Archive for the ‘computers’ Category

China Hosts Vast Spy Network, Computer Invasion Force

March 28, 2009

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

By JOHN MARKOFF
The New York Times

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

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The leader of these Chinese hackers says there “is always a weakness” on networks that allows cyber break-ins. 

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/
03/29/technology/29spy.html

Related:
China boosts military, cyberwarfare capabilities

Chinese Hackers Routinely Attack U.S. Computers

Health Care: Computerized Records Just Won’t Lead to Better “Care” or Cost Savings

March 5, 2009

If the cheerleaders – including the one in the Oval Office – are right, computerized medical records will save us all: save jobs, save money, reduce errors, and transform health care as we know it. In a January speech, President Obama evoked the promise of new technology: This will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests,” he said, and he has proposed investing $50 billion over the next five years to help make it happen.

By Scot Haig
Time Magazine

 

Any doctor will tell you the advantages of having lots of patient data on computers: it helps us avoid redundant tests, gather huge amounts of data for research, screen automatically for drug interactions, all with no problems with our famously illegible handwriting. I would be happy if every patient could hand me a digital file of everything about him; it could really save time on first visits. But against our government’s push to get all patients’ records computerized we must keep in mind there will be a cost to this – far beyond the billions to be spent setting it up. Many of us in medicine are concerned that the greatest cost will be in the quality of medicine that we practice. (Read “The Year in Medicine 2008: From A to Z”)

 

American doctors have not been enemies of the digital revolution. Looking up lab results and x-rays on our computer screens beat out carbon copies and sheet film in an instant. We like e-mail; we shop, take tests and read our journals on line. But the romance, for most of us, began to sour with Computerized Physician Order Entry [CPOE]: entering patients’ hospital orders on the computer. This is when we first confronted the downside to uploading our every medical judgment.

 

The majority of us are forced to use computerized orders or risk losing our hospital privileges. But most of us have found that CPOE is a lot harder than writing out orders on paper, takes far more time and in too many ways is just not as good. We’re never quite sure that what we’ve typed is going to be seen by a real, live, analog nurse, that it isn’t just going to disappear. (It does.) We can’t order certain things with those buttons and pull-down menus that we could in writing – things like “patient may wear her own flannel nightgown and underwear” or “please, please get the x-ray I ordered for yesterday”, or “prop up patient’s legs with pillows like this” followed by a little stick-figure drawing. (See pictures from an X-Ray studio.)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/200903
05/hl_time/08599188300200

Chinese Hackers Routinely Attack U.S. Computers

February 13, 2009

Chinese government and freelance hackers are the primary culprits behind as many as several hundred daily attacks against U.S. government, electric-utility and financial computer networks, a senior congressman said.

“Sophisticated hackers could really wreak havoc on our financial systems if they were successful,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in an interview. The threat is “primarily from China.”

By Jeff Bliss
Bloomberg

While cyber plots to disrupt U.S. computer networks have been thwarted, significant vulnerabilities exist, said Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat.

Many of these problems will be detailed in a 60-day review the Obama administration on Feb. 9 said it would conduct on government cyber-security efforts, Thompson said. President Barack Obama also has said he would appoint a computer-security chief who will report directly to him, a move Thompson supports.

Currency trading is among the financial networks targeted by hackers, Thompson said. An attack would be particularly damaging in light of the financial system’s troubled state, he said.

He said electric utilities’ networks also have several points of weakness.

“We were provided alarming data on the vulnerability of our electrical grid in this country,” he said.

China’s Denial

Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., denied that the Chinese government was attacking U.S. computer systems.

“Allegations that the Chinese government is behind cyber attacks against the U.S. computer networks are totally unwarranted and misleading for the America public,” Wang said in an e-mailed statement.

Wang said the Chinese government is “cracking down” on computer hacking and other cyber crimes.

Thompson, during the interview, touched on topics ranging from immigration legislation to terrorism. He called a “cheap shot” former Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion in an interview Feb. 3 that Obama’s policies make a terrorist attack more likely.

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi
d=20601087&sid=aP7TPl_IQwFQ&refer=
worldwide

Somalia Pirates: Least Anticipated World-Changing News Story of 2008

December 29, 2008

Poverty, political chaos and technology merged at the seaside this year to witness a resurgence of piracy and pirates.  Insurance for shipped goods went up so the nations of the world sent their Naval forces: including China which deployed at long range for the first time in more than 500 years….

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Over the past year, Somali pirates have hijacked everything from luxury yachts to oil tankers, defying foreign navies and holding the world to ransom over one of the planet’s busiest trade routes.

What was once a group of disgruntled fishermen has turned into a fearsome organisation which has attacked more than 100 ships this year alone and raked in an estimated 120 million dollars in ransom money.

Somali pirates captured the world’s attention when they hijacked a Ukrainian cargo carrying combat tanks in September and a Saudi-owned super-tanker fully laden with two million barrels of crude two months later.

Pirates shoot on the deck of the Chinese ship "Zhenhua ... 
Pirates shoot on the deck of the Chinese ship “Zhenhua 4″ in the Gulf of Aden December 17, 2008 in this photo released by China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

Armed with rifles, grenade-launchers and grapnel hooks, the pirates have wreaked havoc in the Gulf of Aden, where thousands of merchant vessels bottle-neck into the Red Sea each year.

The cost of ransoms, delays and insurance premiums has hit the shipping industry hard, prompting some companies to opt for the longer but safer route around the Cape of Good Hope.

German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung, left, watches German ... 
German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung, left, watches German frigate Karlsruhe sailing out of the harbour of Djibouti, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008. The warship is part of the EU mission ‘Atalanta’ protecting civil ships against pirates at the horn of Africa.(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

“This unprecedented rise in piracy is threatening the very freedom and safety of maritime trade routes, affecting not only Somalia and the region, but also a large percentage of world trade,” the top UN envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, said recently.

From Middle East Online

The latest high-profile hijackings have jolted the international community into action, with the dispatching of naval forces by the European Union and NATO to bolster already existing operations in the region.

French frigate Nivose (centre at left) escorts commercial ships ... 
French frigate Nivose (centre at left) escorts commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.(AFP/File/Eric Cabanis)

Brussels earlier this month trumpeted its first-ever naval force, dubbed Atalanta, but pirates have demonstrated their ability to adapt to growing surveillance and started shifting their attacks further south and out to sea.

Foreign navies have thwarted some attacks but pirates have hardly been deterred and obstacles remain to an finding an approach that would substantially curtail piracy off the Somali coastline.

In its first mission beyond territorial waters, China also sent two destroyers and one supply ship to join the fleet of foreign navies patrolling the pirate-infested waters.

The number of different countries and jurisdictions involved create many legal complications to effective anti-piracy efforts.

For example, if US naval forces board a Greek-owned Panamanian-flagged ship with a Chinese crew to arrest Somali pirates and transfer them to Kenya, no fewer than six countries are involved.

Piracy “poses an enormous challenge to the international legal system”, UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said at an international conference on piracy in Nairobi on December 10.

Experts have outlined a programme that would allow naval coalition countries to transfer detained pirates for prosecution in coastal countries such as Kenya, Yemen, Djibouti or Tanzania.

Yet all agree that piracy cannot be effectively tackled without a stronger strategy aimed at restoring law and order ashore.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution authorising states combating piracy to conduct operations on land in Somalia.


Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet.  She departed with two other Chinese warships on a mission to the Gulf of Aden near Somali on anti-pirate patrol on Friday.  Many in the West see this as a sign of renewed cooperation between China and other military powers.

It allows states to “take all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia” to suppress “acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.”

Pirates have operated almost unimpeded in the northern breakaway state of Puntland and further south along the coast of Somalia, which has had no functioning institutions for years and is in the throes of an ever-worsening conflict and humanitarian crisis.

Related:
China Warships Depart on Anti-Piracy Mission Near Somalia
.
 Somali Pirates: Living The High Life While Neighbors Suffer Extreme Poverty, Government Collapses

Read the rest:
http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=29421

White House Ready With Crisis Briefings to Obama

December 17, 2008

The White House has prepared more than a dozen contingency plans to help guide President-elect Barack Obama if an international crisis erupts in the opening days of his administration, part of an elaborate operation devised to smooth the first transition of power since Sept. 11, 2001.

By Peter Baker
The New York Times
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The memorandums envision a variety of volatile possibilities, like a North Korean nuclear explosion, a cyberattack on American computer systems, a terrorist strike on United States facilities overseas or a fresh outbreak of instability in the Middle East, according to people briefed on them. Each then outlines options for Mr. Obama to consider.

The contingency planning goes beyond what other administrations have done, with President Bush and Mr. Obama vowing to work in tandem to ensure a more efficient transition in a time of war and terrorist threat. The commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, noting problems during the handover from President Bill Clinton to Mr. Bush, called for a better process “since a catastrophic attack could occur with little or no notice,” as its report put it.

“This is very unusual,” said Roger Cressey, a former Clinton White House counterterrorism official who was held over under Mr. Bush. “We certainly did not do that. When the transition happened from Clinton to Bush, remember it was a totally different world. You had some documents given that gave them a flavor of where things were at. But now you’ve got two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a hot war against Al Qaeda.”

In addition to the White House contingency memorandums, the Department of Homeland Security said it had given crisis training to nearly 100 career officials who may fill in while Mr. Obama’s appointees await Senate confirmation. Starting before the election, those career workers have conducted exercises alongside departing political appointees to test their responses.

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Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/17/u
s/politics/17transition.html?_r=1&hp

Sex, Pop Culture, Drugs, Computers, Toys Are New ‘Opiate of the People’

December 14, 2008

Al Gore has accused the world of having more interest in Paris Hilton, OJ Simpson and Anna Nicole Smith than saving the planet.

He made the remarks while attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan.


Paris Hilton

The Oscar and Nobel Prize winner Mr. Gore  has learned an ugly lesson about our “modern” society: sometimes it seems nobody is thinking and nobody cares.

Karl Marx said “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”  But now even religion is dead and cast aside, if one believes cascading church attendance records.

It seems to us that a world-wide self-absorbed interest in sex, drugs, pop culture and pop stars added to a growing immersion in computers, cell phones, Blackberries iPods, and other gadgets and toys is jeapordizing many character building elements of former societies.


During the last two years, pop star Amy Winehouse became a poster child for sex, drugs, booze and bad behaviour…

Just last night we placed two articles with sexual and drug themes  here on this web site.  We had our most “readers” ever.  If we had all the videos of  “Dances with the Stars”e could have mesmerized the planet.

The cover of the Mexican Playboy magazine. (AAP)
The cover of the Mexican Playboy magazine. (AAP)

This is not a scientific observation.  But like Al Gore, we do notice trends and voice concern.

And we wonder, is this a good trend and where are we going?

Related:
Al Gore: World cares more about Paris Hilton than saving the planet

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Will Smith: Helping Others

Will Smith is bringing the message of his new movie “Seven Pounds” to the Midwest with a promotional tour that also turned into a fundraiser.

In the film, which opens nationwide Friday, Smith portrays a suicidal man determined to change the lives of several strangers.

In this Dec. 9, 2008 file photo, actor Will Smith attends the ... 
In this Dec. 9, 2008 file photo, actor Will Smith attends the premiere of ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ in New York. Smith promoted his new movie ‘Seven Pounds’ in Edina, Minn., Friday, Dec. 12, 2008, by combining interviews, private visits at schools and hospitals, and a red-carpet local premiere for the film.(AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)

“If there’s a message, it’s ‘you gotta help somebody.’ Even if it’s somebody’s car breaking down, use your cell phone. Something little like that. We gotta help one another to get the quality of life we’re all striving for,” he said in an interview with the Star Tribune.

Smith’s appearance Friday for a local premier at a theater in suburban Edina was also a fundraiser for Second Harvest Heartland, the state’s largest hunger-relief organization. Tickets were given to the first 250 people who donated nonperishable food. He and Vikings player Bernard Berrian also donated 300 holiday dinners to the organization.

“It’s cool to have the goal of being the biggest movie star in the world. But why? It’s been revealed to me that the question is: Whose life is better because you woke up today?”

Smith said he realized he had drifted out of contact with everyday people on Nov. 4.

“I sat there with my children and my 16-year-old son couldn’t understand how I didn’t know (the election) was over already. He was like ‘You’re out of touch,'” he said.

Read it all:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081214/ap_on_en_mo/people_will_smith