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The Almighty Buck

The Outing of Pranknet 543

An anonymous reader writes "The Smoking Gun recently published a story on their investigation and outing of Pranknet, an online cabal that aims to take pranks to the next level. Their legacy includes thousands of dollars of damage, and many harassed souls. Many of the pranks have clear criminal implications. Reading their report may send chills down your collective spines." From the linked article: "Coalescing in an online chat room, members of the group, known as Pranknet, use the telephone to carry out cruel and outrageous hoaxes, which they broadcast live around-the-clock on the Internet. Masquerading as hotel employees, emergency service workers, and representatives of fire alarm companies, 'Dex' and his cohorts have successfully prodded unwitting victims to destroy hotel rooms and lobbies, set off sprinkler systems, activate fire alarms, and damage assorted fast food restaurants. But while Pranknet's hoaxes have caused millions of dollars in damages, it is the group's efforts to degrade and frighten targets that makes it even more odious ..."

Times Are Tough For Nigerian Scammers 232

The Narrative Fallacy writes "The Washington Post reports that online swindling takes dedication even in the best of times but succeeding in the midst of a worldwide economic meltdown takes patience, resolve, and hard work. 'We are working harder. The financial crisis is not making it easy for them over there,' said Banjo, 24, speaking about Americans, whose trust he has won and whose money he has fleeced, via his Dell laptop. 'They don't have money. And the money they don't have, we want.' US authorities say Americans — the easiest prey, according to Nigerian scammers — still lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year to cybercrimes, including a scheme known as the Nigerian 419 fraud, named for a section of the Nigerian criminal code. 419 is cemented in Nigerian popular culture. and the scammers, known as 'yahoo-yahoo boys,' are glorified in pop songs such as 'Yahoozee,' which gained even more fame after former secretary of state Colin L. Powell danced to it at a London festival last year."

Netflix Prize Contest Ends, Down To the Wire 100

suraj.sun updates us on the Netflix Prize now that the competition has officially closed. We discussed the new leader with one day to go in the contest: The Ensemble, taking the lead from long-time leader BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos, the first contestant to submit an entry that broke the 10% barrier. In the contest's final day, BellKor re-took the lead with 20 minutes to go, then The Ensemble apparently pulled a Michael Phelps with 4 minutes to go, squeaking ahead by 0.01%. At least so the leaderboard claims — but those numbers are posted by the competing teams. The NY Times reports that an official winner will not be named until September — Netflix needs that much time to pore through the complex entries and read the code. Netflix contacted BellKor on Sunday to tell them the team remained in first place; The Ensemble has had no such notification.

Submission + - Nmap 5.00 Released! (nmap.org)

iago-vL writes: "The long-awaited Nmap Security Scanner version 5.00 was just released (download)! This marks the most important release since 1997, and is a huge step in Nmap's evolution from a simple port scanner to an all-around security and networking tool suite. Significant performance improvements were made, and dozens of scripts were added. For example, Nmap can now log into Windows and perform local checks (PDF), including Conficker detection. New tools included in 5.00 are Ncat, a modern reimplementation of Netcat (with IPv6, SSL, NAT traversal, port redirection, and more!), and Ndiff, for quickly comparing scan results. Other tools are in the works for future releases, but we're still waiting for them to add email and ftp clients so we can finally get off Emacs!"

British Men Jailed For Online Hate Crimes 778

chrb writes "Two British men have become the first to be jailed for inciting racial hatred online. The men believed that material they published on web servers based in the United States did not fall under the jurisdiction of UK law and was protected under the First Amendment. This argument was rejected by the British trial judge. After being found guilty, the men fled to Los Angeles, where they attempted to claim political asylum, again arguing that they were being persecuted by the British government for speech that was protected under the First Amendment. The asylum bid was rejected and the two were deported back to the UK after spending over a year in a US jail."
The Courts

Prof. Nesson Ordered To Show Cause 267

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Professor Charles Nesson, the Harvard law professor serving pro bono as counsel to the defendant in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, has been ordered to show cause why sanctions should not be issued against him for violating the Court's orders prohibiting reproduction of the court proceedings. The order to show cause was in furtherance of the RIAA's motion for sanctions and protective order, which we discussed here yesterday. The Judge indicated that she was 'deeply concerned' about Prof. Nesson's apparent 'blatant disregard' of her order."

Artist Wins £20,000 Grant To Study Women's Butts Screenshot-sm 202

Sue Williams has been awarded a £20,000 grant by the Arts Council of Wales, to "explore cultural attitudes towards female buttocks." Sue plans to examine racial attitudes towards bottoms in Europe and Africa and create plaster casts of women's behinds to try to understand their place in contemporary culture. And here I've been studying the issue all these years for free like a sucker!

iPhone Users Angry Over AT&T Upgrade Policy 789

All is not sweetness and light in the wake of the Apple WWDC kickoff announcements, especially concerning the evolution of the iPhone. Reader Hugh Pickens writes: "AT&T will offer the new iPhone 3G S when it debuts later this month at a cost of $199 and $299 for the 16GB and 32GB models, but only to new customers and those who qualify for the discounted price. AT&T subscribers with an iPhone 3G who are not eligible for an upgrade — those not near the end of their two-year contracts — will have to pay $200 more — $399 for the 16GB model and $499 for the 32GB model. 'This is ridiculous and slap in the face to long-time loyal iPhone customers like me who switched from T-Mobile and the only reason was the iPhone,' writes one unhappy iPhone customer. 'We have to mount a vigorous campaign to change this policy. Call your local AT&T and ask for the manager and complain. Send e-mails and post in forums everywhere.' The issue is spurring heavy debate on support discussion forums, with some customers supporting AT&T. 'The option you have is to honor the contract you freely committed yourself to,' says one forum member. 'If you want to upgrade early then you will have to pay full price with no subsidy discount. You can't blame anyone but yourself for your predicament.'"

Comment Open Source Competitors (Score 5, Informative) 120

When the submitter referenced "open source alternatives that go by similar names", he was referring to ophcrack. Similar features are also available from Cain and Abel, and John the Ripper.

I maintain a list of top password crackers and sniffers as part of my SecTools.Org site.

While the submitter is correct that they have much more competition now, I still wish to congratulate the former L0pht guys on the new release!


FTC Targets Massive Car Warranty Robocall Scheme 361

coondoggie writes "Robocalls are a scourge, and the Federal Trade Commission today took action against one outfit by asking a federal court to shut down companies that have been bombarding consumers with hundreds of millions of allegedly deceptive robocalls in an effort to sell vehicle service contracts. According to the FTC, the robocalls have prompted tens of thousands of complaints from consumers who are either on the Do Not Call Registry or asked not to be called. Five telephone numbers associated with the defendants have generated a total of 30,000 Do Not Call complaints. Consumers received the robocalls at home, work, and on their cell phones, sometimes several times in one day. Businesses, government offices and even 911 dispatchers also have been subjected to the calls, the FTC said." Reader powerlord points out that another such company, not named in the FTC filing, raised the ire of thousands of internet-goers, who struck back by rickrolling the company's voice mail and digging up personal information on the company's president.
The Courts

US Trustee Asks To Send SCO Into Chapter 7 259

Several readers including Pop69 inform us that the US Trustee's office has asked to convert SCO's Chapter 11 bankruptcy to Chapter 7 — a.k.a. liquidation. Groklaw has the text of the filing: "...not only is there no reasonable chance of 'rehabilitation' in these cases, the Debtors have tried — and failed — to liquidate their business in chapter 11."

Would You Pay For YouTube Videos? 475

secmartin writes "A couple of weeks ago, Google's CEO mentioned to investors that they might start charging YouTube's users for viewing content: 'With respect to how it will get monetized, our first priority, as you pointed out, is on the advertising side. We do expect over time to see micro payments and other forms of subscription models coming as well. But our initial focus is on advertising. We will be announcing additional things in that area literally very, very soon.' With the recent Disney-Hulu deal, Google is under increasing pressure to generate more revenue and at the same time attract more premium content. That means we might see payment options coming even sooner than expected, with control over the pricing models being handed over to the studios providing that content, like the way Apple caved in over variable pricing on iTunes. This raises an important question: would you actually pay for premium content on YouTube and other sites, or will this draw viewers away to other video sites?"

Baby Chicks Have Innate Mathematical Skills 184

Hugh Pickens writes "Chicks can add and subtract small numbers shortly after hatching, says Rosa Rugani at the University of Trento. Rugani reared chicks with five plastic containers of the kind found inside Kinder chocolate eggs. This meant the chicks bonded with the capsules, much as they do with their mother, making them want to be near the containers as they grew up. In one test, the researchers moved the containers back and forth behind two screens while the chicks watched. When the chicks were released into the enclosure, they headed for the screen obscuring the most containers, suggesting they had been able to keep track of the number of capsules behind each by adding and subtracting them as they moved. It is already known that many non-human primates and monkeys can count, and even domestic dogs have been found to be capable of simple additions but this is the first time the ability has been seen in such young animals, and with no prior training in problem solving of any kind."

Narcissistic College Graduates In the Workplace? 1316

SpuriousLogic writes "I work as a senior software engineer, and a fair amount of my time is spent interviewing new developers. I have seen a growing trend of what I would call 'TV reality' college graduates — kids who graduated school in the last few years and seem to have a view of the workplace that is very much fashioned by TV programs, where 22-year-olds lead billion-dollar corporate mergers in Paris and jet around the world. Several years ago I worked at a company that did customization for the software they sold. It was not full-on consultant work, but some aspects of it were 'consulting light,' and did involve travel, some overseas. Almost every college graduate I interviewed fully expected to be sent overseas on their first assignment. They were very disappointed when told they were most likely to end up in places like Decater, IL and Cedar Rapids, IA, as only the most senior people fly overseas, because of the cost. Additionally, I see people in this age bracket expecting almost constant rewards. One new hire told me that he thought he had a good chance at an award because he had taught himself Enterprise Java Beans. When told that learning new tech is an expected part of being a developer, he argued that he had learned it by himself, and that made it different. So today I see an article about the growing narcissism of students, and I want to ask this community: are you seeing the sorts of 'crashing down to Earth' expectations of college grads described here? Is working with this age bracket more challenging than others? Do they produce work that is above or below your expectations of a recent college grad?" We discussed a similar question from the point of view of the young employees a few months back.

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