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No trial for Llanelli hacker

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A LLANELLI man will not face trial on a charge of blackmail following his participation in a major hack of telecoms firm TalkTalk.

The charge was formally dropped at the Old Bailey on Tuesday (Jan 28).

Daniel Kelley, 21, from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, had already entered guilty pleas to eleven charges relating to the targeted security breach, during which hackers stole the personal data of over 150,000 customers.

The blackmail charge related to an alleged demand for bitcoins as a ransom.

In November 2015, a 17-year-old boy admitted posting details of a chink in the firm’s online security, sparking the breach.

In a message posted to code-sharing website Pastebin, a group claiming to be behind the attack shared some of the data it said it had appropriated. In these messages lie customer records that display names, emails and also passwords.

One particular file suggests that when some users changed their password via the TalkTalk website, the new value was stored in plaintext — meaning it may not have been secured in any way. TalkTalk admits on its website that “not all of the data was encrypted,” and that appears to cover sensitive data like passwords and possibly even credit card and bank details.

TalkTalk is said to have lost £77m following the hack and has since updated its security systems and protocols.

In November 2018, two others, Matthew Hanley, 23, and Connor Allsopp, 21, both from Tamworth in Staffordshire, admitted their roles in the massive 2015 data breach which saw 156,959 accounts accessed.

Hanley, described in Court as a “dedicated hacker”, shared details of more than 8,000 customers with Allsopp.

At the Old Bailey, Hanley was jailed for 12 months and Allsopp for eight.

The court accepted that neither Hanley nor Allsopp had exposed the vulnerability in TalkTalk’s systems but joined in at different times.

Allsopp admitted supplying customer details to another user for fraud as well as the necessary files for hacking.

In the case against Daniel Kelley, the Court heard evidence that he was suffering from depression and prosecuting barrister, Peter Ratliff, submitted that when those circumstances were taken into account it was not in the public interest to proceed to trial.

Kelley’s hacking offences also involved half a dozen other organisations, including Coleg Sir Gar, where he was a student.

Kelley will now be sentenced on February 25.

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Llanelli ‘Banksy’: Mayor covers graffiti rat in protective plastic

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LLANELLI Mayor David Darkin believes graffiti found on charity shop wall could potentially be a Banksy.

The piece has been covered with protective plastic by the council while they determine the authenticity of the piece.

David Darkin, Mayor of Llanelli told this newspaper: “I was approached by a local artist Roz Moreton, who believes the artwork is a Banksy in an attempt to preserve the piece.

Roz who studied art in Bristol and lived in London has said she has been exposed to numerous Banksy works including his rats on Westminster Bridge, and spotted the ‘rat’ straight away.

Darkin added “She first spotted the graffiti around ten years ago, but she kept her findings to herself so that she could go back and visit the work.

“It was only after the recent news of the incident in Swansea, where part of a suspected piece of Banksy artwork was stolen, that she decided to approach me to ask for help to protect the piece”.

The art dealer who bought Banksy’s ‘Season’s Greetings’ which appeared on a garage in Port Talbot in December, has met with the mayor in Neath to view images of the artwork.

John Bradner, Essex based gallery owner, paid six figures for the Port Talbot addition, is planning on visiting the site to see the piece for himself.

Mr Darkin added “After showing John Bradner the images he is fairly confident that the piece is Banksy’s work, the fact it was spotted ten years ago ties in with ‘Banksy’s rats’ which was his theme at the time when they appeared across industrial towns.

“Mr Bradner called me yesterday and asked if there was anything else I can do to preserve the piece until he comes to view it in a few weeks to check its authenticity.”

Speaking on the piece Councillor John Jenkins said “Fingers crossed it is a Banksy, but worst-case scenario it isn’t and is still a talking point and people still come and see him.”

Speaking to Mr Darkin he said no attempts have been made yet to contact Banksy to confirm the piece as far as he is aware.

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36 charges relating to chemicals and components for making bombs

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A 33-YEAR-OLD male  is facing 36 charges relating to chemicals and components which can be used to make bombs.

He was remanded in custody at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday (Feb 15)

The man, from Port Talbot, was arrested in October 2017 in an operation between counter terrorism officers, South Wales Fire and Rescue and The Welsh Ambulance Service.

Detective Superintendent James Hall said no known links to terrorist offences or groups were found. The man will appear in court again at a date to be fixed.

He has also been charged with possessing a taser and manufacturing and possessing class A drugs.

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University makes formal criminal complaint

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A FORMAL criminal complaint has been by made by Swansea University, as part of the ongoing investigation into the issues surrounding the recent suspension of four members of staff.

South Wales Police said: “Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police can confirm that they have received a complaint which is currently subject of consideration by both forces.”

Last November, the university’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Richard B Davies, Dean of the School of Management Prof Marc Clement, as well as two other members of staff, who have not been named, were suspended.

Prof Davies has been suspended for alleged gross negligence whilst Prof Clement was suspended for alleged gross misconduct. Both individuals have denied any wrongdoing. Registrar Andrew Rhodes confirmed at the time that this action was taken after an internal investigation.

In a statement, the university said: “Swansea University has been in regular dialogue with the authorities since November 2018 based on the findings of our initial investigation. A formal criminal complaint has been made and the matter is with South Wales Police and Dyfed Powys Police. We will of course continue to co-operate fully with them. Our processes, which are being carried out by an independent investigating manager, are ongoing.”

The investigation has looked into the academics’ involvement in both the £200m Life Science and Wellbeing Village project in Llanelli, and a £600m plan for a private medical university and hospital in Kuwait.

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