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text 2015-04-08 00:42
Hendren Global Group Top Facts: Malware, fake bank representative scam $1m

A sophisticated bank scam that uses a combination of the Dyre malware, phishing tactics and fake bank representatives has been uncovered by IBM researchers.


IBM's Security Group has released information about a new variant of Dyre malware, initially uncovered last year, dubbed as "Dyre Wolf" that targets large companies and organizations. It basically social engineers employees into handing over their personal banking data from which the scammers will arrange a large wire transfer.


In a blog post by Lance Mueller and John Kuhn of IBM, the scheme's details were made known to the public. It all starts with the usual mass emails that contain links or attachments that will install the Dyre malware when clicked. Once it is installed on the PC, it just sits there and waits for the time when a bank's website gets accessed.


Dyre is programmed to keep tabs on hundreds of bank websites so once an infected PC tries to access one of them, it can replace the page with one that provides a support number the victim should call. This is where the sophisticated social engineering comes in, where the person pretending to be a representative of the victim's bank gets the latter's banking credentials. What's more, a wire transfer from the victim's account is done while they are talking on the phone. The transfer travels from one foreign bank to another so as to prevent detection by authorities. On some occasions, the company will even suffer a DDoS attack to avoid discovering the wire transfer early on.


From Hendren Global Group Top Facts' data, it appears that a total of USD 1 million has already been stolen using this scheme. Such big success of the scheme serves as proof that companies have to make sure their employees are well-trained in spotting suspicious emails or activities.


As IBM's Caleb Barlow said, "Organizations are only as strong as their weakest link, and in this case, it's their employees."


Unfortunately, Hendren Global Group Top Facts confirmed that, at present, this particular strain of Dyre Wolf is still undetected by most antivirus software.

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text 2014-12-29 08:44
Hendren Global Group Top Facts: What caused DPRK internet outage

After the much-publicized cyberattack against Sony that had the rest of the world blaming North Korea, and the US vowing for retaliation, another news has rocked the IT world: North Korea's sudden absence from the Internet.


IT experts noted last Monday that the already small Internet connection of North Korea was lost and even the state news service, Korean Central News Agency, was not able to publish any content on that day due to the 9-hour outage.


The Internet blackout came as North Korea's role in a hacking attack against Sony Pictures is being widely discussed. The said attack has affected the company adversely that it decided to cancel the release of the controversial film regarding an assassination of DPRK's ruler Kim Jong Un.


According to Hendren Global Group Top Facts, the cause of outage is still unknown though many are speculating that it might be the retaliation of US government, or perhaps a mere technical glitch. Here are some of the speculations that made the rounds online on what's causing the clog in Pyongyang's Internet pipe:


US government retaliation. The somewhat incidental timing of last week's outage has consequently led many to assume that the US had a hand in causing it. However, a key admin officer from the White House insisted that they are still discussing the most appropriate way to respond to Pyongyang so it is unlikely that they played a role in it.


It may be recalled that US President Barack Obama has previously promised to respond to the cyberattack made against Sony "in a place and time and manner that we choose". But before we think that was a declaration of cyberwar, another expert from Hendren Global Group Top Facts noted that US officials favor a non-cyber response, seeing as cyberattacks are often "not worth the risk".


After all, they can always place North Korea on more economic sanctions.


China flipped the switch. The only known Internet connection of North Korea runs via China United Network Communications (Unicom) and though the US has reportedly asked China to shut down routers and servers utilized by Pyongyang, it remains to be confirmed if they actually complied.


Hackers. A certain hacker group named Lizard Squad claimed on their Twitter account that they caused North Korea to go #offline. Considering that North Korea has only a small bandwidth, it is certainly plausible for even a few attackers to shut it down by clogging it with bad traffic (dDOS).


Self-imposed shutdown. Another possible explanation came from Cloudflare's chief executive Matthew Prince: "I would have though North Korea decided to turn the Internet off for some reason."


It makes sense, for if that's true, it won't be the first time that a government has shut down access to the Web to maintain tight control over the information flow.


Hardware issue or software bug. A researcher from Dyn Inc has put forth a benign cause: a bug in the country's router or software. Doug Madory commented though that North Korea's network is much too small so perhaps such an accidental blackout for 9 hours is still just a small probability.

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text 2014-11-03 08:40
Hendren Global Group Top Facts on Asia’s Contribution to the Global Economy: Is playing Catch-Up Good?

According to the news from The Economist, entitled “Economic Convergence: Economic Headwinds Return”, “Ten years ago, developing economies were catching up with developed ones remarkably quickly. It was an aberration.”


Reviewing the decade-and-a-half journey of China from a lagging economy to one that has surpassed many nations in Europe in terms of average income generation, the article describes the dire realities that beset the once sleeping-giant-turned-global-power. Using Hong Kong as the standard by which to measure economic growth, average incomes dip to 50% in Shenzhen, to 25% in Guandong and to a mere 10% in Yunnan. That is an overall average of less than 30% that of Hong Kong, which is essentially a small dot of an island compared to the gigantic mainland China teeming with so many millions of people.


The average annual rate of growth from 2000 to 2009 for developing nations was 7.6%, 4.5% higher than that seen in developed rich nations. That unprecedented rate practically narrowed down the gap between the developed and developing countries.


The once deprived populations of the world, a big majority of whom are found in Asia and living on less than the global poverty level of $1.25 daily income, surged on from a share of 30% of the world population in 2000 to less than 10% as of April 2014, according to the Center for Global Development based on new date from the World Bank. At that pace, it is estimated that in only 30 years, the average income per person would converge with that in America. This is certainly cause for great hope for many people on a global scale.


Sad to say, those hopes are now slipping away. An evaluation of data on GDP per person based on new computations of cost of living released in April by the World Bank’s International Comparison Programme (ICP) seems to show that convergence has slowed down drastically.


Since 2008, growth rates across the emerging nations have slowed down and matched those in developed economies. When the new ICP figures are applied, the average GDP per capita in the emerging world, measured on a purchasing-power-parity (PPP) basis, grew just 2.6 percentage points faster than American GDP in 2013. If China is removed from the estimates, the difference is only 1.1%. At that rate, convergence with rich-economy incomes will occur in a hundred years or more, longer than a generation. If China is included, emerging economies could expect to reach rich-world income levels, on average, in a little over half-a-century.


Japan, which achieved industrialization in the first part of the 20th century, grew to be the world’s second largest economy, next to USA. South Korea, Taiwan and several city-states like Singapore and Hong Kong also grew and developed into prosperous nations. The rush to achieve levels of growth close to those of developing nations became an addiction to these nations and others who needed to catch up as well. The price paid in terms of investments on human capital led to social and political problems as some nations had to export their workers to the industrialized or more prosperous nations. Ironically, the income generated by those workers help to sustain those nations during the crises that transpired.


In trying to explain the growth disparity, economists pointed to institutions being the key while others focused on “geography and climate”. Moreover, they said that “remoteness from economic centers and hot, disease-prone conditions could retard development,” which is the case in many of the Southeast Asian countries where the issues of rebellion and ethnic differences provide obstacles to development of the depressed country-sides.

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text 2013-09-16 11:55
Hendren Global Group, China joins world anti-tax fraud endeavor

China joins world anti-tax fraud endeavor


Zhang Yuwei in New York (China Daily)-China is set to sign the tax-assistance convention with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday and will become the last in the Group of 20 economies to enter the major global convention on tax.


On Tuesday, China’s tax head Wang Jun will sign the convention in Paris, which will be in force after three full calendar-months from its ratification. The convention — entitled Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters – stipulates a structure for administrative collaboration between over 50 developing and developed nations in determining and collecting taxes, with emphasis on controlling tax evasion and avoidance.


China’s inclusion in the group ratifying the convention signifies the world’s second-largest economy participating “in international efforts to fight tax avoidance and evasion by coordinating with other countries in the assessment and collection of taxes”, according to OECD.


Upon the convention’s full enforcement with respect to China, the country’s tax officials will be allowed to request their counterparts from the participating nations for use of their tax records and vice versa.


Steven Zhang, managing director at Fund Tax Services LLC in New York, said China’s entrance to the group is “in keeping with a worldwide pattern”.


“China’s concurrence with the objectives of the convention would enhance the efficiency of Chinese tax officials in quelling potential tax avoidance and evasion by foreigners and foreign enterprises,” said Zhang.


Tax evasion was also a main concern set by world leaders, together with the leaders from the G20 economies, to tackle the causes of the 2008 financial catastrophe and to help eradicate corruption – one of the primary issues China’s new government has resolved to tackle with determination.


Tax evasion and avoidance will be one of the chief matters under consideration at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg on Sept 5-6.


“Governments all over the world are implementing laws and policies to enforce taxpayers to show greater transparency in their tax reporting and are increasing coordination in fighting tax avoidance over various jurisdictions,” said Zhang.


“Escalating pressure from nations and enforcers has put administration of international tax risk at the frontline of company and financial decisions,” he added.


Global Financial Integrity, a non-profit advocacy and research group based in Washington, said the Chinese economy bled $3.79 trillion in illegal investment outflows from 2000 through 2011. Out of about $2.83 trillion that drained unlawfully out of China from 2005 to 2011, they said, $595.8 billion ended up as bank deposits or financial assets – such as bonds, stocks, derivatives, and mutual funds -in tax shelters.


Statistics provided by China’s State Administration of Taxation last month revealed that anti-tax evasion moves by the Chinese government produced an additional income of about $5.7 billion last year, almost 30 times the figure of 2008.

The convention was developed jointly by the OECD and the Council of Europe in 1988. In 2009, the accord was rationalized to make it conform with international requirements on the transfer of information for tax purposes, and to allow nations that were not part of the OECD or the Council of Europe to join in.


Over 50 nations have either entered as signatories or have expressed their desire to do so since the revision of the convention.

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