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China – pesistent threat vs convenient “demon”? April 1, 2010

Posted by wastedspacer in IT Security, Notable Incidents, Political Issues, Social State.
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When average folk in the US are asked about what they think of China – it would seem that they simply parrot much of what the media peddles: human rights abuses, disregard for the concept of intellectual property, stealing manufacturing jobs from the rest of the world, state corruption, militarism, gulags, illegal software, brand-name knockoffs, the source of advanced persistent threats and a lot of other big-brother-state demonizing in general. While there are no doubt factual elements that reflect some or all of those issues, when an accusation appears, the media quickly escalates to the usual feeding frenzy to highlight any “facts” they can derive from reports. When it turns out that perhaps the issue was not so heinous or even a work of fiction, the retractions and general backing down reports are buried way down the page or even completely ignored. Come to think of it, that’s actually pretty normal for just about any sensationalized media news event.

Case in point the recent accusations of conspiracy between the infamous Aurora botnet and a series of attacks on US Companies – Google, Adobe, Intel, Northrop Grumman et. al. This has appeared in a recent DarkReading article on the retracted McAfee stance supporting this theory.

DarkReading Article.

This report paints a picture to indicate perhaps China should not always be the usual suspect root of all malware. Has McAfee been somewhat hasty in their “cry wolf” analysis that had solidly linked a series of targeted attacks as part of the overall Aurora malware efforts? McAfee initially had positively identified China as the perpetrator for the attacks against US Companies. Further analysis has subsequently identified this to be botnet establishment malware out of Vietnam that just happened to end up on commonly infected machines and probably not even related to Aurora at all.

Disturbingly, although primarily leveraging Chinese services such as 3322.org (a domain service run by one Peng Yong) it may simply be driven by the fact that statistically Chinese PC users have by far the largest percentage of its population using hacked/illegal OS and application software that typically come equipped with “free malware” or are much easier to infect since security update patching frequently gets disabled as part of the hack.

It will be interesting to see the knock-on effect of the recent Chinese edict and domain registration crackdown requiring a verifiable address (in China), business registration number along with a head/shoulder photograph. This was brought about reportedly (at least according to the Chinese Govt) following the identification of massive numbers of non-Chinese addresses registering .cn domains. GoDaddy recently pulled its registration policy while grumbling about loss of protection of identities, at the same time it may have a positive effect on the nefarious use of .cn domains as smokescreens for botnet operations run out of other countries. One wonders if GoDaddy is also inwardly grumbling more about the loss to its revenue stream?

GoDaddy Exit’s the .cn space.

Excellent HBGary Analysis on Aurora:

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ATT U(seless)-Verse October 15, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in 1, Business Directions, Rants, Technologies, Technology Drivers.
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Years of adverts, one mile from ATT’s HQ, in 2014 we have U-V Internet but no U-Verse TV in ATT’s own backyard!

Consider the hot summer of 2007 in San Ramon California where AT&T begin a riotous assault on our senses offering a wonderfully fast TV/Internet/Phone service dubbed U-Verse! Excited at the thought that at long last, the fiber channel was finally here and I could get a piece of it. We quite literally live on the doorstep of AT&Ts Northern Cal Headquarters which I can even see from my back-garden.

Ever since moving to San Ramon, I have been a loyal PacBell, er SBC… er AT&T customer thoughout the years and have been an early adopter for ISDN (Project Victoria) and then one of the first DSL subscribers.

Expecting that AT&T would again roll this out to their local community first may have been a little premature but I went to the web site, popped in our phone number and sadly receive the message:

We’re sorry. Currently, AT&T U-verse service isn’t available for the address associated with this phone number:

*sigh* but I dutifully sign up to be informed as soon as U-Verse is available, the general sentiment from the advertizing was that it should be within months so I believe I can wait. I hear reports from new housing developments and other cities that are happily getting their U-Verse but still not the loyal AT&T customers in their back yard.

I am under a constant barrage of eMail asking me to sign up for U-Verse all the way through to the summer of 2008. AT&T continues to pump out millions of dollars to advertize in magazines, on the radio and TV waving the flags of U-Verse successes all over the place, but not in our neck of the woods 😦 Again, I am constantly invited to check to see if we can have access.

We’re sorry. Currently, AT&T U-verse service isn’t available for the address associated with this phone number:

Another year goes by with the constant battering of advertisements from AT&T amid the tortoise and other ATT denigration “Slowski” campaigns from their chief rival – Comcast. Again and again I check my telephone number and sign up for “tell me when U-Verse” notifications. I constantly hear of freinds and colleagues that are getting their U-Verse connections all over California (even remote parts). Still no sign of U-Verse again in our part of San Ramon 😦

Finally, well over another year later, I am hearing more pitches and received yet another series of Email requests to sign up for U-Verse. Once again that disappointing phrase comes up:

We’re sorry. Currently, AT&T U-verse service isn’t available for the address associated with this phone number:

I have no idea why AT&T can’t either get its act together and deliver its promise -or- tell its back-yard neighbor customers what technologies, process (or politics) of the local town infrastructure has been blocking our ability to recieve this service? It just seems that if a company wants to be commercially successful the LAST thing they should be doing is shouting availability from the rooftops where there seems to be no capability to deliver it to much of the audience!

One of these days, AT&T might eventually wander up the hill and connect us or maybe we’ll see the Verizon guy with the glasses appear instead?

Ah well, should I again don the pink glass spectacles and chant: “all I want for Christmas is High Speed Internet (That doesn’t involve Comcast)”!

*** Update Feb 2010 ***
STILL NO U-VERSE GOOGLE – Please connect San Ramon to your Fiber link and sock it to ATT 🙂

**** News Flash March 2010 ***
I was informed by a workmate that ATT Is cutting up roads and digging huge long trenches only a few miles away in Dublin. Wow – could this finally be some high-speed fiber closing in?

NOT A CHANCE *sigh* After my colleague asked the works foreman if that was fiber being pulled the answer was NO JUST REPLACING THE COPPER – AAAAGGGHHH!! ATT what is wrong with you, if you are digging up roads why oh why are you NOT putting in fiber for goodness sake??? Is it as simple as you ordered a load of copper ten years ago and have to bury it somewhere??

*** Fast Forward –  May 2014 ***

Now I have both Comcast/Xfinity (Cable) + a worthless cable-box bypassing the most excellent tuner in my TV AND AT&T/DSL internet connections in the house and they are equally disfunctional, outrageously wasteful customer-disenfranchising organizations. We did briefly sign up with Direct-TV (with a view of displacing Comcast TV) but alas the only workable but enlarged (due to low-azimuth/weak signal) dish placement was right over our backyard deck and seating area. The cancellation process was a breeze, I have to say that the Direct-TV marketing and service personnel were exceptional however I fear that will be severely diluted when mashed up with the AT&T marketing machine 😦

Unbelievably 5 years on, ATT continues the onslaught of marketing, endless telemarketing sales calls, $4 Million spots at the Superbowl, fliers. Reportedly the annual marketing budget for AT&T  is $2.36 BILLION (albeit slightly less than Comcast’s). Add to that the massive many $BILLIONS war-chest of cash used to buy Direct-TV matching Comcast’s insatiable appetite to buy the competition. Customers should ask (of both companies) after all this what is left  of their subscription to actually provide some form of value added service?

At least we can now get ATT U-Verse Internet (I don’t want/need voice)  but no TV (though I can’t wait to start getting the ATT/Direct TV marketing crud – yeah right!)  but I can still see the ATT regional HQ from my back yard. I understand a number of the employees there are being laid off or shifted to Texas? Perhaps that HQ has a questionable future.

(Twitter: MPWA)

Real Criminals use Sony Playstations June 24, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Notable Incidents.
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Here’s an amazing story from the UK. It would seem that there is a generally accepted rule that people that are in prison are not permitted direct unsupervised communication. True that smuggled cellphones and radios do often appear but those are quickly confiscated. One area that seems to have been overlooked is game consoles. Here’s a report from the UK where communications subsystems within games running on Sony PS3s are used by criminals inside prison to organize crimes on the outside. I guess planning Grand Theft Auto while playing the game of the same name must be the height of irony:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/prisoners-using-ps3s-to-commit-crimes

What next? – Twitter Spam Stalking June 23, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Spam, SPIM and other annoyances.
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A disturbing trend, that it would appear that many Twitter users have experienced, is a significant increase in the number of fake followers who simply have what equates to a spam page and a link! Simply blocking the site is the obvious solution but the numbers have suddenly taken a noticeable increase forcing me to block followers on a regular basis.

The most recent ones were attempts to get the reader to click on what appears to be typical spam Porn, Advance Fee Fraud and Pharmaceutical links. Wondering what steps that Twitter is taking to alleviate this? It certainly appears that this has been emerging for some time and perhaps the more prolific Twitterers have been the initial target but it seems to have trickled down to the rest of us 😦

http://nakedpr.com/2008/06/17/social-media-spam-and-the-death-of-twitter/

Who would you rather have as a partner in your country – US “Big Oil” or Chinese “Big Oil” May 27, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Political Issues.
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There’s “Big Oil” and then there’s “Big Bad Oil”. I think you know where I’m going here. It seems to me that we are quick to levy accusations against US Oil Companies for transgressions that occurred 30 years or more ago using present-day ecological standards. I would suggest that US oil companies have moved far along the path of global ecological responsibility. So why are we spending resources and efforts protesting? Simply because it’s easy to do, its also very newsworthy so the media encourages it, its also a cash-rich industry so the legal profession see it as an opportunity to extort significant sums of money just by the threat of legal action. Is it really where the ecological threat lies? Of course not – the real culprits and supporters of ecological vandalism are governments and companies from countries where the media and US legal system have no leverage or opportunity to generate revenue!

All the accusations against Chevron surrounding the Amazon Basin pollution are based on Texaco specific activities that are decades old but being continued by the Ecuadorian government. Consider an alternative utopian scenario where Chevron and other US energy companies simply give up the oil business and realign to focus on alternative energy. All that will change is that another non-US oil company will eagerly move in. Take for example the Chinese government funded CNOOC – they would most likely utilize tactics and ecological practices that would likely be far worse than the 1970s Texaco operations. Take for example the situation in Burma – a CURRENT CNOOC operation: http://www.arakanoilwatch.org/publications/Blocking%20Freedom.pdf

This report details all the ecological poor practices and human rights violations happening to this day!

So – back to the original question – since Oil exists and is a valuable resource critical to the development of the country – Who would you rather have as a partner in your country – US “Big Oil” or Chinese “Big Oil”?

I would undoubtedly prefer a US or European Oil company with clear corporate governance than a Chinese or Saudi Oil company. Even from a worst-case scenario we at least have a “better the devil you know” (or in the case of the US/Eropean – better the devil you can legislate).

In the UK – Potato Chips NOT defined as “food” – huh? May 26, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Everything Else.
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Economist nugget – May 23rd 2009: “Britain’s Court of Appeal ruled that, contrary to the argument of their maker,
Procter & Gamble, Pringles contain enough potato to be defined as crisps
(chips), and are therefore not exempt from value-added tax.”

I sometimes have a little difficulty accetpting that a pint of Guinness might actually not quite classify as “food” and therefor incurs a level of tax/duty. I never realized that in the UK Pringles would NOT be classified as “food”. I assume that being classified as a crisp (US aka potato chip) in the UK is some sort of comestible mark of the beast and therefore incurs the wrath of the state (i.e. has the dreaded VAT applied)? In the US, there are only 14 states that apply sales tax to food and all but Kansas charge a lower rate than the standard sales tax!

Microsoft exec finally saying no to Vista (Hmmm … can you say “Win-ME redux”?) May 15, 2009

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A recent Computerworld article cites a Microsoft exec suggesting those who have either not started or are not far along the Vista deployment journey to plan exclusively for a Win7 path. It was inevitable crack in the Vista facade that should raise some concerns over its long-term viability and supportability  from an enterprise standpoint. The good news is that Win7 is as more a combination of a streamlined Vista with a super-service pack but from a support cost standpoint (hopefully passing the value along to the customer by way of a lower or more flexible license stance) – Microsoft really needs to encourage a customer convergence to a single Win7 image rather than keep Vista alive longer than it needs to be.

The legal, media and Entertainment professions are the true Evil Empires! May 14, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Global Industry.
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Another surprising anti-Chevron shot today, this time from Forbes Magazine: “Amazon Defense Coalition: Chevron Trying to “Greenwash” Polluter Image In Washington Conference…”

http://tinyurl.com/qu72fw

Digging a little deeper – the “article” is in fact written by someone called – Karen Hinton, 703-798-3109 karen@hintoncommunications.com

Hinton Communications identifies its expertise thus:

“Hinton Communication’s innovative, results-oriented message strategies and extensive media contacts regularly generate positive news coverage for clients in the nation’s premier media, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, all nightly news networks, CNN, as well as regional and trade media.”

i.e. a media spin doctoring company or in this case a hired Chevron-brand assassin!

I suspect if we were to follow the money, the funding and lobbying for such misinformation originates from the legal team supporting the Amazon Defense Coalition i.e. Kohn Swift and Graf which is providing money to attorney Steven Donziger, who in turn supports the publicity efforts of Amazon Watch/Defense Coalition against Chevron.

The damning words of Donzinger himself fully aware that Chevron is not the real culprit as reported in the SF Sentinel ring true:

“Attorney Steven Donziger said he was looking for a ’sweet spot” in terms of compensation from Chevron, even though PetroEcuador is the real polluter of the Amazon River.
The Wall Street Journal noted that “An alternative explanation (for why Donziger is going after the oil company), as bank robber Willie Sutton might have said, is because Chevron is where the money is.””

The ultimate victim in all of this receiving whatever financial scraps are left over at the far end of a long line of highly compensated legal entities, media relation firms, publicists and the entertainment industry are the very indigenous tribes of the Amazon basin that this coalition claims to support! I would suggest that is not Chevron that should be under the microscope here. In my opinion, this is a truly heinous situation where the American media, the legal profession and publishing companies should collectively hang their heads in shame!