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Internet Scams - Be Aware

Most of us like to think we're too clever to be caught out by internet fraudsters. In fact any of us can be caught out by these scroungers . Their tricks have gone far beyond the infamous fax from a "Nigerian prince" , "the 419" or variants of these - asking you for money. 

Now frauds are increasingly sophisticated and you are much more likely to be contacted (email,sms or telephone) by someone you trust (seemingly). Fraudsters dupe their victims using a type of psychological manipulation known as "social engineering". It is essentially a confidence trick that influences a person to take action that may not be in their best interest. With many technical security defences in place to prevent large and medium size enterprises from being hacked directly, it is us humans that present the best medium and to a certain extent, the sweet spot for criminals to target. To explain how "social engineering" works here is an analogy - Children are little people we all loved. And they get us to do things which under normal circumstances we'd never thought of doing ever. The same psychological principles is what the scammers are applying . They build rapport, get us to like them, trust them, and often inject a sense of urgency into the scenario. This all releases certain chemicals in our brain that allow us to take actions we perhaps shouldn't take.Why is it growing? Social engineering fraud has been identified by the international police agency Interpol as one of the world's emerging fraud trends. In the last two years there has been a spike in this type of fraud, with reported losses in 2015 doubling to nearly $1bn (£675m) 

It's a lucrative crime. You don't need a skilled programmer to do social engineering - just someone who's willing to talk to people or write emails. On top of this, the growth of the internet has played right into the criminal's hands. A key part of social engineering is having information on your target. Criminals can get this from buying hacked company data and studying their victim's social media profile online. 

Vishing: 


In June last year Emma Watson, a British businesswoman who was setting up a children's nursery, got a phone call from her bank's fraud team. They told her that they had stopped some unusual transactions on her account, but because it had been compromised she had to transfer her money into some other accounts they had set up in her name. "They were completely professional, it was a clear line, they knew my name, they called me on my landline, they used all the language," she says. "They were very reassuring, saying 'I know this is a distressing time for you and I'm going to help you'." In fact it wasn't her bank calling at all, but criminals fraudulently posing as her bank's fraud team. Emma ended up transferring £100,000 into the fraudsters' accounts online. Only a fraction of it has so far been traced and returned. This type of fraud is called "Vishing" where criminals persuade victims to hand over personal details or transfer money, over the telephone. They have a number of techniques at their disposal. 
  •  Information: the criminals already have your name, address, phone number, bank details - essentially the kind of information you would expect a genuine caller to have  
  •  Urgency: You are made to believe your money is in danger and have to act quickly - fear often leads people into acting without thinking  
  •  Phone spoofing: The phone number appears as if it's coming from somewhere else, so when you pick up the phone you already believe the caller because the number is convincing  
  • Holding the line: In some cases, the criminals can hold your telephone line, so if you hang up to call back the bank, you can get put straight back to the fraudsters. 
  •  Atmosphere: You hear a lot of background noise so it sounds like a call centre rather than a guy in a basement - they either do have a call centre, or are playing a sound effects CD. 


Here is the advice: Don't ever give personal information like banking or credit cards over the phone to someone who has called you. If you get a call, hang up, and ring the number on the back of your credit card using a different phone from the one they called you on.

Phishing 


Phishing emails have risen in number and have got a lot more sophisticated. How they work? They play on your trust and they use a front, whether it's a bank, a friend's name, or someone you expect communications from, and they put urgency on you to respond immediately. Most of the phishing emails will looked very convincing - for example like one from Amazon if you recently made a purchase from them or from your bank. In case of the former, clicking a link would open up what look like a real Amazon log-in page. A closer look at the address bar in your browser might indicate a site in Russia, Ukraine, Romania etc. etc - it certainly wasn't Amazon.com. If the scammers hit the right emotional triggers at the right time, anyone can be a victim of phishing." Phishing emails can look very convincing - copying branding and 'spoofing' email addresses to make them look genuine. Here is a simple advice once you have opened the mail - "hover the mouse over the link and the URL details will come up and will show if it's valid, or taking you somewhere unrecognizable" If in doubt, never click on the link. If an email looks genuine then contact the sender through their official website. Never use telephone numbers or links provided in the email if you never requested or anticipated them. 


Smishing 


Smishing is SMS phishing where text messages are sent trying to encourage people to pay money out or click on suspicious links. Sometimes attackers try to get victims on the phone by sending a text message asking them to call a number, in order to persuade them further. Unsolicited text messages from unknown numbers should raise alarm bells, but often banks do text their customers for a variety of reasons. In that case, you should call the bank using a number from a bank statement or a verified source, not a text message.



 The Internet  2016  -  don't be a victim surf wisely




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Phishing,Vishing and Smishing - Be Aware Of Social Engineering Fraud

Most of us like to think we're too clever to be caught out by internet fraudsters. In fact any of us can be caught out by these scroungers . Their tricks have gone far beyond the infamous fax from a "Nigerian prince" , "the 419" or variants of these - asking you for money.

Now frauds are increasingly sophisticated and you are much more likely to be contacted (email,sms or telephone) by someone you trust (seemingly). Fraudsters dupe their victims using a type of psychological manipulation known as "social engineering". It is essentially a confidence trick that influences a person to take action that may not be in their best interest. With many technical security defences in place to prevent large and medium size enterprises from being hacked directly, it is us humans that present the best medium and to a certain extent, the sweet spot for criminals to target. To explain how "social engineering" works here is an analogy - Children are little people we all loved. And they get us to do things which under normal circumstances we'd never thought of doing ever. The same psychological principles is what the scammers are applying . They build rapport, get us to like them, trust them, and often inject a sense of urgency into the scenario. This all releases certain chemicals in our brain that allow us to take actions we perhaps shouldn't take.Why is it growing? Social engineering fraud has been identified by the international police agency Interpol as one of the world's emerging fraud trends. In the last two years there has been a spike in this type of fraud, with reported losses in 2015 doubling to nearly $1bn (£675m)

It's a lucrative crime. You don't need a skilled programmer to do social engineering - just someone who's willing to talk to people or write emails. On top of this, the growth of the internet has played right into the criminal's hands. A key part of social engineering is having information on your target. Criminals can get this from buying hacked company data and studying their victim's social media profile online.

Vishing: 


In June last year Emma Watson, a British businesswoman who was setting up a children's nursery, got a phone call from her bank's fraud team. They told her that they had stopped some unusual transactions on her account, but because it had been compromised she had to transfer her money into some other accounts they had set up in her name. "They were completely professional, it was a clear line, they knew my name, they called me on my landline, they used all the language," she says. "They were very reassuring, saying 'I know this is a distressing time for you and I'm going to help you'." In fact it wasn't her bank calling at all, but criminals fraudulently posing as her bank's fraud team. Emma ended up transferring £100,000 into the fraudsters' accounts online. Only a fraction of it has so far been traced and returned. This type of fraud is called "Vishing" where criminals persuade victims to hand over personal details or transfer money, over the telephone. They have a number of techniques at their disposal.
  •  Information: the criminals already have your name, address, phone number, bank details - essentially the kind of information you would expect a genuine caller to have  
  •  Urgency: You are made to believe your money is in danger and have to act quickly - fear often leads people into acting without thinking  
  •  Phone spoofing: The phone number appears as if it's coming from somewhere else, so when you pick up the phone you already believe the caller because the number is convincing  
  • Holding the line: In some cases, the criminals can hold your telephone line, so if you hang up to call back the bank, you can get put straight back to the fraudsters. 
  •  Atmosphere: You hear a lot of background noise so it sounds like a call centre rather than a guy in a basement - they either do have a call centre, or are playing a sound effects CD. 


Here is the advice: Don't ever give personal information like banking or credit cards over the phone to someone who has called you. If you get a call, hang up, and ring the number on the back of your credit card using a different phone from the one they called you on.

Phishing 


Phishing emails have risen in number and have got a lot more sophisticated. How they work? They play on your trust and they use a front, whether it's a bank, a friend's name, or someone you expect communications from, and they put urgency on you to respond immediately. Most of the phishing emails will looked very convincing - for example like one from Amazon if you recently made a purchase from them or from your bank. In case of the former, clicking a link would open up what look like a real Amazon log-in page. A closer look at the address bar in your browser might indicate a site in Russia, Ukraine, Romania etc. etc - it certainly wasn't Amazon.com. If the scammers hit the right emotional triggers at the right time, anyone can be a victim of phishing." Phishing emails can look very convincing - copying branding and 'spoofing' email addresses to make them look genuine. Here is a simple advice once you have opened the mail - "hover the mouse over the link and the URL details will come up and will show if it's valid, or taking you somewhere unrecognizable" If in doubt, never click on the link. If an email looks genuine then contact the sender through their official website. Never use telephone numbers or links provided in the email if you never requested or anticipated them. 


Smishing 


Smishing is SMS phishing where text messages are sent trying to encourage people to pay money out or click on suspicious links. Sometimes attackers try to get victims on the phone by sending a text message asking them to call a number, in order to persuade them further. Unsolicited text messages from unknown numbers should raise alarm bells, but often banks do text their customers for a variety of reasons. In that case, you should call the bank using a number from a bank statement or a verified source, not a text message.



 The Internet  2016  -  don't be a victim surf wisely




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Boko Haram - Political Or A Terrorist Organisation

This was originally written in Dec 2014

In 2014, after the kidnapping of 200 school children in the North East of Nigeria, many people became aware and sympathetic to the nightmare that was slowly and surreptitiously creeping in to Nigeria in the form of extreme religious fundamentalism called "Boko Haram". It is imperative to explicitly make this point absolutely succinct - there are religious fundamentalist in all the major religious denominations or groupings _ Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism et al. But none has shown or exhibited the same callous, depraved and inhumane instinct as demonstrated by the aforementioned group. It beggars the question - Is there an intrinsic attribute within the fundamental set up of Islam that necessitates this outcome? The main two branches or divisions in Islam i.e. Shia and Sunni and their fundamental differences being allied to the successor of the Prophet Mohamed are clearly understood. Thus, one can categorically states that the above mentioned branches(Shia, Sunni) both adhere to the same fundamental principles and beliefs that emphasize that Allah is all knowing, merciful of all, all present and powerful and is the sustainer of life.

Now, going back to the original question and considering all that has been said herein, one can only infer that the basic structure of the religion creates the seed for this type of depraved organ to emerge or easily come in to being. Consider this thought for a moment. Apart from Islam, all the other major religious denominations have a top down layer structure. In these sort of set-up, religious edict pronounced from the top is actively move down the structured layers to the masses who follow to the letter. For example, a subhead, leader, pastor, rabbi, priest, etc; within the organisation falling foul of one of its tenet is easily brought to book as detailed in its procedures. 


From what we know, have read and seen in practical terms within Islam, a so called Head Preacher or Mullah ( whose distinction and qualification is not verifiable or authenticated because there is no such system in place to do this within Islam) can preach in a mosque, on television, internet ( social media - facebook, twitter, You tube etc.) to his heart's content with no social or moral compulsion. There is no one to check, revoke or stop him from preaching (if for instance what he is saying is contradictory to the teachings of Islam) because no such mechanism exists. You will hardly see another Muslim cleric or ordinary Muslim for that matter challenging or disclaiming his pronunciations. It is almost as if doing so is against their religious ethics. However, when public reaction and backlash come to the fore through the media only then will you start seeing a kind of token reaction from so called moderate Muslims - which by and large, is very fickle and merely to safe face. 

Going back to the Head Preacher or Mullah - the fact that he can preach and elucidate on verses in the holy book (Koran) with impunity notwithstanding, if he happens to be a good orator as well, he can have extra ordinary influence on both young social misfit already marginalised within the social fabric through drugs and alcohol and others you would consider literate and educated respectively. In the latter category, the Nigerian Pant Bomber who was studying Mechanical Engineering at London University(University College London) and very recently the medical student of Pakistani descent in Wales currently orchestrating killings in Syria as a Jihadist (apparently disowned now by his own parents) come to mind. The two men of Nigerian descent involved in the depraved killing of soldier Lee Rigby is a case in point for the former category. Both were known to the authorities for dealing and consuming drugs and other misdemeanour. Thus, these so called Hate Preachers will definitely find an audience willing to perform and participate in whatever instructions they deemed necessary for their own self gratification

If further evidence is needed, look at all that has been written and said about those going to Syria to fight the so called Jihad how they got involved. Look at the current leader of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau does he fit this bill? Look at all the various Islamic sects popping up around various regions in the world claiming to represent the real Islam with conflicting ideologies. The structure of Islam seems to encourage and breed homogeneous sect totally independent and in total disregard of the social structure and fabric that it happens to reside in. There is a word for this type of behaviour or organism in Biochemistry and it is called - Cancer . It destroys from within the very substance keeping it alive. A famous Nigerian author once wrote "Things fall apart if the centre cannot hold" Well may be it has not got to that stage yet but it is certainly bursting out from the seams. The conclusion here is that it cannot be a political organisation because it is destroying the very fabric that holds it intact . - not sustainable Sharia Law Or Not. 


People wake up and smell the coffee (poison) it is definitely neither Arabica nor Robusta . To do nothing is not an option. The government alone cannot solve the carnage that is going on now in Northern Nigeria.  Today the 11 of December 2014 another bomb  has gone off in the city of Kano supposedly carried out by a teenage female suicide bomber - bringing the total wanton killing of innocent people  by a small group of depraved Muslim Fundamentalist to over 2000 this year alone. 

This needs to be stressed - the government is not some entity from outer space representing you. You are the government - you, I and everyone else has a part to play directly or indirectly - the government is you, a family member, an extended family member, a village compatriot, a member from your tribe, a neighbour ,a friend way back from school days,college, university , a colleague from work etc. etc. Thus, the government is made of people like you.  Compare and contrast in advance the election of 1964 that led to the crises that eventually resulted in the civil war and numerous coup d'etat subsequently with the up coming 2015 election - will Nigerians conduct election with (in) blood. Can there be fair  election in the North under the  current   status quo

"We have to act in concert to remove this social malignant cancer eating us up from inside".

Imagined one of the abducted school girls (their whereabouts still in the dark) in northern Nigeria is your junior sister or your daughter, the British Soldier murdered in London was your brother, the British taxi driver delivering aid to Syrian refugees with a bunch of Muslim friends whose throat was slitted and left to bleed to death was your father - how would you be feeling? People Doing Nothing Is Not An Option Any More - Because It  Is  Far  Closer  to Home Than You Think  - Mobilise Mobilise Mobilise.




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