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Santander Scam Avoidance School (SAS)1 Graduate Turns Ethical Hacker To Help The Fight Against Fraud

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Santander Scam Avoidance School (SAS)1 Graduate Turns Ethical Hacker To Help The Fight Against Fraud
  • Alec Daniels, 86, successfully sent a ‘controlled’ phishing email and breached a public WiFi hotspot in only 16 minutes 40 seconds 
  • 41 per cent of people regularly use public WiFi hotspots to access the internet putting their online security at risk(2)
  • 74 per cent of Britons have been targeted by scammers with phishing emails, smishing texts and vishing calls(3)

Do you ever log on to a public WiFi hotspot to check on your bank balance, transfer money or maybe make online purchases? If the answer to these questions is yes, then according to Santander, your personal or online banking security could be compromised in just minutes.

As part of Santander’s campaign to raise consumer awareness of how to avoid scams, Santander challenged SAS graduate 86 year old Alec Daniels from Hampshire, to write and distribute a pretend phishing email, as well as hack into a public WiFi hotspot, despite having little knowledge of computers.

Working with network security expert Marcus Dempsey, Alec used information and guides easily available online and completed both tasks in 16 minutes 40 seconds.  These are two of the most common means fraudsters use to get an individual’s bank account details.

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Research by Santander shows that 41 per cent of those surveyed(2) regularly use public WiFi hotspots to access the Internet on their phones and computers to carry out financial transactions, whether that’s to check bank balances, make online purchases or manage money transfers.  Of those, over one in 10 admit to logging on to unsecure WiFi networks several times each and every day, increasing their chances of getting hacked.

The project follows on from the bank’s Scam Avoidance School (SAS)(3) earlier in the year where around 12,000 over 60s (including Alec) attended free lessons run on how to avoid scams.

Alec’s First Test: Devise and distribute a scam phishing email 

Despite having little knowledge of operating computers, Alec learned how to write and distribute a mock phishing email in only 13 minutes.  He achieved this with minimal input from the expert, instead using instructions freely available via an online search.

The email Alec wrote claimed to be from the fictitious company MoneySpark, asking recipients for their bank account information and supplying a fraudulent link.  Given that phishing emails are so quick and easy to make regardless of technical ability, it goes some way to explain how 74 per cent have been targeted this way.

Alec’s Second Test: hack a public Wi-Fi hotspot

With research from Santander revealing that 36 per cent don’t have any concerns about the security of their data when using public WiFi, the bank also wanted to raise awareness of just how effortlessly hackers can compromise these hotspots.

In the controlled experiment Alec managed to capture and intercept web traffic from a willing participant’s laptop while they were connected to an open Wi-Fi network – designed to replicate those found on the high street.  Alec, under instruction, set up a rogue access point – frequently used by attackers to activate what is known as a “man in the middle” attack – to begin eavesdropping on traffic.  He achieved all of this in in just 3 minutes and 40 seconds.

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Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Strategy at Santander UK, commented: “Our experiment demonstrates just how easy it is for criminals to send phishing emails and hack WiFi hotspots.

We have seen the devastating results that fraud and scams can have on our customers and how much damage can be done if hackers get hold of even a small amount of personal detail.

“It’s great to have Alec on board to help out – having talked about scams with thousands of over 60s through our SAS it is good to get him involved to help spread the word.  Raising awareness and educating people on how to protect themselves is vital to effectively tackling the criminals who ruin people’s lives.”

 Certified ethical hacker Marcus Dempsey added: “Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks can be easy pickings for criminals.  By inputting passwords, bank details and confidential information into online banking or shopping websites over a public WiFi, people could be unknowingly putting their finances and identities in the hands of hackers.  Perhaps even easier than hacking WiFi is sending scam correspondence, particularly phishing emails.

“If Alec, with no previous knowledge of how to do this, can write and distribute a convincing phishing email in a matter of minutes, it’s worrying to imagine the potential damage that actual scammers could be doing.”

Marcus Dempsey and Santander give their tips for staying safe online: 

Wi-Fi hotspot protection

  1. Ensure a WiFi hotspot is genuine: it’s easy to set up official-looking networks, so verify with shop staff before logging on.  Providers can help by displaying the network name in store.
  2. HTTPS: If you need to use your card details online make sure the website you are on has HTTPS://’at the start and has a green padlock against it.
  3. Get a Virtual Private Network (VPN): Not all sites will display the HTTPS lock symbol, but a VPN will act as an intermediary between your device and the internet server, putting up a further block for any would-be eavesdroppers or hackers.
  4. Forget the network:don’t just log off – ask your device to forget the network so it doesn’t automatically log on if you’re within range later.

Email protection 

A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you unsolicited to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account.  Don’t give out personal or financial details including passwords and PINs unless it’s to use a service you have signed up to, and you’re sure that the request for your information is directly related to that service.

  1. Never click on a link or download anything in an unsolicited email.  Doing so could let scammers infect your computer with malicious software that will swipe your personal details or could allow criminals to access your device remotely.
  2. If you get an email from somebody asking you to change some payment details, don’t do this without checking it out thoroughly first.  The email may have been sent by a hacker rather than the genuine supplier.

Look out for tell-tale signs that an email may not be genuine, for example:

  • –       The sender’s email address doesn’t match the website address of the organisation it says it’s from
  • –       The email is impersonal and doesn’t address you by your name e.g. just says Dear Sir/Madam
  • –       There are spelling or grammatical mistakes

www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxdbm7NIlOs&feature=youtu.be

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Deloitte: Middle East organizations need to rethink their workforce in the wake of COVID-19

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Deloitte: Middle East organizations need to rethink their workforce in the wake of COVID-19 1

Organizations in the Middle East have had to take immediate actions in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as shifting to remote and virtual work, implementing new ways of working and redirecting the workforce on critical activities. According to Deloitte’s 10th annual 2020 Middle East Human Capital Trends report, “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward,” organizations now need to think about how to sustain these actions by embedding them into their organizational culture.

“COVID-19 has created a clarifying moment for work and the workforce. Organizations that expand their focus on worker well-being, from programs adjacent to work to designing well-being into the work itself, will help their workers not only feel their best but perform at their best. Doing so will strengthen the tie between well-being and organizational outcomes, drive meaningful work, and foster a greater sense of belonging overall,” said Ghassan Turqieh, Consulting Partner, Human Capital, Deloitte Middle East.

According to the Deloitte report, many organizations in the Middle East made quick arrangements to engage with employees in the wake of the pandemic through frequent communications, multiple webinars where senior leaders addressed employee concerns, virtual employee events, manager check-ins, periodic calls and other targeted interactions with the workforce.

The report also discussed how UAE and KSA governments have reexamined work policies and practices, amended regulations and introduced COVID-19 initiatives to support companies and the workforce in the public and private sectors. Flexible and remote working, team-building and engagement activities, well-ness programs, recognition awards and modern workspaces are among the many things that are now adding to the employee experience.

Key findings from the Deloitte global report include:

  • Only 17% of respondents are making significant investments in reskilling to support their AI strategy with only 12% using AI primarily to replace workers;
  • 27% of respondents have clear policies and practices to manage the ethical challenges resulting from the future of work despite 85% of respondents saying the future of work raises ethical challenges;
  • Three-quarters of leaders are expecting to source new skills and capabilities through reskilling, but only 45% are rewarding workers for the development of new skills; and
  • Only 45% of respondents are prepared or very prepared to take advantage of the alternative workforce to access key capabilities despite gig workers being likely to comprise 43% of the U.S. workforce this year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Worker well-being is a top priority today, and similarly to the rest of the world, companies in the Middle East are focusing their efforts to redesign work around well-being by understanding workforce well-being needs,” said Rania Abu Shukur, Director, Human Capital, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East.

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One in five insurance customers saw an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows

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One in five insurance customers saw an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows 2

SAS research reveals that insurers improved their customer experience during lockdown

One in five insurance customers noted an improvement in their customer experience over lockdown, according to research conducted by SAS, the leader in analytics. This far outweighed the 11% of customers who felt it had deteriorated over the same period.

This is positive news for insurers during such challenging times, with 59% of customers also saying that they would pay more to buy or use products and services from any company that provided them with a good customer experience over lockdown.

The improvement in customer experience also coincides with a rise in the number of digital customers. Since the pandemic started, the number of insurance customers using a digital service or app has grown by 10%. Three-fifths (60%) of new users plan to continue using these digital services moving forward.

However, while the number of digital users grew over lockdown, half of the insurance customer base has not yet chosen to move to digital insurance apps or services.

Paul Ridge, Head of Insurance at SAS UK & Ireland, said:

“It’s impressive that there was a net improvement in customer experience during lockdown, despite the challenges the industry was facing with a transition to remote working and increased claims for things like cancelled holidays. While many were forced to wait on customer help lines for long periods, part of the improvement may be explained by even a small (10%) increase in the number of digital users.

“However, it’s clear that a huge number of customers are still yet to make the move online. It’s vital that insurers provide the most accurate, timely and relevant offerings to customers, and this is best achieved by having additional insight into online customer journeys so they can understand them better. Using analytics and AI, insurers can seize this opportunity to digitalise their customer experience and offer a more personalised approach.”

Meanwhile, for insurers that fail to offer a consistently satisfactory customer experience, the price could be severe. A third (33%) of customers claimed that they would ditch a company after just one poor experience. This number jumps to 90% for between one and five poor examples of customer service.

For more insight into how other industries across EMEA performed during lockdown, download the full report: Experience 2030: Has COVID-19 created a new kind of customer? 

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The power of superstar firms amid the pandemic: should regulators intervene?

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The power of superstar firms amid the pandemic: should regulators intervene? 3

By Professor Anton Korinek, Darden School of Business and Research Associate at the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute. Gosia Glinska, associate director of research impact, Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Darden School of Business

Recent news that Apple hit a market cap of USD2 trillion highlights an extraordinary success story: A once struggling computer-maker on the verge of bankruptcy innovates its way to becoming the most valuable publicly traded company in the United States.

Apple’s 13-figure valuation is indicative of a larger trend that is not entirely benign — the rise of a handful of superstar firms that dominate the economy. Over the past three decades, advances in information technology, mainly the Internet, have supercharged the superstar phenomenon, allowing a small number of entrepreneurs and firms to serve a large market and reap outsize rewards. And COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the phenomenon by pushing us all into a more virtual world.

Apple — along with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix — is a case in point. The combined market value of those six companies exceeds USD7 trillion, which accounts for more than a quarter of the entire S&P 500 index. Even amid the pandemic’s economic wreckage, these megacompanies continue to prosper. The combined share price for Apple and its five peers was up more than 43 percent this year, while the rest of the companies in the S&P 500 collectively lost about 4 percent.[1]

Superstar firms can be found in almost every sector of the economy, including tech, management, finance, sports and the music industry. They command increasing market power, which has consequences for technological, social and economic progress. It is, therefore, critical to understand how their advantages arose in the first place.

THE FORCES BEHIND THE SUPERSTAR PHENOMENON

The “economics of superstars” was first studied by the late University of Chicago economist Sherwin Rosen. Forty years ago, Rosen argued that certain new technologies would significantly enhance the productivity of talented workers, enabling superstars in any industry to greatly expand the scope of their market, while reducing market opportunities for everyone else.[2] Digital innovations, including advances in the collection, processing and transmission of information, is what Rosen envisioned would lead to the superstar phenomenon.

Digital technologies are information goods, which are different from the traditional, physical goods in the economy. What it means is that fundamentally different economic considerations apply. Unlike physical goods — a loaf of bread or a car — information goods have two key properties: They are non-rival and excludable. Non-rival means that something can be used without being used up. Excludability means that an owner of digital innovation can prevent others from using it, by protecting it with patents, for example. These two fundamental properties of information goods are what give rise to the superstar phenomenon.

In a working paper I co-authored with Professor Ding Xuan Ng at Johns Hopkins University[3], we described superstars as arising from digital innovations that require upfront fixed costs that allow firms to reduce the marginal costs of serving additional customers.[4] For example, once an online travel agency has programmed its website at a fixed cost, it can easily displace thousands of traditional travel agents without much additional effort, scaling at near-zero cost.

Because a firm can exclude others from using its digital innovation, it automatically gains market power. The innovator then uses that power to charge a mark-up and earn a monopoly rent — basically, a price superstars charge in excess of what it costs them to provide the good — which we call the ‘superstar profit share’.

THE POLICYMAKER’S DILEMMA

In a vibrant free market economy, businesses compete for customers by innovating and improving their offerings while keeping prices low; otherwise, they are displaced by more innovative rivals entering the market. Unfortunately, the increasing monopolization of the economy by technology superstars is weakening the competitive environment around the world.

Monopoly power is the main inefficiency from the emergence of superstar firms, because superstars can exclude others from using the innovation that they have developed.

So, what policy measures can be employed to mitigate the inefficiencies arising from the superstar phenomenon?

We do have antitrust policies designed to promote competition and hence economic efficiency. Authorities could take a drastic measure and break up monopolies. Or they could tax all those excess profits megacompanies make.

Another policy to consider involves giving consumers control rights over their data. Right now, only companies have that data, and they are selling it. If you free it up and don’t allow them to sell it anymore, it reduces their monopoly profits. And if you give consumers more freedom over their data, they could, for example, share it with the latest start-up and create a more competitive landscape.

However, such policy remedies can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they reduce monopoly rents. On the other hand, they can also reduce innovation.

Innovation requires investments in R&D, which represent a significant sunk cost that only large firms can afford. Government regulations can easily backfire, discouraging large firms from making long-term R&D investments.

What, then, is the best policy intervention? Professor Ding Xuan Ng and I believe that basic research should be public. Digital innovations should be financed by public investments and should be provided as free public goods to all. This would make the superstar phenomenon disappear, and the effects of digital innovation would simply show up as productivity increases.[5]

We live in a brave new world that is increasingly based on information. Because the information economy is different from the traditional economy, antitrust policy should be revamped to reflect that. Instead of worrying about the economy being eaten up by these gigantic monopolies, policymakers need to focus on the question ‘What specific actions can we pursue to make the economy more competitive and efficient?’

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