Saturday, July 03, 2010

Programming Note: Traveling Over the Holiday Weekend

Business calls early next week, and unfortunately I have to travel over the holiday weekend to be in meetings in Taiwan on Monday and Tuesday.

I'll be back midweek, so thing should be back to normal (whatever that is) soon thereafter.

Thanks for following, and enjoy your long Independence Day weekend!

- ferg

Thursday, July 01, 2010

In Passing: Don Coryell

Don Coryell
October 17, 1924 - July 1, 2010

Mark Fiore: The More Things Change...

More Mark Fiore brilliance.

Via The San Francisco Chronicle


- ferg

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Destination Hotels Card-Processing System Hacked

Robert McMillan writes on ComputerWorld:

Hackers have broken into the payment processing system of Destination Hotels & Resorts, a high-end chain best known for its resort hotels in destinations such as Vail, Colorado; Lake Tahoe, California; and Maui, Hawaii.

Guests who recently stayed at 21 of the resort's 30 hotels may have been victimized by the scheme, which appears to have compromised point-of-sale systems. The company refused to release many details of the incident -- citing an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation -- but in a note posted to its Web site said that it had "uncovered a malicious software program inserted into its credit card processing system from a remote source."

Destination Hotels is in the process of notifying victims but will not say how many people have had their credit card numbers stolen, a company spokeswoman said.

However, the attackers appear to have hit only point-of-sale processing systems, where credit cards are swiped for purchases. Personal information such as guests' home addresses was not compromised, the company said.

More here.

Also, from last week: 700-Plus Credit Cards Stolen from Hotel Chain

ACLU Study Highlights U.S. Surveillance Society

David Kravets writes on Threat Level:

Welcome to the surveillance society.

That’s what the American Civil Liberties Union concluded Tuesday with a report chronicling government spying and the detention of groups and individuals “for doing little more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

The report, Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity [.pdf], surveys news accounts and studies of questionable snooping and arrests in 33 states and the District of Columbia the past decade.

Dated June 2 but announced and released Tuesday, the report provides an outline of, and links to, dozens of examples of Cold War-era snooping in the modern age.

“Our review of these practices has found that Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by the police just for deciding to organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints and engage in normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs in public,” Michael German, an ACLU attorney and former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, said in a statement.

More here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

e-Banking Bandits Stole $465,000 From California Escrow Firm

Brian Krebs:

A California escrow firm has been forced to take out a pricey loan to pay back $465,000 that was stolen when hackers hijacked the company’s online bank account earlier this year.

In March, computer criminals broke into the network of Redondo Beach based Village View Escrow Inc. and sent 26 consecutive wire transfers to 20 individuals around the world who had no legitimate business with the firm.

Owner Michelle Marisco said her financial institution at the time — Professional Business Bank of Pasedena, Calif. – normally notified her by e-mail each time a new wire was sent out of the company’s escrow account. But the attackers apparently disabled that feature before initiating the fraudulent wires.

The thieves also defeated another anti-fraud measure: A requirement that two employees sign off on any wire requests. Marisco said that a few days before the theft, she opened an e-mail informing her that a UPS package she had been sent was lost, and urging her to open the attached invoice. Nothing happened when she opened the attached file, so she forwarded it on to her assistant who also tried to view it. The invoice was in fact a Trojan horse program that let the thieves break in and set up shop and plant a password-stealing virus on both Marisco’s computer and the PC belonging to her assistant.

More here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

FTC Says Scammers Stole Millions, Using Virtual Companies

Robert McMillan writes on ComputerWorld:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has disrupted a long-running online scam that allowed offshore fraudsters to steal millions of dollars from U.S. consumers -- often by taking just pennies at a time.

The scam, which had been run for about four years years, according to the FTC, provides a case lesson in how many of the online services used to lubricate business in the 21st century can equally be misused for fraud.

"It was a very patient scam," said Steve Wernikoff, a staff attorney with the FTC who is prosecuting the case. "The people who are behind this are very meticulous."

The FTC has not identified those responsible for the fraud, but in March, it quietly filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Illinois. This has frozen the gang's U.S. assets and also allowed the FTC to shut down merchant accounts and 14 "money mules" -- U.S. residents recruited by the criminals to move money offshore to countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Estonia.

More here.