Archive for the 'Internet' Category
A company with ties to Eastern Europe has been forced offline, which has helped spam levels decrease
The global amount of spam e-mail sent over the past two weeks has reduced drastically after two ISPs in the United States stopped offering service to a web hosting company involved in spam. San Jose, CA- based McColo Corp. also was involved in several criminal activities aside from spam, including child pornography, IronPort said.
One of the company’s ISPs, Hurricane Electric, was shown evidence by a Washington Post reporter that McColo was involved in criminal activity, which led Hurricane Electric to pull the plug. Global Crossing also pulled the plug on McColo yesterday morning.
Spam monitoring groups said spam mail has decreased 70 percent after the company was booted off of the internet on November 11. Several of the largest botnets in operation were supported by McColo, and criminal organizations involved in child pornography used the McColo servers.
The company’s web site, before it was taken down, promoted the company as a legitimate business operating out of Delaware, with servers located in San Jose. Its “partners” included Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard.
Although McColo is dead for now, actually filing charges and incarcerating the people behind the company will be extremely difficult — especially since some of the company’s backers are located in Eastern Europe.
McColo’s main web site remains shut down.
Even though this seems like a victory, spam experts warn there will be a dozen other spammers ready to take McColo’s place, and numbers will again increase. As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, spam levels, which typically increase during the holidays, are expected to rebound and increase over the next month and a half.
Governments are working closely with ISPs to try and identify and prosecute people who are believed to be spammers. More spammers in the United States are being punished by heavy fines and jail sentences, but if the spammers are located overseas, it becomes much more difficult to identify and prosecute them.
Several high-profile spammers over the past year have been shut down and given prison sentence, in a telling sign the U.S. government is ready to continue prosecuting spammers.
Oklahoma City network is for City use only
Municipal Wi-Fi networks made big headlines for a while and then when one of the biggest backers of municipal Wi-Fi, EarthLink, pulled out of the service, many urban areas were left without internet access.
Oklahoma City unveiled the world’s largest privately-owned and operated municipal Wi-Fi mesh network this week. The mesh network cost the city $5 million to construct and funds for the construction of the network came from city capital improvement funds and from public safety capital sales tax.
Oklahoma City’s mesh network took over two years to implement and the City says that it uses strong security measures to keep the information sent across the network secure. Unlike the municipal Wi-Fi networks EarthLink was involved with, the Oklahoma City network is not intended to provide internet access to consumers.
The network is used exclusively by City employees to give them access to over 150 different software applications while they are working in the field. Police officers in the field use laptops to connect other network and access criminal information in real time and they can download photos from the network, file reports and do paperwork from their cars.
The network also gives police officers and fire fighters access to live feeds from 300 different cameras around the city. The video access allows first responders to get an idea of the layout and view of areas in the city in route to calls. Fire chiefs can use the network to locate fire hydrants, review site maps and get building floor plans.
The network uses Tropos Networks equipment and covers 555 square-miles with 95% service coverage. Wireless Tropos outers are located on City siren towers, traffic lights, buildings and mobile routers are installed in City vehicles.
Tropos Networks president and CEO Tom Ayers awarded the City of Oklahoma City a plaque in recognition of building the world’s largest municipal broadband network. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said, “We’re proud to receive this award and claim this distinction. Our state-of-the-art wireless communication system allows City government to be more efficient and provide a higher level of service to our citizens.”
NBC-Universal and Fox’s joint venture video site launches today
Online video streaming site Hulu.com officially opened its virtual doors today. A joint venture between NBC-Universal and Fox, Hulu has $100 million in venture capital funding under its belt and partnerships with over 40 content providers.
Hulu features a slick, clean interface that is direct and to-the-point. The website isn’t cluttered with many advertisements and its (so far) easy to find movies or TV shows. Load times for videos are also speedy and quality is impressive.
As can be expected, content is the key factor that will determine Hulu’s success, and the site has plenty of it. According to Hulu, the company has created partnerships with numerous big names including Sony, Warner Brothers, NBC Universal, Fox and MGM.
Hulu allows users to stream full-length TV shows such as The Simpsons or The Office, along with full-length movies such as X2: X-Men United or The 40-Year-Old Virgin. In total, Hulu says it offers over 100 feature-length films for free. Although the movie catalog might not be as large as a Blockbuster’s, it’s free and a decent start.
To add to its appeal, Hulu also gives the option to search for content that isn’t directly hosted on the service. For example, Hulu currently doesn’t have a partnership to stream CW’s hit TV show Smallville. However, searching for the show via the site’s search function yields links to the CWTV Smallville website, which features full-length Smallville episodes.
At the moment Hulu doesn’t permit users to download videos to their hard drives.
Advertisements on Hulu aren’t very intrusive. In-video ads feature a short pre-rolled advertisement and a limited amount of interrupting commercials. In DailyTech’s testing of the service, most advertisements didn’t exceed the length of 15 seconds, and also didn’t occur very often. In addition, small pop-up flash advertisements are also occasionally displayed in shorter video clips.
Prior to its launch, Hulu spent 18 months in private beta testing. The service cost over $15 million to develop.
Reports claim the U.S. and Chinese armed forces have begun to wage an escalating, silent war on the internet
Surveillance and subterfuge are timeless traditions. In ancient Japan, daimyo ninjas carried out dangerous spy missions to the highest bidder. Their surveillance missions and assasinations created fear and chaos within their enemies.
More recently in the days of the Cold War, espionage expanded to an unprecedented scale as the CIA and Britain’s MI6 waged silent war against the Soviet Union’s KGB agents. Telephoto cameras, spy planes and phone bugs were the most high-tech tools employed for monitoring.
Today a new war of intelligence has begun, this time online. China, the world’s most populus nation, began to exert its digital will. The U.S. military reported numerous successful attacks on Defense Department computers originating from China. While the U.S. military has not put it in these exact words, it indicates that the U.S. is on the verge of entering into a digital war with the Chinese government, much akin to the war of surveillance which occurred against Russia during the Cold War era.
The Defense department reported multiple attacks over the course of the last year. Among them was a successful June 2007 system penetration which shutdown Homeland Security networks and potentially compromised sensitive data. The Department of Homeland security traced the attacks back to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and blamed the breach on lax security standards at the government contractor Unisys. Unisys was not alone though — in Fall 2006 hackers gained access to the Naval War College’s computer network and temporarily crippled it. And also in June of last year, another attack gained access to the unclassified Pentagon email system used by the offices of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The email system had to be taken offline and reworked.
Some of these attacks likely were launched by China’s burgeoning free lance hacker community. CNN, in a meeting with high profile Chinese hackers, recently discussed the attacks. Several of the hackers claimed knowledge of friends in the Chinese underground hacking community who launched successful assaults on the Pentagon. More interestingly, the hackers reported the Chinese government subsidized them for successful attacks. While the Chinese government ardently denies such claims it appears, much like Japanese warlords used the ninjas of old, the Chinese government is employing these legions of hackers to create chaos and steal information on U.S. networks — for a price.
Meanwhile, according to U.S. intelligence, the PLA is building up its own force of elite hackers to wage cyberwarfare. A Pentagon report, released this month notes that China is expanding its military presence in “the land, air and sea dimensions of the traditional battlefield into the space and cyber-space domains.” Further, it notes, “The PLA has established information-warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and network.”
The Chinese foreign ministry and its spokesman Gang Qin dismissed these intelligence assessments, calling them paranoid and misleading. Gang stated in recent public comments that the U.S. needs “to drop its Cold War mentality.”
However, few familiar with China’s military efforts can deny that its cyber-warfare efforts seem particularly active. General Kevin Chilton, who heads U.S. Strategic Command in Bellevue, Nebraska, stated, “The thing about China that gives you pause is that they’ve written openly about their emphasis in particular areas — space and cyberspace … you can kind of connect the dots.”
The government is also very concerned about possible attacks on vulnerable civilian infrastructure such as power and water treatment plants. In October 2006, according to U.S. Government Accountability Office reports, a Harrisburg, Pa., computer was hacked and software was planted that could affect the plant’s water processing. It has not been officially stated whether the attack originated from inside or outside the country.
In a statement to reporters Chilton indicated that despite China’s dismissive attitude, the country is entering into a Cold War-esque digital intelligence campaign against the U.S. He says its efforts focus on breaching U.S. military networks and mining data which can be used to steal weapons designs, monitor command decisions, and monitor the U.S. armed forces’ state of combat readiness. He states, “Twenty years ago you’d have hired somebody to go in the middle of the night with a flashlight in their teeth to open the drawer and do a bunch of photography of files. [Today] you can do it from your home country, wherever it might be.”
General Chilton also fears that future attacks may focus on crippling entire military systems, leaving entire armed forces branches without communications. He points to such an attack against Estonia’s government in the Spring of 2007, effectively shutting down the majority of Estonia’s government networks. General Chilton stated, “You don’t shut the system down completely, but you slow it down. I would consider that an attack.”
The U.S. is not alone in its belief that China is flexing its cyber-spy muscle. The United Kingdom has accused the Chinese Army of directly trying to infiltrate British networks and steal information, including personal financial information. It has distributed letters of warning to various financial institutions.
It will likely be virtually impossible for civilians to determine when exactly the cyberwar between China and the U.S. begins. It appears, however, the first shots have already been fired and with reports of attacks and buildup mounting, it is clear that we are heading towards a silent cyberwar with China, if we are not engaged in one already.