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Hackers got our water, what's next?

Posted By Andrea Shea King On 11/21/2011 @ 11:29 am In Diversions | Comments Disabled

Security experts say the fact that computer hackers were able to remotely cause a water pump to fail in an Illinois water plant is a significant and major new development in cyber-security. Previously, companies and government agencies have routinely been targeted by hackers to steal information or disrupt website activity.

According to a published report, “The intruders launched their attack from IP addresses based in Russia and gained access by first hacking into the network of a software vendor that makes the SCADA system used by the utility. The hackers stole usernames and passwords that the vendor maintained for its customers, and then used those credentials to gain remote access to the utility’s network.”

“This is a big deal,” said Joe Weiss, an industry security expert. “It was tracked to Russia. It has been in the system for at least two to three months. It has caused damage. We don’t know how many other utilities are currently compromised.”

“That is what is so big about this,” he continued. “They could have done anything because they had access to the master station.”

Congress creates online backlash

They never stop, do they? Congress. They can’t come up with a budget, but they sure can find time to look for ways to gunk up the Internet with rules, regulations and control.

It would appear that longtime Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has plenty of time to hold hearings to investigate reports that Facebook tracks users after they log out.

Whew! That’s a relief. Except Facebook says they’ve already fixed the problem. Nah, Rockefeller’s going to lift the hood and take a look, for the people, of course.

And in other “We are Congress and we’re looking out for you” news, CNN reports that a bill moving through the august body with an 8-percent approval rating, will crack down on illegal pirating of movies, music and other copyrighted material.

But it’s hitting some major pushback from web heavyweights who have joined the chorus against the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. Bill author, Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary committee, said last month when the bill was introduced that he hopes to have it ready for a vote by the end of the year.

Some lawmakers, web-freedom advocates and major tech players like Google, Yahoo! and Facebook are calling it “a greedy and dangerous overreach that could have a chilling effect on free speech and innovation.”

Exactly what is it about free market principles that some legislators don’t understand?

If you have a pulse, DARPA will find you

Here’s the good news: The U.S. Pentagon DARPA geeks have developed technology that can see you breathe and watch your heartbeat – from behind walls! And they’re now able to ultimately identify individuals’ heartbeats to tell them apart in a crowd with a program called “Biometrics-at-a-distance.”

Good: Helps smoke out the bad guys.

Good: Helps rescuers search for victims trapped under rubble.

According to Wired, “Seeing or ‘sensing’ human life through walls can be a pretty helpful trick. For troops that have to clear houses in search of terrorists or insurgents, it’s always nice to know what’s on the other side of that door. Picking up “life-form readings” may sound like science fiction straight out of Star Trek, but the Defense Department has been able to do it for years now.”

OK, the bad? Use your imagination. You’ll come up with something.

Study: China’s online spending about to surpass USA

Last week we told you that China Telecom Corp, the largest wireline telecom and broadband service provider, will offer wireless service in the U.S. in 2012 to attract Chinese Americans who spend time in both countries.

This week we learned that China’s online shopping market “could reach 2 trillion RMB, or $315 billion, by 2015, which would surpass the United States’, according to research by Boston Consulting Group.”

Within five years, online shoppers in China will double what they spend now – about $940 a year. The average U.S. shopper spends $1,000, currently the world’s largest e-commerce market.

The reason? Rising personal income and increased familiarity with online retail sites.

Amazon developing its own phone?

In a Los Angeles Times piece, an analyst is quoted saying Amazon will release a mid-priced ($200) smart phone by the fourth quarter of 2012.

The device would run Google’s Android operating system and be compatible with Amazon’s digital movies, music and e-books. It is rumored to include an 8-megapixel camera, a 4-inch touch screen capability for faster data uploading and downloading.

Nasty little buggers

Imagine my surprise when I clicked open my Facebook page to find a photo of a ‘nekkid’ woman splashed on the page. Or maybe I should say “splayed” on the page? I quickly deleted it, and wondered how many others – young Facebookers included – had seen the same, uh, private anatomy. Turns out there were plenty.

A major spam attack last Tuesday at Facebook caused millions of users to see porn and other unsavory images. Facebook said a coordinated spam attack was spread when people were tricked into pasting malicious code into their outdated Web browsers. Facebook has identified those responsible, and contrary to earlier suspicions, it was not the work of the hacking group calling themselves “Anonymous”. At least, not this time.

Elsewhere, malware targeting Google’s Android mobile OS exploded in the last several months, its volume quintupling since July, according to this report.

Face to Face

More on Facebook: Skype will soon be embedding its software into the social media giant, which will let Facebook’s 800 million users video chat across both networks.

“We’ve been on a mission to connect a billion users and with this, we take a big step closer to that,” said Jonathan Rosenberg, Skype’s chief technology strategist.

Looks like Microsoft’s getting into social networking

Find what you need and share what you know.” Microsoft’s secret social network is on the drawing board.

Thanksgiving helpers

Sharon Machlis has discovered some apps to keep you from gobbling up your time by creating a holiday meal shopping list on OurGroceries; or Grocery IQ; or Remember The Milk.

Save at the grocery store with this mobile app — Pushpins 2.0, a fully featured grocery shopping assistant. Read more about it here.

Bits & Bytes

Post-Thanksgiving shoppers’ best apps

Black Friday, so named for the day after Thanksgiving when retail sales put retailers “in the black,” is another American tradition. Before you head out to join the crowds to begin your Christmas shopping, download these 10 apps to your smart phone to find out where the best sales are. This one in particular looks to be a winner: TheFind.com, a shopping search engine that tracks the best prices on products year-round.

Imitation: sincerest form of flattery

Google Music was publicly released last week. Late to the game already dominated by Apple iTunes and Amazon, it will be interesting to see if Google Music can establish itself as a player in digital listening.

Guess how much online video you watch per month?

If you said five hours, you’d be right. According to the latest numbers from Nielsen, that figure is double the amount of online video people watched in 2008.

Think about it: services like Netflix, Apple TV and Hulu Plus give you movies, TV episodes on your PCs, TVs or tablets – and YouTube is betting big on premium programming.

I’m racking up a minimum of ten hours a week with Glenn Beck’s GBTV programming. And that’s not counting his online web-cammed radio show or my favorite Masterpiece Theater episodes on PBS.org.

Add them up. You’ll probably be surprised at how much time you’re watching online content!

Cash-starved politicians eyeball online tax revenue

Here’s why charging a national sales tax on purchases made online is a bad idea: Small businesses will bear the financial brunt and burden. An op-ed by Jonathan Williams, director of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council and John Stephenson, director of the Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, explain more.

Don’t scoop the wire!

When an Associated Press reporter and a photographer were among at least six journalists arrested at Zuccotti Park last week, eager beavers at the AP tweeted the news on Twitter, beating their own wire service to the punch. And earning the ire of higher-ups who sent an email reminder to “knock it off.”

NYMag got a copy of the email and reported: “The official rules note, “Don’t break news that we haven’t published, no matter the format.” (Reuters spells out the same idea plainly in their handbook: “Don’t scoop the wire.”)

Instead of getting “caught in the moment,” the AP’s freewheeling tweeters are urged in the e-mail to run “sensitive official AP business” through editors and corporate communications. The AP’s social media guidelines were recently updated to insist, “Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day.”

Attention bloggers!

Last week we told you how Tidal helps match your blog posts with sites that might republish them, gaining you wider exposure and increasing traffic to your site. This week, we’ve got a book for you that tells how you can make it in the political blogosphere. And it focuses on two central questions: what some bloggers have done to become so successful and what others can do to achieve similar blogging success.

“Making It in the Political Blogosphere” features profiles of and interviews with 20 of world’s top political bloggers. The book is available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon.

While we’re on the subject, have you taken advantage of the sales WND’s Superstore is running on books you want to read or give for gifts? Including Jack Abramoff’s new book “Capitol Punishment.” You can hear my Internet radio interview with Abramoff this Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 12:30 p.m. ET and again at 9 p.m. ET on “The Andrea Shea King Show.”

Time Capsule

1925 – William F. Buckley born New York City

1963 – John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Here’s the “live cam” from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, the supposed sniper’s nest Oswald purportedly used. View video from movie “JFK.” Also, Image of an Assassination: A new look at the Zapruder film.

1963 – LBJ takes oath of office on Air Force One

1963 – Jack Ruby kills Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV

1963 – Kennedy laid to rest in Washington; 800,000 line streets

1971 – D.B. Cooper hijacks commercial jet, parachutes with $200,000 ransom

1979 – U.S. Embassy in Pakistan burned, one marine killed

1986 – Actor Scatman Crothers dies

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WMD readers Marian Paul (no address) and Bruce McKay
of Novato, Calif., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Burt Lancaster in his portrayal of the character Dr. Ernst Janning in the 1961 film “Judgment at Nuremberg.” The film won two Oscars and also starred Spencer Tracy and Richard Widmark.

The quote was: “There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors and fear of ourselves.”

The movie selection was tied to last week’s Time Capsule historic event in 1945 when 20 Nazi leaders faced charges at Nuremberg trials.

This week’s quote: “Two ninety – you mean I can – why, Mr. Books, that makes me the bes’ haggler!”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Please be sure to add your town and state. Good luck!


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