Tag Archives: National Crime Agency

BT to lead creation of 2017 Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass

Cyber security experts from BT, Airbus, the National Crime Agency, the Bank of England, Cisco, McAfee, Checkpoint, De Montfort University’s Cyber Technology Institute and 4PumpCourt have announced that they will stage “the most advanced Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass ever” on 12-14 November in London.

Spanning two-and-a-half days, Masterclass is the culmination of a year’s worth of nationwide face-to-face and online competitions designed to unearth and nurture new talent for the cyber security industry and address a critical skills shortage that affects Government, businesses and the public.

Led by BT in partnership with Airbus, the competition will see dozens of the UK’s top cyber enthusiasts face each other in a battle that will test their capabilities to deal with cyber attacks and their understanding of business know-how. The challenges will evaluate contestants’ technical, business and soft skills, in turn mirroring the different ways in which professionals communicate today.

This year’s Masterclass will demonstrate how cyber security can be an accessible career choice that has a number of different facets and pathways. BT recently identified 87 different roles in the cyber security industry, each requiring a different skill set, which will be reflected in this year’s competition.

CyberSecurityChallengeUKLogoWeb

Highly experienced professionals from Government as well as public and private sector organisations across the country will judge the contestants for a number of aptitudes that will rank their suitability for jobs in the sector. The best performing candidate will be crowned Cyber Security Challenge UK Champion.

Thousands of pounds’ worth of career-enabling prizes will be issued to those who take in the finale including training courses, tech equipment and even a fully paid-for Master’s degree sponsorship at De Montfort University, allowing one lucky contestant the chance to study for an MSc in Cyber Security.

Over the years, more than half of the contestants in the Challenge’s face-to-face and Masterclass competitions have moved into jobs in the industry after demonstrating their skills in front of assessors.

Competitions like this are crucial for identifying top quality recruits that could reduce the skills deficit. Industry association (ISC)2 predicts the skills gap will reach 1.8 million unfilled positions by 2022, leaving a lack of professionals able to defend our infrastructure from hackers.

Nigel Harrison, acting CEO at Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “This year’s consortium of sponsors is working on taking Masterclass to the next level, adding new dimensions and levels of game-play that we’ve yet to see in our competitions to date. We’re always trying to match our challenges to the way in which industry is evolving and ensure that they test for the skills industry requires. We look forward to seeing how the finalists fare in a modern cyber security scenario.”

Rob Partridge, head of BT’s Cyber Academy, added: “Filling the cyber security skills deficit is immensely important for the long-term safety of the UK’s digital economy. We need to make sure that industry and Government are collaborating such that young people are engaged and switched on to the breadth of roles in cyber security and the various career paths available to them. These competitions are vitally important for unearthing hidden talent and helping to develop the next generation of UK cyber talent to the standard being set in many other countries.”

Kevin Jones, head of cyber security architecture and innovation at Airbus, explained: “In order to continue protecting vital UK infrastructure and businesses from both current and future cyber threats, it’s particularly important that we address the skills shortage. Competitions such as Cyber Security Challenge UK help to provide a safe and representative environment for contestants to gain experience and learn from industry experts, which in turn will help them understand the variety of skills needed and the careers available within the cyber security sector.”

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RUSI set to launch Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has announced the creation of a new Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies. The Centre will focus on the fields of financial crime, threat finance and financial intelligence.

Organised crime costs the United Kingdom no less than £24 billion per annum. Along with the impact of financial crime on the UK from both domestic and international sources, tackling threat finance is also a key security priority of the UK and international community (as illustrated by the efforts being undertaken to undermine the financial capabilities of ISIS).

In all of this work, partnership engagement between the public and private sectors can significantly enhance efforts in this field.

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Michael Clarke (RUSI’s director general) said: “The Centre is another example of RUSI being at the cutting edge of research on security issues. We add analytical value to policy studies. This new Centre will be a critical link between finance and Government and I welcome Tom Keatinge to the Institute. His experience will further strengthen our expertise on terrorism, organised crime and cyber security.”

Keatinge, who will head up the new Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, is a former managing director in the Financial Institutions Group and head of European public sector client coverage at JP Morgan.

Professor Michael Clarke: director general at RUSI

Professor Michael Clarke: director general at RUSI

Understanding of criminal threats

Donald Toon, director of the Economic Crime Command at the National Crime Agency, said: “Strong academic research can add substantially to our understanding of criminal threats and help shape an effective response from law enforcement, regulators and the private sector alike. I very much welcome this initiative from RUSI which promises to provide a focal point for research into the problems around financial crime.”

John Cusack, global head of financial crime compliance at Standard Chartered, added: “I’m delighted that RUSI has decided to establish a new Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies. The Centre is set to provide valuable contributions and be seen as a credible partner for all in the private or public sectors who wish to advance the debate and contribute to improving the effectiveness and efficiency around financial crime solving.”

Matthew Allen, director of financial crime at the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), commented: “A key part of identifying and stopping crime networks centres on understanding how they operate. This new Centre will provide the sort of vital insight that can help target responses and close in on the criminals. The BBA looks forward to working closely with RUSI on this initiative in order to help protect customers and ensure a safe financial system.”

Much-needed research focus

Based at RUSI, the Centre will comprise a dedicated team recruited from across finance, law enforcement and academia. The formal launch takes place at an event in the New Year.

The Centre will be based within the National Security and Resilience Studies Group at RUSI.

“The Centre will bring much-needed research focus and capacity to support the work of Her Majesty’s Government, other international Governmental partners and the private sector in addressing the challenges posed by financial crime and illicit finance in all of its forms,” explained Tom Keatinge.

*RUSI is an independent Think Tank for defence and security. A unique institution founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, the organisation embodies nearly two centuries of forward-thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters

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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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Cyber Streetwise survey reveals 75% of Britons place online safety at risk

A new survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that most people are not taking the necessary steps to protect their identity online, with 75% of those who took part in the study admitting they don’t follow Best Practice to create complex passwords.

The figures have been released during Cyber Security Awareness Month to mark the launch of the latest phase of the UK Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign. In partnership with the police service and industry experts, Cyber Streetwise aims to raise awareness of wise and unwise behaviour in the online space.

Despite 95% of Britons saying it’s their own responsibility to protect themselves online, two thirds are risking their safety by not using symbols in passwords. Nearly half (47%) exhibit other unsafe password habits such as using pet names or significant dates as their password.

Modern Slavery and Organised Crime Minister Karen Bradley MP explained: “When passwords are compromised, financial and banking details can be stolen and cause problems for the person affected, for businesses and for the economy. There’s an emotional impact caused by the loss of irreplaceable photos, videos and personal e-mails, but even worse these can be seized to extort money.”

Bradley added: “We can and must play a role in reducing our risk of falling victim to cyber crime. Most attacks can be prevented by taking some basic security steps, and I encourage everyone to do so.”

Vulnerability to ID theft, fraud and extortion

This latest research shows that 82% of people manage more online accounts that require a password than they did last year, with the average Briton dealing with 19. Over a third (35%) of those questioned admit that they do not create strong passwords because they struggle to recall them. However, poor passwords leave people vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and extortion.

Cyber crime presents a serious threat to the UK and the Government is taking action to increase public awareness of the risk, dedicating £860 million to this issue over the next five years through the National Cyber Security Programme. In essence, the Government is working hard to transform the UK’s response to cyber security.

The latest survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that the majority of people are not taking necessary steps to protect their identity online

The latest survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that the majority of people are not taking necessary steps to protect their identity online

Jamie Saunders – director of the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) National Cyber Crime Unit – commented: “The NCA is working closely with law enforcement colleagues all over the world to target and disrupt cyber criminals. We should be clear that the criminals will target weaknesses. On that basis, having weak passwords will leave people vulnerable.”

Saunders continued: “Nobody wants their personal financial details, business information or photographs to be stolen or held to ransom, so simple things like using three or more words, a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols and upper and lower case letters will make it much more difficult for hackers to access personal information.”

Creating strong and memorable passwords

Advice on creating strong and memorable passwords can be found at http://www.cyberstreetwise.com along with other easy tips for staying safe online. Tips for creating and remembering passwords include the following:

Loci method
Imagine a familiar scene and place each item that needs to be remembered in a particular location (ie a red rose on the table, a book on the chair, a poster on the wall). Imagine yourself looking around the room in a specific sequence. Re-imagine the scene and the location of each item when you need to remember

Acronyms
Use a phrase or a sentence and take the first letter from that sentence

Narrative methods
Remember a sequence of key words by creating a story and littering it with memorable details (for example, ‘The little girl wore a bright yellow hat as she walked down the narrow street…’)

Further information on Cyber Security Awareness Month is available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/

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YouGov poll finds millions leave themselves open to scams as banks launch awareness campaign

The British Bankers Association is launching a fraud awareness campaign at a time when YouGov polling reveals that millions of people in Great Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams perpetrated by fraudsters posing as their bank.

The YouGov poll assessed customers’ responses to some of the common tactics used by criminals over the telephone, via e-mail or via text. Based on the answers, the British Bankers Association (BBA) calculates that people all over the country could fall foul of the most prevalent frauds around.

*Eight million individuals are vulnerable to ‘vishing’ or voice phishing
*Four million might transfer money into another supposed ‘safe’ account if instructed to do so
*Three million could be willing to carry out ‘test transactions’ online
*1.7 million would pass their bank card over to a courier on their doorstep if that courier were carrying some form of ID card

To counter this situation, the UK retail banks – with the support of law enforcement bodies including the City of London Police and the National Crime Agency – have produced a new leaflet and are launching an awareness drive called ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ in order to help their customers spot the difference between a legitimate call and one received from a fraudster.

The leaflet includes eight things your bank would never ask you (but a fraudster might), advice on how to avoid becoming a victim and instructions on what to do if you are caught out. It will be available across the country in bank branches and police stations and also on the ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ website at: http://www.knowfraud.co.uk

The BBA is launching a fraud awareness campaign as YouGov polling reveals that millions of people in Great Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams perpetrated by fraudsters posing as their bank

The BBA is launching a fraud awareness campaign as YouGov polling reveals that millions of people in Great Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams perpetrated by fraudsters posing as their bank

The leaflet sets out eight things your bank will NEVER ask you to do:

(1) Ask for your full PIN number or any online banking passwords over the phone or via e-mail
(2) Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else
(3) Ask you to e-mail or text personal or banking information
(4) Send an e-mail with a link to a page which asks you to enter your online banking log-in details
(5) Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash
(6) Call to advise you to buy diamonds, land or other commodities
(7) Ask you to carry out a test transaction online
(8) Provide banking services through any mobile apps other than the bank’s official apps

Tactics used by the scammers

Anthony Browne, CEO of the BBA, said: “Being defrauded is a devastating experience for anyone which is why we are launching this campaign. The more people know about fraud, the less likely they are to become victims. Our ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ initiative will help you spot some of the tactics used by scammers. Your bank would never send someone to your home to collect your cash or ask you to transfer funds to a new account.”

Browne added: “If you suspect you’ve become the victim of fraud please contact Action Fraud and your bank as soon as you can. Specially-trained staff will be able to advise on what to do next.”

Anthony Browne: CEO of the BBA

Anthony Browne: CEO of the BBA

City of London Police Commander Steve Head, the Police National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, explained: “Fraud and cyber crime is costing the UK tens of billions of pounds each year, in turn causing significant damage to big businesses, destroying smaller businesses and ruining many individual lives. Criminals are also exploiting the technological and Internet revolution to target people of all ages and from all walks of life with ever more sophisticated and convincing scams. These scams are increasingly delivered directly into the home via telephone, mobiles, laptops and tablets.”

Head went on to state: “The key to creating a safer society and stopping the fraudsters in their tracks is law enforcement working in close collaboration with Government and the public and private sector to raise awareness of current and future threats and disrupt and dismantle the networks and enablers directly facilitating much of this criminality. The BBA’s campaign to flag up the most prevalent scams against bank customers and to provide advice on how to avoid becoming the next victim is another important step in the right direction and is fully supported by the City of London Police in its role as the National Policing Lead for Fraud.”

City of London Police Commander Steve Head

City of London Police Commander Steve Head

Nigel Kirby, deputy director of the Economic Crime Command, commented: “Prevention is vitally important in the UK’s fight to cut fraud, and the National Crime Agency fully supports this campaign which gives people the information they need to protect themselves. If you’re familiar with the ways in which criminals try to scam you, then you are far less likely to become a victim of the fraudsters.”

Vishing and ‘safe accounts’

In vishing cases, a fraudster will say they are from the bank or police, and that a fraudulent credit card payment has been spotted or a card due to expire needs to be replaced. To convince the intended victim they are genuine, the caller will suggest the customer hangs up and calls the bank back on the number printed on the back of their debit or credit card. However, the fraudster never actually disconnects the line so that when you call the real number you are still speaking to them.

Often, the fraudster will then ask for the customer’s PIN and then send a courier to the victim’s home to collect the bank card, promising to provide a new one. By now the assailant has obtained the victim’s name, address, bank details, card and PIN – enough to make large bogus payments.

If you receive a suspicious call, if possible use another phone or wait at least two minutes for the line to disconnect before picking up and dialling again.

When it comes to ‘safe accounts’, criminals posing as bank officials will instruct a customer that their account is under threat (usually from a corrupt bank employee or cyber criminals). They will be instructed by the ‘bank’ to transfer money into a new ‘safe account’ which is actually the fraudster’s account.

Your bank will NEVER ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash.

Test transactions and courier fraud

In some circumstances, criminals pretending to be from a bank might e-mail a customer asking them to perform a ‘test’ transaction online, sometimes claiming there is some technical issue on their account. Rest assured that your bank will NEVER ask you to carry out a test transaction online.

Often a follow-up to vishing, having posed on the phone as a fake bank employee to extract key security information – such as a customer’s full PIN code – the criminal may also say that they are sending an official courier to your home in order to collect the corresponding card. These couriers will have ‘official’ identification.

In the year ending March 2014, 211,344 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales

In the year ending March 2014, 211,344 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales

Another courier fraud ruse is for the criminal to pose as the bank in order to ask the victim to participate in a fake police investigation, usually involving a corrupt bank employee who has been stealing from customer accounts. Typically, the customer will be asked to withdraw substantial sums of money over the counter at their bank without arousing the suspicion of the staff. They are then told to wait at home for it to be collected by a courier for safe keeping.

Your bank will NEVER send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else.

Top line facts about fraud

In the year ending March 2014, 211,344 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales. This is equivalent to four offences recorded per 1,000 members of the population. This represents a volume increase of 17% compared with the previous year.

In 2012, the UK Government fraud indicator suggested that fraud against UK individuals costs £6.1 billion per annum. This total is based upon estimates on the scale of mass marketing fraud, identity fraud, online ticket fraud, private rental property fraud and electricity scams.

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Home Secretary praises National Crime Agency on organisation’s first anniversary

During its first year of operation, the National Crime Agency has “broken new ground in the fight against serious and organised crime” and received due praise from Home Secretary Theresa May for doing so.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy – which was also launched on 7 October 2013 – represent a step change in the Government’s approach to combating serious and organised crime, which is estimated to cost the UK at least £24 billion per annum.

“The National Crime Agency has achieved a great deal in its first year of operation,” stated Theresa May. “Through its close partnership with law enforcement agencies both at home and overseas, the NCA is demonstrating that no-one is beyond its reach.”

The NCA has broken new ground in its investigation of serious and organised crime offences right across the spectrum, including in the area of modern slavery. In its first six months, the organisation achieved over 500 disruptions against serious and organised criminals and secured 300 convictions.

The NCA also co-ordinated a national operation tackling the sharing of child abuse images online. To date, this element of its investigations has resulted in over 600 arrests.

In addition, the NCA has led an international operation designed to tackle malware used for cyber crime and, in parallel, published the National Strategic Assessment – the most authoritative evaluation of the threat to the UK ever put in print.

The National Crime Agency has achieved much in its first year of operation

The National Crime Agency has achieved much in its first year of operation

The NCA is collaborating more closely than ever with law enforcement partners such as HMRC and police forces. Meanwhile, Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) have been strengthened so as to maintain a sophisticated and cohesive regional response to organised crime.

“Now, the NCA needs to build on its strong start and get ahead of the threat,” added the Home Secretary. “This means it must continue to work with a broad range of partners in order to build the best possible intelligence picture and use all of the tools available to disrupt and, importantly, prosecute organised criminals.”

Introduction of the Serious Crime Bill

The new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy is based on the successful framework used for counter-terrorism – Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare – and sets out a comprehensive, detailed cross-Government approach.

As part of this work, the Government has introduced a Serious Crime Bill to ensure that the NCA, the police service and others have the powers they need at their disposal. Measures include the new offence of participation in an organised crime group which targets corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals who’ve tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability.

The Government is also building on its success in seizing criminal assets. Over the last four years, around £750 million has been recovered, £93 million returned to victims and in excess of £2.5 billion frozen to put it beyond the reach of criminals.

Measures in the Serious Crime Bill will close loopholes used by criminals to avoid confiscation orders. For example, some criminals attempt to hide money by giving it to third parties such as spouses and associates.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

The Government is committed to working with partners in other European countries – among them Europol and Interpol and also organisations across the private sector – to ensure the UK can act decisively beyond its own borders.

Back in April, the Home Office established a Financial Sector Forum to encourage better information sharing between the Government, law enforcement agencies and the financial services sector and improve the overall response to financial crime.

Tackling the cyber threat

The Government is improving its response to cyber threats by acquiring new technologies and capabilities. For instance, an investment of £860 million is being made over five years through the National Cyber Security Programme. So far, the Home Office has allocated £70 million of that sum to improve law enforcement cyber capabilities.

Last year, the Home Office provided an additional £10 million of funding to the ROCUs, in turn leading to new capabilities that better handle intelligence, protect witnesses and tackle cyber crime and fraud. Further new investments are being made before the end of the year.

“This Government,” continued Theresa May, “has demonstrated considerable progress in the fight against serious and organised crime. After too many years in which organised criminal gangs, their members and their associates ‘got away with it’, we are now sending the clearest possible message. Whoever you are and wherever you are, if you’re involved in organised crime then we will come after you, we will find you, we will prosecute you and we will punish you.”

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