Saturday, July 31, 2010

Coffee, Controversy and Connectivity: Why Internet Cafes Concern Governments

/PRNewswire/ -- The Digital Policy Council (DPC), an international, non-partisan "think tank" on 21st Century Governance, investigates the swirling controversy around internet cafes across the globe as these establishments are sprouting into hot spots for illicit gambling, teenage gaming, terror e-mails, and other nefarious activities.

The DPC is the research and public advocacy arm of Digital Daya ('digital influence'), a new generation strategic consultancy that empowers leaders in the public sectors to leverage the new media of the Internet to communicate their message, build public influence, and execute high-impact programs to reshape governance and public policy.

According to The Digital Policy Council's most up-to-date research, governments around the world are struggling to regulate the growing number of cybercafes in their communities and whether open or autocratic, all authorities are intensifying surveillance and enforcements tactics to try and gain control over the situation.

Time For New Policy Actions

Governments at first deeply encouraged Internet cafes as a means to offer access to modern technology to its citizens and create opportunities for social and economic development. They are now heavily retreating from this idea. Internet cafes have failed as a tool for public policy.

The vast majority of Internet cafes are in reality now merely online gaming and gambling arcades. Many have become integral to government counter-terrorism strategies as heavy surveillance of these establishments is creating an unnerving atmosphere wherein people are afraid. The aspirations for cybercafes as places of innovation, inspiration, and inclusion into the digital economy have faded away.

As an alternative, the report encourages governments to consider investing in specifically designed internet-based innovation centers to promote e-literacy, build human capital, and broaden access to information technology.

Join the discussion at http://www.squidoo.com/internet-cafes-trouble-governements

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FBI, Slovenian and Spanish Police Arrests Mariposa Botnet Creator, Operators

The FBI, in partnership with the Slovenian Criminal Police and the Spanish Guardia Civil, announced today significant developments in a two-year investigation of the creator and operators of the Mariposa Botnet. A botnet is a network of remote-controlled compromised computers.

The Mariposa Botnet was built with a computer virus known as “Butterfly Bot” and was used to steal passwords for websites and financial institutions. It stole computer users’ credit card and bank account information, launched denial of service attacks, and spread viruses. Industry experts estimated the Mariposa Botnet may have infected as many as 8 million to 12 million computers.

“In the last two years, the software used to create the Mariposa botnet was sold to hundreds of other criminals, making it one of the most notorious in the world,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. “These cyber intrusions, thefts, and frauds undermine the integrity of the Internet and the businesses that rely on it; they also threaten the privacy and pocketbooks of all who use the Internet.”

In February, the Spanish Guardia Civil arrested three suspected Mariposa Botnet operators: “Netkairo,” “Jonyloleante,” and “Ostiator,” aka Florencio Carro Ruiz, Jonathan Pazos Rivera, and Juan Jose Bellido Rios. These individuals are being prosecuted in Spain for computer crimes.

Last week, the Slovenian Criminal Police identified and arrested the Mariposa Botnet’s suspected creator, a 23-year-old Slovenian citizen known as “Iserdo.” The work of the Slovenian and Spanish authorities was integral to this investigation.

FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Gordon M. Snow said: “This case shows the value of strong partnerships among law enforcement agencies worldwide in the fight against cyber criminals. Cyber crime knows no boundaries, and without international collaboration, our efforts to dismantle these operations would be impossible. The FBI praises the work of our Slovenian and Spanish partners who worked closely with our agents in this case.”

In a statement, Slovenian Minister of the Interior Katarina Kresal and Director General Janko Gorsek, Slovenian Criminal Police, said: “We are glad to cooperate with the United States; the FBI’s assistance is invaluable and represents professional affirmation of our force. This case shows that cyber crime issues call for international police cooperation that shouldn’t be hindered by geographical borders. The FBI has demonstrated a high level of collaboration in which our countries were equal partners, which was crucial for the success of the investigation and reducing the threat on a global level. This partnership serves as a solid basis for future cooperation.”

Maj. Juan Salom, commander of the Guardia Civil’s Cyber Crime Division, noted: “The Mariposa case showed how the coordinated and joint actions of different international police forces, along with the efforts of the Internet security industry, have been able to face the global threat of cyber crime,” he said. “The cyber kingpins know that they are not invincible anymore because the global efforts of the FBI, Slovenian Criminal Police, and Spanish Guardia Civil have shown that it doesn’t matter where or how they try to hide, they will be located and prosecuted.”

From 2008 to 2010, the Slovenian citizen created “Butterfly Bot” and sold it to other criminals worldwide. In turn, these criminals developed networks of infected computers—botnets—and the Mariposa variety from Spain was the most notorious and largest. In addition to selling the Butterfly Bot program, the Slovenian citizen developed customized versions for certain customers and created and sold plug-ins (add-ons) to augment the botnet’s features and functionality.

This case is significant because it targeted not only the operators of the botnet but also the creator of the malicious software that was used to build and operate it. The success of this investigation was made possible because of the skill, professionalism, and commitment of the Slovenian Criminal Police’s Cyber Crime Division and the Spanish Guardia Civil’s Computer Crimes Group.

The FBI conducted this investigation with the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Hawaii, and the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Office of International Affairs, and the Botnet Threat Focus Cell. The FBI also received invaluable assistance from the Mariposa Working Group.

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iCityApps Announces the Launch of iCityMiami Application

(BUSINESS WIRE)--iCityApps Inc. announced today the launch of iCityMiami iPhone Application. This application is the first of many free city based applications in development by iCityApps Inc.

“The iCityMiami iPhone Application has been approved by Apple and can be downloaded for free at www.icitymiami.com,” states Arsen Pereymer, CEO of iCityApps Inc. “We anticipate iCityMyrtleBeach to be ready and approved for launch by mid August,” continued Mr. Pereymer.

iCity Apps Inc. is currently in production to release applications for the following cities: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. Additionally, we expect to offer our applications for the Android Platform by September 2010 and the Windows Platform by October 2010.

The iCityMiami application is designed to be a concierge and directory for local residents as well as visitors to the Greater Miami area. Users will be able to access information related to local venues including but not limited to Restaurants, Health and Fitness, Hotels and Lodging, Entertainment, Shopping and Emergency Health Care to name a few. You can get more information about iCityMiami by visiting www.icitymiami.com.

“iCityMiami is one of more than a hundred free applications currently in development,” states Michael Richmond, Chief Operation Officer of iCityApps Inc. “We’re very excited that our non-obtrusive advertising model will allow iCityApps Inc. to offer this incredible value to consumers at no cost,” continues Richmond.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Freemake Video Converter: All-in-One Free Video Converter

24/7-- Freemake Video Converter enables fast and easy conversion to AVI, WMV, MP4, 3GP, DVD, MP3. The converter prepares videos to be viewed on devices: iPod, iPhone, iPad, PSP, smartphones, mobiles, and PC.

The range of input formats is vast: the program is capable of importing videos from DVD, mobiles, Internet, cams, PC. It is also possible to combine photos with background music or audio with visuals to create videos.

With Freemake Video Converter, it is easy to burn up to 20 hours of video to a standard DVD disc and apply different DVD menu styles. The converter tells if it is possible to write a high-quality DVD judging by the duration of the input files, not by their size.

Freemake Video Converter offers such editing options as cutting unwanted video parts, joining several videos into one file, rotating, and flipping.

It also makes it possible to upload files to YouTube directly, without using the original YouTube interface. These can be converted videos, music with visualization, photos or even DVDs. The program will cut videos into 10-minute parts, inserting them into one YouTube playlist, and save the account information.

In short, Freemake Video Converter is a new free program that can bring forward the functionality comparable to that of paid ones. Absolutely free downloading and upgrading, ergonomic and engaging interface and a high speed of conversion allow users to fulfill tasks of different complexity, without time and money spent in vain.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

See What's Brewing in 'Hurricane Alleys' Live On-line, on iPad and iPhone via GOES Satellite

/PRNewswire/ -- Scientists working for NASA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. have developed continually updating "movies" of satellite imagery that allows on-line, iPhone and iPad viewing of any cyclone's movement in the Hurricane Alleys of the Atlantic Ocean or Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) GOES-13 satellite captures visible and infrared images of the weather over the U.S. East coast. These images are overlaid on a true-color background map, and fed into small and medium-sized videos of the Gulf of Mexico and the nearby Atlantic Ocean for the last 3 days. The GOES-11 satellite provides similar coverage of the U.S. west coast and Eastern Pacific.

The GOES satellites scan further into the oceans twice per hour, offering the opportunity to watch storm development in the swath called "Hurricane Alley," from Atlantic to Pacific. The bigger scans are used to make large-scale Hurricane Alley movies for the last three to five days, illustrating the life-cycle of subtropical storms, as some of them spin up to become hurricanes.

The GOES satellites also scan the entire disk of the Earth every three hours. These are used to produce "full disk movies" from the last five days of satellite imagery data from GOES-13 in the Atlantic and GOES-11 in the eastern Pacific. With just eight frames per day, time flies by quickly as weather circulates across the Western Hemisphere.

"We have recently changed the code for the up-to-date GOES movies, including the "Hurricane Alley" movies, that have links on the page goes.gsfc.nasa.gov," said Dr. Dennis Chesters of the NASA GOES Project at Goddard. "They are now all encoded with H264, the digital compression standard used by the cable TV industry."

Because of the modern video standard, these play on all personal computers (Windows and Macs) that are up-to-date.

Dr. Chesters said that the NASA GOES Project also slightly resized the GOES movies, so that all of the movies have at least one dimension that is a sub-multiple of a standard HDTV dimension (720/1080). "This makes it easy for software that automatically fits movies to a screen to resize them without complicated interpolation," Dennis said. "So, the movies appear sharp and have snappy playback on small-screen devices. For instance, they work nicely on the popular iPads."

As a hidden bonus, each of the four frames at the top of the page (WEST+EAST for USA+GLOBE) is linked to a "reference movie" that downloads a movie that is the right size for your device. This is a Quicktime-only feature that will work on all Apple computers and Windows PCs that have Quicktime installed. The "reference movie" will accommodate iPhones and iPads as well as Macs and PCs. It sends a highly compressed version if the device is using a slow G3 phone link, but sends a larger, less compressed version to bigger screens with faster connections.

For the 2010 hurricane season, the NASA GOES Project is considering creating a gallery of up-to-date movies in many sizes/formats, with a separate web page with explanations and links.

To access to today's GOES Hurricane Alley movies, visit:  http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Protect Your Computer: Don’t be Scared by 'Scareware'

We’ve all seen them—pop-up messages telling you your computer is infected with a virus. To get rid of it, all you have to do is order the antivirus software being advertised.

Before you click, though, know this: few Internet security companies use ads to tell you about a virus on your computer. Most of these pop-ups are scams, and it’s one of the fastest-growing types of Internet fraud today.

These scams have a name. They’re called “scareware” because they try to frighten you into purchasing fake antivirus software with a seemingly genuine security warning. But if you do try to buy this program, it will either do nothing…or it could compromise your computer by installing malicious software onto your system. And in some instances, you don’t even have to click on the pop-up box…the software downloads automatically.

Cyber criminals often use notorious botnets—networks of compromised computers under their control—to push out their software. They’ll also masquerade as legitimate Internet security companies and buy ads on other websites—called “malvertising”—but when consumers click on the ads to purchase the products, they are redirected to websites controlled by the bad guys.

Many of these criminals operate outside the U.S., making investigations difficult and complex for the FBI and its partners. But we’ve had successes—just this past May, for example, three people were charged in Illinois in connection with a scheme that caused Internet users in more than 60 countries, including the U.S., to buy more than $100 million worth of bogus scareware software.

Two of the defendants, including an American, are accused of running an overseas company that claimed to sell antivirus and computer performance/repair software over the Internet. A third man operated the company’s Cincinnati call center, which was responsible for technical and billing support to its customers (but in reality deflected complaints from consumers who realized the software didn’t work).

According to the indictment, proceeds from the sales of the software (which was typically purchased by credit card) were deposited into bank accounts controlled by the defendants and others throughout the world and then quickly transferred to accounts in Europe.

In addition to the consumers victimized by the scam, a number of legitimate companies tricked into selling ad space on their websites for the bogus software were allegedly defrauded of about $85,000 in unpaid fees.

Don’t let it happen to you. Here are a few words of advice on scareware.

How to spot a scareware scam:

* Does the pop-up use “non-clickable” icons? To build authenticity into their software, scareware will show a list of reputable icons—like those of software companies or security publications. However, the user can’t click through to the sites to see the actual reviews or recommendations.
* Is the pop-up ad hard to close? Scareware pop-ups employ aggressive techniques and will not close easily after clicking the “close” or “X” button.
* Have you heard of the software before? Cyber criminals use easy-to-remember names like Virus Shield, Antivirus, or VirusRemover.

How to protect yourself from scareware: Make sure your computer is fully protected by legitimate, up-to-date antivirus software.

If you think you’ve been victimized by scareware: File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Evaluate Appeals for Help from Friends Traveling Abroad with Caution

The Internet Crime Complaint Center continues to receive reports of individuals’ e-mail or social networking accounts being compromised and used in a social engineering scam to swindle consumers out of thousands of dollars.

Here’s how it works: Hackers infiltrate your social networking page, claim to be you, and write your contacts/friends. They portray themselves as “victims” who were robbed while traveling abroad and state they need money immediately because they don’t have a passport, money, credit cards, or cell phone and are stranded.

Some claim they only have a few days to pay their hotel bill and promise to reimburse costs upon their return home. Recipients may be tempted to respond to these appeals because they appear to be from a friend and there’s a sense of urgency to help.

If you receive a similar notice and aren’t sure if it is a scam, you should always verify the information before sending any money. If you have been a victim of this type of scam or any other cyber crime, report it to the IC3 website at www.IC3.gov.

The IC3’s database links complaints for potential referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. Complaint information is also used to identity emerging trends and patterns.

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