Category Archives: Computing

Cyber War at the MidEastern Front

I remarked last month on James Barber’s post on Eye Current about a Seimens virus. The virus or more properly known as the Stuxnet worm affected the computers that are the Man Machine Interface (MMI) and the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Word is out in the street that this worm is nation state sponsored.

Nobody knows who’s behind Stuxnet, but recently Kaspersky Lab researcher Roel Schouwenberg said that it was most likely a nation state.

Symantec’s O’Murchu agrees that the worm was done by particularly sophisticated attackers. “This is definitely not your typical operation,” he said.

The worm has mostly been found in Iran and it is believed to be targeting the Iran’s nuclear program.

Computers in Iran have been hardest hit by a dangerous computer worm that tries to steal information from industrial control systems.

According to data compiled by Symantec, nearly 60 percent of all systems infected by the worm are located in Iran. Indonesia and India have also been hard-hit by the malicious software, known as Stuxnet.

Continue reading Cyber War at the MidEastern Front

Internet Explorer 9 Beta

A Beta for Internet Explorer 9 came out yesterday. Touted as the best ever. Its faster,  simpler, and more ergonomic.  While it runs almost as fast as Chrome, looks a bit like Chrome its not Chrome. Internet Explorer 9 won’t run on most Operating Systems.  It will not work with Microsoft XP nor any of Microsoft competitors.   IE 9 finally runs HTML 5 but  everyone else has for a while.  While IE9 is still beta, it has some install issues on some systems  which I’m sure will be resolved,  The most complimentary thing that can be said about it is that is that it might be almost as good as Chrome.

Microsoft Helps Putin Suppress Dissenters

Microsoft has made allies with Vladimir Putin Using the same heavy handiness so go after rebellious groups.

Across Russia, the security services have carried out dozens of similar raids against outspoken advocacy groups or opposition newspapers in recent years. Security officials say the inquiries reflect their concern about software piracy, which is rampant in Russia. Yet they rarely if ever carry out raids against advocacy groups or news organizations that back the government.

As the ploy grows common, the authorities are receiving key assistance from an unexpected partner: Microsoft itself. In politically tinged inquiries across Russia, lawyers retained by Microsoft have staunchly backed the police.

Interviews and a review of law enforcement documents show that in recent cases, Microsoft lawyers made statements describing the company as a victim and arguing that criminal charges should be pursued

Software and have political and social implications. Open Source operating systems and software are not burdened with the legal issues attached by the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.   For the type of work that most political or social dissenting groups use a system such as Ubuntu is probably more suitable than either the Microsoft or Apple systems.. because its easier to keep versions in sync. Security is built in,  GPG is standard. and OpenOffice.org works better for collaborative type work,  There is no registration or paperwork involved with open source software.  Free software is about more than price. it also about freedom.

Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”

Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Open Source  is about dissent, Created by the rebellious for  the rebellious, and should be the operating systems and software of choice for dissenters.

Virus in Siemens SCADA/HMI Systems

Its hard to believe that anyone would put faith in a Industrial Process system running on Microsoft Windows. Eyecurrent, explains:

Microsoft has posted an advisory about a new virus that seems to be specifically targeting Siemens WinCC through a Windows security hole, although users of other software shouldn’t feel smug about that, because there might be other strains affecting systems from other vendors as well. According to reports, the virus spreads via USB, keys and fully patched versions of MS Windows 7 are vulnerable. This is NOT the familiar “auto-run” vulnerability, so you’re not safe just because you’ve turned that off.

The really interesting point is that this appears to be specifically targeting industrial controls, rather than just the usual attempts by spammers to take over home PCs for botnets. If you are using this type of software, this is probably a story to keep an eye on.

Here is a link to the Microsoft Security Advisory: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/advisory/2286198.mspx

The saving grace is that these systems are typically firewalled and isolated from the real world.