Blog

  • John Lennon - Imagine

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-17 17:56:49
  • Malware inserted on PC production lines, says study

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-13 19:44:47
    'Cybercriminals have opened a new front in their battle to infect computers with malware - PC production lines.

    Several new computers have been found carrying malware installed in the factory, suggests a Microsoft study.

    One virus called Nitol found by Microsoft steals personal details to help criminals plunder online bank accounts.

    Microsoft won permission from a US court to tackle the network of hijacked PCs made from Nitol-infected computers.

    ---Domain game---

    In a report detailing its work to disrupt the Nitol botnet, Microsoft said the criminals behind the malicious program had exploited insecure supply chains to get viruses installed as PCs were being built.

    The viruses were discovered when Microsoft digital crime investigators bought 20 PCs, 10 desktops and 10 laptops from different cities in China.

    Four of the computers were infected with malicious programs even though they were fresh from the factory.

    Microsoft set up and ran Operation b70 to investigate and found that the four viruses were included in counterfeit software some Chinese PC makers were installing on computers.

    Nitol was the most pernicious of the viruses Microsoft caught because, as soon as the computer was turned on, it tried to contact the command and control system set up by Nitol's makers to steal data from infected machines.

    Further investigation revealed that the botnet behind Nitol was being run from a web domain that had been involved in cybercrime since 2008. Also on that domain were 70,000 separate sub-domains used by 500 separate strains of malware to fool victims or steal data.

    "We found malware capable of remotely turning on an infected computer's microphone and video camera, potentially giving a cybercriminal eyes and ears into a victim's home or business," said Richard Boscovich, a lawyer in Microsoft's digital crimes unit in a blogpost.

    A US court has now given Microsoft permission to seize control of the web domain, 3322.org, which it claims is involved with the Nitol infections. This will allow it to filter out legitimate data and block traffic stolen by the viruses.

    Peng Yong, the Chinese owner of the 3322.org domain, told the AP news agency that he knew nothing about Microsoft's legal action and said his company had a "zero tolerance" attitude towards illegal activity on the domain.

    "Our policy unequivocally opposes the use of any of our domain names for malicious purposes," Peng told AP.

    However, he added, the sheer number of users it had to police meant it could not be sure that all activity was legitimate.

    "We currently have 2.85 million domain names and cannot exclude that individual users might be using domain names for malicious purposes," he said.'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19585433
  • Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-11 15:12:13
    'On October 15, 1984, Associated Press reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had written a manual for the Nicaraguan Contras (then involved in a civil war with the Nicaraguan government), entitled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas). The ninety-page book of instructions focused mainly on how "Armed Propaganda Teams" could build political support in Nicaragua for the Contra cause through deceit, intimidation, and violence. The manual discussed assassinations. The CIA claimed that the purpose of the manual was to "moderate" the extreme violence already being used by the Contras.

    ** Political reaction

    A Reagan administration official stated privately that the manual had been written by an "overzealous" independent low-level employee under contract to the CIA. Further, the manual had not been cleared for publication and was "clearly against the law", and the manual violated Reagan’s 1981 Executive Order banning political assassinations.

    On October 18, 1984 President Ronald Reagan ordered William Casey to initiate an investigation by the CIA's inspector general. Reagan stated that "whoever is guilty [of preparing the manual], we will deal with that situation and they will be removed."

    In a news conference the day after his reelection victory, Reagan dismissed the entire controversy as “much ado about nothing.”

    The next month a White House spokesman said Reagan had approved the inspector general's report recommending discipline of several mid-level officials. Five mid-level CIA employees received punishments from written reprimands to suspension without pay for “poor judgment and lapses in oversight” because of the manual. In 1987 it was found that Casey blocked any punishment of the two senior CIA officials involved with producing and distributing the manual, including one, Duane Clarridge, who after initially denying that he had anything to do with the manual, admitted he was “fully responsible” for the document. In closed testimony to a congressional committee, Casey reportedly declared, “There’s no reason to discipline them for one little slip-up.”

    ** Contents

    The manual recommended “selective use of violence for propagandistic effects” and to “neutralize” (i.e., kill) government officials. Nicaraguan Contras were taught to

    [lead] demonstrators into clashes with the authorities, to provoke riots or shootings, which lead to the killing of one or more persons, who will be seen as the martyrs; this situation should be taken advantage of immediately against the Government to create even bigger conflicts.

    The manual also recommended:

    selective use of armed force for PSYOP [psychological operations] effect.... Carefully selected, planned targets — judges, police officials, tax collectors, etc. — may be removed for PSYOP effect in a UWOA [unconventional warfare operations area], but extensive precautions must ensure that the people “concur” in such an act by thorough explanatory canvassing among the affected populace before and after conduct of the mission.

    ** Nicaragua v. US

    The manual was one of the issues the International Court of Justice (IJC) analyzed in the Nicaragua v. US 1986 I.C.J. 14 case. The court's jurisdiction for this case was disputed by the United States, an issue that has never been resolved.

    The ICJ in the voted on statements "Finds that the United States of America, by producing in 1983 a manual entitled Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas, and disseminating it to contra forces, has encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law; but does not find a basis for concluding that any such acts which may have been committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United States of America"

    "The Court has to determine whether the relationship of the contras to the United States Government was such that it would be right to equate the contras, for legal purposes, with an organ of the United States Government, or as acting on behalf of that Government. The Court considers that the evidence available to it is insufficient to demonstrate the total dependence of the contras on United States aid. A partial dependency, the exact extent of which the Court cannot establish, may be inferred from the fact that the leaders were selected by the United States, and from other factors such as the organisation, training and equipping of the force, planning of operations, the choosing of targets and the operational support provided. There is no clear evidence that the United States actually exercised such a degree of control as to justify treating the contras as acting on its behalf."

    "Having reached the above conclusion, the Court takes the view that the contras remain responsible for their acts, in particular the alleged violations by them of humanitarian law. For the United States to be legally responsible, it would have to be proved that that State had effective control of the operations in the course of which the alleged violations were committed."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_Operations_in_Guerrilla_Warfare
  • Internet enemy number one, Lamar Smith, is sponsoring the FISA FAA renewal and pushing it to a vote in the House on Wednesday. This is the bill that retroactively legalized NSA warrantless wiretapping. We need to stop this now.

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-11 15:03:19
    'It’s back. On Thursday the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a five-year reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the 2008 law that legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program and more. It permits the government to get year-long orders from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications—including phone calls, emails, and internet records—for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence. The orders need not specify who is going to be spied on or even allege that the targets did anything wrong. The only guarantees that the FAA gives are that no specific American will be targeted for wiretapping and that some (classified) rules about the use of intercepted information will be followed.

    After four years, you’d hope that some basic information or parameters of such a massive spying program would be divulged to the public, or at least your rank-and-file member of Congress, but they haven’t. Only a small handful of members have either personally attended classified briefings or have staff with high enough clearances to attend for them. Sen. Ron Wyden—who has been on the Senate Intelligence Committee for years—has even been stonewalled by the Obama administration for a year and a half in his attempts to learn basic information about the program, such as the number of Americans who have had their communications intercepted under the FAA.

    Yet the House ambles on, ready to rubber stamp another five years of expansive surveillance that can pick up American communications without meaningful judicial oversight and without probable cause or any finding of wrongdoing. Instead of blind faith in the executive branch, every member of the House should demand that the administration publicly disclose the following before proceeding with reauthorization:
    • Copies of FISA court opinions interpreting our Fourth Amendment rights under the FAA, with redactions to protect sensitive information (the Department of Justice can write summaries of law if necessary);
    • A rough estimate of how many Americans are surveilled under the FAA every year;
    • A description of the rules that govern how American information picked up by FAA surveillance is protected.

    Can you believe that 435 members of Congress who have sworn to uphold the Constitution are about to vote on a sweeping intelligence gathering law without this basic information? Act now to let them know that it’s time for Congress to fix FISA. Keep an eye on this space and the @ACLU on Twitter for updates this week (for more detailed tweets about FISA, follow @Richardson_Mich, A.K.A. Michelle Richardson, the ACLU’s lobbyist who works on FISA).

    Relatedly, on October 29th, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the ACLU’s constitutional challenge to the FAA, which was filed in 2008 less than an hour after President Bush signed the amendments into law.'

    http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/house-vote-fisa-amendments-act-wednesday
  • Noam Chomsky: Why America and Israel Are the Greatest Threats to Peace

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-11 14:42:17
    'Imagine if Iran -- or any other country -- did a fraction of what American and Israel do at will.

    It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.

    The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.

    Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron.

    Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the U.S. elections.

    Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable, Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.

    All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair – to Iran.

    Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.

    Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the bombing did not end Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program but rather initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.

    Iran too has carried out aggression – but during the past several hundred years, only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in the Persian Gulf.

    Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as are Washington’s allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab Spring.

    The Nonaligned Movement – the governments of most of the world’s population – is now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and some members – India, for example – adhere to the harsh U.S. sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.

    The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command: “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which “inspires other nations to do so.”

    Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace In the Arab world, the United States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared. Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.

    If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability – this is still unknown to U.S. intelligence – that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the U.S.-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.

    Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United States and Israel.

    Furthermore Iran must be punished for its “successful defiance,” which was Washington’s charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.

    Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that circumstances were otherwise identical.

    Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where chances of a fair trial would be slight.

    Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for performing a public service – which, of course, would not obviate the need to take the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.

    The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held that “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

    Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America” by Martin Gilens. He found that the vast majority are “powerless to shape government policy” when their preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it matters to them.

    Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.

    Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in ways sometimes verging on comedy.

    To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial system from a character in a fantasy novel – “Atlas Shrugged” – who calls for the use of gold coins instead of paper currency.

    It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Travels,” his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold. Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish – and best of all, inequality would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.'

    http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-why-america-and-israel-are-greatest-threats-peace