Posts Tagged ‘internet’

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Every time you go to a new doctor or dentist and they give you a clipboard brimming with documents to fill out and sign, notice how they always ask for your Social Security number? Do you dutifully give it up? Did you ever wonder if they really need it?

I once asked a doctor why he wanted it. His response: “I don’t really know. I guess it’s because we’ve always asked for it.” (In actuality, most doctors ask in case your insurance doesn’t pay the entire invoice and/or to fill out a death certificate if you die. Offer a next of kin who knows the number instead, and your phone number for billing issues.)

Almost every day somebody asks for your Social Security Number and, like the Grand Marshal of a parade throwing rose petals or candy to the crowd, you probably give it up without giving it a second thought — because that’s what you’ve always done.

So, the next time someone asks you for your Social Security number, reflect on this: In December, the Army announced that hackers stole the Social Security numbers of 36,000 visitors to Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, including intelligence officers. Cyber activists took control of the CIA’s website. The private information, including some Social Security numbers, of celebrities and political leaders including FBI Director Robert Mueller and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were exposed.

The sensitive data of First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder, recently were posted on a website for the world to see. (more…)

Apparently skirting the no campaign rule on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, candidates made their presence felt on Twitter and Facebook, which have yet to be regulated by the Commission on Elections.

In Bataan, a candidate for councilor, Jules Moncupa, posted what appeared to be his campaign material on his Facebook account and asked his Facebook friends to “share” it.

Screengrab from Facebook.

“GAME NA! … Please Share, my friends. Thanks. :-).” he posted.

In his photo, Moncupa described himself as “Kaibigan ng Bayan (everyone’s friend)” and “outstanding councilor of Bataan.” His ballot number, 16, was also placed near his name.

The photo’s time stamp on Facebook indicated it was posted at 3:14 a.m., March 29.

The campaign period for local candidates was supposed to start today but since it is a Good Friday, it can only start on March 30, Black Saturday.

Under Republic Act 7166, the campaign period may exclude the day before Election Day, the day of the election itself, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.

Comelec Resolution 9385, which lists the calendar of activities for the campaign period, also notes that campaigning on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday is prohibited.

Some national candidates merely posted Holy Week and vacation-related messages on their Twitter account while others plugged online articles where they were mentioned, such as GMA News Online’s Isyu ng Bayan matrix.

But other candidates posted rants while there were also candidates who plugged their party’s proclamation rally. Administration’s Team PNoy posted some photos of sorties and election initiatives, including the 7-11 cup program.

Screengrab from Twitter.


In a text message to GMA News Online, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said he cannot call the posts violations of election rules just as yet but he will let the Comelec law department evaluate them.

“Hindi kasi natin nire-regulate ang Facebook e. So I hesitate to call that a violation. Pwede natin ipa-evaluate sa law department namin,” he said.

“Comelec generally does not monitor Twitter and Facebook postings except in relation to campaign spending and possible vote-buying schemes,” Jimenez added.

In Resolution 9615, the poll body regulates online campaign propaganda such as pop-ups, rectangles, banners, buttons and skyscrapers except on social networking sites.

Poll chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. earlier said they will issue clearer guidelines on social networking sites during the campaign period after they checked how politicians use the platform.

“This is new, this is something innovative, itong social media. Kaya dapat titingnan muna natin, hindi pwedeng detalye agad. We will see how effective it is during the start of the campaign period,” Brillantes said. —KG, GMA News

Companies that monitor Internet traffic said Wednesday that an intensive cyberattack against a European spam-fighting organization has ended.

The attack against the Spamhaus Project Ltd., a nonprofit group that tracks spammers, was massive enough to slow some of the traffic on the Web to a crawl.

Analysts work in the Security Operations Center at the Dell SecureWorks office in South Carolina

Analysts work in the Security Operations Center at the Dell SecureWorks office in South Carolina

Spamhaus accused Cyberbunker, a Dutch Web-hosting company, of coordinating the so-called distributed denial-of-service attack against it, according to a report by the British Broadcasting Corp. In a DDoS attack, multiple servers send simultaneous requests to the target’s Web servers, ultimately causing them to crash.

According to the BBC, Spamhaus said the attack was in retaliation for its blacklisting of the Dutch company.

Neither Cyberbunker nor Spamhaus could be reached for comment. A person familiar with the situation said Spamhaus thinks it is still under attack.

The cyberattack was one of an increasing number of such offensives against corporations, including large financial institutions, and raises questions about what companies can do to guard against them.

The DDoS attack directed at servers run by Spamhaus came at a rate of 300 gigabits a second, which is five or six times the intensity of typical cyberattacks against banks, said Dan Holden, director of security research at Arbor Networks Inc.

“Up until this, the largest attack we had seen was a 100-gigabit attack in 2010 and an 80-gigabit attack in 2012. Jumping up to 300 is tripling the largest attack we’ve seen,” he said.

According to Mr. Holden, the attack against Spamhaus caused “collateral damage” across the Web because of the “pure size” of the attack. The extent of any collateral damage is also dependent on the path taken between the attacking servers and the victim, he said. Arbor Networks is able to determine the ebbs and flows of Web traffic by aggregating data provided by 250 Internet-service providers around the world.

DDoS attacks are becoming a problem for large institutions, including U.S. banks. Thus far, corporations have responded by using technologies from tech companies such as Akamai Technologies Inc., AKAM +0.23% Prolexic Technologies and others that help companies deflect unwanted traffic from their sites.

Those technologies can help keep sites functioning normally. In January, as attackers hammered bank sites with DDoS attacks, the availability rate of websites at U.S. financial institutions actually rose to 97.21% from 94.86% in the fall, when the first phase of the ongoing attacks was in full force, according to a report from

But there are limits to how effective defensive technologies can be. A spokesperson at Wells Fargo WFC -0.86% & Co. confirmed its banking websites were under attack Tuesday, but added that most of its customers weren’t affected. It didn’t explain how it deflected the attack.

Last Wednesday, Wells Fargo’s chief information security officer, Rich Baich, said companies need to think in advance about how so-called hacktivist groups, which use cyberattacks as tools of political or social protest, might respond to actions they takes at any point in time. Mr. Baich was speaking at the IT Security Entrepreneurs Forum at Stanford University. “It’s not just about nuisance, where a website was hacked, it’s about them holding you hostage by denying you use of the Internet,” he said.

He stressed that attackers can do more than take down websites: They can use viruses to physically destroy electronic devices, as was the case with personal computers at Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s last August. “Now there’s a destructive angle,” Mr. Baich said.

Mike Smith, director of the customer-security incident response team at Akamai, says such attacks are possible because of improperly configured domain-name servers—the servers that correlate website addresses, such as, into the numerical addresses used by servers.

According to Mr. Smith, “hosting providers, businesses, and people with a cloud server who set up their own DNS resolver” often neglect to configure their servers using proper security settings. He says there are groups that compile lists of servers that improperly configured and open to abuse.

The sudden pickup in targeted attacks against corporate websites has brought cybersecurity to the highest levels of attention. The rise of IT security “to a board level concern is maybe the fastest I’ve ever seen,” said Thomas Sanzone, senior vice president of consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. BAH -0.53%

The attack against Spamhaus raises questions about what companies should do to protect themselves, and whether a proactive defense is appropriate.

Compared with governments, companies are limited in actions they can take to legally respond to cyberattacks. Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of homeland security, said diplomatic considerations make it difficult for the government to take action against suspected adversaries from other countries.

Mr. Chertoff, who worked at the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009 and now runs a security consulting firm, said the U.S., which formally launched its cyberdiplomacy campaign in 2009, is currently trying to figure out how to deter and retaliate against cyberattacks, many of which come from sovereign countries.

“There are a serious questions about what we can do to defend ourselves and how far we can go in what we call active defense, that are both legal and policy questions that have yet to be resolved,” said Mr. Chertoff in January.

Mr. Chertoff counseled companies to think long and hard about retaliating on their own, noting that they could end up crippling a server that controls hospital equipment, while also unwittingly hosting malware.


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Facebook Inc (FB.O) is expanding theadvertising system that lets marketers tailor messages to users of the No. 1 social network based on their browsing history, in the company’s latest step to refine its ad business.

So far, the system has been used to target graphical display ads on the right side of a Facebook user’s page, based on websites visited in the past, such as for products or potential vacation destinations. The move announced on Tuesday will incorporate this system, called Facebook Exchange, to the ads in Facebook’s News Feed.

It ties together two of the most significant innovations that Facebook Inc has made in the past year to its advertising business, which accounts for roughly 84 percent of the company’s revenue.

Marketers last year welcomed the launch of Facebook Exchange as it provided a common online advertising technique long missing on the social network.

Ads that appear directly within the Facebook News Feed are considered crucial to its future business prospects since they can be seen on mobile devices such as smartphones. About two-thirds of Facebook users accessed the site on a mobile device in December.

Facebook said the Facebook Exchange system will initially be available for newsfeed ads that appear on desktop PCs but not on mobile devices.

“Desktop is more in line with what FBX (Facebook Exchange) has been doing effectively in the right hand side. And we also find that desktop is the place where more people convert from seeing direct-response ads,” said Facebook spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana.

The company is testing the new service with a limited set of partners, with plans for broader availability in the coming weeks.

Shares of Facebook closed 7 cents higher at $25.2

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At this very moment, the largest cyber attack ever declared is emanating from a decommissioned, nuclear-war proof NATO bunker with five foot-thick concrete walls and a reputation for harboring spammers and cybercriminals. It’s all part of a dustup between CyberBunker—so named for the building just outside Kloetinge, in the Netherlands, that houses its servers—and the international non-profitSpamhaus.

CyberBunker does what its name suggests: It’s a safe place full of computers, which host websites and data stores for various companies. Spamhaus, meanwhile, tracks internet addresses that are sources of email spam, and adds their addresses to a blacklist. Companies that use this blacklist—which include pretty much every email provider and most internet service providers on the planet—automatically block those addresses.

The conflict between Spamhaus and CyberBunker began in 2011, when Spamhaus blacklisted all of the internet addresses hosted by Dutch internet service provider A2B. One of A2B’s clients at the time was CyberBunker. It appears that Spamhaus blocked the entirety of A2B after being unable to convince A2B to block CyberBunker by itself.

According to an essay on CyberBunker’s site (corroborated by news accounts at the time) this led to a great deal of collateral damage for companies that used A2B’s services but had no connection to CyberBunker. As a result, Spamhaus’s blacklisting of A2B knocked out, among other things, the email service for “a high street retail chain.”

Now CyberBunker has moved off of A2B and onto a new internet service provider. Spamhaus is now able to blacklist CyberBunker directly, and did so. CyberBunker is annoyed about this. And so, as if to prove Spamhaus’s point, CyberBunker responded by launching a massive cyberattack on’s infrastructure—a flood of 300 billion bits of data per second designed to clog Spamhaus’s connection to the internet. The attack is so big that it is affecting service for regular folks who happen to rely on some of the internet connections it’s commandeering. That means delayed Netflix streams or brief outages for unrelated websites.

Patrick Gilmore, chief architect at the internet hosting service Akamai, told the New York Times that the bottom line for CyberBunker is that “they think they should be allowed to spam.” CyberBunker is explicit on its homepage that it will host anything but child pornography and “anything related to terrorism.”

It’s not clear when this cyber-attack will abate. Massive networks of “zombie” PCs, used to carry out these and related attacks, can be had for a pittance, so it’s possible a flood of bits could be directed at Spamhaus more or less indefinitely.

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A federal judge on Tuesday recommended the dismissal of a lawsuit against Facebook Inc in which Paul Ceglia, an facebookupstate New York wood pellet salesman, claimed a huge ownership stake in the social media company.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio said there is “clear and convincing evidence” that an alleged 2003 contract with Mark Zuckerberg, now Facebook’s chief executive, that Ceglia claimed entitled him to a one-half interest in the company is a “recently created fabrication.”

In October, federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced criminal mail and wire fraud charges against Ceglia, whom U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara accused of seeking “a quick pay day based on a blatant forgery.

Ceglia, who has lived in Wellsville, New York, pleaded not guilty. Each criminal charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Paul Argentieri, a lawyer for Ceglia, was not immediately available on Tuesday for comment.

In his 2010 civil lawsuit, Ceglia claimed that a 2003 contract he signed with Zuckerberg, then a Harvard University freshman, entitled him to the Facebook stake.

Though Zuckerberg had done programming work for Ceglia’s company, Facebook maintained that a separate agreement involving that entity, which did not entitle Ceglia to a big Facebook stake, was the real contract between the two.


In a 155-page recommendation, Foschio said Ceglia’s arguments largely consisted of “self-defeating inconsistencies” that established the “fraudulent nature” of his claims.

“Plaintiff has utterly failed to rebut the plethora of evidence establishing that it is highly probable and reasonable the StreetFax document was the operative contract,” the Buffalo, New York-based judge wrote.

Foschio also said it is “highly probable and reasonably certain” that the contract Ceglia said was real was “fabricated for the express purpose of filing the instant action.”

The case now goes to U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara, who will decide whether to approve Foschio’s recommendation.

Colin Stretch, deputy general counsel of Facebook, said in a statement that Foschio’s recommendation “confirms what we have said from day one: this lawsuit is an inexcusable fraud based on forged documents.”

Facebook’s market value is now about $60 billion.

The accusations against Facebook and Zuckerberg had been an unusual distraction during the Menlo Park, California-based company’s march toward its May 2012 initial public offering.

Facebook’s origin was also the focus of separate litigation by Zuckerberg’s twin Harvard classmates Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, chronicled in the 2010 movie “The Social Network.”


Ceglia claimed that Zuckerberg shared his plans for a social networking website while working at StreetFax, and contracted to give him a stake in exchange for a $1,000 investment.

To build his case, Ceglia submitted what he said were emails from Zuckerberg that proved the pair discussed the project that eventually became Facebook.

But Facebook said Zuckerberg did not even conceive of the idea for a social media company until December 2003.

Its lawyers said Ceglia had produced fraudulent documents, citing work by forensic experts who concluded that he had typed text into a Microsoft Word document, and declared it the text of emails with Zuckerberg in 2004.

Ceglia went through a string of lawyers from prominent firms, including DLA Piper and Milberg, who worked with him on various parts of the civil case but later withdrew.

Earlier this month, Ceglia filed a separate civil lawsuit against Bharara and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to halt the criminal case.

The civil case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, No. 10-00569. The lawsuit against Bharara and Holder is Ceglia v. Holder et al in the same court, No. 13-00256. The criminal case is U.S. v. Ceglia, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No 12-cr-00876.

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