“Social media and the ever increasing risks of being online By Matt Torrens, Sprout IT

When referring to ‘social media’, it’s the broad term describing internet-based tools that are used on desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The world is constantly, more than ever, connecting and interacting via social media and many of us are online more than we’re asleep! Facebook now has over 1.19 billion accounts registered, LinkedIn over 259 million and Twitter over 232 million that’s not without mentioning Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and many of the other social media platforms and online forums – the list is endless.

The risks of being online can be enormous if you’re not sensible in your approach. It’s possible for a social media account to be hacked, money and identities stolen, and invasions of privacy, all of which can happen in a matter of seconds without any warning.

Whilst this is fraudulent serious crime, because it’s online, it’s often hard to think logically about what’s happened, or what the potential is, and thus many individuals aren’t adequately protecting themselves or their businesses from such risks. As most of the dangers come from groups of people interacting in unmoderated forums, or by being naïve or ignorant about the potential issues, it’s important to understand how social media works so that you can mitigate these risks and enjoy the benefits.

The challenge for organisations is how to promote and control their reputations on these channels. Considering how colleagues interact with one another online, and how the lines often get blurred or crossed when connecting on the web should be a concern at all levels of a business. The effects of social media activity can be immense, and the boundaries between work and home can often become very distorted. So the phrase ‘What goes online, stays online’ should be considered always.

The risks include:-

  • Confidential information being disclosed, often innocently.
  • Intentional disclosure of confidential information.
  • Phishing emails encouraging visits fraudulent or inappropriate websites.
  • Identity thieves or fraudsters hacking into or hijacking your account or page.
  • Accessing inappropriate content via links.
  • Online abuse in the form of bullying, stalking, trolling or other.
  • Malware contained within message attachments or photographs.

Responsible social media use should be promoted at all times. You can avoid these risks by following best practice guidelines for cyber security, as follows:-

  • Ensure there’s an up-to-date social media policy and include the training for this in every induction.
  • Train all staff in cyber awareness. Give them the empowerment to stay in control and limit their risk both individually and when representing the organisation.
  • Only give social media account access to employees who need it and who’ve been trained. Make sure there’s an audit trail of who can access accounts, and that any employees who leave the company are no longer allowed access.
  • Set strong passwords, correct privacy settings and two factor authentication.
  • Make it policy that confidential information isn’t included in any social media posts and that any announcements are signed off first.
  • Monitor what customers, employees and competitors are saying about your company.
  • Set up ongoing simple training to help staff remain vigilant.

Sprout CyberAware, powered by AXELOS, is a best practice cyber resilience training programme. It’s a portfolio of learning products which includes certified training, awareness learning for all staff, leadership insight and a maturity assessment tool that enables good and timely decision making on all aspects of information security.

Download Sprout IT’s free report titled ‘Cyber Resilience in the UK Legal Sector’. To get in touch with Sprout IT about security and other IT-related queries, please email AskTheExpert@sproutit.co.uk or visit www.sproutit.co.uk

What really happened to Tsar Nicholas II’s jewels that were stored in the Bank of England? Has there been a cover-up?


What really happened to Tsar Nicholas II’s jewels that were stored in the Bank of England?  Has there been a cover-up?

As the anniversary of the murder of Tsar Nicholas II (July 1918) approaches author Stephen Davis asks – what happened to the Tsar’s jewels that were deposited in the Bank of England?

Stephen Davis’s book, ‘The Tsar’s Banker’ is inspired by real events that took place between 1913 and 1933. They are shrouded in mystery and may include a cover-up at the very top levels of society (including the Royal household and the Bank of England).

‘The Tsar’s Banker’ by Stephen Davis (published Oct 2016) chronicles the story around the journey to London of Tsar Nicholas II’s fabulous jewels and secret papers – just as the Russian Revolution of 1917 kicks off. 

The novel is fiction – but behind it lies a true tale of vast riches in gold and jewels that lay hidden in the vaults of the Bank of England – and haven’t been seen, or heard of, in nearly 100 years.

Perhaps it’s time the truth was finally revealed.

Here are the facts:
In 1914 the Tsar of Russia was the wealthiest man in the world having vast riches in Russia from timber reserves, gold and diamond mines. In addition to these it’s known that his Grandfather and father had huge deposits in gold coin in European banks such as the Mendelssohn Bank in Berlin and the Bank of England. When he ascended the throne he inherited these bank deposits. At the start of World War I it’s estimated that the money held in the Bank of England alone amounted to over £200 million in today’s figures. It’s known that some funds were repatriated to Russia during the war but as late as 1915 the Empress sent a letter to the Emperor stating that, ‘The British Ambassador from England brings me over £100,000.’ This letter alone proves that the Emperor did not repatriate all his money from England

In 1917, after the overthrow of the Romanovs, the provisional Government in Russia undertook an investigation of the Emperor’s private foreign investments. This was in an attempt to determine whether he would be able to support himself and his family in Exile. With the co-operation of Nicholas II they determined that he had 14 million in foreign deposits, in gold and jewellery in two European banks (Around $150 million today).

In 1933 seven relatives of Nicholas II, the surviving members of the Romanov family, were granted a ‘certificate of inheritance’ for the funds held at the Mendelssohn Bank in Berlin. The Bank of England, however, denied holding any assets for the Russian Imperial Family and, despite a number of attempts by distant members of the Romanov family to establish if money or property existed, none has ever been found in Great Britain.

In complete contrast to this in 1960 Sir Edward Peacock, Director of the Bank of England, stated to the newspapers: “I am pretty sure there was never any money of the Imperial Family of Russia in the Bank of England, nor in any other bank in England. Of course, it is difficult to say ‘never’.”

Peacock was obviously wrong – we know for a fact that there was, in the past at least, money from the Romanov’s in the Bank of England. If the money remained in the Bank of England after the war in 1920, when Peacock was a Director of the Bank, then either the money was still there or someone had withdrawn it…but who? None of Nicholas’s heirs were in a position to do so; they were all dead.

Could it just be a coincidence that after leaving the Bank of England Edward Peacock held a job as receiver general to the Duchy of Cornwall, the principal property management arm of the British Royal Family? Or was it a reward for keeping quiet about the jewels and their whereabouts?

In addition, it’s known that in 1905 Nicholas II deposited funds, of at least two million in gold roubles, in England and Germany on behalf of his four daughters and his son and heir Alexis.

If there was one person who would know of the existence of deposits of the Romanovs it would be Piotr Bark. He served as The Tsar’s Minister of Finance until the revolution. Bark escaped to England but maintained a discreet silence on the subject of the Romanov treasure. After the war he changed his name to Peter Bank and became the Managing-Director of the Anglo-International Bank. What is strange is that he was knighted by George V for services to banking. But what had this Russian exile done that deserved a knighthood? Being Managing Director of a Bank was hardly noteworthy, even then, unless it was as a reward for remaining silent about the Romanov fortune?

We now can move forward to facts from more recent times. At some time during the 1920s various boxes containing property that had once belonged to the Russian Imperial Family were secretly transported down the Mall in London to Marlborough House, the residence of Queen Alexandra, the sister of the Dowager Empress of Russia. At Marlborough House the contents of the boxes were inspected by King George V and Queen Mary. It was reported that the contents of the boxes were personal items. Could these be the personal jewels of the Tsar? It is known that Queen Mary was fascinated by jewellery.   

In the early 1920s jewels belonging to the Romanov’s began to appear in London. On one occasion, Queen Mary produced a pink onyx Fabergé box designed to hold cards and asked the Tsar’s sister, Grand Duchess Xenia, what she thought of it. Xenia replied: “That used to be on my writing desk.” Queen Mary, known for her acquisitive nature and not one to understand the concept of restitution, replaced the box in a cabinet without further comment.

Grand Duchess Xenia spent some fifteen years searching for her late brother’s western finances and authorised lawyers, including Sir Harold Brookes, to investigate on her behalf.

In 1952, Prince Dimitri Alexandrovich, son of Grand Duchess Xenia, declared that he’d seen a box, with some property belonging to the Imperial Family, stored at Windsor Castle.

As recently as 2009 there were rumours that the Bank of England holds a number of boxes, each embossed with the Imperial Russian coat of arms, in its vaults deep below the streets of London. But if so why does the Bank of England maintain, at different times, that they have never existed or do not now exist? What would be the harm if they were now displayed…unless of course if the boxes are now empty?

Davis has written to both the Bank of England and Buckingham Palace enquiring about the whereabouts of the jewels. Both have replied but the replies, particularly from The Bank of England, stating that ‘an account for the Tsar was closed in 1900 and funds withdrawn’ increases the mystery further.

About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis began his writing career aged 27 with a column in the South Wales Western Mail. A regular contributor to business magazines, he is also the author of two business books as well as a sought-after speaker and broadcaster on business issues. ‘The Tsar’s Banker’ is his first novel, in a series that follows the fortunes of the Tagleva family between 1912 and 1946.

See: www.thetsarsbanker.com and www.facebook.com/thetsarsbanker/

What should law firms do about ransomware?

  • “What should law firms do about ransomware?

    One of the biggest law firms in the world has been hit by the huge ransomware attack (Petya) that is currently sweeping the globe. DLA Piper has confirmed that its computer systems and phones have been taken out by the mass hacking.

    LegalT Today have published Matt Torrens’ article entitled “What should law firms do about ransomware?”

    What better time, to have a read?

    Click to read the article in PDF – LegalITToday-Article-MT-Ransonware