South Korean banks, media hit with computer shutdown [CBC]

Computer networks at two major South Korean banks and three top TV broadcasters went into shutdown mode Wednesday, paralyzing bank machines across the country and prompting speculation of a cyberattack by North Korea.

Screens went blank promptly at 2 p.m. local time, with skulls popping up on the screens of some computers — a strong indication that hackers planted a malicious code in South Korean systems, the state-run Korea Information Security Agency said. Some computers started to get back online more than 2½ hours later.

Police and South Korean officials investigating the shutdown said the cause was not immediately clear. But speculation centered on North Korea, with experts saying a cyberattack orchestrated by Pyongyang was likely to blame.

The shutdown appeared to be more of an inconvenience than a source of panic. There were no immediate reports that bank customers’ records were compromised. It also did not affect government agencies or networks essential to the country’s infrastructure, such as power plants or transportation systems.

Two bank clerks, left, check an automated teller machine at a branch of Shinhan Bank after the bank's computer networks are fixed in Seoul, South Korea. Computers networks at two major South Korean banks and three top TV broadcasters went into shutdown mode en masse Wednesday, paralyzing bank machines across the country and prompting speculation of a cyberattack by North Korea.

 

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BitCoin exchange loses $250,0000 after unencrypted keys stolen [networkworld]

Hackers stole about US$250,000 from BitFloor, a BitCoin exchange, on Monday, and it does not have the money to reimburse account holders, according to the website’s founder.

BitCoins are an electronic currency that are generated as computers solve a changing mathematical problem. A BitCoin is essentially just a secret number, which is protected from unauthorized transfers by public key cryptography, that is associated with an 34-character alphanumeric “address” that a user holds.

BitFloor, based in New York City, allowed account holders to buy and sell BitCoins, exchange the currency for U.S. dollars and transfer the money using the ACH (Automated Clearing House) system.

The cryptography wrapped around BitCoins is designed to make it nearly impossible to derive the private keys needed to gain possession of the secret number. But in the case of BitFloor, hackers found the keys.

Roman Shtylman, BitFloor’s founder, wrote on a forum that the hackers obtained an unencrypted backup of the keys, which were then used to transfer coins held by BitFloor. The backup “was made when I manually did an upgrade and was put in the unencrypted area on disk,” he wrote.

“I realize the details of the failure and attack are interesting but I am currently focused on user accounts and exchange status going forward,” he wrote.

BitFloor’s reserve of BitCoins — about 24,000 — was wiped out. A BitCoin was worth about $10.46 as of Wednesday, according to Mt. Gox, another BitCoin exchange.

U.S. dollar accounts with BitFloor were not affected as well as records for accounts and trades, Shtylman wrote. BitFloor turned over around 64,000 BitCoins a month, worth some $717,000. It took a 0.3 percent commission from trades, amounting to around $2,100 in revenue for the site, Shtylman wrote.

 

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The UN Wants Complete Control Over The Internet And That Would Mean Unprecedented Censorship, Taxes And Surveillance

From http://endoftheamericandream.com/

One of the fastest ways to ruin the Internet would be to put the United Nations in charge of it.  Unfortunately, that is exactly what the United Nations wants.  The United Nations is now pushing very hard for complete control over the Internet. A proposal that has the support of China, Russia, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Iran would give control of the Internet to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union.  This is perhaps the greatest threat to the free and open Internet that we have seen yet.  At a UN conference in Dubai this upcoming December, representatives from 193 nations will debate this proposal.  The United States and many European nations are firmly against this proposal, but it is unclear whether they have the votes to stop it.  Unlike the Security Council, there are no vetoes when it comes to ITU proceedings.  So the United States may not be able to stop governance of the Internet from being handed over to the United Nations.  The United States could opt out of any new treaty, but that would result in a “balkanized” Internet.  If the UN gains control over the Internet, you can expect a whole new era of censorship, taxes, and surveillance.  It would be absolutely catastrophic for the free flow of commerce and information around the globe.  Unfortunately, many repressive regimes are very dissatisfied with how the Internet is currently working and they desperately want to be able to use the power of the UN to tax, regulate and censor the Internet.  Needless to say, that would be a disaster.  International control over the Internet would be a complete and total nightmare and it must be resisted.

Top Internet experts are sounding the alarm bells about this proposal as well.  The following comes from a recent CNET article….

Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist, co-creator of the TCP/IP protocol, and former chairman of ICANN, said the ITU meeting could lead to “top-down control dictated by governments” that could impact free expression, security, and other important issues.

“The open Internet has never been at a higher risk than it is now,” Cerf said.

Sadly, the United States cannot block this from happening.  As an article by Robert M. McDowell explained, all it is going to take for this proposal to be accepted is for a simple majority of the 193 UN members states to agree to it….

Regulation proponents only need to secure a simple majority of the 193 member states to codify their radical and counterproductive agenda. Unlike the U.N. Security Council, no country can wield a veto in ITU proceedings.

Once the ITU gains control, the United States and other nations could attempt to “opt out”, but that would create a “balkanized” Internet that would be much different than what we have today.

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House to examine plan for United Nations to regulate the Internet [Thehill]

House lawmakers will consider an international proposal next week to give the United Nations more control over the Internet.

The proposal is backed by China, Russia, Brazil, India and other UN members, and would give the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) more control over the governance of the Internet.

It’s an unpopular idea with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress, and officials with the Obama administration have also criticized it.

“We’re quite concerned,” Larry Strickling, the head of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said in an interview with The Hill earlier this year.

He said the measure would expose the Internet to “top-down regulation where it’s really the governments that are at the table, but the rest of the stakeholders aren’t.”

At a hearing earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also criticized the proposal. He said China and Russia are “not exactly bastions of Internet freedom.”

“Any place that bans certain terms from search should not be a leader in international Internet regulatory frameworks,” he said, adding that he will keep a close eye on the process.

Yet the proposal could come up for a vote at a UN conference in Dubai in December.

 

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Hypocrisy, USA: Obama will sanction countries that block Internet for protesters [RT]

United States President Barack Obama announced plans on Monday to impose sanctions on foreign governments that use modern technology to tackle anti-government protesters.

Speaking from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the nation’s capital early Monday, President Obama said America would soon be taking measures against foreign governments that rely on the latest advancements of the digital age to fight dissidents. The president made his remarks in response to authoritarian regimes in locales such as Syria and Iran, where those countries’ governments have been accused of implementing modern tools involving the Internet and mobile phone technology to keep track of protesters and block them from advancing their anti-national messages to others through social media.

“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” the president told the press while announcing his initiative. “It’s one more step toward the day that we know will come, the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people.”

Some critics have come after the Obama administration for being hesitant to act against Bashar al-Assad and other foreign rulers alleged to be engaged in human rights violations against their own people. While the president addressed that the latest sanctions are only a small step in penalizing those regimes, they are a step nonetheless in the right direction, many feel. By forcing foreign governments to abort operations made possible through modern technology that would otherwise prevent protest movements, Obama essentially is strengthening a chokehold against regimes relying on the latest advancements to thwart demonstrations.

In other words, however, it’s a classic case of “Do as I say; not as I do.”

While the president’s announcement is indeed positive news for pro-democracy demonstrators across the globe that are threatened by governmental intervention, Obama is at the same time encouraging other countries to abort the same practices that the United States has been documented doing themselves as of late.

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Concerns Dot Com: Inventor of the Web is worried about Facebook, Google, Apple and CISPA [RT]

He revolutionized the world by inventing the World Wide Web. Decades later, though, MIT professor Tim Berners-Lee is warning consumers of his creation against Google and Facebook, as well as the government’s attempts to censor the Internet.

 

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France (AFP Photo/Philippe Desmazes)

 

In an interview published by the Guardian on Wednesday, Berners-Lee celebrates the marvels made possible by the Web but cautions users to be weary of what companies could be doing with thought-to-be-private info. While the Internet offers endless answers, solutions and opportunities for entertainment, the British-born professor warns that the companies that consumers invest their personal data into might not necessarily be their friend.

“My computer has a great understanding of my state of fitness, of the things I’m eating, of the places I’m at. My phone understands from being in my pocket how much exercise I’ve been getting and how many stairs I’ve been walking up and so on,” says the scientist.

As helpful as that could be, though, Berners-Lee says it has its downside.

“One of the issues of social networking silos is that they have the data and I don’t,” he explains. “There are no programs that I can run on my computer which allow me to use all the data in each of the social networking systems that I use plus all the data in my calendar plus in my running map site, plus the data in my little fitness gadget and so on to really provide an excellent support to me.”

Who is benefiting then? Companies like Facebook, Google and Apple, which are monopolizing not just the Internet, but their user’s information.

“It’s interesting that people throughout the existence of the web have been concerned about monopolies. They were concerned [about] Netscape having complete control over the browser market until suddenly they started worrying that Microsoft had complete control of the browser market. So I think one of the lessons is that things can change very rapidly,” he says.

Berners-Lee’s comments eerily mirror warnings made earlier in the week to the Guardian by Sergey Brin, the co-founder of search engine giant Google. Discussing the hold the company has over its users, Brin said in his interview that consumers are forced to “play by their rules,” which, he added, are “really restrictive.”

“The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine is the Web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation,” said Brin.

On his part, Berners-Lee says that as companies monopolize out way of receiving and delivering information, consumers are quickly becoming more and more vulnerable to be left at their mercy. In attacking Apple over how they attempt to force their customers into using their own applications, the professor says it should be up to the users to decide how they want to control their own devices.

“I should be able to pick which applications I use for managing my life, I should be able to pick which content I look at, and I should be able to pick which device I use, which company I use for supplying my internet, and I’d like those to be independent choices,” he says.

Berners-Lee adds that the Web has seen some monumental changes as it has developed since the 1980s. As people trust their personal and private information with companies that are big today, though, he cautions that they might someday be at the mercy of websites gone kaput.

“Before the web, Gopher [an early alternative to the world wide web] was taking over the whole internet, it seemed, very quickly. I remember in an internet engineering meeting, somebody remarked that it was incredible how quickly it was taking over. One of the wiser people said: ‘Well it’s funny, it’s amazing how quickly people on the internet can pick something up, but it’s also amazing how quickly they can drop it,’” he tells the Guardian.

“Whatever social site, wherever you put your data, you should make sure that you can get it back and get it back in a standard form. And in fact if I were you I would do that regularly, just like you back up your computer … maybe our grandchildren depending on which website we use may or may not be able to see our photos.”

That isn’t to say that the corporations invested in the Internet are the only parties to cause concern. As the US Congress tries to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) under the guise of cybersecurity concerns, the founder of the Web tells the Guardian that the government is going to cause a major Internet collapse impacting the rest of the world.

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