Friday, March 21, 2008

Daily Report

According to the Star-Telegram, a fire near two crucial south Texas power plants prompted an emergency advisory Wednesday by operators of the state’s power grid, who also had to quickly get assistance from Mexico to guard against blackouts. (See item 1)

• WYFF 4 Greenville reports an apparent problem with an air duct caused smoke to pour into the cabin of a Delta passenger plane on Wednesday afternoon, causing some terrifying moments for passengers and forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in the Upstate South Carolina. (See item 15)

Information Technology

31. March 20, IDG News Service – (International) Hacker pleads guilty to computer fraud. A 21-year-old Florida man could face up to 10 years in prison in the U.S. after pleading guilty to installing advertising software on PCs located around Europe without permission. He is scheduled for sentencing May 28 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. He could also face a fine of up to US$250,000. The man’s plea culminates a wide-ranging international investigation that started with London’s Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit in December 2006, according to an FBI news release. Around that time, U.S.-based Newell Rubbermaid, whose products include Sharpie markers and plastic food-storage containers, reported their European computer network had been hacked. One other European-based company also complained. That launched a law enforcement effort called “Bot Roast II” that included the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Finland National Bureau of Investigation, and other local U.S. agencies. The man was indicted by a federal grand jury in November last year for computer fraud and conspiracy to commit computer fraud. He and others infected hundreds of computer in Europe with advertising software, or adware, using botnets, which are networks of hacked computers. His botnet was located within Newell Rubbermaid’s network.

32. March 19, Computerworld – (International) Hackers vs. Windows, Mac, Linux next week in big-money contest. The security conference that last year made headlines with a hacking challenge whose winner walked away with a $10,000 prize will reprise the contest next week – this time with more money at stake, the contest’s organizer said today. CanSecWest, which will run from March 26 to 28 in Vancouver, British Columbia, will feature a second “PWN to Own” contest that pits researchers against a trio of laptops armed with the latest versions of Windows Vista Ultimate, Mac OS X 10.5, and the Ubuntu Linux distribution, said the conference’s organizer. The first to hack one of the laptops by exploiting a remote preauthentication code-execution vulnerability in a default service on the notebook’s operating system will take home the machine and a $10,000 prize. 3Com Corp.’s TippingPoint unit and its Zero Day Initiative bug-bounty program are providing the cash, as they did last year.

Communications Sector

Nothing to Report