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10 things you need to know this month

10 things you need to know this month

  • 01. Allan Hyrons, a British national, and his Filipino wife, Welma Paglinawan-Hyrons were rescued on 24 November in the Sulu region. The couple were kidnapped on 4 October from their beach resort in Mindanao by armed men. The kidnappers were thought to be Abu Sayaff.
  • 02. Pemex, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, was targeted in a ransomware attack on 10 November. It was reported that the attackers demanded a 565 bitcoin ransom (US$4.9m), to decrypt the affected files. According to reports, the attackers stated that Pemex missed a deadline to receive a special discount on the ransom.
  • 03. The Taliban released two professors on 20 November: US national Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks. The pair were abducted from the American University in Kabul in 2016. Their release came in exchange for Anas Haqqani, a leader of the Taliban’s Haqqani Network.
  • 04. On 11 November two crew members of an Italian Micoperi oil ship were injured in a piracy attack off the coast of Ciudad del Carmen. The incident came amid a sustained increase in piracy incidents across the southern Gulf of Mexico, particularly Campeche and Tabasco states where offshore oil and gas assets are located. Personnel on offshore oil rigs and on board vessels in the Gulf face a heightened risk of piracy.
  • 05. Four police officers have been arrested after a British man was kidnapped and ransomed for US$900,000 (£697,000) in Jakarta. The officers stopped the man at a road block on 31 October under the pretext of an arrest. After being taken to a police station, he was later moved to a hotel, where payment was demanded for his release.
  • 06. In October the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) reported that it was contacted about 167 incidents of sextortion in the previous 12 months. #StopSextortionNI is a social-media awareness initiative targeting those most at risk of sexual extortion online, teenagers and those in their 60’s.
  • 07. Pirates have kidnapped 19 crew members from an oil tanker off Nigeria on 3 December. The vessel, chartered by oil company Total was attacked off Bonny Island. In October the International Maritime Bureau said the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than four fifths of crew kidnappings globally. The past year has seen a growing shift towards kidnapping crews to extort ransom from ship owners.
  • 08. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a statement on 24 October about an extortion scam targeting female Chinese students in Canada. The students are ordered to call an ‘official’ phone number by ‘Chinese government officials’. Victims are told their personal information has been compromised and they are now associated with crimes in China. The family members in China are then contacted, by ‘government officials’ demanding a ransom saying the student has been kidnapped.
  • 09. On 19 November researchers at information security company Trustwave warned of a scam targeting Window 10 users. Emails, allegedly from Microsoft, urge users to install a new update to their machine which actually includes a Cyborg ransomware. This leaves a copy of itself which means it can be triggered again at a later date.
  • 10. A South African businesswoman has been rescued on 7 November, 162 days after being abducted in May. The kidnappers allegedly demanded a ransom of US$9.5m. The victim was found in Emalahleni. Police confirmed that four suspects have been arrested.

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