Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Daily Report

According to the Associated Press, the secretary of energy said Monday that government mandates are not ideal but might be a necessary part of efforts to boost the use of alternative fuels. Among the challenges in promoting alternative energy are making fossil fuels friendlier to the environment, and making renewable fuel production more affordable and easier to bring to market, said the official. (See items 3)

• The Financial Times reports that, according to security forces in Azerbaijan, the U.S.

embassy there had been the target of a planned attack by a group of radical Islamist fighters captured outside Baku over the weekend. In Washington, the state department spokesman said the U.S. embassy took “precautionary steps” in response to some “threat information,” but declined to describe either the threats or the steps taken. (See item 24)

Information Technology

28. October 30, ZDNet (National) MessageLabs: Watch out for audio and video spam. Email security company MessageLabs has warned that spammers are already modifying their tactics when it comes to the emerging trend of using audio rather than text attachments in unsolicited mail. In a statement, MessageLabs claimed that spammers are now moving on from simply attaching audio to mail to linking through to content hosted on multimedia sites such as YouTube. (Earlier this month, computer security firm Sophos reported that spammers were exploiting YouTube’s “invite your friends” function to send email spam containing a variant of the Storm worm). “This recent trend proves that spamming techniques are becoming more innovative,” said MessageLabs in its statement. On 17 October spammers used attached MP3 music files to try to “sneak messages past spam filters,” said MessageLabs. The spam run of 15 million emails lasted 36 hours and used Storm worm-infected computers for the purposes of dissemination. “The MP3 spam tactic is a natural progression for cybercriminals following runs of image, PDF and Excel junk mail earlier this year,” said a chief security analyst for MessageLabs. “As users become wary of certain file attachments, scammers will move on to their next tactic.” According to MessageLabs, spammers have recently been experimenting with different types of file attachments, including text, image, HTML, ZIP, RAR, RTF and PDF file formats.


29. October 29, Reuters (National) Bogus FTC e-mail has virus. The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) warned consumers on Monday not to open a bogus e-mail that appears to come from its fraud department because it carries an attachment that can download a virus that has the ability to steal passwords and account numbers. The e-mail says it is from “” and has the FTC’s government seal. “We’ve received hundreds if not thousands of calls and complaints, this one may have had a large distribution,” said a source in the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. The agency, which is one of several government agencies investigating cyber fraud, does not know how many people have received the e-mail.


Communications Sector

30. October 29, Star Tribune (Minnesota) Cut phone line strands Twin Cities businesses. Thousands of small-business telephone customers in the Twin Cities were cut off from long-distance calls Monday morning when a Verizon Communications fiber-optic cable was severed somewhere between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Des Moines, Iowa. The reasons for the cable break were unclear, said a Verizon Business spokeswoman in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Repairs were complicated because the fiber-optic cable break was located next to a gas pipeline, but work was expected to be completed by late Monday or early Tuesday, she said. By Monday afternoon, Verizon employees were manually rerouting some phone calls to other lines, a move that was necessary because the rural cable that was severed did not have built-in redundancy, as many metro-area fiber lines do.