Daily Archives: October 27, 2014

No laughing matter: Clown terror spreads in France

A wave of panic sparked by evil clowns stalking French towns has spread to the south of France where police on Saturday night arrested 14 teenagers dressed as the pranksters, carrying pistols, knives and baseball bats. A police source said Sunday the group of teens were arrested in the parking lot of a high school in the Mediterranean port town of Agde, as several other complaints poured in about “armed clowns” in the region over the weekend.

In the nearby city of Montpellier a man disguised as a clown was arrested after beating up a pedestrian with an iron bar, while three motorists in different towns complained about “scary clowns” threatening them.

The phenomenon of dressing up as an evil clown and terrifying passers-by — a trend which has also been seen in the United States and Britain — cropped up in the north of France in early October.

In the northern French town of Bethune, a 19-year-old received a six-month suspended jail term Monday for threatening passers-by while dressed as a clown.

These “clowns” have been “mostly spotted outside schools, but also on public roads, in bushes, in a square. Their targets are often young children or teenagers, but also adults,” a police source in northern France told AFP.

Theories abound as to the origin of the trend in a country where the American fear-fest Halloween has yet to take hold. The suggestions include a challenge launched on social networks, a video published on YouTube showing a terrifying clown pranking people — which has had some 31 million views — or even a recent episode of the popular TV series American Horror Story featuring Twisty the killer clown.

Anti clown vigilantism After a rumour a clown was stalking the eastern French town of Mulhouse, five teenagers on Wednesday armed themselves with a baseball bat, a teargas canister, a hammer and a truncheon to mete out vigilante justice to the not-so-funny pranksters.

They were arrested and later released, but the incident prompted the national police to step in to quell the hysteria. “Since mid-October, a rumour inspired by videos published on the Internet, is worrying the population about the presence of threatening and aggressive clowns in France,” the national police said in a statement this week.

It cautioned that “despite numerous reports made to police, there have been only a few sightings of people dressed as clowns having fun scaring passers-by.”

“Symptomatic of the impact of the Internet, this phenomenon can lead to damaging individual acts and disturbances to public order,” it said.

Whether brandishing a rubber chicken at a children’s party or starring as the evil protagonist in a horror film, clowns have long had the ability to both entertain and terrify.

Infamous creepy clowns include notorious American serial killer and rapist John Wayne Gacy — who would dress up as Pogo the clown — to the fictitious Pennywise in Stephen King’s movie “It”. The fear of clowns is known as coulrophobia.

HT

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Beware: Hackers Targeting Mobile Phones To Get Bank Information

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WASHINGTON: Hackers are increasingly targeting mobile phones to get into bank accounts of victims and steal money, security researchers said Tuesday.

A report by Kaspersky Labs with Interpol found that 60 per cent of the malicious programs targeting Android devices between August 2013 and July 2014 were designed to steal money or banking credentials.

The report focused on Android, which accounts for roughly 85 per cent of the mobile device market and 98 percent of mobile malware.

Just like other online operations, hackers are moving into mobile because more users access the Internet from these devices.

The survey of users registered with Kaspersky found more than 588,000 Android users worldwide faced financial malware attacks, six times higher than the prior 12 months.

“It is easy to understand why cybercriminals create so many malicious programs targeting Android devices: these days, smartphones are increasingly often used as a tool to pay online for merchandise and services,” the report said.

“Apps can be installed through Google Play as well as third parties such as Amazon App store. Third party apps pose a security threat to users who enable the installation of apps from unverified sources. These unverified packages may carry malware that would be installed on a device without the user’s permission or knowledge.”

Kaspersky found the largest number of victims were Android users in Russia. Other countries affected included Ukraine, Spain, Britain, Vietnam, Malaysia, Germany, India and France.

Over the 12-month period, the users surveyed reported some 3.4 million malware detections. The number of monthly attacks increased tenfold from August 2013 to March 2014.

The report said the biggest growth is coming from “Trojan-Banker” and “Trojan-SMS” malware that allow hackers access to bank accounts.

“A successful Trojan-Banker infection can give a fraudster access to all of the victim’s money, while a Trojan-SMS needs to infect dozens or even hundreds of devices to show a worthwhile profit,” said Kaspersky analyst Roman Unuchek.

The report comes amid growing interest in mobile payments, allowing consumers to use their phones to pay at participating stores.

Apple’s mobile payments system began operating on Monday.

TG

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