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10 things you need to know this month

10 things you need to know this month

  • 01. British-Australian, Jolie King and her Australian fiancé, Mark Firkin, were released on 5 October after being detained for three months in Iran. The couple were reportedly arrested for flying a drone without a permit. At least five British nationals are still being detained in Iran.
  • 02. Allan Hyrons, a British national, and his Filipino wife, Welma Paglinawan-Hyrons, were kidnapped on 4 October by armed men in boats from their beach resort in Mindanao. The provincial government in Zamboanga del Sur offered two million pesos ($38,786) reward for information leading to the kidnapper’s arrest. The region is home to numerous kidnap for ransom groups, including Abu Sayyaf.
  • 03. In August, The Wall Street Journal reported that criminals used AI software to synthesise a voice to de-fraud a business of approximately $240,000. The CEO of a UK-based energy firm believed he was talking to the chief executive of the firm’s German parent company. This is the first reported incident of its kind.
  • 04. A Chinese student, kidnapped in Australia in August and held for two weeks, was rescued following a reported ransom payment of 80 bitcoin ($828,000). The Chinese Consulate General in Sydney confirmed that Ye Jingwang was “safe and in good health”. In 2018, Australian Federal Police issued a warning about Chinese and Taiwanese students being the target of kidnapping.
  • 05. The cousin of Asma Al Assad, the first lady of Syria, was kidnapped in September while travelling between Beirut and Damascus. The kidnappers initially demanded $10 million for his release. He was reportedly released on 19 September after “intensive efforts by Lebanese officials”.
  • 06. In September, a Japanese man accused of stalking and sexually assaulting a Japanese singer told police he located her through the reflection in her eyes in a selfie she posted. Hibiki Sato told police he zoomed in on the image and then used Google Street View to identify the photo’s location. He also studied videos the woman shot in her apartment, looking at the placement of curtains and the direction of light coming through the window to determine its location. Japan has recently seen several attacks by fans on female pop stars.
  • 07. The No More Ransom Project, a joint initiative by tech security companies and law enforcement, released decryption tools on 25 September for FortuneCrypt, Yatron, WannaCryFake and Avest.
  • 08. Mohammad Sharif Panahandeh, an Iranian sailor held captive for four years by Somali pirates, was released on humanitarian grounds on 21 September. The European Naval Force states that attacks in the region are now “negligible” compared to a peak of 275 reported incidents in the region in 2011.
  • 09. A Saudi Arabian woman was kidnapped in Istanbul on 21 August. Security cameras showed a man spray the victim in the face with a substance, before she lost consciousness. The kidnappers reportedly demanded a $150,000 ransom. A police operation, involving the family, rescued the woman who was reportedly being held by a Syrian gang.
  • 10. Accenture iDefense engineers announced in August that they had identified an updated version of the ransomware MegaCortex. MegaCortex has been used in manual, postexploitation, targeted attacks where important files on servers and network hosts are encrypted. The attacks focus on companies in the USA and across Europe and involve ransomware bitcoin demands between two ($20,000) and 600 ($5.8 million).

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