Saturday, February 25, 2006

26 February 1993: The First World Trade Center Bombing

Image source: Time

Via several sources, including The History Channel Online and Wikipedia.

At 12:18 p.m., a terrorist bomb explodes in a parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City, leaving a crater 60 feet wide and causing the collapse of several steel-reinforced concrete floors in the vicinity of the blast. Although the terrorist bomb failed to critically damage the main structure of the skyscrapers, six people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. The World Trade Center itself suffered more than $500 million in damage. After the attack, authorities evacuated 50,000 people from the buildings, hundreds of whom were suffering from smoke inhalation. The evacuation lasted the whole afternoon.

City authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) undertook a massive manhunt for suspects, and within days several radical Islamic fundamentalists were arrested. In March 1994, Mohammed Salameh, Ahmad Ajaj, Nidal Ayyad, and Mahmoud Abouhalima were convicted by a federal jury for their role in the bombing, and each was sentenced to life in prison. Salameh, a Palestinian, was arrested when he went to retrieve the $400 deposit he had left for the Ryder rental van used in the attack. Ajaj and Ayyad, who both played a role in the construction of the bomb, were arrested soon after. Abouhalima, who helped buy and mix the explosives, fled to Saudi Arabia but was caught in Egypt two weeks later.

The mastermind of the attack--Ramzi Ahmed Yousef--remained at large until February 1995, when he was arrested in Pakistan. He had previously been in the Philippines, and in a computer he left there were found terrorist plans that included a plot to kill Pope John Paul II and a plan to bomb 15 American airliners in 48 hours. On the flight back to the United States, Yousef reportedly admitted to a Secret Service agent that he had directed the Trade Center attack from the beginning and even claimed to have set the fuse that exploded the 1,200-pound bomb. His only regret, the agent quoted Yousef saying, was that the 110-story tower did not collapse into its twin as planned--a catastrophe that would have caused thousands of deaths.

R.I.P: Don Knotts

Jesse Donald "Don" Knotts
(July 21, 1924 – February 24, 2006)
Image source:

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Don Knotts, the skinny, lovable nerd who kept generations of television audiences laughing as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” has died. He was 81.

Knotts died Friday night of pulmonary and respiratory complications at a Los Angeles hospital, said Paul Ward, a spokesman for the cable network TV Land, which airs “The Andy Griffith Show,” and another Knotts hit, “Three’s Company.”

Unspecified health problems had forced him to cancel an appearance in his native Morgantown, W.Va., in August 2005. Fix

Via Enjoy!

BoingBoing Now Blocked in the UAE (And Elsewhere)

Image source:

Via Boing Boing.

An anonymous BoingBoing reader in the United Arab Emirates says"

"And its finally happened... I knew the day was not far.... :(

The sole ISP in this country, which happens to be owned by the government has blocked Apparently boingboing is disseminating information that is " inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates. "

eBay Urged to Tackle Fraud Better

eBay has been urged to tell users more about the risk of fraud.
Image source: BBC

Via The BBC

Internet auction site eBay should do more to tackle fraudsters targeting the site, a consumer magazine has said.

Computing Which? called on the site to be more active in identifying its fraudulent users.

It also wants the site to warn users about the danger of fraud and to crack down on the selling of medical accessories such as contact lenses.

But the site's UK community manager said eBay already had a "safety centre" to help protect its users.

More here.

Ricin Discovered in University of Texas Dormitory

Ricin is made from Castor Beans.

Whitney L. Becker writes in The Austin American-Stateman:

Ricin, a potentially deadly poison, was found in a University of Texas dormitory Thursday by a student who reported the substance to school police officers.

The dorm was sanitized, and the substance was sent to a laboratory for testing and came back positive for ricin Friday night. University officials said they had not yet determined where it came from.

A "small amount" of UT students living in Moore-Hill dormitory were exposed to the substance, UT police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.

The students are now at an undisclosed location and are in contact with the FBI. They are not showing any symptoms, officials said. Other students living in Moore-Hill were being moved to Jester dormitory Friday night, Weldon said.

More here.

Precious Art Stolen During Brazil Carnival

An AP newswire via article by A Michael Astor, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Taking advantage of the chaos of a Carnival parade, thieves slipped into an art museum and stole paintings valued at tens of millions of dollars, even stripping visitors of cell phones, digital cameras and wallets before fleeing.

The heist of the high-value art was a brash crime at a celebration known more for its wallet-thieving pickpockets.

As a samba band performed outside Friday, the thieves overpowered security guards at the Chacara do Ceu museum and stole Pablo Picasso's "The Dance," Salvador Dali's "The Two Balconies," Henri Matisse's "Luxembourg Garden" and Claude Monet's "Marine."

More here.

Spying at a Higher Level: Agencies Look for More Ways to Mine Data

John Markoff writes in The New York Times:

A small group of National Security Agency officials slipped into Silicon Valley on one of the agency's periodic technology shopping expeditions this month.

On the wish list, according to several venture capitalists who met with the officials, were an array of technologies that underlie the fierce debate over the Bush administration's anti-terrorist eavesdropping program: computerized systems that reveal connections between seemingly innocuous and unrelated pieces of information.

The tools they were looking for are new, but their application would fall under the well-established practice of data mining: using mathematical and statistical techniques to scan for hidden relationships in streams of digital data or large databases.

More here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

25 February 1928: First Television License Granted

Philo Taylor Farnsworth
(August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971)

Generally credited as "Father of the cathode ray tube television"
Image source:

Via several sources, including The History Channel Online and Wikipedia.

The Federal Radio Commission issues the first television license on this day in 1928. The license went to the Charles Francis Jenkins Laboratories for a television broadcast station on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. The station later moved to Maryland and operated until 1932.

Charles Francis Jenkins (August 22, 1867 - June 5, 1934) was a pioneer of early cinema and one of the inventors of television, though he used mechanical rather than electronic technologies. His businesses included Charles Jenkins Laboratories and Jenkins Television Corporation (the corporation being founded in 1928, the year the Laboratories were granted the first commercial television license in the United States).

Government regulation of broadcasting has been in existence almost as long as the broadcast industry itself. The Wireless Act of 1910 required American ships to carry a broadcasting transmitter and qualified radio operator on all sea voyages. In the early 1920s, laws were passed governing transmission power, use of frequencies, station identification, and advertising. The Radio Act of 1927 shifted regulatory powers from the Department of Commerce to the new Federal Radio Commission, which became the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934.

Explore other events that happened on 25 February here.

Ernst & Young Fails to Disclose High-Profile Security Breach

In an exclusive, Ashlee Vance writes on The Register:

Ernst and Young should go ahead and pony up for its own suite of transparency services. The accounting firm failed to disclose a high profile loss of customer data until being confronted by The Register.

Ernst and Young has lost a laptop containing data such as the social security numbers of its customers. One of the people affected by the data loss appears to be Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, who was notified that his social security number and personal information have been compromised. While pushing all out transparency for its customers, Ernst and Young failed to cop to the security breach until contacted by us.

More here.

Austin Attorney: 'We Were Secretly Recorded at Police HQ'

Tony Plohetski writes in The Austin American-Statesman:

Defense attorney Kevin Boyd said he was taped while talking at the Police Department to a juvenile suspect in the Sept. 18 stabbing death of a man in North Austin. Boyd said his client went to police headquarters shortly after the slaying to surrender.

Boyd said he asked homicide detectives for permission to speak privately with the 14-year-old and was led to an interview room. Boyd said detectives told him that he would not be recorded.

During the conversation, Boyd said, the 14-year-old told him details about the incident.

"It was pretty sensitive stuff," Boyd said. "We wouldn't have even had the conversation had there not been an expectation of privacy."

More here.

Toon: Workplace Zen

Click for larger image.

7 U.S. Soldiers Charged in Web Porn Case

Of course, Fergie's Tech Blog picked up this story last month...

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The Army has charged seven paratroopers from the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division with engaging in sex acts in videos shown on a Web site, authorities said Friday.

Three of the soldiers face courts-martial on charges of sodomy, pandering and engaging in sex acts for money, according to a statement released by the military.

Four other soldiers received what the military calls nonjudicial punishments.

The Army has recommended that all be discharged.

More here.

H5N1 News: Bird Flu Hits 'The Land of Foie Gras'

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The European Union’s first outbreak of lethal H5N1 bird flu in commercial poultry was confirmed Saturday in France, the EU’s largest poultry producer.

France’s farming ministry said lab tests confirmed H5N1 in turkeys at a farm in the southeast Ain region, where thousands of the birds were found dead Thursday. The farm, which had more than 11,000 turkeys, has been sealed off and surviving birds slaughtered.

The spread of bird flu to commercial stocks in France, which has been working for months to prevent and prepare for an outbreak, served as a sobering sign for other developed countries that consider themselves well protected against the virus.

More here.

Hurdles Remain As Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Nears Red Planet

Artist rendering showing the Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter over the Martian landscape.

Image source: ABC News / AP / NASA

An AP newswire article, via ABC News, reports that:

A NASA spacecraft bound for Mars is nearing the end of its seven-month journey, but still faces a white-knuckle arrival at a planet known for swallowing man-made probes, mission managers said Friday.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, is on course to enter orbit around the Red Planet on March 10. If successful, it will spend the next two years photographing the planet and scouting for future landing sites.

The spacecraft is performing so well that engineers have canceled two final maneuvers to adjust its flight course in the last leg of the trip, said James Graf, project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

More here.

Michigan Teen Downloads One Billionth iTunes Song

An AP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Alex Ostrovsky got more than he bargained for when downloading Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" from the iTunes Music Store.

The 16-year-old's purchase was the one billionth song bought from the online music service that Apple Computer Inc. kicked off three years ago, charging 99 cents for most tracks. Ostrovsky's selection was from Coldplay's "X&Y" album.

The youth, who lives in the Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield Township, was showered with prizes: a 20-inch iMac, 10 fifth-generation iPods and a $10,000 iTunes gift card.

More here.

EPIC: Lawyers Drive Phone Data Black Market

Roy Mark writes on

Forget stalkers and ex-spouses as the primary consumers of online black market phone data.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says lawyers are the primary buyers driving the market, raising significant ethical issues for the legal profession.

EPIC prompted a series of hearings and investigations involving Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last summer when it complained about online data brokers selling confidential phone records.

More here.

DHS Looking to Develop 'Super-RFID' Tags?

Image source:

Evan Blass writes on Engadget:

An rather alarmist new book on RFID tagging has recently hit store shelves (you can pretty much guess the authors' position on tagging from the title of the book- "Spychips") which claims to have uncovered a "plot" by the Department of Homeland security to invent a more precise flavor of chip for remote tracking of individuals.

Privacy advocates and Spychips authors Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre say they have discovered a Request for Information issued by the DHS calling for "significant improvements in performance" over the current tech with respect to "superior remote data capture."

Specifically, the document supposedly calls for a solution that can identify individual people sitting among others in a car or bus, without any special action on the part of the surveyed, at distances up to 25-feet.

More here.

Cool Wall Gear Tech: Space Invaders Wall Decals

Image source:

Via Boing Boing.

Cool wall graphics company Blik sells a line of big space invader decals in assorted colors. The starter pack includes eight 13" diameter aliens and the missile base for $45.

Big Surprise: Patent Trolls Feed On Technology

Via CBS News.

A federal judge put off ruling Friday in a patent-infringement lawsuit that could have shut down service to BlackBerry wireless e-mail devices nationwide. The suit was filed by a specialized firm that owns patented ideas and charges others to use them. Those who don't pay up get sued, reports Mika Brzezinski, and it can be a very lucrative business.

It starts with a piece of paper. Explains Alexander Poltorak, CEO of the General Patent Corporation, "If you have invented a new gadget or if you have invented a new process or method, go ahead and file a patent application."

Poltorak calls his clients technology inventors. Critics call them something else: Patent trolls.

More here.

Uganda: Net Censorship Reaches Sub-Saharan Africa

Image source: Boing Boing

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders condemned filtering of a radio website imposed by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on 16 February 2006 - the first such case of Internet censorship in Uganda.

The move came just days before voting in presidential and parliamentary elections on 23 February.

The Radio Katwe news website accepts contributions from Internet-users and posts content that is extremely critical of the government. Just before it was censored, it had attacked the accumulation of wealth by the family of President Yoweri Museveni.

“Blocking access to an online publication is an important decision, which should be taken only by a judge and then as a result of an independent judicial procedure“, the press freedom organisation said.

More here.

Mac OS X is Clearly On The Radar of Malware Developers

Via The SANS ISC Daily Handlers Diary.

Love it or hate it, OS X users need to exercise increased vigilance.

Soon, even your beloved little Mac laptop will be spending its spare CPU cycles sending out advertisements for Viagra and Cialis.

The recent news of these vulnerabilities in the OS is getting plenty of attention. Some would argue that things are being blown out of proportion. I think there is some lazy journalism, and sensationalism afoot. Yet, like any FUD-storm there is usually some kernel of truth. In this case, this kernel is not so small and insignificant.

More important points here.

Origami: Microsoft's Alternative to the iPod?

Mary Jo Foley writes on Microsoft Watch:

Microsoft has registered a Web site for something called "The Origami Project". From the rather cryptic video clip there, you can't tell much about what Origami is or what it will do. Guesses about Origami's origins have been all over the map.

But what we're hearing now is that Origami might be little more than a new code name for an ultra-portable device that Microsoft demonstrated last year at its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. (Since Microsoft is continually changing code names to keep company watchers guessing, such a move would not be unprecedented.)

More here.

Ericsson Sues Samsung Over Alleged Patent Infringement

Via Red Herring.

Telecommunications supplier Ericsson said Friday it’s suing Samsung Electronics for allegedly infringing on cell-phone-related patents, a sign that cooperation in the industry could be fading as competition heats up.

Äse Lindskog, director of media relations at Ericsson, said No. 3 cell phone maker Samsung violated about 10 patents relating to mobile network standards used around the world including GSM, GPRS, and EDGE. Samsung licensed the technologies in 2002, but the licenses expired at the end of December, Ms. Lindskog said.

Ms. Lindskog said the firms have been negotiating to renew the licenses for almost a year but were unable to reach an agreement.

“This is quite uncommon within the industry,” she said.

H5N1 News: Baxter Int'l, Chiron Get UK Bird Flu Vaccine Contract

Via Red Herring.

The British government said Friday it signed contracts worth about $57.55 million with drugmakers Baxter International and Chiron to supply a stockpile of about 3.5 million doses of a vaccine based on the bird flu strain.

British Health Minister Rosie Winterton said the country is building a stockpile in preparation for a possible flu pandemic.

Verizon To Release Motorola Q Next Week?

The Motoroloa Q
Image source: Gizmodo


Via Gizmodo.

We’re not sure how reliable the source is, but in an interview this week, a Motorola design manager told one of your faithful Gizmodo newshounds that the Q could be released as soon as next week. What makes us think it might be legit? He was holding a working model in his hands, and it was up and running on Verizon’s network.

Our first impressions from holding it in our hot little hands for a few minutes: this sucker’s extremely thin, although a bit wider than our Treo 650. The screen is a bit squat for our liking, though, even if it’s crisp; with the soft-key icons running along the bottom and an info bar across the top, we weren’t able to display a ton of information on it all at once. On the flip side, though, the buttons have a nice tactile feel; and the side jog-dial is pretty handy indeed. Maybe the GSM version will be even more sexy? Only time will tell.

Adobe Fixes Critical Shockwave Code Execution Flaw

Ryan Naraine writes on eWeek:

A security flaw in Adobe Systems' Macromedia Shockwave Installer could put millions of PC users at risk of code execution attacks, the company warned in an advisory.

The flaw, which carries a "critical" rating, affects Shockwave Player and earlier versions. According to Adobe's advisory, the vulnerability occurs only during the installation process, and current users do not need to take action.

More here.

ICANN to Decide on VeriSign DNS Registry Settlement

Caron Carlson writes on eWeek:

A key decision determining who will run the Internet's domain name registry in the future could be made as early as Feb. 28, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board convenes its next meeting.

At the top of the ICANN agenda is a proposed settlement to end litigation with VeriSign, which operates .com, the largest Internet domain registry.

More here.

Real-Life Humor: Stealing From Work

Scott Adams writes on The Dilbert Blog:

While I don't condone stealing from work, I often admire the ingenuity that goes into doing it. I got this letter from a Dilbert reader:

"I found this office behavior extreme enough to share with you. A co-worker of mine is so cheap that he bought one of the portable electric batteries that you can charge up for emergencies, like jumpstarting your car or running appliances off of during camping trips, and brings it to work everyday and lets it charge in his cubicle. He then takes it home and runs his lights or microwave off of it. He says he is forcing the company to pay him a little extra by taking electricity home. He also tries to time all of his bodily eliminations to occur at work so that he uses company water for flushing etc… to further save himself money and cost the company."

If energy prices continue to go higher, someone is going to invent a portable battery that looks like a laptop computer. It will appear that you are just charging your laptop at work, but then you bring it home and use it to power your house. I like it.

iPod 'Hi-Fi' Boombox Arriving Next Week

Ryan Katz writes over on Think Secret:

Among the products Apple will debut at next Tuesday's media event will be the iPod "Hi-Fi" boombox, reliable sources have informed Think Secret.

Details are scarce but sources have indicated the product will deliver unique capabilities beyond what today's third-party docking speaker systems offer.

More here.

U.S. National Archives Video Available Via Internet

The U.S. National Archives Building
Washington, D.C.

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Online search giant Google has teamed with the US National Archives to make historic films viewable worldwide via the Internet, they announced.

The archives' holdings can be seen for free online at its website,, and at a Google website,, according to chief US archivist Allen Weinstein.

Family Watchdog: Displaying Location & Photos of Sex Offenders In Your Area

Image source: Boing Boing

Via Boing Boing.

Family Watchdog is a site that promises to display the names, home addresses, mugshots and other data for convicted sex offenders near any given geographical location in the US. The site also offers a notification service -- get alerts when a convicted sex offender moves near your home.

Each sqare represents the home address of a convicted sex offender, and each color indicates conviction type (rape, sex acts against minors under 14, sexual battery, kidnapping with intent to rape).

More here.

Broadwing Moves HQ to Austin

Via The Austin Business Journal.

Broadwing Corp. is moving its headquarters from Maryland to Austin.

The move is a homecoming of sorts.

In 2003, Corvis Corp. bought Austin-based Broadwing for $91 million. After the acquisition, Corvis took on the Broadwing name.

About 35 employees will be cut from the Columbia, Maryland office because of consolidation in its equipment division and its headquarters operations. The company has 1,632 people total.

Dirty Tricks in Verizon FIOS-TV Land?

Thanks to Carlo over on for pointing out this snippet.

Via Broadband Reports. interesting police report from Woburn, Massachusetts that details just how heated the competition between Verizon and some cable operators may be:

"3 p.m., a Pierce Promotions employee working on behalf of Verizon reported someone stole literature he was leaving on doorsteps in the Fulton Street neighborhood. While leaving the pamphlets, the Verizon employee reported a man in a black car approached him and asked for one of the pamphlets. The Verizon employee noticed a stack of the pamphlets already in the man's back seat. He returned to Fulton Street and discovered all the pamphlets he had left were taken. When he approached a house, he was told that the man in the black car was an RCN [cable] employee."

Battlefield Tech: Mandylion Password Manager

Image source: OhGizmo!

Andrew Liszewski writes over on OhGizmo!:

The Mandylion Password Manager is a simple keychain-size secure device that has been tested and perfected in actual warfare by the US Military. It can store up to 50 different logins and the passwords themselves can include up to 14 alpha-numeric or special characters. The data is stored in permanent memory, so even if the battery dies everything will still be safe.

It includes numerous tamper-proof features (you need to use a user-defined combination of the 5 buttons just to access it) and it even has a self-destruct feature for ‘high-risk scenarios.’ Cool!

More here.

UK: Man Fined For Obtaining Data Unlawfully


A man who unlawfully obtained information relating to an individual’s bank account was fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 costs yesterday by Croydon Magistrates, after pleading guilty to a breach of the 1988 Data Protection Act.

The case is related to and follows the successful prosecution of private detective David Sibley last month.

Sibley and David William Schumacker were prosecuted by the data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), after obtaining information for a solicitor’s firm in respect of an insurance claim.

More here.

Japanese Police Struggling Against Cybercrime

A UPI article, via, reports that:

Japan may still be one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to violent crime, but the number committed in cyberspace is on the rise, according to the National Police Agency.

The police reported Friday that the number of arrests made for cybercrime in 2005 rose by 51.9 percent from a year ago to a record 3,161 cases.

The police pointed out that the anonymity and convenience of the Internet have backfired as they have made it easier for con men to operate, and the number of fraudulent online sales and auctions nearly tripled from 2004 to 1,408 arrests. In addition, the police reported that computer hacking was on the rise, with 277 cases being cracked down in 2005.

More here.

Tuesdays with Mantu: My Adventures With a Nigerian 419 Scammer

Image source:



We've all had an email from the nephew of a recently-murdered diamond mine owner. Or the daughter of an imprisoned army general. Or anyone else in west Africa with access to a vast fortune – if only we can help them to release the cash.

Most of us recognise the Nigerian email scam and delete the messages. A few poor souls get sucked in and lose their savings. But Rich Siegel spotted the fraud, entered into an exchange for his own entertainment, and published the emails for ours.

His book, Tuesdays with Mantu: My Adventures with a Nigerian Con Artist, lets you follow his adventures as he takes the scammers on at their own game.

More here.

Judge Declines to Issue Injunction Against RIM


A judge Friday stopped short of ordering an immediate shutdown of millions of BlackBerry portable e-mail devices made by Research In Motion Ltd.

But U.S. District Judge James Spencer said there was no escaping that RIM had been found to be infringing on NTP Inc.’s patents and he would issue a decision on an injunction “as soon as reasonably possible.”

More here.

Vyatta: The Open Source Router Company

I used to work with Allan Leinwand when I first went to work at Cisco in 1995.

A Business 2.0 article by Om Malik, via CNN/Money, reports that:

At the San Francisco offices of Panorama Capital, two dozen engineers, venture capitalists, and academics gathered around a nondescript piece of hardware they all helped build. Then Allan Leinwand, CEO of a stealthy Panorama-funded startup called Vyatta, powered up the device, the world's first open-source router. As one of the programmers downloaded Red Hat Linux to his laptop by way of the black box, the room erupted in handshakes and high fives.

A few months after the unveiling on that October day, Vyatta's router is about to go into beta release, and it will likely hit the market this summer. The machine runs on two Intel chips, but far more noteworthy is its software, known as XORP, or extensible open router platform. The versatile open-source application can direct data traffic for a giant corporation as easily as it can manage a home Wi-Fi network.

More here.

How DIgital Watermarks Fail

Ed Felten writes over on Freedom To Tinker:

I wrote Wednesday about Randy Picker’s suggestion of using digital watermarks to embed users’ personal financial information into media files, to discourage users from sharing the files.

Today, I want to talk more generally about watermarks and how they tend to fail.

Much, much more here.

Political Rivals Unite Against Giants' e-Mail Plan

Robert McMillan writes on InfoWorld:

Both sides of the U.S. political spectrum have found an issue to unite them: Free e-mail.

Next Tuesday, a group of nonprofit organizations and small businesses will announce the formation of a coalition aimed at putting a stop to America Online (AOL) and Yahoo's plans to charge fees to mass e-mailers. The coalition, expected to be launched at a press event in New York, will be sponsored by digital rights advocacy group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and it will include two political adversaries: the liberal and the conservative political action committees.

More here.

F-Secure: Rootkit Pharming

Image source: F-Secure

Mika writes over on the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog:

Haxdoor is one of the most advanced rootkit malware out there. It is a kernel-mode rootkit, but most of its hooks are in user-mode. It actually injects its hooks to the user-mode from the kernel -- which is really unique and kind of bizarre.

So, why doesn't Haxdoor just hook system calls in the kernel? A recent Secure Science paper [.pdf] has a good explanation for this. Haxdoor is used for phishing and pharming attacks against online banks. Pharming, according to Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), is an attack that misdirects users to fraudulent sites or proxy servers, typically through DNS hijacking or poisoning.

We took a careful look at (detection added 31 Jan, 2006). It hooks HTTP functionality, redirects traffic, steals private information, and transmits the stolen data to a web-server controlled by the attacker. Most (all?) online banks use SSL encrypted connections to protect transmissions. If Haxdoor would hook networking functionality in the kernel, it would have hard time phishing since the data would be encrypted. By hooking on a high-enough API level it is able to grab the data before it gets encrypted. Apparently Haxdoor is designed to steal data especially from IE users, and not all tricks it plays work against, for example, Firefox. Fix

Via Enjoy! Magnate Loses Fraud Appeal

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

What: IRS agent turned dot-com exec appeals jury verdict finding conspiracy to defraud and violations of federal securities laws.

When: Decided Feb. 17 by the United States Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit in Missouri.

Outcome: Jury verdict in civil lawsuit for $987,000 in damages upheld.

Details here.

China: Shaanxi Province Working On Internet Cafe Management Software Platform


Chang Shuhua from the Cultural Department of China's northwestern Shaanxi Province says an Internet cafe operation and management platform is being built to supervise all the Internet cafes across the province.

According to Chang, through a special software installed on the server of the cafes and the corresponding equipment fixed on each computer that are connected to the new platform, the cafes will be able to conduct real-time monitoring.

After the platform is completed, online users need to buy a "real name" card for about RMB10 that contains their personal information before they can be access the Internet.

It is expected that the system will be put into use in Xi'an, the capital of the province, by the end of this year.

Microsoft to Fight South Korean Antitrust Decision

Ed Oswald writes on BetaNews:

The South Korean Fair Trade Commission said Friday it would finalize its ruling that Microsoft engaged in unfair business practices, a charge the company vehemently denies. Microsoft has since vowed to appeal the ruling within 30 days, and may request a stay.

A preliminary ruling fined Microsoft $32 million in December, as well as ordering the company to unbundled its Windows Media Player and Messenger software from the operating system. Microsoft was also mandated to link to competing software.

UK: Orange Enters Fixed-Line Market

Via The BBC.

Orange plans to enter the fixed-line telephone market, the first move of its kind from a UK mobile phone group.

From April, the company will roll out the service to its business customers, but it has no plans yet to offer the service to domestic consumers.

Orange and internet group Wanadoo, both owned by France Telecom, will merge to offer bundled products.

User Friendly: Dwell Computers, Inc.


Click for larger image.

Winamp Update Fixes Big Security Hole

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

America Online has released a new update for Winamp that closes a critical security hole in the popular music and video player.

The patch mends a flaw for which instructions were released last week showing would-be attackers how to use it to break into computers running Winamp. If you are using Winamp and want to keep doing so, it's time to download and install the update. All versions prior to the latest release -- version 5.2 -- are vulnerable. Yeah, yeah, I know you just updated a couple of weeks ago, when AOL released a new version to fix other critical security flaws, right? Well, too bad.

The advisory released by the researcher says he discovered the exploit back in July, but AOL only learned of the exploit code's existence this week when a hacker posted his exploit code online.

More here.

Girls Learn That They Can Be Engineers, Too

Ilana DeBare writes on

Back in the 1990s, the Ms. Foundation for Women came up with the idea of Take Our Daughters to Work Day. Later, that morphed into Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

Now, a national coalition of engineering groups has picked up the ball and proclaimed an annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

Organizers said their goal is to reach a million girls nationally. In the Bay Area, companies including Google, Ideo, Bechtel and Carollo brought groups of girls into their offices to meet female engineers and learn about the profession. Google hosted several hundred girls at its various sites this week. The S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation in San Francisco provided funding for the national project.

More here.

Livedoor May Ditch Scandal-Ridden Company Name

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Livedoor, the scandal-hit Japanese Internet firm, may change its name in an effort to reincarnate itself, its new president said, calling its former bosses "idiots".

Livedoor's new management has asked a research company to study the company's public image following the arrest of senior executives of the Internet firm for alleged financial fraud, said Kozo Hiramatsu.

Dilbert: Work-Life Balance

Click for larger image.

Fate of U.S. BlackBerry Service Goes Back to Court

Peter Kaplan writes for Reuters:

A federal judge may decide on Friday whether to pull the plug on BlackBerry email devices used by millions of Americans as part of a fight over patents for the pocket-sized technology.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer will hear arguments beginning at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) from NTP, which wants the judge to halt U.S. sales and shut down U.S. BlackBerry service. The judge granted such an injunction in 2003 but stayed it pending RIM's appeal.

More here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

24 February 1988: U.S. Supreme Court Defends The Right to Satirize Public Figures

Parody ad from Hustler (Nov, 1983). © 1983 Hustler Magazine, Inc.
Image source: Wikipedia / Hustler

Via Wikipedia.

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988) was a case argued before the United States Supreme Court. The decision strengthened free speech rights in relation to parodies of public figures by extending the "actual malice" test of New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).

The case was argued on December 2, 1987 and the Court handed down its decision on February 24, 1988 by a vote of 8 to 0.

More here.

U.S., Britain Conduct Nuclear Experiment in Nevada

An AP newswire article, via ABC News, reports that:

U.S. and British government scientists performed an underground nuclear experiment, short of a nuclear blast, at the Nevada Test Site this week, the National Nuclear Security Administration said.

The experiment on Tuesday involved detonating high explosives around radioactive material in a vault about 1,000 feet below ground at a remote part of the desert testing range 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

No radioactivity was released in the subcritical experiment, said Nancy Tufano, spokeswoman for Bechtel Nevada, a contractor at the nuclear security administration in North Las Vegas.

Scientists for the first time posted a nearly eight-minute video Web log of preparations for the experiment.

National Nuclear Security Administration Public Affairs:

More here.

Righting Wrongs: U.S. Approves Visa for Indian Scientist

Shankar Vedantam writes in The Washington Post:

State Department officials said yesterday that the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi has granted a visa to a prominent Indian scientist who said he was accused of deception and potential links to chemical weapons production when he applied to a U.S. consulate.

Goverdhan Mehta said he was told two weeks ago that his visa had been "refused" and that his expertise in chemistry could be a threat to U.S. national security. The case caused a furor in India just days before a visit by President Bush next week that is aimed at building warmer ties between the world's two largest democracies.

More here.

Yahoo! Exec: Labels Should Sell Music Without DRM

John Borland writes on the C|Net Music Blog:

Yahoo Music chief Dave Goldberg raised eyebrows Thursday at the Music 2.0 conference in Los Angeles with a proposal rarely heard from executives at large digital music services: Record labels should try selling music online without copy protection.

According to attendees, Goldberg pointed to the experience of eMusic, which offers its subscribers access to MP3 files without any digital rights management attached. Rights management restrictions have created a barrier for consumers, he said, making it a hurdle to transfer music to portable devices, and creating incompatibility between music services and MP3 players.

Ya think?

PopSci: Spy Satellites That Spy On Satellites

Image source:
Popular Science / Harold "Vernon" Baker / Air Force Research Laboratory

Yes, I know its from October 2005, but I just saw this.

Dawn Stover writes in Popular Science.

This is the first photograph taken by a microsatellite of another object in space that has ever been released to the general public. The object near the center is the upper stage of a Minotaur I rocket that was used to launch the Experimental Satellite System-11, commonly known as XSS-11. The photograph was taken by the digital "witness camera" aboard XSS-11, a dishwasher-size microsatellite developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

XSS-11 was launched in April and has since conducted numerous "proximity operations"—approaching and maneuvering around the spent Minotaur rocket stage at distances as close as 500 meters (the distance at which this photo was taken, about a third of a mile). Over the next year, the spacecraft will rendezvous with several other U.S.-owned dead or inactive objects in space.

More here.

More: Fix

Via Enjoy!

UK Rapped Over EU Data Retention Law

Alfred Hermida writes for The BBC:

Britain's net industry has named the UK presidency of the EU as its villain of the year.

The Internet Service Providers' Association (Ispa) singled out the UK for its role in pushing for Europe-wide data retention laws.

The laws, requiring telecom operators to store phone and internet data to help fight terrorism, received its final go-ahead earlier this week.

Net companies are concerned about the cost of holding and managing the data.

More here.

MPAA Sues BitTorrent, Newsgroup Search Tools

John Borland writes on C|Net News:

The Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday that it sued a new round of popular Web sites associated with movie piracy, including several that serve as search engines but do not distribute files themselves.

The lawsuits mark an expansion of the copyright holders' legal strategy in the file-swapping world, targeting sites that help make downloading easier, but aren't actually delivering the files or the swapping technology themselves.

It's also the first time the group has sued organizations that direct their members to the Usenet newsgroup system, an MPAA spokeswoman said. The movie group makes little distinction between a peer-to-peer network and the search engines that point to pirated works, saying that all facilitate the distribution of copyright works.

More here.

Outsourcing Tech: Dubai Wants IT Business as Well as U.S. Ports

Patrick Thibodeau writes on ComputerWorld:

The United Arab Emirates, which is currently at the center of a controversy over whether outsourcing the management of six U.S. ports to a company based in the Persian Gulf should be allowed, wants to do more than manage ports: It wants Dubai, its capital, to become a major IT outsourcing destination.

Dubai has been building a modern infrastructure and clearing away all taxes and visa hurdles to encourage companies that set up operations there, said Mehtab Ali Sayed, director of marketing at the Madar Research Group LLC in Dubai. “They are positioning themselves against India,” he said.

Many U.S. IT vendors already have offices in Dubai, mostly to support regional customers. Among them is Sierra Atlantic Inc., a Fremont, Calif.-based provider of offshore IT services, which opened an office in Dubai in August.

More here.

California Bill Would Bar Toxins in Cell Phones, iPods

Via Reuters.

California would require manufacturers to phase out the use of hazardous materials in making cell phones, iPods and other electronic devices under a bill introduced by a state lawmaker.

The bill unveiled on Thursday by Assembly Member Lori Saldana, a Democrat from San Diego, would apply to any electronic or battery-operated device. The bill, which was introduced on Wednesday, would require manufacturers to stop using the substances in devices sold in California by 2008.

More here.

H&R Block Mis-Reports Their Own Taxes

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

H&R Block, which provides tax advice to millions of Americans, made an embarrassing confession on Thursday. It goofed on its own taxes.

The company, which is in the middle of its make-or-break season preparing other people’s tax returns, said it had underestimated its own “state effective income tax rate” in previous quarters -- meaning it owes another $32 million in back taxes.

More here.

Prehistoric Tech: 'Jurassic Beaver' Stuns Scientists

Raquel Welch
Promotional Poster from the 1966 film, "One Million Years B.C."
Image source: Wikipedia

Somehow, I don't these scientists were talking about Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C.

Sorry -- with a headline like this what did you expect? I just couldn't resist.

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system, Jeff Hecht writes on New Scientist:

The discovery of a new, remarkably preserved fossil of a beaver-like mammal that lived 164 million years ago is shaking palaeontologists’ understanding of early mammals.

Looking as if it was put together from pieces of platypus, river otter, and beaver, the creature was nearly half a metre long and weighed about half a kilogram. This makes it the largest of its kind ever found in the Jurassic Period, from 200 million to 145 million years ago.

More here.

Gaming Tech: Blood on The Carpet -- Viral Ad for Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks

Image source:

This is really good, and quite funny!

Thanks to John Paczkowski (and whomever sent him the heads-up) over on Good Morning, Silicon Valley (GMSV).

Here's the link. Enjoy!

Mac OS X 10.4.5 for Intel Cracked

Via BetaNews.

Although Apple has attempted to prevent the Intel variant of its OS from installing on generic hardware, a patch surfaced on the Internet Thursday that enables Mac OS X 10.4.5 to work on non-Apple systems. The update fixed several Intel-related bugs, but also added code to stop those trying to install it on regular PCs.

A hacker named Maxxuss released the upgrade patch and plans to create a full 10.4.5 installation routine. Those who install Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware are unable to download updates directly from the company, so these patches are the only way to take advantage of the fixes made in each release. Maxxuss says some issues still remain, such as problems with DVD playback and iTunes on systems with AMD CPUs.

More: Fix

Via Enjoy!

CardSystems Solutions Inc. Settles With FTC

An AP newswire article by Jennier C. Kerr, via The Washington Post, reports that:

A data breach that left some 40 million customer accounts vulnerable to hackers will lead to tighter security measures to protect millions of credit and debit card users, officials at the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday.

CardSystems Solutions Inc. has settled charges that the company broke the law by failing to ensure adequate safeguards for sensitive customer information. The settlement calls for better safeguards to protect consumer data.

The FTC could not seek civil penalties under the law it accused CardSystems of violating.

More here.

GSA Files Networx Revision

Michael Hardy writes on

The General Services Administration has filed hundreds of pages of revisions to the Networx Universal solicitation in a move that some of the agency's critics view skeptically. Others, however, say the changes are mostly tweaks that do not significantly alter the proposal.

"Making more than 300 changes to the solicitation after proposal receipt brings out the dreaded question: Can Networx be awarded without a do-over?" said Neal Fox, a former GSA official now working as an independent consultant.

More here.

Report: Sprint-Nextel to Axe 2,500 Jobs

Kelly Hill writes on RCR Wireless News:

Sprint Nextel Corp. will reduce its work force by a net 4 percent in 2006, or about 2,500 people, company officials told the Kansas City Business Journal.

Sprint Nextel Corp. officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the Business Journal, the move to cut 4,500 jobs across all departments while adding 2,000 new jobs in areas such as Voice over IP services was due to the company’s need to rein in costs following Sprint’s merger with Nextel Communications Inc. An unspecified percentage of the job cuts will come from attrition, and company officials indicated that further job cuts are possible as the company rationalizes its post-merger operating costs.

Auditor Loses McAfee Employee Data


Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

An external auditor lost a CD with information on thousands of current and former McAfee employees, putting them at risk of identity fraud.

The disc was lost on Dec. 15 by Deloitte & Touche USA, McAfee spokeswoman Siobhan MacDermott said Thursday. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based security software company was first notified on Jan. 11, and on Jan. 30, it received particulars of the data that may have been on the CD, MacDermott said.

The disc contained personal details on all current U.S. and Canadian McAfee workers hired prior to April 2005 and on about 6,000 former employees in the same region, MacDermott said. (The security company currently has approximately 3,290 employees worldwide.) The information wasn't encrypted and potentially includes names, social security numbers and stock holdings in McAfee.

More here.

Maldives: Cyberdissident Ahmad Didi Released, Photographer Arrested

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release of Ahmad Didi, under house arrest since February 2005, who received a presidential pardon on 22 February along with another political dissident, Naushad Waheed.

The following day, Ali Fahud, photographer on the weekly Adduvas, was arrested while covering an opposition demonstration.

The press freedom organisation urged the Maldives government to extend the same leniency shown to Ahmad Didi to Ali Fahud and to Jennifer Latheef, who has been under house arrest since 21 December 2005, and is in a poor state of health.

HD DirecTV Coming to 24 New Markets

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

DIRECTV has announced the next two dozen television markets in the United States that will receive local high-definition programming.

Beginning in April, DIRECTV will offer HD programming from the four major networks in 24 markets, including Miami, Baltimore, San Diego, Phoenix and Minneapolis.

More: Fix

Via Enjoy!

Defense Tech: Stealth Jet to Go From Deep Blue to Wild Blue

Image source: Gizmodo / Popular Science

Via Gizmodo.

Lockheed Martin is now testing Cormorant, a stealthy autonomous spy jet that starts and ends its mission 150 feet under water.

Launched from Ohio-class submarines, the four-ton aircraft is designed with folding wings that allow it to fit inside a Trident missile tube, which is about 48 feet long but just 7 feet wide. The stealthy drone quietly floats to the surface and goes about its business of putting the hurt on those who hate America, and then when all the killing is done, slips back under the waves to be retrieved by a sneaky robotic underwater vehicle.

Testing should be done by September, when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will decide if it will commission a flying prototype. So it’s not real yet, but even so, this has to be one of the coolest-looking airplane drawings ever.

Beer Tech: Pouring The Perfect Pint

Image source: Engadget

Ryan Block writes over on Engadget:

Pulling the perfect pint -- manually or otherwise -- seems to be something of a long standing obsession across the pond, and more than one beer-pouring robot and device has been whipped up in occasion of this grand pursuit.

The latest, Hermann, is the fruit of the efforts of one Professor Thomas Weber and his 23 scients students at the Dutch Technical University of Darmstadt, whom set out to design a robot that would cost under £53 ($92 US) that could pull the perfect pint.

Minnesota Public Radio Sues Gore-Founded Internet TV Network

An AP newswier article, via, reports that:

Minnesota Public Radio is suing an Internet television network co-founded by Al Gore, claiming the network's alternative and amateur news reports interfere with MPR's trademark.

The San Francisco-based network, Current TV, and the MPR music station the Current are both transmitted via the Internet. MPR says the similar names creates confusion for potential consumers.

More here.

Toilet Tech: 'No More Stinky Poo in the Loo'

Image source: OhGizmo!

Bruce Eaton writes over on OhGizmo!:

Ate too much Weinershnitzel and now you gotta take a stinky shnit? Well over across the pond in Germany, the folks at Pro-Idee have the Aspidor Toilet to combat whatever hellish death you dare to unleash in your watercloset.

It screws on to your toilet (so you renters can use this), a fan quietly sucks your “emissions” into a charcoal filter which releases clean smelling air. The picture shows how the black demons turn into nice clouds surrounded in blue love… well maybe not. But no more do you have to worry if you just left a WC of doom for your loved one to step into. At € 289 ($344) which is a lot of money, I think I might just tell my S/O to hold her nose.

Livedoor e-Mail Scandal Rattles Lawmakers

A UPI newswire article, via, reports that:

Is the e-mail real or is it a forgery? That is the question that has been the hottest topic for debate among Japanese legislators over the past week, ever since a member of the opposition party presented what he claimed was proof that a top ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker was accepting bribes.

The four-paragraph memo is allegedly from Takafumi Horie, chief executive of Internet portal group Livedoor, who was arrested last month on charges of cooking the company's books and deliberately misguiding investors on the true value of his company.

In the e-mail dated from last summer, the 33-year-old Horie states that his office should provide $253,380 (30 million yen) to the bank account of the son of LDP Secretary-General Tsutomu Takebe. In addition, the e-mail suggests that a similar payment previously had been made to the son.

More here.

Look-Alike Cellphone Gun

Image source:

David Ponce writes over on OhGizmo!

Well, here’s an extra worry for law enforcement officials everywhere. The Cell Gunphone looks like, well, a pretty old crappy cell phone, but it is in fact a fully functional gun that fires up to four .22 caliber bullets. Once loaded, you simply have to press the keys 5 to 8 in quick succession, and your unknowing target will be filled with lead.

So, from now on, when you’ve lost a police chase, don’t even try to call mom to tell her about it, cause the Police might just have to shoot you down anyhow.

Telesales Pirate Jailed in Scotland


A Scotsman who made a fortune selling counterfeit music, movies and software by telephone order was jailed for nine months at Airdrie Sheriff Court yesterday. George Malone, 46, supplemented his income with a sun-tanning business and benefit fraud.

"These were very serious offences, and as such they carry up to a 10 year penalty, said Sheriff Brown, delivering the sentence. He ordered forfeiture of the pirated products and the computers and other duplication equipment used by Malone.

According to UK record industry association the BPI, Malone supplied industrial units across the west of Scotland with fakes on demand. On his arrest, counterfeit product with a market value of £18,000 was seized.

NTT DoCoMo Hits 2.5Gbps in 4G Trial

Martyn Williams writes on NetworkWorld:

NTT DoCoMo says it managed to transmit data at 2.5Gbps to a moving vehicle in recent tests of a new wireless data technology.

The tests involved using multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) and are part of the Japanese carrier's research into so-called fourth generation (4G) wireless technology. MIMO involves sending data using multiple antennas - six transmission antennas in the case of the DoCoMo trial - to increase the total throughput.

The tests involved a vehicle traveling at 20 kilometers per hour and took place at the company's research and development center in Yokosuka, Japan, on Dec. 14 last year but were not reported until Thursday.

Google Launches Free Hosting Service

Via Netcraft.

Google has launched a beta version of a free hosting service, Google Page Creator. The service, which is currently limited to existing users of Google's Gmail, allows users to build a web page using a web-based interface. Each site has its own subdomain, with a web address using the structure of, and users can choose among up to 40 page designs.

The introduction of Google Page Creator follows the recent launch of free hosting products by Microsoft and Go Daddy. Google is already a major player in the free hosting sector with Blogger, while Yahoo has several free hosting products, including its GeoCities brand. While several of these services are designed to generate revenue from advertising, Google's Page Creator beta doesn't include advertising on either its public pages or administrative interface.

More here.

Toon: Port Paranoia

Click for larger image.

Zone-H: Islamic Hacker Arrested in Paris

Via Zone-H.

On Tuesday , 2/21/2006, the Moroccan hacker known as Yanis was arrested in Metz by the Paris PJ. Anyway he got out of prison after 20 hours and he is waiting for judgement.

Yanis is accused of having defaced several French important websites (university of Strasbourg and Toulouse, website of the city of Lyon etc..), but his activity as defacer is far more complex: Zone-h, the independent observatory of cyber-crime, have monitored nearly 3000 notifications of intrusions in the last month related to the Prophet Mohammed digital Ummah protest (about 710 are by Yanis) while in his whole illegal “carreer” he compromised 1161 websites.

Besides, Zone-h highlighted that the attacks pursued by Islamic hackers have noticeably increased after the spreading out of the Prophet Mohammed cartoons issue, and many defacements, like those by Yanis, clearly show, sometimes violently and offensively, their blame for Danish and more generally Western attitude.

Relating to this point, the French magistrate charged a heavy count of indictment on Yanis, who is accused of “Apology of war crime and incitation to racial hate”, because of his hacking activity on Danish websites. The accusation focuses on his commitment in the boycott campaign against Danish products.

More here.