Tag Archives: Cyber Crime

MLA issues stark security warning to students and landlords ahead of new university term

Students and their landlords are being urged by the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) to tighten up security procedures in order to avoid becoming victims of crime when university term starts again.

Students are one of the highest ‘at risk’ groups when it comes to crime, and are often targeted for high value laptops, TVs and entertainment equipment which is all-too-frequently left in plain view and unsecured against intruders.

As letting out a house or flat to students is a thriving business, the MLA is urging landlords to make home security a top priority to ensure that tenants, property and possessions are safe.

Students are also being warned to take simple precautions to prevent their possessions and equipment from being stolen when they move into a new property – or return to their old digs – at the end of September.

Dr Steffan George: development director at the MLA

Dr Steffan George: development director at the MLA

The MLA is encouraging youngsters and their parents to question what locking systems are in place, when they were last replaced and how the copying of keys is controlled.

The organisation advises landlords to consult an MLA-approved locksmith, who will be able to carry out a security assessment on property and recommend suitable locks and fittings, as well as providing input from a safety point of view.

Dr Steffan George, development director at the MLA, said: “Whether they’re going to university for the first time or returning to study for another year, students will often find themselves in new accommodation. It’s important that they’re fully aware of security to keep themselves and their possessions safe as students are often regarded as an easy target by thieves.”

George continued: “By taking simple precautions, landlords and students can avoid many of the risks that can lead to crime and taint the student experience. It’s landlords’ duty to act in a responsible manner and they should install quality locks with patented keys which cannot be copied without proof of ownership or restricted keys that cannot be easily copied due to their unique design.”

The MLA has issued the following guidelines to students and landlords:

  • Ensure good quality locks are installed on both the main door and the bedroom door. For convenience, the locks can be configured so that each individual bedroom key also opens the front door
  • Inspect doors and windows to make sure appropriate locks are fitted, in good condition and meet insurance requirements. If unsure, ask a vetted MLA locksmith for advice and a full security assessment
  • Keep valuable items out of sight, away from doors or windows, and remember to lock rooms and the front door when you go out
  • Don’t hide a key under a doormat or flower pot as criminals are aware of this method, particularly in student areas
  • Don’t leave doors open when outside or if friends are going in and out of the property as a thief can take advantage
  • If a room or property is going to be unoccupied for a number of weeks, students should take all valuables with them or make sure they are out of view
  • When entering the property, ensure that nobody ‘tailgates’ you and gains entry
  • Ensure locks are correctly specified regarding egress in homes of multiple occupancy (exit without the use of a key is required in flats, apartments and shared houses with locks on individual bedroom doors)

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Tavcom’s Education Information Day proves popular with security professionals

Leading security professionals recently attended an Education Information Day held at Tavcom’s dedicated Training Centre in Bishops Waltham. The 50-plus delegates representing industry associations, institutions, local authorities, the police service and principle industry employers were treated to a series of presentations on a diverse range of subjects, among them analytics, forensics, cyber security and the importance of new international standards.

“Our Education Information Day has become an annual event, and we know from the feedback provided by delegates that they highly value the overview provided by our expert speakers on how to best capitalise on the latest generation of electronic security solutions, as well as the insight provided on future trends,” explained Paul Tennent, managing director at Tavcom.

Among the speakers was Jon Laws. With the market for IP network-based video surveillance systems growing almost exponentially, Laws shared his knowledge on how to extend the life of an existing analogue system by introducing hybrid solutions while starting on the process of migrating to an IP network-based solution.

Laws also provided a forward-looking and realistic view of the technologies which are likely to be integrated into tomorrow’s security systems.

CCTV expert Jon Laws speaking at Tavcom's recent Education Information Day

CCTV expert Jon Laws speaking at Tavcom’s recent Education Information Day

Cyber security and data breaches

Daren Wildgoose delivered an up-to-date fact file on cyber security and data breaches with the objective of equipping the audience with some valuable tools to understand and combat the very real and active risk that can threaten a business’ resources and reputation. For his part, Paul Fletcher offered an Alarm Receiving Centre ‘insider’s’ picture of the most effective way of providing a technical ‘fit for purpose’ solution.

Peter Mason, one of the UK’s top IP/networking specialists, shared his vision on the future of the optical world and what’s on the horizon for Video-over-IP, with a section of his presentation addressing the threat of cyber crime to IP Version 6.

Paul Tennent: Tavcom's managing director

Paul Tennent: Tavcom’s managing director

Update on the latest CCTV standards

It’s now two decades since Mike Tennent founded Tavcom. During that time he has not only built up the reputation of Tavcom to be the leading supplier of security systems training but, through wide and extensive experience, he has also earned a more than justifiable reputation as a leading expert across the spectrum that is CCTV.

Having witnessed and kept pace with the many industry changes over the years, Tennent provided an update on the latest CCTV/VSS standards. In the process, he addressed some key questions including why the ‘face’ of CCTV is changing, why the new international standards are so important and who needs to know about them.

Eneo sponsored this year’s Education Information Day. As part of the event, delegates had the opportunity to take a tour of the Tavcom CCTV Control Room operators’ testing area and state-of-the-art workshop facilities, as well as witness practical demonstrations of the latest CCTV, intruder alarm, access control and IP technologies.

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Centrify survey pinpoints ID theft as key concern for digital consumers

Identity theft has ranked as the top concern among 2,000 consumers questioned about their digital lifestyles in new research commissioned by Centrify Corporation. The survey reveals that 81% of respondents stated they are concerned – or very concerned – about the prospect of having their identity stolen online.

Having credit card information stolen on the Internet is also extremely worrying for consumers, with 79% ranking it the second biggest concern above being a victim of cyber crime (73%).

Surprisingly, cyber bullying is the least concerning prospect for respondents with just 40% of consumers showing any real concern, while privacy of social networks (59%) and e-mail spam (68%) both ranked much higher.

The comprehensive survey also reveals the numbers of respondents that have a high, medium or low ‘digital footprint’ based on the amount of time they spend online in a typical week e-mailing, texting and sharing or watching digital images, songs, games, videos and apps.

62% of those very concerned about identity theft have a medium digital footprint, 46% low and 26% have a high digital footprint. Equally, only 26% of those with a high digital footprint are concerned about having credit card information stolen on an online shopping website and their e-mail accounts being spammed, showing that those who spend more time online are less concerned about their identity being stolen.

One-in-four respondents to the survey have definitely (or probably) been a victim of identity theft, 43% of victims suggesting the problem took more than one month to fix with one-in-five saying it took more than ten hours. 47% of interviewees admitted to having to spend their own money to resolve the issue, with 28% noting they’ve spent at least £60 (in turn highlighting the need for increased password security).

Identity theft remains a key concern for online shoppers in both America and the UK

Identity theft remains a key concern for online shoppers in both America and the UK

Security of personal information at risk

“With so much of our time now spent online, be it in relation to social networking, banking or shopping, the security of our personal information and, more importantly, our identities is being put at risk on a daily basis,” explained Tom Kemp (CEO at Centrify).

“According to our survey, online purchases are the top reason why users feel they became victims of identity theft, underscoring the importance of confidence in one’s own online security. Consumers have very little faith in the absolute security of their passwords. Just 15% believe those passwords are very secure, regardless of the amount and type of characters used. Being able to manage our password security is crucial.”

Other research highlights:

• The groups that are most likely to say they’ve been victims of identity theft are those that probably best understand and notice the signs of identity theft: IT workers, online shoppers, higher salary workers, the ‘tech-savvy’ and those with a high digital footprint

• Those with the least confidence that their passwords are absolutely secure include individuals that do less online shopping (12%), those aged 50-64 (11%) and those with a medium digital footprint (11%)

• A plurality of consumers are only somewhat confident that their passwords for personal accounts could not be cracked by a computer program, but few are very confident

*The Widmeyer Survey was developed to assess people’s engagement with (and perception of) passwords in order to determine their efficacy in the workplace. The survey was completed in September 2014 with more than 1,000 participants in the UK and 1,000 in North America. Results were similar across both regions

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City of London Police Commissioner calls on financial centres to act now and prevent a major cyber attack

International financial centres, Governments and law enforcement must work closely together to prevent organised criminals and terrorist organisations from bringing global markets to a standstill with a massive cyber attack. This was the message delivered by City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard when he appeared as the keynote speaker at the Financial Crimes and Cyber Security Symposium in New York.

Hosted by the New York County District Attorney’s Office and held in the Federal Reserve Bank, the event was attended by more than 300 delegates from the world of policing, finance and public and private sector cyber security.

Commissioner Leppard, whose UK force is the National Policing Lead for Fraud, highlighted the increasingly sophisticated fraud and cyber threats facing world financial centres, with a particular focus on the City of London and Wall Street. He pinpointed the risks posed by state-sponsored espionage and terrorism using highly complex malware – such as Ransomware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – to threaten the integrity of trading platforms and major deals.

Commissioner Leppard also stated it’s now vital that law enforcement and financial institutions share information on the current threats. He called for companies to be legally obliged to report to the authorities when they have fallen victim to a cyber attack and thereby ensure steps can be taken to protect other financial institutions and target the offenders.

Adrian Leppard: City of London Police Commissioner

Adrian Leppard: City of London Police Commissioner

In recognition of the rapidly evolving and expanding threats to the global financial districts, including London and New York, the City of London Police and the New York County District Attorney’s Office are to forge a closer alliance. From Spring 2015, there will be a staff exchange programme between the two agencies aimed at developing greater operational collaboration, intelligence sharing and de-briefing of investigative Best Practice.

This development comes hot on the heels of the City of London Police signing an agreement with the Royal Bank of Scotland to have financial experts from the bank providing specialist advice and guidance under the force’s new Corporate Volunteer Consultancy Scheme.

Determination of international criminals

Speaking from New York, Commissioner Leppard said: “We cannot underestimate the determination of international criminals, operating alone or as part of serious organised crime gangs or terrorist organisations, to launch a major strike against our financial centres, particularly in London and New York. It’s therefore crucial we take a proactive approach to this threat by putting in place the technical and legal systems that will keep trading platforms secure from malware and prevent companies from being compromised by a rogue employee or weak IT systems.”

The Commissioner continued: “The agreement signed by the City of London Police and the New York County District Attorney is another important step in the right direction, bringing the people who protect the Square Mile and Wall Street closer together and ensuring we’re doing everything we can to thwart what has become a common enemy.”

New York County District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Junior added: “An increasingly close connection between cyber crime and financial crime means that co-operation is more important than ever. Our international partnerships, in particular our ongoing collaboration with Commissioner Leppard and the City of London Police, reflect a changing landscape and the understanding that cyber criminal attacks will not be limited by state or national borders. This is why it’s essential for financial institutions, Governments and law enforcement agencies to work together in protecting the integrity of our markets and financial systems as well as our citizens.”

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RUSI launches Strategic Hub for organised crime research in the UK and overseas

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has announced the launch of a new Strategic Hub designed to explore and tackle serious and organised crime by way of high level research. The new hub will develop a world class research agenda that meets the needs of both policy makers and practitioners in the field.

The Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research has been initiated in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK.

The harmful impacts of organised crime in the UK are becoming more visible, from new areas such as cyber crime, trafficking in cultural objects and match fixing through to traditional activities like drug trafficking.

The cost of organised crime in the UK is estimated to be at least £24 billion, with a significant impact on communities, families and individuals. Further afield, organised crime undermines development assistance and contributes to instability.

In response, the Home Office has developed the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy and established the National Crime Agency. The strategy takes an holistic approach to organised crime, seeking to Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare.

RUSI has launched a Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK

RUSI has launched a Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK

Addressing gaps in understanding

Despite the Government’s renewed focus on combating organised crime, there are still gaps in the understanding of the scale and nature of organised crime in the UK and overseas, the effectiveness of strategies to disrupt it and pathways into and out of organised criminality. These gaps undermine attempts to address organised crime on a global basis.

The new Strategic Hub will fill this knowledge gap. Bringing together academic researchers and policy makers, the hub will create greater connectivity between policy concerns and rigorous enquiry.

Initially, the Strategic Hub will work with partners and the academic community to assess what strategies are effective at disrupting organised crime, what criminal markets look like and where the vulnerabilities lie in the system. The Hub also aims to develop new methodologies to examine these and related issues.

Priorities will be examined by policy makers, academics and researchers during a conference to be held at RUSI on 8 December 2014.

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International law enforcement deals major blow to Dark Web markets

Co-ordinated activity by law enforcement bodies in Europe and the US has targeted marketplaces for illegal commodities on The Dark Web – the ‘hidden’ areas of the Internet.

Working with police forces across the UK, the National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested six people on 6 November in strikes co-ordinated with international partners. Those arrested include suspected administrators for the online drug marketplace Silk Road 2.0 and another drug marketplace, as well as significant vendors of illegal drugs through The Dark Web.

Simultaneously, partners from the European Cybercrime Centre – acting on intelligence developed by US counterparts – took out technical infrastructure which is key to the hosting of illegal marketplaces on The Dark Web. In total, over 400 hidden services were taken down.

The six people arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs were a 20-year-old man from Liverpool city centre, a 19-year-old man from New Waltham in Lincolnshire, a 30-year-old man from Cleethorpes, a 29-year-old man from Aberdovey in Wales, a 58-year-old man from Aberdovey, Wales and a 58-year-old woman (again from Aberdovey in Wales). All six were interviewed and have been bailed pending further enquiries.

Silk Road 2.0 seized notice

Silk Road 2.0 seized notice

A large amount of computer equipment was seized at all the addresses searched and will now be forensically examined.

The action taken by the NCA and its partners across Europe and America is part of continuing operations to target the use of online marketplaces to trade in illegal commodities such as Class A drugs, firearms and false documents. Anyone who tries to access Silk Road 2.0 will now see a notice highlighting the site has been seized.

Roy McComb, deputy director of the National Crime Agency, commented: “Over the months since the original Silk Road was taken down, we have been working with partners in the US and Europe to locate technical infrastructure key to The Dark Web and to investigate individuals suspected of significant involvement in illegal online marketplaces. Those arrested by the NCA in this phase of the operation are suspected of setting up Silk Road 2.0, or of being significant vendors of illegal drugs.”

McComb continued: “The operation is ongoing and more arrests can be expected as we continue to investigate those involved in setting up and profiting from these illegal marketplaces. Criminals like to think that The Dark Web provides a safe, anonymous haven but in reality this is just like any other organised crime network. It may take time and effort to investigate and build a criminal case, but we’re determined to identify and prosecute people caught dealing drugs and committing serious crime using The Dark Web.”

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‘Hire a hacker to solve cyber skills crisis’ urge UK companies

According to the latest research conducted by KPMG UK, companies admit they’re considering turning to ex-hackers in a bid to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals.

KPMG surveyed 300 senior IT and HR professionals in organisations employing 500-plus staff to assess how the corporate world is ‘skilling-up’ to protect itself against cyber security breaches. The survey reveals that many companies are becoming increasingly desperate as they struggle to hire the right people.

Nearly three quarters (74%) say they are facing new cyber security challenges which demand new cyber skills. For example, 70% admit their organisation ‘lacks data protection and privacy expertise’. The same proportion of companies are also wary about their organisation’s ability to assess incoming threats.

The majority are candid enough to admit that the shortfall exists because the skills needed to combat the cyber threat are different to those required for conventional IT security. In particular, 60% of respondents are worried about finding cyber experts who can effectively communicate with the business. This aspect is vital towards ensuring that the cyber threat is well understood by corporate leaders outside of the IT Department.

UK companies admit they are considering turning to ex-hackers in a bid to stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals

UK companies admit they are considering turning to ex-hackers in a bid to stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals

While 60% claim to have a strategy in place designed to deal with any skills gaps, it’s clear that there is a short supply of people with all the relevant skills. 57% of interviewees agree it has become more difficult to retain staff in specialised cyber skills in the past two years. The same number say the churn rate is higher in cyber than for IT skills while 52% agree there’s aggressive head-hunting going on in this arena.

According to KPMG’s research, the skills gap is forcing many companies to consider turning to ‘poachers turned game-keepers’ in order to keep up-to-speed. 53% of respondents say they would consider using a hacker to bring inside information to their security teams. Just over half (52%) would also consider recruiting an expert even if they had a previous criminal record.

Clear strategy for dealing with the skills gap

Commenting on the research findings, Serena Gonsalves-Fersch (head of KPMG’s Cyber Security Academy) explained: “Increasing awareness of the cyber threat means the majority of UK companies are clear on their strategy for dealing with any skills gaps. However, they wouldn’t hire pickpockets to be security officers so the very fact that companies are considering former hackers as recruits clearly shows how desperate they are to stay ahead of the game. With such an unwise choice on the menu, it’s encouraging to see other options on the table.”

Gonsalves-Fersch added: “Rather than relying on hackers to share their secrets, or throwing money at off-the-shelf programmes that quickly become out of date, UK companies need to take stock of their cyber defence capabilities and act on the gaps that are specific to their own security needs. It’s important to have the technical expertise in place, of course, but it’s just as important to translate that into the business environment in a language senior management can both understand and respond to in good time.”

KPMG surveyed 300 senior IT and HR professionals in organisations employing 500-plus staff to assess how the corporate world is ‘skilling-up’ to protect itself against cyber security breaches

KPMG surveyed 300 senior IT and HR professionals in organisations employing 500-plus staff to assess how the corporate world is ‘skilling-up’ to protect itself against cyber security breaches

The research comes as KPMG launches a new cyber awareness programme, offering cyber learning content across the organisation from the C-Suite through to recent graduates. It also includes a ‘bridging course’ designed to help IT and business departments understand the language and risks presented by today’s cyber threats.

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