Saturday, November 25, 2006

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Saturday, Nov. 25, 2006, at least 2,873 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 2,303 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 Friday 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.

Behavioral Science: 'Go Ahead, I Dare You...'

The Original American Bad Boy, James Dean

Wray Herbert writes in Newsweek:

Surprisingly, behavioral scientists have actually done these interviews with hundreds of American adolescents. In order to explore really stupid behavior, they have asked what seem to be really stupid questions: Is it a good thing to set your hair on fire? Drink Drano? Go swimming where sharks swim?

The results are fascinating, and unsettling.

More here.

Thanksgiving Toon: I Can't Believe...

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Quote of the Day: Tom Raum

"The war in Iraq has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in the war that President Bush's father fought in, World War II."

- Tom Raum, Associated Press Journalist

Gangsters Hijack Home PCs to Choke Internet with Spam

David Brown writes in The

Amichai Inbar, identified as the world’s fifth most significant spammer, has been using a London-based internet company to control the networks of hijacked computers, The Times has discovered. He is responsible for billions of e-mails advertising pornography, drugs such as Viagra and offers of “cheap” shares that turn out to be virtually worthless.

Mr Inbar, a Russian who also uses the names John Che Blau and Jonathan Blau, operates from Tel Aviv, Israel, but is linked to spammers in Russia and the US.

He is believed to have gained control of up to 150,000 computers that he uses to send his own spam, or rents out the network to criminal gangs based in Russia and the US.

More here.

Tennessee Jail Webcam Jeopardizes Security

Via The Associated Press.

An East Tennessee county that has beamed live 24-hour video from its jail on the Internet for nearly six years may nix the practice following complaints of harassment and security concerns.

Some viewers have been using the cameras to harass female jailers by calling them on the telephone and taunting them as they work, according to Anderson County sheriff's officials.

In other cases, viewers are tracking inmate movements and using the information to coordinate deliveries of contraband to prisoners on work details outside the jail.

More here.

Science Teachers Avoid Teaching Global Warming Because of Big Oil Funding

Laurie David writes in The Washington Post:

At hundreds of screenings this year of "An Inconvenient Truth," the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.

The producers of former vice president Al Gore's film about global warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.

More here.

Canada: Judge Acquits Blogger on Obstruction Charge


The judge who acquitted a New Brunswick blogger of obstructing justice says Charles LeBlanc was merely "plying his trade" at a protest last summer and shouldn't have been arrested.

In his 20-page written decision, Judge William McCarroll noted that LeBlanc was not among the mob of demonstrators during the Saint John protest, but was in a public space taking pictures of the protesters for his website when he was arrested.

He said LeBlanc is well-known for his blog, well enough that police officers admitted to consulting it to gather intelligence about the conference.

LeBlanc, who writes about poverty and politics on his website, was arrested and pinned to the ground by three police officers outside a business conference last June. A police officer later admitted to deleting a photo of himself from LeBlanc's camera.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Ideas

Via Enjoy!

Linkin Park Singer's Cell Phone Account Hacked

Linkin Park's lead singer Chester Bennington performs during the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia, Saturday, July 2, 2005.
Image source: / AP / Carolyn Kaster

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

A woman is accused of using a computer at a national laboratory to hack into a cell phone company's Web site to get a number for Chester Bennington, lead singer of the Grammy-winning rock group Linkin Park.

According to an affidavit filed by the Department of Defense Inspector General, Devon Townsend, 27, obtained copies of Bennington's cell phone bill, the phone numbers he called and digital pictures taken with the phone.

Investigators said she also hacked into the e-mail of Bennington's wife, Talinda Bennington, and at one point called her and threatened her.

Talinda Bennington told federal authorities last month that someone had accessed their Verizon Wireless account online, according to the affidavit, and expressed concern that a "stalker" had access to personal information.

More here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Uk: Children’s Database 'Secure' From Hackers

Famous last words...

Tom Stirling writes The [York] Press:

A database containing details of every child in York is safe from computer hackers, council chiefs have pledged.

The council's Child Index is designed to contain information on all the city's youngsters.

Government proposals to launch a nationwide version of the database have been slammed for opening up sensitive information to attack by hackers - and ignoring family values and privacy.

But York's own database, launched 18 months ago, is different, said Carol Runciman, the council's executive member for children's services.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Friday, Nov. 24, 2006, at least 2,871 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 2,303 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 Friday 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.

Off Topic: A Great Picture in San Francisco

My girlfriend, Lori, and my youngest son, Adam, this past Wednesday in San Francisco.

(I flew Adam up from Austin for the Thanksgiving holiday...)

Picture taken from Pier 39.

Phone vs. Cable: Turf Wars Escalate

Ken Belson and Vikas Bijaj write in The News York Times:

Bees swarmed around Dennis Pappas as he pried open the door to a telephone equipment box belonging to Qwest Communications at an apartment building here recently. Inside, the insects had built a small but seemingly busy hive.

The bees called the box home because workers from Cox Communications, a local cable provider, did not properly plug a hole in it when they switched customers in the building over to Cox’s phone service, said Mr. Pappas, a public policy chief at Qwest, the local phone company. As a result, Qwest had to bring in a contractor to undertake the risky task of removing the hive.

It may sound like a small thing, but Qwest says the infested box is just one of many pieces of equipment that Cox has damaged or misused. It says Cox has left wires exposed and improperly grounded cables, hazards that could disrupt phone service or hurt customers and workers. Qwest even argues that the damage is part of a plan to make it harder to sign up customers it lost to Cox.

Technicians who came to Qwest from Cox said “that their instructions were to make it as tough for Qwest to win back the customer as possible,” Mr. Pappas said.

More here.

Pastafarian Holiday Cards

Available for a limited time at Enjoy.

Offer of Baby on Craigslist Triggers Police Probe, Hoax Suspected

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

A classified ad that offered a free baby boy on the Craigslist Web site was under investigation by police Friday although the posting was believed to be a hoax.

The ad was posted to the "free stuff" section of the site early Thursday alongside offers for free turkey dinners, a set of crutches and an electric stove.

The writer, who said he was in San Diego, claimed that his ex-girlfriend had the baby a few weeks ago.

"Now he just sits in my closet and cries," the ad stated. "I'm not too sure how to deal with it."

More here.

Wal-Mart's Website Overwhelmed on Black Friday

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

High traffic disrupted Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Web site for much of Friday, one of the year's busiest shopping days.

The troubles came a day after Inc.'s site had brief disruptions because of a Thanksgiving Day sale on Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 video game machines.

For much of Friday morning, attempts to open resulted blank pages, delays or other problems. By early afternoon, visitors were simply told to come back later. spokeswoman Amy Colella blamed a "higher than anticipated traffic surge."

More here.

DBAs Brace for Week of Oracle Bugs

John Leyden writes on The Register:

Security researchers irked at Oracle's tardiness at releasing patches for security bugs plan to name a different vulnerability in Oracle's enterprise software every day for a week in December.

Oracle's quarterly security bulletins typically produce scores of bugs but yet more known bugs lay dormant and unfixed, according to Cesar Cerrudo, founder and chief exec of the Argeniss Security Research Team. Argeniss plans to release a bug a day involving Oracle databases next month in what's been dubbed "The Week of Oracle Database Bugs"(WoODB). Cerrudo said the effort, styled after Metasploit developer H. D. Moore's Month of Browser Bugs project last July, is designed to push Oracle into releasing fixes more quickly. He rejects suggestions that publicising unpatched flaws might put Oracle shops at greater risk of hacking attacks.

More here.

Michigan Credit Card Mystery Deepens

Martin H. Bosworth writes on

The story quietly appeared in local Michigan newspapers earlier this month: Wesco, a statewide gas station chain, was urging customers to contact their financial institutions to correct any inaccurate or fraudulent transactions, raising fears of a new wave of credit card fraud.

The Muskegon-based company warned that transactions that took place between July 25th and September 7th of this year might have been affected, and said it was working with local and federal authorities to determine what happened.

More here.

(Props, Flying Hamster.)

Defense Tech: China Bought B-2 Bomber Secrets

Bill Gertz writes in The Washington Times:

China obtained secret stealth technology used on B-2 bomber engines from a Hawaii-based spy ring in a compromise U.S. officials say will allow Beijing to copy or counter a key weapon in the Pentagon's new strategy against China.

Details of the classified defense technology related to the B-2's engine exhaust system and its ability to avoid detection by infrared sensors were sold to Chinese officials by former defense contractor Noshir S. Gowadia, an Indian-born citizen charged with spying in a federal indictment released by prosecutors in Hawaii.

Additionally, Mr. Gowadia provided extensive technical assistance to Chinese weapons designers in developing a cruise missile with an engine exhaust system that is hard to detect by radar, according to court papers made public recently.

He also helped the Chinese modify a cruise missile so that it can intercept U.S. air-to-air missiles, and helped Chinese weapons designers improve testing and measurement facilities, the court papers state.

More here.

User Friendly: DRM and Fair Use


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UK: Home Office Can't Exclude Privacy Chief on National Security Grounds


An attempt by the Home Office to refuse the release of information on national security grounds and exclude the Information Commissioner from the appeals process has failed.

The ruling means that the Commissioner can challenge a minister's judgment on whether the release of information would jeopardise national security.

More here.

Siemens Scuttles IPTV Unit in China

Via Reuters.

German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG may withdraw from the Internet TV market in China, a local newspaper reported on Friday. Siemens has dismissed its team in charge of Internet Protocol Television in China, the Shanghai Securities News said, citing industry sources saying that it was a "failure" for Siemens after the company had lost a bid to cooperate in the launch of IPTV services in Shanghai.

The report did not say how many employees worked for the unit. A spokesperson for Siemens in Shanghai could not immediately be reached for comment.

More here.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006, at least 2,871 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 2,302 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is five 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.

Josh Wolf Denied Thanksgiving Furlough

Josh Wolf

Michelle Meyers writes on the C|Net Missing Link Blog:

Josh Wolf, the video blogger behind bars for refusing to hand over unpublished source material, won't be enjoying a home-cooked meal today.

A federal judge on Tuesday denied Wolf's request for a Thanksgiving furlough, according to a court order issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup.

At a hearing earlier that day, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Alsup suggested that allowing Wolf a few days of holiday freedom might undercut the reason he has been imprisoned--to coerce him into surrendering a video of a San Francisco political protest under investigation by a federal grand jury.

More here.

Quote of the Day: Bruce Schneier

"We have a serious problem in this country. The TSA operates above, and outside, the law. There's no due process, no judicial review, no appeal."

- Bruce Schneier

Biggest Turkey of 2006: The NFL - Can't See TV

You might have to look hard to find Larry Johnson on TV on Thursday night.
Image source: Reed Hoffman / AP /

This really pisses me off.

In my family, throughout my lifetime, NFL football has been a tradition on Thanksgiving Day. While there are a couple of games broadcast as is the usual tradition, one of the prime-time showcase games tonight is basically blocked by the NFL in a pay-per-view money grab on the NFL Channel -- something that, to me, flies in the face of traditional Thanksgiving Day fare.

So I will not be watching the Kansas City-Denver game tonight, and if you're as upset about it as I am, I urge you to boycott it, too. Don't pay for it. Send a message to the NFL.

John Helyar writes on

Want a third helping of turkey on Thursday? If your stomach can handle it, you got it. Want a third helping of NFL on Thursday? Not so likely.

The NFL Network's first broadcast of a regular-season game -- the Denver Broncos vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, at 8 p.m. ET -- will be available to only about 40 million of the nation's 95 million homes with cable TV or satellite dishes. The network is at loggerheads with major cable operators, who've balked at its demands for a big fee hike and a spot on basic cable.

At Comcast, the nation's biggest cable operator (24 million subscribers), the network is available only to customers who pay for premium digital service. No. 2 operator Time Warner Cable (13.5 million subscribers) doesn't carry the NFL Network at all. Among the other top-five cable systems, Charter Communications and Cablevision don't carry the network, either, and Cox Communications relegates it to a premium "sports and information" digital tier.

What gives?

More here.

A Google Thanksgiving

Cell Phone Owners Getting New Rights

An AP newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

Cell phone owners will be allowed to break software locks on their handsets in order to use them with competing carriers under new copyright rules announced Wednesday.

Other copyright exemptions approved by the Library of Congress will let film professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations and let blind people use special software to read copy-protected electronic books.

All told, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions, the most his Copyright Office has ever granted. For the first time, the office exempted groups of users. Previously, Billington took an all-or-nothing approach, making exemptions difficult to justify.

More here.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Information Warfare: The Russian Cyber War Army Attacks

Via The Strategy Page.

There have been two recent example of Cyber War, just to show us all what weapons are actually in use and what they are capable of. In the Central Asian nation of Kirghizstan, the areas 400,000 Internet users were knocked off the net for several hours by a DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.

The attack came from outside the area, and was apparently arranged by the Kirghiz secret police, in an attempt to disrupt pro-democracy groups that are trying to get some honest elections.

More here.

Most Shocking: 'War on Drugs' Claims Life of Innocent 92-Year-Old Woman


An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

A 92-year-old woman was shot to death Tuesday after she fired at three narcotics officers trying to serve a warrant at her house, officials said.

Neighbours and relatives said it must have been a case of mistaken identity. Police said they had the right address. Police said the woman, identified as Kathryn Johnson, was the only person home at the time, and had lived there for about 17 years. As the plainclothes Atlanta police officers approached the house about 7 p.m., a woman inside started shooting, striking each of them, said Officer Joe Cobb, a police spokesman.

Assistant Chief Alan Dreher said the officers had a legal warrant and "knocked and announced" before they forced open the door. He said they were justified in returning fire when they were fired upon.

One was hit in the arm, another in a thigh and the third in a shoulder. The officers were taken to a hospital for treatment, and all three were conscious and alert, police said.

Sarah Dozier, identified as a niece of the woman, told WAGA-TV that there were never any drugs at the house.

More here.

Stolen DOT Computers Lead to Laptop Theft Ring

Aliya Sternstein writes on

An investigation into two recent laptop computer thefts from the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General has helped uncover a ring of laptop thieves, according to the latest status report on the incidents.

On July 27, someone stole an OIG special agent’s laptop from a locked car near Miami. The laptop contained personally identifiable information about 133,000 Florida residents. Following that episode, officials reviewed an April theft of an OIG laptop that occurred in Orlando, Fla. That laptop belonged to the special agent-in-charge of the Miami OIG office.

It took several weeks for computer crime forensics experts to check the Orlando laptop’s backup files for sensitive personally identifiable information (SPII), OIG spokesman Clayton Boyce said today.

More here.

SWIFT: EU Panel Says Banks Broke Law by Giving Data to U.S.

Dan Bilefsky writes in The New York Times:

A European Union oversight body concluded today that an international banking-data consortium broke the law when it gave the Central Intelligence Agency and other American agencies access to its records of millions of private financial transactions. The body called on the consortium to stop providing the data.

The consortium, called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or Swift for short, has drawn widespread criticism and scrutiny since the data transfers became publicly known early this year. American agencies requested the data so that their analysts could search for possible terrorist financing activity among the millions of confidential financial transactions that Swift oversees.

In a draft of a statement that will be made final on Thursday, the European Union’s data-protection “watchdog,” a committee made up of data-protection officials from the union’s member governments, says that financial institutions throughout the union share responsibility with Swift for the data sharing, which it concluded had violated the civil liberties of European citizens.

More here.

Toons: Thanks...

Click for larger image.

Homeland Security Contributed Bad Data to Military Intelligence Database

Michael Hampton writes on Homeland Stupidity:

If you disagree with the policies of the U.S. government, or are a member of a group or association which expresses disagreement with government policies, an agent of the federal government is likely reading your web site and subscribed to your mailing list.

Undercover officers of the Federal Protective Service subscribed to the mailing lists and monitored Web sites of peaceful anti-war groups, and contributed information about those groups’ activities to a military intelligence database, according to Pentagon documents released Tuesday.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2006, at least 2,867 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 2,302 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is one 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.

James Bond Captured by Pirates

An AFP newswire article, via, reports that:

James Bond is normally adept at dodging villains but he fell victim to pirates less than 48 hours after his new film, "Casino Royale," was released, an Internet intelligence firm said.

The latest film in the British spy series is already circulating on the Internet and on illegal DVDs available on the streets of London.

The movie premiered in London on November 14 and went on general release in some countries the following day.

It had already been illegally downloaded off the Internet more than 200,000 times by Monday, said Envisional, which specialising in piracy surveillance.

More here.

Notebook Theft Leaks London Police Payroll Data

Tom Espiner writes on C|Net News:

Three laptops containing payroll details for London's Metropolitan Police have been stolen from LogicaCMG, a British IT services company. The burglary took place on Thursday evening, but was discovered by staff at Logica's London offices on Friday morning. Approximately half of the Metropolitan Police's employees are thought to have been affected. The police force is in the process of notifying its workers of the theft.

Logica processes the Metropolitan Police payroll and pensions. The Metropolitan Police declined to comment on exactly what details had been stolen, or confirm how many employees had been affected, because of the ongoing investigation. Sources close to the inquiry claimed that the laptops contained the payroll and pension details of more than 15,000 Metropolitan Police officers.

More here.

Chinese Porn Site Operator Jailed for Life

An AP newswire article. via The New York Times, reports that:

The creator of China's largest pornographic Web site was jailed for life on Wednesday, state media reported.

Xinhua News Agency said judges at the Taiyuan Intermediate People's Court in Shanxi province gave the life sentence to Chen Hui and handed down terms of 13 months to 10 years to eight others after they were convicted of profiting from pornographic dissemination.

Chen, 28, and his accomplices started the Qingseliuyuetian (Pornographic Summer) Web site in 2004, and opened a further three porn Web sites, attracting more than 600,000 users.

Xinhua reported that police said it was difficult to know the exact amount of profits the Web site earned. Police found about 200,000 yuan ($25,000) in the bank accounts of the nine.

More here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lawsuit Alleges e-Voting Negligence in Florida

Anne Broache writes on C|Net News:

Public-interest groups and concerned voters have launched a new attack on what was supposed to be a higher-tech solution to Florida's hanging-chad brouhaha from the 2000 presidential contest.

A lawsuit filed in state court Tuesday alleges that election officials in Sarasota County did a shoddy job of selecting and managing touch-screen machines during this year's congressional election--and it calls for a re-vote. The left-leaning advocacy groups People for the American Way, Voter Action, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Electronic Frontier Foundation lodged the challenge on behalf of Republican and Democratic voters in the county.

More here.

User Friendly: More RIAA Shenanigans


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Alcatel Sues Microsoft Over Patents

Nate Mook writes on BetaNews:

The relationship between Microsoft and Alcatel, who partnered on IPTV last year, has apparently turned sour. The French manufacturer has filed two lawsuits against Microsoft, alleging infringement of 7 patents related to digital video and network communication.

The lawsuits were filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Friday, and are asking the court to bar Microsoft from further infringement as well as award cash damages. The complaints do not specify which products are infringing on Alcatel's patents, but do name the technologies.

More here.

Quote of the Day: Phil Zimmerman

"The internet has gone from been a gentleman's club for academics to something fiendishly hostile. It's changed from something like a university campus to downtown Bagdad."

- Phil Zimmerman, the creator of PGP, in an interview with The Register.

Arrest Made in DOT Laptop Theft

Mary Mosquera writes on

Law enforcement officials arrested a suspect in the theft of a laptop belonging to a Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General in the same restaurant parking lot near Miami from which the laptop was taken, according to an OIG status report released today.

The laptop taken in July contained sensitive, personally identifiable information for 133,000 pilots, commercial truck drivers and individual driver’s license holders in Florida.

Authorities have not recovered the laptop.

More here.

FTC Axes Two Alleged Spyware Operations

Caroline McCarthy writes on C|Net News:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it has permanently shut down an alleged spyware operation run by Odysseus Marketing and its principal, Walter Rines. Odysseus Marketing had deceptively installed spyware on consumers' computers by advertising free downloads that turned out not only to be bogus, but also bundled with malicious software, the agency said.

The FTC has also alleged that Odysseus Marketing exploited Microsoft Internet Explorer security vulnerabilities for covert installations. Once installed, the spyware harvested personal information, changed search results and plagued browsers with advertisements.

More here.

EFF Files Suit for Answers About New International Air Passenger Data Deal

Via The EFF.

The FLAG Project at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today, demanding information about a new agreement on the handling of air passenger data from flights between the European Union (EU) and the United States.

Two years ago, the U.S. and EU made a controversial deal requiring airlines to give DHS access to detailed passenger information from EU flights to and from the U.S. In May, the European Court of Justice struck down the agreement, finding it at odds with EU law. But the U.S. and EU reached a new agreement last month that will give U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies greater access to the data than the previous deal did. EFF filed its suit after DHS failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records about the handling of data under the new agreement, including how they are maintained, used, disclosed, and secured.

More here.

NASA's Mars Global Surveyor Believed Lost in Space

Gina Keating writes for Reuters:

NASA scientists conceded on Tuesday that the 10-year-old Mars Global Surveyor is probably lost in space after the U.S. agency tried unsuccessfully for two weeks to contact the probe.

The spacecraft, the oldest of five NASA robotic explorers studying Mars, was circling the planet snapping high-resolution images and studying the climate in a mission that led to the first evidence that water once flowed on the planet's surface.

The Global Surveyor went silent after reporting problems with a sticky solar panel, and scans of the skies have produced no sign of it.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Me, You, and The Doormat

Via Enjoy.

UK Computer Misuse Act Could Ban Security Tools


The new Police and Justice Act, published today, could criminalise legitimate IT security activity. There are fears amongst security experts that changes it makes to the Computer Misuse Act will make it illegal to distribute some vital tools.

The new law modifies the Computer Misuse Act of 1990, the cornerstone of Britain's anti-hacking law. The changes make clear for the first time that denial of service attacks are an offence; but they also address the distribution of hacking tools.

The new Act will make a person guilty of an offence "if he supplies or offers to supply any article believing that it is likely to be used to commit, or to assist in the commission of, [a hacking offence]." The word "article" is defined in the Act to include "any program or data held in electronic form".

Some software tools commonly used by IT security professionals can also be used for malicious purposes, making the new legislation a cause for concern.

More here.

Intelligence Information-Sharing Strategy Announced

Alice Lipowicz writes on

According to a schedule submitted to Congress by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte, standards in the development process for intelligence information sharing are expected to be completed and incorporated into federal enterprise architecture reviews and budgets by fiscal 2009.

A description of how the standards are being created, along with a schedule for their completion, is included in the 186-page Information-Sharing Environment Implementation Plan Report [.pdf] released on Nov. 16.

The broad-ranging document lays out a vision of how the environment is to work as a trusted partnership of users to facilitate, coordinate and expedite access to terrorism-related information. The environment encompasses federal, state, local, foreign and private communities of users.

More here.

Spam Never Dies

Bob Sullivan writes on The Red Tape Chronicles:

Three years ago, intentionally answered spam advertisements for cheap mortgage loans to see what would happen. Very soon, we received offers from a host of mortgage brokers, including household brands like Ameriquest and Quicken Loans, proving that spam is big business.

Now, we’ve proven something else: Spam never dies.

Recently, I received yet another solicitation in response to the spam I answered -- a full three years after the fact. In this case, I got a phone call from someone who was half-way around the globe asking if I was interested in refinancing my mortgage.

More here.

U.S., EU Seek to Ease Banking Privacy Concerns

Glenn R. Simpson writes in The Wall Street Journal:

As European privacy watchdogs step up their criticism of a U.S. counterterrorism program that monitors global bank-transfer data, U.S. and European Union officials are quietly exploring ways to preserve the program while allaying privacy concerns.

An EU committee this week is expected to back recent findings by Belgium's privacy regulator that Swift, a global banking-telecommunications network, violated European privacy laws when it gave information on cross-border wire transfers by EU citizens to the Treasury Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

More here.

Military Documents Hold Tips on Antiwar Activities

Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazetti write in The New York Times:

An antiterrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks against military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations, newly disclosed documents show.

One tip in the database in February 2005, for instance, noted that “a church service for peace” would be held in the New York City area the next month. Another entry noted that antiwar protesters would be holding “nonviolence training” sessions at unidentified churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The Defense Department tightened its procedures earlier this year to ensure that only material related to actual terrorist threats — and not peaceable First Amendment activity — was included in the database.

More here.

Picture of the Day: In Pasta We Trust

Via The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

UK Businesses Failing to Report Security Breaches

Fiona Raisbeck writes on SC Magazine Online:

Cyber criminals are escaping punishment because companies are failing to report security breaches according to Detective Inspector Chris Simpson, former head of the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit.

Speaking at an IT security event at the House of Lords on Monday, Simpson said businesses are reluctant to report cases of hacking, DOS attacks and other computer crimes for fear of negative publicity. He argued that the UK should adopt a similar law to the California Security Breach Information Act (SB-1386) where organisations are required to divulge details of security crimes and inform individuals if the security of private information has been compromised.

More here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Picture of the Day: The Naked Truth

Image source: Xinhua News

Personally, I like chicks chicken -- so I have no opinion on the whole PETA-KFC thing. But I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to include this as the "Pic of the Day"


- ferg

(Props, Todd.)

Idiot Criminal Watch: Arkansas Fugitive Seeking Love Online Gets Nabbed

Via Reuters.

A fugitive wanted for a double homicide in Arkansas was arrested on the weekend in Wisconsin after he posted his name, picture and address on an online dating Web site, police said on Monday.

Calvin A. Bennett, 26, has been charged with two counts of murder in the killings of Pierce Odell, 79, and his wife, Mary, 78, who were found shot to death on October 30 outside their home in Nashville, Arkansas, about 125 miles southwest of the state capital Little Rock.

More here.

Complaints Fuel Probe of NASA Inspector

An Orlando Sentinel article by Michael Cabbage, via The Mercury News, reports that:

A federal probe of NASA Inspector General Robert Cobb outlines allegations that he stifled investigations, mistreated department employees and maintained a close personal relationship with top officials of the agency he was supposed to independently monitor.

Preliminary findings from a 10-month investigation into Cobb's conduct have been forwarded to an oversight group, the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. That group is expected to make a final decision before the end of the year on what, if any, action to take.

More here.

Shareholder Group Files Anti-Spying Resolutions

Ryan Singel writes on 27B Stroke 6:

Shareholders aren't going to let the plaintiff lawyers have all the fun when it comes to confronting telecoms for their alleged involvement with the government's warrantless eavesdropping on Americans' communications.

Citing possible damages in the lawsuits in the billions and negative publicity, a group of AT&T shareholders filed a resolution for April 2007's board meeting and expect to file another resolution for Verizon today. The resolution calls for AT&T's board to issue a report on the alleged sharing of customer records to the government, disclose the legal and public relations expenses related to the lawsuit and to propose policies forbidding such sharing in the future.

More here.

Offbeat: The Spies of Texas

Having lived for several years in Austin, I still track with news from the area.

This is one of the more interesting pieces that I've read from Central Texas in a few weeks...

Thorne Dreyer writes on The Texas Observer:

During the Sixties and Seventies, a number of government agencies had significant overlapping domestic surveillance programs.

According to former military intelligence officer Christopher H. Powell, who now teaches constitutional law at Mount Holyoke College, U.S. Army Intelligence had a network of 1,500 agents dispersed throughout the country and maintained files on more than a million American citizens. The IRS was involved in “counter-subversive” intelligence operations, had massive files, and shared them with other agencies. The CIA conducted significant domestic spying, targeted SDS, SNCC, the Black Panther Party, and a number of other organizations and had a substantial campus presence with agents among the faculty and administration.

Texas was no exception.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Monday, Nov. 20, 2006, at least 2,865 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 2,294 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is one 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.

ACLU: DOJ's Defense of COPA Inconsistent

Elizabeth Montalbano writes on InfoWorld:

A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued Monday that the government's defense of the controversial Child Online Protection Act (COPA) was inconsistent in defining what kind of online content is harmful to minors, and so the law should continue to remain unenforceable because it violates free speech.

Chris Hansen, a staff attorney for the ACLU, said that witnesses in the government's case in support of COPA could not seem to agree on what kind of sexually explicit material or content that shows human nudity is offensive and what has artistic, scientific or political value.

More here.

Interesting Intelligence Assessment: Chinese Information Warfare Exercise

Via UPI.

Xinhua reported on Nov. 19 that the Chinese People's Liberation Army, or PLA, on Nov. 19 ended a military exercise on the Pacific coast of China's eastern Shandong Province which emphasized the PLA's information warfare capabilities.

According to the Chinese news agency more than 8,000 personnel -- including the land force air unit, electronic warfare troop, artillery troop and special troops -- participated in the exercise.

According to Commander Fan Changlong of the Jinan Military Area Command, chief director of "Vanguard-206B," the 12-day exercise was designed to "root out any problems that exist among Chinese troops by exposing them to the most difficult electromagnetic environment. These troops will take on important battle tasks in future so it is essential to examine their techniques."

Another Vanguard-206B director, Zeng Weihua, said, "The application of information technology is the main purpose of this drill. We want the troops participating in the drill to know that defeat in information techniques means defeat in actual combat."

More here.

California Court: ISP Not Responsible for Online Libel

Bob Egelco writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

People who claim they were libeled on line can't sue the Internet service providers that carried the messages, the California Supreme Court ruled today.

The unanimous ruling reversed an October 2003 decision by a state appellate court in San Francisco that would have held carriers like Google and Yahoo to the same legal standard as newspapers and book publishers. They can be sued for the contents of a libelous message if they knew, or had reason to know, that the message was defamatory and failed to remove it.

The state's high court said today that Internet service providers were immunized by a 1996 federal law that said providers of chat rooms or news groups are not considered the publishers of information furnished by others. That means they're not responsible for the content, even if they knew it was harmful, the court said.

More here.

Kaspersky: Is the Hacking Community Running Out of Fresh Ideas?


According to a new report by Kaspersky Lab, the hacking community has run out of fresh ideas when it comes to creating new malware. Malware Evolution: July – September 2006 states that while the hacking community is developing ‘proof of concept’ code for new platforms, it is unlikely that it will translate in to malware capable of causing substantial and lasting damage.

Says Alex Gostev, Senior Virus Analyst at Kaspersky Lab and author of the report: “The overwhelming trends throughout 2006 indicate that the well of truly new ideas has run dry. Virus writers are feverishly trying to defend their creations against new protective technologies by creating proof of concept code for new platforms. However, these creations do not yet have a footing in reality: we are not seeing threats that would be able to cause millions and millions of pounds of damage, as Klez, Mydoom, Lovesan and Sasser did in the past.”

More here.

General Dynamics Gets White House VoIP Contract

Nick Wakeman writes on Washington Technology:

General Dynamics Corp.’s IT business will help complete the transition of the White House’s external communications system to an Internet protocol-based infrastructure.

Under a $7 million contract from the White House Communications Agency, General Dynamics of Falls Church, Va., will use a Synchronous Optical Network backbone for connections between the White House and the outside world.

General Dynamics has been working with the White House Communications Agency for more than four years on various communications projects doing analysis, design and infrastructure upgrade work, said company spokesman Mark Meudt.

More here.

Gapingvoid: If You're So Smart, Then Why...?

Via Enjoy!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ben Edelman: Bad Practices Continue at Zango

The Guru of all things Adware & Spyware, Ben Edelman, writes on his blog:

Earlier this month, the FTC announced the proposed settlement of its investigation into Zango, makers of advertising software widely installed onto users' computers without their consent or without their informed consent (among other bad practices).

We commend the proposed settlement's core terms. But despite these strong provisions, bad practices continue at Zango -- practices that, in our judgment, put Zango in violation of the key terms and requirements of the FTC settlement. We begin by explaining the proposed settlement's requirements. We then present eight types of violations of the proposed settlement, with specific examples of each. We conclude with recommendations and additional analysis.

Except where otherwise indicated, this document describes only downloads we tested during November 2006 -- current, recent installations and behaviors.

More here.

The $65,000 Question: Do You Own an iPod?

Asher Moses writes in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Owning an iPod, camera phone or a DVD recorder might be enough to land you in jail or lumbered with a large fine under the Federal Government's proposed new changes to the copyright laws, experts warn.

Dale Clapperton, vice-chairman of the non-profit organisation Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) said the changes proposed in the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 greatly "lower the standard of proof" required to charge someone with copyright infringement.

Professor Brian Fitzgerald, head of the Queensland University of Technology's school of law, agreed. He noted in an article submitted to the Online Opinion journal: "These new provisions have the potential to make everyday Australians in homes and businesses across the country into criminals on a scale that we have not witnessed before."

Senators from both the Labor and Democrat parties have spoken out against the changes, noting that the government is trying to push the long, complex bill through parliament before it's been properly examined.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006, at least 2,863 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 2,291 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is eight more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday 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.

Egyptian Police Detain Another Blogger Despite International Criticism

An AP newswire article, via The International Herald Tribune, reports that:

Police arrested a blogger Sunday in Cairo, less than a week after rights watchdog Amnesty International criticized Egypt for detaining the writer of another personal Web log.

Rami Siyam was detained in downtown Cairo early Sunday for questioning, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He is at least the fifth blogger Egypt has detained this year.

Later he was transferred to the Delta Nile city of Belbeis for further interrogation.

More here.

Quote of the Day: Scott Adams

"Ask a deeply religious Christian if he’d rather live next to a bearded Muslim that may or may not be plotting a terror attack, or an atheist that may or may not show him how to set up a wireless network in his house. On the scale of prejudice, atheists don’t seem so bad lately."

- Scott Adams, on The Dilbert Blog.

Prison No Obstacle for Cunning ID Thief

Mary Beth Lane writes in The Columbus Dispatch:

Anthony F. Forte got a speeding ticket on I-70, paid a $105 fine in Fairfield County Municipal Court and went on with his life.

That was back in January, so long ago that he forgot about it — until a state trooper called him last month.

A copy of the speeding ticket with all his personal information was in the hands of a prison inmate.

More here.

(Props, Flying Hamster.)

Internet Censorship Law May Come Out of Hibernation

Declan McCullagh writes on the C|Net Politics Blog:

In 1998, the U.S. Congress enacted a sweeping Web censorship law that nearly everyone promptly forgot about.

Why? The explanation is simple: The American Civil Liberties Union immediately filed a lawsuit to block the U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judge granted an injunction barring prosecutors from enforcing the law. That injunction has been in place ever since.

But now that could change. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Lowell A. Reed, Jr. in Philadelphia will hear closing arguments in the Child Online Protection Act case, and a ruling is expected by early 2007.

More here.