Category: information

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 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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TSB Punished by Customers

A recent poll by Which magazine shows that TSB is now regarded as poor and rated even lower than RBS and other lenders responsible for the financial crisis.

In February 2018, TSB was highly ranked by its customers as a bank you can trust, but then the sky fell in for the bank when their new IT systems that hadn’t been tested sufficiently collapsed and many customers were locked out of their accounts for days or weeks in some cases.

Some customers had accidental access to other people’s accounts, the bank had little idea of what to do and their communication with customers was poor leaving many very angry at what happened.

To make matters worse, many fraudsters jumped on the bandwagon and began sending fake emails and making calls to TSB customers, leading to a large number of frauds.

The problems led the FCA to begin an investigation with the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Up to 1.9 million people using TSB’s digital and mobile banking found themselves locked out of their bank accounts following the migration of data on customers from former owner Lloyds’ IT system to a new one managed by current owner Sabadell.

TSB CEO Dr Pester told MPs on the Treasury Committee that he took “absolute responsibility” for the problems, but said the migration of billions of customer records was successful “to the penny” and the underlying engine of the bank was “working well”.

Paul Pester lost his job but the damage done to consumer confidence will take a long time to recover.

The problems had a simple cause – inadequate testing of the new systems in order to save time and stay on schedule.  That was a bad judgement.

The lesson is clear – do not take risks with customer data as you may end up very sorry.

If you’ve had bad experiences with TSB – let me know by email.

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Engaging Works

This is a new set of Internet services at created by Mark Price, the former Managing Director of Waitrose and Deputy Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. He says that driven by his belief in the potential of happier employees to transform businesses, he has developed a set of simple tools for companies and individuals to use.

The most popular of these so far is the happiness survey.

It’s quick and easy to fill in and measures your happiness level at work compared to others in similar industries.

Marks believes the key factors for happy employees are:

  1. Job satisfaction
  2. Information Sharing
  3. Fair reward and recognition
  4. Empowerment
  5. Well-being
  6. Instilling Pride

There is also a career developer tool, mentor matching, online chats, messenger and more

Mark has big plans as he wants to challenge Facebook and others and he starts out with a belief that the customer’s data belongs to them not to him (unlike Facebook).

We’ll see how well he succeeds as he develops more tools in this market.

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Financial Loss Due to Fraud



Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales. Office of National Statistics. 2017 data.

 Cost Fraud Involving Financial Loss (%) Cumulative Loss (%)
Less than £20 9.0 9.0
£20 – £99 30.0 39.0
£100 – £249 18.8 57.9
£250 – £499 14.5 72.3
£500 – £999 10.9 83.2
£1000 – £2,499 9.6 92.8
£2,500 – £4,999 4.2 97.0
£5,000 – £9,999 1.7 98.7
£10,000 – £19,999 0.8 99.4
£20,000 and above 0.6 100.0

You can see from the figures that there were modest losses (less than £100) for 39 % of victims, but at the other extreme, some people lost more than £20,000.

The higher losses are most commonly from frauds involving house purchase and investment fraud.

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Are Amazon Vine Reviews Genuine?

Amazon Vine is a service for Amazon’s “most trusted” reviewers – a sort of club for top reviewers. These reviewers are called Vine Voices and they get new and pre-release items to review and to keep. So that is a good benefit.

A Vine review on a product is identified with a green stripe. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers. Amazon provides Vine members with free products that have been submitted to the programme by participating vendors.

Amazon say that Vine reviews are the independent opinions of the Vine Voices as the vendor cannot influence, modify or edit the reviews. Amazon does not modify or edit Vine reviews, as long as they comply with the posting guidelines. Amazon Vine is an invitation-only programme. Customers who consistently write helpful reviews and develop a reputation for expertise in specific product categories are most likely to be invited into the programme.

  1. Are Vine Voices expected to write only positive reviews?

No. We welcome honest opinion about the product – positive or negative. Of course Vine reviews must conform to all our posting guidelines. Customers can vote on the helpfulness of Vine reviews just like they can for any other review.

  1. Are Vine Voices paid for writing reviews or pressured to write favourable reviews?

No. Voices are not paid to participate in the programme and write reviews

All Vine products are submitted by vendors to Amazon, and distributed by Amazon to the Vine Voices. Vendors have no contact with the Vine Voices, and have no influence over which Vine Voices will review their products.

You have to conclude that Amazon Vine reviews are genuine and as they are written by the ‘best’ reviewers, you may want to check their reviews (where available) before purchasing relevant items.

Do leave a comment on this post if you are a Vine Voice or if you have opinions on this matter – click on the post title then scroll down to leave your comment.

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Fakespot Identifies Fake Reviews

The website at was created to “Bring trust back to the Internet” say the owners.

Fakespot is a data analytics company that wants to change the way people read reviews and similar content.

They believe that authentic user reviews are just about the best thing to come out of the Internet. However, the user review system is often abused by sellers that pay for reviews, by companies trying to make their competition look bad, and technologies that pretend to be real reviewers.

How to Use Fakespot

Fakespot can scan all of the reviews for any product or service you select on Yelp™ or Amazon™, Trip Advisor and Apple APP store and tell you whether the reviews are generally reliable or generally unreliable through the letter grade system.

With so many online shopping options, a strong or weak product review can have a huge impact on whether or not a purchase is made. The credibility of these reviews is undermined by businesses who leave fake reviews for themselves or for their competitors – or by individuals with an undisclosed bias.

Fakespot does not review products so cannot tell you how good a product is, it simply analyses the existing reviews looking for patterns that indicate authenticity or otherwise.

Fakespot uses various techniques to evaluate the authenticity of reviews, including:-.

  • English language pattern recognition
  • The profile of the reviewer
  • Correlation with other reviewer data

The algorithm uses machine learning to constantly improve itself by looking at profile clusters, sentiment analysis and cluster correlation. We use artificial intelligence that has been trained to pick up on patterns. The more data that flows into the system, the better the system gets at the detecting fakes.

Amazon unverified reviews are considered unreliable by Fakespot because when the system associates a product review with a product purchase, that review is from a “verified purchaser”. These reviews are in most cases reliable, since Amazon has already confirmed an actual purchase of the product being reviewed.

But, if an Amazon review is not from a ‘verified purchaser’ there is no way of knowing for sure if the reviewer even used the product. While it is possible that a reviewer could have purchased the product elsewhere and left a review on Amazon at a later date, without purchase verification, it is impossible to tell.

Also, Fakespot systems have shown that most paid reviews come from unverified purchasers.

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Statistics on Fraud



Government statistics on fraud include analysis by age, qualifications, ethnic group etc. for the year 2016

Age Group Overall (%) Men (%) Women (%)
16-24 4.8 4.8 4.8
25-34 7.9 7.1 8.6
35-44 7.7 8.4 7.1
45-54 7.5 6.7 8.3
55-64 6.4 7.1 5.6
65-74 4.9 5.3 4.5
74+ 3.3 4.4 2.4


You can see from these figures that the age group with the highest incidence of fraud is the 25 – 54 year olds. There could be many reason for this but the most obvious is that this group is likely the most financially active and hence there are more occasions where they can be defrauded.

The separate figures for men and women are roughly the same and show nearly the same pattern by age.

The government statistics also include analysis by marital status and this shows little difference between marrieds and unmarried, except for much lower reports of fraud for widowed people. This is likely to be for the reason that this is largely an older group of people and hence less financially active on average.

The analysis by occupation is interesting in that the greatest incidence of fraud is for those in the professional / managerial group. This may be due to these people being more likely to be involved with investments, overseas properties, visits to major events around the world etc. which create more opportunities to be victims of fraud.

There are various other analyses of the data and the analysis by highest qualification achieved shows highest levels of fraud for those with a degree or equivalent.  This may be due to these people having a higher level of income or can you think of a more likely reason?

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Fake Designer Goods

Market stalls, tourist spots, high streets, beaches, the Internet – all places where you are likely to come across people selling fake designer goods.

But is there any harm in nabbing a pair of “Louboutins” from a market, or a “Chanel” handbag from a girl selling them on a foreign beach?

The answer depends a lot on the situation and what the buyer expects. If you make an impulse buy in a tourist market and pick up fake perfume – as long as you know it’s going to be fake then that’s up to you. Whereas if you invest a lot of money in an APPLE iPhone believing it to be genuine but at a bargain price and then find out the item is a cheap knock-off – you’re not going to be pleased.

The argument that by buying fakes you are doing the legitimate business out of their sales is true sometimes but most people are never going to buy the expensive designer goods and buying something that looks expensive but was cheap may be harmless fun.

Fake goods do damage the reputation of the legitimate companies and chances are the fakes are made in much worse factories and conditions than the genuine articles, so should be avoided for that reason alone.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau advises consumers to avoid buying fake goods because “you’re helping the trader to break the law”. “Many fraudsters use the proceeds from selling counterfeit goods to fund drug dealing or other types of organised crime”

“In 2010, Louis Vuitton initiated 10,673 raids and 30,171 anti-counterfeiting procedures worldwide, resulting in the seizure of thousands of counterfeit products and the breaking up of criminal networks.”

“So long as people know what they’re getting, there’s really no need to get worked up about it.”

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