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Poole security boss prosecuted for deception and providing unlicensed security

On Friday 23 October, John Westwood (a Poole security boss) was prosecuted at Poole Magistrates’ Court for supplying an unlicensed door supervisor to a ‘pop-up bar’ for an event at Bournemouth’s The Square on 5 August last year.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) prosecuted both Westwood and his business, namely One 2 One Security Ltd, for deception and deploying an unlicensed door supervisor. This prosecution is the culmination of the investigation of John Westwood, One 2 One Security Ltd and the unlicensed door supervisor, Lloyd Biggs, who worked for Westwood on that night.

Westwood was fined £250 and ordered to pay costs of £350 as well as a victim surcharge of £35, all to be paid within four months. One 2 One Security Ltd will be sentenced at a hearing to be held on Wednesday 18 November.

The SIA’s investigation began when a routine licence inspection by enforcement partner Dorset Police found that Lloyd Biggs had not completed the mandatory signing-in sheet. This raised the police licensing specialist’s suspicion and he asked to see Biggs’ SIA licence. Biggs said his licence had shattered and that he had contacted the SIA to request a replacement.

However, the police officer noticed that what Biggs had appeared to be an SIA licence in an armband displayed with the picture facing inwards. The officer asked to see the licence and discovered that the name displayed was J Westwood and that the licence had expired in July 2008.

Guilty plea

Dorset Police passed this information on to the SIA and, when the regulator questioned Biggs, he said he had only worked for Westwood on that occasion. When asked about displaying John Westwood’s expired licence, Biggs said that he didn’t tell Westwood he was without an SIA licence. He claimed that Westwood told him to collect an armband to avoid suspicion. Biggs then said he had accidentally picked up an armband with Westwood’s expired licence, but could give no explanation.

Biggs appeared at Poole Magistrates’ Court on 14 March this year when he pleaded guilty to working as an unlicensed door supervisor. He received a £140 fine and was ordered to pay £150 in costs and a victim surcharge of £31. He now has a criminal record.

Nathan Salmon, the SIA’s criminal investigations manager, said: “Both John Westwood and Lloyd Biggs broke the law. They’ve been successfully prosecuted and now have criminal records. They had no credible explanation for why Biggs was wearing Westwood’s licence and thought they could lie to the SIA and the police. The evidence was clear and they were found out.”

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Open University bombarded by one million-plus e-mail attacks in 2020

The Open University, which is based in London, was bombarded by 1,191,312 malicious e-mail attacks from January through until September. That’s according to official data obtained by the Parliament Street Think Tank by way of a Freedom of Information request procedure.

The Open University is a higher education institution specialising in distance learning courses, flexible part-time study and open learning for undergraduate and post-graduate courses and qualifications for adults of all ages.

Fortunately, all of the malicious messages – which included spam, malware and phishing attacks – were blocked by the Open University’s servers.

In its response to Parliament Street’s researchers, The Open University revealed that the malicious e-mail attacks were divided equally over the course of the nine-month period under scrutiny, with roughly 132,368 e-mail attacks and spam messages blocked each month.

The data also reveals that 6,804 messages were blocked due to the suspicion of malware and that 16,452 phishing e-mails were detected and blocked.

Abundance of data

Chris Ross, senior vice-president of international sales at Barracuda Networks, commented: “The nature of The Open University, and the fact that a majority of its courses take place online, means that cyber attackers will inevitably attempt to target the abundance of data stored on its servers. Hence the significant quantity of scam attacks facing the institution.”

Ross continued: “To add to this, our recent research revealed that spear phishing attacks are disproportionately targeting educational institutions across the world, with over 3.5 million phishing e-mails hitting over 1,000 global schools and universities from June through until September of this year.”

He added: “While it’s certainly a good thing that The Open University has, so far, managed to successfully protect itself from a data breach, it’s important that security standards are maintained and that the right software and training is constantly updated in order to keep pace with the rapidly changing cyber threatscape. Furthermore, due to the sensitivity of information stored in their servers, educational institutions must ensure that all data is backed up in a third party, encrypted cloud back-up solution which will also enable protection from the growing trend in ransomware attacks facing universities.”

Boosting qualifications

Andy Harcup, vice-president of sales at Absolute Software, informed Security Matters: “As the second national lockdown puts more people out of work and hinders ‘traditional’ education institutions, millions will be looking towards The Open University in an effort to boost their qualifications, retrain in a new career path or learn a new skill. Unfortunately, cyber attackers will attempt to target the onslaught of new personal devices which will soon be added to The Open University’s nationwide network of devices, all of which are likely to be connected, in some way, via shared data storage points and cloud SaaS applications, for example.”

Harcup went on to state: “Therefore, prospective students, and indeed The Open University itself, must ensure that their devices are protected by a sophisticated endpoint security solution which will ensure that a compromised device can still be accessed, controlled or frozen, such that any breached log-in credentials or a stolen device doesn’t necessarily equate to a loss of data.”

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Synectics Security appoints Colin Butlin as operations director

Synectics Security has appointed Colin Butlin, one of the industry’s leading project management and planning specialists, to join its senior team as operations director.

Armed with over 20 years’ experience in UK operational and security-focused project delivery roles spanning both service provider and client-side positions, Colin Butlin is the first external appointment announced as part of the new-look company.

Butlin will now be working closely with Synectics Security’s managing director Iain Stringer and commercial director Mark Pennington.

The company officially launched earlier this year following the merger of Synectics Mobile Systems and Quadrant Security Group. Pairing both mobile and built-environment expertise, the business works with leading technology providers to design and deploy integrated security solutions for customers operating in highly regulated environments, including the banking and finance world.

Butlin joins Synectics Security from civil engineering giant Kier plc where, among other responsibilities, he led a multi-million pound programme of security upgrade works for Critical National Infrastructure sites across the UK.

With experience spanning the the utilities, defence and commercial markets, the 46-year-old operations expert feels he has a lot to offer Synectics Security at what’s undoubtedly an exciting time for the business.

Colin Butlin

Structured service delivery

Speaking about his appointment, Butlin said: “I’m privileged to have worked on both sides of the fence in terms of managing major security projects. I know, first-hand, what a customer expects, but also how service delivery should be structured, monitored and managed to ensure those expectations are met in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

He continued: “At Synectics Security, I have the opportunity to use this experience to ensure new levels of customer satisfaction, but also to help shape and steer the business. That’s a hugely exciting proposition for me.”

Butlin’s deep technical knowledge of security service delivery and project management will see him implement new governance structures and staff training as part of Synectics Security’s ongoing programme of customer-driven developments.

Iain Stringer concluded: “For us, success isn’t just about making sure our customers are presented with an integrated solution which matches their specific business needs. It’s also about making sure we always deliver that end result in the best way possible for all stakeholders involved. Colin’s reputation and experience in this field will prove invaluable when it comes to making sure we succeed in this mission and we’re delighted to welcome him on board.”

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SmartWater forensic solution used to tackle surveying equipment thefts

Risk management company the SmartWater Group is working with The Survey Association (TSA) and survey equipment manufacturers alike to help tackle the growing problem of surveying equipment theft.

Increasingly, criminal gangs have been targeting building and transport construction sites to steal expensive surveying tools. SmartWater Technology, itself a division of the SmartWater Group, has been working with TSA on mapping organised criminal gangs targeting surveying equipment nationally and providing support to police investigations.

Members of TSA report their crime data to SmartWater’s team of experienced intelligence analysts who study the information and build up informed patterns of criminality, but this is just one part of the work they do.

The construction industry is similarly targeted by the same criminal gangs. When businesses lose valuable equipment, projects can be seriously disrupted and livelihoods lost.

SmartWater proactively uses the data to build as full an intelligence picture as possible, helping to pinpoint the activity of organised crime groups.

In support of the partnership between TSA, equipment manufacturers and the police, SmartWater urges those in the construction industry suffering from high value equipment theft to report their crime incidents to  donotreplyanalysts@smartwater.com

TSA president Adam Bradley noted: “It’s vital that TSA members, and indeed those in the wider construction industry impacted by theft, continue to provide SmartWater with the data needed to disrupt organised criminal activity. Reporting every incident of theft and attempted theft to SmartWater helps to build the evidence required to make arrests and recover stolen equipment.”

Gary Higgins, chief operating officer at SmartWater Technology, added: “SmartWater is making it much harder for criminal gangs to target surveyors. As well as continuing our partnership with the TSA, we’re working directly with the three major manufacturers of surveying tools and police forces across the UK. Stolen equipment can be easily identified, enabling legal cases to be brought against criminal gangs. Our new CIAP Centre is helping to prevent thefts from happening in the first place by providing intelligence to clients.”

SmartWater is currently the only forensic system compliant with the Home Office Forensic Science Regulator’s Code of Practice and, therefore, the only solution currently admissible in a Court of Law.

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Jodie Stevens joins Venture Security in compliance manager’s role

Hampshire-based security solutions provider Venture Security has bolstered its senior team with the appointment of Jodie Stevens as compliance manager. In her new role, Stevens will be responsible for overseeing all regulatory, privacy and compliance matters within the organisation and ensuring that the necessary British Standards are applied.

That process and procedure includes managing Venture Security’s many accreditations, such as its National Security Inspectorate Gold status, CHAS and ACS Pacesetters memberships and the business’ continued registration on the Security Industry Authority’s (SIA) Approved Contractor Scheme.

Prior to joining Venture Security, Stevens spent 11 years working at Heathrow Airport within airfield operations, safety and transformation. As such, she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the airfield, maintaining safety processes and dealing with any accidents and incidents as required, more recently being focused on improving the efficiency of ground operations. This followed on from an 18-month spell in a similar role at Southampton Airport.

Commenting on her new appointment, Stevens said: “I’ve known the team at Venture Security for many years now. I actually hold an SIA licence myself and, in my spare time, have supported the team with guarding operations at Stonehenge, Salisbury Racecourse and for other regional events so I already have a lot of knowledge about the company and how it operates.”

Stevens continued: “Being furloughed due to COVID-19 and a recent restructure led me to reflect on my role at Heathrow Airport and it just seemed the perfect time to make the move to join Venture Security. It’s a great fit for my skills and experience and I look forward to the opportunity of making a tangible difference at what is an ambitious and growing company.”

Jodie Stevens

Upholding standards

Paul Howe, managing director at Venture Security, responded: “Jodie is exceptional at what she does and will be a valuable member of the team. As a company, we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality of service possible and that comes down to employing the best people, organising the best training and investing in industry-leading systems and processes. We’re currently undergoing significant growth as a business and upholding standards throughout will be central to our success.”

Based in Andover, Venture Security is ranked within the top 1% of security providers in the UK. The award-winning company was founded in 2006 and works with both corporate and residential clients, providing services including security guarding, mobile patrols, locking and unlocking for premises, key holding and alarm response.

As well as working with businesses, the team manages security for a number of high-profile regional venues and events, also working with councils and BIDs to tackle anti-social behaviour in public spaces.

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Pharmas urged to review anti-counterfeiting plans ahead of no-deal Brexit

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are being urged to review their anti-counterfeiting plans ahead of the possible failure by the UK Government to agree on a Brexit deal with the EU.

Global trade body the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) has warned that the UK could see a flood of counterfeit medicines after the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) ceases to apply at the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021.

In place since early 2019, the FMD uses mandatory safety features and an EU-wide database to help stem the distribution tide of fake or counterfeit medicines which could endanger lives.

The FMD will cease to apply if there’s no deal, leaving the UK with no access to the EU database except in Northern Ireland, where the FMD will continue to apply.

Interpol, Europol and national medicines agencies seize many falsified medicines and close hundreds of illegal websites selling them every year. Indeed, a report published by Europol’s Intellectual Property Office in 2019 estimates that counterfeit medicines cost the EU pharmaceutical sector more than ten billion Euros annually in lost revenue.

Fuelling the problem

The IHMA has stated that the COVID-19 crisis is also fuelling the counterfeit problem. Criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to market and distribute fake pharmaceuticals, spurred on by increased demand and a shortage of basic drugs and medicines.

Illicit goods, or those with a vague provenance, can threaten people’s lives as well as damage corporate reputations and investment in companies and their products.

The IHMA has echoed calls by the National Pharmacy Association that, in the interests of patient safety, there should be ‘…the continuation of an anti-counterfeit system. However, not [one] necessarily governed by the rules of the FMD’.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has also voiced its concern over the issue, pressing Government to put “robust plans” in place in a bid to ensure that counterfeit medicines don’t enter the supply chain.

Infiltrating supply chains

Dr Paul Dunn, chair of the IHMA, said: “Failure to secure a Brexit deal could leave the door wide open to crafty criminals who are infiltrating global supply channels, deploying scams and counterfeiting measures to trick consumers and damage manufacturers. Furthermore, items such as falsified medicines and drugs bought online pose a terrible threat and can endanger lives.”

Dunn continued: “Whether or not the Government introduces new measures, the latest track-and-trace holographic systems remain a fast and effective front line security device in the battle to protect against any post-Brexit threats and keep medicines, and people, as safe as possible.”

He added: “Holograms can be effective in the front line fight against counterfeiters and fraudsters, protecting brands and profits alike. Those involved in the supply chain are reassured by holograms’ presence on products, recognising the security and financial benefits that are provided.”

The use of well-designed and properly deployed authentication solutions, as advocated by ISO 1293, enables examiners to verify the authenticity of a legitimate product, differentiating it from fake products coming from counterfeiting ‘hot spots’ in Asia and eastern Europe. Even those that carry a ‘fake’ authentication feature can be distinguished from the genuine item if that item carries a carefully thought-out authentication solution.

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Hackers impersonate Marks and Spencer CEO Steve Rowe in £35 ‘free’ gift voucher scam

Cyber criminals have launched an audacious online scam designed to trick Marks and Spencer (M&S) customers into handing over confidential data by attempting to impersonate the famous High Street retailer’s CEO Steve Rowe.

The fraudulent adverts, uncovered by the Parliament Street Think Tank’s cyber research team, were launched via social networking site Facebook from an unverified page entitled ‘Marks and Spencer Store’.

Users have been bombarded with adverts showing a man (who’s not Steve Rowe) holding M&S-branded bags accompanied by the message: “Hello everyone. My name is Steve Rowe and I’m the CEO of Marks and Spencer. I’ve an announcement to make. To celebrate our 135th Anniversary, we’re giving EVERYONE who shares and then comments by 11.59 pm tonight one of these mystery bags containing a £35 M&S voucher plus goodies! Make sure you enter here [URL].”

The fake URL takes unsuspecting users to an M&S-branded portal where they’re asked for their name, address, mobile phone number and bank details including sort code and account number in order to ‘enter’ the prize draw.

Around 150 members of the public had identified and reported the scam, which was flagged to consumer groups and raised as an issue on social media.

In a statement, Marks and Spencer commented: “We have been made aware of this advert and it isn’t genuine. Our colleagues are investigating further.”

Expert observations

Cyber security expert Andy Heather, vice-president of Centrify, observed: “With more people than ever committed to online retail shopping due to COVID-19, it’s likely that we’ll see a surge of ‘exclusive’ or ‘one-time only’ deals pop up on social media, via e-mail and through SMS messages over the course of the next few months up until Christmas. Unfortunately, many of these sales and deals, much like this M&S one, will be a scam designed to steal confidential data, such as payment details or log-in credentials.”

Heather continued: “If people may have already fallen victim to a scam of this nature, it’s essential that they take proactive measures to stop these scammers in their tracks. This requires individuals to report these scams to the impersonated brand, freeze bank accounts and change log-in details. It’s very common for attackers to hold on to stolen log-in credentials for months after an attack, waiting for the victim to drop their guard before re-breaking in to other accounts protected by the same password.”

Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian, explained: “Phishing scams don’t just reside in your Inbox. Hackers are increasingly using social media as another hunting ground for their victims. With the lure of a prize giveaway, cyber criminals are hoping that people will click the URL link to ‘enter’ the competition. Those that do click are led to a malicious website that prompts them to enter valuable personal information and credit card details.”

Sadler concluded: “As we head into the busy pre-Christmas shopping season, we can only expect to see more of these types of ‘sale’ scams emerge online. Treat these posts just like you would any phishing e-mail. Ask yourself if this deal seems legitimate and verify the identity of the person requesting you to take action before clicking on any links. In this instance, the scammers have used a picture of someone who isn’t the CEO of M&S. If you’re still unsure, visit the retailer’s website and official social media channels to cross-check that the deal has been mentioned elsewhere.”

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Company boss found guilty of supplying unlicensed security staff to school

In a prosecution brought by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), a Lancashire security company director who provided unlicensed security staff to a school has had his case referred to a higher court for sentencing.

Martin Coe, the former director of Evolution Security Services NW, was found guilty following a two-day trial held at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 October.

SIA investigators discovered that unlicensed security officers had worked for Coe on numerous occasions at Baines School in Poulton, the Wyre Light pub in Fleetwood and at the Poulton Industrial Estate.

The District Judge presiding over the trial found Coe guilty of the supply of the two unlicensed security operatives. During the trial, the SIA had called three witnesses, whom the District Judge referenced as being “professional and credible”. By contrast, the District Judge noted in her summing up that Coe’s evidence was “not credible”.

The matter was adjourned to Preston Crown Court for sentencing and to start the process of recovering assets from Coe under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Coe had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to failing to provide information to the SIA despite being legally required to do so.

Serious matter

Nathan Salmon of the SIA’s criminal investigations team said: “Martin Coe refused to co-operate with an SIA investigation and has wasted court time by denying the charges against him. Providing unlicensed security staff to a school is a very serious matter. This is reflected in the fact that the District Judge in this trial has referred Coe’s case to a Crown Court for sentencing.”

Salmon continued: “The public rightly expects the very highest standards from those who protect them. There is reassurance that Coe will now be banned from working in the security sector. In addition, we will be pursuing the recovery of any profit he has made from his crimes.”

Neil Reddington and Gavin Macaskill had originally been found working at the Wyre Light in May 2019 by a licensing officer from Lancashire Constabulary who was following up on reports of unlicensed operatives being deployed at the venue. Both men were employed by Evolution Security.

Reddington was sentenced at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court back in February. The sentencing of Coe was due to take place at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday 4 November.

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AMG releases all-new AMG750 Series industrial grade cellular router

AMG SYSTEMS, the manufacturer of specialist Ethernet transmission solutions for the security and critical infrastructure markets, has just issued its AMG750 Series industrial grade 4G/LTE router.

Providing remote cellular connectivity, the AMG750 Series 4G/LTE industrial router features advanced dual SIM fail-over and WAN load balancing. The fail-over function itself provides an emergency redundant path, meaning that if the primary WAN connection is lost, the router can automatically switch to a 4G/LTE wireless connection, thereby “guaranteeing” maximum network reliability for the host organisation.

The AMG750 Series’ automatic connectivity switching is essential wherever network uptime is critical for security and/or safety operations, such as within the remote deployment of life safety systems for oil and gas sector applications, or alternatively within the transportation sector. Here, a 4G back-up path is required in addition to a DSL connection.

The router’s load balancing feature achieves a ‘uniform’ traffic balance in order to make the best use of available bandwidth or to distribute traffic according to a set of rules defining which WAN feed should be employed for a given data or connection type. According to AMG Systems, this functionality affords “a superior quality of service” and particularly so within mission-critical systems.

Wireless connection

In addition to a USB port for device-logging functions, the AMG750 Series router features a dual band 2.4/5 GHz wireless connection specifically for local Wi-Fi access and supports 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac.

Offering installers and end users alike peace of mind in addition to “the highest level” of system reliability, the AMG750 Series features dual power supply inputs along with a wide input range from 24 V DC through to 56 V DC.

In addition, fully-integrated voltage boosting technology ensures that reliable IEEE 802.3at 30 W PoE+ can be supplied to all four Ethernet ports, even when being powered by 24 V DC sources. Extending system flexibility, the industrial router can cater for legacy equipment via its RS232/485 serial data channel and may be either wall or DIN rail mounted.

“Ideal for rapid deployment, the AMG750 Series allows connectivity in scenarios where a wired connection isn’t possible,” explained Tom Exley, technical director at AMG Systems. “The Gigabit Ethernet WAN port and cellular WAN can be combined for load balancing or fail-over applications and is particularly suited to the demands of security, transportation and energy applications. The fully-integrated four-port Gigabit PoE+ Ethernet switch offers a ‘single box’-style approach for remote transmission solutions.”

*Further information is available online at www.amgsystems.com

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TDSi appoints Zara Taylor as marketing manager

Integrated security manufacturer TDSi has announced the appointment of Zara Taylor as its new marketing manager. Taylor is now overseeing the company’s ongoing and rapidly expanding digital and marketing strategies.

TDSi’s managing director John Davies commented: “We’re excited at the prospect of seeing Zara’s skills being put to work as we take our marketing activity to the next level with a good dose of Millennial thinking and know-how. Zara’s knowledge of the digital and social landscape will add fresh impetus to our marketing drive as we bring new products out of our development pipeline and augment our sales channel strategies, both here at home and abroad. I know that Zara will have a positive impact on our activities and I’m delighted she’s now a part of the team.”

Zara Taylor

Having graduated from the University of Northampton in 2017 with a First Class BA Honours degree in Fashion Marketing, Taylor has worked in marketing roles for three years covering a variety of different industries including hospitality, automotive, fashion and now security.

Commenting on her appointment, Taylor stated: “I am very excited to be leading TDSi’s push into the digital world, which is a vital part of the security industry’s continued growth and evolution. Security needs are universal across all industries and our customers and potential customers operate across all vertical sectors. On that basis, it is vital that we continue to deliver relevant and exciting messaging to all these audiences through all digital channels.”

Taylor continued: “We have many exciting developments taking place at TDSi which we will be unveiling over the coming months and into 2021, and I very much look forward to being a key part of this. TDSi will be further embracing digital channels, as well as meeting our customers and partners at UK and international events in a determined bid to showcase our solutions for an evolving security world.”

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