Digg.com Blog. Techsmith718@Gmail.com

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

UK police foil massive bank theft

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

The plan was to steal £220m ($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.

A man has been arrested by police in Israel after the plot was uncovered by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

Unit members worked closely with Israeli police.

The investigation was started last October after it was discovered that computer hackers had gained access to Sumitomo Mitsui bank's computer system in London.

They managed to infiltrate the system with keylogging software that would have enabled them to track every button pressed on computer keyboards.

Cyber warning

From that they could learn account numbers, passwords and other sensitive information.

Yeron Bolondi, 32, was seized in Israel after an attempt to transfer £13.9m into an account there.

He has been charged with money laundering and deception, but police say their investigation is continuing. His relationship with the gang who tried to break into the network is unknown.

They have issued a warning for banks and businesses to watch out for cyber criminals.

The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was launched in April 2001 with responsibility for tracking down the growing range of criminals who operate in cyberspace.

Takashi Morita, head of communications at Sumitomo Mitsui in Tokyo, said the company had not suffered any financial loss as a consequence of the robbery attempt.

He said: "The case is still in the middle of investigation so we cannot comment further.

"We have undertaken various measures in terms of security and we have not suffered any financial damage."
Richard Starnes, president of the Information Security Services Association, said: "We have been talking about the doomsday scenario for quite some time and while this was not actualised it shows the magnitude of the threat to companies."
Richard Starnes, president of the Information Security Services Association, said: "We have been talking about the doomsday scenario for quite some time and while this was not actualised it shows the magnitude of the threat to companies."

Monday, March 14, 2005

68,736 Microsoft Windows Viruses vs Apples's Mac OS X

It may or may not surprise you, but there are no OS X viruses (or worms or trojans), partly due to the implementation of OS X and its almost-inaccessible Root. Dr. Smoke, who gave me some advice on this subject, gives a clear explanation of how the problem should be viewed at the X Lab pages at www.thexlab.com/faqs/malspyware.html.

Most Mac users never need Root access. We use Administrator privileges, and if Root is needed for installation of an application or for alterations to the system -- what a virus would need to doa user must enter a password. This physically and consciously acknowledges an event (and its consequences)

If the numbers of viruses for Windows keeps on growing (as of January this year, there were a total of 68,736 viruses detected, according to Symantec), the Mac may come in for some attention. There is no point spending all your time virus-writing, however, if viruses will not work.

The only problem on OS X is from macros with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Latest News about Microsoft products and from mail attachments. These do not harm the Mac environment but may damage a Windows computer if sent. As a normal precaution, I do not open attachments, and trash them instantly.

This immunity may not last. There have been experiments: last year one (one!) widely reported Unix-based package was found, but it had no method of self-propagation and no delivery system.

I almost long for the days (and simplicity) of the locally written Victor Charlie (for DoS) which examined checksums to seek out unauthorized changes. A virus signature -- the common method of virus-detection these days -- may arrive days after the event.

Signature Checkers

There is a Unix-based system integrity checker, called Tripwire, which I installed. I would not suggest installing this unless you are really comfortable working at the command line. This is one that screams out for a GUI version.

What we have left, if we are going to prepare, are the signature checkers. McAfee Virex has been around for a long time -- I used a copy in System 8 -- and can be found as part of the .Mac subscription. It was withdrawn by Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Latest News about Apple in late 2004 for a brief time after a conflict was discovered, but is is now available again with .Mac and it is also on sale. Some users still report problems, however.

Norton Anti-virus for Mac 9.0 is also in the market and has a good following. A number of OS X users have also installed the products of Intego, which include VirusBarrier and NetBarrier.

A further commercial product is that of Sophos, which has a link to evaluate a copy of its application. This one is aimed at larger enterprises.

Mark Allan from the UK had been using an open-source application called ClamAV but he tired of the command line so, bless him, took it upon himself to develop ClamXav, a free virus checker (using signatures). Version 0.9.0f for OS X is a 2.8 MB download with a simple install process.

A panel allows you to update the signatures (you can also set this to update automatically) and a file browser gives you choices of which directories or files to scan. Preferences are available for some fine tuning: General, Internet and Schedule.

Quarantine Folder

The software has the ability to move infected files to a quarantine folder where they can be isolated. Items that can be scanned include mailboxes. Mark includes a warning that, for these, the isolation method should not be used. The mailbox needs to retain its integrity.

I ran ClamXav three or four times, first on a small selection of files, then some larger directories and also mailboxes. Half a dozen Word files that I had not used in about three years were shown as having Macro viruses. As I do not use Word, these had not come to light earlier (nor had they spread). ClamXav does not repair infected files: I opened them in TextEdit, copied the text information and dumped the originals. Problem solved.

Mark's Web site has some useful information on this utility and makes it clear that, although free, a donation might be appropriate. There is a "nag" screen for this that comes up occasionally.
Tech News World

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Nostalgia never fails: Brick cellies becoming retro-cool

Brick Cell
Originally uploaded by cappachino22.
You knew it was only a matter of time until those damned hipsters figured out way to transform those Eighties brick cellphones from annoying obsolescence to retro-cool, with “collectors” now paying top dollar (well, according to the Guardian, top pound) for old cellphones that just a few years ago would have gotten you laughed at in public if you had been caught using one. Dig through your closets, because apparently a Motorola Traveller in mint condition will fetch you up to £500, and even some of those old Dynatecs will bring in as much as £100 (if the N-Gage ever ends up a collector’s item we’re going to be very, very peeved).

U.S. Senate Panel Tackles Identity Theft

As you know by now that identity theft is a growing problem here in the US and hearing the news about data thefts at companies that keep electronic dossiers on millions of Americans. Members of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday said they would press for new rules to protect the public.
Here is the hold story L.A Times

Firefox Introductory Video By asa

Today I discovered that our Firefox listing with download.com has a great flash video with an introduction to Firefox and several of its big features.

Simple introductions like this will go a long way to calming peoples' fears of trying out a new product, and having a professional studio with good lighting and a capable presenter are comforting to people as they prepare to make the leap.

I think this is certainly worth pointing people to until we get more in the way of our own introductory videos. What do you all think? Is this something we should use? Should we try to top it with our own?

Oh, and while you're at download.com checking out the video, give Firefox a review if you haven't already.