The huge cyber-attack affecting organisations around the world, including some UK hospitals, can be traced back to the US National Security Agency (NSA) – raising questions over the US government’s decision to keep such flaws a secret.
Elements of the malicious software used in Friday’s attacks were part of a treasure trove of cyber-attack tools leaked by hacking group the Shadow Brokers in April.
One of the tools contained in the Shadow Brokers leak, codenamed EternalBlue, proved to be “the most significant factor” in the spread of Friday’s global attack, according to cyber-security firm Kaspersky Lab.
The tool was said to have been created by the NSA – though, as is typical, the agency has neither confirmed nor denied this.
EternalBlue was made public on 14 April, and while Microsoft had fixed the problem a month prior to its leak, it appeared many high-profile targets had not updated their systems to stay secure.
Friday’s attack has reignited the debate over whether or not governments should disclose vulnerabilities they have discovered or bought on the black market.
“It would be deeply troubling if the NSA knew about this vulnerability but failed to disclose it to Microsoft until after it was stolen,” said Patrick Toomey, a lawyer working for the American Civil Liberties Union.
“These attacks underscore the fact that vulnerabilities will be exploited not just by our security agencies, but by hackers and criminals around the world.
“Patching security holes immediately, not stockpiling them, is the best way to make everyone’s digital life safer.”
Edward Snowden, who famously leaked many internal NSA files in June 2013, criticised the NSA on Friday in a series of tweets.
“In light of today’s attack, Congress needs to be asking [the NSA] if it knows of any other vulnerabilities in software used in our hospitals,” he wrote.
“If [the NSA] had privately disclosed the flaw used to attack hospitals when they found it, not when they lost it, this may not have happened.”
However, others focused the blame at institutions for being too slow in updating their systems, given that this attack happened almost two months after a (free) fix was made available by Microsoft.
“Say what you want to say about the NSA or disclosure process,” said Zeynep Tufeki, a professor at the University of North Carolina.
“But this is one in which what’s broken is the system by which we fix.”
For the UK’s National Health Service, the problem is perhaps more acute.
Security firms have continually raised alarms about the NHS’s reliance on Windows XP, an operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft.
“A UK security researcher has told the BBC how he “accidentally” halted the spread of the malicious ransomware that has affected hundreds of organisations, including the UK’s NHS.
The 22-year-old man, known by the pseudonym MalwareTech, had taken a week off work, but decided to investigate the ransomware after hearing about the global cyber-attack.
He managed to bring the spread to a halt when he found what appeared to be a “kill switch” in the rogue software’s code.
“It was actually partly accidental,” he told the BBC, after spending the night investigating. “I have not slept a wink.”
Although his discovery did not repair the damage done by the ransomware, it did stop it spreading to new computers, and he has been hailed an “accidental hero”.
“I would say that’s correct,” he told the BBC.
Intel® Shooting Star Drone Display. A press release from Intel 03/11/2016
The Intel® Shooting Star drone is the company’s first drone created for entertainment light shows. The drone is designed with safety and creativity in mind with a super light-weight structure and virtually limitless color combinations. We’ve also worked with the FAA to receive a Part 107 Waiver to fly these drones as a fleet with one pilot at night in the U.S. This means we can now create beautifully choreographed images in the nighttime sky quickly and easily in the U.S. We are looking forward to using this new fleet of Intel Shooting Star drones publicly soon. Find more information on the Intel Shooting Star fact sheet.
MAVinci GmbH Acquisition
We believe drones are an important computing platform for the future and we are continuing to invest in technologies and companies that will enable us to provide the best compute, sensor, communications and software integration for the growing drone ecosystem. To this point, we have acquired MAVinci GmbH, a drone company based in Germany that offers best-in-class flight planning software.
With this transaction, we are gaining expertise in flight planning software algorithms and also fixed-wing drone design capabilities that complement the technology and knowledge Intel previously acquired from Ascending Technologies. This new acquisition will play a key role in providing solutions for industries such as agriculture, insurance, construction, mining and more.
These announcements represent a string of progress we’ve made in the drone space. In August, we introduced the developer-focused Intel Aero Platform and the Intel Aero Ready to Fly* Drone that will be available by end of the year. And prior to that, we collaborated with Yuneec, to launch the Yuneec Typhoon H with Intel RealSense Technology that provides industry leading collision avoidance features.
As we build new capabilities and enable products and solutions in the drone space, we will continue to demonstrate how far and how fast this exciting technology can advance.
An intelligence-sharing dispute between Britain and Germany, which was sparked by revelations about Anglo-American espionage against Berlin, is turning into a “burgeoning crisis”, according to German media reports. Relations between Germany and the United Kingdom worsened in September, after the revelation of TREASURE MAP, a top-secret program led by the US National Security Agency, which allegedly allows American spies to map the entire network of German telecommunications providers. Reports suggest that TREASURE MAP enables the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, to map the German Internet and reveals the addresses and locations of individual subscribers’ routers, as well as those of targeted computer and smart-phone users.
Late last year, the German parliament set up a body known informally as the NSA investigative commission, and tasked it with probing the allegations of American and British spying activities against the German state. In February, however, German newsmagazine Focus reported that British intelligence officials issued formal warnings aimed at their German counterparts, telling them that London would reconsider its intelligence cooperation with Berlin should the German parliament proceed with the probe into alleged British spying on German soil. According to Focus, British officials were concerned that such an inquiry by the NSA investigative commission would unearth British intelligence activities and would debate them openly during parliamentary sessions.
The BBC produced a marvellous history of the origins of electricity a number of years ago – the series was presented by Professor Jim Al–Khalili on BBC Four’s and was entitled “Shock and Awe – The Story of Electricity”.
The Story of Electricity is quite incredible from the work of Alessandro Volta and Humphrey Davy up to the invention of electro-magnetism of Michael Faraday work and the foresight of Nikola Tesla – this is recounted captured beautifully.
What follows is the series of three parts in full (
Assange, the bombastic founder of Wikileaks, fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Tuesday. He had been under house arrest in England while awaiting the outcome of an appeal of his extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors wish to question Assange.
Assange had appealed his extradition to the European Court of Justice after losing on appeal in the Supreme Court of England, but the European Court had not yet decided whether to take up the appeal. Assange is supposed to be extradited to Stockholm by June 28.
Swedish prosecutors wish to interview Assange about two cases of alleged rape and sexual molestation, in which Assange allegedly refused to wear a condom as requested by his partners, and hid the fact until they were done with intercourse. Assange has claimed he is innocent of all charges, and that the case is nothing but a smear campaign orchestrated by the Pentagon. Assange has also complained of Sweden’s tough anti-rape laws, calling the Scandinavian country the “Saudi Arabia of feminism.”
A UK court has ordered the country’s internet service providers (ISPs) to block the Pirate Bay website for copyright violations, using technology initially intended to block illegal pornography sites.
Pirate Bay is a torrent search engine that allows users peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing links to files and although in the past it allowed users to download copyright material such as films, music and programs. It also though provided quite legitimate file sharing of users own produced files.
The site itself does not host or have copyright file content so a ban would mean that those sharing legitimate files through torrents would no longer be able to in the UK audience due to a Internet ISP ban of the Pirate Bay torrent search engine in the UK – another example of growing online censorship.
Could a Ban work though?
A simple ban is unlikely to work due to the fact that the site could be copied or re-hosted elsewhere – just as when WikiLeaks was ‘mirrored’ elsewhere when it faced it’s ban by ISPs through US Government pressure; however anonymizing software could bypass simple a ISP block.
The only effective way to block such torrent search engines such as Pirate Bay would require software that would inspect internet traffic – “deep packet inspection” that also blocked the anonymizing software.
The BBC are again showing Professor Jim Al–Khalili on BBC Four’s “Shock and Awe – The Story of Electricity”. The Story of Electricity is quite incredible from the work of Alessandro Volta and Humphrey Davy up to the invention of electro-magnetism of Michael Faraday work and the foresight of Nikola Tesla – this is recounted captured beautifully.
There is debate about as to where the music for the series has come from – many people on the internet seem to think it may originally be from Hans Zimmer.
What follows is the series of three parts in full (courtesy of the BBC)
In the wake of widespread online protest, the House and the Senate have stopped both the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in their tracks. Just this Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he has canceled next week’s Senate vote on PIPA, which is now indeed opposed by many of its co-sponsors. Shortly afterwards, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said that SOPA will not be taken up as planned and that legislators must “wait until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
Reid indeed acknowledged that ”recent events” — the blackout on Wikipedia and other sites including Reddit and the other protests involving an estimated 115,000 websites this past Wednesday — had played a role in his decision to postpone the vote.
PIPA sponsor Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, agreed to the change of course only “reluctantly,” painting a dire picture of how Chinese and Russian internet thieves “are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy.” Senators have caved into pressure, Leahy charged, and will one day rue their making a “knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem.”
The Tech Community and Hollywood
There is no question online piracy is a problem. Tech companies including Google and Facebook had strongly objected to SOPA and PIPA, which granted the US Department of Justice the power to go after foreign websites offering illegal copies of movies, music and other content for free. Under these proposed laws, search engines would have had to eliminate links to such sites, while ad networks and companies that process payments would have been forbidden from doing business with them. Tech companies have been arguing that, as currently written, both bills could curtail free speech and innovation on the internet by placing an “unreasonable burden on websites to police user-generated content,” with the result that perfectly legitimate websites could — as Wikipedia did on Wednesday — go dark. Last Saturday, the Obama administration expressed its concerns about how SOPA and PIPA could “[disrupt] the underlying architecture of the Internet.”
Hollywood, the music recording industry, book publishers and the United States Chamber of Commerce have all backed SOPA and PIPA, as a means to stop the “rampant piracy of American cultural wares” by websites overseas.
Former Sen. Chris Dodd, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), described the postponement of SOPA and PIPA as a sign that the US government is “failing to act” in the fight against online piracy while still allowing the Internet “to be a safe haven for foreign thieves.” Meanwhile, Dodd said, American jobs are being lost and consumers are in danger of being “exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.” But in an interview with the New York Times on Thursday, Dodd seemed to “raise the white flag,” acknowledging that the MPAA was “taken aback by the mass online protests against the bills” and calling for Hollywood and the tech community to “meet and hammer out their differences in a White House summit.”
Next Up: The OPEN ACT
“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices.”
Indeed, on the horizon is a related bill, the OPEN ACT, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who have been “stalwart” critics of SOPA and PIPA. The OPEN ACT makes the International Trade Commission rather than the DOJ the enforcer for online piracy and also offers a narrower version of pirate websites. As Talking Points Memo points out, some are not sure that focusing on online piracy in particular is the right approach:
“Where we need to start is actually getting a ‘User’s Bill of Rights’ together for communication and sharing of culture,” [Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight For the Future, an online advocacy non-profit] said. “We need to defend way people communicate online. Once we get that in place, then we can go forth from there.”
Cheng said her group is working on drafting a Internet User’s Bill of Rights at the moment.
Internet activists have claimed victory in the fight against SOPA and PIPA. But we need to focus equal scrutiny on the OPEN Act and, as Cheng says, ask if policing online piracy as these bills describe is in the best interests of all; in the best interests of keeping the internet the site of innovation, creativity and freedom of expression that we have come to know it to be.
Last night Channel 4’s Dispatches showed “Richard Wilson On Hold” (see #onhold at Twitter for comments) for myself it was one of the best and most accurate and even entertaining summary of the dreaded introduction of automated services that while modern companies believe enrich our lives and make our customer service better – Richard Wilson proved the complete reverse, showing beautifully how the modern consumer is fed up with these awful technological abominations!
In the programme Richard Wilson covered everything from automated telephone systems that allow the customer to not only listen to a voice recording but keep us listening interminably and at a call cost running into pounds – how they are not user-friendly and often confuse the elderly and vulnerable or the probably 99.9% of us who are either not so savvy with technology or quite simply don’t know or forget the option choices we are forced to press on our telephone keypads while listening to these awful machines!
He showed beautifully what most of us knew – that when we try to get cinema tickets we now can’t ask for them in person we have to try to talk to a voice recognition programme on an answer service that never works. When parking a car how trying to obtain a ticket via an automatic payment call service not only doesn’t work but is only there to save local Councils money through not having payment staff or wardens to help issuing tickets and checking meters.
And the dreaded service machine that keeps telling you ‘unexpected item in the bagging area‘ keeps telling you to ‘place item in the bagging area – please wait for assistance’! All again to save on cashier staff costs, and cause the customer aggregation and the risk of early strokes.
As Richard Wilson himself commenting on the programme ” ..automation has become a ubiquitous part of modern life – be it at the supermarket, when booking the cinema or trying to park your car. Retailers and service providers say that these systems offer us more choice, improve service and free-up staff to focus on helping us customers in other ways. But I want to know if this is really the case.”
“Like the rest of the UK, I welcome technology that makes my life easier – I would hate to have to give up shopping online and I love being able to make bank transfers over the phone. But not all automated systems are time-savers. In fact, many of them seem to make my life considerably more difficult, costing me time and money.”
The full programme link can be seen on the right of this page on my Vodpod videos, below is an except from the programme
Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts announced on Friday an ambition to make Britain the best place in the world to do science.
In a speech at Policy Exchange, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts argued that Britain’s our universities, science facilities and researchers – are the best single hope for making our way in the high-tech world of the future, creating jobs and opportunities and boosting high-tech economic growth.
He said that “If properly nurtured they can ensure that Britain will be up there as a leading location for research in the physical and life sciences. Britain can be the preferred location for companies’ R&D.” Also adding that “We can have world-class industries using cutting-edge technologies. We can have a prosperous future with a role in the world.”
However like most of the ambitious projects the government are keen to launch the downside to this is there will absolutely no extra Government financial support for its abitious plans, he said: “There will be no additional Government funding. This time we will be looking to private finance and perhaps sponsorship from some of the businesses that are keen to recruit more British graduates”.
Let’s hope that there is private financial investment and sponsorship – but in these financial times when companies like Pfizer closed with 2,400 jobs in Kent last year, Unilever laying over a thousand staff in December and BAE lost 3000 jobs in early 2011 – I wonder who will invest and where he optimistically thinks money will actually be found to ensure Universities are helped with his ambitious plans?
Video courtesy of Policy Exchange website
There are some people who have the misguided impression that the internet is not regulated, want it either not regulated or self-regulated – actually it is and by many agencies.
So who are the agencies well there are the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) in the US that provides digital forensics; international agencies like CEOP monitoring the safety of children, in Britain Scotland Yard has the Serious Organised Crime Agency computer department also Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime Department , the Police Central e-crime unit within the Metropolitan Police, other well-known involve International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) a international business organisation and Interpol as the international Policing organisation itself. The Government has also announced as of 2013 that it is to set up CERT-UK which will be part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2011. The Agency will monitor security and this new UK unit is currently part of CESG
Those that think it safe to search into a search engine hopefully realise that Google has stored every single search since it started – it says to improve its engine, but it stores the particular search IP tracing route, and search engines are obligated to provide any activity that a federal government and police organisations across the world require of them. Newsgroups are monitored which led very only onto to every US and now worldwide universities flagging known ‘.alt’ newsgroups that carried discussion or video and imagery that is suspicious. Those using anonymizing software or privately browsing are also not above the law as every agency has the power to trace those users and even file sharing and torrent searching is of course monitored by clients and law enforcement.
Viral services and viral videos are monitored of course – one famous example was of animal abuse, where users of YouTube who found a video of a dog being thrown off a bridge immediately reported the abuse within the video to YouTube who then not only removed the video but sent information to police authorities in Lithuania who used image recognition and enhancement software to not only trace the bridges location and through local investigation of residents were able to track the two individuals – both the person recording the footage and the animal abuser – no viral of this actual video is now to be found but a viral of their apology to angry people outside the court before their subsequent sentencing is in existence.
Famously the technology of organization is the UK such as M.I.5 and CESG (part of GCHQ) monitors every text, internet activity and telephone with special tracking software and utilizing the enhanced tracking and keyword software from companies such as NARUS or sound analyzer in milliseconds and plans to record a database have also been discussed. More recently the finding and subsequent sending of a specialist SEAL unit flown into Pakistan by new specialist stealth helicopter would never have occurred unless the CIA had been able to monitor through a database of thousands of Islamic extremist with al-Qaeda connections one telephone call out of millions its computers were tracking and observing that led to a particular runner of al-Qaeda into Pakistan leading then to spy plane and satellite activity in tracking down the of the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.
Google is fast becoming the most richest company in the world (Walmart holds that position) it is currently valued at making roughly $69 Billion a year from its advertising revenue. Originally the search engine software was written by two students at Stanford University by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They wanted to create software that indexes the internet. Larry Page’s name is given to the phrase “PageRank” as it was his ability to write software that recognised ‘keywords’ and their relevance in finding a relavent site – so in “Search Engine Optimisation” your content and keywords dominate.
Originally in 1991 the only software available was “Archie” and “Gopher” . Yahoo! came into existence when two students( Jerry Yang and David Filo) created a search engine software in January 1994. However Yahoo! became cumbersome in it’s loading as advertising was introduced to its search page – and so in 1996 Google took over and the rest is history – many search engines have appeared (Altovista, AskJeaves, Excite, Lycos, etc.) But only one has dominated due to its simpliticty of being one of the best web crawlers.
So when you search on Google’s servers – you’re not searching the internet as such (that is impossible) only searching the index of Google which scans and then stores cached pages of its monthly scan of the internet. However – be careful when writing your website and make sure you have all the links correct otherwise Google will see missing links. Basically Google reads only words and links URLs.
Well done the BBC!
There is debate about as to where the music for the series has come from – many people on the internet seem to think it may originally be from Hans Zimmer (“Time”) and his score from the film “Inception“? But below is the first of the series – “Shock & Awe”
Nottinghamshire Police recently decided to settle with an out of court payment in the case of Rizwaan Sabir the student who emailed a copy of the “Al-Qaeda Training manual on the internet.
Mr Sabir was held for a week in police custody as a terror threat and released a week without charge.
The Police have maintained his arrest was necessary and the detention reasonable give the spespected offience. Mr Sabir maintaining that his arrest and detention were unlawful, and amounted to a false imprisonment.
Mr Sabir said he’d emailed his a copy of Al-Quada manual to a friend helping him draft his PHD into counter-terrorism at the University of Nottingham and that the manual was not only on the internet but a fuller version available at the University’s own library or bookshops including Waterstones and W H Smith.
Mr Sabir felt the police over zealously in his arrest, however Nottinghamshire police while apologising for a search of his vehicle in November 2010 deny acting disproportionately in his arrest that the out of court settlement acted as a less expensive apology for the search of his vehicle.
Two students from Cornell University recently paired up to ‘artificial intelligence’ to hold a conversation with each other and the results are truly interesting.
Within a short time the the AI conversation from the two on-line “chatbots“, named Alan and Sruthi turned argumentative. The reason for this the students explained is that the AI program has been around since 1997, and used previously in situations with humans ‘talking’ with the program – therefore arguments as to the credibility of the ‘other person’ (in reality the AI program) was learned by the program as the humans questioned the other person and the program learns to defend it’s credibility.
As you can see random distraction answers have also been learned by the program – such as ‘I am not a robot, I am a Unicorn’.
Interestingly when one of the “chat box” AI asks the other “do you believe in God?”, the other replies rather calmly “Yes I do.”
Jason Yosinski and Igor Labutov explained that when they left the robots to converse with each other they were “stunned” at the result.
Nominet, the registrar that handles .uk domains, is moving ahead with proposed rules (PDF) that could allow law enforcement agencies to request a domain be shut down without a court order.
The registrar launched the process in response to a request from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). Currently Nominet’s rules don’t allow for domains to be shut down for criminal reasons, though in the past it has blocked domains at the request of law enforcement agencies on the pretext that they provided false contact details.
Suspension of a domain will not require a court order but should be limited to circumstances where necessary “to prevent serious and immediate consumer harm”, according to Nominet.
The draft proposal would establish a process under which law enforcement agencies would request a domain be blocked in cases where “suspension is proportionate, necessary, and urgent”.
The policy would cover cases in which a site is involved in crimes covered under the Serious Crimes Act 2007, including fraud, prostitution, money laundering, blackmail and copyright infringement.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s top leader warned the Arab world Wednesday not to allow Western powers and Israel to “confiscate” the region’s pro-reform uprisings, in comments that appear to reflect the Islamic republic’s unease about their standing in a profoundly altered Middle East.
Iran has tried to walk two paths since the pro-democracy rebellions began in February – lauding the popular revolts as modern-day heirs to Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, while maintaining relentless pressure on opposition groups at home.
But Iran is at risk of serious political setbacks. Iran’s main Mideast ally, Syria’s Bashar Assad, is under growing international pressure for his fierce crackdown on anti-government protests.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech broadcast on Iran’s state TV to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, reflected the added worries that the West and its allies could gain ground in the Arab Spring.
“Muslim nations in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen or other countries need vigilance today. They should not allow enemies confiscate the victories they’ve achieved,” Khamenei said. “They should not forget that those who have come to the scene in Libya (U.S. and NATO) today and consider themselves owners of the uprising are the same people who used to sit and drink with those who once suppressed the Libyan nation.”
Iran’s supreme leader, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, urged Libyans not to allow the U.S. and its allies to dominate their country.
On Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said his country secretly provided humanitarian supplies to Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council. Salehi said Iran had sent four medicine and food shipments to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
“Today they (U.S. and its allies) seek to take advantage of the situation. Nations must be vigilant and wakeful,” said Ayatollah Ali-Khamenei.
But he made no mention of Syria, where Assad’s regime is struggling to contain opposition forces.
Source: Huffington Post
It terms the machines built with these chips “cognitive computers”, claiming that they are able to learn through experience, find patterns,
generate ideas and understand the outcomes.
In building this new generation of chip, IBM combined principles of nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing.
It has been awarded $21m (£12.7m) of new funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the next phase
of the project, which it terms “Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics” (SyNAPSE).
“This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half
a century,” said Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research.
Source: Stuart Sumner, Computing.co.uk
Read more: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2102735/ibm-unveils-chips-mimic-human-brain#ixzz1VPu1Boxd and http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/35251.wss
Anonymous has leaked more date including the data from the Zimbabwean Government and Viacom