Monday, May 12, 2008

Daily Report

• According to Gannet News Service, analysis of EPA data has found that since 2003, fines totaling $35 million were assessed against 494 of the nation’s 4,200 municipal facilities that treat at least a million gallons of sewage daily. Violations included sewage spills that make people sick, threaten local drinking water, and kill aquatic organisms. (See item 17)

• According to the New York Times, “Operation Cisco Raider” has led to 15 criminal cases involving counterfeit networking products bought in part by military agencies, military contractors and electric power companies in the U.S. Over the two-year operation, 36 search warrants have been executed, resulting in the discovery of 3,500 counterfeit Cisco network components. (See item 21)

Information Technology

27. May 9, CNN – (International) Fighting the agents of organized cybercrime. Today’s hackers are profit-driven criminals, often involved in organized rings. “Hacking has escalated from a destructive nature to financial gain through phishing, targeting people for bank account details, and siphoning accounts from there,” says a security researcher at Fortinet. “It’s a very sophisticated ecosystem, with organizations and services for hire,” he continues. “There’s a lot of money floating around, a lot of people involved. Once the infrastructure and networks are in place, you start building that foundation, which can be further leveraged and taken to next level: denial of services, cyber warfare, espionage.” While online communities in particular continue to grow through friendly social networking sites, underground cybercrime syndicates continue to thrive on these on-screen relationships based on sharing and trust. Topping the most-wanted list, an organization dubbed Rock Phish is reputedly responsible for more than half of all phishing sites worldwide. In addition to its proven technical prowess, part of its success can be attributed to baited hooks written in perfect English – as well as French, German and Dutch – with always impeccable counterfeit design of brand logos and styles. According to the Javelin Strategy & Research 2008 Identity Fraud Survey Report, identity fraud and theft totaled $51 billion in the U.S. over the past year, after peaking at $58 billion in 2006. From one analyst’s perspective, the next big threat is targeted attacks on high-level executives at corporations with well-padded bank accounts. Meanwhile, the technical arms race between cyber-criminals and security professionals has escalated. “Bot-herders and other ‘spam kings’ are difficult to track, especially in so many different jurisdictions and areas around world, with no enforced policies against them,” one analyst observed. Source:

28. May 9, IDG News Service – (National) XP SP3 cripples some PCs with endless reboots. Installing Windows XP Service Pack 3 sends some PCs into an endless series of reboots, according to posts to a Microsoft support forum. A former program manager for security policy at Microsoft and a prominent Windows blogger has worked with users to tentatively identify the problem as involving only machines using processors from Advanced Micro Devices. Messages from frustrated users began accumulating onthe XP SP3 support newsgroup Wednesday, just a day after Microsoft released the update. “I just installed Windows XP SP3 and after completing the processes and when the system reboots, the system cannot proceed to load the Windows,” said a user labeled as “Olin” in a message that kicked off a long thread. “It just displays the flash screen of Windows then after it reboots again.” Most users who left messages on the forum said that they were unable to boot into Windows Safe mode – a last-ditch way to sidestep the normal boot process for troubleshooting purposes – or revert to a previously saved System Restore point. According to the blogger, there appear to be two separate issues. He also spelled out workarounds for both problems on his blog. The HP issue can be solved by disabling the intelppm.sys driver, while the second fix requires the user to plug in a USB flash drive before booting. Microsoft was not immediately available for comment early Friday, but someone identified as a Microsoft employee on the support forum had asked users to e-mail him information such as the PC’s system configuration, tell him whether they were able to enter Safe mode, and submit event viewer logs. Source:

Communications Sector

29. May 8, Associated Press – (North Carolina) North Carolina TV market to make early switch to digital TV. Any glitches in the nationwide switch to digital television will be felt first in Wilmington, N.C. The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday formally announced that the North Carolina TV market on would be the first to switch from analog signals to an all-digital format. It said five local stations will begin broadcasting only digital signals beginning at noon on September 8 – five months ahead of the much-advertised February 17 nationwide flip. “This experience will help us to spot issues that we need to address elsewhere in the country before next February,” the FCC chairman said in a release Thursday. The agency said Wilmington is one of “only a limited number of potential test markets,” but did not say how many others or if they would also make the early switch. Wilmington, which volunteered for the switch, was one of eight communities with technology in place to go all digital, an agency spokesman said. Wilmington is the 135th ranked TV market in the nation, said a spokesman for the Consumer Electronics Association, a trade group for electronics manufacturers and retailers. About 93 percent of Wilmington’s households subscribe to cable or satellite TV, while only 7 percent – or about 12,600 households – still watch over-the-air programming. While about half of the nation’s households own a digital set, it’s unclear how many of those 12,600 over-the-air households in Wilmington do. But the spokesman said getting the word out will be easy to do in a small market. Source: