Saturday, October 14, 2006

U.S. Population Set to Hit 300 Million

An AP newswire article by Stephen Ohlemacher, via The Mercury News, reports that:

America's population is on track to hit 300 million on Tuesday morning, and it's causing a stir among environmentalists.

People in the United States are consuming more than ever - more food, more energy, more natural resources. Open spaces are shrinking and traffic in many areas is dreadful.

But some experts argue that population growth only partly explains America's growing consumption. Just as important, they say, is where people live, what they drive and how far they travel to work.

More here.

MySpace Phishing Scam Targets Music Fans

John Leyden writes on The Register:

Con-men have developed a phishing attack targeting MySpace music fans that highlights the evolving use of social engineering techniques in money-making spam emails.

Junk emails featuring the attack have been spammed out to thousands of computer users around the globe in the last week, to trick them into visiting one of a series of bogus websites that pose as an online music store. The emails typically pose as MySpace contact emails, increasing the chances that prospective marks will be duped by the messages.

More here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Microsoft Makes Concessions to Security Software Makers

Brian Krebs writes in The Washington Post:

Responding to criticism from European regulators and companies that produce some of the leading brands of anti-virus software, Microsoft Corp. said today it plans to modify key security features in Windows Vista, the next version of its widely used operating system scheduled for release early next year.

Makers of security software will now be granted access to key portions of Vista's code, the company said, reversing a previous policy. Microsoft also said it would allow security software companies to turn off certain notification features in Vista's Windows Security Center and that it would include information about third-party security products on Vista's start-up screen.

More here.

U.S. Army Too Dependent on Commercial Satellites

Josh Rogin writes on

One of the greatest technological challenges in Iraq has been the lack of bandwidth needed to push increasing levels of information to soldiers and commanders on the battlefield. Recently, the use of commercial satellites and other technologies has provided that bandwidth, but at a high cost.

The Army now uses commercial sources for 80 percent of its satellite-based network bandwidth in Iraq. It cost the Army more than $1 billion last year, with one-third going to satellite leases and two-thirds to services, according to Army officials.

More here. Refuses to Fold 'Em in the U.S.

A Reuters newswire article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:, the world's second-biggest Internet poker firm, said yesterday that a looming U.S. ban on on-line gambling would not apply to poker, as it is a game of skill, and its business would continue as usual.

The gambling industry was left reeling this month after the U.S. Congress unexpectedly approved a bill that would make it illegal for companies to accept Internet wagers or for banks to process payments to on-line gambling companies.

The bill defines gambling as the act of staking something of value on "a sporting event or a game subject to chance" and is expected to be signed into law by President George W. Bush today.

More here.

Cisco Installs Fiber Network In Amsterdam

W. David Gardner writes on TechWeb News:

The Netherlands city of Amsterdam has begun to deploy a citywide fiber network that combines city governmental and business interests in an effort to roll out services that range from TV and telephone to home care and education.

Cisco Systems, which is managing the activation and utilization of the network called Glasvezelnet Amsterdam, said formal installation is getting underway on Thursday.

The private and public collaboration is aimed at providing a combination of telephony, TV and Internet access at competitive prices. Glasvezelnet's goal is to cover some 450,000 Amsterdam citizens before 2010.

More here.

U.S. Secret Service Agents Question Sacramento Teen on MySpace Page

Laurel Rosenhall and Ryan Lillis write in The Sacramento Bee:

The latest Sacramento resident to be questioned by federal agents in possible threats against President Bush is a 14-year-old girl with a heart on her backpack and braces on her teeth, a freckle-nosed adolescent who is passionate about liberal politics and cute movie stars.

Her name is Julia Wilson, and she learned a vivid civics lesson Wednesday when two Secret Service agents pulled her out of biology class at McClatchy High School to ask about comments and images she posted on MySpace.

Beneath the words "Kill Bush," Julia posted a cartoonish photo-collage of a knife stabbing the hand of the president. It was one of a few images Julia said she used to decorate an anti-Bush Web page she moderated on MySpace, the social networking Web site that is hugely popular among teenagers.

More here.

FCC Delays BellSouth Vote, Seeks Comment

Stephen Lawson writes on InfoWorld:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has pushed back its vote on AT&T Inc.'s proposed acquisition of BellSouth Corp. and will take public comments on the deal.

A meeting set for Friday to consider the deal, as well as network neutrality issues, was cancelled. Responding to a request by Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin scheduled another open meeting Nov. 3 where the commission will consider the proposed deal unless the issue has been resolved before then.

More here.

U.S. Government Routinely Loses Computers Containing Sensitive Personal Information

Jack Date and Pierre Thomas report on ABC News' "The Blotter":

The federal government has routinely lost computers containing massive amounts of sensitive personal information, according to a new report by the House Committee on Government Reform.

Every one of the 19 departments and agencies audited reported at least one loss of personally identifiable information since 2003. Overall, the U.S. government gets a D+ for computer security.

The report shows more than 800 incidents, including the loss of hundreds of laptop computers and flash drives containing personal information about millions of Americans.

More here.

Political Toon of the Day: Don't Be Scared, Kids!

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Paying the Price for Trying to Chill Speech

Via EFF Deep Links.

Bloggers in California have scored another victory against baseless legal threats intended to chill free speech. In Tendler v. Does, Mordecai Tendler had tried and failed to unmask several anonymous bloggers who had written about his alleged sexual misconduct.

Yesterday, a California State Superior Court judge ruled that he must now pay for the bloggers' attorneys fees incurred during the bogus lawsuit.

More here.

Ariane 5 Rocket to Launch Satellite Trio Today

A Spaceflight Now article by Justin Ray, via, reports that:

A heavy-lifting Ariane 5 rocket loaded with payloads from the U.S., Australia and Japan is scheduled for blastoff at 2056 GMT (4:56 p.m. EDT) today from Kourou, French Guiana.

The Arianespace booster will deploy the American DirecTV 9S direct-to-home broadcasting spacecraft and the Australian Optus D1 telecommunications satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit from the Guiana Space Center on the northeastern shore of South America. Later, a large antenna experiment for the Japanese space agency will attempt to unfurl from the rocket's spent upper stage.

Today's available launch window extends an hour to 2156 GMT (5:56 p.m. EDT).

More here.

Websense: Malicious Activity Inside World of Warcraft

Via The Websense Security Labs Threat Blog.

Malicious code these days is often written with financial gain in mind, and for this reason a large number of the targets for Trojans are ones where the potential for monetary gain is quite obvious, such as financial institutions. There are some targets, however, where the potential for profit isn't quite so clear. One example of such a target is the video game industry, and in particular Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, or MMORPGs.

Video games are certainly not a "traditional" target for those who write malicious code for their own profit, and perhaps not one with the same potential return on investment as targeting bank accounts or credit cards, but such targeting does occur. There are a number of games that Websense Security Labs has seen being targeted by these attacks, but one of the most popular--due in large part to the market share that it holds--is the game World of Warcraft.

More here.

Privacy Options Limited for Net Services

An AP newswire article by Anick Jesdanun, via USA Today, reports that:

If you don't like what your favorite Internet search engine or e-commerce site does with information it collects about you, your options are limited to living with it or logging off.

Major search engines, for instance, all keep records of your searches for weeks, months or even years, often tied to your computer's Internet address or more. Retailers, meanwhile, generally presume the right to send marketing e-mails.

Although online companies have become better at disclosing data practices, privacy advocates say the services' stated policies generally don't give consumers real choice.

More here.

Sprint Hikes Pay-As-You-Go Texting Rate

An AP newswire article by Bruce Myerson, via USA Today, reports that:

Sprint Nextel Corp. will now charge 15 cents per message — a 5 cent increase — for using text messaging without a monthly package.

There was no change in prices for subscription texting plans — $5 for a monthly allowance of 300 messages, $10 for 1,000 and $15 for unlimited usage. Going over those limits in any month will still cost 10 cents a message sent or received.

Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA each charge 10 cents per message sent or received without a texting plan.

More here.

AT&T's Backroom Lobbying at FCC

Marguerite Reardon writes on the C|Net Broadband Blog:

AT&T has been wheeling and dealing in the backrooms of the Federal Communications Commission to win support for its $80 billion merger with BellSouth, according to a story posted by Reuters on Thursday.

The Reuters story quoted Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior vice president for regulatory affairs, as saying, "We have put a full set of conditions on the table that are reasonable and protect consumers. I want a deal with these guys; we want a 4-0 vote."

The news of secret talks has gotten under the skin of some AT&T competitors, who think any last-minute pleas should be made in public and not behind closed doors.

More here.

EU Refuses to Rule Out Military Uses for Galileo Satellite System

An AFP newswire article, via, reports that:

The European Commission has refused to rule out using the future Galileo satellite navigation system for military aims, saying it was "open" to debate about the programme's uses.

While insisting that the programme would be civilian-run, spokesman Michele Cercone said: "Debate remains open on applications and possible uses."

"Since it is quite known that militaries are also using positioning signals we should not exclude from debate this aspect," he told journalists.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Walled Gardens Explained

Via Enjoy!

Texas Police Officer Suspended Over Graphic MySpace Page

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

A Texas police officer whose Web page on included images of dismembered women has been indefinitely suspended, authorities said.

Jeremiah Love's page on the social-networking site contained images and statements that could undermine public confidence in the police department, according to an internal affairs report. Love, 26, was suspended Tuesday.

Julia Vasquez, an assistant city attorney, said Love espoused a fondness for violence on the Web page that would hurt his testimony in criminal cases.

More here.

BT Fires Back at Spammers

Chris Mellor writes on NetworkWorld:

BT has launched an automated system to identify professional spammers and 'botnet'-infected customers on the BT broadband network.

Professional spammers will face account termination, and unwitting spammers and virus transmitters will receive help cleansing their computers of the programs that turn their PCs into "zombies." Although there remain questions over how much BT customers will benefit when they face effective disconnection and charges for technical assistance. BT has also not made it clear if it will help customers prevent their computer from becoming re-infected.

The system uses Content Forensics from StreamShield Networks and, using an in-band Content Security Gateway scanner, scans millions of SMTP e-mails a day. It then provides BT with detailed reports on the location and size of spam-related problems originating from BT's network.

More here.

Pentagon Admits Error on 'Threat'

Roberto Santiago writes in The Miami Herald:

A South Florida anti-war group's peaceful protest of military recruitment during last year's Fort Lauderdale Air & Sea Show was labeled ''subversive'' and was being monitored by the Pentagon, which kept a report on the protest in a database designed to track domestic terrorist threats.

That report in the Defense Department's Threat and Local Observation Notice database, or TALON, was a mistake, a Defense spokesman said Thursday. And the circumstances that led to the surveillance of the Broward Anti-War Coalition -- along with other groups nationwide -- have already been corrected, said Maj. Patrick Ryder, spokesman for the office of the assistant secretary of defense.

Nonetheless, details of the report, one of several such documents on groups around the country that were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and released Thursday, provided fresh details about the TALON program, which first received attention in late 2005.

More here.

Army 'Big Brother' Unit Targets Bloggers

Via Defense Tech.

Bloggers: "Big Brother is not watching you, but 10 members of a Virginia National Guard unit might be," according to the Army. The Manassas-based Guardsmen are on a one-year assignment to clamp down on both "official and unofficial Army Web sites for operational security violations."

The team, working "under the direction of the Army Web Risk Assessment Cell" hunts for "documents, pictures and other items that may compromise security" -- and then orders the parties to take the offensive content offline.

More here.

Danish Lead World-Wide Broadband Penetration

John Blau writes on InfoWorld:

Three northern European countries show the world's highest broadband penetration rates, with Denmark leading the pack, according to statistics released Friday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Denmark had a broadband penetration rate of 29.3 subscribers per 100 inhabitants, followed by the Netherlands with 28.8 and Iceland with 27.3.

The number of broadband subscribers in OECD increased 33 percent to 181 million in June 2006 from 136 million in same period the year before. The penetration rate also increased to 15.5 from 11.7.

More here.

MSN is Latest Target of Belgian Copyright Complaint

James Niccolai writes on InfoWorld:

Looking to avoid the kind of legal tangle that Google has found itself in, Microsoft's MSN division in Belgium is in talks with a group newspaper publishers over the rights to publish their content on its Web site.

The newspaper group, called Copiepresse, wrote a letter to MSN Belgium earlier this week, asking it to stop posting Belgian newspaper articles to its Web site without permission, said Margaret Boribon, the group's secretary general.

More here.

Expert: Hackers Will Break Vista's PatchGuard

Ryan Naraine writes on eWeek:

A computer security expert is predicting that hackers will crack the controversial PatchGuard kernel anti-tampering technology coming in Windows Vista within one year of its release.

Alexander Czarnowski, chief executive of Avet, in Warsaw, Poland, said he believes it's inevitable that the technology will be broken once the final version of Windows Vista is released to manufacturing.

The PatchGuard technology, which was introduced in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 x64 and Windows XP x64 almost two years ago, monitors the kernel to prevent third parties from extending or replacing kernel services. It effectively serves as an anti-rootkit mechanism, blocking the insertion of kernel-mode stealth malware.

However, hackers and security researchers have already started discussing ways to bypass the technology.

More here.

The Future of Malware: Trojan Horses

Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

Some of the most dangerous cyberattacks are the least visible ones.

Widespread worms, viruses or Trojan horses spammed to millions of mailboxes are typically not a grave concern anymore, security experts said at the Virus Bulletin conference here Thursday. Instead, especially for organizations, targeted Trojan horses have become the nightmare scenario, they said.

More here.

UK Firms Flee U.S. Gambling With $1 Buyouts

Pete Harrison writes for Reuters:

Britain's Sportingbet and Leisure & Gaming both pulled out of the United States ahead of a ban on Internet gambling on Friday, each selling their U.S. operations to private investors for $1.

Smaller rival World Gaming meanwhile said it was impossible to continue in business and called in administrators.

All three companies were rushing to complete the deals before President George W. Bush signed a bill to prohibit Internet gambling into law on Friday.

More here.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Toon: Political Misinformation

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Spying on Botnets Becoming Harder

Robert Lemos writes on SecurityFocus:

The workings of bot nets will become more difficult to divine in the future, because the people who control the networks are moving away from using Internet relay chat (IRC) rooms to link the compromised computers together, a security researcher told attendees at the Virus Bulletin 2006 conference.

José Nazario, a senior security researcher for Arbor Networks, spent more than six months delving into the chat rooms typically used by bot herders as the central command posts for their compromised networks. The research, which was part of a project dubbed "Bladerunner," used a mock bot that Nazario and an intern at Arbor coded using Perl.

The researchers found that the command and control channels are increasingly becoming encrypted and are increasing moving away from chat rooms to Web servers.

More here.

Austin: Federal Computers with Residential Information Stolen

Kate Miller Morton writes in The Austin American-Statesman:

Hundreds of Central Texans who participated in door-to-door U.S. Census Bureau surveys recently discovered that their personal information might have been exposed to more than just Census employees.

The bureau in September mailed letters to 358 Austin-area residents informing them that the handheld computers used to collect personal information including names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth had been stolen.

More here.

Class Action Suit Over ID Theft Tossed Out

Declan McCullagh and Anne Broach write on C|Net News:

A federal judge in Arkansas has thrown out a class action lawsuit against Acxiom, which exposed massive amounts of Americans' personal information in a high-profile Internet security snafu three years ago.

Even though a spammer had downloaded more than one billion records from the company, U.S. District Judge William Wilson ruled that there was no evidence that Acxiom's purloined database had been used to send junk e-mail or postal mail.

More here.

Quote of the Day: Carlo @

"Some researchers in London say that tagging every passenger in airports with RFID could help fight terrorism. Well, they could give everybody some chewing gum, and that might help fight terrorism, too, and quite frankly, this plan sounds about as useful."

- Carlo, over at, commenting on the utility of tagging each passenger in an airport with an RFID tag to thwart terrorism.

Earthlink Speaks Out on Telco Merger

Via WHIR (Web Host Industry Review) News.

Internet service provider Earthlink released a statement on Thursday regarding the closing of the investigation of AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth, requesting that the FCC re-affirm the pro-consumer measures of similar transactions in the past.

"Last year's mega-merger of AT&T and SBC was conditioned on pro-competition measures insisted upon by the Justice Department and the FCC," says Chris Putala, executive vice president of public policy for EarthLink. "Today, the Justice Department abandoned consumers and small businesses by refusing to require even those modest protections on the proposed AT&T- BellSouth merger, the largest telecommunications merger in American history. As a unanimous FCC did less than a year ago, the FCC should insist that the public interest is protected with meaningful pro-consumer conditions."

More here.

U.S. Congressional Budget Office Mailing List Hacked

Linda Rosencrance writes on ComputerWorld:

Hackers have breached the mailing list of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), according to the agency.

"There was limited breach of our list server that has since been patched and closed," said Melissa Merson, a CBO spokeswoman. "When people access a federal government computer, that's considered a possible criminal violation. So we've referred the matter to the appropriate law enforcement authorities, and it's under investigation."

Merson said the hackers sent out a message purporting to be a CBO e-mail, but she declined to offer any details because the matter had been referred to law enforcement officials for investigation.

More here.

Anti-Piracy System Could Hurt YouTube

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

A technology designed to detect copyright material could give YouTube a needed dose of legal legitimacy and calm any concerns Google Inc. has about spending $1.65 billion on the Internet video site. But that same technology could hurt YouTube's edgy appeal.

While YouTube is known as the place to find almost any kind of video clip, recent agreements with high-profile content creators require YouTube to deploy an audio-signature technology that can spot a low-quality copy of a licensed music video or other content. YouTube would have to substitute an approved version of the clip or take the material down automatically.

More here.

Spyboys Go Web 2.0

Via Defense Tech.

Last week, the New York Times and some civil libertarians got all grossed out by a government plan to monitor the foreign press for its opinions of America. "It is just creepy and Orwellian," Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said.

So no one tell Lucy about this system keeping tabs on overseas TV channels, 24/7, for the military, ok? She's liable to get real upset.

BBN Technologies' Broadcast Monitoring program pumps a TV channel -- Al-Jazeera, say -- through a set of servers, which do a quick-and-dirty transcription of the audio into Arabic text. Then, that text is ported into English.

The initial results are something short of Berlitz. "Did not professional background political motive for fighting veil as might be introduction," was the interpretation for one recent Al-Jazeera news snippet. But it's good enough for keyword searches, or to give human translators the heads-up when there's something relevant happening.

More here.

8 EU States Face Sanctions on Phone Markets

Kevin J. O'Brien writes in The International Herald Tribune:

The European Commission began administrative proceedings Thursday against eight European Union states - including Germany, Denmark and Sweden - for not applying EU law to keep national telecommunications markets open to competition.

The new batch of infringement proceedings, which could result in lawsuits before the European Court of Justice, are part of an effort by Brussels to compel member states to follow EU law. In telecommunications, the European Commission has filed 80 complaints against member states since 2004, about half of which have been settled before going to court.

More here.

'Take a Bite Out of Cyber Crime'

Bob Brown writes on NetworkWorld:

McGruff is sick of Americans dogging it on cybercrime.

The tough-talking crime dog, who has been used to fight more traditional varieties of unlawfulness over the last 26 years (that's 117 dog years), is at the heart of a new National Crime Prevention Council effort to get people "to protect their digital assets and real-world identities" by getting smarter about cyberspace.

More here.

Surveillance Tech: Chicago - Cameras on 'Almost Every Block' by 2016

Fran Spielman writes in The Chicago Sun-Times:

Security and terrorism won't be an issue if Chicago wins the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games because, by that time, there'll be a surveillance camera on every corner, Mayor Daley said Wednesday.

"By the time 2016 [rolls around], we'll have more cameras than Washington, D.C. ... Our technology is more advanced than any other city in the world -- even compared to London -- dealing with our cameras and the sophistication of cameras and retro-fitting all the cameras downtown in new buildings, doing the CTA cameras," Daley said.

"By 2016, I'll make you a bet. We'll have [cameras on] almost every block."

The mayor talked about the steady march toward a Big Brother city during a free-wheeling exchange with the Sun-Times editorial board after unveiling his proposed 2007 budget.

More here.

New Web Venture ClickStar Set to Rankle Hollywood

Bob Tourtellotte writes for Reuters:

Intel Corp. and actor Morgan Freeman have paired up to launch a Web site whose goal is to release some independent films on the same day they debut in theaters, challenging long-held Hollywood practices.

ClickStar, a venture of Intel, Freeman and his producing partner Lori McCreary's Revelations Entertainment, will launch its new Web site on December 1, the same day Freeman's low-budget movie, "10 Items or Less," is expected to land in theaters.

More here.

Thieves Steal 7,000 D-Link Broadband Routers

Via The Inquirer.

OVER SEVEN THOUSAND pieces of D-Link's Broadband Router and Adaptor bundle, or the DWL-922, have been nicked in the UK, while on their way to the firm's European Logistic Centre.

D-Link reckons that the stolen kit is being sold on the open market, which has the firm just a little bit miffed.

More here.

European Internet Users' Report

Via Technology News Daily.

European Internet users' time spent online has surpassed that spent reading newspapers and magazines. According to a new JupiterResearch report, "European Media Consumption Consumer Survey 2006," European Internet users now spend an average of four hours per week online, compared to just two hours in 2003. Time spent on newspapers and magazines is just three hours.

This trend has helped drive an increase in overall media consumption to 19 hours per week, up from 15 hours in 2003. TV continues to dominate media consumption with Europeans spending three times as much time watching TV as going online.

More here.

User Friendly: pwned Game Dork


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Offbeat: Michigan Woman Tries to Sell Mummy on eBay

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

Officials are trying to track down the origins of a mummified human skeleton that a Michigan woman tried to sell on eBay.

The St. Clair County medical examiner's office confiscated the mummified remains Tuesday from the home of Lynn Sterling.

Sterling, 45, told police she got the remains from a friend who works in demolition and said he found them in a Detroit school he helped tear down nearly 30 years ago, police said. She said she had contacted an attorney before posting the remains for sale.

More here.

London Airplane Bomb Plotters Used eBay to Raise Funds

Richard Esposito reports on ABC News' "The Blotter":

The British terror cell that allegedly plotted to blow up flights from London to the U.S. helped finance the operation by buying and selling items on eBay, according to an intelligence report obtained by ABC News.

The intelligence update said suspect Assad Sarwar, 26, "used eBay extensively" to raise funds for the plot. "It is believed they would sell and purchase items to make a profit to fund [the] plot." There were no further details in the report. A spokesperson for eBay had no immediate comment.

More here.

U.S. VA Reports New Data Loss

David Hubler writes on

As another instance of data loss at the Department of Veterans Affairs comes to light, the VA’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) has awarded a contract to Identity Force for identity theft protection services for more than 5,700 citizens, 660 of whom were veterans.

The number of individuals who enroll in this opt-in program will determine the value of the contract, Identity Force said in a statement.

The contract is the result of a May 8 incident in which a backup data tape was reported missing from the general counsel’s regional office in Indianapolis, Ind., said VA spokeswoman Jo Schuda.

She said the missing data contained mostly legal records dating back to the 1970s. “Along with the legal issues there were attorney work products,” she said. “The data contained entries for any kind of legal cases that the attorneys worked on, not necessarily veterans.’”

More here.

Exploit Code Hiding in Cache Servers?

John E. Dunn writes on NetworkWorld:

Malicious code is living on weeks after it has been removed from Web sites thanks to an unexpected culprit: cache servers.

According to Finjan Software, which has just released its latest Web trends report, caching technology used by search engines, ISPs and large companies has been discovered to harbor certain kinds of malicious code even after the Web site that hosted it has been taken down.

Such "infection-by-proxy" code can remain in caches for as long as two weeks, giving it a "life after death" at a time it would conventionally be assumed to have been neutralized. Although caching does not always save copies of everything on a Web site, it will still store code embedded in html, including programming formats such as Javascript.

More here.

U.S. Military to Deploy IBM Translation in Iraq

China Martens writes on InfoWorld:

The U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) will deploy IBM's speech-to-speech translation software to help U.S. forces serving in Iraq better communicate with local security forces and Iraqi citizens.

The USJFCOM acts as the "transformation laboratory" of the U.S. military developing and testing out new capabilities and then recommending their use to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The unit is turning to IBM and other companies for technology to translate natural speech in real-time to make up for a lack of military linguists proficient in Iraqi Arabic.

IBM announced Thursday that the USJFCOM will deploy IBM Research's Multilingual Automatic Speech-to-Speech Translator system, also known as Mastor.

More here.

EU Gears Up for Fight Over Passenger Data

Paul Meller writes on InfoWorld:

European Union parliamentarians are gearing up for a fight over data privacy, after justice ministers from the 25 countries in the E.U., together with the European Commission, signed a new temporary agreement to pass over airline passenger data to American authorities last week.

Debating the agreement late Wednesday, many members of the European Parliament criticized the deal, which grants U.S. government agencies greater access to the passenger name record information than under a previous agreement that was deemed illegal by the European Court of Justice in May.

More here.

Spamhaus Tests U.S. Control Over Internet

Ed Felten writes on Freedom to Tinker:

In a move sure to rekindle debate over national control of the Internet, a US court may soon issue an order stripping London-based of its Internet name.

Here’s the backstory. Spamhaus, an anti-spam organization headquartered in London, publishes ROKSO, the “Register of Known Spam Operations”. Many sites block email from ROKSO-listed sites, as an anti-spam tactic. A US company called e360 sued Spamhaus, claiming that Spamhaus had repeatedly and wrongly put e360 on the ROKSO, and asking the court to award monetary damages and issue an injunction ordering e360’s removal from ROKSO.

More here.

PokerStars Says U.S. Gaming Ban Does Not Cover Poker

Pete Harrison writes for Reuters:

PokerStars, the world's second-biggest Internet poker firm, said on Thursday that a looming U.S. ban on online gaming would not apply to poker, as it is a game of skill, and its business would continue as usual.

The gambling industry was left reeling this month after the U.S. Congress unexpectedly approved a bill that would make it illegal for companies to accept Internet wagers or for banks to process payments to online gaming companies.

The bill defines gambling as the act of staking something of value on "a sporting event or a game subject to chance" and is expected to be signed into law by President George W. Bush on Friday.

More here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spamland: A Cartoon About Spam

Via Boing Boing.

The marvelous Brothers McLeod are creating a series of cartoons called Spamland. The dialogue for the cartoons comes from the semi-sensical text found in the filter-busting portion of spam messages.

Link to Spamland here.

Yahoo! Gift Causes Controversy

K. Oanh Ha writes in The Mercury News:

A prestigious journalism fellowship says it has no plans to return a $1 million grant from Yahoo, despite a spirited debate over the firm's record on freedom of expression. But the director of the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University said the program is considering holding a forum to engage Yahoo and other media companies about operating in repressive countries.

Yahoo intended the donation to "demonstrate our support for freedom of expression," said a spokeswoman, but it has instead revived attention to the company's controversial practices in China, where it has turned over user information to Chinese authorities. The Sunnyvale firm has supplied information to Chinese law enforcement that led to the arrest of two journalists and two other Chinese dissidents, according to Human Rights Watch.

More here.

AT&T-BellSouth Deal Delayed as FCC Postpones Vote

Molly Peterson writes for Bloomberg News:

AT&T Inc.'s $79 billion purchase of BellSouth Corp. hit a regulatory snag as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission postponed a vote on the deal scheduled for tomorrow.

The FCC will hold a hearing on the merger a day later on Oct. 13, the agency said today in an e-mailed statement.

The delay may signal Chairman Kevin Martin and fellow Republican Commissioner Deborah Tate need to make concessions to Democrat members Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein to get the deal approved. Both criticized today's backing of the purchase by the Justice Department. The fifth commissioner, Republican Robert McDowell, recused himself from the vote.

More here.

Suspect in ID Theft Arraigned on New Charges

An AP newswire article, via The Boston Globe, reports that:

A Newington man charged with identity theft and other crimes has been arraigned on new charges that he stole the IDs of people in five other states.

Raymond Clifford Dugan, 40, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of a computer crime, illegal use of a credit card and identity theft.

More here.

Millions Awarded in Internet Defamation Case

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A children's services referral provider was awarded $11.3 million in damages from a mother who posted critical Internet messages after seeking her advice.

The defendant, Carey Bock, called Sue Scheff a "con artist," "crook" and "fraud" in messages posted on a site used by parents with troubled children at boarding schools.

The award for Scheff, founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts Inc., is among the largest for a lawsuit claiming Internet defamation, according to legal analysts and an attorney involved in the case.

More here.

How Data Was Gathered For New Iraq Casualty Study

Dr. Kim Mulvihill, M.D., writes on

Researchers from the John's Hopkins School of Public Health used what could be called a "Door-to-door approach" to measure death during war. They studied "excess" deaths. In other words, how many people died above and beyond what is expected in a country without conflict.

"In short, it was a very brave attempt to do good science," said Dr. Nicholas Jewell, a professor of Biostatics at U.C. Berkeley.

Jewell reviewed the controversial new study which estimates as many as 650,000 Iraqi civilians died as a consequency of living in a war-torn country.

"650,000 deaths over a three year period in excess is like having a September 11th tragedy once a week like clockwork over three years," Jewell said. "That gives you a scale of how many deaths are being claimed in this estimate."

The figure is 20 times the number President Bush cited last December.

More here.

Random Laptop Searchs at the Border Unconstitutional

Ryan Singel writes on 27 B Stroke 6:

Customs agents must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed to search the laptops or other digital devices of citizens entering the United States, according to a Los Angeles District Court.

While there's a broad border exception to Fourth Amendment, customs agents must have, at the least, articulable and reasonable suspicion that a laptop may have evidence of a crime before searching it, Judge Dean Pregeson ruled. The ruling came in a case where customs agents searched the laptop of Michael Arnold who was returning from the Philippines and subsequently found images they believed to be child pornography. The evidence from the search is now excluded from his trial for possession of child pornography.

More here.

Murdoch, Google in New Talks

A Reuters newswire article, via Australian IT, reports that:

Social networking website MySpace wants to expand its commercial relationship with Google, after the internet search giant snapped up online video sharing site YouTube, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The report said that Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and advertising sales vice president Tim Armstrong were expected to meet this week with executives from MySpace owner News Corporation (publisher of AustralianIT), including chairman Rupert Murdoch, to discuss new ways of working together.

One possibility would be to expand Google's recently signed $US900 million ad deal with MySpace to include video advertising on the web, the newspaper reported.

More here.

Google: Dark Fiber Story Not So Dark

Mark Sullivan writes on Light Reading:

Google head of special initiatives Chris Sacca went into spin cycle last week while explaining his company’s dark fiber investments to Light Reading.

“I’ve bought a lot of fiber for Google,” Sacca says. The Google people believe their fiber buys have been misunderstood, and therefore viewed with an undo amount of suspicion by outsiders.

“People don’t understand that it’s not Google trying to take over the world,” Sacca says. Sacca explained that Google began investing in dark fiber for two main reasons: to connect the server farms and to "peer" with telecommunications service providers.

More here.

DoJ Approves AT&T-BellSouth Merger

Roy Mark writes on

The AT&T-BellSouth proposed merger cleared its first regulatory hurdle today with a resounding thumbs up from the Department of Justice (DoJ), which unconditionally approved the $67 billion deal.

A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval would make AT&T the largest U.S. provider of landlines with 70 million customers in 22 states.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on the merger Thursday morning.

More here.

Warning Over 'Segmented' Internet

Darren Walters writes for The BBC:

The internet could one day be broken up into separate networks around the world, a leading light in the development of the net has warned.

Nitin Desai, chair of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), set up by the UN, warned that concerns over the net's future could lead to separation.

"People are concerned about whether the system we have now will also work five years from now," he said.

Mr Desai was speaking at a conference in London to discuss the net.

The conference was organised by Nominet, the UK body in charge of domain names ending .uk, ahead of the first-ever Internet Governance Forum, a global gathering of stakeholders in Athens later this month.

More here.

ICANN: Sorry, We Can't Delete's Domain

Declan McCullagh writes on the C|Net Politics Blog:

When last we visited Spamhaus' courtroom fight with a reputed spammer, a federal judge in Illinois was being asked to delete the anti-spam group's domain name.

e360 Insight, allegedly a source of plenty of junk e-mail, had asked U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras to force the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, and registrar Tucows, to suspend the registration for the domain.

Now ICANN is saying it can't comply with any such court order, even if Kocoras were to approve it.

More here.

Oracle to Open Up on Bug Severity

Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

Oracle plans to add severity ratings to its security bulletins, making the alerts less of a guessing game for customers.

Starting with its Critical Patch Update scheduled for next week, Oracle will rate the severity of the flaws that it provides fixes for, Darius Wiles, senior manager for security alerts at Oracle, said late Tuesday.

In addition, the business software giant's security bulletins will explicitly indicate which bugs could be exploited over the Internet by anonymous attackers and will provide a summary of the security problems for each of its product categories, Wiles said.

More here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Boosting Internet Speeds Without Fiber-Optics

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

A group of technology and telecoms companies, including Spanish giant Telefonica, joined forces on Tuesday to boost the Internet speeds of copper telephone wires to almost equal that of fiber-optic cable.

The new technology, dubbed Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM), promises speeds to rival those of fibre-optic networks, much faster than currently available on broadband -- DSL.

More here.

ISS: Already More Vulnerabilities in 2006 Than 2005

Frank Washkuch Jr. writes on SC Magazine Online:

Vulnerabilities tallied during the first nine months of this year have surpassed the total counted for all of 2005, according to an alert from Internet Security Systems' (ISS) X-Force Labs.

Researchers discovered the 5,296th flaw of this year just after 8 a.m. on Sept. 25 - the same number found during all of last year.

However, only 0.40 percent of the total number of flaws was determined to be "critical," meaning they could be exploited to form an automated worm.

More here.

ITC Judge: Qualcomm Infringed a Broadcom Patent

Peter Kaplan and Sinead Carew write for Reuters:

An administrative judge on Tuesday said Qualcomm Inc. had infringed on a Broadcom Corp. patent, but stopped short of banning the U.S. sale of phones with its chips in a case Broadcom filed at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Qualcomm shares were up nearly 3 percent and Broadcom down about 3 percent in midday trading. Broadcom had asked the commission to impose a U.S. ban on the sale of Qualcomm chips used in cell phones with high-speed wireless Internet connections.

Analysts said Qualcomm shareholders who had pushed down the stock recently on concerns about the case, were probably relieved it appeared the company was not prohibited from selling its chips here.

More here.

Most Campuses Report Security Breaches

John Moore writes on

The majority of higher education managers experienced at least one information technology security incident last year and one-third reported a data loss or theft.

Those are among the findings of the second annual Higher Education IT Security Report Card, which CDW-Government released this week. The report is based on a survey of 182 higher education IT directors and managers nationwide.

Fifty-eight percent of those respondents reported at least one security incident last year. In addition to the 33 percent reporting data loss or theft, 9 percent of the IT managers encountered data loss or theft of student personal information.

More here.

UK: Thousands of Brits Fall Victim to Data Theft

Graeme Wearden and Tom Espiner write on C|Net News:

British law enforcement agents are trying to contact thousands of U.K. computer users who have fallen victim to an massive personal data heist.

The Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday that a computer seized in the U.S. had been found to contain personal information from around 2,300 PCs based in Britain. This included e-mail addresses, passwords, credit card numbers and details of online transactions.

According to the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit, the data was stolen via a piece of malicious software that was secretly installed on the victims' machines.

More here.

Iraqi Held Over Alleged al-Qaida Web Messages

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

An Iraqi man suspected of spreading messages by al-Qaida leaders on the Internet was arrested in Germany on Tuesday, federal prosecutors said.

The 36-year-old, identified only as Ibrahim R., was arrested near the western city of Osnabrueck, prosecutors said in a statement. His apartment was searched.

He is accused of spreading audio and video messages by al-Qaida and al-Qaida in Iraq on the Internet and “in doing so of having supported these groups in their terrorist activities and aims.”

More here.

Swiss Government Investigates VoIP Tapping

...and planting spytware on a "suspect's" computer.

Via the F-Secure "News from the Lab" blog.

The Swiss Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (UVEK) has started an investigation to determine the possibility of using software to tap VoIP phone calls.

A software prototype to do this has been developed by ERA IT solutions. It doesn't seem that the software would decypt any of the VoIP traffic itself. The software is a client side application that would listen to the computer's microphone and speakers to record the VoIP calls. The recordings made would be passed back in small packages over the Internet to the police authority. Two solutions to install the software on a suspect's machine have been presented. The first - police covertly install it locally. The second - the suspect's Internet service provider installs it remotely over Internet. How the later solution would be implemented is unknown to us.

F-Secure will most likely add detection for this software if we find it used in the wild. We have previously made a statement about government developed spying programs.

More here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Google Buys YouTube for $1.65 Billion

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Google Inc. snapped up YouTube Inc. for $1.65 billion Monday in deal that catapults the Internet search leader to a leading role in the online video revolution.

The all-stock acquisition unites one of the Internet’s marquee companies with one of its rapidly rising stars.

The price makes YouTube, a still-unprofitable startup, by far the most expensive purchase made by Google during its eight-year history.

More here.

Feds Indict Two For Internet Scam

Roy Mark writes on

Two Romanian nationals are facing wire fraud and identity fraud charges for their roles in a $150,000 Internet auction scheme.

According to a 10-count indictment returned Friday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, Teodor Manolache, 29, and Leontin Salageanu, 26, of Northridge, Calif., were involved in organizing bogus auctions for Hurricane Katrina victims.

More here.

Verizon Fueling North American Fiber Growth

Mark Sullivan writes on Light Reading:

Verizon Communications Inc. appears to be almost single-handedly introducing fiber to the lives of consumers in North America.

According to a study presented Thursday by the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) , fiber optic cable is now available to 6 million North American homes. Verizon is responsible for 5.5 million of those, according to Verizon numbers.

More here.

Crime Ring Targets IE 'Setslice' Flaw

Ryan Naraine writes on eWeek:

In-the-wild exploits against the latest unpatched Windows vulnerability have started circulating, using Internet Explorer as the attack vector to load identity theft Trojans and rootkits on infected machines.

The exploits target a Windows Shell vulnerability that was first released during the Month of Browser Bugs project in July. The project was kicked off by security researcher HD Moore (famous for creating the open-source penetration testing tool Metasploit).

The exploits are being launched by a known cyber-crime organization operating out of Russia, according to virus hunters tracking the threat.

More here.

Google Bungles Blogger Security

Margaret Kane writes on the C|Net Blogma blog:

Advertisers who use Google's AdSense program got a surprise this weekend, when the company's official blog posted a note saying that an upcoming test of a new feature had been canceled.

But the post itself had numerous spelling errors, and was quickly taken down. Turns out, the message wasn't from Google after all--a bug in Google's Blogger software allowed a hacker to create a fake post on the site.

The blogosphere quickly moved from discussing the AdSense test to commenting on Google's security breach. If the company can't keep its own blog safe, how well can it protect those of users, they wondered.

More here.

User Friendly: Many Grains of Salt


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