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Transportation

Submission + - UK Green Lights HS2 High Speed Rail Line (inhabitat.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The United Kingdom has given the green light to the first phase of its proposed High Speed Two train line. In response to environmental concerns, the route for HS2 will now include extra tunneling in the first 90 miles, so not to disrupt the natural beauty of the English countryside. The first phase will connect London to Birmingham and could be functional by 2026.
Security

Submission + - Top 5 Threats for 2012

An anonymous reader writes: Solera Networks Foresees Top Threats for 2012, Recommends Security Resolutions for Increased Online Safety in the New Year

Salt Lake City, UT – January 11, 2012 – Solera Networks, the leading Network Security Analytics platform provider, today announced security predictions for 2012: rampant spam-driven attacks; multiple manifestations of classic social engineering scams; the high probability of attacks against industrial automation; and significant increases in malware. Based on activity levels observed in the second half of 2011, the growing pace, volume and sophistication of attacks suggest consumers, small businesses and corporations will need to grow increasingly vigilant over the next year. The company also provided five simple activities that, when added to a list of New Year’s resolutions, should prove helpful in protecting Internet users from these threats.

Solera Networks Research Lab’s top five threats for 2012:

        Increasing attacks staged through legitimate but compromised sites
From tiny collectives to large organizations, the continued existence of unpatched, vulnerable Web sites are poised to become a substantial problem in the near future. The number of these vulnerable Web sites combined with an abundance of keylogger malware available today suggests a rapidly increasing number of sites will be used to redirect unsuspecting victims to exploit kits.

        Scripted exploits targeting vulnerable browser plug-ins
Currently, there is no surefire method for preventing accidental infection of a Windows PC by exploit-kitted Web pages, and in 2012 the number of those infections will grow every day. Heavily-obfuscated Javascript can take control of a PC within minutes and then gain quick access to the user’s passwords. One preventative measure is to use the Firefox browser with NoScript installed. Otherwise, reduce your attack surface: Update Flash, Acrobat, Office, and other vulnerable applications immediately (and regularly), and disable Javascript within your PDF reader application.

        Malicious Spam Increases
Malicious spam in 2012 will follow the patterns set in late 2011. Every available delivery method – email, social networks, and IM, as zipped malware attached to the messages, or links to malicious pages – and any other conceivable form is up for grabs: shipping confirmations, missed deliveries, credit warnings and statements, utility bills, complaints to the Better Business Bureau, online order confirmations, bank statements, electronic funds transfer notices and “friend notification” emails from social networking sites. These new and innovative social engineering tactics will ensnare unsuspecting victims with increasingly sophisticated malware.

        SCADA systems remain a key target
SCADA systems don’t just control plutonium enrichment centrifuges. They control things as mundane as the hot water boilers in large steam heating systems, the electrical systems of large office buildings, and the telephone switches in hospitals and universities. Many Internet-connected SCADA systems have been left wide open to the world. If the operators of these systems don’t take immediate action to lock down the public Web interface to their SCADA-controlled devices, it could be only a matter of time before someone decides to cause deliberate harm, shutting off a critical system in a time of need.

        Continued increase of malicious smart phone applications
The volume of copycat Android malware is increasing rapidly. Today, threats include everything from local scam artists to entire markets hosted on overseas sites. Users will need to exercise extreme caution installing anything onto their smart phones or tablets, especially if they have unlocked or otherwise altered the devices.

Solera Networks Research Lab’s recommended resolutions for 2012:

Solera Networks Research Labs recommends implementing a list of New Year’s internet-related resolutions to protect consumers and businesses. Solera Networks recommends the following security-themed New Year’s resolutions for 2012:

          Change your passwords more frequently
Every site or service you use needs to have its own unique password, and each password should meet stringent security standards, including minimum length and a diversity of character types. While the idea of changing them so frequently may seem daunting, it must be done. Fortunately, a number of different technologies and applications can be used to assist in managing these passwords. If available on your laptop, a biometric finger scanner can simplify the process, as can commercially available password management software.

          Perform frequent backups
Backups are both a security resolution and a security blanket resolution. Select a large, external hard drive and back up all of your data regularly. Make 2012 the year of 52 weekly backups, with more frequent backups of the most important application data such as email.

        Remove bloatware from any computing device as soon as possible
Whether it’s a phone, a computer, or any other device, if it’s loaded with applications that engage in any unwanted or undesirable behavior, remove them. It has become essential that consumers assert their right to total control over any technological device they use, and remove software that proves burdensome, irritating, or intrusive – whether it came pre-installed or not.

        Fortify the computing environment
Dig deeply into the settings within both applications and the operating system of your computer with the goal of ensuring that you have done everything possible to lock down the devices. Don’t forget to include the smaller issues like disabling links in Outlook, as well as the major exposure points, like uninstalling vulnerable applications or disabling exploitable browser plugins. Focus on thoroughness as well as execution.

        Prepare for swift response
Even if you hold to the resolutions above, new and unknown threats will find their way into your network. Network secruity professionals need to prepare for the unknown and plan for swift incident response. In 2012, resolve to go beyond just reviewing your log files and start recording traffic for key network segments. When something bad happens, you’ll be glad you have a full record of the event in order to uncover the full source and scope of any malicious activity.

About Solera Networks
Award-winning Network Security Analytics solutions from Solera Networks record, classify, index and store network traffic data to provide comprehensive situational awareness of all network events. The technology provides complete, real-time visibility and accurate incident reconstruction, allowing customers to detect and identify the root cause of advanced threats, mitigate the loss of intellectual property and reputational damage, reduce the time to respond and remediate, and minimize exposure to ongoing breaches, protecting critical information assets.

Global 2000 enterprises, cloud service providers and government agencies use Network Security Analytics solutions from Solera Networks to combat today’s increasingly sophisticated and targeted threats. Our clients see everything and know everything, allowing them to identify any and all events that existing toolsets fail to recognize, recover, or reconstruct. For more information on Solera Networks, visit www.soleranetworks.com.

###

Contact:
Paula Dunne
CONTOS DUNNE COMMUNICATIONS
+1 408-776-1400 (o)
+1 408-893-8750 (m)
paula@contosdunne.com
AMD

Submission + - AMD Bulldozer Performance Hotfixes for Windows 7 (ngohq.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has released two updates that optimize the performance of AMD Bulldozer CPUs on Windows 7-based or Windows Server 2008 R2-based computers.

KB2645594
The CPU scheduling techniques that are used by Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are not optimized for the AMD Bulldozer module architecture. Therefore, multithreaded workloads may not be optimally distributed on computers that have one of these processors installed in a lightly-threaded environment. This may result in decreased system performance for some applications. When this update is installed, the scheduler will be aware that your Bulldozer processor contains dual-core modules. In essence, threads 1-4 now get assigned to their own module first.

KB2646060
The CPU Power Policies that are used by Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are not optimized for the dual core AMD Bulldozer module architecture. This can result in decreased system performance with multithreaded workloads in lightly-threaded environments. When this update is installed, Bulldozer modules will be less likely to achieve the C6 power state. This potentially results in increased power consumption in more lightly-threaded environments.

Security

Submission + - Symantec Sued For Running Fake "Scareware" Scans (forbes.com)

Sparrowvsrevolution writes: James Gross, a resident of Washington State, filed what he intends to be a class action lawsuit against Symantec in a Northern District California court Tuesday, claiming that Symantec defrauds consumers by running fake scans on their machines, with results designed to bully users into upgrading to a paid version of the company’s software. “The scareware does not conduct any actual diagnostic testing on the computer,” the complaint reads. "Instead, Symantec intentionally designed its scareware to invariably report, in an extremely ominous manner, that harmful errors, privacy risks, and other computer problems exist on the user’s PC, regardless of the real condition of the consumer’s computer." Symantec denies those claims, but it has a history of using fearmongering tactics to bump up its sales. A notice it showed in 2010 to users whose subscriptions were ending in 2010 warned that "cybercriminals are about to clean out your bank account...Protect yourself now, or beg for mercy.”

Submission + - Timothy Lord Takes You to CES

Roblimo writes: Slashdot's Timothy Lord is at the International Consumer Electronics Expo (CES) in Las Vegas. There is no way any one person can take in the whole show. It's just too big for that. But on Timothy's first day, he spotted an overlay keyboard for the iPad that's been mentioned on Slashdot before, an invisible keyboard for your smartphone or tablet, and a crazy-interesting all-in-one computing device with a built-in projector and built-in virtual keyboard. Watch the video and join Timothy as he learns about these three devices. (Before you ask: Yes, we'll have more videos from CES over the next few days.)
Piracy

Submission + - Music Industry Sues Irish Government for Piracy (activepolitic.com)

bs0d3 writes: The music industry has initiated a lawsuit against the Irish government for not having blocking laws on the books; on the theory that if blocking laws were in place then filesharing would go away. On Tuesday the music industry issued a plenary summons against the Irish government which is the first step towards making this litigation possible. This all began in October 2010 (EMI v. UPC), when an Irish judge ruled that Irish law did not permit an order to be made against an ISP requiring blocking of websites. Recently several ISPs across the European Union have been ordered by courts to block thepiratebay.org through strange legal maneuvers. Countries whose laws have enough loopholes to abuse may be able to fend off US interference for now.
Windows

Submission + - The Future of Auto Theft (autosec.org)

NicknamesAreStupid writes: Over the past twenty years, car theft has declined as new models incorporated electronic security methods that thwarted simple hot-wiring. The tide may now be turning, as cars become the next Windows PC. The Center for Automobile Embedded Systems Security has posted an interesting paper from UCSD and UW that describes how modern cars can be cracked. Unlike the old days of window jimmies, these exploits range from attacks through the CD or iPod port to cellular attacks that take inventory of thousands of cars and offer roaming thieves Yelp-like choices ("our favorite is mint green with leather") with unlocked doors and running engines.
Education

Male Brains 'Wired for Videogame Obsession' 125

thinkzinc notes a story indicating that, according to a new study, men have a harder time putting down a controller than women do. Researchers at Stanford did brain imaging work on a group of young test subjects while they played a simple PC game. Besides the 'obvious' conclusion that men were more 'aggressive at gaining territory on the screen', the tests also indicated that male brains showed more activity in the reward and addiction components of the brain. "The lead author, Dr. Allan Reiss, noted that most of the video games that are popular with men are territory and aggression-type games. 'These gender differences in the brain may help explain why males are more attracted to, and more likely to become hooked on video games than females,' he said. Other recent surveys indicate that about 40 percent of Americans regularly play games on a computer or console, but young males are two or three times more likely than females to feel addicted to video games, Reiss said. "
Power

Li-Ion Batteries Hit Final R&D Phase for Plug-in Cars 238

An anonymous reader writes "Tesla finally delivered its first production model of the all-electric Roadster this month. Coinciding with that, researchers from the big automakers and their outsourced startup labs are hitting stride in the development of cheap, high-powered lithium-ion batteries. These may actually end up in our garages. Toyota, in fact, says it's got enough of the chemistry down to roll out a test fleet for the plug-in Prius before the end of 2009. It's mass production of battery tech that's the holdup — which might mean Mercedes' electric hybrids beat the Prius to market en masse by 2010 or 2011."
Supercomputing

One Computer to Rule Them All 288

An anonymous reader writes "IBM has published a research paper describing an initiative called Project Kittyhawk, aimed at building "a global-scale shared computer capable of hosting the entire Internet as an application." Nicholas Carr describes the paper with the words "Forget Thomas Watson's apocryphal remark that the world may need only five computers. Maybe it needs just one." Here is the original paper."
Privacy

Canadians Wary of 'Enhanced Drivers Licenses' 258

Dr.Merkwurdigeliebe writes ""Enhanced drivers licenses such as those to be issued in B.C. will lay the groundwork for a national identity card", federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said yesterday. Stoddart said the licenses, touted as an alternative to a passport for the purpose of crossing the U.S. border, closely resemble the Real ID program in the United States. She characterized that program as a way of introducing a "type of national identity card" for Americans."
Security

Does Anonymity In Virtual Worlds Breed Terrorism? 295

An Anonymous Coward writes "The Washington Post has an article about the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity's take on the numerous virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life) that have cropped up in recent years. IARPA's thesis is that because the Government can't currently monitor all the communication and interaction, terrorists will plot and scheme in such environments."

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