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Scammers Target Christmas with Labour's Online Safety Bill

 


During the 12 days of Christmas, Labour has predicted that nearly £80m will be lost to online fraud and spam over the holiday season. Ministers were criticised for the delays in the passage of the bill concerning online safety.  

According to police force data that was analyzed by the party, the number of incidents of cybercrime was 312 per day in 2019/20 and 2020/21 on average. This constitutes a loss of £6.36 million per day or a loss of £76 million over the festive period as a result of fraud. There has been criticism of Labour regarding the delay in the parliamentary process of the online safety bill. It has been alleged that the delay is letting criminals and fraudsters off the hook. 

Several delays and amendments have been made to the bill over the past few years. It was anticipated that it would finish its Commons stages by the end of July. At the last minute, however, the government decided to hold a confidence vote for Boris Johnson. Despite a row among conservative MPs over whether or not it would unfairly stifle freedom of speech online, the bill has since been stalled as ministers rewrite key sections of it. 

As a result of this legislation, children will be better protected from hazardous online content and there will be a decrease in the amount of hate speech and self-harm content available online. 

The government is extending the current parliamentary session, which was supposed to end in May, so it can be used as an opportunity to pass major pieces of legislation. The bill on online safety is included in this category. 

Earlier this year, the Shadow Digital minister, Alex Davies-Jones MP, said that the government was giving fraudsters and criminals a free pass. However, the victim protection against fraudulent activity was broken. 

There has been a growing concern that the country's government is not taking fraud seriously - however, being the biggest crime in the UK. During this Christmas holiday season, families are at risk of falling victim to online fraud and cybercrime as they struggle to make ends meet. 

In addition, she stated that the online safety bill has been a significant success thanks to Labour, as it strengthens online fraud protections. But as a result of ministers' willingness to bow down to vested interests rather than stand up for consumers, the entire bill is now at risk. 

Speaking for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, a spokesperson said that the government remains committed to fighting fraud and economic crime. This is regardless of what it takes. 

As part of the DCMS's plans, £400m will be invested over the next three years to help police agencies respond to crimes more effectively. A report published by the company claims that over 2.7 million scams have been removed from the internet in the past year.  

To ensure that the UK is the safest place to be online in the world, the government is committed to passing a world-leading online safety bill. In addition, big tech firms will be required to tackle fraud, including romance scams and fraudulent advertisements. 

Missing Cryptoqueen: Leaked Police Files May Have Alerted the OneCoin Fraudster Ruja Ignatova

 

Best known as the “Missing CryptoQueen,” convicted fraudster Ruja Ignatova who was included on the most wanted list by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is assumed to be receiving the information of the investigation before her disappearance. 
 
The 42-year-old fraudster, based in Bulgaria is convicted of her suspected involvement in the $4 billion OneCoin cryptocurrency fraud. The details of the scam were uncovered in a BBC podcast ‘The Missing Cryptoqueen’ devoted to the infamous fraudster. 

The police documents related to the case were apparently shown in the podcast by Frank Schneider, a former spy and trusted adviser to Ignatova. Following the allegations, Schneider is now facing extradition to the US for his role in the OneCoin fraud. 

While the metadata on the files suggests that Ignatova acquired the said documents through her own contacts in Bulgaria, Schneider denies the claims of obtaining the documents himself, which he says were obtained on a USB memory stick by Ignatova. 
 
Ignatova disappeared on October 25th, 2017, after being made aware of the police investigation into her OneCoin cryptocurrency. Following this, in June 2022 she was included in the FBI's most wanted list.
 
In an interview with the BBC, Schneider informed about the police files containing presentations made at a Europol meeting named ‘Operation Satellite.’ The meeting was attended by officials from Dubai, Bulgaria, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands along with the FBI, the US Department of Justice, and the New York District Attorney five months before the disappearance of Ignatova. 
 
The said documents contained details of US authorities having a “high-placed confidential informant”, bank accounts from OneCoin receiving investor funds, and failed attempts of the UK's City of London to interview Ignatova. 

On being asked about the aforementioned files, Schneider said "When the Bulgarians participated at certain Europol meetings, it only took hours for her to get a complete rundown and get the minutes of what was said in those meetings.” “I can only deduce that it came from the circles that she was in and the she had through a variety of influential personalities.”

DDoSecrets Published 1.8 TB of Surveillance Footage From Helicopters on the Internet

 

Surveillance drones have been increasingly popular among law enforcement agencies across the United States in recent years, drawing criticism from privacy advocates. However, freshly obtained aerial surveillance footage from the Dallas Police Department in Texas and what appears to be the Georgia State Patrol highlights the range and quality of footage captured by helicopters. 

On Friday, the transparency activist group Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets, released a 1.8-terabyte archive of police helicopter footage on its website. DDoSecrets cofounder Emma Best said her organization doesn't know who shared the material and that no affiliation or purpose for disclosing the files was given. The source just stated that the data was being stored in insecure cloud infrastructure by the two police departments. 

In June 2020, DDoSecrets made headlines when it revealed a massive leak of law enforcement data taken by a hacker linked to Anonymous. Emails, audio, video, and intelligence documents from more than 200 states, municipal, and federal agencies around the US were included in the data, called BlueLeaks. DDoSecrets was banned from Twitter, and Reddit banned the r/blueleaks subreddit. 

The report merely stated that the law enforcement agencies responsible for keeping the video secure were sorting the data in an insecure cloud infrastructure when the bad actor obtained access and posted the video online. WIRED examined the material that was posted online, and according to their article, the samples included footage of a helicopter being piloted during the day and at night, recording everything from an aerial view. 

“This is exactly one of the things that people are constantly warning about, especially when it comes to government surveillance and corporate data mining,” Best told WIRED in a text message interview. “Not only is the surveillance itself problematic and worrisome, but the data is not handled in the ideal conditions we're always promised." 

Police drones have gained a lot of attention recently because they represent a new generation of aerial vehicles capable of stealthy surveillance and novel behaviors, such as flying indoors. Law enforcement forces, on the other hand, have been using helicopters for aerial surveys and monitoring for decades. However, DDoSecrets' footage shows how successful helicopter-mounted cameras are in capturing extremely crisp and detailed video near to the ground. 

Given that such footage could be helpful in a variety of ways for stalkers, assailants seeking materials for blackmail, domestic or international terrorist groups, or those conducting espionage operations, privacy advocates underline the importance of safeguarding aerial police surveillance data.

Lone cyber police station in Bengaluru gets overburdened

The delay in setting up new police stations to handle cyber crime has overburdened the lone station in Bengaluru. Eight new police stations for cyber crime, economic offences and narcotics (CEN stations) were announced in December 2018 to handle the growing number of cyber crime cases in Bengaluru. One station was to be set up in each of the eight law-and-order divisions. Even six months after the announcement, the proposal is yet to be implemented.

The existing station, often crowded, has received over 4,700 complaints so far this year. It got 5,036 cases in the whole of 2018.

More cyber crime cases are registered in Bengaluru than in other Indian cities. And yet, some other cities have multiple dedicated stations. For instance, there are three cyber crime stations in Hyderabad.

Policemen say the sheer number of cases hampers investigations. In fact, the station has filed just one charge sheet until now this year against 52 in 2018 and 229 in 2017. A chargesheet is the end of the investigation process from the police side and paves the way for the case to be heard in court. Until now, there has been only one conviction for a cyber crime — in October 2018 after a case was investigated by the CID.

The existing station has a large number of visitors on most days. A policeman said, “Most of our time is spent in handling incoming cases, leaving us with hardly any time to investigate them.” Another official said though about 20 additional Central and Reserve (CAR) personnel have been deployed at the station, more stations are a must for faster resolution of cases.

Deputy commissioner of police (crime) Girish S said setting up of more stations will help the complainants as they will then have to travel only shorter distances to file complaints. Asked if the volume of cases was affecting investigations, Girish said, “I can’t say it’s affecting investigations, but what is happening is we are focusing on the more pressing, immediate cases, due to which the resolution time for other cases gets prolonged.” Cases of a very serious nature are taken up by the CID wing.

Goa DGP calls Alexa a spy

Goa Director General of Police (DGP), Muktesh Chander, while speaking at a cybersecurity seminar on Thursday, 21 February, warned people from excessive use of Amazon's artificial intelligence assistant Alexa, saying that these assistants are acting like spies and collecting private information, The Indian Express reported.

“And what Alexa does. All the time it is listening. Everything. Every word you are saying, Alexa is listening and passing it on to Google. (Chander then corrects himself and says Amazon)."

Chander, who is also a cybersecurity expert, was delivering a keynote address at a seminar on ‘Cyber Security for Industry’ in Panaji.

“Sounds.pk… PK are Pakistani sites. Why are they giving sounds free of cost?” Chander said, adding that the songs.pk website promotes a “compromised Chinese-made browser” to glean information from a user’s phone. “Has anybody tried downloading this songs.pk? All of a sudden if you are trying on mobile, one thing is bound to come up… UC browser. Have you heard of that? Because UC browser is… a Chinese browser. It is collecting all the information. So there is a hidden agenda,” Chander said.