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'Cyber Heist' Using Malware To Siphon Up To Two Billion From Banks

Worldcrunch

THE VERGE (USA), GLOBAL SECURITY MAG (France), PC WELT, ZDNET (Germany)

A new generation of bank heist has arrived -- no balaclava or bags of banknotes necessary.

Security firms McAfee and Guardian Analytics have released a 20-page analysis on a global financial fraud ring entitled "Operation High Roller," a series of highly-organised cyber bank attacks, whose aim was to systematically siphon money from high-balance accounts.

According to the American technology news website The Verge, "criminals have been able to successfully bypass physical ‘chip and pin" authentication and use server-based fraudulent transactions to steal money from a number of accounts in Europe."

The fraud has apparently targeted transfers from at least 60 banks mainly in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands –although McAfee warns that it has found evidence of attacks against Latin American and North American financial institutions too.

The attackers used malicious softwares (aka "malwares') that automatically transfered money to so-called "mule accounts," which required not only experience in dealing with such programs, but also in-depth knowledge of banking transactions, says PC Welt (PC World German-language edition).

The German version of the business technology news website ZDNet reports that about 60 servers have been processing countless frauds over the past few months, resulting in attempts to steal between 60 million and two billion euros.

"Operation High Roller" targeted thousands of financial institutions of all sizes, ranging from small credit unions to regional and international banks, and involved small --and thus less detectable-- automated transactions, the French-language website Global Security Mag reports.

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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