Saturday, April 08, 2006

U.S. Is Studying Military Strike Options on Iran

Image source:

Folks, we need to impeach Bush as soon as humanly possible.

Or at least ensure that no remnants remain of his adminstration when he is out of office in 2009 -- that means getting out to vote Republicans out of office in November 2006.

Make sure you VOTE.

This man is a danger to us all.

And before you think I'm some liberal Democratic alarmist, let me assure you otherwise -- I'm a U.S. Army combat veteran who voted for George W, Bush, and now (embrassingly), I'm eager to say I was wrong. Dead wrong. Call me a Libertarian now, if you will.

I am quite alarmed at his abuse of power, and his adminstration's assault on our individual liberties, our constitutional freedoms, his fundamental christian "inspirations", and his ability to annhiliate the American people in all shapes and forms.

Be afraid -- be very afraid of this man.

Peter Baker, Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks write in The Washington Post:

The Bush administration is studying options for military strikes against Iran as part of a broader strategy of coercive diplomacy to pressure Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear development program, according to U.S. officials and independent analysts.

No attack appears likely in the short term, and many specialists inside and outside the U.S. government harbor serious doubts about whether an armed response would be effective. But administration officials are preparing for it as a possible option and using the threat "to convince them this is more and more serious," as a senior official put it.

According to current and former officials, Pentagon and CIA planners have been exploring possible targets, such as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan. Although a land invasion is not contemplated, military officers are weighing alternatives ranging from a limited airstrike aimed at key nuclear sites, to a more extensive bombing campaign designed to destroy an array of military and political targets.

More here.

9 April 1919: Happy Birthday, J. Presper Eckert


John Presper Eckert
Image source: IEEE Virtual Museum

Via Wikipedia.

John Presper Eckert, a computer pioneer, was born April 9, 1919 in Philadelphia and died June 3, 1995 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Together with John W. Mauchly he constructed the ENIAC, sometimes considered the first electronic digital computer, from 1941-1945 (but see John Vincent Atanasoff and Atanasoff-Berry Computer for conflicting claims). Mauchly concentrated on the overall design while Eckert constructed the electronic circuits.

Both Eckert and Mauchly left the Moore School at the University of Pennsylvania in March 1946, mainly because of two reasons: in that year, the University of Pennsylvania adopted a new patent policy to protect the intellectual purity of the research it sponsored, which would have required Eckert and Mauchly to assign all their patents to the university had they stayed beyond March; and the conflict over widely-adopted term von Neumann architecture that ignores the developers of the ENIAC, viz. Mauchly and Eckert among others who also devised the stored-program concept when they understood the limitations of ENIAC.

Herman Lukoff credits Eckert with the idea of the stored program.) Eckert and Mauchly's agreement with the University of Pennsylvania was that Eckert and Mauchly retained the patent rights to the ENIAC but the University could license it to the government and non-profit organizations. The University wanted to change the agreement so that they would also have commercial rights to the patent.

Eckert and Mauchly started up the Electronic Control Company which built the Binary Automatic Computer (BINAC). One of the major advances of this machine, which was used from August 1950, was that data was stored on magnetic tape rather than on punched cards. Electronic Control Company soon became the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and it received an order from the National Bureau of Standards to build the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC). In 1950, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation ran into financial troubles and was acquired by Remington Rand Corporation. The UNIVAC I was finished in December 1950.

Eckert remained with Remington Rand and became an executive within the company. He continued with Remington Rand as it merged with the Burroughs Corporation to become Unisys in 1986. In 1989, Eckert retired from Unisys but continued to act as a consultant for the company. He died of leukemia in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA.

More here.

Defense Tech: Bunker Busters Readied -- Iran Attack Near?

Image source: Defense Tech

Via Defense Tech.

As you've probably heard by now, Sy Hersh has a new scoop: that planning for an attack on Iran is further along than you think, and that nukes might be involved:

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. Natanz... reportedly has underground floor space to hold fifty thousand centrifuges, and laboratories and workspaces buried approximately seventy-five feet beneath the surface. That number of centrifuges could provide enough enriched uranium for about twenty nuclear warheads a year...

The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.

More here.

Spanish Police Swoop in on Internet Pornography and Piracy

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

Spanish police arrested 28 people in major operations targeting Internet child pornography and media piracy, police and the interior ministry said.

Police arrested 15 people suspected of involvement in piracy -- mainly computer engineers and members of Internet service companies -- in an operation the ministry described as "without precedent in Europe".

In a separate operation, police arrested 13 men aged 20 to 68, suspected of accessing a file-sharing site featuring a video of an adult raping a nine-year-old girl.

More here.

Comedy Central: Leading A Humor Revolution

Frank Ahrens writes in The Washington Post:

Launched on cable in 1991, Comedy Central was, for most of that decade, a small-viewership niche channel that was probably best known for the cult show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and being the first home of Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect."

That all changed in 1997 when "South Park" debuted, boosting the channel's audience and transforming it into a mainstream success -- and, indeed, must-see viewing for many now, with "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."

Similarly, over the past few years, the channel -- which, like MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon, is owned by Viacom Inc. -- has developed a broad and deep Web site full of repurposed content seen on television and added Web-only material.

More here.

MIT Pranksters Nab Caltech Cannon

Caltech’s cannon was purloined by pranksters and turned up in front
of MIT’s Green Building Thursday morning.

Image source: LA Times / Grant Jordan / The Tech

Arin Gincer writes in The LA Times:

In the ongoing battle of the nerds between Caltech and MIT, the latest volley has been fired from a 130-year-old cannon.

Actually, the latest volley is a cannon.

Massachusetts pranksters, posing as professional movers, stole the beloved Fleming Cannon — traditionally fired at each year's commencement — from the Pasadena campus last week.

On Thursday it popped up, pointed toward Pasadena and adorned with an oversized Massachusetts Institute of Technology school ring, at the Cambridge campus next to a plaque referring to Caltech as "its previous owners."

The plaque explained that the students created the phony "Howe & Ser Moving Company" and used fake work-order forms to get past Caltech campus security guards. After that, a real shipping company toted the 2-ton relic across the country.

More here.

Yes! Rolling Stones Ride Roughshod Over China’s Censors

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs in the 8,000-seat Shanghai Grand
Stage in Shanghai, China, on Saturday.

Image source: MSNBC / Greg Baker / AP

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The Rolling Stones rode roughshod over China’s censors during their first show in the communist country on Saturday, serenading a largely foreign crowd with songs about Satan, sleaze bags and serial killers.

Much was made before their Shanghai show of a ban on playing five songs, including concert standards “Honky Tonk Women,” and “Brown Sugar.” But they managed to toss a few risque tunes into their two-hour set at the Shanghai Grand Stage.

“It’s nice to be here, the first time we’ve played in China,” Mick Jagger told the boisterous 8,000-strong crowd, as the Stones made their China debut after two failed attempts dating as far back as 1980. “It’s fantastic,” he said.

More here.

User Friendly: Google Loathing


Click for larger image.

First Images from Mars Orbiter's High Resolution Camera Wow Researchers

This is the first color image of Mars from the HiRISE.
This is not natural color as seen by human eyes, but infrared color.
This image also has been processed to enhance subtle color variations.

Image source: NASA / JPL

David Leonard writes on

Scientists are delighted with early shakeout shots by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter using its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

Late last week, another series of test images were released by the HiRISE Operations Center (HiROC) at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson.

HiRISE is the newest and most powerful camera now orbiting the red planet. Test images of Mars using the equipment were taken on March 23 and on March 25.

"The images are wonderful," said Alfred McEwen, leader of the HiRISE instrument at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "We’re learning a great deal about how to best acquire and process these giant images from our very complicated camera," he explained in a university press statement.

More here.

Google Wi-Fi Plan Stirs Big Brother Concerns

Verne Kopytoff writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

Privacy advocates are raising concerns about Google Inc.'s plans to cover San Francisco with free wireless Internet access, calling the company's proposal to track users' locations a potential gold mine of information for law enforcement and private litigators.

The Mountain View search engine intends to use the geographic data to match users with advertising so that they would see marketing messages from neighborhood businesses such as pizza parlors, cafes and book stores.

More here.

'Megahacker' Extradited from Argentina to Spain

An AFP newswire article, via, reports that:

A 24-year-old Spanish man arrived in Madrid on Friday to face accusations of hacking hundreds of thousands of Euros from bank accounts after being extradited from Argentina.

Jose Manuel Garcia Rodriguez arrived at Madrid's Barajas airport from Buenos Aires flanked by two Interpol officers seven months after Argentine authorities detained him.

He is accused of breaking into bank accounts after illegally obtaining the owners' passwords.

Garcia Rodriguez fled Spain two years ago and was the subject of nine international warrants for his arrest, including three issued by a Madrid court.

More here.

Concern Over Pervasive RFID Tagging Spreads to Europe

RFID tag
Image source: BBC

David Reid writes for The BBC:

For all the benefits the technology promises, the roll-out of RFID is in danger of being derailed by the public's perception of it.

A Christian author in the US, for example, has just published a book claiming RFID will evolve into the mark of the beast featured in Revelations and presage the end of the world.

The technology has also attracted criticism from more moderate voices.

Among these is Vint Cerf. He is one of the inventors of the internet and is now employed by Google as the company's internet evangelist.

More here.

Lara Croft Raids Guinness World Records

Matt Chapman writes on

Lara Croft has stolen the title of most successful human videogame heroine in the world in the Guinness World Records.

Guinness World Records said it was making the award because the star of the Tomb Raider series of games had transcended the boundaries of videogames and become a recognisable figure in mainstream society.

More here.

Friday, April 07, 2006

8 April 1869: Happy Birthday, Harvey Cushing


Stamp issued by the United States Postal Service commemorating Harvey Cushing.
Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

Harvey Williams Cushing (April 8, 1869 - October 7, 1939) was an American neurosurgeon and a pioneer of brain surgery. He is considered by many the greatest neurosurgeon of the 20th century. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Cushing graduated from Yale, where he was a member of Scroll and Key, studied medicine at Harvard Medical School and graduated in 1895.

He completed his internship at Massachusetts General Hospital and then studied surgery under the guidance of a famous surgeon, William Stewart Halsted, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore. During his medical career he was a surgeon at this hospital, at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and as professor of surgery at the Harvard Medical School. From 1933, until his death, he worked at Yale University.

In the beginning of the 20th century he developed many of the basic surgical techniques for operating on the brain. This establised him as one of the foremost leaders and experts in the field. Under his influence neurosurgery became a new and autonomous surgical discipline.

More here.

DHS Official Had Previous Pornography Incident

Justine Redman writes on

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman charged with soliciting a minor over the Internet was disciplined in a previous job after an incident in which pornographic images were seen on an office computer, his friends and former co-workers said.

Brian Doyle resigned from his Homeland Security Department post Friday, his 56th birthday.

Doyle remains in a Maryland detention center where he awaits extradition to Polk County, Florida. There he is charged with seven counts of solicitation of a minor and 16 counts of transmitting pornographic material to a minor. An extradition hearing is scheduled for May 4.

More here.

Freescale and Motorola Ditch the UWB Forum

Image source: Engadget

Paul Miller writes over on Engadget:

This could be a bloody one.

After Bluetooth SIG picked the WiMedia Alliance last week for their Bluetooth successor -- and with hopes to end the bickering between WiMedia Alliance and the UWB Forum -- Motorola and Freescale, founding members of the UWB Forum, are splitting off to do their own "Cable Free USB" thing.

More here.

Update: Child Porn Charge Against DoD IPv6 Director Dropped

Patience Wait writes on

Two weeks after a Defense Information Systems Agency official was arrested on a charge of child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s office handling the case dropped the charge. But a spokeswoman in the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the investigation is continuing.

“This is an ongoing investigation, so we don’t have any comments,” the spokeswoman said.

Charles Lynch, director of DISA’s IP version 6 transition program, was arrested March 8 and indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia the next day on one count of possessing child pornography.

According to a statement by the DOD Inspector General’s Office, court documents alleged that Lynch had been operating a peer-to-peer file-sharing program on a computer in his office at DISA. Agents confiscated several computers and more than 1,000 CDs from Lynch’s office.

Lynch, 44, is on leave without pay from DISA.

More here.

Judge OKs AOL Class-Action Settlement

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

A judge has approved a $2.65 billion class-action settlement of claims that advertising revenue was counted in a fraudulent manner prior to the merger of America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc.

U.S. District Judge Shirley Wohl Kram signed a ruling approving the deal Thursday. She had given the settlement tentative approval in September 2005.

The settlement resulted from lawsuits brought by shareholders who complained that AOL improperly accounted for dozens of advertising transactions, inflating revenue for 15 quarters between 1998 and 2002.

More here.

Microsoft Looks to Thwart 'Typosquatters' With New Tool

Ryan Narain writes on eWeek:

Microsoft Research has released a new tool to help pinpoint large-scale typo-squatters that are known to be gaming pay-per-click domain parking services.

The lightweight prototype, called Strider URL Tracer, builds on the work within Microsoft's Cybersecurity and Systems Management group to keep tabs on a sophisticated typos-quatting scheme that uses multilayer URL redirection to make money from Google's AdSense for domains program.

Yi-Min Wang, who heads up the group's work in Redmond, Wash., said URL Tracer can be used as a parental control tool to block inappropriate ads from being served from Web sites that are set up to deliberately lure kids who accidentally misspell a popular domain.

One live example, Wang said, is the way the virtual pet site at has been targeted by typo-squatters to serve pornographic-themed ads if it is misspelled. One such misspelling,, is currently serving ads promising naked photos of Britney Spears or other adult images.

More here.

Aussies Seek Input on Telstra Sale

A UPI news brief, via, reports that:

Australian Finance Minister Nick Minchin will visit European and Japanese investors later this month to discuss the proposed sale of telco Telstra.

Minchin wants to get an idea of how much interest there is in world financial circles in the planned sale of the government's 51.8-percent stake in Telstra.

More here.

Wiretap Whistleblower: Mark Klein's Statement

Via Wired News.

Former AT&T technician Mark Klein has come forward to support the EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged complicity in the NSA's electronic surveillance.

Here, Wired News publishes Klein's public statement in its entirety.

More here.

StreamCast to Seek Trial in Copyright Case

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

StreamCast Inc., the company behind the Morpheus online file-swapping software, said Friday negotiations to settle a five-year copyright battle with the entertainment industry have failed and it will now fight the case in court.

"I am really disappointed that we weren't able to reach settlement terms with the plaintiffs," said StreamCast CEO Michael Weiss. "Now we want our day in court."

The company planned to file a motion with U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles later in the day seeking a jury trial and responding to a demand for summary judgment by the Hollywood movie studios and recording industry plaintiffs, Weiss said.

More here.

How The Anti-Virus Industry Is Turning A White Hat Black, or (at least) Gray

Via eMail Battles.

On the 28th day of December 2005, Tibbar encrypted the public version of Hacker Defender, the world-famous Windows rootkit. At the same time, the anonymous author unleashed codeCrypter on the web.

Then Tibbar waited.

On the first of March 2006, Tibbar ("Rabbit" spelled backwards) submitted the codeCrypter'd Hacker Defender to VirusTotal, an online virus testing service used by white and black hats alike.

The results were dispiriting. Despite two months' warning, just four of 24 anti-virus engines recognized Tibbar's creation: BitDefender, Ikarus, NOD32 and VBA32. Three a/v engines, CAT-QuickHeal, Fortinet and Panda, spotted something they considered suspicious.

Tibbar waited three weeks, then tried again at a different malware scanner: Jotti. The results were slightly more encouraging. This time, AntiVir, BitDefender, Dr. Web, Fortinet, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, NOD32 and VBA32 caught him. AVG AntiVirus caught a generic backdoor. That's eight of 15 vendors. Better.

On the fifth of April, Jack Koziol took up the gauntlet at Ethical Hacking and Computer Forensics. He packaged and resubmitted the codeCrypter'd Hacker Defender rootkit to VirusTotal. Sadly, his list of worthies expanded by only one. Kaspersky found the rootkit.

More here.

UK Politicians Shun .EU Domain Names

Mark Ward writes for The BBC:

The .eu net domain has been almost ignored by Britain's three main political parties.

Neither Labour, the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats have yet grabbed a .eu domain to match their party name.

The Conservative Party applied for two .eu domains but failed to get them because it missed a paperwork deadline.

More here.

Homeland Cyber-Sex Case Causes Concern

A "misstep"?

An AP/CBS News article, via CBS News, reports that:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday he did not believe a department official's alleged sexual misconduct resulted in a breach of national security, calling the case an individual's "misstep."

"From time to time, there will be instances when misconduct occurs," Chertoff said, referring to the arrest Tuesday of Brian J. Doyle, the department's fourth-ranking spokesman, on charges of sexually preying on a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl.

More here.

House Subpoenas Phone Data Sites

Roy Mark writes on

Web sites selling confidential consumer telephone data are refusing to comply with a U.S. House of Representatives' request for information, prompting the Energy and Commerce Committee to issue subpoenas to a dozen companies.

The move is the latest in an ongoing investigation into the Internet sale of phone records and other personal information. In March, the committee approved legislation outlawing the sale of the records.

More here.

Court Filings Tell of Internet Spying

Via The New York Times.

A former AT&T technician said on Thursday that the company cooperated with the National Security Agency in 2003 to install equipment capable of "vacuum-cleaner surveillance" of e-mail messages and other Internet traffic.

A statement by the technician, Mark Klein, and several company documents he saved after retiring in 2004, were filed on Wednesday in a class-action lawsuit against AT&T. The suit, filed in January in federal court in San Francisco by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, says the company helped the security agency invade its customers' privacy. The documents provided by Mr. Klein were filed under seal because of concerns about disclosing proprietary information.

Mr. Klein's documents, some of which he had provided to The New York Times, describe a room at the AT&T Internet and telephone hub in San Francisco that contained a piece of equipment that could sift through large volumes of Internet traffic.

More here.

Domain Registrar Exposes Customer Data

Jeremy Kirk writes on InfoWorld:

A database problem with a U.S. domain name registrar exposed sensitive financial and personal information relating to thousands of domain name registrations, a Dutch company said Friday., of New York, fixed the problem shortly after being notified Thursday, said Nico Vandendries, chief executive officer of Strongwood, a private investigation company based in the Netherlands.

More here.

More Dirt: Direct Revenue Uses a PI to Hunt Down Antispyware Researcher

Direct Revenue again. What scumbags.

Props to Alex Eckelberry over on the Sunbelt Blog, who writes:

Ben Edelman has been posting new documents from the New York Attny General’s lawsuit as fast as he can. There’s much more that’s been posted, including a couple of emails from one of the VC firms that invested in them.

There’s also a number of references to “WebHelper”, who is actually now our spyware researcher Patrick Jordan (he joined us in July of last year but had been doing consulting work for us several months prior to his coming on board), and we now find he was being researched by a private investigator, as this email from Gary Kibel at Direct Revenue’s law firm shows.

More here.

Norway Aims to Reduce Microsoft Dependence

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

The Norwegian government said Friday it will increase its use of freely shared, open-source software to reduce its dependency on large computer companies like Microsoft Corp.

The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform said measures to increase use of open-source programs include a specialist panel to set standards for public information.

The government statement said the project will also set standards to allow various operating systems to communicate with one another.

More here.

Video Games Get Very, Very Naughty

In "Naughty America: The Game," players meet, flirt and have sex.
Image source: CNN

An AP newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

Online games have so far mainly revolved around the killing of fantasy monsters. The occasional fight with a Stormtrooper provides some variety.

Companies are now developing a handful of games -- though calling them that is a stretch -- designed to give players a very different option: making love, not war.

In "Naughty America: The Game," set to launch early this summer, players will assume the forms of alluring but cartoonish people who meet, flirt and have sex with other player characters.

More here.

Spy Tech: Teddy Bear Surveillance Camera

Image source: OhGizmo!

Andrew Liszewski writes on OhGizmo!:

Another day, another teeny camera hidden away somewhere unexpected. This time it’s a high resolution (NTSC or PAL) CMOS sensor stashed inside your standard teddy bear.

It has a built in 2.4 GHz transmitter which will allow you to monitor the camera VIA the included hand held remote’s 1.5 inch screen. Or the signal can be sent to a TV or VCR/Computer to be recorded for later review. The bear also has infrared illumination to facilitate a clear image even in a dark room.

UK: New Site Launched for Disgruntled Wanadoo Subscribers

Tim Richardson writes on The Register:

Wanadoo punters in the UK who've lost their broadband connection after being migrated to the ISP's LLU platform are being urged to air their problems on a new online forum.

Wanadoo Problems has been set up by fed-up Wanadoo punter Kevin Ellis, who has been without broadband now for eight weeks. As well as paying for a service he cannot use, he's also spent around £35 on calls to Wanadoo's helpline to try and resolve his problem.

More here.

Airlines Put Communications Company Up For Sale

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

ARINC, a 77-year-old military and aviation communications company owned primarily by the nation's largest airlines, is up for sale after more than a year of deliberations about how to raise the capital necessary to grow.

No potential buyers have yet come forward.

The Annapolis, Md.-based company, which had $890 million in revenue in 2005, derives two-thirds of its business from the U.S. military, for whom it provides wireless systems that allow all branches to communicate over multiple devices. Its systems are also the backbone for some 95 percent of the U.S. airline industry's air-to-ground communications, and roughly 70 percent of the global air-to-ground market.

More here.

User Friendly: More Wikipedia, Britannica, Nature


Click for larger image.

F-Secure: Direct Revenue Hate Mail

Image source: F-Secure

An instant classic.

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

In case we didn’t already know – people don’t like Spyware. Well, they really don’t like Spyware. The New York Attorney General's office has brought suit for illegal practices against Direct Revenue and the exhibits make for interesting reading. Ben Edelman has a copy of the case documents here. Exhibit 5 has more than a few examples of the hate mail that Direct Revenue received.

This is one of the less vulgar.

More here.

Defense Tech: High Energy Laser End-to-End Operational Simulation

Image source: Defense Tech

Haninah Levine writes on Defense Tech:

Let's say you're an Air Force bigwig. You need to decide whether to invest in some shiny new directed energy weapon. Sure, "attack at the speed of light" sounds mighty good, but will the weapon actually work under the conditions you’re interested in, or will it run into some obstacle – like, the atmosphere?

You can't just test-fire a mockup – because nothing similar exists yet, and, more importantly, because these things don't really scale very neatly. The experiences of other DE programs have got you worried.

Well, now there's a computer model to help you predict just how a high-energy laser (HEL) weapon will behave under real conditions. The High Energy Laser End-to-End Operational Simulation (HELEEOS), described in this upcoming paper, is the outcome of a multi-year, joint effort to create such a planning tool for use throughout the DOD and the military.

More here.

Distraction: Weird Fortune Cookies.

Props to John Paczkowski.

Crossplatform Virus - The Latest Proof of Concept

Via The Kaspersky Analyst's Blog.

We’ve received a new sample: another cross platform virus. This sample is the latest attempt to create malicious code which will infect both Linux and Win32 systems. It’s therefore been given a double name: Virus.Linux.Bi.a/ Virus.Win32.Bi.a

The virus is written in assembler and is relatively simple: it only infects files in the current directory. However, it is interesting in that it is capable of infecting the different file formats used by Linux and Windows - ELF and PE format files respectively.

More here.

Netcraft: March 2006 Hosting Reliability Survey

Via Netcraft.

Hostopia is the most reliable hosting company site this month, followed by Verio and iPowerWeb. This is the first appearance in our reliability rankings for Hostopia, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and specializes in the wholesale hosting market, offering private-label web and application hosting plans for resellers.

This month's results showcase the reliability of the shared hosting sector, which traditionally offers the most affordable hosting. Three of the providers in the top 10 - iPowerWeb, Interland and - offer hosting plans for less than $10 a month, while another five have entry-level accounts priced below $20. While price competition in recent years has tightened profit margins for many providers, hosting customers are finding that peak reliability and connectivity are more affordable than ever.

Three Linux sites are found in the top 10 this month, three on FreeBSD, two on Windows and two on Solaris.

More here.

Tomb Raider Delayed in U.S. Because of Breasts

Image source: XBoxic

Nick Farrell writes on The Inquirer:

The US launch of Tomb Raider: Legend has been delayed because a couple of scenes accidentally had a pair of breasts in the background.

We all know that next to Saudi Arabia, America has a terrible fear of breasts, despite the fact that half of the population have got them and the other half would like a pair to play with. But to avoid a repeat of the Nipplegate crisis that gripped America, the game’s release has been delayed.

Apparently the game contains a chapter set in Tokyo, where several women are dancing in the distance. The animators had initially modeled all the women naked, so they could simply drape different dresses around them later. For the sake of completeness they gave them nipples, as you do.

More here.

Google: Peek-a-Boo, We See You

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Internet search leader Google Inc. and service provider EarthLink were selected to provide a basic free wi-fi Internet service covering the entire city of San Francisco.

Google, which gets for 99 percent of its revenues from advertising, hopes to defray the costs of offering a free service through contextual advertising.

Google says users linking up with wi-fi transmitters placed around cities can be located to within a couple of blocks. This would open up a new level of advertising opportunities for the company, allowing it to serve tightly focused ads on its web pages from local businesses in the immediate area.

More here.

H-1B Visa Law Criticized

K. Oanh Ha writes in The Mercury News:

When a Sunnyvale tech company laid off the manager and most of his colleagues in its reliability testing group a year and a half ago, the manager said a few employees were spared -- younger, foreign workers on H-1B visas.

The laid-off manager was infuriated that as an American citizen, he wasn't given priority over the H-1B employees. The H-1B visa program allows employers to hire skilled foreign workers when there's a shortage of available American workers.

As Congress debates nearly doubling the number of highly skilled guest worker visas next year to 115,000, calls are mounting for an overhaul of Department of Labor's Foreign Labor Certification program. Critics have long charged that the foreign-worker program doesn't fulfill its primary mission: protecting American workers. They want stronger laws to preserve American jobs and argue the current system is prone to abuse and fraud.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Corporate Has-Beens

Via Enjoy!

UK: Huge DVD Piracy Factory Uncovered

Via The BBC.

Five people have been arrested in a police raid on what is thought to be the largest DVD piracy factory discovered in the UK.

The Metropolitan Police's film piracy unit found more than 60 DVD copying machines and 30,000 blank discs in the search of the east London premises.

Officers said the factory in an industrial estate in Leyton was capable of producing 2,700 DVDs an hour.

More here.

F.B.I. and Justice Dept. Are Faulted Over Child Predators on Web

Joshua Brockman writes in The New York Times:

Lawmakers from both parties continued on Thursday to question the commitment of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to halting the online exploitation of children. They also accused the agencies of failing to provide major witnesses for a Congressional investigation into the matter.

House members voiced their protest before and after testimony on the second day of hearings of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, part of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The tenor of the hearings, which focused on law enforcement efforts to capture online predators and rescue child victims, signaled that a showdown might be imminent.

More here.

390,000 Applications for .EU Names in the First 100 Minutes

A MacCentral article by Paul Meller, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The registry for the .eu top level domain (TLD) received 390,000 applications in the first 100 minutes after registration was opened to all residents of the European Union, E.U. Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said Friday.

"At this speed, .eu will become a real competitor to .com," Reding said in a news conference Friday.

The .eu registry operator, Eurid vzw, has approved a number of registrars around the E.U. to handle applications.

More here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

7 April 1964: Happy Birthday, IBM System/360


Image source: IBM

Via Wikipedia.

The IBM System/360 (S/360) is a mainframe computer system family announced by International Business Machines on April 7, 1964. It was the first family of computers making a clear distinction between architecture and implementation. The chief architect of the S/360 was Gene Amdahl.

The S/360 was the most expensive CPU project in history. (The most expensive project of the 1960s was the Apollo program for moon exploration. IBM's System/360 was the second most expensive. S/360 machines were also heavily used in the Apollo project.) Fortune Magazine at the time referred to the project as IBM's "$5 billion gamble," and they were right. IBM absolutely bet the company on the System/360. (US$5 billion in 1964 dollars translates to about $30 billion in 2005 dollars.) The bet paid off.

More here.

Texas Instruments, NEC, Matsushita Consider 3G Partnership

Via Reuters.

Top mobile phone chip supplier Texas Instruments Inc., NEC Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. are in talks over possible cooperation in cellphones, Matsushita and NEC said on Friday.

NEC's chip unit, NEC Electronics Corp., and the cellphone unit of Matsushita, Panasonic Mobile Communications Co., are involved in the talks, they said, adding that nothing concrete has been decided.

But a source close to the talks said the five companies are aiming to set up a joint venture to develop microchips and software used in W-CDMA third-generation (3G) mobile phones to cut costs.

ore here.

DoD IPv6 Director Arrested on Possession of Child Porn

Holy shit.

Patience Wait writes on

A high-ranking Defense Department IT official has been arrested and indicted on child pornography charges.

Charles Lynch, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Internet Protocol version 6 transition program, was arrested March 8 and indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia the next day on one count of possessing child pornography.

According to a statement by the DOD Inspector General’s Office, court documents allege that Lynch had been operating a peer-to-peer file-sharing program on a computer in his office at DISA. Agents confiscated several computers and more than 1,000 CDs from Lynch’s office. Agents found child pornography in computer file folders, the IG’s statement said.

Lynch, 44, is on leave without pay from DISA. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

More here.

World's First Standalone Kernel Mode Bot?

Via eMail Battles.

A European student has just developed a Proof of Concept for what the developer believes is the world's first kernel mode IRCbot.

The creator, Tibbar ("Rabbit" spelled backwards), says the difference between this innovation and standard Windows rootkits lies in its crossover ability. Most Windows-based rootkits hide in device drivers, then depend on outside, usermode applications to get anything done.

More here.

U.S. Attorney General Won't Rule Out Warrantless Wiretaps of Purely Domestic Nature

Adam Schiff (D-CA)

Press release from the Office of Congressman Adam Schiff.

During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the NSA's secret domestic wiretapping program.

The Administration has cited the Authorization to Use Military Force and the commander in chief powers as authorizing the NSA to intercept international communications into and out of the U.S. of persons linked to al Qaeda or related terrorist organizations.

After citing his concerns that there was no limiting principle to the Administration's claim of authority in the War on Terror, Rep. Schiff asked the Attorney General whether the Administration believes it has the authority to wiretap purely domestic calls between two Americans without seeking a warrant.

"I’m not going to rule it out," responded the Attorney General.

More here.

(Thanks, Declan.)

Sprint Nextel Prepares to Take on DSL Providers

Marguerite Reardon writes on C|Net News:

Sprint Nextel is preparing to take on the big phone companies in the broadband market.

The assault on DSL is coming quietly, but recent announcements and development in Sprint's technology indicate that the company believes it can be the third pipe into the home--a pipe that would challenge the phone companies' DSL service and perhaps would rival even faster-than-DSL cable-modem service.

On Tuesday, Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, announced the Wireless-G Router for Mobile Broadband (WRT54G3G-NA), which allows Sprint mobile broadband customers to plug their broadband card, used to connect their laptops wirelessly, in to the PC Card slot on the router. The EV-DO mobile broadband connection is then turned into a shared 802.11g Wi-Fi connection. The companies are showing off the new router at the CTIA Wireless 2006 trade show here this week.

More here.

AccessLine Expands VoIP Services to Austin, San Antonio

Via The Austin Business Journal.

AccessLine Communications, a Voice over Internet Protocol services supplier in Bellevue, Wash., expanded its market footprint to Central Texas.

The company now serves an area that extends from San Antonio through Austin to Round Rock. AccessLine will market local, long-distance and toll-free services to small- and medium-sized businesses. It markets these services under the SmartVoice Service brand.

More here.

FTC, California Attorney General Halt Illegal Spam Operation

Via The U.S. FTC Website.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General of California have brought a permanent halt to an operation that sent millions of spam messages that violated federal and state laws. The settlement will bar future violations of the spam laws, will require the operators to monitor affiliates closely to assure that they are not violating state and federal laws, and requires that they give up approximately $475,000 in ill-gotten gains.

In April 2005, the FTC and the Attorney General of California charged that the defendants used third-party affiliates or “button pushers” to send spam hawking mortgage loans and other products and services. The operation used hyperlinks in the spam to refer consumers to Web sites operated by the defendants. Consumers forwarded more than 1.8 million of the defendants' e-mail messages to the FTC. Those messages demonstrated that the defendants were violating almost every provision of the CAN-SPAM Act, the law enforcers said.

More here.

Haywired: Feuding Owners in Court Over 'Lewd' Website

An AP newswire article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

Two feuding businessmen are headed to court, after one man created lewd images of the other and posted them on the Internet, using his rival's business name in the website address.

Richard Boucher, owner of Boucher's Furniture Store in Milford [New Hampshire], acknowledges creating the site, which showed a photo of Nick D'Augustine's face superimposed on a pornographic image, and another manipulated to show a penis attached to D'Augustine's head.

Boucher said his actions may have been wrong, but he was trying to even the score with D'Augustine, owner of Oak Furniture Store in Amherst, whom he accuses of trying to ruin his business.

More here.

Gapingvoid: This Is My One Shot

Via Enjoy!

Patch Tuesday: Microsoft to Patch 5 Vulnerabilites

Via Microsoft.

On 11 April 2006 Microsoft is planning to release:

Security Updates

  • Four Microsoft Security Bulletin affecting Microsoft Windows. The highest Maximum Severity rating for these is Critical. Some of these updates will require a restart. These updates will be detectable using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer and the Enterprise Scan Tool. One of the updates will be a cumulative Internet Explorer update that addresses the publicly known "CreateTextRange" vulnerability.
  • One Microsoft Security Bulletin affecting Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows. The highest Maximum Severity rating for this is Moderate. These updates may require a restart. These updates will be detectable using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer and the Enterprise Scanning Tool.

Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

  • Microsoft will release an updated version of the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool on Windows Update, Microsoft Update, Windows Server Update Services and the Download Center.

More here.

Banks Rap Internet Anti-Gambling Proposal

Roy Mark writes on

Legislation designed to put a dent in Internet gambling ran into opposition Wednesday from the banking industry and, surprisingly, the Traditional Values Coalition.

The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act proposes to make it illegal for Americans to use the Internet for gambling and would authorize law enforcement officials to stop credit card payments and other forms of electronic payments.

"Our concern is that the added burden of monitoring all payment transactions for the taint of Internet gambling will drain finite resources currently engaged in complying with anti-terrorism, anti-money laundering regulations and the daily operation of our bank," Samuel Vallandingham, representing the Independent Bankers of America, told a House subcommittee.

Vallandingham added, "Ultimately, we question whether the Internet gambling bills currently before the House will efficiently regulate the targeted behavior at a level which will justify the time and expense required by community banks to comply with another level of regulation."

More here.

Japanese Companies Checking Employee PC Use

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

For many years now, companies have been able to keep track of every Web site visited, e-mail sent and file accessed by their workers through readily available tracking software.

Now a growing number of Japanese employers are monitoring their staff with the help of homegrown programs designed to spy on their workers' every move, a specialist said Thursday.

A recent study has shown that over 30 percent of large Japanese companies monitor PC use among their staff, according to Masakazu Kobayashi, an associate professor at Tokyo's Institute of Information Security.

More here.

'Virtual University of Terror' Housed on Internet, Group Says

A Canadian Press article by Gregory Bonnell, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

Senior federal cabinet ministers will be handed a "snapshot" today of how terrorists have dramatically increased their Internet presence during the past year to create a "virtual university of terrorism."

The more than 6,000 terror- and hate-related websites catalogued by the U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center in its annual report represent a 20-per-cent increase over last year, Rabbi Abraham Cooper said.

More here.

Nanotech Product Recalled in Germany

Rick Weiss writes in The Washington Post:

Government officials in Germany have reported what appears to be the first health-related recall of a nanotechnology product, raising a potential public perception problem for the rapidly growing but still poorly understood field of science.

At least 77 people reported severe respiratory problems over a one-week period at the end of March -- including six who were hospitalized with pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs -- after using a "Magic Nano" bathroom cleansing product, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin.

More here.

Defense Tech: Iraqi Army Personnel Retinal Scanning

Image source: Defense Tech

Via Defense Tech.

In Iraq, it's tough to sort out who's an ally, and who's Al Qaeda. So the Marines are giving Iraqi Army recruits the biometric once over.

According to Security Products magazine, the Marines are using the Biometric Automated Toolset System, which relies, in part, on iris recognition to provide "extremely accurate identification (false acceptance rate is 1 in 1.2 million), performing both un-tethered and tethered enrollment authentication."

This specific recognition device represents each individual iris as a small, 512-byte IrisCode and can function as a standalone device or in combination with custom network applications for identity recognition, security and tracking...

More here.

Canada: ATM Bandits Sentenced to Jail Term

A Canadian Press article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

A New Brunswick judge has sentenced a Montreal couple to several years of prison for ripping off banking machine customers in four provinces.

Steve Marino, 22, and Laura Rebecca Meyer-Diaz, 20, were in Moncton provincial court yesterday before Judge Sylvio Savoie.

After their guilty pleas to 801 fraud-related charges, the judge sentenced them to three years in prison, with credit given for the equivalent of 10 months already served in remand.

The pair attached equipment to ATMs to capture the information on bank cards, as well as a camera to record personal identification numbers.

More here.

User Friendly: Wikipedia, Britannica, Nature


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Revenue Hunger: AT&T Calls for Chinese Telecom Deregulation

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN/Money, reports that:

The largest U.S. provider of landline and wireless services, AT&T Inc., urged China Thursday to stimulate competition and innovation by deregulating its telecommunications sector.

Rising global competition and rapidly developing Internet technology were compelling reasons for regulators to re-examine and update their policies, Forrest Miller, AT&T group president, told a group of industry executives.

More here.

Those Whacky Chinese Fashions: Keyboard Shoes!

Image source: TechEBlog

Via TechEBlog.

These keyboard shoes are currently on display at the "14th China International Clothing and Accessories Fair" in Beijing.

From the article: "The computer keyboard shoes displayed above have just won the top prize in the sports category at the 6th Hong Kong Footwear Design Contest."

ICANN Board Member Quits

Kieren McCarthy writes on The Register:

A director of internet-overseeing organisation ICANN has resigned from the Board, claiming he will be able to do more working from the outside.

Michael Palage was due to stay on the Board until June 2008 but decided to quit because he says he was unable to participate effectively thanks to conflicts of interest. A key member of ICANN since its inception, Palage is an IP lawyer and IT consultant and has represented a number of internet registrars since 1998. He currently acts as a consultant to big-player Afilias.

His advisory role for companies caused him to abstain on the controversial Board vote over the dotcom registry. And it has also seen he receive a number of threatening letters from right-wing Christians in the United States over the proposed .xxx domain because he had advised the company behind it in its original bid several years earlier.

More here.

Netcraft: April 2006 Web Server Survey

Image source: Netcraft

Via Netcraft.

There are now more than 80 million web sites on the Internet, as the April 2006 survey received responses from 80,655,992 sites, an increase of 3.1 million hostnames from March 2006. The web has doubled in size in the past three years, as the survey hit the 40 million mark in April 2003.

This month's survey brings one of the largest one-month swings in the history of the web server market, as Microsoft gains 4.7 percent share while Apache loses 5.9 percent. The shift is driven by changes at domain registrar Go Daddy, which has just migrated more than 3.5 million hostnames from Linux to Windows.

Go Daddy, which had been the world's largest Linux host, is now the world's largest Windows Server 2003 host, as measured by hostnames. The company said it will shift a total of 4.4 million hostnames to Windows Server 2003.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Love is Like a Butterfly

Via Enjoy!

Singapore Attacked Over Political Blog Censorship

Via The BBC.

The Singapore government has been condemned for gagging political discussion on the web in the run up to the country's parliamentary elections.

The government has extended censorship laws to ban podcasts and videocasts that carry political content.

Websites and blogs are already under strict control and must be registered with the government.

Media watchdog Reporters without Borders said the ban would prevent democratic debate on the net.

More here.

Schneier: Why VoIP Needs Crypto

Bruce Schneier writes on Wired News:

We already have seen how clever criminals have become over the past several years at stealing account information and personal data. I can imagine them eavesdropping on attorneys, looking for information with which to blackmail people. I can imagine them eavesdropping on bankers, looking for inside information with which to make stock purchases. I can imagine them stealing account information, hijacking telephone calls, committing identity theft. On the business side, I can see them engaging in industrial espionage and stealing trade secrets. In short, I can imagine them doing all the things they could never have done with the traditional telephone network.

This is why encryption for VOIP is so important. VOIP calls are vulnerable to a variety of threats that traditional telephone calls are not. Encryption is one of the essential security technologies for computer data, and it will go a long way toward securing VOIP.

The last time this sort of thing came up, the U.S. government tried to sell us something called "key escrow." Basically, the government likes the idea of everyone using encryption, as long as it has a copy of the key.

More here.

AT&T Whistleblower Claims to Document Illegal NSA Surveillance

Declan McCullagh writes on the C|Net News Politics Blog:

Evidence provided by a former AT&T technician proves that the telecommunications company secretly and unlawfully opened its networks to government eavesdroppers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said Thursday.

Alert readers may remember that EFF sued AT&T in January, alleging it illegally cooperated with the National Security Agency's secret eavesdropping program. Then, in an odd twist last week, the Bush administration objected to EFF including some internal AT&T documents in court (the Feds claimed they might be classified).

Now EFF seems to have cleared that up and has filed them in court, although they're still under seal.

EFF claims that it has a sworn statement by Mark Klein, a retired AT&T telecommunications technician -- and several internal AT&T documents -- that show a "dragnet surveillance" has been put into place to facilitate the NSA's controversial surveillance scheme.

Alas, we likely won't know details until the judge decides to release them.

More here.

New Bill Would Clean Up Caller ID

Kevin Poulsen writes on Wired News:

Bipartisan legislation introduced Wednesday in the House of Representatives seeks to outlaw the use of caller ID spoofing techniques "with the intent to deceive the person to whom the call is made."

The bill targets the mostly web-based spoofing services that allow users to make phone calls that appear to be coming from a phone number of the caller's choice. Site operators emphasize that their services are used by private investigators and law enforcement agencies, but spoofing is also popular with fraud artists and pranksters.

More here.

Microsoft to Buy Lionhead Studios

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

Microsoft Corp.'s video-game development arm said Thursday it is buying British game developer Lionhead Studios, creator of the "Fable" series for Microsoft's Xbox console.

The series has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, according to the company.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but under the agreement, Lionhead will develop games exclusively for the Xbox 360 console and platforms operating on Microsoft's Windows operating system.

More here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Genius Alert: Teens Arrested After Posting Firebombing Video on MySpace

An AP newswire article, via USA Today, reports that:

Two teenage boys were arrested on charges of possessing "destructive devices" after a video allegedly showing the duo firebombing an empty airplane hangar was posted online at, a social networking site. Novato police said a tip led them to watch the video, which provided clues for identifying the hangar's location and the teens who were arrested Tuesday. In the clip, two boys each are seen setting off a homemade firebomb, said Novato Police Lt. Jim Laveroni.

The hangar used to be part of Hamilton Air Force Base, which closed in 1976, according to Novato Police Lt. Jim Laveroni. The building suffered damage that investigators described as "minimal."

More here.

Judge OKs Case Against Sex Blog Author

Jessica Cutler
Image source: Kyoko Hamada / The Washington Post

An AP newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

A judge on Wednesday allowed a lawsuit to proceed against Jessica Cutler, the former Senate aide who posted details of her sex life on the Internet.

The case brought by Sen. Mike DeWine's former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Robert Steinbuch, alleges that Cutler engaged in an invasion of his privacy in 2004 by publishing sexually explicit facts about a relationship with Steinbuch.

Cutler was fired from DeWine's staff after the Web log -- which identified her purported sex partners by initials -- created a public sensation.

More here.