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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Global Recession Increases Risk of IP


Data losses by companies worldwide amounted to $1 trillion, which had $4.6 billion worth of intellectual property loss, said a report released by McAfee.

In the global meltdown, companies face pressures to reduce spending and cut staffs, which can create porous defenses and increased opportunity for crime. Companies need to stop looking at security as a cost center, but as a business enabler, said the report.
"Companies are grossly underestimating the loss and value of their intellectual property," said Eugene Spafford, professor of computer science at Purdue University and executive director of Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS).

Key findings of the report are:

Recession puts intellectual property at risk

- 39% of respondents surveyed believe vital information is more vulnerable in the current economic climate than before.

Commitment to protecting vital information varies

- 74% of Chinese and 68% of Indian respondents invested in securing their intellectual property for competitive advantage

Intellectual property is now an international currency

- An emerging target for cybercriminals is intellectual property, and experts say there has been an increase in the number of corporate data intrusions by organized cyber mafia gangs

Employees steal intellectual property for financial gain and competitive advantage

- An increasing number of financially-challenged employees are using their corporate data access to steal vital information.

- 42 % of respondents said displaced employees were the biggest threat to vital information.

Geographic threats to intellectual property

- Geopolitical perceptions are influencing data policy reality. China, Pakistan and Russia were identified by companies surveyed as trouble zones for various legal, cultural and economic reasons

Over 90% Emails Are Spam & Malware


Getting spam email in your inbox is everyone's daily headache. What we did not realize till now is the magnitude of the problem. Panda Security analyzed over 430 million email messages in 2008 and the results were scary.

Out of all the email messages analyzed, 89.88% turned out to be spam and 1.11% were infected with some type of malware. In the last three months of the year, 301,000 zombie computers were activated and used for distributing spam

"For companies, spam is more than just a nuisance: It consumes bandwidth, wastes employees' time and can even cause system malfunctions. In the end, it all results in a loss of productivity," Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs.

Much of this spam was circulated by the extensive network of zombie computers controlled by cyber-crooks. A zombie is a computer infected by a bot, a type of malware allowing cyber criminals to control infected systems. Frequently, these computers are used as a network to drive malicious actions such as the sending of spam. Just in the last three months of the year, 301,000 zombie computers were being put into action every day.

Sexual enhancements, pharmacy are among favorite subjects

With respect to the different types of spam in circulation, 32.25% of spam in 2008 was related to pharmaceutical products with sexual performance enhancers accounting for 20.5%.

Spam relating to the economic situation also grew significantly throughout 2008. False job offers and fraudulent diplomas accounted for 2.75% of all junk mail in the year, while messages promoting mortgages and fake loans were responsible for 4.75%.

Spam promoting fake brand products was responsible for 16.75% of the total. This last category nevertheless, dropped from 21% in the first half of the year to 12.5% in the last six months.

Nano Computers for Rs. 500


The computer is developed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
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Forget MIT's $100 laptop, "cheap" netbooks, and other crude attempts at making the computer affordable. Here comes the mother of all low-cost computers.

At Rs. 500, the upcoming, yet to be named, nano computer is set to be the cheapest computing device ever. Designed for students, the Government is supposedly readying a prototype of the device to be showcased at Tirupati on February 3, 2009. India's Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh will reportedly unveil the device.

The nano computer has been jointly developed by the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), Chennai, and the IISc (Indian Institute of Science), Bangalore. The production of the device, however, has been handed over to private firms. It remains to be seen if this project manages to move past the "prototype" phase to actually end up in some assembly line.

Google's GDrive Could Replace your Hard Disk


This drive will allow users to save their data online and users will be able to access their data from any computer in the world
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Taking cloud computing to a new level, Google is soon going to launch 'GDrive', a long-rumored online storage for its users.

GDrive would work as an online hard disk and could essentially work as a syncing device that will periodically update itself with the activities that take place on a computer, the Google Operating System has discovered.

Also discovered in a Google Apps CSS file is that there is reportedly an update for Google Docs on the way that would include a desktop client for syncing files with GDrive.

Since this drive will allow users to save their data online, users will be able to access their data from any computer in the world, as long as it is connected to an internet connection.

In fact, if you take Google provisions seriously, you've probably already shifted your photograph and document base to atleast one of the Google services that work as great archiving hubs. However, space restriction and reliability could be a user's concern while depending on the Google servers to save their precious data.

The GDrive could also partially replace the physical hard disk that a user needs to select an operating system (OS) for usage -- that is, after the initial booting. Google's online hard drive will merge all of Google's web based applications and make them available together.

The GDrive is expected to be launched in Later 2009.

Obama, McCain Cyber-attacks have Chinese Origins?


Government officials in the US suspect that a series of attacks on the US Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain's campaign computer networks originated from China.

The attacks happened earlier this year when campaigning was in full swing; a large amount of information was successfully downloaded from the candidates' networks -- an attempt to learn in detail about the candidate's policies.

The officials at the moment are tight-lipped about the perpetrators who carried out these attacks. They have however stated that there is no confirmation if the acts were government-sponsored or an attention seeking attempt by a team of hackers.

The details were first revealed by Newsweek, which had then reported that the FBI and US Secret Service agents had informed the Obama team about the attacks and that there were doubts about possible Russian or Chinese hand behind the attacks. The Bush administration, since the breach, has ramped up cyber-security across all government organizations.

This comes barely an year after the Chinese military managed to hack in to the Pentagon systems -- the 2007 hack was thought to be the most serious security breach ever of the US Military's computer network.

Check Internet Performance with Google's M-Lab


Have you been wondering whether you're getting the broadband connection you were promised by your Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

If your answer is yes, then you'd be happy to know that there are tools being devised by Google's M-Lab, 0r Measurement Lab, that can help get answers to your Internet's performance related questions.

Measuremt Lab Tools can help you test your broadband connection, including measuring its speed and evaluating the performance of certain applications.

M-Lab is at the beginning of its development and is only a "proof of concept", says the M-Lab disclaimer.

When announced, 3 tools will be available on 3 servers at one location, and the tools will only be able to support a limited number of simultaneous users. "We intend to greatly expand the variety of tools and the servers, as well as support more users. A total of 36 servers will be deployed across 12 locations early in 2009, and we hope to roll out others soon after," say the developers at M-Lab.

M-Lab will offer a Network Diagnostic Tool which helps test an Internet connection speed and also offers a diagnosis of problems limiting speed. Also offered is Glasnost, a tool meant to test whether your BitTorrent is being blocked. Lastly, Network Path and Application Diagnosis is a tool offered that diagnoses common problems that impact last-mile broadband networks.

Google will be hosting the tools on 37 servers in the U.S. and Europe.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Beware: iWork '09 from BitTorrent Has Trojan


Trojan infected pirated copy of iWork 09 for Mac OS X based systems has infected about 20,000 Mac computers worldwide

Intego, Mac-based security and anti-virus software makers, issued a security alert about a Trojan residing in the pirated Apple iWork 09 productivity suite. According to Intego's security alert, this pirated copy must've been downloaded about 20,000 times by now, and must've infected at least that many number of Mac systems.

Along with the pirated iWork 09 suite, an additional package, 'iWorkServices,' gets installed in the system. Once the installation process is complete, a Trojan horse - OSX.Trojan.iServices.A - gets installed as a start-up item and gets root level read-write permission. The Trojan horse then connects to remote servers over the web, but it doesn't carry the virus property of infecting other Mac systems.

The iWorkServices package in infected systems can be found in System/Library/Startup Items. The removal process suggested is re-installation of OS X since getting rid of infected components can be a tedious task.

The pirated copy is moving around on the web through BitTorrent sites. The iWork copies that are bought don't require a serial number, but a trial copy activation of iWork 09 will require a serial number.

Beware of the pirated copies, if you want to avoid infecting your systems.

Hackers Target Toshiba Bank Accounts


Hackers and the bank supervisor have admitted their roles in the heist. However, the man accused of setting up the money laundering has denied the charge.

In a scene right out of Bolywood films, a gang of Bulgarian hackers nearly succeeded in stealing 229 million pounds from company accounts of a Japanese bank's computers in London. One of the companies targeted was Toshiba.

According to reports, one of the security supervisors let the hackers into the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation's London office. The hackers then accessed employees' names and passwords using a spy software. They then attempted to transfer the money to their accomplices in Spain, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong. However, the hackers failed to fill in one of the passwords needed for the system and were not able to transfer the money.

The hackers and the bank supervisor have admitted their roles in the heist in the Snaresbrook Crown Court, which is hearing the case. However, the man accused of setting up the money laundering has denied the charge

The worst downloads of 2008

No. 5. SKAT

In all honestly, this unusually unappealing card game makes my top five worst of 2008 mostly because it's German and named "SKAT." Are you kidding me! That sort of "blue" material might be golden for bawdy comedians, but what about the casual gamer? Unless you're well versed in German and enjoy human-size mice sitting around a photo of an old-timey saloon, you're best passing this diversion by.

The basic card game pits you against Speedy and Jerry, two suspicious and ill-drawn rodents. The rules conveniently list topics in English like "Game Introduction" and "The Deck and The Suits." However, clicking on any topic only gets you more explanations in German. You can pick up on the rules of the game by playing a few with Speedy and Jerry, but if the lame graphics and retro (yet very polite) rodents don't scare you off, the tedium of the action should put you to sleep in a few minutes.

No. 4. MB Free Psychic Color Test

It's one thing to exploit users' belief in their own supernatural abilities, but why does pseudoscience have to be so doggone boring?

The free psychic "game" MB Free Psychic Color Test is based on using your psychic abilities to select the color secretly chosen by the computer. The Beginner level starts with five colors; Intermediate brings 10 colors to the mix; and Expert kicks up the fun to 20 colors.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think hard. Then open your eyes and select a color. If you're right, you'll get a "correct" message; an errant response receives an uplifting "incorrect" salvo: "Don't lose hope! Relax, take a deep breath, keep a calm mind, and guess again." Wait a minute...guess? There's no guessing involved in psychic color testing. I call shenanigans!

To top if all off, exiting the test brings up a shameless donate page from, the publishers of this crock of software. Mystic Board keeps skirting the very lowest level of our quality threshold, with a number of ridiculously simple programs related to astrology, the occult, and the supernatural.

No. 3. Alien Communicator

While I must give this ridiculous program props for winning the unofficial contest for most mind-boggling software program of 2008, it also doesn't do very much of anything remotely useful, aside from randomly generate letters and numbers.

According to "The Story" that comes with this download, the Alien Communicator "translates alien psycho-kinetic control of the random number generation capability of a PC computer into readable letters." Apparently, thoughts travel much faster than the speed of light in spatial dimensions that are scaled smaller than "the four we are familiar with."

If you actually believe that aliens are trying to communicate with us via random numerals sent through the fifth dimension, I might suggest that you undergo some psychiatric analysis. However, what I wouldn't recommend would be the next piece of software on the list.

No. 2. Psychiatric Diagnosis Suite

When you or someone you care about may have a serious psychiatric problem, the last thing you likely need is a poorly programmed set of canned questions in an interface that's horrible enough to push you over the edge, but that's exactly what you get from Psychiatric Diagnosis Suite. While much of the information in this program is accurate and semicurrent, it's nearly impossible for anyone to use it.

After you are done answering a set of seemingly random psychiatric questions in the standard screen, a series of pop-up windows suggest possible diagnoses: "Please consider Panic Disorder," "Please consider Agoraphobia," "Please consider Alcohol/Drug Abuse" (that popped up twice for me, uh-oh!), "Please consider Generalized Anxiety Disorder," "Error on line 6933 ... Object Required," perhaps we should "Please consider another software program."

Constant spelling mistakes only reinforce the amateur presentation, and to top it all off the program costs $100 and only allows one trial use. If you ever end up with a psychiatrist who uses this ridiculous software, run away!

No. 1. Automatic Print Email

In a year of "change" where many scientists and concerned citizens believe that our environment is reaching the tipping point when it comes to natural resources, there's no reason to waste paper unnecessarily, yet that's exactly what this software does. For the low, low price of $50, this program will print all of the e-mail from your in-box, creating pages after pages of YouTube links, Viagra spam, Evite invitations, and other minutiae from your friends, relatives, and random strangers.

In my option, you're much better off using an actual e-mail program to, you know, read your messages, and then print out the images and letters for which you want hard copies after your preview your messages. For those responsible members of Spaceship Earth, a free program called GreenPrint takes on the notion of paper waste from an opposite approach. It lets you remove items from computer printouts to avoid wasting paper unnecessarily.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


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