Daily Report Friday, November 17, 2006

Daily Highlights

The Associated Press reports that more than two−dozen people were arrested in New York on Wednesday, November 15, in connection with a billion−dollar−a−year gambling ring orchestrated through a Website called Playwithal.com. (See item 10)
The Associated Press reports a man was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after officials found him carrying more than $78,000 in cash and a laptop computer containing information about nuclear materials and cyanide. (See item 15)
The House of Representatives has approved the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006, which strengthens the ability of the Department of Justice to prosecute animal rights terrorists who do damage to property or threaten individuals associated with an animal enterprise. (See item 23)

Information Technology and Telecommunications Sector

37. November 16, eWeek — 'Pump−and−Dump' spam surge linked to Russian bot herders. The recent surge in e−mail spam hawking penny stocks is the handiwork of Russian hackers running a botnet powered by tens of thousands of hijacked computers. Internet security researchers and law enforcement authorities have traced the operation to a well−organized hacking gang controlling a 70,000−strong peer−to−peer botnet seeded with the SpamThru Trojan. According to Joe Stewart, senior security researcher at SecureWorks, the gang functions with a level of sophistication rarely seen in the hacking underworld. For starters, the Trojan comes with its own anti−virus scanner that removes competing malware files from the hijacked machine. Once a Windows machine is infected, it becomes a peer in a peer−to−peer botnet controlled by a central server. If the control server is disabled by botnet hunters, the spammer simply has to control a single peer to retain control of all the bots and send instructions on the location of a new control server. The bots are segmented into different server ports, determined by the variant of the Trojan installed, and further segmented into peer groups of no more than 512 bots. This allows the hackers to keep the overhead involved in exchanging information about other peers to a minimum, Stewart explained.
Source: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2060235,00.asp

38. November 15, IDG News Service — Pirated Vista may be useless, Microsoft says. Microsoft said supposedly pirated copies of its new Vista computer operating system "will be of limited value" to those who use them. Microsoft responded Tuesday, November 14, to reports that some Websites have been circulating pirated copies of Vista and the Office 2007 applications suite. But Microsoft said in a prepared statement that those pirated copies of the OS won't work for long. "The copies available for download are not final code and users should avoid unauthorized copies which could be incomplete or tampered. This unauthorized download relies on the use of pre−RTM [release−to−manufacture] activation keys that will be blocked using Microsoft’s Software Protection Platform. Consequently, these downloads will be of limited value," the statement said.
Source: http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/11/15/HNpiratedvistausel ess_1.html

39. November 15, CNET News — Google, Yahoo, Microsoft adopt same Web index tool. Search engine rivals Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are teaming up to make it easier for Website owners to make sure their sites get included in the Web indexes. The companies are adopting Google's Sitemaps protocol, available since June 2005, which enables Website owners to manually feed their pages to Google and to check whether their sites have been crawled. Website owners have had to follow similar processes at each of the other major search engines separately. Now Website owners will be able to go to one place for alerting all three major search engines to their Webpages, something they have been requesting for some time, said Tim Mayer, director of product management at Yahoo Search.
Source: http://news.com.com/Google,+Yahoo,+Microsoft+adopt+same+Web+