Friday, February 8, 2008

Daily Report

• According to WNEM in Saginaw, Michigan, federal authorities are now investigating incidents last month in which a man and a woman were seen taking pictures at two Michigan meat packing plants. Reports suggest the two are members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Local police have possession of their camera and pictures, and could charge the couple with trespassing. (See item 19)

• WPXI 11 Pittsburgh reported that state officials are warning residents to be watchful of the Moraine State Park Dam in Butler County, Pennsylvania, which is considered a high hazard dam. Water is spilling over the dam, and officials worry that more rain could endanger surrounding counties. They have posted an emergency action plan in more than 30 municipalities. (See item 36)

Information Technology

29. February 7, Computer Weekly – (National) Users warned to update Adobe Reader to tackle PDF security threat. Adobe has fixed a vulnerability in its widely used document-viewing program Reader, but the firm is not revealing the details of the security flaw. Because of this, security analysts believe the flaw is serious, and that users should update their systems to the new version – version 8.1.2 – as soon as possible. The flaw affects PDF documents, which have been at the center of previous critical security threats involving Windows-based machines. It is estimated that two-thirds of home users have the free Adobe Reader software on their desktops, to enable them to read PDF documents, so the implications of an unpatched machine could be severe.

30. February 6, IDG News Service – (National) Apple fixes critical QuickTime bug. Apple has released a security fix for its QuickTime media player software, fixing a critical bug that had been worrying security experts for nearly a month. The update, released Wednesday, fixes a vulnerability in the RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) used by QuickTime to handle streaming media. It also fixes a previously reported incompatibility between QuickTime 7.4 and Adobe Premiere and After Effects, according to an Apple spokesman. On January 10, a researcher disclosed the flaw by posting proof-of-concept attack code that could be used to run unauthorized software on a victim’s computer. For the attack to work, the criminal would have to first trick the user into viewing a maliciously encoded QuickTime media file. With the attack code available, security researchers had been hoping that Apple would address the flaw. Wednesday’s QuickTime 7.4.1 update is for both the Mac OS X and Windows operating systems. It is Apple’s fifth QuickTime update since October

Communications Sector

31. February 7, IDG News Service – (International) Middle East cables will be repaired by Sunday. Damage to two cables that disrupted Internet and other communications to the Middle East and India will be repaired by Sunday, Flag Telecom said in a bulletin on Thursday. Breaks last week in the Flag Telecom Europe-Asia cable, owned by India’s Reliance Communications, and on the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) cable, owned by a consortium, disrupted Internet and other communications to the Middle East and India. Indian service providers were able to avoid a major crisis by diverting traffic from the Mediterranean routes to links in the Asia-Pacific region. Increased latency of traffic on account of the new routing however resulted in slower Internet access and poor quality of voice communications, according to the Internet Service Providers’ Association of India (ISPAI). The damage to three cables in the area has sparked off speculation in blogs that there was sabotage. Flag Telecom said on Thursday that the break in the Falcon cable from United Arab Emirates to Oman was because of an abandoned ship anchor, though it did not give a reason for the break in its Europe-Asia cable. The breaks in the Middle East have helped to emphasize the need for adequate backups to the existing links, particularly as premium traffic from India’s outsourcing industry travel through the Middle East cables, said the president of the ISPAI.

32. February 7, Hindustan Times – (International) Bharti to set up undersea cable connecting India, France. Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Wednesday said it will set up another high-capacity undersea cable, which will connect India to France through the Middle East, in association with eight global telecom players by the end of next year. A formal construction and maintenance agreement to build a high-capacity fiber-optic submarine cable that would stretch from India to France through the Middle East was signed today in Rome by all the firms. The cable system – I-ME-WE (India, Middle East, Western Europe) – is the fifth in the series of similar cable systems, which includes the SEA-ME-WE series, and is likely to be available for service by the end of 2009, a Bharti Airtel statement said. The supply contract for the construction of the I-ME-WE submarine cable system was also signed today by the consortium members, the statement added. This announcement has come within days of damage to three undersea cables – two off the coast of Egypt and one in the Middle East. The damage had slowed down Internet services in India for some time.

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