Cybercriminal jailed over online blackmail and fraud

A hacker who conned his way into a social media account and then tried to blackmail the owner has been jailed following a joint West Midlands and US investigation. The individual from Sandwell managed to illegally access the American victim’s e-mail and Instagram account and then demanded money. The attacker gained access to the victim’s accounts through social engineering - where personal information is obtained through deception – using compromised details to reset account security information. The investigation was carried out by the West Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Unit in association with other law enforcement agencies following the report in 2017. The Sandwell resident was convicted of blackmail, fraud by false representation and offences under the Computer Misuse Act.
Labour Party members' data hit by cyber incident

The Labour Party said it was told on 29 October that it had been affected by a “cyber incident” by the third party firm that handled membership data on its behalf. As a result, "a significant quantity" of party data was "rendered inaccessible on their systems". Both the ICO and the NCSC are looking into the incident. Labour has yet to reveal who the third party is, the scale of the incident or what type of data was affected. An analysis by Cyber Reporter, Joe Tidy, describes the Labour Party’s statements as “vague” and that it “leaves a lot of questions” for party members. Tidy also makes the assumption that the Labour Party has been hit by a ransomware attack, based on the fact that their systems are inaccessible.

NCSC statement on cyber incident affecting the Labour Party
Notorious dark web administrator ordered to hand over more than £490k amassed from criminal activity

An unemployed university drop-out, jailed for running a dark web business selling illegal drugs, has been ordered to hand over more than £490,000 in bitcoin. Thomas White, now 26, took over the running of the notorious dark web site Silk Road after it was first closed in 2013. White left his accounting degree after a single term and went on to become an administrator of Silk Road, before its shutdown by the FBI. After this he launched Silk Road 2.0. When officers examined his electronic devices after his arrest, they also discovered a stash of horrific child sex abuse images. He pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering and making 464 category A indecent images of children, and was jailed for five years and four months, in addition to now having to pay nearly £500,000.
WMRCCU Exhibits at the 3DCSE

This week, the WMRCCU had a stand at the Three Counties Defence and Security Show in Malvern. This event had attendees from all over the defence and security industries and was an amazing opportunity to educate people on what we do, whilst spreading our very important cyber protect and prevent messaging.

Active Cyber Defence
The NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme has entered its 4th year, so we thought it would be a good time to talk about what it is and the services it provides. ACD seeks to reduce the harm from commodity cyber-attacks by providing tools and services that protect from a range of attacks. The ACD programme consists of a number of interventions or real services - each free at the point of use - that perform a particular security service for organisations. ACD services are split into the following categories:

  • Self Service Checks
  • Detections Deployed By Organisations
  • Disrupt Threats
  • Protect UK Communications
Self Service Checks
  • Exercise in a Box (EiaB) – EIAB is a toolkit of realistic scenarios that helps organisations practise and refine their response to cyber security incidents in a safe and private environment
  • Early Warning – Notifies users if the NCSC is aware of any incidents, network abuse or vulnerabilities within the organisation
  • Web Check – Checks the organisations website for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations
  • Mail Check – Checks the authenticity of emails to prevent malicious email practices
Detections Deployed By Organisations
  • Logging Made Easy (LME) – Gives organisations a practical way to monitor their IT systems and have a log of all configurations to aid an investigation in the event of a cyber-attack
  • Vulnerability Disclosure Toolkit - A toolkit that contains the essential components you need to set up your own vulnerability disclosure process, so users can report vulnerabilities to the right people
  • Protective Domain Name Service (PDNS) - It blocks internet users from accessing malicious sites hosting malware and viruses and stops existing malware from calling home
Disrupt Threats
  • Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) – This allows anyone in the UK to flag an email to the NCSC that they think may be linked to phishing –
  • Suspicious Website Reporting Service – This allows suspicious websites to be reported to the NCSC using a web form
  • Takedown Service - The NCSC Takedown Service finds malicious sites and sends notifications to the host or owner to get them removed from the internet before significant harm can be done. The NCSC centrally manages the service, so departments automatically benefit without having to sign up

The NCSC also offers the MyNCSC portal which is a single point of entry to the NCSC’s digital services including Active Cyber Defence products. For more information about each section and its eligibility criteria, please visit the NCSC website (

Ransomware Gangs Target Corporate Financial Activities

The FBI is warning about a fresh extortion tactic threatening to tank share prices for publicly held companies in order to encourage ransom payments. The FBI has seen this tactic in use over the past year, most commonly when a company is approaching “significant time-sensitive financial events”, such as quarterly earnings reports. This really ramps up the pressure for victims as the attackers could threaten to leak information relevant to these events if the target doesn’t pay up.
Facebook changes its name to Meta in major rebrand

In recent news, Facebook has changed its corporate name to Meta as part of a major rebrand.  The company said it would better "encompass" what it does, as it broadens its reach beyond social media into areas like virtual reality (VR). Despite this change, the individual platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, will retain their current names. Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the new name as he unveiled plans to build a "metaverse" - an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.
Facebook will shut down its facial recognition system

Facebook's facial recognition system will be shut down and face prints will be deleted for over a billion people, the social media giant has announced. The technology automatically identifies users in pictures and videos but Facebook has decided to remove it, citing increased concerns about its use. Facial recognition software is popular across many different industries, but recently critics have said it could compromise privacy, target marginalised groups and normalise intrusive surveillance.
Google Chrome is abused to Deliver Malware as ‘Legit’ Win 10 App

Malware delivered via a compromised website on Chrome browsers can bypass User Account Controls to infect systems and steal sensitive data, such as credentials and cryptocurrency. An analyst from Rapid7, said that the malware maintains persistence on PC “by abusing a Windows environment variable and a native scheduled task to ensure it persistently executes with elevated privileges”.
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UK Education and Childcare Sector Alert and Resources

The National Cyber Security Centre has released the following guidance to schools - Cyber Security for Schools.  This page houses free resources for everyone working with schools. The education sector has recently been affected by a number of cyber incidents. 

Alert: Further targeted ransomware attacks on the UK education sector by cyber criminals

Support for UK education sector after growth in cyber attacks

New NCSC guidance aimed at the UK Early Years education and Childcare sector
The new guidance, produced in association with key stakeholders in the Early Years sector, will help organisations protect the growing amounts of sensitive information held on children and their families, from both accidental damage or from online criminals.

Keeping children safe in education 2021

Please get in touch with us if you'd like to know more about the free education sector cyber protection support services we provide. 

If you think you may have been the victim of fraud or cybercrime and incurred a financial loss or have been hacked as a result of responding to a phishing message, you should report this to Action Fraud 

Spotted a suspicious email? If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS):

Alternatively you can call 0300 123 2040
to report and obtain advice about fraud or cyber crime
Our lives are relying on technology more every day. Join us each week for your bitesize cybersecurity podcast. In this increasingly technical world we deliver non-technical cyber news, and identify the current threats we’re facing.
The West Midlands Regional Cyber Crime Unit will be taking part in this years Cyber Fringe Festival on the 23-27th November 2021. Get your free delegate pass today!

On the fringe of Cyber & Security: 5 days of Strategic, Operational and Technical sessions, covering: Cyber industry, Defence & Emergency services, Diversity, Government, Acceleration, and Skills.


The WMCRC work with local Universities and Police forces in Staffordshire, West Midlands, West Mercia and Warwickshire to provide you access to the latest information on emerging cyber threats, criminal trends and best practice to protect your business.
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