Daily Report Thursday, December 7, 2006

Daily Highlights

The Missouri Public Service Commission is frustrated that more hasn't been done to prevent widespread outages, since about 99,100 Ameren Corp. customers are still without power in Missouri and Illinois after last week's ice storm. (See item 1)
The New York Times reports the investigation into an outbreak of food poisoning that has sickened 65 people in three states has widened after four additional cases of E. coli infection were reported in Pennsylvania as well as two more in New Jersey. (See item 21)
Police in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, have called in a federal postal inspector and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to look into eight cases of explosives found in residents' mailboxes along a four−mile stretch of River Road in Polk County. (See item 43)

Information Technology and Telecommunications Sector

38. December 06, New York Times — Spam doubles, finding new ways to deliver itself. Spam is back −− in e−mail in−boxes and on everyone's minds. In the last six months, the problem has gotten measurably worse. Worldwide spam volumes have doubled from last year, according to IronPort Systems, a spam−filtering firm, and unsolicited junk mail now accounts for more than nine of every 10 e−mail messages sent over the Internet. Much of that flood is made up of a nettlesome new breed of junk e−mail called image spam, in which the words of the advertisement are part of a picture, often fooling traditional spam detectors that look for telltale phrases. Image spam increased fourfold from last year and now represents 25 percent to 45 percent of all junk e−mail, depending on the day, IronPort says. Antispam firms spotted the skyrocketing amount of image spam this summer. The filtering companies adopted an approach called optical character recognition, which scans the images in an e−mail and tries to recognize any letters or words. Spammers responded in turn by littering their images with speckles, polka dots and background bouquets of color, which mean nothing to human eyes but trip up the computer scanners.
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/technology/06spam.html?ei=5088partner=rssnyt&en=d2c6bcfd3354cbaf&ex=1323061200&adxnnl=1&exprod=cnetAd&adxnnlx=1165424400−Q4unQr2Gh7hwMtJNSc5IEA

39. December 06, Information Week — Adobe fixes Reader flaw, warns of new bug in download tool. Adobe Systems updated its free Reader application Tuesday, December 5, to fix a critical flaw disclosed last week, but then warned users of its Download Manager that attackers could hijack a Mac or Windows PC by exploiting a bug in that utility. Adobe Reader 8.0 for Windows patched a vulnerability in the AcroPDF ActiveX control used to display PDF documents within Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. Last week, Adobe said that the Windows versions of Reader 7.0 through 7.0.8 could be exploited to compromise PCs. "Adobe Reader 7.0 through 7.0.8 users should upgrade to Reader 8," Adobe said in a Tuesday bulletin. Adobe Acrobat versions 7.0 through 7.0.8, however, remain vulnerable to attack.
Adobe Security Bulletin: http://www.adobe.com/support/security/bulletins/apsb06−20.ht ml
Source: http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=DWSUBLCKKRXN2QSNDLPCKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=196601932

40. December 05, eWeek — Microsoft issues Word zero−day attack alert. Microsoft on Tuesday, December 5, warned that an unpatched vulnerability in its Word software program is being used in targeted, zero−day attacks. A security advisory from the company said the flaw can be exploited if a user simply opens a rigged Word document. Affected software versions include Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac. The Microsoft Works 2004, 2005 and 2006 suites are also affected because they include Microsoft Word. There are no pre−patch workarounds available.
Microsoft Security Advisory: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/advisory/929433.mspx
Source: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2068786,00.asp