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Communications

Paris Terrorists Used Burner Phones, Not Encryption, To Evade Detection (arstechnica.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes from an article on Ars Technica: New details of the Paris attacks carried out last November reveal that it was the consistent use of prepaid burner phones, not encryption, that helped keep the terrorists off the radar of the intelligence services. As an article in The New York Times reports: "the three teams in Paris were comparatively disciplined. They used only new phones that they would then discard, including several activated minutes before the attacks, or phones seized from their victims." The article goes on to give more details of how some phones were used only very briefly in the hours leading up to the attacks. "Everywhere they went, the attackers left behind their throwaway phones, including in Bobigny, at a villa rented in the name of Ibrahim Abdeslam. When the brigade charged with sweeping the location arrived, it found two unused cellphones still inside their boxes." At another location used by one of the terrorists, the police found dozens of unused burner phones "still in their wrappers." As The New York Times says, one of the most striking aspects of the phones is that not a single e-mail or online chat message from the attackers was found on them. But rather than trying to avoid discovery by using encryption -- which would in itself have drawn attention to their accounts -- they seem to have stopped using the internet as a communication channel altogether, and turned to standard cellular network calls on burner phones.
The Internet

Comcast's Lobbyists Hand Out VIP Cards To Skip the Customer Service Wait 131

An anonymous reader writes: A lengthy story about how David Gregory lost his job hosting Meet the Press holds an interesting tidbit: Comcast's team of lobbyists regularly hands out VIP cards to influential (and influence-able) people in Washington that lets them bypass normal customer service and fast-track their support problems. "Its government-affairs team carried around 'We'll make it right' cards stamped with 'priority assistance' codes for fast-tracking help and handed them out to congressional staffers, journalists, and other influential Washingtonians who complained about their service. A Comcast spokeswoman says this practice isn't exclusive to DC; every Comcast employee receives the cards, which they can distribute to any customer with cable or internet trouble. Nevertheless, efforts like this one have surely helped Comcast boost its standing inside the Beltway and improve its chances of winning regulatory approval for its next big conquest: merging with the second-largest cable provider in the country, Time Warner Cable." (The David Gregory article is worth a look on it's own, too; it shows how Comcast's purchase of NBC has led to interference in NBC's attempts at real journalism.)
Earth

Denmark Makes Claim To North Pole, Based On Undersea Geography 191

As reported by The Independent, A scientific study has found that Greenland is actually connected to the area beneath the polar ice where the North Pole lies – thanks to a huge stretch of continental crust known as the Lomonosov Ridge. Since Greenland is a Danish territory, that gives the country the right to put its hat in the ring for ownership of the stretch of land, Denmark’s foreign minister [Martin Lidegaard ] said. ... Of the five Arctic countries – the US, Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark —only Canada and Russia had indicated an interest in the North Pole territory until now. "This is a historical milestone for Denmark and many others as the area has an impact on the lives of lot of people. After the U.N. panel had taken a decision based on scientific data, comes a political process," Lidegaard told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday. "I expect this to take some time. An answer will come in a few decades. Why such a big deal? As Business Insider notes, The U.S. currently estimates that the Arctic sea bed could contain 15% of the earth's remaining oil, along with 30% of the planet's natural gas and 20% of its liquefied natural gas. Whichever country is able to successfully claim the Arctic would have the right to extract these resources.
Sony

The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought 528

An anonymous reader writes with today's installment of Sony hack news. "It's time to take a moment of silence for Sony Pictures, because more startling revelations about leaked information just came out and employees are starting to panic. BuzzFeed raked through some 40 gigabytes of data and found everything from medical records to unreleased scripts. This is probably the worst corporate hack in history. Meanwhile, Fusion's Kevin Roose is reporting on what exactly happened at Sony Pictures when the hack went down. The hack was evidently so extensive that even the company gym had to shut down. And once the hackers started releasing the data, people started 'freaking out,' one employee said. That saddest part about all of this is that the very worst is probably still to come. Hackers say they stole 100 terabytes of data in total. If only 40 gigabytes contained all of this damning information, just imagine what 100 terabytes contains."

Comment Re:Super-capitalism (Score 3, Interesting) 516

1) Espionage is anything but cost-effective. But cost isn't the primary (or even secondary) concern there for those who want to do the spying. (It's (technical) feasibility)

2) Running cable above ground is _always_ more cost-effective then running cable underground. So if you:
- don't give a shit about your customers
- don't have a lot of competition because you can gain a monopoly by buying senators
- and if you do a bare minimum of maintenance because you want more money (more so if you _do_ run cables underground)
then even in a city, local power stability is going to be shit.

Comment Re:Shyeah, right. (Score 2) 284

If you think 250TB of backup is a lot, then you don't need tape.

I currently backup about 1PB and data storage is growing exponentially here (gene sequencing data). Tape is the only cost effective solution for us.

I do agree though that tapedrives are ridiculously expensive but it's a sellers market. Tapedrives don't sell in massive quantities so the price stays up, mainly because there just aren't that many suppliers.

On the other hand. I called a shop a while ago to see what they'd give for our 5x LTO4 tapedrives since we upgraded to LTO6 and they only offered us 30 euros per drive. So if you don't need the latest drive out there, you can save a lot of money by buying second-hand.

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