Hackers Extort Utility Companies

By robert at 9:53 pm on January 19, 2008 | 2 Comments

Tom Donahue, the CIA’s top security analyst, announced this week that attackers hacked into the computer systems of foreign utility companies and held power grids hostage until their demands were met. In one case, they also caused a power outage that affected multiple cities. According to a Forbes.com article, the attacks occurred over the last two years, and an unknown amount of money was extorted.

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MySpace is NotSafe

By kurifodo at 1:29 pm on Comments Off on MySpace is NotSafe

A recent article concerning user privacy on MySpace made it known there is a serious flaw in the social network’s security. The reported exploit of the bug allows anyone, not just MySpace account holders, to view private profiles and private photo galleries. Ideally, if a user marks their profile and pictures as private, only friends or individuals they allow to view their information should have access. It was mentioned in the article that URLs were modified to circumvent the privacy security installed on MySpace presently; this exploit is similar to Pablo’s demonstration of the duped CNN page using a modified URL.

As the article mentions, one reason this event came about is due to individuals posting on forums asking how to view these private profiles. Even more disturbing, however, is the fact that these individuals on the forums are targeting teens. It is also reported that this bug has been in circulation on forums for months now, and so it would seem likely that MySpace knew of the bug, but was too lazy to do anything about it. If they did not know, then ignorance is no excuse. From the high-level and brief description of the bug in the article, it seems this event and others like it could have been prevented altogether with a better system architecture to begin with. Since anyone is able to modify the MySpace URLs and input a user’s ID to gain access, it would seem MySpace does not check if the exploiter is logged in. If they do check this, then spoofing a user’s account credentials seems all too easy on MySpace.

Due to MySpace being one of the largest, if not the largest, social networking sites on the web, there is a potentially large societal impact due to this bug. Personal photos and information can be stripped from profiles and placed on other sites for who knows what reasons. Clearly this type of event is an invasion of privacy, and should be prevented from occurring as soon as possible. Not only is this type of act against the rules, it is against the wishes of the victims. How should these victims react? They signed up for a service expecting their information to be protected, but they received a vulnerable service which puts their information at risk. Should MySpace have to compensate individuals somehow due to harming their user base? User’s must pay the consequences when breaking the “Terms and Conditions” of a service oriented site, so should this swing the other way?

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Monkey Brains In U.S. Make Robot Walk In Japan

By jkivligh at 1:01 pm on Comments Off on Monkey Brains In U.S. Make Robot Walk In Japan

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have successfully used a monkey to control a robot. By putting the monkey on a treadmill and implanting electrodes into its brain, the movement of the robot in Japan matched the movements of the monkey in the U.S. The movement of the robot continued after the treadmill stopped, supposedly as the monkey was still thinking about walking. This research is motivated by the desire to help those severely paralyzed be able to walk again. Researchers hope to create robotic limbs that respond to users’ thoughts.

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