Thursday, December 31, 2009

Apple Picks New Technology as Featured iPhone App

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Grammy Award winning producer Dallas Austin and Fried Green Apps announce that Mix Me In has earned a spot in the coveted “New and Noteworthy” section of Apple’s App Store.

“This technology will change how records are produced and how fans listen to music.”

“It’s more than an iPhone App, it’s a completely new way for artists to release music,” says Austin, producer of artists like Gwen Stefani, Michael Jackson, and Pink. “This technology will change how records are produced and how fans listen to music.” Austin worked with the development team behind Mix Me In’s patent-pending technology and is encouraging artists to release original material in the Mix Me In format.

"Fried Green Apps has invested an incredible amount of time and energy creating a music technology that revolutionizes how fans experience their favorite music,” says Fried Green Apps CEO Bill Pike. “We are thrilled that Apple was impressed enough with Mix Me In’s technology to highlight us as a Featured App.”

Mix Me In takes popular songs and breaks them down into different streams, isolating the lead singer; guitar; drums; backup singers; keyboards; and anything else that goes into the song. It then allows users to mix the streams together any way they want. There are also alternate acoustic versions of each stream. So you can change a synthesizer to a classical piano or an electric guitar to an acoustic guitar. Rather than having one version of a song, Mix Me In provides listeners with hundreds of variations. And, with a simple tap on their iPhone, users can even mix their own voice or instruments onto the streams, making the possibilities limitless. Users can also upload their mixes to the Mix Me In website for the whole world to hear.

James Shaffer, lead guitarist for KoRn says, “This is much more than an iPhone App. We see it as an exciting new way to deliver music to our fans.”

“The app is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Pike. “We are in discussions with major artists to release new original music powered by Mix Me In's technology. This will give fans greater control over how they interact with their favorite artists just like Mix Me In gives them greater control over how they interact with their favorite songs.”

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Google Loses Domain Name Dispute

/PRNewswire/ -- Internet giant Google has lost an arbitration over the domain name, Groovle.com. In a decision released today, The National Arbitration Forum, dismissed Google's complaint (Claim Number: FA0911001293500) that it was entitled to the domain name, Groovle.com. Google had claimed that the domain name Groovle.com, is "confusingly similar" to its trademark for "Google." The National Arbitration Forum is an international arbitration service accredited by ICANN, the international agency that oversees the Internet, to provide resolution services for domain name disputes around the world.

The unanimous three person panel composed of two retired American judges and one American law professor, ruled that Groovle.com "is not confusingly similar" to Google's trademark, "Google." To-date, Google has commenced 65 domain name disputes and this is only the second time that it has ever lost.

Young Canadian entrepreneurs Jacob Fuller and Ryan Fitzgibbon, who have been friends since high school, launched the innovative Groovle.com web site in 2007, and it has proven immensely popular with young Internet users. As Fuller explains, "Groovle was created to provide users the ability to upload photos and customize their Internet start page. We thought it would be a cool feature to have a nice photo of friends, family etc., every time you launch your web browser, instead of the very plain Google.com and Yahoo.com page." Says Fitzgibbon, "Since we launched Groovle in 2007, Google, Bing and Ask.com have each come out with something similar."

Groovle's young creators are elated with the decision. "We were stunned when Google launched the domain name dispute as we have great respect for Google and have always had a good relationship with them," said Ryan Fitzgibbon. Jacob Fuller added that, "Google never had anything to fear from our web site. The arbitrators' decision that the two domain names are sufficiently different should put Google at ease and we look forward to a renewed positive relationship with Google."

Groovle was successfully defended by renowned domain name lawyer and Internet law expert, Zak Muscovitch, who says, "Google clearly miscalculated here, however, my clients are prepared to put this behind them."

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nokia Requests ITC Investigation Into Apple Patent Infringement

PRNewswire/ -- Nokia (NYSE: NOK) announced it has today filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Apple infringes Nokia patents in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers.

The seven Nokia patents in this complaint relate to Nokia's pioneering innovations that are now being used by Apple to create key features in its products in the area of user interface, as well as camera, antenna and power management technologies. These patented technologies are important to Nokia's success as they allow better user experience, lower manufacturing costs, smaller size and longer battery life for Nokia products.

"Nokia has been the leading developer of many key technologies in small electronic devices" said Paul Melin, General Manager, Patent Licensing at Nokia. "This action is about protecting the results of such pioneering development. While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple's attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the ITC case filed today is about Apple's practice of building its business on Nokia's proprietary innovation."


FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

It should be noted that certain statements herein which are not historical facts, including, without limitation, those regarding: A) the timing of product, services and solution deliveries; B) our ability to develop, implement and commercialize new products, services, solutions and technologies; C) our ability to develop and grow our consumer Internet services business; D) expectations regarding market developments and structural changes; E) expectations regarding our mobile device volumes, market share, prices and margins; F) expectations and targets for our results of operations; G) the outcome of pending and threatened litigation; H) expectations regarding the successful completion of contemplated acquisitions on a timely basis and our ability to achieve the set targets upon the completion of such acquisitions; and I) statements preceded by "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "foresee," "target," "estimate," "designed," "plans," "will" or similar expressions are forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's best assumptions and beliefs in light of the information currently available to it. Because they involve risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from the results that we currently expect. Factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to: 1) the deteriorating global economic conditions and related financial crisis and their impact on us, our customers and end-users of our products, services and solutions, our suppliers and collaborative partners; 2) the development of the mobile and fixed communications industry, as well as the growth and profitability of the new market segments that we target and our ability to successfully develop or acquire and market products, services and solutions in those segments; 3) the intensity of competition in the mobile and fixed communications industry and our ability to maintain or improve our market position or respond successfully to changes in the competitive landscape; 4) competitiveness of our product, services and solutions portfolio; 5) our ability to successfully manage costs; 6) exchange rate fluctuations, including, in particular, fluctuations between the euro, which is our reporting currency, and the US dollar, the Japanese yen, the Chinese yuan and the UK pound sterling, as well as certain other currencies; 7) the success, financial condition and performance of our suppliers, collaboration partners and customers; 8) our ability to source sufficient amounts of fully functional components, sub-assemblies, software and content without interruption and at acceptable prices; 9) the impact of changes in technology and our ability to develop or otherwise acquire and timely and successfully commercialize complex technologies as required by the market; 10) the occurrence of any actual or even alleged defects or other quality, safety or security issues in our products, services and solutions; 11) the impact of changes in government policies, trade policies, laws or regulations or political turmoil in countries where we do business; 12) our success in collaboration arrangements with others relating to development of technologies or new products, services and solutions; 13) our ability to manage efficiently our manufacturing and logistics, as well as to ensure the quality, safety, security and timely delivery of our products, services and solutions; 14) inventory management risks resulting from shifts in market demand; 15) our ability to protect the complex technologies, which we or others develop or that we license, from claims that we have infringed third parties' intellectual property rights, as well as our unrestricted use on commercially acceptable terms of certain technologies in our products, services and solutions; 16) our ability to protect numerous Nokia, NAVTEQ and Nokia Siemens Networks patented, standardized or proprietary technologies from third-party infringement or actions to invalidate the intellectual property rights of these technologies; 17) any disruption to information technology systems and networks that our operations rely on; 18) developments under large, multi-year contracts or in relation to major customers; 19) the management of our customer financing exposure; 20) our ability to retain, motivate, develop and recruit appropriately skilled employees; 21) whether, as a result of investigations into alleged violations of law by some former employees of Siemens AG ("Siemens"), government authorities or others take further actions against Siemens and/or its employees that may involve and affect the carrier-related assets and employees transferred by Siemens to Nokia Siemens Networks, or there may be undetected additional violations that may have occurred prior to the transfer, or violations that may have occurred after the transfer, of such assets and employees that could result in additional actions by government authorities; 22) any impairment of Nokia Siemens Networks customer relationships resulting from the ongoing government investigations involving the Siemens carrier-related operations transferred to Nokia Siemens Networks; 23) unfavorable outcome of litigations; 24) allegations of possible health risks from electromagnetic fields generated by base stations and mobile devices and lawsuits related to them, regardless of merit; as well as the risk factors specified on pages 11-28 of Nokia's annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2008 under Item 3D. "Risk Factors." Other unknown or unpredictable factors or underlying assumptions subsequently proving to be incorrect could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Nokia does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent legally required.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Two Consumer Groups Ask FTC to Block Google's $750 Million Purchase of AdMob

/PRNewswire/ -- Two consumer groups today asked the Federal Trade Commission to block Google's $750 million deal to buy AdMob, a mobile advertising company, on anti-trust grounds. In addition, the groups said, the proposed acquisition raises privacy concerns that the Commission must address.

In a joint letter to the FTC, Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) said Google is simply buying its way to dominance in the mobile advertising market, diminishing competition to the detriment of consumers.

"The mobile sector is the next frontier of the digital revolution. Without vigorous competition and strong privacy guarantees this vital and growing segment of the online economy will be stifled," wrote John M. Simpson, consumer advocate at Consumer Watchdog and CDD Executive Director Jeffery A. Chester. "Consumers will face higher prices, less innovation and fewer choices. The FTC should conduct the appropriate investigation, block the proposed Google/AdMob deal, and also address the privacy issues."

Last week Google said the FTC has made a so-called "second request" for additional information about the deal indicating the commission is scrutinizing the proposal in great detail.

Besides the anti-trust issues, the letter from the two non-partisan, non-profit groups said, a combined Google/AdMob raises substantial privacy concerns. Both AdMob and Google gather tremendous amounts of data about consumers' online behavior, including their location. AdMob, for example, targets consumers using a wide range of methods, including behavioral, ethnicity, age and gender, and education. In addition to its extensive mobile ad apparatus, Google also provides mobile advertising and data driven analytical services through its DoubleClick subsidiary. The consolidation of AdMob into Google would provide significant amounts of data for tracking, profiling and targeting U.S. mobile consumers.

Read the letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/LtrFTCfinal.pdf

"Permitting the expansion of mobile advertising through the combination of these two market leaders without requiring privacy guarantees poses a serious threat to consumers," the letter said. It noted that earlier this year several consumer groups, including CDD, petitioned the FTC to specifically protect consumer privacy on mobile phones, especially involving mobile advertising.

Initially Google was able to obtain its dominance in online search advertising largely because of innovative efforts. It then moved into display advertising through the acquisition of DoubleClick. When the FTC approved that acquisition, the Commission said it would watch developments in Internet advertising closely. Since that deal was approved, the online and mobile ad markets have evolved substantially, with Google becoming more dominant in the Internet ad market.

"The proposed Google/AdMob deal offers the FTC an opportunity to check Google's increasingly anticompetitive behavior," Simpson said. "This deal is yet one more example of Google attempting to eliminate a threat to its power." "The FTC must protect competition and personal privacy in the key mobile sector," noted Chester.

The Center for Digital Democracy is a nonprofit Washington, DC-based group focused on the digital marketplace and the public interest. Visit the center's Website at: www.DemocraticMedia.org.

Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca. Our website is: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NCSA Applauds President Obama's Cybersecurity Coordinator Appointment

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the leading public private partnership in cybersecurity education and awareness, today applauded President Obama's appointment of Howard Schmidt as Cybersecurity Coordinator. Mr. Schmidt brings with him the necessary breadth and depth of experience across government, industry, and non-profit sectors, along with a broad understanding of the unique challenges cybersecurity presents to America's national and economic security.

"On behalf of the NCSA Board of Directors, I congratulate Howard on his appointment," said Shannon Kellogg, NCSA Board Chairman, and Director of Information Security Policy for EMC Corporation. "Cybersecurity is our shared responsibility and together we can educate Americans to be good digital citizens at home, work and school, helping create a robust and secure digital infrastructure. NCSA looks forward to continuing to work with the Obama Administration to expand national cybersecurity awareness efforts, one of the recommendations stated in the President's 60 Day Review on Cybersecurity earlier this year."

"NCSA looks forward to working closely with Mr. Schmidt to continue the important national public awareness campaign to help every American understand the steps they need take to protect the computers they use, the networks they connect to, and the digital assets we all share," said Michael Kaiser, NCSA executive director. "We thank President Obama for making cybersecurity awareness and education a strong priority, including posting tips for staying safe online with the announcement of Mr. Schmidt's appointment."

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Pop-up Advertisements Offering Anti-virus Software Pose Threat to Internet Users

An ongoing threat exists for computer users who, while browsing the Internet, began receiving pop-up security warnings that state their computers are infected with numerous viruses.

These pop-ups known as scareware, fake, or rogue anti-virus software look authentic and may even display what appears to be real-time anti-virus scanning of the user's hard drive. The scareware will show a list of reputable software icons; however, the user cannot click a link to go
to the actual site to review or see recommendations.

The scareware is intimidating to most users and extremely aggressive in its attempt to lure the user into purchasing the rogue software that will allegedly remove the viruses from their computer. It is possible that these threats are received as a result of clicking on advertisements contained on a website. Cyber criminals use botnets to push the software and use advertisements on websites to deliver it. This is known as malicious advertising or malvertising.

Once the pop-up appears it cannot be easily closed by clicking "close" or the "X" button. If the user clicks on the pop-up to purchase the software, a form is provided that collects payment information and the user is charged for the bogus product. In some instances, whether the user clicks on the pop-up or not, the scareware can install malicious code onto the computer. By running your computer with an account that has rights to install software, this issue is more likely to occur.

Downloading the software could result in viruses, Trojans and/or keyloggers being installed on the user's computer. The repercussions of downloading the malicious software could prove further financial loss to the victim due to computer repair, as well as, cost to the user and/or financial institutions due to identity theft.

The assertive tactics of the scareware has caused significant losses to users. The FBI is aware of an estimated loss to victims in excess of $150 million.

Be cautious — cyber criminals use easy to remember names and associate them with known applications. Beware of pop-ups that are offering a variation of recognized security software. It is recommended that the user research the exact name of the software being offered.

Take precautions to ensure operating systems are updated and security software is current.

If a user receives these anti-virus pop-ups, it is recommended to close the browser or shut the system down. It is suggested that the user run a full, anti-virus scan whenever the computer is turned back on.

If you have experienced the anti-virus pop-ups or a similar scam, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NASA Making Government More Accessible With Cutting-Edge Use of New Media

/PRNewswire/ -- NASA is supporting the White House's Open Government Directive with a number of Internet-based programs designed to make the agency more accessible and create a dialog with the American people about their space program.

NASA is one of six departments and agencies working to spur innovation by making it easier for high-tech companies to identify collaborative, entrepreneurial opportunities. Government agencies are home to treasure troves of data and information, too much of which is underutilized by the private sector because it is either not easily found or exists in cumbersome formats. NASA and the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Agricultural Research Service in the Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy are working together to increase access to information on publicly-funded technologies that are available for license, opportunities for federal funding and partnerships, and potential private-sector partners.

NASA's Innovative Partnerships Programs Office is working to establish an RSS feed to publicize technologies available for public licensing. By making information from multiple agencies available in RSS and XML feeds on Data.gov, the government empowers innovators to find the information they need and receive real-time updates, which can fuel entrepreneurial momentum, create new jobs, and strengthen economic growth. NASA's RSS feed will make these opportunities more visible to the commercial and research communities. NASA plans on having the feed operational by Dec. 31.

NASA also has undertaken an extensive effort to use the Internet and social media tools to engage the public on agency activities. NASA's home page on the Internet, www.nasa.gov, offers information on all of the agency's missions, research and discoveries.

In January 2009, nasa.gov capitalized on the agency's growing social media efforts by rolling out a new "Connect and Collaborate with NASA" page, at www.nasa.gov/connect. This provides the public with quick connections to the agency's pages on Twitter, Facebook, UStream, YouTube, Flickr and MySpace, as well as NASA podcasts and vodcasts on iTunes. The page also provides links to agency chats, Tweetup events, RSS feeds and the agency's official blog.

The agency's social media presence was further expanded in November with the addition of NASA's Twitter feed to the homepage. The website offers links to NASA-related desktop "widgets" and opportunities for the public to collaborate directly with the agency through art contests, engineering challenges and imagery and data analysis.

Another new communication tool is Spacebook, a NASA internal expert networking utility. Spacebook has been used to improve collaboration across NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The Spacebook site allows new and established NASA staff to get to know the agency's diverse community of scientists, engineers, project managers and support personnel.

"Space doesn't explore itself. Science doesn't discover itself. People do that, and to do that they have to talk," said Emma Antunes, the project manager who also manages Goddard's Web site. "They have to trade questions and ideas. They have to connect. And, the more diverse the group, the more likely connections and conversations will lead to new ideas and innovation. Spacebook will enhance NASA's capacity to do just that."

For more information about NASA's use of the Internet and social media to interact with America, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect

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Trusted Computer Solutions Announces December 15 Webinar “What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You”

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Trusted Computer Solutions, Inc. (TCS), a leading developer of cross domain and cyber security solutions, today announced it will host a complimentary webcast titled “What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You” taking place on December 15, 2009 at 11 a.m. EST. This educational webcast will look at CounterStorm™, a solution that reinforces existing network security methods by stopping zero day and targeted attacks, and how anomaly detection techniques can be used in conjunction with traditional detection solutions to locate malicious behavior quickly and without known signatures.

At the Black Hat USA conference in July, Trusted Computer Solutions announced the general availability of CounterStorm. The solution employs an integrated suite of sophisticated detection engines that are uniquely correlated to provide unparalleled accuracy and speed in identifying and automatically stopping the new generation of increasingly destructive attacks.

The webcast will include discussion around the following topics:

* Current network defenses against known malware
* Advanced threats
* Mitigating advanced threats with anomaly detection
* The CounterStorm approach


WHO:
Brian Lindauer, Senior Software Engineer – CounterStorm, Trusted Computer Solutions

WHAT:
What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

WHEN:
Tuesday, December 15; 11 a.m. – Noon EST

WHERE:
Webcast; Registration for the event can be accessed at TCS Webinar Registration

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Georgia Monitors Sex Offenders' Internet Activities by Using RemoteCOM

/PRNewswire/ -- On 11-19-2009 the State of Georgia Department of Corrections renewed a contract with RemoteCOM to monitor the Internet and computer activities of sex offenders on probation. As part of the new Georgia SB 474 it requires registered sex offenders to submit to computer monitoring and limitations of Internet access.

RemoteCOM is a computer monitoring company that specializes in the monitoring of the computers of offenders that are on parole or probation. CEO/President Robert Rosenbusch writes, "Everything is based on needs, and we have realized there is a tremendous need to keep our children safe as they surf the Internet. We have found that several courts have ruled that denying the sex offender access to the Internet is much like denying them access to a phone, and feel that this is overbearing given today's dependence on computers and computer-related technologies. Therefore they have put the burden on the probation departments to find ways to manage the offender's computer use, to ensure that they do not violate the conditions of their probation. The Georgia Department of Corrections has taken a tremendous step forward in trying to protect their communities and children by providing this type of monitoring."

One of the main focuses of RemoteCOM's services is to keep our children safe online. The second is to provide both technical and human resources to our probation and parole departments as they manage these offenders in our society. It has become apparent over the years that these departments are stretched thin with personnel and they carry a heavy case load. They are extremely limited in the time and resources they have, and would not have time to monitor these individuals' computer data on a daily basis. That is why RemoteCOM provides the assistance of doing the monitoring for them, and provides them with up-to-date alerts when monitors encounter something that may be a part of the offenders' grooming cycle or if they continue with any illegal activity.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

FDA Issues 22 Warning Letters to Web site Operators

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today completed a coordinated, weeklong, international effort, called the International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), intended to curb illegal actions involving medical products.

During the effort, the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), in conjunction with the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and the Office of Regulatory Affairs, Office of Enforcement, targeted 136 Web sites that appeared to be engaged in the illegal sale of unapproved or misbranded drugs to U.S. consumers. None of the Web sites are for pharmacies in the United States or Canada.

The agency issued 22 warning letters to the operators of these Web sites and notified Internet service providers and domain name registrars that the Web sites were selling products in violation of U.S. law. In many cases, because of these violations, Internet service providers and domain name registrars may have grounds to terminate the Web sites and suspend the use of domain names.

“The FDA works in close collaboration with our regulatory and law enforcement counterparts in the United States and throughout the world to protect the public,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Many U.S. consumers are being misled in the hopes of saving money by purchasing prescription drugs over the Internet from illegal pharmacies. Unfortunately, these drugs are often counterfeit, contaminated, or unapproved products, or contain an inconsistent amount of the active ingredient. Taking these drugs can pose a danger to consumers.”

The IIWA is an initiative sponsored by the International Criminal Police Organization, the World Health Organization's International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force, the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime, and national health and law enforcement agencies from 26 participating countries.

The goal of the IIWA is to protect public health by:

* increasing the public's awareness about the dangers and risks associated with purchasing drugs and medical devices from Web sites
* identifying producers and distributors of counterfeit and illegal pharmaceutical products and medical devices
* targeting these individuals and businesses with civil or criminal action
* seizing counterfeit and illegal products and removing them from the supply chain.

Code named Operation Pangea II, the IIWA provided an opportunity to enhance cooperation among international and domestic regulatory and law enforcement partners to effectively act against those involved in the manufacture and distribution of illegal medications.

During the week, OCI and FDA import specialists joined with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to target and interdict shipments of violative pharmaceutical products moving through certain International Mail Facilities (IMFs) and express courier hubs.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spear Phishing E-mails Target U.S. Law Firms and Public Relations Firms

The FBI assesses with high confidence that hackers are using spear phishing e-mails with malicious payloads to exploit U.S. law firms and public relations firms. During the course of ongoing investigations, the FBI identified noticeable increases in computer exploitation attempts against these entities.

The specific intrusion vector used against the firms is a spear phishing or targeted socially engineered e-mail designed to compromise a network by bypassing technological network defenses and exploiting the person at the keyboard. Hackers exploit the ability of end users to launch the malicious payloads from within the network by attaching a file to the message or including a link to the domain housing the file and enticing users to click the attachment or link.

Network defense against these attacks is difficult as the subject lines are spoofed, or crafted, in such a way to uniquely engage recipients with content appropriate to their specific business interests. In addition to appearing to originate from a trusted source based on the relevance of the subject line, the attachment name and message body are also crafted to associate with the same specific business interests. Opening a message will not directly compromise the system or network because the malicious payload lies in the attachment or linked domain. Infection occurs once someone opens the attachment or clicks the link, which launches a self-executing file and, through a variety of malicious processes, attempts to download another file.

Indicators are unreliable to flag in-bound messages; however, indicators are available to determine an existing compromise. Once executed, the malicious payload will attempt to download and execute the file ‘srhost.exe’ from the domain ‘http://d.ueopen.com’; e.g. http://d.ueopen.com/srhost.exe. Any traffic associated with ‘ueopen.com’ should be considered as an indication of an existing network compromise and addressed appropriately.

The malicious file does not necessarily appear as an ‘exe’ file in each incident. On occasion, the self-executing file has appeared as other file types, e.g., ‘.zip’, ‘.jpeg’, etc.

Please contact your local field office if you experience this network activity and direct incident response notifications to DHS and U.S. CERT.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fraudulent Automated Clearing House (ACH) Transfers Connected To Malware And Work-At-Home Scams

Within the last several months, the FBI has seen a significant increase in fraud involving the exploitation of valid online banking credentials belonging to small and medium businesses, municipal governments, and school districts. In a typical scenario, the targeted
entity receives a "spear phishing" email which either contains an infected attachment, or directs the recipient to an infected web site. Once the recipient opens the attachment or visits the web site, malware is installed on their computer. The malware contains a key logger which will harvest the recipients business or corporate bank account log-in information. Shortly thereafter, the perpetrator either creates another user account with the stolen log-in information, or directly initiates funds transfers by masquerading as the legitimate user. These transfers have occurred as both traditional wire transfers and as ACH transfers.

Further reporting has shown that the transfers are directed to the bank accounts of willing or unwitting individuals within the United States. Most of these individuals have been recruited via work-at-home advertisements, or have been contacted after placing resumes on well-known job search web sites. These persons are often hired to "process payments", or "transfer funds". They are told they will receive wire transfers into their bank accounts. Shortly after funds are received, they are directed to immediately forward most of the money overseas via wire transfer services such as Western Union and Moneygram.

Customers who use online banking services are advised to contact their financial institution to ensure they are employing all the appropriate security and fraud prevention services their institution offers.

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has made information on banking securely online available at
http://www.us-cert.gov/reading_room/Banking_Securely_Online07102006.pdf.

Protecting your computer against malicious software is an ongoing activity and, at minimum, all computer systems need to be regularly patched, have up to date anti-virus software, and a personal firewall installed. Further information is available at
http://www.us-cert.gov/nav/nt01/.

If you have experienced unauthorized funds transfers from your bank accounts, or if you have been recruited via a work-at-home opportunity to receive transfers and forward money overseas, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AFCOM 2009/2010 Data Center Trends Survey Reveals Weakness in World Cyber Terrorism Readiness and Government Greening

(BUSINESS WIRE)--AFCOM, the world’s largest data center association, today (October 27) announces its 2009/2010 Data Center Trends survey that offers perspective and insights on the major trends facing 436 commercial, government and college/university data centers throughout the world; twenty percent responsible for budgets of $10M plus. Significant findings reveal that though threat of cyber terrorism is real, it is not being adequately addressed by the world's keepers of the most confidential financial, military and personal data. In addition, it reveals the government is behind its private industry counterparts in terms of greening initiatives. Meanwhile, it shows that the mainframe may be losing its place in worldwide data centers, as servers become more capable. And cloud computing, despite the hype, hasn’t pushed beyond 15 percent acceptance at this point. In comparison, 73 percent have implemented virtual processing.

“We designed this survey to better understand current trends in the industry, and to help our members understand what others are doing to get to that next level in operational effectiveness. In many cases, the results and analysis of this survey are bringing awareness to areas that need improvement. For instance, the industry needs a clear definition of cloud computing and virtualization; we’ve supported data center professionals for three decades now and many of these terms seem merely re-packaged and over-marketed new names for technologies that have actually been around for quite some time,” said Jill Eckhaus, CEO of AFCOM. “Our analysis also shows that data center managers need to develop more comprehensive cyber terrorism policies, and get more aggressive in greening, particularly in government agencies where greening lags behind private industry. Finally, it’s time to decide where the mainframe is still viable and needed, and where high-end servers can do a more efficient job.”

A closer look – survey background

AFCOM is the only data center association that represents both the IT and facilities side of the data center. Respondents, part of AFCOM’s 4,500 member data center sites, represent 27 countries, 83 percent in the U.S. and 17 percent overseas; 60 percent are responsible for Information Technology, 31 percent Facilities and 9 percent represent other roles in the data center. The survey, completed in early October in conjunction with AFCOM’s bi-annual Data Center World Conference and Expo, asked respondents questions regarding their greening initiatives, cyber terrorism, emerging technologies, mainframe usage and about their plans for consolidation, performance monitoring and storage strategies, among other initiatives.

A closer look – survey results

Data center greening, no longer just a concept, but obstacles still exist

The survey re-iterates that greening of the data center is no longer just a concept – it is actually taking place, and on a large scale, with 71.3 percent of all respondents indicating they are actively engaged in greening initiatives at this time. And while 71.3 percent are, in fact, engaged in greening, only 42.2 percent have a “formal” greening initiative. According to respondents, the most important results they have experienced as a result of implementing green measures are in power efficiency, 60.8 percent report they are using less power and 51.4 percent have implement cooling efficiency strategies. In addition to power and cooling efficiencies, 11.5 percent also report a significant savings in water usage.

Data centers & cyber terrorism, a real threat that needs more attention

Cyber terrorism has become even more prevalent in the past few years. From hackers attacking NATO computers to cyber-attacks in China, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and the U.S., it’s not likely a threat that will go away any time soon. Data center professionals must be well-equipped to handle and respond to cyber terrorist attacks, but according to AFCOM’s survey, there’s considerable room for improvement.

Respondents revealed that 60.9 percent of all data centers worldwide officially recognize cyber terrorism as a threat they need to deal with, but only a little over one-third (34.4 percent) have included it in their disaster/recovery plans, which would include their best defense plans if attacked. Only one in four, or 24.8 percent, has addressed cyber terrorism in their policies and procedures manuals and only 60.2 percent have a written policies and procedures manual. Meanwhile, less than one in five, or 19.7 percent provide any cyber terrorism employee training. On the positive side, however, 82.4 percent report that they do perform background security checks on all potential new employees, another solid defense against cyber terrorists.

Data center consolidation spurred by economic reality

Data center consolidation has historically been cyclical in this industry. As the economy suffers, more companies have traditionally looked to consolidation as a method of saving money. The economic downturn we are experiencing today is no exception, with 62.1 percent of all respondents either already in the process of consolidating one or more data centers, or seriously considering it. More than half of respondents (52.1 percent) plan to relocate their newly consolidated data center to another existing facility, or build an entirely new one to accommodate the additional requirements.

Emerging technologies breaking through – from cluster to cloud

According to the survey, the technologies with the highest levels of adoption in today’s data centers are: virtual processing, implemented by 72.9 percent of all respondents, Web applications (70.4 percent), automation (54.8 percent) cluster computing (50. percent), and cloud computing (14.9 percent).

Surprisingly, in addition to the slim 14.9 percent who utilize cloud computing, this technology has been considered by an additional 46.3 percent, but never implemented.

AFCOM’s Data Center Institute (DCI) has undertaken an in-depth research project on the myths and realities surrounding cloud computing that will be released at AFCOM’s 2010 Data Center World in Nashville, Tennessee, March 7-11. To register, visit www.datacenterworld.com.

The state and fate of the mainframe

Only 39.6 percent of all data centers worldwide still operate mainframe computer systems today. In data centers that have mainframes installed, the median number in residence is two. And of all the data centers that have mainframes installed, 45.7 percent expect to replace one or more of them in the next two years. Of those that are expecting to replace their mainframes during the next two years, more than two out of three, or 67.1 percent will be replacing them with new mainframes, and 32.9 percent will be replacing them with high-end servers or other alternatives.

Based on this data, AFCOM concludes that the number of data centers using mainframes today versus five and ten years ago, is going down, and the future will continue this trend. Approximately one-third, or 32.9 percent of all existing mainframe data centers will no longer use mainframes in the future. Of all data centers with no installed mainframes today, 38.2 percent report that they did have them ten years ago and another 27.2 percent had them five years ago. And, according to respondents, five years from now, an additional one-third of those with mainframes today will no longer have them.

Performance monitoring gets more active

As witnessed by the number of performance monitoring tools and dashboards on display at AFCOM’s recent 2009 Data Center World in Orlando, performance monitoring in the data center is finally coming into its own, with many critical systems and components under 24/7 scrutiny. As the consequence of error in the data center has risen so dramatically (with the entire company dependent on all systems being continually available), the need to find and correct any and all malfunctions on the fly has become a necessity. In many cases, automated performance monitoring helps fulfill that need.

According to the survey, power consumption is now being monitored by 68.1 percent of respondents, network traffic by 65.8 percent, storage capacity by 64.4 percent, server utilization by 61.7 percent and Web security by 54.1 percent.

Data center facilities in terms of growth, expansion and relocation

Sixty percent of all respondents report that they expect to require additional data center space within the next five years. 32.6 percent expect to handle the growth and need for additional space by physically adding to and/or upgrading existing facilities and 30 percent report they will relocate to a new facility. Additional growth and expansion strategies to include 22.0 percent that will utilize a co-location center to meet their increased space requirements, 13.8 percent will use managed hosting services, and 11.2 percent will add pods or Data centers-in-a-box.

Changing storage requirements of the data center

Nearly two out of three worldwide data centers, or 63 percent, report a dramatic increase in their storage requirements over the past five years. Another 35.9 percent report a ‘slight’ to ‘moderate’ increase and only percent of all data centers saw their storage requirement decrease. Somewhat surprisingly, only 8.3 percent report that the main cause of their increased storage needs has been government regulations – while a whopping 77.5 percent attribute it to business growth.

“We’ll use the results of the survey to help us plan tracks, sessions and round tables at the 2010 Data Center World conference in Nashville in order to help professionals develop solutions for trouble spots and share successes and failures to date around all these trends,” continued Jill Eckhaus, AFCOM CEO. AFCOM’s next Data Center World conference and trade show is scheduled for March 7-11, 2010 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. For more information and to register, visit www.datacenterworld.com. “It’s going to be a great show and corresponds with AFCOM’s 30-year anniversary – if you cover or work in the data center, you’ll want to be there. Our show isn’t just a display of data center products; it’s a place where extraordinary education takes place.”

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Study Finds U.S. Small Businesses Lack Cybersecurity Awareness and Policies

/PRNewswire/ -- Small business owners' cybersecurity policies and actions are not adequate enough to ensure the safety of their employees, intellectual property and customer data, according to the 2009 National Small Business Cybersecurity Study. The study, co-sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Symantec [Nasdaq: SYMC], as part of this year's National Cyber Security Awareness Month, surveyed nearly 1,500 small business owners across the United States about their cybersecurity awareness policies and practices.

The survey confirmed that small businesses today are handling valuable information - 65 percent store customer data, 43 percent store financial records, 33 percent store credit card information, and 20 percent have intellectual property and other sensitive corporate content online. 65 percent of the business survey claimed that the Internet was critical to their businesses success yet they are doing very little to ensure that their employees and systems are not victims of a data breach.

The survey shows discrepancies between needs and actions regarding security policies and employee education on security best practices. Only 28 percent of U.S. small businesses have formal Internet security policies and just 35 percent provide ANY training to employees about Internet safety and security. At the same time, 86 percent of these firms do not have anyone solely focused on information technology (IT) security. For those small businesses that do provide cybersecurity training, 63 percent provide less than 5 hours per year.

The lack of focus on cybersecurity awareness and education on the part of U.S. small businesses can lead to the loss of vital customer and company data. The study found that while more than 9 in 10 small businesses said they believe they are safe from malware and viruses based on the security practices they have in place, only 53 percent of firms check their computers on a weekly basis to ensure that anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewalls and operating systems are up-to-date and 11 percent never check them.

"The 20 million small businesses in the U.S. are a critical part of the nation's economy. While small business owners may understandably be focused on growing their business and the bottom line, it is imperative to understand that a cybersecurity incident can be disruptive and expensive," said NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser. "To the millions of very savvy entrepreneurs across our nation, our message is simple - being smart about the online safety of your employees, business and customers is a critical part of doing business. Cybersecurity is not a nice thing to have for American businesses, it is critical to their survival."

Meanwhile, small businesses seem out of sync with some Internet security risks. 75 percent of small businesses said that they use the Internet to communicate with customers yet only 6 percent fear the loss of customer data and only 42 percent believe that their customers are concerned about the IT security of their business. What's more, 56 percent of small businesses believe cybersecurity is the cost of doing business while 21 percent believe it is just "a nice thing to have."

Laptops, PDAs and wireless networks are great conveniences to businesses, yet they carry with them an added responsibility to ensure the data is secure. Today, more than 66 percent of employees take computers or PDAs containing sensitive information off-site. Wireless networks are gateways for hackers and cyber criminals and must be secured by complex passwords. Unsecured wireless networks are akin to leaving the front door of a filing cabinet wide open on the sidewalk. 62 percent of the companies surveyed have a wireless network but 25 percent of them do not password protect their wireless networks. This is a significant security risk as hackers can steal information being passed through these open networks.

"Security threats are becoming more complex and employees of small businesses are increasingly the target of attacks that expose their organizations to data loss," said Sheri Atwood, vice president, global solutions and programs, Symantec. "Security awareness and education, combined with a comprehensive security solution, can empower small businesses and their employees to protect themselves and their information."

For more information on how you can keep you and your business safe online visit www.staysafeonline.org. For additional results from the Zogby study, visit: http://staysafeonline.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=67

The demographic makeup of the small business polled focused on number of employees and revenue. 56 percent of those polled were companies with one-to-nine employees, 10 percent had 10-25 employees, five percent had 26-50 employees and five percent had more than 51 employees. In terms of revenue, 56 percent had annual revenue of $249,000 or less, 11 percent have revenue of $250,000-$499,000, eight percent have revenue of $500,000 to $1 million. 11 percent have revenue between $1 million and $5 million and five percent have revenues exceeding $5 million. The Zogby International poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Commission Seeks Public Input on Draft Rules to Preserve the Free and Open Internet

In the next chapter of a longstanding effort to preserve the free and open Internet, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking public input on draft rules that would codify and supplement existing Internet openness principles. In addition to providing greater predictability for all stakeholders, the Notice is aimed at securing the many economic and social benefits that an open Internet has historically provided. It seeks to do so in a manner that will promote and protect the legitimate needs of consumers, broadband Internet access service providers,
entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses of all sizes that make use of the Internet.

The Commission has addressed openness issues in a variety of contexts and proceedings,
including: a unanimous policy statement in 2005, a notice of inquiry on broadband industry
practices in 2007, public comment on several petitions for rulemaking, conditions associated
with significant communications industry mergers, the rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction
in 2007, specific enforcement actions, and public en banc hearings. During this time period,
opportunities for public participation have generated over 100,000 pages of input in
approximately 40,000 filings from interested parties and members of the public.

The process today’s Notice initiates will build upon the existing record at the
Commission to identify the best means to achieve the goal of preserving and promoting
the open Internet.

Recognizing that the proposed framework needs to balance potentially competing
interests while helping to ensure an open, safe, and secure Internet, the draft rules would permit
broadband Internet access service providers to engage in reasonable network management,
including but not limited to reasonable practices to reduce or mitigate the effects of network
congestion.

Under the draft proposed rules, subject to reasonable network management, a provider of
broadband Internet access service:
1. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from sending or receiving the
lawful content of the user’s choice over the Internet;
2. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from running the lawful
applications or using the lawful services of the user’s choice;
3. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from connecting to and using
on its network the user’s choice of lawful devices that do not harm the
network;
4. would not be allowed to deprive any of its users of the user’s entitlement to
competition among network providers, application providers, service
providers, and content providers;
5. would be required to treat lawful content, applications, and services in a
nondiscriminatory manner; and
6. would be required to disclose such information concerning network
management and other practices as is reasonably required for users and
content, application, and service providers to enjoy the protections specified in
this rulemaking.

The draft rules make clear that providers would also be permitted to address harmful traffic and traffic unwanted by users, such as spam, and prevent both the transfer of unlawful content, such as child pornography, and the unlawful transfer of content, such as a transfer that would infringe copyright. Further, nothing in the draft rules supersedes any obligation a broadband Internet access service provider may have -- or limits its ability -- to deliver emergency communications, or to address the needs of law enforcement, public safety, or national or homeland security authorities, consistent with applicable law.

The Commission is also seeking comment on how it should address “managed” or “specialized” services, which are Internet-Protocol-based offerings provided over the same networks used for broadband Internet access services. While the proceeding will seek input on how best to define and treat such services, managed services could include voice, video, and enterprise business services, or specialized applications like telemedicine, smart grid, or eLearning offerings. These services may provide consumer benefits and lead to increased deployment of broadband networks.

The Notice asks how the Commission should define the category of managed or specialized services, what policies should apply to them, and how to ensure that broadband providers’ ability to innovate, develop valuable new services, and experiment with new technologies and business models can co-exist with the preservation of the free and open Internet on which consumers and businesses of all sizes depend.

The Notice affirms that the six principles it proposes to codify would apply to all platforms for broadband Internet access, including mobile wireless broadband, while recognizing that different access platforms involve significantly different technologies, market structures, patterns of consumer usage, and regulatory history. To that end, the Notice seeks comment on how, in what time frames or phases, and to what extent the principles should apply to non-wireline forms of broadband Internet access, including mobile wireless.

Recognizing that the Commission’s decisions in this rulemaking must reflect a thorough understanding of current technology and future technological trends, the Chief of the Commission’s Office of Engineering & Technology will create an inclusive, open, and transparent process for obtaining the best technical advice and information from a broad range of engineers.

The adoption of this Notice will open a window for submitting comments to the FCC. Comments can be filed through the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System, and are due on Thursday, January 14. Reply comments are due on Friday, March 5. In addition, the rulemaking process will include many other avenues for public input, including open workshops on key issues; providing feedback through openinternet.gov, which will include regular blog posts by Commission staff; and other new media tools, including IdeaScale, an online platform for brainstorming and rating solutions to policy challenges.

Action by the Commission, October 22, 2009, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC
09-93). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps and Clyburn; Commissioner McDowell
and Commissioner Baker concurring in part, dissenting in part. Separate statements issued by
Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker.

GN Docket No.: 09-191
WC Docket No.: 07-52

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Senator McCain Introduces “The Internet Freedom Act of 2009”

U.S. Senator John McCain today (October 22) introduced legislation that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from enacting rules that would regulate the Internet. The Commission will meet today to determine whether the historically open architecture and free flow of the Internet should be subject to onerous federal regulation. Specifically, the Commission will seek to impose “net neutrality” rules that would reign in the network management practices of all Internet service providers, including wireless phone companies.

This government takeover of the Internet will stifle innovation, in turn slowing our economic turnaround and further depressing an already anemic job market. Outside of health care, the technology industry is the nation’s fastest growing job market. Innovation and job growth in this sector of our economy is the key to America’s future prosperity. In 2008, while most industries were slashing jobs in the worst economy in nearly 30 years, high tech industries actually added over 77,000 good high-paying jobs. Just this month, Google and Yahoo both released positive earnings reports.

The wireless industry exploded over the past twenty years due to limited government regulation. Wireless carriers invested $100 billion in infrastructure and development over the past three years which has led to faster networks, more competitors in the marketplace and lower prices compared to any other country. Meanwhile, wired telephones and networks have become a slow dying breed as they are mired in state and Federal regulations, universal service contribution requirements and limitations on use.

“Today I’m pleased to introduce ‘The Internet Freedom Act of 2009’ that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation,” said Senator John McCain. “It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment,” McCain continued. “Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alert: Gmail, Yahoo AOL Accounts Compromised

20,000+ Gmail, Yahoo, AOL Accounts Compromised [ALERT]
October 6th, 2009 | by Ben Parr

Yesterday, it was revealed that 10,000+ Hotmail accounts were compromised and all of the usernames and passwords of these accounts were posted online. It was a major security and scam issue, but it was thought to only affect Hotmail users.

Unfortunately, Hotmail was only the beginning. Google.....http://mashable.com/2009/10/06/gmail-accounts-exposed/



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Monday, October 5, 2009

Fraudulent e-mail claiming to contain an FBI Intelligence Bulletin from the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate

A fraudulent e-mail, initially appearing around June 16, 2009, claims to contain a confidential FBI report from the FBI "Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate." The subject line of the email is "RE: Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate," and contains an attachment "reports.exe". This message and similar messages may contain a file related to the "W32.Waledac" trojan software, which is designed to steal user authentication credentials or send spam messages.

Do not click on any links associated with this e-mail or similar e-mails, it is a hoax.

The FBI does not send unsolicited e-mails or e-mail official reports. Consumers should not respond to any unsolicited e-mails or click on any embedded links, as they may contain viruses or malicious software.

Below is an example of the fraudulent e-mail message:

CLASSIFIED
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN

Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate

HANDLING NOTICE: Recipients are reminded that FBI Intelligence Bulletins contain sensitive terrorism and counterterrorism information meant for use primarily within the law enforcement and homeland security communities. Such bulletins shall not be released, either in written or oral form, to the media, the general public, or other personnel who do not have a valid need-to-know without prior approval from an authorized FBI official, as such release could jeopardize national security.

Link to malicious software (report.exe)


If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

No, Your Social Networking “Friend” Isn’t Really in Trouble Overseas

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), there has been an increase in the number of hijacked social networking accounts reported to www.ic3.gov.

One of the more popular scams involves online criminals planting malicious software and code onto to victim computers. It starts by someone opening a spam e-mail, sometimes from another hijacked friend’s account.

When opened, the spam allows the cyber intruders to steal passwords for any account on the computer, including social networking sites. The thieves then change the user’s passwords and eventually send out distress messages claiming they are in some sort of legal or medical peril and requesting money from their social networking contacts.

So far, nearly 3,200 cases of account hijackings have been reported to the IC3 since 2006.

Cyber thieves are also using spam to promote phishing sites, claiming a violation of the terms of service agreement or creating some other issue which needs to be resolved. Other spam entices users to download an application or view a video. Some of these messages appear to be sent from friends, giving the perception of legitimacy. Once the user responds to a phishing site, downloads an application, or clicks on a video link, the electronic device they’re using becomes infected.

Some applications advertised on social networking sites appear legitimate but install malicious code or rogue anti-virus software. These empty applications can give cyber criminals access to your profile and personal information. These programs will automatically send messages to your contacts, instructing them to download the new application too.

Infected users are often unknowingly spreading malware by having links to infected websites posted on their webpage without the user’s knowledge. Since the e-mail or video link appear to be endorsed by a friend, social networking contacts are more likely to click on these links.

Although social networking sites are generally a safe place to interact with friends and acquaintances, keep in mind these suggestions to protect yourself while navigating the Internet:

* Adjust website privacy settings. Some networking sites have provided useful options to assist in adjusting settings to help protect your identity.
* Be selective when adding friends. Once added, contacts can access any information marked as viewable by all friends.
* Limit access to your profile to only those contacts you trust with your personal information.
* Disable options, such as photo sharing, that you might not regularly use. You can always enable these options later.
* Be careful what you click on. Just because someone posts a link or video to their wall does not mean it is safe.
* Familiarize yourself with the security and privacy settings and learn how to report a compromised account.
* Each social networking site may have different procedures on how to handle a hijacked or infected account; therefore, you may want to reference their help or FAQ page for instructions.

If your account has been hijacked or infected, report it to by visiting www.ic3.gov or www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center is a partnership between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

NASA, Shuttle Crew Host DC Tweetup

Astronauts discuss the retirement of the space shuttle program and NASA's plans for a new spacecraft

Twitter users fascinated with space gathered at NASA Headquarters in Washington on Thursday to ask the crew of space shuttle Endeavour STS-127 candid questions about the future of NASA and space exploration.

This was the second Tweetup organized by NASA, the first one was held in July after the crew of Atlantis STS-125 successfully completed the final repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. On that mission, astronaut Mike Massimino, or Astro_Mike, became the first person to send a tweet from space. The message, sent to his 247,000 followers, said: "From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!"

During Thursday's Tweetup -- the term users of the social networking service Twitter use to describe an in-person meeting -- participants asked the STS-127 crew questions that ranged from their religious views to if they would volunteer for a one-way mission to Mars.

"I think that's a case-by-case question," Mission Specialist Christopher Cassidy said of a no-return trip to the Red Planet. "It's an interesting concept to think about it, and all of us are astronauts because we enjoy training for and operating in space. But there is certainly a human aspect to it, and we all have families, and to take a one-way trip to Mars with our families would be one thing, but take a one-way trip to Mars without our families is entirely different."

Video and more details: http://www.insidescience.org/current_affairs/nasa_shuttle_crew_host_dc_tweetup
Courtesy: Inside Science News Service

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Twitter: The New Mathematics

/PRNewswire/ -- The following comments were delivered today by Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, dean of Webster University's School of Business & Technology, to introduce Twitter creator, co-founder and chairman Jack Dorsey as the University's "Success to Significance 2009 Person of the Year." The event was presented by Webster's School of Communications and School of Business & Technology.

My favorite equation in mathematics is the original equation, one from which all other equations evolve. In my opinion, it is the holy grail of mathematics. The irrefutable law of mathematics. It is the convention in conventional wisdom. 1+1 equals 2. May I dare suggest to you that this universal truth may become something of our recent past? The reason: Twitter.

Twitter has successfully created a new equation which states that, 1+1 equals countless possibilities.

1+1 is equal to 3, to 300, 3 million. It is equal to the power of the written word -- 140 characters, succinct, precise and concise. Twitter is equal to the possibility to make a difference, to be a contributor to society for the greater good of mankind. Twitter is becoming the definitive equation of our time not just for its simplicity but also for its exponential potential of increase.

One of the ways in which we verify the overwhelming impact of a product and an idea is when it becomes a verb, a part of our lexicon.

Much like Google, Twitter has become a universal descriptor for sharing ideas in a concise format that speaks to universality, democracy, immediacy and transparency.

Twittering is a conversation between two people yet the definition of two is singular, infinite and boundless. Twittering has become a language unto itself. Words and symbols strung together in a deliberate order to create spontaneous, and sustained, bursts of ideas.

Twitter has in effect dismantled the constraints and boundaries of time and space between us. It is an enabler of ideas that has empowered the young and the young at heart to share and stay connected.

Twitter has fundamentally transformed the way we talk and listen to one another; the manner in which we inform each other and has extended and strengthened the power of the written word.

If I were to state the impact on society in 140 characters or less, I'd tweet "Twitter is to our generation what Guttenberg's printing press and Bell's telephone was to theirs."

In just three short years, Twitter's 40 million users have made it a public forum for the discussion of politics, business, culture, news, celebrity, gossip and idle chatter.

People are tweeting to raise money, to recruit talent, to make government more responsible, to find and distribute news, to discover knowledge, to build personal or business networks, or to just kill a little time with friends and family.

In the new book by Shel Israel, entitled Twitterville, the author makes a convincing case that Twitter's worth is not only the ability to broadcast short messages, but also the ongoing and transformative conversation that these tweets can ignite.

You know, every generation produces individuals who come along and make life better for those around them. They are notable individuals who rise from small and big places. They come from humble beginnings, unrecognizable even while in our midst. They are innovators, doers, ordinary people who enable others to achieve what has never been done before. The new math is Twitter.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is a worldwide institution committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. Founded in 1915, Webster offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges, and a global network of more than 100 campuses. Its 20,000-plus student population represents almost 150 nationalities. The University's core values include excellence in teaching, joining theory and practice, small class sizes, and educating students to be lifelong independent learners, fully prepared to participate in an increasingly international society.


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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Apple Introduces New iPod touch Lineup

/PRNewswire/ -- Apple(R) announced September 9 the new iPod touch(R) lineup starting at the breakthrough price of just $199, giving users a great iPod(R), a great pocket computer, a great game player and access to Apple's revolutionary App Store with over 75,000 applications. iPod touch features Apple's revolutionary Multi-Touch(TM) user interface, a gorgeous 3.5-inch widescreen glass display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a built-in accelerometer and speaker - all in an amazingly thin metal design that slips easily into your pocket. The 8GB iPod touch is now available for just $199, along with new models which deliver twice the capacity for the same price, with the iPod touch 32GB model for $299 and 64GB model for $399.

"At just $199 the iPod touch is the most affordable gateway to Apple's revolutionary App Store with more than 75,000 applications that you can wirelessly download right into your iPod touch," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "You get a great iPod, a great pocket computer with the industry's best mobile web browser and a great game player, all in this super-thin beautiful enclosure."

iPod touch is a great iPod for enjoying music, television shows, movies and podcasts. iPod touch has incredible features for music fans such as Cover Flow(R), Shake to Shuffle(TM), and access to the legendary iTunes(R) Store. And now, the new iPod touch supports Genius Mixes, which automatically creates up to 12 endless mixes of songs from your iTunes library that go great together. Movies and television shows look great on the gorgeous 3.5-inch widescreen display. iPod touch customers have the entire iTunes Store catalog at their fingertips, giving them instant access to the world's largest catalog of over 11 million songs, TV shows and Hollywood movies to purchase and download directly to their iPod touch.

iPod touch is a great game player with its built-in accelerometer, revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface, its amazing graphics performance and the over 20,000 game and entertainment titles available on the App Store. With support for peer-to-peer connections, the new iPod touch gives users the ability to play multi-player games with people next to them or around the world. iPod touch customers can add new game titles from the App Store over Wi-Fi anytime and anywhere.

iPod touch is a great pocket computer, letting users surf the web, do email, manage their calendars, organize contacts, and use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. With its award-winning Safari(R) web browser, iPod touch users can experience the Internet like no other pocket-size device. iPod touch comes with the latest iPhone(TM) 3.1 software including: Cut, Copy and Paste; Spotlight(R) Search to search across iPod touch or within Mail, Contacts, Calendar and iPod; landscape keyboard for Mail, Notes and Safari; remote lock for MobileMe(TM) and anti-phishing features.

Apple's App Store is a phenomenal success with a selection of over 75,000 apps available and customer downloads topping a staggering 1.8 billion apps. iPhone and iPod touch customers in 77 countries can choose from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel. The App Store works with iPod touch over Wi-Fi so users can discover, purchase and download apps wirelessly and start using them instantly.

iPod touch features up to 30 hours of music playback or six hours of video playback on a single charge. The 8GB model holds up to 1,750 songs, 10,000 photos and 10 hours of video; the 32GB model holds up to 7,000 songs, 40,000 photos or 40 hours of video; and the 64GB model holds up to 14,000 songs, 90,000 photos or 80 hours of video.* The 32GB and 64GB models also include up to 50 percent faster performance and support for even better graphics with Open GL ES 2.0.

iPod is the world's most popular family of digital music players with over 220 million sold. Apple's new holiday lineup includes iPod shuffle(R) in five great colors starting at just $59; iPod classic(R) in a new 160GB model holding up to 40,000 songs for $249; the incredible new iPod nano(R) with a video camera available in nine brilliant polished aluminum colors starting at $149; and the revolutionary iPod touch starting at the breakthrough price of just $199.

Pricing & Availability

The new iPod touch is available immediately for a suggested price of $199 (US) for the 8GB model, $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the 64GB model through the Apple Store(R) (www.apple.com), Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers. iPod touch requires a Mac(R) with a USB 2.0 port, Mac OS(R) X v10.4.11 or later and iTunes 9; or a Windows PC with a USB 2.0 port and Windows Vista or Windows XP Home or Professional (Service Pack 3) or later and iTunes 9. Existing iPod touch users can update to the latest 3.1 software for just $4.95 (US) to enjoy new features including Genius Mixes and Genius for Apps. iPod touch owners who already have the 3.0 software get the 3.1 software update for free. Simply download the latest version of iTunes onto your Mac or PC, and purchase the 3.1 software update via iTunes.

*Battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings. See www.apple.com/batteries for more information. Music capacity is based on four minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding; photo capacity is based on iPod-viewable photos transferred from iTunes; and video capacity is based on H.264 1.5 Mbps video at 640-by-480 resolution.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

(C) 2009 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS, Macintosh, iPod touch, iPod, Multi-Touch, Cover Flow, Shuffle, iTunes, Safari, iPhone, Spotlight, MobileMe, iPod shuffle, iPod classic, iPod nano and Apple Store are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

UGA to convene cybersecurity panel Sept. 11

Nationally recognized experts will come to the University of Georgia on Sept. 11 to teach university and community members how to protect themselves from cyberterrorism during “The Growing Cybersecurity Threat: From National Security to UGA,” a free panel discussion running from 10 a.m.–noon at the UGA Chapel.

As information sharing and Internet use become cornerstones of the average person’s wired life, keeping up-to-date about growing threats is increasingly important, said John Newton, event organizer and emergency operation coordinator in UGA’s Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Center for International Trade and Security and Enterprise Information Technology Services.

“There’s been an explosion of cybersecurity threats over the past few years that affect everyone from governments and the military down to people who shop or do business online,” Newton said. “It’s something that reaches most of us nearly every day, and because the threats change rapidly it’s important to keep re-learning how to combat them.”

The panel will consist of FBI Special Agent Lee Kirschbaum; Brian Rivers, director of information security at UGA, and Kevin Mandia, a cybersecurity expert and owner of the information security firm Mandiant Systems

“As far as information security risks and threats, they always change, but for the most part the university has changed and adapted along with the threats,” Rivers said. “But threats continue to evolve. People are getting better at attacking us. Over the last 10 years there’s been a shift from people hacking for fun to people hacking for profit. It’s now big business overseas.”

As Web surfers increase their online business transactions and store more personal information on the Internet, the availability of data to potentially harmful sources ramps up. Over-the-net business is overwhelmingly safe, but it’s important to be watchful for new trends in hacking, said Kirschbaum, who works at the Atlanta FBI headquarters.

“We want to make folks at UGA aware of some of the threats that are out there, so if they come up, they may sense them. When you’re in academia and doing research, the propensity is to share your information with anybody and everybody because we all want to see knowledge advance,” Kirschbaum said. “But at times the information you’re giving out can be too sensitive. People may begin to ask questions that are too probing, and at that point in time we want people to realize that this maybe something that they should let law enforcement know about.”

Modern hackers use a variety of computer intrusion techniques like unsolicited e-mails, malware and programs embedded on thumb drives that can invade entire computer networks and send back users’ private information, he said. A one-computer virus does not rate the same threat level as it did a few years ago.

Beyond personal and professional significance, the issue has national prominence as well. Cyberterrorism grabbed worldwide headlines in July, when the U.S. and South Korea fell victims to an orchestrated network attack. While no major harm was done, the incident revealed computer weaknesses in the governments that could have been disastrous and caused renewed interest in cyber health, said Igor Khripunov, interim director of the Center for International Trade and Security.

“The newly-announced U.S. Cyber Command will likely make great strides in protecting national-level critical infrastructure and systems from cyberterrorists,” he said. “However, other systems are at risk, including those here at the University of Georgia.”

“According to the Homeland Security Department, cyber attacks on federal computer systems alone have increased by more than 250 percent over the last two years,” he added. “But a few fundamental management changes—centralized management of information technology systems, better education and training, and tougher access control—could prevent man of the most common attacks.”

The event is part of OSEP’s Academic-Professional Security Series. For more information, see www.osep.uga.edu.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Emory on iTunes U Passes the One Million Downloads Mark

One million downloads have been made from Emory’s iTunes U site – a free service hosted by Apple on their iTunes store. Emory celebrates its one-year anniversary on iTunes U in October and now offers more than 1,700 audio and video podcasts related to the University and its community.

Emory’s site hosts public lectures and events, interviews with top faculty and researchers, and a wealth of consumer health and less-commonly taught language materials. “Our most popular collections are language videos for self-study, talks from the Dalai Lama’s visit to Emory and readings from Alice Walker’s placing of her archives at the University,” says Shannon O’Daniel, Emory’s iTunes U system administrator.

Emory captured the No. 20 spot for all iTunes U downloads in October 2008 for chemistry professor David Lynn’s lecture on evolution, and a reading from Alice Walker at Emory reached the No. 6 spot in all downloads.

Apple has featured on the noteworthy section of its home page, many of Emory’s collections, including King Tutankhamun, Emory faculty’s Life of the Mind series, Cartooning for Peace, and Evolution Revolution with world-renowned biologist E.O. Wilson.

Students and Emory organizations use an internal iTunes U site, “Exclusively Emory,” to access course materials, presentations and other resources, averaging nearly 1,200 downloads per week. Students say they value the ease, convenience and portability of this new study device.

Access Emory on iTunes U. The project is a collaboration between University Technology Services and Communications & Marketing.


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

World's First Real-time Fashion Search Engine

/24-7/ -- Go to http://www.thatssoswag.com. "That's So Swag" is the hottest new Twitter application that keeps you up to date on what "tweeple" are buzzing about right now in the world of fashion.

VivaSwag.com, a new online shopping site that uses Twitter to reach out to their 18-24 female demographic, came up with the real-time fashion engine in response to the spam filled searches that kept turning up whenever they tried to search Twitter for fashion news.

Says Carlos Rodriguez, Viva Swag's Creative Director and the designer of VivaSwag.com and VivalaDrama.com, "In order for Viva Swag to be relevant, it was very important for our merchandisers to be able to key into top fashion news among celebrities as well as everyday women. But, every time we ran a search on Twitter, it would be filled with spam, and it would take hours to wade through."

With the help of Pablo Bornacin, Viva Swag's top programmer, they put their heads together and began brainstorming on a way to bring a clean and easy search that would be useful to Viva Swag as well as the rest of the Twitter community. They came up with an idea to use Twitter's already prolific "Trending Topic" (Trending topics are the topics that are most talked about on Twitter) so that people can search fashion trending topics as well as related products.

Bornacin says: "ThatsSoSwag.com is extremely user friendly. EVERYONE, even those without a Twitter account, can search the hottest news and products in the world of fashion."

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cyberbullying Advice for Parents from InternetSafety.com & the Cyberbullying Research Center

/PRNewswire/ -- Cyberbullying, the practice of harassing another individual through digital channels such as email, instant/text messaging, and social networking websites, affects roughly one in five children. At times it has led to tragic results such as the recent suicide of Australian teenager Chanelle Rae, who took her own life after nasty messages were circulated online about her appearance. The problem has received national attention in the U.S. as well with a series of highly publicized incidents, including the recent introduction of the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act named after a 13-year-old who committed suicide in 2006 after an online harassment campaign initiated by a friend's mother.

According to Sameer Hinduja, InternetSafety.com's cyberbullying expert and co-founder of the Cyberbullying Research Center, cyberbullying ups the ante on the age-old practice of bullying in several ways. First, victims often do not know who the bully is or why they are being targeted. The cyberbully can cloak his or her identity behind a computer or cell phone using anonymous email addresses or pseudonymous screen names. Second, the hurtful actions of a cyberbully are viral, enabling an entire school to be involved in a cyber-attack or at least find out about the incident with a few keystrokes. This can add immeasurably to the victim's trauma.

Signs that a child is being cyberbullied include a marked change in computer habits such as less frequent computer use, nervousness when a new e-mail or instant message arrives, constant looking over his or her shoulder when at the computer, and anger or depression either at or away from the machine.

To deal with cyberbullying, InternetSafety.com and Hinduja recommend strategies such as:

-- Working together with the child to arrive at a mutually agreeable
course of action, including soliciting input from the child for
resolving the situation.
-- When necessary, explaining the importance of scheduling a meeting with
school administrators (or a trusted teacher) to discuss the matter.
-- Refraining from immediately banning access to instant messaging,
e-mail, social networking Web sites, or the Internet in general.
Hinduja warns that this strategy neither addresses the underlying
interpersonal conflict nor eliminates current or future instances of
cyberbullying victimization. It will also likely close off a candid
line of communication and promote overt defiance of the ban for
children accustomed to frequent online access.
-- Paying even greater attention to victimized children's Internet and
cell phone activities.
-- Considering installing parental control filtering software and/or an
online tracking program like Safe Eyes (http://www.safeeyes.com/) to
block emails from known cyberbullies, monitor and record online chat
sessions, or in extreme cases block IM, email or social networking
sites completely. Over 70% of teens surveyed by the National Crime
Prevention Council reported that being able to block cyberbullies was
the most effective method of prevention.

"If you're using filtering and blocking software, tell your children about it and explain why you have chosen to take that step," Hinduja said. "Open communication is key to maintaining the level of trust that children need to confide in their parents about problems they are having--online or offline."

"While cyberbullying rarely ends in suicide, these extreme cases demonstrate just how harmful the practice can be," said Joe Stradinger, Chief Evangelist for InternetSafety.com. "The Internet and other new communication methods have made bullying much more potent and troublesome, and parents need to be vigilant to protect their children from serious emotional harm."

For more on cyberbullying, visit the InternetSafety.com blog at http://blog.internetsafety.com/ and the Cyberbullying Research Center blog at http://blog.cyberbullying.us/

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Businesses Beware Of Mass Marketing Scams

Almost everyone has heard horror stories about individuals who have been taken in by mass marketing fraud schemes—from phony sweepstakes to lottery scams. But here’s something you may not know: the very same fraudsters who target individual consumers also target businesses.

Illicit mass marketers know that the keepers of corporate funds may be just as susceptible to fake ploys as anyone else. And while business-oriented fraud usually results in losses of a few hundreds dollars the first time a company is hit, employees may continue to fall victim to these scams if the company has insufficient internal controls.

So what sort of mass marketing frauds are perpetrated against businesses? Here are just a few examples of what might happen to your companies:

* Masquerading as your usual office supplies provider, a fraudulent mass marketer contacts your employees, offering products at reduced or current prices in anticipation of impending rate increases. After paying the invoice, your company never receives the supplies it purchased.
* Your organization is asked to buy ad space in a business directory. The directory never sees the light of day, or only scammed companies like yours receive a copy.
* Criminals send invoices for unordered or undelivered products showing higher-than-agreed-upon prices, trying to exploit poor communication channels that may exist in your company and hoping that phony invoices will be paid without a second look.
* Your business receives an information packet offering to create and host your website. The packet includes a card that must be returned in order to “opt out” of the service, but the card is simply ignored or thrown out. Your company is then billed for web services it never ordered.
* In a variation of the advance-fee scheme that often targets individual consumers, perpetrators—usually targeting small businesses—offer low interest loans in exchange for an advance fee. You pay the fee, but your business never receives the loan.

While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies vigorously investigate frauds of all kinds, there are steps your businesses can take to protect themselves. For example:

* Educate yourself and your employees—especially frontline and accounts payable and receivable personnel—about common fraud schemes;
* Always ask for offers in writing, and require a written contract or purchase order for ANY transaction;
* Carefully review all invoices and compare them to expense records to make sure they are legitimate (and keep all records!);
* Use a credit card for purchasing supplies and services (if the vendor fails to deliver, you can dispute the charges);
* Don’t give out full names of employees, as fraudsters can obtain an employee’s name and then later claim this individual authorized the purchase of a product or service; and
* Be wary of accepting checks, because in some cases perpetrators have conducted a series of smaller, legitimate transactions to enhance their credibility and then used a counterfeit check to pay for a large order.

If you suspect you’ve been scammed, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel, a database accessed by law enforcement agencies around the country. You can also contact your local FBI office.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

www.AutomotiveStimulusPlan.com Warns of Online Scams

/PRNewswire/ -- Some of the leading U.S. Automotive Retailers recently launched a dealer funded stimulus program to provide up to $4500 in incentives for consumers who were left behind by the government funded stimulus plan. Due to the rules of the government's program, over 90% of consumers are not eligible and consumers are not happy about it. Some of the largest retailers in the country recently launched the www.AutoStimulusPlan.com, a Stimulus Program that is more inclusive because all vehicles older than 2007 are eligible regardless of their current mpg.

The recent launch of the dealer stimulus plan sparked a nationwide wave of interest in the program, which provides up to $4,500 of trade-in credits to car-owners who trade in their vehicle for a more fuel efficient alternative. However, the flood of enthusiasm for the new dealer stimulus plan has led to the emergence of scams targeting consumers looking to benefit from the program. www.AutoStimulusPlan.com, the official website for the dealer funded stimulus, has issued a warning to consumers and is providing specific instructions on how to avoid scams. "Consumers should be cautious because some scam sites have emerged that are attempting to fraudulently capture personal financial information to be used illegally," said Scott Fletcher, director of www.AutoStimulusPlan.com.

www.AutoStimulusPlan.com warns consumers to be wary of any site that asks for personal financial information. "Avoid any website that says you need to "pre-register," or asks you for your social security number or credit card number," said Fletcher. The organization is warning consumers not to give out their personal information on these scam sites because it could result in identity theft.

The organization has advised consumers, "You are not required to sign up for this program. Participating new car dealers will add a trade-in credit to your vehicles fair trade value, assuming it meets program requirements. Don't be fooled by fake websites that portray themselves as an official website for the dealer stimulus plan because there is only one official website for the national dealer funded stimulus program, www.AutoStimulusPlan.com," said Fletcher. The organization also advises consumers to make sure they receive all the manufacturer rebates in addition to the trade-in credits they receive for their qualifying vehicle.

Some local dealerships have implemented advertising campaigns that mislead consumers to think they are a part of the national dealer Stimulus Plan. To be safe, consumers are advised not to rely on local advertising and should visit the only national dealer-funded Stimulus Plan at www.AutoStimulusPlan.com.

The dealer funded stimulus plan has gotten a lot of attention because it compensates for the gaps in the governments program by allowing consumers to purchase pre-owned vehicles and to choose a short term lease.

Automotive Stimulus Program Requirements:
1. Current vehicle is a 2006 or older
2. Current vehicle is operable
3. Current vehicle has been owned for a minimum of 6 months
4. Current vehicle has been registered for a minimum of 6 months
5. The replacement vehicle has to be more fuel efficient by a minimum
of 2mpg


Incentives vary based on the consumer's current vehicle and desired vehicle (visit www.AutoStimulusPlan.com for details). Incentives vary in some states due to state laws that regulate automotive advertising and promotion. The Auto Stimulus Plan will end on November 1st and will continue if the government's program expires before that date.

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