snydeq writes: "Security pros and government officials warn of a possible cyber 9/11 involving banks, utilities, other companies, or the Internet, InfoWorld reports. 'A cyber war has been brewing for at least the past year, and although you might view this battle as governments going head to head in a shadow fight, security experts say the battleground is shifting from government entities to the private sector, to civilian targets that provide many essential services to U.S. citizens. The cyber war has seen various attacks around the world, with incidents such as Stuxnet, Flame, and Red October garnering attention. Some attacks have been against government systems, but increasingly likely to attack civilian entities. U.S. banks and utilities have already been hit.'"
snydeq writes: "The NYTimes reports on the San Francisco's shifting socio-economic landscape thanks to a massive influx of tech workers and tax and regulation breaks to big-name startups. 'In a city often regarded as unfriendly to business, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, elected last year with the tech industry’s strong backing, has aggressively courted start-ups. But this boom has also raised fears about the tech industry’s growing political clout and its spillover economic effects. Apartment rents have soared to record highs as affordable housing advocates warn that a new wave of gentrification will price middle-class residents out of the city. At risk, many say, are the very qualities that have drawn generations of outsiders here, like the city’s diversity and creativity. Families, black residents, artists and others will increasingly be forced across the bridge to Oakland, they warn.'"
snydeq writes: "Deep End's Paul Venezia decries the government's lack of attention to e-voting technology, despite ongoing flaws and clear indications that the government makes 'extremely good use of technology when it suits them — such as spying on their own citizenry or developing missiles that can travel hundreds of miles and hit a shoebox.... Lapses persist everywhere, from systems that can be compromised by someone with an eighth-grade education and $26 to voting machines that helpfully hack themselves.' Venezia writes. 'Years continue to go by without any sort of controls, regulations, or reliable testing of electronic voting systems that are used by millions of Americans to cast their ballots. State governments have a much firmer grasp on how to interface with car computer systems to fail an inspection if ODB-II error codes are logged than they do with electronic voting.'"
snydeq writes: "With so many threats to a free and open Internet, sooner or later, people will need to arm themselves for the fight, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. 'If the baboons succeed in constraining speech and information flow on the broader Internet, the new Internet will emerge quickly. For an analogy, consider the iPhone and the efforts of a few smart hackers who have allowed anyone to jailbreak an iPhone with only a small downloaded app and a few minutes,' Venezia writes. 'All that scenario would require would be a way to wrap up existing technologies into a nice, easily-installed package available through any number of methods. Picture the harrowing future of rampant Internet take-downs and censorship, and then picture a single installer that runs under Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux that installs tor, tools to leverage alternative DNS servers, anonymizing proxies, and even private VPN services. A few clicks of the mouse, and suddenly that machine would be able to access sites "banned" through general means.'"
snydeq writes: "As the world gets more and more technical, we can't let Luddites decide the fate of dangerous legislation like SOPA, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. 'Very few politicians get technology. Many actually seem proud that they don't use the Internet or even email, like it's some kind of badge of honor that they've kept their heads in the sand for so long. These are the same people who will vote on noxious legislation like SOPA, openly dismissing the concerns and facts presented by those who know the technology intimately. The best quote from the SOPA debates: "We're operating on the Internet without any doctors or nurses on the room." That is precisely correct,' Venezia writes. 'The best we can do for the short term is to throw everything we can behind legislation to reinstate the OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). From 1974 through 1995, this small group with a tiny budget served as an impartial, nonpartisan advisory to the U.S. Congress on all matters technological.'"
snydeq writes: "The CPU Act being discussed in Congress to gut IT workers of overtime pay begs the question, How should IT respond? 'Because most IT workers are not members of a union (and don't seem to want unionize), it isn't clear who's fighting the bill. The AFL-CIO opposes it, but I don't know if the organization is putting real muscle into the effort,' InfoWorld's Bill Snyder writes. The AFL-CIO's Paul E. Almeida has sent a letter to Congress, saying, 'The same companies that send work offshore and bring lower-paid workers to the U.S. on H-1B visas now want to pay U.S. workers less in the U.S.,' adding that if this effort succeeds, every other industry may follow suit in gutting FLSA for every covered private-sector worker. 'Almeida is right. There's a well-organized movement afoot to blame workers in both the public and private sector for a recession caused in large part by the greedy and irresponsible actions of a small minority of corporations and individuals.'"
snydeq writes: The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks, according to a report from The New York Times. 'Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe. The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.'
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder brings news of a lawsuit against Infosys for the fraudulent use of temporary visas to import foreign workers who would normally have to be admitted on H-1Bs. In the suit, whistle-blower Jack Palmer claims he was disciplined and ostracized after declining to write fraudulent letters in support of visa applicants who were really planning to work in the United States for Infosys. 'Palmer's charges are ugly. If they prove to be true, one of India's most important and respected companies will have been exposed for engaging in a pattern of deliberate fraud and tax evasion, all while thumbing its nose at laws designed to protect American workers.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Ted Samson raises several challenging questions in the wake of HBGary, first and foremost being, should the cyber vigilante acts of 'hacktivists' such as Anonymous be embraced? No doubt the alleged HBGary plot is troubling, Samson writes, 'but also troubling is how quickly some members of Congress seek to use illegally acquired information to further their own political agenda.' The underlying message seems to be that cyber vigilantes may have more leeway than those who engage in equally illegal, though decidedly nontechnical methods to expose their targets."
snydeq writes: "The wake of State Department document leaks to WikiLeaks may have the unhappy rousted from government agencies' 'privileged insiders' ranks, thanks to a recent memo from the U.S. OMB asking agencies to spell out their strategies for minimizing insider risk, InfoWorld reports. 'It's likely that federal contractors and government suppliers will also find themselves responding to this list of questions [PDF] and the central issue of preventing the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and classified materials. In a key section of the memo, the OMB requests information on whether organizations are measuring the "trustworthiness" of their employees and whether they use a psychiatrist or sociologist to measure the unhappiness of an employee as a measure of trustworthiness.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Paul Venezia speculates on a possible WikiLeaks contingency plan based around a dead man switch and the 1.4GB AES0-encrypted file WikiLeaks released previously on various BitTorrent sites. 'If I was planning this out, that big encrypted archive would contain several smaller encrypted archives,' Venezia writes, adding that each encrypted archive would have a different key, the release of which would be suppressed by a dead man switch in the form of an email or specific URL visit every 24 hours. 'As long as those signals are received, nothing happens. But if one is missed, the first decryption key would automatically be posted to Twitter and submitted to Reddit or any number of other public venues. As the primary system releases a key, it stops sending and responding to the heartbeats, which triggers timers in the other systems, and they begin releasing their keys every 24, 48, or 72 hours. It would be like a series of political time bombs located all over the Earth, with no way to find them.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder argues in favor of well-considered regulation on wireless in the wake of Google and Verizon's recent joint proposal on net neutrality. 'It's no surprise that Verizon Wireless and other carriers want a free hand in wireless. And while it might seem surprising that Google has essentially backed off on its earlier position in favor of Net neutrality, it really isn't. The search engine giant is lavishing money and attention on the Android mobile platform and is casting covetous eyes on wireless as an advertising platform,' Snyder writes, noting several falsehoods — about competition, quality of service, and access to data — that the companies are spreading to 'hoodwink you, me, Congress, and regulators into giving them control over the public spectrum.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder writes in favor of the Main Street Fairness Act, a bill that would end the sales tax exemption for big Web businesses like Amazon.com and eBay. 'The Web sales tax issue has been debated and litigated for years, and it is hardly a popular cause, but with state and local governments deeply in debt, the chance to add a massive revenue stream may outweigh the political risks,' Snyder writes, noting that uncollected taxes for the six-year period ending in 2012 will range from $52 billion to $56 billion nationally, according to recent studies. Not surprisingly, Amazon.com has fought efforts to collect sales tax from customers, arguing that the complexity of taxing jurisdictions makes doing so impractical. 'Nonsense — an industry that can deliver tailored ads to buyers in a fraction of a second could surely solve whatever technical problems exist.' In fact, as Snyder points out, it already has, as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has noted. 'I'm more sympathetic to the argument that small businesses on the Internet could be throttled by the policy change. However, the bill Delahunt sponsored in 2008 exempted businesses whose revenue was less than $5 million. The text of the current bill, HR 5660, likewise calls for a small-business exemption, but it does not yet specify a qualifying threshold.'"
snydeq writes: "MySQL co-developer Monty Widenius has lodged an appeal against the European Union's antitrust authorities over their decision to green-light Oracle's acquisition of Sun. The appeal was filed to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Widenius' appeal is not likely to have any bearing on the takeover itself, but may put pressure on the Commission for more transparency in its decision-making process, which resulted in accepting the companies' own promises that they would safeguard competition."