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First Minister’s security enhanced after online death threats

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon1 s personal security has been beefed up in the wake of a torrent of online threats hurled at the country s political leaders. It is understood a police2 officer is now responsible for driving the SNP3 leader to events in an unmarked police car . Until now, the First Minister’s security has been minimal and she has been driven around by government civilian drivers.

In March, the Sunday Herald revealed that Police Scotland was investigating a catalogue of online abuse aimed at Sturgeon4.

The hate speech, based on hundreds of tweets, included threats of violence and sexualised insults.

One troll wrote: A f**king hate Nicola Sturgeon, wish someone would shoot the daft jock b*****d .

Another Twitter user wrote: Nicola Sturgeon needs a kick up the c**t .

Scottish Labour5 leader Kezia Dugdale and Tory counterpart Ruth Davidson6 have also been targeted online.

Sturgeon and her Ministers have until now been ferried about by pool drivers in the Government7 Car Service, but this newspaper has learned that security around the First Minister has been stepped up.

A police officer now takes the lead on driving duties and a second officer sometimes accompanies her on visits.

Stuart Crawford, a former military officer who is a security and defence consultant, said: Every public figure, whether political or not, is at risk to a certain extent . It is a case of trying to make an informed judgement of how great that risk is.

I have met Nicola on the train from Edinburgh8 to Glasgow9 and chatted to her, and that is one of the great things about the politics of the Scottish Parliament10 . You can walk down the Royal Mile and meet MSPs and Ministers, and engage with them.

But you have always got the nutter scenario – the John Lennon scenario .

So it seems to be sensible for her to have that police driver and escort, so long as it doesn t divorce her from the public.”

He added: People who might be on the receiving end of some sort of physical threat have just got to be wise to it.

The shift mirrors security changes when Alex Salmond11 was First Minister between 2007 and 2014.

His government driver doubled up as a body guard and a police officer was later drafted in to act as a personal security adviser.

John Buchan was based in the former First Minister’s private office as a “security liaison officer and was tasked with scoping out potential threats.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: We do not comment on the First Minister s security arrangements.

References

  1. ^ Nicola Sturgeon (www.heraldscotland.com)
  2. ^ police (www.heraldscotland.com)
  3. ^ SNP (www.heraldscotland.com)
  4. ^ Sturgeon (www.heraldscotland.com)
  5. ^ Labour (www.heraldscotland.com)
  6. ^ Ruth Davidson (www.heraldscotland.com)
  7. ^ Government (www.heraldscotland.com)
  8. ^ Edinburgh (www.heraldscotland.com)
  9. ^ Glasgow (www.heraldscotland.com)
  10. ^ Parliament (www.heraldscotland.com)
  11. ^ Alex Salmond (www.heraldscotland.com)

WPC murder case stalls over national security

A suspect in the murder of police officer Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London will not be prosecuted because important evidence is being withheld on national security grounds. Police said they were unable to charge the man without being able to present the “key material” in court. WPC Fletcher died after being shot in the back while she was policing a demonstration against the then-Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 1984. The shot was fired from the embassy in St James’s Square. The suspect was held in November 2015 in southeast England in what police described as a “significant turning point”
in the inquiry. The Metropolitan Police said: “We believe our investigation has identified enough material to identify those responsible for WPC Fletcher’s murder if it could be presented to a court. “However the key material has not been made available for use in court in evidential form for reasons of national security.

“Therefore, without this material and following a review of all the evidence that was available to prosecutors, the Crown Prosecution Service – who we worked closely with throughout – have informed us that there is insufficient admissible evidence to charge the man.” It added: “Our judgment is that this concludes what was by far the best opportunity to solve this tragic case and provide a degree of closure for the victims and their families. “This investigation will never be closed but the likelihood of finding further evidence, in Libya or elsewhere, is low.”

A statement from WPC Fletcher’s family said: “We understand that some available evidence could not be used in court but are satisfied that the Metropolitan Police has left no stone unturned in its pursuit of justice in Yvonne’s case. “The family would like to thank the Met for its continued hard work and diligence and also for always keeping us informed at every turn. “We are deeply disappointed and frustrated that a prosecution cannot proceed at this time.

“We had hoped that the latest turn of events would finally lead to some closure for the family.” Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Her murder remains as shocking and senseless as the day it occurred and I understand that the decision will be deeply disappointing and frustrating for all her family, friends and colleagues.” The shooting was followed by a 10-day siege of the building before 30 of those inside were deported back to Libya.

Details of the identity of the man who has been released have not been made public.

Cyber attack alert: Download security patch

  • Cyber attack alert: Download security patch – PSNI issue warning as Monday cyber attack fears grow across UK

    BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

    Police in Northern Ireland are working closely with government and tech agencies amid fresh warnings that the cyber attack that crippled international services are set to continue. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/cyber-attack-alert-download-security-patch-psni-issue-warning-as-monday-cyber-attack-fears-grow-across-uk-35713000.html

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/article35712644.ece/1faa8/AUTOCROP/h342/PANews%20BT_P-16bfdd3f-944c-4640-a6da-9b368278ce18_I1.jpg

  • Email1

Police in Northern Ireland are working closely with government and tech agencies amid fresh warnings that the cyber attack that crippled international services are set to continue. Europol has warned that the threat “will continue to grow” as people return to work on Monday . Since Friday’s breach more than 200,000 victims – including the NHS – across 150 countries have been infected by the Wanna Decryptor ransomware, also known as WannaCry.

The PSNI has said it has been liaising with relevant agencies “to ensure that here in Northern Ireland we are adequately briefed and prepared for the possibility of any potential similar incident.”

Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Grant said: “Since this attack occurred on Friday afternoon we have been working with representatives from the national government, National Crime Agency, National Cyber Security Centre and cyber security experts to put in place mechanisms to mitigate the risk to systems in Northern Ireland.

“As people return to work tomorrow after the weekend, many will have unopened, potentially infected emails in their inboxes, or their systems may already be infected and are waiting to activate . It is of the utmost importance that individuals and organisations act to ensure the integrity of our local cyber networks and take appropriate action to reduce the threat posed by cyber criminals.”

Read More: Five key questions about the NHS cyber hack answered 2

“While there is currently no suggestion that systems within Northern Ireland have been targeted, we remain conscious that we must act to ensure the integrity of cyber networks and take appropriate action to reduce the threat posed by cyber criminals.

“Do not open emails from unknown sources or containing suspicious links or attachments . Ensure that all computers on your network are fully updated with the latest ‘patches’ . A patch is a piece of software designed to update a computer program or its supporting data, to fix or improve it . This includes fixing security vulnerabilities.”

Speaking to ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Europol director Rob Wainwright said the attack was indiscriminate across the private and public sectors.

“At the moment we are in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up, I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning.

“The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries . Many of those will be businesses including large corporations.”

Organisations across the globe, including investigators from the National Crime Agency (NCA), are now working non-stop to hunt down those responsible for the ransomware.

Meanwhile health authorities are racing to upgrade security software amid fears hackers could exploit the same vulnerability with a new virus. There have been calls for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Friday’s major incident, with the Government and NHS chiefs facing questions over their preparedness and the robustness of vital systems. Mr Wainwright explained: “We have been concerned for some time . The healthcare centres in many countries are particularly vulnerable . They are processing a lot of sensitive data.”

A British cyber whiz was hailed an “accidental hero” after he registered a domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus, which exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software.

The anonymous specialist, known only as MalwareTech, prevented more than 100,000 computers across the globe from being infected. On Sunday MalwareTech issued a warning that hackers could upgrade the virus to remove the kill switch.

“Version 1 of WannaCrypt was stoppable but version 2.0 will likely remove the flaw . You’re only safe if you patch ASAP,” he wrote on Twitter.

A number of hospitals in England and Scotland were forced to cancel procedures after dozens of NHS systems were brought down in Friday’s attack. Medical staff reported seeing computers go down “one by one” as the attack took hold, locking machines and demanding money to release the data. Around a fifth of trusts were hit amid concerns networks were left vulnerable because they were still using outdated Windows XP software.

The apparent chink in the NHS’s defences led to criticism of the Government and NHS bosses, with the Liberal Democrats demanding an inquiry takes place. Speaking after a Cobra meeting on Saturday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd admitted “there’s always more” that can be done to protect against viruses. She said: “If you look at who’s been impacted by this virus, it’s a huge variety across different industries and across international governments.

“This is a virus that attacked Windows platforms .

The fact is the NHS has fallen victim to this.

“I don’t think it’s to do with that preparedness . There’s always more we can all do to make sure we’re secure against viruses, but I think there have already been good preparations in place by the NHS to make sure they were ready for this sort of attack.”

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, in a letter to Mr Hunt, said concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems. Speaking to Robert Peston, he demanded that the Conservatives publish the Department of Health’s risk register to see how seriously they were taking IT threats.

Among those affected by the virus was Nissan UK, but the car manufacturer said there had been no major impact.

It is understood its plant in Sunderland is not due to have another production shift until Sunday night.

References

  1. ^ Email (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
  2. ^ Five key questions about the NHS cyber hack answered (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)