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Brian Pennington

A blog about Cyber Security & Compliance

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IdentityTheft

Big increase in communications fraud

CIFAS, a UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, has reported on frauds recorded by its 260 member organisations during the 9 nine months of 2011.

The report reveals a 34% increase in fraud related to communications products, when compared with the same period in 2010.

CIFAS conclude that some “communications” products, for example smartphones like the iPhone handsets are viewed as essential items rather a luxury items which infers an entitlement to commit fraud.

CIFAS have also seen:

  • 93% increase in impersonation of the victim at their current address, also known as current address fraud
  • 85% increase in the use of completely fictitious
  • 64% surge in identity fraud individuals trying to gain a obtain products or services
  • 20% increase in misuse of facility cases

CIFAS Communications Manager, Richard Hurley, notes:

“The rise in current address fraud alarms because it signifies either that fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated (as it is more difficult to impersonate someone at their address and then try to intercept goods or paperwork), or it demonstrates that friends, family and co-habitees are involved. Allied to the similarly enormous increase in the use of completely false identities, this surely indicates that communications products have become so essential that fraudsters not only obtain goods or handsets to sell on but will also attempt to use any identity in order to avoid becoming liable for bills.”

“nearly 100% of this increase can be accounted for by regular payment fraud, where fraudulent direct debit instructions are given in an attempt to evade the payment of bills. The reality of the situation is that the communications product, device or service has become so embedded in our lives that many of us seem unable to do without them. With sacrifices having to be made by most individuals and households, these figures depressingly indicate that many people feel that, economically, they have no choice but to attempt fraud in order to continue receiving such services.”

CIFAS Notes

  1. CIFAS is the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, a not for profit Membership organisation with over 260 cross sector Members including banking, credit cards, asset finance, retail credit, mail order, insurance, telecommunications and the public sector. Members lawfully share information on frauds in the fight to prevent further fraud.
  2. The following tables show a summary of communications fraud cases recorded by CIFAS Members, broken down by the type of fraud identified. Definitions are given below the table.
Jan to Sept 2010 Jan to Sept 2011 % Change
Application Fraud 3,679 4,347 18%
Facility Takeover Fraud 5,292 4,330 -18%
Identity Fraud 12,673 20,842 64%
Misuse of Facility Fraud 3,430 4,125 20%
Total 25,074 33,644 34%
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13% of Britains are “casual hackers” and 16% have been hacked…

CPP Group
Image via Wikipedia

CPP Group Plc a “life assistance company“ has published its research into people accessing other people’s data without their permission, also known as hacking.

The results are alarming, with “13% admitting they have accessed someone else’s online account details without their permission”.

CPP have coined the term “casual hacking” with Facebook and similar social sites being the most targeted. Further research results are below:-

  • 32% casually dismissed their hacking as something they did ‘just for fun’
  • 29% admitted they did it to check up on their “other half”
  • 8% admitted they were checking on a work colleague
  • 2% were not just “spying”, they were aiming to make a financial gain

16% of people have had their own online password-protected information accessed without their permission

Of those who have had their data accessed

  • 24% have had their personal e-mails accessed
  • 7% claim to have had their work e-mails accessed
  • 19% say their eBay accounts have been hacked
  • 16% had their social networking profiles hacked
  • 10% claim to have had money or a loan taken out in their name

Identity fraud expert from CPP, Danny Harrison said: “People may dismiss checking up on their friend or partner’s accounts as a bit of fun, but in reality they are hacking. Looking at someone’s personal information without their knowledge is a serious act and one that could have serious repercussions both personally and professionally. We would urge everyone to be very careful about sharing passwords and to be vigilant about monitoring their accounts.”

The CPP research also polled the “casual hackers” about their knowledge and attitudes towards tutorials and hacking advice being available on the internet.

  • 17% of people aware of their existence
  • 87% agree that this kind of material should not be available online
  • 63% think ‘hacking’ tutorials should be removed from the internet
  • 56% saying the Government should take action to remove ‘hacking’ tutorials from the internet
  • 59% feel these videos and step-by-step guides increase the risk of identity fraud

Danny Harrison continued: “Hacking presents a risk to consumers and businesses and it is important people take the necessary steps to protect their identities and manage any compromised data. People are concerned about their password protected information being accessed without their permission and we are calling on the Government to review access to these online hacking lessons.”

CPP’s have produced their top tips on protecting your information from hackers:

  1. Change your passwords regularly – the longer and more obscure, the better
  2. Leave a website if you notice strange behaviour (unknown certificates, pop-ups etc.)
  3. Avoid transmitting sensitive data over public (free or otherwise) Wi-Fi
  4. When seeking Wi-Fi connections: know who you are connecting to, be wary of free Wi-Fi access
  5. If using a Smartphone: disable Wi-Fi ‘auto-connect’
  6. If you are concerned about identity fraud, consider purchasing an identity fraud protection product to help you detect, prevent and resolve any incidence of the fraud

CPP’s website can be found here.

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Risk of identity theft in hotel declines – USATODAY.com

Hotels are no longer the No. 1 target of hackers in their quest to steal credit card information but your data still has a higher chance of being stolen inside a hotel, a veteran cybersleuth tells Hotel Check-In.

Last year, hotels became a top priority for online criminals seeking to steal travelers’ credit-card information and other data.

But this year, online thieves are now focusing on restaurants, Nicholas Percoco, senior vice president and head of SpiderLabs at data security firm Trustwave, told me. That means they might target a posh hotel restaurant with a sommelier, a fast-food joint or anything else in between.

Thieves started to ease up on hotel computer systems in mid-2010, about 18 months after attacking Wyndham hotel computers and computers of other chains.

I asked Percoco if hotels moved down a notch because the industry spent more money to protect their computer systems, if travelers got smarter or if thieves just decided to move on.

It’s a mix, he told me. Many of the big chains – like Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group, though he wouldn’t name names – have thrown resources to shore up their computer security, he told me.

Furthermore, all the media reports about hotels being at risk for cybercrimes made the thieves fearful that they could get caught.

As they did with hotels, these cybercriminals look for a weak link in a restaurant or fast-food chain and enter their computer system to steal credit-card information and other data

Risk of identity theft in hotel declines – USATODAY.com.

http://travel.usatoday.com/hotels/post/2011/02/trustwave-spiderlabs-hotels-hackers-identity-security/142372/1

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