Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Daily Report

• According to the Associated Press, a security breach at an East Coast supermarket chain exposed 4.2 million credit and debit card numbers and led to 1,800 cases of fraud, the Hannaford Bros. grocery chain announced Monday. The breach affected all of its 165 stores in the Northeast, 106 Sweetbay stores in Florida, and a smaller number of independent groceries that sell Hannaford products. (See item 12)

• The Gainesville Daily Register reports emergency responders from various Cooke County agencies arrived at Era, Texas, for a mass casualty exercise. The exercise brought together volunteer firefighters, state troopers, emergency management officials, EMS responders, members of the media, and others to test how well these life-saving organizations can work together during a crisis. (See item 28)

Information Technology

29. March 18, Ars Technica – (National) Ongoing IFrame attack proving difficult to kill. One of the factors that make an ongoing malware attack so difficult to stop is the speed with which the assault can evolve. Over the past 12 days, an IFrame injection attack that originally focused on ZDNet Asia has been spreading across the Net, changing targets and payloads on an almost daily basis. An iFrame (short for inline frame) is an element of HTML that is used to embed HTML from another source into a webpage. This particular IFrame exploit takes advantage of web site query caching. Web sites often cache the results of search queries that are run locally. These search results are forwarded to search engine providers (think Google or Yahoo), who use the information to generate their own search results. Hackers exploit the system by typing a query immediately followed by the text of an IFrame. This data (including the IFrame) is then passed to various search engines and displayed if a user searches for a relevant keyword. When the user visits an apparently legitimate document, the IFrame activates and attempts to complete whatever instructions it has been given. The major advantage of an injected attack versus an embedded one is that an injected attack requires no direct access to a web site’s server backend. Instead, it takes advantage of the company’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices and poisons the results that are fed back to web surfers. The first wave of injections targeted ZDNet Asia and The attackers shifted away from these two domains quickly and branched out into other web sites. One key purpose of the attack was to advertise the rogue antivirus product developed by the RBN (Russian Business Network), XP Antivirus.

30. March 18, Computerworld – (National) Malicious subtitle file could trip up media player. A flaw in the widely-used open-source VLC media player could allow an attacker to execute harmful code on a PC. The problem stems from a buffer overflow that can occur when the player processes subtitle files used for movies, according to a security advisory. The vulnerability existed before VLC was upgraded to version 0.8.6e in late February, but the bug appears to have escaped the last round of patches. Video files can contain a link to a separate subtitle file, which VLC automatically loads when it plays the video. An attacker could use the buffer overflow flaw in VLC to execute malicious code contained in a subtitle file, and thus tamper with a PC. The flaw affects VLC players running on Windows, Mac, BSD and possibly more operating systems. The VLC media player is part of the VideoLAN project. The player is free, and it is released under the GNU General Public License. VLC can also be used as a streaming media server for a variety of platforms.

31. March 17, Information Week – (National) Internet Explorer 8 could break applications, Gartner warns. Microsoft’s improved support for Web standards in its Internet Explorer 8 browser “will result in pages that don’t display correctly for some enterprise applications,” analysts at tech research firm Gartner warn. This is because many Web- or intranet-facing applications used in business were built to work with previous versions of Explorer, in which Microsoft often favored its own protocols over universal Web standards. With Explorer 8, slated for full release later this year, Microsoft has promised default compatibility with W3C guidelines. Among other things, the browser features support for Web programming standards such as CCS 2.1 and HTML 5. It also promises improved support for the Ajax programming language. “Microsoft is trying to woo the Web 2.0 world,” Gartner said in a document published last week. The researchers said it is “an indicator of what some have called ‘the new Microsoft.’”

32. March 17, Associated Press – (National) It’s prison for ID thief who used P2P software. A Seattle man was sentenced to more than four years in prison Monday in what prosecutors said was the first federal case against someone using file-sharing software to steal identities. The man pleaded guilty in November to mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and accessing a protected computer without authorization to further fraud. Although people have been prosecuted for using networks to illegally share copyrighted music, movies, and software, the Justice Department called the prosecution its first case against someone accused of using file-sharing programs to commit identity theft. The man received four years and three months in prison.

Communications Sector

33. March 18, – (International) Boffins bounce photons off satellite. Scientists have successfully hit a satellite with a stream of protons in an experiment to build a global quantum-encrypted communications network. A professor and his team from the University of Vienna used a 1.5 meter telescope at the Matera Laser Ranging Observatory in Italy to bounce single photons off the Ajisai geodetic satellite 1400km above the earth. The project smashed his previous record of 144km. With the right satellite in orbit the stream could be used to send quantum-encoded data that is virtually unbreakable using current known technology. But, up until now, the blurring effects of the atmosphere has made sending data in this way practically impossible. The team managed to hit the Ajisai satellite, which is one of a number of ‘mirror ball’ satellites used solely for measurement, and receive coherent data back. The researchers tried to establish contact with similar satellites further away, but were unable to do so, according to the physics arXiv blog. The next stage would be to build satellites capable of receiving signals and either decoding them and sending back information, or firing them sideways to other satellites to establish a global communications network. Source:

34. March 18, Information Week – (National) VoiceCon: Nortel adds mobility to unified communications mix. New communications server software from Nortel lets enterprises extend VoIP and unified communications features to cell phones and smartphones, improving decision making and productivity, the vendor said Monday at the VoiceCon tradeshow in Orlando, Florida. Nortel’s mobile unified communications solutions are embedded in Communication Server 1000 IP PBX 5.5, available in April, and the new Mobile Communication 3100 2.0, a fixed-mobile convergence system for enterprises that’s available now. The vendor also unveiled IP Softphone 2050 3.0 for laptop PCs and a new high-capacity SIP DECT system for outside the U.S. Business-people use about six different communication devices and almost as many applications on those devices, but that’s not helping people connect any more easily, Nortel said. By adding mobility to the unified communications mix, workers can eliminate wasted time and the frustration of managing multiple phone numbers and voice-mail boxes, the company said. Now, mobile workers get access to the same voice calling features as the corporate network, like dialing by extension, conferencing, and call transferring. Nortel has also added single phone number and voice mail across multiple devices (desk phone, PC, and mobile). As with instant messaging, a presence indicator lets colleagues know an individual’s availability and online status. A handoff key allows users to transfer calls from their mobile to their desktop phones. Unified communications can help reduce mobile communications costs by up to 30 percent through more efficient handling of mobile calls using corporate dial plans, the vendor said. Source:

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