Tag Archives: Cyber ​​crime

Cyber ​​threats loom over German elections | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News

When Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) meets online to elect a new party leadership in January, the hackers carried out a series of massive attacks aimed at turning the summit into chaos. The attacks accelerate each time the delegate will vote.

According to a CDU spokesman, the attackers, mostly operating from abroad, bombarded the party’s website with internet traffic to flood its servers. At some point, they were successful. The site collapsed and the live stream of the event was stopped.

In the end, the CDU managed to push the intruders out: Party technical staff regained the website by blocking access from outside Germany and certain locations inside the country. Meanwhile, unfazed by the attack, the delegation elects a new party leader via a voting system hosted on a separate server – protection in place to fend off cyber intruders.

The digital CDU party conference in January was attacked by hackers

But the failed attack illustrates the threat of online interference looming over Germany’s upcoming election campaign.

As Europe’s largest economy heads into a series of regional votes that will culminate in federal elections in September, security experts and lawmakers have warned in interviews that digital risks are on the rise.

“The threat level remains high,” said a spokesman for the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), Germany’s cybersecurity authority.

BSI has observed a consistent increase in hacking attacks and online data breaches, he said. Both measures “could be used by potential attackers to influence elections coming up this year.”

US tech giant Microsoft, which advises German political parties on how to protect their election campaigns from cyberattacks, warns that malicious actors are diversifying their strategy: They are increasingly using more than one cyber weapon in their attacks, making it increasingly difficult to fight them.

“It is such a hybrid attack that is of particular concern to us and others in the technology industry,” said Jan Neutze, who heads the company’s Democracy Defense Program.

Threats are threefold

To better understand the cyber threat that depends on German elections, it is worth breaking them down into three categories.

First, there is hacking: gaining unauthorized access to data in systems or computers. Since coronavirus restrictions are likely to move campaigns from the streets onto the internet, hackers can infiltrate party networks and disrupt campaign events with tactics similar to those used during CDU summits.

Infiltrators might even try to sabotage the actual voting on election night, September 26, by hacking into software used to count votes or into programs used by officials to report preliminary results.

Germany’s BSI said it was working with authorities and candidates to help them protect themselves from such attacks.

But such security measures will not help counter what is seen as the second major cyber threat: misleading or misinformation disseminated to manipulate voters’ thinking or behavior.

Threat of disinformation

Tankred Schipanski, lawmaker and digital policy spokesman for Merkel’s conservative bloc, described the disinformation campaign as “our biggest challenge.” The representative added that such campaigns “are often organized and financed abroad but are spread with the help of domestic actors such as Alternative for Germany,” Germany’s right-wing party known by its acronym, AfD.

Social scientists discovered that false information criminalizing refugees spread before the last federal election in 2017 pushed voters to the AfD.

This year, AfD officials have tried to cast doubt on the impending vote by spreading unlawful accusations that incoming ballots could be easily manipulated – a move that takes inspiration from Donald Trump’s campaign to discredit postal voting.

Germany’s right-wing party, whose voters have traditionally preferred to vote in person, has criticized efforts to facilitate postal voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Such amendments, they argued, would be introduced specifically to the detriment of AfD.

Similar disinformation campaigns have sprung up around the world. They are so numerous and sophisticated that experts coined the term “infodemic”.

In December, US tech giant Facebook closed 17 large-scale coordinated efforts on its platform, a record. One user targeted in Germany, although not related to the election.

In late February, a Facebook spokesperson said the company, which has more than 43 million users in Germany, “has not seen any evidence of … operations targeting German elections” but added that the company was “remaining vigilant” – at least because of that.revival of new deepfake technology which allows users to create realistic fake videos that feature people doing or saying things they never did.

Hybrid attack

Then there’s a third type of cyber threat looming over elections: complex operations known as “hybrid attacks.” These combine hacking with distorted information placement, and they often start with intruders breaking into the accounts of political decision makers or their confidants posing as trusted contacts.

Such phishing attempts are becoming more frequent and professional. The majority of what Microsoft detects can be traced back to Russia and China, but also North Korea and Iran. “It is legitimate to say that actors from these countries have the capability and, at least in part, the geopolitical interest to be active around the German federal elections as well,” Neutze said.

After the hack, the obtained destructive material was stored online, where it took his own life.

Users who do not know the origin of the material share it on social media or messenger services. Once it reaches a number of people, it tends to be picked up by political players with a larger following. They were, in turn, quoted by professional journalists, who brought the issue to public debate.

What makes fighting such a hybrid campaign so difficult is that leaking material is often innocent, but distorted or deliberately taken out of context to cause harm.

Therefore, experts talk about “misinformation” rather than “disinformation”. They say increasing digital media literacy among social media users is key to helping them recognize information designed to be deceptive.

Germany, however, has missed several opportunities to build such resilience among a population of 83 million over the past ten years, said Manuel Höferlin, lawmaker for the opposition Free Democrats and spokesman for the party’s digital policy.

“It was a big failure,” he added.

The party campaign billboard from 2017 features Angela Merkel and her opponent Martin Schulz

Germany has strict rules and restrictions for election campaigns in the offline world

There are no rules for online campaigns

Complicating the situation even more is that even though social media companies have rules for their platforms, political online advertising remains unregulated in Germany.

In the offline world, the country has strict rules and restrictions for election campaigns, such as limiting the time a campaign billboard can remain active or limiting the time slots for campaign ads on TV – but no such restrictions apply to online campaigns.

The European Union has drawn up proposals to organize a digital campaign, but it will take years to implement, and Berlin is running out of time to create its own national rulebook.

Behind closed doors, talks are being held over whether the state party can agree to a voluntary code of conduct for an upcoming online campaign. This could include deals that would require them to tag online campaign ads, or prohibit buying followers or likes.

Decisions could be made in the coming weeks, according to an official involved in the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“And if some parties refuse to participate, that in itself will tell,” the official said.


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Brazil’s Covid-19 Variant Inundates Local Hospitals, Attacking Younger Patients | Instant News

SÃO PAULO – Researchers and doctors sound the alarm a new, more aggressive type of coronavirus from the Amazon region of Brazil, which they believe is responsible for the recent increase in deaths, as well as infections in younger people, in parts of South America.

Brazil’s daily death toll from the disease climbed to its highest level this week, pushing the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the country past a quarter of a million. On Tuesday, Brazil reported a record 1,641 deaths from Covid. Neighboring Peru is struggling to curb a second wave of infections.


Should the world community do more to distribute vaccines to poor countries? Join the conversation below.

The new variant, known as P.1, was 1.4 to 2.2 times more contagious than the version of the virus previously found in Brazil, and 25% to 61% more capable of reinfecting people who had been infected with the previous strain, according to a study. released Tuesday.

With mass vaccination away across the region, countries like Brazil are at risk of becoming breeding grounds strong virus version that could make the current Covid-19 vaccine less effective, public health specialists warn.

A more prolonged pandemic could also devastate the economies of countries like Brazil, slow growth and widen already large piles of sovereign debt as governments make payments to the poor, economists say.

“We have a dramatic situation here – the health systems in many states in Brazil have collapsed and others will be damaged in the coming days,” said Eliseu Waldman, an epidemiologist at the University of São Paulo.

Health workers check arrivals at a field hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on Feb.11.


raphael alves / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

Several doctors have reported a surge in younger patients on their Covid-19 wards, many in their 30s and 40s with no underlying health problems. In Peru, some doctors said patients became seriously ill sooner, just three or four days after first symptoms appeared, compared with an average of nine to 14 days last year.

“This virus behaves differently,” said Rosa Lopez, a doctor in the intensive care unit at Guillermo Almenara Irigoyen Lima Hospital. “It is very aggressive … the situation is very difficult, very dire.”

The Amazonian strain, P.1, emerged in the Brazilian city of Manaus late last year and quickly caught the attention of Brazilian and international scientists racing to map its distribution. The large number of variant mutations to the spike protein, which help the virus penetrate cells, is of particular concern.

“We are at the worst of times. I wouldn’t be surprised if P.1 were all over Brazil now, ”said Felipe Naveca, a researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation who has studied the new strain. He estimates that Brazil is already home to hundreds of new Covid-19 variants, even though P.1. is the most worrying so far, he said.

However, researchers are still confused as to why more young people are getting sick and whether P.1 is more deadly, or more contagious.

“The recent epidemic in Manaus has weighed on the city’s health care system, leading to inadequate access to medical care,” wrote study author P.1, led by Nuno Faria, a professor of viral evolution at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. .

People wait to fill empty oxygen cylinders on the southern outskirts of Lima, Peru, on Feb.25.


ernesto benavides / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

“We were therefore unable to determine whether the estimated increased relative risk of death was due to P.1 infection, pressure on the Manaus health care system, or both,” they wrote.

A study led by Mr Naveca released last week showed that in some cases the P.1 strain carried a viral load about 10 times higher than the initial version of the virus circulating in Brazil for most of the pandemic. But an international group of scientists led by Mr Faria concluded that it would not be possible to determine whether P.1 infection was associated with increased viral load until detailed clinical investigations were carried out.

Researchers in South Africa grapple with the same questions while studying Another new variant, B.1.351. Doctors there also reported increased hospitalizations and deaths for younger patients, but the researchers concluded that more younger people became seriously ill as more people became infected overall. The likelihood of younger people dying increased, they said, because hospitals were overwhelmed, not because the variant itself was more lethal.

Another possible explanation for the increase in younger patients is that the virus has spread through many of the elderly who have died, said Francisco Cardoso, an infectious disease specialist at Emílio Ribas hospital in São Paulo.

Latin America has been one of the world’s Covid-19 hotspots since the pandemic began, but in recent days doctors in Brazil have grown increasingly desperate, portraying horror scenes across the country. While the new strains are largely to blame, so is a lack of preparation and prevention by regional governments, said public health specialists.

Hospitals operate with ICU occupancy rates above 80% in nearly two-thirds of Brazilian states. After many patients suffocate in Manaus Earlier this year when the hospital ran out of oxygen, prosecutors were investigating reports from another Amazon city that intubated patients were tied to their beds after a sedative shortage.

In Peru, where the government has detected the P.1 strain, hospitals were quickly pushed out of capacity as infections spiked in January after one of the world’s worst outbreaks last year. Doctors are now choosing among dozens of patients when the ICU beds are open, while Chile is donating rescue oxygen amid an acute shortage.

The scene comes as the US, UK and Israel celebrate falling infection rates amid a mass vaccination campaign, evidence of a widening immunity gap between rich and poor countries. While more than 15% of people in the US have received a Covid-19 shot, Brazil has administered the vaccine to only 3% of the population. Peru and Colombia have vaccinated less than 1%.

If Latin America doesn’t find a way to speed up vaccination campaigns, other countries such as Colombia and Bolivia that have seen a slowdown in recent infections could also fall victim to the new variant, infectious disease specialists said.

The longer the disease is allowed to rot in countries like Brazil, the more likely it is that new variants will emerge that reduce the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine, thus also becoming a threat to countries that have immunized their populations.

“Unless everyone in the world gets the vaccine immediately, none of us will be protected,” said Patricia Garcia, a former Peruvian health minister and epidemiologist. It will never stop.

Cesar Palacios, a 44-year-old pediatrician in the northern Peruvian city of Piura, lost his parents and younger sister to the disease earlier this year. She spent 10 days on a ventilator after she fell ill herself, her illness escalating rapidly as oxygen levels in her blood dropped to dangerous territory, at 86% just a day after her first symptoms. A few days later he was in the ICU.

“When you are going to be on a mechanical ventilator, you think, am I going to live? Am I going to die? “Said Dr. Palacios. “I have no other choice. I am very afraid. “

While Peru has imposed a curfew on Lima and other states with high infections, Brazilian cities such as São Paulo and its capital, Brasília, have imposed stricter restrictions over the past few days.

But many Brazilians break the rules, following directions from the country’s president. Right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro has played down the disease and attacked state governors for imposing a lockdown, accusing them of destroying local businesses.

The military police in São Paulo raided about 50 companies over the weekend that refused to comply, including a group of 190 elderly Brazilians holding a clandestine party.

As a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus spreads around the world, scientists are racing to understand why this new version of the virus is spreading faster, and what this means for the vaccine effort. New research says the key may be spike protein, which gives the coronavirus its unmistakable shape. Illustration: Nick Collingwood / WSJ

Write to Samantha Pearson at [email protected] and Ryan Dube at [email protected]

Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8


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Targeting Palau and other Island States, China Threatens Human Rights and Pacific Security | Instant News


First of 2 parts

On 9 December 2020, International Anti-Corruption Day, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a press release detailing sanctions against criminal networks in Africa and Asia, including Palau. OFAC applies the Magnitsky Global Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuses. But why Palau?

China’s manipulation of the Palau Presidential Election

On November 3, 2020, primary elections were held in Palau with presidential candidates who have publicly discussed the possibility of switching diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. The Republic of Palau is a Pacific island country that has established diplomatic relations with Taiwan since its independence in 1994. There are currently 15 countries in the world that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, including four in the Pacific: Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu.

Palau’s presidential election is a substantive battle between the incumbent Vice President and Minister of Justice, Raynold Oilouch, and former congressman and businessman Surangel Whipps, Jr. It was Vice President Oilouch who publicly supported the establishment of relations with China. Although Palau has maintained ties with Taiwan since its independence, Oilouch promised in his campaign speech that turning to China could lead to economic development. If Oilouch becomes President, Palau will most likely establish diplomatic relations with China.

The election results saw Surangel Whipps, Jr. win significant wins. At the same time, there were rumors that a lot of money flowed from China to Oilouch, and the cash was being distributed among voters. If this is true, the outcome of this election will be a victory for the Palauan people over Chinese money. It is clear that the Chinese infiltration had corrupted Palauan society and caused unrest among the people.

Former US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who visited the country on August 28, must have been as relieved as the national election results. The United States, which has signed a special defense and diplomatic agreement with Palau, plans to install a multi-billion dollar ballistic missile radar facility on the country’s Angaur Island. There are fears that if diplomatic ties with China are established, China’s infiltration of Palau, which has a population of less than 20,000, will continue even further. This will not only affect Palau, but could lead to a broader Indo-Pacific security crisis.

I want summarize the articles I wrote together in August 2020 with Jennifer Anson, Director of the Palau Ministry of Justice’s Human Trafficking Office, for JAPAN Forward.

The Chinese threat has not only military implications: In 2015, Palau saw a Chinese entry by receiving direct charter flights from mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong. Many Chinese “investors” pay large sums of money to acquire land and buildings on 50 to 99 year leases. The possibility of money laundering is undeniable as most of these “investments” have been abandoned.

Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, speaks in a recorded message for the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Wednesday, 23 September 2020 (UNTV via AP)

Cyber ​​crime in Asia and the Pacific Islands

Illegal online gambling operations have also skyrocketed with the influx of Chinese money. In January 2020, law enforcement agencies arrested three different online gambling operations and arrested around 150 Chinese nationals. In June, they arrested, tried and convicted about 60 Chinese people in another operation, and in September, they tampered with another gambling operation at a hotel, and linked Chinese workers to a prominent Palau senator.

The Ministry of Justice has evidence that these operations are still ongoing in several hotels and buildings throughout Palau.

Why is China promoting online gambling operations in Palau when China has banned gambling? Likewise Cambodia, Myanmar, Vanuatu, Philippines, etc. Where law and order are lax, the state becomes a prime target for criminal activity. There are concerns that online gambling could spread to all kinds of cybercrime in a number of countries. Young Chinese men and women, even teenagers, are involved in these crimes and may be victims of human trafficking. These minors have been recruited to Palau from places such as Cambodia, where online gambling is prohibited.

What exactly is cyber crime being committed? In Cambodia, for example, hundreds or even thousands of Chinese people live illegally without work visas. They work in hotel rooms where hundreds of computers connect people from all over the world as participants in virtual currency investments and online gaming. They not only withdraw money for games and investments, but also obtain credit card information from customers and make unauthorized withdrawals.

The Palau National Congress discussed a bill that would amend the existing casino bill and ignore the illegal activities of Chinese cybercriminals in Palau. The President of the Senate and the current Chair of the Council of Delegations, both of whom were re-elected in national elections, have stated that they want to explore online gambling as a way to aid economic recovery in the next government.

While law enforcement authorities struggle every day to catch Chinese cyber criminals, officials protect them. According to various sources, Oilouch’s Vice President and Justice Minister instructed the task force to return all confiscated computers and equipment to Chinese people, and only prosecute Chinese people with labor violations (working without permission), and not prosecute them online. gambling.

The arrests in June this year resulted in confiscation of evidence and a guilty verdict in court. However, this time the Attorney General issued an unusual written advice, stating that the special prosecutor had acted beyond his authority. It was widely rumored that this was another instruction from Justice Minister Oilouch.

The current president, Tommy Remengesau, Jr., also had a hand in his involvement with the Chinese crime syndicate in Palau. Last April, an article appeared in the press with a photo of Wan Kuok Koi, leader of the Macau’s 14K Triad, shaking hands with President Remengesau. The president has signed a letter of approval for the formation of the Palau China Hung-Mun Cultural Association, with the aim of cultural and charitable activities in Palau. The news shocked Chinese experts who knew what the Triads were and their impact on Palau society. INDOPACOM, which has been raising awareness of the importance of Palau’s security, also pays special attention to this issue.

Can INDOPACOM Radar and Casino Triad Coexist?

INDOPACOM chose Angaur Island in Palau as the radar base. Interestingly, Wan Kuok Koi of Macau 14K Triad announced that he will lease Angaur Island for 99 years and develop a large casino resort there. This may sound like a joke, but it is possible that the Triad casino resort and US radar facility should coexist on the island of Angaur.

What is the purpose of building a casino resort on such a desert island? This will likely become a new breeding ground for cyber crime and money laundering. Additionally, several US government officials have pointed out that the infrastructure being developed under the guise of a casino resort could become a future base for the Chinese Liberation Army. China continues to build its military bases on South China Sea, and a similar movement in the Pacific Islands is quite possible.

Young US Attorney Protecting Women and Children, Shot

Drug trafficking is also widespread in Palau, and the Justice Ministry’s Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA), with only eight employees, tackles it every day without fear of personal harm. The director of the NEA recently set fire to his vehicle, and last year the boat caught fire.

The NEA also works to protect children from drug and criminal activity by organizing children’s judo classes and the Law Enforcement Explorer Program (LEEP). Unfortunately, the families of Palau’s politicians are also involved in drug crimes. They smuggle methamphetamine or “ice” from China and the Philippines. They give it to the kids on their way home from school for free and it gets them hooked. Then addicted children are forced to engage in prostitution and other crimes in order to obtain cash in exchange for crystal meth.

An Indian reporter who worked in Palau for a local newspaper who reported on the situation disappeared. She had written about the realities of drug syndicates in Palau, and it was I who gave her the information. I advised her that her life was in danger, but she told me, “You’re the third person to warn me,” and went on to tell me about journalists’ social responsibility. He told me that he majored in journalism at university. He also said that people who knew about the drug problem in Palau would not talk about it, and if they did, they would be eliminated. This is the darkness of heaven.

Lawyer Rachel Bergeron, a 33 year old woman and US citizen who tried to save children and women in the darkness of paradise ー Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia ー was shot and killed in October 2019 by local islanders. Bergeron is Acting Attorney General Yap.


Author: Rieko Hayakawa, PhD

Find other articles on JAPAN Forward written by Rieko Hayakawa here.


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Cyberpunk Lesson 2077: Making Big Games Is Never More Difficult | Instant News

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UK retail investors have lost nearly £ 10 million to ‘clone’ investment scams since March, the trade agency said | Instant News

Scammers are increasingly targeting retail investors in the United Kingdom, according to new data released by the Investment Association, a trade body.

They say that sophisticated fraudsters have stepped up operations targeting retail investors. They report that the incidence of large-scale investment fraud has nearly quadrupled since July. “The scam clones real investment management companies through fake products, websites and documentation, and then promotes fake products through fake price comparison sites and advertisements on social media and search engines,” the trade agency explained.

The total number of reported fraud incidents has increased from 300 in July to 1,175 in October. The scam affected more than 200 people, and accounted for an estimated total loss of £ 9.4 million reported in October. The loss has doubled from nearly £ 4 million in July.


Chris Cummings, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Association, said, “In a year beset with uncertainty, organized criminals have been looking for opportunities in bad luck by trying to cheat investors out of their hard-earned savings. The investment management industry is working with the police and regulators to stop this scam, and is working with our partners in the Government to shut it down and prevent it from being advertised. “

“Fraud and deception come in many forms. Therefore, ahead of the festive season, we urge savers and investors to be vigilant in protecting their investments and to think carefully about the risk of fraud when making investment decisions, ”added Cummings.

Earlier this month, Britain’s national cyber and fraud reporting center Action Fraud warned of an increase in reports of investment fraud as the country entered a second lockdown.

Between September 2019 and September 2020, Action Fraud has received more than 17,000 reports of investment fraud, worth £ 657.4 million in reported losses. This is an increase of 28 percent when compared to the same period last year. This report spiked in May, June, July, August and September 2020, according to the official release.


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