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IT & Communications

With all the fuss about China's interest in foreign computer systems, it's salutory to note that a suspicious crypto-asset report made at www.GlobalKYC.com demonstrates that the Chinese government's servers are not immune from attack.

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The return, with increasing frequency, of internet domain name fraud, is usually at least accompanied by a form of what the fraudster hopes is a sufficient disclaimer to prevent prosecution. The latest iteration omits even that and resorts to blatant threats. Also, it seems that the criminals have obtained access to the domain sevenresortsnet.com to send mail and to present a landing page for those who click to respond to the demand.

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The flood of sextortion e-mails demanding payment in bitcoin continues. However, while the body of the mails is increasingly standardised, the anti-avoidance methods used by the criminals is mutating, analysis of reports at GlobalKYC.com indicates.

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In American's frozen north, authorities in Alaska have identified persons they say were behind a website offering Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS services. DDoS is where, by one of several means, internet servers are bombarded with vast numbers of requests to the intent (and often the effect) that the websites are overwhelmed with the result that access is denied to legitimate visitors and those servers are presented from accessing the internet. In Anchorage, Alaska's biggest town but not its capital, U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder has announced the seizure of an internet domain associated with DDoS-for-hire services as well as criminal charges against a Pennsylvania man who facilitated the computer attack platform.

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Communications are the lifeblood of any commercial arrangement. So, when things go wrong and you need to fix them, an on-line chat is the quickest and best option: after all, while "your call may be recorded.." doesn't mean you get a record. So, on-line chats are a better solution. Or not.

(And there's more: an addendum to the original article makes things worse)

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You should neither know nor care exactly what criminal activity lies behind the link in this e-mail. The fact that it's fraud from beginning to end should be enough.

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It's pretty much an established truth that Mark Zuckerberg and his senior team cannot be trusted but their latest wheeze is of such monumental importance to everyone that's it's time every one left each and every one of various parts of the Facebook empire. Some parts will be more difficult than others, some things will involve value judgements as to the lesser evil but, at the end of the day, one keeps coming back to the fact that Facebook cannot be trusted and it's about to get worse. Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp are to become a unified surveillance and reporting tool and every user is the target.

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Fraud is cyclical. Historically, frauds would lie dormant for, perhaps, five years then come back. But the cycle has become much shorter, often only two or three months. Some frauds have become perpetual, aided by e-mail that hits so many prospective targets at such a low marginal cost. Others have a few days in the light before disappearing into relative darkness for a matter of weeks, perhaps because the targets are sorted by e.g. alphabetical order, into batches. One such is fraud relating to domain names. They take several forms but the same basic structure. The fraudster hints that, if you don't pay up, your domain name will stop working. Here's the anatomy of one such fraudulent mail that has reached us multiple times in the past several days.

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Microsoft's policy of forcing users who have purchased licences for their operating system, Windows, by abandoning support (including security support) has now reached the millions of users who continue to rely on Windows XP and Vista. Now, Mozilla, which produces the very popular Thunderbird e-mail client and upon which many businesses rely, has released its latest version, 60, and announced that it, too, is to abandon users of these widely used operating systems.

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It's not rocket science. Ever since (I think) 1998 when the BBC's lawyers blocked an explanation I gave to BBC TV on how the nature of HTML facilitates on-line fraud (the feared that it would increase the number of criminals using it) criminals have, indeed, used certain features of HTML to hide what they are up to and ordinary people have lost many millions of dollars and have suffered innumerable attacks on their computers simply because of one, very simple, trick, writes Nigel Morris-Cotterill

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