Security News and Issues

Each day owning a computer and maintaining it online becomes more of a challenge. Security is a major concern to computer users. SaferPC brings you Security News and Issues of interest to security conscious PC users.

 Title   Date   Author   Host 

Orrin Hatch at the Copyright Helm
Slyck News
by Thomas Mennecke
March 20, 2005

United States Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has been appointed chairman of the new Intellectual Property Subcommittee.

"The subcommittee will have jurisdiction over all intellectual property laws and oversight on patent, copyright, trademark, and international intellectual property policies. Hatch named Bruce Artim, former staff director and chief counsel for the Judiciary Committee, the subcommittee's staff director and chief counsel." Why is this important to the P2P and file-sharing community' Let us take a look at Senator Hatch’s past record.

UK police foil massive bank theft
BBC News
March 17, 2005

Police in London say they have foiled one of the biggest attempted bank thefts in Britain.

The plan was to steal $423m from the London offices of the Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui. Computer experts are believed to have tried to transfer the money electronically after hacking into the bank's systems.

Lapse at Melbourne IT Enabled Hijacking
by richm
March 17, 2005

In its findings on the hijacking, ICANN said it is "very concerned" that Australian registrar Melbourne IT relied upon a reseller to confirm the transfer request, and will "review the appropriateness of these arrangements." Panix was never conta

Domain registrar Melbourne IT today acknowledged that it failed to properly confirm a transfer request for , allowing the domain for the New York ISP to be hijacked for most of the weekend. The Panix incident has focused attention on recent ICANN rule changes that allow domains to be transferred more easily, which some registrars warned would also make it easier to hjack domains . The hijacking disabled all email and Internet access for thousands of Panix customers, and persisted despite active efforts by the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) to assist Panix in recovering the domain. The delays were blamed on unresponsiveness by several providers within the domain management system, but especially Melbourne IT, which appears to have no readily-accessible support on weekends. The hijacking was not reversed until Melbourne IT's offices opened in Australia Monday morning (late Sunday in New York). "There was an error in the checking process prior to initiating the transfer, and thus the transfer should never have been initiated," Bruce Tonkin, the chief technology officer of Melbourne IT wrote in a message to the NANOG mailing list. "The loophole that led to this error has been closed." Tonkin did not describe the "loophole" but said the transfer of the domain from Dotster to Melbourne IT was initiated through an account at a Melbourne IT reseller, which was set up using stolen credit cards. "That reseller is analysing its logs and cooperating with law enforcement," he wrote.

Virus writers exchanging information
Kaspersky Lab
March 17, 2005

Virus analysts at Kaspersky Lab have been investigating the recent Bagle outbreak, and come to the conclusion that the authors of Bagle, Zafi and Netsky are working hand in hand with each other.

SpamTool.Win32.Small.b, a malicious program which harvests email addresses from infected machines, was first detected by Kaspersky Lab analysts on 15th February. Email addresses of antivirus companies are excluded from the list it compiles. Further analysis of the situation reveals that the mass mail of this program was a preliminary stage in the attack carried out by Bagle on 1st March. In researching the Bagle outbreak, virus analysts have concluded that the authors of Bagle, Zafi and Netsky and others are working closely together; they may not be personally known to each other, but they are all using information provided by the author of Bagle to mass mail their creations.

Holy Father on rootkit writing for fun, profit
by Paul Roberts
March 16, 2005

The software developer behind a leading rootkit program says he is motivated by necessity, curiosity and a desire to expose weaknesses in the Windows operating system and security technology. He also isn't too worried about how others might use his softwa

While he declined to provide his real name or speak by phone, "Holy Father," author of the Hacker Defender rootkit, claims to live in the Czech Republic, where the hacker defender Web site is registered to a "Jaromir Lnenicka" in Prague. His online name stemmed from a desire to do "big thingz" in the computer hacking underground. On that score, he has succeeded. Written in conjunction with a member of the 29a malicious code writing group, Hacker Defender has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, by his count, and grabbed the attention of security researchers at Microsoft and other leading companies.

Illegal aliens threaten U.S. medical system
World Net Daily
March 13, 2005

The increasing number of illegal aliens coming into the United States is forcing the closure of hospitals, spreading previously vanquished diseases and threatening to destroy America's prized health-care system.

The influx of illegal aliens has serious hidden medical consequences," writes Madeleine Pelner Cosman, author of the report. "We judge reality primarily by what we see. But what we do not see can be more dangerous, more expensive, and more deadly than what is seen." According to her study, 84 California hospitals are closing their doors as a direct result of the rising number of illegal aliens and their non-reimbursed tax on the system.

Hackers exploit Windows patches
BBC News
by Mark Ward
February 26, 2005

Hackers are relying on Microsoft to help them exploit loopholes in Windows, say [Microsoft] security experts.

In a keynote speech to the E-Crime Congress organised by Britain's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, Mr Aucsmith said the tools that hackers were producing were getting better and shrinking the time between patches being issued and exploits being widely known. "We have never had vulnerabilities exploited before the patch was known," he said. Tools of choice A good example of this phenomenon, he said, was the recent ASN1 "critical vulnerability" that Microsoft produced a patch for in early February. The vulnerability was discovered by Eeye Digital Security in July 2003 but no exploits were produced until three days after Microsoft's patch became available. "Many people reverse engineer the patch and then build the exploit code," said Mr Aucsmith. Malicious hackers were greatly aided by improvements in tools that did a better job of working out what patches did. Firms have less time to react to vulnerabilities He said tools were available that compared patched and unpatched versions of Windows to help vandals and criminals work out what was different. "The guys who write the tools would not consider themselves to be criminals by any measure," he said, "but the tools are also being picked up by people with criminal intent." Mr Aucsmith said he could only think of one instance when a vulnerability was exploited before a patch was available. "It's a myth that hackers find the holes," said Nigel Beighton, who runs a research project for security firm Symantec that attempts to predict which vulnerabilities will be exploited next. He said in many cases the appearance of a patch was the spur that kicked off activity around a particular vulnerability. Many different malicious hackers and hacking groups competed to see who could be the first to produce a virus or other program that could work with the known hole, he said. Mr Aucsmith urged companies to keep up with patches because the time they had to react before hackers released exploits was shrinking. Newer operating systems were also more secure than older programs such as Windows 95 which, when it was first released, had no security features in it at all. "Almost all attacks against our software are against the legacy systems," he said. "If you want more secure software, upgrade."

Behind the wheel, troopers shouldn't be above the law -
by Thomas Shapley
February 26, 2005

"We humbly apologize." Those are words no appointed state official wants to utter to the chairman of a key legislative committee after just three weeks on the job.

But Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste had little choice in making that apology after a state legislator received a barrage of nasty, even threatening, e-mail messages apparently sent by troopers and their families. Batiste, who took the top WSP job earlier this month, offered the apology "as an individual and as a group," to House Transportation Chairman Ed Murray, D-Seattle, and Rep. Toby Nixon, R-Kirkland, at a committee hearing Wednesday evening. "I and the union representative want to apologize for the behavior of a few," he said.

Schneier on Security: Cryptanalysis of SHA-1
by Bruce Schneier
February 15, 2005

On Tuesday, I blogged about a new cryptanalytic result -- the first attack faster than brute-force against SHA-1. I wrote about SHA, and the need to replace it, last September.

Earlier this week, three Chinese cryptographers showed that SHA-1 is not collision-free. That is, they developed an algorithm for finding collisions faster than brute force.

In 1999, a group of cryptographers built a DES cracker. It was able to perform 256 DES operations in 56 hours. The machine cost $250K to build, although duplicates could be made in the $50K-$75K range.

Newsbrief: Bush Budget Slashes Funds for Local Police, Increases DEA Funding
Stop The Drug War
February 11, 2005

In a 2006 federal budget proposal marked by hefty increases for the Pentagon and the State Department and belt-tightening for just about everyone else, even spending for police is on the chopping block.

The Bush administration has said the federal budget reflects its priorities, the document makes clear that those priorities are foreign war and homeland security. The Pentagon's already mammoth budget will increase from $400 billion to $419 billion, contributing to a whopping 41% increase in war spending since 2001. One of the biggest losers in the Bush budget is the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. Initiated by then President Clinton as part of his vow to "make America safer" by putting 100,000 additional police officers on the street, the program was funded last year at $499 million dollars, but the Bush 2006 budget slashes COPS by a whopping 95% to only $22 million. Overall, Bush administration grants to state and local law enforcement will drop by nearly 50%, from $2.8 billion in 2005 to $1.5 billion in 2006.


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