Saturday, August 12, 2006

UK: Police Hunt 'Two Dozen' Terror Cells in Britain

Jamie Doward, Ned Temko, Mark Townsend, Urmee Khan and Antony Barnett write in The Observer (Guardian UK):

The full extent of the terror threat facing Britain became apparent last night as security sources revealed that 'up to two dozen' terror investigations were operating across the country and that a number of suspects associated with last week's plot to bring down 10 airliners remained at large.

Pakistani intelligence sources alleged that one of the men arrested in connection with the bomb plot had been held following the London terror attack on 7 July last year. British security sources also linked the present investigation to that atrocity, saying the operation that led to Thursday's arrests began days after the 7 July attack. There are also claims that voicemails discovered after the first attack link the two events.

Pakistani authorities are still searching for at least one suspect thought to be involved in the plot to blow up the planes over the Atlantic using liquid-based bombs. US officials estimate as many as 50 may have been involved.

More here.

Gapingvoid: The PC Turns 25

Via Enjoy!

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The San Francisco Chronicle (AP).

As of Friday, at least 2,598 members of the U.S. military had died in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

More here.

Ariane 5 Puts Two More Satellites Into Orbit

Via Technology News Daily.

On Friday evening, August 11, Arianespace placed two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit: the JCSAT-10 communications satellite for Japanese operator JSAT Corporation, and the Syracuse 3B military communications satellite for the French Ministry of Defense.

Ariane 5 is the only commercial launcher in service capable of simultaneously launching two payloads.

The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Friday, August 11, at 7:15 p.m. local time in Kourou (6:15 p.m. in Washington, D.C., 22:15 GMT, and on Saturday, August 12 at 12:15 a.m. in Paris and 7:15 a.m. in Tokyo).

More here.

Battlefield Tech: U.S. Soldiers Getting Sick Due to Depleted Uranium?

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

It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange juice to wash down all the pills -- morphine, methadone, a muscle relaxant, an antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction. Valium for his nerves.

Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.

Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.

There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one is sure what it is. He believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince anyone caring for him that the military's new favorite weapon has made him terrifyingly sick.

More here.

Judge: Unabomber Items to Be Sold Online

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski
Image source: AP

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

A federal judge has ordered personal items seized in 1996 from Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski's Montana cabin to be sold online.

U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. ruled Thursday that items belonging to Kaczynski including books, tools, clothing and two checkbooks should be sold at a "reasonably advertised Internet auction."

The auction will not include 100 items the government considers to be bomb-making materials, such as writings that contain diagrams and "recipes" for bombs.

U.S. Marshals Service will contract the sale with an Internet auctioneer who will bear the cost and receive no more than 10 percent of the proceeds.

More here.

12 August 1960: Echo I, The First Communications Satellite, Launched


Echo 1 sits fully inflated at a Navy hangar in Weeksville, North Carolina. The spacecraft measured 100 feet across when deployed, and was nicknamed a 'satelloon' by those involved in the project.
Image source: NASA / Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

The Echo satellites were NASA's first communications satellite experiment. Each spacecraft was designed as a metallized balloon satellite acting as a passive reflector of microwave signals. Communication signals were bounced off of it from one point on Earth to another.

Following the failure of the Delta rocket carrying Echo 1 on May 13, 1960, Echo 1A (commonly referred to as just Echo 1) was successfully put in a 1519 x 1687 km orbit on August 12, 1960. The 30.5 meter (100 foot) diameter balloon was made of 0.127 mm (0.005 inch) thick metallized Mylar polyester film and was successfully used to redirect transcontinental and intercontinental telephone, radio, and television signals. The satellite also aided the calculation of atmospheric density and solar pressure due to its large area-to-mass ratio. As its shiny surface was also reflective in the range of visible light, Echo 1A was visible to the unaided eye over most of the Earth. Brighter than most stars, it was probably seen by more people than any other man-made object in space. Echo 1A reentered Earth's atmosphere and burned up on May 24, 1968.

More here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Toon: What Next?!?

Click for larger image.

Covert Channel Tool Hides Data in IPv6

Robert Lemos writes on SecurityFocus:

An independent security researcher showed off an early version of a tool for creating covert channels that, he claims, can pass undetected through most firewalls and intrusion detection systems.

The tool, dubbed VoodooNet or v00d00n3t, uses the ability of most computers to encapsulate next-generation network traffic, known as Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), inside of today's network communications standard, or IPv4. Because most security hardware appliances and host-based intrusion detection programs have not been programmed to inspect IPv6 packets in depth, data can bypass most network security, said independent security researcher Robert Murphy, who presented the tool at the DEFCON hacking conference last weekend.

More here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

10 August 1990: The Magellan Space Probe Reaches Venus.


Magellan spacecraft being launched from the cargo bay of Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

The Magellan spacecraft carried out a radar-mapping mission from 1989-1994, orbiting Venus from 1990-1994. It created the first (and currently the best) near-photographic quality, ultra-high resolution mapping of the planet's surface features. Prior Venus missions had created low resolution radar globes of general, continent-sized formations. Magellan, however, finally allowed detailed imaging and analysis of craters, hills, ridges, and other geologic formations, to a degree comparable to the visible-light photographic mapping of other planets. Magellan's global radar map will remain the most detailed Venus map in existence for the forseeable future, as there are currently no plans for any robotic mission to try and surpass its resolution.

It was named after the sixteenth-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan was the first planetary spacecraft to be launched by a space shuttle when it was carried aloft by the shuttle Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 1989, on a mission designated STS-30. Atlantis took Magellan into low Earth orbit, where it was released from the shuttle's cargo bay. A solid-fuel motor called the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) then fired, sending Magellan on a 15-month cruise looping around the Sun 1-1/2 times before it arrived at its orbit around Venus on August 10, 1990. A solid-fuel motor on Magellan then fired, placing the spacecraft in orbit around Venus. In 1994 it plunged to the surface as planned and partly vaporized; some sections are thought to have hit the planet's surface.

More here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

User Friendly: The Incredible, Shrinking AOL


Click for larger image.

AOL Gaffe Draws Capitol Hill Rebuke

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

AOL's recent privacy gaffe that exposed users' search histories may breathe new life into a proposal to slap strict rules on what data Internet companies may collect.

Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Wednesday that AOL's disclosure of the search habits of more than 650,000 of its users demonstrates that new laws are necessary. AOL has apologized for the disclosure.

"We must stop companies from unnecessarily storing the building blocks of American citizens' private lives," Markey said.

Markey's proposal, called the Eliminate Warehousing of Consumer Internet Data Act (EWOCID), was introduced in February after Google's courtroom tussle over search records with the U.S. Department of Justice.

More here.

UK: Security Flaw Exposes 3M HSBC Online Accounts

Bobbie Johnson and Ian Cobain write in The Guardian (UK):

One of Britain's biggest high street banks has left millions of online bank accounts exposed to potential fraud because of a glaring security loophole, the Guardian has learned.

The defect in HSBC's online banking system means that 3.1 million UK customers registered to use the service have been vulnerable to attack for at least two years. One computing expert called the lapse "scandalous".

The discovery was made by a group of researchers at Cardiff University, who found that anyone exploiting the flaw was guaranteed to be able to break into any account within nine attempts.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Stop Worrying About Technology

Via Enjoy!

Google Sees Government Intrusions as Privacy Threats

Eric Auchard writes for Reuters:

Web search leader Google Inc., which stores vast amounts of data on the Web surfing habits of its users, sees government intrusions rather than accidental public disclosures of data as the greatest threat to online privacy, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

CEO Eric Schmidt told the Search Engine Strategies industry conference here that Google had put all necessary safeguards in place to protect its users' personal data from theft or accidental release. His remarks followed last weekend's discovery by online privacy sleuths that AOL, a key Google search customer, had mistakenly released personally identifiable data on 20 million keyword searches by its users.

But Schmidt said a more serious threat to user privacy lay in potential demands on Google by governments to make the company give up data on its customer's surfing habits.

More here.

Google Checkout Triggers Complaints

Juan Carlos Perez writes on InfoWorld:

Merchants and shoppers are complaining that Google Inc.'s Checkout often takes too long to complete sales transactions and sometimes cancels orders unjustifiably and without warning.

The problem apparently stems from the review process Google performs on the Checkout transactions to prevent fraud. While they applaud antifraud efforts, users of this high-profile service, which was launched in late June, say Google needs to speed up the review process and improve its review-related customer service and communications. Otherwise, Checkout, which observers have characterized as a potential "killer" of rival service PayPal, risks failure, some warn.

Google hasn't replied to a request for comment, but at its Web site, Google explains that it employs standard credit-card verification methods in Checkout, as well as more specialized risk modeling, fraud detection and manual reviews if deemed necessary. Moreover, in the official Checkout discussion board for merchants, a Google staffer in the Checkout team routinely posts comments and answers under the name GoogleCheckoutPro, and on July 27 addressed the review delay issue, saying Google is committed to fighting fraud and minimizing risk.

More here.

DHS Warning on Latest Microsoft Patch

Robert McMillan writes on InfoWorld:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned Wednesday that a recently patched Microsoft Corp. Windows vulnerability could put the nation's critical infrastructure at risk.

The patch, described in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-040, relates to Windows Server services. It was one of 12 updates issued Tuesday, by the software giant, but security experts are particularly concerned with the bug because hackers have already exploited the vulnerability. The vulnerability is described here:

More here.

Department of Transportation Laptop Containing Data on 130,000 Stolen

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A U.S. government computer loaded with approximately 133,000 drivers' and pilots' records — including Social Security numbers — was stolen last month, the Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

The department's Office of Inspector General said one of its laptops was taken from a government vehicle in Doral, Florida, on July 27. The agency is sending letters to those whose information may have been compromised.

The theft follows the revelation this week that a computer with up to 38,000 veterans' records was missing from the office of a subcontractor working for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the second computer to disappear from that agency this year.

More here.

Monday, August 07, 2006

VA Loses Another Computer with Personal Info

Freekin' amazing.

Bob Sullivan writes on MSNBC:

Another computer with veterans' personal information is missing, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday.

This time, information on as many as 38,000 living and deceased veterans was on the computer, which was lost by outside contractor Unisys.

Officials at the Reston, Va., company notified the VA that that desktop computer was missing on Aug. 3, the VA says. Unisys had been hired to help with insurance collections at VA medical centers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Included on the computer were veterans' names, addresses, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, insurance carriers and billing information, dates of military service, and claims data, which may include some medical information, the VA said on its Web site.

More here.