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Friday, August 1, 2014

USB device viruses could evade all known security

USB devices such as keyboards, thumb-drives and mice can be used to hack into personal computers in a potential new class of attacks that evade all known security protections, a top computer researcher revealed on Thursday.
Karsten Nohl, chief scientist with Berlin's SR Labs, noted that hackers could load malicious software onto tiny, low-cost computer chips that control functions of USB devices but which have no built-in shields against tampering with their code.
"You cannot tell where the virus came from. It is almost like a magic trick," said Nohl, whose research firm is known for uncovering major flaws in mobile phone technology.
Jeffrey Coolidge | Photodisc | Getty Images
The finding shows that bugs in software used to run tiny electronics components that are invisible to the average computer user can be extremely dangerous when hackers figure out how to exploit them. Security researchers have increasingly turned their attention to uncovering such flaws.
Nohl said his firm has performed attacks by writing malicious code onto USB control chips used in thumb drives and smartphones. Once the USB device is attached to a computer, the malicious software can log keystrokes, spy on communications and destroy data, he said.
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Computers do not detect the infections when tainted devices are inserted because anti-virus programs are only designed to scan for software written onto memory and do not scan the "firmware" that controls the functioning of those devices, he said.
Nohl and Jakob Lell, a security researcher at SR Labs, will describe their attack method at next week's Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas, in a presentation titled: "Bad USB—On Accessories that Turn Evil."
Thousands of security professionals gather at the annual conference to hear about the latest hacking techniques, including ones that threaten the security of business computers, consumer electronics and critical infrastructure.
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Nohl said he would not be surprised if intelligence agencies, like the National Security Agency, have already figured out how to launch attacks using this technique.
Last year, he presented research at Black Hat on breakthrough methods for remotely attacking SIM cards on mobile phones. In December, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden demonstrated that the U.S. spy agency was using a similar technique for surveillance, which it called "Monkey Calendar."
An NSA spokeswoman declined to comment.
Read More How hackers find a way to outwit online bank locks

SR Labs tested the technique by infecting controller chips made by major Taiwanese manufacturer, Phison Electronics, and placing them in USB memory drives and smartphones running Google Android operating system.
Alex Chiu, an attorney with Phison, told Reuters via email that Nohl had contacted the company about his research in May.
USB flash drive for Apple has one big limitation. Daniel Chin, Sanho Corporation founder and CEO, hopes to produce the USB flash drive for Apple devices through a kickstarter campaign. Shark Tank investor Kevin O'Leary questions the product's capabilities. 
"Mr. Nohl did not offer detailed analysis together with work product to prove his finding," Chiu said. "Phison does not have ground to comment (on) his allegation."
Chiu said that "from Phison's reasonable knowledge and belief, it is hardly possible to rewrite Phison's controller firmware without accessing our confidential information."
Similar chips are made by Silicon Motion Technology and Alcor Micro. Nohl said his firm did not test devices with chips from those manufacturers.
Read More  Secret Service warns on hotel biz center computers

Google did not respond to requests for comment. Officials with Silicon Motion and Alcor Micro could not immediately be reached.
Nohl believed hackers would have a "high chance" of corrupting other kinds of controller chips besides those made by Phison, because their manufacturers are not required to secure software. He said those chips, once infected, could be used to infect mice, keyboards and other devices that connect via USB.
"The sky is the limit. You can do anything at all," he said.
Cybersecurity in the crosshairs. Michael DeCesare, McAfee president, says the role of security firms has shifted from defense to offense as companies scramble to protect themselves from the increasing threat of cyberattacks. And John Stumpf, Wells Fargo CEO, weighs in.
In his tests, Nohl said he was able to gain remote access to a computer by having the USB instruct the computer to download a malicious program with instructions that the PC believed were coming from a keyboard. He was also able to change what are known as DNS network settings on a computer, essentially instructing the machine to route Internet traffic through malicious servers.
Once a computer is infected, it could be programmed to infect all USB devices that are subsequently attached to it, which would then corrupt machines that they contact.
"Now all of your USB devices are infected. It becomes self-propagating and extremely persistent," Nohl said. "You can never remove it."
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Christof Paar, a professor of electrical engineering at Germany's University of Bochum who reviewed the findings, said he believed the new research would prompt others to take a closer look at USB technology, and potentially lead to the discovery of more bugs. He urged manufacturers to improve protection of their chips to thwart attacks.
"The manufacturer should make it much harder to change the software that runs on a USB stick," Paar said.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Gall of Dick Cheney

This story is included with an NYT Opinion subscription.
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The situation in Iraq is truly worrisome, as militants threaten to tear the country asunder and disrupt the fragile, short-lived period absent all-out war there.
We have strategic interests in preventing Iraq from unraveling, not least of which is that we don’t need the country to become a haven for terrorists, particularly those who might see America as a target.
And of course, there is the uneasy subject of oil: Volatility in the region has already sent global oil prices soaring. On Wednesday, militants were said to have taken control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery.
We have to tread carefully here. There are no saints to be seen in this situation. Everyone’s hands are bloody. And, we don’t want to again get mired in a conflict in a country from which we have only recently extricated ourselves.
As we weigh our response, one of the last people who should say anything on the subject is a man who is partly responsible for the problem.
But former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was in the administration that deceived us into a nine-year war in Iraq, just can’t seem to keep his peace.
In an Op-Ed published with his daughter, Liz, in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, the Cheneys write:
“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”
This, from the man who helped lead us into this trumped-up war, searching for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, a war in which some 4,500 members of the American military were killed, many thousands more injured, and that is running a tab of trillions of dollars.
During the lead-up to the war, Mr. Cheney said to Tim Russert: “I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.” Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Even if it were indeed rare to be “so wrong,” as Mr. Cheney puts it, he was vice president in an administration that was much more tragically wrong. His whole legacy is wrapped in wrong.
At one point in the article, the Cheneys state:
“Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing.”
Mr. Cheney must think that we have all forgotten the scene from “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary, in which President George W. Bush, brandishing a club on a golf course, looks into the camera and says,
“I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you.”
That is quickly followed by, “Now, watch this drive,” and a shot of Bush swinging at the ball.
In fact, on one of the rare occasions that Mr. Cheney was actually right, in 1994, he warned about the problems that would be created by deposing Saddam Hussein:
“Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have to the west. Part of eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim, fought over for eight years. In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire.”

That was quite prescient. And yet, the Bush administration pushed us into the Iraq war anyway, and the quagmire we now confront.
That’s why it’s so galling to read Mr. Cheney chastising this administration for its handling of the disaster that Mr. Cheney himself foresaw, but ignored.
I know that we as Americans have short attention spans, but most of us don’t suffer from amnesia. The Bush administration created this mess, and the Obama administration now has to clean it up.
The Cheneys wrote: “This president is willfully blind to the impact of his policies,” Mr. Cheney seemingly oblivious to the irony.
George W. Bush may well have been a disaster of a president (in a 2010 Siena College Research Institute survey, 238 presidential scholars ranked Bush among the five “worst ever” presidents in American history), but at least he has the dignity and grace — or shame and humility — to recede from public life with his family and his painting, and not chide and meddle with the current administration as it tries to right his wrong.
Mr. Cheney, meanwhile, is still trying to bend history toward an exoneration of his guilt and an expunging of his record. But history, on this, is stiff, and his record is written in blood.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beware of Germs on a Plane: What to look out for

Germs on a plane

You might think there's nothing worse than being crammed into a tiny seat on an airplane next to a passenger who smells like he hasn't bathed in days. But even if you have the row to yourself, there are other passengers on the plane you can't see or smell.

And they could make you sick.

New research confirms that bacteria just love common airplane surfaces -- including just about everything on the aircraft that you're likely to touch.

When you return your tray table to its upright position, for example, you could come into contact with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or the nasty fecal germ E. coli O157.

MRSA can live on that plastic tray for up to five days, while E. coli could live there for three days, according to experiments.

Don't even think about reaching for the magazine in the seatback pocket -- and whatever you do, don't store anything of your own in there (especially not your water bottle or midflight snack).

The same tests find that MRSA can live in the cloth of that pocket for up to a week.

MRSA can live on the rubber part of the armrest for six days, while E. coli can linger there for four days.

The bugs can also survive on the window shade, metal surfaces and of course the toilet handles for days at a time, according to the experiments.

These are germs that could leave you sick for days -- and in some cases, they can be superbugs that are untreatable with common antibiotics, which is why it's essential to limit your contact with them.

Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't fly. It just means you need to be smart about it.

First, consider that cloth pocket off limits. Don't touch the magazine in there, and don't store anything of yours inside it.

Bring some alcohol-based wipes and clean the armrests and your tray table, including the sides and underside since those are the parts you'll touch when you push it back up.

Wash your hands regularly, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before eating.

And before you travel, be sure to boost your immune system with healthy vitamins and probiotics, especially if you're heading off to another country where you'll come into contact with bugs that your body isn't familiar with. 

Check out the WebSuccess4You Wellness Store for all Natural Cure Supplements

God bless,

Dr. Mark Stengler

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

If we let Rove buy these four states, the Republicans WILL take over the Senate.

Friend -- Terrifying: Politico just reported that TOMORROW, Karl Rove is launching his “largest TV offensive of the midterm cycle” -- a four state, $10 million barrage focused purely on flipping control of the Senate.

There is no sugar coating it: If we let Rove buy these four states, the Republicans WILL take over the Senate. And then they’ll repeal Obamacare, ban abortion rights, and completely end President Obama’s agenda.

That’s why we’re launching the Rove Response Fund. This is the most important response plan we have launched yet -- if we can’t neutralize Rove’s attacks, our chances to stop a Senate takeover will be completely eliminated. 

Will you urgently step up? We need 10,000 Democrats on board by Friday to fully fund our plan.

Deadline: 96 hours

If you’ve saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your contribution will automatically be processed when you click the links below:

EXPRESS DONATE: $25.46 (Today's Average Gift)





Or donate another amount.

Everyone is watching to see if Democrats can answer an attack this enormous, or if we’ll throw in the towel on the Senate. Supporters like you have stepped up to answer every single attack that Republicans have waged so far -- but this is the most important test we have faced yet. 

This massive attack has the power to permanently swing the Senate battle to the Republicans if we can’t neutralize it. We need you on board, or we’ll lose the Senate.

Please pitch in to the Rove Response Fund to STOP a Republican takeover.

Thanks for your support,
DSCC Breaking News


Friday, May 16, 2014

Video Documentation Reveals Commercial Aircraft Spraying Chemtrails To Change Climate

by Harold Saive

In 1990 the Department of Defense published a Chemtrails” manual for pilot training at the USAF Academy..
In the mid-1990′s unmarked military aircraft were observed spraying aerosols from ports located in the wings and around the exhaust of the jet engines.
In recent years, civilian aircraft are increasingly contracted to secretly spray aerosols through ports located near the engines and airframe. This video provides a well documented example of commercial aircraft spraying chemtrails over Gainsville and North Florida involving AIRTRAN airways.
IPCC scientists also admit CO2 from aircraft will grow 3% per year but make no recommendation about using alternative forms of travel.
While not admitting that aircraft are spraying tons of aerosols into the atmosphere these same scientists say that contrails and artificial clouds have a profound effect on the climate and tend to warm global surface temperatures.
Ask yourself:
“If global warming is real, why are these aircraft secretly spraying aerosols that are known by UN/IPCC scientists, to warm the climate?”
Sources and Data:

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

United States Senate will vote this summer on an amendment to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon.

If you missed it, the United States Senate will vote this summer on an amendment to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon.

Nobody has done more than Public Citizen over the past four years to build up to this moment.

But we have some serious work to do so that this upcoming vote is a major step closer to the amendment required to rescue our democracy from billionaires and Big Business.

In about an hour, Public Citizen’s board of directors will be sitting down for its semi-annual meeting. This is where we formalize our policy and spending priorities for the next six months.

And we’re looking very closely at the response to the series of emails I’ve sent this week asking our supporters to chip in right now and show us that we can afford to push very aggressively.

What we’ve got by the time the board breaks for lunch at noon today will inform the deliberations about our amendment campaign this afternoon.

Contribute by noon today if you want to help make sure Public Citizen can continue leading the charge to defend our democracy from the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers.


Robert Weismann,
    President of Public Citizen

Update from Public Citizen

Here are some rather famous words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Public Citizen and "We the People" vs. the Koch Brothers

Here are some rather famous words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That, of course, is the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

Notice how it starts with “We the People” not “They the Plutocrats”?

Yet the Koch Brothers and other plutocratic forces are feverishly attempting to undermine our democracy under cover of supposed constitutional rights afforded them by severely misguided U.S. Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United and McCutcheon.

That’s where you come in.

As part of Public Citizen, you’ve helped build the momentum for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon.

And now the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on just such an amendment later this term.

Considering how many people questioned whether an amendment was possible when we first launched the campaign to win one just four years ago, this is a major milestone and a moment we simply must capitalize on fully.

Here’s what we have to do in the weeks and months ahead:
  • Massively scale up our nationwide grassroots mobilization, which has already seen 16 states, 550 cities and towns, and 150 members of Congress join us in calling for an amendment.
  • Organize many more local and national groups to join the 120-plus that are already allied with us in solving the problem of money in politics and in connecting that problem to other issues that impact people’s lives.
  • Intensify our lobbying work here in Washington, D.C., so that the American people know which senators are with them and which senators are with the dark money.
  • Turn up our media outreach so that the public demand for an amendment gets even more attention than it already has.
The latest poll shows that 8 out of 10 Americans oppose Citizens United.

We know the American people want these anti-democratic Supreme Court rulings overturned.

We know we have an opportunity in the Senate that we haven’t seen in a generation.

And we know what the next steps are.

So we — you, me, and Public Citizen — have to do the hard work to go from “where there’s a will” to “there’s a way.”

The Koch Brothers and their ilk do not have a lot of people in their corner. They do, though, have quite a lot of money in their virtually bottomless pockets.

We have the people power to win no matter how much the Koch Brothers spend. But we need some baseline level of financial stability to activate that people power.

Can you chip in $5 or more right now to help push our defense of democracy forward — at this moment four years in the making?

Public Citizen’s board of directors is meeting in two days to formalize this organization’s programmatic and budgetary plans for the next six months.

My board is ready to ramp up our constitutional amendment campaign, but it needs to see that Public Citizen’s supporters are resolutely behind us.

Please remember, Public Citizen — to protect our unimpeachable credibility when it comes to holding corporations and the government accountable — does not accept funding from Big Business or Uncle Sam.

When we win, it’s because you give us the strength to keep fighting.

Show our board of directors that you want Public Citizen to be as aggressive as it possibly can be at this critical point in our campaign to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon.

Thank you so much for standing with us.

Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen

© 2014 Public Citizen • 1600 20th Street, NW / Washington, D.C. 20009