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The articles on this page are either produced by the operator of the website, from national publishers or Government departments. Where the information is from an external source all information on the origins of the article will appear under the title.
ROAD JOURNEY PLANNING
This article shows sources of information for road travel within the UK and some adjacent countries.
These may prove useful over the holiday period, especially during the current bad weather.
The Transport Direct online journey planner * : www.transportdirect.info
The AA route planner : www.theaa.com
Check the latest traffic conditions *
Live updates : www.highways.gov.uk/traffic
Traffic England automated telephone line ( real time ): 08700 660 115
Traffic Radio : www.trafficradio.org.uk (recommend set radio button to "Streaming MP3" )
Check the weather forecast *
Severe weather conditions that disrupt roads and motorways : www.highways.gov.uk ( homepage )
Meteorological Office for weather conditions : www.metoffice.gov.uk
Flood warning information : www.environment-agency.gov.uk/floodwarning
Highways Agency Information Line *
Available 24 hours per day every day. Information on traffic conditions, major incidents and signs.
Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Road Travel in Scotland
Traffic Scotland : http://trafficscotland.org/
Road Travel in Northern Ireland
Traffic Watch Northern Ireland : http://www.trafficwatchni.com
Road Travel in Wales
Traffic Wales : http://www.traffic-wales.com
Road Travel in the Republic of Ireland
National Road Authority : http://www.nra.ie/
Road Travel in France
Motorways : http://www.autoroutes.fr/en/homepage.html
Road travel conditions : http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr/diri/Accueil.do?langue=en
Reporting problems that you see *
Debris on the road,etc
Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30
e-mail : email@example.com
This information was sourced from the Highways Agency - "Think Ahead Move Ahead" booklet which is free from motorway service area's or by calling the Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30
This information will also be placed within the Travel section of this website.
(22nd December 2010)
The following article describes how one company is trying to combat against thieves stealing their property. Initially you may think, so what, they are a big company and have enough money to pay for a replacement.
The article describes how communities are "cut-off from the rest of the world". You may then say, people now have mobiles. The only thing is; mobile phone companies use the BT network to inter-link their aerial masts to the rest of their network.
Then there is how technology is helping terminally ill people to stay at home. Sophisticated medical monitoring equipment connected to the home patient can then be monitored by hospital staff via a broadband link. Remove the cable and there is no link.
CCTV, emergency road side telephones and mobiles masts on or near motorways - are reliant on cables, remove these and any seriously injured drivers and passengers resulting from a road traffic accident may not get medical treatment in time to survive.
If you see a theft of a cable call 999 or CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111.
FINGERING THE CULPRITS
(BT Today - in house magazine dated August 2010)
Picture the scene : in the dead of night, a gang cuts and hauls away a stretch of BT copper cable from underground. To them, it's a quick profit - but to the local community, its nothing short of a disaster.
By cutting that cable, the thieves cut off a community from vital services such as making 999 emergency calls; companies and homes lose their broadband and phones so work and home life is affected. It's ripple effect whose impact on BT and its customers simply cannot be calculated, accoding to Mark Hughes, Managing
Director for BT Security. He says combating metal theft for BT is a growing challenge, despite a dedicated team. "Metal theft was once a specialist crime, carried out by a small number of people, but it is being fuelled by the rising cost of copper, which can now bring around £5,000 per tonne. It's estimated that metal theft across all industries costs the whole of the UK £770 million as year, as a a company. it;s a major issue for us."
The impact on BT's customer service - and even on its brand - could be dire if the problem was not tackled head-on. A new and exciting deterrent is also being used this year - and it could also help the police in creating successful cases against defendants in court.
Mark said "Thanks to the joint efforts of the companies security teams, we now have the national licence for SmartWater. Cables are permanently marked with the SmartWater solution which uniquely identifies the exact location of where a cable has been laid. This is a considerable deterrent to theives, because it makes the cable extremely traceable and stops them selling it on. And of course, in court cases, it could provide invaluable evidence."
More than 220 people were arrested for metal theft from BT last year, but the fight against this community-hitting crime continues apace.
"There are technological routes we can go down, but there is no single solution to this problem," said Mark. "Our message is two fold : one, if you come across anything that you suspect is BT cable, we are happy to help in identification and support any subsequent enquiries; and two, we are more than willing to share intelligence in support of joint operations in crime areas and hot spots."
This is a water based solution. When thieves cut a cable they face being sprayed with an invisible liquid which can only be seen with specialist equipment. So there will be evidence of their crime on their skin and clothing. A member of the BT Security said "property coded with SmartWater has its own forensic fingerprint that police can identify and trace back to the owner. It gives the police robust evidence they can act on. From now on, any criminal who targets the BT network risks being invisibly tagged with SmartWater...police will then be able to trace them back to the scene of the crime."
SmartWater website: www.smartwater.com
A booklet on identification of BT cables can be obtained from the British Metals Recycling Association website : http://www.recyclemetals.org/useful_links
The UK Home Office has recently provided grants to Neighbourhoods around the country to allow them to purchase the SmartWater technology for use in peoples homes. So even thieves who break into peoples homes will able to be traced. One such area is in the London Borough of Enfield, I wonder what one ?
(22nd December 2010)
FOR WOMEN, CYBER CRIMES ARE ALL TOO REAL
(IPS, December 2010 author Zofeen Ebrahim )
KARACHI, Pakistan, Nov 25 , 2010 (IPS) - The Grade 10 student was first drugged, and then four men raped her. The group then apparently tried to extort money from her family. When the family filed a complaint with the police instead, the extortionists in October then posted a cellphone video of her whole ordeal on the Internet.
The crime is horrific enough to catch the attention of anyone, as is the act of uploading a video of it on the World Wide Web. But what is also making rights advocates sit up here in Pakistan is the fact that the victim's family had actually come forward to report the crime.
After all, says stalking victim-turned-activist Fariha Akhtar, "We prefer being abused and harassed than being 'dishonoured' in the eyes of society". That is why, she says, women have become easy targets for cyber crimes in this male-dominated South Asian society.
In the last few years, Pakistan has been catching up with the rest of the world in getting wired, which has not only opened up the country to more business opportunities, but has also livened up social communications among families and friends.
But technology has aided the commitment of crimes as well, with many of these directed towards women. According to special public prosecutor Nighat Dad, women have become victims of cyber pornography and 'morphed' or 'photoshopped' lewd photos of them that are uploaded onto the Net or passed around through mobile phones.
There are no hard figures to come by for this, though, in part because the victims are too ashamed to lodge a formal complaint.
Akhtar also explains, "Since technology is considered a guy thing, they are given more opportunities to toy with it, leaving women with very limited knowledge to even stay safe while using it, combined with the orders to keep silent should they experience abuse."
Indeed, the Islamabad-based think tank Institute of Policy Studies says there were 412 recorded cases of cyber crime in 2007 to 2009 alone. Yet not one of those is apparently regarding violence against a woman. Says the institute: "(Violence) against women and even their pornographic presentation do not have a mention in the list of cyber crimes in Pakistan."
And yet the cyber crimes may not even be as cruel as what happened to the Grade 10 student for it to affect female victims deeply.
Three years ago, for example, then 27-year-old Zara (not her real name) thought she had it all. A business graduate, she had just been promoted in the telecommunications company where she worked and had a doting fiancé by her side.
But then a male colleague posted photos of Zara purportedly in the nude on the company website. Recalls her sister: "Her life came crumbling down."
The culprit was eventually caught, and he admitted to having photoshopped Zara's photographs to appear she was naked. He said he wanted to teach her a lesson for "not sharing some data" with him.
"Her boss implored her not to resign," says Zara's sister. "But she could not continue in that company knowing her co-workers had seen those pictures. Word spread and her fiancé broke off the engagement."
Experts in the field say that developing countries like Pakistan are more vulnerable to cyber crimes than other nations. Shahzad Ahmad of Bytes For All (B4A), which works towards Internet governance and rights, says the main reason for this is the "non-existent legal structures".
While there used to be a Prevention of Electronic Crime Ordinance, this lapsed in November 2009. So, Akhtar says, even if cyber criminals are caught, there is no way of prosecuting them. "At least not for the cyber aspect of their crime," she says.
Ahmad also says the judiciary is incapable of appreciating the "intricacies of such crimes".
Akhtar concedes that authorities have at least started tackling harassment through mobile telephones to some extent. But she says that while counselling a girl whose fake profiles were continuously being created on Facebook, she found out that the state agency she had referred the victim to had its website hacked.
"It left me wondering if they would be of any help," she says of the National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes.
Akhtar says the typical profile of a cyber criminal is usually someone who knows the victim or victims with whom he or she had had some altercation. She adds that in majority of the cases she has come across, the perpetrator is male.
She remembers only one case where the cyber harassers turned out to be females: "They were a group of young girls from of the upmarket schools in Karachi."
She and other rights activists are now closely watching the Grade 10 student's case, which has led to a spate of media reports of similar incidents.
Akhtar, who got involved in TakeBacktheTech campaign launched in 2009, has been "blogging, tweeting, (and) writing articles in local tech magazines on safe and secure use of ICTs (information and communication technology)". She also offers help and guidance to cyber crime victims through the use of the same ICTs.
Authorities and activists like Akhtar may have their hands full for years to come. Mobile phones have already reached the most remote villages in Pakistan, where there are now 100 million mobile phone users, says the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. There are also 18 million Internet users so far in this country of 175 million people.
(17th December 2010)
STALKERS USE GPS AND MOBILE APPS TO TRACK VICTIMS
(Metro, dated 9th December 2010 author Fred Attewell)
Stalkers are using GPS technology to follow their victims, prosecutors have revealed.
Their tactics, already seen in the US, involve using websites and mobile apps to pinpoint a victim's location throughout the day via their mobile phones.
Cases have occurred in London and the south-east, part of a growing trend of cyber-stalking, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
'What we are coming to appreciate is how the cyber element has increased so substantially,' said Nazir Afzal, the CPS director responsible for stalking and harassment cases.
'Cyber-stalking is now exceeding stalking in the traditional ways. It is inflicting misery and we are determined not to stand by and let it happen,' he added.
In September, the CPS warned stalkers could be barred from targeting their victims on Facebook and other social networking sites in a crackdown on harassment.
Prosecutors should issue restraining orders that could include orders 'not to display any material relating to the victim on social networking sites including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter', the CPS guidance said.
Stalking should be treated as a priority, said home secretary Theresa May. 'Many victims suffer in silence and fear for years - this has to stop,' she added.
GPS STALKING PREVENTION
For good or bad technology is advancing on a daily basis and what advice is given today may not be relevant tommorrow.
After searching the internet for what precautions to take when dealing with stalking involving mobile phones and GPS only a few sensisble results were found.
Advice from the USA (www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs14-stk.htm)
Some websites advertise a service to pinpoint the physical location of any cell phones (including those with location tracking disabled) using triangulation of signals to cell towers. Regardless of what these websites promise, it is extremely unlikely that anyone other than law enforcement agents and telecommunications companies have the ability to track the location of cell phones in the U.S. unless the phones have location tracking enabled or special software installed. Most of the time, a stalker would need physical access to your phone to install software in order to use location tracking devices. At a minimum, a stalker (or even the police) would need to know a victim's phone number in order to track his or her location through the phone.
If your stalker somehow learns your phone number, change your number by contacting your carrier. For maximum security, replace the phone entirely (especially recommended if your stalker gets physical access to your phone).
Smartphone Tracking Software (http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/phone-stalking.htm/printable)
Even if you're cautious about what information you reveal about yourself, it's possible you could be stalked by tracking software installed on your smartphone. Commercial tracking software for smartphones can serve good purposes, like keeping track of your kids or monitoring delivery employees. Unfortunately, some people have chosen to use the software for uninvited tracking activities.
Anyone can purchase commercial mobile phone tracking software. The software boasts such features as reading text messages, listening to phone calls and tracking the phone's location on a map using its GPS. When installed on a smartphone, the software runs stealthily with no hint to the phone's user that it's gathering and sending this information.
The companies that sell smartphone-spying software post disclaimers that it's the responsibility of the user to obey laws and monitor people only with their consent. But what happens when someone disregards the law? The only thing a stalker has to do to install the software is to have access to your smartphone. Then, he / she can quickly install tracking software, Trojan horses or other malicious code. Even if you have a passcode set on your smartphone, a savvy stalker may know a way to bypass it and gain the access he or she needs.
So, you're keeping your personal information private, and you don't let your smartphone out of your sight.
Are you safe? If your phone's software has a digital vulnerability, maybe not. In early 2009, Dan Dearing of Trust Digital demonstrated a "Midnight Raid Attack," showing how an iPhone SMS vulnerability could be used to steal data from your iPhone while you're sleeping [source: Mills]. A stalker could learn about your smartphone's digital vulnerabilities and take control of your smartphone without you ever knowing.
- Always keep your Mobile (smartphone) with you or locked in a secure location.
- Don't let anybody "play" with your mobile. Even if it is "the next best thing since sliced bread".
- Set a password (passcode ) for your mobile and configure the phone to prevent bypassing that code.
- Know your mobiles security weaknesses, and keep track of the latest news about your mobile in case a new weakness is discovered.
- Take action to prevent someone from exploiting those security weaknesses on your mobile.
- Don't load "Apps" of other software from unknown sources onto your mobile (however tempting or cute ), they could be contaminated with malicious or tracking software.
- Do not leave your bluetooth facility switched on. Tracking software can be loaded via that method.
- If you are suspicious that your mobile has been compromised contact the manufacturer for guidance. Sometimes a factory or system reset will erase the unwanted software. Remember, carrying out a factory reset will remove all of your personal files as well ( photo's, phone lists, address books, everything ), so ensure that personal data is backed up first.
- Remember, malicious or tracking software may be invisible on your mobile ( it may not have an associated Icon ).
Note : No specific mobile or Smartphone make or model has been mentioned within this article as potentially any with a GPS facility can be compromised. Not just the more expensive ones.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND HELP
National Stalking Helpline:
Website : www.stalkinghelpline.org
Telephone: 0300 636 0300
Protection against Stalking :
Network for Surviving Stalking
Website : www.nss.org.uk/
Suzy Lamplugh Trust ( Personal Safety )
IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER CALL 999
(17th December 2010)
RAPE CRISIS WEBSITE SET UP FOR LONDON ASSAULT VICTIMS
(bbc.co.uk, dated 9th December 2010)
A website has been launched to bring together information about the four rape crisis centres in London.
Mayor Boris Johnson said he hoped it would help women who had been sexually assaulted to "easily access the support and information they need".
In an election pledge in 2008, he promised to open three centres and increase funding to the city's only existing service, in Croydon.
Other centres have been founded in north, east and west London.
And an additional £25,000 is to be given to the service in south London.
"Nobody should feel isolated when coping with the terrible aftermath of sexual abuse, which can take years to overcome," said Mr Johnson.
"Reported rapes have risen by 29% this year, but this is just the tip of the iceberg as many of these crimes go unreported, leaving the true scale of these abuses alarmingly hard to uncover."
The centres were set up to help females aged 14 and over who have experienced sexual abuse, and offer one-to-one counselling, group therapy and various other methods of support.
Jennette Arnold, Labour's London Assembly member for the north-east of the city and a long-time campaigner over violence against women, described the rape crisis service as "good news".
"Large credit has to go to the campaigners and members of the assembly who have tried to make sure the mayor keeps his promise in this vital and under-funded area," she said.
"We will now have to be constantly vigilant that the huge government cuts to council and Home Office budgets don't pull the rug out from under the centres when City Hall funding comes to an end in a couple of years."
(10th December 2010)
TWO WOMEN A WEEK KILLED BY PARTNERS
(Evening Standard, dated 9th December 2010 author Kiran Randhawa )
The number of women killed by a violent partner has soared by more than 40 per cent in the last year, figures reveal today.
They show that up to two women die at the hands of their husband or boyfriend every week, with the number of deaths rising from 72 in 2008 to 102 last year.
Today's figures collated by domestic violence charity Refuge, also show more than one in four women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives and that one in three local authorities provides no refuge or specialist support.
Currently, about £3.5 million a year is pumped into services, such as emergency refuges, to help those at risk rebuild their lives. But the spending could be slashed because of government-imposed cuts to councils meaning vital services that have helped hundreds of thousands of violence and sex abuse victims in London are under threat.
London Councils, which represents the capital's 33 local authorities, has provided a grant to 36 organisations that have helped women and children.
Although it has recently indicated the current levels of funding will remain, it is re-assessing the scheme and making its final decision next week.
Charity Refuge and cosmetics company Avon today handed in an 8,000-strong petition to 10 Downing Street calling for specialist domestic violence services to be saved.
The two were joined by Sheryl Gascoigne who suffered abuse at the hands of footballer Paul Gascoigne.
The move comes on the second anniversary of the death of Maria Stubbings, from Chelmsford.
She was killed by her ex-boyfriend Marc Chivers, who had previously been given a 15-year sentence for killing a former partner.
Chivers, who assaulted the 50-year-old in July 2008, strangled her with a dog lead days after she told police that December that she feared for her safety. Two years on, the Independent Police Complaints Commission published its report into the "serious failings" which led to the mother-of-two's death.
It said human error was to blame and ordered Essex Police to review handling of domestic violence calls.
Her brother Manuel Fernandez said: "I am deeply disappointed that the IPCC report and its recommendations fail to come even close to achieving positive long-term change. A few tickings off and a recommendation to change international law does not cut it."
Celia Peachey, Ms Stubbings' daughter, said: "My mum repeatedly went to the police for help. She told them she was in danger. They turned their back on her."
Ms Gascoigne added: "As a survivor of domestic violence I want to ensure every woman, no matter where she lives, can access support and safety."
Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge said: "Every woman has a basic human right to live free from violence and fear."
Refuge - for women and children against domestic violence : http://www.refuge.org.uk/
(10th December 2010)
ANONYMOUS RECRUITS WIKILEAKS "DATA ARMY"
(bbc.co.uk, dated 9th December 2010)
The data war between companies that have refused to do business with Wikileaks and the online activists keen to defend it is getting more intense.
The tool through which attacks are carried out against websites perceived to be anti-Wikileaks has now been downloaded more than 31,000 times.
Security experts warned people to avoid joining the voluntary botnet.
Targets of the loose-knit group Anonymous have so far included Visa, Mastercard and Paypal. Amazon is expected to be among firms targeted next using the Anonymous attack tool known as LOIC. When a person installs the tool on their PC it enrols the machine into a voluntary botnet which then bombards target sites with data.
Anonymous member Coldblood told the BBC that he did not understand how firms such as Visa and Mastercard have decided that Wikileaks is illegal.
"We feel that they have bowed to government pressure. They say Wikileaks broke their terms and conditions but they accept payments from groups such as the Klu Klux Klan," he told the BBC.
He said that he has not personally taken part in the recent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks but explained the motives of those who have. "Everyone is aware that they are illegal but they feel that it is a worthy cause and the possible outcome outweighs the risk," he said.
He said such attacks were only one tactic in its fight to keep the information being distributed by Wikileaks available.
In a twist to the story it has emerged that Amazon, which last week refused to host Wikileaks, is selling a Kindle version of the documents Wikileaks has leaked.
Anonymous have named the online retailer as its next target.
Earlier attacks against Visa and Mastercard knocked the official websites of the two offline for a while and resulted in problems for some credit card holders.
The attacks have been relatively small so far mustering less then 10 gigabits per second of traffic, said Paul Sop, chief technology officer at Prolexic which helps firms to defend themselves against the type of attack being employed by Anonymous.
"What's really wreaking havoc with these enterprises is how often the attackers can rotate the attack vectors," he said. "We see the attack complexity being more devastating as the mitigation technologies enterprises use can't filter out all these permutations."
Defending against an attack typically involves analysis to work out which ones are being employed. A tactic that may not work well in this case, he said. "These Anonymous attacks are like riding a bull, they can change wildly and at a moment's notice," said Mr Sop.
Carole Thierault, a security researcher at Sophos, warned against getting involved with the Anonymous campaign. "No-one, no matter how much you want to take part, should do this," she said. "It is very risky, and most probably illegal."
Ms Thierault said downloading and installing the LOIC attack tool was very risky. "No-one should download unknown code on to their system," she said. "You're giving access to your computer to a complete stranger."
Anonymous is taking action against sites it deems to be hampering the work of Wikileaks As well as releasing the attack tool, the Anonymous group has also been active in helping to create mirror sites. To date there are over one thousand sites offering exact copies of the content on Wikileaks.
It is also ensuring the information is available on dark nets, heavily encrypted layers of the internet via which information can be extracted while remaining untraceable.
The DDoS attacks are the latest battle in a wider fight known as Operation Payback, which targets firms Anonymous sees as "misusing the internet".
Past targets include the music industry and law firms associated with the attempt to bring music pirates to book.
The new-found attention on Anonymous has led the group to publish its manifesto.
In it, it denies that it is a group of hackers.
"Anonymous is not an organisation...and it most certainly is not a group of hackers," it said.
"Anonymous is an online living consciousness, comprised of different individuals with, at times, coinciding ideals and goals."
It also keen to distance itself from Coldblood, who it said is not a spokesperson for the group.
(9th December 2010)
BID TO JAIL JURORS WHO SURF IN COURT
(Computeractive, dated 9th December 2010 author Dinah Greek)
Judges want to be able to jail jurors who use the internet to do research on a defendant or give updates on proceedings during the trial.
Jurors who use social-networking sites and the internet during a trial could face up to two years in jail, the UK's top judge has warned.
Speaking at the Judicial Studies Board in Belfast, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, also said if this issue wasn't dealt with it could lead to the end of the jury system.
"The misuse of the internet represents a threat to the jury system which depends on evidence provided in court which the defendant can challenge. We seem ... to assume that the occasions when jurors go to the internet for information are rare.
Lord Judge was addressing concerns raised earlier by Lord Mcdonald that some people were misusing the internet while on jury service; going online to look for further information that could potentially be misleading or false, or posting messages about trials on sites such as Twitter.
One such case was reported by The Sun earlier this year. Although jurors are not meant to discuss a case outside of the jury room, a 29-year-old woman juror discussed whether the jury thought the defendant was guilty or not in messages sent via her mobile phone to Facebook.
Calling for tougher warnings to be given to jurors, Lord Judge asked if tweets and online messages sent from a courtroom should be banned under the Contempt of Court Act. He pointed out that tape recordings already were.
If online messages are banned under law, a juror found guilty of this, could be punished by up to two years' imprisonment.
"Why is Twitter any different? This question has yet to be decided, and the decision may have a considerable impact on our processes," said Lord Judge.
He also pointed out that failing to address this issue could lead to more mistrials resulting in huge financial costs, delays and emotional trauma for witnesses, victims and defendants.
(9th December 2010)
FSA ALERT ON SHARE FRAUD
(The Guardian, dated 7th December 2010 author Mark King )
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has issued an alert on share fraud, warning almost 50,000 people that they could have been targeted by fraudsters. With the average boiler room victim losing £20,000, the FSA said millions of pounds are at risk of being invested in the scam.
The FSA has recovered a "master list" of names, addresses and telephone numbers used by boiler room fraudsters. The 49,387 individuals on the list may have been contacted out of the blue and offered worthless shares, the FSA said.
Boiler room operatives usually contact investors by telephone to con them into buying overpriced shares or shares that do not even exist. The fraudsters are unauthorised and usually based overseas, operating fake UK addresses and phone lines routed abroad.
The greatest concentration of targets is in London, although there are a significant number based in Scotland and the south east of England. The list is thought to still be in use by fraudsters operating in the UK and abroad, and is likely to have been circulated between different boiler room networks.
The FSA is writing to every person on the list to let them know they on it and to advise them how to avoid being scammed. Any one who thinks they may have been targeted by a boiler room scam should call the FSA's customer contact centre on 0845 606 1234.
Margaret Cole, the FSA's managing director of enforcement and financial crime, said: "So far this year we have contacted 95,000 people across the UK to warn them about the risks of investing via boiler room fraudsters.
"This latest list is the biggest we've ever recovered and we are contacting every single person on it in the hope we can stop people losing money. Even if only one in 10 we contact heed our warning it could mean around £96m is not invested in these scams.
"Boiler room fraudsters often sound like the real deal so it's easy to be drawn in by their professional and high pressure sales tactics. In reality, the shares are worthless or don't exist and the money is lost forever."
The FSA said it recovered the list from its intelligence work with counterparts in the US, Homeland Security Investigations and the US Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
The FSA's alert contains tips to help consumers to avoid becoming share fraud victims. Consumers should:
• hang up the telephone if they receive an out of the blue call offering them shares;
• check the FSA Register to see if the person selling shares is authorised to do so;
• call the company back using the details on the FSA Register to verify their identity;
• make additional checks to confirm that they are dealing with an authorised or registered firm and have the correct contact details, such as checking on the firm's website, with directory inquiries or Companies House;
• report any company that cold calls them to sell shares to the FSA or the police.
The FSA estimates that the cost of boiler room fraud in the UK is around £200m every year. In 2010 to date, the FSA has received around 4,000 from people who have been contacted by boiler rooms, but it is estimated only 10% of victims report the crime.
Financial Services Agency : www.fsa.gov.uk/
US Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement : http://www.ice.gov/
US Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) : http://www.irs.gov/
(9th December 2010)
US - STYLE GUNSHOT SENSORS INSTALLED IN BIRMINGHAM
(bbc.co.uk, dated 9th December 2010)
Sensors used in the US to detect gunshots being discharged have been installed in areas of Birmingham with a high number of firearms incidents.
It is the first time the Shotspotter Gunshot Location System - which can pick up gunshots within a 25m (82ft) radius - has been deployed in the UK. West Midlands Police said the sensors had been placed high up on buildings in north-west areas of the city. The £150,000 system records an audio clip and sends police a GPS location.
A police officer trained to listen to the clips then makes a judgement on what they have heard before deploying officers.
The system, funded by the Home Office through Birmingham Safer Partnerships, has an 85% accuracy rate, Ch Supt Chris McKeogh said.
It can tell if multiple shots were fired, or if they were fired from a stationary or moving location, the number of weapons used and in which order they were fired, according to the manufacturers.
The system has been introduced in more than 50 US cities since 1995.
"The sound waves a bullet produces has a particular signature, if you like, and that should be recognisable to our force control room officers that have been trained up to listen," Mr McKeogh said.
"Shots, or a shot, being fired outside have the best chance (of being detected).
"Inside, or with a silencer, the ability is not so good, understandably."
The system, called Project Safe and Sound, will be active from Thursday. It is being used in the West and Central local policing unit, which covers areas including Handsworth and Aston.
Figures show the unit has the highest rate of gun crime in the force area.
A police report said this justified the use of the system, which it said was not targeting people in black and Asian communities.
Overall, the number of firearm incidents recorded in Birmingham has gone down since 2007/8.
The sensors have been placed on buildings owned by the council, some schools and private businesses.
'No surveillance issue'
Police will not elaborate on exactly where they are or what they look like. Because the sensors record decibels and not voices, there is no surveillance issue, the force has said.
Mr McKeogh said members of the neighbourhoods concerned had been consulted since the inception of the project some 18 months ago after West Midlands officers saw the system at work in the US.
Last month the force agreed to remove so-called spy cameras installed in parts of Birmingham with large Muslim populations after being criticised for not properly consulting residents.
Raj Rattu, a member of Handsworth residents' group and part of the force's Trust and Confidence group, said he was reassured by the approach the force had adopted for the gunshot sensors project.
He said 400 residents attended one meeting, where "mixed views" were expressed.
"Some are for it, some are against it, and we understand police are caught in a dilemma.
"We want guns off our streets and gun crime is falling, but we are reassuring residents that the areas are safe and we're working with the police."
The project will be reviewed after six months and again after a year.
###Birmingham gun crime
2007/08 - 589 firearms incidents
2009/10 - 440 incidents, 60 involving firearm discharge
2010 to date - 295 incidents, 59 involving firearm discharge
Source: West Midlands Police Authority
From the Shotspotter company website : www.shotspotter.com/
Company data :
50 U.S. Locations
3 International Locations
12 Coverage Expansions
151 Sq. Miles Covered
1M+ Citizens Protected
260+ Gunshot Survivors Located*
97 Average Gunshots Detected Per Day
Approximate count of gunshot survivors treated by responders using ShotSpotter data since 2005.
(9th December 2010)
POLICE URGE "REGISTER YOUR MOBILE THIS XMAS"
( Merseyside Police, 7th December 2010 )
Merseyside Police is urging mobile phone owners in Merseyside to register their phones this Christmas on the National Mobile Property Register (NMPR) and is giving members of the public the chance to win an Apple iPad when they do.
The NMPR database is an on-line property search, used by the police service to search for any identifiable item of property they have recovered. Once a phone or other valuable electrical item is registered, officers are able to look up it's unique registration or IMEI number, view its registered owners details, find out if it has been reported stolen by the police anywhere in the UK, the insurance company and in the case of a mobile phone, which network it is on. Ultimately it will mean that you improve your chances of getting your phone back if its lost or stolen.
In the run up to Christmas, officers will be visiting every area across the Merseyside area to offer members of the public the opportunity to register their mobile phones via the Merseyside police website.
Chief Inspector Shaun Holland ( Merseyside Police ) explains: "Nowadays mobile phones are used for more than just making phone calls, in effect people have their whole lives are on them - family pictures, important emails, schedules and contact details. We realise that if your phone is lost or stolen it can have a big impact on your lives.
"We want as many people as possible to get their phones registered on the database this Christmas. It's simple and free to do, and means that if a mobile phone is found, or if we stop someone with a mobile phone that we believe does not to belong to them, we can quickly check it on the database, and return it to the rightful owner.
"We hope that by encouraging more and more people to register their phones, the message will get back to those who are thinking about stealing a phone, that it's just not worth it."
Why don't you register ?
This is just one example of a Police Force trying to encourage residents to be more conscious of looking after their own property, but this facility is open to all UK residents.
Go to the IMMOBILISE website and register your property : http://www.immobilise.com/
To obtain you mobiles IMEI number, press *#06# will provide 15 digit code.
(9th December 2010)
ANONYMOUS MASTERCARD ATTACK "HITS PAYMENTS"
(bbc.co.uk, dated 8th December 2010)
Web attacks on the Mastercard site have disrupted payments, the BBC has learnt.
The site is among several targeted by the Anonymous group of hackers, who have pledged to pursue firms that have withdrawn services from Wikileaks.
Mastercard, which stopped processing payments to the whistle-blowing site, said the attack had had "no impact" on people's ability to use their cards.
But the BBC has been contacted by a payment firm that said its customers had "a complete loss of service".
In particular, it said that an authentication service for online payments known as Mastercard's SecureCode, had been disrupted. Other readers have also said that have had problems with online payments. The scale of the problems is still unclear.
Mastercard has not responded to the claims.
Earlier, Doyel Maitra of the firm, said: "Mastercard is experiencing heavy traffic on its external corporate website - Mastercard.com - but this remains accessible.
"We are working to restore normal speed of service. There is no impact whatsoever on Mastercard or Maestro cardholders' ability to use their cards for secure transactions."
Anonymous, which claimed to have carried out the attack, is a loose-knit group of hacktivists, with links to the notorious message board 4chan.
It said that it has hit several targets, including the website of the prosecutors who are acting in a legal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
PayPal, which has stopped processing donations to Wikileaks, has also been targeted.
The firm originally said Wikileaks' account had violated its terms of services.
But the online payment firm has since said that it stopped payments following a request from the US government, a claim denied by the US State Department.
"On 27 November the State Department, the US government, basically wrote a letter saying that the Wikileaks activities were deemed illegal in the United States," PayPal's Osama Bedier told the Le Web conference in France.
"And as a result our policy group had to make the decision of suspending their account.
"It's honestly, just pretty straight forward from our perspective and there's not much more to it than that," he said.
Other firms that have distanced themselves from the site have also been hit in the recent spate of attacks including the Swiss bank, PostFinance, which closed the account of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
The bank said Mr Assange had provided false information when opening his account.
Security experts said the sites had been targeted by a so-called distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS), which swamp a site with so many page requests that it becomes overwhelmed and drops offline.
Paul Mutton of security frim Netcraft said that 1,600 computers were involved in flooding the site with spoof requests.
Access to Mastercard's site is still intermittent.
Noa Bar Yosef, a senior analyst at security firm Imperva said the attacks were "very focused".
"It is recruiting people from within their own network. They are actually asking supporters to download a piece of code, the DDoSing malware, and upon a wake-up call the computer engages in the denial of service," he said.
Before the Mastercard attack, a member of Anonymous, who calls himself Coldblood, told the BBC that "multiple things" were being done to target companies that had stopped working with Wikileaks or which were perceived to have attacked the site.
"Websites that are bowing down to government pressure have become targets," he said.
"As an organisation we have always taken a strong stance on censorship and freedom of expression on the internet and come out against those who seek to destroy it by any means."
"We feel that Wikileaks has become more than just about leaking of documents, it has become a war ground, the people vs. the government," he said.
Some of the early DDoS hits failed to take sites offline, although that was not the point of the attacks, according to Coldblood.
"The idea is not to wipe them off but to give the companies a wake-up call," he said. "Companies will notice the increase in traffic and an increase in traffic means increase in costs associated with running a website."
DDoS attacks are illegal in many countries, including the UK.
Coldblood admitted that such attacks "may hurt people trying to get to these sites" but said it was "the only effective way to tell these companies that us, the people, are displeased".
Anonymous is also helping to create hundreds of mirror sites for Wikileaks, after its US domain name provider withdrew its services.
Coldblood said that the group was beginning to wind down the DDoS attacks so that it could concentrate on using "other methods which are more focused on supporting Wikileaks and making sure the Internet stays a free and open place".
(9th December 2010)
FREE SOFT DRINKS FOR DESIGNATED DRIVERS THIS CHRISTMAS
(Department of Transport, dated 1st December 2010 )
Designated drivers will be rewarded in thousands of pubs across the country as part of the THINK! Christmas drink drive campaign, launched today by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.
In addition to running radio advertising, posters in pub washrooms and online search activity, THINK! has teamed up with Coca-Cola's Designated Driver campaign to offer drivers free soft drinks in more than 8,000 participating venues across Britain as part of the Driver Friendly campaign.
Mike Penning said: "Drivers should be in no doubt that if they get behind the wheel after drinking this Christmas, they risk losing their licence as well as facing a fine and even a prison sentence."
"Christmas should be a time for a celebration not a night in the cells. That is why we have teamed up with Coca-Cola and pub chains this Christmas to reward designated drivers as well as reminding drivers of the consequences of getting a drink drive conviction."
"Last year 380 people were killed in accidents where the driver was over the limit. That is why our message is clear: don't drink and drive."
ACPO lead on roads policing, Chief Constable Mick Giannasi said:
"This year we are using information from the public to target those areas where drink driving is a particular problem and so the chances of getting caught are greater than ever.
"If the police stop a driver, and there is any suspicion that they have been drinking, then they will be asked to provide a breath test and drivers should be in no doubt that if they are found to be over the limit they will be brought before the courts.
"Many drivers don't realise that alcohol stays in the system for a number of hours, and that they could still be over the limit the next morning when driving to work or dropping the children off at school. That is why we are asking drivers to be safe, not sorry, this Christmas."
Jon Woods, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland said:
"With Christmas just around the corner, our consumers are gearing up to celebrate. We know how much they enjoy the festive period and we don't want to dampen their spirits.
"This Christmas we're proud to be partnering with the Government's THINK! initiative to help raise awareness of responsible drinking. By rewarding those drivers who choose not to drink with a free Coke or diet Coke, we can encourage people to do the right thing while still enjoying a great night out. It's a different approach to responsible drinking but our consumers love it."
Designated drivers should ask at the bar about how to take advantage of the buy one soft drink, get one free offer at participating pubs.
The THINK! drink drive radio advertising campaign will run from 1st December 2010 to 1st January 2011 and posters will appear in pub washrooms from 6th December to 2nd January.
Notes to editors
The total Drink Drive campaign budget for financial year 10/11 is £550,000
For latest road casualty figures please see Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2009: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/accidents/casualtiesgbar/rrcgb2009
To listen to the ads visit: http://think.dft.gov.uk/think/mediacentre/237144/drinkdriving
If venues are interested in getting involved in the Driver Friendly campaign, they should contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Department of Transport webpage :
General overview and trends in reported road casualties
This article reviews the main trends in the number of reported road accident casualties in Great Britain in 2009 compared with recent years. In 2009:
There were a total of 222,146 reported casualties of all severities, 4 per cent lower than in 2008. 2,222 people were killed, 12 per cent lower than in 2008, 24,690 were seriously injured (down 5 per cent) and 195,234 were slightly injured (down 4 per cent).
The number of fatalities fell for almost all types of road user, with a fall of 16 per cent for car occupants, 13 per cent for pedestrians, 10 per cent for pedal cyclists and 4 per cent for motorcyclists.
Compared with the 1994-98 average, in 2009:
The number killed was 38 per cent lower;
The number of reported killed or seriously injured casualties was 44 per cent lower;
The number of children killed or seriously injured was 61 per cent lower; and
The slight casualty rate was 37 per cent lower.
In contrast traffic rose by an estimated 15 per cent over this period.
Drinking and driving
In 2009, it was estimated that 11,990 reported casualties (5 per cent of all road casualties) occurred when someone was driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit.
The provisional number of people estimated to have been killed in drink drive accidents was 380 in 2009 (17 per cent of all road fatalities), a decrease of 20 fatalities compared to the final 2008 estimate.
The provisional number of killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in 2009 was 1,860, 8 per cent below the final 2008 estimate.
It is good news that there have been a drop in the number of fatalities. Then again, how do you explain that to a child who has had their Brother, Sister or Parent killed by a speeding or drunk motorist ?
(9th December 2010)
SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING
This time of year is traditionally the time when people start to think about where they are going on holiday the following year. So I thought I would produce an article that may persuade you to investigate your destination a bit further before making that booking; or more knowledgeable and streetwise before you get there.
The following is a link ( http://www.uaware.org.uk/page6.htm ) that takes you to a new facility on this website that provides some information on crime and travel that tourist may experience at their destination. It is not comprehensive, it doesn't cover countries like Spain, France and the USA as most people have their own stories of their experiences. Perhaps even more so now as we arrange our own itinaries.
Hopefully, I am "teaching a grandmother to suck eggs", but here are a few tips :
- Take out adequate holiday insurance ( US requires higher cover ) .
- Get a European health card ( formerly E111 ), for European travel ( in addition to insurance ).
- Register your travel plans and passport on the UK Foreign Office "Locate" website :
- For UK citizens travelling to the US you must register on their ESTA system
- Check what vacinations and supportive drugs are required for your destination : http://www.fco.gov.uk
- Make a note of the Embassy address and telephone number of country where you are visiting : http://www.fco.gov.uk
- Check out what crimes and scams are common at your destination : http://www.fco.gov.uk
- Make a note of your passport number, leave those details with family members.
- Make a note of your debit and credit card details and take away on holiday with you, keep seperate from actual cards. Or, register with a "card security" company like Sentinel (fee applies) - http://www.sentinelgold.co.uk/
- Make a note of your mobile phone IMEI number and mobile service providers overseas accessible telephone number (not their 0800, 0845 type number ). So if it is stolen whilst you are away you can lock your phones service so you don't find a large bill on your return.
- Do not carry your passport around with you on day trips. Get it locked away in the hotel safe ( get a receipt ) or safety deposit box.
- Check out a travellers website (ie. tripadviser ).
- Get a comprehensive guide book.
Have a nice holiday !
As an example. the following are some problems being experienced in two typical destinations.
DUTCH POLICE USE "DECOY JEWS" TO STOP ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS
(The Telegraph, dated 22nd June 2010 author Bruno Waterfield)
Dutch police are to use "decoy Jews", by dressing law enforcers in Jewish religious dress such as skullcaps, in an effort to catch anti-Semitic attackers.
Lodewijk Asscher, Amsterdam's mayor, has ordered the new decoy strategy to cut the number of verbal and physical attacks on Jews, amid fears that anti-Semitic "hate crime" is on the rise. "Jews in at least six Amsterdam neighbourhoods often cannot cross the street wearing a skullcap without being insulted, spat at or even attacked," according to local reports.
Amsterdam police already disguise officers as "decoy prostitutes, decoy gays and decoy grannies" in operations to deter street muggings and attacks on homosexuals or the city's red light district.
Police in the Dutch city of Gouda have claimed the use of officers disguised as apparently frail old age pensioners has helped cut street crime.
"If we receive several reports of street robbery in a certain location, we send out the granny. That soon quietens things down," said a spokesman.
Secret television recordings by the Jewish broadcasting company, Joodse Omroep, broadcast at the weekend, have shocked Amsterdam, a city which prides itself on liberalism and which is home to the Anne Frank museum.
The footage showed young men, often of immigrant origin, shouting and making Nazi salutes at a rabbi when he visited different areas of the Dutch capital.
MEXICAN POLICE CHIEF WHO TOOK THE JOB MEN DIDN'T WANT IS SHOT DEAD
(Evening Standard, dated 2nd December 2010 author Rashid Razaq )
A Mexican woman police chief who vowed to take on drug cartels has been shot dead after only two months in the job.
Hermila Garcia, 36, was killed by several gunmen as she drove to work in the town of Meoqui, outside Chihuahua city in the north of the country.
Ms Garcia, who did not carry weapons or have bodyguards, was one of a small but increasing number of women to take on top police jobs because men have been too afraid of reprisals by criminal gangs.
"La Jefa" the chief as she was known, was fond of saying: "If you don't owe anything, you don't fear anything", when asked why she had no security.
A lawyer by profession and unmarried, Ms Garcia was commended for her bravery as she pledged to tackle the drug wars that have claimed almost 30,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and deployed 45,000 soldiers to fight the cartels.
Her murder has been interpreted as a warning to other women such as 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia, a student who became the police chief of Praxedis, in the Juaraez valley in the same state.
Yesterday, gunmen ambushed the police chief of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state's largest city, which is separated from El Paso in Texas by the Rio Grande. It has been reduced to a state of near-anarchy by cartels battling for control of the drugs trade. Alvaro Gilberto Torres Ramirez, 41, was killed in his car.
About 7,200 people have died in drug violence since January 2008 in Chihuahua as Mexico's most notorious trafficker Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman made a push to control the city and its lucrative smuggling routes. Police captured another gang leader last weekend who they said has confessed to ordering most of the recent killings in Ciudad Juarez. Arturo Gallegos Castrellon is alleged to be the leader of the Aztecas gang, whose members work as hired killers for the Juarez drug cartel.
Gallegos had ordered 80 per cent of the murders in Juarez over the past 15 months. "He is in charge of the whole organization of Los Aztecas in Ciudad Juarez," said Luis Cardenas Palomino, the local police chief. "All the instructions for the murders committed in Ciudad Juarez pass through him."
Despite the arrest of thousands of gang members in Chihuahua, the crackdown on cartels has provoked a wave of violent crime, as jobless young men fight over kidnappings, drugs, extortion rackets and prostitution.
(5th December 2010)
HOW TO AVOID SCAMS THIS CHRISTMAS
(computeractive, dated 30th November 2010 author Dinah Greek )
Christmas is a boom time for online shopping and, sadly, that makes it a lucrative period for criminals. Even legitimate traders can act in ways that are misleading in the rush to make profits. In this article we will take a look at the most common scams so you can be wary of dodgy dealers trying to dig their claws into your cash.
The fake shop
One common scam is a bogus website offering popular gifts that are in short supply. The most obvious giveaway of the scam is the product being sold for far less than elsewhere. The websites are usually badly designed and text may contain poor grammar.
But not all criminals use cheapness as a ploy. Some make their sites look as authentic as possible, and it's increasingly common to find sites that replicate the look and feel of the website of a legitimate retailer. On these sites, prices are not the hook: there will be no fantastic bargains but they might promise to deliver a product you can't find anywhere else.
It's worth asking a simple question: if you can't get an item from a major retailer on the high street, why would its online store, or an online store you have never heard of, have the product in stock? Big-brand manufacturers are very strict about their distribution networks and major retailers will not restrict popular products to online-only sales.
The free gift card
A recent Facebook page offered a 'free $1,000 Best Buy gift card' to the first 20,000 people who signed up for what appeared to be a fan page for the retailer Best Buy. But the page was a scam and unrelated to the real Best Buy.
To apply for the gift card users had to provide personal details, which the criminals could then use. Security firm Mcafee says this scam is likely to become more common.
The email confirmation
Phishing emails are another common trick. An email arrives claiming to be from a big shop saying you placed an order and your credit card was declined. The email gives a link to a website that looks like the retailer's, where you are asked to type in your details again. But the site is a fake, set up by a fraudster. People who type their card details into bogus sites are at real risk of fraud.
The first question to ask is whether you have indeed ordered anything from that retailer. If not, delete the email. If you have, type the retailer's website address directly into a web browser and log into your account to check.
If it shows a genuine problem look up the company's phone number on the same site and call it.
The dodgy auction
Be careful on auction websites, especially while looking for high-priced items or must-have gadgets. Another common ploy is the selling of 'unwanted' items that the bogus seller has 'managed to get hold of' just before Christmas. But these items will either be counterfeit or won't exist at all - and you will be out of pocket and out of presents.
The fake e-card
Millions of emailed greetings cards are sent at Christmas, but there are also emails that contain untoward links.
These take unwary PC users to sites that download malicious software onto their computer. This is then used to steal personal information such as bank and card details. Be careful even if you think you know the sender of a card - their email account may have been hacked and address book filleted for a list of names.
The heartfelt plea
Fraudsters love to pull on the heart-strings. Emails asking for donations to charities or good causes during Christmas are common. Again these will have links directing the user to bogus sites set up to steal personal details.
If you want to donate online, go to your chosen charity's website by typing in the web address directly into your web browser.
The misleading ad
Aside from wholly criminal enterprises, there are genuine retailers who can be less than honest at times. Misleading ads are outlawed in the UK but they still occasionally appear, both in print and online. If an advert looks interesting, read the fine print carefully so you don't mistakenly buy the wrong item or deal.
It is not uncommon for customers to be offered rebates or special discounts at this time of the year. Again, check out the small print carefully. One trick is to set a strict deadline to send in a receipt or statement that is difficult or even impossible to meet - something we have found less well-known mobile ph one websites doing.
You can get some great bargains online - you just need to follow some basic rules. It's always good to be cautious when shopping on the web at any time of the year, but at Christmas it's worth being more vigilant.
The usual warning applies: if it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is, and be wary of 'special offer' emails.
If you haven't heard of a site, take a few minutes to check it out with an internet search on the name. If you find reports of complaints, shop elsewhere.
Websites with '.co.uk' addresses are not necessarily based in the UK. British retailers must list a UK address on their websites. If a site doesn't, then do not use it. If you are intentionally buying from abroad, try to stick to sites from the European Union, where consumer law will protect you
Read our article on fake sites for more : http://www.computeractive.co.uk/2259566
(1st December 2010)
WEB SAFETY SITE LAUNCHES
(computeractive, dated 25th November 2010 author Dinah Greek)
Nominet has launched an educational website to help people stay safe online and drive business.
The not-for-profit organisation responsible for the .uk domain names said the Knowthenet.org.uk site will provide "practical" advice, information and video content for consumers and business users.
For example, the site will carry information security scares, scams and news of the latest dangerous software. Nominet said research it had carried out showed online safety in all areas was an area of major concern for many people.
"In September this year, there were 31,000 Google searches for 'Internet safety', 60,500 searches for 'cyber bullying' and 34,000 searches for 'computer virus'," Nominet said.
"Security risks are also growing, with almost 80,000 people falling victim to internet fraud in the first nine months of 2010 - a 10 per cent jump on last year."
The organisation also said that the library of material on the site covering online safety included a range of topics from password choice and phishing scams to privacy settings on social networks.
Phil Kingsland, Nominet's marketing and communications director, said: "Information is only a click away on the internet. The challenge is that often people don't always know what to trust, or where to go.
"Free, impartial advice is hard to come by. We've launched the Knowthenet.org.uk site to bridge this knowledge gap, addressing concerns and offering impartial, useful advice which gives people the confidence and know-how to do more online."
The site will also point users to other trusted internet resources such as GetSafeOnline and Identitytheft.org.uk for more detailed information.
Nominet said the front page of the website will be updated several times a week with short posts that will provide practical advice for consumers and businesses as media stories break and major new online developments occur. It said people can also follow the site via updates on Twitter, comment on stories and suggest additional topics.
(1st December 2010)
LOSSES FROM ONLINE FRAUD CONTINUE TO RISE
(www.computeractive, dated 10th November 2010 author Dinah Greek)
More people are having to bear the loss if they have been a victim of online fraud and identity theft, according to security company Verisign.
The company's latest Online Fraud Barometer found that although the number of victims has remained stable in the past six months, the amounts being taken through online cons is higher and fewer people are being fully recompensed by the banks.
The bi-annual assessment of the UK online fraud landscape found that one in 10 who used the internet had fallen victim to cyber criminals in the past 12 months. The average amount lost to online fraud is now £697 per victim, compared to an average of £352 in March 2010. But there are growing numbers of people who have lost more than £1,000.
Worryingly, although the Banking Code of Practice is meant to protect people from online fraud, the number of victims who have been fully reimbursed fell by six per cent; from 88 to 82 per cent, since March.
"We don't know why people are not getting fully reimbursed by the banks, and this is a question for them. But the number of people who have complained of this has risen in the last six months," a Verisign representative said.
However, consumers may be partly to blame for the rise. The study found that British web users' security diligence when it comes to interacting with businesses online has decreased.
In the search for a bargain the number of people who will only shop from trusted sites with enhanced security, has dropped two percentage points to 80 per cent. The number of victims also varies by region.
Those based in Northern Ireland are the most likely to be defrauded online , with 16 per cent stating that they have been a victim of online ID fraud in the last 12 months, compared with five per cent in March this year.
Scots are regionally the least likely to fall victim to online fraudsters, with only six per cent claiming to have been defrauded in the past year, a significant drop from the 14 per cent recorded in March.
The Welsh are becoming more careless with fewer people claiming to shop solely from sites with enhanced safety measures: down to 69 per cent from 81 per cent six months ago and 85 per cent a year ago
Matthew Bruun for Verisign Authentication (now owned by Symantec), stated: "While the rest of the country is working its way out of recession, the latest Verisign Authentication Online Fraud Barometer shows how lucrative online fraud has become for cyber crooks.
"It's vital for consumers to appreciate how skillful these criminals are and take the appropriate measures to protect themselves online. Before inputting any personal details on a website - whether it's their address, date of birth, or credit card information - consumers must take the time to check a site's security policies and credentials.
"Look out for security certificates and seals and don't let security standards slip, or they could be in for a nasty surprise."
(1st December 2010)
1.9 MILLION REPORT CYBER STALKING
(Computeractive, dated 11th November 2010 author Dinah Greek )
A team of researchers at the University of Bedfordshire are investigating the real extent of cyber stalking.
More than one million women and nearly the same number of men (900,000) are reporting stalking incidents in the UK every year according to the British Crime Survey.
Although the Crown Prosecution Service has released new guidance for prosecutors on how to handle this problem, it is believed that the problem is exacerbated by modern communications technologies. However, to date no research has been carried out.
The Electronic Communication Harassment Observation (Echo) survey has been commissioned by a charity, the Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS). It will try to ascertain how many people are stalked or harassed online.
Dr Emma Short, the project leader at University of Bedfordshire told Computeractive that some incidents may not be 'true' stalking but ignorance.
"There is a difference between a delusional or dangerous individual and someone behaving badly. A lot of what goes happens in social-networking sites and chat rooms is offensive, because people are not certain of what is appropriate behaviour," she explained.
The researchers want people who have been stalked, harassed or threatened online, including by email, mobile phone, on internet chatrooms or social-networking sites to fill in an online questionnaire.
"For stalkers, the internet and mobile phones are just convenient tools of their trade. But we are also concerned how what may have started off as merely inappropriate behaviour, could escalate into something more dangerous," said Dr Short.
The researchers have received initial funding for a year and all answers are treated confidentially. Results will be published on the NSS website.
Network for surviving stalking website : http://www.nssadvice.org/
Network for surviving stalking quesationnaire page : http://www.nssadvice.org/survey/
(1st December 2010)
IDENTITY FRAUD COSTS UK £2.7 BILLION EVERY YEAR
(National Fraud Authority, dated 18th October 2010)
New figures from the National Fraud Authority [NFA] estimate that every year in the UK identity fraud costs more than £2.7billion and affects over 1.8million people. [18 October 2010]
At least £1.9billion of this is the amount gained by the fraudster. That means that on average, fraudsters gain over £1,000 from every stolen identity.
Stolen identities are used by fraudsters to obtain a wide variety of goods, services and benefits in the victims' name; to fraudulently open bank accounts and to commit other frauds.
Criminals also use false or stolen identities to help them commit a wide range of crimes, from evading detection by law enforcement to enabling people trafficking and terrorism.
These figures come from the first ever UK ID Crime Strategic Threat Assessment which was completed by the NFA in conjunction with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The £2.7billion does not include loss from newly created fake identities.
Dr Bernard Herdan, Chief Executive, National Fraud Authority said: "Stolen and false identities are a significant enabler of crime and this issue demands a co-ordinated response across Government and the private sector. The work we've undertaken has allowed us to gain a better understanding of the issue of identity crime. We are now working actively with our partners to improve the UK's response to identity related crime and help reduce its devastating impact."
Losses from identity theft and false identities don't just affect the individual, but also hit the public and private sectors. The NFA will be working closely with others to co-ordinate the response to reduce the impact of this criminality on the public purse.
Criminals often look to fraudulently obtain genuine documents such as birth certificates, passports and driving licences. However, they also look for other information which helps steal your identity such as utility bills; online passwords; account numbers; and personal identity information which many people still put on social networking sites.
As part of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, the NFA is reminding individuals and businesses how important it is to take responsibility for protecting their own identity. In very serious cases, it can take you 200 hours to repair the damage done to your identity by these criminals - in working hours, that's equivalent to a year's annual leave.
Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre, provides some simple steps everyone can take to help keep their identity safe.
- Don't throw out anything with your name, address or financial details without shredding it first.
- Check your bank and credit card statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the financial institution concerned.
- If you're expecting a statement and it doesn't arrive, tell your bank or credit card company.
- Get regular copies of your credit report from a credit reference agency.
- Make sure your computer has up to date anti virus software installed.
- Make sure you use all the privacy settings available on social networking sites - but don't put too much personal information up there.
- If you move house, always get Royal Mail to redirect your post.
- Don't ignore bills, invoices or receipts for things you haven't bought or services you haven't asked for, contact the company immediately.
- When you register to vote, tick the box to say you don't want to be included in the edited electoral register - that means your details can't be sold on.
Don't stay silent. For more advice or to report a fraud, visit www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040. By working together and speaking out against fraud we can make the UK more hostile to fraudsters.
(1st December 2010)
FRAUD LEVELS RISE IN THE UK
(Computeractive, dated 28th October 2010 author Dinah Greek )
Identity fraud is one of the UK's fastest growing crimes and is already costing the country an estimated £2.7bn, according to new figures from the National Fraud Authority (NFA).
With levels of the crime up by almost 10 per cent during the first nine months of this year according to Cifas, the UK's fraud prevention service, around 1.8 million people a year are now affected and the average loss per person is about £1,000.
At the launch of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week yesterday, Neil Munroe of credit reference agency, Equifax, said: "ID crime can run deep and is not just about plundering someone's bank account.
That is usually the easiest crime where the consumer can get redress. But if someone wants to pretend to be you, it can be very difficult, especially for online transactions where there is no paperwork, for the victim to prove they are not the criminal."
The NFA said that it typically takes victims of identity fraud as long as 200 man hours to "repair the damage".
The figures released by the NFA were compiled in conjunction with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau for the UK's first ever ID Crime Strategic Threat Assessment.
It said of the £2.7bn costs, which do not include loss from newly created fake identities, the criminals get away with around £1.9bn.
Criminals often look to get a person's genuine documents such as birth certificates, passports and driving licences. However, they also look for other information such as utility bills; online passwords; account numbers; and personal identity information which many people still put on social networking sites.
The stolen identities are then used by fraudsters to obtain a wide variety of goods, services and benefits in the victims' name such as fraudulently opening bank accounts.
But the NFA warned that a victim's details can be used in other ways including evading detection from the law, enabling people trafficking and to carry out acts of terrorism
Dr Bernard Herdan, NRA chief executive said: "Stolen and false identities are a significant enabler of crime and this issue demands a co-ordinated response across Government and the private sector.
The work we've undertaken has allowed us to gain a better understanding of the issue of identity crime. We are now working actively with our partners to improve the UK's response to identity-related crime and help reduce its devastating impact."
Cifas said that its Digital Thieves report showed steps that consumers can take, but has called for more commitment from both Government, the private and the public sector to combat the crime.
National Fraud Authority : http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/nfa/Pages/default.aspx
National Fraud Intelligence Bureau : http://www.nfib.police.uk/
(1st December 2010)
CEOP POLICY CHIEF SAYS POLICE NEED TO UNDERSTAND MINDSET OF CHILD ABUSERS TO FORGE A SAFER WEB
(Computeractive, dated 28th October author Dinah Greek )
Police officers must learn more about the psychology of child abusers in order to recognise potential risks and intervene earlier, according to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).
Speaking at a Westminster E-Forum debate on building a safer internet, Alex Nagle, head of policy at Ceop, said an organisation that is designed to protect children needs to move beyond traditional policing methods to understand the mindset of abusers.
"We need to understand them so we can disrupt their intentions. We need to do something nifty," said Mr Nagle.
During his speech he showed a clip of Simon Thomas, who was jailed in 2006 for abusing children. The video shows video Thomas, a minister with the United Reform Church, talking about how he approached children in internet chat rooms with a sexual motive in mind.
Mr Nagle pointed out how normal Thomas appeared and said the fact he had gained the trust of society showed it was not easy to spot child abusers unless you could understand their motives.
This alone, however, would not be sufficient to forge a safer online environment, Mr Nagle warned. He said parents and children need to change their approach to the online world and recognise that laws and regulations cannot keep people safe.
"I don't see how you can tame something that is not alive and is just a tool. It's about people's behaviour. We do need to explain to adults about parental controls and we need to protect children, but there is no silver bullet," he said.
He added that it was "unhelpful" to talk about "digital citizenship" and "e-safety", saying there was no need to add "unnecessary prefixes" to the traditional values people adhere to when communicating face to face.
Mr Nagle also addressed the proposed merger of Ceop with the National Crime Agency, which led to the resignation of Jim Gamble, Ceop's chief executive, last week. He said that Mr Gamble may have been a "controversial figure", but everything he had done was in the best interests of children.
However, he said within Ceop there was a "fear" that the organisation would become the "poor relation" if merged with a national police agency.
"When the chief constable of the National Crime Agency is appointed and is faced with a serious threat, such as another terrorist attack, he will have to divert resources; and rightly. As an independent organisation Ceop would not have to face that," he said.
He said discussions with Government were still ongoing but he wanted to "recapture" some of Ceop's earlier strategy, specifically with regard to understanding the motives and methods of abusers.
CEOP website : http://www.ceop.police.uk/
Background to the National Crime Agency on the Home Office website : http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/press-releases/radical-reforms-police
(1st December 2010)
BARGAINS FUND SERIOUS CRIME
(SOCA, dated 23rd November 2010)
Serious and organised criminals are increasingly involved in the trading of counterfeit goods, the charity Crimestoppers has warned.
The products themselves - including luxury goods, toys, DVDs and CDs and even power tools - may seem to be the real deal. They can also seem a bargain, especially in the run up to Christmas. However many are potentially dangerous, and the money they bring in supports other serious organised crime that can impact on all our communities.
SOCA has teamed up with Crimestoppers to promote the Fakes Fund Crime campaign and squash the myth that counterfeiting is a harmless enterprise. In reality it is often run by international, highly organised and extremely profitable crime networks which are also involved in weapons trafficking, prostitution, drug smuggling and people smuggling. A recent review suggested that the criminal gain from counterfeiting in the UK was worth £1.3 billion every year.
Crimestoppers is asking the public to get in touch with information about anyone who is making and selling fakes. Lord Ashcroft, KCMG, Founder and Chair of Crimestoppers, said: "I would strongly urge anyone with any information about counterfeiting to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use our online anonymous form on www.crimestoppers-uk.org. With the public's help we can make big steps in cracking down on this type of crime."
A recent You Gov survey found that 24 per cent of adults have knowingly bought a fake DVD, yet 56 per cent said they would not buy a product they knew was fake and could fund crimes such as human trafficking.
James Brokenshire, the Minister for Crime Prevention, said: "Human trafficking and drug smuggling are appalling crimes where people are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. It is clear from these figures that the public can be unaware of the link between buying fake goods and more serious organised criminal activity."
SOCA's Andy Baker said: "Counterfeiting is too often seen as have-a-go entrepreneurship when in reality there is a link to serious organised crime impacting on communities. We want this Crimestoppers campaign to help people understand that connection and know that through their own actions they can influence what happens on their doorsteps."
The campaign has the support of a number of other high profile partner agencies including the Home Office, Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), Bank of England, the Film Distributors Association (FDA), and The Pentland Group which represents brand names including Lacoste.
For more information about counterfeiting and how to spot a fake, visit the Fakes Fund Crime campaign website.
For more about Crimestoppers, or to make an anonymous report, visit their website.
It is hard to believe that the diminutive Chinese character walking around the local Morrison's and B&Q car parks selling counterfeit DVD's is part of a crime organisation, but he is. He will get arrested, get warned or charged; but the financiers...the heads of the gangs just open up shop somewhere else. The money they make will be used to rent or purchase houses ( perhaps next door to you ) where they will grow cannabis or process other drugs. They will then sell the drugs to your Children or Grandchildren. Will you enjoy that dodgy film now ?
(1st December 2010)
COMPUTER EXPERT HACKED VICTIMS' WEBCAMS
(The Guardian, dated 25th November 2010 author )
A computer hacker who took control of his victims' webcams was jailed for 18 months yesterday.Matthew Anderson, 33, was a key member of an international gang who abused his skills as a computer security expert to target businesses and individuals with spam containing hidden viruses.
He accessed highly personal data and photographs in a sophisticated email scam from his mother's front room, taking control of some victim's webcams remotely to see inside their homes, at one point boasting to a friend that he made a teenage girl cry by doing so.
Files he saved on his own computer included webcam images of a girl in school uniform, a family photograph of a mother and her newborn baby in hospital and intimate pictures of a sexual nature.
Anderson, who admitted an offence under the Computer Misuse Act, appeared at Southwark crown court in central London.