Monthly Archives: July 2015

‘Unrelenting’ cyber threats rising, warns government

Industries targeted. by cyber hackers image ACSC www.intelagencies.com

Industries targeted. Photo: ACSC

Cyber threats are on the rise and becoming more difficult to defend, with businesses increasingly targeted by cyber criminals, an alarming new report from the nation’s top security brass warns.

The inaugural Australian Cyber Security Centre report – collated by the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Defence Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Crime Commission, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Australia and the Australian Signals Directorate – tips the cost of these rising threats at more than $1 billion annually and rising.

Cyber attacks reported to the ASD leapt from 313 in 2011 to 1131 in 2014, while CERT responded to 11,073 threats to businesses in 2014.

Incidents responded to by ASD image ACSC www.intelagencies.com

The agencies conceded there were “gaps in our understanding of the extent and nature of malicious activity”, particularly in the private sector.

Clive Lines, Australian Cyber Security Centre co-ordinator, said the report demonstrated that the cyber threat to Australian organisations were “undeniable, unrelenting” and continuing to grow.

The five sectors most at risk of cyber attack were energy, banking, communications, defence and transport.

The number, type and sophistication of cyber threats was increasing in Australia, making detection and response more difficult, the report said.

Confirmed compromises against Australian government systems have fallen since 2012, however.

The report warned of worrying trends including the rise of “cybercrime-as-a-service”, where those inexperienced in the dark arts of the web could simply hire others to commit a cyber crime for them.

It detailed examples of how widely reported vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed and Shellshock had impacted a range of systems in Australia.

One alleged offender was charged with several counts of attempted unauthorised access to 12 Australian servers, after attempting to access sensitive data more than 360 times via the Heartbleed vulnerability.

The report warned complacency and compromise were options that “Australia cannot afford”, with the consequences of inadequate cyber security potentially including financial loss, reputational damage, intellectual property theft and disruption to business.

“Organisations must move now to implement cyber security measures to make Australia a harder target, increase the confidence of Australians when they are online, and maximise the benefits of the internet for Australian organisations,” it said.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT REPORT ON BIG TIME FRAUD & SCAMS IN AUSTRALIA

AUSTRAC’s 2014 typologies report is the eighth in the report series.

typ14-cvr image www.intelagencies.com

The 2014 report includes 20 real-life case studies showing how legitimate services offered by Australian businesses have been exploited for criminal purposes, including international drug smuggling operations, people smuggling and human trafficking syndicates and sophisticated overseas tax evasion schemes. By highlighting past examples of criminal activity, the report educates businesses on their money laundering and terrorism financing risks and helps them recognise and mitigate these risks.

Check it out here >>typologies-report-2014

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Typologies and case major crime studies report 2013 in Australia

 AUSTRAC takes action against three reporting entitiesAUSTRAC has taken enforcement action against MoneyGram, FNF First National Finance and Canberra Southern Cross Club.

MoneyGram

A record fine against MoneyGram, one of the world’s largest remittance network providers, was issued for systemic contraventions of Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.The fine brings the total fines paid by MoneyGram to almost half a million dollars.The fines were for providing money remittance services through unregistered remittance businesses.

Read the MoneyGram media release.

FNF First National Finance

The cancellation of Sydney-based remitter, FNF First National Finance, was issued due to significant money laundering or financing of terrorism risk. FNF was identified through the Eligo National Taskforce, which focuses on alternative remittance services and serious and organised crime. AUSTRAC plays an important role in the taskforce alongside other agencies.

Read the FNF First National Finance media release.

Canberra Southern Cross Club

AUSTRAC has required Canberra Southern Cross Club Limited to appoint an external auditor to assess and help improve its compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. The notice follows an assessment by AUSTRAC that the club had extensive, longstanding, systemic and serious non-compliance with the AML/CTF Act and AML/CTF Rules. AUSTRAC’s concerns included that CSCC had:

  • an inadequate AML/CTF Program
  • no transaction monitoring program
  • significantly deficient customer identification procedures.

Read the Canberra Southern Cross Club media release.

AUSTRAC CEO, Paul Jevtovic reinforced the stance that AUSTRAC takes its role in combating money laundering and terrorism financing very seriously and we will not hesitate to take enforcement action where appropriate.


 Real estate agents and lawyers vulnerable to money laundering riskAUSTRAC has released two new reports to help Australian businesses identify money laundering methods used through real estate agents and legal practitioners.

AUSTRAC is Australia’s primary source of financial intelligence, providing expertise and global leadership on financial intelligence matters.

The reports provide information about money laundering methods, business vulnerabilities and indicators that a person is laundering the proceeds of crime.

Criminals are drawn to real estate investment in Australia because it can be purchased in cash, offers reliable financial returns and its ownership can be disguised.

Lawyers can also be used to facilitate the movement of illicit funds through their trust accounts and to invest in real estate.

AUSTRAC shares knowledge of money laundering methods and associated indicators to help businesses detect and mitigate attempts to launder the proceeds of crime.

Suspicious Matter Reports (SMRs) are an important tool in detecting, disrupting and deterring crime.

Businesses concerned that a person might be undertaking a suspicious transaction can lodge an SMR with AUSTRAC or call the AUSTRAC Contact Centre on 1300 021 037.


 Case Study: AUSTRAC information helps unravel $30 million construction fraudAUSTRAC information assisted law enforcement to investigate a network involved in defrauding a university of over AUD30 million.

Directors of construction companies and managers at the university were complicit in a large fraudulent invoice scheme. The managers approved the payment of highly inflated invoices from the construction companies, as well as approving invoices for work that was never undertaken.

Directors of the construction companies laundered the profits from the fraud by purchasing racehorses and property.The managers at the university were repaid with kickbacks or direct shares in racehorses.

AUSTRAC assisted law enforcement by investigating international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) undertaken and received by associates of the suspects.

The associates were identified as accounting firms.It was discovered that funds were sent to many countries including New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong and the USA.

The accounting firms also received a large number of IFTIs from various overseas entities that were similar in value to the amounts the firms had sent overseas. Authorities suspected that the accounting firms were laundering the funds on behalf of the suspects as part of a professional money laundering syndicate.

Authorities also believed that the money laundering was an attempt by the directors of the construction company to hide or disguise the ownership of property.

The directors distanced themselves from the racehorses by having the ownership of the horses held in the names of associates. The associates then returned any profits generated by the horses back to the directors.

The members of the network were arrested and convicted on a variety of charges, including conspiracy to defraud, obtaining property by deception, theft, aiding and abetting receipt of a secret commission and furnishing false information.

Ultimately, law enforcement laid more than 2,000 charges against the suspects. The suspects received penalties ranging from fines to six-and-a-half years imprisonment.

 Case Study: AUSTRAC information helps unravel $30 million construction fraudAUSTRAC information assisted law enforcement to investigate a network involved in defrauding a university of over AUD30 million.

Directors of construction companies and managers at the university were complicit in a large fraudulent invoice scheme. The managers approved the payment of highly inflated invoices from the construction companies, as well as approving invoices for work that was never undertaken.

Directors of the construction companies laundered the profits from the fraud by purchasing racehorses and property.The managers at the university were repaid with kickbacks or direct shares in racehorses.

AUSTRAC assisted law enforcement by investigating international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs) undertaken and received by associates of the suspects.

The associates were identified as accounting firms.It was discovered that funds were sent to many countries including New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong and the USA.

The accounting firms also received a large number of IFTIs from various overseas entities that were similar in value to the amounts the firms had sent overseas. Authorities suspected that the accounting firms were laundering the funds on behalf of the suspects as part of a professional money laundering syndicate.

Authorities also believed that the money laundering was an attempt by the directors of the construction company to hide or disguise the ownership of property.

The directors distanced themselves from the racehorses by having the ownership of the horses held in the names of associates. The associates then returned any profits generated by the horses back to the directors.

The members of the network were arrested and convicted on a variety of charges, including conspiracy to defraud, obtaining property by deception, theft, aiding and abetting receipt of a secret commission and furnishing false information.

Ultimately, law enforcement laid more than 2,000 charges against the suspects. The suspects received penalties ranging from fines to six-and-a-half years imprisonment.

LOT MORE HERE BELOW OF BIG TIME SCAMS & FRAUD-CLICK ON typ13_full

The 2013 report includes 23 real-life case studies showing how legitimate services offered by Australian businesses have been exploited for criminal purposes, including for drug trafficking, child exploitation, fraud and tax evasion. By highlighting past examples of criminal activity, the report educates businesses on their money laundering and terrorism financing risks and helps them recognise and mitigate these risks.

The full case study (#5) is available in the typ13_full. It includes a diagram of the different money laundering methods used in the case. 

VIEW EARLIER RPORTS HERE BELOW

Typologies and case studies report 2012

View the report below or download the full PDF here:

AUSTRAC typologies and case studies report 2012 (PDF, 2.3MB)

AUSTRAC’s 2012 typologies report is the sixth in an annual series of reports produced by the agency.

The 2012 report includes 21 real-life case studies illustrating how legitimate services offered by Australian businesses have been exploited for criminal purposes. By highlighting these past examples of criminal activity, the report educates Australian businesses about their money laundering and terrorism financing risks and helps them recognise and mitigate these risks.


Typologies and case studies report 2011

View the report below or download the full PDF report here:

AUSTRAC typologies and case studies report 2011 (PDF, 3.6MB)

AUSTRAC’s 2011 typologies report is the fifth in an annual series of reports produced by the agency.

The 2011 report includes 20 real-life case studies illustrating how legitimate services offered by Australian businesses have been exploited for criminal purposes. By highlighting these past examples of criminal activity, the report educates Australian businesses about their money laundering and terrorism financing risks and helps them recognise and mitigate these risks.

If you have any feedback about AUSTRAC’s typologies and case studies reports, or ideas for future topics, please email INTEL_TYPOLOGIES@austrac.gov.au.

Typologies and case studies report 2010

View the report below or download the full PDF report:

AUSTRAC typologies and case studies report 2010 (PDF, 4MB)

The AUSTRAC typologies and case studies report 2010 is the fourth in a series of reports AUSTRAC has produced to educate Australian businesses about their money laundering and terrorism financing risks, and assist them to recognise and guard against these risks in the future.

The 2010 report includes 31 real-life case studies illustrating how Australian businesses have been misused by criminals to commit a range of serious offences, including drug importation and trafficking, identity fraud, and money laundering.

If you have any feedback about AUSTRAC’s typologies and case studies reports, or ideas for future topics, please email INTEL_TYPOLOGIES@austrac.gov.au.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Sex scam: Politicians and teachers targeted online

Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone has told of being targeted in an attempted scam image www.intelagencies.com

Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone has told of being targeted in an attempted scam. Photo: Wesley Lonergan

Politicians, teachers and others of “high standing” in NSW are being targeted in a “sexploitation” scam aimed at tricking them into compromising positions and forcing them to pay to protect their reputations.

A day after it emerged Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner reported a blackmail attempt to police, it can be revealed that Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone was also targeted in June in a strikingly similar case.

Cr Carbone believes his experience, during which he was asked to “connect” with a woman calling herself Pearl Wilson on the networking site LinkedIn, is an indication blackmailers are targeting Australian politicians.

A police source said the scam was “quite an extensive fraud” attempt that specifically sought out people of high standing in the community.

Police were aware of politicians, councillors and teachers among those targeted.

On Tuesday night, Channel Ten reported the extortionists also targeted a senior executive at Liverpool council, the general manager of a Central Coast council and a member of the military.

Asked to confirm this, a Liverpool council spokesman told Fairfax Media: “I don’t believe I can assist you with your inquiries.”

Channel Ten revealed on Monday night that Mr Stoner was the subject of a blackmail attempt via LinkedIn and reported the matter to police.

However, he has denied there were “images” involved.

In June, Cr Carbone received the connection request on LinkedIn from the person calling herself Pearl Wilson, who claimed to be an anti-child-trafficking advocate.

“Pearl” told Cr Carbone she was based in the United States and was “coming to Australia”. She encouraged him to download the Whatsapp Messenger mobile phone application, which he already had.

“She started sending ‘sexy’ photos,” Cr Carbone told Fairfax Media.

“I worked out what it was. She started to message me and I just ignored it, because I knew what she was trying to do. She said, ‘Why don’t you activate your camera and we can talk?'”

Through the application, Cr Carbone soon began receiving telephone calls from a mobile number based in Ghana, none of which he answered.

“The reason I’m on social media is because, as the mayor, people want to talk to me about all sorts of local issues,” Cr Carbone said.

“But I thought, ‘Who is this person? She’s trying to have a conversation with me from the USA. Why would I do that? What am I going to do, fix her garbage problem in America?'”

Cr Carbone believes “100 per cent” that he was targeted because of his job as mayor.

“You’ve got to be pretty stupid to fall for it,” he said. “I’m happily married. What you do is just ignore them.”

Mr Stoner alerted police in November 2014, shortly after he quit cabinet in anticipation of his retirement from politics at the March election.

Mr Stoner has said police told him not to discuss the matter.

On Tuesday, Premier Mike Baird said Mr Stoner’s experience was “a personal matter”, which Mr Stoner had never discussed with him.

“There’s nothing to suggest that what has taken place has in any way impacted his ministerial responsibilities,” Mr Baird said.

The police sources said the number of victims and the amount of money paid to scammers was unknown.

NSW police’s Robbery and Serious Crime Squad has investigated the scam but nobody has been charged.

A NSW Police spokesman said it would be “inappropriate to comment” about the investigation.
ooo

Henry Sapiecha

US personnel agency chief Katherine Archuleta resigns over massive data breach

Katherine Archuleta has resigned following a massive data breach that put 22 million at risk image www.intelagencies.com

Katherine Archuleta has resigned following a massive data breach that put 22 million at risk. Photo: Reuters

The chief of the US federal hiring office resigned on Friday after massive computer hacks at the agency that put the personal data of more than 22 million Americans at risk, including people seeking sensitive security clearances.

The White House said Katherine Archuleta had stepped down as head of the Office of Personnel Management and that OPM was enhancing cyber-security measures, such as limiting the number of “privileged users” of computer data.

Archuleta, facing a chorus of demands from Congress for her ouster, said in a statement she had told US President Barack Obama it was “best for me to step aside and allow new leadership to step in”.

Beth Cobert, who works in the White House budget office, will become acting OPM director, the White House said.
Advertisement

The departure of Archuleta will not fix OPM’s serious cyber-security weaknesses, which Obama administration officials conceded would take months, possibly years, to address.

Republicans in Congress accused the administration of being flat-footed on the growing problem of computer hacks. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters it was conducting a “rapid assessment” of cyber security measures with the aim of accelerating improvements.

The latest hacking revelation at OPM, revealed on Thursday, followed what the OPM called a “separate but related” computer incursion involving the theft of data on 4.2 million current and former federal workers.

Because many of the same people were affected by both hacks, the total comes to about 22.1 million people, or almost 7 per cent of the US population, making the incidents among the most damaging cyber security breaches ever.

Social Security numbers and other sensitive data, including possibly compromising secrets gathered for security clearances, were stolen from OPM computers in the sweeping intrusions.

The United States has identified China as the leading suspect, but China’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed that as “absurd logic”.

Archuleta’s departure came a day after Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying that he had “no confidence” in OPM’s current leadership.

On Friday, Boehner, citing chronic problems at the Veterans Administration that led to the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki last year, said a change in personnel did not always lead to real change and Obama had to “repair” the OPM problems.

Archuleta, a high-ranking official in Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, was appointed to the top OPM job in May 2013 and sworn in the following November, becoming the first Latina to head the federal agency.

The computer hacks at OPM, coupled with computer glitches this week that disrupted operations at both the New York Stock Exchange and United Airlines, have raised serious concerns in US Congress about the security of major US computer systems.

In a related matter, arrangements for granting security clearances to employees and contractors have been seriously affected since a computer system used to receive and process applications was turned off temporarily on June 29, government security sources said.

The digital system, called E-QIP, had been the main platform through which applicants submitted detailed information about their background on a questionnaire known as Standard Form 86. The system was shut down for security enhancements.

A source familiar with the process said there were now serious problems handling the flow of paper forms, and concern that digitising them could expose them to the risk of hacking.

A senior Obama Administration official acknowledged that the process had been “hindered” by the E-QIP shutdown but said the digital system would be restored in four to six weeks.

Reuters

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Terror suspect Omarjan Azari hit with new charge of conspiracy to murder

Police search a car near the home of Omarjan Azari in September 2014. Pic by Christopher Pearce image www.intelagencies.com

Police search a car near the home of Omarjan Azari in September 2014. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Accused Sydney terror plotter Omarjan Azari has had new charges laid against him, including conspiracy to murder.

But prosecutors have also withdrawn a charge against Mr Azari of conspiring to commit a terrorist act, leading his barrister to seek his immediate release on bail.

Mr Azari was arrested at his home at Guildford in Sydney’s west last September during the largest counterterrorism operation in Australia’s history.

Police alleged that the young man was involved in planning a terrorist act in a phone call with Mohammad Ali Baryalei, Australia’s most senior member of the terrorist group Islamic State.

“What you guys need to do is just pick any random unbeliever. When finished put the flag of the state in the background and film it and send it off,” Mr Baryalei allegedly said during the phone call.

Mr Azari allegedly replied, “Yeah”.

Police have also charged Mr Azari with knowingly making funds available to commit a terrorist act.

On Wednesday, Central Local Court heard that a fresh charge of conspiracy to murder had a been laid against Mr Azari on Monday. The details of this charge are not yet known.

Prosecutors withdrew a charge of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, and added a further new charge of “doing acts in preparation to commit a terrorist act”.

Mr Azari’s barrister, Steven Boland, said that he would be opposing the ongoing detention of his client in Goulburn’s Supermax prison.

“They’re trying to withdraw a charge that my client’s been detained on in Supermax for six months,” Mr Boland said.

He has previously told the court that the recorded phone call in no way demonstrates that his client ever agreed to commit or be part of a terrorist act.

He has also asserted that Mr Azari could not receive a fair trial because of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “unprecedented interference” in the case.

At the time of Mr Azari’s arrest, Mr Abbott said intelligence indicated “certain people” in Australia were allegedly planning a public beheading to be carried out in the name of Islamic State.

Sections of the media took this up as applying to Mr Azari, an assumption that the man’s defence says is no way borne out by the facts.

The hearing at Central Local Court continues.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

MILITARY MAN’S AFFAIR REVEALED AFTER PERSONAL INFO DATA HACKED

data breach shadow in green image www.intelagencies.com

A data breach of US government information has potentially exposed highly intimate information. Photo: Reuters

When a retired 51-year-old military man disclosed in a US security clearance application that he had a 20-year affair with his former college roommate’s wife, it was supposed to remain a secret between him and the government.

The disclosure last week that hackers had penetrated a database containing such intimate and possibly damaging facts about millions of government and private employees has shaken Washington.

The hacking of the White House Office of Personnel Management (OPM) could provide a treasure trove for foreign spies.

The military man’s affair, divulged when he got a job with a defense contractor and applied to upgrade his clearance, is just one example of the extensive potential for disruption, embarrassment and even blackmail arising from the hacking.

The man had kept the affair secret from his wife for two decades before disclosing it on the government’s innocuously named Standard Form 86 (SF 86), filled out by millions of Americans seeking security clearances.

His case is described in a judge’s ruling, published on the Pentagon website, that he should keep his security clearance because he told the government about the affair. His name is not given in the administrative judge’s decision.

The disclosure that OPM’s data had been hacked sent shivers down the spines of current and former US government officials as they realised their secrets about sex, drugs and money could be in the hands of a foreign government.

The data that may be compromised by the incident, which was first reported by the Associated Press, included the detailed personal information on the SF 86 “QUESTIONNAIRE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY POSITIONS,” according to US officials.

US suspects link to China

As with another cyberattack on OPM disclosed earlier this month, US officials suspect it was linked to China, though they have less confidence about the origins of the second attack than about the first.

China denies any involvement in hacking US databases.

While the Central Intelligence Agency does its own clearance investigations, agencies such as the US State Department, Defence Department and National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on the world, all use OPM’s services to some degree.

Intelligence veterans said the breach may prove disastrous because China could use it to find relatives of US officials abroad as well as evidence of love affairs or drug use which could be used to blackmail or influence US officials.

An even worse scenario would be the mass unmasking of covert operatives in the field, they said.

“The potential loss here is truly staggering and, by the way, these records are a legitimate foreign intelligence target,” said retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA and NSA director. “This isn’t shame on China. This is shame on us.”

The SF 86 form, which is 127-pages long, is extraordinarily comprehensive and intrusive.

Among other things, applicants must list where they have lived; contacts with foreign citizens and travel abroad; the names and personal details of relatives; illegal drug use and mental health counseling except in limited circumstances.

A review of appeals of security denials published on the web shows the variety of information now in possession of the hackers, including financial troubles, infidelities, psychiatric diagnoses, substance abuse, health issues and arrests.

“It’s kind of scary that somebody could know that much about us,” said a former senior US diplomat, pointing out the ability to use such data to impersonate an American official online, obtain passwords and plunder bank accounts.

Some agencies less vulnerable

A US official familiar with security procedures, but who declined to be identified, said some agencies do not use OPM for clearances, meaning their employees’ data was at first glance less likely to have been compromised.

However, the former senior diplomat said someone with access to a complete set of SF 86 forms and to the names of officials at US embassies, which are usually public, could compare the two and make educated guesses about who might be a spy.

“Negative information is an indicator just as much as a positive information,” said the former diplomat.

A review of appeals of security denials published on the web shows a variety of information now in possession of the hackers, including financial troubles, infidelities, psychiatric diagnoses, substance abuse, health issues and arrests.

The case of the 51-year-old former military man who told the government, but not his wife, about his 20-year affair came to light when he filed an appeal because his effort to upgrade his security clearance ran into trouble.

According to a May 13 decision by an administrative judge who heard his case, the man revealed the affair in the “Additional Comments” section of SF 86 in January 2012, ended the affair in 2013, and told his wife about it in 2014.

“DOD (Department of Defence) is aware of the affair because Applicant disclosed it on his SF 86; the affair is over; and the key people in Applicant’s life are aware of it,” the judge wrote, according to a Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals document posted online.

His access to classified information was approved.

Reuters

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

Philippines call centre worker stole Australian Citibank customer details for Sydney crime gang, police say

Arrested One of four men arrested for allegedly buying bank customers credit card details from a call centre worker. Photo NSW Police image www.intelagencies.com

Arrested: One of four men arrested for allegedly buying bank customers credit card details from a call centre worker. Photo: NSW Police

An overseas call centre employee allegedly collected banking details of Australian Citibank customers and sold them to a Sydney crime syndicate, which then used the details to defraud the customers of more than $1 million, police say.

Police allege the worker, employed by a firm in the Philippines that carries out customer relations for a number of Australian-based companies, collected banking information, passwords and personal details for the syndicate.

The syndicate then allegedly used the details to make withdrawals and order new credit cards

The alleged identity fraud racket came unstuck last month when police pulled over a car at Beverly Hills, in Sydney’s south, for a random breath test and found a number of allegedly fraudulent documents and other “suspicious items” in the vehicle.
Advertisement

Officers matched details in the documents with frauds against banking customers reported to police by Citibank, sparking an investigation by St George police and the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.

Four male members of the alleged Sydney syndicate, aged between 23 and 38, were arrested in raids on two homes at Liverpool and West Hoxton on Thursday morning.

They have been charged with multiple fraud offences including using false documents to obtain financial advantage and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime.

Arrested One of four men arrested for allegedly buying bank customers credit card details from a call centre worker. Photo NSW Police image-2 www.intelagencies.com

“I’d like to congratulate those officers for their initiative in searching the vehicle and linking the items found with the reports made by the financial institution,” St George Local Area Command Superintendent Dave Donohue said.

“Their proactive work has played a critical role in the dismantling of a syndicate targeting unsuspecting banking customers, and has potentially prevented many more potential victims from suffering significant financial loss.”

A spokesman for Citibank said it had worked with police to identify those allegedly responsible and that no customer would be “financially impacted”.

“Citi has identified a limited fraud committed against a small number of customer accounts and immediately reported the matter to the NSW Police Fraud Squad,” a spokesman said.

“We are co-operating fully with the police investigation and are satisfied that all those responsible have been identified.”

Police said inquiries into the call centre and other possible victims were continuing.

The four men will appear in Parramatta Bail Court on Friday.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

 

New Chinese law reinforces government control of cyberspace

Cyber_Security_at_the_Ministry_of_Defence_image www.intelagencies.com

BEIJING (AP) — China’s legislature passed sweeping legislation on Wednesday that reinforces government controls over cyberspace, as the nation’s leaders try to address what they see as growing threats to Chinese networks and national security.

The vaguely worded National Security Law is one of several new regulatory moves by China that worry privacy advocates and have foreign businesses concerned about potential harm to their operations inside the country.

The law calls for strengthened management over the web and tougher measures against online attacks, theft of secrets, and the spread of illegal or harmful information.

It said core information technology, critical infrastructure and important systems and data must be “secure and controllable” in order to protect China’s sovereignty over its cyberspace.

The law offered no details on how China would achieve the goals, although a vast government Internet monitoring system has been in place for years.

China says it is a major target of hacking and other cyberattacks, and the ruling Communist Party has expended vast efforts in blocking online content it deems subversive or illegal.

China is also accused of running a state-sponsored effort to hack computers and steal government and commercial secrets overseas, while also spying on and harassing pro-democracy, Tibetan and human rights groups based abroad.

Most recently, Beijing was suspected as being behind a massive hack into a U.S. federal government computer server that resulted in the theft of personnel and security clearance records of 14 million employees and contractors. Chinese officials always deny engaging in such actions.

The National Security Law, passed overwhelmingly by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, replaces a law that focused more narrowly on counter-espionage.

In addition to cyberspace, the new legislation covers a wide range of areas including the economy, social stability, territorial integrity, the military, culture, finance, technology, the environment and food safety.

Spokeswoman Zheng Shu’na said an overarching legislation was needed to deal with “ever-growing security challenges”.

“Externally speaking, the country must defend its sovereignty, as well as security and development interests, and … it must also maintain political security and social stability,” Zheng was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The new law is an extension of the hard line on security and repeated warnings against foreign ideological subversion issued by the government of President Xi Jinping, who in 2013 established an overarching National Security Commission to coordinate such efforts with him as chairman.

A separate anti-terrorism proposal could require network operators and service providers fighting for a share of China’s $465 billion technology market to build in “backdoors” for government surveillance, hand over encryption keys to Chinese authorities and store user data within China.

Companies worry that could undermine their ability to send encrypted emails or operate the kind of private corporate networks commonly used to secure communications.

Other new regulations already require Chinese banks to have 75 percent of their IT infrastructure certified as “secure and controllable” by the Chinese government by 2019.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha