being found criminally responsible for the fatal crash.

It means that more than 10 people every month are given community service orders, suspended sentences or fines, instead of being given a lengthy jail sentence.

The overall total number of people includes 30 who were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving - which has a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.

Another nine drivers who caused death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs, which also has a 14 year maximum, were similarly let off.

A further 721 drivers were also let-off despite being convicted of the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Ministers are clear that drivers who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs, must face the full force of the law.

"We are bringing forward plans that will see the maximum sentence in this area increase from 14 years to life."

(1st March 2018)

(The Times, dated 24th February 2018 author Graeme Paton)

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The traditional zebra crossing has been given a 21st-century overhaul amid concerns about accidents caused by smartphone "zombies" who cross the road while glued to a screen.

A British company has developed a crossing point designed to detect people and automatically alert cars.

The system uses cameras directed at the pavement to monitor pedestrians as they approach before strips are illuminated across the road to warn vehicles.

The lights - embedded in the road surface and running either side of the crossing - present a dashed amber formation to warn of approaching pedestrians and then a solid red line when they step on to the road.

The technology is designed to provide greater protection to people who step into the road without looking.

It comes amid concerns over accidents caused by so called "smombies" who stroll into the road while texting, checking social media or reading emails on their phones. Figures from Direct Line, the insurer, show that about 7,000 accidents are recorded at pedestrian crossings each year. This includes at zebra crossings, which use strips in the road and expect motorists to give way to pedestrians, and pelican crossings, where vehicles are stopped by traffic lights.

Direct Line launched a competition to improve safety standards and yesterday it announced that Mettle Studio, a London based design agency, had developed the winning design, with a prototype of the crossing being unveiled at Somerset House in the capital.

It represents a redesign of the tradition zebra crossing, which was first unveiled in 1951. The technology uses a camera at each side of the road connected to a computer that detects approaching pedestrians.

The design - which costs in the low thousands to make - is said to have the backing of road safety groups and it is hoped that it will be adopted by councils.

Alex Bone, of Mettle, said the design had a lot of potential. "We recognise that introducing smart crossings has benefits today, but this is just the start; new intelligent infrastructure will communicate directly with autonomous vehicles, offering future ways to increase safety".

(The Guardian, dated 16th February 2018)

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Staring at your mobile phone in the street, oblivious to your surroundings? Congratulations, you're helping moped-riding thieves.

Name: Phone zombies.

Age: Undead.

Appearance: Humanoid.

Defining characteristics: Vacant eyes, moving lips, a tendency to be in one's way.

Where would I find one of these monsters? They walk among us. Mostly in Oxford Street.

London, eh? First an American werewolf, now this. They are also found in Regent Street, Bond Street and King's Road.

What are they doing in these particular high-density shopping precincts? Fuelling the rise in moped-assisted device theft.

How are they doing that? By being completely oblivious to their surroundings, allowing thieves on mopeds to roll up, snatch their phones and speed off.

Is this a new thing? New-ish. "If you look at mobile phones five years ago, they were pretty much in our pockets unless we got a phone call," says criminology professor Dr Simon Harding.

I don't remember anything from five years ago, but I'll take his word for it. "Nowadays, people are phone zombies," he continues. "They are on their phone walking along the street, bumping into people, not knowing where they are going."

And moped thefts are up as a result? Way up. On Oxford Street, there were 291 thefts last year, up from 13 two years ago.

That's an increase of almost, well, something like, in the neighbourhood of ... It's 2,130%.

Thank you. Does this sort of crime pay? Thieves get up to £200 for a stolen phone and a moped team - driver and pillion passenger - can snatch dozens a day.

What's to be done about this? Police are carrying out intensive patrolling and in certain hotspots have installed remote-controlled spikes to put holes in thieves' tyres. But pursuing a fleeing suspect in built-up areas is not always possible, making moped crime difficult to tackle.

At least it's only happening to idiots who totally deserve it. That's a bit harsh. It happens to all sorts of people. Even the former chancellor George Osborne was a victim of an attempted robbery recently.

I stand by my previous statement. Police are appealing for shoppers to be more alert. "Offenders rely on the unwariness of the public to snatch their phones while they make calls," says Supt Mark Payne.

Do say: "I'll have to call you back, there's a moped speeding toward me."

Don't say: "Thanks, mate - I was due an upgrade anyway."

(uaware, dated 26th February 2018)

Last week after looking around the Wallace Collection and a couple of department stores in Oxford Street I made my way to Oxford Circus station for my journey home. It was only 2pm so the station was relatively quiet, no rush hour, no shoppers rush, nice and calm.

So my family and I made our way around the maze of tunnels to the Central line escellators only to have our way blocked by a "Zombie" standing motionless at the top of the escallator. The person was just standing there staring at their mobile phone, blocking the entrance to the escallator. After 5 seconds a small queue formed behind us, so being ever polite I said: "excuse me". After waiting a few more seconds of no response I repeated my request; and still no response ! By this time a nice little group had gathered behind this individual, so I repeated my request: "excuse me". At which point the "Zombie" removed their headphones and said: "What's your problem" ? My shocked reply was "for safety you don't just block peoples way at the top of an escellator". Eventually we all managed to board the escallator, but on reaching the bottom the individual turned towards me and started to shout abuse. It was only my Daughters intervention that made this person back off.

What is this problem with people and their mobile phones. Are their lives so shallow or do they suffer from an addiction ?

And since when have the phrase "excuse me" been classed as abusive ?


(1st March 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd February 2018 authors Robin De Peyer and Martin Bentham)

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Rapes recorded by the Met have risen by almost 20 per cent in a year and policing chiefs have warned that the new figures could reflect a genuine increase in sex attacks in the capital.

Police recorded 7,613 rapes in the 12 months to the end of January compared with 6,392 for the previous year.

Rises in recorded rapes have in the past been attributed to increased confidence among victims to report crimes, rather than a growth in the number of attacks.

But London's Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, has warned that the latest figures could point to an "increase in actual sexual violence and rape offending". Met Deputy Commissioner Sir Craig Mackey also said that "there is something going on with sexual offending in London" and that a rise in the number of attacks was one possible explanation.

Asked at a London Assembly hearing if he had any idea what was behind the rise, Sir Craig said: "No, is the honest answer. It's not as simple as saying this is increased confidence. Of course, that plays a part but there is something going on with sexual offending in London that we don't fully understand, the causes of it. We see the end of it, [but] we don't understand the causes."

Ms Linden agreed that the rise could not only be explained by a greater willingness to report crimes.

The figures, from the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, also show an eight per cent increase in other sexual offences in the past year, bringing the total number of reported rapes and sexual assaults in London to almost 20,000. Campaigners have suggested the real figure could be "significantly higher" once unreported attacks are taken into account.

London Assembly member Susan Hall, who highlighted the rape figures, demanded action to try to explain the rises. "In recent years, any rise in the number of rapes has largely been attributed to increased reporting - a positive and welcome cultural shift," she said.

"That, though, cannot explain a jump of almost 20 per cent in just a year, and the Met must urgently look at why we have seen such a radical rise in incidents."

Mary Mason, chief executive of Solace Women's Aid, which offers support to the victims of domestic and sexual violence, said campaigns such as the #MeToo movement had helped drive a "cultural shift" in the way sex crimes are treated.

But she added: "The vast majority of survivors we work with still do not report the horrific violence and abuse they experience to the police because they are frightened or ashamed, or concerned about the impact on those around them.

"The statistics matter but they don't begin to tell you of the trauma, devastation and the psychological pain that rape and sexual assault victims experience. Without help some women end up self-harming and feel like ending it all. Some women do die."

A spokeswoman for the Met said the force anticipates the number of reported rapes will rise for the next two to five years as reporting of attacks becomes more widespread.

She added: "The Met recognises that around 85 per cent of rape allegations involve parties already known to one another, with individuals experiencing domestic abuse often at higher risk of rape or sexual offences.

"Therefore we also take part in awareness-raising campaigns such as It's Not OK to combat myths about sexual offences which may discourage people from coming forward and reporting their experiences."

(1st March 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 23rd February 2018 author Martin Evans)

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Grooming gangs that preyed on 700 vulnerable girls and women in and around Newcastle developed an "arrogant persistence" because the authorities locked up the victims rather than the offenders, a Serious Case Review has found.

Operation Sanctuary, which was launched in 2014, resulted in 112 offenders being jailed for a total of almost 500 years for abuse carried out against more than 270 victims.

But a shocking report has revealed that the actual number of those targeted was at least 700, as gangs of men from a range of backgrounds plied victims with drugs before raping and forcing them into prostitution.

According to the review, the abusers were mainly "not white but came from a diverse range of backgrounds including Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Turkish, Albanian and Eastern European".

In some cases the victims of the gangs were placed in secure accommodation because of what was seen as their poor behaviour, while the offenders were seen to be innocent and went unpunished.

Efforts to find out why the perpetrators thought they could abuse vulnerable women and girls have been rebuffed, with only one defendant agreeing to help the inquiry, and he denied guilt, blaming a government cover up.

The Serious Case Review concluded there there was no reluctance to start an investigation into grooming due to political correctness - a factor in previous abuse scandals elsewhere.

The report states: "Some victims were placed in secure accommodation. This sent an unhelpful message to perpetrators - they were unlikely to be prosecuted or prevented from continuing to abuse - encouraging an arrogant persistence.

"It also had a significant impact on victims who learnt that nothing would be done against perpetrators."

The report ignored the payment of £10,000 by Northumbria Police to a convicted rapist as an informant. It says the payment to the man - known as XY - was not "within its scope."

The report, authored by retired barrister David Spicer, a former chairman of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, identifies how the abuse gangs were able to gain a foothold.

It states: "Perpetrators were not consistently investigated or formally interviewed and background checks were not undertaken.

"Historical information was not routinely accessed and incidents were treated as separate occurrences with no strategy to pull information together to improve understanding of the whole picture.

"It was felt there was a lack of professional curiosity, thinking beyond the presenting issue, and insight into the actual harm victims were experiencing.

"There were no effective inquiries about relationships, why girls were with older men to whom they were not related; explanations were accepted, even when a young girl was found in the bedroom of an older man.

"There was little inquiry into what other victims there may be or the vulnerability of children, young people, and vulnerable adults in the perpetrators' families and circle of contacts.

"There was a lack of forensic medical examinations or collection of physical evidence."

The report also says that distressed youngsters were returned home when found in the company of older men and no action was taken.

It states: "If they came across young people drunk or in distress in the company of older men, they acted to take them home to their parents or their placements."

That finding is highlighted by a particular instance in 2011 when a probation officer saw one of the jailed men, Abdul Sabe, 39, ushering a group of young girls into the back of a black 4x4.

She knew through her work he was on the sex offenders register so immediately called the police and also told officers in a nearby patrol car of her concerns.

But when police caught up with the men at Sabe's flat in Walker, Newcastle, he and another jailed gang member Habibur Rahim, 28, were given warnings for cannabis possession and an entry was put on the police log to say "nothing untoward" had happened.

Operation Sanctuary was launched in January 2014, a month after a young woman with learning difficulties told her social worker she had been sexually abused.

The authorities stepped up their response when they realised the problem was far worse than previously imagined.

The review was carried out for Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board and Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board.




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(1st March 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 22nd February 2018 author Josh Robbins)

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The Metropolitan Police seized more than 300 deadly weapons and made nearly 300 arrests in just over a week during the latest phase of its ongoing operation against guns and knives, code-named Sceptre.

The announcement comes a day after two teenagers were stabbed to death in north London less than a mile apart and within the space of an hour - the fifth and sixth teens to lose their lives to bladed weapons this year.

The proactive targeting of knife and gun crime crime suspects and hotspots was timed to coincide with half-term in schools.

Pictures released the Met show an array of of knives, swords and guns seized since 12 February.

At one address in Croydon, officers recovered 16 knives, a smoke grenade and more than £50,000 ($70,000).

In Camden, A number of prohibited knives, a knuckle duster, multiple firearms and a crossbow were seized from a property.

In total, police seized:

265 knives
Six firearms
45 other weapons

"Today, two families are mourning the loss of loved ones, the two young men murdered in Camden last night," said DCS Sean Yates.

"Our thoughts are with them in this incredibly difficult time. At this early stage there have been no arrests, but we are carrying out urgent inquiries to establish the full circumstances."

"There is an ongoing, concerted effort by officers across the Met to tackle this scourge on our streets," he added.

"But such proactive action is only part of the solution as enforcement can only get us so far. This is not just a policing issue, we need everyone to join together to tackle knife crime."

It involved 100 specialist Sceptre team members working in coordination officers from various boroughs.

A total of 289 arrests were made in London, including 63 arrests for possession of a knife or offensive weapon.

Forces across England made additional arrests and seizures as part of a week of national action.

On 21 February shortly after 9pm, Abdikarim Hassan, 17, died in Bartholomew Road. An hour later, Sadiq Adan Mohamed, 20, died after being stabbed in nearby Malden Road.

Met detectives are working to establish whether the stabbings are connected. Mohammed's brother and cousin were previously murdered in the capital.

(1st March 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 21st February 2018 author Helena Horton)

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Although younger people are often thought of as more cyber-savvy than their parents, new government figures show that the reverse is true when it comes to online information security.

A study by the Home Office's Cyber Aware campaign showed 16-25 year olds are far more likely to reuse passwords than their parents and grandparents.

The results showed that 6pc of 16-25 year olds use the same password as their email password for all their accounts, compared to just 1pc of 45-54 year olds and 1pc of 55-75 year olds.

Similarly, 43pc of the younger age group say some of their passwords are the same as their email password, compared to 26pc of 35-44 year olds and 13pc of 55-75 year olds.

Password-sharing leaves accounts far more open to hacking, and puts users at risk of identity theft.

Experts have said this is due to young people prioritising convenience over safety, and also having more online accounts than those who are older.

James Jones, Head of Consumer Affairs at Experian said their research has found a sharp increase in fraud cases affecting the younger age group.

He told The Telegraph: "Experian research shows that attitudes to online safety vary significantly by age. Younger people tend to be more driven by convenience and rarely have more than five unique passwords.

"They are also far more likely to log in to multiple accounts using a single social media account. But what they may not realise is that this thirst for convenience leaves them more vulnerable to identity theft. We've certainly seen a sharp increase in the number of fraud cases affecting this age group."

Detective Inspector Mick Dodge, National Cyber PROTECT coordinator with the City of London Police said: "It may come as a surprise that younger people - typically assumed to be more tech savvy than their older counterparts - are putting themselves at risk by reusing their email password for other accounts.

"Those aged 18-25 tend to set up more online accounts than their parents and grandparents and can struggle to remember passwords for them all. It's a common problem but reusing an email password for other accounts is not the solution - by doing this they are leaving their emails wide open to criminals. Picking one strong and separate password for your email account can help people stay safe online and protect your personal and financial information from criminals."

(1st March 2018)

(The Register, dated 21st February 2018 author Keiren McCarthy)

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An extraordinary 43 per cent of all attempted online account logins are malicious, Akamai claims in its latest internet security report.

"Credential abuse" is an increasingly popular line of attack, thanks in large part to the readily availability of huge user/password databases that has been stolen and are sold online.

Akamai identifies two main types of such attacks: "bursty, high-speed login attempts" to break into people's accounts, and "low and slow attempts to avoid apprehension by spreading login tries across longer time periods," again to gain unauthorized access to profiles and systems.

The web hosting giant even reckons it may be underestimating the problem because it only gathered data from websites that use an email address as a username, which included no less than six billion login attempts over two months. Banks typically require you to select a username rather than an email and are often the most persistent focus of attackers attention, for obvious reasons, so are likely missing from this dataset.

In addition to detailing credential abuse, Akamai's quarterly State of the Net report, out this week, identifies mobile devices, the internet of things, and APIs as the biggest, and somewhat bleeding obvious, new threats to online security.

API attacks more than doubled in the last quarter, we're told. Akamai has also noticed a new trend in miscreants breaking into systems in order to use their computing power for activities including mining cryptocurrencies, rather than simply stealing information.

"We are seeing a new trend of enterprise systems being targeted, not only to steal their data, but to steal their computing resources, perhaps driven in part by the rise of cryptocurrencies and the potential value of mining resources," the report notes.

And now for the... oh well

As for the good news - there is no good news. Denial-of-service and web app attacks continue to increase as the number of vulnerabilities identified grows over time. Criminals continue to make the most from "long-standing, tried-and-true attack vectors," the report notes. That said, DDoS were down one per cent from the previous quarter so that's… good?

As to how to protect yourself or your company, the main advice is - hold on to your hats - to patch existing, known flaws.

"Many of today's attacks still leverage well-known vulnerabilities - flaws that have been documented and patched, and can be prevented," the report stated, while banging its head on the table.

It goes on, slowly and clearly in the hope that people are actually listening, "efforts to cover the basics - secure coding practices, timely patching, proper device configuration, and prudent password management, would go a long way towards fortifying defenses."

(1st March 2018)

(Finance, dated 20th February 2018 author Stuart March)

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One in three Australian adults fell victim to some form of cybercrime last year, costing the economy $2.3 billion.

Research released in Norton by Symantec's Cyber Security Insights Report shows more than six million people fell victim to identify theft, credit fraud or had their passwords compromised.

On average, cybercrime cost each Australian victim approximately $195 and 16.2 hours to rectify.

Year on year, the rate of cybercrime has risen by 13 percent.

Norton's Pacific Territory manager Mark Gorrie said that the data revealed a simple truth - Australians do not take cybersecurity seriously.

"Consumers' actions revealed a dangerous disconnect: Despite a steady stream of cybercrime sprees reported by media, too many people appear to feel invincible and skip taking even basic precautions to protect themselves," said Gorrie.

"This disconnect highlights the need for consumer digital safety and the urgency for consumers to get back to basics when it comes to doing their part to prevent cybercrime."

Cybersecurity measures such as fingerprint identification and additional security software has been on the increase with 73 percent of Australians bolstering their online defences.

Despite the uptake, 44 per cent of people who adopted new security measures still shared their password with other people.

Although more technically savvy, millennials are falling short to older Australians when it comes to password security.

One in four millennials use the same password for all of their online accounts whereas only 8 percent of older Australians use the same password across all of their accounts.

Gorrie believes that once the mandatory data breach notification laws take effect on February 22 more people will start to take their cybersecurity seriously.

"[The] mandatory data breach notification laws obligate government agencies and businesses to alert individuals if their data is accessed inappropriately, and causing serious harm as a result," said Gorrie.

"While this scheme is designed to provide Australians with greater transparency, it has never been more important for consumers to consider their own security habits and whether these are making it easier or harder for cybercriminals to access their personal information."

Recent research from the Commonwealth Bank has revealed that Australians over the age of 50 are three times more likely to fall victim to cybercrime.

The bulk of the scams targeting senior Australians included calls offering bogus IT support, fake websites and emails and scammers impersonating love interests online.

(1st March 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 20th February 2018 author Olivia Rudgard)

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Children as young as 10 have been victims of "upskirt" photography, police figures show as campaigners call for a new crime to be created.

The first official figures showing the national scale of the issue revealed that police had recorded at least 78 cases in the past two years, which resulted in 11 suspects being charged.

The cases, published under freedom of information laws, included a 10-year-old and a 14-year-old who Avon and Somerset police said had been the victims of alleged offences which had not progressed because of insufficient evidence.

Merseyside Police also disclosed four offences involving children but said it was possible more could have been recorded but not found when records were searched.

Campaigners said the true number is likely to be much higher, given the difficulties with police being able to log and investigate in many cases.

There is no specific offence covering the behaviour so alleged offenders have to be prosecuted under public decency laws or under charges of voyeurism.

Voyeurism doesn't apply where a victim is in a public place, and campaigners say outraging public decency has several limitations, including the fact that it has to take place in a way that means two or more people were capable of seeing it.

In several of the cases discussed, including on an alleged sexual offence on a 10-year-old girl in 2015, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Locations included public spaces such as nightclubs and restaurants.

Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and an expert on sexual violence, said the FOI data showed there "are few public places where women are free from this abuse".

She said: "The Government's continuing failure to provide an effective criminal law against upskirting breaches women's human rights.

"We are entitled to protection from degrading and abusive treatment, whether offline or online - and we are entitled to have our privacy in public respected."

Conservative MP Maria Miller, who chairs the women and equalities select committee, said it was "concerning" if the police felt the law did not give them adequate powers to stop the "horrific crime of upskirting".

She said: "Attempting to take a photograph underneath a skirt is a gross violation of privacy and potentially an act of indecency.

"However, as I know from the work that I did campaigning for the new law to recognise the posting of revenge pornography online as a crime, sometimes the law isn't straightforward in its application and new laws can help. In the case of revenge pornography there are now more than 500 cases prosecuted a year.

"The issue of upskirting has been raised as part of the work of the women and equality select committee and we will be considering whether it should be included in a further inquiry into sexual harassment following our inquiry into sexual harassment in schools in 2016."

Sarah Green, for the End Violence Against Women coalition, described the figures as "very concerning, even though only a minority of police forces were able to respond because the behaviour is not classified as an offence".

She said: "Mobile phones have had a huge impact on the scale and types of offences committed against women and girls over the last few years and it is critical that the law and chief constables keep up with this. The law should be urgently examined in this area."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "This behaviour is a violation of privacy and causes considerable distress for victims.

"Prosecutors have a range of powers to deal with these cases. We continue to keep legislation under constant review to ensure we can bring offenders to justice."

(1st March 2018)

(Telegraph, dated 20th February 2018 author Press Association)

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The number of alleged child sexual crimes reported to police has reached a record high, a leading charity has warned.

Forces in the UK recorded 64,667 sexual offences allegedly perpetrated against victims aged under 18 in 2016/17, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.

This was a rise of 15% compared with the previous year, and equates to an average of 177 a day.

The NSPCC said recorded offences included rape, sexual assault and grooming.

In nearly 14,000 cases the alleged victim was aged 10 or under, with 2,788 allegedly perpetrated against children aged four or under.

Researchers found one in 10 offences recorded was flagged as having an online element - up by more than half year-on-year.

The overall increase in recorded child sexual offences was described as "dramatic" and "extremely concerning" by the NSPCC.

It said possible reasons for the trend include improved recording methods, survivors feeling more confident in coming forward and the emergence of online groomers as a "significant problem".

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: "This dramatic rise is extremely concerning and shows just how extensive child sexual abuse is.

"These abhorrent crimes can shatter a child's life, leaving them to feel humiliated, depressed or even suicidal.

"That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn to rebuild their lives.

"These new figures suggest the police are making real progress in how they investigate sex offences against children.

"To help them tackle the issue going forward, we must ensure the police are equipped to work with other agencies and provide ongoing support and training to officers on the front line."

The charity compiled the data after submitting freedom of information requests to forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"These abhorrent crimes can shatter a child's life, leaving them to feel humiliated, depressed or even suicidal.

"That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn to rebuild their lives.

"These new figures suggest the police are making real progress in how they investigate sex offences against children.

"To help them tackle the issue going forward, we must ensure the police are equipped to work with other agencies and provide ongoing support and training to officers on the front line."

The charity compiled the data after submitting freedom of information requests to forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

(1st March 2018)

(The Register, dated 20th February 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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Britain's local governments were hit by almost 100 million cyber attacks in the last five years, while one in four councils' systems were successfully breached, according to research.

Privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch sent Freedom of Information to all the UK's local authorities, asking for details of cyber attacks and data breaches from 2013-17.

Of the 395 councils (94.5 per cent) that responded, some 29 per cent reported at least one cyber security incident, which is defined as an actual breach of their systems.

Tonbridge and Malling Council reported the most - a total of 62 incidents over the five years. Herefordshire said it had experienced 22; Rhonnda, Cynon and Taff reported 18; the City of Edinburgh, 11; and Leicestershire, 10.

Some 25 councils said that there had been a data breach or loss as a result of such incidents, with the councils of Merton and Westminster each saying this had happened three times.

Despite this, 56 per cent of these local authorities admitted they had not reported the incidents - of the two examples above, Merton said it had reported no incidents and Westminster made one report to the police.

Overall, the councils estimated they had been hit by 98 million cyber attacks - defined here as a malicious attempt to damage, disrupt or gain unauthorised access to systems, networks or devices. Most common were malware and phishing.

Big Brother Watch argued that these numbers would only increase as councils continue to build "ever-expanding troves of personal information… under the banner of data-driven government".

In a bid to provide better, more efficient public services - that also cost the councils less money - authorities are looking to gather more data on people's habits and movements.

But Big Brother Watch warned that "zealous data sharing comes with real risks", as the information councils amass are "attractive targets for criminals".

This should mean staff in councils are well versed in cyber security threats, the group said, but three-quarters said they don't provide mandatory training, while 16 per cent said there was no training at all.

It also seems cash-strapped councils are keeping the purse strings tight, with more than half saying they had no specific budget for cyber security training or had spent nothing on it.

Pointing out that the councils had experienced the equivalent of 37 attacks a minute, Big Brother Watch slammed the councils for this lack of investment.

"Considering that the majority of successful cyber attacks start with phishing emails aimed at unwitting staff, negligence in staff training is very concerning and only indicative of the low priority afforded to cyber security issues," the group said.

It called for increased staff training that included refresher courses for all staff, rather than just a one-off when they join the authority.

In addition, Big Brother Watch urged councils to establish simple protocols for reporting incidents that use the National Cyber Security Centre's definitions to ensure reports are consistent.

(1st March 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 19th February 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

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Airbnb says it is investing in new technology to clamp down on modern slavery in order to prevent traffickers from potentially using its properties as "pop-up brothels".

The short-term home rental company told the Thomson Reuters Foundation it is teaming up with an an trafficking charity to train employees, develop new systems and work with the police to identify signs of slavery.

Reports have circulated since 2014 of prostitutes using Airbnb rentals in New York, while pop-up brothels in short-term rental properties have been reported across the UK.

Now, Airbnb, which is valued at about $31 billion and operates in nearly 200 countries, says it is part of a growing drive to root out modern slavery from the hospitality sector, mainly the sexual exploitation of women and children.

"We're taking a modern approach to combating modern slavery by leveraging the innovation of the sharing economy to better spot and stop potential exploitation ahead of time," said Nick Shapiro, global head of trust and risk management at Airbnb.

The company said it would combine its existing risk analysis - from screening every host and guest to trawling through photos to check for signs of exploitation - with data and insight from Polaris, a charity which runs the US National Human Trafficking Hotline.

At least 2,680 slavery victims were identified by Polaris as having been trafficked at hotels and motels in the United States - mostly for sex work - between January 2015 and September 2017.

Mr Shapiro told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "Exploitation and trafficking are still all too common in today's society, but we are eager to use our global reach to help assist in the effort to end it once and for all."

MPs last year investigated the rise of "pop-up brothels" on rental websites such as Airbnb following reports of temporary brothels springing up across Britain.

Airbnb's anti-slavery push follows similar action by another sharing economy company - the ride-hailing app Uber - which last month said it would teach its drivers across the United States how to spot traffickers and their victims when they hail a car.

"The sharing economy and companies like Airbnb offer new ways to scale up ... the fight against trafficking," Brandon Bouchard, a spokesman for US-based Polaris, said by email.

About 25 million people globally were estimated to be trapped in forced labour or sexual exploitation in 2016, according to the United Nations' International Labour Organisation and human rights group Walk Free Foundation.

(1st March 2018)

(Mirror, dated 17th February 2018 author Nigel Nelson)

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Russia is planning to destabilise Britain by sparking a race war - using scantily clad models instead of armed soldiers.

Cyber warriors at a heavily-guarded NATO base have identified President Vladamir Putin's sinister strategy of stirring up violence through so-called "bikini bots".

And for the first time they have revealed to a former Cabinet minister the extent of the threat our society faces.

The bots appear on social media as seductive sirens spouting vitriolic messages of racial hatred. But they are really robot trolls run automatically by software, like planes on autopilot, using stolen pictures of women as bait to lure users in. One shameless example known to NATO bot-watchers as "Robotic Jana" uses the pho to of an unsuspecting former Bulgarian beauty queen.

Each troll can spew out 144 messages in a day - one every 10 minutes for 24 hours - adding up to millions of tweets and posts.

And they fire up supporters of extremist groups such as the English Defence League and National Action.

The danger they represent to Britain and the West was made clear to shadow Digital minister Liam Byrne last week on a visit to the StratCom base in Latvian capital Riga.

StratCom - the Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence - is an 11-nation facility set up in 2104 for digital analysis. Mr Byrne, who was there on a fact-finding mission, said: "Going to StratCom was like the scales falling from my eyes. I knew about this online poison but now I understand how it works and it's truly terrifying."

As well as pretending to be beautiful women, Moscow's bots pose as Islamist extremists to get people with opposing viewpoints going for each other's throats.

A senior StratCom officer told Mr Byrne: "Russia has to create division. Where there's confusion there's apathy and it is harder to get people to fight."

A NATO general warned: "Be under no illusions, the Russian threat is real. And we can't defend ourselves by standing on the goal line."

And Robin Niblett, of think tank Chatham House, added: "Tanks and planes cripple your defences. Digital weapons do the same but you can't see them coming."

Behind the bots software are Russia's totally modernised and overhauled military hardware and special forces.

One well-aimed computer code could take down banks, mobile networks and hospital systems. But Russian leader Putin believes the best way to defend his country is to sow race hatred in ours.

Mr Byrne said: "A favourite tactic is to use different bots to pump two extreme sides of an argument. On one hand robo-trolls amplify messages that radical Islam is destabilising Europe. And on the other, that Europe's neo-Nazis are on the rise."

The banned neo-Nazi group National Action is a favourite fishing ground of the computerised trolls.

Its supporters praised Thomas Mair, the deranged white supremacist who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox in her Yorkshire constituency during the Brexit referendum in 2016.

And four members who were serving soldiers are awaiting trial on terror offences.

Mr Byrne said: "National Action target the Army because they want weapons to fight the race war when it begins."

Russian Twitter bots shared Donald Trump 's tweets 470,000 times in the final months of the 2016 US election.

And last week British ministers said Moscow's military was directly behind a "malicious" cyber-attack on Ukraine that spread widely in 2017.

The UK government took the unusual step of publicly accusing Russia of June's NotPetya ransomware onslaught. Giant consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser - the maker of Dettol, Durex and Strepsils - was among British companies whose sales were affected.

Russia has denied responsibility for the attack, which is estimated to have cost firms £1billion, claiming its own firms were among those whose systems were affected.

But anti-virus experts believe about 2,000 separate attacks were launched and mainly aimed at Ukrainian government networks and financial and energy assets.

Weapons of mass division

By Liam Byrne, shadow digital minister

Behind the heavily-guarded walls of the whitewashed office block tucked away in downtown Riga is the new frontline in the cyber war with Russia.

This is where StratCom fights the invisible battles that could cripple our way of life.

NATO's centre of excellence is devoted to analysing Russia's digital threat so we can figure out how to block it.

Most of Britain is on Facebook and Twitter. It's the place we feel surrounded by "friends", where we "like" things that catch our eye.

But it is also where Russia has launched its weapons of mass division.

The Kremlin has built a new virtual vanguard of thousands of Robo-trolls, automated "bots" which can be turned on in seconds to pump out divisive messages.

They act like social media "shock jocks", creating the appearance that certain views are "trending".

Accounts like "Robotic Jana", as the team call her. The picture on it is a former Miss Bulgaria.

It pumps out thousands of tweets, in synch with a team of online "sisters" filling cyberspace with bile.

Behind them come financial links to extremist far-right parties skilled in whipping up a fight.

France's far-right Front Nationale was caught taking a secret £8million loan from one of Mr Putin's friendly banks.

Russia's warplanes buzz Britain's airspace while its subs lurk in the North Atlantic. Brits are at the core of the StratCom team and say: "Hit the Russians where it hurts. In the wallet."

London has become home to Russian oligarchs, some entrusted with the delicate task of laundering Putin's billions.

Last week judges issued 'McMafia Orders' which require suspicious individuals to explain where their fortunes come from.

But it's hardly a crackdown. The National Crime Agency think as much as £92billion a year is laundered in London - and almost none of it is seized.

Why Kremlin wants UK to know that it's behind attacks

By Dr Rory Cormac, security expert

Covert operations are nothing new. Diplomats facing Russian subversion in the Cold War debated whether to fight fire with fire by unleashing MI6.

Others thought doing so was too un-British.

A similar debate is likely taking place in Whitehall's most secret corridors.

A destructive cyber-attack targeted Ukraine in 2017. Now the UK's National Cyber Security Centre has pointed the finger at Russia.

This was the latest attack attributed to Moscow, including targeting the 2016 US presidential election.

These operations have generated great concern amongst Western spies and policymakers.

They raise questions about what Putin wants, and how to respond.

Rather than world domination Russia is pursuing interests in its backyard, whilst undermining NATO and the European Union.

The Kremlin has not admitted much of the activity it is accused of.

Yet these operations are not especially secret.

Surprisingly, that is less counter-productive than we might expect. In fact, it is deliberate.

Unacknowledged yet visible operations demonstrate resolve without escalating crises into more conventional, devastating conflict.

These operations, aided by the spread of so-called "fake news", also create ambiguity. They blur the lines between truth and fiction, internal disorder and even war and peace.

This makes it difficult for the West to respond.

Knowledge of Russian activity - without acknowledgement - allows the Kremlin to cultivate a fearsome image of omnipotence.

Spotting the Bots

Social media users should be on constant alert for Russian bots.

Here are some tips on how to spot them from watchdog body the Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Be suspicious of frequency. The more often a user posts, the more likely they are to be fake. Many bots post 72 times a day but some send twice that number.

Beware of anonymity. Bots often lack personal information, with generic profile pictures and political slogans as "bios".

Watch for amplification. A bot's timeline will often consist of re-tweets and verbatim quotes, with little original wording.

Common content is another clue. Multiple profiles tweeting the same content at the same time point to networks of bots.

(1st March 2018)

(The Times, dated 17th February 2018 author Alexandra Frean)

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A strict new regime for data protection could hand an advantage to big technology companies, the very organisations that new European Union regulations are designed to protect us from, experts say.

The General Data Protection Regulations come into force on May 25. They will require organisations to obtain the consent of consumers to use their data, as well as giving people the right to see what data is being collected on them and the "right to be forgotten" - that is, to ask companies to delete information about them.

The rules will apply to all organisations that control or process data within the EU, from social networks, banks and retailers to charities and hospitals. Fines could be as high as 4 per cent of an organisations annual worldwide turnover, which for a company such as Facebook means $1.4 billion.

The directive aims to end the kind of activity that landed Facebook in trouble this week in Belgium, where a court ordered it to delete all the data that it had gathered illegally on Belgium citizens, including people who were not Facebook users. The company, which is appealing against the ruling , was threatened with a E250,000-a-day fine, up to a maximum of E100 million, if it fails to comply.

In the growing tug-of-war over personal data between companies and their customers, the regulations fall firmly in the consumers favour. In particular, they should provide a better protection from companies that scrape the web for users personal data, including their location, internet search histories and shopping patterns and sell it to third parties that then bombard them with ads, all without consent.

However, Tobin Ireland, founder of Smartpipe, a customer data intelligence company, has warned that American technology giants could be early beneficiaries of the new rules, thanks to their sheer size. Smaller European, which rely more on outside partners to serve up targeted ads, will have to obtain user consent every time that they share data with every partner in what could be a cumbersome and time-consuming process. Because big US firms operate in closed systems, relying on their own systems and platforms rather than other partners, gaining consent will be easier.

"One of the unfortunate side-effects is that Google, Facebook and Amazon will be put at a short-term advantage over the rest of the open publisher eco-systems. Although the three need to get granular consents from their customers, they do not rely as much on external third-party ad tech companies to serve targeted ads, so do not need to name these companies in their consent," he said.

Mr Ireland predicted that many companies involved in the business of targeting advertising to consumers might cease European operations until they decide how to comply with the rules. This could have the perverse effect of consumers being bombarded with more untargeted and irrelevant ads.

There is also little clarity about how the regulations will be used by consumers. Some pundits predict that claims for the misuse of personal data could exceed the £30 billion in compensation generated by the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, other warn of a compliance meltdown, claiming that many organisations are not ready for the reforms.

Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer and privacy activist who won a landmark case in the European Court of Justice in 2015 against Facebook's right to transfer customer data across borders, has set up a crowdfunded non-profit organisation called NOYB (None of your business), with the purpose of taking consumer privacy cases to court under the new rules.

Collyer Bristow, a law firm, has warned that customers could "weaponise" the General Data Protection Regulations and cripple organisations by inundating them with requests for personal data from large groups of people. There is confusion too, about how and when organisations obtain users consent to process data.

The new rules aim to put an end to fears of a dystopian future of the kind portrayed in films such as Blade Runner, where individual freedom is overshadowed by corporate might. In the end, however, organisations will still be able to navigate around the rules in certain circumstances. How the changes affects consumers and businesses will not be fully known until the new regime starts, and that day is getting closer.

(The Guardian, dated 6th February 2018 author Alex Hern)

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WHOIS, one of oldest tools on internet for verifying real identities, at risk of being killed due to tough new GDPR regulations.

Sweeping new European data protection regulations may have the accidental effect of protecting scammers and spammers by killing the WHOIS system used to link misdeeds online to real identities offline, security experts have warned.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May, contains a raft of measures intended to strengthen data protection for Europeans.But some of the new rights and responsibilities will conflict with decades-old technologies that have provided much-needed transparency on the internet, says Raj Samani, the chief scientist at cybersecurity firm McAfee.

The WHOIS protocol allows anyone to look up the contact details for the owner of a domain name, such as, or First standardised in the 1980s, it has become a key part of the toolkit for anyone trying to trace online wrongdoing back to its roots- a digital equivalent of Companies House or the Land Registry, Samani says.

"As an industry one of the first things we often do is use WHOIS data to determine whether something is likely malicious, or whether there's an indicator of suspiciousness," Samani explains. "It could be something as simple as 'hey, look, this name is a name we find registered with other domains', or 'this metadata is used for other things'."

But domain registrations are commercial contracts, meaning that those making a registration have a right to privacy that is hard to square with publishing contact details on the internet, as Sarah Wyld, a product manager at internet services company OpenSRS, wrote in November:

"It's certainly difficult to argue that there's a legal basis for openly sharing contact details of a domain's owner, administrator, or technical contact in the public WHOIS record. And we can't claim that it helps to accomplish the original purpose for which the information was collected (registering the domain). This means that the public WHOIS system as it exists today is incompatible with the principles of data privacy that the GDPR affirms."

A further wrinkle is that GDPR-induced changes to the WHOIS system are likely to affect users worldwide, not just in Europe - as with Facebook's decision to improve privacy tools for its own users. It has prompted a minor geopolitical scuffle, with David Redl, the head of the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration, noting that "the US government expects this information to continue to be made easily available through the WHOIS service."

Some argue the change is unlikely to have as large an impact as it might initially seem. Many registrars have long offered the ability to keep details private when buying a domain, instead registering the site in their own name, which limits the ability of researchers to catch canny criminals. And law enforcement already has a wider array of tools than private security researchers, such as demanding the registration details direct from the registrars themselves.

But the information published by WHOIS can be useful to more people than just the professionals, Samani says. "A friend of mine was buying a camera over Christmas, and what they did is they looked a the WHOIS information for this website and actually the website had only been registered for a couple of weeks. And it was clearly fake information that had been put in: it was registered under something like "Mickey Mouse", something equally obvious."

Tim Chen, the chief executive of analytical firm Domain Tools, agrees, noting "it's difficult to make broad statements about the interest of a 'typical' member of the public.

"Yes, members of the public who strongly favour their own privacy will likely look kindly on a change like this. Other members of the public want their information to be in WHOIS so that anyone navigating to their website can know who they are dealing with.

"There are more thoughtful and effective ways to meet privacy concerns than simply redacting all the contact fields."

What is GDPR?

The European Union's new stronger, unified data protection laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will come into force on 25 May 2018, after more than six years in the making.

GDPR will replace the current patchwork of national data protection laws, give data regulators greater powers to fine, make it easier for companies with a "one-stop-shop" for operating across the whole of the EU, and create a new pan-European data regulator called the European Data Protection Board.

The new laws govern the processing and storage of EU citizens' data, both that given to and observed by companies about people, whether or not the company has operations in the EU. They state that data protection should be both by design and default in any operation.

GDPR will refine and enshrine the "right to be forgotten" laws as the "right to erasure", and give EU citizens the right to data portability, meaning they can take data from one organisation and give it to another. It will also bolster the requirement for explicit and informed consent before data is processed, and ensure that it can be withdrawn at any time.

To ensure companies comply, GDPR also gives data regulators the power to fine up to €20m or 4% of annual global turnover, which is several orders of magnitude larger than previous possible fines. Data breaches must be reported within 72 hours to a data regulator, and affected individuals must be notified unless the data stolen is unreadable, ie strongly encrypted.

(1st March 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 16th February 2018 author Haroon Siddique)

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Members of a gang who conned people out of £1m by placing fake adverts for goods and services on eBay and other websites have been jailed for a total of 22-and-a-half years.

The organised crime network was led by Dragoz Dragomir, who ran a counterfeit ID factory, which helped facilitate the crimes. He produced fake EU national ID cards, passports and utility bills to open more than 100 bank accounts to receive payments from the fraudulent adverts.

When Dragomir was arrested last June, he was living under the false name of Andrei Bernath. Police searched office space he was renting in Enfield, north London, where they discovered multiple printers and computers set up to mass produce fake ID documents.

Sample ID cards used to advertise his services were found, including an image on a mobile telephone of a mocked-up UK driving licence with a photo of David Cameron.

Dragomir, 34, previously of Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, was found to be wanted under a European arrest warrant issued in Romania for fraud convictions in 2007. He was jailed for seven-and-a-half years at Blackfriars crown court in London on Friday having been convicted in December last year of offences including conspiracy to commit fraud and possession of equipment adapted for making fake ID documents.

Detective constable Chris Collins from the Met's Falcon squad, which tackles fraud and linked crime online, said the gang defrauded hundreds of victims.

He added: "Dragomir was an enabler of serious crime whose products are likely to have helped others net millions of pounds from fraud and evade immigration control. I am sure the arrest of Dragomir has helped to disrupt other criminal networks. Dragomir was a professional forger specialising in counterfeit Romanian, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian, Austrian and Italian national identity cards, UK driving licences and Italian passports."

He advised anyone shopping online to use the website's official payment mechanism and not to transfer money directly to a bank account.

Mihai Cirstoiu, 37, of Woodford, east London, who masterminded the fraud scam, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment, having previously pleaded guilty to offences including conspiracy to commit fraud.

George Cerneanu, 25, of no fixed abode, and Georgian Alexandru Stanciu, 27, of Woodford, were each sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. They admitted opening the bank accounts and withdrawing the money from cash machines around the UK.

Maria Bilici, 33, of St Albans in Hertfordshire, was jailed for four years for her part in laundering the proceeds of the fraud. Last year, she began trying to sell her assets including a house and Range Rover. She also fraudulently obtained a £25,000 loan that was cashed and sent abroad.

Police are appealing for information about the whereabouts of a sixth member of the gang, Sebastian Ilie. He is a naturalised British citizen but thought to be in continental Europe, possibly using a false identity. A European arrest warrant has been issued.

(1st March 2018)

(What Car, dated 15th February 2018 author Claire Evans)

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Did you know that transporting an unsecured pet in your car or driving at speed through a big puddle could land you with a hefty fine?

Read our round-up of the 10 most obscure driving offences that you could commit without meaning to.

It's important to bear them in mind because falling foul of them could get you a £5000 fine and up to six penalty points on your licence.

1. Dirty number plate - fine of up to £1000

If you let your car get so dirty that the number plate can't be read, you're committing an offence under the Road Vehicles Regulations 2001.

Your car will also fall foul of this law if your number plate light isn't working and you're driving at night, or if the numbers and letters on the plate aren't the correct size and font.

It's also illegal to have any images on a number plate, apart from approved ones such as flags.

2. Obstructing emergency services - fine of up to £5000

If you willfully impede the progress of an ambulance or fire engine that's on it's way to an emergency you risk being issued with a fine.

However, that doesn't mean you can take whatever measures you think necessary to get out of their way - if you go through a red traffic light or drive into an active bus lane, you're likely to get landed with a fine for these minor traffic offences.

The only time you can break the law to get out of he way of the emergency services is when you're instructed to do so by a police officer.

3. Splashing pedestrians - fine of up to £5000

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 it's an offence to drive without reasonable consideration for other road users.

However, this type of irresponsible behaviour is usually dealt with by a £100 fixed penalty notice; the larger fine would only be issued if a case went to court.

4. Driving with pets - fine of up to £5000

It's dangerous and illegal to transport an unsecured pet, such as a cat or dog, in your car because it could be construed as 'distracted driving'.

Although this would usually only attract a £100 fixed penalty fine and three penalty points, a court could increase this to £5000 and nine penalty points.

5. Flashing headlights to warn other drivers - a fine of up to £1000

Alerting oncoming drivers that they're approaching a temporary speed trap could land you with a fine of £1000 because it's classed as obstructing the police.

6. Driving without glasses - fine of up to £1000 and six penalty points

There are information codes on the back of driving licences that show the restrictions on the vehicles people can drive and if they are required to follow any other rules, such as wearing glasses to drive.

If you have this noted on your licence and you're caught not wearing glasses you could get a £100 fixed penalty fine or if the case goes to court this could increase to £1000 and up to six penalty points.

7. Using an unsecured sat-nav - fine of up to £1000

The punishments for using a handheld mobile phone while at the wheel of a car also applies to the use of an unsecured sat-nav. If you're caught using your phone or a sat-nav that's not in a proper holder to follow directions, you could be subjected to a £200 fine and six penalty points.

If the case goes to court the fine could rise to £1000. Mount your phone or sat-nav carefully, though, because you could get three penalty points if you don't have full view of the road ahead.

8. Sounding your horn - fine of up to £1000

It's illegal to hoot your car's horn when you're stationary in traffic unless you're alerting another road user to a danger.

It's also an offence to sound the horn on a road with street lights and a 30mph limit between the hours of 11.30pm and 7am.

9. Not updating your address - fine of up to £1000

Don't overlook updating the details on your driving licence or you risk being fined £1000 because the licence is invalid if it doesn't show your correct name and address.

10. Leaving snow on your car's roof - fine of £60 and three penalty points

Although it's not against the law to drive with snow on the roof of your car, if it slides forward and obscures your windscreen or falls off the back and lands on another vehicle, you could be charged with driving without due consideration or driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

The penalty for this is £60 and three points.

(1st March 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 15th February 2018 author Press Association)

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Thefts of parking permits for disabled motorists have quadrupled in the past four years, figures show.

Some 2,921 blue badges were reported stolen in England in 2016-17, compared with 656 in 2012-13, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

The latest annual figure represents a year-on-year rise of 14%. Around 2.4 million disabled people in England have a blue badge.

The badges allow holders to park free of charge in pay and display bays and for up to three hours on yellow lines, while in London they exempt holders from having to pay the congestion charge.

Martin Tett, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, representing councils, described the increase in thefts as alarming.

"For disabled people, blue badges are a vital lifeline that helps them get out and about to visit shops or family and friends," he said. "Callous thieves and unscrupulous fraudsters using them illegally are robbing disabled people of this independence."

Councils in England took legal action against 1,131 motorists for blue badge misuse in 2016-17, up by a quarter on the previous 12 months.

Almost all cases involved drivers using someone else's blue badge.

But the actual number of people misusing the scheme could be much higher as two out of five councils (44%) said they did not have a policy of launching prosecutions in relation to the issue.

Richard Lane, head of communications at the disability charity Scope, said: "It's appalling that people are stealing blue badges, which are a vital lifeline for those who genuinely need them.

"Many disabled people rely on their blue badge to live independently, be part of the local community and contribute to their local economy.

"The police and councils need to ensure they are serving their disabled residents by cracking down on this abuse."

Tett said: "Despite limited resources, councils continue to work hard to crack down on this growing crime.

"More blue badge fraudsters than ever are being brought to justice by councils who will come down hard on drivers illegally using them.

"To help councils win the fight against blue badge fraud, residents must keep tipping us off about people they suspect are illegally using a badge, bearing in mind people's need for a badge might not be obvious."

Last month the DfT announced plans to make people with hidden disabilities entitled to blue badges to help create parity in the treatment of physical and mental health.

(1st March 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 15th February 2018 author Francesca Marshall)

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One in five crimes reported to the police are not being recorded by officers, according to new figures, leading to victims being "deprived" of justice.

Rape and violence are among the thousands of crimes that are not recorded by the police, a watchdog warned.

Inspectors who are reviewing crime data for every police force in England found that at Thames Valley Police (TVP), one of the largest forces in the country, 35,200 crimes were not recorded per year.

The force has been graded "inadequate" at recording crime by a watchdog which found only about 80 percent of crimes that were reported were recorded.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that at TVP only 69.2% of reported violent crimes were recorded, meaning over 13,900 reports are not recorded.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said: "I am disappointed with the quality of crime recording in Thames Valley.

"Although the force has implemented the recommendations from our previous crime recording inspection in 2014, we found that almost one in five crimes in Thames Valley are not being recorded properly - that equates to approximately 35,200 crimes a year.

"It now needs to ensure that it records crimes at the earliest opportunity, and that there is proper supervision of crime recording decisions."

All crimes are reported by an incident log, however failing to record an incident can lead to resources being misallocated and not all incidents being investigated.

The data revealed that out of 174 rape reports, only 152 were accurately recorded.

Thames Valley Police said it accepted the findings and will be addressing the concerns raised.

The watchdog also published findings from North Yorkshire where it estimated that the force fails to record 9,200 reported crimes a year, including sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.

Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: "As it stands today, we estimate almost one in five crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.

"The force has robust processes in place to ensure the safeguarding of victims of these crimes, but too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly.

"The force is potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled."

The findings are the latest from a series of rolling inspections looking at the crime data "integrity" of every police force in England and Wales.

Inspectors launched the programme in November 2015 after finding the national average of under-recording of crimes stood at an "inexcusably poor" 19%.

(1st March 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 15th February 2018 author Helena Horton)

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A rise in moped theft on London's streets has been partially blamed on "phone zombies" - people who look at their phones while walking.

Oxford Street is full of rich pickings for moped thieves, who sit two to a bike as one drives and the other snatches phones from the hands of those talking on or gazing at them.

The crowds mean it is easy for a moped driver to escape the scene of the crime, and many distracted shoppers have their mobile telephones out in the street. Police say each device snatched can be sold for around £200, and some thieves manage to take dozens a day out of the hands of pedestrians.

Thefts there have rocketed by 2100pc in two years; there were 291 offences in 2016 - up from 13 in 2014-15.

Dr Simon Harding, associate professor of criminology at the University of West London, told the BBC that "phone zombies" help fuel the crime: "If you look at mobile phones five years ago, they were pretty much in our pockets unless we got a phone call.

"Nowadays people are phone zombies. They are on their phone walking along the street, bumping into people, not knowing where they are going."

He has said moped thieving is the "crime of the moment", because it is so easy and lucrative to do.

The value of the stolen device goes up even more if stolen while being used, as it does not then have to be unlocked and can be wiped and sold as a new phone.

The Metropolitan Police force has also warned about pedestrians being caught unawares by phone-snatchers while they look at or talk on their tablets or mobiles.

Superintendent Mark Payne told The Telegraph: "These offenders rely on the unwariness of the public to snatch their phones while they make calls so it is so important that the public is aware of their surroundings at all times and protect their personal property, particularly when emerging from a train or underground station or anywhere where they might suddenly decide to take out and use their phone.

"Smartphones and IPads are very valuable to these criminals and they can snatch them in an instant."

Other hotspots include Regent Street, which saw the number of thefts jump from 3 to 91 between 2015 and 2017, and Bond Street, which went from 1 to 14.

Upper Street, Kings Road and Marylebone High Street are also popular target areas for moped thieves.

This problem has become so prolific that the force has had to put special measures in place to clamp down on the crime, including remote-controlled spikes which punch holes in the tyres of mopeds used by suspects.

The force has also developed forensic tagging sprays and purpose built, lightweight motorbikes that help support policing these offences.

Superintendent Payne said: "Due to the rise in offending in and around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, Westminster borough police have been carrying out intensive operations, and patrols around hotspot areas to target those responsible for snatch, theft of motor vehicle, and smash and grab offences."

Many Londoners have been hit by the crime, including former Chancellor George Osborne, who according to a statement he gave felt "shocked and stunned" after a moped thief mounted the pavement in a futile attempt to snatch his mobile phone.

(1st March 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 14th February 2018 author Dan Cancian)

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The number of police officers in England and Wales has declined by over 1,200 over the last six months, official figures have shown.

According to Home Office data, the number of police officers in 43 forces across England and Wales stood at 121,929 on 30 September last year, compared with 123,142 on 31 March 2017.

The figure is also 16% lower than that recorded in 2009, when the number of police officers employed reached its peak.

The Metropolitan Police alone accounted for over 50% of the drop, with 646 officers leaving the force, the largest in England and Wales, between March and September last year.

In terms of percentages, North Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police suffered the biggest decline, with numbers falling 4.1% and 3.7% respectively.

The Home Office has stated that while no more central funding would be made available for the pay settlement, recruitment and retention figures had remained "stable" throughout 2017.

However, senior police figures have repeatedly warned a lack of sufficient funds was leaving the forces overstretched, which could pose a risk given the rise of violent crime and a continuing terrorist threat.

"Police chiefs recognise that the policing settlement for this year is better than last year and we have welcomed the potential to increase resources," said a National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman.

"However, differences in the makeup of funding between forces mean that the increase in budgets will vary between 1.6% and 3.6%, and forces are still facing difficult choices.

"The impact on police officer numbers cannot be assessed until force budgets are finalised when police chiefs and commissioners will jointly review their options."

A Home Office spokeswoman, meanwhile, said traditional crime had declined by 40% over the past seven years and that the funding for the next few years would give forces "the resources they need to respond to changes in demand".

However, the opposition Labour Party insisted the latest figures proved the government was dangerously "out of touch" with reality.

"Once again we see how out of touch the Conservatives are with the lives of people across this country," said the shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh.

"Over 1,200 officers lost in just six months, more than 21,000 in total under this Tory government, against a backdrop of the highest rises in recorded crime in a decade.

"And yet ministers apparently think everything's fine. Labour in government will add 10,000 police officers and provide the resources they need."

(1st March 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 13th February 2018 author Haroon Siddique)

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The number of police officers in England and Wales has fallen by 1,213 in six months and is now 16% below its 2009 peak, official figures have shown. The latest Home Office statistics put the number of officers in the 43 police forces in England and Wales on 30 September last year at 121,929, down from 123,142 on 31 March last year and from 144,353 in 2009.

In evidence submitted to the police remuneration review body last week, the Home Office made clear that no more central funding would be available for the pay settlement, describing the recruitment and retention of officers as "stable". But Labour said that was out of touch with reality, given the figures.

The shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh, said: "Once again we see how out of touch the Conservatives are with the lives of people across this country. Over 1,200 officers lost in just six months, more than 21,000 in total under this Tory government, against a backdrop of the highest rises in recorded crime in a decade.

"And yet ministers apparently think everything's fine. Labour in government will add 10,000 police officers and provide the resources they need."

The Metropolitan police force, the biggest in England and Wales, accounted for more than half of the fall in officers, with 646 fewer in September last year than in March.

The biggest reduction in percentage terms (4.2%) was experienced by North Yorkshire, which had 58 fewer officers than at the beginning of the period, followed by West Midlands, which had a net loss of 221 officers (3.3%).

Senior police figures have warned that insufficient funding and resources are leaving their officers overstretched in the face of rises in violent crime and a continuing terrorist threat.

Labour said the Home Office's direct grant funding for local forces in 2018/19 represents a real-terms cut of £119m compared with the previous 12 months. Almost a quarter (£27m) of the real-terms cut will be borne by the Greater London authority, according to the party's analysis.

The government counters that police funding will increase by up to £450m in the next financial year, although £270m of the extra cash is to be funded by a £12 increase per household in council tax bills.

A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman said: "Police chiefs recognise that the policing settlement for this year is better than last year and we have welcomed the potential to increase resources. However, differences in the makeup of funding between forces mean that the increase in budgets will vary between 1.6% and 3.6%, and forces are still facing difficult choices.

"The impact on police officer numbers cannot be assessed until force budgets are finalised when police chiefs and commissioners will jointly review their options."

A Home Office spokeswoman said "traditional crime" was down by almost 40% since 2010 and that the funding settlement for next year would give forces "the resources they need to respond to changes in demand".

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will announce on Wednesday that, in a bid to reduce the impact of government police cuts, he is to invest another £60m annually to fund an extra 1,000 officers. He accused the government of failing in its duty to protect the public and urged it to "urgently invest" in boosting police numbers.

"I want to be clear: this alone will not reverse the rise in crime we are seeing in London and across the country," said Khan. "It will merely enable us to keep our heads above water for the next two years."

(1st March 2018)

BirminghamLive, dated 12th February 2018 authors Jenna, Alistair Ryder and James Rodger)

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A new law was introduced last year aimed at protecting victims of psychological abuse.
The Director of Public Prosecutions recently revealed that prosecutions relating to violence against women and girls in England and Wales rose by 10 per cent last year.

However, prosecutions as a result of psychological abuse are still woefully low.

In fact, data released this summer under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the law protecting victims of domestic violence from 'controlling and coercive behavior' had been used just 62 times in the first six months since it was introduced.

Here's a rundown of the 13 things the new legislation has made illegal, reports The Cambridge News :

1. Share sexually explicit photos of you on (or off) line

In an age where pretty much everything can be captured on smartphones, it is all too easy for a disgruntled ex to share intimate photos of their former partners online in an act of 'revenge porn'.
Thanks to a 'disclosing private sexual images without consent' law that was passed in April last year, posting these images online without consent can now lead to community orders, restraining orders, and even jail time for those found guilty.

2. Stop you from seeing your friends or family

If your partner is "repeatedly or continuously" isolating you from your friends and family, this counts as an act of domestic violence, which can lead to restraining orders, hefty fines, and up to five years in jail.

Victims now have up to two years to report the crime, so even if the perpetrator is now an 'ex', you can still take action.

3. Control what you wear

We all ask our partner's advice on an outfit now and again. But if they're repeatedly dictating what you wear, choosing your clothes or criticising your wardrobe choices, they could be committing a criminal act which, if you are married, would also give you grounds for divorce.

4. Install tracking devices on your phone

If this is done without your knowledge, or is part of a regular pattern of controlling behaviour, then it's an offence.

If you're unhappy with your partner's ability to keep you on constant surveillance, then remove the devices or apps from your phone and explain why.

5. Prevent you from spending your own money

Financial abuse, whereby one partner controls or exploits the other's finances, is also offence in the eyes of the law. In the 12 months up to October 2015, Citizens Advice reported around 900 cases of financial abuse.

Last year, domestic violence charity Refuge said it had seen cases where victims were forced to provide receipts for all spending, or given such small allowances that they couldn't afford to buy food for themselves and their children.

Such repeated behavior is an offence. You do not have to stand for it.

6. Frighten you

Your partner may not have physically harmed you, but if they regularly put you in situations in which you feel intimidated or threatened, then they're displaying what is defined under section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 as 'controlling or coercive behavior'.

Writer Zahira Kelly started the hashtag #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou on Twitter, which enabled people to "suss out damaging situations".

Maybe they don't hit you, but if they routinely frighten you, then they're committing an offence.

7. Humiliate you on Facebook

Does your partner regularly tell your Facebook friends and Twitter followers 'funny tales' about how you threw up during a night out, or publicly joke about your failed attempts at weight loss?

This is not about poking gentle fun, but more about using personal knowledge to deliberately embarrass you - and can be considered psychological abuse.

8. Repeatedly put you down

This method of abuse is so subtle that you may not even realise it's happening until you actually step back and listen to some of your conversations.

They may be put-downs disguised as loving speeches ("Why do you put yourself through trying to climb the career ladder? You know that's just not for you", etc.) or they could be more blunt, like highlighting your 'faults' in public.

Either way, it eats away at your self-esteem, which puts more power into the abuser's hands.

9. Monitor your time

Does your partner demand to know where you've been, and why it took so long, on an all-too-regular basis?

Closely monitoring your time is another form of behaviour that has been highlighted in new government guidelines.

10. Threaten to reveal or publish private information

Whether it's a family secret, or a work matter that should never have left the office, it's inevitable that your partner will know about some of the skeletons in your closet.

If they threaten to share that knowledge, or use it to blackmail you in any way, then they're committing an offence.

11. Confiscate your car keys or passport

Hiding your car keys, taking them off you as a punishment for regularly 'losing' them, or confiscating your passport - these are all common tactics used by abusers to control their victims.

Each of these actions limits your freedom of movement and your independence, and can be cited as evidence of controlling behavior.

12. Stop you from working

They say they want to make your life easier, but you're absolutely desperate to work.

If your partner is doing everything in their power to prevent you from getting a job, it could be an attempt to control you - and that is illegal.

13. Hurt you

Maybe the most obvious point, but also the most important one.

The law offers protection against physical abuse from any other person. So whether you want to take out an injunction, start court proceedings against them, or both, there are actions you can take to put a physical distance between yourself and the perpetrator.

If you would like to contact Refuge log on to or call 0808 2000 247

(1st March 2018)

(BBC News, dated 12th February 2018)

Full article :

The Metropolitan Police says it will merge all of its policing boroughs in a bid to save £325m by 2021/22.

The current 32 borough model will be condensed to 12 Basic Command Units (BCU) made up of two or three boroughs.

The force warned its numbers are due to fall to 30,000 by April, but said the BCU move will "improve efficiency".

Sadiq Khan blamed government spending cuts for forcing police numbers down, however, critics argued he is "gambling" with Londoners' safety.

The Met said the scheme will be phased in over the next 12 months, meaning officers will cover lager areas.

Each BCU will be led by a Ch Supt who will become the BCU Commander.

Examples of new BCUs include Croydon, Bromley and Sutton merging; as well as Lambeth and Southwark coming together.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons the BCU structure will allow the Met "to put first victims of crime and those people who need us the most".

He added: "Our new structure will also give us the resilience and consistency we need across the whole of London, so we can continue to respond to large scale incidents and meet the financial and operational challenges we are facing."

The move comes after a trial involving the boroughs of Camden and Islington; and Redbridge, Havering, Barking and Dagenham.

Steve O'Connell, who is the London Assembly's chair of the police and crime committee, said the trial was "inconclusive in its effectiveness."

He added: "In rolling out these major changes all at once, there is a risk lower-crime boroughs will be neglected and satisfaction levels with our police service could decline."

Mr Khan argued that the Met's decision was being "driven" by Government cuts to the force's budget, but said the BCU model has been "designed with Londoner's safety as the absolute priority".

"The new units will be designed for every area of London in order to meet the needs of local people and tackle local priorities," the mayor said.

In response to Mr Khan's claims, the Home Office said in a statement: "The mayor is accountable to the London public for police performance and is empowered to raise the precept to increase funding for the Metropolitan Police by around £43 million.

"The Metropolitan Police will receive £2.5 billion in direct resource funding in 2018-19, of which over £1.9 billion is government funding and £634 million from the precept if maximised.

"The Met also has £240 million of reserves to cover unexpected costs and invest, for example, in better technology."

The 12 Basic Command Units (BCUs):

- Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster,
- Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Wandsworth
- Bromley, Croydon, Sutton
- Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham
- Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge
- Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow
- Lambeth, Southwark
- Enfield, Haringey
- Hackney, Tower Hamlets
- Camden, Islington
- Barnet, Brent, Harrow
- Newham, Waltham Forest

(1st March 2018)

(The Register, dated 11th February 2018 author Chris Williams)

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Thousands of websites around the world - from the UK's NHS and ICO to the US government's court system - were today secretly mining crypto-coins on netizens' web browsers for miscreants unknown.

The affected sites all use a fairly popular plugin called Browsealoud, made by Brit biz Texthelp, which reads out webpages for blind or partially sighted people.

This technology was compromised in some way - either by hackers or rogue insiders altering Browsealoud's source code - to silently inject Coinhive's Monero miner into every webpage offering Browsealoud.

For several hours today, anyone who visited a site that embedded Browsealoud inadvertently ran this hidden mining code on their computer, generating money for the miscreants behind the caper.

A list of 4,200-plus affected websites can be found here: they include The City University of New York (, Uncle Sam's court information portal (, Lund University (, the UK's Student Loans Company (, privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner's Office ( and the Financial Ombudsman Service (, plus a shedload of other and sites, UK NHS services, and other organizations across the globe.,,,,,, the list goes on.

The Monero miner was added to Browsealoud's code some time between 0300 and 1145 UTC: here's a clean copy of its JavaScript, and the hacked version. Coinhive's code is mostly detected and stopped by antivirus packages and ad-blocking tools. The miner perishes when you close the browser tab, so if you have visited one of the affected sites, your computer shouldn't be infected: the code only runs while the tab is open.

The injected mining code was obfuscated, but when converted from hexadecimal back to ASCII it spelled out the necessary magic to summon Coinhive's stealthy JavaScript miner to the page.

Defense mechanism

The malicious code was first spotted by UK-based infosec consultant Scott Helme, and confirmed by The Register. He recommended webmasters try a technique called SRI - Subresource Integrity - which catches and blocks attempts by hackers to inject malicious code into strangers' websites.

Just about every non-trivial website on the planet loads in resources provided by other companies and organizations - from fonts and menu interfaces to screen readers and translator tools. If any one of these outside resources is hacked or tampered with to perform malicious actions, such as mine crypto-coins, all the websites relying on that compromised resource will end up pulling the evil code onto their pages and into visitors' browsers.

SRI uses a fingerprinting approach to stop vandalized JavaScript from being imported into webpages. If an internet dirtbag changes a third-party provider's source code, the alteration is detected and blocked by the individual websites using this signature technique.

Until more websites use this protection mechanism, third-party resource providers - like Browsealoud - will be targeted by criminals to spread miners, or worse, on thousands of websites. A scumbag simply has to hack one provider to effectively infect countless other webpages.

"Third parties like this are absolutely a prime target and have been for some time," Helme told El Reg today. "There's a technology called SRI (Sub-Resource Integrity) designed to fix exactly this problem, and unfortunately it seems that none of the affected sites were using it."

A spokesperson for Texthelp told us as we were preparing to publish that it has removed its Browsealoud code from the web while it probes the security cockup, shutting down the illicit Monero-crafting operation.

"We are addressing this immediately," the biz said via Twitter. "Our Browsealoud service has been temporarily disabled whilst our engineering team investigates."

Luckily, the injected code was just trying to slyly mine Monero coins - one XMR is worth $238.65 or £172.56 right now - rather than anything more malevolent, such as popping up dodgy ads, stealing passwords, snooping on keystrokes, or tricking people into installing malware.

Texthelp's altered JavaScript was pulled offline by 1600 UTC today, we can confirm, meaning the affected websites are, for now, back to normal. The UK's ICO has also switched its website to a minimal "maintenance" mode as a precaution.

Updated to add

"In light of other recent cyber attacks all over the world, we have been preparing for such an incident for the last year and our data security action plan was actioned straight away," said Texthelp's chief technology officer Martin McKay in a statement.

"Texthelp has in place continuous automated security tests for Browsealoud, and these detected the modified file and as a result the product was taken offline."

The company added that "no customer data has been accessed or lost," and "customers will receive a further update when the security investigation has been completed."

(1st March 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 11th February 2018 author Mark Townsend)

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A single firearm has been used in 20 separate shootings, a British record, according to new ballistics analysis aimed at tackling a sharp surge in gun crime. Forensic experts found that an Italian-made semi-automatic pistol, a Beretta 9000, was used by criminals twice in Strathclyde and 18 times in Merseyside, before being recovered by police in Liverpool last year.

The findings, by the Birmingham-based National Ballistics Intelligence Network, come as concern grows over a 20% rise in gun crime in England and Wales. Meanwhile, a new UK research centre at Northampton University will attempt to uncover links between shootings across the world to help to identify gun smuggling routes, with the backing of the UN and international police organisation, Interpol.

Helen Poole, who will lead the Centre for the Reduction of Firearms Crime, Trafficking and Terrorism, said: "All too often officers will seize one firearm, identify the suspect, and then close the case. However, such an approach risks losing valuable intelligence in terms of where that gun came from, where else it might have been used, and the uncovering of trafficking routes."

Advances in ballistics technology, said Poole, have made it possible to compare different crime scenes and help to identify who is behind the supply of weapons. "Following the gun is more likely to reduce the number of future victims, and the serious harm caused to families and communities as a result of the number of crime guns in circulation," she said.

New research has highlighted the movement of firearms across Europe by comparing ballistic material retrieved from crime scenes in Serbia. Of 1,000 ballistics pieces examined by investigators, more than 50 were traced to other countries including Sweden, confirming that weapons are being moved by criminals from south-east Europe to northern Europe.

Figures released last month by the Office for National Statistics showed a 20% rise in firearms incidents in England and Wales - 6,694 offences during the year up to September 2017.

The arrest and jailing for 30 years in 2016 of Harry Shilling, caught trying to smuggle £100,000-worth of guns from France into the UK, underlined how susceptible the UK is to smuggling. Officers found 22 assault rifles and nine submachine guns, as well as 1,500 rounds of ammunition, after intercepting a boat at a marina in Kent.

Last week a Birmingham physiotherapist, Mohinder Surdhar, who supplied guns and ammunition to gangs, including weapons used in three murders, was jailed for 14 years.

(1st March 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 11th February 2018 author Martin Beckford)

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Crime tsars are in line for a pay rise - despite insisting that council tax bills must rise to pay for frontline policing.

Police and Crime Commissioners already earn up to £100,000 a year, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd has quietly ordered an official review that could see them paid even more.

They are likely to receive a pay boost as their salaries have been fixed since they were first controversially elected in 2012.

Since then they have been granted more powers, including overseeing fire brigades.

But the move will provoke anger as PCCs are increasing their levy on council tax bills by up to eight per cent this year, on the grounds that they are not getting enough money from the Home Office to keep the streets safe.

The number of police officers is at its lowest level since 1985 despite a rising population, while latest figures show that violent crime rose by 20 per cent in the past year.

Last night, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable told The Mail on Sunday: 'It is high time the entire system of Police and Crime Commissioners, which sees people elected with a pitiful mandate, was scrapped so we can divert the cash towards policing.'

Elected crime tsars were introduced in England and Wales by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, as a way to make chief constables more accountable to the public, but the first polls in 2012 saw record low voter turnout of 15 per cent.

The first appointees then became notorious for their poor decisions and wasteful spending.

This year, PCCs have been given greater freedom to increase the part of council tax they control - known as the policing precept - and almost all have announced they will seek the maximum rise of £12 a year for a typical Band D home.

At the same time almost all councils are putting up their bills.

Crime tsars insist the hike is necessary because the Home Office has frozen the core grant for policing at a time when pressures on forces are mounting.

At the same time, however, the Home Office has indicated it is willing to sanction pay rises for PCCs themselves.

Home Secretary Miss Rudd has written to the Senior Salaries Review Body to ask it to 'conduct a review'.

Currently PCCs are paid according to force size, from £65,000 a year in smaller, rural constabularies to £100,000 in the larger urban forces.

Any pay rise for PCCs will add to the anger felt by rank-and-file officers. Calum Macleod, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: 'The latest announcement that the Salaries Review Body is to consider whether PCCs deserve a pay rise sends an appalling message to our frontline officers.'

(1st March 2018)

The Register, dated 9th February 2018 author Kat Hall)

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UK communications regulator Ofcom and the Information Commissioner's Office have awarded themselves a pat on the back for reducing the amount of nuisance calls in the islands to a mere 3.9 billion last year.

In an update on the joint action plan to tackle nuisance calls and texts, it said: "Ofcom's latest estimate is that approximately 3.9 billion nuisance calls are received by UK landlines per year. As large as this number is, it is about 20 per cent less than our estimate of 4.8 billion calls to landlines in 2015."

Home improvements and PPI were the most common call subjects in both 2016 and 2017.

That progress was apparently achieved by introducing "blocking" measures to stop millions of nuisance calls from getting through to people; enforcement action against companies making nuisance calls; and intelligence sharing with the government, domestic and international regulators, technical bodies and law enforcement.

However, it acknowledged there is still much more work to do to ensure people are better protected against nuisance calls.

In 2017, the ICO issued 29 civil monetary penalties totalling £2.8m. The largest penalty - of £400,000 - was against Keurboom Communications Ltd for making over 99 million unlawful automated marketing calls. During the year, seven penalties were issued for amounts of £100,000 or more.

In December 2017, the ICO exercised its powers of search and seizure by executing search warrants on two premises in Nottingham. "This is part of a wider investigation centred on a network of organisations and individuals responsible for unsolicited personal injury claims-related automated calls," it said.

It has also created database for working group members to share the numbers they block, and view those blocked by others for consideration of further action.

Apparently the regulators "intend to continue to focus on the same approach in 2018." So consumers might see a further reduction to just three billion nuisance calls next year.

(1st March 2018)

(CITY AM, dated 8th February 2018 author Sonya Lovieno)

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A KFC restaurant in China is using a facial recognition system that allows customers to pay for their dinner with a smile.

It's an example of how biometric technology is finding an increasing number of ways to make our lives easier.

Biometrics identifies people either through unique physical characteristics - such as their facial features, fingerprints, iris, and vein patterns - or by the way they behave, as we all walk, sign our names or use our keyboards slightly differently.

The technology is common in areas where verifying identities is crucial, such as banks and airports. In Brazil, Banco Bradesco claims to have reduced ATM fraud to almost zero by installing palm vein scanners in over 35,000 machines. At London City Airport, staff scan their fingerprints to access restricted zones.

However, biometrics is set to find a host of new applications. Starting here at home, a system that uses facial recognition, palm vein scanning and object tracking is being developed for use on the London Underground. The Cubic Transportation Systems initiative aims to remove the need for barriers and reduce overcrowding by monitoring each passenger as they pass through the station.

In the automotive sector, German company Continental has unveiled a new level of security whereby simply having the key isn't enough to start the vehicle - a fingerprint is also required. In addition, a facial recognition system recognises the driver and personalises vehicle settings such as seat position and music.

And Onfido, a company founded by three Oxford graduates, recently raised $60m, thanks to the success of its technology for helping websites verify users' identities via their photo ID and facial biometrics.

Although governments began to take biometrics seriously after the 9/11 attacks, it wasn't until the introduction of biometrics sensors, such as fingerprints on mobile devices, that the technology really entered the public consciousness. It is only now that we're starting to properly consider the issues.

Dr Richard Guest, a reader in biometric systems engineering at the University of Kent, leads the EU's AMBER project, which is researching the use of mobile biometrics.

He believes mobile is the future, but warns that it is not just technical problems (like poor lighting and noise in external settings), but also privacy issues that have to be overcome. "Behavioural biometrics, for example, requires long-term monitoring, but how comfortable are we with organisations such as Apple or Google watching us 24/7?" he asks.

The Biometrics Institute, which promotes the responsible adoption of the technology, also sounds a note of caution.

Chief executive Isabelle Moeller points to the huge advantages, but believes we must get serious about dealing with privacy issues.

It's a simple thing to change a password if it is compromised, but what do you do if your fingerprint is stolen? And how can organisations be sure of the identity of people providing biometric samples?

Ultimately, if the public is to get fully behind the technology, industries need to be transparent about what data they have, how it's being managed, what it's being used for, and how secure it is.

The technology is there - now the privacy, security and ethical frameworks need to catch up.

(1st March 2018)

(The Register, dated 8th February 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

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A staffer at an accident repair biz has had to pay almost £1,000 after he sold customers' personal data to cold-calling firms.

Phillip Bagnall, who worked at Nationwide Accident Repair Services in Greater Manchester, England, was found to have snaffled up at least 2,700 customers' personal details, which were then used to hassle the customers about their accidents.

The firm was alerted to a potential problem when "large numbers" of customers began to complain that, shortly after using the biz's services, they were fielding nuisance calls.

NARS then called in the cyber security consultants in November 2016, and it was discovered that Bagnall had been accessing suspicious amounts of customer data from a laptop at home, outside of work hours.

After monitoring Bagnall's system use over a week, they found he accessed the data of 2,724 customers without the firm's consent.

The UK's data protection watchdog said that these customers then received unsolicited "and at times aggressive" marketing calls about their accidents.

However, he declined to identify who he had sold the data to during an interview with the Information Commissioner's Office.

Bagnall pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining data when he appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court, and was slapped with a £500 fine. He was ordered to pay £364 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.

ICO criminal enforcement manager Mike Shaw said it was a warning to people who thought that selling personal info was the way to a quick buck.

"The consequences can be severe," he said. "Not only can it lead to a day in court and the attendant media coverage, but it can cost a person their job and can damage their future career prospects."

(1st March 2018)

(ZDNET, dated 8th February 2018 author Danny Palmer)

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There's been a spike in the number of cyber-attacks that hijack ongoing email conversations and turn them into a vehicle for delivering malware.

Conversation-hijacking attacks are when hackers manage to infiltrate legitimate email threads between people, and use highly-customised phishing techniques to make it look as if the victim is the one sending messages back and forth.

By ensuring that people believe they're interacting with a person they trust -- perhaps someone even within the same organisation -- the scammers hope victims won't be suspicious about downloading and opening attachments they might be sent as part of the conversation. That means victims can relatively easily be tricked into downloading malware.

Now researchers at email and web security firm AppRiver have uncovered what they refer to as "an unparalleled spike" in this form of phishing attack -- and a campaign is leveraging conversation hijacking to deliver the Gozi banking trojan, providing the attackers with access to the victim's financial details and the ability to clean out their account.

The attackers begin with phishing campaigns designed to acquire the email login details of targets. Large numbers of phishing emails are sent, using lures with a variety of themes designed to trick targets into opening malicious documents and clicking on an embedded URL.

One example is an email around the theme of real estate, which requires users to enter their email address and password in order to 'unlock a protected document'. The victim is taken to a customised login page designed to look like the major email provider they selected and the attackers harvest the data.

These attacks may be generic and widely targeted in spam blasts -- although some are more carefully crafted -- but if even a small number of people fall for the ruse, those behind the campaign have gained access to email login and password details they can use to extend their reach for the true aim of the campaign: distributing malware.

Rather than having to start brand new email threads in an effort to lure in victims, the attackers can use the trusted accounts to reply back to ongoing and previous legitimate conversations.

With control of the accounts, this stage of the campaign is relatively simple, as the attackers just send out replies with malicious attachments, which can easily be related to previous points in the discussion.

In January alone, AppRiver recorded more than 34,000 incidents of malicious emails being sent from compromised accounts over the course of the month, with peaks and troughs of activity.

"Since we began monitoring this we have seen an ebb and flow of sorts. Much in the same way that a botnet will reseed itself prior to a large email blast," Troy Gill, manager of security research at AppRiver, told ZDNet.

"These attackers seem to go through cycles where they are gathering credentials and later utilising those credentials by launching the malware attacks from the compromised accounts."

The Gozi trojan payload works like other banking trojans, and steals information relating to financial accounts. That means it could be extremely potent if the customised phishing emails managed to successfully trick anyone in an organisation with access to company accounts.

While the widespread use of Gozi means it can't be used to pinpoint any potential perpetrators of these attacks, those behind it are "likely part of a highly organised crime ring", said Gill.

While the conversation-hijacking attacks are currently being used to distribute a banking trojan, it's possible that in future, those behind the campaign could move onto distributing other forms of malware -- and in greater numbers.

(1st March 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 8th February 2018 Editorial)

Full article [Option 1]:

Privacy is necessary for human society to function. The problem is not that the information exists but that it reaches the wrong people. Information on the internet could bring great benefits to society, and to individuals, when huge datasets can be refined to yield information otherwise unavailable. But once the information is gathered, a precautionary principle has to apply. It is too much of a stretch to agree with John Perry Barlow, the internet rights pioneer who died this week, when he quipped that "relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds"; but it does not help when it appears that everything the public sector does with the huge datasets it has will be overseen by the minister for fun.

Governments need to keep our trust; but technology erodes privacy in two ways. The first is simply smartphones. Most Britons - 70% - now carry around with them devices which record and report their location, their friends and their interests all the time. The second is the ease with which two (or more) datasets can be combined to bring out secrets that are apparent in neither set on its own, and to identify individuals from data that appears to be entirely anonymised. By the beginning of this century researchers had established that nearly 90% of the US population could be uniquely identified simply by combining their gender, their date of birth and their postal code. All kinds of things can be reliably inferred from freely available data: four likes on Facebook are usually enough to reveal a person's sexual orientation.

Underlying such problems is human psychology. No one forces anybody to reveal their preferences on Facebook: the like button is genuinely popular. The latest spectacular breach of privacy came when the exercise app Strava published a global map of the 3 trillion data points its users had uploaded, which turned out to reveal the location of hitherto secret US military bases around the world. But the chance to boast about where you have been and how fast you were moving is exactly what makes Strava popular. Psychology, as much as technology, made this a massive security breach. The users gave enthusiastic consent, but it was fantastically ill-informed. Then again, how could anyone give informed consent when not even the firms that collect the data can know how it will be used?

The protection of private data from malevolent hackers is a technical arms race one cannot leave. But the protection of privacies from inadvertent disclosure is primarily a social or psychological problem. The solution cannot just be one of informed consent from the data providers, because in most situations no one has the information necessary to give their consent. What's needed instead is a change of attitude among those who harvest and process the data. They need constantly to ask themselves - or to be asked by society - how this information could be used for harm, and how to prevent that from happening.

(1st March 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 6th February 2018 author Jason Murdock)

Full article [Option 1]:

A cheap and rudimentary hacking tool used by cybercriminals to covertly take over computers has been dismantled in an international policing operation.

The Luminosity Link RAT (Remote Access Trojan) allows digital crooks connect to a victim's machine undetected in order to disable anti-virus protection and either snoop on webcams or steal sensitive personal data such as usernames, passwords, photos and documents.

The RAT cost as little as £30 and users needed little technical knowledge to deploy it, according to the National Crime Agency, a law enforcement division which helped to coordinate the takedown.

A network of UK individuals supported its distribution across 78 countries and sold it to more than 8,600 buyers via a website dedicated to hacking. Investigators say there are thousands of victims across the world.

"Luminosity Link is an evil hacking tool that can devastate victims' lives," said senior investigating NCA officer David Cox in a statement. "Through our work with forces and international partners the RAT is no longer available for sale and no longer works."

The crackdown took place in September 2017, but details have only recently emerged due to "operational reasons". The scheme was launched and led by the UK's South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit in collaboration with Europol.

The NCA said that it eventually grew to include law enforcement agencies across 13 countries in Europe, the US and Australia - including 160 within the UK alone. So far, UK investigators have identified "multiple victims and evidence" of stolen personal details, log in credentials, passwords, private photographs, video footage and data.

This is expected to rise significantly as more devices are examined, experts said.

The tool was first discovered on the computer of a suspect in Bristol who was arrested in September 2016 on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act offences in a separate probe. Forensic analysis continues on suspects' computers.

Detective Inspector Ed Heath, head of the South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit, said: "The sale and deployment of this hacking tool were uncovered following a single arrest and the subsequent forensic examination of the computer. More than a year's complex work with international policing partners led us to identify a large number of offenders."

Steven Wilson, Head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, added: "Nobody wants their personal details or photographs of loved ones to be stolen by criminals. We continue to urge everybody to ensure their operating systems and security software are up to date".

(1st March 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 7th February 2018 author Neil Connor - additional reporting by Christine Wei)

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Chinese police are using dark sunglasses equipped with facial recognition technology to spot criminal suspects.

The glasses, which are being worn by police at a busy train station ahead of the Chinese New Year travel rush, are linked to a central database which contains details of criminal records.

Wearing the technology, police can almost instantly view an individual's personal details, including name, ethnicity, gender and address.

Police at the Zhengzhou East Railway Station have arrested seven people who were suspected of being involved in kidnapping and hit-and-run cases during an operation which began last week, media reported.?

They have also held another 26 people who were using fake identification cards.

Pictures of the operation, which were published online by the web version of China's People's Daily newspaper, show a female police officer wearing dark black sunglasses which have a small camera attached on the right-hand lens.

The camera is connected by an electronic lead to a hand-held device.

The device has an app where police officers can process images they have taken of suspicious individuals.

"The facial information captured by the glasses will be sent back to a database for comparison with the information of suspects on the wanted list," Zhang Xiaolei, a local police official told the Global Times newspaper.

The app allows access to the database that also provides information on whether the suspect is on the run from police, and even their recent Internet history.

The scene would not look out of place in an episode of science fiction television drama Black Mirror, which often depicts dark scenarios of humans being overcome by technology.

China is deploying new technologies to monitor people in ways that would unnerve many in the West.

Facial recognition has been rolled out in many aspects of every day life in the country, where there are few concerns over privacy.

The technology is being used to gain entry to university dormitories and workplaces, withdraw cash from ATM machines and even buy a KFC.

(1st March 2018)


The following two articles / advertisements were sponsored by the UK National Crime Agency. Over recent years Accountants and Solicitors have been targets of face to face criminals and cybercriminals. It is not just these professionals that are financially disadvantage by these crimes, it is often their innocent clients that take the full brunt.

(Independent, dated 5th February 2018 author National Crime Agency)

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More than £90bn a year is estimated to be laundered through the UK. And the consequences that result from the serious crimes this enables range from people being deprived of their security and prosperity, right through to loss of life. It's a huge problem, but one that's being tackled.

Elaine Smyth, senior manager of professional standards at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, explains: "Because these figures are so huge, I think there's a danger of accountants, particularly SMEs and sole practitioners, feeling distanced from it. But every accountant is at risk of being a target for money laundering and these billions of pounds come from a vast number of multiple sources."

Because organised criminals depend on being able to disguise the proceeds of their crime, they rely on the existence of legitimate financial systems. "We know from the recently published National Risk Assessment (NRA) that the main risk areas include the creation and operation of companies and facilitating of financial transactions through client accounts," she says.

Risks to professionals

Besides the wider effects on society - which include funding human trafficking, drug and weapons crime, and even terrorist financing - there are significant risks to accountants themselves. "Unless you can prove, in any investigation, that you had no knowledge or suspicion of the money laundering whatsoever, you could wind up with a criminal record," explains Smyth.

But there are ways to protect yourself. "In our anti-money laundering talks to accountants, we're always stressing the need to undertake proper risk-based due diligence and that includes documenting everything," says Smyth, above.

"Equally essential is following the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, which means submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) if you are wary, or risk facing prosecution."

Suspicious signs

A high-quality SAR could provide a crucial piece of intelligence needed to tackle money laundering, terrorism, serious and organised crime, corruption and fraud.

The Flag It Up campaign details the red flags accountants should look out for. Is the client behaving suspiciously or secretively? Are the amount of funds and their sources unusual? Are there any discrepancies in transactions? Are there any inconsistencies with regards to the source of wealth? As Smyth says: "It all boils down to professional scepticism - if something doesn't feel quite right, then it probably isn't."

Some accountants may not submit SARs because they feel they're betraying their client. "Others say they don't have time because they're trying to run a business," adds Smyth.

"But there's guidance available and SARs are confidential. Ultimately, if accountants don't fill out a SAR when necessary, they may find they don't have a business left to run."

* All content was commissioned and approved by the Home Office

For further details on the Flag It Up campaign, go to or to submit a Suspicious Activity Report go to

(Independent, dated 8th January 2018 author National Crime Agency)

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Solicitors are one of the most obvious targets for money laundering by organised criminals. And there's a reason for that. "They are the gatekeepers for a range of services and markets," explains Juliet Oliver, General Counsel of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, (below).

"This is therefore something that we take very seriously, and fortunately which the majority of the profession takes very seriously too.

"If solicitors are complacent, they could ultimately be helping to enable serious crime, such as human trafficking, drug offences and even terrorism. Individuals who are involved run the risk of both police action and disciplinary processes."

High-risk areas

The Government's National Risk Assessment 2017 provides insight into the high risk of money laundering in key professional sectors. This leads Oliver to advise any solicitor, or SMEs, undertaking conveyancing or setting up companies and trusts, to pay close attention to their due diligence procedures. In particular, it is small and medium-sized firms that are being increasingly targeted by criminals.

Watch for the signs

So what should solicitors look out for? The Flag It Up campaign highlights the red flags to watch out for. "If something does not look or feel right, you should be asking more questions," suggests Oliver.

"For example, if someone is buying a house at a high price, but does not seem to have an obvious source for the money. Each firm should have a way of assessing risk, and be clear when they will not accept work because the risks are too high."

Any money laundering suspicions should be reported to the National Crime Agency (NCA) by submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR).

"They should give the NCA as much information as they can," says Oliver. "The more information they provide, the more likely it is that law enforcement can get to the bottom of whether there is a money laundering issue and take the action needed to protect us all."

All reports are treated confidentially, she says, and as long as solicitors are reporting in good faith, they need not worry. Solicitors need to keep up-to-date with changes in legislation. For example, the Government introduced new money laundering regulations last June, while at the start of next year a new oversight regulator will be put in place for the legal sector.

Time to take action

Oliver advises: "They should also regularly review the Treasury's financial sanctions list, which sets out who they should not be doing business with. Firms should make sure they are supporting their employees and that training is regularly refreshed. People are just as important as process."

The bottom line is that solicitors' obligations go well beyond the needs of their client. Oliver adds: "They must consider the wider public interest and are legally required to take action where they suspect someone is trying to break the law, or risk involvement with the activities of serious criminals."

* All content was commissioned and approved by the Home Office

For further details on the Flag It Up campaign go to or to submit a Suspicious Activity Report, visit


(1st March 2018)

(The Register, dated 5th February 2018 author John Leyden)

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GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre claims that its strategy of "actively defending" the UK against high-volume commodity attacks is working.

The Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme aims to "protect the majority of people in the UK from the majority of the harm, caused by the majority of the attacks, for the majority of the time". The strategy, announced in September 2016, is intended to tackle the high-volume commodity attacks that affect people's everyday lives, rather than highly sophisticated and targeted attacks, which are contested through other tactics.

A year since the strategy's inception, Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre, declared: "People in the UK are objectively safer in cyberspace because of the ACD programme".

A white paper, Active Cyber Defence - One Year On, published on Monday, reviews the strategy in more depth. Active defence is a poorly defined term sometimes taken to mean "hacking back". Much of what the NCSC is doing might be better described as being proactive about security defences.

The approach has several components including a "takedown service", which involves working with hosting providers to scan for and take down malicious content. The scheme led to the takedown of 121,479 unique phishing sites across 20,763 attack groups physically hosted in the UK.

The takedown scheme also entailed working with 1,719 compromised sites in the UK that were being used to host 5,111 attacks, intended to infect people that visited them. "As a consequence, we have reduced the median availability of these compromises from 525 hours to 39 hours," the NCSC reported. "The month-by-month volume of each of these has fallen, suggesting that criminals are using the UK government brand less and hosting fewer of their malicious sites in UK infrastructure."

NCSC staff also helped stop several thousand mail servers being used to impersonate government domains and send malware to people. Although the volume of phishing has actually increased, the share hosted in the UK has been reduced from 5.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent.

Active defence offers protective DNS services to public sector bodies that subscribe to it, blocking access to known dodgy domains, and a service that scans the security of public sector websites (dubbed Web Check).

The NCSC is working on counters to IP address spoofing, DDoS attacks and traffic hijacking as well as "some early (but successful) experiments into tackling SMS spoofing". The agency hopes its efforts so far will encourage other countries to adopt similar measures. Cybersecurity, after all, largely relies on collective defence.

"We do not claim that what is presented here is sufficient or optimal, but it is a set of measures that provide objective benefit in a measurable way," Levy wrote.


The ACD programme is not intended to be perfect and it's not intended to deal with highly targeted attacks undertaken by the most sophisticated actors. It is intended to make the UK an unattractive target to cyber criminals and some nation states by increasing their risk and reducing their return on investment.

It is not intended to imply retaliation ("hack back") by victims or militarisation of the internet - in this case "active" means getting off our backside and doing something, rather than any of the more esoteric definitions. It is intended to automate protection at national scale for a good proportion of the commodity attacks we see, leaving the skilled network defenders across the UK to deal with the more sophisticated attacks that we cannot currently protect against automatically.


Bob Rudis, chief data scientist at Rapid7, the firm behind the Metasploit pen testing tool, praised the strategy's results as "nothing short of incredible".

"The NCSC has proved that with collaboration and appropriate support, it is possible to implement foundational cybersecurity monitoring, configuration, and reporting that fundamentally changes the economics for opportunistic/commodity attackers," Rudis said.

"Each initiative covered in the report shows signs of real, measurable, positive impact, and at the same time, NCSC is providing clear, concise and effective tooling and reporting for defenders and business process owners."

He added that the strategy could be replicated by other countries and even large organisations to "radically change the attacker/defender landscape".

In its white paper, the NCSC called on "UK public sector organisations, UK industry and our international partners to implement these or similar measures so that collectively we make cyber crime less profitable and more risky globally".

In a statement, the Internet Services Providers' Association said it intends to "further promote Active Cyber Defence through our own best practice guidance and by providing a continued platform for discussion" while admitting that "feedback suggests that there is no single set of measures or approach to managing cyber security and specific technical measures may not always be appropriate for each and every ISP's network".

(1st March 2018)

(The Mail on Sunday, dated 4th February 2018 author Stephen Pollard)

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Last weekend I, along with many around the world, commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day. As editor of the country's leading Jewish newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle, it is a memorial of particular significance.

Through editing the newspaper, I am confronted daily with the legacy of that unique evil, including the suppression of debate, the distortion of truth and even the burning of books at the heart of that terrible chapter in our history.

I know, too, that the Third Reich's totalitarian impulse - that only one type of question and one type of answer are legitimate, and all else must be extinguished - is far from unique because repressive regimes the world over continue to ban freedom of enquiry and freedom of expression.

We must be on our guard.

You might wonder, then, what Friday night's attack on Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg as he attempted to give a talk to students has to do with this. Or last week's decision - now reversed in the face of near-universal outrage - by Manchester Art Gallery to remove a pre-Raphaelite painting featuring mild nudity, Hylas And The Nymphs.

These are both an attempt to silence a view because it offends some people. It is for good reason that a new word entered the Oxford English Dictionary last month: a snowflake is 'an overly sensitive or easily offended person'.

When the snowflake generation seeks to silence an MP because they disagree with him, or prompt an art gallery to remove a painting because someone might be offended by the nude depiction of a woman, they believe they have right and morality on their side.

But theirs is a dangerous delusion. Because free speech - and the offence which can come with it - is the bedrock of freedom itself.

The snowflakes are becoming an avalanche. Barely a week now passes without a fresh demand that they be protected from some form of supposedly offensive behaviour in the name of morality and decency.

We are now witnessing our own version of Newspeak, in which a form of cultural fascism masquerades as caring concern. Last month, for example, Netflix started to show the 1990s sitcom Friends. You might think it is a harmless piece of nostalgic escapism. But according to some people, it is in fact a disgusting litany of racism, sexism, homophobia and, yes, transphobia.

Ross didn't like the idea of his son playing with dolls - sexist. Monica was 'fat shamed' - sexist. Chandler called his drag-queen father by his male birth name - transphobic. And the main characters were all white - racist.

Often the offence taken isn't even theirs. They are, as it were, offended vicariously.

In 2015, students at the University of East Anglia banned a Mexican restaurant from handing out sombreros at the Freshers' Fair because it was a form of 'cultural appropriation' that caused offence to Mexicans.

Not, of course, that any Mexicans had actually been offended. The snowflake students were offended on their behalf. This is of a piece with the insistence in recent years that university campuses be 'safe spaces', where students should be protected from the traumatic risk of encountering anything with which they might disagree or take offence. And this isn't just about student politics. It is affecting academia itself.

Last year it was revealed that some Cambridge University lecturers had started issuing 'trigger warnings' about Shakespeare plays, in case students were upset by 'discussion of sexual violence'. And theology students at Glasgow University received warnings before watching re-enactments of the Crucifixion in films, during a lecture on how Jesus had been depicted on screen.

Still more ludicrously, at last year's National Union of Students Women's Conference, attendees were asked to use 'jazz hands' instead of clapping. As the NUS Women's Campaign put it: 'Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it's triggering anxiety. Please be mindful!'

God help the poor anxious souls if they ever go to the theatre or a concert.

But there is a far darker side to it than mere idiocy. If we close our minds to ideas that upset us, the long-term consequence is that our minds will atrophy. We will no longer be able to think for ourselves.

We are seeing the stunting of debate, the closing of minds.

Take the furore over seminars held by Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford, an expert in his field, who has suggested there might have been some positives to the British Empire.

For doing precisely what academics are supposed to do - thinking - he has been attacked in a series of open letters as an 'apologist for colonialism'.

So it was right that the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Louise Richardson, should spell out why free speech and thought are so vital on campus.

In a talk, Prof Richardson said she had had many conversations with students who were upset they had tutors who expressed a view with which they disagreed, on homosexuality. 'And I say, "I'm sorry, but my job isn't to make you feel comfortable." Education is not about being comfortable. I'm interested in making you uncomfortable. If you don't like his views, you challenge them, engage with them, and figure [out] how a smart person can have views like that. Work out how you can persuade him to change his mind.'

You can guess what happened next. The students' union offered emotional support to anyone who had been made uncomfortable by her words. More than 2,000 students attacked her in a vitriolic open letter. And Prof Richardson then issued a clarifying statement.

We should remember how in his novel 1984, George Orwell coined the word 'Newspeak' to describe the language used by a totalitarian state that removed the capacity for individual thought and turned words' meanings on their head.

In Orwell's dystopian world, The Party used slogans such as War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

Satire - yes. But a warning, also.

Demands that only one form of thought is permitted, and that anything which deviates from it is offensive and should be banned, are profoundly dangerous. They pretend to be about care and concern, but are in reality a form of intellectual totalitarianism.

Without offence and without upset, there is tyranny.

uaware comment

Discuss !

(1st March 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 4th Febraury 2018 author Martin Beckford)

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The controversial police chief who called for a crackdown on drivers who break the speed limit by 1mph also wants motorists to spy on their fellow road-users with in-car video cameras.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham sparked fury last week when he declared that police should no longer be lenient with those who drive just slightly too fast.

He even angered other police leaders by saying that overstretched officers should focus on enforcing speed limits in order to improve road safety.

But The Mail on Sunday can reveal that he is also risking accusations of trying to recruit a Stasi-like army of informants among the public, who will help police as 'guardians of the law' by reporting bad driving using the 'dash-cams'.

Forces are setting up websites where anyone can upload footage of bad driving from cameras that film the road ahead, capturing other drivers' number plates in the hope they can be tracked down.

Mr Bangham, West Mercia Police chief and national lead on roads policing, told a law enforcement conference last week: 'Fear of being caught is still one of the biggest changes of behaviour.

'We've got to make sure they genuinely fear being caught.

'Imagine if you are now clear that the driver next to you could be filming you and police are seeking the footage and will prosecute you for it.

'The offending road-user might understand that they are more likely to be caught than not.'

He told how the four police forces in Wales now run a website called Operation Snap which encourages motorists to upload dash-cam footage of bad driving.

The first driver to be jailed as a result of dash-cam evidence was James Stocks, from Cheshire, whose dangerous overtaking manoeuvre on a blind bend forced a van off the road. It was seen by a camera in another car, and Stocks was jailed for eight months after pleading guilty to dangerous driving in 2015.

Giles York, Chief Constable of Sussex Police, told this newspaper last year his force had also set up a website, called Operation Crackdown, where anyone can report driving that is 'careless, deliberately aggressive or dangerous', and said he is 'very up' for allegations being backed up by dash-cam footage.

'It can be relatively low-level nuisance stuff, but if that causes other people to get frustrated and drive badly, it is really important to us. Even down to people pushing in the queue at the roundabout every day - that causes danger.'

Campaigners say that Britain's roads are already well covered by speed cameras, CCTV and the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system.

Silkie Carlo, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: 'The idea that motorists should constantly film each other to create "fear" may be well-intentioned but is woefully misguided.

'The UK has more surveillance cameras than any other country in Europe. The ANPR network that surveils innocent drivers already captures 40 million photos a day.

'The last thing we need is ordinary people being encouraged to spy on each other too. This is a desperately silly idea that risks breeding a culture of mistrust and suspicion.'

(1st March 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 3rd February 2018 author Hyacinth Mascarenhas)

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The FBI has warned hackers have been impersonating a federal online crime complaint portal to trick victims into divulging their personal and sensitive information in a new phishing scam.

In an alert issued on Thursday (1 February), the agency said it has received "numerous" complaints from citizens reporting they received emails purporting to be from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which allows victims of Internet crimes to file a complaint via their website.

The FBI has identified four variations of the scam that claim the recipient has been a victim of a fraud scheme or a cybercrime, and requests them to provide personal and sensitive information to receive restitution. To make the email seem legitimate, it also includes hyperlinks to news articles that detail the recent arrest of an internet fraudster.

Attached to the fraudulent email is a text document for users to download, complete and return to the threat actors. The .txt file itself is laden with malware designed to further compromise the user's data.

One phishing email involved a fake IC3 social media page that requested recipients to provide personal information to report an internet crime. A second stated the person was eligible to receive restitution as the victim of a recent fraud scheme.

"The perpetrator and his group of co-offenders had over 2000 aliases originating from Russia, Nigeria, Ghana, London, and many more masking their original identities," the hackers' email read. "Our records indicate that you have been a victim of fraud because your contact details were found on several devices belonging to the perpetrator."

It added that the recipient can claim restitution payments of £1.5m ($2m approx).

Another email stated that the recipient was "treated unfairly by various banks and courier companies" and claimed their name was uncovered in a financial company's database that lists victims whose funds were sent to Nigeria and other countries. It also promised the recipient that they will be compensated for "this unfair treatment".

The fourth email claimed to be from the Internet Crime Investigation Center/Cyber Division and even included a fake case reference number. It informed the recipient that their IP address has been found to be a possible victim of a federal cybercrime and asked the recipient to contact the sender via telephone.

"As of December, 2017, the IC3 had received over 100 complaints regarding this scam. No monetary losses have yet to be reported," the FBI said.

The US Department of Homeland Security has also issued an advisory on the phishing campaign.

(1st March 2018)

(The Atlantic, dated 2nd February 2018 author Rene Chun)

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Beneath the bland veneer of supermarket automation lurks an ugly truth: There's a lot of shoplifting going on in the self-scanning checkout lane. But don't call it shoplifting. The guys in loss prevention prefer "external shrinkage."

Self-checkout theft has become so widespread that a whole lingo has sprung up to describe its tactics. Ringing up a T-bone ($13.99/£10/lb) with a code for a cheap ($0.49/35p/lb) variety of produce is "the banana trick." If a can of Illy espresso leaves the conveyor belt without being scanned, that's called "the pass around." "The switcheroo" is more labor-intensive: Peel the sticker off something inexpensive and place it over the bar code of something pricey. Just make sure both items are about the same weight, to avoid triggering that pesky "unexpected item" alert in the bagging area.

How common are self-scanning scams? If anonymous online questionnaires are any indication, very common. When Voucher Codes Pro, a company that offers coupons to internet shoppers, surveyed 2,634 people, nearly 20 percent admitted to having stolen at the self-checkout in the past. More than half of those people said they gamed the system because detection by store security was unlikely.

A 2015 study of self-checkouts with handheld scanners, conducted by criminologists at the University of Leicester, also found evidence of widespread theft. After auditing 1 million self-checkout transactions over the course of a year, totaling $21 million in sales, they found that nearly $850,000 (£611k) worth of goods left the store without being scanned and paid for.

The Leicester researchers concluded that the ease of theft is likely inspiring people who might not otherwise steal to do so. Rather than walk into a store intending to take something, a shopper might, at the end of a trip, decide that a discount is in order. As one retail employee told the researchers, "People who traditionally don't intend to steal [might realize that] … when I buy 20, I can get five for free." The authors further proposed that retailers bore some blame for the problem. In their zeal to cut labor costs, the study said, supermarkets could be seen as having created "a crime-generating environment" that promotes profit "above social responsibility."

Whether out of social responsibility or frustration with shrinkage, some retailers, including Albertsons, Big Y Supermarket, Pavilions, and Vons, have scaled back or eliminated self-scanning, at least in some stores. But others continue to add it. Worldwide, self-checkout terminals are expected to number 325,000 by next year, up from 191,000 in 2013. In some places, meanwhile, the likelihood of being punished for petty shoplifting is decreasing. Even if a manager wants to press charges, many police departments can't be bothered with supermarket theft. In 2012, for example, the Dallas Police Department enacted a new policy: Officers would no longer routinely respond to shoplifting calls for boosts amounting to less than $50 (£36). In 2015, the threshold was raised yet again, to $100 (£72).

Perhaps it's not surprising that some people steal from machines more readily than from human cashiers. "Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self checkout is a total moron," reads one of the more militant comments in a Reddit discussion on the subject. "There is NO MORAL ISSUE with stealing from a store that forces you to use self checkout, period. THEY ARE CHARGING YOU TO WORK AT THEIR STORE." Barbara Staib, the director of communications of the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, believes that self-checkouts tempt people who are already predisposed to shoplifting, by allowing them to rationalize their behavior. "Most shoplifters are in fact otherwise law-abiding citizens. They would chase behind you to return the $20 bill you dropped, because you're a person and you would miss that $20." A robot cashier, though, changes the equation: It "gives the false impression of anonymity," Staib says. "This apparently empowers people to shoplift."

Which isn't to say that all shoppers feel equally empowered. Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University, says that many supermarket thieves have what he calls Type-T (as in "thrill") personalities: "Shopping can be quite boring because it's such a routine, and this is a way to make the routine more interesting. These can be risk-taking, stimulation-seeking people." According to this theory, some Type Ts become base jumpers or Mafia hit men, while others settle for swiping Brie and organic tomatoes from Safeway.

See also :

(Mirror, dated 27th December 2017 author Rhian Lubin)

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(1st March 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 2nd February 2018 author Martin Evans)

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A police force has appealed for unpaid volunteers to drive officers around so they can continue to use their mobile phones while on the move.

Avon and Somerset police has advertised for over 25s who have a clean driving licence and good knowledge of the Highway Code in order to help "relieve pressures on frontline officers".

The job will involve ten hour shifts, during which they will be expected to ferry officers around and undertake a variety of other car based tasks.

Despite being unpaid, force bosses insist the benefits include having "an opportunity to use your driving skills for the benefit of policing" and "contributing directly to improving the effectiveness of police officer time".

Volunteers will have access to a fully insured unmarked vehicle with a sat nav, and mobile phone.

Temporary assistant chief constable Steve Cullen said: "This scheme is all about embracing trusted members of the community who wish to participate in policing and maximising the amount of time officers and staff spent carrying out their core roles.

"We anticipate the volunteer drivers helping with things like collecting detainee medication or supporting officers in dropping them off and collecting them to conduct enquiry in busy settings such as Bristol city centre.

"Not only does this enable our officers to keep working on mobile devices whilst being driven but it will ensure that our cars are being used efficiently and not tied up all day for one appointment."

It is hoped the scheme will help save the force money and will allow its front line officers to remain as efficient as possible.

Last year Chief Constable, Andy Marsh, wrote to the government to complain that his force was at "tipping point" and could not face any further cuts to its budget.

But the constabulary also came in for criticism after launching what was branded a "pointless gimmick" when it allowed officers to wear nail varnish in order to highlight an anti-slavery initiative.

The move comes as another force unveiled a so-called 'dial a detective' scheme in which officers are encouraged to investigate offences without meeting victims face to face.

Staffordshire Police has set up the service because Chief Constable, Gareth Morgan, admitted he could not afford to have his officers dealing with every crime.

Mr Morgan said the scheme would help his cash strapped force be as efficient as possible.

He said: "I would agree we haven't got enough police officer, but this isn't being done because of that.

"Too much of what's coming in is being attended to by police officers or police staff and we don't want our officers dealing with everything.

"We need to prioritise much better how we are dealing with limited resources, so we are choosing areas of things that don't require an immediate response.

"Officers are now on the phone to members of the public, taking statements and dealing with their investigations. We are investigating their crimes, we are just not attending their home to deal with it."

(1st March 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 2nd February 2018 author Rebecca Camber)

Full article [Option 1]:

The country's first 'private police force' is investigating hundreds of crimes that regular officers are too busy to look at.

A firm led by former Scotland Yard senior officers has successfully prosecuted more than 400 criminals and is now carrying out murder inquiries.

TM Eye, which has a 100 per cent conviction rate, is thought to bring more private prosecutions than any organisation besides the RSPCA.

The company, the country's first de-facto private police force, is operating against a backdrop of rising crime rates and police budget cuts. Its activities include:

- A service called 'My Local Bobby' costing wealthy households up to £200 a month each for guards to patrol their streets;

- Three high-profile murder investigations that police have been unable to complete, including one case dogged by allegations of corruption and cover-up;

- Help in cases of rape, missing persons, burglary, theft, stalking and blackmail.

Co-founder Tony Nash, an ex-Metropolitan Police commander, said: 'This is going back to Dixon of Dock Green to a degree. It's what people want.

'There is no substitute for going out and knocking on doors. But with the current state of finances, police are solving cases behind their desks and that has become the culture.'

In the past two years the company has brought successful private prosecutions against 403 criminals for fraud, intellectual property theft and other offences. A total of 43 were jailed.

The company, staffed by retired detectives and cyber-crime experts from Scotland Yard, the National Crime Agency and GCHQ, is now expanding its services beyond predominantly financial investigations.

It comes as police chiefs admit they do not have the money to investigate high- volume crimes such as shoplifting and stretched officers complain that they are at breaking point.

But critics fear the rise of private policing could lead to a two-tier system where only the wealthy get protection from criminals.

Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh described the rise of private detectives as a 'staggering indictment' of the state of policing.

'Eventually there will be a two-tier system with the haves and the have-nots, and if you have money and live in a £20million house in Chelsea you can pay for private security,' he said.

'My concern would be, where is the public scrutiny if it goes wrong? If they are allowed to go and do police's job for them, that is a dangerous status quo.'

Last week official police figures revealed the largest recorded annual increase in crime for more than a decade, with surging levels of violence, sex attacks, knife and gun offences across the country.

But what was not recorded in the figures is the astonishing number of criminals being locked up - and in some instances even deported - through the work of private investigators.

TM Eye currently has 36 criminal cases pending at Crown and magistrates' courts around the country and is working on a further 60 investigations in London, Cheshire, Dorset, Avon and Somerset and Essex.

In the past six months, its 60 investigators have snared suspects wanted by police for attempted murder and rape.

Recently a stalker was jailed for four years on the basis of its work.

Using covert surveillance and undercover operatives, the private firm has managed to smash a major counterfeit goods gang, securing convictions for 60 offenders in Manchester selling fake designer handbags and clothing.

All of its convictions and suspects' DNA and fingerprints are recorded on the Police National Computer.

It does not charge for its investigative services, seeking instead to recoup costs from courts after offenders are convicted.

The firm has offices in London, Manchester, Essex and Mumbai in India, where investigators have helped to catch a major manufacturer of fake medicines.

The firm launched its subscription service My Local Bobby last March and its staff now patrol some of London's most expensive streets in Belgravia, Mayfair and Kensington.

Individual uniformed 'bobbies' cover up to 250 houses, whose owners each pay a fee of £100 to £200 a month.

In return, clients get a 'meet-and-greet' service from their car or the Tube, and have a hotline to their bobby whose location they can track on their iPad.

If there is a crime, the firm promises to have a local response officer on the scene within five minutes.

Like police, the patrol teams have body cameras to record evidence. They can apprehend suspects using a citizen's arrest.

Mr Nash said his ambition is to get local authorities to outsource their patrols to the firm.

TM Eye also offers more traditional security work such as bodyguards for foreign dignitaries.

The firm's managing director David McKelvey, a retired Scotland Yard detective chief inspector, said: 'We probably do more undercover work than any other law enforcement agency. We have a better surveillance capability and equipment than most forces.'

He added: 'It's about catching the bad guys and protecting the public, and we can help with that.

'Police are on their knees, sick to the teeth with what is going on in their job. The bottom line is we have better uniforms, better pay and better support at work. It's a huge growth industry.'

David Green, of the think-tank Civitas and a former adviser to the Government, said: 'This seems a reflection of the fact that the police are overstretched, underfunded and unable to cope and this group has emerged to fill the gap.

'There is nothing wrong with private security or private patrols.

'But if they take on some of the functions of the police and the call for this grows, there is a danger there is not the same safeguards that we have with the police.

'If the police do something wrong there is a clear disciplinary structure, a chain of accountability and independent scrutiny. If these private firms exercise police powers without public accountability, there could be dangers there.'

(1st March 2018)

(Daily Mail, dated 2nd February 2018 author Rebecca Camber)

Full article [Option 1]:

An initiative to investigate crimes over the phone has been dubbed 'dial-a-detective' by unhappy residents.

Chief Constable Gareth Morgan claimed the call centre would be a quicker and more efficient way to look into burglaries, thefts and anti-social behaviour.

But residents' leaders in Staffordshire said it was no substitute for street patrols and investigations conducted in person.

The force, which must save £6.4million in the next three years, has set up a 'resolution centre' with 60 officers and staff at a mothballed police station to deal with non-urgent calls to 101.

Victims of criminal damage, fraud and public order offences will no longer be visited by the police but have to call the service run from Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.

Alan Joinson, 70, chairman of East Bentilee Residents' Association in Stoke, said: 'It's some kind of dial-a-detective service.

'It's all very well to get a call from the police but you can't beat a bobby on the beat. It's a visual deterrent. Young kids are running wild and if police officers won't be going out then they will be laughing.

'I'm in favour of old school policing. But I have some sympathy because they don't have the numbers.'

Jim Gibson, chairman of Chell Heath Residents' Association, added: 'People are losing confidence in the police because there are fewer and fewer officers on the streets.' The system is operating in North Staffordshire and is expected to cover the rest of the county by the summer.

Police said 1,400 cases have been resolved since December. The centre runs from 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday and officers will still go to emergencies. Similar schemes already operate in Sussex and Hampshire.

(1st March 2018)

(Guardian, dated 1st February 2018 author Anna Tims)

Full article [Option 1]:

If a buyer claims an item is not as described there's no cover for the seller, for example :

I sold four certified gold coins on eBay to a buyer in Canada for £4,300. A month later, the buyer claimed the coins were "not as advertised".

I asked for photos of the packaging and contents but received no reply. After another two months I received five silver coins from the buyer with no accompanying message.

PayPal then told me that the £4,300 payment had been reversed by the buyer's credit card issuer, although no dispute had been lodged with eBay or PayPal.

It appears the Canadian bank is acting as judge, jury and executioner having apparently reviewed the case and sided with the buyer, and PayPal is acting like victim in the middle and saying they have to honour the chargeback.

MF, Inverurie

Why ?

Chargeback is a voluntary banking scheme to protect debit card transactions in the event that a trader breaches a contract. If a bank decides that the customer has a case and reverses the payment, the trader has the chance to appeal.

In your case it's complicated, because the appeal had to be launched by a middleman, PayPal.

The fact that the buyer did not return the coins, or raise a formal complaint via PayPal, should have been evidence against his claim, but PayPal says its appeal was overturned by the previous bank and it cannot stop the chargeback.

This is where its much-vaunted "seller protection" falls short. It covers you if a buyer claims an item is not received but not if it's "not as described", which can be a handy loophole for fraudsters.

It gets worse. After the Observer got involved, PayPal promised to freeze your account pending further inquiries, but you were twice threatened by debt collectors wanting that £4,300.

Then, after receiving an email from PayPal absolving you of the debt, you were casually told that this was sent in error and you had to pay up after all. The mistake turns out to be your salvation.

Following media pressure, PayPal decided to back down. "The chargeback process is governed entirely by the credit card company, and PayPal has no control over this process," it says. "Despite our appeal on the seller's behalf, the card company found in favour of the buyer. When informing the seller of this, we mistakenly told him that we would cover the expense. We have since honoured this mistaken promise by giving a full refund."

Ebay, meanwhile, says that as no issues were flagged at the time of the transaction and there was no pattern of suspicious activity on the buyer's account it could do nothing.

(1st March 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 1st February 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:
Victims of crime are now being encouraged to report incidents via Facebook and Twitter rather than telephone, after one of the country's major forces launched a dedicated social media desk.

Merseyside Police has introduced the initiative in a bid to cut down on the number of trivial calls made to its emergency 999 line and also to ease the burden on its other services.
But the scheme is likely to lead to concern among those, such as the elderly, who may not have access to digital devices or are not familiar with social media apps.

The roll out follows a six month trial, which the force said had seen more than 6,000 people getting in touch via digital platforms.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said the trial had been so successful that 20 other forces were now looking at introducing something similar.

The social media desk will be manned 24-hours a day and operators will receive and deal with incoming reports via a range of approved social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley insisted the service would compliment rather than replace the current mechanisms for reporting crime.

He said: "On average Merseyside Police receives 2,500 calls a day and we've established that between 1800 and 2000 of those calls are non-urgent and don't require immediate police attendance.

"We know that that we are in a fast-moving digital age and that in the last 10 years we have seen a significant shift in the way that people communicate with each other and we want to make sure that Merseyside Police remains up to speed with those changes.

"We know that while some people will still want to use the phone, a growing number of people would prefer to use social media to make contact. By introducing a social media desk that is available 24-hours a day means we can offer that level of service."

He added: "We regularly receive calls on all sorts of issues such as cats up trees and blocked drains - these types of calls can put extra pressure on our call handlers."

Operations manager Tony Jackson said: "By setting up the social media desk we hope to take away demand on the 101 phone lines in the future and give people more choice and an alternative way to report non-urgent crime or get advice or guidance."

(1st March 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 1st February 2018 author Ewan Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK last year hit an all-time high, with the number of recorded violent assaults rising by more than a third compared to 2016, new figures reveal.
According to a report from the Community Security Trust (CST), there were 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents recorded last year, the highest ever recorded by the monitoring group for a calendar year.

The figure is a 3% increase from 2016, the previous record year for anti-Semitic incidents.

The report does not give a reason for the rise in recorded incidents, but notes there has been an increase in "all forms of recorded hate crime" in the wake of the EU referendum and publicity regarding alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
The figures reveal there were 145 violent anti-Semitic assaults reported 2017, an increase of 34% from the 108 violent incidents recorded in 2016 and the highest number CST has ever recorded in this category.
The reports adds that that none of the assaults are classified as Extreme Violence, which would mean incidents that involved grievous bodily harm (GBH) or a threat to life.
The most common type of incident in 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In total there were 356 incidents of verbal abuse - a quarter of the overall total - against Jewish men and women "while going about their daily business in public places".
The report says in at least 283 incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish because of their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewellery bearing Jewish symbols.
CST chief executive David Delew said: "Hatred is rising and Jewish people are suffering as a result. This should concern everybody because it shows anger and division that threaten all of society.
"We have the support of Government and Police, but prosecutions need to be more visible and more frequent; while too many others act in ways that encourage anti-Semites and isolate Jews."
Responding to the report, home secretary Amber Rudd said: "Anti-Semitism is a despicable form of abuse that seeks to undermine our values of diversity and openness and which has absolutely no place in British society.
"I welcome this report's findings that the rise in reported incidents partly reflects the improving response to these horrendous attacks and better information sharing between the CST and police forces around the UK.
"But even one incident is one too many, as is any rise in incidents, which is why this Government will continue its work protecting the Jewish community and other groups from anti-Semitism and hate crime."
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: "These figures from the Community Security Trust are normally indicative of the official 2017 police statistics that are currently being compiled.
"Anti-Semitic crime has been rising dramatically since 2014 and that rise is not explained by an increase in reporting and we have seen no noticeable impact from Brexit.
"We believe that Jews are being singled out disproportionately and with increasing violence due to the spread of anti-Semitic conspiracy myths originating from Islamists, the far-left and the far-right which society is failing to address as evidenced by the ongoing disgraceful situation in the Labour Party; and because the Crown Prosecution Service declines to prosecute so often that anti-Semites no longer fear any consequences to their actions."

(1st March 2018)


(The Telegraph, dated 31st January 2018 author Hayley Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

Penalising motorists for going 1mph over the speed limit would be "completely unenforceable", one of the country's leading traffic lawyers has said.

Nick Freeman, the solicitor who became known as "Mr Loophole" after successfully representing a string of celebrities on motoring offences, said that the proposal by Britain's road policing chief was a "hair brained idea" which looked like a "publicity stunt".

Chief Constable of West Mercia Anthony Bangham said that guidelines which give motorists a buffer of 10 per cent on the speed limit should be scrapped following a rise in road deaths.

He is currently reviewing road safety in his role as the roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council - which sets the national guidelines therefore raising the possibility that they could be officially changed.

But concerns have been raised that the move would clog up the court system and create an obsession with the speedometer which would distract drivers and make the roads more dangerous.

One of the reasons behind the guidelines, which state motorists should not be penalised until they are travelling 10 per cent plus 2mph over the limit, was the inaccuracy of the speedometers, Mr Freeman said.

"In my view it is legally unenforceable. It will clog up the courts and waste valuable resources with cases that they will never win. I don't think that there is a person in the country who would take the penalty when they know that," Mr Freeman said.

At a time when police are trying to crack down on mobile phone use behind the wheel, enforcing a speed limit which would force drivers to focus on their speedometer could "equate" to a similar distraction, the solicitor warned.

He said that if the police want to enforce the speed more accurately they need to review limits to make sure they are appropriate, including the 70mph limit on the motorway which was set in the 1950s as it was the top speed of the Ford Anglia.

Mr Freeman said: "It is unenforceable, it is perverse, it is dangerous and it is a bit rich from the Chief Constable of West Mercia when violent crime in his area has increased by 16 per cent, sexual offences by 16 per cent and overall crimes by 13 per cent."

There are "limited resources" and the public would expect them to be focused on serious crime rather than "penalising" motorists for going 1mph over the limit, he said.

"There is no public interest in pursuing this. I do not believe that a serious police officer in the country would support it and members of the public would react very badly," he added.

Mr Bangham had earlier claimed that there would be "no lawyers involved" as the driver would be offered a speed awareness course.

When it was pointed at that people would be likely to challenge a 1mph discrepancy he admitted that if they did "that would tie up time".

He told LBC radio that enforcing the speed limit "is not something we should be embarrassed about, it is not something that we should seek to justify."

"It is fair to the public to say let's be clear - the limits are the limits, the laws are the laws, and therefore police will enforce when it is appropriate to do so," he continued.

When questioned whether the falling number of traffic officers was the real issue, Mr Bangham said that they had seen a "significant drop" but suggested the bobbies on the beat could be diverted to deal with motoring offences.

"I am now reminding all of our officers out on patrol in our local policing teams and safer neighbourhood teams that they can also do speed enforcement and roads policing enforcement," he said.

His comments also attracted backlash from other officers.

Ian Hanson, Chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, said: "I find it absolutely staggering that the effective policy lead for policing should show himself to be so out of touch with not only the overwhelming number of police officers who are out there keeping our communities safe and putting themselves in the way of danger every day, but also alienating those communities we are there to serve."

Mr Bangham said in a statement: "Anything from 31mph onwards is over the speed limit and the options for a police response - a speed awareness course, fixed penalty notice or attendance at court - are discretionary based on the circumstances. My message to drivers is - don't assume you have a free pass if you're over the limit.

"Police chiefs and Police and Crime Commissioners make decisions about local priorities, including roads policing. Officer discretion and common-sense will remain at the centre of roads policing and there will still be an important place for educational courses to improve driving standards."

Speeding | The 10 per cent 'rule'

The rule, actually guidance, from the Association of Chief Police Officers (2015), offers the following table which allows for some leniency when issuing speeding fines.

If, for example, the speed limit is 30mph, you won't get a fine unless you are going 10% plus 2 mph faster than the limit. In this example, this would mean that you would have to be travelling at 35mph or faster in order to receive a speeding ticket.

Key :
(Device Tolerance)
[Fixed Penalty]
{Speed Awareness}
<Summons in court>


20 mph (22 mph) [24 mph] {24-31 mph} <35 mph>
30 mph (32 mph) [35 mph] {35-42 mph} <50 mph>
40 mph (42 mph) [46 mph] {46-53 mph} <66 mph>
50 mph (52 mph) [57 mph] {57-64 mph} <76 mph>
60 mph (62 mph) [68 mph] {68-75 mph} <86 mph>
70 mph (73 mph) [79 mph] {79-86 mph} <96 mph>

ACPO Speed Enforcement Guidelines (

(27th February 2018)

(The Register, dated 31st January 2018 author Kat Hall)

Full article [Option 1]:

The UK must reduce the dependency of its critical infrastructure and emergency services on GPS technology to mitigate against the potentially disastrous impact of signal jamming, a government report has warned.

In a forward to the long-awaited doc from the Government Office of Science, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) are often described as an "invisible utility". He said: "It is in our national interest, as this report makes clear, that we recognise the precise nature and extent of our dependence on GNSS.

"We must take steps to increase the resilience of our critical services in the event of GNSS disruption, including by adopting potential back-up systems where necessary," he wrote in the The Satellite-derived time and position: A Study of Critical Dependencies report.

Last year the government warned the UK stands to lose £1bn per day in the event of a major disruption to GPS. In 2016 it emerged the decommissioning of a US satellite caused an error in the GPS network, having a knock-on effect across a number of UK industries.

But one of the biggest threats is the increasing interference to GNSS-derived signals through "jamming" and "spoofing", said the report.

"The last 15 years have seen a dramatic proliferation of GNSS jamming systems: from the preserve of the military, through criminal groups, to the point where jammers are now sought and owned by everyday citizens seeking to hide from a perceived risk of being tracked during their day-to-day lives."

The emergency services have two main applications for GNSS, using data from a caller's phone to locate the emergency; and navigating there rapidly and successfully.

The technology is also widespread in financial services, with transactions often driven by algorithmic trading, which requires timestamps at millisecond to microsecond level. This form of precision timing also requires traceability for audit purposes.

Charles Curry, founder of GPS resilience company Chronos Technology and contributor to the report, told El Reg: "There is no difference in my mind between a cyber attack over the internet and a cyber attack using GPS-jamming technology. It's something that North Korea has been doing for some time, as well as Russia. What is to stop someone from switching on a high power jammer in central London and taking out the financial services sector?"

He said the government must act to lead in putting a back-up system in place, as simply using legal deterrents to prevent jamming is not enough.

Under the Wireless and Telegraphy Act (2006) it is an offence to deliberately transmit within the GNSS frequency band without a licence or exemption notice. So the use of jamming devices is an offence - but possession of a device is not. "This means that courts have to prove intent to use, which can be difficult" said the report.

Initially GPS was a military system, giving civil users access to degraded services - with accuracy within tens of metres - but after Korean Airlines Flight 007 was shot down by Russia in 1983 after accidentally flying off course, Ronald Reagan signed an executive order allowing the civilian use of GPS.

The report calls for an increase in awareness of our dependency of GNSS; the need to protect the GNSS spectrum; to improve the national risk assessment; and the need to provision for backups - such as the Enhanced low-frequency, LOng-RAnge Navigation (LORAN) system. It said the government, industry and academia will also need to take a more joined-up approach.

(27th February 2018)

(BBC News, dated 31st January 2018)

Full article:

A man who fell and hit his head after "drinking all night" was correctly refused travel insurance cover, an ombudsman has said.

Yet, another man who slipped over in a nightclub's toilets after a drink while on holiday should have been covered.

The cases have been featured by the financial ombudsman to highlight the small print and rules surrounding travel insurance disputes.

It said tourists should not be expected to have been sober to win a claim.

The burden of proof was on the insurer to prove that too much drinking was to blame.

Booze-free holidays?

Many insurers have a clause in travel insurance policies that means cover is refused if the policyholder's accident was caused by excessive alcohol.

If the insurer refuses to pay for the medical expenses, the customer can appeal to the financial ombudsman to make an independent ruling.

The organisation looked at nearly 900 travel insurance complaints in the last three months of 2017, to highlight some of the issues involved.

"Insurers may choose not to pay out if they believe someone's been drinking excessively, although this doesn't necessarily mean holidays should be totally alcohol-free," said chief financial ombudsman Caroline Wayman.

"In each case, we'll need to carefully weigh up all the evidence to decide, on balance, whether the insurer has made the right call.

"Encouragingly, compared with recent years, we're generally upholding fewer travel insurance complaints. This suggests, while there is still clearly work to do, that many insurers are increasingly treating their customers in a fair and reasonable way."

n the nightclub case, the ombudsman told the insurer to pay up for a man's medical treatment costs. The man said he had been drinking, but that he was not drunk at the time.

The ombudsman decided that, on balance, it did not think the evidence showed it was more likely than not that excessive alcohol consumption had caused his accident.

However, in the other case highlighted, an insurer sent the ombudsman medical records showing the emergency doctor diagnosed the injured man with "acute alcohol intoxication".

These records also said he had not been able to sign a form when he arrived at the hospital, and other records made during his ambulance trip suggested he had said he had been drinking all night.

The ombudsman said figures show more than 21.9 million people from the UK went on summer holidays abroad in 2017.

Overall there were 3,000 complaints about travel insurance made to the ombudsman last year. It ruled that the insurers had not treated their customers fairly in nearly four in 10 cases.

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: "Travel insurance is a lifeline for people who run into trouble overseas, with insurers paying out more than a million pounds every day.

"More than half of this funds emergency medical treatment for people who have been badly injured or have fallen seriously ill. As with any insurance, customers do have a responsibility not to behave recklessly.

"Insurers know people will likely want to drink alcohol while they are on holiday and they don't expect you to stay sober all the time, but there is a danger of invalidating your cover if you drink so much that it makes you act dangerously or means you are out of control."

Overall, the financial ombudsman handled 81,647 new cases on a variety of subjects between October and December. The majority (54%) were complaints about the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

(27th February 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 31st January 2018 author Mark Blunden)

Full article [Option 1]:

A new tracking device could signal the end of workers sneaking out for a cigarette - or even spending too long in the office lavatory.

Chips that monitor the movements of employees as they walk about the office have been designed by a London start-up to give bosses "eyes everywhere". The devices cost less than 20p each.

Unlike traditional ID cards used to swipe into buildings, these smart cards, by Canary Wharf-based, bounce signals from data sensors dotted in corridors and doorways.

The technology allows "real-time monitoring of employees in all building locations and floors" so firms know the "location and movement of occupants". A 3D model of the building shows where each employee is to calculate the best evacuation routes in case of emergency.

But privacy campaigners warned today that increased surveillance will make workers "feel uncomfortable" that their every move is being tracked.

The cards use a long-range version of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips that IBM deployed for its Instant Checkout to scan an entire basket's worth of goods at once, reported by the Standard last week.

It means that when an employee arrives at work and walks past sensors with a card in their pocket, they do not need to swipe in through the door as their employee profile flashes up automatically on security screens. was among nine startups picked by Startupbootcamp to pitch to investors at the Science Museum last week.

The firm said their RFID system is already being used by City firms, Shoreditch co-working spaces and a West End private members' club.

Founder Paul Sheedy said: "The sensors mean that you get out of the lift on say the 36th floor of a building and it will show on a screen that you have arrived there.

"We're detecting each individual on each floor of a building in real time.

"If you're managing a property portfolio globally, you can see exactly what is happening in your buildings worldwide and if you can start moving people to fill desk space.

"It helps with efficiency because you know floor by floor if there are people there so you can turn off the air conditioning or lights… you have eyes all over the building."

Responding to criticism about staff surveillance, he said that "employee data can be anonymised", although this would be overwritten in an emergency.

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said: "Intrusively tracking staff around the workplace is an absolutely absurd measure and will no doubt make staff feel uncomfortable.

"Tracking staff isn't a sensible safety measure - it simply defies common sense and actually raises safeguarding issues. The increasing view of surveillance as mundane in an age of emerging technologies is profoundly concerning.

"Surveillance in the workplace is a gross example of how far down the road the UK has gone."

(27th February 2018)

(Computer Weekly, dated 30th January 2018 author Warwick Ashford)

Full article [Option 1]:

Most top online retail sites fail to protect consumers from phishing attacks, a study has revealed

Nearly 90% of the root domains operated by top online retailers in the European Union and the United States are putting their brands and consumers at risk of phishing attacks.

This is the main finding of a study based on analysis of 3,300 domains operated by the top 500 EU and 1,000 US online retailers by email analytics and Dmarc compliance firm 250ok.

Phishing and spoofing attacks against consumers are most likely when companies do not have a published sender policy framework (SPF) or domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance (Dmarc) policy in place.

SPF is an email validation system that detects spoofing attempts, or a third party that disguises itself as a particular sender using a counterfeit email address. Dmarc is an industry standard for email-validation to prevent such attacks, and is being used to protect US and UK government domains.

The Dmarc protocol builds on the widely deployed sender policy framework (SPF) and domain keys identified mail (DKIM) protocols to authenticate email senders and identify fraudulent emails, adding a reporting function that allows senders and receivers to improve and monitor protection of the domain from fraudulent email.

Dmarc enables organisations to take control of their domains by specifying which IP addresses emails will come from and what cryptographic keys it will be signed by. If either of these conditions is not met, organisations can choose to have the non-conforming emails to be delivered with an alert to the organisation, quarantined with an alert, or blocked with an alert.

Whatever option the organisation chooses, all emails that are pretending to be from that organisation for phishing or other cyber criminal purposes will be not reach their intended victims.

While the majority of retailers use some level of email authentication on their domains, the report reveals many are inconsistent in their approach across all the domains they control. Only 11.3% of top US retailer and 12.2% of top EU retailer domains meet 250ok's recommended minimum protocol for the email.

"By failing to publish basic authentication records like SPF and a Dmarc record for all of the domains they operate, retailers are blind to the potential abuse of their brands' domain names," said Matthew Vernhout, director of privacy at 250ok. "It leaves both the brand and the consumer unnecessarily exposed to phishing attacks that damage brand trust."

A 2017 study from the Anti-Phishing Working Group reported that an average of 443 brands per month were targeted for phishing attacks in the first half of 2017, up from 413 per month during the same period in the previous year.

According to the 250ok report, these attacks are a threat to brand trust because 91% of all cyber attacks begin with a phishing email.

"Time and again, we see that phishing is among the most common cyber risks," said Shehzad Mirza, director of operations for the Global Cyber Alliance.

"Dmarc protects both consumers and businesses from some of the worst types of phishing. The value of the protection is such that both the UK and US governments have mandated their respective government domains to implement Dmarc. We urge all governments and businesses to do the same," he said.

(27th February 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 28th January 2018 author Alex Hern)

Full article [Option 1]:

Sensitive information about the location and staffing of military bases and spy outposts around the world has been revealed by a fitness tracking company.

The details were released by Strava in a data visualisation map that shows all the activity tracked by users of its app, which allows people to record their exercise and share it with others.

The map, released in November 2017, shows every single activity ever uploaded to Strava - more than 3 trillion individual GPS data points, according to the company. The app can be used on various devices including smartphones and fitness trackers like Fitbit to see popular running routes in major cities, or spot individuals in more remote areas who have unusual exercise patterns.

However, over the weekend military analysts noticed that the map is also detailed enough that it potentially gives away extremely sensitive information about a subset of Strava users: military personnel on active service.

Nathan Ruser, an analyst with the Institute for United Conflict Analysts, first noted the lapse. The heatmap "looks very pretty" he wrote, but is "not amazing for Op-Sec" - short for operational security. "US Bases are clearly identifiable and mappable."

"If soldiers use the app like normal people do, by turning it on tracking when they go to do exercise, it could be especially dangerous," Ruser added, highlighting one particular track that "looks like it logs a regular jogging route."

"In Syria, known coalition (ie US) bases light up the night," writes analyst Tobias Schneider. "Some light markers over known Russian positions, no notable colouring for Iranian bases … A lot of people are going to have to sit through lectures come Monday morning."

In locations like Afghanistan, Djibouti and Syria, the users of Strava seem to be almost exclusively foreign military personnel, meaning that bases stand out brightly. In Helmand province, Afghanistan, for instance, the locations of forward operating bases can be clearly seen, glowing white against the black map.

Zooming in on one of the larger bases clearly reveals its internal layout, as mapped out by the tracked jogging routes of numerous soldiers. The base itself is not visible on the satellite views of commercial providers such as Google Maps or Apple's Maps, yet it can be clearly seen through Strava.

Outside direct conflict zones, potentially sensitive information can still be gleaned. For instance, a map of Homey Airport, Nevada - the US Air Force base commonly known as Area 51 - records a lone cyclist taking a ride from the base along the west edge of Groom Lake, marked on the heatmap by a thin red line.

RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands is lit up brightly on the heatmap, reflecting the exercise regimes of the thousand British personnel there - as are nearby Lake Macphee and Gull Island Pond, apparently popular swimming spots.

When Strava released the heatmap, an updated version of one it had previously published in 2015, it announced that "this update includes six times more data than before - in total 1 billion activities from all Strava data through September 2017. Our global heatmap is the largest, richest, and most beautiful dataset of its kind. It is a direct visualisation of Strava's global network of athletes."

Strava demonstrated that the new heatmap was detailed enough to see kiteboarding in Mexico, to track the route of the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain and to see the sea route of the Ironman triathalon in Kona, Hawaii. Perhaps the closest to the current operational security issues that it noted, however, was the layout of the Burning Man festival in the Nevadan desert. "The unique pentagonal pattern of Burning Man's pop-up city is forever etched into the Heatmap, thanks to all the runners and cyclists who have used Strava to explore it," the company wrote.

(27th February 2018)

(Independent, dated 25th January 2018 author Helen Coffey)

Full article [Option 1]:

Many hotel safes can be broken into using a simple code, according to security experts.

The problem lies in default settings left by the manufacturers, which enable an override code to be entered to open the safe in case a guest forgets their own code.

The problem was highlighted in a YouTube video uploaded by "Lock Picking Lawyer", which shows a man stowing a valuable bottle of Scotch whisky into a Saflok safe.

He enters a four-digit code to lock it. The man then demonstrates putting an incorrect code in to show it won't open.

However, he quickly proves that would-be thieves don't need to know the real code in order to break in.

"What this hotel did not do was reset the administrator password that comes from the factory," he says.

He enters the "super-user mode" - the lock button - followed by 999999, and the safe opens.

Stefan Vito Hiller, a global risk consultant to hotels with Sky Touch Consulting, confirmed that this security risk is a real problem in the hotel industry.

"It is a common known problem in hotels since the beginning of in-room safes," he told The Independent. "It is standard in our security audits to check for default code settings and occasionally we find safes with this setting.

"This is not necessarily a problem in just cheap hotels. Default-code settings can be found also in four- and five-star hotels around the world. When safes get installed, it is the hotel's responsibility to change those codes but because of lack of product knowledge by hotel management it doesn't often get changed.

"In the video, 999999 is mentioned as a default code. It can also be 111111 or 000000 or 1111, 9999, 0000, depending on the product and manufacturer.

"Some safe manufacturers configure their products differently and do not have a default code setting."

How to keep belongings safe in hotels

Vito Hiller offers the following tips for travellers to ensure their valuables are secure:

- Check for default-code settings before putting anything into the safe.

- Check if the safe is actually mounted to the wall and not just the furniture.

- Do not use birth dates, room number or check-in date as the pin-code.

- Always keep your hotel room door shut.

- If you want to be as safe as possible, only stay in hotels that are certified in Global Hotel Security Standards such as the Global Lighthouse Certification Program.

How hotels can ensure the safety of guests

He offers the following tips to hotels to improve security:

- Check all safes for default codes and replace them with a new code that is only known to management.

- Conduct regular security walk-rounds and check for any open bedroom doors.

- Put security awareness signs up and remind guests to put valuables in the safe.

- Train staff in security awareness and suspicious behaviour.

- Have proper hotel security policies in place.

- Conduct regular security audits and get certified in Global Hotel Security Standards.

uaware - further information

On carrying out some basic checks it appears that the "Global Lighthouse Certification Program" is a product provided by a single consulting company.

It appears that the UK's defacto hotel security organisation is the Institute of hotel security management :

That said, digital hotel safe must have some bypass codes as their customers do forget their passwords. It is for you to check when your arrive room to see if they match the default codes mentioned above; if they do match complain to the hotel management or head office.

(27th February 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 25th January 2018 authors Kate McCann and Patrick Scott)

Full article [Option 1]:

Recorded crime has gone up by 14 per cent in a year, new official police figures show, as robbery, mugging and violent crime all increased.

Overall the statistics, which record the number of crimes reported to police over the last year in England and Wales, paint a dramatic picture of increased offending in almost every category.

Robbery is up by 29 per cent compared to the previous year, while stalking is up 36 per cent and rape 29 per cent. Knife crime is up by 21 per cent.

Public order offences have increased more then any other area, by 44 per cent, while possession of a weapon has also increased dramatically by 26 per cent.

Drug offences have fallen, as have non-domestic burglary crimes, but in every other area increases have been reported.

However the crime survey of England and Wales, seen as an accurate reflection of how people experience crime, shows crime is down.

Forces in England and Wales logged a total of 5.3 million crimes in the year ending September 2017 - a 14 per cent increase compared to the previous 12 months.

Statisticians said the data shows continuing rises in the number of "higher-harm" violent offences, which were most evident in knife and gun crime categories.

The figures come amid suggestions that police are failing to investigate supposedly low-level crimes in order to focus their efforts on dealing with increasing threats from terrorism and cyber crime, investigate historic sex offences and manage budget cuts.

In a scheme trialled in 2015 by Leicestershire police, officers refused to investigate reported attempted burglaries at odd-numbered homes.

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: "The independent Office for National Statistics is clear that overall traditional crime is continuing to fall, and is now down by almost 40 per cent since 2010, while fraud and computer misuse - the most commonly experienced crime - has reduced by 15% in the past year.

"It is also welcome that the police's recording of crime is improving, and that more victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are feeling empowered to come forward.

"But we know that some of the increase in police-recorded violent offences is genuine which is why we have taken urgent action to stop these crimes.

"We will be announcing tough new laws to crack down on acid attacks and knife offences. And as crime changes, we will change our response - our forthcoming Serious Violence Strategy will place a new emphasis on steering young people away from a life of crime, while continuing to promote the strongest possible law enforcement response."

How prevalent is crime where you live?

Rate of offences per 100k residents, three months to September 2017

Go to actual article to check crime rate by your postcode :

Last October, The Telegraph revealed that nine out of 10 residential burglary investigations end without a suspect even being identified.

Of the 44,363 residential burglary cases recorded by police forces across England and Wales between April and June last year, 89.7 per cent ended without a suspect being identified.

The Office for National Statistics said that police-registered crime must be interpreted with caution, attributing much of the rise to changes in recording practices and increased confidence of victims in coming forward.

Its preferred measure, the Crime Survey for England and Wales, gave a total of 10.6 million incidents, which was a fall of 10 per cent.

Which high-volume crimes are least likely to be solved?

Proportion of crimes ending with no suspect identified, year to June 2017 (Data : Home Office)

Theft from vehicle : 95%
Burglary in a non-dwelling : 88%
Other theft : 85%
Criminal damage to a vehicle : 80%
Burglary in a dwelling : 79%
Shoplifting : 45%
Public fear, alarm or distress : 33%
Harassment : 17%
Assault with injury : 15%
Assault without injury : 14%

But it said rises in vehicle-related theft and burglary are less likely to be affected by recording practice and are therefore likely to reflect increases.

Forces registered 37,443 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year ending September 2017 - a 21 per cent increase compared to the previous year and the highest tally since comparable records started in the 12 months to March 2011. Gun crime also went up by a fifth, to 6,694 recorded offences.

The ONS said: "The occurrence of these offences tends to be disproportionately concentrated in London and other metropolitan areas.

"While it is possible that improved recording and more proactive policing has contributed to this rise, it is our judgment that there have also been genuine increases."

(27th February 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 24th January 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

More than 900 criminal cases were dropped last year due to a failure by police or prosecutors to disclose evidence, it has been reported.

This marks a 70 per cent increase in the number of collapsed cases over the course of two years.

Figures reveal that 916 people had charges dropped last year due to a failure to disclose evidence - up from 537 in 2014-15 and 732 the following year.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the number of dropped cases represented just 0.15 per cent of the total number of prosecutions, but said there were still "systemic disclosure issues".

The investigation comes after the high-profile collapse of several rape trials, with Scotland Yard announcing a review of its sex crime investigations after two rape cases were dropped in the space of a week in December.

The trial of Liam Allan, 22, was halted at Croydon Crown Court, while days later another prosecution collapsed against Isaac Itiary at Inner London Crown Court.

The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the BBC. Angela Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, told the Corporation that barristers face "a daily struggle in respect of disclosure, delays and all the other disastrous consequences of a system that is openly described by MPs as at breaking point".

A CPS spokesman said: "We prosecuted more than 588,000 defendants in 2016/17 and our conviction rate was 83 per cent. The number of unsuccessful outcomes due to disclosure issues represents 0.15 per cent of these prosecutions.

"That is still too many, however, and we are clear that there are systemic disclosure issues across the criminal justice system which will require a collective effort in order to bring about improvement.

"Getting this right is a priority, and along with the police and other criminal justice partners we are working to improve how we fulfil these vital disclosure obligations and ensure that cases which should not proceed are stopped as early as possible.

"Last week the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) chaired a seminar with senior figures from the police, judiciary and legal profession to discuss how this may be achieved.

"This was a constructive discussion that generated concrete proposals which we will be pursuing to encourage early, effective engagement between the police, prosecutors and defence."

Met Police review to examine all live rape cases

The Metropolitan Police review, announced in December, will involve all rape cases currently being investigated by its specialist sex abuse unit.

It is thought scores of investigations could now be in jeopardy amid concern that police have failed to follow proper procedures.

Speaking at the time, a Scotland Yard spokesman said: "As a precaution, every live case being investigated by the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences [Caso] command, where the Met is in discussion with the CPS, is being reviewed to ensure all digital evidence has been properly examined, documented and shared with the CPS to meet obligations under disclosure."

Criminology 'student alleges convictions are chased 'like sales targets'

Liam Allan, a criminology student, had been three days into his trial when it emerged police had failed to disclose a vast amount of crucial information.

He had been accused of six rapes and six sexual assaults, spending almost two years on bail.

Among the text messages that were not passed to the defence, was one from the alleged victim that stated: "It was not against my will."

Mr Allan, who endured a two-year ordeal, threatened to sue the police and CPS, accusing them of chasing rape convictions "like sales targets".

Suspect spent four months in prison awaiting trial

Isaac Itiary was charged with the rape of a child under 16 in July last year and was due to stand trial in 2018.

He had reportedly spent four months in prison awaiting trial as he was considered to be a risk to the public.

But at a pre-trial hearing in December, the CPS offered no evidence after issues arose regarding the full disclosure of material.

(27th February 2018)

(Which ?, dated 23rd January 2018 author Faye Lipson)

Full article [Option 1]:

A further 167,000 victims of the Equifax data breach will receive a warning from the firm, indicating the May 2017 hack may have left them at greater risk of fraud.

The latest wave comes after the firm previously wrote to 693,000 UK individuals thought to be most at risk - taking the total number of UK warning letters to over 860,000.

The credit reference agency says it has decided to write to thousands more victims whose landline telephone numbers were already published in public telephone directories but were accessed as part of last year's cyber-attack.

Which? has already highlighted confusion and alarm caused by the letters, which fail to explain who Equifax is or why it holds victims' data.

Equifax data breach: 15.2m Brits affected

In May this year, Equifax announced its data had been access by hackers in a cyber-attack. Some 15.2 million UK client records were compromised, and Equifax initially wrote to 690,000 UK consumers who are likely to have had sensitive details stolen.

These include email addresses, passwords, driving license numbers, phone numbers and partial credit card details.

This latest announcement reveals that a further 167,000 had their telephone numbers stolen in the attack.

The warning letters offer free identity-monitoring services aimed at spotting impostor applications for credit cards and bank accounts.

Why Equifax has victims' data

Equifax has confirmed that just 3% of the 693,000 worst-hit victims were its direct customers. Many of the victims may have never dealt with - or even heard of - the firm before.

How is this possible? As a credit reference agency, Equifax receives personal data from banks and financial institutions whenever someone applies for a bank account, mortgage or credit card.

Consent for this is usually included in the application terms and conditions, meaning Equifax may hold data on you even if you've never dealt with it directly.

It uses this data to generate your credit reports and score. Lenders then use these to decide how much of a risk you are before they approve your application.

As a result, Equifax's only direct customers are the tiny minority who have transacted with it by purchasing a credit report or identity-monitoring services.

How to verify your letter

If you receive a letter regarding the Equifax data breach, and you're not sure if it's genuine, call Equifax on 0800 587 1584 to confirm the letter is genuinely from them.

If the letter is telling you to call a number other than the one above, it may be a scam.

Should you accept the free identity monitoring services?

If your data has been breached, you may be at heightened risk of identity fraud. To combat this, Equifax is offering its worst-affected UK customers free services which monitor whether your identity has been compromised online.

It's also offering Cifas Protective Registration - a third-party service which prompts banks to conduct extra identity checks when they receive an application in your name.

If you are concerned about the security of Equifax's own products, you can opt to be enrolled in Cifas's service instead - however you will still have to give some personal information to Equifax so it can enrol you for free.

It is possible to enrol directly through Cifas, though this will attract a £20 charge (for two years' cover).

(27th February 2018)

(Reuters / Daily Telegraph (au), dated 23rd January 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Britain will set up a new unit to beef up its efforts to counter so-called "fake news" and to try to deter disinformation campaigns by other states.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously accused Russia of meddling in elections and its state media of planting fake stories and photo-shopped images in an attempt to undermine western institutions.

Russia denies interfering in foreign elections including Britain's June 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union and the 2016 US presidential race.

The announcement from the prime ministers office on Tuesday was made after a meeting of the National Security Council -- a mix of ministers and senior security officials -- which endorsed the initial findings of a wide-ranging review into Britain's capability to respond to all types of threats.

"We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives," May's spokesman told reporters. "The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected complex challenges.

"We will build on existing capabilities by creating a dedicated national security communications unit. This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others. It will more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities."

Asked what sort of state actors the government was worried about, he pointed to previous speeches made by ministers on the subject.

British MPs conducting a separate parliament-led inquiry have demanded information from Facebook about any paid-for activity by Russian-linked Facebook accounts around the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 UK election.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this month he would overhaul domestic media legislation to fight the spread of fake news on social media, which he said was a threat to liberal democracies.

uaware comment

So a kind of state censorship then ! I wonder what kind of news will be allowed ? I suppose anything about MP's claiming excessive expenses will be "fake news". Reports of MP's making sexually suggestive comments to their researchers will be "fake news". If Labour gets re-elected, anti-semitism does not exist; and we allow open debate and anything else will be ........ fake news propaganda by the Tory press.

The UK media also has a tendency of shooting itself in the foot, especially when it comes to Donald Trump. President Trump a couple of months ago commented on the lawlessness in Sweden caused by immigrants. This was shortly followed by the press printing rebuffles from the Swedish PM, indicating the US President needs to get his facts right. Well according to a recent article in the Times, he was right. So who is supplying the fake news ?

I was very sceptical about reports of foreign states manipulating UK news until I watched a news clip on the BBC during week commencing 29th January 2018. It was in respect of Scotland and Wales reducing the voting age to 16. Obviously, people of that age are the future of this country and need some form of input, but they require truthful data on which to make judgements. During the news article several teenagers were inteviewed; one comment stuck in my mind "as a teenager I am fully aware of political policies via social media". Arghhhhhhhh, we are all doomed !

(27th February 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 23rd January 2018 author Alex Hern)

Full article [Option 1]:

Hackers stole a total of £130bn from consumers in 2017, including £4.6bn from British internet users, according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Norton.

More than 17 million Brits were hit by cybercrime in the past year, meaning the nation, which accounts for less than 1% of the global population, makes up almost 2% of the 978 million global victims of cybercrime and almost 4% of the global losses.

The losses were more than just financial. Each victim of cybercrime spent, on average, nearly two working days dealing with the aftermath of the attack.

The most common crimes were generally low-tech, such as attempts to trick individuals into revealing their personal information through bogus emails with generally low costs to victims. Other forms of cybercrime were more expensive: the typical victim found that a technical support scam cost them £44, a ransomware attack £111, and a fraudulent purchase online costing as much as £166.

But Norton warns that cybercrime victims are not doing enough to protect themselves online. The report found that they are more than twice as likely as those who haven't fallen prey to cybercrime to share passwords to online accounts with other people, and almost twice as likely to use the same password for all online accounts.

What's more, a surprising number of cybercrime victims - more than a quarter - believe they are safe from future attacks.

"Consumers' actions revealed a dangerous disconnect: despite a steady stream of cybercrime sprees reported by media, too many people appear to feel invincible and skip taking even basic precautions to protect themselves," said Nick Shaw, Norton's general manager for EMEA. "This disconnect highlights the need for consumer digital safety and the urgency for consumers to get back to basics when it comes to doing their part to prevent cybercrime."

The head of the UK's National Cybersecurity Centre warned on Tuesday that it was a matter of "when, not if" Britain would be hit by a major cyber-attack, capable of disrupting critical infrastructure or the democratic process.

"Some attacks will get through. What you need to do [at that point] is cauterise the damage," Ciaran Martin said.

(27th February 2018)

(The Sunday Times, dated 21st January 2018 author Bojan Pancevski) [Option 1]

The blast was so powerful that it shook windows a mile away. Ahmad's first thought was that someone had thrown yet another bomb at the police.

He was right. On Wednesday night an explosive device was hurled at the police station in Rosengard, a troubled area of Malmo, Sweden's third largest city.

Attacks on the police are increasingly frequent. Rosengard's force works from a black fortress of reinforced concrete with narrow windows and a 10ft-high electric fence.

"I knew it was a bomb again," said Ahmad, 53, who lives in the area with his wife and their four teenage children.

Sweden is among the world's safest, richest and best-run countries enjoying steady growth and rising employment. But it has been experiencing an unprecedented surge of bombings and sexual assaults.

In a country of 10m people, more than 320 shootings and dozens of bombings were reported in 2017, along with more than 110 murders and 7,226 rapes - a 10% increase on 2016. More than 36% of young Swedish women say they feel unsafe at night.

The authorities have admitted they are unable to investigate rape cases immediately because the resources are focused on gang crime. "We are forced to choose between two evils," the police said.

The crime surge is mainly confined to so-called "areas of social exclusion", a code for neighbourhoods such as Rosengard that are predominantly populated by immigrants. They are not classic ghettos - the infrastructure and services are better than in areas of central London - but these communities are plagued by high crime rates and unemployment.

In Malmo, where a fifth of the 340,000 inhabitants are under 18, children as young as 14 roam the streets with Kalashnikov assault rifles and bulletproof vests.

The average age of gang members is 22, the vast majority of them hailing from migrant families.

Sweden has pursued a liberal immigration policy for more than a generation; its government speaks of being a "humanitarian superpower" for having taken in a large number of asylum seekers. After the migrant crisis of 2015, when more than 160,000 people sought asylum, the policy was abruptly changed. Yet there is little debate or reliable data about the integration of the 12% that derive from non-western countries.

For a long time the Swedish establishment played down the decay of immigrant dominated suburbs, but it can no longer ignore the explosion of violence.

Stefan Lofven, the Social Democrat prime minister, said last week that he was ready to deploy the military to "stamp out" organised crime. The next day another bomb went off in Malmo, this time in front of a private property.

"We have really reached the bottom: people use machine guns and hand grenades - they want to kill," said Zoran Markovic, the former chief of community policing in Rosengard.

Markovic, a decorated officer, is the Swedish born son of immigrants from Serbia. Rosengard's new fortified police staion was built after his locker room in the old building was peppered with bullets in a drive-by shooting.

The situation has drastically worsened in the past two years. Markovic said the police are overstretched. Rosengard's main school, which had pupils from nearly 200 ethnic backgrounds was closed because of social tension.

Barely three miles away, in Malmo's centre, there is little sign of the crime epidemic. The old Hanseatic port is a vibrant area of medieval cobblestoned squares and contemporary architecture.

This is replicated across the country. Alongside the pockets of violence, Sweden continues to flourish, with low crime rates and a booming economy. It's citizens read about gangland wars with disbelief, although crime is increasingly spilling into middle class areas.

Ted Eriksson, 34, was inspired to become a police officer after a stint as an assistant to Kenneth Brannagh, the British actor, during the filming of the Wallander crime series.

Last August Eriksson was on duty at a pro-refugee rally in Stockholm when he was stabbed by an Afghan asylum seeker. He survived with minor injuries. The Assailant claimed to be 17 but was suspected of being in his late twenties. He said he wanted to kill a policeman.

Rinkeby, a 20 minute metro ride from Stockholm's old centre, is one of Sweden's most crime ridden areas. Paramedics and firefighters demand a police escort to go there. After nightfall gangs of young men dominate the streets, offering drugs at the entrance to the station. A 25 year old man was shot dead in a pizzeria this month.

When I visited Rinkeby last week a group of youths in shell suits aggressively asked why I was in their neighbourhood. Their tone turned more respectful when they found out that I am from the Balkans - the homeland of many local criminal kingpins. Born and raised in Rinkeby, they declared themselves not Swedish but Somali, Afghan or Lebanese.

Hanif Azizi, who came to Sweden from Iran as an unaccompanied refugee at the age of 9 nearly 30 years ago, is a senior policeman in Rinkeby. "Hating police is part of some of these kids cultures. If as a society was have decided to take in refugees, we must set high standards; not ask what our society can do for them, but what they can do for our society," he said.

Norway's immigration minister, Sylvi Listhaug, visited Rinkeby last year to "learn" from the mistakess of "uncontrolled migration and poor integration".

Stockholm's mayor, Karin Wannagard protested that Rinkeby was a "fine neighbourhood" and "teeming with vitality".

A spate of shootings forced her to change her tune. The "growing brutality" among gangs has become "unpredented" she said earlier this month.

It is taboo to make a link between immigrants and crime, according to Tino Sanandaji, a Swedish economist of Iranian-Kurdish origin whi argues in Mass Challenge, his best selling book, that the country has failed to integrate many newcomers: "Sweden was successful in abolishing the traditional class society, but politicians are no creating an ethnic underclass.

Criticism of Sweden's immigration policy has been the prerogative of the unsavoury far right fo so long that Sanandaji's book, soon to be published in English, was blacklisted by some public libraries, despite praise from experts.

"The attacks would have ended my career had I been a white ethnic Swede," he said.

Paulina Neuding, an internationally acclaimed writer, was accused of xenophobia for linking the rise of anti-semitic and sexual crime to mass migration.

Neuding, 36, born to a Jewish family who migrated from Poland, said Sweden is experiencing a "sexual assault crisis".

Statistics published last week revealed the percentage of women who reported being victims of sex crimes rose from 1.4% in 2012 to 4.1% in 2016. In 2014 as study on geography of outdoor rape in Stockholm found two-thirds of the suspects were non-Swedish citizens.

"Our government declared itself the world's first feminist government, yet they have quietly abandoned women", Neuding said. "There is mounting evidence that large-scale migration of men from extremely patriarchal cultures is limiting women's freedom."

(27th February 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 19th January 2018 author Brendan Cole)

Full article [Option 1]:

British police forces are using forensics firms that do meet official standards and so criminals could escape justice and innocent people be jailed, a regulator has warned.

In her annual report, the government's forensic regulator Gillian Tully said outsourcing forensic work to non accredited laboratories meant that some forensic evidence simply did not pass muster.

Independent companies have been competing for business since the end of the Forensic Science Service in 2012.

But a lack of oversight and the outsourcing of digital forensics casework to low-cost labs could mean miscarriages of justice, she said.

"If you're not finding indecent images of children on someone's phone when you should be, that's a miscarriage of justice as much as if someone was wrongly convicted of a crime," Tully told the Guardian.

Tully has called for the government to give her office statutory powers to ban poor providers.

"One or two police forces are dragging their heels and certainly not moving on at the rate I would expect...The more pressure you put on people, the less time they have to spend on their actual work, the more you raise the risk of errors," she said.

A Home Office spokesperson said it was committed to putting the Forensic Science Regulator on a statutory footing with robust enforcement powers as soon as possible.

"We are clear that organisations providing forensic services to the criminal justice system need to abide by the regulator's code of practice."

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for forensics, Chief Constable Debbie Simpson, said: "Chief constables are being forced to make difficult decisions about how they utilise their limited resources, but we remain completely committed to meeting the requirements of accreditation and further improving confidence in the criminal justice system."

(27th February 2018)

(Euronews, dated 19th January 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

British law firms dispatched "sales agents" in Mallorca to enlist holidaymakers to file false food poisoning claims against tour operators, court documents reveal.

A Palma de Mallorca judge has lifted the seal on court documents in a case uncovering a scheme which could have scammed Spanish hotels out of €60 million.

British law firms dispatched "sales agents" to hotels in Mallorca to enlist holidaymakers and encourage them to file phony food poisoning claims against their tour operators.

Lawyers would lure recruits with promises of compensation worth up to 18,000 euros and with a 98 percent success rate.

The settlement would fund tourists' holiday costs, while their legal reps would take a 60 percent cut. Some of these complaints were even filed years after the alleged gastric illness.

In an effort to avoid steep court fees, many tour operators accepted the claims and passed the costs to Spanish hotels as per their contract, who subsequently accepted liability for damages.

But as the number of claims ramped up, Spanish hotels alerted police and hired private detectives who uncovered the crime ring.

One of the hotel chains says it received more than 270 compensation requests for 700 people, amounting to 4.5 million euros - a 700 percent increase from previous years.

The Spanish CIvil Guard arrested seven British nationals last September. They were found to have used law firms with "low professional ethics" and exploited a loophole in British legislation.

The two local leaders were mother and daughter, whose job it was to hire agents and train them to persuade hotel clients to simulate gastric illnesses.

Civil Guard officers also discovered the ring was active on the island of Tenerife, where it made around 115 euros for every successful claim. One of the women routinely drove to hotels to supervise her agents, especially in Sa Coma and Puerto de Alcúdia in the north of Majorca.

Investigators slammed the clients who cooperated with the alleged scheme by agreeing to feign illness to get a free vacation.

So far, authorities have identified 800 tourists who filed claims through 77 different law firms.

(27th February 2018)

(The Guardian, dated 18th January 2018 author Miles Brignell)

Full article [Option 1]:

A claims handling company that bombarded consumers with 75m nuisance phone calls in four months has been fined £350,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
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Miss-sold Products UK made the automated calls promoting its payment protection insurance (PPI) claims service without the recipients' consent, which is against the law, the ICO said..

It said the company also failed to identify itself in the calls, and used "added value" numbers which generate revenue when an individual returns a missed call.

The ICO received 146 complaints from the public about Miss-sold Products. Some people were called on multiple occasions, others said they were unable to opt out of receiving the calls.

Some were distressed that calls late at night could have been from family or those to whom they provided care.

The director of Miss-sold Products - which had moved its registered office from Milford Haven in Wales to Darlington, County Durham - had applied to strike the company off the Companies House register. The ICO blocked the move

to allow options to be considered for recovery of the fine, and for full scrutiny the director's actions.

ICO enforcement group manager Andy Curry said: "This company blatantly ignored the laws on telephone marketing, making a huge volume of intrusive calls over a short period of time and without any apparent attempt to ensure they had the consent of the people they were harassing.

"The ICO will come down hard on rogue operators who want to treat the law and the UK public with contempt."

Earlier this month it emerged that British consumers received 2.2bn nuisance phone calls and texts from pensions, PPI and cash-for-crash claims firms in 2017, according to an analysis of Ofcom data.

The ICO has called on the government to bring forward plans to introduce personal liability for directors as a matter of urgency.

(27th February 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 17th January 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

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Police are selling old items of uniforms on eBay to plug a funding gap, as campaigners accused the force of helping criminals to impersonate officers.

Sussex Police, which has a £26.5million funding shortage, is listing items including used police high-visibility jackets on the auction website, it has emerged.

A group representing victims of crime has raised fears the equipment could be used by fraudsters targeting the elderly.

It has emerged just weeks after an elderly couple in Brighton, East Sussex, which is covered by the force, were scammed out of £9,000 by two bogus police officers.

Stephen McCarthy, the director for England of the Action on Elder Abuse charity, said: "It's not going to be bringing in an awful lot of money and it seems a bit strange - why take that risk for such small amounts of money?"

Sussex Police said the items have "police branding and insignia removed", with profits going back to the force.

One item is listed online as a "Gore Windstopper Tornado Fleece Jacket Large Short Black Security Yaffy". The new and unworn black jacket is described as Sussex Police equipment, which is "surplus to requirement".

There is also equipment such as UV flashlights and hi-visibility jackets listed for as little £9.99.

Police branding has been removed from the clothes, but Mr McCarthy feared it makes fraud "that little bit more easy" for crooks.

He said: "We regularly see stories about people impersonating police officers as a way to commit scams against older people.

"There's an argument I think the police would make that these items can possibly be found elsewhere if you want to buy them, and we would not want to disagree.

"When it comes to things seen to be identified with police officers, it seems to be sending the wrong message. I think they should probably be restricted from selling these sorts of items.

"If Sussex Police stop selling these garments today it's not going to stop people committing these crimes, but why make it that little bit more easy?

"It's fine to say the insignia is removed, but often when we see these cases the uniforms that have been worn aren't exactly precise replicas."

In December two criminals dressed as police officer convinced two pensioners, a 72-year-old woman and a 74-year-old man, to hand over £6,000 and £3,000 respectively.

Other listings on the police eBay page include items found or confiscated by the force during police raids

A Sussex Police spokesman defended the force's decision to sell the surplus equipment.

He said: "As these items are assets all the money goes back to Sussex Police towards the running of the eBay shop and back into areas such as the uniform stores.

"By selling these items we have been able generate significant income for the force which would not previously have been available as well as being able to save a significant amount on our waste costs."

The spokesman added: "Items sold are no longer suitable to be re-used by Sussex Police and all items have any police branding and insignia removed.

"Without this branding they are just generic items which can easily be purchased - standard hi-vis jackets and combat trousers etc.

"We remove the blue and white hatching from uniform even though these items can be purchased elsewhere on eBay."

He said "contentious items" such as armour and handcuffs are never sold online and the eBay site is approved by senior officers and the force's own professional standards department.

(27th February 2018)

(BBC News, dated 16th January 2018 authors Helen Clifton, Matthew Chapman and Simon Cox)

Full article :

Thousands of UK nationals have bought fake degrees from a multi-million pound "diploma mill" in Pakistan, a BBC Radio 4's File on Four programme investigation has found.

Buyers include NHS consultants, nurses and a large defence contractor.

One British buyer spent almost £500,000 on bogus documents.

The Department for Education said it was taking "decisive action to crack down on degree fraud" that "cheats genuine learners".

Axact, which claims to be the "world's largest IT company", operates a network of hundreds of fake online universities run by agents from a Karachi call centre.

With names such as Brooklyn Park University and Nixon University, they feature stock images of smiling students and even fake news articles singing the institution's praises.

According to documents seen by BBC Radio 4's File on Four programme, more than 3,000 fake Axact qualifications were sold to UK-based buyers in 2013 and 2014, including master's degrees, doctorates and PhDs.

A trawl through the list of Axact UK buyers, seen by the BBC, reveals various NHS clinical staff, including an ophthalmologist, nurses, a psychologist, and numerous consultants also bought fake degrees.

A consultant at a London teaching hospital bought a degree in internal medicine from the fake Belford University in 2007.

The doctor - who had previously been disciplined by the General Medical Council (GMC) for failing to report a criminal conviction - told the BBC he had not used the certificates because they "had not been authenticated".

An anaesthetist who bought a degree in "hospital management" said he had not used the qualification in the UK.

And a consultant in paediatric emergency medicine, who bought a "master of science in health care technology", claimed it was an "utter surprise" when the BBC told him it was fake.

There is no suggestion any of these clinicians do not hold appropriate original medical qualifications.

Large-scale problem

The General Medical Council (GMC) said it was up to employers to verify any qualifications additional to medical degrees.

But Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) chief executive Jayne Rowley said only 20% of UK employers ran proper checks on applicants' qualifications.

And while purchasing a fake diploma was not illegal in the UK, using one to apply for employment constituted fraud by misrepresentation and could result in a 10-year prison sentence.

"[The GMC] are correct in that [doctors] are licensed to practice medicine if they have a legitimate medical degree. But [by buying a fake degree], they have still committed fraud and could still be prosecuted," she said.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said all NHS trusts operated rigorous primary checks.

Verification was "achieved through a variety of channels" and fraudulent activity would be reported to police, he said.

In 2015, Axact sold more than 215,000 fake qualifications globally, through approximately 350 fictitious high schools and universities, making $51m (£37.5m) that year alone.

Former FBI agent Allen Ezell, who has been investigating diploma mills since the 1980s, said: "We live in a credential conscious society around the world.

"So as long as paper has a value, there's going to be somebody that counterfeits it and prints it and sells it.

"Employers are not doing their due diligence in checking out the papers, so it makes it work. It's the damnedest thing we've ever seen."

'Very serious issue'

Defence contractor FB Heliservices bought fake Axact degrees for seven employees, including two helicopter pilots, between 2013 and 2015.

One of these employees, speaking anonymously to the BBC, said soon after he had been given a contract to work on the Caribbean island of Curacao, the local government decided all those working in the territory had to have a degree.

"We looked into distance learning, and contact was made with this online university. It was just something that needed to be done to keep working in the country.

"Everyone knew they were not bona fide. But no-one had a problem with it."

Parent-company Cobham held an internal investigation into the incident, but decided the purchase was a "historic issue" that "had no impact upon the safety of any of its operations or the training of any individuals in the UK or elsewhere".

"Procedural and disciplinary actions have been taken to address all the issues raised," it added.

But MP James Frith, a member of the Education Select Committee, said the decision was a "very serious issue".

"I am amazed that a business would put itself and its very existence at risk by having fraudulent qualifications to, by the sounds of it, get into a new market."

Following a New York Times expose in 2015, Axact's chief executive was arrested and an investigation launched by the Pakistani authorities.

Senior manager Umair Hamid was sentenced to 21 months in a US prison in August 2017 for his part in Axact's fraud.

Yet the Pakistani investigation has ground to a halt amid claims of government corruption.

Allan Ezell said Axact continued to launch new online universities all the time - and had now branched out into extortion and blackmail.

"It's a whole new game," he said. "Normally a diploma mill is finished with you by the time you get your degree. That's just the beginning now.

"You get a telephone call that looks like it's coming from your embassy or local law enforcement, threatening to arrest or deport you unless you get some additional documents to help support the phony diploma you already have. We've never seen that before."

Cecil Horner, a British engineer based in Saudi Arabia, was still getting threatening calls from Axact agents after paying nearly £500,000 for fake documents.

Mr Horner's son Malcolm said he believed his father, who died in 2015, had bought the qualifications because of the fear of losing his job.

"It makes me so angry," he said.

"It's unfathomable these websites still exist and they can't be shut down."

Action Fraud, the UK's national cybercrime reporting centre, said it did not have the power to close fake Axact websites but instead had to provide evidence to domain registries and registrars, which could take months.

MP James Frith said he was "staggered" by the "aggressive tactics" used by Axact and would ask the Education Selection Committee to look into the issue.

The Department of Education said HEDD was taking a proactive approach.

"Degree fraud cheats both genuine learners and employers, so we've taken decisive action to crack down on those seeking to profit from it," a spokesman said.

Axact did not respond to a request for an interview from the BBC.

(27th February 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 13th January 2018 author Amelia Murray)

Full article [Option 1]:

Two fraudsters who attempted to claim £90,000 on a car insurance policy have been caught out by the insurer's telematics box, resulting in them paying £70,000 in legal costs.

The two drivers claimed that their cars, a Hyundai and a BMW, had been severely damaged in a collision in February 2015. They claimed £87,921 - the vast majority of it for the hire of replacement vehicles - against the Hyandai driver's insurer.

But evidence submitted to Cambridge County Court by Insurethebox, which had insured the Hyandai and installed a black box device in it, suggested that the claim was fraudulent and the damage caused to the vehicles was deliberate.

Crash data recorded by the telematics box did not match the severity of the reported damage. Telematics devices track a vehicle's movements, including acceleration and braking speed. The Hyundai driver eventually admitted that she had been persuaded to drive into the BMW by her passenger.

Insurethebox discovered that the Hyundai had been damaged further in two additional collisions following the initial "crash". The black box data suggested that the impact of these was far greater than recorded at the time of the first collision.

The insurer said there was also evidence that the car had been hit five or six times with a hammer to increase the value of the claim.

The judge in the civil liability case concluded that the BMW driver had been a conspirator in the fraud and knew the passenger in the Hyundai. The Hyundai driver did not attend court but submitted her evidence in writing.

Both admitted fraud and were ordered to cover insurethebox's costs of £70,000.

Adrian Steele of insurethebox said: "Telematics and engineering evidence clearly verified the policyholder's written confession and that was satisfactory for the judge.

"This case demonstrates the role telematics data is playing in our claims investigations, providing a valuable piece in the jigsaw when we are working to understand the full picture of a claim.

It also underlines the claims expertise we have, bringing together disparate pieces of information to see where anomalies are occurring which give rise to deeper investigation."

(27th Febraury 2018)

(International Business Times, dated 11th January 2018 author Hyacinth Mascarenhas)

Full article [Option 1]:

Security researchers have discovered a mobile malware strain that can intercept users' sensitive SMS messages to steal their banking details and funds. According to Trend Micro researchers, the malware dubbed "FakeBank" has been spotted in several SMS/MMS management software apps and primarily targets victims in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries.

"These advertised SMS management capabilities are turned against the victim. The malware intercepts SMS in a scheme to steal funds from infected users through their mobile banking systems," Trend Micro said in a blog post published on Wednesday (10 January).

The researchers have observed the malware targeting customers of numerous Russian financial institutions such as Sberbank, Leto Bank and VTB24 Bank. It has also been spotted in China, Ukraine, Romania and Germany among other countries.

Once installed on an infected phone, the malware replaces the default SMS management programme on the device, replaces it with its own and hides the icon. This allows the malicious software to monitor and analyse every SMS received and even delete messages.

"This means that any verification or query from the bank to the user can be intercepted and removed. It can even call an assigned phone number, send specified SMS, and steal call logs and contact lists," the researchers said. "Most significantly, all this access to the device's SMS gives the malware an avenue to silently steal money from users' bank account."

Besides controlling the device's open and close network function, the malicious app can quietly connect to the internet and send the stolen information to its command and control server (C&C) without the user's knowledge.

Since many users link their bank accounts to their phones and opt to receive text notifications, the malware can take over these messages to steal sensitive bank account information, such as security code messages. Threat actors can then use the stolen data to log in to victims' online banking accounts, reset the passwords and covertly transfer money to their own accounts.

FakeBank can also steal sensitive information from the device including users' phone numbers, a list of banking apps installed, the balance on a linked bank card and location data. The researchers observed some samples of the malware requesting admin privileges from the user, therefore allowing the malicious app further access to the compromised device.

"FakeBank also stops the user from opening the target bank's legitimate app, to prevent any modifications to the relationship between the bank card number and your phone number," the researchers said. "We can assume that the malware developer is very familiar with the bank message format and transfer process, as all the payment SMS notifications are noted and scrambled by C&C."

To ensure it carries out its malicious activities successfully, the malware prevents users from opening device settings "likely to prevent installation", the researchers said. It also inspects the device for any anti-virus software and quietly exits without doing anything if it does find one.

"This is a tactic that helps it remain unreported and under the radar," Trend Micro explains. "One of the notable elements of this malware is the way it hides its payload. The malware has different behaviours that make it harder for infected users to get rid of it, and for security solutions to detect it.

"It actually uses three different methods to obfuscate the malicious payload. The techniques range in complexity and the developers seem to be taking a multilayered approach to avoid exposure."

Most of FakeBank's C&C domains have IP addresses located in Warmia-Masuria province in Poland and Russia, the researchers said. They also noted that most of these addresses are registered by a company called Wuxi Yilian which has previously been linked to other fraudulent domains.

(27th February 2018)

(The Register, dated 11th January 2018 author Richard Priday)

Full article [Option 1]:

The Information Commissioner's Office has fined four companies £600,000 for spamming customers millions of times.

The companies broke the law by sending out unsolicited text messages, emails and phone calls between 2016 and 2017.

Wales-based Barrington Claims made 15.2 million spam phone calls between May and June 2016, using a third-party service to automate the procedure. Despite this, the ICO concluded that Barrington had broken the law and fined it £250,000.

Newday, a London-based financial service provider, sent 44.7 million unsolicited emails via the subscriber lists of 16 affiliated websites between April 2015 and January 2017. These websites did not specify Newday as a partner, and many of them didn't give users the opportunity to opt out of third-party marketing emails. As punishment, Newday was fined £230,000.

Goody Market UK of Liverpool sourced contact details via a data broker, and sent 111,000 spam text messages promoting its price comparison service between March and May 2017.

The company claimed it had verbal assurance from the broker that the owners of the numbers had previously consented to receiving text marketing. But when the ICO asked for written proof, it couldn't produce anything. As well as a £40,000 penalty, the ICO issued the company an enforcement notice ordering it to stop the illegal marketing within 35 days.

Finally, Cheshire financial marketer TFLI advertised a loan website via 1.2 million texts from November 2015 to June 2016. It too had used personal data held by other companies, but believed that the contracts it had signed with the data suppliers meant it was not responsible. The ICO was unconvinced, and slapped it with an £80,000 fine.

Andy Curry, ICO enforcement group manager, said: "Firms cannot get away with failing to follow the rules designed to protect people from the irritation and, on occasions, distress nuisance calls, emails and texts cause.

"I would urge anyone bothered by nuisance marketing to report it to us. Your reports help us take action against firms like those we have fined today, putting a stop to the trouble they cause."

(27th February 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 10th January 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

Motorists who leave their mobile phones on show after using them as sat navs are fuelling a sharp rise in thefts from vehicles, experts have claimed.

Last year more than half of British police forces recorded rises in the number of thefts from cars and vans, amid concern that motorists are becoming complacent about leaving hi-tech devices on show.

Nearly a quarter of a million vehicles were broken into in 2016, with 26 police forces seeing the number of incidents go up in their area.

The overall figure of 239,920 break-ins was up almost 8,700 on the previous year, according to a Freedom of Information request submitted by RAC Insurance.

Many more thousands of thefts are thought to go unrecorded each year, with motorists fearing it will be a waste of time.

Experts said the spike in the number of thefts being reported was worrying but could be to do with drivers becoming complacent about leaving items of high-tech equipment on show in their vehicles.

The use of mobile phones as sat navs by drivers who forgetfully leave them in their cradles when they leave their cars, has also been suggested as one reason thefts are on the increase.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey said: "A lot of people breaking into vehicles will be opportunist, with thieves looking for items that they can sell on easily.

"It's also possible that drivers have become more complacent about what items they leave on display, perhaps believing items like satnavs are now so commonplace they're not of interest to thieves.

"Some may believe the fact a vehicle is alarmed makes it safe, but unfortunately this is not the case as very few people respond to the sound of a car alarm, perhaps because so many seem to go off for no apparent reason which in itself can be a tactic used by thieves.

"And with lots of drivers using their smartphones as sat navs there is a higher probability of accidentally leaving a phone in a cradle and giving a thief a great opportunity to profit.

"The fact remains that every time a driver leaves a valuable item clearly on display they are running the risk of becoming a car crime victim."

(27th February 2018)

(AVIVA, dated 8th January 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

Consumers were bombarded with 2.2 billion nuisance calls and texts relating to an injury-related claim, pension, PPI or other insurance related matters in 2017, research using Ofcom data and commissioned by Aviva shows.* This translates to more than 6 million nuisance calls and texts made every day, or 4,200 calls and texts made every minute.

- 57% of Brits say nuisance calls and texts are the most annoying thing about having a phone

- Over 65s targeted with approximately 30% of ALL nuisance calls and texts

- Nearly 900m calls and texts chasing a personal injury claim or insurance issue

- 2.7m more pensions-related nuisance calls since pension freedoms

- As MPs set to debate the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, Aviva calls for a ban on these unsolicited calls; 85% of consumers agree

Some 895m nuisance calls were made chasing an injury claim for an accident that may or may not have occurred, or other insurance-related matter such as pursuing a holiday sickness claim. Nuisance calls chasing an accident claim were the most common concern reported by consumers to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).**

Those behind cold calling - regardless of the purpose (accident, pension or PPI) - have relentlessly targeted those aged over 65, who received more nuisance calls than any other age group. Nearly one in three (30%) nuisance calls and texts targeted someone 65 or older.

MPs are set to debate the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill which proposes the creation of a single financial guidance body. According to the current draft of this new legislation, the guidance body will consider the impact of cold-calling on consumers and can recommend a ban on cold calls to the Secretary of State, who will have the power to introduce such a ban.

Aviva is calling for a ban on these cold calls relating to a pension, PPI, insurance claim or similar issue where there is no established relationship with the consumer. Consumers overwhelmingly agree: in a survey of more than 2,000 adults on behalf of Aviva, 85% of consumers said they support a ban on all nuisance calls***.

Rob Townend, UK Claims Director at Aviva, said, "Enough is enough. Nuisance calls are a national epidemic which must be stopped. Whether it is a call chasing an injury you may or may not have sustained in an accident, or a pension scammer attempting to con unsuspecting individuals out of their hard-earned retirement savings, there is no place in our society for them.

"Aviva is urging the Government to put a swift end to these cold calls. The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently before Parliament is a terrific opportunity to ban unsolicited calls once and for all. If the Government is serious about protecting all members of our society, including the most vulnerable, then it should take decisive action and ban them."

"Were you injured in an accident?"

Claims management companies (CMCs) frequently use nuisance calls to target consumers who may have been injured in a car accident. CMCs are attracted to such claims due to the large fees they receive in exchange for passing the claimant to an organisation that can help them pursue their claim.

This financial incentive is driving the aggressive calling and texting of consumers, regardless of whether they had an accident or were injured. Aviva is calling on the FCA, which will be the new claims management regulator, to introduce a cap on the fees CMCs can charge for handling injury claims.

Preying on Pensioners

In April 2015, the government introduced new pension freedoms, allowing anyone aged 55 and over with a defined contribution pension to take all or part of their retirement savings as a lump sum. Since then, pensions-related nuisance calls are estimated to have increased by around 2.7million, as pension scammers exploit the new rules to con hard-working consumers out of their retirement savings.

Government estimates indicate that fraudsters have conned more than £43m from pension pots since 2014. Aviva is working hard to protect all of its pension customers and their retirement savings. All pension transfer requests are carefully vetted by Aviva, and those which cause concern are investigated further.

Aviva is also working to make its customers aware of the potential risks that they face from scammers. Common tactics employed by fraudsters include:

- Aggressive sales tactics, including cold calls

- The promise of 'guaranteed' high returns

- Telling the consumer that their existing arrangement is not performing well

- Overseas investments that are not as advertised and offer no recourse once the consumer invests

Consumer anger

For those who receive a nuisance call or text, the question is frequently, 'how did they get my telephone number or personal data?' The value of such data - for example, information relating to an accident which may have resulted in an injury - has created a black market where illegally obtained personal data is bought and sold. There is very strong support for tougher penalties for those caught buying and selling illegally obtained consumer data, with 87% in favour of tougher penalties.

While 57% of consumers said nuisance calls were "the most annoying thing about owning a phone" they were also said to be "intimidating" (18%) and made them feel "anxious" (13%).

Taking action

Aviva recommends that anyone concerned about the intrusion and threat posed by cold callers, regardless of age, registers with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) - a free service which allows consumers to opt out of unsolicited sales and marketing calls. Aviva's consumer research found that people are more likely to be registered with the TPS the older they are: only 16% of 16 - 24 year olds are registered with the TPS, while 53% of those over-55 have signed up to the service.

uaware comment

Sadly I think a niave graduate wrote the "Taking Action" paragraph. The Telephone Preference Service partially works, sort of. It's only registered companies that take any notice of it and unscrupulous ones don't. Neither do dodgy call centres abroad. How do I know, its feedback from "Friends against Scams" events.

Get a landline phone wilth a call blocking facility. BT produce a good one which is priced just over £20 (this is just to raise awareness of the product existence, there are others in the market).

(27th February 2018)

(The Register, dated 10th January 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

Carphone Warehouse has been handed one of the largest ever fines - a whopping £400,000 - from the UK's data protection watchdog after exposing the details of millions of its customers.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office found a "striking" number of "distinct and significant inadequacies" in the phone company's security arrangements.

This allowed the miscreants behind a cyber attack that originated from an IP address in Vietnam in the summer of 2015 - and which went on for a whopping 15 days before being detected - to gain access to millions of individuals personal information.

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: "The deficiencies in Carphone Warehouse's technical and organisational measures created real risks of such data breaches [and] played an essential causal role in this particular incident."

Affected information included the names, dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers of more than 3 million customers; the staff records - including car registration numbers and work usernames - of 1,000 employees; and historic transaction details - like card numbers and expiry dates - for March 2010 to April 2011 for 18,231 payment cards.

The £400,000 fine matches the record fine doled out to TalkTalk in 2016, with the ICO saying that the "glaring shortcomings" in Carphone Warehouse's systems should have been identified earlier.

"It is particularly concerning that a number of the inadequacies related to basic, commonplace measures needed for any such system," commissioner Denham said in her report.

"These inadequacies appear to have persisted over a relatively long period of time, given how easily and quickly some of these glaring shortcoming should have been identified and remedied."

The report (PDF) details the vulns exploited by the attacker, who made a scan of the system using penetration testing tool Nikto.

It identified a "considerably out-of-date" WordPress installation that was exposed to the internet and "suffered from multiple vulnerabilities" the ICO said.

Via the WordPress installation, the attacker/s entered the system and uploaded web shells that were intended to give themselves basic file management and database functionality.

The hacker then located credentials in - yep, you guess it - plaintext, which they used to search and access information in numerous databases, including those containing personal data.

The ICO said the apparent aim was to extract "as much information as possible". For instance, the payment information was located and accessed, with "a very realistic possibility" that it was exported.

The attacker also prepared and extracted a large file or files from the network, the contents of which cannot be determined - but the firm has worked on the worst-case assumption that they contained personal data.

As part of its assessment, the ICO commissioned two reports, which concluded that the attacker "clearly had everything he needed to take hold of the system and extract a large amount of information quickly".

Carphone Warehouse said in a statement that it accepts the decision and is "very sorry for any distress or inconvenience" caused.

"Since the attack in 2015 we have worked extensively with cyber security experts to improve and upgrade our security systems and processes," it said.

uaware comment

And the authorities wonder why scams are on the increase ! Obviously a £400k fine will make inconsiderate banks and retailers rush out to upgrade their customer data security (sarcasm).

(27th February 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 10th Janaury 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

The number of violent acid attacks in London has soared by more than 78 per cent over the past two years with a huge increase in the number of victims, according to the latest figures.

Statistics released by the Met today show there were 465 violent "corrosive liquid" offences recorded in the capital in 2017, up from 260 in 2015.

Last year there were 397 incidents. Separate figures show the number of victims rose from 281 in the whole of 2015 to 487 in the 10 months to October last year.

The data - obtained from the Met police under a Freedom of Information request - also revealed:

- Younger people are most likely to be victims of acid attacks, with more than 50 per cent of offences involving victims aged between 10 and 29.

- Most victims are also male, 351 in the 10 months last year, with the percentage of female victims falling significantly in the last 10 years.

- Most suspects in the past three years are in the 10-19 age group and the vast majority are male.

The figures - obtained by London Assembly Conservative member Steve O'Connell - also show fewer suspects are being charged compared to previous years.

Only 19 per cent of offences resulted in a charge in 2017, down from over 25 per cent in 2015 - though police say many inquiries from last year are still ongoing.

The figures come days after a 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty to carrying out acid attacks on six delivery riders in London in an attempt to steal their mopeds.

Derryck John, from Croydon, sprayed the riders in the face with a noxious liquid, leaving one of the victims with life-changing injuries.

Victims included aspiring model Resham Khan, 21, who had acid squirted in her face as she waited at a traffic light in a car in Beckton last June.

Newham was identified as the worst borough for violent acid attacks with 289 offences since 2015.

Figures obtained by the Tories show there were a total of 768 acid offences in the 10 months to October last year, with 43 per cent involving damage to property, compared to 622 in the whole of 2016 and 439 in 2015.

The figures also show that very few of the offences - around 22 last year - were classified by police as hate crimes, reflecting concern that gangs and muggers are increasingly using acid as a weapon in attacks.

Mr O'Connell, the Tory London Assembly spokesman on policing and crime, said: "These figures paint a clear and disturbing picture of the scale and circumstance of these horrific offences.

"This data suggests acid attacks, as with knife crime, are a youth-related issue. If we are going to get serious about preventing this rise we need to tackle the root causes of these attacks."

He criticised Mayor Sadiq Khan, saying: "Statistics show knife crime, acid attacks and moped-related crime is all on the rise on his watch."

Detective Superintendent Mike West said the rise in the number of attacks was slowing, adding: "In December 2017 we saw the lowest volume of violent offences since November 2015, with 16 victims identified.

"This is compared with 86 victims in July 2017, when we experienced unprecedented numbers of corrosive attacks and cases of multiple people injured at the same time."

Jaf Shah, head of Acid Survivors Trust International, said the number of acid attacks had been rising since 2014.

He said: "We need to tackle the root causes. Gangs and youth criminality are often linked to social deprivation, disenfranchisement and lack of positive male role models."

(27th February 2018)

(Mirror, dated 9th January 2018 author Emma Munbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

Millions of holidaymakers are being teased into making compensation claims for sickness abroad - despite not actually falling ill, it's been revealed.

According to a YouGov survey, almost one in five people have been contacted about making a compensation claim for holiday sickness to date - however, they're unaware that false or overinflated claims could lead to a jail sentence.

The most common way people said they were approached was over the phone, followed by text and email.

Some people also reported being contacted on social media and some were approached in person, including in airports or while on holiday.

The figures have been released as part of Travel Association ABTA's 'Stop Sickness Scams' campaign which highlights that false claims are costing the travel industry tens of millions of pounds each year.

The body is now calling for the urgent closure of a loophole in the law, which enables claims management companies and legal firms to make more money in fees from sickness claims abroad, than they're able to from personal injuries in the UK.

ABTA said that some firms are contacting people out of the blue, encouraging them to make a false claim and often misleadingly saying there is a pot of money waiting to be claimed - which isn't necessarily the case.

In reality, making a false compensation claim is an act of fraud, and if prosecuted could result in a fine, criminal record or jail term of up to three years.

In October 2017 a couple from Merseyside received a prison sentence after being found guilty of making a fraudulent sickness claim. Deborah Briton was sentenced to nine months and her partner Paul Roberts was jailed for 15 months.

ABTA's findings come six months after the Government announced its plans to clampdown on the rise in false sickness claims.

It's now calling for a summer 2018 deadline to ensure this year's holidaymakers don't fall victim to the so-called scams.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA's chief executive said: "Unscrupulous claims management companies are encouraging people to make a false sickness claim which could land them with a large fine or even a prison sentence.

"False claims don't just make UK holidaymakers vulnerable to serious penalties - they're also costing travel companies and hotel owners tens millions of pounds and tarnishing the reputation of the British abroad.

"Closing the loophole in the law in time for the 2018 holiday season will make a big difference in tackling fraudulent sickness claims."

If you receive a cold-call urging you to make a holiday sickness claim, you can report it to the Claims Management Regulator :

(27th Febraury 2018)

(The Times, dated 8th January 2018 author Sean O'Neill) [Option 1]

Police chiefs are to hold urgent talks with the Crown Prosecution Service amid concern that it is failing to convert a sharp increase in the number of modern slavery cases into convictions.

Anti-slavery was made a police priority at the beginning of last year and, according to the National Crime Agency, there were 850 arrests with forces running 545 live operations. In 2015 there were only 100 operations.

Operation Aidant led to forces and the NCA targeting gangs from Romania, Poland, Nigeria and Vietnam, and inquiries aimed at children-trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation.

The new Joint Slavery Trafficking Analysis Centre identified 121 organised crime gangs involved in the slave trade last year but still has "intelligence gaps". Britons are heavily represented as victims and perpetrators.

The tally of cases referred to the CPS is not available but senior sources sadi that prosecutors were not keeping up with the speed of investigations and that the conviction rate for human trafficking offences had fallen since the Modern Slavery Act 2015 became law.

There are fears that prosecutors are "too timid" in their approach to modern slavery cases, which are often complex in scale and nature. With victims often afraid to give evidence or sometimes unwilling to accept that the have been victimised, police want to mount "victimless prosecutions", as has been successful in domestic violence cases.

One source said:" The volume of work being done by policing is not reflected in the number of charges being bought by the CPS. These are difficult cases and sometimes the CPS needs to have the courage to put the evidence before a jury and let decide".

A recent report by the CPS Inspectorate showed that fewer people were charged in trafficking cases in 2016-17 than the year before, despite an increase in the number of suspects. Successful prosecutions dropped from 192 in 2015-16 to 181 in 2016-17. Some 65 cases failed because prosecutions were discontinued by the CPS. The report said last month that the CPS "struggles to meet the practical aspects of implementing the Modern Slavery Act".

The CPS denied that there was a crisis or that it was struggling to deal with the volume of modern slavery cases. "Not every recorded crime results in an investigation, we may not have jurisdiction to prosecute, or disruption may be more appropriate," it said.

(CPS website, dated 11th January 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

A letter was sent to the Times this week in response to an article which outlined concern that the CPS 'is failing to convert a sharp increase in the number of modern slavery cases into convictions'.

The article claimed 'the tally of cases referred to the CPS is not available' and that prosecutors are 'too timid' when making charging decisions. In fact, referral statistics are published annually in our Violence Against Women and Girls report - which showed a modest rise in referrals from the police last year, along with a charging rate only slightly below that for all crimes.

The Times have so far been unwilling to publish the letter, which is reproduced in full below.


Your report, 'Prosecutors too timid in slavery cases, police claim', presents a partial view of what is a complex picture across the criminal justice system. Contrary to that report, the tally of cases referred to the CPS for a charging decision is freely available in our annual Violence Against Women and Girls report. It shows that, in 2016/17, 271 such referrals were made with a little under 70% of those being charged - only slightly under the national average for all crimes. This was a moderate rise of 25 referrals from the previous year. The inspectorate report cited in your article concluded that trafficking and slavery cases are well handled by prosecutors. There is no crisis meeting.

The number of prosecutions may seem low when compared to the thousands of victims who enter the referral mechanism, but the CPS can only consider charges once a case has been referred by the police. For entirely valid reasons, police may be unable to commence an investigation or identify a suspect for potential prosecution. Disruption and victim support might be prioritised over criminal investigation, while the international nature of this issue means that we often do not have jurisdiction to prosecute. Where this is the case, we work with international colleagues to enable them to prosecute.

The CPS is committed to strengthening our response to modern slavery and human trafficking. This will only succeed as part of a joint effort with our criminal justice partners, including the police, which recognises the substantial challenges faced at all stages of the investigative and prosecutorial processes.

Director of Public Prosecutions


(27th February 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 7th January 2017 author Press Association)

Full article [Option 1]:

Under-18s will not be able to buy products containing harmful levels of acid or corrosive substances at a number of retailers, following the launch of a voluntary Government plan.

Wickes, B&Q and Tesco are among those who have signed up to the proposals which are aimed at curbing the number of acid attacks.

The voluntary ban - which will apply to products bought in store and online - comes ahead of proposed legislation on preventing minors from purchasing products which contain potentially harmful levels of acid.

Victoria Atkins, minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, said: "Acid attacks have a devastating impact on their victims, leaving both emotional and physical scars.

"I'm pleased that so many of the UK's major retailers are joining our fight to combat this scourge and signalling they are committed to selling acids responsibly."

The Home Office said Wickes, B&Q, Screwfix, Wilko, The Co-op, Morrisons, Waitrose, Tesco and John Lewis are among the major retailers to have signed up, which will see under-18s unable to buy the following products:

- Products that contain sulphuric acid such as drain cleaners/unblockers
- Products that contain hydrochloric acid (10% and over) such as brick and patio cleaners
- Products that contain sodium hydroxide (12% and over) such as paint strippers

In October, acid attack victim Resham Khan, 21, who faced life-changing injuries after a stranger hurled acid into her car as she celebrated her birthday, welcomed the government's crack-down on acid attacks when it was announced by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

She has been campaigning for tougher laws on acid, with a petition she spearheaded garnering over a 350,000 signatures.

Acid attacks in London (2012 - 2016)

2012 : 162
2013 : 210
2014 : 166
2015 : 261
2016 : 454

Ms Khan said at the time: "It is somewhat reassuring to see the government acknowledge the true extent of the devastation and pain acid attacks inflict on its victims and their families, both psychologically and physically.

"Because of this, and the sheer fear and life-changing injuries acid can cause, I do hope this is the start of much more being done to prevent these attacks, punish the perpetrators and support the victims."

About | Acid attacks

- Acid attacks are very rarely deadly, but victims may be left scarred, blinded, otherwise disabled and heavily traumatised

- The substance used is usually sulphuric acid ("vitriol") or nitric acid. Less commonly, hydrochloric acid may be used, which is less damaging to victims

- Worldwide, some 80% of victims are women, according to Acid Survivors Trust International, with perpetrators often believed to be family members or men seeking revenge for sexual rejection

- In the UK, men are more likely to be victims than women, which is believed to be due to gang violence. Reportedly, gang members carry acid concealed in a drinks bottle, where police are more alert to conventional weapons such as knives or guns

- London is the UK's centre of acid attacks - Metropolitan Police figure show over 1,800 assaults with a corrosive substance since 2010, with figures still rising year on year and 454 assaults reported in 2016

- If you are the victim of an attack, remove contaminated clothing, try to wash the acid off with copious amounts of water as quickly as possible and seek first aid. Neutralising the acid with an equivalent alkaline substance risks a chemical reaction that may give you thermal burns as well as acid burns.

Here's what you should do in an acid attack

NHS Choices say chemical burns require immediate medical attention at an A&E department.

If you're helping someone else, they advise to put on appropriate protective clothing and then:

- Remove any contaminated clothing on the person
- If the chemical is dry, brush it off their skin
- Use running water to remove any traces of the chemical from the burnt area

(27th February 2018)

(London Evening Standard, dated 6th January 2018 author Fiona Simpson)

Full article [Option 1]:

A senior member of the British Transport Police has warned of the dangers of sex attackers targeting lone women falling asleep on the Night Tube.

Vulnerable women who go out drinking with friends before dozing off on the 24-hour services are being targeted by predators, Chief Inspector John Loveless told the Standard.

Speaking after a mass operation to tackle crime on the capital's transport network over the festive period, Chief Insp Loveless said working to protect potential victims of crime was as important as catching perpetrators.

"What we do works in three ways," he said.

"Protecting and advising possible victims of crime is an important part of that. What we see, especially when people are out partying more over the holidays and at weekends is opportunists preying on what they see as easy targets.

"Obviously, it could happen to anyone but sex offences against women travelling alone is a particular worry. These are people who have gone out and enjoyed an evening with friends or may have been working and have been targeted on quiet Tube carriages.

"The Night Tube is a great thing for the capital's night time economy and for London as a whole but it does present more opportunity for criminal activity.

"We want victims to come forward and report this but we also want to stop it happening. We would encourage people to stay in the busiest parts of public transport if possible and try to avoid falling asleep. If someone is acting suspiciously, tell someone."

The senior officer also warned of opportunist thieves snatching smartphones and bags from sleeping travellers.

He said: "We see it more and more often, someone has maybe had a few too many drinks, drops off and wakes up with their device missing.

"The people doing this aren't professionals, they're just taking a chance."

The warnings came after BTP and Network Rail launched a campaign encouraging festive revellers to look after themselves following nights out.

Harrowing footage showed risk-takers cut across train lines and showed others fall onto tracks appearing to have had a heavy night of drinking.

Chief Insp Loveless said people cutting across tracks at suburban stations including Harrow-on-the-Hill, in north London, was becoming increasingly more common.

He said: "We see it a lot, people are wanting to get home and have maybe had a few drinks so are feeling less cautious and they nip across the train lines.

"This could easily go so badly wrong and affects so many people. From our officers having to scrape someone up off the line, the driver seeing someone on the tracks as they pull in to a station, the passengers on that train.

"Anyone cutting across tracks also risks hurting themselves if they slip and knock their heads, they are left in such a vulnerable position stuck on those tracks."

Network Rail figures showed passengers boarding and alighting trains were involved in 469 alcohol-related accidents in the last five years, the rail organisation added.

Overall more than 7,400 booze-fuelled incidents were recorded on or around Britain's railways last year.

(27th February 2018)

(The Register, dated 5th January 2018 author Rebecca Hill)

Full article [Option 1]:

Enforcing age verification checks for online porn sites could be detrimental to smaller ISPs and significantly increase online fraud, the government has admitted.

The measures, which are due to come into force in May, will require UK residents to prove they are 18 or over in order to get access to porn sites.

The plans have proved particularly unpopular, with a consultation finding that 54 per cent of respondents did not support the introduction of a law to require age verification.

However, the government has forged ahead, with the aim of stopping kids accessing porn on the grounds that such content could "distress them or harm their development".

The rules will be enforced by the British Board of Film Classification, in its new role as porn overlord age-verification regulator, which will also allow it to require ISPs to block sites that don't comply.

Ahead of implementing any policy, the government has to publish an impact assessment that sets out the risks and costs of the intervention.

And the one for age verification (PDF) - slipped out over the Christmas break - is a doozy, reeling off a list covering concerns about privacy, online fraud and reputational damage to the government.

The document also set out the costs of the new measures, which includes a cost to the public purse of between £1m and £7.9m for the creation of the regulator.

Meanwhile, the estimated cost to large ISPs of blocking sites - on the assumption that this would be for between 1 and 50 sites a year on a DNS level - is in the range of £100,000 to £500,000, which they said would cover a system update to include the BBFC's chosen porn sites.

These providers told government it was likely they would be able to absorb ongoing operational costs, probably because many already have blocking systems.

But this isn't true for all providers, as Neil Brown, tech lawyer at decoded:Legal, pointed out: "If every ISP needs to block non-compliant sites, that will impact smaller ISPs, especially if they don't already have a blocking system in place."

The government acknowledges this risk in the impact assessment, saying that the requirement "could have a negative impact on smaller ISPs with a much smaller workforce and we will need to carefully consider the impact on them".

Adrian Kennard, boss of UK ISP Andrews & Arnold, told The Reg that it would be possible to block sites, but that it would require more capacity and development.

"As a small ISP we don't currently have any blocking or filtering of anything," he said. "Even if it's blocking on a DNS level, that's still an administrative pain in the neck."

Blocking a large number of sites, though, would need some level of automation, which - as well as requiring extra development - could also end up filtering out perfectly safe and legal sites. (Not to mention that the lack of blocking and filtering is often one of the reasons people choose smaller providers.)

Another issue facing ISPs is a lack of information: the government and BBFC have yet to fully define what "blocking" will entail - for instance if doing so at a DNS level will suffice - or whether it will always apply to small companies.

They are also yet to set out an appeals process ISPs can use if they believe they've been asked to do something that isn't proportionate.

The spectre of the dark web

Even if the blocking is put in place, and works, people who want to will still find a workaround - this is something that goes on just as much in the offline world (hello, underage drinking) as in the online one.

As the government itself said: "Adults (and some children) may be pushed towards using ToR and related systems to avoid AV where they could be exposed to illegal and extreme material that they otherwise would never have come into contact with."

Myles Jackman, obscenity lawyer and legal director of the Open Rights Group, said: "It seems perverse that, in an environment where the government is promulgating anti-extremism and saying terrorists must be stopped from using ToR, it has to openly acknowledge that this policy will increase its use."

The government's statement has also irked observers who feel it is unhelpful for the government to misrepresent ToR as damaging in and of itself, pointing out that random clicking on the normal web can lead you to a variety of dodgy content, too.

Rise of the AV crims

There's also a risk for those people who are at the other end of the tech-savvy spectrum, as the document acknowledges that the new rules could leave people more exposed to nefarious actors.

"The potential for online fraud could raise significantly, as criminals adapt approaches in order to make use of false AV systems/spoof websites and access user data," the document said.

This ties in with concerns that the rules will encourage people to engage in less-than-safe online activity.

For instance, they might be less keen to check the legitimacy of a AV system if someone will know why they're using it, or they might not question a small charge to save face.

Opponents have also warned that it goes against efforts to educate people against handing over their card details online by forcing them to do just that, or possibly push kids who want to access to porn to slip off with their parents' cards.

The security measures of the age verification providers has also been questioned - especially as the frontrunner at the moment, AgeID, is produced by mega-porn-corp MindGeek, whose companies don't have a great reputation for security.

"It would be ironic if a mass exposure of people's porn proclivities... is what teaches the public about the importance of online privacy and security," said Jackman.

Faced with all of this, perhaps it's not surprising that the government also lists as a potential risk that people simply stop using online porn at all.

But, hey, perhaps that's what the government wants.

(27th February 2018)

(The Telegraph, dated 5th January 2018 author Henry Bodkin)

Full article [Option 1]:

Confusion over the use of satnavs deepened today as police wrongly told drivers not to place the devices anywhere other than in the bottom right corner of the windscreen.

Greater Manchester Police was criticised after tweeting that "everywhere else is illegal", despite the law making no mention of where to place a satnav.

The force, England's third largest, later deleted the tweet and replaced it with a list of "options" for where best to position a device.

However, legal experts said the episode further illustrated the legal uncertainty motorists currently face.

It comes days after motoring organisations said drivers are being persecuted for using their mobile phones as satnavs because of "conflicting advice from ministers and police", creating confusion over the legal position.

Tough penalties were introduced in April to clamp down on drivers using their mobile phones to make calls and send texts while driving which can be extended to following maps on them, however their application has lacked consistency.

By contrast, the law does not mention where a satnav should or should not be placed on a windscreen.

Instead, drivers are under a general obligation to be in proper control of their vehicle, which includes having a clear view of the road and other traffic.

Tonight senior lawyers told The Telegraph the lack of specificity was allowing police to make up their own interpretation of the law.

Donal Lawler, Secretary of the Criminal Bar Association, said: "It might be sensible to say that the bottom right hand corner is the most sensible place to position a satnav but it is not the legal place.

"That is certainly not the law.

"Police need to be very careful that what they are saying is absolutely correct."

GMP later acknowledged their original Tweet was "factually incorrect".

It was removed after Twitter users commented on a circular blemish in the bottom centre of vehicle in the photograph, prompting speculation that tweeter had previously failed to follow their own advice by placing their device in the middle.

The confusion was compounded later in the day as GMP then tweeted advice to motorists which said "using a satnav while driving" could result in prosecution.

However, this was subsequently removed, with the word "using" replaced with "touching or engaging" after the RAC pointed out the error.

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the motoring organisation, said: "There does appear to be real confusion among drivers regarding both mobile phones as satnavs and where to put them.

"We think the law could be better clarified."

However, Mr Lawler said there was a danger of "over-legislating" and that both drivers and police officers should use their common sense.

"The Highway Code says your windscreen should be clear of all obstruction," he said.

"Being in breach of the code is not an offence and I think the police were being overly dogmatic in this case."

The new rules over using a phone as a satnav means drivers should programme the route before they set off and pull over if they need to reprogramme the device.

From March 2017, drivers have been liable for a £200 fine and six points on their licence for breaching the law.

A GMP spokesman said: "If you need to put your satnav on your windscreen the law states that you must make sure that you position it so it is not obscuring your view.

"If you get stopped by the police and have a device that is deemed to be obscuring your view you may be persecuted and could face a £50 fine."

###Satnav safety- How to mount your satnav in your windscreen

- The safest place for a satnav is low down on your windscreen, and to the far right, to minimise obstruction of your field of view.

- If this is not possible, then it may be acceptable in the centre of the windscreen, but you should position it as low down as possible.

- Make sure you choose the right seat height and position to suit your individual shape and size before positioning your satnav.

- Avoid fitting the satnav to a location that could cause injury to a driver or passenger in a crash, including locations where a deploying airbag may strike it.

- Never fit the satnav high up on the windscreen. As well as severely restricting vision, placing a satnav high on the screen means that power cables could trail across the driver's field of vision.

FAQ - Mobile phones and driving

Q - Can you use it as a sat-nav?

A - The route should be programmed before you set off. If you need to re-programme the route, pull over and stop somewhere safe to do it.

Q - Can you change your music while driving?

A - Set up a playlist before you leave. Selecting songs while driving would be a distraction and if the worst should happen, this would be driving without due care and attention.

Q - Can I read a text when it flashes up on screen in your cradled phone?

A - Reading it can still be a distraction and could divert your attention from the road. The text will be there when you reach your destination, it can wait.

Q - Penalties for hand-held mobile phone offences

A - £200 and 6 points from March 2017.

(27th February 2018)

(The Times, dated 2nd January 2018 author Fiona Hamilton) [Option 1]

Britain's biggest police force will not investigate crimes including public order offences, shoplifting and low-level assaults if officers are required to look at CCTV for more than 20 minutes, The Times has learnt.

Metropolitan Police officers have also been told to drop investigations into thousands of lower-level offences if no CCTV is available.

The Met's new crime assessment policy, obtained under Freedom of Information, reveals that numerous offences such as vandalism, vehicle crime and fuel theft will not be pursued if the cost of the damage or amount taken is less than £50.

The change comes as police forces across the country, citing budget cuts, have dropped investigations into minor crime such as theft from cars and low-level drug dealing.

Scotland Yard, where officer numbers have fallen to their lowest level in more than a decade, said resource pressure meant that it was forced to abandon some inquiries to focus on serious crime. But the dropping of routine investigations into so-called volume offences that affect tens of thousands of people will alarm victims' groups and risks emboldening criminals.

In September the Met started using a new crime assessment policy intended to curtail the investigation of thousands of "lower-level, higher-volume" offences. The policy requires that officers go through a series of steps to determine whether a specific set of recorded crimes should be investigated. There is a list of more than 25 crimes that must be investigated, including homicide, firearm offences, hate crime, domestic violence and sexual assaults.

Other crimes, which range from lower-level fraud to traffic collisions that do not result in a fatality and assaults with minor injuries, all undergo the assessment but are automatically "assessed out" if the victim does not want to support a police prosecution, if the crime amounts to less than £50 and if no CCTV footage exists.

The policy means that some offences such as fraud, where the victim is paid back by the bank and does not want to be involved, may not be pursued.

The policy states that officers should proceed if there is a clear CCTV image of the offender, but adds that the crime should be assessed out, in the absence of other leads, if the CCTV exists but is not ready for collection.

The policy adds: "Where the exact time of the offence is not known and an extended period of CCTV which requires viewing is longer than 20 minutes, the crime must be assessed 'out'."

It says officers should use their judgment and that there may be situations where the crime would ordinarily be assessed out, but should be pursued, including the theft of government property, theft of war medals or other paraphernalia and theft of medical notes.

The policy came into force in September. The Met said it would allow officers to make proportionate decisions.

Mark Simmons, a deputy assistant commissioner, said the Met had to work with fewer officers and less money, with a further £400 million in cuts to make before 2020. Gun crime, knife crime and sex offences were up, and calls to 999 had risen 10 per cent.

"With the pressure on our resources it is not practical for our officers to spend a considerable amount of time looking into something where, for example, the value of damage or the item stolen is under £50, or the victim is not willing to support a prosecution," Mr Simmons said. "We need our officers to be focused on serious crime and cases where there is a realistic chance that we will be able to solve it."

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said that officer numbers were down from 32,000 to 30,000 for the first time in 11 years. He warned that if funding did not improve, they would drop to below 28,000 in two years or less: "Something has to give and this is what has to give but it is not palatable for my colleagues to be put in this position. If someone reports a crime, who are we to be judge and jury on what is investigated? That's the difficulty for my colleagues."

(28th February 2018)

(BBC Newsbeat, 2018)

Full article :

More than one million people are thought to be victims of stalking every year, according to official estimates.

While a majority of the victims are women, men face high rates too and the impact of stalking can be devastating.

So what can you do if you are worried you're being stalked?

The legal definition of stalking is unusual as it relies on the effect it has on a victim to decide whether or not a crime has been committed.

The law was changed to make stalking a specific crime six years ago. In black and white it reads like this:

"[Stalking is] a course of conduct, it may then cause significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victim."

So that can mean as little as two text messages (a course of conduct) - or anything and everything beyond that.

Despite the large number of victims, statistics from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show there were only 780 prosecutions in England and Wales in 2015/16 for stalking, with just 529 convictions.

A man who's been stalking BBC News presenter Emily Maitlis for more than 20 years was recently jailed.

She's spoken about the impact it's had on her and her family.

Clare Elcombe Webber, who's in charge of the National Stalking Helpline, has advice for people worried they're being stalked:

1. Talk to someone

"The most important thing is to tell someone. Stalking thrives on secrecy - if nobody knows what's going on that gives the stalker the opportunity to keep on going. Whereas if people know they can do things to keep you safe and they can take power away from the stalker."

2. Record what's happening

"Keep a log of any events or contact, any evidence you might have. It helps victims themselves understand there's a pattern of behaviour. Also if they do want to go to the police or take any formal action it gives people a really clear picture of what's been going on."

3. Take digital safety seriously

"About 40% of people who contact us have experienced some kind of cyber stalking. Not only the individual but also their friends and family - so all their social media is as secure as it possibly can be. They don't let people post pictures of them or check them in to places, for example."

4. Vary your routine

"Talk to schools, places of work, colleges - make sure people are aware there may be a problem. That helps other people actively keep you safe as well."

5. Call the police

"If at any point somebody feels unsafe for any reason they need to be calling 999. We want the police to be on board in these situations and on board as early as possible. We know that the sooner there's some kind of formal intervention the sooner it's likely to stop. We know that stalkers don't generally stop on their own."

(27th February 2018)

(New Scientist, dated 11th November 2018 author Timothy Revell)

Full article [Option 1]:

Even as a technology journalist, it's hard not to switch off when someone starts preaching about personal data. I know, I know - we're telling our deepest secrets to the mega-corporations for free, and they're using fancy algorithms to work out our innermost desires to sell us ads. But for most of us in our day-to-day lives, it's out of sight, out of mind.

Yet it shouldn't be - at the very least, we should be on the ball when it comes to data. So to force myself to confront this head-on, I've spent the last week doing a digital cleanse.

To help me, I grabbed a data detox kit produced by the Tactical Technology Collective in Berlin, Germany, and the Mozilla Foundation, a non profit that promotes an open and free internet. The kit has ben launched on the back of a London exhibition called The Glass Room that runs until 12th November.

The Glass Room looks like an Apple store, but is filled with exhibits designed to make abstract concerns about data more tangible. One tracks my level of attention while I browse Facebook. Over 2 minutes, I give "1060 units of attention" and "50 units of scrolling". I am told that on the minimum wage I could have earned £0.25 with the same effort. The average person spends nearly an hour on Facebook apps a day.

The data detox kit means to help you kick some of your worst phone habits. It consists of an instuction card for each of the eight days of the detox - and because it is made of paper, I can rest assured that it wont directly collect any of my personal data (you can also do this online).

"The data detox is about working out what is right for you," says Jascha Kaykas-Wolff at Mozilla. "We need to choose what we shareand what we don't."

DAY 1 of the data detox : Escape the Google funhouse mirror

The kit starts by asking me to identify the problem. Search for yourself online, it demands - not just with Google, but also a search engine such as DuckDuckGo that doesn't use your data trail to tailor results to you. Why not switch to this permanently ? And if you find any pictures of yourself, try a "reverse image" search using TinEye ( to see where else that image turns up.

Luckily for me, I am as antisocial on social media as I am in real life, so there aren't that many pictures of me online. But if you do find something you are unhappy with, the kit has instructions on how to do something about it.

DAY 2 and 3 : Who am I ?

I am tasked with finding out what Google and Facebook think they know about me. Using, I find out that Google is tracking where I am going, what I watch on Youtube abd what I have searched for, pumpin it all back into operation data slurp. And because I have a phone that uses Google's operating system, Android, the company is also monitoring which apps I am using. I turn all the tracking off and perform a privacy check-up to make sure everthing is in order.

Using a neat tool called What Facebook thinks you like, I then find out what Facebook, um, thinks I like. The social media platform thinks I am into Science and New Scientist, which is fair enough. But it also thinks I am keen on Beer, Alcoholic Drinks, Beverages and Jagerbombs. I did do a lot of Facbooking in my student days, but come on Zuckerberg, everyone knows Jagerbombs are so 2008.

Surprisingly, there are also a lot of gambling-related categories too. I don't gamble and am not interested in it either, so I find it odd that Facebook thinks I am a fan. I go through every page I have liked on Facebook and unlike it.

DAY 4 : Watching my shrinking data footprint

One of the slyer tactics harnessed by companies is using trackers. Thesesit all over the web and try to work out your surfing patterns by tracking your browsers digital footprint. The kit proposes installing a browser extention such as privacy badger, which blocks trackers. Another helpful tool called AdNauseam clicks on random ads as you browse to confuse firms that monitor you.

DAY 5 to 7 : Changing my data metabolism

Spurred on by a tip to The Glass Room, I am pleased to find that little fixes aplenty come in the next few days. How many apps do you have ? I guessed 50, but I actually had 93. According to the kit, I have high exposure. So I delete some apps and revoke some permissions.

DAY 8 : Cleansed

After a week, I feel purged. We give away data all the time and there isn't much we can do about that, but this stage is about getting into some good habits. I am still giving the megacorps some data about me and it is handy to have some things sync across devices.

But that is now my choice.

(27th February 2018)

(Mirror, dated 1st January 2018 authors Amy Browne and Marc Walker)

Full article [Option 1]:

A shocking 20 per cent of British motorists admit driving the morning after drinking heavily - when they are still intoxicated with alcohol.

But how long do you need to wait before getting behind the wheel? It's a question that comes up a lot during the festive season, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Road safety charity Brake found that one in five motorists confessed to hitting the road first thing following a boozy bender just hours earlier.

Some believe that if they have been to sleep, that means they are all right to drive - but in fact, you could wake up still over the limit.

Drinkaware's Chief Medical Adviser Dr Paul Wallace said: "The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream depends on three things; the amount you take in, over what period of time and the speed at which your body gets rid of it."

Here's what you need to know:

How quickly is alcohol removed from the body?

Alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour - but this varies from person to person.

According to the NHS, the speed at which your body processes alcohol can depend on your size, gender, age, the state of your liver, your metabolism, how much food you have eaten, the type and strength of the alcohol you've consumed and whether you're taking medication.

Can you speed up the process?

No. Drinking lots of water, or eating a big breakfast might help 'sober you up', but it won't actually quicken the speed at which alcohol leaves the body, according to Dr Wallace.

You just need to be patient and wait it out, or use a different method of travel.

What to do if you need to drive the next day

Drinkaware suggests the following:

- Opt for lower strength drinks - that's 4% ABV or lower beer and 12% ABV or lower wine.

- Choose single measures instead of doubles.

- Make every other drink a soft drink.

- Stop drinking before the end of the night, so your body has time to process the alcohol before the morning.

How many units does a drink contain?

There is still confusion over this, but the NHS says there is roughly:

175ml glass of wine of average strength (12%) - 2.1 units

250ml glass of wine of average strength (12%) - 3 units

One pint of low-strength lager, beer or cider (3.6%) - 2 units

One pint of high-strength lager, beer or cider (5.2%) - 3 units

One single measure of spirits - 1 unit

(27th February 2018)


- Always be aware of where you are, be familiar with your surroundings (exits etc).
- Be aware of alternative ways to get home from work if using either public transport or your own means (car).
- Be aware of how you can walk home from your place of work, the shops or an excursion
- Always use a licenced taxi or mini-cab. DO NOT except offers from "drivers" hawking outside nightclubs, etc.

- Test your smoke alarm and replace old batteries - replace unit if necessary, they are only £5 !
- Always ensure that uPVC doors are locked correctly
- Always ensure that you home looks occupied, even when you are out. Use a timeswitch on a tablelamp so it lights up when dark.
- Don't allow anyone into your home unless there is a pre-arranged appointment and the caller has a valid passcard. Also take the passcard and call the helpdesk telephone number, bonafide employee's will not mind.

- Keep computer security software up to date on your computer.
- Activate the Parental controls within security software on your childs PC, laptop and tablet.
- Discuss and regularly remind your children about being safe online.

- Reduce liklihood of skidding - check that the tread on your car tyres meet the legal depth.

- Regularly check bank and credit card statements for fraudulent transactions.
- Shred unwanted bank, credit card and utility statements. Don't just place them in the bin.
- Before withdrawing cash from an ATM check the machine and surround for suspicious items. Ideally withdraw cash from ATM's sited at banks or ask for "cashback" when instore (supermarket etc).
- Don't give any personal details to anyone requesting them, even if they say they are the Police
- Don't give any time to unsolicited phone calls, regardless of who they say they are. Hang-up
- Don't give your bank details to anyone requesting them, even if they say they are the Police.

(1st January 2018)