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 Wednesday, September 26, 2007

OECD has recently released its September 2007 issue of its newsletter. "OECD Information and Communication Policy News was launched in June 2006. Every quarter, it brings the latest news, statistics and best practice recommendations from the OECD on Information and Communication Policy, including policy for communication infrastructures and services, the information economy, security and privacy, and consumer protection." For more information, visit the OECD website.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 3:08:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A presentation on the ITU-D Question 17-2/2: Progress on activities for e-services/applications in the world was given on 25 September 2007 by Robert Shaw, head of the ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division (CYB) of the Telecommunication Development Sector to the ITU-D Study Group 2. The presentation discusses the different e-Application areas in the division such as e-Environment, e-Government and e-Health. More on the CYB ICT Applications activities here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 9:08:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sophos recently reported on the hefty jail sentences that the pump-and-dump stock spam gang faces today. 47-year-old Michael Saquella (also known as Michael Paloma), 63-year-old Lawrence Kaplan, 38-year-old Henry Zemla and 26-year-old Justin Medlin have all pleaded guilty to being part of an international gang that spammed out fraudulent news stories to create artificial demand in stocks, pumping up the share price of 15 small companies (Beverly Hills Film Studios; Body Scan; Cor Equity Holdings; Courtside Products; eDollars, IFINIX; Integrity Messenger; Latin Heat Entertainment; Motion DNA; PokerBook Gaming; TKO Holding; Trans-Global Holdings; V3 Global; Xtreme Technologies; and Zuma Beach Entertainment) and raising more than $20 million from investors. The four men are now facing between 5-10 years in prison.

"Pump and dump stock campaigns work by spammers purchasing stock at a cheap price and then artificially inflating its price by encouraging others to purchase more (often by spamming "good news" about the company to others). The spammers then sell off their stock at a profit. Sophos experts report that pump-and-dump stock campaigns account for approximately 25 percent of all spam, up from 0.8 percent in January 2005. Earlier this year, Sophos reported how the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had suspended trading in 35 companies as they were found to be commonly referenced in pump-and-dump stock email campaigns."

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 8:55:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 24, 2007

A presentation on the ITU-D Cybersecurity Initiatives was given today, 24 September 2007, by Robert Shaw, head of the ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division of the Telecommunication Development Sector to the ITU-T Study Group 17. The ITU Cybersecurity Work Programme to Assist Developing Countries, the ITU-D Study Group Question 22/1, the Self-Assessment Toolkit and the ITU Botnet Mitigation Toolkit were discussed among others. More on the ITU-T Study Group 17 here.

Monday, September 24, 2007 3:27:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, September 23, 2007

A story at Slashdot points to a article with a quote from McAfee CEO David DeWalt, who says that cyber-crime has become a US$105 billion business that now surpasses the value of the illegal drug trade worldwide. Despite the increase in government compliance requirements and the proliferation of security tools, companies continue to underestimate the threat from phishing, data loss, and other cyber vulnerabilities, DeWalt said. 'Worldwide data losses now represent US$40 billion in losses to affected companies and individuals each year, DeWalt says. But law enforcement's ability to find, prosecute, and punish criminals in cyberspace has not kept up: "If you rob a 7-11 you'll get a much harsher punishment than if you stole millions online," DeWal remarked. "The cross-border sophistication in tracking and arresting cyber-criminals is just not there."'

Sunday, September 23, 2007 4:31:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 21, 2007

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) launched a press release on 19 September 2007 on a study commissioned to investigate the impact of telecommuting and e-commerce on energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and liquid fuel consumption.

The study found that one day of telecommuting - using consumer electronics such as personal computers and wireless networks - would save the equivalent of up to 12 hours of an average household's electricity use in the United States. The findings also indicate that the level of CO2 reduction would be equal to removing 2 million vehicles from the road every year.

To read the study, click here.

Friday, September 21, 2007 6:16:24 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The International Trade Centre's e-Trade Development Unit published its latest newsletter today, which highlights the topics as follows:

  • ITC joins the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development;
  • Mali K7: an African Record Company aims at the Global Market;
  • Training on e-Commerce targets SMEs in Tehran;
  • Interview with Mr. Walid Kooli, e-Commerce focal point in Tunisia;
  • Report from the field: ETDU in Iran;
  • Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) event mobilizes African firms;
  • Helping Developing Countries migrate towards Paperless Trade;
  • Paperless trade - how does it work?
  • Bangladesh designs a strategy for its technology sector.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 4:28:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Portuguese Government and the European Commission are jointly organising the fourth Ministerial eGovernment Conference entitled “Reaping the Benefits of eGovernment” in Lisbon from 19 to 21 September 2007.

Topics to be covered during the workshops at the conference include the analysis of experience and results of the e-government initiatives at European level such as:

  • Research and Technological Development in Electronic Government;
  • Public Sector Innovators;
  • eGovernment standards;
  • Benefits for All derived from Electronic Government;
  • Benefits of the electronic infrastructure in e-government, e-health and e-learning.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 1:24:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ENISA / CERT/CC Workshop on Mitigation of Massive Cyberattacks is held today, 19 September 2007, in Porto, Portugal. "This workshop will bring together experts from established CERTs with newcomers, project managers and policy makers from the EU Member States. The renowned experts from CERT/CC will organise the program and co-chair the workshop. The program and the discussion this year are dedicated to the topic The role of CERTs in mitigating massive cyber attacks - Cooperation as a key-factor for success." More information on the workshop can be found here. A presentation on The Importance Of Global Cooperation, Tools, Mechanism & Partnerships by Robert Shaw, Head, ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division, ITU Telecommunication Development Sector is also available online.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 9:22:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 18, 2007

According to an article in Computer Weekly, Arbor Networks' Third Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report highlights botnets and the increased size of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks as a growing threat to ISPs. For the first time, botnets surpassed DDoS attacks as the top threat identified by service providers. [Via ISN]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 9:03:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 17, 2007

The Washington Post reports on Google's call for new international standards on the collection and use of consumer data. "Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google, told a U.N. audience in Strasbourg, France, that fragmentary international privacy laws burden companies and don't protect consumers. He argued for an international body such as the United Nations to create standards that individual countries could then adopt and adapt to fit their needs. 'The ultimate goal should be to create minimum standards of privacy protection that meet the expectations and demands of consumers, businesses and governments,' Fleischer said, according to a transcript of the speech provided by Google."

Investigations over Google's privacy practices are currently conducted by the European Union. There have been controversy and criticisms on Google's privacy policies and its planned $3.1 billion merger with DoubleClick, an online advertising broker that sells banner and video ads. Critics argue that the merger which would enable the company to collect information on which sites users visit, would hurt competition in online advertising, and that it would aggregate too much consumer data in the hands of one company. According to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and a critic of the DoubleClick merger, "Google, under investigation for violating global privacy standards, is calling for international privacy standards... It's somewhat like someone being caught for speeding saying there should be a public policy to regulate speeding."

Fleischer proposes the privacy framework developed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which he refers to as a balance between information privacy, and business needs and commercial interests. However, critics say that the APEC standards are too lenient. Rotenberg adds further that the APEC rules put the burden on consumers, who must demonstrate that a company's privacy policy has harmed them. Guidelines developed in 1980 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which influenced the European Union's privacy laws and are usually preferred by privacy advocates, generally focus on the violation of privacy as a right rather than a demonstration of harm caused by the violation.

To read the full article, click here.
Read more about Peter Fleischer's views on privacy on his blog.

Monday, September 17, 2007 2:01:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Wall Street Journal Online reports on the five-year sentence given to Irving Escobar, a ring leader in a TJX Cos. linked credit-card fraud. He "was sentenced to five years in prison and has been ordered to pay nearly $600,000 in restitution for damages resulting from stolen financial information, Florida officials said. The sentencing follows a guilty plea by Mr. Escobar, 19 years old, of Miami, to charges that he participated in a 10-person operation that used counterfeit cards bearing the stolen credit-card data of hundreds of TJX customers to purchase approximately $3 million in goods and gift cards."

Read more on this news article here.

Monday, September 17, 2007 11:22:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 14, 2007

Bruce Schneier has posted an entry on his blog arguing that if we want home users to be secure, we need to design computers and networks that are secure out of the box, without any work by the end users. “There simply isn't any other way.”

Friday, September 14, 2007 9:00:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Interpol proposed on Wednesday the creation of global and regional anti-crime centres to fight criminal activity online and respond quickly to emergency cybercrime alerts. During an international cybercrimes conference in New Delhi, Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K. Noble said that the Internet should not be allowed to become a place where criminals have the upper hand and can escape punishment. Officials from 37 countries discussed identity theft, online bank fraud, Internet gaming and the risks of online terrorist activity during the two-day conference organized by Interpol.

To read the full article, click here.

Friday, September 14, 2007 8:59:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 13, 2007

At the first Regional Conference on Literacy taking place in Mali this week, Angola's Minister of Education underlined the importance of literacy skills to foster health prevention in Africa as the Angola Press Agency reported yesterday via All Africa.

In order to reach the objectives of the National Plan of Education for All by 2015, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are now used as tools to promote autodidactic learning and to train citizens on matters related to health primary care, personal hygiene, HIV/Aids and environment.

To read more, click here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007 10:32:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Union proposes that internet searches for bomb-making instructions should be filtered and blocked across the European Union. "Internet providers should also prevent access to any site giving instructions on how to make a bomb, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said in an interview... The EU executive is to make this proposal to member states early in November as part of a raft of anti-terrorism proposals. These include the screening of private data of passengers flying into the 27-nation bloc and the creation of an early warning system to alert police forces to thefts of explosives. Representatives of the Internet industry are meeting the EU on Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on the United States, at a European Security Research and Innovation Forum. The Internet has taken on huge importance for militant groups, enabling them to share know-how and spread propaganda to a mass audience, as well as to link cell members."

Read the full article on Reuters.

Thursday, September 13, 2007 9:38:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

InfoWorld has announced the 2007 Bossie Awards for the Best of Open-Source Software. Awards were given to 36 winners across 6 categories. Among the honorees are SpamAssassin, ClamAV and Nessus in security, Wireshark and Azureus Vuze in networking, and ZFS for storage.

Read more of this story at InfoWorld.

Thursday, September 13, 2007 8:50:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The e-Government Global Dialogue, Citizen-Centric Government: One-Stop Multi-Channel Service Delivery for All, will be held on Tuesday, 18 September 2007, 8:00-10:30 am ET at Room MC2-137, 1818 H Street NW in Washington, DC. It will also be accessible via live webcast.

"The government of the future is a citizen-centric government and the one-stop approach is a quintessential expression of citizen centricity. This seminar, initiated by the Moscow City Government is integral part of Single Window Conference taking place in Zelenograd district of Moscow on Sep 18-20, which will bring together some 300 government officials and other stakeholders from multiple Russian regions as well as the audiences in other transition and developing countries. The seminar will enable policy-makers to get a snapshot of international experience, analyze critical success factors, lessons learned and implementation challenges in citizen service center projects, and explore a symbiotic relationship between the citizen service centres and other service delivery channels. Case studies of citizen service center projects will also be presented, and the following issues will be discussed in more detail: the profile, skills, professional background for one-stop citizen service centers; the legal status / organizational form of citizen service centers; and the relations and linkages between citizen service centers and the government agencies."

More information about this event is available here.
Interested participants may also join via the Live Webcast / Online Discussion.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 2:24:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

John E. Dunn reports on Techworld how the global market for criminal malware operates like a supermarket, complete with special offers and volume discounts, as a security company has discovered. On Panda Software’s latest quarterly report, the going rate for a reasonably sophisticated but generic Trojan is between £175 ($350) and £350 ($700), while the email list with which to target victims for the program costs from £50 ($100) per million names. The malware writers even offer specials – in one case the company discovered a site selling a ‘payment capture’ Trojan for £200 ($400) to the first 100 customers to sign up, a saving of £50 ($100) off the normal rate. "In recent months we have witnessed the growing professionalisation of digital crime," said Panda Software’s lab chief Luis Corrons. "The first step for cyber-crooks was when they started looking for profits from their activity instead of just notoriety. Now they are creating a vast online malware market, where there are even specialised segments. New business models are appearing, as we speak," he said.

Corrons adds that the malware industry now appears to be turning from being just a shop from which malware can be bought, to one where services are offered. For between one and five dollars per executable, malware could be cloaked - encrypted - against the anti-virus software programs it was likely to encounter on a for-hire basis. Finally, criminals could rent spam servers for £250 a time to distribute their assembled malware package, the company said. Corrons also provides details of the cost of hiring DDoS attacks in his blog.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 9:31:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

An article on The Economist discusses RBN (Russian Business Company), the threats it poses to global cybersecurity, and the lack of cooperation from the Russian government. VeriSign classifies RBN as "“the baddest of the bad"”. The anonymity of the group and its senior figures who are only known through their nicknames, and the apparent backing of politicians have led to the continuing success of its operations. "'“RBN is a for-hire service catering to large-scale criminal operations,”' says the report. It hosts cybercriminals, ranging from spammers to phishers, bot-herders and all manner of other fraudsters and wrongdoers from the venal to the vicious. Just one big scam, called Rock Phish (where gullible internet users were tricked into entering personal financial information such as bank account details) made $150m last year, VeriSign estimates." Another difficulty RBN poses is its ability to fight back. This had been evident in the Rock Phish attack to the National Bank of Australia in October 2006. After taking active measures against the attack, RBN fought back by taking down the bank’s home-page for three days.

Despite VeriSign having tracked down the physical location of RBN’s servers and the Western law enforcement officers' pressure on their Russian counterparts to pursue the investigation vigorously, RBN remains confident and active. According to VeriSign, "only strong political pressure on Russia will make the criminal justice system there deal with this glaring example of cyber-illegality."

To read the full article, go to The Economist.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 9:17:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A new mobile system where one makes calls directly between phones, for free, is being trialled by TerraNet, a Swedish company, in hopes of dramatically improving communications in the developing world. "TerraNet has developed the idea using peer-to-peer technology that enables users to speak on its handsets without the need for a mobile phone base station. The technology is designed for remote areas of the countryside or desert where base stations are unfeasible. Projects backed by TerraNet recently launched in Tanzania and Ecuador. The TerraNet technology works using handsets adapted to work as peers that can route data or calls for other phones in the network. The handsets also serve as nodes between other handsets, extending the reach of the entire system. Each handset has an effective range of about one kilometre. This collaborative routing of calls means there is no cost to talk between handsets. When a TerraNet phone is switched on, it begins to look for other phones within range. If it finds them, it starts to connect and extend the radio network. When a number is dialled a handset checks to see if the person being called is within range. If they are, the call goes through. While individually the phones only have a maximum range of 1km, any phone in between two others can forward calls, allowing the distance to double. This principle applied many times creates a mini network. However, TerraNet founder Anders Carlius admitted that this has created big problems with having enough available frequencies. The system can also be used to make calls to other TerraNet mesh networks via a net-connected PC fitted with an inexpensive USB dongle."

Currently, this new system only works with a special handset, but "Mr Carlius said he hopes that it will eventually be a feature available on all phones, like Bluetooth. He said that were this to happen, it could potentially spell the end for the current Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications model which is used by about 70% of all mobile phones." Most large mobile companies seem skeptical at the moment, but according to Mr Carlius, mobile phone manufacturer Ericsson had invested around £3m in TerraNet.

Read the full article on BBC News.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 8:02:10 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A Swedish security researcher, Dan Egerstad, has recently revealed how he collected 100 passwords from embassies and governments worldwide by sniffing Tor exit routers. Egerstad explains on his blog how he did it, and calls attention to and re-iterates the lack of appreciation for cybersecurity among organizations worldwide.

Read related article on Ars Technica here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 7:58:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Computerworld reports on a worm targeting Windows PCs that is spreading through Skype's instant messenger, making the Voice over IP (VoIP)'s chat software the next target. Dubbed Ramex.a by Skype spokesman Villu Arak, but pegged Pykspa.d by Symantec, the worm takes a typical instant messenger (IM) line of attack: After hijacking contacts from an infected machine's Skype software, it sends messages to those people that include a live link. Recipients who blithely click on the URL, which poses as a JPG image but is actually a download to a file with the .scr extension, wind up infected. Arak also listed instructions for removing the worm from infected PCs, but they included changes to the Windows registry, a chore most users are hesitant to try. Ramex.a/Pykspa.d injects code into the Explorer.exe process to force it to run the actual malware, a file named wndrivsd32.exe, periodically. The worm also plugs in bogus entries in the Windows hosts file so that installed security software won't be able to retrieve updates.

Skype is only the latest IM client to fall victim to hackers. Both Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN/Live Messenger have been targeted this summer. Exploit code designed to hijack Windows PCs running Yahoo Messenger appeared as early as June, and Yahoo has been forced to patch the IM client several times since. Microsoft, meanwhile, has scheduled fixes for its MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger software for tomorrow, presumably to quash a webcam bug that was disclosed late last month.

Read more of this article here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 7:55:46 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bill St. Arnaud's blog passes on information on the upcoming OECD-Canada Technology Foresight Forum on the Participative Web: Strategies and Policies for the Future to be held 3 October 2007 in Ottawa, Canada.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 9:05:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dancho Danchev’s blog has a post on the agressiveness of the Storm Worm botnet:

“Stage one - infect as many end users with high speed Internet access as possible through the use of client side vulnerabilities. Stage two - ensure the longest possible lifecycle for the malware campaign by having the newly released binaries hosted at the infected PCs themselves. Stage three - take advantage of fast-flux networks to make it harder to shut down the entire botnet. And stage four - strike back at any security researcher or vendor playing around with Storm Worm's fast-flux network or somehow messing up with the malicious economies of scale on a worldwide basis. On Friday I received an email from Susan Williams at aa419.org, and as it looks like several other anti-fraud sites are getting DDoS-ed too :

"On September 2 2007, online scammers began an automated DDoS attack against aa419.org, with the goal of shutting down the anti-fraud site. For some time, aa419 was able to filter the worldwide botnet's attacks by monitoring connections and only allowing legitimate visitors to access thesite. However, by September 5 the hoster was being overwhelmed with nearly 400 GB of incoming requests every hour. Rather than let their infrastructure melt under the onslaught, the server is currently offline. This massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was inspired by aa419.org's mission to blacklist and shut down scam web sites. Since 2004, the all-volunteer organization has recorded more than 18,000 such sites. In addition to publicly warning potential victims of fraud, they work with hosters and registrars to take scam web sites offline quickly, with a success rate of over 97% shut down. Susan Williams, press officer for aa419.org, said, "On the whole, we're positive about this. Not that we enjoy being offline; quite the opposite. But being attacked with a botnet of this magnitude tells us that we are doing serious damage to the organized crime networks that run these scams." Internet crime is increasing at record rates, and aa419.org is at the forefront of the fight against it. "We will continue our work regardless of how many criminals are annoyed by it," Williams said."

"This newest ddos round started about a week ago and knocked us offline for a couple hours while we figured out what was going on. And we're still under attack, so if the site is a bit slower, you know why. Odd month really, lots of sites, lots of sites, are under ddos. We've got over 10k bots attacking us with more being added daily.""

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 8:29:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spamnation reports that the popular scambaiting site 419Eater and the anti-scam site Scamwarners are the latest anti-spam sites to fall victim to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Artists against 419 was also hit recently as well as another useful anti-scam site, CastleCops, along with other sites hosting antispam forums.

Spamnation asserts that the Zhelatin (Storm Worm) gang is responsible for a number of other DDoS attacks this year, including an attack against anti-spam sites and download sites operated by a rival spam gang. Zhelatin are known to have spare capacity at the moment. There have been reports that they have built up a botnet containing more than a million computers, not all of which are currently being used for stock and pill spam.

For spam gangs like Zhelatin, a DDoS attack appears to be another opportunity to exploit. When the Zhelatin botnet gets to break in a site, it's more likely that the attack has been commissioned by one of their customers. In the same way that a customer can order a stock spam run, they can request a DDoS attack (although it has been claimed that DDoS attacks cost more than regular spam runs, because there is a greater risk that ISPs or law enforcement will react aggressively to shut down the machines involved).

Read full article here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 8:55:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 10, 2007

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) accepted the role and responsibilities of facilitating activities related to the action line under C.7 ICT Applications - e-Agriculture at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) follow-up meetings held in February 2006 in Geneva.

In May 2007, a pilot web-based platform, www.e-agriculture.org was launched providing a dynamic space for those interested in shaping e-agriculture policies and practices to network, share information, experiences, and opinions, and to find out about new and useful systems, tools, and methodologies.

From 12 September to 3 October 2007, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) invites all e-Agriculture Community members to participate in its online consultation on "Opening Access to CGIAR Research and Knowledge: From Data, Information and Collaboration to Food" at the online forum. The objective is to make it easier for CGIAR staff, partners and potential partners to access, use and add value to the research and to the scientific outputs of the CGIAR.

With the objective to support the use of ICTs and knowledge management in the agricultural sector, a strategy has been drafted on global public goods.

  • Integrated access to global public goods stewarded by the CGIAR (technical standards/portal work);
  • Networking and capacity building to ensure the best possible linkages between CGIAR, NARS and other partners for public goods generation and sharing;
  • Value-added information products and services.
Monday, September 10, 2007 5:38:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Peter Gutmann of the Department of Computer Science, University of Auckland presents how "malware has come a long way since it consisted mostly of small-scale (if prolific) nuisances perpetrated by script kiddies. Today, it's increasingly being created by professional programmers and managed by international criminal organisations. The Commercial Malware Industry looks at the methods and technology employed by the professional malware idustry, which is turning out "product" that matches (and in some cases even exceeds) the sophistication of standard commercial software, but with far more sinister applications."

The presentation discusses extensively how the malware industry has evolved from The Numbers Racket to organized crimes and even further now into the Spam, Carding, Phishing and Botnet businesses, among others. Provided in the presentation as well are case studies and examples, statistics, and technical mechanisms of these growing internet crimes as services.

Read more on Peter Gutmann's work here.

Monday, September 10, 2007 11:35:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ITU News Nº 7 September-October 2007 edition features in its Cybersecurity Watch the Cybersecurity Work Programme for Developing Countries. The purpose of the Cybersecurity Watch column is to share information on ITU activities and initiatives related to cybersecurity and countering spam. More information on ITU activities in the domain of cybersecurity can be found at here. ITU–D's ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division has information on its ongoing projects, resources and publications to assist ITU Member States, including an overview of the ITU Cybersecurity Work Programme for Developing Countries, as well as information on the toolkits mentioned in the article at the CYB website. Details on related workshops and other events can be found here.

Monday, September 10, 2007 11:13:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Researchers say the growing botnet has enough distributed power to launch a damaging attack against major businesses or even countries. The Storm worm botnet has grown so massive and far-reaching that it easily overpowers the world's top supercomputers. That's the latest word from security researchers who are tracking the burgeoning network of machines that have been compromised by the virulent Storm worm, which has pounded the Internet non-stop for the past three months. Despite the wide ranging estimates as to the size of the botnet, researchers tend to agree that it's one of the largest zombie grids they've ever seen. According to Matt Sergeant, chief anti-spam technologist with MessageLabs, "in terms of power, [the botnet] utterly blows the supercomputers away. If you add up all 500 of the top supercomputers, it blows them all away with just 2 million of its machines. It's very frightening that criminals have access to that much computing power, but there's not much we can do about it." Sergeant adds that researchers at MessageLabs see about 2 million different computers in the botnet sending out spam on any given day, and he estimates the botnet generally is operating at about 10% of capacity. Adam Swidler, a senior manager with security company Postini, told InformationWeek that while he thinks the botnet is in the 1 million to 2 million range, he still thinks it can easily overpower a major supercomputer.

Cyber criminals who control the botnet have a tremendous amount of destructive power. Early this summer, the Baltic nation of Estonia was pounded in a cyberwar that saw distributed denial-of-service attack primarily targeting the Estonian government, banking, media, and police sites.

Last month, Ren-Isac, a collaboration of higher-education security researchers, sent out a warning that the Storm worm authors had another trick up their sleeves. The botnet actually is attacking computers that are trying to weed it out. It's set up to launch a distributed denial-of-service attack against any computer that is scanning a network for vulnerabilities or malware. The warning noted that researchers have seen "numerous" Storm-related DoS attacks recently. MessageLabs' Sergeant said the botnet also has been launching DoS attacks against anti-spam organizations and even individual researchers who have been investigating it. "If a researcher is repeatedly trying to pull down the malware to examine it the botnet knows you're a researcher and launches an attack against you," he said.

Lawrence Baldwin, chief forensic officer of MyNetWatchman.com, said he doesn't have a handle on how big the overall botnet has become but he's calculated that 5,000 to 6,000 computers are being used just to host the malicious Web sites that the Storm worm spam e-mails are linking users to. And he added that while the now-well-known e-cards and fake news spam is being used to build up the already massive botnet, the authors are using pump-and-dump scams to make money. Swidler said that since mid-July, Postini researchers have recorded 1.2 billion e-mails that have been spit out by the botnet. A record was set on Aug. 22 when 57 million virus-infected messages -- 99% of them from the Storm worm -- were tracked crossing the Internet. According to researchers at SecureWorks, the botnet sent out 6,927 e-mails in June to the company's 1,800 customers. In July, that number ballooned to 20,193,134. Since Aug. 8, they've counted 10,218,196.

Read full article at InformationWeek.

Monday, September 10, 2007 9:56:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 07, 2007

On early May this year following the controversial uprooting of the 6-foot-tall bronze statue in downtown Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the nation faced a series of massive botnet attacks. Estonian government, banking, media, and police sites were flooded by overwhelming internet traffic from all over the world which led to DDoS attacks forcing the sites to shut down and remain inaccessible outside the country for extended periods of time. In mid-May, the major botnet attacks suddenly stopped, and the bots appeared to have been set to run for exactly two weeks after which the infected computers abandoned the attacks and reverted to more traditional botnet activities, like spamming and extortion.

This recent attack on Estonia has proven the power of botnets and it DDoS capabilities. Using rented botnets, hundreds of thousands or even millions of infobombs may be launched at a target, all while maintaining total deniability to bring down a country's information infrastructure.

For more details on the botnet attack against Estonia, read full article here.
An article on how bots attack may also be accessed here.

Friday, September 07, 2007 10:25:46 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |