2/14/2006

Alleged NASA hacker faces extradition hearing

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The British man charged with hacking into a series of computers belonging to the U.S. government on Tuesday began the next stage in his fight against extradition to the U.S.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the U.S. on charges of hacking and causing damage to U.S. defense sites. If found guilty, he could face 60 years in prison.

When the U.S. request for extradition was first made, McKinnon admitted that the prospect of facing court in the U.S. “terrified him.” Now he faces a hearing scheduled to last three days to see if he will remain a free man.

McKinnon was arrested in June of last year on charges of computer fraud, and claims that he had illegally accessed 97 U.S. Government computers. In July, McKinnon said that his actions were prompted by an interest in the U.S. space program and the search for extraterrestrial life.

Although McKinnon was arrested in the U.K. shortly after his alleged hacking activities were first exposed, he was released under caution. Since being charged by the U.S. authorities, he has been banned from using the Internet.

Source: News.com

Nigerian scammer jailed for 376 years

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A Nigerian 419er was last Friday jailed for 376 years by a Lagos court for “stealing, forgery, impersonation and conspiracy to obtain money by false pretences” contrary to the Advance Fee Fraud Act, the Nigerian Daily Independent reports.

Harrison Odiawa, 38, aka Abu Belgori, managed to extract $1,939,710 from US national George Robert Blake on the promise of a percentage of a bogus $20.45m Ministry of Health contract. The classic advance fee scam saw a duped Blake transfer the “advance payments” after seeing forged documents - including a certificate of registration with the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the aforementioned forged Ministry contract - which convinced him he was indeed about to get rich. Blake raised the cash from his company, Quest Exploration and Development, and his own personal assets.

Odiawa was eventually tracked and arrested in Lagos by Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) operatives.

Source: The Register

Microsoft’s corporate IM goes mobile

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The new product, called Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile, runs on the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005. The new mobile client is integrated with the desktop version of the software, allowing workers on the go to communicate via IM even when they are away from their desks.

Not only does the mobile product provide secure instant messaging, it also offers integrated voice over Internet Protocol services and “presence” features that let other people see whether or not someone is online, on the phone or out of the office.

“The new client is a key component of Microsoft’s vision for unified communications, putting people at the center and enabling information workers to have access to real-time communications capabilities virtually anytime, anywhere, on any device,” Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president for the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft, said in a statement released during the second full day of 3GSM activities.

Communicator Mobile is expected to be available for download for Live Communication Server customers within 60 days.

Source: News.com

Oxford seeks PC users to help map climate change

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Scientists set out on Tuesday to harness the power of home computers to predict climate change more accurately than ever before.

Using the reach of the BBC and the forecasting techniques of Britain’s Meteorological Office, they hope to persuade thousands of people to take part.

“If 10,000 people join in, you are already bigger than the world’s biggest supercomputer,” said lead scientist Myles Allen from Oxford University.

“The more we get, the more accurate will be our predictions. We have got 500,000 climate variations stacked up and ready to go,” he told reporters.

Temperatures have already risen by 0.6 degrees since the start of the industrial age and most scientists agree that a rise of over two degrees could tip the world into a climactic meltdown.

So many variables are involved that the longer the forecasting timescale for the climate models, the higher the uncertainty over the outcome.

“Each person who joins in will get a slightly different model for their computer to crunch, so the more people we get the more confident we can be of our results,” Allen said.

Volunteers should go to www.bbc.co.uk/climatechange and follow the instructions.

Source: Reuters (via Yahoo)

Microsoft Releases Critical Patches

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft today released February patches. In this release Microsoft fixes two critical patches.

In addition to that Microsoft also released 5 important fixes

Note: There are some reports that when using Microsoft Update or autoupdate the patch (KB913446) downloads, but fails to install with Error Code: 0×80242006. The version located here, however, does not appear to have this issue. Until Microsoft fixes the former, you may want to install that one patch manually.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith DVD Rootkit

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

At least the German DVD release of the movie “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” contains a copy protection mechanism which uses rootkit-like cloaking technology .

The Settec Alpha-DISC copy protection system used on the DVD contains user-mode rootkit-like features to hide itself. The system will hide it’s own process, but does not appear to hide any files or registry entries. This makes the feature a bit less dangerous, as anti-virus products will still be able to scan all files on the disk.

If you suspect you have this copy protection system installed on your computer and you wish to remove it, the manufacturer is providing an uninstaller.

Source: f-secure.com

Gates sees end to passwords in sight

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

For years, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has had his sights set on the password as the weak link in the computer security chain.

Now, with Windows Vista, Gates feels he finally has the right weapons to supplant the password as a means of verifying who is who on computers and over the Internet.

The new operating system, due later this year, introduces a concept called InfoCards that gives users a better way to manage the plethora of Internet login names and passwords as well as lets third parties help in the verification process. Vista will also make it easier to log on to PCs using something stronger than a password alone, such as a smart card.

Microsoft has described InfoCard as a technology that gives users a single place to manage various authentication and payment information, in the same way a wallet holds multiple credit cards.

InfoCard is Microsoft’s second try at an authentication technology after its largely failed Passport single sign-on service, unveiled in 1999.

InfoCard attempts to address the complaint many critics had with Passport, which was that people’s information was managed by Microsoft instead of by the users themselves and the businesses they dealt with.

Source: News.com

Next Version of Palm OS Is Linux Based

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Tokyo software developer Access on Feb. 14 announced some definitive plans for the Palm operating system—and the future is Linux.

It was the first such announcement since Access bought the struggling Palm OS maker Palmsource last September, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.

The next version of the Palm OS is code-named ALP, which is short for the Access Linux Platform.

“We hope to be a big part of the mobile Linux momentum wave,” said Albert Chu, vice president of business development at PalmSource in Sunnyvale, Calif.

PalmSource expects to make the ALP SDK (Software Developer Kit) available to its licensees by the end of 2006, Chu said, meaning it would likely appear in devices by mid-2007 if anyone licenses it.

PointerDoubts raised on the future of Palm OS. Click here to read more.

Major components of ALP include a standard Linux kernel, a GIMP toolkit (GTK+), the GStreamer media framework and the SQLite database engine.

Source: eweek

Windows Vista boot times to pass by in a Flash

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Windows Vista will give the NAND Flash market a big kick when it ships, Samsung has claimed, thanks to technology integrated into the new Microsoft operating system that will allow USB Flash drives to expand a PC’s main memory bank, along with support for Flash caches in hard drives to accelerate boot times.

The upshot: increased use of Flash devices with PCs will drive the Flash memory market almost as much as the MP3 player boom has, Don Barnetson Samsung USA Flash marketing chief said yesterday in an interview with EETimes.

Source: The Register

U.S. Moves to Fight Internet Censorship

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The United States said Tuesday it plans to aggressively combat efforts by foreign governments to restrict Internet use.

At a news conference, Josette Shiner, a top State Department trade expert, called the Internet “the greatest purveyor of news and information in history.” Too often, she said, the flow is blocked by government censors.

China, in particular, has been accused of manipulating the Internet to abuse its citizens’ rights. U.S. lawmakers say American Internet companies have given China new ways to silence dissent in return for access to a booming market. Yahoo! Inc., for example, has been accused of helping Chinese police identify and convict a journalist who criticized human rights abuses.

Four U.S. Internet companies were scheduled to appear Wednesday at a House of Representatives hearing examining their business practices in China.

The State Department has formed a task force that will consider, among other issues, the foreign policy aspects of Internet freedom, including the use of technology to restrict access to political content.

Shiner said the U.S. government considers it a top priority “to do all we can to ensure maximum access to information over the Internet.”

Source: AP

MS Fixes Flag That Says Symantec Software Is Spyware

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The preview of Microsoft’s Windows AntiSpyware wrongly fingered two Symantec enterprise anti-virus products as password-stealing programs last week. If users followed Microsoft’s recommendation and removed the offending Registry key, the Symantec software turned into so much digital junk.

Microsoft has corrected the false flagging, it said Monday. Symantec, meanwhile, announced that it had crafted a free tool to repair damaged installations of its Symantec AntiVirus (SAV) Corporate Edition and Symantec Client Security (SCS).

Source: informationweek

Intel and Skype Exclude AMD

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Intel and Skype have signed an exclusive deal that would cap the number of conference call members on all but Intel architecture. Skype will only offer 10-way conference calls on specific Intel chips while other chips, including all AMD chips, will only offer 5-way conference calls. From the article: ‘Though few would argue that a niche feature like that is going to be a deal breaker for most PC buyers, the importance of the Skype-Intel alliance goes well beyond VoIP conferencing. Indeed, it’s the latest, and certainly most prominent, example of Intel’s new take on marketing: Lock in software partners as well as the PC makers.’

Source: slashdot

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