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6 days ago

Online Security: These Are Today's Top 8 Cyber-Crime Trends According to Europol

Online Security: These Are Today

In its Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) report released today, Europol has detailed today's top 8 most prevalent cybercrime trends, for which investigators have seen a rise in detected incidents since the start of the year.


The report, which highlights an upward trend for volume, scope and material cost of cybercrime, comes on the heels of UK authorities announcing earlier in the year that cybercrime has surpassed traditional crime for the first time in their country's history.


#1: Crime-as-a-Service

Europol says that the digital underground is shifting towards a Crime-as-a-Service business model, with various individuals and groups specializing in a niche crime and providing technical support and service for that crime alone using online services.


From illegal weapons sales to on-demand hacks, and from DDoS-for-Hire services to exploit kit packages, you can buy online almost any type of cybercrime service these days.


#2: Ransomware

If you read Softpedia's Security News section, you can hardly go one day without reading a report on ransomware-related topics. Besides ransomware, Europol also says that banking trojans have been a popular form of malware this year as well.


#3: The criminal use of data

Recent hacks and data breaches have thrust troves of data in the public eye, which crooks are leveraging for other hacks, fraud, and even extortion.


#4: Payment fraud

Europol says it received a large number of fraud complaints, which were traced back to organized crime groups hacking ATMs, EMV, and contactless (NFC) cards.


#5: Online child sexual abuse

The large number of online tools and services providing complex and unbreakable end-to-end encryption, along with anonymous payments supported via crypto-currencies has resulted in "an escalation in the live streaming of child abuse."


#6: Abuse of the Darknet

More and more crime-related activities have now moved to the Darknet (or Dark Web), a portion of the Internet for which you need special software like Tor and I2P to access. Criminals are taking advantage of the anonymity these networks provide to go about their business unabated.


#7: Social engineering

Europol says that spear-phishing incidents aimed at high-value targets have gone up in 2016, and it highlights the increase in CEO fraud (BEC scams) attacks.


#8: Virtual currencies

Europol says Bitcoin has become the de-facto standard currency for extortion payments. This is also the reason why Europol established a Bitcoin Money Laundering Division earlier this month.

2 weeks ago

Phishing and Other Suspicious Emails by Oakmere Road

Phishing and Other Suspicious Emails by Oakmere Road

Phishing refers to an email that attempts to fraudulently acquire personal information from you, such as your Apple ID, password and/or credit card information. On the surface, the email may appear to be from a legitimate company or individual, but it's not.


As a general rule, never send credit card information, account passwords, or extensive personal information in an email unless you verify that the recipient is who they claim to be. Many companies have policies that state they will never solicit such information from customers by email.


If you are concerned that your Apple ID or other Apple accounts may have been compromised, please refer to Apple ID Security below.


Reporting Suspected Phishing Attempts

If you receive what you believe to be a phishing email purporting to be from Apple, please send it to, a monitored email inbox, which does not generate individual email replies.


Forwarding the message with complete header information provides Apple with important information. To do this in OS X Mail, select the message and choose Forward As Attachment from the Message menu. For other email applications or webmail based services, consult your provider’s support information to determine how to forward messages with complete headers.


Additional Information Regarding Phishing

For more information about identifying legitimate emails from the iTunes Store, see Identifying legitimate emails from the iTunes Store.


For more information about identifying “phishing” emails, see Identifying fraudulent ‘phishing’ emails.


Reporting Other Suspicious Email

To report spam or other suspicious emails that you have received in your, or inbox, please send them to


To report spam or other suspicious messages that you have received through iMessage, please send them to with the requested information.


Apple ID and Account Security

For information about best practices in Apple ID security, see Apple ID: Security and your Apple ID.


For information about two-step verification for Apple ID, see Apple ID: Frequently asked questions about two-step verification for Apple ID.


If you believe that your Apple ID has been compromised, please visit Apple ID to change your password immediately.


If you need additional help, contact Apple Support for assistance:


- Apple ID Support

- iCloud Support

- iTunes Store Support

- iPhoto Support

- Apple Store Support

4 weeks ago

Oakmere Road: “Someone Has Reported Your Actions” Facebook Phishing Scam

Oakmere Road: “Someone Has Reported Your Actions” Facebook Phishing Scam


Message purporting to be from Facebook Security Management claims that your account will be disabled because other users have reported your actions. It instructs you to click a link to re-confirm your details or Facebook will remove your account.


Brief Analysis:

The message is not an official Facebook security warning. Instead, it is a phishing scam designed to steal your Facebook login details as well as your credit card numbers, your email account password, and other identifying information. It is just one in a long line of very similar scam messages. If you receive one of these messages, do not click on any links that it contains.



WARNING: Your account will be disabled!

Our system has received the reports from the other users about the misuse of your account. Someone has reported your actions, which violations of our terms.

Facebook does not allow:

• Pretending to be someone else

• Interfere with another comfort for the user

• Having more than one Facebook

• Share link or video content with pornographic videos

If you are really user of this account, you’ll need to re-confirm your account. It’s easy, Click the link below to confirm your account:

2 months ago

International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission: Joint Press Release

International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission: Joint Press Release



As many of you may be aware, the Government of Belize is currently undertaking a fiscal debt restructuring exercise. With the global economic recession and the continuing economic lethargy, many countries have experienced a substantially increased fiscal debt burden. Over the past several years, while Belize has fared better than many including within the Caribbean and Central American region in weathering the recession, growth has largely remained stunted resulting in lower than expected tax revenues. The result is that the Government believes that the fiscal debt is not on a sustainable trajectory and that it is in the country’s long-term best interest that the restructuring is done to make it sustainable. This is the second debt restructuring exercise by the Government. The first was successfully completed in early 2007.


While the Government has undertaken these restructuring efforts, Belize’s international financial services industry has continued to grow steadily. Save and except for a temporary reduction in the throes of the global recession in 2008 and 2009, Belize IBC annual incorporations and renewals are at all time highs. This is supported by the continued entry and licensure of multi-jurisdictional international financial services practitioners. Belize’s international trust continues to experience increasing popularity while its relatively small but ever-growing international banking sector holds its highest deposits in the sector’s history.


Throughout this process of growth, there have been no legislative interventions whatsoever arising as a result of any Government debt restructuring exercise. Instead in 2009, Mutual Funds (Fees) Regulations were introduced to allow for the effective implementation of the registration process of private, professional and public mutual funds in Belize. In 2010, the legislature enacted the International Foundations Act and in early 2012, the International Limited Liability Companies Act came into force. All these laws were clearly introduced to enhance the offering of products in Belize’s international financial services sector. The Government of Belize has demonstrated itself to be a very strong supporter of Belize’s international financial services sector and the sector and its members and stakeholders have no cause to believe otherwise.


As regulator and regulated, we look forward to the continued growth and development of Belize’s international financial services sector with the full support of the Government of Belize.


The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission was established to promote investor confidence in the securities and capital markets by providing more structure and government oversight.

2 months ago

Public Country-By-Country Reporting / Corporate tax transparency by International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission

 Public Country-By-Country Reporting / Corporate tax transparency by International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission

With the rules on country-by-country reporting, the EU has created a framework where businesses in the extractive and logging industries have to publish their payments to governments relating to the exploitation of natural resources. This will assist populations of resource-rich countries to hold their governments accountable for these proceeds.


In addition, a country-by-country reporting is also required from EU credit institutions (banks). This will ensure that trust in the financial sector is regained. On 12 April 2016, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive which imposes on EU and non-EU multinational groups the publication of a yearly report on the profit and tax paid and other information.


Extractive and logging industries: sectoral Country-by country reporting


In the European Union, companies with activities in the extractive and forestry must disclose the payments they make to governments on a country-by-country basis and, where appropriate on project-by-project basis. This enhances government accountability and facilitates the adoption of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative by countries.


The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission was established to promote investor confidence in the securities and capital markets by providing more structure and government oversight.

3 months ago

International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission: Tips on Effective Practices for Digital Investment Advice

International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission:  Tips on Effective Practices for Digital Investment Advice

According to a recent report from Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), firms providing financial services through “digital investment advice” require sound supervision and governance, plus effective ways of determining appropriateness of advices, conflicts of interest, client risk tolerance and portfolio rebalancing. Likewise, the report provides helpful tips for investors and emphasizes the importance of training and education for financial experts who utilize digital investment advice applications.


FINRA released the report to provide the public effective practices pertaining to digital investment advice services and to inform member companies of their duties under FINRA regulations. The report highlights the fact that global expenditures on online wealth-management services will continue to grow substantially.


"We believe that the report offers guidance and information for FINRA member companies and investors regarding vital aspects of the fast-growing field of digital investment advice," noted Richard Ketchum, FINRA’S Chairman and CEO. "As these services evolve, member firms must ascertain that the main objectives of investor protection – for instance, comprehending and answering customers' requirements and goals – also support the foundation of these new tools."


FINRA’s report summarizes effective practices and regulatory guidelines in five key areas:


1. Administration and oversight of algorithms, which also involves evaluating first the digital tools’ methodology used and the dependability and quality of raw data processed, plus monitoring continuously to check if the tools deliver what they promise to do, and evaluating whether the tool utilizes up-to-date models consistent with current market realities;

2. Customer profiling, which includes evaluating both their risk tolerance and risk acceptability, and resolving inconsistent or conflicting feedback in customer-submitted information;

3. Administration and oversight of portfolios and conflicts of interest, plus evaluating the risk, portfolio benefits and diversification qualities appropriate for a particular investor profile, and reducing – through transparency and prevention – issues that may result from the securities options for a specific portfolio;

4. Rebalancing, and in addition, proffering ways of how the rebalancing helps as well as methods that exhibit how the tools will serve to address drastic market conditions;

5. Training that enables financial professionals to understand the key assumptions and limitations of individual digital investment advice tools, and determine when use of a tool may not be appropriate for a client.


In addition, the report recommends to investors that they assess whether their financial services firm is getting sufficient information to comprehend their needs and risk capability. Conflicts of interest can arise from digital investment advice, FINRA reminds investors; and that whatever advice given to them will depend largely on the investment strategy and appurtenant input data utilized in the digital application. Moreover, FINRA suggests that investors are well aware of the necessary fees they are charged and services provided, in particular, portfolio rebalancing and others.


The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is recognized as the biggest independent securities regulation agency for all firms operating in the United States. FINRA commits to safeguard the interests of the investor as well as the integrity of the securities market through efficient regulation and appurtenant compliance and technology-based systems. FINRA covers substantially every aspect of the securities market – beginning with registration and education of all industry players to evaluation of securities companies, writing regulations, enforcement of such regulations and the federal securities laws, and the education of the investing public in general. Moreover, FINRA conducts investigations and other regulatory tasks for equities and options markets, including trade updates and other related industry services. Finally, FINRA serves as the main administrator for resolutions of disputes for investors and securities firms. 

6 months ago

Tips to Protect Yourself from Booking Scams by Bacall Associates

Tips to Protect Yourself from Booking Scams by Bacall Associates


5 Tips to Protect Yourself from Online Travel Booking Scams

Thanks to the Internet, booking travel online is simple. But as your ideas of a spring break or summer vacation take shape, remember to be cautious when making reservations online. The number of phony travel booking websites is growing because they’re so successful at scamming consumers. Learn what to do so you don’t take a quick trip to Fraudville instead of your dream destination.


Fake Travel Reservation Websites

According to estimates by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, approximately 15 million online hotel reservations are made on bogus third-party sites every year. These rogue websites trick people into thinking they’re reserving directly with their hotel of choice. Instead, the victims are making reservations on phony sites set up to steal their money, credit card information, and dreams of a relaxing overnight stay. With cybercriminals pocketing more than $1.3 billion in fake hotel reservations, consumers need to beware when booking hotel rooms and other travel reservations online — such as for airline flights and rental cars, too.


How to Avoid Online Travel Reservation Scams

1.Go directly to the official website of the hotel, airline, or rental car agency to book your reservations. It should have “HTTPS” in the URL. If you’re not sure you’re on a real site, call the company to verify. Or try Norton Safe Web to find out if a website is safe, for free.

2.If you decide to use a third-party site, choose a well-known and reputable brand.

3.Get recommendations for trusted travel companies or sites from your network of friends and family. If you’re ever uncertain about if a company is legitimate, check with the Better Business Bureau (link is external).

4.Use a credit card instead of a debit card to book online. In case the website is phony, you won’t have given the cyber criminals direct access to your bank account. Many credit card companies offer fraud protection.

5.After you make an online reservation, always call the company afterward to confirm. If there is no record of your reservation, it’s better to know sooner rather than later. You’ll be able to alert your credit card company, report the fraud, and still have time to book reservations with the real deal.