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Emergency changes made to MPs’ IT system after ‘cyber security’ alert

Emergency changes were being made to MPs’ IT system yesterday after a “cyber security incident”. A high-importance email was sent out by Parliamentary officials warning MPs to remain extra vigilant and look out for suspicious emails or activity . The email, sent just after lunchtime, said: “We are currently investigating a cyber security incident.

“We are going to be making some emergency changes to the IT network which may cause some disruption.”

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The email was sent hours after reports that British politicians’ passwords had been traded by Russian hackers.

The Times reported that 1,000 Parliamentary workers’ logins were traded

The Times claimed 1,000 MPs and parliamentary staff, 7,000 police employees and more than 1,000 Foreign Office staff were in the troves sold or swapped on Russian-speaking hacking sites. Cabinet ministers including Education Secretary Justine Greening and Business Secretary Greg Clark were said to be among the haul. However, a House of Commons spokesman would not confirm whether or not the probe was related to The Times’ report.

Officials also declined to say how many email accounts were affected, when the incident occurred or what it was. The spokesman said: The Houses of Parliament are currently investigating a cyber security incident.

“Like all responsible organisations we have to respond to constantly evolving threats . We have systems in place to protect member and staff accounts and to prevent unauthorised access to information .

We are working to investigate the incident and will be taking the necessary steps to protect our systems.

Do the people of Kurdistan live in security?

The main threat to the people in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq is not ISIL, but failed governance which endangers human security.

Do The People Of Kurdistan Live In Security? A Peshmerga soldier poses for a portrait at the DPK Peshmerga base . Picture by Le Caer Vianney ABACA/PA Images . All rights reserved. Some people in the Kurdistan region of Iraq think of security in terms of security of Kurdish people and their territory from military attacks by neighboring countries or the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) . This understanding of security, however, is a limited one . Security should be thought of as a shared freedom from fear, from want, from medically preventable deaths, and freedom to live in dignity . Today, the people of Kurdistan and their land are secure from ISIL threats, because Peshmerga forces (literally meaning those facing death or seeking death) were successful in fighting back and protecting the Kurdistan territory from falling into ISIL’s hands . However, the main and serious security threats on Kurdish people’s lives derive from within the Kurdistan region and the failure of its regional government (KRG). Corruption and economic inequality are at their highest, and the KRG is unable to provide salaries for its public employees . Under a recently announced plan named the savings process , the KRG proposed wage cuts to all public employees in a bid to reduce costs .

Government employees are facing cuts ranging between 15 and 75 percent, depending on their position and pay-grade . Furthermore, employees have not been paid four monthly salaries in 2015, and two salaries have been delayed in 20161 . Having said that, KRG s economic reforms are at the expense of poor people: “Making the rich richer and the poor poorer” . Many Kurds believe that the ruling political parties are still rich and corrupt, since they still finance their media outlets and institutions, and have even started new projects during the financial crisis, including opening new TV channels . The results are clear: economically speaking, people live in severe conditions, and therefore tens of thousands migrate2 from the area . Another consequence is that, according to recent reports the crime rate is going up in Iraqi Kurdistan345. KRG s economic reforms are at the expense of poor people: “Making the rich richer and the poor poorer” Moreover, the KRG health care system is in poor condition . In theory, hospitals offer free services, but in reality they are badly equipped and poorly serviced .

The drug supply business has no quality control and is not regulated . Many Kurdish traders import expired drugs from neighboring countries . In the Kurdistan region, almost 20 percent of the entire medical supply is fake . In 2013, a group politically linked to the ruling party, smuggled a contaminated batch of the cancer-treatment drug Avastin . When the drug was used by a public hospital in Erbil, it blinded 30 patients . The traders who deliberately imported and sold the bad drug were not held responsible . According to Michael Rubin, in Kurdistan Rising ? Considerations for Kurds, their neighbors, and the region6, in March 2012, Kurdish authorities uncovered a counterfeit medicine plant in Erbil packaging substandard drugs with false claims of manufacture in Syria and India, but issued only a reprimand because of its owners political connections . Corrupt traders and manufacturers distributed more than 2,500 boxes of defective insulin to Kurdish hospitals .

Numerous cancer patients received defective chemotherapy drugs, and patients receiving injections for minor medical issues subsequently suffered life-threatening reactions . A relative of a former KRG prime minister working at a border crossing with Turkey allowed in 20 trucks carrying 400 tons of counterfeit medicine, but the contents of only one truck were ever recovered.” Kurdish authorities overlooked an Iraqi Ministry of Health circular to all Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdish hospitals that banned injections of the antibiotics ceftriaxone, resulting in the deaths of several patients7. The Minister of Justice is sometimes used by the ruling political parties for their own interests. Furthermore, the court system in the Kurdistan region is not independent enough . In a survey conducted by Democracy and Human Right Development Center (DHRD), among 300 people, fifty percent thought that the independence of the judicial power in Kurdistan is at a bad level, while forty percent believe that it is at a medium level . This may increase the number of retaliations carried out by civilians in society because people do not trust the courts . This is especially true when the perpetrator belongs to the security and police forces at the rank of officer or higher .

during an interview on Kurdstat News Channel, Karzan Fazil, a lawyer at DHRD, said that the courts cannot issue an arrest warrant to someone who commits a crime if they are at the level of officer in the security forces . He further mentioned a case where a member of the security services (Asaesh) was accused of murder, but was not brought to court because Asaesh refused to surrender him to justice, and instead asked for his case files telling the court that they will try him themselves8

There are numerous cases indicating that Asaesh ignored the decision of the court.9 Furthermore, the Minister of Justice is sometimes used by the ruling political parties for their own interests . For instance, at the request of the deputy speaker of the Kurdistan parliament, who is a senior politician at the PDK, the Kurdistan Consultative Council on 17th of august 2015 decided to extend Barzani’s term for the next two years . The decision according to the Kurdistan parliament speaker Yusuf Muhammad, was illegal. “We did not ask for an opinion and according to the law, the consultative council does not have the right to issue an obligatory decision” Yusuf Muhammad said10 . All of these cases imply that in Kurdistan the law can only be enforced upon powerless people. The security of the system per se is just a means to serve an end, which is the security of people. Last but not least, the largest Kurdish political party ended the soft treatment of anyone who criticizes the Kurdish political leaders for corruption in the areas under its control .

In October 2015, the security forces loyal to the PDK prevented the Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Yusuf Muhammad from entering Erbil just because he was trying to do his job as the speaker to amend presidential law . The KDP has expanded its surveillance system by recruiting more people . They mostly target domestic rivals and civil society activists . NGOs and civil society need prior permission from Asaesh before conducting any activities . Many journalists who work with the opposition groups in Duhok and Erbil left their journalism jobs under pressure . Several religious scholars who have critical voices have also been fired.11

Kurdish officials are the main beneficiaries from the current political system by politicizing all sectors of society while the human security of Kurdish people is under threat . The Kurdistan security strategy should not only focus on external military or terrorist threats . Today Kurdistan is largely stable thanks to the Peshmerga forces, but at the same time it faces many risks that endanger the lives of Kurdish citizens . Moreover, the KRG security and stability should not become a project to serve the political elites and their interests, but a common good benefiting all Kurdish people in the Iraqi Kurdistan .

To achieve this goal, politicized sectors such as the military and security forces, economy and oil revenues should be depoliticized . Also, the KRG’s security and intelligence services have to assess the level of the mentioned threats, measure their severity, and then try to find ways to resolve them . This is because these threats affect Kurdish people’s lives directly, which should come first in the KRG’s security strategy .

The security of the system per se is just a means to serve an end, which is the security of people.

References

  1. ^ delayed in 2016 (www.dailymail.co.uk)
  2. ^ migrate (www.al-monitor.com)
  3. ^ crime rate is going (ekurd.net)
  4. ^ up in (ekurd.net)
  5. ^ Iraqi Kurdistan (ekurd.net)
  6. ^ Kurdistan Rising ?

    Considerations for Kurds, their neighbors, and the region (www.aei.org)

  7. ^ of several patients (www.aei.org)
  8. ^ try him themselves (www.kurdsatnews.com)
  9. ^ the court. (dhrd.nl)
  10. ^ said (www.al-monitor.com)
  11. ^ fired. (kurdishpolicy.org)

Five Resolutions for your Home and Personal Security

Every year the New Year arrives brimming with possibilities and Suffolk Police are reminding people to include security resolutions as part of their 2017 goals. The New Year encourages many of us to vow to quit our vices, eat better and improve finances but what about your home ? As the saying goes, home is where your heart is and officers are urging the public to put more efforts into making it safe and secure, with the following five resolutions. Most burglaries are committed by opportunistic criminals who happen to see insecure premises where they can help themselves . Intruders will look for the best opportunity to break into a property, some will scope out an address first, so officers are urging residents to ensure their home looks occupied, that hedges which might conceal a thief are kept trimmed and that there are no tools accessible that might aid an intruder to gain access. Remember to safeguard your keys as part of your home security measures . Every year police are handed thousands of lost keys, which cannot be returned to their rightful owner as there s no way to identify them . Suffolk Constabulary s SAFEKey initiative works to remedy this and, operating across the UK and the EU, provides members with a branded key fob inscribed with a unique reference number to identify them as the key holder at a small cost of just 1 per month . The money generated is driven back into the community to support projects and schemes, as per the Police and Crime Commissioner s objectives .

To find out more, please visit: www.suffolk.safekey.org.uk1. In the winter months, often coupled with the rise in the cost of fuel, heating oil also becomes an attractive target for thieves . Suffolk Police are reminding homeowners of simple measures to prevent such thefts: positioning lights with a Dusk til Dawn feature close to the tank, ensuring your fence is high and not easy to climb, and investing in good quality locks, such as shackle padlocks. Close shackle padlocks offer better resistance to bolt croppers and other tools that thieves usually come equipped with . Homeowners should check their oil gauges regularly, which will indicate any potential theft, and consider installing a remote electronic oil level gauge, which triggers an alarm if there is a sudden drop.

  • Join in with your community

One way people can help keep their local area safer is by joining or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch group . Neighbourhood Watch schemes can help reduce crime, and opportunities for crime, by encouraging residents to look out for each other and to report anything they feel is suspicious . To find out about local watch schemes in operation, please visit: http://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/home-safety/watch-schemes2. You can also keep up to date with the very latest in policing in your local area by signing up to Police Connect, a free messaging service provided by the Constabulary; from news and appeals, to local policing events and meetings . To find out more or to register, please visit: https://www.suffolk.police.uk/services/police-connect3.

Online fraud is one of the most widespread forms of cybercrime and protecting yourself is key as many more of us using mobile phones, tablets and other devices to shop, bank and share personal details . Suffolk Police are urging people to ensure passwords are regularly changed on all accounts and that these are not duplicated across multiple accounts . Passwords should not be easy to guess, so include a combination of capital and lower case letters, numbers and symbols . Further protect yourself by installing and updating your anti-virus software and shop only from official websites that you know and trust. In the age of social media and emails, many of us post personal information online . Where possible, use secure networks and be careful what information you are sharing, never revealing financial details . Online crime can have a devastating impact to those who fall victim . If you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime, report it to the national policing lead, Action Fraud: www.actionfraud.police.uk4.

  • Make your phone work smarter

Mobile phones and tablets are a very tempting target for thieves . Not only are they more valuable in themselves, but many will also contain valuable data, from music downloads and photographs taken, to other personal information saved on social media, emails and banking activity. Having your phone or tablet stolen can have immediate consequences, so ensure you always use a security lock PIN code or biometric authentication and download a tracking app that can locate a lost or stolen device using its GPS signal. Protect your property further by registering them on www.immobolise.com5, a free-to-use national database that police can access and compare against items that have been found or recovered from suspected thieves. Chief Inspector Jo Garrard, Head of Community Safety for Suffolk Police, said: “It s important to remember that burglars don t have an “off-season and we can all take positive steps to make ourselves and communities safer . Security measures are just the start, though; I would urge people to be more vigilant in what s happening around them and in reporting suspicious activity to us .

We rely on information from the public to help us keep our communities save, so if it doesn t feel right, we want to hear from you.

References

  1. ^ www.suffolk.safekey.org.uk (www.suffolk.safekey.org.uk)
  2. ^ http://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/home-safety/watch-schemes (www.suffolk.police.uk)
  3. ^ https://www.suffolk.police.uk/services/police-connect (www.suffolk.police.uk)
  4. ^ www.actionfraud.police.uk (www.actionfraud.police.uk)
  5. ^ www.immobolise.com (www.immobolise.com)