Saturday, November 03, 2007

Managed Fast-Flux Service Provider?

Dancho Danchev:

Vertical integration in the spamming market means you don't just provide potential customers lists in the form of harvested emails, the inftrastructure for the mass mailing consisting of hundreds of infected PCs, but also, occupying emerging market segments such as the need for increasing the overal time a spam/phishing campaign remains online, as well as make it hard to traceback courtesy of fast-flux networks.

And so, the IP that was hosting the spam/phishing campaign in the last 5 minutes is now clean and has nothing to do with it.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007, at least 3,850 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 eight military civilians. At least 3,131 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is 10 higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

More here.

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

EU Seeks Data on American Passengers

Ellen Nakashima writes in The Washington Post:

American travelers' personal data would for the first time be exported to all European Union states by airline carriers flying to Europe under a proposal to be announced this week.

The data, including names, telephone numbers, credit card information and travel itinerary, would be sent to E.U. member states so they could assess passenger risk for counterterrorism purposes, according to a draft copy obtained by The Washington Post. The European Commission proposal would allow the data to be kept for 13 years or longer if used in criminal investigations and intelligence operations. It would cover all passengers flying into and out of Europe, not just Americans.

More here.

Fresno State Hackers Indicted

Via Technology News Daily.

United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced that on Thursday, October 25, 2007, a federal grand jury returned an indictment involving JOHN ESCALERA, 29, of Fresno and GUSTAVO RAZO, JR., 28, of Pasenda, California, with conspiracy, honest services wire fraud, unauthorized access of computer and identity theft related to a grade changing scheme perpetrated against the California State University, Fresno.

The case was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Crimes Task Force and the Fresno State Police Department. The Cyber Crimes Task Force consists of members of the FBI, Fresno Police Department, Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, California Department of Justice and United States Secret Service. The intrusion was discovered by Fresno State while performing an audit on their grading software.

More here.

Detecting and Blocking the Russian Business Network

Dancho Danchev:

Bleeding Edge Threats recently announced the release of some very handy RBN blocking/detecting rulesets.

Remember RBN's fake anti virus and anti spyware software? The list is getting bigger with another 20 additions again hosted on RBN IPs exposed by the RBNExploit blog.

Meanwhile you may be also be interested in how does an abuse request get handled at the RBN? Deceptively of course. Each and every domain or IP that has been somehow reported malicious to them, not once but numerous times by different organizations starts serving a fake account suspended message like the following malicious domains hosted at the RBN do :

"This Account Has Been Suspended For Violation Of Hosting Terms And Conditions. Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible."

More here.

Spy Alert: Blackwater Now for Hire

Dana Hedgpeth writes in The Washington Post:

First it became a brand name in security for its work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now it's taking on intelligence.

The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will sniff out intelligence about natural disasters, business-friendly governments, overseas regulations and global political developments for clients in industry and government.

The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks -- high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence -- that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency's more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.

More here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Programming Note: ACM WORM 2007

I'm headed for Washington, D.C. early this A.M. and will likely not be posting again until Saturday (workshop, travel, etc.).

Details on this workshop here:

The 5th ACM Workshop on Recurring Malcode (WORM 2007)
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, VA, USA
2 November 2007


- ferg

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

November 1: Samhain, Eve of All Hallows

It's odd, at times, looking back on the Roman-Christianization of Pagan celebrations.

First, there was Samhain (via Wikipedia):

Samhain is the word for November in the Gaelic languages.

The Festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is generally regarded as 'The Celtic New Year'.

The same word was used for a month in the ancient Celtic calendar, in particular the first three nights of this month, with the festival marking the end of the summer season and the end of the harvest. A modernized version of this festival continues today in some of the traditions of the Catholic All Souls' Day, the secular Halloween, and in folk practices of Samhain itself in the Celtic Nations and the Irish and Scottish diasporas.

And then, of course--as was done for many Pagan celebrations-- it became morphed into a Christian event, All Saints Day (also via Wikipedia):

All Saints' Day, All Hallows, Hallowmas ("hallows" meaning "saints," and "mas" meaning "Mass"), is a feast celebrated on November 1 or on the first Sunday after Pentecost in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. Halloween is the day preceding it, and is so named because it is "The Eve of All Hallows".

All Saints is also a Christian formula invoking all the faithful saints and martyrs, known or unknown. In terms of Catholic theology, the feast remembers all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven, while the next day, All Souls' Day, commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven.

Whichever one you celebrate, welcome dark months. :-)

- ferg

Enjoy The Moment: Happy Hallowe'en

Click for larger image.

U.S. Toll in Iraq, Afghanistan

Iraq and Afghanistan statistics via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007, at least 3,842 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 3,128 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is five higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Wednesday at 10 a.m. EDT.

As of Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007, at least 387 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. The department last updated its figures Oct. 27, 2007, at 10 a.m. EDT.

Of those, the military reports 259 were killed by hostile action.

More here and here.

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

Quote of the Day: Robert McMillan

"Security experts are saying that a reported al-Qaeda cyber jihad attack planned against Western institutions should be treated with skepticism."

- Robert McMillan, writing on InfoWorld. I echo this sentiment.

ICANN Council Stalls on WHOIS Privacy

David Kravets writes on Threat Level:

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers voted down a proposal Wednesday to grant internet domain owners privacy.

Instead, the ICANN council voted 17-7 to continue studying whether it should abandon its policy requiring domain site owners' personal or proxy information to appear on a Whois search. After nearly two hours of debate, the group voted to investigate formulating a policy that ensures "appropriate privacy safeguards for natural persons, lawful access to data for rights enforcement, consumer protection, law enforcement and anti-crime purposes."

The council for the governing body of domain registrations, voted down a measure that would have allowed Whois reporting requirements to expire at the end of 2008.

More here.

Eavesdropping as a Telecom Profit Center

Andrew Appel writes on Freedom to Tinker:

In 1980 AT&T was a powerful institution with a lucrative monopoly on transporting long-distance voice communications, but forbidden by law from permitting the government to eavesdrop without a warrant. Then in 1981 Judge Greene took its voice monopoly away, and in the 1980s and 90s the Internet ate the rest of its lunch.

By 1996, Nicholas Negroponte wrote what many others also foresaw: “Shipping bits will be a crummy business. Transporting voice will be even worse. By 2020 … competition will render bandwidth a commodity of the worst kind, with no margins and no real basis for charging anything.”

During the 1980s and 90s, AT&T cleverly got out of any business except shipping commodity bits: in 1981 it (was forced to) split off its regional phone companies; in 1996 it (voluntarily) split off its equipment-making arm as Lucent Technologies; in 2000-2001 it sold off its Wireless division to raise cash. Now AT&T long-distance bit-shipping is just a division of the former SBC, renamed AT&T.

More here.

Group Proposes 'Do Not Track' List for Web

Catherine Rampell writes on The Washington Post:

A group of privacy, consumer and technology groups today proposed the creation of a "Do Not Track" list similar to the "Do Not Call" phone list so consumers could prevent companies from tracking what Web sites they visit.

The proposal follows growing complaints about companies' use of consumers' Web activities for behaviorally targeted advertising, which tailors ads based on the Web sites individuals visit. The proposal was submitted to the Federal Trade Commission as one of a list of suggested actions for protecting consumers' privacy.

More here.

UK: Anger at Ministers' e-Crime Response

Via The BBC.

An influential group of peers has accused the government of putting its "head in the sand" after it rejected their ideas for dealing with e-crime.

The Lords Science and Technology Committee report found the internet was "the playground of criminals".

But the government did not agree with its suggestion that lawlessness "was rife" on the internet.

Committee member the Earl of Erroll said the government's response was "a huge disappointment".

In its report, the Lords committee criticised the government's "Wild West" approach of leaving internet security to individuals as "inefficient and unrealistic".

More here.

Note: Apparently these guys haven't heard that "Criminals May Overwhelm the Web". -ferg

Welcome, Oidhche Shamhna (Samhain Eve)

Via Wikipedia.

The Samhain celebrations have survived in several guises as a festival dedicated to the harvest and the dead. In Ireland and Scotland, the Féile na Marbh, the "festival of the dead" took place on Samhain.

Samhain Eve, in Irish and Scots Gaelic, Oidhche Shamhna, is one of the principal festivals of the Celtic calendar, and is thought to fall on or around the 31st of October. It represents the final harvest. In modern Ireland and Scotland, the name by which Halloween is known in the Gaelic language is still "Oíche/Oidhche Shamhna". It is still the custom in some areas to set a place for the dead at the Samhain feast, and to tell tales of the ancestors on that night.

Traditionally, Samhain was time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies, and decide which animals would need to be slaughtered in order for the people and livestock to survive the winter. This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock.

More here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

IARPA: Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency

Shaun Waterman writes for UPI:

The plan for a technology incubator for the country’s intelligence agencies is just “waiting for life to be breathed into it,” says the deputy U.S. spy chief.

Donald Kerr, the newly confirmed deputy director of national intelligence, said that the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency was “a work in progress.” “IARPA is still a construct waiting for life to be breathed into it,” he told a conference in Texas last week, according to a transcript.

Intelligence officials in Washington told United Press International that a classified implementation plan for the agency had been finalized recently.

The agency is envisioned as part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and its chief will report to Steve Nixon, the DNI’s director of science and technology.

More here.

DHS: Fire Services Join Fusion Centers

Via UPI.

The Department of Homeland Security wants fire services represented in the growing number of state and local government intelligence fusion centers.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a fire chiefs conference that the department’s Chief Intelligence Officer Charles Allen “is working to add fire-fighter personnel to state and local fusion centers.”

“Now some people might say, well, wait a second. Why do you want to put firefighters in an intelligence fusion center, which has intelligence officials and police officials?” Chertoff said last week at the International Association of Fire Chiefs conference in Washington.

He said that as firefighters were often first on the scene of an event that might be a terrorist attack, fire services had to be integrated into fusion centers to share whatever they learned.

More here.

Image source: Defense Horizons

'Criminal' Botnet Stumps for Ron Paul?

Sarah Lai Stirland writes on Wired News:

If Texas congressman Ron Paul is elected president in 2008, he may be the first leader of the free world put into power with the help of a global network of hacked PCs spewing spam, according to computer-security researchers who've analyzed a recent flurry of e-mail supporting the long-shot Republican candidate.

"This is clearly a criminal act in support of a campaign, which has been committed with or without their knowledge," says Gary Warner, the University of Alabama's director of research in computer forensics. "The question is, will we see more and more of this, or will this bring shame to the campaigns and will they make clear that this is not a form of acceptable behavior by their supporters?" Warner pointed to provisions of the federal Can-Spam Act.

Ron Paul spokesman Jesse Benton says the campaign has no knowledge of the scam.

More here.

My First Real Earthquake... Yikes! - UPDATE

Click for larger image.

Kind of freaked us out earlier this evening (40 minutes ago) -- a Magnitude 5.6 earthquake centered about ~7 miles from here.

Knocked out AT&T/Cingular service (still out or overloaded at this hour) in this area, felt like a freight train rolled through the neighborhood, made the building sway, and freeked out my animals.

Local coverage here & here.

- ferg

Image source: U.S. Geological Survey

UPDATE: 21:32 PDT: AT&T cell phone service seems to be working again now... - ferg

Call Center Employees More Dangerous Than Phishers

Liam Tung writes on ZDNet Australia:

Banks are fighting to keep their call centres free from criminals that pose as -- or become -- call centre staff in order to steal customer details.

Just two years ago, phishing was the greatest threat to the security of JP Morgan Chase's customers. Today, the company is far more worried about the people manning its call centres.

Staff have been caught stealing customer information using mobile phones, cameras and USB drives, said Iain Johnston, fraud specialist at JP Morgan Chase Asia Pacific.

Speaking at a Financial Times event called "Securing the Bank" last Thursday in Sydney, he said: "We have found incidences where screenshots have been taken by mobile phone or where people are writing texts at incredible speed under their desks".

More here.

Fraudsters Hijack Led Zeppelin Concert

Dinah Greek writes on ComputerAct!ve:

The huge demand for tickets to the Led Zeppelin reunion concert has spawned a series of scams, Computeractive has discovered.

Among the genuine auctions for spare tickets to a range of events on Ebay are a number of traders who are selling non-existent tickets for thousands of pounds.

Harvey Goldsmith, rock promoter and organiser of the Led Zeppelin concert, told us: "The public are being criminally defrauded. We have written to Ebay to make it clear that there are fraudulent offers and the company has ignored us... It is about time organisations such as Ebay confront the issues and behave responsibly."

More here.

More RBN Fake Anti-Spyware and Anti-Malware Tools

Via RBN Exploit.

As requested this article (2 of 3) continues from the Russian Business Network (RBN’s) Top 20 “fake” or “rogue software” series concerning the RBN’s Retail Division. The first article provided details of 20 such products focused on the delivery method and the need for dynamic CYBERINT (cyber intelligence) to encompass the multiplicity of other mirrored hosts and servers.

This article provides further exposure of 21 to 40, but to extend the theme to a historical awareness of these ongoing and active threats. The third article will focus on the question, “Are these entire 40 fake products all RBN?” – The brief answer here is a quantifiable - yes!

More here.


What Should ICANN Do About WHOIS? - UPDATE

Braden Cox writes on The Technology Liberation Front:

One of the largest issues to be considered here at the Los Angeles ICANN meeting is about WHOIS. As the AP reports, there are proposals to eliminate the WHOIS database, modify the information process, or call for more studies. Indeed, there’s a lot of people interested in this topic, particularly privacy advocates on the one side and trademark owners on the other.

But there’s more to this issue than privacy and IP rights. The reality is that WHOIS is important for law enforcement to track criminals that steal personal information.

Indeed. -ferg

More here.

UPDATE: 18:51 PDT: Brian Krebs has a very nice summary of the issues here in The Washington Post. - ferg

Storm Worm Sent 15 Million Pump-and-Dump e-Mails

Robert McMillan writes on InfoWorld:

The Storm Worm botnet network may be shrinking in size, but it has managed to send out 15 million of those annoying audio spam messages in October, according to anti-spam vendor MessageLabs.

It's hard to believe that the Storm messages were effective. Recipients had to first click on an attachment -- usually given a misleading name such as beatles.mp3 or Britney.mp3 -- to hear the stock pitch, which featured a warbly robotic woman advising people to invest in online car seller, Exit Only.

This kind of scam, called "pump and dump," tries to nudge up the price of penny stocks by a cent or two, giving the spammers a way to make a quick buck by selling the stock before it crashes. Spammers have been delivering their messages in different formats, including PDF and Excel files, over the past few years as part of a cat-and-mouse game with spam blockers. This move to MP3 spam is the latest development in this battle, observers say.

More here.

Ukrainian Leader's Website Attacked, Russians Claim Responsibility

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

Hackers from several countries launched a massive attack and temporarily disabled the website of Ukraine's western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko, his office said Tuesday. A Russian nationalist group claimed responsibility.

The attacks from servers in Russia, Britain, Kazakhstan, the United States, Israel and Ukraine began Sunday night and continued through Tuesday afternoon, the presidential press service told The Associated Press.

More than 18,000 attacks have been carried out, temporarily blocking access to the site. The web page could not be accessed Tuesday night.

More here.

IT Industry Wants Action on Cyber Crime Bills

William Jackson writes on

Much of the information technology industry is getting behind a pair of cybercrime bills introduced in Congress and is pressing to get action on the bills.

The Business Software Alliance has come out in favor of H.R. 2290, the Cyber Security Enhancement Act of 2007, and S. 2213, the Cyber Crime Act of 2007, and is producing educational materials to help sway legislators.

Two officials from Symantec of Cupertino, Calif., spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill talking with staffers for Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

Art Wong, senior vice president of security response and managed services at Symantec, said current federal criminal law does not adequately address modern cybercrime. “There is an increased professionalization of hacking activity,” Wong said. Underground economies have developed where hacking tools and stolen data can be bought, sold or traded in “an e-Bay-like environment. Clearly, legislation is behind.”

More here.

In Passing: Robert Goulet

Robert Goulet
November 26, 1933 – October 30, 2007

What Does 'ai siktir vee' Mean? It Means 'get lost'

Dancho Danchev:

After both TrendMicro and Sophos acknowledged the attack on Possibility Media's portfolio of online publications, added detection, further clustered the attack, as well as came up with a fancy graph to visualize the IFRAME-ing attack, the attackers changed the IFRAME code and directed it to another location, and perhaps it's more interesting to see them express their feelings about getting exposed in such a coordinated manner.

The second IFRAME URL from the previous post now greets with "ai siktir vee?" message. What does "ai siktir vee" means? It means "get lost".

More here.

Image source: Dancho Danchev

Note: The HTML "placeholder" logo above should look familiar to anyone familiar with the RBN... I've run across many, many identical "placeholders" while investigating RBN activities.

Programming Note: Under the Weather... posting will probably be light today.


- ferg

Germany Seeks Expansion of Computer Spying

Kim Murphy writes in The Los Angeles Times:

Expanded surveillance laws since the Sept. 11 attacks already have enabled many Western governments to monitor telephone and e-mail traffic, the conversation in Islamic militants' chat rooms and the websites visited by terrorism suspects.

Now, along with several other European countries, Germany is seeking authority to plant secret Trojan viruses into the computers of suspects that could scan files, photos, diagrams and voice recordings, record every keystroke typed and possibly even turn on webcams and microphones in an attempt to gain knowledge of attacks before they happen.

More here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hallowe'en WHODUNIT: Death of a Spammer

Click for larger image.

An oddball picture from my office -- the Hallowe'en decorators decided that a CSI "Whodunit" would be clever -- "Who killed the Spammer?"

And yes, apparently he's missing part of a leg (and an arm, too, I think).

It actually turned out to be extraordinary. Congrats.


Innovative Thinking: Wikipedia Entries Instead of Term Papers

John Timmer writes on ARS Technica:

The use of Wikipedia as a source of information for classwork has been widely reported on and has even happened in classes taught by our own Ken Fisher. But this may not mean that Wikipedia has no place in the classroom, if Martha Groom at the University of Washington-Bothell has her way. Instead of letting her students rely on Wikipedia as a source, however, Groom has turned it into a destination for their classwork: in place of a term paper, her students were required to create Wikipedia entries.

Groom, who teaches environment and ecology classes, presented her experience at the 2007 EDUCAUSE conference, which focuses on IT in the education environment.

More here.

Note: My hat is off to Ms. Groom -- now this, is innovative thinking. - ferg

Politics, Human Rights, The Rule of Law: Restoring Habeas Corpus

Bruce Fein writes in The Washington Times:

The Founding Fathers enshrined the Great Writ in the Constitution to prevent the president from judging the lawfulness of his own detentions. Making proper deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, they worried that the president would be tempted to cast political or personal enemies into dungeons or to detain in furtherance of a political agenda absent checking by independent judges.

A narrow exception was made "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion [when] the public Safety may require it," neither of which fits September 11, 2001, or the threat of international terrorism.

More here.

Image source:

2007 Spying Said to Cost $50 Billion

Walter Pincus writes in The Washington Post:

The director of national intelligence will disclose today that national intelligence activities amounting to roughly 80 percent of all U.S. intelligence spending for the year cost more than $40 billion, according to sources on Capitol Hill and inside the administration.

The disclosure means that when military spending is added, aggregate U.S. intelligence spending for fiscal 2007 exceeded $50 billion, according to these sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the total remains classified.

Adm. Mike McConnell will announce that the fiscal 2007 national intelligence program figure, classified up to now, is being made public at the urging of the Sept. 11 commission and the insistence of Congress, which turned the commission's recommendation into law. The commission's plan was to have the president make the figure public each year.

More here.

One-Stop Shopping for Hackers

Scott Berinato writes on PC World:

Security researchers studying the latest Internet crime trends have discovered a new Eastern European website that uses a large botnet to infect vulnerable PCs. The operators of the botnet and website charge clients for each successful PC infection.

The site is likely based out of Russia, according to the security researcher's sources who asked to remain anonymous because of their underground intelligence work. While the front-end website, called, doesn't appear to contain or deliver malware, readers are strongly urged to avoid visiting the site in case malware is present and because the site likely logs the IP addresses of its visitors. (The ".cc" Internet domain is assigned to the Australian territories of the Cocos and Keeling Islands.)

The sources discovered the site while performing forensics on some servers known to host malware. They say that, when last checked, was still in operation.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Monday, Oct. 29, 2007, at least 3,840 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 3,129 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is one higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Monday at 10 a.m. EDT.

More here.

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

Toon of the Day: Business As Usual

Click for larger image.

Via Truthdig.

Woman Admits to Exploiting Glitch on QVC Website

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A woman pleaded guilty to scamming the QVC home-shopping network out of more than $412,000 by exploiting a glitch in its Web site.

Quantina Moore-Perry, 33, of Greensboro, N.C., did not pay for more than 1,800 items she received from QVC between March and November 2005, authorities said.

Moore-Perry ordered handbags, housewares, jewelry and electronics, then immediately canceled the orders and received credit for them. But the glitch caused the items to still be delivered to Moore-Perry, who subsequently sold them on eBay, authorities said.

More here.

Malware Tools: Multiple Firewalls Bypassing Verification on Demand

Dancho Danchev:

Next to the proprietary malware tools, malware as a web service, Shark2's built-in VirusTotal submission, the numerous malware crypting on demand services, the complete outsourcing of spam in the form of a "managed spamming appliance", and the built-in firewall and anti virus killing capabilities in commodity DIY malware droppers, all indicate that the dynamics of the malware industry are once again shifting towards a service based economy with a recently offered multiple firewall bypassing verification on demand service.

More here.

Today's Most Arrogant Quote: NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker

"We know that Apple has destroyed the music business – in terms of pricing – and if we don’t take control, they’ll do the same thing on the video side."

- Jeff Zucker, Chief Executive at NBC Universal, quoted in a Financial Times article, speaking at a breakfast hosted by Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Communications. Also, Mr. Zucker wins the "Biggest Balls of the Day" award.

Quote of the Day: Matt Taibbi

"If and when I ever get to be Interior Minister, one of my first acts is going to be the putting to death of anyone who thinks God interferes in the outcome of things like sporting events and elections. I’d want to have a giant shark tank built expressly for this purpose. Just throw them in there and then dump a couple of barrels of cow blood in the water."

- Matt Taibbi, quoted in an interview on Scholars & Rogues.

FTC: 'Let Us Fine Spyware Operations, Already'

Anne Broache writes on the C|Net News Blog:

Federal consumer protection authorities say they want nothing more than to put the financial hurt on deceptive spyware purveyors. The trouble, they say, is that the law still doesn't let them.

Sure, the Federal Trade Commission has the ability to go after spyware purveyors now, and it has done so a dozen or so times. So can state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice.

But currently, the FTC can only force an offending company to turn over ill-gotten profits or to pay a finite amount to affected consumers--"consumer redress," as it's known in legal speak--to help make things right, said FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.

More here.

AT&T Explains Guilt by Association

Andrew Appel writes on Freedom to Tinker:

According to government documents studied by The New York Times, the FBI asked several phone companies to analyze phone-call patterns of Americans using a technology called “communities of interest”. Verizon refused, saying that it didn’t have any such technology. AT&T, famously, did not refuse.

What is the “communities of interest” technology? It’s spelled out very clearly in a 2001 research paper from AT&T itself, entitled “Communities of Interest” (by C. Cortes, D. Pregibon, and C. Volinsky). They use high-tech data-mining algorithms to scan through the huge daily logs of every call made on the AT&T network; then they use sophisticated algorithms to analyze the connections between phone numbers: who is talking to whom?

The paper literally uses the term “Guilt by Association” to describe what they’re looking for: what phone numbers are in contact with other numbers that are in contact with the bad guys?

More here.

UK: Cyber Crime 'Worse Than Burglary'

Guy Dixon writes on

Identity theft has become one of the most feared crimes in the UK, according to a study of more than 1,400 regular internet users, outranking burglary, assault and robbery.

Around one in three respondents to the survey indicated that they had been the victim of some form of cyber-theft, including phishing emails, credit card fraud and unauthorised bank transfers.

More here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007, at least 3,840 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 3,127 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is three higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

More here.

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

Quote of the Day: Michael Hampton

"No word yet on whether Customs agents will begin treating visitors with dignity and respect."

- Michael Hampton, writing on Homeland Stupidity, on the DHS-Disney "Feel Good" Video Mash-Up.

UK: Online Raiders Fool Banks Into Handing Over Customers' Details

Adam Fresco writes on The Times Online:

A gang of online bank robbers that has taken over the accounts of at least ten people and stolen hundreds of thousands of pounds is being hunted by an anti-fraud unit.

The gang hacked into private bank accounts and used private details to order new debit and credit cards which it then used to buy expensive jewellery, electronic goods and euros.

The gang managed to get enough information about one victim to have £60,000 transferred from his mortgage reserve account to his current account, which it then spent.

Barclays Bank managed to intercept much of the fraud and is believed to have stopped at least £500,000 being stolen from clients. But officers from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit say that there may be many more victims.

More here.

(Props, Flying Hamster.)

Brazilian Judge Keeps Cisco Suspects in Custody

Jonathan Wheatley writes on

A Brazilian judge has extended a term of temporary custody for six people connected with Cisco, the US technology giant accused of tax fraud, and imprisoned a further three people accused of involvement in the alleged scheme.

Some 40 people were arrested on October 16 after a two-year investigation involving police, public prosecutors and tax authorities. A former president and three serving senior executives of Cisco in Brazil, including its president, were held for five days. The former president was among six people retained in custody after the initial period and is among those held again on Friday.

Authorities say Cisco and its agents constructed a complex system of real and phantom companies to avoid import duties and other taxes amounting to R$1.5bn over the past five years.

More here.

User Friendly: IT Optimisim in The Brain

Click for larger image.

Via's Website Hacked; Customers Alerted Of Possible Identity Theft

Harriette Cecilio writes on All Headline News:

An online retailer of posters, prints and framed art on Saturday alerted customers that hackers had gotten into website to access credit card accounts. But the company offered assurances that it has beefed up security to avoid future attacks., which operates websites including and, said it is investigating the intrusion and asked its clientele to be more vigilant.

The chief said the cyberspace criminals gained systems entry despite "multiple security layers" and accessed some credit card transaction from July to September.

More here.

(Props, Pogo Was Right.)