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Submission + - Brothers Using Business Logic Attacks Face Jail Time (

wiredmikey writes: Two brothers who used a combination of fraudulent actions and business logic attacks against Nordstrom’s e-commerce system and defrauded the retail giant out of $1.4 million via commissions and rebates are now facing jail time.

According to court records, the brothers were members of, an online coupon and shopping site that offers cash back incentives for purchases, and paid cash back rewards to the brothers for purchases on

The brothers found a way to exploit a flaw in Nordstrom’s online ordering system, by placing orders that would ultimately be blocked by Nordstrom, with no merchandise being shipped or charges being made to their credit card. However, Nordstrom continued to compensate FatWallet for the orders, and the brothers received the cash back credit from FatWallet.

While the U.S. Attorney’s office did not provide technical details on how the brothers executed the fraud, business logic attacks like this abuse the functionality of a program, as opposed to an application or server vulnerability which is common for many attacks.

In total, the U.S. Attorney’s office said that from January 2010 through October 2011, the brothers placed a whopping $23 million in fraudulent orders through, resulting in Nordstrom paying $1.4 million in rebates and commissions to the fraudsters. More $650,000 in fraudulent cash back payments were made directly to the brothers.


Submission + - Magical Thinking Is Good for You 2

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Natalie Wolchover writes that even the most die-hard skeptics among us believe in magic. Humans can't help it: though we try to be logical, irrational beliefs — many of which we aren't even conscious of — are hardwired in our psyches. "The unavoidable habits of mind that make us think luck and supernatural forces are real, that objects and symbols have power, and that humans have souls and destinies are part of what has made our species so evolutionarily successful," writes Wolchover. "Believing in magic is good for us." For example, what do religion, anthropomorphism, mysticism and the widespread notion that each of us has a destiny to fulfill have in common? According to research by Matthew Hutson, underlying all these forms of magical thinking is the innate sense that everything happens for a reason. And that stems from paranoia, which is a safety mechanism that protects us. "We have a bias to see events as intentional, and to see objects as intentionally designed," says Hutson. "If we don't see any biological agent, like a person or animal, then we might assume that there's some sort of invisible agent: God or the universe in general with a mind of its own." According to anthropologists, the reason we have a bias to assume things are intentional is that typically it's safer to spot another agent in your environment than to miss another agent. "It's better to mistake a boulder for a bear than a bear for a boulder," says Stewart Guthrie. In a recent Gallup poll, three in four Americans admitted to believing in at least one paranormal phenomenon--clairvoyance, haunted houses, witches, etc. and in nearly every country around the world, the percentage of self-described atheists is only in the single digits. "But even for those few of us who claim to be complete skeptics, belief quietly sneaks in. Maybe you feel anxious on Friday the 13th. Maybe the idea of a heart transplant from a convicted killer weirds you out. Or maybe you're convinced that if you wear your sweats to Target you'll run into at least three people you know. If so, on some level you believe in magic.""

Submission + - This is Dan. Dan is a Baboon. Read, Dan, Read (

An anonymous reader writes: No one is exactly using the words "reading" and "baboons" in the same sentence, but a study published Thursday comes close.

Researchers report in the journal Science that they trained six Guinea baboons (Papio papio) to distinguish real, four-letter English words such as "done" and "vast" from non-words such as "dran" and "lons." After six weeks, the baboons learned to pick out dozens of words — as many as 308 in the case of the clever Dan, and 81 for Violette — from a sea of 7,832 non-words.


Submission + - Small green crazy astronauts in space (

GNUman writes: What do you get when you join three crazy green astronauts? Kerbal Space Program! I have been playing around with it for a while now, it is quite fun to build crazy rockets and see in how many ways you can blow up. It was recently picked up by GameSpy and I thought I deserved to be shared. From the article: "Ever wanted to be a rocket scientist but didn't want to put up with all of the math or the responsibility of putting human lives in danger? Well, Kerbal Space Program lets you do just that (kind of). Yesterday, IGN's Anthony Gallegos introduced me to this little indie space program simulator, and I haven't been able to stop playing it."

Comment Re:Difficult problem (Score 1) 210

My point is that it was the German Merck's page before Facebook made the mistake. It is apparently this mistake that started the whole problem.

Facebook doesn't want to take part in the legal battle? Well, they should return things to how they were before they messed up, and if there is a trademark issue, then Merck US should file a complaint and try to get the page taken down, erased, whatever. There ARE proper channels for trademark violations.

Comment Re:Difficult problem (Score 1) 210

I don't think that there is a choice here. If one company had the page, then it should be returned to them.

If a valet parking makes a mistake and gives your car keys to someone else, they can't say: "oh, sorry, we made a mistake... however, the new guy really likes your car, so unless you come to an agreement, we won't give the car to either of you".

Submission + - Monkeys Control Virtual Limbs With Their Minds (

sciencehabit writes: When it comes to prosthetic hands, you can't beat the one Luke Skywalker receives in The Empire Strikes Back. Not only did that robotic limb allow him to wield a lightsaber with great dexterity, each of his fingers twitched when a robot poked them. Although real-life brain-controlled prosthetics that enable a person to, say, pick up a pencil continue to improve for amputees, limbs that can actually feel touch sensations have remained a challenge. Now, by implanting electrodes into both the motor and the sensory areas of the brain, researchers have created a virtual prosthetic hand that monkeys control using only their minds, and that enables them to feel virtual textures.

Submission + - Patent trolls in biotechnology (

GNUman writes: A news story in this week's Nature Journal talks about patent trolls attacking biotech companies. They cite a case in which the US federal court of appeals upheld 'a patent that covered the idea of trying to link infant vaccination with later immune disorders.' The news story also references an interesting article from researchers at Boston University School of Law (Bessen, James E. et al, 2011, 'The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls'), in which they analyze the effect of litigation on the wealth of the defendants via their stock's value before and after litigation, and given that such loss minimally translates into an increment in the wealth of the inventor, they determine that patent litigation harms society and removes incentives for innovation.

Submission + - Evidence of SCADA Hacks Emerges in Support Forums (

Trailrunner7 writes: While security experts and lawmakers debate the seriousness of cyber threats to critical infrastructure, one security researcher says that evidence that viruses and spyware already have access to industrial control systems is hiding in plain sight: on Web based user support forums.

Close to a dozen log files submitted to a sampling of online forums show evidence that laptops and other systems used to connect to industrial control systems are infected with malware and Trojan horse programs, including one system that was used to control machinery for UK based energy firm Alstom UK, according to industrial control systems expert Michael Toecker.

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