Saturday, November 11, 2006

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Saturday, Nov. 11, 2006, at least 2,845 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,279 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is seven more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Thursday at 10 a.m. EST.

More here.

And as always, keeps a very, very extensive list here, as does the Iraq Coalition Casuality Count website here.

Image of the Day: Shuttle Launch as Seen from the Space Station

Image source:

ChoicePoint: Keeping Your Enemies Close?

Gary Rivlin writes in The New York Times:

In January, the Federal Trade Commission hit ChoicePoint with a $10 million fine, the largest civil penalty in the agency’s history, for security and record-handling procedures that violated the rights of consumers. Under the settlement, it also required ChoicePoint to set aside an additional $5 million to help those suffering financial harm because of its failure to provide adequate safeguards against data breaches.

But the financial penalties were nothing compared to the rehabilitation project confronting this hitherto invisible player in the global marketplace.

For years, ChoicePoint’s top management had assured the world that it carefully protected its databases from intruders: Our systems are bulletproof. Intruder-proof. Believe us.

But then, in February 2005, the company had to acknowledge that it had focused so intently on preventing hackers from gaining access to its computers through digital back doors that it had simply overlooked real-world con artists strolling unnoticed through the front door.

More here.

Offbeat: Rare Stamp May be Sealed in Florida Ballot Box -- UPDATE

A rare "Inverted Jenny" postage stamp.

An AP newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

A rare, valuable stamp that could be worth at least $200,000 may be on an absentee-ballot envelope sealed in a box with other ballots from Tuesday's election.

Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom discovered the stamp, which may be the famous Inverted Jenny, while reviewing absentee ballots. There was no name on the envelope so the vote did not count.

What seemed like a small stamp collection on one envelope caught Rodstrom's eye. At least one was from 1936, Rodstrom said. Then he noticed one had an upside-down World War I-era airplane -- the hallmark of an Inverted Jenny.

More here.

Update 11/14: Now it appears to be a fake.

User Friendly: Brothers and Sisters


Click for larger image.

Glitches Hit Customers in Cable Company Switch

James S. Granelli writes in The Los Angeles Times:

Time Warner Cable has been so inundated with complaints as it has taken over neighborhoods formerly served by Comcast and Adelphia that the company is slowing its rollout and offering discounts and freebies to mollify customers.

Viewers swamped Time Warner call centers after engineers started three weeks ago to integrate Southern California systems acquired from Comcast Corp. and Adelphia Communications Corp.

Complaints abound of canceled channels, digital TV forced on customers, Internet connections lost, e-mail accounts botched and arrogant service — once, that is, a live person finally answers the phone.

More here.

Warrantless Wiretaps Unlikely to be Okayed

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

Legislation aimed at President Bush's once-secret program for wiretapping U.S.-foreign phone calls and computer traffic of suspected terrorists without warrants shows all the signs of not moving ahead, notwithstanding President Bush's request this week that a lame-duck Congress give it to him.

Senate Democrats, emboldened by Election Day wins that put them in control of Congress as of January, say they would rather wait until next year to look at the issue. "I can't say that we won't do it, but there's no guarantee that we're going spend a lot of time on controversial measures," Democratic Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois said Thursday.

In Senate parlance, that means no.

More here.

(Props, Flying Hamster.)

Veterans Day: You Are Not Forgotten

You Are Not Forgotten.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Paper Doubled in 'Paperless Society'

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

Digital technology did not create the so-called "paperless society" that many had predicted, at least not yet, but it does have people communicating more than ever, says a new federal study.

The Statistics Canada paper, released Friday, examined the results first expected from the widespread use of information and communications technologies in everyday life, and it found that some have so far not materialized.

More here.

Florida e-Voting: 18,000 'Missing' Votes in Close Race

Grant Gross writes on InfoWorld:

Government watchdog group Common Cause has called for an investigation of electronic voting machines used in Florida's 13th congressional district because of 18,000 missing votes.

About 18,000 people who cast votes in other races in Tuesday's election failed to record a vote for either candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. At last count, Republican candidate Vern Buchanan led Democratic candidate Christine Jennings by less than 400 votes in the race to succeed Republican Katherine Harris, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.

More here.

Study: 49 Million U.S. Adults Notified Of Data Breaches

Antone Gonsalves writes on InformationWeek:

An estimated 49 million U.S. adults have been told over the last three years that their personal information has been lost, stolen or improperly disclosed, a research firm said Friday.

Most of the notifications came from government agencies and financial institutions, according to a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive in October. While many of the respondents did not believe there was any harmful result of the data breach, a small but significant number thought they may have seen some damage.

More here.

UK: Woman Charged as Terrorist for Computer Files

Via Reuters UK.

Police on Thursday charged a woman on terrorism-related offences for possession of a computer hard drive loaded with operating manuals for guns, poisons, mines and munitions.

Police said the charges against the woman were connected with the arrest last month of a man caught at Heathrow airport in possession of a night vision scope and a poisons handbook.

More here.

In Memoriam: Jack Palance

Walter Jack Palance
February 18, 1919 – November 10, 2006

Yet Another Reason for Data Privacy Laws?

David Lazarus writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

As rental-car giant Hertz prepares to go public next week, the company seems to be having an unusually difficult time keeping confidential info under wraps.

In a regulatory filing on Wednesday, Hertz Global Holdings said it had dropped Deutsche Bank from its underwriting team after "several e-mails" discussing the $1.5 billion initial public offering were inadvertently sent by the bank to about 175 institutional clients.

Meanwhile, the names and Social Security numbers of an undisclosed number of Hertz workers were found last month on the home computer of a former employee of the company.

The matter is only now coming to light as Hertz sends letters to affected employees with instructions for steps they can take to protect themselves from fraud and identity theft.

More here.

Traveling Abroad? DHS Has Its Eyes on You

Alice Lipowicz writes on

Terrorism risk assessments will be assigned to any individuals seeking to enter or leave the United States, according to a Homeland Security Department announcement. The records are excluded from public review and maintained for up to 40 years.

In a Federal Register notice, DHS said the Automated Targeting System passenger screening is not new, but the agency does not identify when the program began. The purpose of the Nov. 2 announcement is to provide additional notice to the public of the system’s existence and what functions it performs, DHS said. Public comments are due by Dec. 4.

Travelers leaving the United States by airline since Sept. 11, 2001, have been screened against a terrorist watch list. The newly disclosed assessments apply to travelers who leave by foot and by automobile as well, the Federal Register notice said.

Privacy groups describe the risk assessments as intrusive.

More here.

YouTube Video Triggers FBI Probe of L.A. Arrest - UPDATE

Los Angeles police and the FBI are investigating allegations of police brutality after a video showing L.A. police beating a man surfaced on
Image source: KNBC / MSNBC

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Video footage posted on showing a police officer repeatedly striking a suspect in the face during an arrest three months ago has triggered an FBI investigation.

The video shows two officers holding down William Cardenas, 24, on a Hollywood street as one punches him several times in the face before they are able to handcuff him. The struggling suspect yells repeatedly “I can’t breathe!”

The footage, shot by an area resident, came to the FBI’s attention Thursday, prompting investigators to open a civil rights inquiry into the Aug. 11 incident, agency spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

More here.

Update 11/16: Apparently this guy gets his "get out of jail" walking papers today.

U.S. Judge Orders RIAA to Justify its Piracy Charges

Nick Farrell writes on The Inquirer:

A US court is forcing the Recording Industry of America to explain why it charges people it catches pirating $750 a single rather than the 70 cents they flog them to retailers for.

In the case UMG v. Lindor, Judge Trager has allowed Ms Lindor, who the RIAA claim is a pirate, to challenge the $750 a track it wants in damages.

More here.

Pennsylvania Court Says Viewing Child Porn 'Not Illegal'


A US court has ruled that viewing child pornography on a website without deliberately saving it to a computer is not a crime. The judge said that the state penal code was ambiguous, so he must rule in favour of the defendant.

Anthony Diodoro, a 26-year-old from Delaware County, Pennsylvania admitted knowingly viewing 370 child-porn images online. He also admitted that he had intentionally visited the websites for the purpose of viewing child porn.

State law says that a person must have "knowing possession" of child pornography in order for it to be a crime. A panel of three judges in the Pennsylvania Superior Court concluded that Diodoro could not be convicted of knowingly possessing the images because there was no evidence that Diodoro knew that his computer was storing the images in its internet cache file.

More here.

UK: VoIP Regulation Hit by Three-Month Delay

David Meyer writes on ZDNet UK:

The publication of Ofcom's proposed regulation for the burgeoning internet telephony industry has been delayed by at least three months.

The communications regulator was expected to have made a statement regarding voice over IP (VoIP) regulation in August, after a consultation into the issue closed in May. Three months later, no news of the proposed regulation has emerged, although insiders have indicated that some form of statement will be made by the end of November.

The regulation could affect the ability to port phone numbers across from the old telephone network, as well as issues surrounding network quality and the availability of emergency services access.

More here.

Website Sting Results in Child-Porn Arrests

Robert Lemos writes on SecurityFocus:

A federal investigation into a Web site that offered pornographic images and movies of minors has resulted in 125 arrests by federal and local authorities nationwide, according to prosecutors in southern California.

As part of the investigation, dubbed Operation Emissary, federal authorities in southern California charged 14 suspects, ages 21 to 68, on charges of possessing child pornography, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for that federal district. Another four southern California men have been charged by local authorities.

More here.

Veterans Day: You Are Not Forgotten

You Are Not Forgotten.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006, at least 2,840 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,279 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is two more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Thursday at 10 a.m. EST.

More here.

And as always, keeps a very, very extensive list here, as does the Iraq Coalition Casuality Count website here.

ICANN RSTEP Reports on .TRAVEL Wildcard

Bret Fausett writes on his ICANN Blog:

ICANN's Registry Services Technical Evaluation Panel (another acronym to learn: "RSTEP") has issued its report on the security and stability effects of a new registry service -- a wildcard at the second level of the .TRAVEL TLD -- that Tralliance proposed several months ago:

"The fundamental difficulty presented by the proposed .travel wildcard is that redirection would affect all current and future applications and protocols that rely on the DNS. The effects of redirection could not, given the current state of Internet standards and practice, be restricted to simple HTTP web traffic (the context in which the benefits of the service are intended to be realized). The wildcard would change the definition of a host address and disable the technique that many applications use to detect (and potentially correct) erroneous or misleading input..."

"In summary, while we believe that Tralliance could implement the service that they have proposed, we also conclude that the proposal does create a reasonable risk of a meaningful adverse effect on security and stability to the public Internet."

More here.

NASA Struggles to Contact Lost Mars Probe

David Shiga writes on NewScientistSpace:

An unexpected break in communications has NASA struggling to restore contact with its Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. If communication cannot be restored soon, NASA may try to diagnose the problem by having another spacecraft, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, take pictures of MGS.

MGS recently had its 10-year anniversary in space. It was launched on 7 November 1996 and has been orbiting Mars since September 1997. It has far outlasted its original mission, which ended in 2000. NASA has repeatedly extended its mission since then.

As expected, NASA did not hear from the spacecraft during the second half of October, during which time the Sun and Mars were too close in the sky for reliable communication with spacecraft on the Red Planet.

More here.

Packet Loss Problems Surface in Wi-Fi Networks

Loring Wirbel writes on EE Times:

Development engineers at VeriWave Inc. have discovered an unexpected problem with the physical layer convergence procedure (PLCP) in existing 802.11 Wi-Fi networks. The glitch could have practical implications in voice-over-Wi-Fi and Radius authentication in wireless networks, the engineers said.

VeriWave CTO Tom Alexander discovered the problem while working for the 802.11 Task Group on test generation and wireless performance. "You could maybe say it should have been foreseen with only a single bit of parity in the PLCP header," said Eran Karoly, vice president of marketing at VeriWave. "At first, it might seem of interest only to geeks, but this is a problem that could affect voice quality of Wi-Fi more than delay or jitter, and also create some end-user problems in network authentication."

PLCP headers are common convergence protocols used in IP, ATM and wireless networks. In the case of 802.11, a single parity bit in the header can allow header corruption to take place as packet rate and length fields are computed. Typical frame errors can lead to packets being retransmitted, but in PLCP corruption, the network may remain blind to the problem, and the packet is simply dropped.

More here.

Defense Tech: Google Earth Tracks Nukes

Image source:

Via Defense Tech.

The lovely Elizabeth and I spent the better part of the last week driving across country, to set up the winter Defense Tech HQ in Los Angeles. We didn't realize how many nuclear weapons we passed along the way: the old warheads at the Pantex facility, just outside Amarillo; the 1,914 doomsday devices at Kirtland Air Force Base, in Albuquerque.

When we drive back in the Spring, we'll know. Because the wonks at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Federation of American Scientists have teamed up to make a Google Earth map of the nearly nearly 10,000 nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal.

More here.

Phishers Now Going Directly for SSN Information

Jeanne Sahadi writes on CNN/Money:

If you get an e-mail announcing the cost-of-living increases scheduled for 2007 Social Security benefits and purporting to be from the Social Security Administration, don't answer it and don't click on any links in the e-mail.

It's a scam.

The Social Security Administration on Tuesday warned of a new e-mail scam in which recipients are asked to update their personal information or risk having their Social Security "account" suspended indefinitely by Nov. 11.

Recipients are then directed to click on a link in the e-mail that takes them to a Web site designed to look like the Social Security Administration's Web site.

Among the pieces of information recipients are asked to give are their name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, credit card information, as well as bank account numbers.

More here.

Patch Tuesday: Microsoft To Post 6 Patches Next Week

Gregg Keizer writes on InformationWeek:

Microsoft Corp. announced Thursday that it will release six security updates next week, including at least one to fix a vulnerability that attackers are already actively exploiting.

In the advance notification posted on its Web site mid-morning Thursday, Microsoft said it would release five updates for Windows and one targeting XML Core Services. At least two of the updates will be labeled "critical," Microsoft's highest warning rating.

Typically, the Redmond, Wash. developer doesn't disclose the exact components, services, or applications to be patched prior to delivering the updates on the second Tuesday of each month. But the fix for Microsoft XML Core Services, a flaw that's currently being attacked by hackers, was specifically called out in the advance alert.

More here.

U.S. Government Wants Stay in AT&T Case

Via EFF Deep Links.

The U.S. government has asked for a stay in our case against AT&T for collaborating with the NSA in illegal spying on its customers. The government also wants to halt proceedings in the other class action cases against other telecommunication companies until the U.S. 9th Circuit hears an appeal of Judge Vaughn Walkers order denying the motions to dismiss.

The government's proposed stay would not be in the interests of justice in this very important case about ongoing illegal spying on millions of ordinary Americans. Many elements of our suit can and should go forward while the 9th Circuit considers the state secrets issues. Judge Walker will consider how the case should proceed in a case management conference on November 17th in District Court in San Francisco.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Highly-Paid Corporate Drone

Via Enjoy!

UK Bans Denial of Service Attacks


A law was passed yesterday that makes it an offence to launch a denial of service attack in the UK, punishable by up to ten years in prison.

There had been concern that Britain's Computer Misuse Act, written in the days before the World Wide Web, allowed denial of service attacks to fall through a loophole. These are attacks in which a web or email server is deliberately flooded with information to the point of collapse.

The 1990 legislation described an offence of doing anything with criminal intent "which causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer"; the question was whether that covered denial of service attacks. When a court cleared teenager David Lennon in November 2005 on charges of sending five million emails to his former employer – because the judge decided that no offence had been committed under the Act – the need for amendment seemed obvious.

More here.

ISPs 'Should be Responsible' for Hacker Attacks

Paul Marks writes on NewScientistTech:

Internet service providers (ISPs) should be made legally liable for the damage caused by "denial of service" (DoS) attacks carried out via their networks, a leading internet lawyer says.

A DoS attack involves taking down a website or sever by flooding it with meaningless traffic, usually sent from a network of tens of thousands of PCs infected with viruses and controlled remotely. These viral "bots" do nothing until a hacker sends a command that tells them to attack a target, but can also be used to relay millions of spam email messages.

At a conference called "Blocking Denial of Service Attacks on the Internet", to be held in London on 13 September [I think perhaps this is a misprint and is actually Novermber? - ferg], Lilian Edwards, an internet lawyer based at the University of Southampton, UK, will argue that legal measures must be taken if these attacks are to be stemmed. Edwards notes that ISPs currently have no legal obligation to check data relayed to and from internet users. She thinks, however, that governments could require them to do so.

Ian Brown of the Communication Research Network, an internet policy group based in Cambridge, UK, will chair the conference. The event will be held at the UK government's Department of Trade and Industry. "There will be a range of people present from government, industry, ISPs and companies that want to protect their online presence," he says.

More here.

Happy 1st Birthday, Venus Express

This night-side, false-colour image was taken by the Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) on board Venus Express on 23 September 2006, when the spacecraft was flying at about 60 000 kilometres over the planet around the point of furthest distance from the surface (apocentre). It was taken at 1.7-micrometre wavelength, and shows an area close to the South pole (out of the field of view beyond the top left of the image).
Image source: ESA

Via The European Space Agency (ESA).

One year after its launch on 9 November 2005 and a few months into its science phase, ESA's Venus Express keeps working well and continues to gather lots of data about the hot and noxious atmosphere of the planet. Newly released images show additional details of the thick cloud deck that surrounds Venus.

It was 11 April 2006 when, after a delicate manoeuvre, Venus Express entered into orbit around Venus, and started a series of gradually smaller loops around the planet to reach its 24-hour science orbit (spanning between 66 000 over the South pole and 250 kilometres over the North pole) on 7 May 2006.

More here.

UK: 'Internet Rape' Pedophile Jailed

Via The

A paedophile who took remote control of teenage girls' computers from his home and terrorised them into sending intimate images of themselves was jailed today for 10 years.

Posing as a teenage boy on internet chatrooms, Adrian Ringland, 36, would first get his victims' email addresses. He would then send them an email containing a virus that allowed him to hack into their computers.

Targeting girls on both sides of the Atlantic, he would visibly take control of their PCs, moving cursors around, switching on printers and, in one case, opening and closing the CD-Rom drawer.

More here.

Toon: Exit Polls

Click for larger image.

Websites Face 'Four-Second Cut-Off'

Via The BBC.

Shoppers are likely to abandon a website if it takes longer than four seconds to load, a survey suggests.

The research by Akamai revealed users' dwindling patience with websites that take time to show up.

It found 75% of the 1,058 people asked would not return to websites that took longer than four seconds to load.

The time it took a site to appear on screen came second to high prices and shipping costs in the list of shoppers' pet-hates, the research revealed.

More here.

Chinese Dissident Convicted on Yahoo! Information Freed After Four Years

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Cyber-dissident and pro-democracy activist Jiang Lijun was freed on 5 November on completing a four-year sentence. Convicted of "inciting the subversion of state authorities" following his arrest on 7 November 2002, he was viewed by the police as the head of a small group of cyber-dissidents and had been arrested several times before for posting political articles online.

Reporters Without Borders had denounced the US company Yahoo!'s involvement in his arrest and prosecution. It was one of three cases - together with those of Shi Tao and Li Zhi - in which Yahoo!’s collaboration with the Chinese police and judicial authorities has been proved.

More here.

E-Voting Glitches Examined; Reform Push Planned

K.C. Jones writes on InformationWeek:

Voting advocates and computer experts are examining scattered reports of glitches in electronic voting machines and planning to call for reform.

About 16,000 voters called a nationwide voter hotline to report complaints or concerns on Election Day, according to Common Cause.

An early analysis showed that the highest percentage of callers (21.3 percent) complained about difficulties with registration. Those included motor voter programs failing to transfer registrations to elections boards as well as purging of registration lists. Only 6.2 percent dealt with voter identification, an issue propelled into the spotlight because of several state laws that were overturned and reports that poll workers in a handful of states had turned away, or tried to turn away, several high-ranking elected representatives for insufficient identification.

An analysis in the late afternoon Tuesday showed that 16.9 percent of the calls focused on mechanical failure, which is likely to be one of several components in a push for voter reform as the 2008 presidential election approaches.

More here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

49'ers Tell SF Mayor They Plan To Move -- Maybe Santa Clara?

Wow. Shocker.

First the A's, now the 49'ers.

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

The San Francisco 49ers ended negotiations with the city about building a new stadium and plan to move to either Santa Clara or somewhere else in California, The Associated Press learned Wednesday night.

Owner John York notified Mayor Gavin Newsom of the team's decision earlier Wednesday, a city official close to the negotiations told The AP on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

Team spokesman Aaron Salkin declined to comment Wednesday night.

More here.

Former U.S. Government Security Guard Convicted in ID Theft Ring

Via The

A former government security guard has been convicted for his role in an identity theft ring that used the personal information of more than 40 federal employees, authorities said.

Xavier Vidal Jennette, 33, of Washington, D.C., was convicted by a federal jury in Raleigh on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft Friday, the U.S. Attorneys Office said in a statement.

More here.

(Props, Flying Hamster.)

Cisco Field To Be A's New Home In Fremont

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

The Oakland Athletics reached a deal with Cisco Systems Inc. to build a new ballpark in Fremont, according to city officials who met with the team's owner Wednesday.

The agreement would create a 32,000- to 35,000-seat ballpark, dubbed Cisco Field, on a 143-acre parcel held by the company, officials told the San Jose Mercury News.

If the plan is approved by the city, the A's could begin playing in Fremont -- 20 milies south of Oakland -- as soon as 2011, the newspaper reported.

A formal announcement of the deal was planned for Tuesday at Cisco's San Jose headquarters.

A's owner Lew Wolff declined to speak to reporters Wednesday as he left a meeting with four Fremont City Council members. Cisco officials also declined to comment.

Team spokesman Jim Young has said the A's won't comment until an announcement is made.

More here.

Google's Online Video Service Sued

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

Google Inc.'s online video service has been sued for copyright infringement, providing a possible preview of the legal trouble that may plague the Internet search leader after it takes over YouTube Inc. and its library of pirated clips, the company said Wednesday.

Without providing detail, Google disclosed the video copyright lawsuit in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A Google spokesman didn't have any further information about the suit late Wednesday afternoon.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, at least 2,839 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,277 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is three more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Wednesday at 10 a.m. EST.

More here.

And as always, keeps a very, very extensive list here, as does the Iraq Coalition Casuality Count website here.

Google Accidentally Sends Out e-Mail Worm

A C|Net News article by Joris Evers, via ZD Net, reports that:

Google on Tuesday inadvertently sent the Kama Sutra e-mail worm to the 50,000 subscribers of a Google Video e-mail group.

Three postings were made Tuesday evening to an e-mail list that sends out postings to the Google Video blog. "Some of these posts may have contained a virus called W32/Kapser.A@mm--a mass-mailing worm," Google said in a note on its Web site apologizing for the incident.

W32/Kapser.A is better known as the Kama Sutra worm. Some antivirus companies raised an alarm about the threat in February, but it ultimately shriveled. Kama Sutra was designed to overwrite files on infected computers on a specific date. However, the worm, which spread under the guise of pornographic content, caused virtually no damage.

More here.

Phishing: Online Banking Fraud Dramatically Jumps in UK

Jeremy Kirk writes on ComputerWorld:

U.K. banks reported a 55 percent increase in losses from fraudulent online transactions for the first half of the year, mostly from phishing scams, an industry trade group reported Tuesday.

Losses totaled $42.8 million, up from $27.6 million from the first six months of 2005, according to the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS).

More here.

Verizon SS7 Outages Affected Several States for Two Days

Jim Duffy writes on Network World:

Verizon said it resolved a two-day problem in its Signaling System 7 network that affected calls coming to and from competitive local exchange carrier networks this week.

Outages dropped calls between Verizon and CLEC networks in California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. Other states with some impact included Arizona, Nevada, and North and South Carolina.

The regions represent the former GTE footprint of Verizon’s network.

More here.

China Rejects Internet Censorship Accusations (Again)

Here's a pointer to the "again" part here.

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

The Chinese government said Wednesday accusations by a press freedom group it was one of the worst culprits of systematic on-line censorship were "groundless" and that its citizens could freely access the Internet.

China was one of 13 countries singled out by Reporters Without Borders in a 24-hour on-line protest Wednesday against Internet censorship. The others were: Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

"We find these accusations groundless," said an officer at the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman's office who declined to be named.

"The Chinese enjoy free access to the Internet and they can have the information they need. Currently, the information the Chinese people get is far more than before the introduction of the Internet in this country."

More here.

Election Spawns New Hope for Tech

Via Wired News.

History will record the Democratic landslide of 2006 as a stinging rebuke of President Bush's war policy and the end of one-party rule in Washington. How it will record the election's impact on technology issues is less certain.

On the face of it, the Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives -- and appearing likely to hold a one-seat majority in the Senate -- would seem to be a positive in areas such as stem-cell research and the safeguarding of personal privacy, where technology plays a crucial role. But since nothing is a given in American politics, the best we can do is take an educated guess at what Tuesday's results might portend for the industry.

Wired News assesses the results from races deemed important because of their probable impact in several major areas, including stem-cell research, climate change, privacy and security, intellectual property and the gaming industry.

Much more here.

Photoshop of the Day: Rumsfeld Resignation

Via Boing Boing.

Update: Eriksson Pleads Guilty, Gets Three Years and a One-Way Plane Ticket

Evan Blass writes on Engadget:

As much as we're going to miss covering the entertaining side show that has been the life of Bo Stefan Eriksson for the last nine months, we're relieved that the former Gizmondo Europe director has finally admitted some culpability in this strange saga -- and that he'll soon be forced to leave the country and become someone else's problem.

After a Los Angeles jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict in Eriksson's grand theft auto case last week -- resulting in a mistrial -- the imaginary friend-loving Swede apparently decided that a retrial coupled with the separate weapons charges would be too much to bear, and ended up receiving a pretty sweet deal from prosecutors.

In exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of embezzlement and one count of illegal gun possession, the one-time mobster weaseled his way out of an auto theft charge and ended up receiving a three-year sentence plus three years of probation -- but because of the time he's already served as well as "other allowances," he should be free in about a year.

More here.

Most Powerful Frickin' Laser in the World Shatters Another Power Record

Via Technology News Daily.

The most powerful tunable laser in the world just shattered another power record: the Free-Electron Laser (FEL), supported by the Office of Naval Research and located at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), produced a 14.2 kilowatt (kW) beam of laser light at an infrared wavelength of 1.61 microns on October 30.

The FEL is supported by the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Sea Systems Command, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Joint Technology Office, as well as by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The laser's new capabilities will enhance a wide range of applications, such as shipboard antimissile defense and other defense applications as well as manufacturing technologies and the support of scientific studies in chemistry, physics, biology and medicine.

More here.

Defense Tech: U.S. Army Contract for New Signals Sniffer

Via UPI.

The U.S. Army has issued a $42 million contract for a new system that will help its surveillance aircraft track down enemy communications signals.

Lockheed Martin will provide 40 units of the system, known as CHALS-C, (short for Communications High Accuracy Location Sub-systems - Compact), which ferrets out the sources of modern-technology communications traffic, by 2009.

The key to CHALS-C is the increased speed at which it process intercepted signals, which allows air crews to detect multiple signal types simultaneously as opposed to earlier systems that could only process one signal at a time.

More here.

Google CEO Vows to Protect User Privacy

Bobbie Johnson writes on The

The Google chief executive, Eric Schmidt, yesterday vowed to resist attempts by US president George W Bush's administration to obtain private information on internet users.

On the day when the Republican administration faced dispiriting results in the US mid-term elections, Dr Schmidt launched a stinging criticism of the government's attitude to privacy.

More here.

Quote of the Day: Bill Scher

"Voter turnout was strong enough to overwhelm a flawed election system and Republican gerrymandering. The election system is still flawed. Now we are in position to begin reforming it for real."

- Bill Scher, as quoted in an article today entitled "Aren't You Glad You Didn't Move to Canada?"

UK: Hacker Dodges Prison Term

Tom Espiner writes on

A hacker has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for compromising accounts on an Internet dating site.

Matthew Byrne pleaded guilty to gaining control of and defacing four member profiles on the dating site in August 2004. He was sentenced on Tuesday at Southwark Crown Court by Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, according to a Metropolitan Police spokesman.

Byrne gained control of the profiles using a dictionary attack, a technique that cracks a password or cipher by searching against a number of likely possibilities. The compromised profiles had "easily guessable" passwords, the Met Police website said.

The hacker did not gain access to the "loveandfriends" database or web servers.

More here.

Network Neutrality Proponents Take Control of House


The election results are good news for anyone who cares about the free and open Internet.

Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — both strong supporters of Net Neutrality — will most likely take command of telecommunications policy when their party reclaims majority power in the House in 2007.

According to a report today in MultiChannel News, Dingell and Markey “are poised to take control after House Republicans were trounced at the polls Tuesday night, restoring Democrats to power for the first time since 1994.”

Dingell should be seated as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the panel that oversees phone, cable operators and Internet companies.

More here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

FCC Backtracks on Two Charges of Indecency

From the "Double-Standard Bullshitter" Department.

Jim Puzzanghera writes in The Los Angeles Times:

It may be OK to swear on a news show, but profanities on other programs are still verboten, the Federal Communications Commission announced Tuesday.

The agency reversed a ruling it had made that use of the word "bullshitter" on the CBS program "The Early Show" was indecent. That decision in March was particularly controversial because news shows traditionally had wide leeway on language.

The incident involved a live 2004 interview with a contestant on CBS' "Survivor Vanuatu" who had used the word to describe a fellow contestant.

But this week the FCC said it was deferring to a "plausible characterization" by the network that the incident was a news interview, which merits a higher standard for indecency violations.

More here.

Ben Edelman: Intermix Spyware Case Revisted

The Guru of All Things Spyware & Adware, Ben Edelman, writes on his blog:

I recently had the honor of serving as an expert witness in The People of the State of California ex. rel. Rockard J. Delgadillo, Los Angeles City Attorney v. Intermix Media, Inc., Case No. BC343196 (L.A. Superior Court), litigation brought by the City Attorney of Los Angeles (on behalf of the people of California) against Intermix. Though Intermix is better known for creating MySpace, Intermix also made spyware that, among other effects, can become installed on users' computers without their consent.

On Monday the parties announced a settlement under which Intermix will pay total monetary relief of $300,000 (including $125,000 of penalties, $50,000 in costs of investigation, and $125,000 in a contribution of computers to local non-profits). Intermix will also assure that third parties cease continued distribution of its software, among other injunctive relief. These penalties are in addition to Intermix's 2005 $7.5 million settlement with the New York Attorney General [who is now the new Governor-elect of New York, Eliot Spitzer. -ferg].

More here.

CAD Researchers Hear Professional Ethics Warning

Richard Goering writes on EE Times:

Professional ethics in research, publications, mentoring, and record keeping are an important part of any scientific or engineering field, according to a speaker at the International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD) here Tuesday (Nov. 7). But there are "gray" areas where opinions differ, said Frances Houle, research staff member at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif.

Houle, chair of the 2003 American Physical Society (APS) task force on professional ethics, is a chemist, not an engineer. But several hundred CAD researchers crowded into a ballroom to hear her talk, which was sponsored by the IEEE Council for EDA (CEDA).

More here.

A Great Website for Tracking California Political Results (San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose) has a great website which is tracking each of the California state (and local Bay Area) election races and California state ballot initiatives.

A couple of the Propositions are neck and neck at this hour...

Link here.

'Vote Flipping' Emerges as Continuing Problem in e-Voting

Todd R. Weiss writes on ComputerWorld:

During Tuesday's midterm elections in the U.S., reports emerged from across the nation about a problem called "vote-flipping," where a voter selected a candidate on e-voting hardware -- and the machine counted the vote for an opposing candidate.

The problem has ben reported in U.S. elections since 2004 as more states move to e-voting machines that are supposed to make the vote counting process more accurate. Instead, for many Americans, the process has led to more questions than answers, and suspicions that their votes aren't being counted correctly.

Stanford University computer science professor David L. Dill, who founded the nonprofit Verified Voting Foundation and, has been looking at vote flipping and yesterday called for investigations to stop the problem.

More here.

IBM's Privacy-Friendly RFID Tag Ready For Production

Mary Hayes Weier writes on InformationWeek:

IBM thinks it's got an answer to privacy concerns about RFID tags. It's announcing Wednesday the first manufacturing agreement for its Clipped Tag, which was designed with an antenna that's as easy to remove as tearing off a piece of paper.

IBM and its first manufacturing licensee, Marnlen RFID, don't yet have any business customers for the tags, but they're talking to retailers in the U.S., Canada and Europe about pilot tests, says Paul Moskowitz, a scientist with IBM Research and one of the tag's inventors. The idea is to let retail, consumer goods and drug companies tap into the value of RFID while sidestepping privacy concerns. Consumers could remove the antennas once items are purchased. IBM has even done an informational YouTube video on the tag.

More here.

Court Grants Appeal in AT&T Spying Case

Via The EFF.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced today that it will hear the U.S. government's and AT&T's appeal of a district court's decision allowing the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) case against AT&T to go forward. The lawsuit alleges that AT&T collaborated in the National Security Agency's (NSA's) illegal spying program. The 9th Circuit did not rule on the merits of the appeal.

By this appeal, the U.S. government and AT&T are asserting that the so-called "state secret privilege" prevents the federal judiciary from determining whether the spying program is legal or not. In July, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Judge Walker ruled that the case could continue, noting that "The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."

More here.

Telecom New Zealand Accused of Targeting VoIP

Via The New Zealand Herald.

Telecom [New Zealand] is being accused again of trying to stifle competition with the introduction of "traffic management" on its Xtra broadband Go Large plan.

A University of Otago computer scientist says this time the offensive is against internet-based competitors in the calling market .

Simon McCallum says Telecom is limiting bandwidth available to Voice Over Internet Provider programmes such as Skype, preventing users from taking advantage of free international calling.

He says it is the first step down a path which leads to a fairly nasty control network.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via the Boston Globe (AP).

As of Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006, at least 2,837 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,275 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is three more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST.

More here.

And as always, keeps a very, very extensive list here, as does the Iraq Coalition Casuality Count website here.

Beer Tech: Heineken To Track Beer By Satellite

A article by Bill Christensen, via, reports that:

Do you know where your beer is? Dutch beer maker Heineken wants to make sure - so it has put together a team that includes IBM and the University of Amsterdam to track beer by satellite.

Beer Living Lab is a pilot project that will track 20 beer containers shipped from the Netherlands to Heineken's UK distribution centre. Each container will be outfitted with GSM, GPRS and global positioning systems. Satellite uplinks will be provided due to particular technical problems with RFID, which can only be read when the tag is close to a RFID reader.

The data will be transmitted to a computer center hosted by IBM; the WebSphere platform will be used to run the service software.

Heineken accumulates up to five billion documents every year that are generated when its products pass through international shipping. Satellite tracking would help speed up deliveries and cut costs. The company hopes that this pilot program will convince manufacturers, shippers, retailers and customs to move to a paperless trade environment.

More here.

'Stration' Worm Spawns Sneak Attacks

Gregg Keizer writes on TechWeb News:

Anti-virus vendors completely missed the fact that the most massive worm attack in months has a secondary payload that has sent millions of pharmaceutical spam messages, a security intelligence company revealed Tuesday.

The Stration worm, aka Warezov, has been topic number one for anti-virus firms for almost three months, but until recently they hadn't figured out that the malware kicks into second gear about six hours after it's installed. Then, said Reston, Va.-based VeriSign iDefense, it begins sending massive amounts of spam touting Viagra, Xanax, and Propecia prescription medicines.

"Lots of AV vendors have been saying that Stration doesn't have a payload," said Mike La Pilla, an iDefense analyst. "But it does. It just takes six hours. Then it contacts a different domain, downloads a spamming Trojan, and starts sending mail."

More here.

Election Day: Vote

Click for larger image.

Defense Tech: Satellite Antenna Can Detect Nuclear Tests

Via UPI.

Northrop Grumman has delivered antenna assemblies for U.S. military Global Positioning System satellites to detect nuclear explosions.

Astro Aerospace in California has now delivered all 18 V-Sensors plus six test units to Los Alamos National Laboratory for use in the Global Positioning Satellite 2F program.

The antenna will be integrated into the satellites by Boeing, the prime contractor for the 2F program.

Northrop called the V-Sensor a "pop-up" antenna that is about the size of a pack of cigarettes at launch, but extends to seven feet in length in space and can pick up the telltale electromagnetic pulse produced by a nuclear blast.

More here.

Netcraft: Rackspace and Tiscali Most Reliable Hosters in October

Via Netcraft.

Rackspace and Tiscali are the most reliable hosting companies for October 2006, followed closely by Jumpline, WestHost, the UK's Demon Internet and Germany's Deutsche Telekom. Jumpline is based in Columbus, Ohio and focuses on the virtual dedicated server market, while WestHost is a Utah provider offering shared hosting.

Industry-leading reliability has become business as usual for Rackspace, a managed hosting specialist based in San Antonio, Texas, which finishes atop our monthly survey for the sixth time in 2006. Tiscali, an Italian company providing a broad range of hosting and domain services, was previously the most reliable host in May of this year and August 2005.

More here.

Microsoft Approved as ICANN Accredited Registrar

Via Netcraft.

Microsoft has become an ICANN-accredited domain registrar, giving it the ability to sell domains directly to its customers. Microsoft has been reselling domain names from Melbourne IT, a registrar based in Australia that also provides wholesale domains to Yahoo and other hosting providers.

Microsoft's could use its new status to sell domain names for its Office Live small business hosting service, which is scheduled to come out of beta on Nov. 15 and provides a free domain name with each account. This would probably save Microsoft money on each domain sold, as wholesalers like Melbourne IT typically charge a small mark-up over the base fees from the central registry.

More here.

AT&T Investigates DSLAM Explosion

Phil Harvey and Andrea Quezada write on Light Reading:

AT&T Inc. says it is still investigating what caused one of its access equipment cabinets to explode and catch fire in a suburban Houston neighborhood nearly two weeks ago.

According to residents in the 8200 block of Clover Gardens Drive, the explosion shook one nearby house, damaged a fence and some siding, and destroyed several thousand dollars worth of telecom gear, including a DSLAM, installed as part of AT&T's Project Lightspeed.

More here.

Technical Glitches Crop Up Early on Election Day


Programming errors and inexperience dealing with electronic voting machines frustrated poll workers in hundreds of precincts early Tuesday, delaying voters in Indiana, Ohio and Florida and leaving some with little choice but to use paper ballots instead.

In Cleveland, voters rolled their eyes as election workers fumbled with new touchscreen machines that they couldn’t get to start properly until about 10 minutes after polls opened.

More here.

Reporters Without Borders Publishes 2006 'Internet Enemies' List

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

The list of 13 Internet enemies

Three countries - Nepal, Maldives and Libya - have been removed from the annual list of Internet enemies, which Reporters Without Borders publishes today. But many bloggers were harassed and imprisoned this year in Egypt, so it has been added to the roll of shame reserved for countries that systematically violate online free expression.

Countries in alphabetical order:

  1. Belarus
  2. Burma
  3. China
  4. Cuba
  5. Egypt
  6. Iran
  7. North Korea
  8. Saudi Arabia
  9. Syria
  10. Tunisia
  11. Turkmenistan
  12. Uzbekistan
  13. Vietnam

More here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Privacy Prevails: German ISP Forced To Delete IP Logs

Via TorrentFreak.

The Supreme court has decided that T-Online, one of the largest ISPs in Germany has to delete all IP logs to guarantee the privacy of their customers. This ruling makes it impossible for anti-piracy organizations to trace an infringing IP-address back to a customer of T-Online, once their dynamic IP address has changed.

The decision does not mean that T-Online is now obliged to delete all their IP-logs, the customers first need to complain. But, if they ask T-Online to delete their IP-logs, the ISP has no other choice than to comply. A lawyer from Frankfurt already sketched a sample letter to make this process easier.

More here.

(Props, /.)

Botnet Watch: The Spammers Strike Back

Larry Seltzer writes on eWeek:

Everybody's seen it by now. Spam is up like gangbusters in the last few months. And not just in volume; a lot more of it is getting through filtering mechanisms that had previously been pretty reliable. It's an aggravating and depressing situation.

A number of factors have contributed to the situation, and what they all have in common, unfortunately, is that spammers are getting much more sophisticated.

Botnets have gotten so sophisticated that they're almost impossible to shut down. This surge of spam is, perhaps, a show of strength, as well as the botmasters exercising the fruits of their efforts developing an underground network.

More here.

Move Over, Cisco: IBM Gets Into The Video Surveillance Game

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

IBM Corp. hopes to capitalize on the enormous growth in video surveillance by selling technology from its research labs that performs real-time analysis on footage captured by security cameras in stores and sensitive locales.

Several companies already offer systems that can alert security guards if something unusual appears to be going on — such as someone entering an off-limits room or a jewelry store employee leaving a key in a display case.

But IBM contends that it is the first to add advanced search functions that make use of computers' improving ability to recognize video content. For example, the IBM system would let a user search for all instances of a green car passing by a store on a certain day.

The so-called S3 — Smart Surveillance System — also can incorporate data gathered from audio or chemical sensors. And IBM said S3 includes important privacy enhancements, such as the ability to automatically obscure faces of customers or passers-by.

More here.

Background on Cisco's foray into this technology space here.

Report Outlines EU Security Research Priorities


Christian Beckner writes on Homeland Security Watch:

In September the European Security Research Advisory Board issued a report entitled “Meeting the Challenge: the European Security Research Agenda,” which I just read through this evening.

EU policy reports are typically not the most intellectually stimulating reads, which is perhaps why I put off reading it until now. But I’m glad I finally went through it. It provides some very insightful analysis of the technology playing field for homeland security R&D, presented in a thorough and strategic manner that captures the multidimensional complexities of this issue.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, at least 2,836 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,276 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is four more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Monday at 10 a.m. EST.

More here.

And as always, keeps a very, very extensive list here, as does the Iraq Coalition Casuality Count website here.

Perspective: The Homeland-Security Dilemma

A CanWest News Service article by Andrew Mayeda, via The Ottawa Citizen, reports that:

Why did the Canadian public's perception of the risks of terrorism spike after the arrests last summer of 18 terrorism suspects in Toronto an apparent victory for counterterrorism efforts?

Why has the U.S. public's support for the war on terror declined, even as spending on homeland security has steadily increased?

A political science professor at Dalhousie University believes he has the answer: the more security you have, the more security you need.

As government spending on homeland security increases, the public's expectation their government will keep them safe also rises, making it increasingly difficult to meet those expectations which in turn requires more security spending.

Call it the homeland-security dilemma.

More here.

AT&T Names Suspected Pretexters

A Reuters newswire article, via eWeek, reports that:

AT&T Inc. on Monday named two individuals and five companies in an amended lawsuit filed in Texas that charges they accessed customer information without authorization.

The defendants are accused of pretexting, in which data brokers, investigators or others pose as the customer in order to gain confidential information.

Named as defendants in the amended complaint were: Kym McDaniel of Ellijay, Georgia; Receivables Specialist Inc. of Tamarac, Florida; A-AAA Mortgage Loans & Investments Inc. of St. Petersburg, Florida; Katherine Martens of Lutz, Florida; SRG Inc. of Richardson, Texas; DWC Research Inc. of Tampa, Florida; and Autostar USA Inc. of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Efforts to reach the parties were not successful.

More here.

U.S. Official Urges Stiffer Anti-Spyware Penalties

Peter Kaplan writes for Reuters:

A member of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Monday urged Congress to give the agency more power to penalize purveyors of hidden spyware.

FTC commissioner Jon Leibowitz said the agency should be given expanded authority to impose civil fines on distributors of the software, which often tracks computer users or triggers pop-up ads. It would be similar to the authority the FTC was given in 2003 to penalize computer spammers.

More here.

"The Hacker" Arrested for Phishing Scheme

Jeffrey Goodin
Image source:

Via Technology News Daily.

Jeffrey Brett Goodin, 46, of Azusa, California, was arrested today by FBI agents after having been a fugitive for the past four months, announced J. Stephen Tidwell, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

Goodin, who was known as “The Hacker,” was originally arrested in January 2006 on charges he operated an identity theft scheme known as “phishing.” During the scheme, Goodin allegedly sent thousands of fraudulent e-mails which appeared to be from America Online’s Billing Department to AOL subscribers, seeking their personal credit and debit card account information. The stolen information was later used by Goodin to make unauthorized purchases.

Goodin was released on bond after being indicted for the scheme and subsequently failed to show up for a scheduled bail revocation hearing. A federal arrest warrant was issued for Goodin on July 24, 2006, in Los Angeles, and his photograph was posted on the FBI’s website at A federal grand jury added new charges against Goodin in a superseding indictment handed down on July 27, 2006, for crimes Goodin allegedly committed while a fugitive, including witness harassment.

FBI Agents in Los Angeles identified the location at which Goodin was residing and placed him under arrest today. Goodin was afforded an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles this afternoon and was detained. He was ordered to appear for an arraignment on Monday, November 8th, 2006.

More here.