Wednesday, August 31, 2011




The bitcoin, a virtual medium of exchange, could be a real alternative to government-issued money—but only if it survives hoarding by speculators.

When the virtual currency bitcoin was released, in January 2009, it appeared to be an interesting way for people to trade among themselves in a secure, low-cost, and private fashion. The Bitcoin network, designed by an unknown programmer with the handle "Satoshi ­Nakamoto," used a decentralized peer-to-peer system to verify transactions, which meant that people could exchange goods and services electronically, and anonymously, without having to rely on third parties like banks. Its medium of exchange, the bitcoin, was an invented currency that people could earn—or, in Bitcoin's jargon, "mine"—by lending their computers' resources to service the needs of the Bitcoin network. Once in existence, bitcoins could also be bought and sold for dollars or other currencies on online exchanges. The network seemed like a potentially useful supplement to existing monetary systems: it let people avoid the fees banks charge and take part in noncash transactions anonymously while still guaranteeing that transactions would be secure.
Yet over the past year and a half Bitcoin has become, for some, much more. Instead of a supplement to the dollar economy, it's been trumpeted as a competitor, and promoters have conjured visions of markets where bitcoins are a dominant medium of exchange. The hyperbole is out of proportion with the more mundane reality. Tens of thousands of bitcoins are traded each day (some for goods and services, others in exchange for other currencies), and several hundred businesses, mostly in the digital world, now take bitcoins as payment. That's good for a new monetary system, but it's not disruptive growth. Still, the excitement is perhaps predictable. Setting aside Bitcoin's cool factor—it might just as well have leapt off the pages of Neal ­Stephenson's cult science-fiction novel Snow Crash—a peer-to-peer electronic currency uncontrolled by central bankers or politicians is a perfect object for the anxieties and enthusiasms of those frightened by the threats of inflation and currency debasement, concerned about state power and the surveillance state, and fascinated with the possibilities created by distributed, decentralized systems.
Bitcoin is not going to make government-backed currencies obsolete. But while the system's virtues, such as anonymity and the lack of bank fees, may not matter much to most consumers, one can envision it being useful in a variety of niche markets (some legal, others not, like recreational drugs). Where anonymity is valuable, where trusted third parties are hard to find or charge high rates, and where persistently high inflation is a problem, it's possible that bitcoins could in fact flourish as an alternative currency.
Before they become such an alternative, though, the system will have to overcome a major, and surprising, problem: people have come to see it primarily as a way to make money. In other words, instead of being used as a currency, bitcoins are today mostly seen as (and traded as) an investment. There's a good reason for that: as people learned about Bitcoin, the value of bitcoins, in dollar terms, skyrocketed. In July 2010, after the website Slashdot ran an item that introduced the currency to the public (or at least the public enthusiastic about new technologies), the value of bitcoins jumped tenfold in five days. Over the next eight months, the value rose tenfold again. This attracted an enormous amount of publicity. More important, it also made people think that buying and holding bitcoins was an easy way to make a buck. As a result, many—probably most—Bitcoin users are acquiring bitcoins not in order to buy goods and services but to speculate. That's a bad investment decision, and it also hurts Bitcoin's prospects.
True believers in Bitcoin's usefulness prefer to deny that speculation is driving the action in bitcoins. But the evidence suggests otherwise. The value of the currency has been tremendously volatile over the past year. A bitcoin has been worth as little as a few pennies and as much as $33, and after seeming to stabilize at around $14 over the summer, the bitcoin's value tumbled by almost 50 percent in a matter of days in August. Media coverage has had an outsized impact on the value of bitcoins, even when it has not had a major impact on the number of transactions conducted. Blog posts in which people talk about buying bitcoins because of how much they've increased in value are common. In May, Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, which focuses on patent and copyright reform, posted that he had decided to put all his savings into Bitcoin. Although he had previously published a series of posts arguing for the bitcoin's viability as a currency, his first listed reason for investing in bitcoins was that their value had risen a thousandfold against the U.S. dollar in the previous 14 months. That's classic speculative thinking.
The problem with having the Bitcoin economy dominated by speculators is that it gives people an incentive to hoard their bitcoins rather than spend them, which is the opposite of what you need people to do in order to make a currency successful. Successful currencies are used to transact day-to-day business and lubricate commerce. But if you buy bitcoins hoping that their value will skyrocket (as anyone investing in bitcoins would), you're not going to be interested in exchanging those bitcoins for goods, since then you'll lose out when the value of bitcoins rises. Instead, you're going to hold onto them and wait until you can cash out.
This kind of hoarding is made more likely by the way Bitcoin is set up. Whereas the supply of modern, "fiat" currencies is controlled by central banks, the supply of bitcoins is permanently limited; there will never be more than 21 million bitcoins in existence. (The total number of coins is a result of the system's initial rules governing how many bitcoins miners could earn, and how often.) Bitcoin's limited money supply is one of the things that people like about it: the currency cannot be debased, as money can when central bankers print more of it. But the flip side is that if the demand for bitcoins rises, for whatever reason, then the value of bitcoins will necessarily rise as well. So if you think that bitcoins are going to become more and more popular, then—again—it's foolish to spend your bitcoins today. The rational thing to do is hoard them and eventually sell them to new users. But that means there will be fewer bitcoins in circulation (and more in people's virtual wallets), making them less useful as an actual medium of exchange and making it less likely that businesses and consumers will ever see Bitcoin as legitimate.
Now, even traditional currencies can be subject to this kind of cycle, which economists call a "deflationary spiral"—although with conventional currencies, the cycle occurs when falling prices lead people to start hoarding cash in the expectation that prices will keep falling (which in turn holds down demand and makes prices fall further). The quintessential recent case is Japan after its real-estate bubble burst in the 1990s.
With ordinary currencies, though, there's a limit to how far down the spiral can go, since people still need to eat, pay their bills, and so on, and to do so they need to use their currency. But these things aren't true of bitcoins: you can get along perfectly well without ever spending them, so there's no imperative for people to stop hoarding and start spending. It's easy to imagine a scenario in which the vast majority of bitcoins are held by people hoping to sell them to other people.
We may already be living in that scenario, since despite all the buzz about Bitcoin, the number of actual transactions conducted in bitcoins, and the value of those transactions, has been shrinking. According to, the best source of Bitcoin data, more than a million dollars' worth of bitcoins were traded on June 13. By early August, less than half a million dollars in bitcoins were being used in transactions; even the currency's value had been cut in half. Successful network technologies do not tend to see usage plateau, let alone shrink, this early in their history. And the lack of growth in the number of transactions conducted via Bitcoin is not what you'd expect to see if the technology were, as Falkvinge said, on its way to being a part of "normal daily commerce." It's true that there aren't all that many goods and services one can (or would want to) buy with bitcoins. But in a way, that's the real problem: a falling rate of use makes businesses less, not more, interested in accepting bitcoins, and ordinary consumers less interested in spending them.
So just now the bitcoin boom of the past year looks not so much like the birth of a new currency as like a classic bubble. And this has created a real paradox for bitcoin enthusiasts. The best thing for bitcoins would be for people to stop thinking of them as an investment and start thinking of them as a currency. That probably requires the bubble to burst, as it may be doing right now. But if the bubble bursts, it's possible that people's interest in Bitcoin will just fade away. After all, would you accept bitcoins in exchange for your work or products if you knew their value had fallen 50 percent in a matter of days? The challenge for Bitcoin now is whether, having become popular because of the cycle of hype, it can somehow avoid being devoured by it. Only then might we be able to say, Good-bye, asset; hello, currency. 


Anonymous claims DNS attacks against Symantec, Apple, Microsoft


The Sri Lankan branch of Anonymous claims to have hacked into the DNS servers of Symantec, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and several other large organizations over the past few days.

Posting the news and records of its exploits on Pastebin, the group is taking credit for launching "DNS Cache Snoop Poisoning" attacks against its victims.
DNS cache snooping is the process whereby hackers can query a DNS server to find out which domain names are being resolved into IP addresses.
DNS cache poisoning is a method through which hackers are able to insert malicious and fake records into the cache of DNS servers. As a result, the hackers can then spoof a response to a DNS query, forcing users to go to a phony Web site instead of the real one.
Since DNS, or domain name system, servers maintain the records that assign domain names to IP addresses, attacks against them are especially alarming since they can compromise part of the very foundation of the Internet.
The information posted on Pastebin by Anonymous Sri Lanka shows that the group was able to scan and in some cases expose the DNS information of the companies it targeted, according to Cyber War News. But there's no indication that the hackers were able to modify any of the DNS records that they touched.
In the record of its DNS attack against Symantec, Anonymous Sri Lanka boasts that it breached the "world's second-largest software (antivirus) leader/giant" and says that it captured almost the entire DNS pool, including the company's corporate customers, production servers, and testbeds. The group touted the same DNS Cache Snoop Poisoning attacks against Facebook, Skype, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, and Novell.
Beyond its attacks against several major tech companies, Anonymous Sri Lanka has also claimed DNS hacks against several groups and agencies in Sri Lanka, including the nation's Parliament, military, and largest telecom provider.
The group tried to justify its actions in some of its comments.
Lashing out at Facebook, Anonymous Sri Lanka said that the way the social network controls and treats its members is not acceptable under any circumstances. Explaining its attack against Skype, the group claimed that the online video service is "eavesdropping the entire VoIP traffic at several nodes for sure."
The attacks appear to have started on August 22 against the Sri Lankan telecom provider and continued on into yesterday with the attack against Skype.
Responding to a request for comment, a spokesman for Symantec sent CNET the following statement:
"Symantec is one of the most visible targets in the world for cyberattacks on a daily basis. We do not delineate the identity of individuals or organizations who may or may not be the source of said attacks. We monitor our networks closely on a 24/7 basis and have not detected any inordinate or suspicious rates of traffic or activity. To date, we have found no evidence that any of our business critical servers have been breached or that any information on our networks belonging to Symantec or our customers has been exposed. We take these scenarios very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that there are no further attempts to compromise the system and to ensure that any customer information remains protected."


WikiLeaks And The Tech Industry


The latest batch of leaked State Department cables from WikiLeaks reveals the U.S. government's deep interest in how tech giants like Apple and Oracle perform overseas.

The ongoing release of leaked American diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks is, undeniably, a headache for the State Department. Hundreds of thousands of cables discuss every topic under the sun from corruption to organized crime ... and quite a few deal with American technology firms. Collusion between U.S.-based firms and the State Department is an old story that's illuminated in strange ways by WikiLeaks. For outside viewers, WikiLeaks offers a fascinating window into the sometimes-seedy infrastructure of high-level innovation.
Government bureaucrats have long been interested in guaranteeing American intellectual property abroad. Fighting the spread of counterfeit items and preventing piracy of movies, music and television programs is something of interest to many government agencies. American culture--love it or hate it--is one of our top exports. Even if it's difficult to quantify just how many foreigners watched Lost or how many people listened to Lady Gaga's last album in South Asia, culture is as important an export as oil or heavy machinery.
Several leaked cables display ongoing interest at the State Department about how prominent American firms and industry alliances safeguard their intellectual property abroad. One diplomat in Beijing wrote a cable on Apple's efforts to fight Chinese counterfeits, titled “Apple Takes a Bite Out of Chinese Fakes. In the cable, the State Department notes--in their words, “as amazing as it seems”--that Apple did not form a global security team until 2008. That year, Apple hired a team, formerly working at pharma giant Pfizer, to fight China's growth industry in bootleg iPhones and iPads. The cable discusses Apple's efforts to combat Chinese piracy in minute detail. Although it does not detail any collusion between the State Department and Apple, the cable contains sharply worded criticisms of a perceived inability at Apple to effectively work with Chinese bureaucrats. In other words: The State Department thought Apple was a day late and a dollar short in stopping iFones from showing up on Canal Street.
In other cases, the State Department actively colluded with American interests to make sure that intellectual property wasn't stolen. Back in 2009, U.S. government officials teamed up with the MPAA and RIAA and, as a cable reveals, put heavy pressure on Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to revise his country's internet policy. Ultimately, the American efforts succeeded: Spanish ISPs were successfully dragooned into adopting pirate- and torrent-unfriendly safeguards for their services.
For larger tech firms, the cables also reveal the kind of assistance they can receive when working in foreign markets. One cable revealed how the Department of Justice stumped for Oracle to merge with Sun in the face of European Union opposition. Bureaucrats at the DoJ actively lobbied their European counterparts to let the deal go ahead; the EU had worries for the future of Java and MySQL. In this case, when a politically sensitive deal was facing opposition, the U.S. government did not hesitate to throw their weight behind a private business.
Ultimately, these--and the hundreds of other related WikiLeaks that cover everything from big pharma to genetically modified crops--prove how deeply embedded the United States government is in the infrastructure of ideas. If, as the cliché goes, “the business of America is business,” bureaucrats and diplomats are all too eager to give a helping hand. The real question, however, is how deep these ties go: Is government assistance strictly for the big dogs, or do smaller firms--and even startups--also benefit from the larger effects of American intervention in foreign countries?


Energy saving light bulbs more expensive by 20 percent in EU

Price increases at the same time impose a ban on light bulb


Simultaneously with the prohibition of the 60 - watt bulb increases the lamp- Manufacturer Osram, the rates for energy-saving lamps.
Was the justified " Extraordinary price increase "Siemens Daughter for the first September with a dramatic price rise in so-called rare earths, Which are required as raw material.
On average, the price increases are 20 to 25 percent, said Osram - Board Martin Goetzeler "Financial Times, USA" (Wednesday). Affected are fluorescent tubes and energy saving lamps.
"The increasing global shortage of these materials led to an explosion in costs to," the fsdemand for rare earths such as europium, terbium and yttrium and the restrictive export policies of China, Which controls almost all mining areas. Goetzeler can expect price increases across the industry. Osram working on processes to recover rare earths on recycling. Siemens plans initial public offering of light daughter.

The end of the light bulb

As from this Friday, EU far are not conventional light bulbs with more than 40 watts in the trade. This should increase consumer demand for Significantly energy-saving lamps. Advocates had previously Argued that the more expensive energy saving light bulbs were not only more efficient, but because of their longer shelf life and better bottom line for consumers. However, critics argue that this is not true for many households. 


Tomato battle colored Spanish town red

The "Tomatina" is held since 1945

The biggest tomato battle in the world has turned the Spanish town of Bunol red on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands, mostly young people from around the world gathered in the town near Valencia, to each other for an hour to throw tomatoes. The city administration had to put 120 tons of vegetables available.

45,000 people at "Tomatina"

The battle turned the narrow streets in the center of the city of 10,000 inhabitants in some places knee-deep pools of tomato soup. According to the local authorities as in the past year, some 45,000 people took part in the spectacle. The police had intervened several times to keep too violent throwers at bay. Paramedics treated about two dozen people because of dizziness or eye irritation.

"Tomatina" since the 40s

The "Tomatina" is held since 1945 on the last Wednesday in August. It attracts thousands of tourists from all over Europe, Asia, USA and Australia. The origins of the spectacle to go back to the legend that young people were thrown into the 1940s, a move with tomatoes. The throwers were protesting against the fact that they are not allowed to participate at the event.


AirVenture 2011 - The World's Greatest Airshow 


Germany kiboshes body scanners at airports


Body scanners being tested at Hamburg Airport are so error prone that the German government has decided not to introduce them across the country for the time being.

The so-called backscatter scanners are supposed to show whether passengers are concealing dangerous items on their bodies. They are broadly similar to "naked" scanners already used in many US airports. The testing in Hamburg from September to the end of July was meant to be the prelude to a nationwide rollout.

But the German scanners had an error rate of 54 percent, according to government officials, who said that wrinkles in clothing or even perspiration caused false alarms. That meant security personnel were forced to waste an untold amount of time subsequently searching passengers by hand for no reason.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Wednesday there will be no more scanners at German airports until they can be made more reliable.

He said authorities will be taking part in development efforts in hopes of reintroducing the devices when they meet “high security standards.”

In order to go into widespread use, they need to have an error rate of well under 50 percent, according to the Interior Ministry.

More than 800,000 passengers took part in the Hamburg testing, which was prompted in large part by the 2009 arrest of a Nigerian man who tried to set off a bomb in his underwear on a
flight from Amsterdam to Detroit airport in the United States.

Unlike scanners being used in America, which controversially show passengers’ body contours and have been called “naked” scanner due to ghost-like pictures they produce, the German ones used thermal imagery or showed a sort of stick figure on screeners’ computers.

The announcement of the end of body scanners was met with elation by the transport industry, which has long griped that they’ve created delays and are of dubious utility.

Klaus-Peter Siegloch, the president of the German Air Transport Industry Federation (BDL) said the technology could be useful in the future, but is currently too primitive.

“Passenger checks are the bottleneck at every airport,” he said.


IndyCar New Baltimore Grand Prix Circuit Virtual Lap 



Dog eats $10,000 worth of diamonds

When ten-thousand US dollars worth of the jewel went missing from a Georgia jewellery store the owners suspected it must be an inside job. Honey Bun the pet dog has become an international sensation for his diamond eating capers.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011



 Occupy Wall Street - Sep17 #OccupyWall

Street - #YesWeCamp - #SEP17



WikiLeaks site goes down

LONDON - The WikiLeaks website, which contains thousands of U.S. embassy cables, has crashed in an apparent cyberattack.
The anti-secrecy organization said in a Twitter message Tuesday that "is presently under attack."
Efforts to view the WikiLeaks site and view links to cables were unsuccessful.
The apparent cyberattack comes as the accelerated public disclosure of tens of thousands of previously unreleased State Department cables by the WikiLeaks organization has raised new concerns about the exposure of confidential U.S. embassy sources. That has created a fresh source of diplomatic setbacks and embarrassment for the Obama administration, current and former American officials said Tuesday.
The Associated Press reviewed more than 2,000 of the cables recently released by WikiLeaks. They contained the identities of at least 14 sources who had sought protection and whose names the cable authors had asked to protect.
Officials said the disclosure in the past week of more than 125,000 sensitive documents by WikiLeaks, far more than it had earlier published, further endangered informants and jeopardized U.S. foreign policy goals. The officials would not comment on the authenticity of the leaked documents but said the rate and method of the new releases, including about 50,000 in one day alone, presented new complications.
"The United States strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of classified information," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. "In addition to damaging our diplomatic efforts, it puts individuals' security at risk, threatens our national security and undermines our effort to work with countries to solve shared problems. We remain concerned about these illegal disclosures and about concerns and risks to individuals.
"We continue to carefully monitor what becomes public and to take steps to mitigate the damage to national security and to assist those who may be harmed by these illegal disclosures to the extent that we can," she told reporters.
Neither Nuland nor other current officials would comment on specific information contained in the compromised documents or speculate as to whether any harm caused by the new releases would exceed that caused by the first series of leaks, which began in November and sent the administration into a damage-control frenzy.
Some officials noted that the first releases had been vetted by media organizations who scrubbed them to remove the names of contacts that could be endangered. The latest documents have not been vetted in the same way.
"It's picking at an existing wound. There is the potential for further injury," said P.J. Crowley, the former assistant secretary of state for public affairs who resigned this year after criticizing the military's treatment of the man suspected of leaking the cables to WikiLeaks. "It does have the potential to create further risk for those individuals who have talked to U.S. diplomats. It has the potential to hurt our diplomatic efforts and it once again puts careers at risk."
Crowley set up a crisis management team at the State Department to deal with the matter and said officials at the time went through the entire collection of documents they believed had been leaked and warned as many named sources as possible, particularly in authoritarian countries, that their identities could be revealed. A handful of them were relocated, but Crowley said others may have been missed and some could not be contacted because the effort would have increased the potential for exposure.
The new releases "could be used to intimidate activists in some of these autocratic countries," he said. He said he believed that "any autocratic security service worth its salt" probably already would have the complete unredacted archive of cables but added that the new WikiLeaks releases meant that any intelligence agency that did not "will have it in short order."
The AP review included all cables classified as "confidential" or "secret," among the more than 50,000 recently released by WikiLeaks. In them, the AP found the names of at least 14 sources whose identities the cable authors asked higher-ups to "protect" or "strictly protect." Several thousand other of the recently published cables were not classified and did not appear to put sources in jeopardy.
The accelerated flood of publishing partly reflects the collapse of the unusual relationships between WikiLeaks and news organizations that previously were cooperating with it in exchange for being given copies of all the uncensored State Department messages.
Initially, WikiLeaks released only a trickle of documents at a time from a trove of a quarter-million, and only after considering advice from five news organizations with which it chose to share all of the material. The news organizations advised WikiLeaks on which documents to release publicly and what redactions to make to those documents. The Associated Press was not among those news organizations.
In recent months, those relationships have soured noticeably. WikiLeaks complained Tuesday that a reporter who wrote about the group's efforts for The New York Times, one of the news organizations it was working with closely, was a "sleazy hack job." It also said a reporter for Guardian in Britain, another of its former partners in the release of documents, had exhibited a "tawdry vendetta" against WikiLeaks.






Wikileaks: MPAA ‘Secret Pusher’ of BitTorrent Trial Against Aussie ISP


AFACT wants to hold iiNet responsible for the copyright infringing activities of their users, but they have been unsuccessful thus far.
Interestingly enough, a Wikileaks cable that was just released reveals that the MPAA (thus the American movie studios) are a main facilitator of the legal action.
“The case was filed by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its international affiliate, the Motion Picture Association (MPA), but does not want that fact to be broadcasted,” the summary of the diplomatic cable reads (emphasis added).
“Despite the lead role of AFACT and the inclusion of Australian companies Village Roadshow and the Seven Network, this is an MPAA/American studios production,” then-US Ambassador Robert McCallum writes.
So there we have it.
The landmark case wasn’t really about protecting the interests of Aussie filmmakers.
That was just a side-effect.
The revenues of American companies was what really started this case. But that was supposed to be a secret….


Life After Anonymous – Interview with a Former Hacker


The hacker group Anonymous has been in the news recently for a variety of reasons, including WikiLeaks, the HBGary breach, and other things. One recent item was a relatively high-profile defection from the organization, the departure of SparkyBlaze for a variety of reasons, including being “fed up with anon putting people’s data online and then claiming to be the big heroes.”
I run the @CiscoSecurity Twitter feed, so I spend a lot of time on Twitter, and saw that @SparkyBlaze was an active user, so I pinged him with a DM in an effort to get his side of the story. I also wanted to get a glimpse into things on the other side – it is probably in the best interest of everyone in the security industry to have a better understanding of Anonymous and others in the underground hacker community. While the human factors were of some interest, I was also really curious about his take on the state of corporate security and wanted to see what he had in the way of concrete recommendations for organizations wanting to prevent breaches and break-ins.
Some might ask, are we giving an illegal hacker a platform? I would say, no. Sparky himself says it very clearly: “Stay away from black hat hacking. White hat hacking is a lot more fun, you get paid for it, it is legal. A conviction for hacking and leaking a database will affect you for the rest of your life.”
Beyond the handle @SparkyBlaze and a Hushmail address, we know little about him, and beyond what we have below, he wasn’t talking. That said, here’s the interview:
JL: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
SparkyBlaze: Well, I am from Manchester. I went through school not caring… my teachers always said I knew the stuff but I couldn’t be bothered to do anything. They were right, as nothing interested me. I am only hard-working if I am passionate about something, like computers. I went through my childhood bored as hell till I found computers. I love things like Defcon and hacker conferences and talking to other hackers. I love managing servers (and making sure they are secure).
I am white, in my 20′s and planning on moving to America to study computing and ethical hacking (I think it is best if they don’t know about me and anon ;D). I plan to live there as I have always wanted to. I love guns also, but it is mostly illegal in Britain and there are no ranges to shoot on.
JL: How did you get into computers and security?
SparkyBlaze: I got into computers as I grew up around them. I like physical security and just applied my interest to computers. Then I started to learn about firewalls and exploits… things like that.
JL: And how did you get hooked up with Anonymous?
SparkyBlaze: Well I got into Anonymous like most people there. I love hacking and I believe in things such as  free speech. I came across a page on Anonymous and was interested in them so I just started hanging out in IRC with them and it went from there.
JL: What are your thoughts on hacktivism?
SparkyBlaze: Hacktivism is an interesting subject. I love hacking and I believe in free speech and anti-censorship, so putting both together was easy for me. I feel that it is ok if you are attacking the governments. Getting files and giving them to WikiLeaks, that sort of thing, that does hurt governments. But putting user names and passwords on a pastebin doesn’t [impact governments], and posting the info of the people you fight for is just wrong.
JL: How do you think the rest of the world views hackers?
SparkyBlaze: Hackers and computer savvy people are just frowned upon. Hackers are the big, bad wolf and computer savvy people need to “get out of there basement.” Most people don’t know what hacking is, they use the same passwords everywhere and don’t use antivirus/firewalls. For them it’s an “out of the box” Windows install with IE7. This is the issue with people nowadays; they don’t understand the importance of computers and computer security.
JL: What is your take on the current status of the security industry?
SparkyBlaze: Information security is a mess, like I have just mentioned. Companies don’t want to spend the time/money on computer security because they don’t think it matters. They don’t encrypt the data nor do they get the right software, hardware and people required to stay secure. They don’t train their staff not to open attachments from people they don’t know. The problem isn’t the software/hardware being used… it is the people using it. You need to teach these companies why they need a good information security policy.
JL: What are some of the biggest challenges you see out there?
SparkyBlaze: In my mind social engineering is the biggest issue today. We have the software/hardware to defend buffer overflows, malware, DDoS and code execution. But what good is that if you can get someone to give you their password or turn off the firewall because you say you are Greg from computer maintenance just doing testing. It all comes down to lies, everyone does it and some people get good at it.
JL: So what sort of advice would you give enterprises and other organizations out there as they grapple with security-related issues?
SparkyBlaze: Here’s the advice I would give to companies:
Deploy defense-in-depth
Use a strict information security policy
Have regular audits of your security by an outside firm
Use IDS or IPS
Teach your staff about information security
Teach your staff about social engineering
Keep your software and hardware up to date
Watch security sites for news on computer security and learn what the new attacks are
Let your sysadmins go to defcon ;D
Get good sysadmins who understand security
Encrypt your data (something like AES-256)
Use spam filters
Keep an eye on what information you are letting out into the public domain
Use good physical security. What good is all the [security] software if someone could just walk in and take [your “secure” systems]?
JL: What kind of advice would you have for young folks who are interested in working in security?
SparkyBlaze: Stay away from black hat hacking. White hat hacking is a lot more fun, you get paid for it, it is legal. A conviction for hacking and leaking a database will affect you for the rest of your life.
For example:  You go for a job and it is down to you and someone else. You both have the same qualifications and are good at what you do. They do a background check on both of you… his is clean, yours says you hacked a server and put all the data online… Who will they give the job? It won’t be you.







Putin arrives at biker event to strains of Night Wolves anthem

A biker show hosted by the Night Wolves motorcycle club was held on the waterfront in Novorossiysk on August 29. A stage was set up especially for the occasion on the Mikhail Kutuzov, the USSR's largest cruiser, which was moored at the waterfront. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin thanked participants from the stage for their patriotism.


Offender breaks curfew after security staff tag his false leg


Two members of staff at a private security firm have been sacked after an electronic tag was put on an offender's false leg. 


Christopher Lowcock, 29, wrapped his prosthetic limb in a bandage and fooled G4S staff who failed to carry out the proper tests when they set up the tag and monitoring equipment at his Rochdale home.
Lowcock could then simply remove his leg - and the tag - whenever he wanted to breach his court-imposed curfew for driving and drug offenses, as well as possession of an offensive weapon.
A second G4S officer who went to check the monitoring equipment also failed to carry out the proper test.
Managers became suspicious last month, but when they returned to the address a third time Lowcock had already been arrested and was back in custody accused of driving while banned and without insurance.
A G4S spokeswoman said: ''G4S tags 70,000 subjects a year on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
''Given the critical nature of this service we have very strict procedures in place which all of our staff must follow.
''In this individual's case two employees failed to adhere to the correct procedures when installing the tag. Had they done so, they would have identified his prosthetic leg.
''Failure to follow procedure is a serious disciplinary offence, and the two employees responsible for the installation of the tag have now been dismissed.''
A Ministry of Justice spokesman added: ''We expect the highest level of professionalism from all our contractors, and there are strict guidelines which must be followed when tagging offenders.
''Procedures were clearly not followed in this case and G4S have taken action against the staff involved.
''Two thousand offenders are tagged every week and incidents like this are very rare.''
As well as the electronic tagging of offenders, G4S also runs private prisons including Altcourse, in Liverpool; Parc, in Bridgend, south Wales; Rye Hill, in Willoughby, near Rugby; and Wolds, in Brough, East Yorkshire.
It will also run Birmingham Prison when it becomes the first to be transferred from the public to private sector in October. 


Abramovich wants the most expensive house in the world

Billionaire Abramovich is said to have the 
French Villa Leopolda in Sight

Only recently did Roman Abramovich with his new luxury Boat listen attentively. With the "Eclipse", with its 162.5 meters, the Russian billionaire has finally gained the longest yacht in the world.
Accustomed to the luxury Chelsea FC Owner is the largest yacht in the world is not enough. Now ask him to the ruins of the world's most expensive, the Villa Leopolda on the French Riviera, reported on Tuesday.

Abramovich hungry for a "bloody Villa"

The roughly 2,700 m² of comprehensive Villa Leopolda with its 19 bedrooms, a swimming pool, an avenue of cypresses, olive groves and an eight-acre park and a fsmystery, their history stretches almost a trail of blood.
The villa was built in 1900 by the Belgian King Leopold II as a gift to his wife. He founded the Congo Free State in Africa. Under him, the natives living there were abused not only heavy but also systematically exploited and murdered. Thousands left in the wake of the so-called Congo atrocities their lives.
In the 50 years was the "lock" into the possession of Giovanni Agnelli, who later resold it to finally Edmond Jacob Safra. Safra, a banker who eventually died an excruciating as mysterious as fire- Death, which still provides for speculation.
Abramovich seems the secretive history of the Villa Leopolda however, not interested. Who has the biggest yacht in the world comes to the most expensive villa in the world hardly seems over.


China's Huang Nubo seeks Iceland land for eco-resort

The area is close to Iceland's 
Vatnajokull National Park

A Chinese business tycoon is hoping to buy a large area of north-east Iceland to build a luxury hotel and eco-resort.

Huang Nubo is reported to have offered a billion krona (£5.4m: $8.8m) for the 300sq km (155 sq mile) Grimsstadir a Fjollum region.
Critics of the plan fear it could be used by China to gain a strategic foothold in Iceland.
But Icelandic officials have welcomed the purchase and the further 20bn krona Mr Huang says he intends to invest.
Mr Huang is the chairman of the Zhongkun investment group, and is also reported to have worked as a minister in the Chinese Central Propaganda Department and Ministry of Construction.

Iceland's Foreign Ministry said Mr Huang's plans involved linking up the Vatnajokull and and Jokulsargljufur national parks, in line with his company's "emphasis on nature conservation and environmental tourism".
Mr Huang had promised to co-operate fully with the Icelandic authorities, said the ministry, and to renounce any claims to water from the Jokulsa a Fjollum river which crosses the property.
Iceland's once booming economy suffered a dramatic crash in 2008 with three of its major banks collapsing and is in urgent need of growth and foreign investment.
'Tread carefully'
While the purchase has been approved by the local landlords, officials said Mr Huang had yet to apply for an exemption from laws barring non-EU nationals from buying land.
Some in Iceland have raised concerns about the long term implications of Icelandic territory entering foreign hands, and that the land could give China future access to deep sea ports in the area.

"We face the fact that a foreign tycoon wants to buy 300sq km of Icelandic land. This has to be discussed and not swallowed without chewing," Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson wrote on his website.
He said China was known for its "long term thinking alongside buying up the world" and warned against Iceland accepting the purchase without full consideration.
Mr Jonasson said Iceland needed to learn its lesson from the banking crisis and listen to those people cautioning against accepting any investment offered.
"Isn't it necessary to pause and think when we offer Iceland up for sale again?"
However, Iceland's Minister for Industry, Katrin Juliusdottir, told reporters it was clear the country had to "tread carefully".
But she said there was "no reason to get hysterical just because one Chinese man wants to buy some land and invest in tourism in Iceland".
"Foreigners already own quite a bit of land here and I don't think there is anything to fear from that."


Monday, August 29, 2011

WikiLeaks cables detail Apple's battle with counterfeits in China

Apple operates four stores in China, which is becoming an important market for Apple but also a haven for counterfeit goods.

(CNN) -- Apple was slow to act against the booming counterfeit industry in China and other Asian countries, according to cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
The technology giant eventually organized a team in March 2008 to curtail the explosion of knockoff iPods and iPhones, according to an electronic memo from the Beijing embassy dated September 2008.
Yet, three years after Apple moved to crack down on widespread counterfeiting and put pressure on China, progress has been slow. Gadget piracy isn't a high priority for the Chinese government, the U.S. reports and experts say.
Members of Apple's recently formed global security team were recruited from Pfizer after they executed a series of crackdowns on counterfeit Viagra production in Asia, the report says.
John Theriault, formerly Pfizer's security chief and, before that, a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, leads Apple's global security unit. Don Shruhan, who worked for Therigult at Pfizer, is now a director on Apple's security team in Hong Kong.
Shruhan told the Beijing embassy official that his group at Pfizer spent five years planning raids on counterfeit drug rings, the cable says. He said he's "afraid" of the volume of imitation Apple products being produced in China and about the inexperience of Apple's lawyers in dealing with Chinese authorities, the report says.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. A Pfizer spokeswoman, who declined to comment on personnel matters, said the company has a strong global security team to handle the increase in counterfeit medicine worldwide.
WikiLeaks, a group that publishes private government documents, posted tens of thousands of previously unreleased U.S. diplomatic cables last week. The reports from the Beijing embassy detailing Apple's piracy crackdown were unclassified, but many were described as "sensitive" and "not for Internet distribution."
In December, Apple said it removed an application from its mobile store that let people browse WikiLeaks documents from their iPhones "because it violated developer guidelines." The company suggested that the app broke laws or could be harmful to people, but many free-speech advocates cried censorship, as they have in the past when Apple has pulled apps.
The fresh WikiLeaks documents shed new light on Apple's struggles with intellectual-property theft in China, but the subject hasn't completely flown under the radar.
Last month, international news media were rapt after discovering that China is home not only to fake Apple gadgets but also to imitation Apple stores, which had many of Apple's signatures. The Chinese government ordered two of the five unofficial stores to close because they had not secured proper business permits, but a spokesman for China's Kunming government defended the others, saying they sell authentic Apple merchandise, according to Reuters.
Apple owns and operates four stores in China. The three in Beijing and the one in Shanghai are Apple's highest trafficked and top grossing stores in the world, Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's financial chief, said in an earnings call in January.
But the hunger for Apple products is insatiable there. That's why stores have begun to sell the products without Apple's permission, while others are hawking cheaper, lower-quality gadgets that are aesthetically similar and bear the chic Apple logo.
China's Guangdong province, the country's most populous region, has become a hub for manufacturing and selling counterfeit Apple products, two of the newly surfaced cables say. The Foxconn Technology Group, which assembles products for Apple, operates factories in Guangdong.
Workers typically smuggle parts from the facilities in order to make replicas, said Lilach Nachum, an international business professor for Baruch College in New York who travels frequently to Asia. It's the cost of doing business in China, where many American companies go for inexpensive labor and efficient industrial plants, she said.
"Not to go to China is not really an option," Nachum said. "Companies cannot afford to do that. No one can afford to do that."
China's counterfeiting ring is responsible for supplying India with fake Apple products, the 2008 cable says. In raids, Indian officials uncovered shipments that had moved from China through Hong Kong, the report says.
Apple's early plans to go after counterfeiters, according to a cable, involved first targeting offending retailers and street vendors; next, Apple would work with police to raid manufacturing facilities; and finally, the company would pursue online resellers. The plans closely resemble Pfizer's successful strategy, the cable says, citing Shruhan, the Apple director.
"Shruhan said that low-profile retail raids are a good option for Apple, a company that wants to stay away from too much publicity surrounding this issue," the cable says. Theriault, Shruhan's boss, briefed Steve Jobs, then CEO, on the plans in 2008, the cable says.
But Apple is having limited success. In countless stores and at tables setup on streets, merchants purporting to sell iPods, iPhones and iPads at deeply discounted prices are prevalent, said Wini Chen, a student in San Francisco who recently returned from studying abroad in Beijing.
"They'll say, 'Yeah, we have iPad. We'll give you a really good deal,'" Chen recalled from her shopping trips. "If I really want to buy a knockoff Apple product, I could probably do that in 15 minutes."
Chinese officials readily cooperated with pharmaceutical companies on their raids, but that hasn't translated to software, as Microsoft has discovered, or electronics, as Apple is learning, said Nachum, the professor. Whereas a defective pill could cause sickness or death, a shoddy iPod has less dire consequences.
Apple had planned to strengthen its case with the government by arguing that defective batteries could blow up and injure people, and that lost tax revenue could have a significant economic impact, the cable says.
The arguments weren't very effective. China's government declined to investigate a facility in March 2009 that was manufacturing imitation Apple laptops because it threatened local jobs, says a cable dated April 2009. A different arm of China's government scrapped plans for a raid on an electronics mall in the Guangdong province because it could have driven away shoppers, the cable says.