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Cybercriminals selling UAE personal data on dark web, making millions: Study

A new study by cybersecurity company NordVPN has analyzed one of the dark web markets that has illegally sold $17.3 million worth of personal data – with the research showing UAE’s payment card data is the fifth most expensive globally, costing twice as much as the world’s average.

Among the more than 720,000 items of data sold globally on the website, passports, personal IDs, driving licenses, email, payment card data, mobile phone numbers, online accounts, bank account logins, and crypto accounts are included as well as other personal data.

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Once an individual's data are put up for sale on the dark web, it is incredibly difficult to get them removed. Most people have no idea that their data are being sold in this way until it's too late. This is why data breaches can be so dangerous, according to Adrianus Warmenhoven, a cybersecurity expert at NordVPN.

“This one market is just the tip of an iceberg,” he said. “There are over 30,000 websites on the dark web at the moment. Keep in mind that only four percent of the entire internet belongs to the surface web that is available to any user online.”

He added, “The market that was analyzed in our case study was chosen because it was used by some big hacker groups in the past.”

The study was conducted in partnership with third-party cybersecurity researchers with an aim to warn users about the possible dangers of illegal activities people take part in on the dark web.

Average prices of found UAE items and data

It found payment card data from the UAE cost about $20, twice as much as the world’s average ($10) and is the fifth most expensive in the world. UAE payment cards are so expensive because of the country's image as a financial center, said Warmenhoven.

Many hackers believe that if they can hack UAE cards – they can steal a lot of money, he said.

Other data that could be guessed were sold at much lower prices. United Arab Emirates mobile phones are sold at $10. Another easy way for hackers to steal a user’s data or digital asset is credential stuffing (when the leaked password or email is used to get access to other platforms).

That is why online accounts come at a low price: a hacked Netflix account can be bought for a little over $10, an Uber account for about $12, and a Twitter account for as little as $2.

Crypto wallets and investment accounts cost more than payment processing accounts and even more than some of the bank accounts. For example, Qatar National Bank account can be bought for as little as $10. With an average price of $394, the most expensive crypto account data is from Binance, followed by Kraken ($383). Payment processing accounts (e.g., PayPal) have an average price of $100.

Some criminals also buy emails in batches and use them for phishing attacks or other malicious purposes.

“The broad scope of the data offered on these criminal markets shows the importance of taking charge of your security and privacy online,” said Warmenhoven. “Your cybersecurity is in your hands.”

He added, “If you know the risks and equip yourself with the right tools and information, you’ll maximize your chances of keeping yourself and your family secure.”

Stay vigilant

Warmenhoven also said hackers get lots of data by targeting the websites and services you share your data with.

If a site or a service asks you for sensitive data, ask tough questions about how the company secures it and what it will do if its data is breached.

Warmenhoven said resident should also educate themselves.

“You can do a lot individually to protect your data. This will depend vastly on where you spend your time online, but you can be proactive and research ways to stay safe on the devices and services you use.”

One side of the coin is knowing how to protect your data, said Warmenhoven, and the other is knowing how to react quickly and effectively when your sensitive data is used without your permission.

“Request weekly bank statements or activate transaction notifications on your app. Turn on the security settings for all of your accounts so you know when login attempts are made from suspicious devices.”

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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