Saturday, March 28, 2009

What price privacy?

AIG memo may suggest privacy tied to bonus return: report

Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:09pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - American International Group Inc appeared to advise staffers in its troubled Financial Products division that, if enough returned bonuses than it was unlikely their names would be publicly released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The “new” customer relationship...

Consumers can be stuck when Web sites change terms

March 27th, 2009 By DEBORAH YAO , AP Business Writer

On May 16, the company's Kodak Gallery online photo service will delete her picture albums unless she spends at least $4.99 by then and every year thereafter on prints and other products.

We are a very young industry.

First email virus turns 10

Security By Wolfgang Gruener Thursday, March 26, 2009 15:00

Chicago (IL) – It appears we have been living with viruses all the time, but if we are looking back in history we find that certain types of viruses are actually not that old. For example, the email-aware virus is turning just 10 today. Melissa, the first virus of this kind, was estimated to have infected more than one million PCs and caused damage in excess of $80 million.

Related? What does this suggest as the fate of other profitable tech companies?

Red Hat — Stand Alone Or Get Bought?

Posted by Soulskill on Friday March 27, @11:47PM from the all-about-the-benjamins dept. Red Hat Software Linux Business The Almighty Buck

head_dunce writes

"It seems that this economy has inspired a lot of businesses to move to Linux, with Red Hat posting profits that beat everyone's expectations. There's a dark side to being a highly profitable company in a down economy, though — now there are talks of Citigroup and Oracle wanting to buy Red Hat. For a while now, we've been watching Yahoo fend off Carl Icahn and Steve Ballmer so that they could stay independent, but the fight seems to be a huge distraction for Yahoo, with lots of energy (and money) invested. Will Red Hat stay independent? What potential buyer would make for a good parent company?"

Did I mention that enrollment in my Hacking class is way up?

More IT Pros Could Turn To E-Crime In Poor Economy

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Friday March 27, @03:03PM from the what-would-mitnick-do dept.

snydeq writes to mention that a recent survey by KPMG shows that many people feel that out-of-work IT workers will be much more tempted to turn to criminal activities due to the down economy. This, coupled with an E-crime survey that shows fraud committed by managers, employees, and customers tripled between 2007 and 2008 paints an interesting picture.

"In other survey results, 45 percent of respondents who handle critical national infrastructure said they are seeing an increase in the number of attacks on their systems. Fifty-one percent of respondents from the same category said the technical sophistication of those attacks is getting better. Sixty-eight percent said that of all kinds of malicious code they felt Trojan horse programs -- ones that are designed to look harmless but can steal data along with other functions -- had the most impact on their businesses. Rootkits are the next highest concern, followed by spyware, worms, viruses, mobile malicious code and, finally, adware."

Why, exactly?

Ahead of G-20 summit, Britons alerted to 'dirty bomb' risk

A new government report says that a terrorist attack is now more likely than ever.

By Ben Quinn | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor from the March 27, 2009 edition

LONDON - After decades of campaigns by Irish Republicans and, most recently, Islamist militants, Britons have become used to the daily threat of terrorism.

But in a warning that the stakes have been raised – and just days before world leaders gather here for the Group of 20 meeting – a warning was given this week that a so-called dirty bomb on a British city is more likely than ever.

… The new approach aims to train some 60,000 retail, hotel, and service industry staff to recognize terrorist threats. In addition, more resources will go into blocking access to information posted online on how to stage terror attacks.

I guess there was no law addressing Deceptive Practices before this, huh?

FTC Warns Against Deceptive DRM

Posted by kdawson on Friday March 27, @01:31PM from the we'll-come-calling dept. Government United States

Jane Q. Public writes

"At the Federal Trade Commission's Seattle conference on DRM, FTC Director Mary Engle started off by referencing the Sony rootkit debacle, and said that companies are going to have to get serious about disclosing DRM that may affect the usability of products. She also said that disclosure via the fine print in a EULA is not good enough, and 'If your advertising giveth and your EULA taketh away, don't be surprised if the FTC comes calling.' Transcripts and webcasts are available from the FTC website." Update 18:13 GMT by SM: as Jane Q. Public was nice enough to diplomatically point out, the webcasts are no longer functioning, but transcripts are still available.

Related? I think so... (Want to bet that they won't be un-bricked when the software is available for free?)

IPhones bricked after non-developers try to upgrade to 3.0 beta

6:17 PM, March 26, 2009

… Application coders, who pay the $99 membership fee, get access to new features, including copy-and-paste, multimedia messaging, voice note recording and text-note syncing. The idea is to give developers a few months to test the nuances of the firmware and build new features into their apps.

The software update will be available to the general public (free for the iPhone and $10 for the iPod Touch) in the summer. But some couldn't wait and decided to snatch the beta from the many piracy websites that offer it for download.

Many were shocked when they hit a brick wall.

After the update process, iTunes connects to Apple's servers and attempts to verify whether your iPhone or iPod Touch is registered as a developer's device. If not, users are asked to join the developer program -- or else.

If you refuse, your pricey gadget is, as they say, "bricked." The error message, shown in the photo above, will be the permanent wallpaper for the iPhone. It asks you to connect to iTunes, but when you do so there's no escape. Because the firmware modifies certain files within the phone, you cannot downgrade to a previous version, third-party developers say.

If you aren't “Cloud Literate” you better start learning.

Gartner: Cloud spending to skyrocket in 2009 (InfoWorld)

Posted on Thu Mar 26, 2009 1:09PM EDT

San Francisco - IT shops are turning to the cloud even faster than expected, at least according to Gartner, and other firms had already predicted hearty adoption throughout the next few years.

Gartner on Thursday released a report estimating that worldwide cloud services revenue will not only surpass $56.3 billion this year but, perhaps more telling, will surge to just more than $150 billion in 2013.

Related Microsoft protecting a “monopoly” on the desktop and Amazon protecting a lead in the cloud?

Microsoft, Amazon Oppose Cloud Computing Interoperability Plan

Posted by Soulskill on Friday March 27, @07:29PM from the stormy-weather dept. The Internet Microsoft IT

thefickler writes

"Microsoft is opposing an industry plan, the Open Cloud Manifesto, to promote cloud computing interoperability. Officially, Microsoft says the plan is unnecessarily secretive and that cloud computing is still in an early stage of development, but there are allegations that Microsoft feels threatened by the plan because it could boost Linux-based systems. The goal of the group behind the manifesto, the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF), is to minimize the barriers between different technologies used in cloud computing. And this is where the problem seems to lie, with the group stating that 'whenever possible the CCIF will emphasize the use of open, patent-free and/or vendor-neutral technical solutions.' Some speculate that Microsoft is actually worried that this will allow open source systems, such as Linux, to flourish, at the expense of Microsoft technology."

Amazon is also declining to support the plan, saying, "the best way to illustrate openness and customer flexibility is by what you actually provide and deliver for them." Reader smack.addict contributes a link to an O'Reilly piece asking what openness really means for cloud computing.


A look inside the 'Open Cloud Manifesto'

by Ina Fried

For those who want to find out what all the cloud-computing fuss is about, a copy of the Open Cloud Manifesto is now online.

You mean Barack hasn't friended me? I'm crushed.

When Stars Twitter, a Ghost May Be Lurking

By NOAM COHEN Published: March 26, 2009

… In its short history, Twitter — a microblogging tool that uses 140 characters in bursts of text — has become an important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online, as well as giving the public the ability to speak directly to people and institutions once comfortably on a pedestal.

Why do I find these article the day I'm due to get on a plane?

FAA Says Public Accountability Is Dangerous

By David Kravets March 27, 2009 1:39:02 PM

The Federal Aviation Administration thinks you can't handle the truth.

The agency has quietly moved to ban public disclosure of bird-strike records — information that chronicles where and when commercial aircraft were hit by birds.

For my Business Continuity students (and e-Discovery?)

Data Preservation and How Ancient Egypt Got It Right

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Friday March 27, @06:44PM from the keep-buying-the-white-album dept. Data Storage Technology

storagedude writes to tell us that a storage geek has an interesting article on why ancient Egyptians were better than us at data preservation — and what we need to do to get caught up.

"After rocks, the human race moved on to writing on animal skins and papyrus, which were faster at recording but didn't last nearly as long. Paper and printing presses were even faster, but also deteriorated more quickly. Starting to see a pattern? And now we have digital records, which might last a decade before becoming obsolete. Recording and handing down history thus becomes an increasingly daunting task, as each generation of media must be migrated to the next at a faster and faster rate, or we risk losing vital records."

Related. Our bandwidth is so limited, electronic backups are difficult. (You'll never guess who is number one...)

Report: U.S. 17th In Broadband Speed

by Wendy Davis, Yesterday, 4:45 PM

Web users in the U.S. surf the Internet at an average broadband speed of 3.9 Mbps, according to an upcoming Akamai report obtained by GigaOm's Om Malik.

That's higher than the worldwide figure of 1.5 Mpbs, but lower than average speeds in 16 other countries.

Tools & Techniques

Convert your PDFs to MS Word

by Seth Rosenblatt March 27, 2009 3:13 PM PDT

There are several well-regarded, free ways to take advantage of the Print function to transform just about any file to a PDF. PrimoPDF and doPDF sit at the top of the list, but what about reverse engineering that conversion? Converting in the other direction, from a PDF to a Microsoft Word-compatible format like DOC or RTF is trickier.

For one thing, there's a lot of crap out there. Many PDF-to-DOC converters have similar or even identical names, differentiated sometimes by nothing more than a cunning tap of the space bar. Many offer features that are hamstrung in various ways unless you pay for an upgrade, and just about all of them offer imperfect conversions. Even with these problems, though, you can get a reasonable conversion from the four programs and three Web-based services listed below.

Friday, March 27, 2009

About time (or lip service?)

Cybersecurity review is putting emphasis on privacy

by Stephanie Condon March 26, 2009 2:16 PM PDT

As the National Security Council works on its comprehensive review of federal cybersecurity programs for President Obama, it is going to great lengths to consider privacy and civil liberty issues, some Congress members said Thursday.

The House Cybersecurity Caucus on Thursday met with Melissa Hathaway, the acting senior director for cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils, who is conducting for the administration a 60-day cybersecurity review.

Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), co-chair of the House Cybersecurity Caucus, said Hathaway has been meeting with privacy and civil liberties groups to receive their input on how to reform cybersecurity.

Isn't this obvious?

Researchers Can ID Anonymous Twitterers

Posted by timothy on Thursday March 26, @06:48PM from the 140-shady-characters dept. Privacy Security

narramissic writes

"In a paper set to be delivered at an upcoming security conference, University of Texas at Austin researchers showed how they were able to identify people who were on public social networks such as Twitter and Flickr by mapping out the connections surrounding their network of friends. From the ITworld article: 'Web site operators often share data about users with partners and advertisers after stripping it of any personally identifiable information such as names, addresses or birth dates. Arvind Narayanan and fellow researcher Vitaly Shmatikov found that by analyzing these 'anonymized' data sets, they could identify Flickr users who were also on Twitter about two-thirds of the time, depending on how much information they have to work with.'"

Related No way the RCMP is just noticing this...

Canadian cops cry for BlackBerry wiretap

Thursday, March 26 2009 @ 04:28 PM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews\

It has recently dawned on Canadian officials that communications sent with the BlackBerry are among the hardest mobile messages to eavesdrop on. But rather than congratulate the Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion on a job well done, they're calling for laws that would force service providers to use only technology that can be tapped.

Source - The Register Thanks to Brian Honan for the link.


Related Covers much of their surveillance

March 25, 2009

United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering International

Pursue Prevent Protect Prepare - The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering International Terrorism, March 2009. Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Home Department by Command of Her Majesty.

  • "It sets out our comprehensive approach for tackling international terrorism – from the international, through the national, to the local. It outlines how we are tackling the immediate threat through the relentless pursuit of terrorists and the disruption of terrorist plots; how we are building up our defences against attacks and our resilience to deal with them; and how we are addressing the longer term causes – particularly by understanding what leads people to become radicalised, so we can stop them becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism or violent extremism in the first place."

Related Will there be heavy demand for this intimate surveillance application? Will this become a favorite tool of the supermarket tabloid? (Brittany's blood alcohol level hit 1.6!!!)

The Apple iPhone: Your New Medical Buddy March 23

Filed under Early Disease Detection, Health & Wellness by VirtualTest | 2 comments

Picture this: you are away on business, but your doctor only gave you the go-ahead with the condition that you need to monitor your blood pressure or your blood sugar levels and keep your doctor informed about your status at regular intervals. Sounds cumbersome? It may not be soon.

Nice of them to make an exception...

Madoff data can be extradited back to US

Thursday, March 26 2009 @ 04:26 PM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews

Data which is protected by the Data Protection Act can be transferred to the US to help in the investigation of companies run by Bernard Madoff, the High Court has said. The transfer would usually be barred but is justified in this case, the Court said.

Source - The Register Thanks to Brian Honan for the link.

[From the article:

The Data Protection Act (DPA) forbids the export of personal data to countries where privacy protection is poor. Data cannot be sent outside of the European Economic Area except to countries which are deemed to have 'adequate' data protection. The US is not one of those countries.

Related Same country, different type of extradition... (For Cindy's “Sex & Power class)

UK: Lloyd sues over 'explicit download'

Thursday, March 26 2009 @ 04:24 PM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews

Model Danielle Lloyd is suing a phone company after one of its workers allegedly downloaded explicit photos from her mobile.

The former Miss England left the phone at her local branch of Carphone Warehouse, where one of the staff viewed the images and made copies, a High Court writ states.

Source - Carluke Gazette

[From the article:

She was told to leave her old phone, so all the data could be transferred, and collect it later the same day. [“Give me the keys to your Rolls, and I'll polish them to a mirror shine.” Bob]

Related Cindy, I will happily help create flashercards for your “Sex & Power” class. - Online Flashcard Box

The team behind this project defines it as a sort of “Swiss army knife among flashcard tools”. In general terms, it a system that lets you employ flash cards in order to learn up anything.

The most satisfactory aspect of this service is that you can actually interact with others and create something akin to a study group. This way, if you don’t know an answer you can always resort to your teammates and ask them. Another nice use of this team-learning facility is that you can study with classmates online, and save time in the process.

Other than that, the system makes for creating both private and public cardboxes, whilst a learning scheduler will let you have a more personalized experience by having the program adapt to your needs and not the other way around.

This platform is wholly free, too, so that if you want to see how can it help you train your memory and become more knowledgeable you can just point your browser to and get started right now.

Never, ever challenge my hacker class some anonymous group of hackers!

Hackers Deface Aussie Censorship Board's Website

By David Kravets March 26, 2009 | 1:53:59 PM

Australia's official online censorship board's web page was offline Thursday, hours after hackers hijacked it to protest revelations the government was going to require ISPs to block public access to thousands of websites, many of which aren't obscene.

Anonymous hackers defaced the Censorship Board's homepage -- -- and restated the board's public message in a chilling and humorous tone.

"We are part of an elaborate deception from China to control and sheepify the nation, to protect the children," one part of the five-sentence message read, according to a screenshot. "All opposers must hate children, and therefore must be killed with a (sic) large melons…."

Interesting question...

It's Time to Drop the 'Expectation of Privacy' Test

Commentary by Bruce Schneier

… The problem is, in today's information society, that definition test will rapidly leave us with no privacy at all.

In Katz, the Court ruled that the police could not eavesdrop on a phone call without a warrant: Katz expected his phone conversations to be private and this expectation resulted from a reasonable balance between personal privacy and societal security. Given NSA's large-scale warrantless eavesdropping, and the previous administration's continual insistence that it was necessary to keep America safe from terrorism, is it still reasonable to expect that our phone conversations are private?

You know you're in a recession when...

Google cuts nearly 200 sales, marketing jobs

by Stephen Shankland March 26, 2009 12:58 PM PDT

Google is eliminating about 200 sales and marketing jobs, the company said in a blog post Thursday, blaming the move on overlapping areas and overhiring during a more optimistic time.

Related Is this Google's way of telling you “You're fired?”

March 22, 2009

UK Google boss escapes cameras

Simon Alford

THE £2m home of the UK head of Google, the internet search engine, is not visible in the company’s new Street View service.

Damn it Al Gore, that's enough!

California May Reduce Carbon Emissions By Banning Black CarsComments:364

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 26, @04:37PM from the try-only-driving-at-night dept.

Legislation may by 2016 restrict the paint color options for California residents looking for a new car. Black and all dark hues are currently on the banned list. The California Air Resources Board says that the climate control systems of dark-colored cars need to work harder than their lighter siblings — especially after sitting in the sun for a few hours.

Buy your begonia an iPhone!

The plant that twitters when it's thirsty

by Chris Matyszczyk March 26, 2009 12:50 PM PDT

People always used to laugh when Prince Charles talked to his plants. Now, thanks to Twitter and a software called Botanicalls, the plants can talk back.

The leading actor in the Botanicalls realm seems to be a plant called Pothos.

Please don't ask me what kind of plant Pothos is. I can barely tell an oak tree from a park bench. However, he (can a plant be a "he"?) has more than 2,600 followers and--suggesting Pothos might be a little on the self-centered side--Pothos is following no one. - Measuring Wikipedia Popularity

Wikipedia is an ineluctable source when it comes to finding information on the web. It actually includes so many information that a resource like the one being reviewed right now is more or less of a necessity.

Broadly speaking, Wikirank is a portal that shows the most popular articles on the online encyclopedia via graphs and statistics. You can also see the most read articles in the last 30 days. In every case, a link that leads to the full Wikipedia entry is provided for additional convenience.

Not just no, hell no! I'm not gonna have you... you readers sending me videos of yourselves in your bathrobes, (coffee in hand, eyes half open) starting my morning screaming “Bob, you complete idiot!” On the other hand, my web site students might find it amusing. - Video-enabling Your Blog

Riffly can be termed a free service that video-enables any weblog. What does that mean? Basically, it means that the service allows those who visit your blog to add video and audio comments to any content you have posted. This system integrates with you existing comment system, and users do not have to download anything in order to employ it – it is all web-hosted, but you will obviously have to procure a plugin, and the official WordPress plugin is available through the site. On the other hand, programmers can employ the provided API in order to integrate Riffly with any other existing configuration.

Global Warming! Global Warming! Maybe we don't fully understand the implications of our actions, but that's no reason to try other actions without at least a small scale experiment... (Although from a global perspective, perhaps this was small scale.)

Hungry Crustaceans Eat Climate Change Experiment

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 26, @02:17PM from the circle-of-life dept.

Earlier this month, an expedition fertilized 300 square kilometers of the Atlantic Ocean with six metric tons of dissolved iron. This triggered a bloom of phytoplankton, which doubled their biomass within two weeks by taking in carbon dioxide from the seawater. The dead phytoplankton were then expected to sink to the ocean bed, dragging carbon along with them. Instead, the experiment turned into an example of how the food chain works, as the bloom was eaten by a swarm of hungry copepods. The huge swarm of copepods were in turn eaten by larger crustaceans called amphipods, which are often eaten by squid and whales. "I think we are seeing the last gasps of ocean iron fertilization as a carbon storage strategy," says Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University. While the experiment failed to show ocean fertilization as a viable carbon storage strategy, it has pushed the old "My dog ate my homework" excuse to an unprecedented level.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another slow FEMA response?

Katrina evacuees may have had personal information published on web

March 25, 2009 by admin

Filed under: Exposure, Government Sector, U.S.

Katie Moore of WWLTV reports that although FEMA learned on December 19 that personal information of nearly 17,000 evacuees — including “names, Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and other disaster information” — was published without authorization on and, many of those affected are just now finding out about it. The data had been provided to the Texas Workforce Commission.

To date, FEMA and TWC have been unable to determine who uploaded the files to those web sites.

“Total Information Awareness” by any other name would smell as bad.

Government moots plans to monitor social networking sites

Wednesday, March 25 2009 @ 04:31 AM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews

The government is considering monitoring social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo and MySpace to collect data in an attempt to combat online crime and terrorism.

Under the proposal, social networking sites would be forced to retain information about users' web-browsing habits.

Source - Brand Republic Related - BBC

[From the article:

This data would then be stored by the government on a central database as part of the Intercept Modernisation Programme.

The move follows plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit made by everyone in the UK.

Cindy: For your “Sex & Power” class... (Love that name!)

ACLU Sues Prosecutor Over 'Sexting' Child Porn Charges

By Kim Zetter March 25, 2009 2:12:01 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union is helping three teenage girls fight back against a Pennsylvania prosecutor who has threatened to charge the girls with felony child porn violations over digital photos they took of themselves.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Pennsylvania, ACLU lawyers accuse District Attorney George P. Skumanick, Jr. (.pdf) of violating the civil rights of the girls. The lawsuit says the threat to prosecute the minors "is unprecedented and stands anti-child-pornography laws on their head."

The lawsuit comes in the wake of a string of cases around the country in which teens have been arrested on child porn charges for making and distributing nude and semi-nude photos of themselves.

At issue in the case are photos seized from student cellphones last year by officials of the Tunkhannock School District in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. The practice of taking nude or semi-nude self-portraits and distributing them via a cellphone or the internet has come to be called "sexting" and has resulted in teens being arrested in a number of states under child porn production, distribution and possession charges.

CyberWar: The Chinese are getting good (no surprise)

March 25, 2009

Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2009

Military Power of the People’s Republic of China - A Report to Congress Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act Fiscal Year 2000

  • "China’s rapid rise as a regional political and economic power with growing global influence has significant implications for the Asia-Pacific region and the world. The United States welcomes the rise of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China, and encourages China to participate responsibly in world affairs by taking on a greater share of the burden for the stability, resilience, and growth of the international system. The United States has done much over the last 30 years to encourage and facilitate China’s national development and its integration into the international system. However, much uncertainty surrounds China’s future course, particularly regarding how its expanding military power might be used."

Chasing DNA rather than criminals?

Cotton Swabs Prime Suspect In 8 Year Phantom Chase

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 26, @12:10AM from the mom-always-said-to-wash-your-hands dept. Biotech

matt4077 writes

"For eight years, several hundred police officers across several European countries have been chasing a phantom woman whose DNA had been found in almost 20 crimes (including two murders) across central Europe. It now turns out that contaminated cotton swabs might be responsible for this highly unusual investigation. After being puzzled by the apparent randomness of the crimes, investigator noticed that all cotton swabs had been sourced from the same company. They also noted that the DNA was never found in crimes in Bavaria, a German state located at the center of the crimes' locations. It turns out that Bavaria buys its swabs from a different supplier."

Too obvious?

March 25, 2009

Pew Internet: The Mobile Difference

The Mobile Difference, by John Horrigan, March 25, 2009

  • "Some 39% of Americans have positive and improving attitudes about their mobile communication devices, which in turn draws them further into engagement with digital resources – on both wireless and wireline platforms. Mobile connectivity is now a powerful differentiator among technology users. Those who plug into the information and communications world while on-the-go are notably more active in many facets of digital life than those who use wires to jack into the internet and the 14% of Americans who are off the grid entirely."

The economics of IT. Perhaps using idle machines for SETI-like in-house projects would be worth while?

Companies Waste $2.8 Billion Per Year Powering Unused PCs

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 26, @04:44AM from the just-let-it-run dept. Power Earth IT

snydeq writes

"Unused PCs — computers that are powered on but not in use — are expected to emit approximately 20 million tons of CO2 this year, roughly equivalent to the impact of 4 million cars, according to report by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy. All told, U.S. organizations will waste $2.8 billion to power 108 million unused machines this year. The notion that power used turning on PCs negates any benefits of turning them off has been discussed recently as one of five PC power myths. By turning off unused machines and practicing proper PC power management, companies stand to save more than $36 per desktop PC per year."

Perhaps you could tweet a synopsis of WWII in 140 characters or less?

British children to study Twitter in school

by Chris Matyszczyk March 25, 2009 1:16 PM PDT

The British are looking very hard in the mirror these days. Perhaps it is related to the belief that the country is running out of money.

In any case, who would have thought that they would choose to give up mandatory education about the Second World War and begin teaching their children about Twitter and Wikipedia?

The plans, leaked to the dastardly press (perhaps some devious cove just Twittered a tiny URL to a password-protected site), give children relief from having to learn too many dates, place names, and pesky scientific formulas. You can Google all that nonsense anyway.

Bet they didn't ask: Is it only the Hugh Chavezes who rig elections?

CIA Expert Decries E-Voting Security

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday March 25, @01:11PM from the only-vote-that-matters-is-the-cia-assassin's dept. Government Technology

ISoldat53 sends this quote from McClatchy DC:

"The CIA, which has been monitoring foreign countries' use of electronic voting systems, has reported apparent vote-rigging schemes in Venezuela, Macedonia and Ukraine and a raft of concerns about the machines' vulnerability to tampering. Appearing last month before a US Election Assistance Commission field hearing in Orlando, Fla., a CIA cybersecurity expert suggested that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his allies fixed a 2004 election recount, an assertion that could further roil US relations with the Latin leader. ... Stigall said that most Web-based ballot systems had proved to be insecure. The commission has been criticized for giving states more than $1 billion to buy electronic equipment without first setting performance standards. Numerous computer-security experts have concluded that US systems can be hacked, and allegations of tampering in Ohio, Florida and other swing states have triggered a campaign to require all voting machines to produce paper audit trails."

Bet my students will love this! - A Guide To Online Casino Gambling

Do you like casino games? If that is so, this site gives you a very good opportunity to experience the adrenaline boost you feel when you go to the casino.

… Moreover, the site gives you useful online casino reviews, as well as tutorial videos in addition to free slot games with cash prizes, etc. These reviews are updated on a daily basis, and there is a news section where you will be able to get the scoop on casino poker, bingo and sports betting on the internet.

Is this useful? Find out what your neighbors are selling on Craigslist?

CraigLook - Web 2.0 Search For Craiglist — This is a compelling mashup that combines Yahoo Pipes with Google Maps in order to go through Craiglist and show you only ads that come from your local Craiglist community.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm in Chicago this week to set the Computer Security capstone requirements. Seems they wanted a few actual practitioners to go with all those PhDs.

AT&T is obsolete?

Skype Tops All in International Calls

By Ryan Singel March 24, 2009 12:29:40 PM

Skype is now the largest provider of international phone calls in the world.

That's according to telecom research firm Telegeography, which estimates that Skype’s cross-border traffic shot up to 33 billion minutes in 2008, up more than 40% from the year before.

Do you think this might be why?

AT&T first to test RIAA antipiracy plan

by Greg Sandoval March 24, 2009 9:53 PM PDT

AT&T, one of the nation's largest Internet service providers, confirmed on Tuesday the company is working with the recording industry to combat illegal file sharing.

At a digital music conference in Nashville, Jim Cicconi, a senior executive for AT&T told the audience that the ISP has begun issuing takedown notices to people accused of pirating music by the Recording Industry Association of America, according to one music industry insider who was present.

(25% may be illegal) This was in an earlier article, but I don't think we had a link to the report yet...

March 24, 2009

Database State - a comprehensive map of UK government databases

Database State, Executive Summary and Full Report - By Ross Anderson, Ian Brown, Terri Dowty, Philip Inglesant, William Heath, Angela Sasse, Foundation for Information Policy Research (March 2009)

  • "In recent years, the Government has built or extended many central databases that hold information on every aspect of our lives, from health and education to welfare, law–enforcement and tax. This ‘Transformational Government’ programme was supposed to make public services better or cheaper, but it has been repeatedly challenged by controversies over effectiveness, privacy, legality and cost. Many question the consequences of giving increasing numbers of civil servants daily access to our personal information. Objections range from cost through efficiency to privacy. The emphasis on data capture, form-filling, mechanical assessment and profiling damages professional responsibility and alienates the citizen from the state. Over two-thirds of the population no longer trust the government with their personal data. This report charts these databases, creating the most comprehensive map so far of what has become Britain’s Database State."

Free clouds!

Ubuntu planning move to the cloud

by Charles Cooper March 24, 2009 4:48 PM PDT

Add Canonical to the roster of companies offering technology to help enterprise customers build their own cloud computing setups. But unlike most of the better known players in this nascent market, the twist here is that the technology will be supplied by an open source shop.

Looks like we'll need another trial...

PirateBay to offer cheap, unlogged VPN

by Seth Rosenblatt March 24, 2009 2:04 PM PDT

Back in July 2008, torrent tracker The Pirate Bay announced plans to encrypt the Internet. That hasn't happened yet, but they plan to offer a VPN tunneling service to the public starting April 1.

Dubbing the service IPREDator after the controversial Swedish Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) that takes effect the same day. IPRED's main goal is to make it easier for copyright holders to acquire the personal data of suspected illegal file sharers.

By offering a VPN service that doesn't log its traffic, IPREDator is simultaneously setting itself apart from other Web-based VPN services and offering what looks like a way to legally evade IPRED. Without logs, users will be able to exchange data without worrying about a subpoena revealing to whom the data packets were going, or what their contents were.

Too subtle? I can't see much change.

March 24, 2009

Google Announces Two Improvements to Search Results Pages

Two new improvements to Google results pages : "...we're rolling out two new improvements to Google search. The first offers an expanded list of useful related searches and the second is the addition of longer search result descriptions -- both of which help guide users more effectively to the information they need."

Give me a week (I am out of town) and I'll have a “Go to the head of the line” hack... - Virtual Queue Management

This is a very interesting site that was created by a company that is in charge of generating solutions using math, technology, and generally working very hard.

One of the main objectives of this company is to eliminate standing in line. This is done through telephone software that lets your clients receive text messages as well as voice calls no matter where they are located. After they receive the message they are free to communicate with you if their roaming service allows them to do that.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

There is nothing in the secret wiretap law to exempt lawyers...

UK: Lawyer-client privilege can't stop surveillance, says House of Lords

Tuesday, March 24 2009 @ 05:00 AM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews

The state is allowed to bug communication between lawyers and their clients, the House of Lords has said. The UK's highest court ruled that spy law the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) allows lawyers' conversations to be bugged.

Source -

[From the article:

Lord Carswell said that legal professional privilege cannot be absolute, that it has to have exceptions. "If it were not possible to exercise covert surveillance of legal consultations where it is suspected on sufficiently strong grounds that the privilege was being abused, the law would confer an unjustified immunity on dishonest lawyers," he wrote.

Attention paranoids!

March 23, 2009

827% Increase in Malware Sites with Password-Stealing Crimeware

According to the anti-phishing working group the number of websites that contain malware/crimeware that can infect PCs with password stealing software reached an all time high of 31,173 in December which was an 827% increase from 12 months prior. December alone was nearly 3 times higher than any previous month on record.

“We'll need more cameras...”

New Database Tells Big Brother You're Uninsured

By Ben Mack March 23, 2009 11:55:00 AM

At least 16 percent of motorists tool around without insurance, and a Michigan company says it has developed technology that allows police to easily identify and cite them.

InsureNet's database would compile names, license plate numbers and other information about motorists and provide it to some 35,000 law agencies through a nationwide network linking local, state and federal law enforcement. Cops and traffic cameras could use the information to instantly identify uninsured motorists. InsureNet claims the system could save the insurance industry billions of dollars in fraud and generate hundreds of millions in ticket revenue. It says Chicago and Mississippi are among those that may adopt the technology.

… Just 13 states require insurance companies to report customers' names and license plate numbers. Illinois is not among them, but InsureNet recently pitched its system to the Chicago City Council Transportation Committee anyway. Company officials told the panel the National Insurance Status System could generate "well in excess of $100 million" in ticket revenue for the city, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. [“First, pitch the money.” Marketing 101 Bob]

For your Security Manager.

Botnet Worm Targets DSL Modems and Routers

Posted by kdawson on Monday March 23, @08:12PM from the new-vector dept. Security The Internet

CoreDuo writes

"The people who bring you the DroneBL DNS Blacklist services, while investigating an ongoing DDoS incident, have discovered a botnet composed of exploited DSL modems and routers. OpenWRT/DD-WRT devices all appear to be vulnerable. What makes this worm impressive is the sophisticated nature of the bot, and the potential damage it can do not only to an unknowing end user, but to small businesses using non-commercial Internet connections, and to the unknowing public taking advantage of free Wi-Fi services. The botnet is believed to have infected 100,000 hosts."

A followup to the article notes that the bot's IRC control channel now claims that it has been shut down, though the ongoing DDoS attack on DroneBL suggests otherwise.

Would you backup critical data in only one place?

Carbonite sues hardware maker, reseller

by Elinor Mills March 23, 2009 5:26 PM PDT

Customers who lost data after it had failed to be backed up properly by service provider Carbonite in 2007 may have few legal remedies, a lawyer said on Monday. Meanwhile, Carbonite is suing the hardware manufacturer and reseller for charges including breach of warranty, breach of contract, fraud, and unfair and deceptive practices.

If they Twitter, are they twits? If executives are getting paid a bazillion an hour (plus bonus) is this the best use of their time? - Follow Top Business Execs On Twitter

A new initiative that is sponsored by Microsoft, ExecTweets is a platform that will let you befriend and follow the top executives on the Twitterverse. The site also doubles as a true aggregator that gathers the most insightful business-related tweets in the same spot. [but insight into what, exactly? Surely not insider information... Bob]

Some of the featured executives on the list include Don Dodge from Microsoft, David Sifry from Technorati, the popular Mark Zuckerberg from the famed social networking giant and Pierre Omidyar from eBay. Executives from brands like Coca Cola, Kodak and Ford Motor are likewise featured. You can peruse the full list online, and also recommend new execs be added to it via the provided link.

Navigation-wise, the site includes a “Hot topics” cloud that will let you jump straight to any subject or recent event that you deem as important like the recent SXSW Music and Media Conference.

When all is said and done, a resource like this one will let anyone learn from the very best and also form stronger bonds among the players of the different industries that are taken into consideration.

There are a few students I might loan money to. (Keyword: few) - A Different Way To Get Student Loans

“Get student loans from people who believe in you” is the tagline of this new company. It aims to let students obtain loans for education via a channel that is going from strength to strength, namely social networks.

Essentially, the site will let students connect with those that make up their social networks [Other impoverished students? Bob] and ask for small student loans. These loans are formalized by GreenNote so that everything becomes legally binding and repayments are ensured.

For my over-achieving readers... (I'm looking for a student version that lock them onto the computer...)

Computer Lockdown is a Good Thing

Whenever I give a presentation at a college or conference, someone always asks the question. You know. THAT question.

“Just how much time do you spend at the computer every day?”

I’m not sure if I really don’t want to know, or I know, but I don’t want to acknowledge it. It’s a lot. In the last year I’ve gained a few pounds and that’s got to be reversed, so I’ve once again instituted the “Computer Lockdown” program (which my husband absolutely hates).

What is the “Computer Lockdown” program, you ask? (well, thanks for asking) It’s actually a software program called WorkPace designed to prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury). After intensive periods of typing it locks the keyboard for a few seconds to force you to rest your fingers. But that’s not the primary reason I use it. The reason I use WorkPace is that I can force myself to take computer breaks. My computer will actually lock me out and no amount of cajoling or rebooting will let me back in for 10 minutes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bad news for Heartland Payment Systems?

FTC Commission Approves Final Consent Order in Matter of Genica Corporation

Sunday, March 22 2009 @ 07:04 AM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews

Following a public comment period, the Commission has approved a final consent order in the matter of Genica Corporation and The vote approving the final order was 4-0. The issue concerned Compgeek's failure to provide adequate security for personal information it obtained from its customers.

Source - FTC Previous coverage here.

[From the FTC press release:

The complaint alleges that until at least December 2007, among other security failures, the respondents routinely stored this sensitive information in unencrypted text on their corporate computer network. The complaint also charges that the respondents did not adequately assess whether their Web application and network were vulnerable to commonly known or reasonably foreseeable attacks, such as Structured Query Language (SQL) injection attacks. The respondents also did not implement simple, readily available defenses to these attacks; defenses that were free or inexpensive.

… According to the complaint, the respondents violated federal law by falsely stating that they took reasonable and appropriate measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access. Their privacy policy states in part: “We use secure technology, privacy protection controls, and restrictions on employee access in order to safeguard your information.”

“Don't be silly old boy, the law applies only to regular citizens. Not to those of us in charge.”

UK: 10 government databases ‘will break the law’

Sunday, March 22 2009 @ 07:32 AM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews

At least 10 of the giant government databases built or planned by ministers unlawfully breach privacy, according to a report.

The computer registers — including the DNA database, the national identity register, the Contactpoint child protection database and the health service patients’ register – all breach human rights and data protection laws, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust will say in research released tomorrow.

It argues that they should be scrapped or fundamentally redesigned to take privacy objections into account.

Source - RINF Related - BBC

No doubt insurance companies will offer a discount if you allow this. It is also a sure target for subpoenas and Hackers. Eat your heart out, George Orwell

Body 2.0 — Continuous Monitoring of the Human Body

Posted by Soulskill on Sunday March 22, @01:16PM from the invest-now-before-the-body-bubble-bursts dept.

Singularity Hub has a story about the development of technology that will some day allow for the constant, real-time monitoring of your medical status, and they take a look at current technological advances to that end. Quoting:

"Did you ever stop to think how silly and also how dangerous it is to live our lives with absolutely no monitoring of our body's medical status? Years from now people will look back and find it unbelievable that heart attacks, strokes, hormone imbalances, sugar levels, and hundreds of other bodily vital signs and malfunctions were not being continuously anticipated and monitored by medical implants. ... The huge amounts of data that would be accumulated from hundreds of thousands of continuously monitored people would be nothing short of a revolution for medical research and analysis. This data could be harvested to understand the minute by minute changes in body chemistry that occur in response to medication, stress, infection, and so on. As an example, the daily fluctuations in hormone levels of hundreds of thousands of individuals could be tracked and charted 24/7 to determine a baseline from which abnormalities and patterns could be extracted. The possibilities are enormous."

The economics of fraud.

Report: Rogue antivirus software pays off for scammers

by Elinor Mills March 22, 2009 9:01 PM PDT

Online scammers are making a lucrative business out of redirecting visitors from legitimate Web sites to sites that try install rogue antivirus software, according to a report due to be released by security firm Finjan on Monday.

… Members of the "affiliate network" who compromise legitimate Web sites get 9.6 cents for each successful re-direct, Finjan said in its latest Cybercrime Intelligence Report. There were 1.8 million unique users redirected to the rogue antivirus software during 16 consecutive days Finjan was monitoring the network, or about $10,800 for each day, the researchers calculated.

Finjan also discovered that between 7 percent and 12 percent of people end up installing the rogue antivirus software and 1.79 percent of them paid $50 for it.


Swiss Banks and the End of Privacy (opinion)

Monday, March 23 2009 @ 05:33 AM EDT Contributed by: PrivacyNews

Since the Middle Ages, Switzerland has stood for bank secrecy -- or bank privacy, as the Swiss would insist. In the past month, this foundation of Swiss banking has collapsed under calls for transparency, making Swiss banks seem as outdated as cuckoo clocks. The nearly universal condemnation of Swiss banking is a sign of how quickly our expectations about privacy have changed.

Source - WSJ

[From the article:

Try as they did, the Swiss could not hold out in an era when the presumption is becoming that information once considered off-limits to others, including personal financial information, is fair game.

… Still, changes in Swiss banking are another sign that the increasingly free flow of information is redefining our view of fundamental concepts such as confidentiality. As the Swiss have learned, what was once considered a right to privacy seems to be transforming into a duty to disclose. We can know more, so we expect to know more.

Am I wrong to believe this is not a traditional “Liberal Cause?” This is because of large campaign contributions, right?

Obama DOJ Sides With RIAA

Posted by timothy on Sunday March 22, @02:22PM from the similar-to-the-old-boss dept. The Courts

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes

"The Obama Administration's Department of Justice, with former RIAA lawyers occupying the 2nd and 3rd highest positions in the department, has shown its colors, intervening on behalf of the RIAA in the case against a Boston University graduate student, SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, accused of file sharing when he was 17 years old. Its oversized, 39-page brief (PDF) relies upon a United States Supreme Court decision from 1919 which upheld a statutory damages award, in a case involving overpriced railway tickets, equal to 116 times the actual damages sustained, and a 2007 Circuit Court decision which held that the 1919 decision — rather than the Supreme Court's more recent decisions involving punitive damages — was applicable to an award against a Karaoke CD distributor for 44 times the actual damages. Of course none of the cited cases dealt with the ratios sought by the RIAA: 2,100 to 425,000 times the actual damages for an MP3 file. Interestingly, the Government brief asked the Judge not to rule on the issue at this time, but to wait until after a trial. Also interestingly, although the brief sought to rebut, one by one, each argument that had been made by the defendant in his brief, it totally ignored all of the authorities and arguments that had been made by the Free Software Foundation in its brief. Commentators had been fearing that the Obama/Biden administration would be tools of the RIAA; does this filing confirm those fears?"

People hate change. Not because the new rules/software/paint scheme is bad, rather because they must both learn the new and un-learn the old. I would expect smart organizations to lock change out contractually.

Facebook and the downsides of software as a service

by Adam Richardson March 22, 2009 11:34 AM PDT

The tizzy created by Facebook's page design changes point out some valuable lessons that we should keep in mind as we head more into a SaaS and cloud-based world.

A “chicken or the egg” type of question?

Places Where the World's Tech Pools, Despite the Internet

Posted by timothy on Sunday March 22, @08:25PM from the pretty-people-pool-in-airports dept. Earth Technology

Slatterz writes

"A decade ago people were talking about the death of distance, and how the internet would make physical geography irrelevant. This has not come to pass; there are still places around the world that are hubs of technology just as there are for air travel, product manufacturing or natural resource exploitation. This list of the ten best IT centres of excellence includes some interesting trivia about Station X during the Second World War, why Romania is teeming with software developers, Silicon Valley, Fort Meade Maryland, and Zhongguancun in China, where Microsoft is building its Chinese headquarters."

This could be useful

HP offers free security tool for Flash developers

by Elinor Mills March 22, 2009 9:01 PM PDT

HP is set to announce on Monday a free tool that developers can use to check for holes in the Flash applications they write, which can lead to data leaks and other security problems on Web sites.

HP SWFScan decompiles Flash applications and searches the code for vulnerabilities and violations of Adobe's best security practices guidelines, said Billy Hoffman, manager of HP's Web Security Research Group. The tool works with all versions of Flash.

… Hoffman explains how a Flash app vulnerability can be exploited in this video.

A new model for business models? Everything the neophyte needs but likely has no clue how to do. With a good reputation, this type of site could take off – but it does need to be complete, easy to use and provide extensive “Why do I need this?” documentation. Article links to several other sites.

SXSW: Bandize Puts Web Tools in Musicians' Hands

By Lewis Wallace March 22, 2009 6:29:00 PM

Bandize, a new web service for musicians that's currently in closed alpha, gives bands a suite of online tools to manage everything from tour bookings and social networking to mundane tasks like accounting and monitoring merchandise levels.