https://www.nominettrust.org.uk

The Nominet Trust is an unusual organisation.

They say ”The internet has revolutionised our world. We exist to ensure that the ongoing tech revolution delivers positive and equitable social impact: that when our lives are transformed by tech, they are transformed for the better. Our vision is for a world where social transformation is the driving force behind tech.”

They believe that tech can open up opportunities previously out of reach, creating inspirational change and when social transformation is the driving force behind tech, it has the greatest potential to improve lives.

They intend to achieve that vision by leading, enabling and investing.

They are guided by the following values:-

·         Purposeful

Our core purpose is at the heart of what we do – we transform lives with tech. Whether we’re leading the conversation about transformative tech, enabling socially motivated tech ventures to grow, or directly investing in change, we work hard to achieve our vision – and deliver with pride.

·         Open

We believe in an inclusive society and collaborate with others who share our vision. We encourage transparency of communication, and consolidate and share the knowledge we create.

·         Entrepreneurial

Our agile approach explores new ways to address persistent social challenges, evaluating their potential. We seek out and support creative solutions that use tech to overcome barriers. We celebrate success and learn fast from failure.

·         We lead the conversation

Some of our most persistent social challenges transcend geographic borders – much like tech. That’s why we’re leading a global conversation through initiatives such as NT100, in pursuit of a greater understanding of the relationship between tech and society. By collaborating with others, we can more swiftly realise our vision of social transformation as the driving force behind tech.

·         We enable growth

We actively nurture a support network, providing the resources that enable socially motivated organisations to thrive and grow. Working with others, we encourage innovation, promote diversity and provide growth funding, sharing our insights along the way.

·         We invest in change

As the UK’s leading dedicated funder of socially motivated tech, we focus on tackling specific social challenges to deliver significant and measurable impact. Investing in organisations that demonstrate what tech can make possible, we create and share transferable models that others can adopt and scale.

The Trust does seem to do what it says.

Here Are Some Success Stories

1.       Big white Wall

In 2013, we offered social entrepreneur Jen Hyatt grant funding to help take Big White Wall to market. It’s an integrated digital care system supporting people with mental health challenges.

2.       Troo Life Coach

In 2016, we provided grant funding and support for Jen’s latest venture, Troo Life Coach. This mobile phone app – co-designed with young people – brings together neuroscience, behavioural economics, psychology and augmented intelligence to offer personalised support to help teenagers make healthier life choices.

3.       Code Club

Recognising the transformative power of digital skills to improve the life chances of young people, in 2014 we provided Code Club with grant funding and support to extend their network of volunteer-led after-school coding clubs. Now part of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, there are now almost 6,000 Code Clubs in the UK and 5,000 others globally, all working to support the digital economy of the future.

4.       OpenUp Music

In 2015, we invested in OpenUp Music to develop an innovative, accessible digital instrument, the Clarion, enabling young disabled musicians to play and create music with any part of their body. Following the team’s success in building the UK’s first disabled-led regional youth orchestra, in 2016 we supported the organisation’s growth with further investment to help them extend their service into more UK schools, and to achieve their vision of creating a National Open Youth Orchestra.

5.       Patient’s Virtual Guide

In early 2017, we funded Corporation Pop in developing Patient’s Virtual Guide – an interactive mobile app for children that explores and demystifies exactly what happens during a hospital visit through a fun game. The app is designed to give children a well-informed and positive hospital experience which can boost outcomes and reduce recovery time.

Long live the Nominet Trust.

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Cyber bullying is any form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones and other computing devices. This will social networking sites, messaging apps, gaming sites, chat rooms and more.  It can happen to anyone at any time but it is perhaps children and teenagers who suffer the most from online bullying and may find it very difficult to deal with. 

A recent national bullying survey showed 56% of young people said they have witnessed online bullying and 42% have felt unsafe online.

This is a major problem and is very difficult to stop.

Methods of Cyberbullying

The most common methods are :-

·         Harassment - sending offensive, rude, or insulting messages and being abusive.

·         Humiliation – someone may send information about another person that is fake, damaging and untrue. Sharing photos of someone for the purpose to ridicule, spreading fake rumours and gossip.

·         Flaming – someone is purposely using extreme and offensive language and getting into online arguments and fights.

·         Impersonation – someone may hack into a person’s email or social networking account and use the person's online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about others.  They may instead create fake accounts pretending to be the person.

·         Revealing Secrets – someone may share personal information about another or trick someone into revealing secrets and forward it to others.

·         Cyber Stalking – the act of repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm, harassment, intimidating messages, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety. The actions may be illegal too depending on what they are doing.

·         Exclusion – others intentionally leave someone out of a group such as group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement. This is also a form of social bullying and a very common.

·         Threatening behaviour. Anyone who makes threats against you on the internet could be committing a criminal offence.

·         Blackmail and Grooming. There is an offence called "grooming" in the UK and people who have been found guilty of "grooming" have been jailed.

·         Abusive Comments. It can be tempting to reply to unpleasant comments by returning equally unpleasant comments, but that’s a trap as it makes the situation worse.

·         Inappropriate images. It's easy to save any pictures of anyone on any site and upload them to the internet. Make sure that you have the person's permission to take a picture and that they're happy for thousands of people to see it on the internet.

The Effects of Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying can have devastating effects on anyone but especially on children who may feel totally alone and may blame themselves. If you are cyber bullied you must confide in someone – a parent, a teacher or the Police.  

Cyber bullying affects people from any age or walk of life, including children, teens and adults who all feel very distressed and alone when being bullied online. 

Recent statistics show that

·         20% of children and young people indicate fear of cyber bullies made them reluctant to go to school

·         5% reported self-harm

·         3% reported an attempt of suicide as a direct result of cyber bullying

·         Young people are found to be twice as likely to be bullied on FB as any other social networking site.

·         28% of young people have reported incidents of cyber bullying on Twitter

·         26% of young people have reported incidents of cyber bullying on Ask.fm

Ref: Beat Bullying Virtual Violence II report commissioned by Nominet Trust in association with NAHT

The Law

All countries have laws which should prevent bullying and punish those who perpetrate bullying in any form, but these do vary widely.

See the website https://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/ for in-depth information on cyber bullying and buying in general and details on who to contact for help.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

The stakes continue to get higher and higher as more people use the internet for business and commerce. Over time newer and more dangerous forms of virus software continues to put your data at risk.

 Since 2005 the world has seen a rise in Ransomware cases which is a virus that extracts files from your computer system and locks them up in a password-protected folder. The only way to retrieve your data is by paying a ransom, and with the growth of cryptocurrency, it is easier for these hackers to request money anonymously.

 In this article, I’m covering how ransomware can put your privacy at risk, how to prevent this from happening, and what to do if you find yourself at the mercy of a ransomware attack.

 

What is Ransomware?

At the most basic level, ransomware is a software that blocks access to essential data on your computer systems or mobile devices. When you go to access these files you most likely find a ransom letter that explains what you have to do to get the information back - this most often results in you having to pay in bitcoin or some form of anonymous currency to have your files returned.

Operating system companies are always on high alert for these types of viruses and issue regular updates when a discovery gets made. The problem is, most people ignore or postpone the upgrades and this leaves your computer system vulnerable to a ransomware attack.

A computer can become infected in a variety of ways, but this often happens as a result of opening something that had the ransomware attached to it. This virus comes in the form of email attachments, hidden installations on apps and software, extra pages and scripts, and much more.

(https://medium.com/@ReputationDefender/how-to-protect-yourself-from-ransomware-in-10-steps-5946e36923b3)

How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware

 

You do not have to be afraid of ransomware attacks as long as you follow the necessary precautions shown above by Reputationdefender. People are thrifty and continually looking for a new way to extort you, so you need to protect yourself consistently.

Be Careful Where You Search

The best and most efficient way to keep yourself safe from ransomware is to stay out of the places where it hides. If you have emails you cannot identify - don’t open files attached to it, don’t click any links in the email. Delete the email and forget about it.

It’s always great to download free movies and music online, but I’m sure this has happened to you. You click the play button the video, and it takes you somewhere completely different - this is an example of how your computer can become infected.

After clicking that link, it is often challenging to get back to the original page because you are faced with pop-up after pop-up, and it forces you to stay there. While this is happening, the software could be searching your computer for files or data it can lock up. Be very careful with these types of websites.

Never download an app or software that does not have an easily identified source. If you want to download a game or program on your phone - do some research on the creator before you download it. If you see they have a bunch of other applications and are a legitimate business, then proceed. If not, think twice before installing that app.

 Avoid using public Wi-Fi wherever possible. If you must, then consider investing in a cheap VPN for added protection. Public Wi-Fi is often unsecured and easily exploited by hackers for spreading nefarious software.

 Keep Updated

 The other most effective way to keep yourself safe is to do what your computer and phone tell you to do. When it wants to update something that is for a good reason. The operating system company might have caught a whiff of a new virus or ransomware and is trying to protect you from it.

 Do not postpone updates for longer than an hour. It does not take long for someone to get into your system and lock up your files. Stay updated and stay safe.

Back Up Files

 Lastly, always backup your system as often as you can. Get in the habit of doing this on a regular basis. If you are backing up your files frequently, you won’t be as worried about losing things if you fall victim to a ransomware attack.

 PixelPrivacy.com is all about making the world of online security accessible to everyone. We pride ourselves in writing guides that we’re certain even our own mothers could understand! Be sure to head over to our blog if you’re interested in keeping your private information just that: Private!

 Do Share this post on social media –click on the icons at the bottom of the article. 

Google collects a lot of your personal data in order to target adverts and “improve your experience”. They also do so as input for their various research programmes including A.I.

Google may know a lot more about you than you realise.

If you use its products, such as Gmail, Google Search or even an Android phone, the company is collecting more data on you with every use.  

Google is very open about the data it stores about you -- but it might surprise you just how much it knows.

e.g. Google may know the following about you:-

·         Name, gender and birthdate

·         Mobile phone numbers

·         Device IDs for Android devices

·         Recent Google searches

·         The websites you've visited

·         Places you’ve been to over the last few years

·         Your favourite sports, drinks, restaurants etc.

·         Where you work

·         Where you live

·         The YouTube videos you’ve watched and your YouTube searches

·         Every time you’ve used your voice to interact with Google Assistant (including recordings of your voice.)

Google has this sort of information on all of its users and it says it is securely held and that it doesn't give governments   access to it.

Google also promises (unlike Facebook and others) that it doesn't sell your data and doesn’t give access to the data to advertisers. It does say the data is used to personalise the adverts i.e. to make adverts more ‘relevant’ to users. 

Check Google’s Information on You

Log in to your Google Account and then tap the link to Manage adverts Settings, this shows what topics Google thinks you like. Scroll down the page and you'll see your gender, age and any adverts you've blocked.

Google's Location History page shows a guide to everywhere you've been as tracked by Google, in addition to your home and work, if you have saved them in Google Maps.

 Google Assistant - Google stores data on the voice actions you've requested from Google Assistant, whether on a smartphone or Google Home, as well as the sites you visited.

Monthly Security Report

Google offers an Account activity page that tells you about all the Google services you are using. You can even enable a monthly report that will be sent to your email:

https://www.google.com/settings/dashboard

 Get a Copy of All of Your Google data

Google lets you export all your data: bookmarks, emails, contacts, drive files, profile info, your YouTube videos, photos and more here:

https://www.google.com/takeout

You can choose exactly which data to download, from the list of:-

G+1

Google Play Movies

Location History

Bookmarks

Google Play Music

Maps

Calendar

Google+ Circles

My Activity

Classroom

Google+ Communities

News

Contacts

Google+ Stream

Posts on Google

Drive

Groups

Profile

Fit

Hans Free

Saved

G Suite marketplace

Hangouts

Search Contributions

Google My Business

Hangouts on Air

Street View

Google Play

Home APP

Youtube

Google Photos

Input Tools

 

Google Playbooks

Keep

 

 

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below. 

 

 

In most countries, higher education bodies are regulated and accredited by the state. The USA is different in that such accreditation is carried out by non-profit associations.

Scammers like to give themselves fake qualifications and accreditations to make them appear more trustworthy.

Some go to the lengths of creating their own accreditation bodies, then giving accreditations to themselves and other scammers and some fake universities will happily give out degrees to anyone willing to pay. This is all disguised to look both legal and respected.

 To try to counter this misinformation, there are several national and international organisations that publish lists of accreditation bodies and accredited educational institutions and some also list organisations that claim to be accredited but are not recognised.

Essay Mills, Diploma Mills, Fake Universities, Fake Accreditation Bodies etc. all come from the same strand of enabling people to ‘cheat’.

Essay Mills

Organisations that offer an essay writing service are known as essay mills. This service is supposedly for research purposes but the reality is that a lot of students use these services to submit essays for assessment as part of their course.

Some essay mills display fake accreditation – either made-up or from fake accreditation bodies.

It’s easy for people to be deceived, for example, when the essay mill claims to be accredited by The UNESCO  Accreditation Body, although some people would realise that while UNESCO works in the field of education they don’t accreditations education organisations in developed countries..

Diploma Mills

These are organisations that offer diplomas, degrees, PhDs etc. to anyone willing to pay the price. The cover they use is that awards are based on ‘life experience’ but this means there is little or no studying involved and generally no exams, just a payment.

Accreditation Mills

An accreditation mill is an organization that purports to award educational accreditation to higher education institutions without having government authority or recognition from mainstream academia to operate as an accreditor.

Accreditation mills are much like diploma mills, and in many cases are closely associated with diploma mills. The "accreditation" they supply has no legal or academic value, but is used in diploma mill marketing to help attract students.

Some scammers create these supposed accreditation bodies to get themselves accreditations  but some make this their full time role, offering accreditations to anyone ready to pay.

Some institutions obtain accreditation from an independent group with low standards. In other cases, the institution sets up its own seemingly independent accreditation board and then accredits itself. This gives the appearance that an outside group has approved the education that is offered at the school.

Rochville University  (according to Wikipedia)

One early such accreditation mill was Rochville University, which is still online selling degrees at http://www.rochvilleuniversity.net/

This describes itself as a leading online university, catering to the educational needs of over 38,000 working adults and individuals.  Rochville University is an online diploma mill offering a "Life Experience Degree, and Certificate Program" without coursework or prior transcript evaluation.

The phrase from their website “We are able to help those students who wish to get accredited degrees on the basis of their life/work experience” is the give-away that it’s not about studying or examinations.. 

Its operation is believed to be centered in Pakistan, and its diplomas and degree certificates have been mailed from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Along with many similar enterprises, it is owned by the Karachi based company, Axact, whose main business, according to a New York Times investigation, is "to take the centuries-old scam of selling fake academic degrees and turn it into an Internet-era scheme on a global scale".

Because Rochville University is not accredited by any recognized accreditation bodies in the United States, its degrees and credits are unlikely to be acceptable to employers or academic institutions. Jurisdictions that have restricted or made illegal the use of credentials from unaccredited schools include

Pug Dog Earns Online MBA in Rochville University Scam

The website www.geteducated.com reports the following story about Rochville University.

Chester Ludlow, a pug dog from Vermont, has been awarded an online MBA degree (master's in business administration) by Rochville University—an online college that offers life and work experience degrees. 

 Chester is believed to be the first dog to be awarded an online master's degree based on work and life experience credentials.

But did he earn it—or did he buy it?

“The difference between earning a college degree online or buying one is key,” says Vicky Phillips, founder of GetEducated.com.

Chester is the GetEducated.com mascot. He submitted his resume—along with $499—to Rochville University online. A week later, an express packet arrived from a post office box in Dubai.

Rochville University kept its word. The dog had an instant, fast degree. Also, a cheap online MBA degree considering he paid only $499 whereas the average cost of a real distance MBA degree in the U.S. is close to $25,000.

The instant degree package contained Chester’s distance MBA diploma, two sets of college transcripts, a certificate of distinction in finance, and a certificate of membership in the student council.

The paperwork says the pup “earned” a GPA of 3.19 (for an additional $100, he could have graduated with honours).

All documents were issued in the dog’s AKC pedigree name: Chester Ludlow. Chester also received a Rochville University window decal for his car (though reportedly the canine does not drive).

The Open International University for Complementary Medicines in Sri Lanka

http://www.oiucmed.net/

They say their aims are to:-

·         To advance the scientific study and professional practice of Medicines, by encouraging its development by promoting research, living high standards of professional ethics, competence, conduct, education, qualification and achievement among practitioners.

·         To carry out the promotion and the dissemination of knowledge and philosophy of Medicines through local and International Meeting, lectures, seminars, workshops, reports, papers, discussions, publications and professional contacts.

·         To encourage a wide interest among the public and Medicines and all ancillary areas of knowledge and practice

Some people do believe in the university and have attended courses organised by the University but many others believe it is the biggest diploma mill in the world having given/sold over 1 million diplomas.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know – go to the About page then Contact Us.

 

A lot of people like to see what’s being said or posted about them on social media, blogs and anywhere else on the Internet. This can be just vanity but it is also useful to know what information about you is present on the Internet for people to see.  

If anyone can find out about you online – then that includes criminals who may plan to cheat you, steal your digital identity or otherwise cause you harm.

What you post today could back to bite you in the future e.g. a party picture might be seen by a prospective employer.

For many people, there is a surprising amount of information online that really should be kept confidential – away from the eyes of scammers e.g. email address,  job title, date of birth,  telephone number, date of holidays, password clues etc.]

Search Engines


We’ll concentrate on Google as it’s by far the most popular search engine, but you can use any search engines you wish to find your digital footprint.

  1. Search for your name e.g. try John Smith but also use quotation marks to ensure the search is for your complete name and use initials or middle names - try as “John Smith”, “John R. Smith”, “John Reginald Smith” etc. Try any combination that might have been used to identify you.
  2.  Search for yourself using phone number, home address, post code or any other identifiers
  3. Search for the combination of your company name and your own name or the combination of any organisation you are involved with plus your own name.
  4. Search on family and friends and see if your name pops up anywhere.

These results are your basic digital footprint and it can be viewed by anyone. If you find incorrect information then you may want to contact the relevant person or organisation to have it corrected.

Social Media

For any of the social media platforms that you have ever used, try searching for your name, nickname etc. friends and family and so on.  You may be careful with what information you make publicly available on social media, but you may find your friends and colleagues aren’t so careful about you. 

Social media sites contain a wealth of information on their users. For Facebook and some other sites you can download a copy of all information they have about you and you might find it surprising.

Directories and Specialist Sites

There are many ‘people finder’ services, that can find out everything online about someone – such as yourself, but they do charge for the service and will not be further considered in this article.  

There are numerous specialist sites where you could find information about yourself. Which ones to check depends on your activities, situation, location etc. E.g.  maybe you’re a member of a golf club or any other club – try their website, or maybe you’re a member of a professional body, or a donor to charity  etc.  

 Common directories such as Yell may only have information already found by Google but are worth checking. If you have a business. Also, local government and central government websites – if you’ve made a planning application for instance then there will be records about you. 

 

So, your Digital Footprint is all of the information on the Internet about you, including social media posts, websites, blogs, organisations you work for or belong to, family photographs and more.

Keep an eye on your Digital Footprint, correct anything that is incorrect and be aware of how much criminals can see about you. 

 

276 people a day are declared insolvent or bankrupt.

1,756 consumer County Court Judgements were issued every day in Q3 2017.

These statistics are from http://themoneycharity.org.uk/money-statistics/

The Money Advice Service website is at https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

This website was set-up by the UK Government to give free and impartial advice about Money.

The website covers advice on:-

·         Debt and borrowing

·         Homes and mortgages

·         Budgeting and saving

·         Work and benefits

·         Retirement

·         Family

·         Cars and travel

·         Insurance

It also has tools and calculators to help people keep track and plan ahead

There is a free webchat service available 8am to 8pm weekdays and Saturday 9am to 1 pm and there is a free phone line open the same hours for free and impartial money advice.

Why Are The Money Advice Service Needed?

Surveys suggest 24 million people in the UK do not feel in control of their finances, and 8 million risk not being able to service their debts.

Government created The Money Advice Service (MAS) and funded it with a levy on financial services, to offer unique and essential help with money - whether that’s best delivered directly by MAS, or through others.

As well as the comprehensive website, there is a call centre with highly trained staff who can tell people where to get the right help at the right time on any financial topic.

There is a 10-year plan to focus the activities of everyone working on the problem. MAS  fund charities to offer half a million people access to expert, local debt advice. They also work with financial services, government, and other sectors, collaborating with about 200 partners, seeking and sponsoring innovative ways to help people to save more and plan better for their future.

In 2017/18 MAS expect to help about 8 million people with their money and debts, and will work to energise hundreds of other organisations around our long-term vision of how everyone in the UK can better manage their money.

Helping People Tackle Problem Debt

MAS aim to help people avoid getting into unmanageable debt but, for those who do, they fund the provision of free, high-quality debt advice, delivered by our partners across the UK. The Money Advice Service is the largest single funder of debt advice in the UK.

They are also responsible for driving higher-quality and more consistent debt advice services across the UK – including those not funded directly. The aim is to make sure people get the help they need to deal with their creditors and reduce their debt, and also the support to manage their money and build their financial resilience so they are less likely to get into difficulties.

As the statutory body responsible for enhancing public understanding of financial matters, the Money Advice Service has led the work of a wide range of organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors to develop a new Financial Capability Strategy for the UK.

For more information about the Strategy, and the work they and others are doing to put it into effect, please visit www.fincap.org.uk.

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A pension scam (when someone tries to con you out of your pension money) often starts with someone you don’t know contacting you by phone or text or on social media, about:

·         A new investment or other business opportunity

·         better ways to invest your pension money

·         taking your pension money out before you reach the age of 55

Their aim is to get you to cash in your pension pot and transfer the money so they can get at it.

More than 1.8 million over 50s have been targeted by pension scammers.

Warning Signs

An unsolicited approach by phone, text message, email or in person is likely to be a scam, so just end the conversation. It’s better that you research and decide who to contact and then call them when you’re ready.

There are some characteristics common to many scams, including that they may:-

·         Push you to invest quickly – they might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date

·         Say that they’re only making the offer available to you or even ask you to not tell anyone else about the opportunity.

·         Offer a guaranteed return. This is not possible in an uncertain world.

·         Offer a free review – no regulated adviser, pension provider or government agency will contact you to offer you a free review. Even if they have your pension details, ignore them.

·         Claim the deal is low or zero risk.

·         Promise returns that sound too good to be true, such as better interest rates than everybody else

·         Give you contact details that are only mobile phone numbers or a PO box address.

·         Not allow to call them back.

·         Claim they can help you or a relative unlock a pension before the age of 55, sometimes known as ‘pension liberation’ or ‘pension loans’. This is contrary to HMRC rules and only in very rare case, such as very poor health or specific industries is this possible.

·         Say they know of tax loopholes or promise extra tax savings.

·         Offer investments in unusual assets such as diamonds or parking spaces.

·         Claim to from a government organisation.

How to Check a Caller

1.       Check the FCA website (www.fca.org.uk) to determine of the caller is FCA registered. Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by FCA – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam.

2.       Check if the firm’s ‘firm reference number’ and contact details are the same as on the Register.

3.       If you’re dealing with an overseas firm, you should check with the regulator in that country and also check the scam warnings from foreign regulators.

4.       Check the firm’s details with Companies House (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house) to make sure they match.

If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk) or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong – and you’re unlikely to get your money back.

Financial Advice

Always get independent advice before investing – don’t use an adviser from the firm that contacted you.

The Money Advice Service run by the Government (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) has information on how to find a financial adviser and a lot of information about pension schemes.

Double Scams

If you’ve already been scammed, fraudsters are likely to target you again or sell your details to other criminals.  The follow-up scam may be completely separate or related to the previous fraud, such as an offer to get your money back or to buy back the scam investment after you pay a fee.

Pension Liberation

Pension liberation schemes are plans which claim to allow people access to the money in their pension fund before they reach age 55.

This is not within HMRC (www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs) rules which only allow access before this age in very specific circumstances. These apply to specific professions, which allowed an early normal retirement age prior to 6 April 2006 and to those too ill to continue their occupation.

The HM Revenue & Customs website highlights the tax consequences of pension liberation to individuals.

Pension liberation schemes share some common features:

·         They solicit business via direct advertising or cold calls.

·         They require the client to instigate a transfer to a new pension plan, which may be overseas.

·         The receiving plan has only been in existence for a few months.

·         The companies related to the receiving scheme have only been in existence for a few months.

·         The investment is usually in overseas property e.g. a hotel or seafront properties.

·         The investment has a high and guaranteed rate of return.

They can also be expensive - the management charge for releasing the payment may well be up to 30% of the fund value prior to the payment.

Also, the payment itself is an unauthorised payment and will result in a tax charge of 55% which the individual is personally liable for.

Government Action

The government is seeking ways to restrict pension scam activities. There are the education campaigns such as the FCA’s ScamSmart and The Pension Regulator’s Scorpion (a consultation about measures to stop scammers).

New proposals under consideration include banning cold calls; giving more powers to pension companies to block suspicious transfers; and making it harder for scammers to set up fraudulent pension schemes.

 

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The term Hacktivism was coined in 1994 and was used to mean direct action for social change through the online world, but the phrase has come to be used in so many circumstances that its meaning has become ambiguous. 

Some people stick to the standard definition of social change by safe and legal means but others even include cyberterrorism.

Hacktivism can be a politically motivated online action, anarchic civil disobedience or anti-establishment activities.  It can also be used to mean cyber experts, anti-hackers or the fightback against online fraudsters.

 Hacktivist Tools

A hacktivist uses the same online tools and techniques as a hacker, but to further their cause rather than causing havoc or making money.   

Defacing websites and online services is a typical method used by hacktivists and as organisational websites become  increasingly important , this kind of attack becomes potentially more effective and a successful hack more damaging to their reputation.

Denial-of-service attack is a commonly used method to cause short term problems on a website. This is achieved by using large numbers of computers constantly sending request to the target website until it crashes through overload. This is similar in the real world to sending thousands of people to a local supermarket to mill around, take items off the shelves into their baskets, put the items back and just carry on filling up the place so real customers cannot get service and give up.

Notable Hacktivist Events

1.       In 1990, the Hong Kong Blondes helped Chinese citizens get access to blocked websites by targeting the Chinese computer networks.

2.       In 1996, the title of the United States Department of Justice's homepage was changed to "Department of Injustice".

3.       In December 1998, a hacktivist group from the US called Legions of the Underground declared a cyberwar against Iraq and China and planned on disabling internet access in retaliation for the countries' human rights abuses.

4.       During the 2009 Iranian election protests, Anonymous played a role in disseminating information to and from Iran by setting up the website Anonymous Iran and they also released a video manifesto to the Iranian government.

5.       During the Egyptian Internet black out, January 28 – February 2, 2011, Telecomix provided dial up services, and technical support for the Egyptian people. Telecomix released a video stating their support of the Egyptian people, describing their efforts to provide dial-up connections, and offering methods to avoid internet filters and government surveillance.

 6.       Google worked with engineers from SayNow and Twitter to provide communications for the Egyptian people in response to the government sanctioned Internet blackout during the 2011 protests. The result, Speak To Tweet, was a service in which voicemail left by phone was then tweeted via Twitter with a link to the voice message on Google's SayNow.

Hactivist Group - Anonymous

In 2013, to accompany the Million Mask March, Anonymous in the Philippines crashed 30 government websites and posted a YouTube video to congregate people in front of the parliament house on November 5 to demonstrate their disdain toward the Filipino government.

Anonymous rose to prominence in 2008 when they directly attacked the Church of Scientology in a massive Denial Of Service attack. Since then, Anonymous has participated in many online projects such as Operation: Payback and Operation: Safe Winter. However, while a great number of their projects have been for a charitable cause, they have still gained notoriety from the media for illegal hacking.

Following the Paris terror attacks in 2015, Anonymous posted a video declaring war on ISIS, the terror group that claimed responsibility for the attacks. Anonymous identified several Twitter accounts associated with the movement in order to stop the distribution of ISIS propaganda. However, Anonymous fell under heavy criticism when Twitter issued a statement calling the lists Anonymous had compiled "wildly inaccurate," as it contained accounts of journalists and academics rather than members of ISIS.

Hacktivist Group - LulzSec

On June 3, 2011, LulzSec took down a website of the FBI.  That week, the FBI was able to track the leader of LulzSec, Hector Xavier Monsegur.  It is claimed that the former leader of LulzSec has helped the FBI stop more than 300 cyber attacks since his arrest.

 

On June 20, 2011 LulzSec targeted the Serious Organised Crime Agency of the United Kingdom, causing UK authorities to take down the website.

Hacktivist Group - WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange as a "multi-national media organization and associated library" and   operated under the principle of "principled leaking," to fight corruption. Originally, WikiLeaks was operated like a wiki site, meaning that users could post documents, edit others' documents, and help decide which materials were posted.

But that changed with the release of Afghanistan War documents.  In July 2010, WikiLeaks published over 90,000 documents regarding the war in Afghanistan. The war logs revealed 144 incidents of formerly unreported civilian casualties by the U.S. military.

WikiLeaks is also notable for its leak of over 20,000 confidential emails and 8,000 file attachments from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), on July 22, 2016. The emails leaked showed instances of key DNC staffers working to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign prior to primary elections, which was directly against the DNC's stated neutrality in primary elections. 

Conclusion

Hacktivism seems to cover such a wide range of activities and motives, both legal and illegal that it cannot be classed as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but both in different situations. Some believe hacktivism is a form of protest and is therefore protected as a form of free speech.

You make your own decision on whether hacktivism is a force for good or bad – let me know what you think.

 

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

 

 

 

In November 2016, the UK government launched the new  Cyber Security Strategy, of which a major plank was the creation of The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as part of GCHQ and giving it a mandate to pursue the radical action required to better protect the UK's interests in cyberspace.

A key strand in this new approach is the NCSC's Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme, which aspires to protect the majority of people in the UK from the majority of the harm, caused by the majority of the attacks, for the majority of the time. It is intended to tackle the high-volume commodity attacks that affect people's everyday lives, rather than the highly sophisticated and targeted attacks which are dealt with in other ways.

What Does the ACD Programme Do?

It consists of a number of interventions  that perform a particular security service for public sector organisations.

1.      Takedown Service

This service works by requesting that hosting providers remove malicious content that is pretending to be related to UK government and also certain types of malicious content hosted in the UK. In 2017, the following results were achieved:-

·         18,067 unique phishing sites were removed across 2,929 attack groups that pretended to be a UK government brand, wherever in the world they were hosted.

·         This reduced the median availability of a UK government- related phishing site from 42 hours to 10 hours.

·         121,479 unique phishing sites were removed across 20,763 attack groups physically hosted in the UK, regardless of who it was pretending to be.

·         NCSC  worked with 1,719 compromised sites in the UK that were being used to host 5,111 attacks, intended to compromise the people that visited them. As a consequence, the median availability of these compromises has been reduced from 525 hours to 39 hours.

·         the month-by-month volume of each of these has fallen, suggesting that criminals are using the UK government brand less and hosting fewer of their malicious sites in UK infrastructure.

·         NCSC notified email providers about 3,243 Advance Fee Fraud attacks, pretending to be related to UK government.

·         NCSC have stopped several thousand mail servers being used to impersonate government domains and sending malware to people, in the expectation that the government link makes them more realistic.

 ·         The volume of global phishing has gone up significantly (nearly 50%) over the last 18 months, but the share hosted in the UK has reduced from 5.5% to 2.9%.

 2.      DMARC

DMARC helps email domain owners to control how their email is processed, making it harder for criminals to spoof messages to appear as though they come from a trusted address. Organisations that deploy DMARC properly can ensure that their addresses are not successfully used by criminals as part of their campaigns. NCSC are helping the public sector lead in deploying DMARC, including the prioritisation of 5,322 government domains for adoption in the first instance.

At the end of 2017, there are  555 (about 10%) government domains reporting to the Mail Check service.

The number of messages spoofed from an @gov.uk address (for example, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) has fallen consistently over 2017, suggesting that criminals are moving away from using them as fewer and fewer of them are delivered to end users.

Across the 555 public sector email domains reporting to Mail Check, we are seeing an average of 44.1 million messages a month which fail verification. Of those, an average of 4.5 million are not delivered to the end users. The peak in June saw 30.3 million spoofed messages not delivered to end users.

3.      Web Check

Web Check performs some simple tests on public sector websites to find security issues.

It provides clear and friendly reporting to the service owners, along with advice on how to fix the problems.

During 2017 Web Check performed 1,033,250 individual scans running 7,181,464 individual tests.

 

In that period, it found 2,178 issues relating to certificate management, 1 relating to HTTP implementation, 184 relating to out of date content management systems, 1,629 relating to TLS implementation, 76 relating to out of date server software and 40 other issues.

4.      Public Sector DNS

The Public Sector DNS service provides protective DNS services to public sector bodies that subscribe to it. It blocks access to known bad domains, where the block lists are derived from a combination of commercial, open source and NCSC threat feeds. It also performs analytics on the resolution data to find other security issues. The intent of the service is not just to block bad things, but to notify system owners so they can perform remediation.

At its peak in December 2017, the public sector DNS services was responding to 1.23 billion requests a week.

 During that peak week, 273,329 requests were blocked.

5.      Signalling and Routing

Work is ongoing to make both source and destination address spoofing in IP space much harder and the consequent impact this could have on using UK infrastructure as part of a DDoS attack and traffic hijacking.

 

In summary, there is clear evidence that NCSC is doing what it was setup for and is making a big dent in the world of scams, phishing, data breaches and more.

 Well done the NCSC in it’s first year.

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/ for further information

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The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the independent regulatory office dealing with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 across the UK plus several other related government acts.

 The Office's mission is to "uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals" 

The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty of up to £500,000.

The ICO is very busy as more than 140,000 concerns about nuisance marketing were reported to the ICO in 2016 – about 370 a day

The ICO has issued more than £1m in fines to cold call crooks in 12 months with another £2m of fines in the pipeline. There is an upcoming law change which would allow ICO to fine not only nuisance call companies but the directors behind them.

ICO Advice on How to Stop Nuisance Calls

1.       Tell the caller you don’t want to receive marketing calls from them. If the organisation continues to call you can report your concerns to ICO

 2.       Register for free with the Telephone Preference Service, a list of people who have opted out of receiving live marketing calls. If you register with the TPS and continue to receive nuisance live marketing calls 28 days after registering, you can complain either directly to the TPS or report your concerns to ICO.

Recent Fines

  •  In February 2016, the ICO fined Prodial, a lead generation company, £350,000 for making 46 million nuisance calls.
  • Nuisance call and spam text firms hit with £2m in fines by the ICO in 2016
  • A London firm behind over 156,000 spam texts has been fined £45,000 by the ICO.
  • Hamilton Digital Solutions fined £45,000 and ordered to stop illegal marketing or face further legal action.

 What About the Cold Callers Who Closedown To Avoid Prosecution?

When prosecuted, some of the cold calling companies have deliberately gone into liquidation so they cannot pay the fine and the prosecution comes to a stop.

The ICO is fighting back against this action by working with other regulators such as the Insolvency Service and Claims Management Regulator.

The Insolvency Service disqualified Hassim Iqbal, the director of personal injury claims management company Check Point Claims, from being a director for failing to comply with regulations relating to its business. Blackburn-based Check Point Claims failed to pay an ICO fine of £250,000 for making 17.5 million nuisance calls.

The Law

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. This will not be affected by the UK’s plans to leave the EU.

See www.fightbackonline.org/index.php/business/47-legal-changes-to-business-to-business-email-marketing  for further information on GDPR.

The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing – explaining their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:

marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;

cookies (and similar technologies);

keeping communications services secure; and

customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

Actions Taken in November 2017 by ICO

·         9,689 concerns were reported to the ICO in November 2017

·         Hamilton Digital Solutions were fined £45,000 for sending over 150,000 spam texts.

·         Enforcement notices

·         Hamilton Digital Solutions were also issued with an enforcement notice, ordering them to stop illegal marketing or face legal action.

·         177 cases were under investigation

·         25 third party information notices issued (these notices compel communications service providers to give information to the ICO).

Report Nuisance Callers

ICO rely on people reporting nuisance callers, so it’s important to report such problems.

To report a concern to the ICO telephone the helpline on 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know – go to the About page then Contact Us.

 

 

Do you need an essay written for you – at school, at college or even as a PhD student?

There are hundreds of essay writing services on the Internet offering to write essays on any subject, to whatever standard you choose and as fast as you need.

Of course, the higher the standard and the faster you need the result then the more you have to pay.

Example Prices at academic-paper.co.uk

An undergraduate assessment paper of 1 page guaranteed a 2.2 costs £13.77 within 10 days or up to £20.25 if needed within 3 hours.

A speech for High School use of 1 page delivered within a week costs £12.77

A PhD dissertation of 10000 words at first class level within one month costs £3,240

Plagiarism

These sites clam to produced non plagiarised work i.e. they don’t copy anything  - all of the content is original.

Some say this means the student shouldn’t be accused of cheating because the work is original, but of course it’s not written by the student which is the purpose after all.

 You may consider this to be cheating or just ‘helping’. However, by presenting someone else's work as your own you would be in breach of the plagiarism policy at any university. The papers might pass an online plagiarism scan, but the tutor may recognise the style or typical content is significantly different to your usual work and if asked to reproduce the work in a classroom situation – that may be impossible. 

The Facts

1.       These websites typically promise the results are plagiarism free (i.e. none of it is copied from someone else’s work), but there is obviously a big temptation for writers to make their lives easier by a little copying.

2.       The websites state that the work is for example or research only and is not to be handed in to a tutor or any exam body or similar. 

3.       Essay writing services do not directly employ writers normally – they have a bank of freelance writers who can be called upon to deliver specific pieces of work.  This gives them access to a wide range of writing talent but also makes them extremely dependent on the skills (and timekeeping etc.) of those freelance writers.  They may contract to provide you with a piece of work to a set standard by an agreed deadline but it all depends on the freelance writer assigned to the task.

4.       If the service fails to provide work to the agreed standard or deadline, there is little you can do beyond requesting a refund. You may only get a credit against another piece of work.

5.       Generally the higher the price then the better and/or  faster the work but that isn’t always true and some services give poor results (according to reviews) and trust that people won’t complain too much.

Customer Experience

It is quite difficult to find real reviews of the essay writing services as many of them try to capture any searches looking for bad reviews.  But there are genuine reviews on some sites e.g.

“What a disappointment and terrible experience.”

“This paper is without a doubt NOT college-level material! I asked them to revise the paper because of many errors that were very easy to recognize, and it did not even include some of the main points that I stated in the description of the assignment! Even after a revision, the paper was still not close to acceptable. Some of the many errors include: the first sentence did not even make sense, half of the paper was grammatically incorrect, it was in numerous different fonts, and the writer used bullets in the paper rather than writing it in essay format because they seemed to be too lazy to add to a body paragraph!”

“They did not even complete my assignment and the summaries I asked them to do? They basically copied and pasted excerpts directly from the articles and they had so many grammatical errors that I would have have to redo the assignment.”

“Terrible. Wasn’t completed on time. No direct quotes from research. Not in correct format. Messy disorganized. poor transitions and word choice. This paper is a sure "F" for me. What a waste of money. I even paid for a better writer. Never again.”

Crackdown on Essay Mills

The Universities minister (till January 2018), Jo Johnson, said: “Essay mill websites threaten to undermine the high quality reputation of a UK degree.”

He asked student organisations and the institutions for guidance to help combat “contract plagiarism”, where tens of thousands of students are believed to be buying essays for hundreds of pounds a time.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), believe there are now more than 100 essay mill websites in operation.

U.K. institutions develop their own plagiarism policies, but the QAA has recommended new laws to make it illegal to help students “commit acts of academic dishonesty for financial gain”, punishable with fines of up to £5,000.

The Irish government are working on new anti-cheating laws based on legislation introduced in New Zealand which makes it illegal to advertise or provide third-party assistance to cheat.  It is suggested the UK could also look to those laws as examples.

Essay Scammers

If you do use an essay writing service for its correct purpose i.e. for examples or research, then do consider for example testing the service before committing a lot of money and do check online reviews where possible.

Some scammers set-up fake essay writing websites and send out scam emails linking back to those sites. They may believe that few customers will contact the Police even if no essays are delivered.

 

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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