So far this season, last year’s Super Bowl participants haven’t exactly faltered. The NFL-champion Seattle Seahawks are 8-4 and only a game behind the sliding Arizona Cardinals in the tough NFC West. The Denver Broncos are tied for the AFC’s best record at 9-3, and would have a bye if the playoffs started today. But, arguably, last year’s final two teams have been surpassed by another pair with strong pedigrees: The Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. And by “arguably,” I mean that I’ll argue it seven paragraphs from now.In the marquee matchup of Week 13, the Packers beat the Patriots in what was billed as a potential Super Bowl preview. The Packers jumped ahead 13-0, but their eventual win wasn’t easy. The Patriots kept Aaron Rodgers in check better than I would have expected — even with Rodgers in the lead for most of the game (a scenario in which he excels). Tom Brady was wildly animated, and when the Packers picked up the game-clinching first down, he could be seen repeatedly uttering the “old familiar suggestion.” The Patriots looked tough in defeat, and still have the best SRS (“Simple Rating System,” or margin of victory adjusted for strength of schedule) in football.Meanwhile, MVP-candidate and perpetual Skeptical Football muse Rodgers has the same number of interceptions this year as his team has losses: three.So how do we sort this all out? With charts, of course.Charts of the weekIn particular, I’m going to introduce a new kind of chart called “scoring curves.” To help explain, let me get abstract for a moment.Just as baseball is a game of outs and basketball is a game of possessions, football is a game of drives.1To be even more abstract: Each drive starts with one team possessing the ball at some location on the field, and a series of scrimmages ensue that determine where the other team will get the ball to start its next drive, with various territorial accomplishments rewarded along the way with points. Conceptually, this means special teams plays are just like any other. But for the definition of “drive” I use for this analysis, I’ve excluded them. While teams employ a variety of different strategies and counter-strategies along the way, for the most part there are only two things to keep track of: What happens on drives when a team has the ball and what happens on drives when it doesn’t.2These can be measured by the drive’s effect on a team’s chance of winning or its expected point differential (in this case I’ll use the latter).Thus, we can capture a lot of information about a team in one chart by mapping each drive’s results onto its starting state — mainly where on the field each possession began.3For these purposes, any first-and-10 (or first-and-goal within the 10-yard line) is functionally equivalent to its own drive. This gives us a good look at the strength of each team’s offense and defense, as well as how each varies by territory.These charts tell pretty interesting stories, and I’ve included them for all 32 teams in 2014 at the end of this article. But first, to one of those stories: The Broncos and Seahawks, as good as they may still be, aren’t quite the teams they were last year.The Broncos, despite sharing the AFC’s best record, have struggled. For this chart I’ve plotted the league-average scoring curves in gray, last year’s Broncos in orange, and this year’s Broncos in blue:The upward-sloping lines are the estimated value of a first-and-10 — in terms of expected net points — from the given location, based on distance from the opponent’s goal. The downward-sloping lines are the same thing for opponent drives (also measured from the opponent’s goal). For example, a typical team at the edge of the red zone is expected to add an average of about 4 points to its margin, and the same is obviously true for a typical opponent in a similar location on the team’s side of the field.The 2014 Broncos offense is doing worse than the 2013 version basically from all positions on the field. Though characteristically potent in short-field situations, they’re about average from 80 yards out. I have a working theory that being good at scoring on medium-to-long drives is more predictive of playoff success than being good at scoring on short ones, because both the strength of teams and the style of play in the playoffs are less likely to result in short fields. This could lead to more playoff disappointment for Peyton Manning.And the Broncos’ defense isn’t doing any better than their offense: The defense is also as bad or worse than it was in 2013 from almost anywhere on the field. The Broncos have gone from having an average-ish defense to having a bad one. If they keep up this form, their Super Bowl hopes are about as appealing as Italian baby food:Next let’s turn to the Seahawks, who won impressively this week against their division rival San Francisco 49ers but have also regressed in some areas:The 2014 Seahawks offense has been uneven: It’s a bigger threat than it was from midfield a year ago, but it’s a bit worse at putting it in the endzone when those opportunities arise. And last year’s league-dominating defense is no more, and is now struggling to remain league average.But there are reasons for the Seahawks to be hopeful.I have another theory, related to the one above: Defenses that protect a short field do better in the playoffs. In the postseason, a team is more likely to face tough scenarios than in the regular season, whether that means longer fields on offense or shorter ones on defense.4It also may help reduce variance for stronger teams, because they’re more able to weather the storm when they turn the ball over. The Seahawks have done all right in this area, though obviously not as well as last year.And what about the Patriots and the Packers? Let’s see:The main takeaways here: 1) These are two very strong teams, and 2) They are eerily similar. They both have powerful and balanced offenses (though New England has been a little better at converting in the red zone).While their defenses don’t appear mind-blowing, having a strong, threatening offense and a moderately competitive defense is a common recipe for playoff success.Gunslinger of the weekBen Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes last week’s award for his two interceptions against the New Orleans Saints, but also for leading the Steelers on three touchdown drives to close within 3 points in a game where they trailed by as much as 19. Two of those were in “garbage time,” but being aggressive when the odds are against a quarterback — stats be damned — is what gunslinging is about. And if a QB occasionally improves his stats by throwing a TD with 4 seconds left, so be it.Most and least valuable kickersJosh Brown missed a 43-yard attempt for the New York Giants, leaving the Indianapolis Colts’ Adam Vinatieri as the only (qualifying) perfect kicker standing.5So far he has made 25 attempts, but only two have been from more than 50 yards. Nineteen kickers have three or more such attempts.But the most valuable kicker from last week’s games is the San Diego Chargers’ Nick Novak, who — despite only making two attempts — picks up the rare Kicker Win™, which is awarded when the value a kicker added exceeds his team’s margin of victory. Novak’s 1.18 points above expectation exceeded his team’s 1-point margin of victory. It’s the first Kicker Win of the 2014 season. Meanwhile, the 2-10 New York Jets continued to find new ways to avoid winning: Nick Folk missed attempts of 45 yards and 48 yards, and picked up the much less rare Kicker Loss™ by costing the Jets 3.43 expected points in their 3-point defeat against the Miami Dolphins.The rookie QB finally got in the gameCongrats, Johnny Manziel! Manziel took over in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland Browns’ loss to the Buffalo Bills and scored his first touchdown on a 10-yard scramble. He can also breathe a sigh of relief as the Browns turned to him just in time to meet the four-start threshold that is typically predictive of future success for rookie QBs.Except, nope, the Browns will have none of that. Manziel is starting on the bench this weekend while Brian Hoyer starts on the field.I have no idea whether Manziel is ready now, or ever will be, but Browns coach Mike Pettine’s argument — “Brian has led our team to a 7-5 record” — is a terrible reason to stick with him. I’ll go ahead and say that not only is Hoyer completely unremarkable, he’s an object lesson in why you shouldn’t think an unimpressive journeyman quarterback is suddenly good just because he puts up a decent NFL Passer Rating for a few weeks. Sure, there are some unexpected season-starting hot streaks that are meaningful, but lukewarm is not hot.Tweets of the weekLet’s start off with this tweet following the Patriots/Packers game that multiple people forwarded to me6This may or may not have been a subtweet.:If Brady would have thrown an INT in the second half he’d have a better chance at that 9 point comeback.— akschaaf (@akschaaf) December 1, 2014In case you’re new to Skeptical Football, this tweet — intentionally or not — brushes up against my ongoing analysis and defense of the proposition that a QB throwing too few interceptions can be a sign that he’s not taking enough risks to maximize wins.7I get “If only X had thrown more interceptions, he might have won, huh @skepticalsports??” so often it’s practically my mini-meme. That the unusual absence of something inherently bad can indicate less-than-optimal strategy may sound like a bunch of econ/game theory mumbo-jumbo, but chances are you’re probably familiar with similar arguments in other contexts:Poker: If you never get caught bluffing, you’re not bluffing enough. Or if you never lose a showdown, you’re probably not calling enough.Basketball: If you rarely miss your 3-point shots, you should probably be shooting more of them, including more marginal ones.Finance: If you never lose money, you’re probably not maximizing your return on investment.Football: If you never turn the ball over on downs, you probably aren’t going for it enough on fourth.Tennis: If you never double fault, you’re probably not being aggressive enough on your second serve.Golf: If you never hit it into the rough, you’re probably not driving far enough.Baseball: If you never get caught stealing … well, never mind, stealing is complicated.So no, throwing more interceptions wouldn’t have helped Brady win that game. But being willing to throw interceptions is still a winning trait.Next up:Whenever I try to learn a new subject, I typically buy a bunch of books on it, and then start reading them until I understand well enough to disagree with the authors. I can get a lot of detail from someone’s lengthy framing of a subject, but mastering “the material” is different from developing an intuitive understanding of my own perspective.Accordingly, if I had to pick the one book that has had the biggest influence on my approach to sports stats analysis, it wouldn’t be one by Bill James or Dean Oliver or Ben Alamar (though those guys are great), but “The Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky.8I’ve discussed this Bill James/David Sklansky dichotomy once before. A lot of the poker advice in it can be questionable or outdated, but for me, Sklansky’s abstract yet pragmatic way of thinking about games was perspective-shifting and has stuck with me well beyond the realm of poker.9See the “abstract” footnote above for an example.How to beat Peyton ManningPunt.In case you haven’t gotten enough of me praising interceptions, how about I dish out some love for the most reviled of analytical bogeymen: the punt?Don’t get me wrong: Punts are just turnovers that happen a little further downfield. And possessions are such a limited resource in football that it’s hard to understand why people voluntarily give them away so often, rather than fighting kicking and screaming to keep them at all costs.But sometimes football analytics is easy and sometimes it’s harder than it seems.For example: In 2009, the Patriots infamously went for it on fourth-and-2 from their own 28-yard line while leading the Colts by 6 points with 2 minutes left. The Patriots failed to convert, and sure enough, Peyton Manning led the Colts to a game-winning touchdown. While Bill Belichick’s gutsy call was criticized by many, analytics-types mostly backed him up: The value of being able to run out the clock if the Patriots converted the fourth down likely outweighed the risk of giving the other team better field position if they didn’t.The sometimes scoffing critics said the risk of giving Manning a short field was too great. Many — including myself — dismissed this at the time because it should just cancel out in the end: Sure, Manning is dangerous on a short field, but he’s pretty darn good at marching down the field as well. Here’s what Brian Burke had to say on The New York Times’ NFL blog:You’d have to expect the Colts had a better than 30 percent chance of scoring from their 34, and an accordingly higher chance to score from the Pats’ 28. But any adjustment in their likelihood of scoring from either field position increases the advantage of going for it. You can play with the numbers any way you like, but it’s pretty hard to come up with a realistic combination of numbers that makes punting the better option.That is, offenses come in good, better, best and Peyton Manning. And the better he is, the less you should want to punt to him.But maybe the critics were on to something.Using the score curves I introduced earlier, we can see how offenses — even great ones — come in all different “shapes and sizes.” For a clear example, let’s compare two of the great offenses of the modern era: The 18-1 New England Patriots from 2007, and the 2013 Denver Broncos:These two similarly amazing offenses had very different shapes: The Randy Moss-fueled Patriots offense was pretty “flat.”10It’s worth noting that “flatness” is a common feature for the Patriots in the Belichick era, though not always as flat as they were in 2007. In other words, compared to league averages, their chances of scoring didn’t vary much based on where they got the ball. The 2013 Broncos offense, on the other hand, derived its greatness less from its (also great) deep game and more from Manning’s ruthless ability to score from opponent territory. The Broncos’ chances of scoring actually depended more on where the drive started than league average.The difference is particularly significant when it comes to fourth-down decisions. From the 30-yard line, a 40-yard punt normally cuts about 2.2 expected points off an opponent’s drive compared to the opponent taking over on downs. This is why punts exist. Going for it on fourth down is the right thing to do when that amount is exceeded by the value of your team’s possession multiplied by your chances of converting the fourth down. Easy peasy — and there are plenty of tools to help you make such decisions.But as illustrated in the chart, for the 2007 Patriots that difference was only about 1.5 points, meaning a team facing them should have gone for it on fourth down a lot more often than normal. Meanwhile, for the 2013 Broncos, that difference was about 2.7 points, meaning their opponents should have been more inclined to punt than normal (at least relative to optimal punting strategy, which is way more in favor of going for it than any coach today is).How big is the difference? Against the 2013 Broncos, the break-even point to go for it on fourth-and-2 is around the 50 yard line (meaning, if you’re behind the 50, you should punt). Coincidentally, this is also around the break-even point for when to go for it against the 2007 Patriots — on fourth-and-12.That’s remarkable to me. Again, these offenses were similar in quality overall, but their different shapes made them as different as a fourth-and-12 versus a fourth-and-2.The situation Belichick faced in 2009 isn’t directly comparable because the governing issue there was win maximization rather than point maximization. But the point is that the strength of Manning’s offense wasn’t enough to settle the issue. A coach also needs to know the shape of an offense’s strength. As it turns out, having a steep curve is common for Manning-led offenses, so fears about giving him a “short field” are warranted (though, in Belichick’s defense, 2009 wasn’t a particularly steep year for the Colts).A big part of Manning’s edge comes from punishing opponents’ mistakes more than others do. While he has a lot of edge elsewhere, avoiding giving him short fields goes a long way. Thus, when playing him a team really should make greater efforts to protect the ball than it would usually, and should be more conservative about fourth–down decisions than it would optimally.So, it’s true: A key to beating Peyton Manning is — and I can’t even believe I’m typing this — making sure failed drives end in punts.Bonus chart of the weekAnd finally, for those of you who want to look up the win curves of your favorite team, or least favorite team, or just every team you can, here are all 32 teams in 2014:Reminder: If you tweet questions to me @skepticalsports, there is a non-zero chance that I’ll answer them here.Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum.
Month: September 2019
Skeptical Football Sizing Up The Inevitable PatriotsPackers Super Bowl
The Biggest Surprises Of WildCard Weekend
The Packers’ ground game delivered against Washington. For all the pregame chatter about Green Bay’s offensive struggles of late, the Pack ranked 10th in rushing efficiency during the regular season, closing the year with 100 or more yards in three of its final four games. Helping matters, Washington was the 11th-worst rushing D in football by DVOA. Sure enough, after 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground, Green Bay had run its way into the divisional round. Minnesota’s run defense stuffed Seattle. The Seahawks get a little leeway here because they were playing on the road, in frigid conditions, with neither Thomas Rawls nor Marshawn Lynch. But they also had the NFL’s fourth-best rushing DVOA during the regular season — with a lot of the way paved by their offensive line — and they were facing a Vikings team that ranked 18th in rush defense. So it was extremely unlikely that they’d be held to 3.5 yards per carry and -5.9 expected points on the ground Sunday. The Chiefs destroyed Houston on special teams. Special teams play is notoriously difficult to predict — and that’s at the season level, let alone in a single game. So although the league-worst Texans specialists were facing the seventh-ranked Chiefs, that should have granted only a razor-thin edge to KC. Instead, Kansas City’s special teams were worth almost a full touchdown by EPA on Saturday, giving KC the 18th-best playoff special teams performance of the past decade. For all the effort that’s gone into developing sophisticated statistical measurements of football, it remains a highly unpredictable sport. As my buddy Chase Stuart once wrote about the NFL, “we don’t know anything and we never will.” And yet, while we may not know anything for certain, we’ve learned enough that from week to week, we can make sense of some of the chaos (though not all).With that in mind, let’s take a look at what transpired over wild-card weekend. How much did it differ from what the advanced stats would have predicted before the game? Some outcomes were easy to see coming; others illustrated just how little we can predict about a single NFL game.What the stats saw comingThe Chiefs ran the ball all over the Texans. KC came into its game against Houston with the league’s top rushing attack according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, and the Texans boasted a decent but not great rushing D during the regular season. So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that the Chiefs ran for 141 yards during their 30-0 annihilation of the Texans. KC’s passing game was good, not great. As well as Kansas City played in other phases of the game, its passing attack was not the most crucial element of its win. Alex Smith averaged 5.9 adjusted net yards per attempt against a team that allowed 5.4 during the regular season, so the Chiefs pretty much passed to expectations, despite the lopsided win. Cincinnati’s special teams played well. The Bengals lost in excruciating fashion, but you can’t blame the special teams, which outplayed their Steeler counterparts by 1.2 expected points added (EPA) in the game. During the regular season, Cincy ranked ninth in special teams DVOA while Pittsburgh was dead-average — so in at least one regard, the game played out exactly as expected.The biggest surprisesHouston’s passing was horrific. The Texans ranked 22nd in passing DVOA during the regular season and the Chiefs had the NFL’s fifth-best defense against the pass, so this matchup looked lopsided before the opening toss. But Houston’s quarterback was Brian Hoyer, who had more passing success than the other three QBs the team used during the regular season. The hope was that the Texans would outplay their regular-season numbers; instead, Hoyer had the fourth-worst passing game in postseason history, an outcome no metric could have predicted. Cincinnati’s passing game struggled badly. This comes with an injury-related asterisk as well: Cincinnati had the league’s best passing offense during the regular season, but most of that was done before quarterback Andy Dalton was injured. However, backup QB AJ McCarron had been doing a reasonable impersonation of Dalton down the regular-season stretch, and on Saturday, he was going up against an average Steeler pass D. If McCarron hadn’t helped Cincinnati post the 34th-worst playoff passing game of the past decade by EPA, Cincinnati’s defense wouldn’t have been put in a position to hold a 1-point lead on the game’s fateful final drive.One final note: These unlikely performances are also the most valuable. Of the 10 cases this weekend where a team added 5 or more expected points in a single phase of the game, all had less than a 30 percent probability of happening based on the teams’ regular-season numbers. Eight had a 15 percent chance or less of occurring; four had a 10 percent probability or less. Some of this can be attributed to randomness and game-to-game volatility, and some is due to individual matchups and planning.In other words, the performances that fuel victory are often also the toughest to see coming. And with the playoff field’s Super Bowl odds becoming more tightly bunched than ever this weekend, don’t expect that to change anytime soon.Read more: After Wild-Card Weekend, There Is No Super Bowl Favorite
Former Ohio State coach Joe Daniels dies at the age of 69
Former Ohio State football coach Joe Daniels died early Sunday morning at the age of 69 after years of battling multiple illnesses. Daniels concluded his coaching career at OSU after 39 years in the profession. He joined the OSU staff in 2001 as the quarterback coach and stayed in that role for eight years, until after spring drills in the 2009 season. He later moved into a personnel development position at OSU. “Joe had a positive impact on everyone he met,” OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith said in a press release. “There are hundreds of former and current football players who are blessed because of the relationship they had with Joe. It was an honor to be in his presence and we thank him for what he gave Buckeye Nation while he was a coach and administrator. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife Kathy, son Matt, daughter Kaitlin, daughter-in-law Jenny and the entire Daniels family.” During his coaching career, Daniels helped coach and develop quarterbacks like Dan Marino, Ozzie Newsome and former Buckeye Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. “The things that stand out to me were Joe’s sense of humor and the way he approached the last five years,” OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said. “He was always upbeat. Everything was always good. He was an amazing man and you won’t find any better quality of person than Joe Daniels.”
2017 Big Ten football preview Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa’s Josey Jewell (43) tackles Wyoming’s Avante Cox during the 2017 season opener on Sep. 2. The Hawkeyes went on to defeat the Cowboys, 24-3. Credit: Courtesy of Ben Smith | The Daily IowanLocation: Iowa City, Iowa 2016 record: 8-5 (6-3) Head coach: Kirk Ferentz Current record: 2-0 All time record vs. OSU: 14-46What has happened thus far in 2017 The Hawkeyes outlasted in-state rival Iowa State, 44-41, in overtime in Week 2. In its season opener, Iowa’s defense stymied Wyoming’s offense, led by likely first-round pick Josh Allen, and the Hawkeyes won, 24-3. Impact Player While senior linebacker Josey Jewell is a menace, the Hawkeyes’ inexperience on offense places greater importance on running back Akrum Wadley. The senior rushed for 1,081 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry, in 2016. Through two games, Wadley has 234 rushing yards and a touchdown. Wadley can be dynamic in space, which he showcased late against Iowa State when he turned a short catch out of the backfield into a 46-yard, game-tying touchdown, made possible by three broken tackles and a slick stutter-step.Strengths Because some things never change, Iowa’s running game will be sturdy behind an experienced offensive line and the legs of Wadley and James Butler, a graduate transfer from Nevada who owns back-to-back 1,300-plus rushing yard seasons. The O-line was dented in Week 2, with right tackle Ike Boettger lost for the year, but because the Hawkeyes often substitute linemen to keep players fresh and develop young talent, they should have enough depth to overcome Boettger’s injury. Jewell, a preseason All-American, leads a defense that returns six of last year’s front seven. The Hawkeyes should be stout against the run and put pressure on opposing offensive lines. The reason they limited Wyoming’s Allen to 174 passing yards was because Allen had little time to throw. Weaknesses The Hawkeyes are inexperienced at quarterback, receiver and defensive back. Whether Iowa is a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten West or is its usual eight-win self comes down to the performance of those units. Sophomore quarterback Nate Stanley showed promise against Iowa State, throwing for 333 yards and five scores, but it’s a small sample size. Junior college transfer wideout Nick Easley has 11 catches so far, giving Iowa another target alongside senior receiver Matt Vandeberg, whose 2016 was cut short by a broken foot. Even so, the Hawkeyes lack a game-changing playmaker on the outside. Safety Miles Taylor, a three-year starter, is the only returner in the secondary. Other players, like sophomore Manny Rugamba, have seen the field, but not consistently. If the secondary is at least average, the Hawkeye front seven is good enough to handle the rest.
Ohio State head diving club coach placed on administrative leave
John Appleman, the head coach of Ohio State’s Diving Club, was placed on administrative leave Friday after the class-action lawsuit was filed accusing fellow Ohio State Diving Club coach William Bohonyi of sexual abuse of a former athlete. Ohio State confirmed Appleman’s suspension with USA Diving and that he was placed on administrative leave by the university. On July 12, Appleman was suspended of his membership with USA Diving for undisclosed reasons. USA Diving released the following statement: “Providing a safe environment for USA Diving members is our top priority. USA Diving currently has suspended members and we are unable to comment further on this matter. USA Diving cannot comment on any action The Ohio State University may have taken.” Appleman was announced as the next diving coach at the University of Arizona on June 5, but Arizona rescinded his offer of employment once he was suspended by USA Diving. Appleman was mentioned by name in the class-action lawsuit filed against Bohonyi. The lawsuit stated that he learned of the sexual abuse while at the Senior Nationals competition in Knoxville, Tennessee, in August 2014. But the athlete, 17, was sent home while Bohonyi stayed at the event. The OSU Police investigation of Bohonyi was reopened on Jan. 30, 2018 after the university was contacted by the former diving club athlete. Appleman could not be reached for comment.
Gallery Ohio State vs Indiana
Urban Meyer leads the Buckeyes onto the field prior to the start of the game against Indiana on Oct. 6. Ohio State won 49-26. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThe No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes faced off against Indiana on Oct. 6 in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 49-26, improving their overall record to 6-0. Photos by Casey Cascaldo and Amal Saeed.
Hacked in just six seconds How criminals only need moments to guess
Show more A hacker can obtain the three essential pieces of information to make an online purchase within as little as six secondsMohammed Ali, Newcastle University Criminals can work out the card number, expiry date and security code for a Visa debit or credit card in as little as six seconds using guesswork, researchers have found.Experts from Newcastle University said it was “frighteningly easy” to do with a laptop and an internet connection.Fraudsters use a so-called Distributed Guessing Attack to get around security features put in place to stop online fraud, and this may have been the method used in the recent Tesco Bank hack.Researchers found that the system did not detect cyber criminals making multiple invalid attempts on websites in order to get payment card data. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “Secondly, different websites ask for different variations in the card data fields to validate an online purchase. This means it’s quite easy to build up the information and piece it together like a jigsaw.”The unlimited guesses, when combined with the variations in the payment data fields, make it frighteningly easy for attackers to generate all the card details one field at a time.”Each generated card field can be used in succession to generate the next field and so on. If the hits are spread across enough websites then a positive response to each question can be received within two seconds – just like any online payment.”So even starting with no details at all other than the first six digits – which tell you the bank and card type and so are the same for every card from a single provider – a hacker can obtain the three essential pieces of information to make an online purchase within as little as six seconds.”Visa said: “The research does not take into account the multiple layers of fraud prevention that exist within the payments system, each of which must be met in order to make a transaction possible in the real world. “Visa is committed to keeping fraud at low levels and works closely with card issuers and acquirers to make it very difficult to obtain and use cardholder data illegally.”We provide issuers with the necessary data to make informed decisions on the risk of transactions. There are also steps that merchants and issuers can take to thwart brute force attempts.”For consumers, the most important thing to remember is that if their card number is used fraudulently, the cardholder is protected from liability.”It said it also has the Verified by Visa system, which offers improved security for online transactions.Tesco Bank said the fraud last month affected 9,000 customers and cost £2.5m.A spokesman said: “We identified the fraud quickly and communicated immediately with our customers, the Financial Conduct Authority and National Crime Agency. This remains a criminal investigation.” According to a study published in the academic journal IEEE Security & Privacy, that meant fraudsters could use computers to systematically fire different variations of security data at hundreds of websites simultaneously.Within seconds, by a process of elimination, the criminals could verify the correct card number, expiry date and the three-digit security number on the back of the card.Mohammed Ali, a PhD student at the university’s School of Computing Science, said: “This sort of attack exploits two weaknesses that on their own are not too severe but, when used together, present a serious risk to the whole payment system.”Firstly, the current online payment system does not detect multiple invalid payment requests from different websites.”This allows unlimited guesses on each card data field, using up to the allowed number of attempts – typically 10 or 20 guesses – on each website.
Army must tackle its drink problem military judge says
As the verdict was announced, Lt Col Tomkins cried with relief and was supported by his solicitor.In legal argument heard during the case, Peter Glenser, defending, accused the UN of “behind-the-scenes interference” with the trial by preventing witnesses from giving evidence.He told Judge Blackett that a witness in the case had declined to give evidence in court and others had refused to answer questions from his instructing solicitor preparing for the case.He described this as “interference of a British trial by a treaty organisation that seeks to impose limits on what can be said in evidence.”It may explain some of the grave difficulties my instructing solicitor had in interviewing witnesses when she travelled to Africa.”Judge Blackett also criticised the length of time the case took to come to court, adding: “This trial has taken far too long, some of it has been caused by the bureaucracy of the United Nations.”This has been a difficult case to manage because of the jurisdiction matters.”Thanking the board of officers, he said: “It has been difficult going to America and back, can I commend you and your colleagues.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “This failure goes well beyond the fact of his infidelity.”The defendant said that he and the complainant had each drunk four or five glasses of red wine during dinner that evening and afterwards he drank a vodka and tonic and she drank a gin and tonic before they went up to her room to prepare a presentation for their work.Lt Col Tomkins, of the Rifles regiment, based at Abbey Wood, near Bristol, admitted that he had been “flirting” with her when he gave her a neck massage in the hotel bar.He said: “She said she had a sore neck as I gave her neck a massage, she enjoyed it, she leaned back into me as I did it.”Lt Col Tomkins said when they began working on her laptop in her hotel room, the complainant said she was “hot and sweaty”.He said: “As a joke, I said ‘We could do it naked of course’. It was smutty, it was possibly more of its moment.”Lt Col Tomkins added: “This wasn’t a long-term romance, this was two people who met one night, had an enjoyable night and ended up having sex.”The complainant had claimed she had been too drunk to consent to the sex. In an unusual step, the military held the first part of the case to hear prosecution witnesses at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland in the US. The armed services need to do more to address drinking because it can lead to sex offence cases, a military judge has said as a married British colonel was acquitted of rape.Lieutenant Colonel Benedict Tomkins, of Defence, Equipment and Support, was cleared of the single count of rape against a subordinate in her room after a UN meeting in an African hotel.But a board of senior officers lambasted him for “embarrassing” the service as they found him not guilty of the offence at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, Uganda, on January 7, 2015.And Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett added: “I would like to put it on record that too many offences occur because of the abuse of alcohol, more needs to be done by the services to address this issue.”The 49-year-old had told Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, that he denied the offence and said the sex had been consensual.Brigadier Paul Tennant, the president of the board, said: “Despite unanimously and overwhelmingly reaching a finding of not guilty, we have been similarly united in our corporate embarrassment by the conduct of the defendant.”We as commissioned officers feel strongly that Lt Col Tomkins’ behaviour, even by his own account, fell wholly and demonstrably short of what we would expect of an officer of his rank and experience.
Three men who grew cannabis worth millions of pounds plead guilty to
Three men have admitted their part in running a large-scale cannabis factory from an underground nuclear bunker.Martin Fillery, 45, Plamen Nguyen, 27, and Ross Winter, 30, admitted conspiracy to produce class B drugs and abstracting electricity.Wiltshire Police discovered more than 4,000 cannabis plants, capable of producing £2 million worth of drugs per year, during a midnight raid on RGHQ Chilmark.The underground nuclear bunker was constructed in the 1980s to house local government in the event of a nuclear attack during the height of the Cold War. RGHQ Chilmark is no longer owned by the Ministry of Defence but it is still intact, with the nuclear blast doors making the site almost impenetrable.Police intercepted Fillery, Nguyen and Winter as they left the site, having gathered intelligence in relation to it.Officers used keys found in the men’s possession to gain entry to the bunker, which was being powered by £250,000 worth of illegally abstracted electricity. Fillery also admitted possessing criminal property, having raised a “significant amount of assets” from his crimes, Wiltshire Police said.The three men will be sentenced on August 11.They were previously charged with conspiracy to hold persons in slavery or servitude, but these charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence. Ross WinterCredit:Wiltshire Police “In addition to the growing rooms, there were drying rooms, nurseries and living quarters for the growers. It was a sophisticated set-up with an illegal connection to the mains electrical supply.”The lighting equipment alone seized from the site cost in the region of £140,000 and the setup was capable of producing a crop every six weeks.”In all, it took approximately 10 days to completely search and clear the site.”He said the find had stopped an “enormous amount of illegal drugs” from entering the streets of Wiltshire and the South West. A police officer looking at the drying room of the cannabis factor in the nuclear bunkerCredit:Solent News Martin FilleryCredit:Wiltshire Police “The bunker itself had approximately 20 rooms inside over two floors, and almost every single room had been converted for the wholesale production of cannabis. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The cannabis plants at the time with a value of £1 millionCredit:Wiltshire Police Fillery, of Ashcott, Bridgwater, Nguyen, of Horfield, Bristol, and Winter, of Maytree Avenue, Bristol, admitted charges at Salisbury Crown Court. Detective Inspector Simon Pope, of Wiltshire Police, described the find as “the biggest cannabis factory we’ve ever had in Wiltshire and the South West region”.”The isolated and secure nature of the location made the warrant particularly challenging,” he added. Plamen NguyenCredit:Wiltshire Police
PC criticised for warning feminine care supermarket signs are sexist
An overly PC Pc has faced a backlash after warning that “feminine care” supermarket signs are sexist.Sergeant Peter Allan, Sussex Police’s hate-crime officer, became embroiled in a Twitter storm after advising Tesco and Sainsbury’s to swap feminine-specific signs for alternatives such as ‘personal hygiene’ and ‘personal care’.The officer has since faced criticism online, labelled ‘meddlesome’ and told he was wasting taxpayers’ money. The social media frenzy started as it emerged that Sergeant Allan had previously branded M&S ‘sexist’ for their store toilets, showing a woman with a baby, while the sign for the men’s toilets showed only a man. #ThrowbackThursday with Sgt. Peter Allan really taking it to the streets on this one. Brilliant investigative work, Sergeant! pic.twitter.com/e8dbpWyh1y— Cuckex Police (@CuckexPolice) August 10, 2017 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A Tesco spokesperson said: “Everyone is welcome at Tesco. We regularly review the signs in our stores to make sure they meet the needs of customers.”Since the fiasco, Sergeant Allan has deactivated his social media account.CLARIFICATION: We have been asked to clarify that Sergeant Peter Allan was not in fact ‘sanctioned’ by Sussex Police, as the article originally stated, for warning supermarkets that their ‘feminine care’ signs are sexist. We are happy to do so, and have amended the article accordingly. Sergeant Peter Allan advised the supermarkets to take down the signs and swap them for ones which read “Personal Hygiene” or “Personal Care”Credit:@SgtPeterAllan/Twitter M&S have since changed their signs.His comments prompted many to believe that the account was a parody.James Bruce tweeted: “Just checking. This is a real thing, you really did this? If it’s a parody you’ve done a great job. Please say it’s a parody. Please.”Micktw68 tweeted: “This has to be a parody account. If not then @sussex_police need to take a long look at how their funding is being spent.#crimefreecounty?”Sussex Police have since confirmed that it is not a parody account and that the comments were posted by Sergeant Allan when he was off duty.They declined to comment on why their officer had handed out advice to the supermarkets, or whether he was authorised to do so.Sergeant Allan works with the lesbian, gay and transgender communities and helps to recruit hate crime ambassadors across the county.He has also spoken out on homophobic, transgender, racist and anti-Semitic crimes.The officer made the comments on the first day of Pride weekend in Brighton last year. But they surfaced again following Pride 2017 in Brighton last weekend.Despite the backlash which Sergeant Allan has faced, both Tesco and Sainsbury’s responded to the criticism.A spokesperson from Sainsbury’s said: “Our signs in store are designed to help customers easily find the items they’re looking for. We thanked Mr Allan for his feedback when he got in touch last year.” The controversy began after the officer tweeted Sainsbury’s saying: “It’s an issue of gender identity. Men may use the products. Indeed men’ s products were on the shelf. ‘Personal Care’ perhaps.”He then tweeted Tesco saying: “Need to update. Especially with products 4 men on shelf. ‘Personal Hygiene’ perhaps. What about your other stores? Should be gender neutral if mentioned at all.”The tweets were met with disbelief by many; one Twitter user wrote: “What a meddlesome individual, using his police badge to lay down laws of his own devising. He’s actually the bigot here.”Another added: “Last time I checked, tampons were used for feminine hygiene, not male. Haven’t you got anything better to do with taxpayers money?”