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Facebook Secret Emails

The UK parliament has been trying to hold Facebook to account following its lack of control on data sharing and the massive data breach in 2017 which affected 87 million people.

Cambridge Analytica

The Facebook–Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018 revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent and used it for political purposes. This was a shock to many people and showed Facebook had no regard for its user’s privacy or confidential information.

Six4Three

Six4Three are the makers of the app Pinkini and Pinkini was one of many businesses that shared data with Facebook until 2015, when Facebook changed its policies on how information was shared and this meant developers of the app were restricted in accessing data and culminated in the loss of business for Six4Three.

Six4Three then began a year long battle with Facebook.

The company claims Facebook misled developers by encouraging them to build applications based around promised access to data controls and privacy settings and then restricted access to that data.

Emails written by Facebook’s chief and his deputies show the firm struck secret deals to give some developers special access to user data while refusing others.

It is also clear that Facebook deliberately made it difficult for users to be aware of privacy changes to its Android app.

Damian Collins (UK Government chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee)

There was believed to be a secret cache of emails between Mark Zuckerberg and other executives that shows that Facebook knew about flaws in its privacy policy and allowed them to be actively exploited before the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

MPs discovered the documents were in the possession of an American software executive visiting London on a business trip and sent an official from the House of Commons to his hotel to retrieve them.

Parliament

It appears from documents that Facebook had been aware that an update to its Android app that let it collect records of users’ calls and texts would be controversial. To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features.

Facebook is also known to have used data provided by the Israeli analytics firm Onavo to determine which other mobile apps were being downloaded and used by the public. It then used this knowledge to decide which apps to acquire or otherwise treat as a threat

Conclusion

Another example of how Facebook ignore their user’s right to privacy in the belief that the information provided by the users belongs to Facebook and that Facebook can do anything it wants with that data and can treat other businesses as badly as it wishes to.

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Review of Fifty Scams and Hoaxes

Fifty Scams and Hoaxes is a new book by Martin Fone and is described as a light-hearted investigation into some of the worst examples of financial skulduggery, medical quackery and ingenious hoaxing from history. Along the way we will come across a Pope advocating a drink based on cocaine, a pill to avoid hangovers, a woman who gave birth to rabbits, the man who broke the bank twice and the first examples of insurance fraud and scam emails.

“Author Martin Fone explores the psychology and methodology deployed by the scammers and shows what can happen when avarice preys on credulity and gullibility. The key characteristics he unearths amongst his despicable gallery of scammers includes; incredible claims, creative use of advertising, playing on people’s fears and aspirations, unscrupulous business practices and, when it all goes wrong as it often does, a propensity to flee the scene and leave others to pick up the pieces”.

It’s an easy book to read and is entertaining. We tend to think of scams as either the modern scourge of email, text and Internet scams or the large scale financial fraud such as Ponzi schemes but Martin Fone steers clear of the most well-known scams such as people selling Tower Bridge repeatedly, the South Sea bubble etc. and instead finds nuggets in the world of scams.

People have been scamming each other I suspect since humans began trading and Martin has found some very early examples of scams we think of as modern day.

Such as the 419 scams that we all get via email where the scammer offers a fortune but there is a catch and the victim ends up repeatedly paying small amounts until they realise there is no fortune to be had. Martin found examples of this scam from the days of the French Revolution where prison guards would get names of wealthy people across France and create stories of a servant and his master trying to escape Revolutionary France with a trunk of gold but needs the recipient to look after valuable items temporarily for him.  There are no items of course and the wealthy person is conned into handing over modest monies in return for the said fortune which doesn’t exist.

My favourite story in the book is of a diamond mine scam in the middle of the Alaskan Gold Rush. People already hunting for gold are a good target for further scams and many were tricked till a diamond expert realised the find of diamonds and gems in the same location was an impossibility.

An enjoyable read.

Martin Fone’s website is at http://www.martinfone.com/

Martin Fone’s blog is at https://martinfone.wordpress.com/

You can buy the book at www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/business/fifty-scams-and-hoaxes

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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London Police Sent to India

In India, there are large numbers of scam call centres. It is scamming on an industrial scale and a high proportion of their fraudulent calls are made to UK and US citizens.

The FBI are on the case tracking down these criminals and working with Indian authorities to stop them.

Now, the City of London Police are deploying officers to India to combat these scammer’s multi-million pound racket.

It seems that some Indian call centres run legitimate work during the day then turn to scam calls during the night.

The UK Police have formed a special team to work on global solutions to fraud and part of that is building a capability to take the fight to the criminals.

This sounds a good idea – to get ahead of the scammers and stop them where they live and work.  International crime can be harder to track and to block but maybe this approach will improve matters.

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

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Massive Data Release on Internet

Collection #1 is a data set that was dumped onto the Internet. It contains 773 million email IDs and 21 million passwords and anybody can see the data.

Security researcher Troy Hunt runs the Have I Been Pwned website that lets people check if their email address has been in a data breach and he has analysed the data and uploaded it to his website haveibeenpwned.com so anyone can check if their details are included in this or any other high profile data breach. He does make the actual data available to anybody.

His analysis shows that Collection #1 is a set of email addresses and passwords totalling 2,692,818,238 rows. It’s made up of many different individual data breaches from literally thousands of different sources”

After cleaning the data and removing duplicates, it seems that 772,904,991 unique email addresses, along with 21,222,975 unique passwords are available in plain text. This does not include passwords that were found still in their hashed form.

Importantly, anyone who gets their hands on the cache can easily test the plain-text passwords against actual accounts. Approximately 140 million email accounts and some 10.6 million passwords were not known from past breaches.

If one or more of your accounts are in this data breach, then it is likely that one or more of your old passwords are available for others to see. Make sure you are not still using passwords from years ago.

Check if your accounts are included in the breach and if necessary change passwords and delete unnecessary accounts.

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Australian Scam Statistics for 2018

In 2018, people submitted 177,516 reports of scams to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The losses incurred by these people totalled $107,025,301.

Many people do not report scams as they may feel they are to blame or that the police cannot catch the scammers, so the real level of scamming losses is likely to be much higher than the quoted figure.

The highest number of losses occur through phishing i.e. people conning you into giving them your personal details such as login and password or card payment details, bank account etc.

‘Threats to life, arrest or other’ covers a lot of scams e.g. the scammer phones you pretending to be from a government department and demands an immediate payment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Safe Secure Investments

The Mai on Sunday has been tracking a business called Safe Secure Investments and its sister company Direct Property Investments. They both offer what seem amazing returns – sometimes 14% in a year.

They make it seem that they are registered with the FSA but they aren’t.

That means that if anything goes wrong there is no redress through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and you cannot complain to the Financial Ombudsman service.

The Safe Secure Investments website seems to be offline currently but direct-property-investments is Live and looking for clients.

If you are planning to invest in shares or commodities or property etc. do take expert advice and do not trust websites.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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