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Call Connection Services

Would anyone choose to pay £3.60 to be connected to a phone number that is well-known and free of charge?

The answer to that is that they wouldn’t do it deliberately.

However, imagine for example, your car breaks down and you’re stopped in a difficult place and in a hurry somewhere and it’s dark. A quick check on Google on your phone gives you a number for the RAC breakdown service and you call it.

Only afterwards do you realise that you called a call connect service rather than calling the RAC directly.

They advertise on Google and elsewhere to catch out people who are in a hurry or just inattentive to what’s actually on screen.

Your call will have cost about £10 more than it needed to.

Call connect services offer simply to put your call through to whoever you wanted – in this case the RAC breakdown line but they charge a lot for doing so. The RAC has free numbers but in the rush you missed that and the penalty for lack of attention is a bill you didn’t need.

Some of the call connection companies that place these adverts on Google etc. are up front about the fact you can dial directly and save money but some hide this fact.

Always call direct to save money and beware of ads on Google etc. designed to catch you out.

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Delisting on Google

In May 2014, the European Court of Justice established the “right to be forgotten,” i.e. the “right to delist,” allowing Europeans to ask search engines to delist information about themselves from search results.

Google must consider if the information in question is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive”—and whether there is a public interest in the information remaining available in search results.

Understanding how Google make these types of decisions—and how people are using new rights like those granted by the European Court—is important. Since 2014, Google have provided information about “right to be forgotten” delisting requests plus anonymized examples of some of the requests Google have received

Between 2014 and 2017, there have been 665,612 requests to delist covering 2,470,351 URLs.  Roughly 43% of requests to delist have been enacted and the rest refused as not complying with the guidelines for delisting.

Evaluating Requests

Google assess each request on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, Google may ask the individual for more information. After a request is submitted to Google it undergoes a manual review and once a decision has been reached, the individual will receive an email notifying him or her of the decision and, if Google do not delist the URL, a brief explanation.

Reasons Google Don’t Delist

A few common material factors involved in decisions not to delist pages include:-

  • the existence of alternative solutions
  • technical reasons
  • duplicate URLs

Google may also determine that the page contains information which is strongly in the public interest. Determining whether content is in the public interest is complex and may mean considering many diverse factors, including—but not limited to—whether the content relates to the requester’s professional life, a past crime, political office, position in public life, or whether the content is self-authored content, consists of government documents, or is journalistic in nature.

Google also publish some of the requests in an anonymized manner to allow debate and comment on whether delisting should occur in each example.

Example Request 1: Google received a request from the Austrian Data Protection Authority on behalf of an Austrian businessman and former politician to delist 22 URLs, including reputable news sources and a government record, from Google Search.

Outcome: We did not delist the URLs given his former status as a public figure, his position of prominence in his current profession, and the nature of the URLs in question.

Example Request 2: Google received a request from an individual to delist several URLs from Google Search about his election as leader of a political movement and other political positions he held when he was a minor.

Outcome: Google delisted 13 URLs as he did not appear to be currently engaged in political life and was a minor at the time. Google did not delist 1 URL as the page referred to a different person who had the same name as the requester.

Example Request 3: Google received a court order directed to Google Inc. to delist from Google Search a blog post about a professional who was convicted for threatening people with a weapon on a city street.

Outcome: Google appealed the decision, but lost the appeal. Google delisted the blog post.

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Radio Station Defeats Ransomware Attack

 

 

The radio station was hit by ransomware, some PCs ruined, a lot of music tracks gone and a lot to recover, but if you take precautions then the problems can be dealt with.

 

One computer displayed this message:-

Your information has been ransomed.

Your data has been encrypted and you cannot recover it unless you pay a ransom.

You will pay the ransom in Bitcoins and the longer you leave it before calling the higher the cost will be.

Checking PCs showed it wasn’t a hoax, there had been such an attack.

It’s a simple choice – do you pay and possibly get the decryption key or do you ignore the criminals and work to restore your systems? The chairman decided not to pay, on principle and he called the Police to report the crime.

The IT experts determined that while some encryption had taken place and hence those files were unusable, almost everything was intact despite the attackers warning. Only a few PCs had been attacked and the rest were untouched.

The Method of Attack

The means of attack was identified and the security loophole blocked at the firewall.

The criminals had used a flaw in Microsoft remote control desktop to access the systems without needing a password.  The software was then deleted off all computers.

The Recovery Process

Now the bad guys could no longer access the systems, it was safe to start purging the encrypted data and restore from backup.  Without appropriate backups things would have been much worse.

Key Lessons

  1. Comprehensive regular backups are absolutely essential, including off site backups
  2. Any connections to the Internet must be well protected
  3. Only run systems and services through an external firewall if essential and ensure these are well protected
  4. Ensure all security patches are installed ASAP
  5. Take regular security audits
  6. Be prepared for such an attack and plan for how to deal with the aftermath

For the more detailed version of this story go to http://www.fightbackonline.org/index.php?id=112:radio-station-fights-off-ransomware-attack

For an introduction to ransomware, look at https://fightback.ninja/ransomware-what-is-it-2/

Or at https://www.fightbackonline.org/index.php/guidance/12-explanations/19-ransomware-what-is-it-and-how-do-i-protect-against-it

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The Scale of Cyber Crime UK

The City of London Police Commissioner Ian Dyson was a victim of credit card fraud some years ago when criminals used his credit card to pay for a hotel stay and tried to pay for their car insurance with his card.

It is estimated that 5.6 million fraud and cyber-crimes are committed each year, of which only about 10% are reported to the Police.   This does include virus attacks etc. and some things that many people would not expect to report to the Police but that still leaves a lot of crimes that are unreported, but should be reported.

Recent statistics show that of the fraud and cyber-crimes reported, only about 10% are investigated by Police.

A lot of online crime is effectively anonymous and there is little anyone can do to track down and stop the perpetrators.

Prevention can be the most practical method for getting to grips with such crimes – warning and educating  people to have proper security for their online accounts and  to behave with common sense in all dealings online.

However, the Police do have a great deal of success in restricting the actions of the criminals.

In the year to March 2017, the Police shut down 170,856 websites, bank accounts and phone lines connected to cyber criminals.

The banks and other financial institutions and payment services have a huge role to play in keeping us safe online and paying recompense to victims when necessary.

The authorities are progressively clamping down on online crime, but are always several steps behind the criminals.

Be careful

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