Monday, September 10, 2007

Daily Reports

According to The New York Times, hydrogen peroxide, the chemical that German police say two terrorism suspects planned to use to make bombs, is a simple molecule, two oxygen atoms and two hydrogen atoms, with myriad uses. (See item 3)

The Associated Press is reporting that federal regulators, girding for explosive growth in the nuclear power industry, say they are weeks away from an anticipated flood of license applications for new reactors not seen since the 1970s. (See item 4)

Information Technology Sector

1. September 07, Security Products Online – Report cites decreased security breaches via encryption solutions. SafeNet Inc. announced the availability of a new research report on encryption and key management that shows the increased degree to which organizations have deployed encryption technologies in order to protect sensitive data. Conducted by the Aberdeen Group, the study also provides information on the approaches organizations have taken to lower operational costs, reduce risk, establish consistent security policies, and sustain regulatory compliance. “The Aberdeen Group's research is proof positive that companies should and are employing holistic strategies to encryption and key management," said a representative from SafeNet’s commercial security division. “Using full-disk, database, storage, and application encryption products, in combination with hardware security modules, tokens and smart cards, companies are safely protecting sensitive information thereby preventing potentially devastating data breaches,” he said. According to the report, Best-in-Class companies--the top 20 percent of aggregate performance scorers--are investing in automated key management and key distribution capabilities to cope with and benefit from a broader use of encryption. Compared to all companies surveyed, the Best-in-Class supported 1.9 times more keys with an estimated 34 percent lower total annual cost on a per-key basis. For a complete copy of the Aberdeen Group report on encryption and key management, visit


2. September 07, Reuters – Microsoft says some way to go on software piracy. Microsoft on Friday said it may take decades to tackle software piracy in large emerging economies, despite some recent progress, and called on Asian governments to invest more in policing the practice. “We are realistic in recognizing that we have to work diligently over periods, that are really a decade or two, to make real progress in a number of these environments,” said Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer. He also noted that progress had been made in countries like China and Vietnam in recent years to tackle software pirates, which cost the company billions of dollars each year. However, he said more needed to be done to police the problem, especially from the side of enforcement. “Most of the Asian countries have the laws, some of the regulations – they probably need tuning up – but the biggest weakness is, very few of them have made the necessary investment on the enforcement side.” Microsoft has made progress in China, where the piracy rate has dropped to 82 percent this year from 94 percent four years ago, he said. The piracy rate is a measure of the level of pirated software in the country. China President Hu Jintao last year pledged to crack down on software piracy.


3. September 06, AP – Accusation of ID theft by file-sharing. A Seattle man has been arrested in what the Justice Department described as its first case against someone accused of using file-sharing digital data to commit identity theft. Gregory Thomas Kopiloff primarily used Limewire's file-sharing program to troll other people's computers for financial information, which he used to open credit cards for an online shopping spree, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Kopiloff was arrested Wednesday. According to a four-count indictment, he bought at least $73,000 worth of goods online — including iPods and laptop computers — then resold those items at half-price and kept the proceeds. Authorities said they have identified at least 83 victims — most of whom have teenage children and did not know the file-sharing software was on their computer. But investigators also said they believe the number of people affected was in the hundreds — and that in all they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Though people have been prosecuted for using networks to illegally share copyrighted music, movies and software, the Justice Department called this the first version of an equally — if not more — troubling matter. Each day, computer users inadvertently share hundreds of thousands of sensitive files through such programs, from banking statements and medical records to tax returns and legal documents, according to the chief executive of Tiversa Inc., a firm that monitors file-sharing. Typically the mistakes occur when a user downloads file-sharing software and accidentally allows it to share all files on a computer, rather than just music files, for example. “If you are running file-sharing software, you are giving criminals the keys to your computer,” said an assistant U.S. district attorney. “Criminals are getting access to incredibly valuable information.”


4. September 06, Cnet – Cybercrime committed 'every 10 seconds' in Britain, report says. A cybercrime is committed every 10 seconds in Britain, criminals abusing the anonymity of the online world to carry out offences from unwanted sexual approaches to online fraud, according to a study published Thursday. The UK Cybercrime report, commissioned by online criminology firm 1871 Ltd, suggested that more than three million offences were committed online last year. The author of the report said, “Although measuring cybercrime is difficult, it is clear that in many instances it is outstripping 'traditional' crime.” Online security firm Garlik compiled the figures and found that individuals and not organizations were the intended target of more than 60 percent of the online offences. Topping the list of offences was online harassment, including abusive e-mails and offensive allegations posted on websites and chatrooms. There were also 850,000 instances of sex crimes, where individuals were ‘cyberstalked’ or received unwanted sexual approaches, for example. Garlik also found that there were 207,000 financial frauds committed last year – up more than 30 percent on a similar study in 2005. There were 92,000 cases of identity theft and 144,500 cases of hacking into another PC. Experts also warned that not enough is being done to tackle the problem.


Communications Sector

1. September 06, RCR News New survey says wireless call quality improving. Wireless call quality continues to improve, with customers seeing a reduction in initial disconnects in particular, according to the most recent J.D. Power and Associates report on call quality. The study, which was based on responses from more than 25,000 wireless users earlier this year, found that reports of problems were at their lowest level in the survey’s five-year history. Customers reported 15 problems per 100 calls, which was down almost 30% from the same reporting period last year. J.D. Power reported that initial disconnects were down by 40 percent year-over-year and reports of dropped calls were down by 33 percent. However, the survey did find that customers who used hands-free devices were more likely to report having problems—18 problems per 100 calls on average, compared to 14 problems per 100 calls among customers who did not use hands-free accessories. A Powers representative said one reason for the difference is that “owners of hands-free devices tend to make calls more often than do those who don’t use these devices, and high-volume callers are more likely to experience call quality problems in general.” He added that “as more wireless subscribers begin using hands-free devices for convenience, the rate of call quality problems may increase as the probability rises for quality interference between the headset and cellphone.”


  1. September 06, RCR News – Senators take on industry with wireless consumer protection bill.Two Senate members today unveiled a wireless consumer protection bill, setting the stage for a battle between lawmakers and the mobile-phone industry that’s likely to play out into the 2008 election season. The coming legislation goes further than setting federal standards governing contracts, billing-service quality and other wireless industry practices. It also directs the Federal Communications Commission to submit to Congress a study on handset locking and its effect on consumer behavior and competition. The FCC would become a tough enforcer of wireless protection guidelines under the measure. “The rules governing our wireless industry are a relic of the 1980s, when cellphones were a luxury item that fit into a briefcase instead of a pocket,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), lead sponsor of a bill that could be introduced as soon as tomorrow. “Early termination fees are a family budget-buster; families should be able to terminate service without outrageous fees; know if their cellphone will work on their drives and in their home and office; and understand what to expect in their monthly bills once you pile on charges and fees. It’s a simple matter of fairness.” Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said: “Anyone who looks at a cellphone bill knows it’s a hodge-podge of fees and surcharges that supposedly covers regulatory or administrative costs. The reality is, often these are nothing more than operating costs that companies are passing on to the consumer disguised as fees and taxes,” said Rockefeller. “It’s high time to protect cellphone users from these deceptive billing practices.” Steve Largent, president of cellphone association CTIA, countered the Senators’ statements, saying, “the truth is that complaints about wireless service to the FCC are infrequent and declining.” And that “the most recently published FCC data, which was absent from the senators’ announcement, clearly shows that contract-related complaints, as well as overall wireless complaints, are falling.”