Hacking proves internet is not just force for good

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Protect yourself against cyber crime
It has been a week of surprises.

Millions of papers from a Panamanian legal firm were leaked and the repercussions still reverberate around both the media and House of Commons.

Who knows where it will all end – will we ALL have to make our tax returns the stuff of public access?

And what about those who don’t fill in a tax return?

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Will they be compelled to declare their earnings too, whether or not they’ve done something legally – or morally – questionable?

Also, along the way came the revelations about the private proclivities of an individual in the public eye.

The national press was incensed that they were forbidden by law from naming the individual concerned, while all around the globe anyone with access to the internet could find out without difficulty.

Most of us interested will already know the identity of the person concerned – interestingly I’ve witnessed several conversations between people before the “so what?” factor asserts itself – two minutes seems the generally accepted norm.

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For the papers concerned I was intrigued by what had motivated their fury.

Was it about being journalistically gagged – or an inability to sell copies on the back of a hefty piece of salacious – and unproven – whistleblowing by an individual keen to cash in on their story?

You’ll have to make your own mind up on that one – I already have.

For me, too, there was a surprise – and not a pleasant one. Opening up my emails at the start of the weekend I scanned down to root out the rubbish and sift through the never ending offers of discounted holidays in far off places and loyalty card bonuses if I buy now.

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In among them were a series of confirmatory emails about my online shopping transactions.

This, in itself, was not the surprise because over the past half year or so I’ve made quite a few purchases.

Under such circumstances I’m familiar with the email confirming my purchase, another email to confirm my having made payment and yet another email to confirm that the ordered goods have been despatched.

Here, there was a series of eight purchase confirmation emails – which would have been fine had I been the one making the purchases. But I wasn’t. Not for any of them.

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Like many individuals every day it appears, I had become the target of online fraud, my payment account having been seemingly hacked by a third party. To my certain knowledge I have never been to Russia, far less so to the city of Murmansk.

But if I ever get the opportunity to, I shall make a point of calling at the apparently “confirmed” address of Alexei Savitcskiy, who appears to have been on something of a shopping spree with my account details to hand. Somewhere down the line there are a number of sellers who are in the process, or who have already sent him everything from nylon webbing to a mobile phone holder.

Comrade Savitcskiy must like the outdoors because I also bought him webbing for a hunting knife and a tool bag.

The transactions were international from a range of countries and in currencies ranging from American to Canadian dollars and yen.

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Luckily, as soon as I realised what had happened, changed all my security details and told the payment company what was going on, they took over.

The fraudsters made a couple of mistakes – but for them it’s a numbers game and the strike rate is phenomenal.

Violated, I’m now changing my personal information MUCH more frequently.

The internet is an omnipresent force for both good AND evil.