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TalkTalk hacker hit Withybush Hospital and others, costing tax payer £400,000

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A ‘CYNICAL and ruthless’ hacker, motivated by spite and greed, targeted the computer systems at Withybush Hospital, The Herald can confirm.

Daniel Kelley, now aged 21, hacked into networks at Withybush and Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli. When he did so, he prevented radiographers from viewing vital diagnostic images used to plan treatment for patients. The hacker also disrupted communications between different Health Board sites.

The Court heard that Kelley’s actions caused ‘a serious clinical risk of a catastrophic outcome’.

The hack cost the Welsh Government, which runs big public networks, £400,000 to repair its systems, improve its security systems, and prevent further hacks.

Kelley’s efforts in disrupting vital public services began when he implemented a Distributed Denial of Service attacks at Coleg Sir Gar, where he was a student.

Prosecutors alleged that Kelley’s motivation on that occasion was spite at being denied a place on a Level 3 computing course due to poor performance in his GCSEs.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attack in which multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a server, website or another network resource, and cause a denial of service for users of the targeted resource.

In Kelley’s case, he deliberately targeted the College’s computer infrastructure, causing disruption to systems accessed by students and teachers, including examinations.

Having accessed the College network, Kelley was able to exploit its connection to wider Welsh public service computer infrastructure and caused targeted disruption to other bodies which shared the network’s resources.

There is no sign that Kelley committed these acts for anything other than his amusement and the feeling of power it gave him.

While Kelley’s activities had widespread adverse consequences, his next step presented a major escalation.

He hijacked the computer systems of companies in Australia and Canada. The targets included Zippo Lighters, Rogers Communications, RC Hobbies, ISP JISC, TAFE Queensland, and a court transcription service called For the Record in Australia.

He attempted to blackmail company executives by targeting their loved ones and making threats to collapse companies by wrecking their computer systems.

Kelley was arrested in July 2015 but his most audacious blackmail attempt was yet to come.

In October that year, together with a group of other hackers, Kelley took part in “significant and sustained cyber-attack” on TalkTalk.

The group broke into broadband provider TalkTalk’s customer database and stole a copy of its contents.

The stolen records included customer names and addresses, dates of birth, payment card details, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Around 157,000 customers in the UK were caught up in the hack, which was said to have cost TalkTalk £77m to clean up and cost it immeasurably more in lost customer confidence and income.

Kelley then attempted to extort £80,000 in exchange for not leaking the swiped customer database onto the web.

Peter Ratliff, prosecuting, described Kelley as a “prolific, skilled and cynical cyber-criminal” who was willing to “bully, intimidate, and then ruin his chosen victims from a perceived position of anonymity and safety – behind the screen of a computer.

“Where confidential and sensitive information had been stolen in the hack – typically the personal and credit card details of the company’s clients – the defendant would threaten the company with the public release of the material, knowing and exploiting the fact that the release would risk the ruin of the company concerned.

“It is clear from the content of the emails that the defendant sent that he derived enjoyment and excitement from the power he wielded over those he sought to intimidate.”

Sentencing Kelley, Judge Mark Dennis said Kelley hacked computers “for his own personal gratification” regardless of the damage caused.

His attempts at blackmail revealed a “cruel and calculating side to his character”, Judge Dennis said.

Kelley was sentenced to youth detention due to his age at the time of his arrest.

A spokesperson for Hywel Dda University Health Board said “the NHS is increasingly reliant on the use of digital systems to support patient care we hope that this sentence will act as a deterrent to others from attempting to hack public sector organisations in Wales in the future.

“At the time, this hack caused a number issue in Hywel Dda including:-

  • Radiologists were unable to effectively report on diagnostic images because the reporting / dictation system we use were unresponsive during the Denial of Service attacks at Prince Philip Hospital. This seriously interrupted clinical workflow and wasted a great deal of Radiologist time. This could have adversely affected the care of patents including those critically ill/injured as without prompt, reliable access to images there is a serious clinical risk.
  • Our Patient Administration System at Prince Philip Hospital had response time issues causing difficulties on the Wards, A&E and Maternity departments as well as administrative areas like Medical Records.
  • Experienced delays with ICT services at other Health sites in the Llanelli area including Ammanford and Cross Hands Health Centres.

“Following this incident Welsh Government bolstered the Public Sector network (which all public bodies in Wales use) with hardware and software to detect and stop denial of service attacks in the future and mitigate the risks as far as possible.”

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Crabb slams Barclays Post Office cash opt-out

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PRESELI MP Stephen Crabb has criticised Barclays Bank’s ‘short-sighted’ decision not to allow its customers to withdraw cash from Post Office counters.

A new agreement has seen 28 banks and building societies sign up with the Post Office for three years from January. The agreement will see postmaster paid more to take in and dispense cash on behalf of these banks.  However, Barclays is the only bank to exclude cash withdrawal as part of the agreement.

Government ministers have been urging the banks to make greater use of the Post Office network so that bank customers will still be able to save and withdraw cash following a large number of bank branch closures.

Preseli MP Stephen Crabb, who has spoken out against bank closures and the shortage of free ATMs, said:

“This is another slap in the face from Barclays for its own customers.

“The Post Office has become essential to high street banking as banks have closed their doors, taking with them free ATMs. To not allow Barclays customers to withdraw money from the Post Office is a short-sighted decision, which will likely result in Barclays customers paying to take their own money out.

“Earlier this year I spoken in Parliament about the drive towards a ‘cashless society’ which goes against the needs of rural communities.

“I have now written to the Treasury Minister to ask him to challenge this decision by Barclays.”

Barclays customers currently make 1.2 million cash withdrawal from the Post Office each month.

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Pembrokeshire turns pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness week

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CASTLE HILL Tenby, Manobier Castle and Pembroke Castle will be illuminated in pink and blue lights between 9 th and 15 th October to show Pembrokeshire’s support for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 (9 th to 15 th October).

The annual awareness week, now in its 17 th year, is an opportunity for bereaved parents, families and friends, to commemorate babies’ lives and break the silence around pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

Nia Payne originally from Tenby, now living in Cilgerran, said: “We hope turning these landmarks pink and blue will spark conversations about baby loss and give local bereaved parents and families an opportunity to talk about their precious babies. Since our daughter
(Gwennie) was born sleeping in March of this year I have been shocked by the number of people that have experienced a pregnancy or baby loss, yet it is almost a taboo subject. I have reached a point were I enjoy sharing our story with people and keeping Gwennie's
memory alive. Trying to arrange these light ups has given me a focus while hopefully helping others to communicate about their personal experiences.”

All of the buildings and landmarks turning pink and blue for Baby Loss Awareness Week 2019 will be featured on the interactive map and the Facebook album Anyone in Pembrokeshire can share their photos of the landmarks on social media with the hashtag #BLAW2019.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive of Sands (stillbirth and neonatal death charity), said: “Baby Loss Awareness Week is a unique opportunity for parents to commemorate their babies who died. I hope bereaved families in Pembrokeshire seeing these landmarks lit up pink and blue will feel less isolated and alone in their grief.

“Pregnancy loss or the death of a baby is a tragedy that affects thousands of people every year. It is devastating for parents and families and it’s vital they get the bereavement support and care they need, for as long as they need it.”

For further information about Baby Loss Awareness Week visit: www.babyloss-awareness.org

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Spooky celebrations and events at National Park

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THIS half-term a creepy concoction of events and activities will be taking place at all three visitor attractions run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, Castell Henllys Iron Age Village and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre will all be hosting Halloween-themed events, from witch hunts to ghost tours and encounters with woodland fairies.

Events at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill will include Fireside Tales on 19, 20, 26 and 27 October, where guests will be invited to sit around a fire and listen to spooky tales and stories of brave knights and beautiful princesses.

For those interested in honing their sorcery skills, The Carew School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will open its doors to new pupils on 29, 30 and 31 October. The syllabus will include wand-making, discovering spirit animals, spell-casting and broomstick agility. For those in costume, there will be a competition at noon.
Ghost Tours of the Castle will also take place during this period.

At Castell Henllys the thinning of the veil between this world and the next will be celebrated on 31 October with Samhain – Haunted Henllys. With a variety of spooky activities on offer, including a Ghost Walk, the day will end with the spectacle of the burning of the wicker man.

Scary Fairy Fun on 28 and 30 October offers visitors the opportunity to meet the woodland fairies at Castell Henllys and take part in activities such as face-painting, storytelling and enchanted woodland crafts.
Those of a magical mindset might also be interested in attending Wizards and Witches on 29 October and 1 November, with magical crafty activities organised throughout the day.

Between 20 October and 3 November, Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre in St Davids will host a Halloween Trail around the grounds and centre. The Trail will cost £2 per sheet and will run between 10 am – 4 pm each day.

For those seeking a less hair-raising half-term experience, places are still available for the Wildfowl of the Western Cleddau walk arranged to take place at Little Milford between 1 pm – 3 pm on 26 October. Guided by a Ranger, this gentle stroll along the banks of the Cleddau will offer the opportunity to see wading birds, such as the curlew and redshank. Children must be supervised and no dogs are allowed.

If culture holds greater appeal than the occult, two exhibitions, A Celebration of Contemporary Welsh Painting and The Cabinet of Curiosities will be hosted at Oriel y Parc during October and November, featuring top contemporary Welsh artists and members of the Carmarthen Artists’ Network respectively.

For details of all the events taking place in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/events.

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