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Hackers plan to assault corporate/government corruption

A few weeks ago we reported that hacker group LulzSec had breached online security at Sony Corporation, PBS, FBI-affiliated Infragard, Arizona law enforcement documents, and many more businesses, government agencies and organizations. Lulzsec then announced they were disbanding after wreaking 50 days of hacking havoc.

According to the Los Angeles Times, last week’s arrests of 21 alleged hackers on July 19th in the U.K., U.S. and Holland were followed two days later by a notice that members of Anonymous boasted on Twitter that they stole a gigabyte of information belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, and had posted links to PDF files containing some of that stolen info.

According to InformationWeek, the group “said it used simple injection to infiltrate NATO servers, which typically means inputting bad code into Web forms to see if a backend database will react to the code.”

“Yes, #NATO was breached. And we have lots of restricted material,” the group tweeted on its AnonymousIRC Twitter feed, one of several it and AntiSec use to release information and news about their activities. AntiSec includes members of Anonymous and LulzSec, another hacktivist group that officially ceased operations at the end of June.

In a separate message posted at Pastebin, the hackers put the FBI on notice:

You state: “We want to send a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable, [even if] hackers can be believed to have social causes, it’s entirely unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts.”

Now let us be clear here, Mr. Chabinsky, while we understand that you and your colleagues may find breaking into websites unacceptable, let us tell you what WE find unacceptable:

* Governments lying to their citizens and inducing fear and terror to keep them in control by dismantling their freedom piece by piece.

* Corporations aiding and conspiring with said governments while taking advantage at the same time by collecting billions of funds for federal contracts we all know they can’t fulfill.

* Lobby conglomerates who only follow their agenda to push the profits higher, while at the same time being deeply involved in governments around the world with the only goal to infiltrate and corrupt them enough so the status quo will never change.

These governments and corporations are our enemy. And we will continue to fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies.

We are not scared any more. Your threats to arrest us are meaningless to us as you cannot arrest an idea. Any attempt to do so will make your citizens more angry until they will roar in one gigantic choir. It is our mission to help these people and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – you can possibly to do make us stop. … We’re back – and we’re not going anywhere. Expect us.

In another hacking story, a Chinese hacker who shut down the White House website spoke about how hacking is done.

Did Twitter violate free speech against conservative political organization?

A conservative grassroots organization in Texas was shut down by Twitter without warning on Monday, July 19. Twitter not only shut down the Empower Texans’ Twitter feed, but also the Twitter feeds of every individual connected with Empower Texans. By Thursday morning, The Drudge Report took notice of the situation.

Empower Texans, an influential state-level conservative grassroots organization, uses Twitter as a key component of their communication strategy. The politically active group, which boasts more than 19,000 friends on its Facebook page, wrote on its blogsite that it had never knowingly violated Twitter’s Terms of Service.

After repeated attempts to contact Twitter, the organization’s president Michael Quinn Sullivan received a “vaguely worded auto-response-style message two days later, suggesting the suspension was due to unspecified violations of Twitter policies.”

On Thursday, the matter was resolved and an update was posted at Empower Texans’ Facebook site:

The @EmpowerTexans Twitter account has been reinstated! They sent nice notes apologizing for the inconvenience. Now that we’re back up, be sure to click below and follow us!

Surfin’ Safari contacted Sullivan, who said, “Twitter has never actually said they why shut us down, their responses have been vague.”

Sullivan says he suspects his organization was inadvertently included in a Twitter sweep intended to deactivate another online Texas news organization that was in violation of TOS.

But as Sullivan noted, “If Twitter can do this to us, what’s to stop them from shutting down a political candidate’s account a week or two before election day?”

Could it be that Twitter’s newly embraced status within the Obama technology circle had anything to do with this?
Naw … that couldn’t happen. You think?

We’ll learn more about the Twitter issue when I interview Empower Texans President Michael Quinn Sullivan on my radio program, The Andrea Shea King Show, Monday evening, July 25, at 9 p.m. ET. Link to listen here.

Presidential hopeful policy tweets

Last Wednesday, theteaparty.net, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit dedicated to promoting tea-party causes, made Internet history with a 90-minute “virtual debate,” an all-Twitter Tea Party Presidential Debate in which six Republican candidates were asked questions submitted by Twitterers and moderators S. E. Cupp and radio host Rusty Humphries.

Hosted from 140TownHall.com, the candidates’ answers were kept to Twitter’s 140 character limit. Candidates included Rep. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and Gary Johnson, whose answers were analyzed for popularity by the number of times they were repeated – or re-tweeted – to the Twitterverse.

Herman Cain ranked highest with 1,211 answers retweeted. Shortly after the final tweet, Cupp said the forum averaged 180 tweets per minute with more than 4,500 responses retweeted.

Candidates Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul did not participate in the debate.

Jennifer Preston of the New York Times Caucus blog wrote: “While some argue that politicians can avoid tackling tough policy questions when they only have 140 characters to explain their positions, others say the strict limit forces brevity and eliminates opportunities to obfuscate their messages.”

If you missed it, the debate tweets can be viewed at the site of the first, all-Twitter Tea Party Presidential Debate.

Twitter execs pink-slipping key employees

Jack Dorsey has pink-slipped four key product managers. Kevin Cheng, Josh Elman, Anamitra Banerji, who started Twitter’s ad platform, and Jean-Paul Cozzatti have flown the coop in a move said to be a final sweep-out of those still closely affiliated with the Twitter founders Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jason Goldman regime. That trio left Twitter a few months ago and have since re-launched the Obvious startup incubator where Twitter was originally hatched. Here’s what they’re working on.

Google Chairman admits they missed the boat on social networking

In a recent CNN interview, Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO-now-executive-chairman and White House tech advisor to the president, said the company “should have focused more on connecting people – a hole that allowed the emergence of rival Internet giant Facebook.”

In an effort to capture the market, Google’s newly released answer to Facebook – Google+ – already has 10 million users in its first three weeks.

Schmidt said, “Fundamentally, what Facebook has done is built a way to figure out who people are. That system is missing in the Internet as a whole. Google should have worked on this earlier. I think that’s the area where I would have put more resources, developing these identity services and ranking systems that go along with that. That would have made a big difference for the Internet as a whole.”

Meanwhile, Facebook senses it’s won the battle for social networking. With more than 750 million active users and new features being launched so frequently it’s hard to keep up, the latest is blockbuster. Facebook will now offer video chat through its strategic alliance with Skype. Here are five things the Skype deal teaches us about Facebook.

Google Search infected with Malware

It’s what you never want to see on your computer screen: a yellow triangle with an exclamation point warning you that “Your computer appears to be infected.” Arrrgh! But Google’s doing users with infected computers a favor with this recently implemented feature at its search results.

“After collaborating with security engineers at several companies that were sending this modified traffic, we determined that the computers exhibiting this behavior were infected with a particular strain of malicious software, or ‘malware.’ As a result of this discovery, today some people will see a prominent notification at the top of their Google web search results,” wrote Google security engineer Damian Menscher in a blog post where you can learn more about it.

With Apple, imitation not sincerest form of flattery.

Long known for producing counterfeit goods, China has reached a new copy-cat milestone – fake Apple stores. Yep, complete with Apple’s logo, signage and sleek look. Even the employees seemed to think they worked for Apple. But as an American blogger living in China proved, three Apple stores are fakes. Apple has four company stores in China, but none of them included these three, nor were the pseudo-Apple stores among its authorized resellers.

According to a published report in SiliconValley.com, “Rampant copying also has hampered Beijing’s efforts to attract technology industries, because businesspeople say companies are reluctant to do high-level research in China or bring in advanced designs for fear of theft.”

Are you holding smart?

Do you have a smart phone? If so, you’re one of 35 percent of all American adults, according to a recent Pew Report. The Pew Internet Project survey conducted in May found that 83 percent of U.S. adults have a cell phone of some kind, 42 percent of them own a smart phone. That translates into 35 percent of all adults.

Bitcoin: A separate parallel currency, created out of nothing.

A digital currency called Bitcoin is being used to pay for services, purchase merchandise, meals and just about anything else for which you’d use your traditional currency.

Here’s how it works: Transactions take place over the Internet via anonymous encrypted code, sometimes using your mobile device. More than 6.5 million Bitcoins are in circulation. Bitcoin is peer to peer, money that passes “cyber” hands without any government involvement. It starts when you download software that gives you a virtual wallet. You’ll have to watch this video to learn how to fill it.

Of those who will be making mobile payments, they’ll still be using traditional currency.

Gartner Research predicts worldwide mobile payment users to reach 141 million in 2011: “Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) will remain the preferred mobile access technology in developed markets, where the mobile Internet is commonly available and activated on the phone. Mobile app downloads and mobile commerce are the main drivers of WAP payments, and WAP will account for almost 90 percent of all mobile transactions in North America and about 70 percent in Western Europe in 2011.”

Worse than quitting ciggies

How would you feel if your access to the Internet was taken away from you? Would you suffer withdrawal? Would you quickly become bored and “antsy”? Would you feel isolated? If so, you’re not alone.

According to a new study, a majority of people feel upset and lonely when they are deprived of access to the Internet. Fifty-three percent said they feel upset and 40 percent feel lonely when they can’t go online, even if their access is denied for only a short time.

Giving up all technology allowing web access was described by some participants as similar to quitting drinking or smoking.

Prayers with Norway

Last Friday, July 22, Norway was the victim of two related terrorist attacks that took the lives of dozens of its citizens, most of them teens who were shot in cold blood. Our sympathy and prayers go out to the good people of that beautiful country.

In a post I wrote, I encouraged my readers to send their condolences to Norway’s Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strommen. If you feel moved to do so as well, here’s his email address: [email protected]

The Time Capsule

1897 – Amelia Earhart born in Kansas

1943 – Mussolini steps down as head of government, armed forces

1956 – Egypt’s President Nasser nationalizes Suez Canal

1965 – LBJ orders 50,000 additional troops to Vietnam

1969 – Ted Kennedy receives suspended jail sentence over Chappaquiddick

1996 – Atlanta Olympic venue bombed; President Clinton vows games will go on

2000 – Concorde crashes on takeoff, 113 killed

2003 – Bob Hope – “G.I. Bob” – dies at 100Watch a tribute

Now playing at the Princess Theater in Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WND readers Pat Reid of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, and Jacqueline Turner of Prides Crossing, Mass., who correctly guessed actor Harry Shearer, who portrayed the recruiter in the four-time Oscar winning film “The Right Stuff.”

The film starred Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, and a host of others. The 1983 film about America’s first astronauts was based on the bestseller by the same name by Tom Wolfe.

The quote was: “Funding. That’s what makes your ships go up. I’ll tell you something, and you guys too: No bucks, no Buck Rodgers.”

This week’s quote: “It’s worse than horrible, because a zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring.”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!