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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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Milford Haven: Man arrested by armed police in Larch Road

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POLICE have arrested a man following a large-scale police operation in Milford Haven.

Several police units were seen searching for a suspect at around 5pm this afternoon (Jun 26).

A police van and several police cars were seen speeding towards the marina and Havens Head Business Park, sirens blaring – but the vehicles turned around when the suspect was not found.

At around 7.30pm police descended on Larch Road, in the Mount Estate and police entered a top floor flat.

Following a period of negotiations, a man was led into a waiting police vehicle.

While the drama was unfolding, dozens of residents of the street were watching from their window, from the street and others were watching from parked cars.

Police kept people back as the detainee was led to the riot van.

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Larch Road: Specialist Officers await man to be brought down from top floor flat (Pic: T Sinclair / Herald)

Mount arrest: A man is led into a police van by armed police (Pic: T Sinclair / Herald)

Large police presence: Armed police units deployed at scene (Pic: T Sinclair / Herald)

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Praise for innovative Pembrokeshire eco scheme

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AN AMBITIOUS project which aims to help communities in Pembrokeshire to become more sustainable has been recognised with an Innovation award.

The Pembrokeshire Eco Champions project was presented with the accolade in Pure West Radio’s ‘Greatest Show Awards’.

Mark Bond, project co-ordinator, said the initiatives delivered by the scheme so far had engaged a real cross-section of local people in some ‘very important conversations linked to the environment’.

“The very nature of our Welsh Government Leader funding (administered by Arwain Sir Benfro) is to encourage innovative and creative ways to engage communities in eco activity, with a major emphasis on waste and recycling,” he said.

“The project has a number of outcomes to deliver but what I inherited was essentially a blank canvas and a great deal of freedom to achieve those outcomes.

“I’ve been allowed to try new and often unusual approaches to reach out to people, so to be recognised for our ‘innovative’ approach is extremely heartening. I’m very proud of my project and very excited about what’s to come.”

The Eco Champions Project is a partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council and PLANED, funded by the Local Action Group (LAG) for Pembrokeshire, Arwain Sir Benfro.

As part of the project, a recruitment drive has been launched for aspiring or active Eco Champions willing to help their local community become more environmentally aware.

Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said it was an exciting initiative.

“The aim is to build and support a network of enthusiastic people who are eager to encourage others to become involved in local waste and recycling initiatives, as well as providing environmental information, organising events and celebrating good practice,” he said.

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Sniffer dog’s presented award by local MP

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IMAGINE a sniffer dog, so good at its job, that a £25K bounty is put on its head! Scamp, a diligent springer spaniel who recovered over £6 million worth of illegal tobacco products in the last 5 years, has been named the Institutes Hero in the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Hero Awards 2019.

Described as a ‘modern-day Eliot Ness’, the seven-year-old owned by specialist detection dog company B.W.Y Canine ltd, has been involved in countless trading standards raids throughout the years. Most recently, his work with trading standards caused such disruption to one organised criminal gang that he had a £25K bounty placed on his head, with his handler Stuart Phillips receiving death threats.

During a recent project between several local authorities, Scamp and B.W.Y Canine helped trading standards seize nearly 430,000 cigarettes and 189kg of hand-rolling tobacco, with a total street value of approximately £137,000. The CTSI Hero Awards celebrate those who make outstanding contributions towards consumer protection in our communities. Scamp and B.W.Y Canine received the award at the CTSI Hero Awards 2019 ceremony at One Great George Street, London, on Tuesday.

After presenting the award to Scamp and Stuart Phillips, Stephen Crabb MP commented: “I was thrilled to present this award to Scamp for the important and diligent detection work he has carried out. Stuart and the whole team at B.W.Y. Canine should be immensely proud of Scamp and what he has done. This goes to show the outstanding work being done by B.W.Y Canine and I look forward to catching up with them in Clunderwen soon.”

Chief Executive at CTSI, Leon Livermore, said: “CTSI received a landslide of nominations for the outstanding work Scamp and B.W.Y Canine have done with trading standards services up and down the country. To keep providing such a service in the face of great personal risk is admirable, and Stuart from B.W.Y Canine, and of course Scamp, deserve our thanks.”

Stuart Phillips from B.W.Y Canine, said: “To be nominated for this award by so many trading standards teams is a great honour, but for Scamp to actually win and be awarded the Institute Hero Award is fantastic news for our small Pembrokeshire based company. The work that Scamp does is of huge importance to tackle the illegal tobacco trade and we both thoroughly enjoy working with trading standards around the UK. Scamp is special dog, with an amazing nose and great work ethic – for him to have his work recognised is superb, he is a true hero.” Scamp and B.W.Y Canine were presented with the award by local MP, Stephen Crabb, and Robert Wright, CTSI College of Fellows, Sponsors of the CTSI Hero Awards.

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