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US Suspects Iran Was Behind a Wave of Cyberattacks 292

SternisheFan writes in with this Times article about more trouble brewing between the U.S. and Iran. "American intelligence officials are increasingly convinced that Iran was the origin of a serious wave of network attacks that crippled computers across the Saudi oil industry and breached financial institutions in the United States, episodes that contributed to a warning last week from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta that the United States was at risk of a 'cyber-Pearl Harbor.' After Mr. Panetta's remarks on Thursday night, American officials described an emerging shadow war of attacks and counterattacks already under way between the United States and Iran in cyberspace. Among American officials, suspicion has focused on the 'cybercorps' that Iran's military created in 2011 — partly in response to American and Israeli cyberattacks on the Iranian nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz — though there is no hard evidence that the attacks were sanctioned by the Iranian government. The attacks emanating from Iran have inflicted only modest damage. Iran's cyberwarfare capabilities are considerably weaker than those in China and Russia, which intelligence officials believe are the sources of a significant number of probes, thefts of intellectual property and attacks on American companies and government agencies."

Michio Kaku's Dark Prediction For the End of Moore's Law 347

nightcats writes "An excerpt from Michio Kaku's new book appears at, in which he sees a dark economic future within the next 20 years as Moore's law is brought to an end when single-atom transistors give way to quantum states. Kaku predicts: 'Since chips are placed in a wide variety of products, this could have disastrous effects on the entire economy. As entire industries grind to a halt, millions could lose their jobs, and the economy could be thrown into turmoil.'" Exactly the way the collapse of the vacuum tube industry killed the economy, I hope.

Chertoff Advocates Cyber Cold War 115

Jack Spine writes "The US and allied countries should formulate a doctrine to apply the principles of nuclear deterrence to cyber attacks and cyber espionage, according to former US Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff. No matter that it's very difficult to attribute the source of cyber attacks — just take punitive action against the platform being used to attack, says Chertoff."

Mozilla Debates Whether To Trust Chinese CA 276

At his Freedom to Tinker blog, Ed Felten has a thoughtful, accessible piece on the debate at Mozilla about whether Firefox, by default, should trust a Chinese certificate authority (as it has since October). Felten explains in clear language why this is significant, and therefore controversial. An excerpt: "To see why this is worrisome, let's suppose, just for the sake of argument, that CNNIC were a puppet of the Chinese government. Then CNNIC's status as a trusted CA would give it the technical power to let the Chinese government spy on its citizens' 'secure' web connections. If a Chinese citizen tried to make a secure connection to Gmail, their connection could be directed to an impostor Gmail site run by the Chinese government, and CNNIC could give the impostor a cert saying that the government impostor was the real Gmail site."

Google Funding the Next Big One? 295

wdavies writes "According to this New York Times article, Google is funding a controversial deep drill geothermal project north of San Francisco. Apparently the company, AltaRock, omitted to disclose that the same deep drilling caused a major quake in Basel, Switzerland when it was last used. Given the notorious geological instability of the Northern Californian coast, this strikes me as kind of dumb — and given the known likelihood of this technique producing earthquakes, somewhat EVIL."

EU Fusion Experiment's Financial Woes Get More Concrete 173

fiannaFailMan writes "An international plan to build a nuclear fusion reactor is being threatened by rising costs, delays and technical challenges. 'Emails leaked to the BBC indicate that construction costs for the experimental fusion project called Iter have more than doubled. Some scientists also believe that the technical hurdles to fusion have become more difficult to overcome and that the development of fusion as a commercial power source is still at least 100 years away. At a meeting in Japan on Wednesday, members of the governing Iter council will review the plans and may agree to scale back the project.' Iter will be a Tokamak device, a successor to the Joint European Torus (JET) in England. Meanwhile, an experiment in fusion by laser doesn't seem to be running into the same high profile funding problems just yet."

Is China Creating the World's Largest Botnet Army? 195

david_a_eaves writes "The Chinese government is mandating that all computers sold in China come with Internet blocking software. Rob Cottingham writes an excellent piece noting how the censorship application of this software should be the least of our concerns. This new software may create an opportunity for the Chinese Government to appropriate these computers and use them to create the worlds largest botnet army." Update: 06/11 21:26 GMT by T : J. Alex Halderman writes "My students and I have been examining the Green Dam censorware software. We've found serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by any web site a user visits with the software installed. We also found that some of the blacklists seems to have been taken from the American-made filtering program CyberSitter. We've posted a report and demo."

Why Digital Medical Records Are No Panacea 367

theodp writes "As GE, Google, Intel, IBM, Microsoft and others pile into the business of computerized medical files in a stimulus-fueled frenzy, BusinessWeek reminds us that electronic health records have a dubious history. Under the federal stimulus program, hospitals can get several million dollars apiece for tech purchases over the next five years, and individual doctors can receive up to $44,000. There's also a stick: The feds will cut Medicare reimbursement for hospitals and practices that don't go electronic by 2015. But does the high cost and questionable quality of products currently on the market explain why barely 1 in 50 hospitals have a comprehensive electronic records system, and why only 17% of physicians use any type of electronic records? Joe Bugajski's chilling The Data Model That Nearly Killed Me suggests that may be the case."

CFLs Causing Utility Woes 859

dacut writes "We've seen compact fluorescent lamps start to take over shelf space at the local hardware store. Replacing a 60 watt incandescent with a 13 watt CFL seems like a great savings, though many consumers are disappointed with the slow warm-up times, lower-than-advertised lifetimes, and hassles of disposing the mercury-containing bulbs. Now EDN reports they may use more energy than claimed due to their poor power factor. Mike Grather, of Lumenaire Testing Laboratory, 'checked the power factor for the CFLs and found they ranged from .45 to .50. Their "real" load was about twice that implied by their wattage.' The good news: you're only billed for the 13 watts of real power used. The bad news: the utilities have to generate the equivalent of 28 watts (that is, 28 VA of apparent power for you EEs out there) to light that bulb. Until they fix these issues, I'll hold on to my incandescents and carbon arc lamps, thanks."

Black Holes From the LHC Could Last For Minutes 672

KentuckyFC writes "There is absolutely, positively, definitely no chance of the LHC destroying the planet (or this way either) when it eventually switches on some time later this year. And yet a few niggling doubts are persuading some scientists to run through their figures again. One potential method of destruction is that the LHC will create tiny black holes that could swallow everything in their path, including the planet. Various scientists have said this will not happen because the black holes would decay before they could do any damage. But physicists who have re-run the calculations now say that the mini black holes produced by the LHC could last for seconds, possibly minutes. Of course, the real question is whether they decay faster than they can grow. The new calculations suggest that the decay mechanism should win over and that the catastrophic growth of a black hole from the LHC 'does not seem possible' (abstract). But shouldn't we require better assurance than that?"

Significant Russian Attack On US Military Networks 270

killmofasta notes an LA Times story on a severe and widespread attack on US military computers that may have originated in Russia. Turns out the military's recent ban on flash drives was a precursor to this attack, which was significant enough that the President and the Defense Secretary were briefed on it. "The 'malware' strike, thought to be from inside Russia, hit combat zone computers and the US Central Command overseeing Iraq and Afghanistan. The attack underscores concerns about computer warfare. 'This one was significant; this one got our attention,' said one defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing internal assessments. Although officials are withholding many details, the attack underscores the increasing danger and potential significance of computer warfare, which defense experts say could one day be used by combatants to undermine even a militarily superior adversary. ... [A defense official said] 'We have taken a number of corrective measures, but I would be overstating it if I said we were through this.'"

How China Will Use Cyber Warfare To Leapfrog Foes 235

The Walking Dude writes "A lengthy article published in Culture Mandala details how China is using cyber warfare (PDF) as an asymmetric means to obtain technology transfer and market dominance. Case studies of Estonia, Georgia, and Project Chanology point towards a new auxiliary arm of traditional warfare. Political hackers and common Web 2.0 users, referred to as useful idiots (PDF), are being manipulated through PSYOPS and propaganda to enhance government agendas."

How Laptops in Education Can Help Dictators, Hurt Learning 122

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on worries that the OLPC's BitFrost security protocols could hand a ready-made surveillance system to controlling 3rd world governments. The laptops identify themselves regularly to a server that can disable individual machines reported stolen — a system that hands a government a kill switch for every unit. BitFrost also has the potential to have machines attach a unique ID to every internet transaction, helping out anyone wanting to track net internet use. A freely available paper from a recent USENIX conference spells out the concerns." Relatedly, an anonymous reader points out a story at Slate about a study which examined the impact that free PCs had on poor students in Romania, writing that "giving the kids machines without a corresponding level of parental supervision just resulted in distractions which ultimately damaged academic performance. By contrast, allowing children access to machines in a supervised setting, say an after school program via school labs, might mitigate some of the negative effects."

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